Benny Morris's Shocking Interview





Mr. Kimmerling is George S. Wise Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His latest English book (co-authored with Joel S. Migdal) is The Palestinian People: A History (Harvard University Press, 2003).

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The Israeli historian Benny Morris did it again. Morris is not only a historian with impressive achievements but also an Israeli and international icon. One year after the publication of his book The Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, published in 1987, he proclaimed himself a “new historian.” He become the great guru of a small imaginary group appointed by him and including mainly Avi Shlaim, Uri Milstein and Ilan Pappé. Membership in this group varied from time to time according to Morris’s sympathy or antipathy.

Morris basically claimed that all the Israeli historiography that preceded his book and several other writings was completely fabricated, a series of untrue myths designed to serve the Zionist need for legitimacy. Morris, with his great arrogance and unique talent for public relations provoked an immense furor among the old Israeli academic and intellectual establishment and became the hero of many Palestinians and a small group of younger Israeli academics who perceived him as a “debunker” of Zionist lies.

On the other hand he was accused by mainstream Israeli academics and intellectuals with “post-Zionism” and subverting the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence. This triggered endless nonsense and semi-professional and mainly political debates in Israel and abroad about the meaning and extent of “post-Zionism” (frequently labeled as “anti-Zionism” or even “post-modernism”) that included arbitrarily any serious or less serious critical (or supposedly critical) study on Israeli history, society and politics. Most of this debate caused great damage to Israeli historical, social and cultural research. Books and papers were judged not by their intrinsic values or shortcomings, but by their categorizations as Zionist, post-Zionist or anti-Zionist. Instead of being preoccupied with serious research, people devoted a lot of time and energy to polemics on this futile issue. Younger academics were scared and chose their research projects carefully in order to avoid being identified with one of the "camps.”

To Morris’s credit, it must be said, that he was very little involved in these debates, even if he enjoyed being at the center of the storm. Morris in general loved to leave his moral and ideological attitude toward the events he described ambiguous, and this was a correct position from his positivistic historian’s point of view, in which role he claims objectivity, even if a careful reading of almost all of Morris’ writings reveals a very simplistic and one-dimensional view on the Jewish-Arab conflict. Despite all his “discoveries” about moral wrongs perpetrated by the Israelis, on the bottom line, he always tended to adopt the official Israeli interpretation of the events (in The Refugee Problem and Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, but less in Israel’s Border Wars). Another interesting issue is Benny Morris’s compulsive dealings with the problems related to “transfer” of the Arab population, which most of his readers wrongly interpreted as anchored in a deep moral indignation.

As with most of Morris’s other claims, the pretension to be the first and only Israeli who dealt with the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs reflected a partial reality. His book indeed touched a very central and painful nerve of the Israeli-Jewish current past, the uprooting of about 700,000 Arab Palestinians from the territories that would become the Jewish state, the refusal to allow them back to homes after the war, and the formation of the refugee problem during the period of the 1948 war and after. He also surveyed some atrocities committed by Jews during the inter-communal war that played some role in the “voluntary” flight of the Arabs from their villages and neighborhoods. Weirdly enough, Morris devoted a very salient and extensive discussion to the centrality of idea of “transfer” (i.e., ethnic cleansing) in Zionist thought, but concluded that the Palestinians had not been expelled by the Israelis in compliance with a master plan or following a consequential policy. This was not precise.

Plan D and the Israelification of the Land

At the beginning of the 1970s. I had begun to work on research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which, I hoped, would produce a Ph.D. thesis in sociology. The subject was the Zionist ideology of land and its relationship to other political doctrines. In the earlier stages of my research, I was shocked to discover that a major “purification” of the land (the term “ethnic cleansing” was unknown in that period) from its Arab Palestinian inhabitant was done during the 1948 War by the Jewish military and para-military forces. During this research I found, solely based on Israeli sources, that about 350 Arab villages were “abandoned” and their 3.25 million dunums of rural land, were confiscated and became. in several stages, the property of the Israeli state or the Jewish National Fund. I also found that Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Agriculture, disclosed that about 700,000 Arabs who “left” the territories had owned four million dunums of land.

Another finding was that from 1882 until 1948, all the Jewish companies (including the Jewish National Fund, an organ of World Zionist Organization) and private individuals in Palestine had succeeded in buying only about 7 percent of the total lands in British Palestine. All the rest was taken by sword and nationalized during the 1948 war and after. Today, only about 7 percent of Israel land is privately owned, about half of it by Arabs. Israel is the only “democracy” in the world that nationalized almost all if its land and prohibited even the leasing of most of agricultural lands to non-Jews, a situation made possible by a complex framework of legal arrangements with the Jewish National Fund, including the Basic Law: Israel Lands (1960), the Israel Lands Law and Israel Lands Administration Law (1960), as well as the Covenants between the Government of the State of Israel and the WZO of 1954 and the JNF of 1961.

Now the remaining puzzle was if this depopulation was a “natural” consequence of the war, which led the Arab populations to flee the country, as Israel officially states all the time while simultaneously accusing the Arab leadership of encouraging this flight, or if it was an intentional Jewish policy to acquire the maximum amount of territory with minimum amount of Arab population. Further research showed that the military blueprint for the 1948 war was the so-called “Plan D” (Tochnit Daleth). General Yigael Yadin, Head of the Operations Branch of the Israeli unified armed forces, launched it on March 10, 1948. The plan expected military clashes between the state- making Jewish community of colonial Palestine with the Arab community and the assumed intervention by military forces of the Arab states. In the plan’s preamble, Yadin stated:

The aim of this plan is the control of the area of the Jewish State and the defense of its borders [as determined by the UN Partition Plan] and the clusters of [Jewish] settlements outside the boundaries, against regular and irregular enemy forces operating from bases outside and inside the Jewish State.

Furthermore, the plan suggested the following actions, amongst others, in order to reach these goals:

Actions against enemy settlements located in our, or near our, defense systems [i.e., Jewish settlement and localities] with the aim of preventing their use as bases for active armed forces. These actions should be divided into the following types: The destruction of villages (by fire, blowing up and mining) – especially of those villages over which we cannot gain [permanent] control. Gaining of control will be accomplished in accordance with the following instructions: The encircling of the village and the search of it. In the event of resistance - the destruction of the resisting forces and the expulsion of the population beyond the boundaries of the State.

The conclusion was that, as in many other cases, what seemed at first glance a pure and limited military doctrine, proved itself in the case of “Plan D” to comprise far-reaching measures that lead to a complete demographic, ethnic, social and political transformation of Palestine. Implementing the spirit of this doctrine, the Jewish military forces conquered about 20,000 square kilometers of territory (compared with the 14,000 square kilometers granted them by the UN Partition Resolution) and purified them almost completely from their Arab inhabitants. About 800,000 Arab inhabitants lived on the territories before they fell under Jewish control following the 1948 war. Fewer than 100,000 Arabs remained there under Jewish control after the cease fire. An additional 50,000 were included within the Israeli state’s territory following the Israeli-Jordan’s armistice agreements that transferred several villages to Israeli rule.

