On The Side Of The Road is Lia Tarachanskty’s powerful new film that looks at the determined refusal of every single Israeli generation to confront reality of the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinians that the drive towards the creation of an exclusive Jewish home land necessitated.
The refusal to speak, teach, discuss or even recognise the Nakbah as it is referred to by the Palestinians, remains the single more important obstacle to any chance of hope in the region. This refusal underpins the disdain and violent disregard with which the occupied Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are treated – their rights, their grievances and their very humanity, disregarded as relevant or even equivalent. It underpins the now infamous conviction that this was ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’ so that the Zionist enterprise need not have to confront the injustices – injustices that were well-known to the founders of the enterprise, it was being constructed on. In fact, the refusal to teach or acknowledge the Nakbah is tied to this need to see this land as empty and without people. Illan Pappe recently referred to this act of violent memory as a cultural genocide when it was regurgitated recently by the Shimon Peres – that avatar of hypocrisy and mendacity. Peres in a recent interview in the publication Maariv on 14 April 2013, said:
I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people. (Maariv, 14 April 2013).
Pappe countered in a piece called When Israeli Denial of Palestinian Existence Become Genocidal that:
This fabricated narrative, voiced by Israel’s number one citizen and spokesman, highlights how much the historical narrative is part of the present reality. This presidential impunity sums up the reality on the eve of the 65th commemoration of the Nakbah, the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine. The disturbing fact of life, 65 years on, is not that the figurative head of the so-called Jewish state, and for that matter almost everyone in the newly elected government and parliament, subscribe to such views. The worrying and challenging reality is the global immunity given to such impunity.
Peres’ denial of the native Palestinians and his reselling in 2013 of the landless people mythology exposes the cognitive dissonance in which he lives: he denies the existence of approximately twelve million people living in and near to the country to which they belong. History shows that the human consequences are horrific and catastrophic when powerful people, heading powerful outfits such as a modern state, denied the existence of a people who are very much present.
The Israeli’s, writing their history as that of the independence of their new state, would do well to remember Walter Benjamin’s famous point that:
There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.
Max Blumenthal’s new book Goliath also confront this deeply entrenched attitude that stands in the way of Israeli’s seeing the Palestinians as a people with a history, a suffering, and right to life, liberty and sovereignty. The erasures continue and in many different forms.