The ‘memoricide’ of Palestine

on 17 Comments

In a little-noted decision, a few weeks ago Netanyahu’s government extended by an additional twenty years Israel’s classification of sensitive documents. It is suspected that these documents tell the story of the the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in far more detail than currently declassified documents.

Jonathan Cook notes:

Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, has referred to this massive erasure of Palestinian history as state-organised “memoricide”.

Some have proposed that in order to heal Israel/Palestine, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is needed. Will the truth set Israelis free? Does the memory of Palestinian life, pre-Nakba, pose an impossible and consciousness-shattering counterfactual to the mass cognitive dissonance that pervades much of Israeli society?

About Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

17 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    August 25, 2010, 1:13 pm

    ‘The state’s chief archivist says many of the documents “are not fit for public viewing” and raise doubts about Israel’s “adherence to international law”, while the government warns that greater transparency will “damage foreign relations”.’ — Jonathan Cook

    Holocaust museums worldwide remind and educate the public about the dismal events of 1938-1945.

    But Israel’s historical archives of 1948 are off limits?

    Smells like managed history, cherry-picked using a single criterion — ‘Is it good for the Jews?’

    Let’s put Israel’s 1948-1956 state archives online at every Holocaust museum for balance. Sunshine!

    • eljay
      August 26, 2010, 6:53 am

      >> The state’s chief archivist says many of the documents “are not fit for public viewing” and raise doubts about Israel’s “adherence to international law”, while the government warns that greater transparency will “damage foreign relations”.

      If any doubts are raised – if foreign relations might be damaged – it can only be because of anti-semitism, and not because of Israel’s lack of adherence to “international law” (what an amusing term!).

      And, anyway, Israel did what it did because of “generation to generation” fear-scarred mindset resulting from ["Remember] the Holocaust[!"] and exacerbated by a dearth of “better wheels” and “new narratives”.

      Question: “So…why does Israel continue to oppress, steal, colonize, destroy and kill?”
      Answer: “Why do you hate Jews so much?!”

  2. potsherd
    August 25, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Even the suggestion of this would be denounced as “delegitimization.”

    The fact that the Israelis have chosen this term is ironic in the extreme. It’s not as if Israel were ever legitimate in the first place.

  3. eljay
    August 25, 2010, 1:36 pm

    >> It is suspected that these documents tell the story of the the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in far more detail than currently declassified documents.

    Revealing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to be any more serious than it is already deemed to be would likely result in increased calls for rectification / resolution / restitution / reparations. In light of comments made on this site to the effect that that fixing the past resolves nothing, such revelations would be counterproductive at best.

    • Psychopathic god
      August 25, 2010, 4:11 pm

      re: “calls for restitution, reparations . . .”

      What amount of restitution should be required of Israel?

      The question of what the descendants of Holocaust perpetrators owe to survivors treads a fine line between moral and material restitution. The moral imperative to, essentially, force countries like Germany, Austria, Poland, and Hungary into a lifetime of apology led to the creation of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in 1952.
      ” Since then, Germany has provided nearly $60 billion to pay individual compensation as well as group social service programs. . . .

      But the Claims Conference, which budgeted nearly $115 million nationally in 2009 to fund direct compensation payments, social service programs such as home care and food programs, and Holocaust education and research initiatives, is an imperfect system. . . . “The Claims Conference wants to use the money for institutions, for the future, but survivors say, ‘We are the Holocaust.’ ” (from Tablet Magazine, “There are thousands of destitute Holocaust survivors living in the New York area”

      • Psychopathic god
        August 26, 2010, 11:21 am

        Richard Witty — you’re an auditor, yes?

        Perhaps you could produce a spreadsheet on how much of $60 billion should still be in the piggybank, given these parameters:
        1. $60 billion was received in 4 equal increments starting in 1952
        2. “nearly $115 million” is spent annually
        3. unspent funds earn interest at 4% per year.

    • RoHa
      August 25, 2010, 7:42 pm

      But the documents should be kept in bundles tied up with green ribbon.