The military doctrine, the base of Plan D, clearly reflected the local Zionist ideological aspirations to acquire a maximal Jewish territorial continuum, cleansed from Arab presence, as a necessary condition for establishing an exclusive Jewish nation-state.

The British colonial regime – between 1921 to 1948 – provided a political and military umbrella under which the Zionist enterprise was able to develop its basic institutional, economic and social framework, but also secured the essential interests of the Arab collectivity. As the British umbrella was removed, the Arab and the Jewish communities found themselves face-to-face in a zero-sum-like situation. By rejecting the partition plan the Arab community and leadership were confident not only in their absolute right to control the whole country that then had an Arab majority comprising two-thirds of the population, but also in their ability to do so. The Jewish community and leadership appreciated, on the one hand, that they did not have enough power and population to control the entire territory of Palestine and to expel or to rule its Arab majority. Thus, on the other hand, they officially accepted the partition plan, but invested all their efforts towards improving its terms and maximally expanding their boundaries while reducing the number of Arabs in them.

It was impossible, at that stage, to find hard evidence that, despite its far-reaching political consequences and meaning, “Plan D” was ever adopted by the “political level,” or even discussed by it. My intuition said that many political and national leaders knew very well that there were some kind of orders and plans that were better not to discuss or present officially. Later Morris’s findings supported the correctness this intuition. In any case, though, the way that the military operations of 1948 were conducted does not leave any room for doubts that Plan D was indeed the doctrine used by the Jewish military forces during this war, or about the “spirit” and perceptions behind it.

In the Winter of 1974, I submitted my Ph. D. thesis and it was approved by the relevant committee of experts in the Spring of 1975. For many years, I tried to publish it, without success. My senior colleagues at the Hebrew University explained to me with a strain of pity, “well everybody who lived in this country in that period knows precisely what happened, but it is not publishable yet. Perhaps it will be after a hundred years or so….” Some others kindly advised me to find more interesting topics for research. However, I insisted and finally I found the Institute of International Studies of the University of California at Berkeley ready to publish it. The book was published in 1983 under the title Zionism and Territory: The Socio-Territorial Dimensions of Zionist Politics. Being a “dry” professional text, it did now draw public attention and achieved limited circulation but became well known and widely quoted by a small circle of experts.

The Israeli Demographic Discourse

Morris’s latest controversy involves the public position he has taken on the possibility of a second act of ethnic cleansing. It is impossible to understand this controversy without understanding the demographic background to it. The issue is a complex one, but stated briefly, if current demographic trends continue, Jews will cease to be the majority population even within pre-1967 Israel within the next 40 to 50 years. A younger Arab population with a far higher birthrate makes this almost inevitable, even if there is continued immigration from the Diaspora. This fact creates a great deal of anxiety among all segments of the Israeli polity.

The radical solution to this dilemma is “transfer” of the Arab populations. “Moderate” versions of these proposals call for exchanges of territories with their populations. In these scenarios, areas in Israel with large Arab populations like the lower Galilee would be given to a Palestinian state in exchange for Jewish settlements in the territories being incorporated into Israel. More extreme solutions to this dilemma call for forcible expulsions of Palestinians, not only from the occupied territories, but even from Israel itself. This fringe opinion, in the last years has become somewhat respectable.

Formerly, solutions involving transfer were voiced openly only by followers of Meir Kahane. Yet by 1990, another party endorsing “voluntary transfer,” General Rehavam Ze'evi's Moledet Party, had become part of the Israeli government coalition. The “voluntarily” was added only to preserve the party from being accused of inciting a crime. Presently, Moledet (as part of a parliamentary bloc headed by Benny Elon, another supporter of “transfer”) is again part of the government. In 2002, the National Religious Party chose a new leader, General Effie Eitam, who has called for transfer of hostile Arabs to other countries if a major war presented an opportunity. Indeed, most transfer scenarios, including that newly proposed by Benny Morris, are based on a “War of Armageddon.” which would provide the cover for massive ethnic cleansing. The recent American assault on Iraq heightened this atmosphere of “anticipation.” No wonder that under those circumstances, in which the Israeli government was the most enthusiastic foreign supporter of the war, that a group of Israeli academics published in the Guardian (October 2, 2002) a “hysterical warning” about the possible intention to commit such an act under the cover of a regional war.

As the Palestinian armed resistance and terror continued, public opinion polls consistently indicate a perpetual increase in the number of Israelis wishing to expel Palestinians from the occupied territories and even Israeli Arab citizens. For example, according surveys conducted by Asher Arian for Jaffe Center of Strategic Studies of Tel Aviv University, in 1991, 38 percent of the Jewish population supported the “transferring” of the Palestinians out of the occupied territories through force while 24 percent favored expelling also the Israeli Arabs. In 2002, the percentages rose to 46 and 31 consecutively.

The alternative solution is to use the remaining time to withdrawal from the occupied territories and to achieve a major reconciliation between the Jews and the Arab citizens of Israel and their full integration as individual and ethnic group within the Israeli state on a complete equalitarian basis. Proponents of this solution argue that the vast majority of the Arab citizens of Israel is committed to the Israeli state, its values and culture, and appreciates its potential democracy. Furthermore, this alternative solution is necessary to save Israel from being another pariah-state (like South Africa under Apartheid regime). Benny Morris’s recent contribution to this controversy is to adopt a solution on the more radical end of a contuum of possible strategies for dealing with the so-called “demographic problem.”

The Outing of Benny Morris

At the beginning of 2004, Benny Morris industriously prepared a “revised” version of his The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem and a Hebrew version of the Righteous Victims, and toward their publication he published two articles in the Guardian (October 3, 2003 and January 13, 2004) and gave an extensive interview to Haaretz Magazine (January 8, 2004). Basically the three pieces reflected the same ideas; however the Hebrew interview is less subtle and more directed to Morris’s internal political audience, therefore it is more interesting and calls for a critical reading.

First and foremost, the historian underlined the new findings that justify the new version of Refugee Problem: “What the new material shows [– says Morris –] is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape.” After some detailed description of the rape and murder of Palestinian girls, Morris concluded that “because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg." Additionally he found that in twenty-four cases, about 800 Palestinians were massacred under different circumstances. And he added:

That can't be accidental. It's a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.

However, one of the most interesting conclusions of Morris – what brings him closer to my findings – is that

from April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.

It is not yet ethnic cleansing as a pre-planned part of a military doctrine as I found in the initial research, but just “projected message.” However, in another way this is worse then my conclusions because it is openly referred to Ben Gurion himself.

So far it is the “old good” and expected Morris. The restless debunker of Israel’s sins. However, suddenly the interview took a sharp turn from historiography to philosophy: “Under some circumstances expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands." Moreover,

if he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleaned the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.

