Second topic - Different perspective about the the Nakba and right of return

Dear all,

We are opening the the second topic, and I would like to start by telling my own story.
My parents fled to Israel right after WWII, and were inhabited by the newly established government in Jerusalem, in a neighborhood called Baka (Arab name used till today), I grew up in a house I knew belonged to Arab who left/fled during the war of 1948, but as a child I did not pay attention to it.

Right after 67 war, the original residents of the house came to see the place (all I remember is that they lived in the old city and had a coffee shop there), the meeting was strange, both sides were not sure how to behave, they went in, had a look and left, probably very sad about what they have lost, but again we did not pay a lot of attention, the issue of Nakba was strange to us, as all Israelis we grew up on the myth that most of the Palestinian fled, because they were promised by their own leaders to be able to come back later, after the promised victory, and of course the other part of the myth was that the Arabs have 22 countries, so it is up to those countries to 'absorb' the poor refugees, as my parents were 'absorbed' by the Israeli state, when they escaped Europe.

Few years ago I went with mother to Romania to visit the village were she was born, we of course had no intention to go back and live there, and reclaim the house that was left behind, but when we talked to the current residents, we felt that they are suspicious about our intention, and I suddenly realized that now I am on the other side, and that is how the people who lived in my house felt when they visited us.

Since then I my understanding matured, I want to learn more, and I acknowledge the narrative of the other people with which we fight and negotiate, and that is the Nakba, and it is clear to me that there will be no peace unless this issue is discussed and resolved somehow, I do not think the solution is letting everyone come back, but I am sure the solution is not ignoring it, and leaving it as 'their problem' as it is clearly not, it is ours.

We as Jews have our own narrative, and that is based on the holocaust, Palestinians need to understand it, so they will know why the Jews insist on having their own state, as a shelter to all Jews, I am truly very sad it came on expense of another people, but history cannot be changed, we should care about the future, not all Israelis share this way of thinking, I think most of them prefer ignoring the topic.

I'd like to suggest we dicuss this issue, I suggest we ignore the basic question whose blame it is, it is from my point of view an irrelevant question, the issues I'd like to suggest we dicuss are quite different.

Recently I made the connection with organization called Zochrot, I went with them to a tour in one of the destroyed villages near Jerusalem (Ajjur), I saw the reaction of the police and other authorities when they waited for us there, I heard what my friends tell me about making an issue of event in history, which is not our issue, and better be left alone, but yet I think it is important to discuss.

Ranin Geries (Palestinian from Haifa) from Zochrot, volunteered to lead this discussion, she will join this group next week, she will also be able to support Palestinian participants, as she does speak the three languages, and I am sure it will be interesting discussion, but I am also certain it is important one.

The questions Ranin and myself thought will be good to start with are
1. Why is it important to discuss the Nakba, is it not just history? Is it related to our future and how?
2. What is the connection between the Nakba and what is happening today between Arab and Jews?
3. Will the resolution of the Nakba problem also support the resolution of the conflict between Arab and Jews?

I hope you join and I hope we have good debate

Zochrot site
http://www.nakbainhebrew.org/index.php?lang=english

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Mohammed
I completely sympathize with your sentiment but disagree with your claims. allow me to make these remarks:
1. It is quite doubtful that the creation of a functional and a peaceful Palestinian state is at all possible. the difficulties that are involved need to be courageously admitted by the friends of peace, and dealt with seriously, and alternatives must also be weighed.
2. I suggest considering the idea of a one state - not bi-national but uni-national (in which you and i are join together to form one nation!). This idea is too often and too easilly dismissed: usually without even bothering to consider it for two seconds before dismissing it.
3. You do not explicitly say - but you present a picture that seems to say - that all the evil (or the great bulk of it, anyways) is on the Israeli side. This is unhelpful, to state the obvious.

