1915-2015: Comparing a Century of Barbarity with 'Nakba'

Bshara Nassar -- a self-described "peacebuilder and social entrepreneur, a graduate of Bethlehem University, Palestine," with "a master's degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University" -- leads a campaign for a "Nakba Museum Project of Memory and Hope" in order to "bring the Palestinian refugee story to Washington, DC."

The campaign, supported by Nonviolence International with Nakba Museum and Indiegogo, a crowd-funding organization, was launched in 2014 and seems to enjoy some popularity. A would-be parallel between "Nakba" (the dislocation of Palestinian Arab society in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war of 1947-1948) and the Holocaust (the genocide of Jews operated by Nazi Germany) has been, for decades, a recurrent trope in the anti-Israel narrative. Concurrently, many anti-Israel activists, especially in the Islamic world, claim the Holocaust to be a hoax, while many others urge a "new Holocaust" or a "real Holocaust" against present-day Jews in Israel or elsewhere.

A Nakba museum in Washington, D.C., ideally in the vicinity of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, would be the culmination of such a parody. The U.S. federal government would likely never approve of such a project. However, a privately funded museum would be another matter, unless public outcry prevents it.

A lot of tragedies befell civilian populations over the past hundred years, as a result of war, civil war, revolution, or other political or social upheaval. Many were cynically and deliberately engineered by governments or the military; the mass murder of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire paved the way. Many were planned and implemented along near-industrial methods. Still, there was something unique about the Holocaust, as the world realized in 1945, when the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.

Crime, including political crime and politically or militarily motivated mass murder, is usually a means to achieve some higher purpose or to bring about some practical benefit. For instance, the Ottoman rationale in 1915 was to "remove" the Armenian minority from Turkish Anatolia in order to prevent a pro-Russian Armenian uprising and to achieve geostrategic cohesion. They had no further racial or metaphysical concerns. The few Armenians who converted to Islam were spared; many Armenian orphans were adopted by Turkish families and raised as Turks.

As far as the Holocaust was concerned, however, crime was an end unto itself.