ISSA EDWARD BOURSHEH.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for
months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and
participate in the upbuilding of the state on the basis of full and equal
citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent
This is what the founders of the State of Israel
guaranteed to the family of nations and its own people. Full and equal
citizenship; and this is what I, as a Palestinian-Israeli, am anticipating, with
fairly low expectations.
Mabrouk, Israel, you’ve made it. You’ve become a
prosperous and flourishing state; now let us take one step further toward
recognizing the minority’s narrative and not claim sole ownership over the
Just as the four characters of Rashomon recount events from
their points of view, this is how we see the events of 1948, without sympathy or
the other’s catastrophe. A lot has happened since, and neither we nor the
reality remain the same. In order to move ahead to real, full citizenship for
all, we must confront our history with open ears and eyes, willing to listen to
another narrative that might not fit well with our own.
recently passed the “Nakba Law,” prohibiting state funds from being used to
commemorate the Nakba. How does that fit into full citizenship? If Israel is to
embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, telling the Nakba story is a vital
starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of
While Jewish Israelis are honoring their heroes,
Palestinian-Israelis have the right to honor theirs. I want to be able to
remember my grandfather’s saying, “I would rather die as a dog in my own land
rather than live as a king in exile”; I want to be able to examine the
relationship between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine, and I want to be
able to criticize the Zionist and Palestinian leadership equally. I want to be
able to visit demolished villages and have an open, honest dialogue about our
past, and future. I want to be able to discuss not only the Jewish immigration
to Israel, but also the exodus of my people. I want you to know about my history
as much as I know about yours. I want you to know who Emile Habibi and Tawfik
Toubi are, just like I know who David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett
If we are to share a brighter future, we must learn about the aliyas
to the Holy Land, but also about the exodus of Palestinians.
In a perfect
world, we all might be able to celebrate Independence Day and Nakba Day jointly.
Realistically, I would compromise on an Independence Day on the fifth of Iyar
and a Nakba Day on 15th of May; live and let live.
The Israeli and
Palestinian narrative may never agree, but I trust that in the long term, with
proper steps taken now, we will be able to reach a point of understanding. We
might never celebrate Independence/Nakba together, but we may be able to have
sympathy toward a hope that is not lost – to be free people in our
land.The writer is a graduate student at Tel Aviv University.