these matters are serious: I do call upon you and all others to treat them with their due seriousness.
Peace
Chen
I am very glad this topic is presented for discussion. I believe it is very important because no conflict can be resolved unless the injustice inflicted on one side by the other is recognized. Many Israelis deny that any injustice was done because, I believe, they feel there is no way to right it. This is untrue, but I believe it's important to understand the dynamics that are work here. I want to tell a little story in relation to this:
Years ago I was riding in a taxi in Jerusalem and got into a discussion with the driver about the conflict. The driver (who was Jewish) was saying (something that many Israeli say): "It's hopeless, they will never make peace with us". I kept nagging him about why he thought this with comments like "why not? they are also people and also want to have better lives with no war". He kept insisting and I kept nagging and finally he said: "BECAUSE OF WHAT WE HAVE DONE TO THEM! I TOO WOULD NEVER FORGIVE IF THE SAME WAS DONE TO ME."
We Israelis must relinquish our self image as morally superior people who have always been victims and are eternally fighting the morally correct war and admit that we have committed crimes against other people, innocent people and that is not easy for us to do. It is the only way we shall ever have real peace in this area of the world. Any person dealing with conflict resolution will explain that the first step in resolving a conflict is to admit that an injustice occured. We must do as the German people did and admit that we have been cruel and wrong and seek a way to fix this injustice. One possible way is to offer fair reparations to those whose homes and land was confiscated. Such a solution is totally viable. we must also stop confiscating more land and relinquish the idea that we must "own" all the land around here because it was mentioned in the bible. These days one hears advertisements on Israeli radio telling various stories from the bible and stating the places they occured, places in the west bank of the Jordan, occupied Palestine. the radio advertisement goes on the explain that places like Bet El (near Ramallah) are a part of our heritage and therefore must not be relinquished to the Palestinians. What a stupid arguement. The bible also mentions the land of Egypt, the Sinai desert, and places that are today in Iraq...so what? does that mean we have to control these areas? We should ask for permission to visit such areas and be glad if it is allowed.
I too live in Baaka, Jerusalem, and live in a house that belonged to Palestinians before 1948. These lovely houses in Baaka are called "arab houses"by everybody, to distinguish them from the newer houses that were built later and are prize for their beauty. In the real estate market the Arab origin of the house is emphasized as they are more desirable and expensive. When my daughter was very small she asked me one day why these houses are called "Arab houses" and I explained to her that they were built and owned and inhabited by Arabs before they were chased away in 1948. My little daughter, who was about 6 years old at that time thought about what I said and then responded, "we should give them back their houses". So I said, "well, it would be the fairest thing, but where would we live then?" she remained silent. The truth is that we could move to another house, but we cannot move totally out of the country and since this whole country, just about consists of land that was taken in war, we must find a solution that is viable to all.
My parents too, like Ron's, came to Israel after surviving the Holocaust. they relinquished all aspirations to retrieve their confiscated home in Czechoslovakia and wanted nothing more to do with the land that persecuted them terribly. They sought to have a new beginning and invested all their energy and dreams in building a new home here. This made the continuation of their lives possible. Perhaps if the Palestinians had had such a possiblity things would have been different, but the fact is that the Palestinians had nothing to invest themselves in and remained in camps, and had great difficulty recieving alternative citizenship. there is no doubt in my mind that if the Arab countries in the surrounding areas were more receptive to the Palestinians they would have been able to rebuild their lives in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt but the fact is they were not and only those few who had the means could continue to develop.
