Comment | “You know what is happening”: Letter to an Israeli friend

When Akkas Al-Ali's Israeli friend accused him of "siding with terrorists" in Gaza, he decided to write the following letter in response.

Ideas, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 17:11 - 44 Comments

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July 12, 2014 - Israeli residents, mostly from Sderot, sit on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip to watch Israeli bombardment of Gaza. (By Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

July 12, 2014 – Israeli residents, mostly from Sderot, sit on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip to watch Israeli bombardment of Gaza. (By Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

By now, I expect you are fully aware of the apocalyptic scenes that have been coming out of Gaza over the past few weeks. In case you are not, I hope the following will give you some idea of what the Israeli army – spurred on by the country’s government, by politicians, by journalists, by academics, by the lynch mobs in the streets – has successfully achieved in just six weeks.

From the beginning, we can now surmise, the Israeli military’s sight has been set on nothing but blasting Gaza, an area of land several times smaller than greater London, my hometown, back to the Stone Age. Yesterday, 26 August, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 2,101 Palestinians have been killed. Of this dreadful figure, 1,460 (69%) are civilians, 493 (23%) are children and 253 (12%) are women. The number of casualties is even higher. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 11,066 (mostly civilians) have been wounded, including 3,374 children.

But this is still not the entire picture; a picture it is imperative for you, as an Israeli Jew, to know, because these crimes are being committed in your name. Whether you are aware of them or not, the Israeli state has already implicated you in its actions.

Since 8 July – in just 51 days – this regional superpower has bombarded Gaza by F16, helicopter, drone, artillery, tank, ship and other weaponry. It has dropped almost 20,000 tonnes of explosives on Gaza, roughly equivalent to the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. It has displaced over 485,000 people with 240,000 fleeing to already overcrowded UN shelters. It has destroyed 16,000 homes. It has damaged 21 hospitals, 167 schools, 108 mosques, 52 fishing boats, 18 charities, five universities, five high-rise buildings, and eight water and waste plants. Electricity supplies have also been cut off after the bombing of Gaza’s only power plant. As a direct result of Israel’s destruction of basic and essential health services, the United Nations recently predicted an outbreak of serious diseases such as typhoid and cholera, not seen in Gaza for decades.

As I write to you, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire to which, I must point out, half the Israeli cabinet remain opposed. And given Israel’s long history of breaking agreements with Palestinians, how long will it be before this one is also rendered meaningless? How long before Israel launches another war and Palestinians must resume counting dead bodies? Who, when the time comes, will answer for these crimes against humanity, for the children that lie dead in Shujaeya, in Rafah, in Khuza’a? Will it be you?

Yet for all the cruel force and unyielding power of the Israeli army, this tiny corner of the Mediterranean will always haunt you. For it is here that the stray wreckage of your national memory – the Nakba you choose to forget – lies buried.

Long before Israel was created, there were Najd and Huj, two Palestinian villages located fifteen and fourteen kilometres north-east of present-day Gaza City. On 13 May 1948, soldiers from the Israeli Negev Brigade’s 7th Battalion arrived in Najd, expelled the inhabitants to Gaza, and then looted and destroyed their houses. On 31 May 1948, Huj suffered the same fate; its inhabitants, too, expelled to Gaza. Four years later, the city of Sderot was founded on the site of these villages and populated by newly-arrived Moroccan, Kurdish, and Iranian Jews. More recently, their numbers have been swelled by Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia.

As such, 1948 is directly connected to the rockets landing today on Sderot, this city built to erase hundreds of years of non-Jewish history. Try as they might to escape it, this year of rupture will always torment Sderot’s present inhabitants. They know – how can they not? – those rockets come from the children of the very people they displaced and then pretended had never existed. They also know that the children of Huj and Najd, whom you dismiss as ‘terrorists’, will always remember where their ancestors’ bones lie buried. Their memories of their homeland remain entrenched and immediate. As such, they will never relinquish them. And, indeed, why should they?

