May 14th of this year marks the 75th anniversary of both the establishment of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba. These are two sides of the same coin, with two conflicting narratives. But as has been said, everyone has a right to their own opinion but not to their own facts.
And the fact is that the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, while it was a tremendous achievement for the Zionist movement, also led to the Palestinian Nakba in which 750, 000 indigenous Palestinians were uprooted from their homeland and became refugees all over the planet. Palestine was not a land without people for a people without a land. It was inhabited by the Palestinians, a people with their own culture, heritage, civilization, and public life, who were subjected to a severe historical injustice known as the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe.
The Palestinians were expelled from their homes and lands by force, intimidation, and sometimes by massacres, and were replaced by Jewish immigrants, many of them Holocaust survivors from Europe, and others who left countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Palestinians had to pay the price of a crime, the Nazi crimes, that they had nothing to do with and were not responsible for.
In an age when fake news is widely circulated on social media, our goal at the Palestine-Israel Journal (PIJ) is to try to understand exactly what happened in 1948 and how that affects today’s reality. We believe in the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a manner that will enable both peoples to exercise the right to freedom and grant them the ability to lead a dignified life. With this edition, we examine ways to address and reverse the injustice done to the Palestinians without committing another injustice against the Israelis who live in Israel/Palestine today.
This PIJ issue is being prepared at an extremely sensitive time in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The November 2022 elections produced the most extreme ultra-right-wing government in Israel’s history. It is a racist, messianic, and homophobic government which has a dangerous agenda of restricting Israel’s independent judiciary and undermining its democratic character, while Orthodox ministers who make up half of the government aim to convert it into a Halachic state run according to Jewish law. This government has key ministers such as Bezalel Smotrich, finance minister and minister within the Defense Ministry, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a follower of the racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, calling to continue and complete what was done to the Palestinians in 1948 by expelling the 6+ million Palestinians who still live under Israeli control in Israel within the 1967 borders and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from 1967. The outcome of this situation is catastrophic for both peoples, with an increasing cycle of mutual and deadly violence and no political horizon in sight.
The Palestinian leadership has failed to provide its people with what it promised to achieve through political negotiations: conducive to end the occupation, resolve the refugee problem, and create a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel on the June 4, 1967, armistice lines. Despite this failure, it still declares its full commitment to peaceful negotiations and its objection to violent struggle against the occupation. It even continues security coordination with Israeli security forces, incurring the wrath of its own people, many of whom no longer support this leadership and opt for violent armed struggle.
The unexpected emergence of a mass protest movement in Israel representing many important sectors of society, which is pushing back against the government’s reactionary antidemocratic policies, is focusing on defending the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, education, and women’s rights, but it has not placed the primary threat to Israeli democracy – the continuation of the occupation – on its agenda. No nation can remain democratic if it continues to deny democratic rights to another people.
What is urgently needed is to correct the historical injustice done to the Palestinian people without committing an injustice against the Israeli people. It is necessary to find a formula that will enable the two peoples to reconcile and compromise, so that both can live in peace and security.
We hope this issue will contribute to an understanding of the current, extremely complex and dangerous reality and to the quest for solutions.