Thursday, May 15, 2008

Al Nakba at 60

So many words have already been written about the Palistinian-Israeli conflict I'm not sure what I can add. Earlier this week I had a discussion in the comments thread at Karmalised with Diane Warth about a one state versus a two-state solution, which you can see here, apropos of an LA Times op-ed she linked to. Our discussion was and is for naught of course, because neither scenario is anywhere around the corner.

May 15th is commemorated as the anniversary of the Nakba, "the catastrophe", or the forced expulsion of the Palistinians by the nascent Jewish state in 1948. Last week, of course, was the celebration of the 60th birthday of Israel, the other face of the same coin.

Even though 1948 is not exactly ancient history, there is already dispute about the historical record and what really happened. The events at Der Yessin in April of '48 are one example. (More recently the events at Jenin in 2002 are another.)

Here are links to two short films about Deir Yassin, the first[here] is a somewhat impressionistic documentary told from the P.O.V. of an elderly lady who was there, the second["Deir Yassin- what really happened?"] has a more conventional narrative that minimizes the massacre, although it also acknowledges that civilians were killed and the town was attacked by Jewish forces.

As I told Diane, a friend once asked me if I thought there would ever be peace in the middle east, and I told him it would happen when they ran out of oil and the US no longer felt the desire to meddle, although we may well go broke first and find ourselves simply unable to meddle when our Chinese I.O.U.'s get called in. I suppose I'm not exactly objective.

My impression is most Americans really believe our government does care about peace in the middle east, or at least want this to be the case, and hope our apparent missteps in fumbling for peace are just due to our bumbling Western ways being ill-suited for dealing with the inscrutable East, rather than some darker truth. Like-- for instance-- that maybe American exceptionalism and the Israeli myth of the chosen people are schizophrenically complimentary myths that have helped bind the US and Israel together, two nations both invested in denying how their existence came to be at the expense of other people who were already there.

Wikipedia, "The 1948 Palistinan Exodus",
Glenn Greenwald, Salon, "Finding Obama guilty of insufficient devotion to Israel"

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