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The Media Naqba - Suppressing History Benefits No-One

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Message Jordan Thornton
After all the recent coverage and condemnation of the tactics of violent repression employed by embattled Arab regimes against their populations, by both the press and political officials, even when responding to foreign-backed militant attacks, it was heartbreaking to watch as Israel's use of similar tactics against peaceful protestors was met with virtual silence by these same politicians, and characterized as "Palestinian-Israeli violence" or even "Palestinian attacks" by the media. Israel reacted to May 15 demonstrations to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba with live ammunition, killing at least 15 civilians, and wounding hundreds more.

Most of the reports claimed that the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe" the Palestinians were commemorating was simply a reaction to the "founding of the state of Israel," even though there is much more to it than that. More accurately, the term "Nakba" is used to refer to the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by the Israeli military and Zionist militant groups like Irgun, Stern, and LEHI, from the region of Palestine that became "Israel." Their homes were then either stolen or destroyed, and Israel hastily erased (wiped?) the names of their villages from the maps in an attempt to conceal the crime.

The few outlets that did mention this part of the story claimed these Palestinians had simply fled their homes, entirely omitting the role played by Israeli militants and soldiers. And while it is true that many Palestinian Arabs did flee, they did so because of these expulsions, as well as massacres like the one in the village of Deir Yassin, where on April 9, 1948, Zionist gangs executed over 100 men, women, and children.

Another reason for the protest, which went virtually unmentioned by our press, is the fact that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu -- perhaps the most radical coalition ever to govern Israel -- just passed legislation making it illegal to commemorate, or even teach, this dark chapter in Israeli-Palestinian history.

These facts have already been suppressed in Jewish-Israeli for decades, but Israel is now threatening to withhold state funding from any Arab-Israeli school that includes the Nakba as part of its curriculum, or holds any event to mark its anniversary. The excellent Canadian documentary, "Lessons in Hate" demonstrates how suppressing such historical facts breeds hatred and misunderstanding, because Israeli children grow up without the knowledge that the Palestinians have a genuine grievance, and are taught that their actions are the result of anti-Semitism.

The Israeli government's other motive for suppressing this information is that these Palestinians and their descendants enjoy a legally-enshrined Right of Return, which the media has come to refer to as "the refugee issue." Although the United Nations has passed 28 separate resolutions reaffirming this right, not one refugee has been allowed to return, and since that time, hundreds of thousands more have either been expelled or denied re-entry after studying or working abroad.

The Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, says that during the bloody years between 2000 and 2007, well over a quarter of a million Palestinians fled the Occupied West Bank. After the fighting ended, not one of them was allowed to return, and most of their homes were demolished. He also says this reinforces the Israeli governments belief in a "desired demographic," or as it's better known, Apartheid.

So when you hear Israeli officials, the press, or foreign politicians talking about the Palestinian "refusal to compromise on the refugee issue," what they really mean is the Palestinians refuse to surrender the legal rights of those whose families were displaced at the end of a gun.

And rightly so.

However, as demonstrated by the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (which was rejected out of hand by the Israeli government) and reinforced by the leak of the so-called "Palestine Papers," the Palestinians have signaled a willingness to accept monetary compensation in place of an actual return, not to mention allow Israel to avoid fulfilling most of its outstanding legal obligations and keep much what it has stolen.

The Israeli government is now arguably the only remaining "obstacle to peace." Even Hamas officials have said they will respect any deal that results in the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

This is not a complicated, intractable conflict. The Israeli government is engaged in a deliberately-perpetuated military, political, and economic campaign, designed to deny the Palestinians their rights and steal their remaining land and resources.

This has been the academic consensus for decades, and thankfully, most governments are finally beginning to acknowledge this fact. (Sadly, the deceptive narrative the Israeli far-right has depended on in order to enable the perpetuation of this senseless, racist conflict continues to be reflected in the bulk of the corporate media's coverage.)

That's why the EU is attempting to take the cruel joke called the "peace process" out of the hands of the US government, Israel's key enabler, and why most governments are preparing to support a vote at the UN General Assembly in September to formally recognize a Palestinian state.

Sadly, that's also why the Israeli government is sounding and acting so desperate these days, and why it's been doing everything in its power to undermine Palestinian reconciliation and efforts to force an end to this decades-long injustice.

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I have been an independent, progressive journalist for about a decade now, after having worked in both the US and Canadian corporate media for 15 years. I became an activist while researching a screenplay in which I attempted to examine the main (more...)
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