Al-Nakba: Nothing to Celebrate

By William A. Cook

"The voice of your brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground."

May 14th, 2008, marks the anniversary of two momentous events, the “Declaration of Independence” of the new born state of Israel and the calamitous day of infamy, the al Nakba (The Catastrophe), which marks both the massacre in their homes of Palestinian people or their mournful march into exile. Ironically, like the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, this date carries the mark of the Almighty, brothers in blood, enemies in intent.

Listen to Cain as he walks beside his brother along the path of death: “There is no judgment and no judge and no world to come! No reward will be given to the righteous nor any account given of the wicked.” Such is the belief of those who would declare their independence of any responsibility for their brother, accept any blame for their deception as they accompany him to his death, or bear any guilt for the wickedness they inflict. Without judgment for behavior determined as good or bad, without reward for acts of love or compassion, without retribution for evil and wickedness against his brother, Cain is free to do what he wills to do. Ultimate freedom, a declaration indeed of independence.

Abel responds to his brother in the only terms left to him as he walks to his death, a plea to conscience that binds all in mutual existence, a belief that “There is indeed a judgment and a Judge and a world to come … and the wicked will be called to account.” Without that understanding, those who will can, with impunity, plunder the poor, oppress the defenseless, act to pervert justice, and wreck violence and bloodshed on the world.

This May 14th, as the State of Israel basks in the congratulatory speeches of Australian, Canadian, and American legislators, as our talking heads wax poetic on the screen about turning an empty land into a land flowing with milk and honey, as the myth of a people returned to their ancestral homeland engulfs the airwaves obliterating the very existence of the indigenous people who live there, as we are told again and again that this new Israel is threatened by the Islamofascists and Hamas terrorists who intend to erase it from the map, the people of Palestine are left alone in an ever more constricted prison left to the mercilessness of their oppressors who plunder their land and wreck violence and bloodshed on the defenseless.

As scenes of joy and lavish festivities glow on the television screen, would the people of the world, could the people of the world imagine the misery that engulfs the harried families encircled by the Zionist Jewish forces that have locked down their every movement? These people, once locked behind walls themselves, once the victims of might imposed by brute power, once the abject objects of humiliating abuse, once the forgotten of the world crying in the wind for solace and comfort, now clothe themselves in the uniforms of the occupying forces that drove their fathers and mothers to the railroad cars and the chambers of death, isolated and alone, now resurrected as a new nation replete with all the heinous accouterments that have given license to the most depraved peoples on the earth to inflict their avarice, plunder, deceit, and instinctive debauchery on the defenseless.

On this the sixtieth birthday of the “new” Jewish State, should we not welcome Israel to the ranks of nations that have inflicted their devastating power on the indigenous people they invaded, the people they massacred at Deir Yassin and its brother towns that were destroyed in the merciless rampage that marked the months before the May 14 birth, and those now caught behind the Wall of Hate that pens them in like cattle subjecting them to a slow ethnic cleansing and calculated genocide, should we not welcome Israel to the ranks of the very nations that extol them for establishing their nation on the graves of those they’ve slaughtered – Australia, Canada and the United States?

What power resides in the indifference that accepts no responsibility; what amorality accompanies the arrogance of racism that denies a brothers’ equality; what savagery exists when impunity rules. Beneath the elegant and glistening glass of the ballroom chandeliers, the toastmaster lifts his crystal goblet of blood red wine for the fourth time, oblivious to the irony he holds in his hand, and calls to all assembled to congratulate all who made possible the new birth of Israel, especially the comatose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who did so much to design and implement the creation of this state that stands atop the towns and villages of its former inhabitants.

Beyond that ballroom, beyond the pearl necklaces draped around elegant ladies standing demurely beside their husbands imperially dressed in pin striped suits, beyond the blue glass façade of this modern skyscraper, beyond the beaches and umbrellas that line the Mediterranean, beyond the clean and tidy streets where shoppers roam through rich goods from all over the world that fill jewelry cases and store fronts, beyond the annoying gray wall that slides in the shadows behind hedges, unseen, unheard, ignored, live in squalor and want the people who resided in Palestine for centuries upon centuries reduced now to beggars dependent for their food on people from nations they do not know, homes reduced to rubble in a landscape of rubble, thousands upon thousands homeless, living in Gaza without electricity, without running water, without sanitation – the living detritus of indifference, arrogance and appalling inhumanity. And for pointing this out, for giving voice to the reality they do not want their own people to see nor let the world see, the Zionist government and its lackeys will cry foul, declaim such words as hate speech, anti-Semitism, when in fact it is the state of Israel that is anti-Semitic, that is filled with hate speech splattered on the very wall of fear they have erected, hate against the Palestinians, and the destroyer of the soul of Judaism.

Let us learn from this ancient Biblical story of blood brothers that appears in Genesis 4:1-16 and the Qur’an 5:26-32, as well as in the Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q242, that we see metaphorically a depiction of the first innocent victim of the power of evil. Ironically, it is that victim, according to the Book of Enoch (22:7) and the Testament of Abraham (A:13/B:11), that is raised to the position of “judge of souls.” God proclaims that each man shall be judged by men, and ultimately by the 12 tribes of Israel and the last judgment by the Lord Himself shall be perfect and unchangeable.

“The voice of your brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground,” cries the Lord, and so the act must be judged and justice done. All humankind will don the robes of justice to condemn the fratricide; all 12 tribes of Israel will sit in judgment on their own; and God Almighty will cast the ultimate curse — the very ground Cain tilled, the land he stole from his brother, will no longer yield fruit and, as a consequence, he will be a fugitive once more and a wanderer on the earth. Thus will Cain’s intent — satiating his selfishness, appeasing his jealousy, releasing his aggression – reveal the disconnect between his inherent evil and his higher nature.

In time these are the birth gifts Israel will inherit from a world that is witness to its wanton killing of its brother, the Semitic people of Palestine, who die daily one by one in the scorching heat of the noon day sun, forgotten and alone. No candles light the darkness now, no songs are sung, no ribbons adorn the gifts, no laughter greets the guests, for the Nakba is not a day of celebration, it is a mark of catastrophic wickedness. And so will the words of Isiah ring on this day: “Ah, sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, offspring who do evil, children who deal corruptly, who have forgotten the Lord.”  May all of us who hear that cry not forget, that evil may be purged from the earth.

-William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out