In this talk, Professor, Dr. Richard Landes talks about the Palestinian Nakba, some of the Palestinian history, and how the Muslim Arabs view Israel, and their defeat of 1948 which they now call the al Nakba day, which means catastrophe.
The Palestinians and the Muslim world used to refer to their defeat to Israel as the Nakba, but now this term is widely used to denote the founding of Israel as a catastrophe. So for Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims, Israel’s mere existence is the Nabka (catastrophe) which is a very racist, hateful and bigoted point of view.
Additionally, Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims exiled about 1,000,000 Jews from Arab lands in 1948, and make no mention of that when they talk about el Nabka. In fact, after 1948, almost all Jewish communities in the Middle East either disappeared or were destroyed, with most Jews having to leave Arab lands or face violence. This created 1,000,000 Jewish refugees. And until today, there is no Arab or Muslim country which has given freedom or equal rights to Jews, and Jews living in Arab countries constantly face discrimination and violence.
In the Arab world, the Nakba means “catastrophe” to denote the disaster that befell the Palestinians as a result of this war when Israel was formed.
Originally, when the term Nakba was used, it referred to how the Arab armies lost that war. and to criticize the Arab elites in how they carried out and handled the war of 1948. Since then the term has taken on a new meaning, and is largely used to criticize Israel, and generally refer to the Israeli state as a catastrophe to the Arab world.
Arabs claim that 600,000 to 800,000 Arab refugees were driven out of Israel in 1948. The actual historical truth is more complex than that, but this is what the Arab side claims to be the truth. But what is really going on is that this event was an utter humiliation to the entire Arab world. It was the equivalent of an Olympic athlete losing to a weak child.
As a result, many of the Middle Eastern Arab and Muslim countries proceeded to kick the Jews out or threaten the Jews with violence. This resulted in about 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jewish refugees who were kicked out of Arab lands and had to leave all their possessions behind. These Jews literally often had to walk through the desert to make it to Israel, which was the only safe haven for them.
Additionally, Egypt exiled a large part of their Jewish population in 1967 which created even more Jewish refugees whose only safe haven was to come to Israel.
All of this was an act of vengeance. And before they fled Arab countries, many of the Jews did face various acts of violence just before they left the Arab countries.
So it is important to understand that the existence of Israel has a cultural meaning of Jews against Arabs, but it is also a religious issue. Part of the Muslim beliefs is that they are the only true religion, and that they should dominate. And certainly, they should dominate in the lands that are considered by them to be Muslim lands.
The area that is now Israel has been in the possession of the Muslim world since only about 1 generation after the prophet Mohammed died, and other than the Christian crusades, that land has been ruled by Arabs ever since it was the home of the Jewish people 2,000 years ago (the Jews were conquered by the Romans and exiled from their home, and have been yearning to come back to their original home for the last 2,000 years having been stateless before the establishment of Israel).
So the part of Islam that believes that it should dominate the world has it as a great insult that sovereign Jews with their own state live in “Dhar al Islam” which means “Aram lands.”
So as far as the extremist Muslims are concerns, the state of Israel can’t exist because until it is destroyed it represents the Nakba, a catastrophe, that will only be gotten over after Israel ceases to exist. Israel is seen as a blasphemy against Allah and against Islam.
While this is an extremist Muslim belief, there are many Muslims who have made peace with Israel, and are ready to get on with their lives. Of course, there are extremely active, strong, numerous, and well-funded Muslim groups and organizations that have as their stated goal to destroy Israel, wipe it off the map, and bring genocide to the Jews who currently live there.
Additionally, the Muslims who want to compromise with Israel, themselves face violence from the extremists, and have their voices quieted.