One of the more interesting aspects of Nakba Day has been its faithfulness to the historical record. Then as now, Nakba has been about Arabs on Israel’s borders invading Israeli territory with the intent to kill Jews. Then as now, Nakba has nothing to do with the Palestinians. Then as now, only Israeli victory over these invading Arabs holds any hope for a Palestinian state.
“The eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti described the common Arab view to an Anglo-American commission of inquiry in 1946: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” A similar view was voiced by the Jerusalem newspaper al-Wahda (Unity), mouthpiece of the Arab Higher Committee, the effective “government” of the Palestinian Arabs, which in the summer of 1947 advocated the incorporation of Palestine (and Transjordan) into “Greater Syria.” So did Fawzi Qauqji, commander of the pan-Arab force that invaded Palestine in early 1948. He expressed the hope that the UN partition resolution of November 1947 “will oblige the Arab states to put aside their differences and will prepare the way for a greater Arab nation.” As late as 1974, the Syrian president Hafiz Assad still referred to Palestine as being “not only a part of the Arab homeland but a basic part of southern Syria”; there is no evidence to suggest that he had changed his mind by the time of his death on June 10, 2000.”
That quote comes from the historian Efraim Karsh in his book Islamic Imperialism: A History. But there are a treasure trove of such quotes to choose from, should you like, because Arab leaders were very clear: there was no such thing, in their minds, as an Arab Palestine. In fact, until they were under Israeli governance, the Palestinian Arabs were never considered for a state.
Thus we have the first (of many) ironies of Nakba Day, the day to commemorate the 1948 war of annihilation waged against Israel by the combined Arab armies: Only Israel’s success in that war made a future Palestinian state possible.
Another of the ironies is that the Nakba Day invasions are an impediment to Arab freedom. As Andrew Exum notes:
The Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Palestinians and Israeli peoples are all getting played right now. If you’re a Palestinian marking the Nakba on the border with Israel right now, that’s all fine and well, but you should be aware of those actors for whom this distraction is most welcome and who have every interest in using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and your own suffering for their own cynical purposes right now. If you’re Lebanese, meanwhile, and you’re watching Hizballah mobilize, ask yourself this: is Hizballah mobilizing to protect Lebanon and its people or because escalation benefits Hizballah’s allies in Damascus?
I think everyone knows the answer to that, whether or not they’d like to admit it. Every protester jumping the Israel-Syrian border is doing so with the prearrangement of the Syrian regime—that is, they are protesting not on behalf of the Palestinian cause but as a tool of Bashar al-Assad’s murderous campaign to suppress the right of self-determination of the Syrian people—rights that Israel’s Arabs enjoy. The protesters, then, were demonstrating on behalf of illegitimate authoritarian subjugation. (This is especially true for the Palestinians in the territories, who would be—if unilateral declaration goes through—immediately be officially placed under the thumb of the criminal Palestinian Authority and the violently psychotic Hamas.)
The other irony here, which is really an extension of the previous, is that while most of the protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere were nonviolent, invading Israel on behalf of the Syrian government is an explicitly violent act—thus setting apart the Palestinian protests and undermining their credibility.
Of course, violence has already begun to permeate this “New Egypt”; as Moshe Phillips detailed here last week, Egypt’s Christians are being targeted on a frighteningly regular basis. Their tormentors have been distracted this week by Nakba Day, which reveals another weakness of the Palestinians’ pathological anti-Semitic incitement—it’s infectious. Al-Ahram boasted the following headline Sunday: “Egyptians lay siege to Israeli embassy in commemoration of Nakba.” As the story reported:
Answering an Arab wide call to besiege Israel at its borders, hundreds in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan demonstrated calling for Palestinian refugees’ right of return. While Egyptians were prevented from reaching their border after the country’s ruling military council gave orders to seal off Sinai two days before 15 May, hundreds besieged Israel’s Cairo embassy instead.
Sure, why not? When Muslims in the Middle East kill Muslims, the media is silent. When Muslims kill Christians, the media is silent. And when Muslims kill Jews, the media blames the Jews.
So, what did we learn on Nakba Day? We learned, thanks to Syria’s sanctioned incursion into Israeli territory, that it makes absolutely no sense to discuss giving the Golan Heights to Syria. And we learned that, then as now, the Nakba is mainly about Arab leaders manipulating the Palestinians to continue to oppress their people and wage unending war against the Jewish state.
In other words, we learned nothing new.