So, you will understand my surprise when I received your message congratulating me for ‘siding with the terrorists’. When, in all our discussions, did I give you this impression? When I told you that the discourse of ‘two sides’ is indefensible and false? When I laughed as you told me that Palestinians must also take responsibility for their own lives? When I told you that the ‘peace process’ is really an obstacle to peace? Or, was it when I told you – perhaps you heard it as a confession – that Palestinians, like Jews, have human rights? If this means that I have sided with terrorists, then I must tell you about another group of ‘terrorists’ I’ve also ‘sided with’; a group I first read about during a history lesson two decades ago.

It is spring 1943 and the residents of the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw are staging an armed uprising against the Nazi occupation. For four years, more than 400,000 Jews had been confined to an area of about one square mile, sealed off by walls, barbed wire and constant military surveillance. Anyone trying to escape was shot on sight. Just as the Israeli government’s blockade of the Gaza Strip controls what goes in and out, including Gazans’ daily calorie intake, the Nazis also maintained total control over what went into the Warsaw ghetto. Food was in short supply. Disease and starvation killed thousands every month.

Faced with the prospect of forced deportation to concentration camps, several Jewish resistance groups created two armed units, the Jewish Combat Organisation and the Jewish Military Union. At the time of the uprising, the total number of fighters was around 800. At some point, they established contact with the Polish Home Army and obtained guns and explosives. As well as these weapons, the Jews fought their oppressor with third-rate rifles, homemade grenades and Molotov cocktails.

As the Nazis began to destroy the ghetto – like Gaza, a densely populated civilian area – it was discovered that the fighters had stored their munitions in synagogues, private houses and underground tunnels. In fact, it was also discovered that residents of the ghetto had constructed underground bunkers in preparation for the uprising. So, when the Nazis entered the ghetto on 19 April 1943, the eve of Passover, with the intention of liquidating the inhabitants, they found it empty: everyone was hiding in the bunkers and tunnels.

During this time, the fighters issued the following manifesto to the people of Poland: ‘Long live the fraternity of blood and weapons in a fighting Poland! Long live freedom! Death to the hangman and the killer! We must continue our mutual struggle against the occupier until the very end.’ It took the Nazis almost a month to break the resistance. Just as Netanyahu boasts of the destruction of ‘terror tunnels’, SS general Jürgen Stroop reported that his forces had destroyed over 600 bunkers. For months after the ghetto’s liquidation, Jewish groups remained in hiding and continued to fight the Nazis. They weren’t about to relinquish their memories of homeland.

What would you say to Mordecai Anielewicz, who commanded the Jewish Combat Organisation? Would you be able to hold his gaze and call him a terrorist? Would you accuse him of using human shields because he hid his arsenal in people’s homes? Would you say that the destruction of the Great Synagogue on Tlomackie Street, one of the wonders of nineteenth century Polish architecture, was a legitimate target? Of course, your answer is no because, according to the logic of your Zionist posturing, the infinite humanity of the Warsaw Jews is matched only by the abject inhumanity of Palestinians. So, while the former had every right to resist oppression by any means necessary, for the latter group – whom Zionism has stripped of their homeland and subsequently their place in history – even the possession of the most mediocre of weapons justifies brutal retaliation by their occupier.

Not long after the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir were arrested, a reporter for one of Israel’s television networks asked a Jewish woman in Tel Aviv what she thought should be done with them. Her reply – ‘They should get two life sentences. One for murder. And one for bringing shame on the Jewish people.’ – demonstrates the extent to which Palestinians have always been absent from the Zionist imaginary. That woman was not merely a ‘voice on the street’. She captured perfectly the Israeli zeitgeist, namely that the kidnapping and brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy is only meaningful when it might disrupt Jewish honour. Palestinian suffering is not enough to call them into reality. As with all white supremacist ideologies, from Wounded Knee to Jallianwala Bagh, the Palestinians signify nothing other than an obstacle in your presence. And, so, you can blame them for making you kill their children – not just the 493 killed in the last month or so, but also the hundreds of thousands killed since the Nakba. It is entirely their fault.