I know many Palestinians who wish to live in peace with us and we must make that possible by first of all recognizing that we have hurt them and then seeking a way to compensate them for this loss. There are those who will not settle for financial compensation and that is problem. Here the Palestinians must make the great effort and come to accept the fact that their homes and villages of 60 years ago are no longer there. This is a matter of education. I know people who live in Palestinian refugee camps, who were born in these camps and still say, "I am from...Beit Jobrin" or some such. I have met small children who live in Dieheshe, a refugee camp outside of Bethlehem who will tell you that they are from Beit Jobrin, which is like me saying that I am from Novezamki in Slovakia. Obviousely these small children have been taught to view themselves as displaced citizens of a place which is no longer there, which has been taken over and colonized. Such an education blocks the way to reconcilation and acceptence. I don't object to children being taught their history, they should be taught where their grandparents came from, as I was taught, but they must find a way to see their future alongside the Israelis. And I believe that many Palestinians know that although we have been cruel and unjust, we also have much to offer and that while they have lost much because of us, there are also many things to be gained from coexistence with us.
We, ofcourse, must face the dark side of our history. I believe this is beginning to happen. Recently Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, published an article about the massacre of Kfar Kassem. What happened in Kfar Kassem was that a curfew was declared in the village (during the 50s) and Palestinians who were working in the fields did not know that a curfew was declared and came home in the evening from their work. Israeli soldiers were order to shoot at these returning workers, even though they did nothing wrong, they were just returning from work in the fields. The article focused on those Israeli soldiers who refused to fire at villagers who were coming home from the fields. In order to refuse to do this they had to refuse a military order and they did, which meant they had to face a military trial for refusing an order.One of these soldiers,in an interview said--"I did not see these villagers as my enemies and would not shoot at them". Needless to say, sadly, there were those Israeli soldiers who did shoot and many died. Still, it's important that this is discussed, that the injustice is aknowledged. without that, we cannot proceed in seeking cooexistence. Israelis must remember how they feel when the Holocaust is denied, it's infuriating.
Dear Nurit.
The things you say I all take as obvious truths.
I invite you to discuss the questions that these truths give rise to, the answers to which are not as obvious. Such as the question, what is it in the logic of the situation at hand that dictates all the cruelty, the evil and the stupidity on our side - as well as those on the other, mind you. It is agreed by all experts that such situations - they are called intractable conflicts - have inner logics. We may as well tend to these inner logics and try to see what they are, what is the source of the strength of their grip, and how to break loose?
Peace
Chen
Dear Chen,
I tried to present a picture in which the Palestinians also have part of the responsibility by referring to the way they educate their children. And also I referred to the fact that the Palestinians were not given equal status by the nieghboring Arab countries they found themselves in. When we grew up in Israel after the HOlocaust, all our attention was not focused on the Germans and other Europeans who persecuted us. OUr attention was focused on building a new country for ourselves. the Palestinians had no such outlet. Israel was blamed for everything. Who really knows what life would have been like if the Nakba had not occured? Palestinians always talk as if they were chased out of the garden of eden...but I"m sure that not everything was perfect for them even before the Nakba and not everything is the fault of the Israelis.
However, we are presently the ones who have the power and control and therefore we are able to do more. AT this point our government continues to make everything worse by continueing with the policies of land confication and wall construction, limitation of daily life...our government makes life very difficult for all the Palestinians and there are things we could do to make life better for them, things that would support the moderate forces in Palestinian society. And also, we could improve the way we educate our children to understand the conflict. OUr eduction is pretty racist and hysterical..that we could change in addition to our policies.
Nurit
My point in asking the specific questions was a bit different
The question of who is to blame is irrelevant now, as we can't determine, we are not judges to decide, and there is no one cause for what happened.
The outcome is what is important, many many people left their home without being able to go back.
On the other hand of the scale we as Israelis are still in conflict, but also assuming that we want to resolve this conflict, with another people and for them the Nakba is their holocaust, pain and misery is very subjective, so maybe the Nakba is not as strong as the Holocaust, but it is painful enough to make many people still carry it in their hearts for so many years.
It is Holocaust for them.
So what do we do as Israelis? Nurit, Chen, myself, what do we need to do aside for praying governments will be wise enough to make peace (one day?)
Should we join activities to memorize the Nakba? Should we talk about it? Should we join the silent majority as Nuirt's taxi diver friend?

