Nakba and Holocaust.
Nakba and Holocaust are the titles of a new book edited in Hebrew, that broke a wave of demonstrations among Israelis. How dare anyone to put the two words together?
I went to the opening event in Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, and a small group of protesters was standing with signs opposing the event. Shocks in the eyes and words, blaming Israelis there for being holocaust deniers, and voices angrily for the fact of comparing the Nakba to the Shoa.
As I was entering with my daughter, she said; it is true there is no comparison. I said questioning: what do you mean. She answered laughing with rushing steps: well, the Holocaust never actually took place.
My daughter has been into those readings and theories of the no Holocaust debate. I responded to her saying: well, this could be too much for a statement, but let’s imagine it happened, and it happened according to their narrative. Would the comparison still count?
We didn’t have much time to maneuver around our discussion. The scene of protesters and ambulance on guard for an emergency eruption made the whole atmosphere filled with tension as we walked into the full seminar hall.
I have this thing to this place particularly. Each time it reminds me of the whole concept of being Palestinian. The difference in perception between a Palestinian like me, and a Palestinian who researches in this place. A Palestinian who is Israeli. I remember my first interaction with that when I went to a seminar on education that a group of my friends participated in some ten years ago. I remember leaving that place writing an essay with the title “ not only have they occupied the land, but also the minds.” I was happy that moment for being under what was still called the 67 occupied people of that occupation, not the 48. I was grateful for our education that was not contaminated yet (no more of that wishful thinking since then) with Zionist thinking and approaches that are really not easy to realize until you are sitting in a seminar room surrounded wit ha panel that is confirmed of Arabs and Israelis whom you are an outsider among them.
I was listening to the discussion of yesterday’s topic. My rationalist, practical side was taking her on the side in being impressed and also grateful to that Israeli side of the coin. People who are there for the sake of research. The truth that prevails itself within investigation and academic disclosure that only allows healthier discourse to take place no matter how cautious one tries to be. It opens a channel of a conversation that cannot close quickly, regardless of the criticism and resistance to it. It was a discussion that made me stop however to an older idea. How important is my presence in such a session? When mentioning the Nakba.
Is it what took place in 1948? Or what is still going on.
Is the resemblance in the massacres, the exile, and exodus of half a population?
Or is it in a wall of apartheid and the Burning of a child and a teenager. In burning trees and stealing lands. Is it in those checkpoints borders? Terror police and army? Is it target f children, demonstrators? Demolishing houses? The ongoing threat of a current state of fear. A fear of a real fear is threatened by exile in its best face?
Somehow I was thinking of us Arabs in this case. As the Arab speakers were talking. After all, they were talking about their own state with their own people, who were the fellow Jews. The whole discourse would have taken a different angle being seen from a perspective of Palestinian like me maybe.
The Arab, who became an Israeli as a result of the Nakba, enjoys a status that can make him enter a debate for his own rights. His nakba ended shortly after the existence of Israel somehow. It is what happened then to his village or town that he still perceive as a resemblance to what he encounters with the Holocaust.
To this I would say, the argument may fall with a shortage of power. The expulsion of half of the population and the massacres of hundreds or even thousands wouldn’t actually mount to a took place in the Holocaust. It is what has been happening since then that can make the resemblance. The life of ghettos that Palestinians live in within a checkpoint, a border, a police state and a massive apartheid wired cement wall. The targeting of Palestinian children and youth as if being out on hunting seasons is what seems like a holocaust. The burning of houses with its inhabitants. The ambush on farms, the stealing of olive trees, the renaming, reshaping, and remaking of a history that is becoming Jewish on the lives of what is us, is the ongoing holocaust.
After all, the Holocaust resulted in the savagely brutal murder of six million Jews, the survival of the rest who are many times more proves that in the series of those crimes people still had lived … lives that may in many ways be like out lives… a daily Palestinian life.