N – Nakba

When Palestinian Arabs and their supporters refer to “Israel’s 1948 creation” as “the Nakba” (“Catastrophe”), what they truly lament is the failure of the UN partition-rejecting multi-nation Arab invasion to destroy the newly re-declared Jewish state and annihilate its population. That’s not, of course, how the mainstream Western media puts it. It says, rather, that in commemorating “Nakba” day, “Palestinians marked their uprooting during the war over Israel’s 1948 creation.”

*** AP, 5/16/14, reporting in lede paragraph 1 that on Wednesday “Palestinians marked their uprooting during the war over Israel’s 1948 creation ….”

Israelis themselves, of course, call the 1948 war their “War of Independence,” not of “Creation & Founding,” as though artificial, imposed from outside, and without prior presence. The media too understands this distinction, having referred to Syria and Lebanon having “gained independence” (AP, 8/13/08, Inq, A4), “won their independence” (Chicago Tribune, 8/14/08, Inq, A1), and to India and Pakistan having “won their independence” (AP, 8/14/07, Inq) in that same period, in contradistinction to having been “created and founded” like Israel.

That AP article had further Arab narrative references. Paragraph 5: “Palestinians marched in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to commemorate their displacement in the Mideast war over Israel’s 1948 creation.” Paragraph 6:

Sirens wailed at noon in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank for 66 seconds to symbolize the number of years since the Nakba – Arabic for catastrophe – the term Palestinians use to describe their displacement.

Paragraph 7, however, hints at what happened: “Israel defeated the armies of surrounding Arab states that had attacked after the Jewish state was declared in 1948.” No small accomplishment for an enemy-surrounded tiny state that had just been “created & founded

Glaringly absent from that AP article were [a] that those Arab states that invaded for Israel’s destruction encouraged Arabs to leave, and [b] that the 1948 war and its aftermath saw more indigenously Middle Eastern Jews displaced from vast Arab and other Muslim lands than Arabs left tiny Israel, and that Israel absorbed the bulk of these Jews.

That AP article exacerbated its Arab-Israeli conflict refugee issue imbalance by [a] stating as unquestioned fact that “more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out during the fighting, according to the U.N.,” and [b] that “the dispute over the fate of the Palestinian refugees remains at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Samuel Katz argued persuasively in Battleground, citing British statistics, that there were less than a half-million, not “more than 700,000” Arab refugees. And “at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict” is both sides’, not just “Palestinian” (who weren’t even called “the Palestinians” yet) refugees.

The article’s one-sentence paragraph 11 contained the AP’s reporting on the Israeli view of the refugee issue at the core of the conflict: “Israel opposes a mass return of the Palestinians, fearing it would dilute the state’s Jewish majority.” The average reader would say, well, if these “the Palestinians” had been subjected to one-sided “uprooting” (par. 1), “displacement” (par. 5), “displacement” (par. 6), being “forced out” (par. 7) from Palestine “during the war over Israel’s 1948 creation” (par. 1), “in the Mideast war over Israel’s 1948 creation” (par. 5),” then if these Palestinians’ right of return to Palestine undoes that 1948-created-state’s Jewish majority, that’s just too bad for that 1948-created state’s Jews.

But the pinnacle of the Inq’s AP article’s one-sidedness came in its final-paragraph one-sided quotation of Abbas’ “Nakba Day” (my quotes around ‘Nakba Day,’ not the Inq’s or AP’s) address: “It is time for the leadership of Israel to understand that there is no homeland for the Palestinians except Palestine ….”

That there’s another side to this, which a balanced article would have included, might have occurred even to an AP. There is Jordan, carved from the very Palestine Mandate, with its Palestinian Arab majority. On the other hand, tiny Israel, 22% of the Palestine Mandate, where Jews had been twice sovereign before, is the only homeland state of the Jews. Balanced reporting demanded AP and Inq reference to both of these historical facts. It’s the absence of that that’s the nakba.