Leave apart for a moment the moral implications of this statement and ask about its factual basis. All previous research by Morris shows that the refugee problem was and still is the core issue in the Jewish-Arab conflict. A “full expulsion” – presuming that was possible from a military and international point of view (a very dubious presumption) – would only triple the number of refugees. Morris has no answer about how such a cleansing should reduce the suffering and by whom. He knows very well that the absorption of even the “limited number” of 700,000 refugees caused famine and epidemics in the “host” countries.

Another crucial point that Morris should know very well was that the conquest of the West Bank would have pulled the only well-trained Arab army into the conflict, the Trans-Jordan Legion. Such a conquest would have violated the tacit agreement between Ms. Golda Meirson and King Abdullah about the partition of the land of Palestine between the Jewish state and the Kingdom. In such a case, the balance of power in the 1948 war would have been different and would have resulted in the same outcome of the war. Ben Gurion was very anxious on this point, and the only battles between the Arab Legion and the Jewish forces were local and took places in the Jerusalem area, the only disputed territory between the sides.

But Morris has abandoned his historian’s mantle and donned the armor of a Jewish chauvinist who wants the Land of Israel completely cleansed from Arabs. Never has any secular public Jewish figure expressed these feelings so clearly and blatantly as Professor Morris did. And in order to be completely lucid on this point he drew an analogy between Israel and North America: "Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history." I do not know today any American historian or social scientist that agrees that the annihilation of the indigenous population of the continent was a necessary condition for the American nation or the constitution of American democracy. And these are facts and not “political correctness” as Morris loves to call any arguments he cannot deny.

However the issue is less about what happened in past and more about Morris’s wishful thinking and prophecy about the future: To the interviewer’s question if Morris advocates a new ethnic cleansing today he replies: "If you are asking me whether I support the transfer and expulsion of the Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza and perhaps even from Galilee and the Triangle [Israel], I say not at this moment. I am not willing to be a partner to that act. In the present circumstances, it is neither moral nor realistic. The world would not allow it, the Arab world would not allow it, it would destroy the Jewish society from within. But I am ready to tell you that under other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions. If we find ourselves with atomic weapons around us, or if there is a general Arab attack on us and a situation of warfare on the front with Arabs in the rear shooting at convoys on their way to the front, acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential."

This doomsday scenario drawn by Morris is so fantastical not only because the Palestinian citizens of Israel proved, despite very harsh conditions and generational discrimination their “loyalty” to the state, but also because the existence of dense Arab population within the narrow strip of the Holy Land is the best insurance Israel has against being attacked by strategic nuclear or other WMDs. Otherwise, Morris is unable to understand that the moment that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons were used in the context of the Middle East by any side, it is already too late to save anything in the region.

But hatred toward the Arabs, their society and culture crush any logic in Morris’s thought. The Palestinians are "the barbarians who want to take our lives. The people the Palestinian society sends to carry out the terrorist attacks… At the moment, that society is in the state of being a serial killer. It is a very sick society. It should be treated the way we treat individuals who are serial killers." After thirty five years of oppression, colonization of their land, expropriation of their water, ignoring almost all of their freedoms, administrative detention of tens of thousands of Palestinians, systematic destruction of their social and material infrastructure, it is more than ironic to talk about the Palestinians as barbarians and a sick society. If the Palestinian society is sick, who is responsible for this sickness and which society is sicker and an institutionalized serial killer?

Morris’s mind is full of contradictions: Before he described the Palestinian ”barbarism” he described the whole conflict as “in comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that's peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that's chicken feed.” To these one may add the American bombardment of Dresden into rubble and other innumerable atrocious acts committed by the “Westerner” and other non-Arabs to conclude who are the “barbarians.” Or after describing the rapes and the massacres committed by the Jews he comments that “it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women, and the elderly from the villages. Morris interprets that as proof that many of those who fled the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself, which proves that the Jews were not so much responsible for the cleansing. Morris cannot understand the obvious: what could be more human, in the face of rapes and massacres, than evacuation of women and children from a war zone? So, again the non-human Palestinian victims are responsible for the consequences. To say that he applies a double standard is a serious understatement.

By the same token, Morris fails to ask the right questions about the failed Camp David summit. If the Palestinian strategy is to destroy Israel in phases, why didn't they accept the “most generous offers” of Ehud Barak Camp David summit, as was described in the famous interview of Morris with Barak in the New York Review of Books (June 13, 2002)? But one cannot ask for much logic in an emotional outburst by an archivist, when he tries to compose a generalized and coherent picture from his thousands of details. Then he turns to his own prejudices and stereotypes of the Islamic and Arabic culture that happen to be fashionable and well fit the present moods of the Israeli-Jewish and some parts of Western political culture since the September 11 calamity. But the historian is not just a part of the collective mood and expresses it, he also provide historical and intellectual legitimacy to the most primitive and self-destructive impulse of a very troubled society. Perhaps it is indicative that to the interviewer’s question -- "if Zionism is so dangerous for the Jews and if Zionism makes the Arabs so wretched, maybe it was [from the start] a mistake?" – Morris lacks any meaningful answers.



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Robert Montgomery - 4/21/2009

Israel is not a"liberal democracy" unless such entities have started "legally" discriminating against 20% of their population as Israel does against the Arabs.There most assuredly is ethnic cleansing and apartheid going on I mean I have to assume readers are aware of the"separation barrier"which is inexorably stealing even more of the pitiful remnants of Palestine while splitting the leftovers into noncontiguous,unsustainable Bantustans.I have read Righteous Victims and took many handwritten notes one concerns Morris's bland acknowledgement that most of the "infiltrators"-read refugees-killed by Israel post 1948 were "almost certainly unarmed" my note reads "in other words murdered".This racist land stealing Zionist enterprise has been getting away with murder almost since the "pioneers" arrived;Morris is apparently a huge fan of this.


Michael Dar - 8/22/2008

Why don't they address the hoax of a so-called specific Palestinian people and expose the lie of roots from time immemorial (Canaanites/Philistines etc!). Most of the inhabitants of Palestine were newcomers, history shows it. Mohamed Ali (1830) brought thousands of Egyptians into the land; Ottomans imported Muslims from Serbia by the thousands to settle their underdeveloped and underpopulated province of Palestine, with Muslims; the British imported thousand of Egyptians during WW1; during the British Mandate hundred thousand of Arabs from the surrounding regions entered int Palestine(mostly illegally); the Syrian Governor of the region of Hauran state the emigration of 30 thousand of Arabs who settle in Palestine etc..The only purpose of the New Historians and their pay masters is to invent a fictive narrative as to put the blame on Israel and to set the stage to make Israel pay the price for Arab follies and aggressions.


K L - 4/9/2004

I know this topic is two months out of date but I can't help but respond to a statement made previously on this forum.

