Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, wrote the following in a May 2 article entitled “Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map”:
In a run-down office in the busy centre of Tel Aviv, a group of Israelis are finalising preparations for this year’s independence day holiday. But their conversation – switching between Arabic and Hebrew – centres not on celebrating the historic realisation of the Zionist dream in May 1948, but on the other side of the coin: the flight, expulsion and dispossession that Palestinians call their catastrophe – the Nakba.
Maps, leaflets and posters explain the work of Zochrot – Hebrew for “Remembering”. The organisation’s mission is to educate Israeli Jews about a history that has been obscured by enmity, propaganda and denial for much of the last 66 years.
Next week, Zochrot, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians, will connect the bitterly contested past with the hi-tech present. Its will allow users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments and data.
It is all part of a highly political and inevitably controversial effort to undo the decades-long erasure of landscape and memory – and, so the hope goes, to build a better future for the two peoples who share a divided land.
Later in the article, Black alludes to the fact that Zochrot’s plans to “build a better future” in the region includes an unlimited Palestinian ‘right of return’:
Zochrot’s focus on the hyper-sensitive question of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees has earned it the hostility of the vast majority of Israeli Jews who flatly reject any Palestinian right of return. Allowing these refugees – now, with their descendants, numbering seven million people – to return to Jaffa, Haifa or Acre, the argument goes, would destroy the Jewish majority, the raison d’être of the Zionist project.
Black’s use of the term “Zionist project” is of course quite telling.
As David Hirsh noted in an essay at Fathom, though in the decades prior to 1948 opposing the ’Zionist project’ (anti-Zionism) was debatable even among fierce opponents of anti-Semitism, after 1948 such a position became a “programme for the destruction of an actually existing nation-state,”
Indeed, Zochrot (an NGO heavily funded by several European governments) quite openly seeks a one-state solution through the ‘right of return” for millions of Palestinians who claim to be descended from refugees from ’48. Even more disturbingly, the group’s founder has written the following about his vision of the future:
When the refugees return, Jews will become a minority in the country. Israel as a Jewish state will change radically, and it will no longer be defined as such. Jews will no longer be able to determine their future…by themselves…. There may be Jews, most of them of European origin, who won’t be able to adjust to a non-Zionist reality, and prefer to use their other passport to move elsewhere…”
One of the more troubling elements of the Guardian’s coverage of the region is their propensity to legitimize one-state advocates – editors, reporters, and commentators who’ve learned nothing from the dark history of anti-Semitism in the 20th century and somehow reconcile their putatively ‘liberal’ politics with plans to render 40 percent of the world’s Jews powerless, and dependent upon the whims and wishes of an extraordinarily hostile Arab majority.
Or – the argument goes – they can ‘move elsewhere’.
Though the Guardian may not typically trade in crude Judeophobic tropes, they can’t cry foul when accused of at least abetting anti-Semitism for continually endorsing reactionary political actors who seek to annul the fundamental Jewish right to self-determination and thus jeopardizing millions of Jewish lives.
Reprinted with author’s permission