See here Zochrot's report from the tour I joined to Ajjur, you should have seen these people from KKL, how they reacted to our symbolic act, how the police was troubled by the appearance of 40 or more peaceful people with children
Is it because we touched an open wound or because we should not do it? Should we carry on? Should we do more? I really do not know

See attached the reports
Attachments:
Dear nurit
Of course I agree with everything you just said. sadly, as I feel confident that you shall agree too, this is not good enough.
Best
Chen
Dear Roni
Whereas I am moved by your story, I admit to having a difficulty with your questions.The answer to the first one seems too obvious: discussing the Nacba is important for several reasons, all of which are obvious, and it is related to our future also, in several obvious ways. the second question seems scattered: there are many ways in which any two things are connected. And the third one is too obscure: what, indeed, is the Nakba problem? It can be rendered less obscure by referring to it as the refugee problem. Also, it is not altogether clear what is meant by "the conflict between the arabs and the Jews": is this a proper description of the conflict in the Middle East? I am not sure.

I fear that I am comming accross as somewhat petty. My experience teaches me, though, that the formulation of questions is dramatically consequential in whatever follows, thus it is no waist of time to examine questions before embarking on the discussion thereof, asking how if at all they are likely to help improve matters and so on. Often, for example, we ask questions to which we know the answer, as a rhetorical device, which means that we are trying to disguise preaching as discussing. Preaching is unhelpful though it is legitimate, I suppose: but preaching in disguise is downright harmful.

How can a question be rendered potent and helpful? how at all can such things be assessed? I myself have some experience in thinking and discussing such matters, and would be glad to share. Yet I do not know how interested you or any of the other friends in this are, so I shall leave it at that now and await response.
Best
chen




But then the question becomes tricky: of course the
Hi Ronny,

I have many emotions after reading the entire conversation here. I will try to explain.
First of all - a feeling of wonder. I had no idea about the Nakba and about what was done on '48. Always I remember the story of the Nakba as something you shouldn't touch, shouldn't hear. The story of the Israeli "heroic struggle" for independence is told as the only possible truth, and I always felt that listening to stories like the Nakba is being unpatriotic to the state I live in.
Second - a feeling of sadness. A lot of pain exists in the refugee camps, and it was caused by my country. I think I'm just starting to see now a new picture, a picture in which we have done great wrongs and there is a lot to fix. And it is our duty to fix, or at least ease the pain and the suffering.
Last but not least - I feel fear. During the reading I felt like wanting to close the browser - shut my ears to this knowledge. Because I felt like reading it will cause a process that at the end of it I will lose my - due to the refugees issue.
I think this fear is very strong in the Israeli mentality and stops every discussion on the matter. The basic survival instinct of any person is programmed to first guard your home and family, and then to help others. I don't think a solution can be of me leaving my home - this is not a solution, but moving the suffering from one person to another. I am interested in learning here what solutions are possible.
Ronny - thank you so much for raising this issue. I can't express how important it is.

Yoav
WOW Yoav, thanks for honesty and openness
Hi Yoav,

I really understand your feeling. It is the same if you shut some one in a cave and he becomes a ghost and you are afraid to open the cave to see what has been done to him all over the time. You hesitate to open the door.
This is very human. We has been raised to look for our self and less to take responsibility about others. But responsibility in general can not get out-of-date. The more it is "ignored" the more value it will has. (look into the energy of global-consciousness)

To avoider responsibility is not because we do not want. But mostley we do not have "easy" access to. We use to accept what is present and comfortable ... Politics arrange it for us ..

Yes, many Palestinian are mad on you, because of what they have experienced due to occupation. This massage of "madness" mostley brought to you over media intensify the picture of the ghost expecting you in the cave. The ghost expecting the evil out-side ~

Yep; the media feed mostly our conceptual reality and not the reality it self. See bellow the call I've got this morning to put an end to this "business".Without blaming who has started, we move in circles of spoiled conceptual reality of destruction. No one side can reveres the spin of the circle on its own. On both sides we must find people to do that.
Mainly Palestinian can disarm Israel strongest weapon "the threat". And mainly Israeli can support Palestinians live in dignity and prosperity.

