Second Nakba; Same Israeli Lies; Same Western Narrative

Israel is openly carrying out ethnic cleansing inside Gaza and yet, just as during the first “Nakba,” Israel’s lies and deceptions dominate the West’s media and political narrative, writes Jonathan Cook.

Gazans outside Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, on October 9, 2023, following Israeli airstrikes. (Palestinian News & Information Agency. or Wafa, in contract with APAimages, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Jonathan Cook
Declassified UK

History is repeating itself — and every politician and establishment journalist is pretending they cannot see what is staring them in the face. There is a collective and wilful refusal to join the dots in Gaza, even when they point in one direction only.

There has been a consistent pattern to Israel’s behaviour since its creation 75 years ago — just as there has been a consistent pattern to the “see no evil, hear no evil” response of western powers.

In 1948, in events the Palestinians call their “Nakba,” or Catastrophe, 80 percent of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their lands in what became the self-declared Jewish state of Israel.

As Palestinians maintained at the time — and Israeli historians later confirmed from archival documents — Israel’s leaders lied when they said Palestinians had fled of their own volition, on the orders of neighbouring Arab states.

As the historians also discovered, Israeli leaders lied when they claimed that they had pleaded, first, with the 900,000 Palestinians inside the new state’s borders to stay and, later, with the 750,000 forced into exile to return home. 

Rather, the archives showed that the new Israeli state’s soldiers had carried out terrible massacres to drive out the Palestinian population. The overall ethnic cleansing operation had a name, Plan Dalet. 

Later, Israeli leaders even lied in minimising the number of Palestinian agricultural communities they had destroyed: there were more than 500 wiped from the face of the earth by Israeli bulldozers and army sappers. Paradoxically, this procedure was popularly known by Israelis as “making the desert bloom.”

Extraordinarily, reputable scholars, journalists and politicians in the West — those who dominate the mainstream conversation — ignored all this evidence of Israeli deceit and mendacity for decades, even after Israeli historians and archival documents supported the Palestinian account of the Nakba.

Various strategies were adopted to keep the truth out of view. Prominent observers continued peddling discredited Israeli talking points. Others threw up their hands, arguing that the truth could not be definitively determined.

And yet more declared that, even if bad things had happened, there was blame enough to go round on both sides and that, anyway, it was an excellent thing the Jewish people had a sanctuary (even if Palestinians paid the price rather than the antisemites and genocidaires in Europe).

These defences started to crumble with the advent of social media and a digital world in which information could be disseminated more easily. Western elites hurriedly tried to shut down any critical discussion of the circumstances in which the state of Israel was birthed by labelling it as antisemitism.

Ever-Shrinking Space

All of this is the context for understanding the current “mainstream” debate about what’s happening in Gaza. We are seeing the same disconnect between actual events and the establishment’s crafting of a narrative to excuse Israel, except this time the deception and gaslighting are occurring while we, the audience, can see for ourselves the horrifying facts unfold in real time.

We don’t need historians to tell us what is going on in Gaza. It is live on television (or at least the more sanitised version is). Let’s just recount the known facts.

Israeli officials have called for the eradication of Gaza as a place where Palestinians can live, and said all Palestinians are viewed as legitimate targets for Israel’s bombs and bullets.

Palestinians have been ordered out of the northern half of Gaza. Israel has attacked Gaza’s hospitals, the last sanctuaries for Palestinians in the north. Gaza was already one of the most crowded places on Earth. But Palestinians have been forced into the southern half of the strip, where they are being subjected to a “complete siege” that denies them food, water and power. The U.N. warned last week that Gaza’s civilian population faced the “immediate possibility” of starvation.

Israel has now ordered Palestinians to leave much of the largest city in southern Gaza, Khan Younis. Palestinians are gradually being forced to huddle in the narrow corridor at Rafah, next to the border with Egypt. Some 2.3 million people are being packed into an ever-shrinking space.

The majority have no home to return to, even if Israel lets them head north. The schools, universities, bakeries, mosques and churches are mostly gone. Much of Gaza is a wasteland.  

For years Israel has had a plan to drive Palestinians out of Gaza, across the border, into the Egyptian territory of Sinai.

