The Pathologies of Israel’s Guilty Conscience

Negating the truth about the Nakbah — the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs from what became Israel in 1948 — has been a staple of Jewish-nationalist propaganda as long as I can remember: As a youngster in Habonim, I was told bubbemeis tales about foolish Arabs marching off into the wilderness like zombies after being hypnotized by radio broadcasts urging them to leave; a “miracle” on a par with the parting of the Red Sea that ostensibly gave the Zionist movement the “land without a people” about which it had fantasized. It should have been painfully obvious that this was a preposterous self-serving myth (which even then didn’t account for the fact that the ethnic cleansing was sealed by Israel in one of its founding laws that denied the right of any Arab absent from their property on the day of Israel’s creation to return to that property). But to suggest anything less than a miraculous conception and bloodless birth for the state of Israel was to deny its “legitimacy”, we were told. As international pressure grows for an historic reckoning between Israelis and Palestinians, the frenzy of denial and negation has intensified. Suddenly, Netanyahu is demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”, even though to do so requires that Palestinian refugees simply sign away their birthright, erase their history and identity. Even more bizarre, perhaps, is the effort by members of Israel’s parliament to outlaw commemoration of the Nakba. There are other Israelis, of course, who don’t deny the Nakba, but strive to reveal its history to their fellow citizens, precisely because the pathological denial of their own country’s own history as perpetrators of dispossession and ethnic cleansing, there can be no true healing between Israelis and Palestinians. One such brave and visionary Israeli is Eitan Bronstein, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year. He graciously agreed to allow Rootless Cosmopolitan to republish an English translation of his article published in Yediot Ahoronot today article challenging the proposed Nakba law.

A Response to the Proposal to Ban Commemoration of the Nakba on Independence Day

By Eitan Bronstein

The proposal to legally bar the commemoration of the Nakba on Israel’s Independence Day reflects growing trepidation in Israel about the inevitable encounter with the Palestinian Nakba and the understanding that the Nakba is a foundational part of Israeli identity. Until recently, the threat of exposing the Nakba was barely felt. There was no need to fight this repressed demon, which might suddenly reveal itself and disrupt the seeming calm of a harmonious Jewish democracy. But the Nakba is not a demon, not the fruit of deceptive imagination, and therefore we should not underestimate the challenge facing Israeli society: to recognize Israel’s part in the expulsion of most of the Palestinian inhabitants of the land in 1948, the destruction of most of their localities (upwards of five hundred), the annihilation of urban Palestinian culture, and tens of massacres, rapes, incidents of looting, and dispossession. Looking into so dark a mirror takes courage and maturity, demonstrated in the research of such scholars as Morris, Gelber, Milstein, Khalidi, Pappe, and others, as well as in the diaries of Netiva Ben Yehuda and Yosef Nahmani.

It is not surprising that the “appropriate Zionist response,” to inscribe the forgetting of this human horror into law, comes from the circles of the political right-wing. They have always been more sincere in their racist attitudes toward Arabs in Israel, compared to the Left, which marketed to the world and to us its honest (yet illusory) longing for peace.

More than eighty years ago, it was clear to Jabotinsky, the leader of the historic Right and perhaps the most realistic Zionist thinker, that the establishment of the Jewish state required citizens to be forever soldiers under the protection of the “Iron Wall.” Jabotinsky understood that Jewish existence depended upon violent strength, on killing and being killed in a predominantly Arab region that would never accept them. A year ago his student, Tzipi Livni, suggested that Palestinians remove the word ‘Nakba’ from their lexicon as part of a comprehensive peace deal. Our current Prime Minister announced during his recent campaign that he would expunge the Nakba from educational curricula (since when has the Nakba been taught anyway?) and would order the teaching of Jabotinsky’s legacy.

