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Im Tirtzu protests ‘nakba bullshit’ at Tel Aviv University

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Nakba commemoration at Tel Aviv University, 13 May 2013. (Photo: Lazar Simeonov)

For the second time in two years, students at Tel Aviv University (TAU) commemorating the 1947-49 Palestinian expulsion and the destruction of villages were met with a counter-protest. At last year’s event over 1,000 amassed on campus, ending in clashes incited by members of Knesset. Again this year, the youth-based “new Zionist” group Im Tirtzu bottom-lined the demonstration, distributing a counter analysis pamphlet titled “Nakba Harta” or “Nakba-Bullshit”. (The English booklet’s title reads “Nakba Nonsense,” but the Hebrew title uses the word “Hartata,” or “bullshit.”).

“Reading the names of the [destroyed] villages leaves it open to interpretation and many people believe that the state of Israel is a consequence,” said Ben Gross, 26, from Im Tirtzu. Gross explained that his group does recognize a catastrophe was experienced by the Palestinian people during Israel’s war of Independence, but qualifies without proper context, Israeli’s will be led astray to feelings of guilt and remorse over their territorial gain. “There is no need for us to apologize for winning the war,” Gross stated.

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Im Tirtz protesting a nakba commemoration at Tel Aviv University, 13 May 2013. (Photo: Lazar Simeonov)

Through Im Tirtzu, Gross tries to stop what he views as a loss of pride in his country. And in doing so the group separates itself from the gamut of pro-Israel advocates that shy away from a frank acknowledgment of Palestinian suffering caused by Zionist militias in 1948. Still, Im Tirtzu’s criticism of the Arab Student Union’s Nakba commemoration left no room for Palestinians to conduct their reading of destroyed villages uninterrupted. Decked out with nearly one Israeli flag per demonstrator and demanding “no chaos, no trouble,” Im Tirtzu, slickly undermined the event.

Gross and a fellow student explained that Im Tirtzu was protesting because they feel the Palestinian students and leftists who planned the memorial tacitly support Nazism and a culture of Holocaust denial. “The problem is not reading the names of villages, it’s what stands behind it,” said Gross. Another member of Im Tirtzu said that weeks ago a lecture was held on campus at which faculty made comparisons of the Palestinian Nakba to the Holocaust–a comparison he said exemplifies holocaust denial. Both students then noted the ties between Adolf Hitler and Amin al-Husayni, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate period.

The Israel advocates argued that because al-Husayni famously and controversially met with the Nazi leader and appealed for him to support a Palestinian National state, today’s Nakba memorial ought to acknowledge those events, and al-Husayni’s possible ideology. Gross said he does not oppose what the Palestinians students were saying or doing at the commemoration but what they didn’t say.

You might think that discussing a Nazi affiliate at a Nakba memorial is really not to the point, but Gross’s stance is more thought through than his organization’s claim that the Nakba is bullshit. Reading Im Tirtzu’s website later, it is is clear that Gross agrees whole-heartedly with the groups’s reinvigurated vision of secular Zionisim   founded by Theodore Herzl–although in Herzl’s Palestine, there never was a nakba and Jews and Arabs lived harmoniously in European-inspired fantasy of a Jewish state. Gross’s charm is that he doesn’t sound rehearsed. The communications student entered the hasbara scene a few years ago as an unaffiliated online activist. Initially he tried to make up the deficit he saw in the state’s official internet presence. He cited the Mavi Marmara PR disaster as an example where Israel had a chance to win, but lost a communications battle. At that time Gross had already served in the Israeli Defense Forces, in duty during the second war in Lebanon. Although he said his army service and losing loved ones to political violence was not the sole factor in prompting the goal of becoming a professional Israel advocate after graduation, he did find those experiences instrumental.

“I think that [serving in the military] makes you one of us. There is a certain amount of pride in being Israeli.” Now he is a regular participant in Im Tirtzu’s weekly counter-protests against students demonstrating on campus in support Palestinian hunger strikers. And during Operation Pillar of Cloud last fall, Gross was active in the “situation room,” a student government supported computer facility where pro-Israel students used campus resources for online hasbara.