    • Chaos4700
      August 25, 2010, 10:05 pm

      You raise a good point, Witty. After all, in the interests of quick resolution, Nazi Germany’s records of the Holocaust were all sealed away and we never found out the full extent of genocide against the Jews Surely, that is the best way to handle this and move forward, right? Sweep it under the rug, bury the dead and forget about the crimes committed to Jewish grandparents. Certainly that is a road map for the Palestinians to healing.

      • Richard Witty
        August 26, 2010, 3:04 am

        “You raise a good point, Witty.”

        Where exactly is that? You like using my name that much?

      • Chaos4700
        August 26, 2010, 9:49 am

        So you came here just to act all hurt that you’re being satirized, but you’ve got absolutely nothing to say about the article?

        That’s kind of the point I was making with eljay. Thanks for reinforcing it. ;)

  4. syvanen
    August 25, 2010, 3:53 pm

    This is quite an illustration of the Israel’s dilemma. There is no country on earth that cannot afford to release state secrets 60 years after the event* for the simple reason they really belong to history and are not immediately and politically relevant in the present. Except for Israel. They built their nation around a myth that ignored the crimes against the Palestinians. They really are stuck — to admit those crimes would tear a hole in their national myth. And then what happens? Probably nothing calamitous except that they would have taken the first step in offering the Palestinians justice. But it would carry a price tag — no more stolen land and water free for the Israelis and probably some restitution as well.

    *Maybe the British role in the sinking of the Lusitania is one secret that even today they would not like to make public — it might throw into question the ‘special’ relationship.

    • sherbrsi
      August 26, 2010, 5:02 am

      But it would carry a price tag — no more stolen land and water free for the Israelis and probably some restitution as well.

      More than that, I think the Israeli and Jewish culture at large is going to strongly prohibit such a move, because recognizing the systemic and monumental wrong-doing against the Palestinians, much of it of the very nature that Jews have historically been subjected to and which Israel purported to correct (for Jews alone, and at the expense of the Palestinian people), would mean exposing the Zionist project as bereft of any legitimacy, self-serving and also entirely hypocritical in any moral assertions for its creation of Israel. It’s impossible to deny that the Israelis have been playing the race card the most when dealt with any fallout for its actions since Israel’s creation. But even Netanyahu acknowledges that the Holocaust isn’t garnering Israel sympathy from world leaders as much as it used to. Giving up this status of perpetual victim-hood, almost perfected to a political art by the Zionists, will not only be improbable but likely impossible. When we see the recent Yale conference on the study of “anti-semitism,” a political convention that seeks to equate and conflate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism and self-hatred, it is evident that as Zionists lose monopoly over Western discourse that challenge the traditional narrative of Israel’s purity of “self-defense,” we will see vicimhood cynically employed even more in the future.

      • Psychopathic god
        August 26, 2010, 11:27 am

        I’m reading “The Disenchantment of the Orient.” The concept of mizrahanut is very well explained, and a good thing, too, since the concept is central to the Israeli attitude and mindset, and especially critical if one wishes to understand what Avigail Abarbenal refers to as Israelis’ “orgasmic eagerness” to bomb Iran.

        What I don’t understand and have not found a suitable explanation for, is the concept of “new Jew.”

        Could somebody help me out on that: What is meant by “new Jew?”

      • tree
        August 26, 2010, 12:10 pm

        My understanding is that it is a term used by the early political Zionists to differentiate the “masculine” and “muscular” Jewish “pioneers” in Palestine from what they considered the effete and feminine “old Jews” of Europe. It contains the germ of European anti-semitism in its minimization (and feminization) of the “typical” European Jew along anti-semitic lines.

        See here from the Jewish Agency of Israel:

        “Reclaiming the Physical Jew”

        link to

      • Psychopathic god
        August 26, 2010, 4:20 pm

        thanks tree.

        so, Nordau developed an idea that Herzl presented in “Der Judenstaat:” we Jews will be farmers and industrialists; we are as capable as anybody to do physical work.

        Of course, Herzl would have been reflecting his own city-oriented experiences; my understanding is that before German unification, there were many, many Jewish peasant farmers in Germany.

  5. thankgodimatheist
    August 25, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Memoricide is well documented now..I don’t understand the need for quotation marks..

  6. LanceThruster
    August 25, 2010, 11:36 pm

    “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” ~ George Orwell “1984”

Leave a Reply