It is fitting that this day and the date of Israel's independence are intertwined because Israel was the place where many victims of The Shoah and their families found a safe haven and further, in its very early days, the courage and braveness of Israel's fighters saved the Jewish people from enduring a second Shoah in the shadow of the first.
The second Shoah which never came to pass was the massacre threatened against the Jews by many in the Arab world in the wake of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 181 of 29 November, 1947 which partitioned the British Mandate into two States - one Jewish and one Arab.
The Arabs rejected the two state solution and chose violence. Palestinian Arabs (including veterans of the 1936-9 Arab Revolt, members of Arab youth organizations, and police) immediately initiated hostilities against the Jewish population with attacks on villages and terrorism in the cities. They were soon joined by regulars from Arab armies.
When the Jewish State in Palestine was declared and named "Israel" on 14 May 1948, the armies of five Arab States invaded with the declared intent of destroying it and committing ethnic cleansing by way of massacre of the Jews.
Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, at Cairo press conference reported in the New York Times, May 16, 1948, rejected partition and declared "jihad" (a holy war):
"This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades".
The reaction of the Arab world and the Palestinian leadership was not surprising. At the height of the Shoah in 1943 Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and one of the worst Nazi collaborators, called for Jihad against Jews in a broadcast from Radio Berlin:
"Kill the Jews wherever you find them, this is pleasing to Allah".
The Arab world's view was that the creation of Israel was a Nakbah (catastrophe) - an affront to their faith. Accordingly, Israel must be resisted by all available means and eradicated as soon as possible. This view is the basis for not only the events of 1947-1948, but even now, some sixty years after the Jews foiled the second Shoah, it remains an obsession with them and their supporters.
A full recounting of the historical events would embarrass Israel's detractors, so they have to be very selective in recounting the events of this period. In this opinion piece published yesterday and written by Peter Manning, a significant slab of the history of the formation of the Jewish State is suppressed in what can only be described as an horrific example of historic revisionism - REDRESS THE BALANCE ON PALESTINE.
Manning disingenuously cobbles together a questionable version of the events by his selective interpretation of historical material, some of which is hotly disputed, and by the omission of well documented evidence that makes a mockery of his central thesis that it was the Jews who were solely responsible for putting the Palestinians into their current position of hopelessness and dispossession.
Those Arabs who remained in the area allocated to the Jewish State were not dispossessed at all and indeed, they live peaceful lives today as equal citizens in Israel, a fact which Manning conveniently overlooks. He also ignores the fact that, had the Arabs shunned war and accepted UN Security Resolution 181 they would have had their own State and neither side would be in a position to claim they had suffered from a catastrophe sixty years later.
In any event, if there is an imbalance, it can only be redressed by supporting the current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Authority which is, very properly, the stated position of the current Australian government and the opposition.
In the meantime, no amount of avoiding the truth and tacky opinion pieces like that which Manning managed to get into the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday will ever manage to hide the real meaning of The Nakba - the failure sixty years ago by the Arabs to carry out a very public threat to exterminate a race of people by way of the "momentous massacre" that they threatened against Jewish population of the region.