JERUSALEM, Israel -- While Israel celebrated its 64th anniversary as a modern nation-state Thursday, several Israeli Arab Knesset members joined Islamic Movement (in Israel) head Raed Salah and others in northern Israel observing the Nakba, the "catastrophe," the day designated by the Palestinian Authority as a national holiday.
Year after year, the protesters vow never to forget the "victims" of the "catastrophe" who suffered "expulsion and expropriation" of land when the State of Israel was reborn in 1948.
Nakba demonstrations have always received a good bit of media coverage, but few reports put the historical facts in context.
What really took place before and after the day when the British Mandate ended and Israel 's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, announced the birth of the modern State of Israel?
Few remember that Israel settled for one-fourth of Britain's original partition plan or that Israelis at that time urged their Arab neighbors to stay and build the state together.
The British lopped off three-quarters of the land designated for the Jewish homeland, which they called Trans-Jordan, with Amman as its capital. Palestinian Arabs make up about 70 percent of Jordan's population today.
And at the urging of Arab leaders, who said their bullets wouldn't distinguish between Arabs and Jews, an estimated 580,000 Arabs fled the newborn state. They were told they would be able to return once the Arab leaders had dealt with the Jews.
In a media briefing earlier this week, former Knesset member and historian Eliyakim Haetzni said Palestinian Arabs should stop saying they have no homeland.
"The British gave you three-quarters of the state. You are not orphans," he told a group of journalists in Jerusalem.
Haetzni immigrated to Israel from Kiel, Germany, in 1938, escaping certain death at the hands of the Nazis. He was injured in the Israel's War of Independence, which began in late 1947 and ended in 1949, though some say Israel is still fighting that war.
Israelis will prevail, Haetzni said, because "we are not ready to forget our ancient homeland."
"This is the gist of every Jewish heart. The Bible is our genetic code," he said. "We will prevail."