'England is the state for the Anglo-Saxons'

WRONG, WRONG and WRONG again! To start with, England is not a state. It is one of the countries that makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the others being, come on, guess......one starts with S, one starts with W and one has the initials NI.

The UK of GB and NI is a secular, multiethnic state. It may have Christianity as its official religion but to be honest, no one in the UK considers Christianity to be essential to British identity. Neither is Anglo-Saxonness or Anglo-Celticness essential to British identity. The ethnicity of the UK is of little consequence. It can be 90% white or 90% Pakistani but as long as the inhabitants of these islands subscribe to British ideals and values such as the importance of parliamentary democracy, multuculturalism, tolerance and fairness, Britain will remain Britain. Britishness is a state of mind, not an ethnic or a religious concept.

The UK is not the only nation state which is defined in this way. In France, the nation is not based on Gallicness or Celticness or whiteness but the principle of liberty, equality and fraternity. The demographic balance does not matter - as long as its citizens subscribe to these views, that's all that counts. Likewise, Indonesia is based on the Pancasila or Five Principles (equality, belief in God etc.) Israel on the other hand is exclusivist. It is not the state for all Israelis. It's the state for Jews. I know it's hard for many to understand but how can an Arab with an Israeli passport feel full loyalty towards Israel if the state is for the Jews and not for all it's citizens? He cannot. The problem I find about many supporters of Zionism is that they have all grown up in an environment in which ethnically/religious based states are seen as acceptable and as such, they see the world in such a light and they try to make everything conform to their model.


K L - 4/9/2004

I know this topic is two months out of date but I can't help but respond to a statement made previously on this forum.

'England is the state for the Anglo-Saxons'

WRONG, WRONG and WRONG again! To start with, England is not a state. It is one of the countries that makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the others being, come on, guess......one starts with S, one starts with W and one has the initials NI.

The UK of GB and NI is a secular, multiethnic state. It may have Christianity as its official religion but to be honest, no one in the UK considers Christianity to be essential to British identity. Neither is Anglo-Saxonness or Anglo-Celticness essential to British identity. The ethnicity of the UK is of little consequence. It can be 90% white or 90% Pakistani but as long as the inhabitants of these islands subscribe to British ideals and values such as the importance of parliamentary democracy, multuculturalism, tolerance and fairness, Britain will remain Britain. Britishness is a state of mind, not an ethnic or a religious concept.

The UK is not the only nation state which is defined in this way. In France, the nation is not based on Gallicness or Celticness or whiteness but the principle of liberty, equality and fraternity. The demographic balance does not matter - as long as its citizens subscribe to these views, that's all that counts. Likewise, Indonesia is based on the Pancasila or Five Principles (equality, belief in God etc.) Israel on the other hand is exclusivist. It is not the state for all Israelis. It's the state for Jews. I know it's hard for many to understand but how can an Arab with an Israeli passport feel full loyalty towards Israel if the state is for the Jews and not for all it's citizens? He cannot. The problem I find about many supporters of Zionism is that they have all grown up in an environment in which ethnically/religious based states are seen as acceptable and as such, they see the world in such a light and they try to make everything conform to their model.


Hideaki Oyama - 3/8/2004

The following sentences are wrong.

>In the 1948 UN partition plan, the land was divided without any consideration for security concerns. The idea was simple: wherever there was a Jewish majority, THAT would be Israel. Wherever there is an Arab majority, THAT would be Palestine.

See the following map showing the distribution of polulation in Palestine.
http://www.passia.org/images/pal_facts_MAPS/dist_of_pop_jews_and_palestinians_1946.gif

Anyone who talks about Arab-Israeli conflicts should know the land ownership shown in the following map:
http://www.passia.org/images/pal_facts_MAPS/zionist_palestinian_landownership.gif

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_UN_Partition_Plan


Caleb Bacharach - 2/3/2004

1) “But it is not considered polite to talk openly about the importance in demographic dominance of the U.S. by white Protestants of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity.”

This is very true. Nevertheless, when was the last time you ever saw a serious candidate run for office as an admitted atheist? Notice how even though non-Whites make up well over a quarter of the population, we have never seen one as president, or VP? I do not fault America for this of course, but nor do I fault Israel.

2) “And rabbinical authorities have far more say in social and legal matters in Israel- in matters of marriage, for example- than clerical authorities in the United States.”

This is also very true. However, Islamic courts are also recognized in Israel on matters of marriage, schools, and even law. No problem there, as far as I can see.

3) “Would you would agree that the exception regarding compulsory military service between Jews and Muslims is a pretty big one indeed, in a country like Israel?”

I would agree 100%. However, given the circumstances of Israel’s military situation, combined with the almost continuous warfare, I find it beyond ludicrous that anyone would have it any other way. Would you honestly have no problem with Israeli Arabs being forced to fight their own people or risk incarceration?

4) “Going further, isn't crying anti-semitism all the time when people criticize Israel tantamount to admitting that the State is exclusivist?”

This is a myth perpetuated by people who hate Israel (I do not by any means mean you personally). No one cries anti-Semitism every time people criticize Israel. They only cry it when there is a legitimate case for anti-Semitic remarks. That is like asking if constant cries of racism by blacks means they really are inferior!

5) “But Israel also takes a beating for being a European-originated settler society, from outside observers who opposed apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia and link the Jewish State with those two.”

The only problem is that Jewish settlers were never considered to be European by the world until it was convenient to make them extensions of European imperialism. Let us not forget the context of immigration both before, during, and after the Holocaust. Let us never forget that literally thousands of Jews were murdered AFTER WWII by Poles and others who opposed them returning to their pre-war homes.

6) “The Israelis, like the Rhodesians and the Afrikaaners, are "white oppressors" wreaking havoc on their "non-white", "Third-World" victims. One can certainly argue with this simple black-and-white view, but it isn't necessarily anti-semitic.”

That, my friend, is where we disagree. It is anti-Semitism because of the fact that Israel, as a Jewish state, is easily describes as the worst government in world history. Israelis are not Rhodesians and the Afrikaaners by ANY comparison (not least of which is that Jews are the majority in Israel, not the minority ruling over a majority). To suggest that Israel is a Nazi/Aparthied/genocidal/ etc. state, to me, is anti-Semitic. Why? Because the only thing that distinguished Israel from far more murderous and genocidal regimes is the fact that it is the only Jewish state on earth. Not Iraq, not Russia, not Sudan have ever been called the same things as Israel, despite the fact that they have all severely persecuted minorities within their jurisdiction.

7) “The billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars that go to Israel every year? Definitely not anti-semitic.”

We give massive amounts to numerous countries, such as Egypt) that do not command the criticism of Israel. In any event, we can debate whether America should give aid to Israel, or how much. That is for another time. Nevertheless, I find it irrefutable that the international community, as expressed in the UN is unequivocally anti-Israel and perhaps (we can debate this too) anti-Semitic. To me, this is not a matter of opinion, but obvious to anyone who knows the history of the UN and Israel.

