Choosing and implementing narratives according to circumstances continue to define Israel’s stance towards Palestinians. Recently, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi threatened Palestinians with a third Nakba in a Facebook post. Appropriating Palestinian remembrance to suit his brief rant, warned of impending ethnic cleansing against the backdrop of incited Israeli violence which has erupted about Al-Aqsa.
The statements remained unchallenged by the Israeli government, reflecting lenience towards violence and also an endorsement of the policies which form the foundations of the Israeli colonial entity. Of grave consequence is the ambiguity in Hanegbi’s words, which indicate pauses between 1948, 1967 and the present.
It is a fact that all periods were marked by particular circumstances. Yet, to differentiate merely upon the basis of dates is a tactic which should be combated. The timeline is important within the context of land and memory. When focusing upon the latter, it is important to retain the centrality of the timeline as an ongoing process, rather than, as Hanegbi insinuates, occasions of extreme retaliation, which is an erroneous premise distorting Palestinian history.
If restricted to the 1948 framework, then one can say that the Nakba was confined to that period, with 1967 opening yet another laceration in Palestinian history. However, it is wrong to assimilate to the Israeli narrative which is an epitome of instability when it comes to assertions. On the other hand, Israel’s stability is generated by the steady refining of atrocities committed against Palestinians and the acquiescence of the international community, which has also remained silent about the latest call for ethnic cleansing.
Just as Hanegbi has availed himself of the freedom granted by Israel and reciprocated by the international community to call for the murder and displacement of Palestinians, Palestinians should equally refute the insinuations of purported spasmodic violence committed by Israel and insist upon disseminating the historical narrative that has remained relevant to date precisely due to it being a continuation of 1948. It is imperative to discern the Israeli normalisation of violence discretely enshrined in his words. By playing different forms of violence against each other, Hanegbi is suggesting Palestinian culpability while inferring that Israel only retaliates in purportedly extreme circumstances. Ethnic cleansing is accepted by colonial Israel and presented as a means of control. The international community, having endorsed the security narrative, will not object to the crime as it would unravel the support structure it has awarded Israel.
In response, clarifying the modified, ongoing violence against Palestinians should always be framed within the context of the early Zionist colonial atrocities. The emphasis, which is routinely ignored also due to the ceremonial importance placed upon anniversaries, should assert that
Israel has never halted the Nakba – it merely refined the methods used to prevent excessive scrutiny.
Such an approach would expose Israeli rhetoric and intent. Furthermore, it would allow Palestinians to assert their memory over Israel’s manipulation. Hanegbi has attempted to shock while lulling passive observers into assimilating to the fabrication of ethnic cleansing as a legitimate response to alleged provocation. The reality is that provocation is embodied by the establishment of Israel upon Palestinian territory and Palestinians have been left with little recourse to assert their legitimate rights, including armed struggle against an ongoing Nakba.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.