As Palestinians in the West Bank and Arab Israelis inside the Green Line plan to commemorate "Nakba Day" on Sunday May 15th, the right-wing student group "Im Tirtzu" has launched a campaign to discredit what it says is a campaign of myths and lies dealing with the teaching of the founding of the state of Israel.
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At the center of the campaign is a 70-page booklet entitled "The Nakba BS, which is meant to reveal 'a lie that threatens to drown us like a tsunami.'"
- Arabic for "catastrophe" - is the day when Palestinians to mark the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Several Palestinian groups have called for major demonstrations in Taibe, Haifa and Jaffa in honor of Nakba Day.
The booklet, written by film director Erez Tadmor, one of Im Tirzu's leaders, and Arel Segal, a columnist for Ma'ariv
, presents what it describes as a growing campaign to delegitimize Israel through the framing of the foundation of the State of Israel as being linked to a wholesale ethnic cleansing or deportation of the native Arab population.
The booklet is split into five sections, including, "They [the Arabs] attacked: The responsibility for creating the refugee problem," "They [the Arabs] abandoned: Haifa as an example," and "Since time immemorial? How long have Arab refugees really lived in Israel?" It also includes a long description of atrocities committed by Arabs against Jewish civilians pre-1948 and details what it describes as the support Palestinian society and Palestinian leaders gave to the Nazis during WWII. In addition, it includes a chapter entitled "they were expelled", which describes the expulsion of 900,000 Jews from the Arab and Muslim countries of the Middle East following the founding of the state of Israel.
The pamphlet reads "sadly, in recent years, the Arabs lies have received a platform of legitimacy, also within Israel. Of all places, among the Israeli elite, leaders in academics, culture, or law, who have "brought the idea of the Nakba into the Israeli public sphere."
The pamphlet doesn't try to say that no hardships were suffered by the Arabs who lived in what would later become in the land of Israel, rather that suffering did occur, but it was solely the fault of the Arabs who refused to accept the 1947 UN partition plan.
"Let there be no mistakes. No one is saying that the Arabs of Israel did not experience a disaster at the end of the 1940s; no one is trying to take away their subjective pain. True, Arabs of the land of Israel experienced a tragedy, a nakba in their words, and there is no desire or reason to blur this fact."
"The truth is, that the Palestinians and the Arab states carry 100% of the responsibility for the results of the war. Tragedy? Catastrophe? The blame is all theirs. A home-made catastrophe."
The pamphlet says that the Jewish Yishuv was willing to give up on the West Bank and the East Bank of the Jordan River, but that the Arabs "did not rest. They wanted more, they wanted everything. Their response to the Hebrew compromise was blood, fire, and billows of smoke. Death reared its head, in their cruelty, stupidity, and arrogance that knew no bounds, they brought destruction upon themselves."
The pamphlet continues "the myth of the nakba is an unprecedented and brazen fraud whose sole purpose is to make rewrite history. Under this myth, the attacker becomes the victim, and those defending themselves from massacre – become war criminals."
While the pamphlet doesn’t present exact figures on the demographics of the land of Israel pre-1948, it claims that without a shadow of a doubt the overwhelming majority of the Arabs living within the Green Line were "large groups of immigrants who made their way to Israel from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen, Sudan, and elsewhere," largely to profit from the development brought to the area by the Zionist enterprise and the British Mandate.
Im Tirtzu founder and Chairman Ronen Shoval said Thursday that the campaign is inspired by the fact that Israel is fighting two major battles; one on the battlefield and one for justice, or the state's legitimacy.
"We have always, thank god, won the battle on the military side, and this is largely because we had faith in the path we were on. The other campaign has been to harm our belief in the righteousness of our path, and if we lose this, we will lose on the battlefield."
He said that the pamphlet will be handed out outside universities and Israeli public schools and will be part of a campaign that will also include demonstrations and videos and ringtones available on the internet.
Shoval said that "there is no disagreement" that Arab families in Israel
suffered a personal tragedy following the state of Israel, but that
there is also "a political myth that is devoted to denying the rights of
the state of Israel based on the idea that we kicked out all of the
Arabs and we must now allow all of the refugees and their ancestors to
Israeli authorities expect this year's Nakba Day commemorations to be
significantly larger than in previous years, largely because the Knesset
in March passed the so-called “Nakba Law”, which allows the state to
fine local authorities and other state-funded bodies if they use state
funds to hold events marking Israeli Independence Day as the "Nakba."
Events to mark this year's Nakba Day are planned for Taibe, Haifa, and
Jaffa beginning the night before on May 14th, and will be followed by
observations in local authorities throughout the Arab sector the next
day. The army has also beefed up its presence in the West Bank ahead of
Sunday, out of the fear that large-scale demonstrations could break out
during the day.