This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Well the wedding bells aren’t ringing for the 65th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel and the 65th anniversary of the (continuing) Palestinian Nakba. Renewed wedding vows aren’t in the wings either.
Nonetheless, it’s a shared anniversary for Jews and Palestinians. Till death do us part.
Perhaps it’s a divorce where the partners remain so involved with each other that it looks like an entanglement that will never end whatever the legalities are.
It’s taken Jews a long time to understand this shared anniversary. Many still don’t get it. For Jews of Conscience it’s a no brainer – now. The “no-brainer” that changed everything.
Once Jews of Conscience understood the shared anniversary, there was no going back. Because, you see, understanding the origins is the essential insight into what’s going on today.
The origins of Israel are bad enough. To continue the same policies now is insane unless the origins of Israel define the Zionist project. Apparently it does.
Dispensing with theory, Zionist or otherwise, this is where we have arrived. The displacement of Palestinians hasn’t stopped since 1948. As we shall see, it began earlier.
This exposes the Progressive Middle for what it is: an Ethnic Cleansing Middle. That can’t be progressive, can it?
Amjad Alqasis, a Palestinian legal researcher and the legal advocacy program coordinator of BADIL Resource Center, writes in his 65th anniversary essay, “The Ongoing Nakba: The Continuous Forcible Displacement of the Palestinian People,” that Israeli policies come as bundle of apartheid, military occupation and colonization. Their intent is to “ethnically cleanse the territory of historic Palestine from the indigenous Palestinian presence.” Alqasis continues:
This Israeli regime is not limited to the Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), but it is also targeting Palestinians residing on the Israeli side of the “1948 Armistice Line” as well as those living in forced exile. Reflections on whether a one or two-state solution would be the appropriate means to end the injustice and suffering in historic Palestine overlook the fact that one legal entity has already been established within that specified territory: Indeed, Israel’s treatment of non-Jewish Palestinians throughout Israel and the oPt constitutes an overall discriminatory regime aiming at controlling the maximum amount of land with the minimum amount of indigenous Palestinians residing on it.
The main components of that structure discriminate against Palestinians in areas such as nationality, citizenship, residency rights and land ownership. This system was originally applied in 1948 in order to dominate and dispossess all forcibly displaced Palestinians, including the 150,000 who were able to remain within the borders of the “1948 Armistice Line” and later became Palestinian citizens of Israel. After the occupation of the remaining part of historic Palestine by Israeli forces in 1967, this territory became subjected to the same Israeli regime. In essence, the intention to colonize historic Palestine on the expense of its indigenous Palestinian population goes back to the beginnings of the Zionist Movement, decades before the creation of the State of Israel.
What then is the essence of Zionism? For Alqasis it’s obvious: the population transfer of Palestinians:
The essence of Zionism, therefore, is aptly summarized as the creation and fortification of a specific Jewish national identity, the takeover of the maximum amount of Palestinian land, ensuring that the minimum number of non-Jewish persons remain on that land, and that the maximum number of Jewish nationals are implanted upon it. In other words, Zionism, from its inception, has necessitated population transfer notwithstanding its brutal requisites and consequences.
Who thought Jews would come to the day when a Palestinian writer would help us define what Zionism is and isn’t? And on Israel’s 65th anniversary to boot? That definition: population transfer of millions of Palestinians from their homes and land. The extended definition: the destruction of Palestine.
Have you noticed that over the years, the celebration of Israel by Jews around the world which uses its own narrative of suffering, struggle and independence has diminished precipitously? Like it fell off a cliff.
Israel’s 50th anniversary was already muted. The Palestinian side of things made its appearance in Jewish writing. Palestinians were becoming more outspoken – and listened to. The 60th anniversary had even less celebration of Israel and more Palestinian views.
This year? From Jews celebrating Israel, hardly a peep. That doesn’t bode well for the 70th anniversary.
Time marches on.
On Israel’s 65th the question is – to where?