Opinion

The Nakba Industry and Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

The foundation of the State of Israel contains within it a blueprint for ethnic cleansing.

By Tallha Abdulrazaq

It is not uncommon for those who study the Arab-Israeli conflict, particularly at universities, to learn about it as a chronology of sanitised events, from the formation of the Zionist movement in the 19th century to the illegal and immoral expulsions of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem today.

One of those events that rightly receives a lot of attention is the Nakba, the catastrophe visited upon the Palestinian people by the nascent State of Israel on this day in 1948.

However, it is difficult to truly comprehend the scale of the horror inflicted upon the Palestinians by viewing the Nakba as a one-time event that occurred in isolation. Rather, it is best to view it as a foundational institution and industry of the Israeli state, pursued by successive governments bent on realising the ethnic cleansing of Palestine from its Arab inhabitants.

An ongoing crime against humanity

Unsurprisingly considering its European roots, the Nakba seemingly aimed to emulate the decimation of the Native American population at the hands of colonial settlers, violently emptying Palestine of its Arab population in favour of Jewish migrants largely imported from Europe, a continent rife with historical antisemitism.

Although the Nakba began 73 years ago, it was not a one-time event. Palestinians, a people denied as having even existed by many Zionists, are now refugees on their own land if they were fortunate enough to be allowed to remain on their own land.

Countless Palestinians have been cast out of the land of their fathers and grandfathers, left to roam the earth and settle in refugee camps in different countries.

The original Nakba continues unabated, with those who have illegitimately seized Palestinian homes and livelihoods callously discussing the merits and demerits of a defunct peace process, whilst saying nothing against Israel’s odious insistence of no right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Especially ironic considering that if anyone should recognise the right of return, it is the Jewish people who have premised an entire state on that notion.

Palestine, the land, its inhabitants, its culture, and its character have always been important to every Muslim and every Arab (apart from, apparently, their treacherous rulers).

In fact, it is not just the land of the Palestinians, but the land of all those who are connected to it by their duty to their Palestinian brethren, or by ethnic and wider cultural associations, and even those who have spilled their blood to defend it.

For example, had American activist Rachel Corrie’s life not been so savagely snuffed out by the Israeli occupation I doubt any Palestinian would have objected to her living among them.

In the eyes of many who are attached to Palestine, it is an indivisible part of their consciousness and identity, no matter what tragedies befell and continue to befall the land and its people.

These people who belong to Palestine, and to whom Palestine belongs, are capable of seeing past the artificial imperial Sykes-Picot borders that were designed to throw up barriers and obstacles between brother to brother, and neighbour to neighbour.

They yearn for a return to peace, justice, and the cosmopolitan openness that once existed in Palestine and that contrasts so tragically with the modern divisiveness of Israeli apartheid.

Israel’s racist institutions, ideology, and brutality that began in the last century are now like a ravenous kraken, refusing to release its grip on the ship of hope of Palestinian independence.

Other, less metaphorical ships, such as the Mavi Marmara had their bringers of peace shot dead by the Israeli war machine in 2010.

A Blueprint for Ethnic Cleansing

There is a historical context to the events of today. Whilst modern Europeans complain about immigration from Africa and Asia, Palestinians of more than a century ago living under the British Mandate were suddenly subjected to a surge of Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Austrian, German, and French Jewish immigrants.

As this vast European immigration and colonial enterprise took hold, Palestinian land held by absentee landlords was sold to Zionist businessmen who then purged the land of its Palestinian inhabitants and replaced them with peasants of Jewish origin.

Tensions increased, and after several Arab rebellions that were ruthlessly crushed by the British and their Zionist allies, things only became worse for the long-time inhabitants of the Holy Land.

After the enormous expense of World War II, and with the winding down of the once mighty British Empire, the Zionists were left to their own devices. Even before the First Arab-Israeli War broke out, the Israelis had planned for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, with the Haganah terrorist organisation (later to be given uniforms and be named the Israeli Defence Force) concocting the infamous “Plan Dalet”.

Plan Dalet was designed to purge the Palestinians from their land, and as the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe explained, it was a “blueprint for ethnic cleansing”. Operational orders were such that specific Palestinian towns and villages were to be targeted, destroyed, and their inhabitants forced to flee or die. This was not a “defensive” plan against neighbouring Arab aggression, but every Palestinian village was considered hostile.

Israel took complete advantage of the fear and terror their violence caused, and allowed news of their barbarity to spread, further encouraging Palestinians to flee their homes and lands in the hopes that they would be able to return once the hostilities ended.

Those hopes were misplaced, and the countless Palestinian refugee camps are testament to that reality. If the Zionists had truly not planned to expel such vast numbers of Palestinians, then Israel would have no problem in allowing them and their descendants to return to their lands today.

We all know, however, that Israel intended ethnic cleansing in 1948 just as they intend ethnic cleansing in 2021 through emptying Jerusalem and other towns and cities of their Palestinian inhabitants. This includes through making swathes of Palestinian territory borderline uninhabitable by mercilessly bombing places like Gaza to smithereens and killing Palestinian children with total impunity, encouraging another exodus of Palestinian migration.

It is therefore undeniable that Israel, feigning peaceful intent to the world whilst continuing to quench the earth with Palestinian blood, continues the Nakba that it began in 1948 and it will not stop until they are made to stop, or else there is no longer such a thing as a Palestinian left in historical Palestine.

That is an outcome that cannot be allowed to come to pass, and it is the duty and responsibility of every human being with a conscience to ensure that the Nakba industry is shut down for good.

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