Media Blindness

Palestine refugees, British Mandate of Palestine – 1948. Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948. (Fred Csasznik/Public Domain)

After its mass ethnic cleansing operations of 1948 and 1967, Israel tried to manage the remaining Palestinian population through the traditional apartheid model of herding the natives into reservations, as its predecessors did with the remnants of the “locals” who survived their efforts at extermination.

Any caution on Israel’s part derived from the different political climate it had to operate in: international law became more central after World War II, with clear definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The West wilfully mischaracterises Israel’s process of dispossessing and ghettoising these remaining Palestinians as a “conflict” because they refuse to submit quietly to the apartheid, ghettoisation model.

Now, Israel’s management approach to the Palestinians has broken down completely — for two main reasons.

First, the Palestinians, aided by new technologies that have made it more difficult to keep them out of view, have attracted ever widening popular support – and most problematically, among Western publics.

The Palestinians have also managed to bring their cause to international forums, even gaining recognition as a state by a majority of members of the United Nations. Potentially, they even have redress in the West’s international legal institutions, like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. 

As a result, subduing the Palestinians — or maintaining “calm”, as Western establishments prefer to call it — has become more and more difficult and expensive.

And second, on Oct. 7, Hamas proved that Palestinian resistance cannot be contained even under a siege enforced by drones, and an Iron Dome interception system protecting Israel from retaliatory rockets. In such circumstances, Palestinians have shown they will seek surprising and creative ways to break out of their confinement and bring their oppression into the spotlight.

In fact, given the West’s dulled sensitivities to Palestinian suffering, militant factions are likely to deduce that headline-grabbing atrocities — mirroring Israel’s own historic approach to the Palestinians — are the only way to gain attention.

Israel understands that the Palestinians are going to continue being a thorn in its side, a reminder that Israel is not a normal state. And the struggle to correct Israel’s decades of dispossessing and brutalising Palestinians will become ever more a defining moral cause among Western publics, as the fight against apartheid South Africa once was.

So Israel is taking advantage of this moment to “finish the job”. The final destination is clearly in view, as, in truth, it has been for more than seven decades. The crime is unfolding step by step, the pace quickening. And yet senior politicians and journalists in the West, like their predecessors, continue to be blind to it all.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider subscribing to his Substack page or offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog Jonathan

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

20 comments for “Second Nakba; Same Israeli Lies; Same Western Narrative

  1. Roslyn Ross
    November 27, 2023 at 19:13

    Surely Nazareth is in Occupied Palestine and not UN Mandated Israel?

  2. Joy Al-Sofi
    November 27, 2023 at 10:50

    This ceasefire must be extended and made permanent. Not under oppressive conditions, but as a place where all live with peace and equality. It is time for Pope Francis to do more than talk. He must go to Gaza and make a stand for peace and freedom.
    Please sign the petition and share widely.


    This is one small thing we can do. If we can do more, let us do more.

  3. Tara
    November 27, 2023 at 03:20

    Just saw a sign held up at the protest in Sweden: “I can’t believe we’re protesting against Genocide”. Very true. Who would have thought…?

    “Never again”, a false promise made to humanity.

  4. Which One is Pink
    November 26, 2023 at 21:27

    Roger Waters Poem of the Day

    The Gunner’s Dream

    Floating down through the clouds
    Memories come rushing up to meet me now.
    In the space between the heavens
    and in the corner of some foreign field
    I had a dream.
    I had a dream.
    Good-bye Max.
    Good-bye Ma.

    After the service when you’re walking slowly to the car
    And the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air
    You hear the tolling bell
    And touch the silk in your lapel
    And as the tear drops rise to meet the comfort of the band
    You take her frail hand
    And hold on to the dream.

    A place to stay
    “Oi! A real one …”
    Enough to eat
    Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
    Where you can speak out loud
    About your doubts and fears
    And what’s more no-one ever disappears
    You never hear their standard issue kicking in your door.
    You can relax on both sides of the tracks
    And maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control
    And everyone has recourse to the law
    And no-one kills the children anymore.
    And no one kills the children anymore.

    Night after night
    Going round and round my brain
    His dream is driving me insane.
    In the corner of some foreign field
    The gunner sleeps tonight.
    What’s done is done.
    We cannot just write off his final scene.
    Take heed of his dream.
    Take heed.

