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Liberating Israeli Jews from the dark legacy of the Nakba

The Nakba has been relegated to the dark basement of Zionist ideology, where people are afraid to tread or even look. The ghosts of the past, however, will only disappear once the sin of 1948 is recognized.

By Anwar Ben Badis

What happened in 1948 is the greatest sin – greatest sins always follow the sinners, they do not disappear. They are etched into our memory forever.

Among Palestinians, the Nakba is the open wound of the past, present and future. It is a wound that one cannot live with so long as it continues to physically, emotionally and morally bleed. As such, the Nakba becomes a constant cry for healing – a cry that pushes us to personal and collective action.

The Nakba has been relegated to the dark basement of Zionist ideology, where people are afraid to tread or even look. Looking into the basement means erasing the myth of “victory,” which perpetually highlights the defeat and the obligation of the losing side to bow its head and and thank the victor for “the fruit of an enlightened occupation.” After all, the victimizer cannot eliminate the victim, since that would lead to the elimination of the victory story. It’s a beautiful dilemma.

The routed Palestinian insists on healing from his wounds. He raises his head and threatens to spoil the party. The overlords become confused: “we need you to remain the defeated party, but if you insist on shaking us off and resisting, we will deny and exclude the story in its entirety.” This denial does not bring the myth out of the basement. On the contrary: the more the defeated insists, the more the victor holds tight to the basement walls.

The result: the Palestinian who dares to resist and contend with the bitterness of her displacement is only lighting the fire of liberation. In response, Zionism continues to withdraw into the basement, to hold on to the myth – to the ghosts and the fears along the path to recognition. We truly share a strong bond.

The moment the defeated decides to make history, the duality of the victor as the loser is shaken to its core.

The defeated must hold on to hope, and is therefore in need of a chemical formula: one that turns bitterness into daringness – turns the longing into an active, illuminated dream.

In a reality such as ours, with all of its cruelty, pessimism may turn into a lethal weapon that pushes people to despair, or perhaps pushes them to hold onto a hidden Garden of Eden or to search for illusions. In this downswing, optimism becomes a political position.

The irony is that the victimized finds himself in an unusual position: assisting the victimizer in ridding himself of the myth in order to make liberation possible for both; the former from the bitterness of dispossession, the latter from the bitterness of the sin.

In our land, liberation cannot be partial.

Anwar Ben Badis is a linguist, translator and Arabic teacher. He is the grandson of Palestinian refugees from the village Tantura. Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

For more +972 coverage from Nakba Day:
Who’s afraid of the right of return?
Two Palestinians killed in Nakba Day protest

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    1. Matt

      This piece is poetic, but is completely topsy turvy.

      The Palestinians are the ones keeping the wound of the Nakba open, not the Israelis. They are the ones with the national holiday about it. They are the ones sitting in refugee camps waiting for a return that will never come.

      They are not trying to heal. They are keeping the wound open to achieve their political goals.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Just like we kept our wound open for a few thousand years so that we could achieve a political goal.

        And we have condemned ourselves to keep scratching at their wound to keep it open.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Samuel

      I know anwar personaly, and he means every word he says.. Hope and pray we meet and understand and do something for our futur.

      Reply to Comment
      • Samuel

        Here we go again.

        Another person posting under the name Samuel. This is getting tiresome.

        I started posting here a couple or so years ago under the name Shmuel. Then some other person started using the name “Shmuel”. When I asked him politely to modify his name slightly to avoid confusion, he was rude.

        So I changed MY name to Samuel. And now this new poster has started using the same name.

        Oh well, I will change my name again from Samuel to YitzhakS in order to avoid confusion between the above poster and me.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Tomer

      What about the Jewish Nakba?
      The ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Mizrachi Jews by Arabs.

      The Arabs stole from us a territory equivalent to 4 x the current area of the state of Israel.

      Anwar Ben Badis must repeat after me: Jewish Nakba unrecognised = No Justice = No Peace

      Reply to Comment
    4. Rab

      “What happened in 1948 is the greatest sin – greatest sins always follow the sinners, they do not disappear.”

      Indeed, you will not be able to erase Palestinian Arab sins of constantly launching attacks on the Jewish minority, and ultimately of launching the war that led to the displacements of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands, not to mention and Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine. The wars and violence could have been prevented.

      May God forgive you, even if we cannot forget.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eric

        Wow, what a distorted view of History.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rab

          Really? How so?

          Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      Liberation is a good thing.

      The most that Israelis that remain Israelis will do is try to be good neighbors.

      There is not forgetting our personal and community experience, as there is no forgetting yours.

      Our liberation will never be understood as a sin itself. Sins occurred during our liberation, as sins occur during yours.

      Don’t seek our mental willing self-deception.

      Reply to Comment