Yet such an understanding [of the fundamental contradiction underlying an anthem that addresses only one people, the Jewish one] is nonexistent when it comes to remembering the Nakba, or “catastrophe” – the Palestinians’ term for what happened to them when the state was founded in 1948. This is the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of refugees and their millions of relatives, for whom May 15 – the day the establishment of the State of Israel was announced – symbolizes the day they lost their land, property and status. [...]
Does the government really believe that thwarting a commemoration ceremony, imposing a ban on teaching the Arab chapter in Israel’s history, and passing laws that forbid empathy with the Nakba will erase the tragedy from memory? Will the state’s expression of grief for the refugees’ suffering really shatter Israel’s right to exist? [...]
A person who understands that an Arab citizen should not be forced to sing “a Jewish soul still yearns” should be expected to let that citizen commemorate the Nakba without having to pay for it and without being denied government funding. Nakba Day does not belong only to the Arabs; it is an inseparable part of the story of Israel’s revival.
There’s no escaping it. We can argue about how and why people were dispossessed, it’s just part of our history now. What we can do is figure out how we can maintain a Jewish-democratic state while still being maximally inclusive of a Palestinian minority. This is from our, Jewish-Zionist perspective, of course.
Aziz Abu Sarah, a Palestinian journalist, had this to say on his own perspective in 972 Magazine, commenting that “the Nakba is the present as much as it is the past”:
The Israeli government not only ignores Palestinian history, but is also trying to force Palestinians to forget their own narrative, by forbidding commemoration of the Nakba. Are they so ignorant that they believe a law can strip a person of his identity, memories and passions? Jews who came to Palestine boasted about their longing for the “holy land” for thousands of years. How can such people ignore the longing and love of the land of many Palestinians who lived on that land just 64 years ago, many of whom cannot even visit anymore? [...]
While Nakba day is about mourning the destruction of historical Palestine and facing a continued unjust reality, it is also about the future. The Palestinians on this day look ahead and try to figure out a way for Nakba Day to become about the past and not the present. We cannot change the past, but we can make tomorrow different. Nakba Day is also about finding a way to bring peace to a people that lived in catastrophe and long for peace, freedom and security.
This, of course, is related to a protest in Sydney the police tried to avert yesterday. The organisers of the protest are idiots; spreading awareness of the Palestinian cause, and the tragedy that was the dispossession of their homes in 1948 is a very reasonable one, but doing it with a protest that will piss of countless Sydneysiders is incredibly detrimental. One friend, who works for a communal Jewish organisation, commented that they’re doing his job of advancing Israel’s interests for him. Sydneysiders will associate the annoyance of an increased commute with the Palestinian cause. Not the message they want. Having said that, if that’s what they want to do, then go for it.