This excellent op-ed by Ben Dror Yemini (pictured) in Ynet News exposes the world’s hypocrisy over the Nakbas of many nations. Take Germans displaced by World War ll, in contrast to Palestinian refugees displaced by the first Arab-Israeli war. Guess which one is considered the ‘crime of the century’? (With thanks: Jonah)
The month of May had,
with an interval of a few days, two milestones. On May 9, the world
celebrated victory over the Germans in World War II, and on May 15, Nakba Day
events were also held around the world.
The Allied victory over Germany did not end with outpourings of
reconciliation, quite the reverse. Between 12 and 16 million ethnic
Germans were expelled from central European states at the end of the war
and in its aftermath. Between 600,000 and two million were killed
during those expulsions, which included innumerable pogroms and
massacres. MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship carrying refugees, was
sunk in January 1945 by the Soviet navy, taking with it 9,500 souls, but
who remembers? What is more, representatives of the vanquished and of
the refugees were not invited to the May 9 celebrations – their
narrative did not appear.
And yet those who celebrated this great victory over evil crossed
lines less than a week later to remember the great injustice that befell
the Palestinians. They never dreamed of honoring the German Nakba, only
the Palestinian one.
Now and then there have been proposals to pay compensation to those
exiled to Germany. The countries concerned, such as Czechoslovakia and
Poland, rejected the idea outright. No one denied the brutal pogroms and
expulsions. “If someone were to sue us”, they made very clear, “we
would demand the money from Germany as war damages.” Time passed, the
wounds festered, but there was no compensation, and certainly no return.
The European Court of Human Rights would take up a suit brought by a
deportee – and promptly reject it.
The ethnic Germans, most of them innocent, were not the only ones who
underwent forced displacement. Tens of millions in Europe and in Asia
experienced same trauma in the same decade, both before and after the
war’s end. This is what happened to some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs.
And this is what also happened to 850,000 Jews. The Jews had a Nakba,
so did the Palestinians, and so did the Germans. There was also a
Polish Nakba, and a Hindu Nakba. Nakba was the cruel reality of that
time. It was a global Nakba. For every nation, a Nakba.
According to Palestinian historian Aref al-Aref, some 13,000
Palestinian Arabs were killed in the 1948 War of Independence. We should
indeed feel remorse for each death, but we should also take into
account the fact that – according to impartial reports of the number of
casualties, relative to the size of the population, or the number who
fled or were expelled – the Palestinian Nakba was smallest of them all.
For the sake of comparison, in contemporaneous population exchanges
between Poland and Ukraine, 100,000 people died out of the 1.4 million
who were expelled from their homelands. Is anyone organizing a worldwide
remembrance in their name? And yet, it is the Palestinian Nakba that is
remembered around the world.
The Palestinians suffered. Every expellee suffered, paying the price
for the actions of their leaders. The Palestinians had chosen Haj Amin
al-Husseini to lead them, and growing evidence has been uncovered in
recent years of his involvement in the extermination of the Jews.
Al-Husseini made clear that “the basic condition of our cooperation
with the Germans was the freedom to exterminate the Jews of Palestine
and the Arab world.” He was one of the originators of the “Farhud” in
Iraq, the first Nazi-inspired pogrom against the Jews in an Arab state.
He worked against a deal to secure the release of Jewish children. He
was the creator of “Operation Atlas” of 1944, which apparently included a
plan to poison a quarter of a million Jews living in Palestine. He was
not the only Arab leader of the time to identify with the Nazis – Fawzi
al-Qawuqji and others did exactly the same.
Here and there one can hear claims that there is no connection
between the problem of the Palestinian refugees and that of the Jewish
refugees from Arab states. This is a ridiculous claim. A series of
pogroms directed against the Jews in 1940s – primarily in 1948 in Aden,
Syria, Libya, Iraq and Morocco – were a combination of anti-Zionism and
anti-Semitism. Similarly, the Arab League decided in the same year to
freeze Jews’ bank accounts and to confiscate their money to fund the war
effort against “Zionist aspirations in Palestine.” This was the Arab
struggle, managed by the Arab League and the Arab Higher Committee, and
headed by al-Husseini.
So there is indeed something absurd about the claim of “no
connection”. The Palestinian problem is commemorated because the Arab
world has systematically refused any offer of restoration. The Arab
states even opposed UN General Assembly resolution 194, which offered
the possibility of some kind of Palestinian return to their former
homeland under certain conditions, on the grounds that it included
recognition of a Jewish state under the Partition Plan.