On BBC News 24 yesterday, Jon Donnison reported the demonstrations in the Gaza strip and the West Bank by Palestinians celebrating Nakba day. I use the word ‘celebrate’ deliberately because Nakba day has become a celebration of victimhood rather than a commemoration of a Nakba (catastrophe) or cataclysmic disaster. Using this name brings it into line, in the world’s eye view, with a real catastrophe when half the world’s Jews were exterminated.
Naming the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel after the Arabic word for catastrophe puts the largely self-inflicted expulsion of approximately 700,000 Arab inhabitants of the region on a par with the murder of six million Jews.
Jon Donnison’s report was more than a mere account of the demonstrations attended by ‘Thousands of Palestinians’. It was also a history lesson – consisting solely of a dumbed-down version of the ‘Palestinian narrative’, which itself is a very particular version of the creation of Israel. “The beginning of our continued hardship” he quotes Abbas saying, sorrowfully.
The role that Arab leaders played in this fright and flight exercise in 1948 by propagandising and scaremongering is ignored, as is the fact that the exeat was intended as a temporary inconvenience while the Jews were neatly disposed of by invading Arab armies. Forgotten altogether is the little known “other Nakba”, the expulsion of approximately 800,000 Jews from the Middle East, who were absorbed into Israel.
“How Palestinian Arabs became refugees and how they have suffered at the hands of the Jews,” is a version of history that many have chosen to adopt as *the* authentic account of the creation of Israel. The term Jews has been prudently ‘euphemised’ into ‘Israelis’ as if to dissociate it from the malevolence that dare not speak its name.
Of course many suspect there is another side to this story, but, with the help of the BBC, they have chosen to adopt this one, and this one alone. Glorifying, or ‘rooting for’ the underdog bestows a quick-fix self-righteousness and a comforting sense of belonging. For the activist, the more radical, the more rewarding; the more assiduous, the more smug; the more strident, the more dangerous.
It can’t just be a simple case of unavoidable brainwashing from an overdose of incessant, biased reporting, because it’s easy to discover both sides of a story through the internet. Even if you know you’re not going to like it, the knowledge that the information is there for the asking suggests there’s an element of choice in the Israel-bashing zeitgeist surrounding the intelligentsia and the unintelligentsia, and the fact that so many choose to ignore or reject the so-called “Jewish narrative” out of hand, yet adopt the Arab one unquestioningly indicates that antisemitism resides within the default Israel-bashing epidemic.
Surely the BBC’s own biased reporting can’t be due to brainwashing either, unless they’re hopelessly incompetent, and incestuously regurgitating each other’s biased reporting. Their unique access to funds and resources means they are capable of ferreting out the whole story, so their failure to do so must be because of somebody, somewhere’s conscious decision, and their failure to fulfill their obligation to report fully and impartially must also be a matter of choice.