by Matthew Knee
Sunday was Al-Nakba ("The Catastrophe") Day, and it's not just Arabs who are upset. Al-Nakba Day commemorates the defeat of the Arab armies in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, when, rather than accept a two state solution, they decided to try their hand at genocide instead. The invading Arab armies vowed to push Israel into the sea, and expelled their own Jewish populations, destroying some communities so old that they predated the existence of Islam or even Christianity. While they killed thousands and created nearly a million Jewish refugees, they failed. Al-Nakba, and the day to commemorate it, is a narrative that inverts reality - one in which the Jews attacked and expelled the Arabs with genocidal zeal.
The existence of Al-Nakba Day is also a reminder that "The Occupation" is not the problem and 1967 borders are not the solution. Al-Nakba Day is about the existence of Israel – and thus the existence of nearly all the Jews who remain in the Middle East. To those who fully accept the Nakba narrative, there is unlikely to be a path to peace compatible with the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish State. Until Israel's neighbors accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, peace will not be possible.
Sunday, a coalition of anti-Israel Jews and other assorted Palestinian activists, led by Jewish Voice for Peace, LA Jews for Peace, CODE PINK, and Friends of Sabeel (A Presbyterian-affiliated Palestinian Christian organization), protested outside the The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Beit Hashoah – Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles. The Museum of Tolerance exists to raise awareness of prejudice and genocide, particularly the Holocaust, and of course, to promote tolerance. They are a popular destination for field trips, and provide race relations training to law enforcement and court-ordered classes to certain types of criminals.
The far left has been targeting the Wiesenthal Center with increasing tenacity in the past year or so. Palestinians and other activists, most of whom voiced no objection to the destruction of the Jewish cemeteries of Gaza, are up in arms over their building a museum on a Jerusalem municipal parking lot that was at one point an Arab cemetery (Of course, if it is not permitted to build where something of historical significance once stood, it would be pretty much impossible to build anything in Jerusalem at all). The far left was all the more enraged when the executive director of NYC Museum of Tolerance announced his opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, calling it "insensitive."
Because the Museum of Tolerance is located in a very Jewish area, neighbors and passers-by stopped to engage the protesters, while the pro-Israel grassroots organization StandWithUs led a counter-protest across the street. Like many counter-protesters, I stumbled upon the protest as I drove by, and then returned shortly after to join the counter-protesters and document the scene with my cell phone camera. A picture tells a thousand words, so embedded below is a captioned slide show that tells the story of the protest.
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