8) “I also think the anti-semitic card is one that can be, and has to an extent been, played into worthlessness. And it's a plaintive, passive-aggressive claim to victim-status. Who really wants that? And how closely does it conform to reality on the ground?”

I often hear whites say the same thing about black calls of racism. How many times do white pundits decry use of the “race card”? Who is right? To blacks however, if they cry racism too much, it is because they SEE racism too much. So to is it for people who believe that when the words Jew/Zionist/ and Israeli are all used interchangeable, and when the only Jewish state is subjected to an almost satirical level of abuse from the UN, mere political differences cannot explain it.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 2/3/2004

Yes, the United States was founded on English, and Protestant, principles (good!). True enough. But it is not considered polite to talk openly about the importance in demographic dominance of the U.S. by white Protestants of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity. Such a discussion concerning the Jewish religious and ethnic nature of Israel is a matter of course. And rabbinical authorities have far more say in social and legal matters in Israel- in matters of marriage, for example- than clerical authorities in the United States.

Would you would agree that the exception regarding compulsory military service between Jews and Muslims is a pretty big one indeed, in a country like Israel? Going further, isn't crying anti-semitism all the time when people criticize Israel tantamount to admitting that the State is exclusivist?

It does seem odd that "anti-semitism" would naturally lead to holding Israel to a supposed higher standard. But Israel also takes a beating for being a European-originated settler society, from outside observers who opposed apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia and link the Jewish State with those two. The Israelis, like the Rhodesians and the Afrikaaners, are "white oppressors" wreaking havoc on their "non-white", "Third-World" victims. One can certainly argue with this simple black-and-white view, but it isn't necessarily anti-semitic. And Israel is not Syria, or Lebanon, or Iraq- it is seen as a modern, first-world, Western country, and all of these countries get held to a higher standard, and get the lion's share of international media and political attention.

The billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars that go to Israel every year? Definitely not anti-semitic. Israel's supporters give the State plenty of "domestic and international attention" as well, to say the least. Much of the heat and light directed upon Israel comes from outright philosemitism, not anti-semitism. Should we just serenely accept the coerced largess the taxpayers hand to the Israelis like it's the weather, then complain bitterly when the actions of the government of Israel get so much attention?

Yes, when David Duke criticizes the State of Israel, I doubt his motives. Yes, there is anti-semitism out there (although in this country, you'd have to look pretty damn hard for visible signs of it). I also think the anti-semitic card is one that can be, and has to an extent been, played into worthlessness. And it's a plaintive, passive-aggressive claim to victim-status. Who really wants that? And how closely does it conform to reality on the ground?


Caleb Bacharach - 2/2/2004

Well said, David!


David C Battle - 2/2/2004

Israel may not save the jews, but the jews, because of Israel, are now the masters of their own destiny. They will succeed or fail by their own hands, not at the whim of others. That's zionism, and that's the story of all nations, isn't it?


David C Battle - 2/2/2004

Mr. Herschfield,

I make the comparison between Israeli pluralism and arab despotism, not to justify the former's behaviour, but to shine a light on your tacit approval of the latter--and your hypocrisy.


Caleb Bacharach - 2/2/2004

Mr. Naccache,
Regardless of how well Israel protects Jews (I would argue very well compared to the alternative) surely you are not honestly suggesting that annihilation is preferable to an independent state? Surely you realize that the people we now call Palestinians would be far worse under Hitler than under Israel, right? I just want to be clear of what you are suggesting.

As for Morris so-called "dilemma"
You say
"Either he packs off and leaves the middle east or he accepts the necessity of ethnic cleansing, walls, apartheid and so forth."

Necessity? To whom?
The problem is that, as of right now, there is no ethnic cleansing, or apartheid going on (at least, not under any conventional definition of the term, although many would define them as simply anything Israel does or says).

In other words, you have created an imaginary Israel in which genocide is going on, and then note the dilemma of living within it. Luckily for Morris, he does not need to make that choise since Israel is currently a liberal democracy.

Also, you say,
"arabs in Israel have it good until they become close to being as majority. Then, the system will show again its clear image : an apartheid system"

How do you know this? What other country is condemned as Israel is for acts that people PRESUME it will do sometime in the future? I could just as easily blame any country for anything, since I get to write the rules on what they will do.


Pierre Henry Naccache - 2/2/2004

I dont agree with what he says but I understand his dilemna:

Either he packs off and leaves the middle east

or he accepts the necessity of ethnic cleansing, walls, apartheid and so forth

(arabs in Israel have it good until they become close to being as majority. Then, the system will show again its clear image : an apartheid system)


Pierre Henry Naccache - 2/2/2004

well, the /Begin and /End statement were there to answer your question.

Now, has israel proved to be the ideal solution to protect jews. I am not sure.

Israel was an unrealistic solution to help german jews in the 30s. there were probably many more realistic solutions available. but no european country cared.

Has Israel saved jews ever since ? I am not sure.

It would be far fertched to claim arab jews were saved by israel. To a large extent, Israel's creation created the problem that Israel claimed to solve later.

I dont see why jews would have been more threatened in the middle east than christians had zionism not created a cancerous situation. Lebanese, syrian, iraqui christians are not living in perfect worlds but as far as I can tell, they have not suffered too much in the past century

(except for lebanese christians who were clever enough to follow the suggestions of Begin and Sharon)


Caleb Bacharach - 2/1/2004

1) "by enforcing a chauvinistic and exclusivistic ideology on a land where 90% of the population were on the "other side", great risks were taken."

In the 1948 UN partition plan, the land was divided without any consideration for security concerns. The idea was simple: wherever there was a Jewish majority, THAT would be Israel. Wherever there is an Arab majority, THAT would be Palestine. The plan was not perfect, but then, it was not Zionist either. The Arabs rejected, then attacked the newly formed Israel. So you see, Israel did not enforce "a chauvinistic and exclusivistic ideology on a land where 90% of the population were on the "other side." It managed to conquer territory in a defensive war, and then annexed it. We can debate the pros and cons of such action, but they do not constitute chauvinism and exclusion (at least, I don’t see how they do), especially since Israel’s newly growing Arab population were given full rights as citizens.

2) "racism was the natural consequence on the ground."

Racism is one of those words that has been stripped of all meaning due to its excessive use against Israel. There is no restaurant, hotel, bar, or theater (to the best of my knowledge) that says "no blacks allowed." Do you know why? Because many Israelis are Jewish Arabs (remember, over a million were expelled from countries they had been living in for centuries by Arab governments who fought against Israel in 1948). And of course, let us not forget the Ethiopian Jews, as well. Racism (like Nazi, Apartheid, genocide, slavery, ethnic cleansing, Hitler, imperialist, colonialist, etc.) is a word that is used against Israel seemingly without hesitation. Perhaps if we could define this word, it would make it easier to talk about it because I don’t think we all share the same definition.

