Israel’s 60th Birthday


Birth of the Nakba by Dave

What’s the BBC’s ‘Birthday’ present to Israel? A stream of propaganda following a story thats Israeli driven. Not content with 3 other, Israeli directed, Storyville documentaries (watch here), a birthday radio show (featuring 4 Israelis with one token Israeli Arab and zero Palestinians) and birthday articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc) the BBC has gone a step further and commissioned this 60 minute film. By Jeremy Bowan, it details the founding of the State of Israel. To be fair to the BBC, the events surrounding the founding of the State of Israel are immensely interesting and have had important repercussions in the world at large. However it’s instructive that this documentary is called ‘The Birth of Israel’ and not for example ‘The Nakba’ – we get an idea of the focus from the start. In fact we might ask where all the Nakba articles (1?), audio and films are? Is it sufficient that it just happens to get a small mention in amongst all this ‘birthday’ nonsense?

Although this film is good in many places, covering the massacre of Deir Yassin for example, overall it fails to place the responsibility of the conflict firmly in the hands of the Israelis and Europeans. It fails to present the Palestinians as the victims of Zionist colonialism which was approved of by the Europeans because of guilt from the Holocaust and because 60 years ago the idea of colonialism, ‘civilised’ Europeans settling land that native ‘barbarians’ are wasting, was still acceptable. Time and again Israelis under interview blame the conflict on the Palestinians for not accepting the 1947 UN partition plan, where the UN carved up the land of Palestine and gave much of it to the colonialists. In the 21st century we should by now understand that the UN had no right to give away another mans home, the Zionists were incorrect in thinking they could colonise another peoples country and that resistance to this dispossession was legitimate. What nation would accept its land being given away to immigrants by the UN? Especially with such a bad deal: Israelis owning 10% of the land but getting 50% while only accounting for only 33% of the total population.

Counting the number of Israelis interviewed we find there were 11 with 10 Palestinians representatives. The number of times they appeared differs more: Israelis appearing 30 times and Palestinians 22. In a 60 minute film this approximately translates to about 8 minutes (15%) more air time. Personally I don’t believe balance is about giving both sides equal time – I follow Robert Fisks example of giving more time to the victims no matter who they are. In the ‘birth’ of Israel the victims were the Palestinian natives: 700,000 of whom were ethnically cleansed and many men, women and children were brutally massacred. This crime has continued as although under international law refugees have a Right of Return this has been denied. And Palestinians that remain in Israel and the Occupied Territories live in Apartheid conditions. Therefore its significant that they are not given priority.

The other big issue I have with the film is its failure to convey the true nature of a Two State solution. Israeli colonialism has continued with the illegal gaining of territory through military force in 1967. It is by now clear the continued Israeli rejection of peace for expansion and settlement of the Occupied Territories has led to a situation where a Two State solution is now unworkable. Only a One State solution where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and share the land will provide any meaningful resolution to the regions problems. The idea of a predominatly Jewish State is non-inclusive and racist, it can only be maintained through further ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

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