March 12, 2008
As an exciting alternative to boring old history, Philip Chester, in the Australian, offers this:
In the anti-colonialist era following World War II, European masters began the process of returning lands to their original inhabitants.I don't think I've seen the bizarre delusions of Zionism better expressed than here, where the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people from their homes to make way for an invasion of Europeans is presented as a triumph of anti-colonialism. One wonders how seriously Chester takes the utterly batty notion that Palestine remained Jewish land despite two thousand years of being inhabited by other people, but styling that millennia [sic] long habitation as an "occupation" is a distortion as hilarious as it is vile, what with the sneering implication that the territories now cleansed of Palestinians have really been freed of an occupation rather than subjected to one. I suppose the pledges of Israel's giant invisible friend are sufficient to make it so, or perhaps Chester seeks to find another bond of commonality between Australia and Israel: the fantasy of terra nullius. (OK, to be fair to Chester, that's probably more of an American thing.)
What distinguished the Jews from other such people was that they had been expelled and forced to live in exile while the land they had lived in for 1500 years endured occupation for two millenniums. Their lives dependent on the whims of their rulers for countless years, they had shed tears in little European or North African villages when concluding the Passover service with the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem". But no longer: they were finally able to return and so did many Holocaust survivors and other persecuted immigrants.
Yes, the Jewish people's return to their ancestral homeland was an unprecedented event.
Apropos of which, it is unfortunate that, only a month after our sparkling new government had drawn a curtain over a sorry chapter of denialism regarding our own history by offering truth and contrition (but not compensation!) to the Stolen Generation, this anniversary of the Nakba did not strike our leaders as an opportunity to commemorate that tragedy rather than to unequivocally congratulate the nation founded on it.