The Greek philosopher Thrasymachus taught us that “the law is what is good for the stronger,” but no law, not even that of the democratic Jewish Knesset, can erase the horrors of history. Traces of these horrors will always be visible, in both personal and collective memory and forgetfulness. In Israel, the sabras, prickly cactus bushes, have become vivid and thorny monuments of the Palestinian Nakba. This obstinate plant was brought by the Palestinians from Mexico to mark and defend their territory. The sabra not only persists in the landscape long after Israel expelled those who planted it, it also grows wild despite attempts to eradicate it. Perhaps, in response, the Israeli government should make it unlawful to eat its fruit?

At the same time, remembrance of the Nakba is growing and takes root in the deepening fissures in the Iron Wall. The Palestinian refugees – the majority of Palestinians are, indeed, refugees – have mourned the Nakba from the moment it occurred and demand justice. After the Oslo Accords, when they realized their concerns would be pushed aside indefinitely, they began to struggle effectively against the worldwide disregard for their tragedy. However, the proposed law to forget the Nakba is in actuality a response to cultural shifts in Jewish-Israeli society to coping with this disaster. The real threat to the colonialist Iron Wall occurs as the majority of its soldiers refuse to obey the commandment not to remember. In the last few years, hundreds of Jews in Israel (and around the world) have participated in events commemorating the Nakba during Israel’s Independence Day. In recent years hundreds of Israelis have turned to Zochrot – an organization working to bring the Nakba to the consciousness of Jews in Israel – to request information on the topic. Journalists, writers, architects, as well as people in film, television, and theater who grew up on the good old stories of Israel seek to discover their repressed past. Educators are requesting the educational packet on the Nakba developed by Zochrot. Soldiers from the Palmach are turning to Zochrot towards the end of their lives to share stories of what they did and saw in 1948.

Who knows, maybe the day is not far off when the choice at the center of the political debate will be the State of Israel as it is today versus recognition of the Nakba and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. When this day comes, the citizens of Israel will be able to choose between two clear visions: separation and perpetual violence versus a life of equality for all the country’s residents and refugees. To hurry this day forward, maybe we should make up another Hebrew word: “de-colonization.”

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36 Responses to The Pathologies of Israel’s Guilty Conscience

  1. James A. Everett says:

    Without facing the truth about the Nakbah there can never be a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem. The two-state solution builds on the fallacy that Israel would permit Palestine to exercise true sovereignty. The time has come when the world needs to help Israel-Palestine seek a one-state solution. Impossible, you say. Look at South Africa, Northern Ireland, etc. It CAN BE DONE.

  2. Linguistic note: the word you’re seeking instead of “bubbemeis” is “bubbemeises”. The singular would be “bubbemeiseh”. It is a compound word, from the Ukrainian for grandmother (bubbeh) and the Hebrew and Yiddish for tale or story (ma’aseh). The plural is Yiddish (ma’assim would have been the Hebrew one).

    Israel’s attempt to destroy the history of Palestine won’t work. We remember it. They can’t put *everyone* in jail or declare the entire world anti-semitic, can they?

  3. Tony says:

    Dena — thanks for the correction, although I was using the word in a (non-traditional) adjectival sense. But I must take issue with your etymology of bubbemeises — according to Michael Wax’s marvelous history of Yiddish titled “Born to Kvetch”, your explanation is the traditional one handed down to us over the past two centuries etc, but it’s a latterday mangling of the original usage, is based on some of the first popular fiction translated into Yiddish — a series of Arthurian-type Knights tales, in which the main character was named Bove (accent on the e) — Bove-meises was popular slang for tall tales, but over the centuries, the word survived longer than the books on which it was based, so somewhere along the line people started believing it meant an equivalent of “old wives’ tale”…

    Declare the entire world anti-Semitic? Well, when I was a young Zionist that was pretty close to what we were told!

  4. Interesting etymology, thanks! The Yiddish word survives in its modern Hebrew form “sipurei savta”, which counts as “grandmothers’ stories”, which are presumed a priori to be wrong.

    I concur about the declaration of anti-Semitism. The first time I was called an anti-Semite was when I was about 12, and had not sufficiently helped my mother in her sabbath preparations. Thus I was, according to my teacher, helping Hitler.

    It took about 30 more years for me to give up fighting those charges.