And Zionism is a white supremacist ideology. Conceived in the nineteenth century as a result of, and in response to, the emergence of a range of European nationalist and colonialist ideologies, Zionism was manufactured by and for Askhenazi Jews. Zionism was never a liberation movement for all Jews, even though it has spared nothing to render the terms ‘Zionist’ and ‘Jewish’ interchangeable. The very soul of Israel has always been the property of the Ashkenazi. This is why Zionism’s colonisation of historic Palestine has not only been framed by a discourse that seeks to elide Palestinian presence and subjectivity but also by numerous attempts to separate Arab, Iranian and African Jews from their Arab, Iranian and African identities. Hence, the flag you wave will always be smaller than the one waved by your Mizrahi or Ethiopian neighbour; and Palestinians will continue to be arrested for waving their flag. It is also why the woman in Tel Aviv will never be able to identify herself in this disaster, nevermind take responsibility for its outcome.

This is a war against innocent civilians. It is Israel’s culture of death. It is a continuation of the Nakba. The aim is to cleanse the land of its non-Jewish inhabitants, to eradicate the next generation of Palestinians, in preparation for a Jewish lebensraum. Like every other Israeli Jew, you know this is what is happening.

The racism that has swept across the country is devastating to behold: Israeli Jews march through the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ with no consideration of the evil inherent in this statement. A renowned Israeli scholar argues that the sisters, mothers and wives of potential Palestinian terrorists should be raped as a method of deterrence. Knesset members call for a war against all Palestinians, and the deputy speaker outlines his plan for the expulsion of Palestinians out of Gaza and into concentration camps in the desert. The Palestinian deputy mayor of Haifa is almost beaten to death by a Jewish lynch mob. A Palestinian teenager is burnt alive. These are not simply the misdeeds of rogue anti-social elements. This is a wave of hatred and violence that is supported by large numbers of the Israeli public.

Most disquieting is the celebration of Palestinian death and suffering, whether it be cheering from the hilltops of Sderot as bombs fall upon Gaza, or joyous outbursts on social media. One day, your leaders and heroes will stand trial for all their crimes, and the statement ‘I am a Zionist’ will be as loathsome and reprehensible as ‘I am a Nazi’.

This has nothing to do with ‘siding with terrorists’. It is about human rights. It is about an illegal occupation and a mediaeval blockade. It is about checkpoints, house demolitions, resource theft, four different IDs for Palestinians and one for Jews. It is about the illegal Wall that cuts through Palestinian land. It is about the everyday racism against non-Jews. It is about Israeli militarised nationalism and the rise of the far right. It is about Jewish politicians calling for an anti-Arab holocaust, lynch mobs, price tagging, young Jews radicalised by their political and religious leaders, political activists held in Israeli prisons, children kidnapped from their families by soldiers in the middle of the night, the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, the difference in public spending between East and West Jerusalem, separate and better roads for Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

It is about the Nakba and the refugees. In time, even you will realise that terrorists are not made in Gaza. They sit in the Knesset in Jerusalem.

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Akkas Al-Ali

Akkas Al-Ali is a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter. He tweets from @akkasistan.

44 Comments

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Sanka
Aug 27, 2014 18:28

Well written and detailed. Nice job author!

Chris Newcombe
Aug 27, 2014 19:01

One of the best indictments of Zionism I have read.

Karen
Aug 28, 2014 0:18

Amazing & powerful letter, Akkas! So truthful and damning.

Free Palestine

edward brungardt
Aug 28, 2014 4:59

Eloquent, powerful “truth to jews” or at least truth to Israelis who have lost their direction in the dharma of being human. Wonderful letter AAA.

Suzan
Aug 28, 2014 6:24

Brilliant Truthful shared to google+

Donal
Aug 28, 2014 11:01

Needs to be said. I hope your friend and his read it.

Aelice
Aug 28, 2014 11:18

Brilliantly articulated, well-documented and argued.
Thank you.

Nicolette Erasmus
Aug 28, 2014 12:33

What is most sad is that this is a mirror-image of what is happening on the other side of the wall. Don’t you see that?

sharanya
Aug 28, 2014 13:42

@Nicolette: if anything, you should see after having read this that a “mirror image” is most precisely NOT the case. that makes it look like an “equal battle” between israel and palestine, when it is not. it’s Israel doing its terrorist-oppression thing. and Palestine suffering. the “both sides” argument is wrong.