3) "read one of tom segev's book to see concrete examples of blatant racism by zionists, way back to the 30s."

Racism BY Zionists and racism AS Zionism are two different things. For example, all women are human, but that does not mean that to be human is to be a woman.

4) "a cousin of my grand mother was a well known zionist leader. he was well known to despise arabs."

And my friends aunt had a cousin whose former roommate once ran into someone who saw Elvis. With all do respect, this is anecdotal and proves nothing.


Pierre Henry Naccache - 2/1/2004

where does one stop and the second begin ?

indeed, zionism does not contain, explicitely, any racist statement

however, by enforcing a chauvinistic and exclusivistic ideology on a land where 90% of the population were on the "other side", great risks were taken.

racism was the natural consequence on the ground. read one of tom segev's book to see concrete examples of blatant racism by zionists, way back to the 30s.

a cousin of my grand mother was a well known zionist leader. he was well known to despise arabs.


Caleb Bacharach - 2/1/2004

"had the nazis been left alone to carry over their plans, then the middle east would have been a much, much better place today."

Is that some kind of joke or are you being serious?


Caleb Bacharach - 2/1/2004

Mr. Lamovsky,

You make some valid points. Allow me to respond to some of them.

1) "Arabs are generally second-class citizens, and thirteen of them were shot dead by Israeli police during the beginning of the 2000 intifada, but yes, they get a better deal in the State than did the Kurds under Saddam. For what it is worth."

To me, it is worth the whole argument. I do not deny that Arab Israelis might not get the same treatment as Jewish Israelis by their peers. But then, what of our own minority population? Israeli Arabs have received upon Israeli independence what blacks could not get for 400 years in our country: the vote, even in the presence of war against the minorities compatriots!

No one is arguing that Israel is some utopian community (or at least I am not), however given the authoritarian theocracies of its neighbors and enemies, one must wonder why so much domestic and international attention must consistently treat Israel (and CALL Israel) the worst regime ever known to man. To me (and this is just me), this is anti-Semitism, plain and simple. I simply cannot conceive of another explanation.

2) "But how can the State of Israel not be described as a country founded on, and based on, an exlusivism based squarely upon a a distinct religion and ethnic group?"

I am an institutionalist and therefore judge your comment based on the institutions of a country. In Israel, ANY person can become a citizen, vote, and hold office. Furthermore, with the exception of compulsory military service, there are no legal distinctions between Jew and Muslim.

3) "Israel is a Jewish State. It is not a pluralist society; it was never intended to be one."

Israel is a Jewish state just as America is often called a Judeo-Christian one, Turkey is a Turkish state, and England is an Anglo-Saxon state. It was created for the safety of Jews from international persecution. This does not exclude it from being pluralistic because, as I said, it is. There are Muslim courts, schools, and Mosques, all recognized. Also, almost 15% of the population were born in Africa, 13% in Asia, and non-Jews represents almost 20%.

4) "to suggest that it isn't a country based on specific religious and ethnic lines is a little rich."

Most countries is based on some superficial element, be it religion, ethnicity, color, or even gender. I agree 100%, Israel can be judged within those parameters. However, it is not, and never has been. The standards for Israel has always been above and beyond the standards for any other country on the planet. That has been my impression.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 2/1/2004

Mr. Battle,

You must have confused my acknowledgement of the Jewish character of Israel with condemnation of this fact. It wasn't intended as such.


Paul Hershfield - 2/1/2004

The fact that the countries around Israel may not themselves be democratic is repeatedly held up as proof of the supposed moral inferiority of "Arabs." As if the Palestinians should be happy that the great white father "gave" them the democracy so long denied them by their own "backwards" culture.

Yes, Saudi Arabia (long an American ally and friend) has Koranic text on its flag, and is a repressive, undemocratic society. The surrounding countries may be less pluralistic than Israel. The argument here is not whether Saudi Arabia is better or worse than israel, but whether or not Israel is a Jewish or truly secular state.

The faults of others is no justification for the injustices inflicted by the State of Israel. This is the same argument offered by Bush, et al, for the bombardment and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq: "Sorry we've destroyed your cities and murdered your people, but how else could we bring freedom and democracy to your benighted land?"


David C Battle - 2/1/2004

Star of David huh. The surrounding arab/muslism countries are no more, in fact a lot less, pluralistic than Israel. And here's a real shocker! Saudi Arabia has script FROM THE KORAN on it's flag!!! And hardly a jew in sight.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 2/1/2004

Mr. Bacharach,

Yes, the State of Israel is tolerant in its treatment of the Muslim minority; tolerant by the standards of its Middle Eastern neighbors. Arabs are generally second-class citizens, and thirteen of them were shot dead by Israeli police during the beginning of the 2000 intifada, but yes, they get a better deal in the State than did the Kurds under Saddam. For what it is worth.

But how can the State of Israel not be described as a country founded on, and based on, an exlusivism based squarely upon a a distinct religion and ethnic group? Israel is a Jewish State. It is not a pluralist society; it was never intended to be one. Only Jews have the Right to Return. There is a Star of David on the flag! Israel can certainly be defended as an open society within these parameters, but to suggest that it isn't a country based on specific religious and ethnic lines is a little rich.


Pierre Henry Naccache - 1/31/2004

Morris has the courage to look at history and draw the unavoidable conclusions.

However, somebody should tell him that,

/Begin IRONY/

had the nazis been left alone to carry over their plans, then the middle east would have been a much, much better place today.

/End Irony/


Pierre Henry Naccache - 1/31/2004

Got carried over indeed.

Demokratias, or however it was spelled, is not an english invention. However, England has certainly been a model of democracty for a long time.

It was only fitting that this model of democracy would do an extremely undemocratic thing, which was to suppress the right of palestinians to express themselves by voting on jewish immigration.

Funny. Israel's democracy was only attained once all those disturbing fanatics were kicked out....


Grant W Jones - 1/31/2004

"Democracy being an English invention..." Do you want to rethink that statement?

Individual Rights are an English discovery, which is not necessarily the same thing as Democracy, see Socrates death of.


Pierre Henry Naccache - 1/31/2004

At the end of WW1, jews were +- 8% of the population. Zionists among them were ??? 50% of the jews. So there was something like 4% of the population who desired a jewish state.

Democracy being en english invention, they were promised a state and a suspension of democracy until they were a majority


Caleb Bacharach - 1/30/2004

Laura,

1) "What I would've wanted is essentially what the secular nationalist movements of the region of the time (which comprised ALL religious sectors) called for: secular states where all ethnic and religious groups enjoyed full civil rights."

This is precisely what Israel is. Muslim Israelis enjoy full voting rights, and have used those rights to elect their own Knesset members. This is not to say that there is no civil strife, but for a country that is only 50 years old and under siege from all around it, Israel’s treatment of its minorities is amazingly liberal.