“It feels like they are talking to themselves, to walls,” said Hanin Majdali, 23, a Palestinian student also at Tel Aviv University. Majdali said her participation in the nakba event “was automatic, it was not like I even asked myself to go.” When presented with Im Tirtzu’s position of protesting the commemoration because of al-Husayni, and their underlying feeling of nefarious motives on the part of the Arab Student Union, perplexed, Majdali said, “I don’t feel that I’m in a situation where … I can feel something with their narrative.”

“If they want to explain to themselves something other than what we mean” she continued, “it’s their problem.”

Majdali is from Baqa al-Gharbiya, the western half of a village split in two by the separation wall in the Wadi Ara region of northern Israel. Wadi Ara was not ethnically cleaned during Israel’s war of Independence and was under Jordanian administration from 1948 to 1967. However, Majdali mother’s side is from Tantura, the location of a nakba massacre that is a symbol for collective Palestinian sorrow and loss. “It was one of the cruelest massacres, like Deir Yassin.”

Ilan Pappe describes the sacking of Tantura in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Pappe quotes from a Jewish militia officer,

‘Prisoners were led in groups to a distance of 200 metres aside and there were shot. Soldiers would come to the commander-in-chief and say, ‘My cousin was killed in the war.’ His commander heard that and instructed the troops to take a group of five to seven people aside and execute them…’

Like many Palestinians from the north studying in Tel Aviv, Majdali rents a flat in Jaffa, a city full of historic Palestinian Arab architecture. Yet after 1948 through zoning laws the entire old city was purged of it’s Palestinian residents. Majdali lives on a main street where many Mandate period buildings have been torn down and replaced by canonical non-Arab structures. The demolitions are a reminder of how swiftly Palestinian life and its memory was erased from society. “I feel really angry,” she said, “every time I see Israeli or European house styles.”

“We are a class B citizen, or even less,” she continued. For many Palestinian citizens of Israel remembering nakba annually is not about a push to return to villages destroyed over 60 years ago, but about their present struggles for equality and maintaining land that can be confiscated under Israeli laws that effect Palestinians alone. These more contemporary land grabs inside of Israel’s 1948 borders are what critics refer to as “the on-going nakba.”

Looking down on the steps of the campus plaza, watching her comrades dressed in black disperse from the commemoration Majdali thought for a moment. “It’s very important to remember the nakba because it is still happening.” Where Majdali’s family lives in Wadi Ara, villages are at over capacity and in some cases are beginning to resemble the contruction patterns inside the West Bank’s refugee camps. The crowding has caused Palestinians to seek housing elsewhere. But often nearby Jewish-Israeli localities pass laws that Israel’s high court has upheld, where it is legal to bar non-Jews from purchasing homes.

“In every detail of your life you are not Israeli, you are not Jewish,” and therefore do not have full access to the rights guaranteed to citizens, reflected Majdali. As Palestinians, one way they are legislated separately from their Israeli-Jewish counterparts is through land code. For the most part Palestinians live on private land and Israelis on state owned land. The two systems exist as a combination of a spillover from the Ottoman period and Israeli land reforms that sought to nationalize territory. In the first two decades of statehood, Israel required land registrations that invalidated droves of Palestinian property titles. The process of expropriation continues today, mostly through the same zoning laws that legalize home demolitions.

Cumulatively, since Israel’s founding 93% of Palestinian land has been confiscated by the state, with only 3% of the total land of Israel owned by Palestinians, even though they comprise nearly 20% of the population.

 

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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36 Responses

  1. just on May 14, 2013, 6:46 pm

    Totally Gross.

    And terribly sad.

    Who are “teaching” these young people?

  2. a blah chick on May 14, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Apparently war is like the Super Bowl; at the end of the day you get to hoist the trophy, beat your chest and then ethnically cleanse your opponent.

    So if Israel ever gets beaten in a war Gross won’t be complaining if he gets ethnically cleanse. After all those are the rules of engagement he supports.

  3. eljay on May 14, 2013, 7:30 pm

    >> “Reading the names of the [destroyed] villages leaves it open to interpretation and many people believe that the state of Israel is a consequence,” said Ben Gross, 26, from Im Tirtzu. Gross explained that his group does recognize a catastrophe was experienced by the Palestinian people during Israel’s war of Independence, but qualifies without proper context, Israeli’s will be led astray to feelings of guilt and remorse over their territorial gain.

    Funny how “proper context” never seems to include the fact that, among other things, Zio-supremacist Jews:
    – desired a supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine; and
    – employed terrorism and ethnic cleansing to realize their desire for a supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine.