    — performed by Pink Floyd on “The Final Cut”

  5. ray Peterson
    November 26, 2023 at 17:06

    “Finish the job” yes, indeed. But just what job is that?
    Hamas is retaliating for the American blindness to Israel’s
    June, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, an intelligence ship
    clearly a threat to Israel’s ethnic cleansing 6 Day War.
    Israel napalmed and bombed the American ship for 2 hours,
    killing 34 American sailors and wounding over 170.
    Whoopsie! A mistake. And mums the word. President LBJ
    wouldn’t allow the carnage to stop, and McNamara couldn’t remember it.
    When it comes to Israel’s murdering militarism American
    media is blind, Hamas the light.

  6. mr bog
    November 26, 2023 at 12:33

    Thanks as always for your hard work writing these articles. This one made me think of something that never occurred to me before but should have been obvious. Who rightfully should have given up their land for a Jewish state after WWII? Not the Palestinians who were innocent bystanders in WWII, it should obviously have been the Germans. They should have carved off a 10,000 square mile piece of Germany and given it to the Jews, with some nice coastland, maybe between Denmark and the Netherlands, and made all the native Germans leave. Now they’d be smack in the middle of Europe with a much better case for obtaining the land. If Germany is serious about their national sense of guilt then they should offer this solution now.

  7. Lois Gagnon
    November 26, 2023 at 10:54

    Western settler colonialist regimes propping up the newest iteration of their model comes as no surprise. They aim to colonize the whole world. Not happening of course, but the addled brains of the managers of this system can’t fathom the possibility that they can be defeated through global popular resistance to their tyranny.

    Israel and its Western supporters are writing their own epitaph. The only thing keeping this genocide going is the US supplying Israel with weapons. What happens if Russia, China and other nonaligned countries decide they’ve had enough and start arming Hamas? This is not out of the realm of possibility if the ICC and the ICJ don’t get their act together and start war crimes proceedings against those responsible for this genocide.

    • CC Rider
      November 26, 2023 at 21:00

      Both Israel and the USA are going to find out that its a lot harder to get your excuses and apologies accepted after the 2nd offense.

      Both have gotten by on a combination of obfuscation of the extent of the original crimes, and with a claim that it was all in the past and that they have changed since. Maybe not said out loud, but implicit in the ‘lets move forward, not look backwards’ argument. If that always means moving towards yet another genocide, then its a lot more ominous sounding.

      Except, now we see the killers of the American Indians backing the perpetrators of Nakba 1948, clear as day. Which is not only an example of committing crimes against humanity in full view of humanity in a communications age as opposed to in black and white photos, but it also brings back the horror of the previous crimes and makes them also fresher on the mind. And, the next time they try to apologize, the demons have to deal with all of their crimes being now fresh in the mind, as well as with everyone knowing just how full of #%^# they were when they tried to excuse and sweep away the earlier crimes.

      Forget?, Hell!

      I don’t think either country comes back from this. Genocide ain’t a ‘parking ticket’. But, what do I know, I thought Pet Rocks would never sell.

  8. Susan Leslie
    November 26, 2023 at 06:53

    “We should focus on dealing with our problems and being together and stop the rancor. We have to bring the nation together and treat each other with a little bit of decency, and I think that’s where the vast majority of the American people are.” Joe Biden (2023 Thanksgiving address)

    Mr. Biden, when this country’s government starts focusing on our problems here at home and starts treating the American people with a little bit of decency, (and respect) we won’t be able to bring this nation together. Until that time, there will be “rancor” in our ranks. Until the US Government stops spending OUR MONEY on genocide around the world, those of us who can, will continue to rise up, speak up and stand up for what is right! STOP THE GENOCIDE!!!

    • CC Rider
      November 26, 2023 at 21:43

      If it was a normal American night, something like 500,000 American were homeless, with a couple hundred thousand ‘sleeping rough’.

      Genocide Joe of course does not see such people. Special orders were given to ‘clear’ them out of San Francisco before Biden arrived for a conference and a photo op. His original budget included real cuts (accounting for inflation) in domestic programs. Then he cut those programs even further because the Republicans wanted to cut them, and Joe says that America needs a strong Republican Party.

