We’re told time and time again that we must recognize the Palestinian “narrative” of the conflict’s origins in order to understand their pain, and usher in peace.
The truth is that we need to do just the opposite. The Palestinian narrative has already become widely endorsed by many in the academia, and the more it continues to gain recognition, the more miniscule the chances for peace will become. What we need in order to achieve peace are not narratives, but historic facts.
Among those who cultivated the Palestinian narrative of the conflict more than anyone is Israeli Prof. Ilan Pappé, the most iconic internationally recognized anti-Israel propagandist of all times.
Only several days ago he wrote: “Nazi Germany chose the wrong side of history, and Germany of today is wrong once again, because of their support in Israel.”
This time, Pappé seems to be launching a new campaign against the Bundestag as he tries to “cancel” Israel’s right to exist. Pappé’s expertise manipulation here is truly remarkable: In the past, Germany tried to wipe out the Jews; In the present, Pappé and his followers pressure Germany to validate propaganda that calls to wipe our the Jewish state. Pappé promotes the principles of the Nakba – commemorated on May 15th – while completely distorting history along the way.
There’s no denial the Nakba, also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe, happened. The pain it carries with is understandable. There was mass displacement and even accounts of mass killings. The nature of the Nakba is embedded in the history of that time, when population displacements was not a rare occurrence, almost always accompanied by horrific events.
A similar event took place during the Jewish Nakba, when the Jews were driven out of Arab and Muslim countries simply for being Jews. The only difference is that the Palestinian Nakba was preceded by a string of belligerent acts aimed at Jews.
The leader of Arabs of Palestine at that time – Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – resided in Germany throughout all of World War II, and served the Nazis, specializing in broadcasting propaganda that called on Muslims worldwide to wipe out the Jews in their vicinity.
He didn’t act alone, there was a string of Arab leaders that threatened to wipe out Jews in Arab countries in the case of the establishment of a Jewish state.
The important question, however, is whether the Arabs of Palestine actually supported the Nazis? One of the recurrent claims brought up in the framework of this topic is that the Palestinian Arabs, like the Jews, enlisted to the British Army during the war. One history expert, Prof. Mustafa Kabha, underlined this claim in his works in 2010, and so did Prof. Mustafa Abbasi in his article titled, “Palestinians fighting against Nazis: The story of Palestinian volunteers in World War II”.
Given thousands of Palestinians enlisted to the British Army, the claim that they identified with the Nazis doesn’t seem plausible. Pappé himself tried to brush off claims of Palestinian support of the Nazis, saying that only a tiny majority of Palestine’s Arabs backed the Germans.
Nevertheless, right after the war, Al-Husseini managed to escape prosecution for acting as a Nazi collaborator, and reclaimed his political leadership over the Arabs in Palestine. Fawzi al-Qawuqji, a leading Arab nationalist military figure in the interwar period, also spend World War II in Germany, serving the Nazi propaganda. Despite being enemies, both Arab leaders e the Nazi ideology. Qawuqji later became the commander of the Arab Liberation Army, which called to throw the Jews to the sea.
The question remains, however, does the fact that thousands of Palestinian Arabs enlisted to the British Army proves that only a tiny minority of Palestinian backed the Nazis? Israeli researcher and author Yoni Rainey claims it doesn’t.
In his books – “Closed Case” and “The Hidden Side of Nazism and the Holocaust” – he claims that about 9,000 Palestinian and Jordanian Arabs did enlist to the British Army during the war (in comparison with about 27,000 Jews). But, from the moment it became evident the Germans may pass through Egypt and reach Palestine in spring 1942, Palestinian Arabs switched sides.
About 78% of the Arab volunteers deserted the British army, often times stealing weapons for the purpose of helping the Germans fight the Jews when the time came. Additionally, a survey conducted in 1941 shows that 88% of Palestinian Arabs supported Nazi Germany, while only 9% backed the British mandate.
These are facts! They’re important for the same reason the Jews must recognize that there were cases of massacre targeting Palestinians, even if only few, and that there was displacement, not merely desertion of the local Arabs.
Likewise, the Arab side needs to take responsibility for their collective support of the Nazis. The Mufti and Qawuqji faithfully represented the Arab people. And if, God forbid, the war would’ve ended with a German victory, no Nakba would’ve taken place. Rather, the extermination of all Jews in Mideast would have commenced.
So no, there is no reason to apologize. And for anyone still wondering, the aggressor which refused any form of a partition plan and plotted to wipe out a nation, has no right to restitution or compensation, and certainly no right of return.
However, the Jews who were displaced from the Arab countries, whose property and possessions were confiscated, should have the right to get it back.
Whoever cultivates the Palestinian narrative is feeding the flames of hatred, incitement, and bloodshed. The road to peace requires us to take the opposite approach: recognize the historical truth and take responsibility in order to start a new chapter of peace and reconciliation.