US celebrations of Israeli independence that leave out Palestinian story are bigoted (this means you, Pelosi)

This ought to be a rule in American politics: Statements celebrating Israel’s independence are bigoted if they fail to address what happened to Palestinians when Israel was born.

Today is the day Israel declared itself a state, and we are seeing the usual flood of U.S. politicians congratulating Israel. (Ritchie Torres, of course. Bob Menendez. Carolyn Maloney too )

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement is particularly egregious. It five times describes Israel’s creation as a “Jewish” achievement. Israel is the Jewish homeland “in the land of their ancestors.” A thriving democracy…

Today, we celebrate the birth of the Jewish state, forged into being through extraordinary courage and faith to become one of the greatest political achievements of the 20th century. With a vibrant culture and innovative economy, Israel has flourished in the face of enormous challenges and existential threats as an anchor of democracy in the seven decades since its founding. Every day, Israel defies the long odds to realize its founding promise: to serve as a homeland for the Jewish people in the land of their ancestors.

Steny Hoyer also went overboard on the Jewish state stuff.

 That day marked the culmination of a generations-long struggle to see the ancient dream fulfilled of a free and independent Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish nation. 

These statements are appalling in their anti-Palestinianism. They fail to say a word about the fact that 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled in Israel’s creation and were not allowed to return to their homes by the “Jewish state.” And today Palestinian leaders in Israel are effectively barred from being part of the government.

The young Jewish group IfNotNow sets an example for Americans when it tweeted today about the Deir Yassin massacre, which took place in the days leading up to Israeli independence– the Palestinian village outside Jerusalem ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias, including one under the command of Menachem Begin. More than 100 were killed.

The Israel lobby is of course one-sided in its treatment of the day. But it ought to be unacceptable to do what Michael Koplow at the Israel Policy Forum does in his commentary about how great life is in Israel today.

Over the past year, only three Israelis were killed in combat or terror attacks, which is the lowest number in Israel’s history; the previous low was eleven. That Israelis are literally safer and more secure than at any previous point in the country’s history 

Yes and many more Palestinians have died in that time. This one-sidedness includes pieties about the Israeli fallen from J Street on Israel’s memorial day yesterday. Shouldn’t American organizations also address how many Palestinians have “fallen”– when it was their country and that’s why many of these Israelis died?

Secretary of State Tony Blinken avoided any discussion of the Jewish state in his birthday card, but his celebration of Israel’s “hard-won security” and new Arab friends leaves out the condition of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli rule right now.

Palestinian history was simply erased by Israel during the ethnic cleansing of the new state. That’s not a tradition Americans ought to perpetuate.


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