From The Arab News, May 15: Nakba or defeat?

By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
May 14, 2014


A few weeks ago, many people in the Arab world heard a name, Joshua Teitelbaum, an Israeli senior fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Goldman visiting associate professor at Stanford’s Center on Democracy and the Rule of Law. Ironically, it is the Arabs who made him famous. 

He penned a book about the region. In the beginning, many refused to translate the book into Arabic because of his nationality. However, the book reportedly got translated. The question is: Do the Arabs really know Israel? Most likely the answer is no. The reason for that is we don’t read their literature but most Israeli scholars and politicians read everything written in the Arab world. The Arabs are not known for heavy and extensive reading, let alone reading Israeli literature or translating it.

Since 1948 it is not considered appropriate to read or translate a book written by an Israeli author that could help us understand Israel. Interestingly, in case of falling ill it is fine to use a cure discovered by an Israeli scientist. So, what happened on May 14, 1948?

It was the day when the state of Israel emerged on the world map. Do we know the rest of the story? No. We don’t know the entire story because we are wont of dealing with events with emotions. One day after the United Nations mandate (May 15), a long and bloody conflict broke out and after the dust settled, the Arabs called it Nakba or the Day of Catastrophe. It was a defeat but the Arabs chose to call it a catastrophe. Many Palestinians were displaced from their homeland and were promised that they would return to their homes soon. Despite the passage of over six decades, the promise has yet to be delivered. The thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes have turned into millions. 

The question now is what if those Palestinians had accepted the mandate and decided to live side by side with the Israelis? I ask the readers to please note that I am just asking a question. So, would the fate of the Palestinians be the same? The reason I am asking is that we read reports that the Palestinian refugees are not allowed fleeing the atrocities in Syria and seeking refuge in Lebanon. That is double the agony.


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