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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Arab Spring Nakba

Ha'aretz has an op-ed by an Arab:

[I]n Syria, another Arab Nakba is taking place before our eyes. This Nakba is the lot of the Syrian people. But this time, those behind the Nakba are not Zionists. They aren't Jews or French or godless British or Americans. Neither the Little Zionist Satan nor the Great American Satan is behind this Nakba. This time, the Satan is Arab, flesh of our flesh.

When thousands of Arab citizens - men, women and children - are massacred, when many others flee an Arab country because they fear an Arab regime with pretensions to waving the flag of Arab nationalism, then this so-called nationalism becomes dubious and ought to raise questions.

This is all the more the case when non-Arab Turkey is the country to which people are fleeing. Yes, the same Turkey that is regularly mentioned in Arab national discourse as the height of defilement and the source of all Arab ills. And all because of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over the Arabs for hundreds of years and to which Arab nationalists have long attributed all the falterings of the Arab world.
A mirror "Nakba" is taking place in North Africa. From Newsweek:
No one knows how many people have died trying to make it from North Africa to Europe. Human traffickers don’t keep passenger lists, and authorities can only guess at the numbers of migrants based on the size of the capsized ships. But this much is clear: this is one of the deadliest years on record. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that in the past two months alone at least 1,600 people have died at sea as they fled their countries for European shores.

Lampedusa’s coastline is marred by the carcasses of capsized boats; the port is filled with shipwrecks, some with blankets, children’s toys, and jackets still on board. Deaths in these Mediterranean waters are now so common that fishermen routinely snag corpses in their nets. But to avoid the lengthy bureaucracy that goes with reporting the morbid catch, they often throw the bodies back in the water. “I can’t afford to have my boat sequestered for the season,” says one fisherman who didn’t want to give his name. “They won’t get any better burial on land if we bring them in.”

...When NATO bombardments against Libya began, Gaddafi vowed to “unleash an unprecedented wave of illegal immigration” on Europe. And the ships have been arriving from Libya since.

In the first five months of 2011, more than 45,000 people made their way to Lampedusa—more than 10 times the total number of last year. Thousands of others have arrived on nearby Pelagian islands, as well as Sicily and Sardinia. One boatload of Tunisians made it all the way to the Italian mainland, docking about 50 kilometers south of Rome. If the war in Libya continues, hundreds of thousands more are expected to make the perilous journey in the coming months.

Some refugees come for economic opportunity, having made it to Libya from other poor North African countries or sub-Saharan Africa. Others are fleeing war and unrest in Libya and beyond. But perhaps most disturbingly, human-rights groups report that soldiers loyal to Gaddafi are rounding up people and forcing them onto boats at gunpoint.
Thousands killed, tens of thousands becoming refugees. Yet it is only considered a real Nakba if it fulfills these two conditions:

1) You can blame Jews for causing the mass flight.
2) The flight is to Arab countries who don't want to help the refugees, even though they are fellow Arabs.

Since the two conditions don't apply, this is merely standard operating procedure.