    The rapist admits that the victim he kidnapped and chained in his basement has bruises on her face and torso, but without “proper context”, one might assume that he simply kidnapped her and chained her in his basement.

    Will Zio-supremacists ever experience a moment of clarity and realize just how hateful and immoral they really are and do something positive about it? (Laughing smugly – à la eee – doesn’t count.)

    • seafoid on May 15, 2013, 4:26 am

      “Reading the names of the [destroyed] villages leaves it open to interpretation and many people believe that the state of Israel is a consequence,”

      When in actual fact the villages never existed and it is antisemitic to suggest they did…

      I love the way the bots frame everything in terms of conflicting narratives. There is no such thing as truth in Israel. Just opposing views.

  4. yourstruly on May 14, 2013, 8:10 pm

    seems that only in fascist states do the youth rally around racist governments. everywhere else (with some exceptions, such as Venezuela*) the youth oppose racism.

    *mainly its middle & upper class youth

  5. yourstruly on May 14, 2013, 8:32 pm

    “soldiers would come to the commander and say ‘my cousin was killed in the war.’ his commander heard that and instructed the troops to take a group of five to seven people aside and execute them.”

    shades of the infamous mass murder by german forces that took place in lidice, czechoslavakia on 6/10/42 in reprisal for the assassination of reich protector reinhard heydrich.

  6. Reds on May 14, 2013, 9:10 pm

    Speaking of Bull(off topic)

    Get a load of this.

    http://freearabs.com/index.php/politics/69-stories/622-jb-span-conspiracy-theory-jb-span-smear-by-association

    http://freearabs.com/index.php/the-jew/71-jb-span-1-jb-span-mizrahi-jews-are-the-ultimate-pan-arabs

    I laughed how amateurish these pieces are. was like someone was reading from the hasbara handbook with some missing pages so they went ad hoc.

  7. annie on May 14, 2013, 9:18 pm

    Gross’s charm is that he doesn’t sound rehearsed. The communications student entered the hasbara scene a few years ago as an unaffiliated online activist. Initially he tried to make up the deficit he saw in the state’s official internet presence. He cited the Mavi Marmara PR disaster as an example where Israel had a chance to win

    i can’t stop laughing. ok, maybe you weren’t trying to be funny but i find this hysterical. allsion, you’ve outdone yourself again. okay..back to the article. i just had to say that.

  8. rensanceman on May 14, 2013, 9:43 pm

    I do believe that Tel Aviv University is built atop a formally Palestinian village. Also I believe they when the Jewish community ceases to avert their gaze from the true reality of Israel s founding, their founding myth hasbara must be altered which will then not be able to overcome the impact of the Truth which is the Nakba. No amount of truth-twisting, omissions, deflections can successfully dance around the cold reality of a disaster that rivals the Holocaust in the magnitude of the violation of a basic and Universal Code of Ethics to not kill. Israel’s actions and behavior since then are a perpetuation of savage and aggressive Zionist policies to take all of Palestine and somehow expel all others. For the only democracy in the ME with the most moral army in the world, that believes in healing the world, that fights only defensive wars, where winning Noble prizes trumps the immorality Operation Cast Lead, et al. , these are lofty goals that if attained, will rank right up there with our own (i.e. the USA) destruction of Native American society and culture plus stealing their land.

  9. DICKERSON3870 on May 14, 2013, 10:52 pm

    RE: “The Israel advocates argued that because al-Husayni famously and controversially met with the Nazi leader and appealed for him to support a Palestinian National state, today’s Nakba memorial ought to acknowledge those events, and al-Husayni’s possible ideology.” ~ Allison Deger

    PERHAPS THE “ISRAEL ADVOCATES SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE THIS:

    ● FROM “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Third Edition (2001), Published by ‘Jews for Justice in the Middle East’:

    [EXCERPTS]
    Shamir proposes an alliance with the Nazis

    “As late as 1941, the Zionist group LEHI, one of whose leaders, Yitzhak Shamir, was later to become a prime minister of Israel, approached the Nazis, using the name of its parent organization, the Irgun(NMO)… [The proposal stated:] ‘The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian Pd bound by a treaty with the German Reich would be in the interests of strengthening the future German nation of power in the Near East… The NMO in Palestine offers to take an active part in the war on Germany’s side’
    …The Nazis rejected this proposal for an alliance because, it is reported, they considered LEHI’s military power ‘negligible.’ – Allan Brownfield in “The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs”, July/August 1998. . .

