The Holocaust, the Rebirth and the Nakba Yair Auron
The Holocaust, the Rebirth and the Nakba
Israel/Palestine: The struggle over the right to be a victim.
"We aimed our rifles at the Arabs, pulled the trigger, and killed Nazis." Historian Yair Auron went through numerous diaries and battle records of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The words were so brutal and revolting, he found it hard to believe that they were written by socialist youth and members of Kibbutzim. "The only explanation I can offer," he writes, "has to do with the Holocaust, the fear of another Holocaust, and the need for revenge in its aftermath."
Auron addresses one of the most highly charged and silenced junctures in Israel's short history: the relationship between the Holocaust and the Nakba, and the manner in which these two historical events have shaped the consciousness of both nations and obstruct their fields of vision.
He demonstrates how the memory of the Holocaust, the consequent “rebirth” of the Jewish people and the memory of the Nakba are intertwined to such an extent that one cannot possibly be understood independently of the other.
In 1948, Jewish leaders in Palestine used the Holocaust as a primary mechanism of motivation and legitimization. The Palestinians, in contrast, framed themselves as the Holocaust's “second” victims. It is therefore a struggle over the right to be a victim – the single, most extraordinary victim of all.
The aim of Auron’s book is clear: What are Israelis afraid of? And why, after 65 years, do Israelis still feel the need to lie conceal history and to lie to their children? As a level-headed Zionist, Auron wants to live in a country capable of taking responsibility for its past and recognizing its wrongs. He claims that without mutual recognition of the tragedies of both peoples and acceptance of the difference between the cases, the long-awaited reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians cannot take place.