Amal
Aug 28, 2014 16:28

Great article !! massively informative ! keep on going …

tursina
Aug 29, 2014 8:35

Thank you for writing what needs to be said and told. Truth will ultimately find its way through voices like yours.

Hilary
Aug 29, 2014 11:37

Well done, eloquent, passionate, and truthful. One hopes that words can move people to change. What did your Israeli friend say?

peter
Aug 29, 2014 11:46

the truth hurts and they need to hear it in the US of ISRAHELL. They couldn’t get away with it without American indifference and the infection of Israhell ‘firsters’.

Altoni Silvera
Aug 29, 2014 11:54

I would like to know more about the author’s view of the ‘terror tunnels’, what was their purpose, and was this justified?

To me, it seems this is crucial, and swerved in the article.

Judy
Aug 29, 2014 12:42

Altoni, I’d say the tunnels serve the same purpose in Gaza as they did in the Warsaw ghetto.

Akkas, in the future you should be more selective about your friends.

me
Aug 29, 2014 13:41

this is yet the best piece i read about Palestine/Israel in a while… amazing job, Akkas …

Phil Crowe
Aug 29, 2014 15:14

Beautiful, powerful, forensically detailed, fact-based, logical response to a friend. I’m interested in knowing what the friend’s response was!

US Complicity: Israel, Gaza, and the Restoration of Palestine
Aug 29, 2014 15:15

[…] script: This essay is worth your time: https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/you-happening-letter-israeli-friend/. It is trenchant, precise, passionate, and devastating of seeming truths that […]

rashid
Aug 29, 2014 15:30

well done, extremely detailed response to a Natzionist as the israeli’s now espouse all the values the Natzi;s in Germany Practiced.

ITS NOT OFTEN THAT ONE READS SUCH A DETAILED RESPONSE. I WILL SHARE THIS.

Emma Giulia
Aug 29, 2014 17:26

Hi Friend, good written this letter, hope they will read it, and then understand the meaning of the letter. This is indeed a genocide, and racists, also against colored people, they are even tread very bad in Israel, they are the neo nazi’s Nethanyahu as the crazy leader Adolf Hitler, and then the others that obey him.
I am not religieus, i dont care if someone is or not, we are all people in the first place, but i will burn a candle for the freedom of your people, thats for me a kind of praying. with kind regards, thinking of you all, what you are going though, love from europe/netherlands Emma Giulia

Steve
Aug 29, 2014 17:42

Well written, articulate, and persuasive. Unfortunately, it is filled with false equivalencies, an obvious twisting of history, intentional ignorance of what is being done by Palestinians at the behest of their leaders, and manipulated data and soundbites.

But ,hey, it’s written very eloquently!

Ahmad Yaqin
Aug 29, 2014 18:22

History proves there was never any Nakba? Read the Arab newspapers from 1947.. No Arabs were “ethnically cleansed.” The British recorded the Arab-initiated evacuation and foolish Jews begging them to stay. Jordanian Legion’s Glubb Pasha told the Daily Telegraph:

“Arab villagers fled ignominiously long before their areas were visited by the progress of the war.” The Arab Higher Committee stated “the refugees were the Arabs’ official tactics to protest UNR 181.”

It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem.”
– Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station, Cyprus, April 3, 1949

“The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city…By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.”.
– Time, May 3, 1948, p. 25

The Arab exodus, initially at least, was encouraged by many Arab leaders, such as Haj Amin el Husseini, the exiled pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, and by the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine. They viewed the first wave of Arab setbacks as merely transitory. Let the Palestine Arabs flee into neighboring countries. It would serve to arouse the other Arab peoples to greater effort, and when the Arab invasion struck, the Palestinians could return to their homes and be compensated with the property of Jews driven into the sea.
– Kenneth Bilby, in New Star in the Near East (New York, 1950), pp. 30-31

I do not want to impugn anybody but only to help the refugees. The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab States in opposing Partition and the Jewish State. The Arab States agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem, [Daily Telegraph, September 6, 19481
– Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, the official leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, in the Beirut newspaper, Daily Telegraph, September 6, 1948

The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.
– Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949

We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.
– Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, quoted in Sir Am Nakbah (“The Secret Behind the Disaster”) by Nimr el Hawari, Nazareth, 1952

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade. . . . He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean. . . Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes, and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.
– Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League (Azzam Pasha’s successor), in the newspaper Al Hoda, June 8, 1951

LanceThruster
Aug 29, 2014 21:20

Masterful rebuttal. Kudos, my friend.

