“Wait!” shouted a hassid whom everybody knew as Nussen der hazzan – a cantor by calling, and a most diligent volunteer digger from the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim Jerusalem quarter. “It’s Shabbos. Kiddush first.”
Our crowd gathered around him in a hush as Nussen der hazzan clasped the mug and, in a sweet cantorial tone began to chant “Yom hashishi” – the blessing for the sanctification of the Sabbath day.
As Nussen’s sacred verses floated off to a higher place of Sabbath bliss, some of us sobbed uncontrollably. Like a violin, his voice swelled, ululated, and trilled in the night, octave upon octave, his eyes closed, his cup stretched out and up. And as he concluded the final consecration – “Blessed art thou O Lord, who has hallowed the Sabbath” – he rose on tiptoe, his arm stiffened, and rocking back and forth like an ecstatic rabbi, voice trembling with excitement, he added the triumphantly exulted festival blessing to commemorate having reached this day – sheheheyanu, vekiyemanu vehegiyanu lezman hazeh.”
Unwilling to allow Israel to enjoy an unadulterated victory, no doubt the major media will have a story or two about the Nakba.
Last year, a former New York Times reporter, Neil Lewis, defended his paper’s record on Israel. One of his arguments was that the New York Times wasn’t anti-Israel but it was becoming more balanced. For example it took until 1998 for the New York Times to note the “nakba.”
Barry Rubin wrote an excellent rebuttal of this argument and showed that Naqba as it was coined, was much different from the way its currently portrayed. Prof. Rubin ripped Lewis’s argument about balance to shreds:
Thus, Lewis implies that because it didn’t use the word “nakba” until 1998 that proves the Times was pro-Israel and ignored the Palestinians’ plight. Like so much said about the Arab-Israeli conflict it is remarkable how absurd this argument can shown to be in less than 150 words. Here they are:
Everyone who ever lost a war is unhappy about it and suffered. Does the Times discuss the “nakba” of the Confederacy, the Germans in World War One and Two, the Japanese in World War Two, and so on through every modern conflict? Should it speak of Communists’ mourning at the fall of the Soviet bloc? Lewis implies that the Times never discussed the fact that the Arabs were unhappy they lost in 1948 or that there were Palestinian refugees or that they claimed all of Israel. Every week, perhaps several times a week, for a half century or more this information has been published in the Times. The only thing the Times didn’t do–but has “corrected” for quite some time by using the “nakba” concept–is to present Israel’s creation as a tragedy and to imply Palestinian suffering was totally due to Israeli actions. Finally, Palestinian ”nakba” commemorations are relatively recent, designed by the PA as propaganda exercises. Why recent? Because the PLO would never seek pity from the West but rather presented itself as heroic warriors headed for victory.
But the man who coined the use of the word “nakba” in this context had views quite different from Lewis, the Times, the PA, the campus anti-Israel demonstrators, and the revolutionary Islamists.
What Israel’s independence meant was that a people who had been disenfranchised for nearly 2000 years finally were restored to their national home. The nakba, on the other hand, was mostly a self inflicted wound resulting from the Arab effort to deny that history.