In Plain Language: July 4 - British Nakba Day

On July 4, Brits gather mournfully to grieve for the colonies that were cruelly and mercilessly ripped away from them more than two centuries ago.

4th of July DC fireworks 521 (photo credit: REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)
4th of July DC fireworks 521
(photo credit: REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)
In just a few days, Americans will celebrate their Independence Day. Annually commemorated on July 4 and therefore known colloquially as “the Fourth of July,” it marks the publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. Patriotic displays and family events are widespread throughout the United States as people take a day off from work, hold festive barbecues, watch fireworks and display the American flag at their homes. Politicians appear at public events to show their support for the history, heritage and people of their country, while citizens of diverse backgrounds openly express thanks for the freedom and liberties they enjoy. Special honor is reserved for those brave individuals who fought for that freedom, and who continue to battle on a daily basis to maintain it.
Expat Americans, who by and large are fiercely proud of their country – regardless of where they may reside at present – often join in the celebration in absentia. Here in Israel, I have had the pleasure of being at a few such events at the US Embassy, dining on kosher hot dogs and watermelon as the US Marine band played patriotic songs in the background.
Many non-US citizens, particularly in the Western world, also share in the joy of America’s birthday. They appreciate America’s gargantuan efforts to serve as a symbol of life and hope for people of all denominations, and the laudable mission it has adopted to bring peace and democracy to every nation on Earth.
BUT THERE is one Western country that does not join in the party, one nation that prefers to boo and hiss rather than light a sparkler, as it rues the day America found its freedom. For at least one day, Jolly Ol’ England is anything but, as they declare July 4 to be British Nakba Day.
Yes, on this day Brits gather mournfully to grieve for the colonies that were cruelly and mercilessly ripped away from them more than two centuries ago. They watch with bitter disdain as Americans cheerfully dance upon land stolen from them, sovereign British land that they rightfully own.
Land that Americans were allowed to cultivate and work and reside upon through the gracious generosity of the good King of England, a favor they impudently repaid by rebelling and taking by force that which was not theirs.
And so Brits gather everywhere to shake their fists in anger and declare that they will never forget and never forgive this historic injustice; that they will teach their children’s children’s children to remember this despicable crime perpetrated upon them, and seek redress for their loss. In England, figures of Washington and Jefferson – among the most heinous of the war criminals – are burned in effigy. Parades are held in honor of Benedict Arnold and other heroes who stood firm against the American terrorists. American products are repudiated and threatened with boycotts; Coca- Cola bottles are smashed to the ground and Marlboro cigarettes go up in smoke, while large protests are held in front of the offices of – oh, I can hardly bring myself to pronounce the name – American Airlines.
Bands of Brits who happen to live in the purloined colony also state their case, relying on the gentility and democratic freedoms of America to protect them in their protest. With an ample amount of (fish and) chips on their shoulders, they brazenly lash out at the hand that feeds them.
Special vitriol is reserved for cities that have the audacity to call themselves by the names of holy English locales: Birmingham, Alabama; Dover, Delaware; and of course New York – including, needless to say, Greenwich Village – are singled out as particular affronts to British sensibilities.
“These are our names, you can’t appropriate them!” yells one disgruntled Brit, Nigel by name.
I ask him why he is so upset, why he is holding a US flag that has the faces of 13 different monarchs – from Henry to George to Elizabeth – in the place where the 13 stars of the original colonies were once displayed.
“I declare that large areas of Virginia and North Carolina are rightfully mine!” says Nigel defiantly. “I will let you have New Jersey, but that’s it! I want the rest back!” “But didn’t America fight for this land, despite being outnumbered, outgunned and against great odds?” I ask him. “Didn’t they deserve their place in the sun – just a small piece, after all, of the gigantic empire England once ruled – and didn’t America raise everyone’s standard of living? And, by the way, didn’t America bail England out of at least two world wars?” Nigel is unfazed. “Logic will never sway me, for we rule by the Divine Right of Kings. And we will not rest until the Holy British Empire once again rules the world, from sea to shining sea!” And with that, he is off to sample a scone and a pot of tea.
THE ABOVE scenario would be completely laughable if it weren’t so tragically and so realistically played out by the Palestinians on their so-called Nakba Day. Unable to accept the dictates of history, unwilling to raise themselves up through hard work and determination, they prefer to stand on the sidelines, whining over their fate and complaining about other people’s successes.
After sabotaging umpteen opportunities for peace and prosperity, they prefer to wallow in their victimhood and celebrate their stubbornness.
How very different the Jewish People: We suffered tragedy and indignity a million times worse than anything the Palestinians ever experienced, despite their phony propaganda to the contrary. But rather than moan and groan about the injustices perpetrated upon us, we got back up on our feet and resurrected ourselves. We built a land, and we built a country. We sought friends where we could find them, but mostly we relied upon our own hard work and ingenuity to create something beautiful, to turn sand into Paradise.
We chose to look ahead, rather than always over our shoulders; we opted for optimism over pessimism, and progress over an eternal persecution complex.
I pity the Palestinians, because they – not we Israelis – are their own worst enemies.
Truth be told, they do have a “catastrophe” on their hands – but it is completely of their own making.
The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana and a Ra’anana city councilman.