      Genocide Joe …. falling life expectancy, rising childhood mortality, rising deaths of despair. But what he wants is more money to kill more people. In DC, they call that ‘the best money they’ve ever spent’.

  9. TP Graf
    November 26, 2023 at 06:13

    I wonder how many even think about the fact that as the hostages are released, we are given pictures of the Israelis and (not surprisingly) the Palestinians remain virtually nameless and faceless. Might it be these hostages, held far longer, might represent the women and children taken from their homes when the world (gladly) looked the other way?

    • CC Rider
      November 26, 2023 at 21:23

      I’ve been fascinated by the fact that the word ‘exchange’ is never used. It is always the ‘release’ of the hostages. The sainted Israelis of course do not hold ‘hostages’. It is just happenstance that they happen to have thousands of people in arbitrary detention to be traded for their ‘hostages’. And it is of course not mentioned that daily raids into West Bank cities are arresting more and more every day, even during the ‘truce.’

      I don’t think America realizes the extent to which its public policy has now openly declared that Jewish lives matter and Arab lives do not matter. But, as always, the targets of such hate are fully aware.

      I need to smile, so I’ll remember that members of the German media were on trial at Nuremberg.

  10. Steve
    November 26, 2023 at 05:52

    Agreed, the West is not blind. It is corrupt and it is driven by money. A couple of million dead Arabs is a price worth paying if it fills the west’s coffers.
    The UK provides an essential logistical and intelligence hub on Cyprus to enable arms and military forces to be flown into Israel to continue the genocide. In return, Israel awards BP with oil and gas contracts.
    BAE flies weekly into Yemen providing arms and military staff to enable and explicitly support Saudi genocide of the Houties. In return Saudi spends billions on UK armaments.
    The ‘people’ enacting this are mentally deranged.

  11. Steve
    November 26, 2023 at 04:33

    The conflation of antisemitism and Zionism has worked wonders for the fake apartheid state of Israel. Unfortunately, the Jews that live in other places in the world are going to take the brunt of the retaliation because of this strategy. The irony is, because they have a ‘de facto’ dual nationality they will because of abuse and fear, move to a country that they have no love for and regime they most probably disagree with. It is so sad that the majority suffer for the arrogance and ignorance (and greed) of the few, happens all the time all around this tiny speck in space and unless there is a change all ways will do.

  12. Tara
    November 26, 2023 at 04:03

    There is not a single doubt in my mind that many of the politicians and media in the West are very much complicit in this premeditated mass murder and genocide of Palestinians – amongst whom, newborns, babies and children.

    The question is, will the rest of the world, by its inaction, continue to give the Israeli government and its collaborators carte blanche to perpetrate the “never again” Holocaust of the 21st century? Nuremberg was all for naught, if that be the case.

  13. Andrew Thomas
    November 25, 2023 at 22:56

    It’s not blindness. It is simply lying. Making things up. The “five eyes” countries- the US Empire and their four English-speaking colonies in all but name- have no credibility whatsoever left. If any of the five was an actually functioning quasi-democratic republic, or in the UK’s case, a quasi-democratic constitutional monarchy, said regime would have already come crashing down. How much longer they can maintain their narrative management is anyone’s guess, I suppose. Their ability to survive up to now is a wonder. A ‘remarkable achievement’, as Chomsky has often said. Beyond appalling.

    • Steve
      November 26, 2023 at 05:58

      Their ability to survive is down to more and more repressive measures against their own peoples to ensure there is no dissent or deviation from the official narrative. We are also oppressed.

  14. TDillon
    November 25, 2023 at 20:58

    Obviously our politicians and media are not actually “blind”; that is a polite metaphor. They are corrupt and complicit in the crime of genocide. They are “sincere” con artists.

    • robert e williamson jr
      November 26, 2023 at 14:30

      They are sincere totally dysfunctional, (because of the complicity) useful idiots who sell their souls for the dollar.

      Very shameful lying behavior from adults who vie to be good examples of society. Shame on each and every one.

      I cold not agree more.

  15. Carolyn L Zaremba
    November 25, 2023 at 20:54

    I’ve read your book “Disappearing Palestine” and recommend it to anyone interested in this history. Excellent work.

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