Liberating Israeli Jews from the dark legacy of the Nakba

The Nakba has been relegated to the dark basement of Zionist ideology, where people are afraid to tread or even look. The ghosts of the past, however, will only disappear once the sin of 1948 is recognized.

By Anwar Ben Badis

What happened in 1948 is the greatest sin – greatest sins always follow the sinners, they do not disappear. They are etched into our memory forever.

Among Palestinians, the Nakba is the open wound of the past, present and future. It is a wound that one cannot live with so long as it continues to physically, emotionally and morally bleed. As such, the Nakba becomes a constant cry for healing – a cry that pushes us to personal and collective action.

The Nakba has been relegated to the dark basement of Zionist ideology, where people are afraid to tread or even look. Looking into the basement means erasing the myth of “victory,” which perpetually highlights the defeat and the obligation of the losing side to bow its head and and thank the victor for “the fruit of an enlightened occupation.” After all, the victimizer cannot eliminate the victim, since that would lead to the elimination of the victory story. It’s a beautiful dilemma.

The routed Palestinian insists on healing from his wounds. He raises his head and threatens to spoil the party. The overlords become confused: “we need you to remain the defeated party, but if you insist on shaking us off and resisting, we will deny and exclude the story in its entirety.” This denial does not bring the myth out of the basement. On the contrary: the more the defeated insists, the more the victor holds tight to the basement walls.

The result: the Palestinian who dares to resist and contend with the bitterness of her displacement is only lighting the fire of liberation. In response, Zionism continues to withdraw into the basement, to hold on to the myth – to the ghosts and the fears along the path to recognition. We truly share a strong bond.

The moment the defeated decides to make history, the duality of the victor as the loser is shaken to its core.

The defeated must hold on to hope, and is therefore in need of a chemical formula: one that turns bitterness into daringness – turns the longing into an active, illuminated dream.

In a reality such as ours, with all of its cruelty, pessimism may turn into a lethal weapon that pushes people to despair, or perhaps pushes them to hold onto a hidden Garden of Eden or to search for illusions. In this downswing, optimism becomes a political position.

The irony is that the victimized finds himself in an unusual position: assisting the victimizer in ridding himself of the myth in order to make liberation possible for both; the former from the bitterness of dispossession, the latter from the bitterness of the sin.

In our land, liberation cannot be partial.

Anwar Ben Badis is a linguist, translator and Arabic teacher. He is the grandson of Palestinian refugees from the village Tantura. Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

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