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by Yaniv Reich on May 11, 2011

Do you not find it grotesque that Israelis celebrate “Independence Day” in artificial parks built by the Jewish National Fund on the ruins of Palestinian villages?

For example, Canada Park (cited in the link), was built on the depopulated and destroyed villages of Dayr Ayyub, Imwas, Yalo, and Bayt Nuba. The Biriya National Forest on the remains of the Palestinian village of the same name. And on and on…

There existed in summer 1948 an explicit policy to destroy the depopulated Palestinian villages, expropriate any remaining agricultural equipment or valuable supplies, and to turn these former towns into new Jewish settlements or “parks” that hid the macabre, recent history of that land.

The extent and intent of this policy was captured well in the sentiments of some dissidents from the Mapam party, which was opposed to this wholesale ethnic cleansing operation.

“The method of destruction vis-a-vis the abandoned Arab village is continuing… It is difficult to be free of the impression there is a guiding hand, for whom the possibility that the Arabs will have nowhere to return to, or for what, is unproblematic.” (Secretariat of the Actions Committee, Kibbutz Artzi, cited in Benny Morris, 2004).

According to Aharon Cohen, another Mapam leader, wrote:

“Ben-Gurion orders the destruction of villages without strategic need… In the ruling (i.e. Mapai) circles there is an inclination to erase hundreds of Arab villages… Will our state be built on the destruction of Arab settlements?” (Cited in Benny Morris, 2004)

The answer, of course, came in the form of a resounding ‘yes’, as Josef Weitz and the ‘Transfer Committee’, charged with planning the Palestinian dispossession, led the way. For example, some kibbutz leaders wrote on 10 August 1948:

“The destruction of the Arab villages has been going on for some months now… I spoke with members from Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch and nearby kibbutzim and I got the impression that there exists the possibility that there is a desire to destroy the villages and the Arabs’ houses so that it will be impossible for the Arabs to return to them. A week ago, a representative of the Jewish National Fund [possibly Yosef Nahmani] came to visit. He saw that in the village of al-Sanbariya… several houses were still standing, albeit without roofs. He told the kibbutz secretariat to destroy the houses immediately and he said openly that this will enable us to take the village’s lands, because the Arabs won’t be able to return there.” (Cited in Benny Morris, 2004)

This is one example of the roughly 400 Palestinian villages whose residents (87% of the Palestinian population at that time) were expelled by military force, or which left out of fear of military attacks by Jewish groups, and whose towns were destroyed and then used to establish Jewish settlements or these parks that Israelis love to go to on “Independence Day”. This erasure of Palestine was almost universal. Moshe Dayan, an active participant as Haganah leader, Israel’s fourth Chief of Staff, and former Defense Minister, remarked:

“You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either…. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” (Speech at the Technion, Haifa, April 1969)

Obviously, if this history is as poorly known as Dayan suggests, then it makes the Israeli proclivity to party on Independence Day literally on the crushed fragments of Palestinian villages slightly less grotesque.

But knowing better, don’t you find it absolutely appalling?

Doesn’t that make the recently passed Nakba Bill, which prohibits state funding of any activities that discuss or otherwise commemorate this exact disaster, all the more offensive? While Palestinian are disallowed from learning about this very real, very tragic history, Israelis are literally partying on the ruins of Palestinian society.

This is a false and lying form of “independence”. This “Independence Day”, like always, I hope for the true liberation of all peoples in Israel/Palestine.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yaron Levi April 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm

This is normal.
Do not Poles celebrate their holidays on the ruins of destroyed German towns and villages?
Do not Greeks celebrate their holidays on the ruins of ethnically cleansed Turkish villages?
What about Indians on former Pakistani villages?
There is nothing unique about ethnic cleansing.

2 Yaniv Reich April 5, 2012 at 11:10 am


You seem like a fan of ethnic cleansing. Those values are not my values, and I believe they do not reflect most people’s values. Keep on making that argument. It’s sure to make Israel even more friends.

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