  5. Arie Brand says:

    One standard way of dealing with a bad conscience is denial. This explains why Joan Peters’ fraudulent book ‘From Time Immemorial’ which claimed that most expelled Palestinians were only recent immigrants to Israel was originally such a success, even with distinguished professional historians such as, for instance,Simon Schama and Barbara Tuchman.

    Denial had earlier taken the form of the myth regarding the voluntary departure of the Arabs. The story that in the 1948 War Palestinians left the territory because they were exhorted to do so by their own leaders had remarkable longevity – and one can find it on some hasbara sites until the day of today (as also praise for Peters’ book).

    Yet, I am intrigued by the fact that certain clear sighted Jewish intellectuals did not accept this myth even before the Israeli ‘new historians’ set out to shoot it down.

    One of them was the French orientalist and sociologist Maxime Rodinson, a ‘dejudaised Jew’, who had nevertheless been harshly reminded of his origins by the fact that both of his parents perished in Auschwitz. In his ‘Israel and the Arabs’ that, both in its French and English version appeared in 1968, he wrote:

    “Several hundred thousand Arabs fled their homes in the territory later to become Israel at the time of the war of 1948. The official line is that they were incited to leave by the Arab leaders themselves. This theory is accepted by most foreign commentators, but except in a few limited cases without any historical evidence.There were many causes for the Arab exodus, the main one being simply that which operated in Spain during the Civil War or in France in 1940: to get away from the theatre of military operations. The fear of Jewish terrorism also played a major part, even though the terror was sporadic and restricted. The massacre of Deir Yassin, despite the condemnation of it by the ruling Jewish bodies, was fearfully effective as an act of terror.”

    There is no suggestion here of a deliberate expulsion of Palestinians through terror as an aspect of “Plan Dalet”, an idea that Walid Khalidi already came up with in the early sixties and has later, among Israeli historians, mainly been supported by Ilan Pappe.

    Nevertheless Rodinson’s version is quite different from that of his French contemporary, the very distinguished sociologist Raymond Aron. In his “De Gaulle, Israel and the Jews” that appeared at about the same time as Rodinson’s book, he wrote:

    “The land for the State of Israel was bought in the first place from its Muslim owners with money collected by the Jews of the diaspora; the flight of the Muslims at the start of the ‘war of liberation’enabled them to take possession of a territory containing the Holy Places of the three religions of salvation. The Israelis assert, rightly, that they did not chase the Muslims out, but that they left hoping to return victorious.”

    Yet Aron too described himself as a “dejudaised” Jew and non-Zionist. “But” he wrote “I also know, more clearly than in the past, that in the event of the State of Israel being destroyed (an event that would be accompanied by the massacre of part of the population) I should be wounded in the very depths of my being. In this sense, I have confessed that a Jew can never achieve a perfect objectivity where Israel is concerned” and, interestingly, he adds between brackets “the position adopted by Maxime Rodinson is likewise marked by its non-obejctivity”. Well,perhaps so, bit it was in any case more in accordance with the facts as we now know them.

    To be fair to Aron I must also quote another statement by him that shows that his ‘primordial attachment’ to Israel did not totally blind him to the Arab case. Directly after his rather preposterous statement about the land being bought and just occupied after the voluntary departure of its original occupants he wrote:

    “That the Israelis should have invoked historical rights of priority convinces nobody. After a few centuries a prescription operates. When Nehru took over Goa by force, denying claims based on five centuries of occupation, Western opinion was indignant … How could it recognize a claim to ownership dating back to more than two thousand years? The State of Israel has been carved out by the sword ..”

    Israel can incite a particular dynamic between logic and emotions.

  6. Bill says:

    I am not aware that Simon Schama supported Joan Peter’s claims in “From Time Immemorial.” Could you provide a citation?

  7. Arie Brand says:

    After cruising the internet for a while I have come to the conclusion that my memory has played a trick on me by letting me confuse his glowing praise for another questionable book (Goldhagen’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners …”) with that for Peters’ opus.

    Thanks for the correction.

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  9. Emmanuel says:

    It looks like the Nakba bill is going to be less radical than its original version. It will ban the use of public funds to pay for Nakba commemoration, but it won’t deny private citizens the right to publicly mourn the creation of Israel.

  10. Constantine Gboa says:

    What would happen if Israel decided to make a specific day to commemorate the victory at Deir Yassin? Would you have a problem with this?

  11. Tony says:

    Constantine — frankly, that would be more honest than trying to pretend it never happened. The reason Israel doesn’t celebrate Dir Yassein isn’t out of sensitivity to its Arab citizens, it’s because it prefers to turn away from acknowledging the abuses that went into the creation of the State of Israel

  12. Constantine Gboa says:

    No one in Israel said that Deir Yassin never happened. The difference between the Naqba and the stains that happened in other nations history is that no one is using American slavery nor the Turkish genocide of Armenians, nor the victims of the Cultural revolution to assail the legitimacy of the US, Turkey, or China. However, commemorating Naqba is to question the legitimacy of Israel. Tony, why do you question the legitimacy of Israel, when you dont question the legitimacy of any other nation?

  13. Y. Ben-David says:

    It should be added that it was the ARABS who started the war that they said openly would be a war of genocide against the Jews that led to the so-called “Naqba”. Odd how the commentators above forget to mention that.

  14. Tony says:

    Constantine — don’t be silly. You say yourself that many nations were born in bloodshed, so why does Israel’s “legitimacy” get questioned by commemorating the Nakbah? Nation states don’t typically come into being because others around them suddenly accept their “legitimacy”. Israel is an historic fact, but it can’t escape the legacy of its founding, and the impact it had on another people. The only question you have to ask yourself, and answer honestly, is what would you do if you’d been unlucky enough to have been born Palestinian? I still think the most honest Israeli answer came from none other than current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, when running for election in 1998, who was asked it on the campaign trail, and answered that he’d have joined a fighting organization.

  15. Emmanuel says:

    Considering that Jews have been on the other side – being driven from their homes time after time (Spain, England, Arab countries, etc.) – you just have to look at the history books for an answer. Jews would try to rebuild their lives as best as they can under their new circumstances.

    That doesn’t mean that if I were a Palestinian I’d accept the status-quo. I’d work towards getting the best I can achieve now (the two-state solution). I wouldn’t keep on fighting for a one-state solution and/or the return of refugees into Israel, like many Palestinians do. The Nakba is a fact, but an irreversible one.

    “The reason Israel doesn’t celebrate Dir Yassein isn’t out of sensitivity to its Arab citizens, it’s because it prefers to turn away from acknowledging the abuses that went into the creation of the State of Israel”

    No, Israel doesn’t celebrate Dir Yassin because we’re ashamed of it. You make it sound like we’re quietly proud of all kinds of atrocities.

  16. DaveS says:

    Arle Brand – Excellent analysis in post no. 5. Certainly the Arab leaders’ incitement myth has staying power to this day. It also was called into question by Erskine Childers back in the 50’s and 60’s. See

    Of course, aside from the lack of evidentiary support, it never made any sense anyway, for many reasons. Why would the Arab civilians have to leave to make way for the Arab armies to invade? This wasn’t a phone booth. And what of civilians who disobeyed these supposed orders to leave? Wouldn’t they be risking their lives rather than preventing the invasion? Then there is the troubling chronology. The Zionist myth was that if the Arab armies had not invaded the newborn state on May 15, there would have been no war and no refugee crisis. But Deir Yassin occurred five weeks earlier, and about a third of the refugees – over 200,000 – already had fled by May 15. Isn’t it clear that these refugees left for the same reason refugees always flee? To save their lives. The effort to single them out as responsible for their own dispossession was always transparently ridiculous.

    On the chronology issue, Alan Dershowitz has taken note of the problem, and now accuses the Arabs of causing the refugee crisis by their aggression in 1947-1948. Whatever…
    Of course, Dershowitz has repeatedly put forth the alternative argument. Not only are the Arab state leaders responsible for inciting mass flight, the Palestinians deserve it because of their responsiblity for the Holocaust. The notion that they should not be punished for the sins of others is a demonstrably false myth spread by Ahmadinejad and his ilk. The Mufti was a Nazi supporter, and the Palestinians considered him their national hero; therefore, the Palestinians were responsible, at least partially, for the Holocaust, and deserve to have been displaced for their collective Nazi allegiance. Say what you want about the man, but Dershowitz deserves high marks for creativity and daring. (He also punctuates his argument with outrageous dishonesty, but that’s another story entirely.)

    In addition to the Peters thesis, the Arab leaders’ incitement, and the Mufti connection, there probably are other theories as to why the Palestinians deserved their fate. They may make no sense, they may be internally inconsistent or conflict with each other, but they are all hungrily devoured by those who seek to deny the obvious simple fact that the Zionist movement targeted innocent civilians for diplacement and disppossession, and to a very large degree, succeeded. It took the US a very long time to come to grips with the historical record of its brutal mistreatment of Native Americans (even my daughters’ history textbooks in the late 90’s repeated utter nonsense), and Israelis are still struggling with acceptance of the truth.

    One other thing the Arab incitement myth demonstrates is how early the Israeli leaders recognized the need for justification. Unlike the Peters thesis that dates from the 1980’s (I’m not sure if it was proposed earlier) and the Mufti connection, the incitement myth began virtually contemporaneously with the events, as far as I can tell. Good foresight!

    Arle, I have to say that’s a bad mistake you made about Schama. Before I saw Bill’s request for documentation, I was ready to research it myself. I think support for Peters’s ridiculous book is a stain on anyone’s reputation, and while Schama may not be otherwise blameless, he doesn’t deserve that. Still, I know mistakes happen. I’ve made my share.

  17. Arie Brand says:

    Among the people who, “avant la lettre” as it were, protested against the incitement myth I also want to mention the Dutch author Renate Rubinstein. She did so in her 1967 book “Jood in Egypte, Goi in Israel” but based herself, as far as this particular myth was concerned, to a large extent on Maxime Rodinson whose very long article “Israel, fait colonial” appeared in Sartre’s “Les Temps Modernes” in June 1967.I owe Rubinstein’s book a debt of gratitude because it was the first publication that enabled me to look through the myths though, alas, at a much later date than it was published.

    YBD, who can always be relied upon to recycle Israeli propaganda, has done so on this occasion by reminding us that “the Arabs … started the war”.He finds it “odd” that we forgot to mention this.

    Well, DaveS has already stated in post no. 16 that Deir Yassin happened before the Arab “invasion” and that the refugee crisis also started before that fateful day in May 1948. The simple fact is that the first phase in the war, in which the Jews had by far the better of it, started in 1947. It is odd how YBD forgot to mention this.

    People who didn’t forget this, together with quite a few other things, are to be found in the
    the British group “Jews for Justice in the Middle East”. I have quoted from their website before but believe this to be a good occasion to do so again:

    “The UN Partition
    of Palestine

    Why did the UN recommend the plan partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state?

    “By this time [November 1947] the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition…The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote ‘to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views.’…Some delegates charged U.S. officials with ‘diplomatic intimidation.’ Without ‘terrific pressure’ from the United States on ‘governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals,’ said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution ‘would never have passed.’” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”

    Why was this Truman’s position?

    “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” President Harry Truman, quoted in “Anti Zionism”, ed. by Teikener, Abed-Rabbo & Mezvinsky.

    Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

    “Arab rejection was…based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body – a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least…The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

    Were the Zionists prepared to settle for the territory granted in the 1947 partition?

    “While the Yishuv’s leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israel’s society – including…Ben-Gurion – were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state’s borders beyond the UN earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians.” Israeli historian, Benny Morris, in “Tikkun”, March/April 1998.

    Public vs private pronouncements on this question.