Uri Horesh
Aug 29, 2014 23:27

Ahmad Yaqin’s comment is absolutely vile. To deny, or even question, whether the Nakba ever took place, is not even worth replying to. I will not dignify addressing the merits of this argument, simply because there are no such merits. But I wanted to make sure that it was stated here – in no uncertain terms – that Nakba denial is beyond repugnant. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is a fact. It is not just the title of a fantastic book by historian Ilan Pappé. It is the ongoing miserable reality for millions of Palestinians to this day.

Jonathan Brown
Aug 29, 2014 23:57

@ Ahmad Yaqin – history, like science, requires looking at the evidence, and revising your view accordingly.

When in the 1980s Israel declassified a lot of documents from the Nakba period, Israeli historians themselves did just that, and concluded that story of Arabs choosing to leave was basically Israeli propaganda. They may have justified it by saying it was necessary, but they don’t deny that there was an explicit Israeli strategy to force the Palestinians out.

It’s easy to find people ‘reporting’ that Arab leaders called for Palestinians to leave, but there’s barely any actual evidence of them actually having done so: no radio recordings, no documented orders, no published statements made at the time, etc. Certainly the Israeli historians don’t consider ‘instructions’ to leave as being an important reason for the Palestinians fleeing. Rather, they lay the blame with military action carried out by official and unofficial Jewish / Israeli organisations including Haganah and the IZL, and the fear of them – inspired by events such as the massacre of the civilian population of Deir Yassin.

You could try reading Ilan Pappe ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ or Benny Morris ‘The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee problem’ to bring yourself up to date with the facts.

Here is a revealing quote from Yitzhak Rabin on the subject too: “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!” (leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.)

ItchyEyes
Aug 30, 2014 15:11

Thank you Akkas for a well informed Akkas.

“You know what is happening”: Letter to an Israeli friend | Mona Baker
Aug 30, 2014 15:18

Mona Baker
Aug 30, 2014 15:19

A superb article. I’ve posted it on my site and circulated it widely.

Ramatu
Aug 30, 2014 17:15

Wow blown away by this letter. So beautifully written a must share.

gal shalev, esq.
Aug 30, 2014 19:08

Jonathan Brown,
You accuse Ahmed of using selective quotations and then use one yourself. Anyone can choose a quote and present it as the modus operandi.
Ilan Pappe is an ideologue who know Israeli academic takes seriously (he himself admits he follows an ideological padaigm).

The fact of the matter is:
1. There were many Arab economic migrants from surrounding areas.
2. There were native Jews living there for hundreds of years
3. Many Jews purchased land from absentee landlords
4. The Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan
5. The Arabs waged a war of annihilation against the Jews and unfortunately for you, they failed
6. The Arabs were led by the Mufti of Jerusalem who was a close friend of Hitler

Wars create refugee problems just like the Sudetan Germans from WW2, Kashmir and an endless number of past conflicts. There are thousands of refugees being created as we speak in an internal Arab conflict in Syria that’s already generated 200,000 casualties.

The essence of the conflict is Arab and Muslims’ inability to accept a non-Islamic entity in that area. Once they lost military they learned how to exploit the language of “human rights” (a non-existent concept in the Muslim World) and have been able to fool gullible Westerners ever since.

gal shalev, esq.
Aug 30, 2014 19:11

Also this article shows that Islamic morality is dualistic. It rarely follows the golden rule. You make all types of baseless accusation from a perspective of moral righteousness. In the meantime, Muslims are killing each other in the hundreds of thousands. I bet your retort will be that ISIS and 9/11 were Zionist conspiracies.

Gilad
Aug 30, 2014 19:24

Dear Akkas Al-Ali,

I am reading your well written (language wise) letter and try to understand. I try to understand what motivates you – a very intelligent young man – to write me (I am also Israeli who lives away from Israel) in a way that insult our potential dialogue. A dialogue based on harmer and victim is not appropriate nor comparing numbers. Can I assume that the conflict between Israel and Hamas would be “fair” according to your suggestions regarding numbers in case the Iron Dome wouldn’t protect the civilians of Israel who are on a daily basis been targeted by the Hamas? Would 2,000 dead Israeli will make the conflict even? right?

Conflicts are wrong. No discussions about that. Israel left Gaza in 2005 – we are talking about merely 9 years ago. The Hamas took over (through elections) the power in Gaza about 2 years later – BTW, while murdering hundred’s of the Phatah activities. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/world/middleeast/fatah-and-hamas-reconciliation-in-gaza-city.html?_r=0). Hamas is a terror organisation – worst it is a criminal one. Hamas is the source of suffers in Gaza. Give me one reason – according to you, why Israel should allow free movement of goods into the strip? Israel supplied for years electricity (which is not paid for), food, pharmaceuticals and other essential goods – more than Egypt did – BTW, how come you are not talking about a siege from the Egyptian side???? last I looked at the map, Gaza has a border with Egypt and yet Israel is to blame..? So what Hamas is doing with the supply? taking care of Gazians? building new schools? hospitals (what for – Israeli hospitals – you forgot to mention – are taking care of civilians)? roads? infrastructure? nope! Hamas is making money out of the situation – Mashaal and his friends are between heavy millionaires to billionaires. Non of the heads of the jews in the camps made money out of the German siege and non was sitting thousands kilometres away in a luxury hotel in Qatar – “fighting the Palestine” douse.

Read the Hamas Carter – it says EXPLICITLY that Israel should not exist. So what exactly do you expect? I will not repeat what we both know about how Hamas is frying rockets out of SHifa and heavy populated areas. There are plenty of evidence now not only by the Israeli military but journalist who (despite being threaten by the Hamas) saw and reported these from first hand.

If you elect to be a victim than at least lets call the child in its real name. Your problem is not Israel. Your problem is that Gaza is controlled by an organisation who makes money – loads of it – out of your misery. As an Israeli, I am the first to vote for helping you to make Gaza a better place. I will be more than happy to see Gaza flourishing. Go and build your home go and contribute and do not insult my intelligence about Israel’s wrong doing – I know the wrong doings by myself and unlike you not approving neither any of the activities of the Israeli government nor the behaviour of people in the street. I am not blind but that doesn’t make my country what you are trying to describe.

Last and not least – dare to compare Germany Nazies to Israel – I am not sure even how to answer that so probably best just to ignore! IF and this is HUG IF, Israel wanted to make a real janocide – as you describe it – Gaza wouldn’t exist today and you would have mention millions of victims not by the few (sadly) thousands.

Israel, my friend is the last and only real democracy in the middle east. I only can wish you that your leaders be as terrorists as the one siting in the Kneset;)

Have a good life – go and build yourself

Maya1967
Aug 31, 2014 9:05

The above Nakba denials are of course to be expected. Just read them. Anyone who denies the nakba is ridiculous and the world knows it. Their arguments are tired old slogans: Israel is the only democracy, Arabs left by themselves, Hamas is terrorists, Ilan Pappe is not a real historian etc. Your article is so well written and researched that this is to be expected. I write this as a descendent of Armenians in both sides of my family who were massacred 99 years ago. That was our catastrophe that is denied to this day. Hitler referred to it to illustrate how safe (sic!) it would be to perpetrate the systematic industrial scale murder of Jews, gypsies, lgbt people, black people, disabled people, socialists and communists, anyone who opposed them, on grounds that no one remembers the Armenians. Denial of such mass scale massacres, ethnic cleansing, genocide, what ever you may choose to call it, for the victims of that catastrophe is akin to it being perpetrated again. Vast majority of holocaust survivors who speak out against what Israel is doing in Palestine know this very well.

