Members on all sides of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, both right and left, had no choice but to vote against a proposed law which Aida Touma-Suleiman MK submitted last Wednesday for the state to recognise publicly its responsibility for the October 1956 Kafr Qasem massacre. The massacre is one of many still-bleeding wounds of the Palestinian people. It was also a war crime committed by Israel against civilians, the village farmers living under military law, as the occupation state prepared to invade the Suez Canal zone with Britain and France.
Ninety-three MKs in the Knesset voted against the proposed law, not because they do not want to raise the classification of the horrific massacre from a “mistake” in the Zionist narrative, but because criminals cannot confess to their crimes unless there is force compelling them to do so. This was a massacre, remember, resulting from what an Israeli court called an “illegal” military order.
Zionists and their various parties cannot create a precedent by recognising Israel’s responsibility for massacres and war crimes committed by the state, even those committed against its own citizens after the Nakba. To do so would be to open the door to recognition of Israel’s other crimes committed by “Jewish terrorists” during the Nakba itself. It was through such crimes that the ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine was carried out.
The massacre in Kafr Qasem failed to complete the ethnic cleansing project eight years after the Nakba, even though there was a clear intention to scare the survivors into fleeing. Israeli Border Police surrounded the village on three sides, but left the fourth side open to the east, giving a clear route for the villagers to escape the violence by heading towards the nominal border with the Jordanian-governed West Bank.
In the eyes of the Israelis, it is not the fact of the massacre itself that is horrific, but that the brutal slaying of civilians returning to their homes and unknowingly breaking a curfew imposed while they were at work did not achieve the aim of yet more ethnic cleansing. This has been the pattern across the occupied territories for decades: the Palestinians have not simply surrendered, but continue to resist and be a thorn in the occupation state’s side.
The Israeli-Zionist consensus to deny the Kafr Qasem massacre is thus a national consensus to deny all of Israel’s atrocities and crimes against humanity, whether they occurred before or after the Nakba, in the Galilee and the Triangle or in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Anyone counting on Israel voluntarily recognising its war crimes against the Palestinians is living in a dream from which they must wake up.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arab48 on 30 October 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.