Many people will be celebrating Israel’s 65th year of ‘independence’ right about now. Conversely on May 15th each year is the date which Palestinians mark as Naqba Day, which commemorates the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 by Zionist forces who ethnically cleansed Palestine of roughly two thirds of its indigenous Palestinian population. I have written before detailing the numerous myths and falsehoods surrounding the establishment of the state of Israel, but i just want to highlight an oft-ignored point relevant to what is euphemistically termed ‘Israeli Independence’.
You have ‘Israeli Independence day‘ marked each year by Israel and its supporters, you also have the ‘Israeli Declaration of Independence’. Now you may accuse me of being a pedant or engaging in semantics for arguments sake, but the use of the term ‘Independence’ in these instances is a misnomer of the highest order. A misnomer that requires correction.
What the term ‘Independence’ infers in both the above usages, is that in 1948 there existed some occupied land called Israel which Zionist forces simply ‘liberated’. Indeed the war of 1948 war is often termed as a ‘war of liberation‘ by Zionists. The use of this misnomer in reference to Israel’s establishment is so ingrained that MSM outlets simply accept it without question. Note here where the BBC has put Nakba into quotation marks but simply states ‘Israel’s independence’ as if its an undeniable fact that Israel somehow magically gained independence in 1948. Whether the BBC know it or not, they are engaging in a political argument, one that is, unfortunately for them, bereft of any credence once one examines the history.
To state an undeniable fact – there existed no Israel before May 1948. If there existed no Israel how then can the war that established it be termed a ‘War of Independence’? In essence it cannot, unless you buy into the Zionist narrative that immigrant Jews into Palestine had superior rights to the land belonging to the indigenous Palestinians. How also can the declaration that David Ben-Gurion delivered on May 14th 1948 be termed the ‘Israeli Declaration of Independence’? Again it cannot unless you believe that there existed some land called Israel that was occupied by both the British military and the indigenous Palestinians. Which quite obviously, wasn’t the case. The British Mandate For Palestine was termed so for a reason.
With regard to the British Mandate, it is also important to remember that Palestine had been classified as a Class A mandate – meaning it was recognised by the international community as being one of the former Ottoman provinces that was closest to being ready for total independence. Which had this occurred, the term Independence would have been most apt because it would have been an indigenous people declaring independence in their own land.
This was not to be the case however – the people who declared Independence in 1948 were Zionists, the vast majority of whom were immigrants into Palestine. As Henry Cattan has noted
In terms of population, the Jews constituted in 1947 fewer than one third of the inhabitants of Palestine. Only one tenth of them were original inhabitants belonging to the country. In fact, this original Jewish Palestinian community…favoured neither partition nor the establishment of a Jewish State. The rest of the Jewish population was composed of foreign immigrants originating mostly from Poland, USSR and central Europe, only one third of whom had acquired Palestinian citizenship. (Palestine: The Road To Peace p17)
It is quite a trick of the mind to portray what was a war of conquest and colonization as some kind of ‘Independence’ struggle. Quite obviously a more appropriate term for ‘Israeli Independence Day’ would be ‘Israeli Statehood Day‘ and likewise the ‘Israeli Declaration of Statehood’, because one thing is for certain, the only people who had a right to independence in Palestine in 1948, were denied it. So when you hear or read about ‘Israeli Independence Day’ or the ‘Israeli Declaration of Independence’ – remember, what you are hearing is a gross misnomer, one that is intended to obscure the fact that Israel, a colonial project, was founded upon the destruction of an indigenous society. Happy Israeli Misnomer Day y’all.