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Remnick ignores the Nakba’s role in Israeli ‘democracy’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 28 Comments

Editor’s Note: Earlier today Phil posted on a recent New Yorker article by David Remnick titled “Threatened“. Omar Barghouti emailed out this response to Remnick’s piece and gave us permission to publish it.

How sickeningly typical, predictable, and utterly immoral of soft Zionists!

Nakba denial is always an indicator of deep-seated racism and a profound deficiency in intellectual honesty, not to mention moral decency. But in this article Nakba denial, indeed denial of the existence of 62% of the Palestinian people (those outside the occupied Palestinian territory), is taken to a whole new level, whereby Israel’s “birth” becomes a glorified “experiment in Jewish power, unique after two millennia of persecution and exile” and where Israel’s “structures of governance are point of pride.” Alas, according to the editor of the New Yorker, this wonderful democracy is currently (only currently) undergoing an “impasse.” Jewish fundamentalists (and settlers are largely assumed to be part of that camp, without much justification) are gaining power and undermining an otherwise flourishing Israeli Jewish “democracy” that is closer to the European social-democratic model. The fact that almost all of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and other Arab peoples for the last six decades have been committed predominantly by avowedly secular Jews — of European descent — is lost on this influential author.

The fact that Zionist gangs ethnically cleansed in a well-documented, pre-meditated crusade of massacres, expulsions and terror, most of the indigenous Palestinians to establish a Jewish-dominated state in Palestine is never mentioned. Only “the occupation” has corrupted the otherwise innocent, thriving, miraculous Israel.

Palestinians are revolted by this relentless Zionist revisionism, deleting most of us out of existence and only recognizing an ever shrinking subset of our rights, with the not-so-hidden intent of saving Israeli apartheid.

True, by US mainstream “media” standards, this article passes as revolutionary–after all, the author describes Israel with such taboo terms as “apartheid,” “fundamentalism” (in reference to the Jewish brand, for a change), “xenophobia,” “racism,” etc. But the omission of the foundational injustice committed by the Zionist movement and later Israel against the Palestinian people is inexcusable, professionally, morally, or otherwise.

About Omar Barghouti

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He is a co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award.

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28 Responses

  1. chauncey
    March 13, 2012, 5:08 pm

    Right on

    • pabelmont
      March 13, 2012, 6:05 pm

      Exactly. Right on.

      The only thing to be said in extenuation of Remnick’s article is that it is a BIG MOVE in the New Yorker to go even this far (has NPR done as much in last 6 months?) , and you have to soften up a hardened target by degrees. You don’t eat a really, really dry crust of bread until you have soaked it for a while. The Jewish audience in NYC (and the USA) is assumed to be so steeped in traditional Zionist myth that the real truth or anything like it would be too hard to swallow. So, we see BABY STEPS.

      If you think of these things as TRUTH, they fail. If you think of them as moves in a strategic game, manoeuvres in a war, maybe something can be said for them.

      • CigarGod
        March 14, 2012, 11:56 am

        “…Softened by degrees…”
        Good stuff…but don’t forget that hard hitting can sometimes also result in spectacular – shattering -. Don’t ask me for a real world example…coffee not kicking in.

      • weindeb
        March 16, 2012, 1:35 pm

        A wise and very grown-up observation. To expect total renunciations, total reversals, total anything is perhaps understandable, but neither very useful nor necessarily desirable. When I read Remnick’s piece I was amazed, happily so, because of its shift of whatever size in opinion and attitude.

  2. seafoid
    March 13, 2012, 5:28 pm

    “But the omission of the foundational injustice committed by the Zionist movement and later Israel against the Palestinian people is inexcusable, professionally, morally, or otherwise.”

    Every time they bomb Gaza they come fact to face with the Nakba. They will never escape it.

    • Charon
      March 14, 2012, 12:58 am

      They will never escape it, and it will always be a reminder to those affected. Not that they need one, it just makes it worse.

      I’m seeing less Nakba denial from the Zionists and more “The Nakba that history forgot” concerning the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands. And some fall for the trap and say “If Zionists didn’t bully their neighbors…” and even that’s unnecessary. It is a poor Zionist “justification” that is easily explainable by saying it is not relevant to I/P. Palestinians had nothing to do with that. “But they’re Arabs!” They say. Levantine Arabs, mostly linguistic. Somewhat cultural. Palestine was Turkish for 400 years before Zionism. The Arab thing is a straw man.

      • tokyobk
        March 14, 2012, 9:20 am

        You are right of course that the Jewish expulsions do not form a justification for Palestinian expulsions or any policy which discriminates against them, but they do mitigate the European colonial settler entity argument some, and complicate the Jewish-Arab diad on all sides of the discussion.

      • Talkback
        March 14, 2012, 9:38 am

        As if the mind to whom Jews are only numbers is interested in returning expelled Jews to their real homeland. They would never support this kind of return, because they’re delighted that Jews were expelled and fled to Palestine/Israel. So if they think about Jews this way, what do you expect of them to think about expelled Nonjews?

      • Donald
        March 14, 2012, 10:08 am

        “They would never support this kind of return, because they’re delighted that Jews were expelled and fled to Palestine/Israel. So if they think about Jews this way, what do you expect of them to think about expelled Nonjews?”

        I expect ethnic cleansers to be racists who will create racist societies. As the Arab world moves towards democracy one of the things it will (one hopes) face up to is the ugly treatment of minorities, including Jews. The same applies to Israel, though their example of a democracy facing up to its own past is not encouraging.

      • seafoid
        March 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

        How many Mizrahim were expelled and how many were lured by Israel who deperately needed a subcaste of labourers to serve the Ashkenazim as well as make a viable Jewish concentration in the land that was freshly ethnically cleansed ?

      • Blake
        March 14, 2012, 6:51 pm

        Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq and Iran have offered to give Jews who fled their homeland compensation for what they lost or for them to return if they so wish, provided they let go of their Israeli citizenship (this request was asked so that they no longer claim ownership to stolen lands and properties in Palestine).

  3. ToivoS
    March 13, 2012, 5:35 pm

    It is always good to be reminded of stark historical truth for it is easy for even the most critical of us to be soothed by liberal Zionist pablum.

    However, Remnick’s position is an improvement from where he was a few years back. He then existed in a state of certainty. Now some serious doubts are creeping in and he is beginning to glimpse the internal contradictions that are inherent in liberal Zionism.

    • seafoid
      March 14, 2012, 6:33 am

      They are not going to be able to rewind back to 3 June 1967. The debate will end up at the Nakba because without addressing this there is no way to build a foundation for stability. The debate is going to spin out of Israeli control sooner rather than later. The Zionist positions are mostly BS and when the Pandora’s box of Israeli history is finally opened there won’t be any shutting it.

      • Bill in Maryland
        March 14, 2012, 10:56 pm

        @seafoid- very well said, thank you (ref. March 14, 2012 at 6:33 am)

  4. Les
    March 13, 2012, 6:41 pm

    Liberal Zionism is partnered with occupation and ethnic cleansing just as are Siamese twins a single entity. David Remnick doesn’t recognize that Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is a problem because he doesn’t see it happening in the first place. Sheldon Adelson is proud to promote occupation as a positive thing. Remnick chooses to do his part by serving as a noteworthy enabler of those racist policies.

  5. LanceThruster
    March 13, 2012, 6:47 pm

    Mr. Barghouti – Thank you for these observations. One of the things that most struck me when I first started looking into the various accounts of the IP conflict for myself was the countless “sins of omission.”

    Even when I’d read something that overall seemed to be shedding some light on an otherwise clouded narrative, the more I learned, the more I realized just how much was actually being left out of the story.

    I am grateful to you and others who hold a consistant and uniform standard of truth. I have learned much from you all and continue to do so.

  6. Joseph Glatzer
    March 13, 2012, 6:49 pm

    Agree 100% with Mr. Barghouti. We must note, in RELATIVE terms, the advances in the discourse within the mainstream American media. However, we must also always underline, in ABSOLUTE terms, how woefully insufficient (and indeed racist and ignorant) the discourse remains to be.

    I believe this solves the problem of not knowing how to feel/what to say when articles such as Remmick’s, or those by Peter Beinart come out.

    • ritzl
      March 13, 2012, 9:26 pm

      Agree. The poles of the argument are being redefined, toward recognition of the Nakba examination of Israel’s founding mythology. A full re-examination is coming. It used to be that OB’s argument was simply ignored. Now it’s one of the poles.

      Too slow, but coming.

  7. dimadok
    March 13, 2012, 8:04 pm

    When someone, e.g. Mr. Barghouti, speaks in the name of Palestinian people- he is doomed to fail and to be ridiculed, as was exemplified by the Finkelstein interview. Let Mr. Barghouti speak for himself first and then ask him- how much support he has on the street. Maybe Mr. Barghouti would like to improve some people’s lives, starting from his neighborhood or perhaps initiate a dialog- but no, absolutely not, how could this “peaceful” man talk to the blood-lusting Zionists gangs! After all, he must know their true nature being a graduate from the Tel Aviv University. And maybe, just maybe, could someone give him a new statistics showing that 47% of Jewish Israelis are descendants from the refugees of Magreeb, Iran and Irag? If it is not too much trouble for such a busy person.

    • Shingo
      March 14, 2012, 8:09 am

      he is doomed to fail and to be ridiculed, as was exemplified by the Finkelstein interview.

      Don’t you just love how the fascist trolls have suddenly become Fink’s number one fans?

      Let Mr. Barghouti speak for himself first and then ask him- how much support he has on the street.

      Yeah right, why would a Palestinians speak for the Palestinians when a European settler like dim knows better?

      • tokyobk
        March 14, 2012, 9:13 am

        OB is a Palestinian because he lives there and says he is one, but if you are being a purist, he is also an immigrant no less than any who moved to the area as an adult, which he did.

    • Blake
      March 14, 2012, 6:55 pm

      I heard its around 40% and even they are discriminated against. The word “kooshim” springs to mind. The Ashkenaz are in all the positions of power and always have been weo Moshe Dayan.

  8. Dan Crowther
    March 13, 2012, 8:46 pm

    More Barghouti Phil

  9. dbroncos
    March 13, 2012, 11:44 pm

    Well said Mr.Barghouti. Remnick offers another weak attempt to bury and silence the tell-tale heart of Palestine. It keeps him awake at night.

  10. radkelt
    March 14, 2012, 2:09 am

    dimadok,
    “47% of Jewish Israelis are descendants from the refugees of Magreeb,
    Iran and Irag”
    Would appreciate substantive data regarding this assertion. Please cite.

  11. MHughes976
    March 14, 2012, 7:25 am

    There could never have been a form of Zionism, which is a claim for special rights based on race, compatible with any idea of equal rights regardless of race.
    There could have been a history that was more marked by inter-group cooperation in many degrees. It may have been that many Zionists wanted, even wanted passionately, to be generous, perhaps very substantially generous, to the Palestinians but they would still have based everything on their special rights. Telling people that what they regard as their inherent rights are really concessions, expressing the generosity of others, is implicitly an insult and a threat.
    To see little problem in the basic Zionist claim and yet to be terribly concerned because religious influence is growing is to pull the wool hard over one’s own eyes. And words like crises ‘of democratic becoming’ are mystical flannel.

  12. Kathleen
    March 14, 2012, 10:50 am

    Thank you Omar Barghouti. For your clear, crisp honest words. If you come here how is it that people can describe themselves calmly as “liberal zionist” How can someone be a liberal zionist?
    When Zionism is based on the expulsion, and deaths of Palestinian people? “liberal zionist” oxymoron. Does that mean an individual believes in this expulsion persecution, killing being done “liberally” ?

    Also on the “”experiment in Jewish power, unique after two millennia of persecution and exile” Now while I know that Poles took part in the execution process of Jews in Poland. And that 3 million Poles were also executed by the Hitler killing machine. I have read that a large percentage of Jews had prospered for decades in Poland before the horrific Holocaust. Jews have also prospered in other countries for long periods of time. What is with the “two millennia of persecution” claim

    History of Jews in Poland
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Poland
    “The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium.[4] For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland, in particular, with the persecution of Jews by Tsarist Russian authorities. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany in the 1939–1945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of communism there has been a Jewish revival in Poland, characterized by the annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programmes at Polish high schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nozyk, and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

    From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe.[5] Known as paradisus Iudaeorum (Latin for Jewish paradise) it became a unique shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and a home to the world’s largest Jewish community. According to some sources, about three-quarters of all Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century.[6][7][8] With the weakening of the Commonwealth and growing religious strife (due to the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation), Poland’s traditional tolerance[9] began to wane from the 17th century onward.[10] After the partitions of Poland in 1795 and the destruction of Poland as a sovereign state, Polish Jews were subject to the laws of the partitioning powers, primarily the increasingly anti-Semitic Russian Empire,[11] but also Austro-Hungary and Kingdom of Prussia (later known as the German Empire). Still, as Poland regained independence in the aftermath of World War I, it was the center of the European Jewish world with one of world’s largest Jewish communities of over 3 million. Anti-Semitism, however, from both the political establishment and from the general population, common throughout Europe, was a growing problem.[12]

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