Wael
---END

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Hi Rony & all/

The topic you spread is a complex one. One has to know much in order to target it. Actually – it revolves about knowing, & already here we encounter a problem – what is the truth about the Nakba? Is it a big crime that the Israelis did, or is it not the Israelis fault? There are many opinions, & the truth is not easy to detect. In addition to that, one have to ask him self – is it important to learn the narrative or just seek for the truth? Narratives tend to be a distortion of the truth, or a partial truth. It is easy for me to believe that just as a major part of the Israelis don’t know the Palestinian narrative, so a major part of the Palestinians themselves are not aware of the actual truth behind their narrative.
I’m speaking of questions such as how the Nakba had happened & why – blame it all on the Israelis I think wouldn’t be fare. Also questions about the identity of the refugees should be addressed. Another topic is to know the story of the Jews – not only the Jews that fled from the holocaust in Europe, but also the story of the Israelis refugees from the Arab states which were more or less the same number as the Palestinian refugees. Also it is important to understand what happened since the Nakba had occur. How come that unlike many refugees all over the world, the Palestinians stayed at this position for so long, & how unlike I think every other case is the world – have a status definition that causing their nr to multiple bout a scale. It is really important to think about all of that & more in order to get some proportion about the problem. It’s important for both Israelis & Palestinians, & from that understanding we can maybe figure out that the solution has to be a compromise.
So – in general – yes, I think it is important to learn about the Nakba – but I think both sides should be very responsible in how they are doing it. Sure – it is also important to understand each others’ feelings, & to understand that each of us is influenced from propaganda, & to understand that it affects the place that people are coming from.
Anyhow – I’m sure that this topic have to be a part of the piece process. Luckily – this subject has been discussed already with most of the people & bodies that are dealing with trying to solve the conflict. Solutions have been suggested. I think maybe if we would urge ourselves – both sides – to support these solutions & end this conflict this would be the most important thing, cause what is really important is the future, not the past, & the sooner the peace would be here – the better. To bring that peace & to sustain it people on both sides will have to learn about this part in our history in as fair manner as possible, & to understand each other, & to understand the need for comparison, & to look ahead for a better future & better relationship between the two nations.
The solution would be, if I can see through, the Israelis taking some part of the blame on themselves, & compensating the Palestinians with money & with some land that would be part of the Palestinian state, & giving some Palestinians the opportunity to return & be Israelis; the Palestinians themselves would have to assemble in their state partially, & many of the Palestinians that are refugees outside of Israel would have to become citizens of the countries they are in – most obvious is Jordan with its 80% of its population Palestinian. the world is ready to help financially, & this solution is very logical in terms of nationalism & in terms of compensation, & from there on, we could start trying to leave in a fair peace.
The term "truth" is used a lot in these kind of discussions. What is the truth? Who is the good guy / bad guy? Who's the oppressor?
I don't think such a truth exists. The historic facts exist, oh yeah, but the narratives are strong enough to distort the picture completely. On one side, the Palestinians are deported out of their peaceful homes to a painful exile. On the other side, Israelis win their freedom in a new land after thousands of years of exile. You can go to either side and hear their stories, and get immersed in them completely and feel like this is the only truth existing. But both truths exist together, and we need to know them both. I do not search for the truth - I search to learn all the narratives of the story, and the to find what can be a win-win solution.
This is why I do not like answers in the form of "it's those brutal Zionists" or "it's these violent Arabs" - both are reactions of people getting carried away in one narrative, immersing themselves in one "truth" - and no good comes of that. The full picture should be in front of our eyes in order to find a solution for everyone.
Thanks. :)

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