Photo: EPA
Palestinians demonstrating about the Nakba (Photo: EPA)
Photo: EPA
Ben-Dror Yemini

Why do Palestinian refugees get so much more attention than others?

Op-ed: Day of remembrance for Jews expelled from Arab countries - Jewish Nakba - passed with barely a whisper. Palestinian Nakba, however, gets showered with attention. Why? Answer might have something to do with Breaking the Silence organization, and far left's tendency to distort history.

November 30, which was this week, was declared the day of remembrance for the banishment and expulsion of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The Jewish Nakba. Aside from a conference at Bar-Ilan University, the subject echoed very faintly through Israel. Part of our elite is busy with another Nakba, which they celebrate again and again: the Palestinian one. They even organized another festival of Nakba films, produced by organizations or people who nurture the fantasy that is the right of return.



When someone attempts to wonder out loud about this injustice, the crocodile tears appear, along with complaints of silencing voices and other assorted goods. Silencing voices? The Palestinian Nakba receives the greatest marketing, in Israel and around the world. The first half of the 20th century saw between 52 and 60 million people go through the experience of forced relocation, most of them in the 1940s after World War Two, for the purpose of building nations. Because that was the norm in those days. It went well with the right of self-determination.


And of all of the dozens of cases of population switches, only the Arabs, who later became the Palestinians, receive this grand commemoration. There are thousands of publications in their name and in their honor. Entire shelves in every university. Departments and cathedrals in almost every university in the world, all to celebrate and glorify their suffering and victimhood. And Israeli film festivals as well.


Nakba protesters. Only the Palestinian Nakba seems to ever get real attention (Photo: Muhammad Shinawi) (Photo: Mohammad Shinawi)
Nakba protesters. Only the Palestinian Nakba seems to ever get real attention (Photo: Muhammad Shinawi)


Who has heard of the population exchange between Poland and Ukraine? How many conferences and film festivals are there commemorating that event, which included 1.4 million refugees, and 100,000 deaths, along with pogroms and slaughters? There's something small, reduced, for those in the know, mostly those who speak the local languages in Poland and Ukraine.


Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley don't hold special ceremonies with giant budgets, or any film festivals. Neither do they hold these for the Jews of Arab countries, who went through pogroms, and were expelled. Because the propagandists of the progressive forces, in Israel too, dedicate their vigor to only one Nakba. And they dare to complain of others silencing their voices.


These festivals aren't meant to help the Palestinians. They're meant to accomplish one thing only, which has become a worldwide trend of the progressive forces – bashing Israel. The Palestinians don't interest them at all. After all, the suffering of Palestinian refugees, in Lebanon for instance, has been going on for decades, and is horrifying. They suffer from real apartheid there: they can't build, can't take on certain occupations, there are limits in the jobs market and education world, and on and on. Has anyone heard of a conference for them? Of course not. It doesn't serve the anti-Israel campaign, so there's no need for it.


At the end of the day, all of this pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-cultural hullabaloo only serves to entrench the Palestinians' poor position, because if the Palestinians receive similar treatment to that of tens of millions of other Palestinians from those years, they wouldn't be refugees anymore. But their uniqueness is that they aren't handled by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) but by their own agency – the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which perpetuates their situation and the illusion of the right of return. None of the tens of millions back then got a "right of return"; there is no such thing. All Arab countries opposed UN resolution 194 on the subject, since it would force them to recognize the Jewish state. And in any case, 67 years have passed. And the European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that there is no right of return in these situations, and not even the right of returning property.


Breaking the Silence. Who funds them? (Photo: Reuters)
Breaking the Silence. Who funds them? (Photo: Reuters)


The regular claim is that "We need to know the other side's narrative." Let's take a look at that. In London, New York, and Paris, no one nurtures the German narrative, even though 12 to 16 million German speakers, not all necessarily German, were expelled, and even though between 600,000 and 2 million were slaughtered during the expulsion. If that were to be the result of the Second World War, the result would see Britain and the US as the aggressors – and the Germans as victims. That's exactly what happened with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: aggressors have become victims. They merely wanted to destroy, and couldn't. Poor things.


Let us not say that the lie is triumphing in Berkeley and other American campuses. The lie is triumphing here. The Nakba film festival isn't a victory for free speech. it's a victory for lying propaganda. It's a victory for the Palestinian peace refusal camp. It's a defeat for peace and common sense.



The NGO Monitor organization published the list of countries that have given money to the Breaking the Silence (BtS, "Shovrim Shtika" in Hebrew) organization (which publishes confessions of alleged human rights abuses and other illegal acts by IDF soldiers) in the 2014-2015 period: the European Union – NIS 682,472, MEDICO and MISEREOR (German-funded) – NIS 643,977. The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law commission (Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands) – NIS 549,249, Trocaire (Irish-funded) – NIS 374,539. The governments of Belgium, France, and Spain also give BtS hundreds of thousands of shekels.


These are the same financial sources that fund the organizations that established the BDS organization in 2005. Like the Nakba festival, these bodies don't have any interest in promoting peace. They have an interest in promoting the demonization of Israel, while opposing a two-state solution, as opposed to the dream of a "right of return" and one big state.


It's not the Israeli right that should come out against this funding and these campaigns, since part of the right supports the idea of a single state. The sane left needed to step up, since these campaigns perpetuate the conflict. After all, the day that, let's say, Abbas changes his ways and decides he's willing to reach a peace accord on the basis of two states for two peoples, these organizations will act as the main resistance against peace.


BDS protesters. Perpetuating the conflict (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
BDS protesters. Perpetuating the conflict (Photo: Reuters)

Abbas is already stuck between Hamas on one side, which of course opposes peace, and the civil society organizations, which are also called "rights organizations," and whose political positions are aligned with Hamas'. And Europe funds the PR department of those who share Hamas' positions. Have they gone insane? Yes. They have gone insane.


Yair Lapid, to his credit, is indeed opening his mouth. He doesn't hesitate to say blatant things against these organizations in general, and the BtS manipulations in particular. But where is the Labor party? A clear statement from it could effect the EU and European nations. The problem is that most of the peace camp is silent. Say the words "human rights" to them, and they stand to attention. That's not how you promote peace – that's how you perpetuate the conflict.


MK Yair Lapid. To his credit, he speaks out (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
MK Yair Lapid. To his credit, he speaks out (Photo: Gil Yohanan)




Major (res.) Amit Deri initiated a new officer's letter which demands that the prime minister stop the reckless abandon on the subject of BtS. Officers, the letter said, do not have a problem with criticism. They have a problem with the lies of the type Deri displayed. When 150 combat officers signed, Deri also contacted Army Radio. The soldiers' station. Nurit Canetti, the editor of Razi Barkai's show, waved him away. That's interesting.


When a conference of the organization was cancelled in Be'er Sheva, the story was widely covered on the show. But the officers' letter? Not worth the time. I heard another item on that same show which was about empathy with IDF conscentious objectors. But officers who are tired of the plots against them don't have room. Just don't say that it's about "professional editing condiserations". Other media sources thought it was important though. It's very, very, sad that the station insists on justifying the claims of those who oppose it.




In response to what was publicized about it in this column last week, the Breaking the Silence organization would like to clarify that Eran Efrati worked for it in Israel in the past, but that he retired and does not represent it in the United States, and that they do not have someone who volunteers there as part of their national service.


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פרסום ראשון: 12.04.15, 23:44
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