Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Mustafa Fahs

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Gaza… the Holocaust and the Nakba

In a 1941 radio interview, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called Hitler's crimes “crimes without a name.” These crimes remained unnamed until 1946 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on genocide. "The Crime of Genocide" defined it as denying an entire group of human beings their right to exist.
With the help of the West, the Israeli government had prevented any labeling of its actions in Gaza, until the International Court of Justice headed by Judge Nawaf Salam issued a ruling demanding that Israel immediately halt its operation in Rafah and ensure that the investigators looking into the genocide charges can enter the Gaza Strip. Judge Salam added that “conditions had been met for a new emergency order over the charge of genocide raised against Israel.
More than 83 years after the Holocaust and 76 years after the Nakba, the Israeli political elite has to contend with the fact that people around the world now openly reject its exclusive claim to genocidal victimhood, which denies the Nakba. This explains Israel’s furious reaction to the Court of Justice's decision. Rage drove the country to respond by reproducing the victimhood of the Jewish people at the hands of the Third Reich, which had denied them the right to exist. Israel’s response was to frame the decisions as an attempt to impede Israel from defending itself, which poses an existential threat to its Jewish people and could potentially lead to their extermination once again.
In the past, the founding fathers of the entity who had immigrated to Palestine between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II did not legitimize the establishment of their state through the Holocaust. They avoided discussing it to prevent comparisons with the oppression faced by the Palestinian people at that time. Indeed, between 1948 and 1967, Israel was primarily on the defensive. It was then that the Israeli elite began to speak about the Holocaust, at the same time the Europeans began discussing their collective responsibility for the Holocaust, not limiting it solely to Nazism.
During the Second War of Independence, the Israeli elite used excessive force as a pretext for its reconstitution. They argued that violence, regardless of its repercussions, was necessary for creating modern Israeli history. They were not deterred by accusations of genocide, as had been the case in 1948 when there was an ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian population. The events unfolding today can be labeled a Second Nakba for Palestinians and the “Second War of Independence” for Israelis. In Gaza, it has taken the form of a systematic genocide that could potentially culminate in ethnic cleansing if this unfathomable violence leads to another wave of mass Palestinian displacement.
The Holocaust and the Nakba are the foundational events of the consciousness of the Jews and Palestinians, and they were linked by the Western colonial mindset. It compensated the Jews for their suffering through the Palestinian Nakba, the responsibility for which the entity’s founding fathers have tried to deny. This denial persisted until the emergence of Israel’s New historians in the early 1980s. Their account of the past aligned much more closely with the Palestinian narrative than that of the Zionists.
In his book “Genocide in the Middle East: From the Nakba of Palestine to the Destruction of Iraq”, the international relations professor at Al-Mustansiriya University, Dr. Saad Salloum, asserts that “the New Historians, by challenging the official version of Israeli history, have reexamined various chapters of contemporary Israeli history, determining whether the Israeli narrative of history is true or a collection of political myths made up by the Zionist establishment. This revision encompasses Israel’s role in displacing the Palestinians in 1948, which the state narrative frames as mass migration.”
With the Nuremberg Trials, the victors of World War II sought to define the crime of genocide and a way to enforce compliance with the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. This effort continues today, through the decisions of the International Court of Justice regarding Rafah. Israel is not only being accused of war crimes, meaning that the ruling elite is being charged with "criminal intent," specifically genocidal intent. In this context, the number of victims is not the sole criterion for ruling on this charge. Indeed, a precedent was set by the trials of the Srebrenica massacre in Yugoslavia, when the judges focused on the perpetrators' intent rather than the number of victims.
Israel’s society and ruling elite now face challenges from three international actors who are deconstructing the narrative of the Holocaust and the Nakba. These actors are the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and the few European countries that have recently recognized the Palestinian state. This means that Israel can no longer weaponize the Holocaust ( exceptionalize it) to legitimize the establishment of Israel and the Nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinians), which had justified preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state. Linking these events again has facilitated how helped prosecute Israel for genocide and could lead to a political disaster for Israel if it results in the establishment of a Palestinian state.