HomeMiddle EastIsrael denies the Nakba while perpetuating it

Israel denies the Nakba while perpetuating it

On the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, it seems appropriate to think about how the events of 1948 have shaped not only the history of the Palestinian people, but also its current colonial reality.

For the Palestinians, the Nakba is a “ghostly affair” – to use a phrase first introduced by sociology professor Avery Gordon. It has become a psychic force that incessantly haunts the present.

The haunting, as Gordon explains, is one of the ways in which oppressive forms of power continue to make themselves known in everyday life.

The Nakba – the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians of their ancestral homes in Palestine and the destruction of 500 towns and cities, is not simply an event that occurred some 75 years ago.

As many Palestinians insist, it is also an ongoing process characterized by enduring forms of state-sanctioned violence. It is something that the Zionist forces continue to practice. In fact, every time a Palestinian is executed by Israeli soldiers or a house that took years to build is demolished, this specific act of violence not only shocks, but also evokes the memory of the Nakba.

The permanence of the Nakba became quite evident when in February Jewish vigilantes carried out a pogrom in the Palestinian town of Huwara and, instead of condemning the crime, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, She complained that state forces rather than private citizens should be erasing Palestinian villages.

But the Israeli state’s strategy of creating new memories of violence among Palestinians and thus ensuring that the Nakba remains a constant presence seems to contradict its official policy of denying it ever happened.

Israeli officials and pro-Israel activists have repeatedly rejected the term, calling it an “Arab lie” and a “justification of terrorism.” The Israeli authorities have also tried to stamp out any public reference to the Nakba.

In 2009, the Israeli Ministry of Education banned the use of this word in textbooks for Palestinian children.

In 2011, the Knesset adopted a law that prohibited institutions from holding Nakba commemorative events. This law is actually an amendment to the Budget Foundation Law and combines any ceremony marking the Nakba, for example a public high school in Nazareth, with incitement to racism, violence and terrorism and rejection of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

In other words, the Israeli state considers the Palestinian effort to consciously mark and preserve the Nakba in living memory to be extremely dangerous and is accordingly determined to penalize anyone who carries out such public ceremonies.

Israel, however, is not really interested in imposing social amnesia on the events of 1948, but rather seeks to shape and control Palestinian memory.

The strategy is clear: ensure through daily acts of violence that the Palestinians remain obsessed with the Nakba, lest they forget what Israel is capable of. At the same time, however, the state does everything possible to prevent Palestinians from determining how they remember this history in public so that they do not use forms of commemoration to incite people against colonial rule.

This paradoxical policy, which oscillates between memory and commemoration, where the first is continuously reproduced and the second is prohibited, is an essential component of the colono-colonial logic that seeks to violently erase the history and geography of the original peoples to justify their displacement and replacement by settlers.

The suppression of the Nakba as a historical event worthy of commemoration is part of Israel’s effort to reverse the history of colonial dispossession. Israel’s fear is that the Nakba ceremonies undermine the Zionist narrative that presents Jewish settlers as perpetual victims of Palestinian violence and instead reveal the horrific forms of violence that Zionist forces deployed in 1948 and continue to deploy to Reach your goal.

In other words, Israel also intends to control the telling of history to promote the Zionist moral framework.

However, this goal is doomed to fail. Israel may forbid its Palestinian citizens from commemorating the events of 1948 in public ceremonies, but for them and their diaspora brothers around the world, the Nakba is never dead; it’s not even past.

While Israel aim eliminating the idea of ​​a Palestinian nation, whether through genocide, ethnic cleansing or the creation of enclaves and ghettos, has not been fully achieved or, alternatively, completely denied by Palestinians achieving self-determination, the Nakba it will continue to serve both as a ghostly presence and as a concrete and integral part of Israel’s colonial structure. The Nakba can only be transcended when the settler colonial project comes to an end.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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