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The disgraceful link drawn between the Holocaust and the Nakba

The Holocaust and the Nakba were used, by both nations, to create the collective national memory. Except there is an unfathomable difference: The Jews used this collective memory to build, while the Arabs use it to intensify hatred and resentment.

Palestinian girl demonstrates on Nakba Day (Shy Halatzi | CC Wikimedia Commons)

Next Monday, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute will hold an event about the Holocaust and the Nakba based on a book titled "The Holocaust and the Nakba: Memory, National Identity, and Jewish-Arab Partnership." I received a lot of angry messages from Holocaust survivors. Where, one of them asks, did they get the nerve to draw a link between the Holocaust and the Nakba? The institute claims they don't mean to draw a comparison, I tried to explain to him. What they mean is that among both nations, these are seminal events that affected their respective identities. The book has articles, I added, that actually emphasize the difference. He wasn't convinced. Truthfully, neither was I.

For many years now that there are those among us who try to minimize the Holocaust. One professor even sought to erase it from memory. The idea is that a conversation based on victimhood leads to hatred between the nations, chauvinism, nationalism and even fascism. But the Nakba? These same people claim that the Nakba, precisely the Nakba, needs to be fostered and elevate. They want there to be more and more focus on the Nakba, so we could understand the catastrophe experienced by the other side. Those who opposed conversations based on victimhood are suddenly the greatest supporters of such a point of view.

Not all of the articles in the book are part of this industry of nonsense. But the very fact the Holocaust and Nakba are tied together attests that the book is either a mistake, or madness. After all, those representatives of the forces of progress, and the Van Leer Institute, did not write a book nor did they hold an event about the Jewish Nakba - the pogroms and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries. And they didn't write a book nor did they hold an event about the part Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini played in encouraging the Jewish extermination enterprise. And there is no chance that the Nakba aficionados will tell their students, or publish articles, about the fact that in those years, population transfers were the norm, and that this was an experience shared by tens of millions of people. None of them is a refugee today. Except the Palestinians. It won't happen, because in some parts of Israeli academia, the Nakba has turned into the hegemonic school of thought.

The Nakba is a fact. We can and should share in the pain of those who are suffering. The thing is, that unlike the tens of millions who have also experienced expulsion, the Arabs used the Nakba for only one purpose: Fighting against Israel.

In 1949, Egyptian foreign minister Muhammad Salah al-Din Bey clarified that: "It is well-known and understood that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of the Homeland… they mean the liquidation of the State of Israel." In 1959, the Arab League clarified that "The Arab countries will not grant citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their assimilation into the host countries." In 1960, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser clarified that "If the refugees return to Israel – Israel will cease to exist." And Arafat's aide, Sakher Habash, clarified to Palestinian youth that "to us, the refugees issue is the winning card which means the end of the Israeli state." And nowadays, the "right of return" is the banner of the BDS movement, which rejects any agreement with Israel. 

 This article has been republished with permission by www.ynetnews.com. Click here to continue reading.

Ben Dror Yemini | Ynet News

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