Monday, October 11, 2010

But Israel should teach the truth about the Nakba

Continuation from previous post...

Of course, we still need to grapple with what Israel teaches its students. It seems to me that only one thing needs to be taught: the truth. If Israeli schools completely ignore talking about some 600,000 Palestinian Arabs having left their homes, some of them (but far from the majority) forced out by the Haganah and IZL, they are failing. If they teach the skewed Palestinian Arab narrative of forced dispossession and unending massacres, they are failing worse.

Yes, teach the Nakba - but teach what really happened. Of course it was a catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of people, but the continuing catastrophe of what has happened to them since 1948 at the hands of their Arab brothers needs to be taught as well.

Yes, there were some massacres and Israel should be embarrassed - but there was also heroism, there were also miracles, there was also the overriding moral imperative to survive and beat back an onslaught that was literally meant to be genocidal.

Teach about how Palestinian Arab nationalism was weak to nonexistent in 1948. Teach how Jordan and Egypt's occupations of "Palestinian" land were not protested. Teach the history of the Mufti and his terror sprees against Jews (not Zionists - Jews.) Teach about how Arab refugees in Israel were integrated into society while those in Arab lands were treated like garbage, and still are. Teach about how UNRWA has ensured that the "refugee" problem will fester until Israel is destroyed.

All of these need to be taught. It doesn't mean that Israeli youngsters shouldn't feel the appropriate sorrow for the suffering of their enemy, but it also doesn't mean that they should forget that they are still the enemy, and the moral imperative is to ensure your own survival before worrying about that of those who tried, and still desire, to destroy you.

For an example of what must be taught, here is an article that I have quoted years ago, from Dorothy Bar-Adon in the Palestine Post, August 17, 1948. In it she discusses how she feels bad over the fact that her neighboring Arab village fled - but also says exactly why they cannot return. It strikes the perfect balance between humanity and self-preservation. Acknowledging the fact that 1948 was a disaster for Arabs in Palestine is not a violation of the Zionist narrative; it should be part and parcel of it - but it must be put in the proper context of the time and the place. 

Because the alternative was unimaginably worse.