2) "the Ben Gurion zionist vision insisted upon EXCLUVISM which is why it was a racist ideology at its very core."

Actually, as noted above, Israel is neither exclusive nor racist and certainly, Ben-Gurion never advocated a Jewish theocracy where only Jews could live. Quite the contrary, today’s Palestinians demand exactly what you lament… a country that is completely "Judenrein."

3) "What Israel has done is to foster and entrench religious and ethnic exclusivism and discrimination in the region."

How so? I am curious as to your evidence on how Israel, the only place in the region where an outspoken opponent of a country can still vote in that countries elections, supports authoritarian regimes?

4) "There was a time when a two-state solution could've worked; now with the fence, however, it looks less and less possible. Now there are only two choices: a binationalist state or total ethnic cleansing of the territories (which Israel's apologists would love to see of course; they love to see Arab blood flow)."

I believe your vitriolic hatred towards Israel blinds you to the reality on the ground. The binationalist solution would mean that Israel would annex all occupied territories! Are you suggesting that this would be the moral choice?? Furthermore, most people who advocate such a solution that are knowledgeable about the facts know that this is simply a euphemism to do politically what cannot be done militarily, destroy Israel… of course, this assumes what you deny: that Israel is a democracy.

PS: The comment that Israeli apologists love to see Arab blood flow is as hypocritical as it is inflammatory. It is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, that delight in the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent men, women, and children. Why do you ignore this crucial fact?


Jesse David Lamovsky - 1/29/2004

Ms. Nichol,

You may be overestimating the power that the Western nations had over the Arab nationalist and Jewish nationalist movements. These movements both had ethnic and religious particularism at their core, and it's doubtful that even the most concerted effort by the West could have changed this fact. And most nationalist movements in those days were ethnically, if not religiously chauvinistic (Polish nationalism under Pilsudski, Turkish under Ataturk, as well as, of course, the Italian and German varieties). Zionism had Jewish particularism at its heart. No amount of pleading for "tolerance" from Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, et al, would have changed that fact. And had the West insisted on a binational solution in Palestine, both sides would have probably (and rightly) denounced it as rank hypocrisy: after all, the cherished Wilsonian idea of "self-determination" specifically meant self-determination for ethnic and religious groups.

Yes, there were secular binationalist Zionists, but they constituted a fringe of the movement, and themselves espoused a brand of socialism that was alien to the people of the region, and if implemented, would have constituted exactly the kind of Western imposition that progressives normally decry. In fact, one of the great errors of the Labor Zionist movement was the assumption that the Arab fedayeen would see past ethnic and religious fissures and join hands along class lines with their Jewish brothers in the kibbutzim. Needless to say, this didn't happen.

Of course, one binational state was created in the region after World War I. That state was Lebanon. This is your role model?

And if the last fifteen hundred years have taught us anything, it is that the existence of the State of Israel was not necessary to foster "religious and ethnic exclusivism and discrimination" in the Middle East. There was plenty of that kind of thing in the region long before the Zionists came along. Suggesting that the Middle East was some kind of multicultural panacea before the racist Israelis happened upon the scene is somewhat silly, with all due respect.

The two-state solution is still the best solution- not a perfect solution for either side, but the most equitable. Whether such a solution is still possible is indeed up for debate.


David Battle - 1/29/2004

There was a time when a two-state solution could've worked; now with the fence, however, it looks less and less possible. Now there are only two choices: a binationalist state or total ethnic cleansing of the territories (which Israel's apologists would love to see of course; they love to see Arab blood flow).

It's curious that you would wax extensively on how much the Israelis and palestinians hate each other--and of course it's all the fault of the evil nazi Israelis--and then conclude that the only solution for them is a binational state rather than two-state solution. Logically, the opposite would be true. These two peoples that hate each other so much--without a boundary to separate them--would live together as peacefully as a mongoose and cobra would.

Indeed the opposite is true. Given their hatred of each other, only a two-state solution is possible. And the security fence ensures that solution.

But your "binational" solution, which defies all logic, has been the goal all along, hasn't it? Why else reject Oslo? Why else scream about "the wall"? I'll tell you why. Because both Oslo and "the wall" (96% of it is fence) ensure a two-state solution, and an end to palestinian dreams of a state from the "river to the sea".


Laura Nichol - 1/29/2004



What I would've wanted is essentially what the secular nationalist movements of the region of the time (which comprised ALL religious sectors) called for: secular states where all ethnic and religious groups enjoyed full civil rights. That was a goal that the world could support and the "civilized" west could've supported and kept its moral integrity. Jews could've fought for that dream along with their Arab counterparts (which there were many of, too many people in the west ignore that fact). That was a struggle, a fight that was worth believing in and insisting upon, no matter how long it took. There were secular binationalist zionists (who had their Arab counterparts) who believed in a state where all ethnic and religious groups were equal. THAT would indeed have been a dream to support. But the Ben Gurion zionist vision insisted upon EXCLUVISM which is why it was a racist ideology at its very core. Religious fundamentalism was not as strong as it is today in the region; and you had hopeful figures like secular nationalist Mohammed Mosadegh. But since the US and the UK insisted on backing retrograde authoritarian pliant militarist elements in the region (instead of fostering support for the burgeoning secular social democratic social movements of the time), that wave of reform was repressed and ultimately destroyed.

What Israel has done is to foster and entrench religious and ethnic exclusivism and discrimination in the region. Instead of being an example of a genuinely democratic state that treats all its citizens equally, it has merely demonstrated western hypocrisy to the region and strengthened non-democratic elements in the Arab world.

There was a time when a two-state solution could've worked; now with the fence, however, it looks less and less possible. Now there are only two choices: a binationalist state or total ethnic cleansing of the territories (which Israel's apologists would love to see of course; they love to see Arab blood flow).


Jesse David Lamovsky - 1/29/2004

Got your name wrong, Ms. Nichol. My apologies.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 1/29/2004

Ms. Battle,

I'm not going to argue that the Palestinians weren't justified in turning down the partition plan in 1948. Agreeing to it was probably impossible politically- Arab opinion then, as now, was absolutely opposed to giving up any of Palestine to the Jews. The only Arab leader who showed signs of willingness to accept the partition, King Abdullah of Transjordan, took a bullet for his troubles. And David Ben-Gurion, by his own admission, accepted partition only as an expedient, and never agreed to give up hopes that the Jews would eventually control all of the Land of Israel between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

However, I do object to your loose usage of the word "racist" in describing the Zionist movement and the government of Israel itself. Zionism is a nationalist movement, and like all nationalist movements it is chauvinistic by nature, but I really don't see the "racist" element behind it: indeed, describing Israel as a "racist" society, as you seem to be implying, betrays a lack of basic knowledge of the demographic realities of the State- a state where more than half of the population traces their roots to Arab countries and, physically, are indistinguishable from Muslim and Christian Arabs. I'd be the last to deny that iniquities exist in Israeli society, between Ashkenazi Jews and their Sephardic brethren, and between Jews and Arabs, but iniquities exist in every society. However, if you were to posit that a quasi-apartheid system exists in the territories occupied in 1967, I would definitely agree.

