Imagine you’re a Native American or U.S. human rights activist and you wake up one morning to find that Congress has outlawed any reference to the greatest acts of suffering experienced by Native Americans. So no reference to the Trail of Tears, Sitting Bull is gone. And Geronimo? Don’t even think about him. Wounded Knee is but a memory. You can’t call the U.S. treatment of its indigenous inhabitants “genocide” at risk of prosecution. Imagine groups of Native Americans who resist this law being barricaded by a massive FBI/police presence inside their reservation so they can’t tell the world their version of 19th century American history.
Yesterday, tied to Israel Independence Day, activists from Zochrot intended to quietly mark the day by posting signs around Rabin Square in Tel Aviv displaying the names of some of the hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed by the State after the 1948 War of “Independence.” They’ve done this every year on this day for the past seven years.
But this year was different. Several months ago, the Knesset passed a law which criminalized any reference to the Nakba. So henceforth, the type of activity Zochrot was founded to commemorate would be deemed a criminal act.
Except the police didn’t have the balls to test the new law. Instead they massed around Zochrot’s offices and barricaded the activists inside so they couldn’t “disturb the peace” by erecting their troublesome signs. Using Facebook and Twitter, the imprisoned Zochrot activists appealed for reinforcements much like Gen. Custer could’ve used at the Little Big Horn, and 100 activists joined the police outside Zochrot’s office. Several were arrested and dragged away like criminals.
Watch the YouTube video and you will see an activist dragged away for reading out those Palestinian villages whose names dare not be spoken lest it shatter the equanimity of latter-day Israel. And yes, just as there are Holocaust deniers, there are Nakba deniers. Though Nakba doesn’t rise to the level of genocide as the Holocaust does, it is nonetheless an Original Sin of the Israeli state which must be addressed, just as the issue of slavery had to be remediated as part of U.S. history.
It seems that in the police state that latter-day Israel has become, speaking historical truth has become a criminal act. Next thing you know, David Horowitz’s delusional thinking will be inscribed in Israeli law and advocating BDS will be made equivalent to advocating genocide against the Jewish people. And don’t smirk, snigger or laugh–some ultranationalist solon is probably writing down the bill’s draft language as I write this.