    Wasn’t the main goal of Zionism to save Jews from the Holocaust?

    “In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” ~ John Quigley, ‘Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice’
    “It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference as far as possible and to cause it to decide nothing… ~ Israeli author Boas Evron, ‘Jewish State or Israeli Nation?’
    “[Ben-Gurion stated] ‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second — because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.’ In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Ben-Gurion commented that ‘the human conscience’ might bring various countries to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Germany. He saw this as a threat and warned: ‘Zionism is in danger.’” ~ Israeli historian, Tom Segev, ‘The Seventh Million’ . . .

    Roosevelt’s advisor writes on why Jewish refugees were not offered sanctuary in the U.S. after WWII

    . . . “[Roosevelt] proposed a world budget for the easy migration of the 500,000 beaten people of Europe. Each nation should open its doors for some thousands of refugees… So he suggested that during my trips for him to England during the war I sound out in a general, unofficial manner the leaders of British public opinion, in and out of the government… The simple answer: Great Britain will match the United States, man for man, in admissions from Europe…It seemed all settled. With the rest of the world probably ready to give haven to 200,000, there was a sound reason for the President to press Congress to take in at least 150,000 immigrants after the war…
    “It would free us from the hypocrisy of closing our own doors while making sanctimonious demands on the Arabs… But it did not work out… The failure of the leading Jewish organizations to support with zeal this immigration programme may have caused the President not to push forward with it at that time…
    “I talked to many people active in Jewish organizations. I suggested the plan… I was amazed and even felt insulted when active Jewish leaders decried, sneered, and then attacked me as if I were a traitor
    … I think I know the reason for much of the opposition. There is a deep, genuine, often fanatical emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement [Zionism]. Men like Ben Hecht are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.” ~ Jewish attorney and friend of President Roosevelt, Morris Ernst, ‘So Far, So Good’

    ENTIRE “ORIGIN” BOOKLET – http://archive.org/details/TheOriginOfThePalestine-israelConflict

    • DICKERSON3870 on May 14, 2013, 11:01 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “The New Anti-Semitism” ~ By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 07/30/11

      [EXCERPT] The Nazi Propaganda Minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, calls his boss, Adolf Hitler, by hell-phone.
      “Mein Führer,” he exclaims excitedly. “News from the world. It seems we were on the right track, after all. Anti-Semitism is conquering Europe!”
      “Good!” the Führer says, “That will be the end of the Jews!”
      “Hmmm…well…not exactly, mein Führer. It looks as though we chose the wrong Semites. Our heirs, the new Nazis, are going to annihilate the Arabs and all the other Muslims in Europe.” Then, with a chuckle, “After all, there are many more Muslims than Jews to exterminate.”
      “But what about the Jews?” Hitler insists.
      “You won’t believe this: the new Nazis love Israel, the Jewish State – and Israel loves them!” . . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery07292011.html

  10. Taxi on May 15, 2013, 1:22 am

    Thanks, Alison.

    I learned a new hebrew word today: Hartata.

    Now I know all three grand words in hebrew: hasbara, hartata and nakhon.

    More and more, information on the Nakba, which has been cleaved asunder and buried under ziofoot for over six decades, is gradually being dusted off and exposed to the world. This is a very good thing indeed considering there will never be peace in the mideast before this atrocity is acknowledged and reparations duly and fully paid.

  11. Yasmeen on May 15, 2013, 2:03 am

    I see this type of hasbara online on a regular basis. The Palestinian/ nazi connection. As if their leader at the time speaks for millions of people. Anything to belittle them even on such a tragic day nakba.

  12. Shmuel on May 15, 2013, 2:15 am

    Thanks for a great report, Allison.

    I think two quotes say it all:

    Gross and a fellow student explained that Im Tirtzu was protesting because they feel the Palestinian students and leftists who planned the memorial tacitly support Nazism and a culture of Holocaust denial.

