I find it amazing how vibrant Israel’s democracy can be – and how self-destructive.
Case in point is Ahmed Tibi, a man who has been a member of Knesset for the past decade and a half, and who was previously the personal physician to the world’s worst terrorist of the time – Yasser Arafat. Ahmed Tibi is now the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. But apparently, he has not forgotten his true allegiance.
This week (July 4), Tibi is proposing a bill in the Knesset to remove state funding from organizations or authorities that negate the “Nakba” – the Arab “day of mourning” over the establishment of the State of Israel, which is observed every year on May 15, often accompanied by terrorist attacks.
It is blindingly obvious that the bill is being proposed in response to another Knesset bill proposing to remove state funding from organizations that actually mark Israel’s independence day with mourning, thereby serving as yet another example of how Palestinians try to co-opt Israel’s national identity and history and make it their own.
But in an attempt to blur the true meaning of the bill, Tibi claims that it is intended to make sure that everyone “recognizes the national tragedy” of the Palestinians. He claims that the bill is targeted at groups “publicly denying the true historical event seminal to the tragedy of the Palestinians.”
So just to make things eminently clear, let us examine what the “true historical event seminal to the tragedy of the Palestinians” really is, and perhaps we can thereby assist the Knesset as it makes its decision.
In 1948, the term “Palestinian” referred to Jewish residents of what is now the State of Israel. These people held “Palestinian” passports issued by the British Mandate authorities, and these passports were recognized all over the world. It was only in 1964, with the advent of the PLO – an organization created by the Arab League as a form of apology to Arab residents of Israel and led from the outset by Tibi’s mentor, Yasser Arafat – that the term began to refer to Arabs.
But what was it that the Arab world had to apologize for in the first place? Why was it so necessary to create the PLO and the ensuing half-century of terrorism and tragedy?
As the British Mandate crumbled and left, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, with tag-along participation from other Arab countries, invaded Israel in what they considered would be the easiest military victory in history. They told the Arab residents of Israel to get out of the way, so that the regular armies could simply walk in, clear Israel of its rightful residents, and then gallantly hand the land of Israel back to its Arab inhabitants on a silver platter – to the everlasting thanks of the new Palestinians.
The “national tragedy” that the Palestinians mark on May 15 is that they actually listened to the Arab governments. Instead of the cakewalk that the Arab armies envisioned, they were trounced by a rag-tag collection of Holocaust survivors and farming pioneers in what became Israel’s war of independence, and what would result in Jewish hegemony over the Land of Israel and the most progressive, free, prosperous and tolerant country anywhere southeast of Europe.
Ask any Palestinian today, even Ahmed Tibi, what the “national tragedy” of the Palestinian people is, and they will tell you that it is the creation of Israel. Hence it is marked by a day of mourning on May 15 – the anniversary of Israel’s independence.
But in looking at the true history of 1948, we see that with this answer, Ahmed Tibi himself, and the Palestinians he represents, are the true deniers of their “tragedy.” They actively deny any Arab involvement in preventing a Palestinian state from arising – an involvement that continues to this very day. As such, they should become the first targets of his own legislation.
Perhaps the truest “tragedy” though, is the real freedom and progress and prosperity that they enjoy in Israel – the Middle East’s Land of the Free. For it is only through this freedom, and the tolerance shown by Israel, that such venomous hatred can occupy a place of prestige and influence in the heart of Israel’s democracy.