Lawrence Richards
Aug 31, 2014 9:27

Coming from a Jewish family who fled antisemitic violence in Russia and Germany, the worthy comparison between resistance in Gaza and the brave Jewish fighters in the Warsaw ghetto resonates deeply with me and the historical circumstances that almost stopped my family from existing in liberty and peace today.

Katherine Burrows
Aug 31, 2014 12:59

Akkas’ article aims not to enter into an endless tit for tat that seeks to establish an ‘Arab’ life as more valuable than an ‘Israeli’ life. It is an open letter- a communication to his ‘Israeli friend’- an entreaty to think carefully about why and how the ‘Palestinian’ or ‘Palestine’ is always subsumed and forcefully made into the indistinguishable symbolical prop of self-appointed Israeli state impunity for the killing of Palestinians. Saying that the annihilation of Gazan’s is a crime against humanity is categorically not the same utterance as ‘death to Israel’ and yet there is no space in which to state one’s solidarity with the freedom of the Palestinians without this over-riding privilege of Zionist- NOT ‘Jewish’- victimhood to elide and erase not only the history of the Palestinians, but the nuanced and deeply resonant history of struggle of Jewish freedom fighters such as those Akkas discusses, and indeed by extension radical Jewish thought such as the invaluable works of a figure like Spinoza. But to refuse to critique Zionist and Israeli state violence is also- as Maya1967 points out- to enable the erasure of the history of struggle of all those upon whose bodies, cultures and ancestral lands an occupying force has brought hell, and thus to be complicit with the wreaking of said hell.

Jonathan Brown
Sep 1, 2014 1:17

@ gal shalev, esq.

I’m selecting quotations to demonstrate that the Nakba was real. It doesn’t matter what the ideology of the people I quoted is. That Illan Pape is anti-zionist is irrelevant. I also referenced Benny Morris (a pro-Zionist historian) and Yitzhak Rabin (a pro-Zionist Prime Minister of Israel).

Ahmad Yaqin was trying to deny a historical fact. I am presenting the evidence that he is grossly misinformed or deliberately lying.

As for your 6 points:

1. There were many Arab economic migrants from surrounding areas. True, I presume.
2. There were native Jews living there for hundreds of years. True.
3. Many Jews purchased land from absentee landlords. True.
4. The Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan. True – as they had every right to do so in a democratic referendum.

5. The Arabs waged a war of annihilation against the Jews and unfortunately for you, they failed.
This one is debatable. Some of the language used was certainly antisemitic and genocidal. No doubt some of the fighters wanted to ‘annihilate the Jews’ too. But there’s not much evidence that the Arab regimes put a lot of effort into it. And seeing as Jewish communities survived (I won’t say prospered) in Arab countries and Iran throughout the war and for years afterwards, I fail to see how you can argue that they were seriously trying to exterminate all Jews as opposed to the colonial state of Israel.

6. The Arabs were led by the Mufti of Jerusalem who was a close friend of Hitler. Now you’re just talking nonsense. Of course the Mufti flirted with Hitler, but you do yourself a disservice in pretending that they were close allies. You also ignore the fact that the Mufti was not the leader of ‘the Arabs’, even if he had some influence.

The Arabs have accepted many non-Islamic entities in the region, ranging from military regimes to socialist dictatorships to confessional democracies. The essence of the conflict is not the political failings of the Arab states, great though they may be. It is the unending occupation of Palestine and the subjugation and expelling of its indigenous people.

Uri Horesh
Sep 1, 2014 4:32

Gilad’s comments are so heavily laden with clichés and racist misconceptions, that I don’t know where to begin. He wants to engage in “dialogue?” How can anyone have even a simple conversation with such ignorant, arrogant, violent notions on the other side.

What do you know about Akkas? You say at the close of your comments, “I only can wish you that your leaders be as terrorists as the one siting [sic] in the Kneset [sic].” Who are Akkas’s “leaders?” Akkas was born and raised in London. I bet that has never even crossed your mind as a remote possibility. It seems as if anyone with an Arab or Muslim-sounding name is a “terrorist” in your mind. And you’re surprised that DIALOGUE is not the preferred modus operandi? I don’t even know why I bothered writing these few lines to you. Clearly, you won’t understand them.

