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The Media’s Unhealthy Nakba Day Obsession

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Members of Israel’s Arab minority take part in a rally marking the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”, when Palestinians lament the loss of their homeland in the 1948-49 war, that caused the creation of Israel, near the abandoned village of Khubbayza, northern Israel May 9, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad.

Like clockwork every year on May 15, the international media pump out articles about the so-called “Nakba Day” — a day that marks the “catastrophe” that many Palestinians view as the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.

The 75th anniversary has been bolstered by the United Nations’ absurd decision to officially commemorate Nakba Day for the first time, despite the fact that the annual event rejects the very existence of a Jewish state as a “disaster.”  This has seen a flurry of Nakba-themed activity by mainstream media outlets seemingly competing against each other for who can find a new lens through which to cover a day that could just as easily be observing 75 years of Palestinian rejectionism.

The New York Times led the coverage with a piece dedicated to Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas‘s speech to the UN, gushing about the “standing ovation and two rounds of long applause” that the octogenarian dictator received at the conference. The Times also sought to downplay the UN’s anti-Israel fixation and labeled it merely “sympathetic to Palestinians” — a fairly muted way of describing a body that last year condemned the Jewish state more times than all other countries combined.

The Associated Press published a similar report on Abbas’ UN attention-seeking, but leading with Abbas’ urging of the General Assembly to “suspend Israel’s membership unless it implements resolutions establishing separate Jewish and Arab states and allows the return of Palestinian refugees.”

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While the wire agency acknowledged the fact that Arabs rejected the 1947 UN partition plan that would have created the two independent states Abbas claims to fantasize about, the piece fails to make any reference to the many other comprehensive Israeli peace offers that would also have achieved this — including those that Abbas himself rejected.

Left-wing media website Vox produced a 16-minute film, which features tear-jerking interviews with Palestinians who talk of being “massacred” — a dark history Vox claims has been “carefully concealed, purposefully distorted and in the West, largely forgotten.”

Despite having more than enough time to provide readers with the full facts, given the length of the film, Vox instead gives a masterclass on how to carefully omit important details to further a particular narrative.

For example, viewers are told the Land of Israel had been “home to Palestinians for centuries” without noting that Jews have been in the land for thousands of years, and explaining “Jewish flight from Europe” after the Holocaust, but leaving out the fact that the Palestinians actually allied with the Nazis.

The Guardian opted to offer column inches to Mustafa Barghouti for its Nakba Day coverage, whose op-ed spouted the normal distortions and falsehoods that have come to characterize the Palestinian Nakba narrative: the apartheid libel, claims that the Israeli military occupies the Gaza Strip, and the assertion that “6 million Palestinian refugees are unable to return to their homeland.”

UPI news agency was guilty of fully editorializing its Nakba article, which included a paragraph in which the journalist confidently declared that Palestinians are “indigenous” to the land that is Israel, and another that only mentions the “expulsions” of Palestinians and fails to reference the invasion of Israel by Arab armies shortly after it declared its independence.

Meanwhile, Daniel Estrin’s NPR package about how “Israel’s triumph became a catastrophe for Palestinians” interviewed several Palestinian families lamenting the existence of Israel, including one soundbite in which the interviewee called on Israelis to “acknowledge that they have responsibilities for the displacement of the Palestinian people and the killing and their creating of the Palestinian refugee issue.”

We wonder if NPR would ever air a similar call for Palestinians to take responsibility for deadly terror attacks and the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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