Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Benny Morris on Palestinian Refugees and the political solution

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/05/benny-morris-on-palestinian-refugees.html

From Dove to Hawk
A prominent Israeli historian explains why, after decades of research about the Jewish state, he now holds out little hope for reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians .
Benny Morris
Special Guest Columnist
Updated: 6:23 PM ET May 8, 2008

I remember the moment when the Palestinian diaspora began to interest me, professionally. It was in Rashidiye Camp, outside Tyre, in June 1982, just after the Is­rael Defense Forces had scythed through on their way north to oust the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon. A journalist at the time, I picked my way through the devastated buildings. Most of the men had fled or been detained or killed by the Israelis, but I was struck by a group of old women hunched over a tabun, an outdoor oven, making pita bread far from their homeland. A few weeks later a stash of documents produced in 1948 by the Palmah—the strike force of the Haganah, the main Zionist underground in Palestine—was opened for me, revealing why and how many of these people had been displaced as Israel was born.
My historical account of that event, published a few years later, was greeted with some acclaim by Palestinians and their sympathizers—and much shock by Is­raelis, who had been brought up to believe, or to pretend to believe, that the Palestini­ans had fled their homes four decades earli­er because of orders or advice from their leaders. In certain places, at certain times, there had been such advice and orders, of course. But there had also been Israeli ex­pulsions, as well as the chaos of British withdrawal and economic hardship and anxiety about an uncharted future under Jewish rule. In most places it was the flail and fear of onrushing hostilities that had set some 700,000 Arabs on the roads.

Myself and several other young Israeli historians were dubbed revisionists and commonly assumed to be doves. But what brought me to my conclusions about 1948 were the facts, not my political views. Con­trary to current historiographic discourse I believe there is such a thing as the Truth—what, why and how things happened—and I've always sought it in my research. If I've since come to a much bleaker opinion about the possibility of reconciliation be­tween Jews and Palestinians—many would now call me a hawk—it is also because of that research.

During the 1990s, as the Oslo peace process gained momentum, I was cautious­ly optimistic about the prospects for peace. But at the same time I was scouring the just opened archives of the Haganah and the IDF. Studying the roots of the Arab-Is­raeli conflict—in particular the pronounce­ments and positions of the Palestinian leadership from the 1920s on—left me chilled. Their rejection of any compromise, whether a partition of Palestine between its Jewish and Arab inhabitants or the cre­ation of a binational state with political parity between the two communities, was deep-seated, consensual and consistent.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian na­tional movement during the 1930s and 1940s, insisted throughout on a single Muslim Arab state in all of Palestine. The Palestinian Arab "street" chanted "Idbah al-Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) both during the 1936-1939 revolt against the British and in 1947, when Arab militias launched a campaign to destroy the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine. Husseini led both campaigns.

So when Yasir Arafat rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's two-state proposals at Camp David in July 2000, and then President Clinton's sweetened offer the follow­ing December, my surprise was not exces­sive. Nor was I astounded by the spectacle of masses of suicide bombers launched, with Arafat's blessing, against Israel's shop­ping malls, buses and restaurants in the second intifada, which erupted in Septem­ber 2000. Each suicide bomber seemed to be a microcosm of what Palestine's Arabs had in mind for Israel as a whole. Arafat's rejectionism and, after his death, the election of Hamas to dominance in the Pales­tinian national movement, persuaded me that no two-state solution was in the offing and that the Palestinians, as a people, were bent, as they had been throughout their history, on "recovering" all of Palestine.

I found that current events had echoes in the historical record, and vice versa. The founding charter of Hamas repeatedly refers to the victory of Saladin over the me­dieval crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, and compares the crusaders to the Zionists. In researching my new history of the 1948 war, I was struck by the fact that this analo­gy, usually overlooked or ignored by previ­ous historians, suffused the statements and thinking of Palestinian leaders and the leaders of the surrounding Arab states dur­ing the countdown to, and the course of, the war. A few days before Arab armies struck at Jewish forces in Palestine, Abd al-Rahman Azzam, secretary general of the Arab League, told the British minister in Transjordan their aim was to "sweep the Jews into the sea."

If the documents I studied 20 years ago painted Palestinians tragically, as the underdog, this record did the opposite. It has become clear to me that from its start the struggle against the Zionist enterprise wasn't merely a national conflict between two peoples over a piece of territory but also a religious crusade against an infidel usurper. As early as Dec. 2, 1947, four days after the passage of the partition resolution, the scholars of Al Azhar University proclaimed a "worldwide jihad in defense of Arab Palestine" and de­clared that it was the duty of every Muslim to take part.

This history has deepened and reinforced my pessimism, itself bred by the fail­ure of Oslo. Those currently riding high in the region—figures like Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—are true believers who are convinced it is Allah's command and every Muslim's duty to extirpate the "Zionist entity" from the sacred soil of the Middle East. For all its economic, political, scientific and cultural achievements and military prowess, Israel, at 60, remains profoundly insecure -- for there can be no real security for the Jewish state, surrounded by a surg­ing sea of Muslims, in the absence of peace.

 
Morris's most recent book on Israeli history is the recently pub­lished "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War."


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/05/benny-morris-on-palestinian-refugees.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



<< Home


FREE EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to
ZNN
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by groups.yahoo.com


Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israël in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israpundit
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Z-Word
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
UN-Biased
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Zionism
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
Liberticracia
CNPublications
SEO

Reference
Zionism
Anti-Semitism
Anti-Zionism
Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Bible
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Islamism
Jihad
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Israel
Jew
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism
Russian

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Experimental
Isfake lobby
Mysterology

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products
Mezuzah

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory