Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tale of the Reversed Narrative

THE TALE OF THE REVERSED NARRATIVE

By Yisrael Medad

This is not a normal mystery tale. There is no Sherlock Holmes nor a Dr. Watson involved. Nevertheless, it has always been an enigma to me, and perhaps others, how figures of Israel’s Post-Zionist camp get away with their sleight-of-mind propaganda shenanigans.

Post-Zionism I consider the most deconstructionist (no pun intended) unarmed element to Israel’s security and future existence. The Hebrew University’s Baruch Kimmerling, a leading icon of this camp, published an example of its outlook this month at the trendy Salon.com web site. Entitled “The two catastrophes”, he asserted, in a claim of fatuous equivalency, that both Israelis and Palestinians have memories “marked by inconceivable tragedy” that need be understood so that each can move beyond the past.

Kimmerling’s warped approach becomes even more devious for he goes on to claim that “the ethnic cleansing of Arabs must be seen within the context of the Holocaust”, a situation that need be balanced so as “to reach a certain ‘equilibrium of catastrophes’." In doing this, Kimmerling would appear to play loose with historical facts. His alternative, post-zionist narrative is less than authentic. It is, indeed, more than disingenuous for he, like his fellow travelers, is hiding the truth.

While he agrees in the article with the late Edward Said that even though in 1948, “the Jews carried out [brutal] ethnic cleansing”, this “cannot be compared with the systematic genocide of the Holocaust”. But he is less than generous with his sympathy because he considers the introduction of the Holocaust into the discourse “insufferable because the Palestinians are not an ‘involved party’ to the Holocaust.”

Going one step further, Biblical roots of Jews in the Holy Land, the Hebrew University professor points out, are but a 2,000 year old argument which is countered by one of just a mere 57 years ago. “This whole strange game of ‘who preceded whom’ is,” to Kimmerling’s thinking, “an absurdity.”

Here, then, is where the two narratives, one a complete reverse of the actual course of events, must unlink themselves.

First, ethnic cleansing, used here as a predated solecism, was pursued first by the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate. In March 1920, Arabs expelled Jews from Tel Hai and in 1921 tried to do oust the Jews from Petah Tikva, then a 40 year-old settlement. In August 1929, they succeeded, through a brutal three-week pogrom campaign, to cleanse Hebron, Shchem and Gaza of its Jewish population that extended back centuries. Other communities were razed. Later, in the 1948 war, Jews of Bet Ha’Arava, Kfar Darom, Neveh Yaakov, Atarot and the Old City of Jerusalem were “cleansed” out of their homes.

But more basically, throughout that pre-state period, Arabs opposed any right of domicile whatsoever of Jews anywhere in the Mandate territory, which, we need be reminded, extended from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It was their constant demand to limit and restrict and, eventually, depopulate the country of Jews. That pernicious attitude continues today but is ignored by the proponents of a “post” era.

Second, too often overlooked is the crucial influence the Arabs of Palestine had on British colonial policy in the late 1930s that dovetailed with the eventual horrific consequences of Hitler’s intentions. The Arab violence, both urban and rural, in 1933 and then, beginning with Sheikh Aziz A-Din El-Qasam in 1935 and continuing throughout 1936-1939, was the main factor that caused the British regime to close the gates to Jewish immigrants from Europe.

Palestine Arabs, supported by the weapons and irregular forces of neighboring Arab countries, effectively allowed Hitler to catch as many as six million Jews in his Holocaust net rather than tens, or perhaps, hundreds of thousands escaping to the Land of Israel. It was, in the main, their terror that pressured the British into formulating the White Paper of 1939 that limited land purchases and prevented entry to Jews fleeing persecution. British archives, as Bernard Wasserstein revealed in his 1979 study “Britain and the Jews of Europe”, are full of the notes of colonial officials who thwarted attempts to get refugees out of the clutches of the Nazis, then were caught up in the death camps, due to Arab influence.

The Holocaust could not have been as accomplished as it was without the lending hand of the Arabs. They cannot escape their culpability and pseudo-academics who ignore this ugly chapter in the relations between Jews and Arabs during the Palestine Mandate period

Third, Kimmerling overlooks the very active participation of the leader of Palestine’s Arabs, Mufti Amin El-Husseini, and others in Holocaust efforts. These included propaganda broadcasts to the Arab world, mobilizing Muslim units to fight alongside Hitler’s Waffen SS, parachuting Arab agents into the Mandate to poison its water supply as well as residence in Berlin. He called on Hitler to “accord to Palestine…the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements…by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries.”

Kimmerling and others of his ilk promote the false idea that Israel was founded and built upon the ruins of an Arab society and culture, a tale of a reversed narrative.

(a slightly different, edited version of this piece appeared in the Jerusalem Post on December 30, 2004 at
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/P/Subs/Entry&cl=1&finish=ContentServer%3Fpagename%3DJPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull%2526cid%3D1104291022963 )

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