Healing from Collective Trauma – Identifying The Real Nakba
When the dust settles and a recently invented Palestinian people will have their own state (or not – but we will assume for the moment that such a state will arise), how will they heal from their collective trauma? When they will be free to evaluate what really happened to them, will they re-define their “Nakba” (catastrophe in Arabic, something they now associate with Israel’s independence)?
Providing testimony of historical national traumas is one step toward healing and the forging of a new future. The next step is reconciliation offered by the descendants of those who committed the atrocities, a step that should create the conditions that allow traumatized peoples to reconnect with their histories, cultures, languages, traditions and growing pride in their identities.
We are seeing this happen in recent decades for the Canadian First Nations, Australian Aborigines and American Indians. The impact of their historical traumas can be summarized by quoting an article examining the impact of imperialism from Europe on the Lakota people:
One challenge for healing the Lakota historical trauma response is the subjugation and distortion of historical facts about our genocide and the lack of awareness and sensitivity in the general population. As validation of the trauma and giving testimony are germane to the healing process, the lack of acknowledgment of our trauma is a barrier to our liberation from the effects of our historical legacy and the trauma response. . .Theories of oppression which can lead to our self-destruction (Brave Heart & DeBruyn, in press) call for community education about and acknowledgment of our genocide to facilitate a healing process. [emphasis added]
The Lakota note that rewriting history serves to satisfy the needs of the dominating group and to deny those of the subjugated peoples. Correcting historical narratives, therefore, is behind the Truth and Reconciliation processes in Australia and Canada and, more recently, in other places as well. Do you remember the vicious murder of over 250,000 Mayans in Guatemala during two decades of civil war? A highly controversial trial was conducted, overturned and is still ongoing. The results will determine whether or not history will be accurately recorded or falsified, whether justice will be served or perverted. And a Google search will reveal similar fights for historical truth surrounding the all-too-numerous genocides of the past century.
What has this to do with the “Palestinian” Nakba?
Arabs have been attempting to rewrite the history of Israel and the Jewish people, in part by denying the Holocaust and in part by denying the fact that we Jews are the true indigenous people of the Land of Israel and that they are the colonizers. They are even going so far as joining the International Criminal Court where they think they can convince a court unsympathetic to the Jewish national cause to rule us guilty of genocide!
The only way for the Palestinian Arabs to overcome their trauma, their Nakba, will be for them to wake up to their true history and collectively identify their true oppressors. They were goaded into joining the war against the Jews in 1947-8, refused full integration into Jordanian society in spite of being Jordanian citizens, and forced to waste away in refugee camps in other Arab countries, robbed of their human dignity. All this for the promise of wiping out us Jews.They accuse us of oppressing them while it is the Israelis who were and are willing to live alongside them in peace should they only decide to focus on building a healthy society rather than sending death squads into Israeli cities and missiles into Israeli skies. Heck! In 1947, before all our Arab neighbours attacked us, we even agreed to give up almost half of the less than half of what had been clearly mapped out in 1922 as the Jewish homeland just to have back part of what was ours.
As long as the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians buy into the myth that Israel is their enemy they remain complicit in their own continuing exploitation at the hands of their fellow Arabs. It does not look like they are going to wake up from the nightmare anytime soon; more’s the pity.
I wonder if, generations from now, they will be brave enough to face the truth – that those guilty of their oppression have been their fellow Arabs.
Those responsible for putting stones and knives in their hands instead of the tools for earning a living are their fellow Arabs.
Those who fill their kids’ heads with dreams of jihad instead of dreams of a worthwhile profession are their fellow Arabs.
Will they request Truth and Reconciliation Conferences at which they put the Arab leadership responsible for their abuse and exploitation on trial? For only the truth will set them free of the shackles that hold them back from becoming a healed community.
Modified version of a post originally published on Times of Israel.
Image Credit: By Fred Csasznik [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons