The establishment of Israel involved the destruction of the Palestinian society that existed here until 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees, their villages destroyed and their land confiscated, with Jews settling on it instead.
These events, called the Nakba (Catastrophe) ever since, and fueling the fire of the conflict, are a great taboo in the Israeli consciousness. They are not taught in schools, only a few historians study them, and mention of them in the media immediately sparks efforts to silence them along the lines of “the Arabs rejected the partition plan and brought destruction on themselves.” The description of war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in 1948 – expulsion, looting, murder and rape – are shunted aside, and publishing information on them is seen as undermining the justness of the national project.
But the state does not suffice with the callousness common in Israeli society toward the events of 1948. Rather, it strives to hide evidence of the Nakba. Hagar Shezaf’s investigative report in Haaretz over the weekend has uncovered actions by the Defense Ministry’s security department, known by its acronym Malmab, that have gone on for about a decade now, to conceal documents and testimony about war crimes in 1948 in public and private archives, even in cases where the information has already been published.