Harry
Sep 2, 2014 14:54

Reading Ahmad and Gilad’s views is a strange experience, because I suspect there is a sort of passion for the truth in both of them, but clearly each has grown up with a particular view of history, passed on by family, affirmed by national myth, largely unexposed to counter-evidence (as opposed to counter-rhetoric) and the replies have become formulaic for them. I used often to work with Protestants from Northern Ireland who had a similar upbringing, in terms of ‘founding myth’s and who, unconsciously, applied double standards towards historical evidence, or edited whole issues out of the balance, or made constant equations of one word or label with another (so ‘Irish’ would automatically mean ‘Nationalist’ would automatically mean ‘Republican’ would automatically mean ‘IRA’, etc.).
I vividly remember one man with whom I had talked many times, and who had lived in a non-Irish context for some years, such that, without him realising it, a lot of words had gradually lost their automatica associations, and he had learned to see a distance between how he had been raised, and some kind of at least ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ view of the troubled history (if not ‘The Troubles’) of ‘Ireland’.
At that point, he once said to me .. ‘let me tell you how I can see it now, the way I was brought up, and I’ll try and describe things from an independent view, and then say how I would have spoken about it simply the way I was brought up ..’
So he started a brief account of the Troubles, and within two sentences he said ‘Oh No! That’s me talking like a regular Ulster Protestant again! … Let my try again …’ So he tried again .. and once again, within a few sentences, he was saying ‘No, that’s not fair, that’s a biased way ot saying it ..’
After several attempts he broke down in tears because he realised that, although he’d realised how deeply he’d been ‘programmed’ or had ‘learned a myth’ or whtever you want to call it .. that realisation itself wasn’t enough to undo a lifetime’s habits of though. So many ordinary words had become parts of a one-sided story, and ordinary phrases led automatically to particular lines of thought.
It was painful to watch, and was profoundly distressing for him, and I think that for all of us, as we learn to unlearn myths we were raised with, there is some of that distress. It is part of the reason, I think, that forgiveness (which will have to be part of the solution at some point in relation to ‘Israel’ and ‘Palestine’) is hard work, and that unless many, many people do the hard work together, we get nowhere.
I would not even say that Gilad is to be pitied .. we all learn our national / religious / family myths as we grow up, and even ‘ordinary’ sentences become semantic minefields. We all have that work to do, of relearning.

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Sep 4, 2014 20:08

[…] retorycznym jest reductio ad Hitlerum, nie możemy jednocześnie dać się wspuścić w maliny: nie każde porównanie do III Rzeszy to reductio ad Hitlerum. Czasami bywa też i tak, że na to, by nie zadawać pytań o pewne […]

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Jarosław Pietrzak: Wszyscy jesteśmy Palestyńczykami » الصفصاف - وقفة عِزْ نضال حمد
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[…] retorycznym jest reductio ad Hitlerum, nie możemy jednocześnie dać się wspuścić w maliny: nie każde porównanie do III Rzeszy to reductio ad Hitlerum. Czasami bywa też i tak, że na to, by nie zadawać pytań o pewne […]

Diana Swancutt on US Complicity: Israel, Gaza, and the Restoration of Palestine | New Deal Progressives
Oct 27, 2014 17:52

[…] and updates: This essay is worth the time if you are interested in one Palestinian point of view: https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/you-happening-letter-israeli-friend/. Told to his Jewish friend, this letter is trenchant, precise, passionate, pained, and […]

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Oct 28, 2014 5:15

[…] and updates: This essay is worth the time if you are interested in one Palestinian point of view: https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/you-happening-letter-israeli-friend/. Told to his Jewish friend, this letter is trenchant, precise, passionate, pained, and devastating. […]

Diana Swancutt on US Complicity: Israel, Gaza, and the Restoration of Palestine | NOFrack.co
Oct 28, 2014 5:52

[…] and updates: This essay is worth the time if you are interested in one Palestinian point of view: https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/you-happening-letter-israeli-friend/. Told to his Jewish friend, this letter is trenchant, precise, passionate, pained, and devastating. […]

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