Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an attack on the Palestinian Authority (PA) by claiming that the annual commemoration of the Nakba is incitement against Israel and leads to the distortion of Israel’s image.
The Nakba, or catastrophe, is the term used by Palestinians to describe Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, including the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 500 Palestinian towns and communities.
Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu accused the PA of committing “endless incitement against Israel”. He also criticised the PA’s “attempts to distort Israel’s image and the character of the Jewish people”, conflating criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine with bias against a world religious community.
“Whoever sees the establishment of the State of Israel and its continued existence as a disaster does not want peace,” he said.
Netanyahu continued, threatening that: “We have many answers to this. The first is that we continue to build our state and our united capital of Jerusalem, and we will also give an additional answer to the Nakba – we will pass the ‘Jewish Nation-State Bill’ that makes clear to the entire world that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.”
The I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel published a report this week focusing on the Israeli media’s framing of the Palestinian Nakba. The research shows that the Israeli position on the Nakba ranges between denying that it happened and refusing Israel’s responsibility for it, and considering it as an immediate threat.
I’lam’s research finds that the bulk of Israeli news coverage depicts the Nakba as a continuous threat that aims to delegitimise Israel. The Israeli discourse denies the Nakba happened and refuses Israel’s responsibility for its occurrence by attempting to challenge the Palestinians’ collective memory as well as the Palestinian narrative. The Nakba is sometimes even represented in Israeli media as a “lie”. Israeli media also try to eliminate what remains of the destroyed Palestinian villages.
At the same time, the research reveals that the Palestinians’ increasing mobilisation to commemorate the Nakba places the issue at the tops of the Israeli agenda.