    “In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine’…In 1948, Menachem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever.” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

    The war begins

    “In December 1947, the British announced that they would withdraw from Palestine by May 15, 1948. Palestinians in Jerusalem and Jaffa called a general strike against the partition. Fighting broke out in Jerusalem’s streets almost immediately…Violent incidents mushroomed into all-out war…During that fateful April of 1948, eight out of thirteen major Zionist military attacks on Palestinians occurred in the territory granted to the Arab state.” “Our Roots Are Still Alive” by the People Press Palestine Book Project.

    Zionists’ disrespect of partition boundaries

    “Before the end of the mandate and, therefore before any possible intervention by Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied…most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948. Tiberias was occupied on April 19, 1948, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14, 1948…In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution.” British author, Henry Cattan, “Palestine, The Arabs and Israel.”

    Culpability for escalation of the fighting

    “Menahem Begin, the Leader of the Irgun, tells how ‘in Jerusalem, as elsewhere, we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive…Arabs began to flee in terror…Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while all the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter’…The Israelis now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May 1948. But that was the second phase of the war; they overlook the massacres, expulsions and dispossessions which took place prior to that date and which necessitated Arab states’ intervention.” Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.”

    The Deir Yassin Massacre of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers

    “For the entire day of April 9, 1948, Irgun and LEHI soldiers carried out the slaughter in a cold and premeditated fashion…The attackers ‘lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them,’…The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country.” Israeli author, Simha Flapan, “The Birth of Israel.”

    Was Deir Yassin the only act of its kind?

    “By 1948, the Jew was not only able to ‘defend himself’ but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes’…Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.’” Norman Finkelstein, “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.” ”

    And here are a a few more apposite quotes from elsewhere:

    David Ben-Gurion: (in an address delivered to American Zionists in Jerusalem on 3 September 1950):

    “Until the British left, no Jewish settlement, however remote, was entered or seized by the Arabs, while the Haganah, under severe and frequent attack, captured many Arab positions and liberated Tiberias and Haifa, Jaffa and Safad” (Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1954, p. 530).

    The ‘liberation’ of Jaffa is a misnomer – it was in fact in the territory allotted to the Arab.

    Menachem Begin: “In the months preceding the Arab invasion, and while the five Arab states were conducting preparations, we continued to make sallies into
    Arab territory. The conquest of Jaffa stands out as an event of first-rate importance in the struggle for Hebrew independence early in May, on the eve of the invasion by the five Arab states” (Menachem Begin, The Revolt, Nash, 1972, p. 348)

    What still amazes me is that the territorial gains the Israelis made in the war of 1948, up and above the territory allotted to them in the UN partition plan, are now more or less tacitly accepted as belonging to their legitimate territory, even though holding on to land gained in acts of war has been against international law since the 1930’s. The Palestinians have had no Israeli thanks in any shape or form for the fact that they have also accepted this and now only lay claim to 22% of Palestine as it was in 1947.

  18. DaveS says:

    Re your last point, Arie (sorry I got your name wrong before), another pro-Israel position is that no one protested the Egyptian and Jordanian “occupation” of Gaza and the West Bank from 1948-1967, implying that those who condemn Israel’s occupation must be anti-Semitic. But that argument necessarily questions the legitimacy of one-third of Israel’s pre-1967 territory as well.

  19. Nimrod Tal says:

    Israel is illegitimate because it is a Jewish state

  20. Tony says:

    No it isn’t. There’s no such thing as a Jewish state

  21. Nimrod Tal says:

    Then what is Israel?

  22. Tony says:

    Good question, Nimrod. Israel is a state with an ethnic-Jewish majority and a huge apartheid problem. There’s nothing about Israel, or any other state for that matter, that encapsulates the values at the heart of Judaism. And nor is it, as Bibi would have it, the “state of the Jews” because the majority of Jews have, like Einstein, said no, thank you, to the option of living there…

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  24. Nimrod Tal says:

    Is Cuba any less of a Cuban state, since perhaps a majority of Cubans live outside of Cuba? What exactly makes you an authority on Jewish values?

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  27. lala says:

    The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination.

  28. The declaration of Israeli independence. Despite the concern. But it needs to be done.

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