Monday, May 20, 2019

Israeli Independence Day and Lag B'Omer vs. Nakba

Most Israeli Jews celebrated Israeli Independence Day (according to the Hebrew calendar) recently. Meanwhile, thousands of Israel’s Arab citizens decried the “Nakba” (The Catastrophe), namely the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, with a day of protest and mourning.

Israel’s Arab community protested and mourned again, on May 15th (the general calendar date), when the British Mandate was officially terminated, and the State of Israel came into being. Israeli Arab Mk Ahmad Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al), spoke at a Nakba Day event in Ramallah, in the Palestinian Authority. Yet, Israeli Jews will have fun, singing and dancing on Lag B’Omer.

Arab MKs Ayman Odeh (Hadash-Ta’al) and Mtanes Shehadeh (Balad) spoke at a Nakba ceremony, just outside the gate of Tel Aviv University. Shehadeh reminded the mob, that on Nakba day, “We remember the expulsion of more than 700,000 people from their lands, the destruction of more than 530 Palestinian towns and the murder of many others. Israel has been trying for 71 years to erase the Palestinian’s identity and collective memory by any possible colonial means, from the Nation-State Law to the ‘deal of the century,’ to squelching freedom of expression, demolishing homes, political persecution and continual occupation and violation of international law.”

MK Uzi Dayan (Likud) said he condemned the statements made by the Arab MKs, and the idea of Nakba day in general. “Seventy-one years have passed and for you, nothing has changed,” Dayan said. “You are stuck in 1948, while we march toward 2048. We send a spaceship to the moon and you fly incendiary balloons over the Gaza border. Your thoughts and behaviors are your Nakba,” Dayan concluded.

In the Gaza Strip, thousands rioted by the fence, as was expected, and launched incendiary balloons into Israel. Israeli firefighters in southern Israel had to put out nine fires.

So while the Jews were happy and dancing, on Independence Day, and then will dance again, on the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s death (hundreds of thousands flock to his grave in Meron annually), the Arabs are crying this time of year, over the tragedies, they claim befell them.

That says everything...

Several years ago, in Lod, a Jewish city in Israel, with Arabs living there, over 1,500 Israeli Arabs attended a “Nakba Day” rally. MK and Balad party leader Jamal Zahalka said to them, “This is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people. Lod is a special place for us, because it is here that the massacre [?] of 1948 took place at the Great Mosque, and that is why the city has become a symbol for us. Our message is that we will never forget and never forgive for what happened. We have come here to say that the Arab population will remain in Lod forever.”

What really happened in Lod?

Several major attacks by Arab forces occurred in the Lod area during Israel’s War of Independence. Lod and Ramle were counter-attacked by the IDF because they were on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road and convoys attempting to resupply and reinforce Jerusalem had to travel through the streets of the two towns, routinely under fire. The IDF could not afford to allow Jerusalem to be cut off from the rest of the country.

Yitzhak Rabin, then a commander involved in the operation, later said he agreed with Ben-Gurion’s order to expel the Arabs of Ramle and Lod. The Arabs in Lod were “armed and hostile,” Rabin said, presenting a danger, and they had to be driven away. Fighting with Arab gunmen took place, but no massacre occurred, the enemy during wartime was dealt a heavy blow.

Lod is a town where till this day, the Arab population has been consistently harassing the Jewish population. See my article, “The Jewish Struggle Against Arabs in Israel.”

“This is our memorial day,” National Democratic Assembly member Gabi Tanus said, in Lod at the time. “It is more important to us than the Holocaust is to the Jewish nation.”

Notice according to them, the Arabs suffered more than the Jews did from the Holocaust...

Lag B’Omer and Israeli Independence Day...

Lag B’Omer marks the end of a period of mourning, over the death of thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students. Rabbi Akiva was an arms smuggler for Bar Kochba’s revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea (according to Maimonides). Tradition tells us that the 24,000 students died during a plague, because of their behavior toward each other. But, Rav Sherira Gaon, and others, claim they died in the battles to liberate Judea from the Roman occupation, basically like Hesder Yeshiva guys today in the IDF.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi (one of Rabbi Akiva’s top students), was a vocal critic of the Roman occupation, and was forced to flee for his life and hide in a cave, because he was found out. There, he and his son studied Torah night and day for 13 years, till the “secrets of creation” were revealed to him. His teachings were later written down as “The Zohar,” the Book of Splendor, a mystical commentary on the Hebrew Bible.

Just as the Jews of Judea fought and gained independence from the “super-power of their time,” the Roman Empire, for 3 and a half years, Modern Israel finally gained independence, over 1,800 years later.

And the Arabs? They sit and weep, just as Jews did for those intervening 1,800 years. The only difference is that the Arabs are a recent settler population, who came to the Land of Israel only in the last hundred years or so, and have no real connection to this place, in spite of their weeping (and terrorism).

For example, Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the PLO, claimed in 2014 that he is a direct descendant of the Canaanite tribes who lived in Israel some 9,000 years ago. Yet according to Erekat’s own Facebook entry, the Erekat clan is from the northwestern Arabian Peninsula and settled in the Palestine area around 1860. See also, my article, “Who is a Palestinian Refugee.”

Notice they are not mourning the loss of the 1967 territories, but all of “Palestine.”

Coming up in about two weeks is Jerusalem Day. Jews the world over will celebrate the liberation of Eastern Jerusalem, with it’s Temple Mount and Western Wall. Hebron, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights were all delivered out of the hands of the Arab occupiers and into the hands of their rightful Jewish owners.

Israeli Arabs were never a happy bunch, even though they have full civil equality, for example, there’s an Israeli Arab supreme court justice. But since Oslo, there has been growing “Palistinization” within their community, brought on by their involvement with Palestinians from the PA. Combined with their growing vocal repudiation of Israeli Independence Day as their “Catastrophe;” its proven to many Israeli Jews, what they always suspected, many Israeli Arabs are not trustworthy citizens.

The Israel Democracy Institute’s recent study, the “2018 Democracy Index,” asked, “Does Israel have the right to be defined as the nation-state of the Jewish people?” 69.2% of Israeli Arabs, Somewhat or Strongly Disagreed.

And, when the Israel Democracy Institute’s “The Peace Index of April 2017” asked, “To what extent do you feel yourself to be part of the State of Israel and its problems?” It found that only 57.5% of Israeli Arabs agreed, compared to 82% of Israeli Jews.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s “Israeli Democracy Ranking and Poll of 2010,” 53% of Israeli Jews said, "the government should encourage Arabs to emigrate."

Similarly, the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, conducted a poll from October 2014 to May 2015, and found that 48% of Israeli Jews said they agreed with the statement that, “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.”

Maybe Israel will one day soon, decide to solve its “Arab security and demographic problem,” the way most Jews in Israel would like to, not by expelling Jews from parts of their ancestral homeland (like what happened in Gush Katif), but by removing “the thorns in our side,”(Numbers 33:55), like Ben-Gurion and Rabin understood to do.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2019/5779 Pasko