‘Nakba Day” has expanded into “Nakba weekend,” and judging from the potential diplomatic and military fallout in the wake of the turmoil in the north, now threatens to occupy our attention for days to come.
But while the developments in Majdal Shams and Maroun a-Ras set this year’s “Nakba” apart from previous years, the preferred way to commemorate the supposed “catastrophe” visited on the Palestinian people from the creation of the State of Israel has remained the same: violence, incitement and provocation.
Early Sunday, a 22-year-old man from Kafr Kasim chose to commemorate the failed attempt 63 years ago to violently snuff out the emerging Jewish state at birth with more death and destruction. Repeating the mistakes of previous Arab generations, the truck driver from Kafr Kasim chose the way of violence and hatred. He climbed into the cabin of his semi-trailer and embarked on a collision spree along a two-kilometer strip of highway in Tel Aviv, using his huge vehicle as a deadly weapon. When his truck was finally forced to a stop when it collided with a bus, the driver nevertheless continued his rampage, clubbing a young women.
By the time he had been subdued, the truck driver, who was only
moderately wounded by an incensed crowd, had left behind him one dead
and at least 17 injured, one of them critically.
In the north, meanwhile, Bashar Assad, in a cynical attempt to distract
the Arab world’s attention from the atrocities and human rights abuses
he is perpetrating against his citizens – including hundreds shot down
in the streets during demonstrations, and thousands who have disappeared
– orchestrated an intentional provocation in the most unlikely of
Hundreds of Syrians, many of them living in refugee camps as
Palestinians (because Assad refuses to integrate them into Syrian
society), were bused in coordination with Syria’s military forces to the
border with Israel on the Golan Heights. From there, they descended en
masse on the quiet town of Majdal Shams, a Druse village whose citizens
are generally loyal to Israel and who reject commemoration of Israel’s
establishment as a “Nakba.”
In the ensuing anarchy that included rock-throwing and violent
confrontations, IDF soldiers opened fire in an attempt to prevent the
Syrians from overrunning the border. Unfortunately, at least one Syrian
was killed and more were wounded.
IDF soldiers seemed to have reacted reasonably judging from the
circumstances. The border in the north stretches well over 200
kilometers. The army could never hope to position the requisite amount
of soldiers needed to confront hundreds of infiltrators. The 30 to 40
soldiers who were in Majdal Shams reacted as appropriately as they
could. And they were responding to a new phenomenon apparently inspired
by the sorts of “Arab Spring” demonstrations that have taken place in
Egypt and Tunisia.
On the Lebanese border in the town of Maroun a-Ras, as hundreds of
additional Palestinians moved toward the border, meanwhile, three to
five Palestinians were shot dead. In the south, on the border with
Hamas-ruled Gaza, similar attempts were made to infiltrate Israel.
Inside Israel, riots broke out around Jerusalem from Kalandiya to
Silwan, A-Tur and Isawiyia, though these disturbances were “usual” for
annual “Nakba” demonstrations.
This year's “Nakba” provides additional bitter evidence that, far from
preparing its people for peace with Israel, the Palestinian leadership
continues to encourage the most extremist, intransigent positions.
Palestinians have been encouraged to focus solely on their own suffering
and victimization rather than coming to grips with their own tragic
historical mistakes. These include rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan
and launching an unsuccessful war against the nascent Jewish state,
continuing to reject peace proposals including those put forward in 2000
by prime minister Ehud Barak and in 2008 by prime minister Ehud Olmert,
and voting a Hamas majority into their parliament in 2006.
Just this weekend Abbas, supposedly representing the more moderate
Palestinian leadership, vowed that the PA would never neglect the “right
Since Abbas knows that full implementation of this “right” would put an
end to the Jewish majority in Israel, he was implicitly calling for an
end to Israel as a Jewish state. In parallel, a high-ranking official in
Fatah declared this weekend that his organization’s political program
is identical with Hamas’s. As for Hamas’s program, its Gaza Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh marked “Nakba Day” by predicting “the collapse
of the Zionist project in Palestine.”
How much longer will Palestinians allow themselves to be captives to
extremism and intransigence, and pawns to rogue states such as Syria?
The only path to their independence lies through reconciliation with the
State of Israel. That was the message of the international community in
1947. For how many more years are they going to reject it?