Getting Israelis to accept the truth of the origin of their state
Truth Commission on 1948
Call for Testimonies To be heard in a Public Truth Commission for the Events of 1948
A First-of-Its-Kind Event in Israel, Beersheba March 2014
Amnon Neuman, a Palmach fighter who took part in occupying several Palestinian villages in Southern Israel and expelling their inhabitants, calls upon his colleagues to “tell the truth about what really happened in 1948, to shatter the legend as though the Arabs just took off and fled. Knowing the truth about what happened is essential for planning a peaceful future”.
Zochrot hereby invites Jewish fighters who took part in the 1948 War (especially those who fought in the south, but also in other areas), members of their family or whoever has relevant information to testify on their involvement in the war within the framework of a Public Truth Commission – the first of its kind in Israel – to be convened during 2014.
During the commission’s hearings, Palestinian refugees and Jewish fighters, second- and third-generation Israelis and expert witnesses will talk publicly about 1948.
They will testify before a panel of philosophers, historians, researchers, human rights lawyers and civil society organization representatives, as well as the public at large. Subsequently, panel members will right and publish a report summarizing the findings and suggesting recommendations for redress.
A Palestinian family living in al-Falouja hastily loads its household onto a lorry for transport to a refugee camp in 1948. Photo from UNRWA archive.
The commission will seek to collect and document information about the 1948 events, focusing in particular on the actions that led to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. By exposing the public to this information, the event will seek to encourage various audiences in Israel to acknowledge these actions and take personal and collective responsibility for them. We believe that the 1948 events are at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so that admitting the truth, promoting acknowledgement and taking responsibility are essential to facilitating a process of historic justice and peace.
The commission is not a court, but an informal forum designed to create a new historic archive and promote processes of reconciliation and understanding, public acknowledgement and healing the trauma of 1948.
Jewish fighters and/or their family members or anyone willing to provide substantive information (without necessarily testifying in public) who want to take part or receive further details are welcome to contact Project Coordinator Debby Farber at firstname.lastname@example.org or +972-3-695-3155.
Zochrot and other Israeli NGOs have been fairly successful over the past few years in raising the Nakba to the awareness of the broad Jewish public. The destruction of hundreds of villages and resulting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the 1948 War have become part and parcel of current Israeli discourse; nevertheless, its mere presence in Jewish Israeli discourse still does not mean broad acknowledgement of and accountability for the Nakba. This gap is largely due to the continued adherence of Jewish Israeli society to colonial concepts and practices.
Zochrot believes that peace will come only after the country has been decolonized, enabling all its inhabitants and refugees to live together without the threat of expulsion or denial of Return.
Zochrot envisions Return as an extended and multidimensional process, which includes not only the physical return of refugees to this country, but also their appropriate and dignified integration in an equal, joint Palestinian-Jewish society. Under this expansive view, Return begins long before the actual return of refugees and proceeds long after.
Return of the Palestinian refugees to their country on the basis of acknowledgement and accountability, coupled with a joint Jewish-Palestinian process of restitution founded on the principles of transitional justice. This Return will be a central and essential part of the creation of a multicultural democratic space and a joint and equitable fabric of life for all inhabitants of this country on all levels (from home and neighborhood to state level) and in all sectors (economics, politics, and urban planning, but also education, arts and sports).
3. Overarching Goal
To realize its vision, Zochrot will act to promote Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country’s inhabitants, so that it renounces the colonial conception of its existence in the region and the colonial practices it entails.
Zochrot will act to challenge the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions and promote awareness, political and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country. To do so, Zochrot will generate processes in which Israeli Jews will reflect on and review their identity, history, future and the resulting discourse through which they conceive of their lives in this country. Our focus on the Jewish target audience derives from its practical and moral responsibility for Palestinian refugeehood, as well as from its privileged power position under the present regime.
From Zochrot’s website
Nakba is an Arabic word that means “catastrophe.” The Nakba was the destruction, expulsion, looting, massacres and incidents of rape of the Palestinian inhabitants of this country. It was keeping refugees out by force at the end of the war, in order to establish the Jewish state. And it is the ongoing destruction of Palestinian localities, the disregard for the rights of refugees and displaced people, and the prohibition against teaching and commemorating the Nakba in schools and civic groups.
Zochrot will act to promote Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country’s inhabitants, so that it renounces the colonial conception of its existence in the region and the colonial practices it entails.
Zochrot will act to challenge the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions and promote awareness, political and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.
Zochrot carries out different projects to advance understanding of Nakba and Return. This website is one of those projects. The site presents information about the Palestinian localities that Israel destroyed in 1948 and about the Nakba’s place in our lives today. The Nakba and Return are spoken in different voices on this site — in photographs, testimonies, maps, prose, and more. Zochrot’s is one of these voices, a voice that seeks recognition for injustice and new paths toward change and repair.