    “We are a class B citizen, or even less,” she [Hanin Majdali*] continued. For many Palestinian citizens of Israel remembering nakba annually is not about a push to return to villages destroyed over 60 years ago, but about their present struggles for equality and maintaining land that can be confiscated under Israeli laws that effect Palestinians alone. These more contemporary land grabs inside of Israel’s 1948 borders are what critics refer to as “the on-going nakba.”

    * There were a number of Palestinian towns/villages named Majdal. Here’s one to remember on 15 May (Nakba Day): http://www.palestineremembered.com/Gaza/al-Majdal-Asqalan/

  13. seafoid on May 15, 2013, 3:44 am

    “”It feels like they are talking to themselves, to walls,” said Hanin Majdali”

    It would be super to get John Trudell to Israel and Palestine

    “they lie to us
    then lie to themselves
    about lying to us”
    http://www.artscope.net/NEWS/new02122002-7.shtml

  14. Ecru on May 15, 2013, 3:52 am

    Im Tirtzu was protesting because they feel the Palestinian students and leftists who planned the memorial tacitly support Nazism and a culture of Holocaust denial.

    Oh the irony of tacit and overt Nakba deniers complaining about Holocaust denial. Imagine their reaction if the next Holocaust Memorial Day was met with similar “Holocaust bullshit” demonstrations.

    I have to ask myself did Nazism penetrate the German population at large as much as this particularly vile form of Revisionist Zionism has penetrated not just the Israeli Jewish population but the world Jewish population at large? I suspect not.

  15. piotr on May 15, 2013, 11:05 am

    As a general note on fascism, in the world where the ruling elites were discredited by the nonsensical slaughter of WWI and economies were wracked by depressions, the “can do” ideologies, fascism and communism, were very popular. Even now it is hard to tell what is it that Im Tirtzu finds wrong about fascism (with the obvious exception when the Jews are the target).

    Of course Żabotyński and his Betar had very good relationship with Mussolini until the latter turned against the Jews under Hitler’s influence (around 1937). Im Tirzu very much continues that spirit. They invoke the pride… Does the Judaism say anything about the pride?

  16. Taxi on May 15, 2013, 1:01 pm

    IL1948,

    Can’t figure out if you’re a sadist or a masochist.

    Please people out there, ignore this twit – he’s just looking for a reaction.

    Hope he gets stuck in an elevator with a holocaust denier.

  17. Ecru on May 15, 2013, 1:35 pm

    How exactly is it “bullshit?” Please, elucidate.

  18. talknic on May 15, 2013, 1:38 pm

    IL1948 Uh huh…

    refugees from Israel- controlled territory amount to approximately 711,000 http://pages.citebite.com/q1d2i2f0f4upy

  19. Ron Edwards on May 15, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Please parse “as it turns out” for me, in your post.

    As far as I can tell, it’s code for “Hello, I have no basis for saying this except for free-floating hostility and ignorance.”

    If you actually intended it to mean something else, by all means, let’s have it.

  20. Shingo on May 15, 2013, 4:49 pm

    As it turns out, “Nakba day” Is bullshit.

    I hope that have you a great of satisfaction. posting such Nakba denial – because Nakba denial violates the comments policy, so you’ll probably be banned from further comment.

    I’ll report your comment to the moderators in case they missed it.

    See ya.

  21. Woody Tanaka on May 15, 2013, 5:49 pm

    “As it turns out, ‘Nakba day’ Is bullshit.”

    Nope, the only bullshit is you, your fascist state, and the ideology behind it.

  22. asherpat on May 16, 2013, 2:56 am

    “Cumulatively, since Israel’s founding 93% of Palestinian land has been confiscated by the state, with only 3% of the total land of Israel owned by Palestinians, even though they comprise nearly 20% of the population.”

    If, by “owned by Palestinians” you mean that the land is owned by private individuals who classify themselves as Palestinians, then it will be interesting to find how much land is “owned” by private individuals who are non-Palestinians (ie Jews)?

    This will be a correct comparison. Otherwise, the statement is meaningless.

    It will be interesting to see

    • Woody Tanaka on May 16, 2013, 8:17 am

      “This will be a correct comparison. Otherwise, the statement is meaningless.”

      Nonsense. You’re proposal assumes that land owned by the Jewish state is equally available or unavailable to Jews and Palestinians alike. That’s a lie, as your Judeo-supremacist state privileges Jews based on their ancestry. It matters not how the zios title the land they hold as Jew-only preserves.

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