And while you leave no doubt as to your disdain for the partition plan, you never account for the simple fact that, by 1948, there were 400,000 Jews on the ground in Palestine. The creation of the Mandates did not create the phenomenon of Jewish nationalism in Palestine; nor did the UN. Zionism as a political force existed before the end of the 19th century, long before the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate, or any of the other legitimizations of Jewish authority in the Land. UN partition or not, the Jews were there, and their rights deserved (and deserve) to be taken into account. You may believe that the civil and religious rights of these people would have been protected under a unitary Palestinian state dominated by the Arabs, but I'm afraid I don't. If you can name a single Arab country where a minority ethnic or religious group enjoys full civil and religious rights, you're more than welcome to do so. I myself cannot. Kurds and Shi'ites in Iraq... Copts in Egypt... Shi'ites and Druze in Lebanon... Shi'ites in Syria... the list of persecuted minority groups in Arab countries is a long one. You don't accept the UN partition plan as legitimate. Alright, then- what would you do with the Jews in Palestine? Wish them gone?

I'm in basic agreement with you in your sympathy for the Palestinians. But there are two distinct nations of people here. This isn't a sporting event: you can "root" for the Palestinian "team" all you want, your opponents can root for the Israeli "team" all they want, but neither cheering section is contributing to a solution to the problem.


David Battle - 1/29/2004

Comment Removed by the editor.


Patrick Meade - 1/28/2004

Well said.


Laura Nichol - 1/28/2004

Comment removed by Editor.


David Battle - 1/28/2004

This is the classic Israeli/Zionist argument repeated ad nauseum and no one ever seems to rebut it, as if it's perfectly NORMAL and RIGHT to actually expect ANY people in the entire history of humanity to just say "oh sure, split our country in half and give one half to one small, minority segment of the population (most of whom, btw, comprised very recent emigrants, totally alien to the region) and all the rest of us will take the other half. And if we don't, well it's perfectly fine with us if you take it all by violence---we'll respond with perfect, saintly pacifism. You can use force, we can't."

Then you've just admitted, although without intending to, is that palestinian terrorism is the result of the 1948 creation of the State of Israel, not the 1967 occupation.

That was my only point, and it was a simple point. Thank you for confirming it.

What you've also admitted, also without intending to, is that the existence of Israel itself is the cause of palestinian terror, and that as long as Israel exists there will be palestinian terrorism. This also lends credence to Isaeli claims that palestinians/arabs seek nothing less than the destruction of Israel. Of course, you justify it, but most of us don't. Thus our support for Israel.


Laura Nichol - 1/28/2004



This is the classic Israeli/Zionist argument repeated ad nauseum and no one ever seems to rebut it, as if it's perfectly NORMAL and RIGHT to actually expect ANY people in the entire history of humanity to just say "oh sure, split our country in half and give one half to one small, minority segment of the population (most of whom, btw, comprised very recent emigrants, totally alien to the region) and all the rest of us will take the other half. And if we don't, well it's perfectly fine with us if you take it all by violence---we'll respond with perfect, saintly pacifism. You can use force, we can't."

And it was actually MORE than half that the minority Jewish population was given by the UN (54%)in its reprehensible partition agreement. "All the rest" meant all Muslims, Christians and other non-Jewish faiths, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, etc., etc. They were to have less-than-half of Palestine. Wow, that's "self-determination" for Palestinian Arabs for you (Muslim and Christian), western/Zionist style.

The Arab refusal to agree to the forced partition of their homeland (imposed by the colonialist western powers) was absolutely just and right -- any people anywhere would've done exactly the same thing. Of course the classically racist Zionist response was "it wasn't even a real country to them anyway, it wasn't a homeland to them, it wasn't a state." Which is the typical response of the racist colonizer and deserves NO consideration whatsoever.

I have never understood the western belief that the logic behind the creation of Israel is somehow morally justifiable; that the Arab refusal to go along with it is somehow indicative of their "uniqely" rejectionist, inflexible, unreasonable "hatred" (a hatred that just exists because....well just because, that's what they are after all). The Arab Muslim/Christian response to the Zionist project was totally rational, normal and just and to be expected from ANY human population anywhere, any time.

It is the thoroughly ludicrous and morally repugnant belief that Palestine belonged to Jews and Jews ONLY (because it says that in the Bible, which is a real estate deed apparently) and that it was perfectly right and just to murder whole villages or expel their inhabitants, conduct mass theft of property, businesses, homes, livestock, jewelry and other possessions of people who were not Jews (and thus undeserving of any consideration or respect) that is barbaric and repulsive in the extreme. No one claims that the genocidal dispossession of Native Americans or Aborigines was right and just. Such colonialist projects are racist and evil by their very nature and deserve absolutely no defense whatsoever.


Oscar Chamberlain - 1/27/2004

You evade the point. At the end of WWI, the Jewish presence in Palestine was relatively small. The British Mandate opened the door to much larger immigration.

As a comparison, when Austria-Hungary was divided up, it was split into countries with little outside supervision.
The Middle East mandates were designed to create client states. It was the attempt to create a Jewish client state against the wishes of the local majority that began the wars.


David C Battle - 1/26/2004


They WERE given the right of self-determination--at the end of WWII. Their first act was to reject the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, thus ensuring the present conflict and their own misery.


Oscar Chamberlain - 1/26/2004

If the Arabs in Palestine had gained the right of self-determination at the end of World War I, would this struggle--with all its terrible cruelty--have occurred?


David Carlos Batlle - 1/26/2004

After thirty five years of oppression, colonization of their land, expropriation of their water, ignoring almost all of their freedoms, administrative detention of tens of thousands of Palestinians, systematic destruction of their social and material infrastructure, it is more than ironic to talk about the Palestinians as barbarians and a sick society. If the Palestinian society is sick, who is responsible for this sickness and which society is sicker and an institutionalized serial killer?

Unlike the author of this essay, Benny Morris knows the palestinian \\\"sickness\\\" against Jews/Israel didn\\\'t begin under the 1967 occupation. The first big massacre against Jews, the Hebron Massacre, took place in the 20\\\'s I believe under the British Mandate, and terrorism against Jews continued unabated post-1948 until the present.

It\\\'s nearly impossible to argue causality (as in cause and effect) between the Six Day War occupation and current palestinian dysfunction, yet it is attempted over and over again, usually by die-hard activists and ideologues. As if repeating it long enough will make it true. For a historian like Mr. Kimmerling to do it does not reflect well on him.

At best an argument can be made that palestinian TACTICS have evolved because of 1967. For instance, the use of women and teens as human bombs, as opposed to the standard pre-1967 guerrilla infiltrator, setting off bombs and gunning down jewish families.

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