345 of 390 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2006
I was incredibly moved by this book, even though as I read it I was very aware that there are sections of Israeli society, and the wider Jewish community, which will simply dismiss it out of hand as propagandist and anti-Zionist fiction.
First, I have to say that I am Jewish, so I came to this book with a concern about potential conflicting loyalties that most of us, inside and outside Israel, bring to this emotive issue. Ilan Pappe, however, in effect asks everyone to balance love and/or respect for Israel (whether it is one's "homeland" or not) with an objective appraisal of the behaviour of the government (past and present) of that country. As parents are advised, one should criticise the behaviour - what has been carried out in the name of Israel - but love the child.
I was brought up on stories of Israel's valiant fight against impossible odds, of a David-like victory against the combined might of the Arab aggressors, and a celebration of everything Israel has achieved in the last century. However, I want to see peace in Israel - for everyone. So I have made it my business to familiarize myself with some of the basic arguments on both sides, but I had not come across the sheer wealth of detail that Pappe brings out in support of his main theme - that the Palestinians were forcibly, deliberately expelled from their homes and villages, in a project conceived and initiated long before the end of the Mandate. And regardless of whether they fled in fear or were driven out, they were not allowed back. No one can dispute this.
One of the most chilling arguments in the book, however, is that ethnic cleansing is still on the table as far as the government of Israel is concerned. It is facing a demographic "problem" - there are still too many Arabs inside Israel - and apparently it has its eyes on East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank with a view to reducing the Arab population.
It is hard to see how the two positions can be reconciled, but Pappe makes a very good argument for justice and reparations for the Palestinians, and as the only just and practical basis for a lasting peace, it is a convincing one. I highly recommend people on both sides of the argument read this book.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2014
A book that helps to write back into history the genocide perpetrated on Palestininans in the early days of Israel. So many should hang their heads in shame for their role in this ethnic cleansing: the British for abandoning the Palestians who were being massacred and forced from their homes before their eyes; the UN for apportioning some 80% of Palestine to the Jews who constituted only a third of its population; the other Arab states for so meekly abandoning the Palestinians; western media and academia which, consumed by guilt over the holocaust, ignored or even justified the cleansing. Most of all, of course, the embryonic state of Israel which enouraged the Irgun and Stern gangs to kill, rape, and poison Palestinians as they ethically cleansed their new state of what one Jewish military figure referred to as 'Arab pus'. This from a people who had so recently experienced the same at the hands of the Nazis. Pape's meticulously chronicled and documented account should be compulsory reading for the commentariat that so often excuses or fudges the actions of Israel since its inception.
87 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2007
Pappe, an Israeli historian and a senior lecturer at Haifa University, has written a superb account of the Israeli expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in 1948. He quotes David Ben Gurion, leader of the Zionist movement from the mid-1920 until the 1960s, who wrote in his diary in 1938, "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it." This contradicts the Zionists' public claim that they were seizing a land without a people.
Pappe writes of the Israelis' March 1948 plan for evicting the Palestinians, "The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be employed to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."
Between 30 March and 15 May 1948, i.e. before any Arab government intervened, Israeli forces seized 200 villages and expelled 250,000 Palestinians. The Israeli leadership stated, "The principal objective of the operation is the destruction of Arab villages ... the eviction of the villagers." On 9 April, Israeli forces massacred 93 people, including 30 babies, at Deir Yassin. In Haifa, the Israeli commander ordered, "Kill any Arab you encounter."
This all happened under British rule in Palestine, where Britain had 75,000 troops: Britain's Mandate did not end until 14 May. The Labour government connived at the Israeli onslaught, although the British state was legally obliged as the occupier (and also by UN resolution 181) to uphold law and order. Yet the Labour government announced that it would no longer be responsible for law and order and it withdrew all the British policemen. It also forbade the presence of any UN bodies, again breaching the terms of the UN resolution. The government ordered British forces to disarm the few Palestinians who had weapons, promising to protect them from Israeli attacks, then immediately reneged on this promise.
On 24 May 1948, Ben Gurion wrote, "We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Transjordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight - we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times." These ravings of an insane warmonger hardly betrayed any genuine fear of a `second holocaust'. The Palestinians were suffering massive expulsion, not trying to destroy the Jewish community.
Pappe summarises, "When it created its nation-state, the Zionist movement did not wage a war that `tragically but inevitably' led to the expulsion of `parts of' the indigenous population, but the other way round: the main goal was the ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine, which the movement coveted for its new state. A few weeks after the ethnic cleansing operations began, the neighbouring Arab states sent a small army - small in comparison to their overall military might - to try, in vain, to prevent the ethnic cleansing. The war with the regular Arab armies did not bring the ethnic cleansing operations to a halt until their successful completion in the autumn of 1948."
Overall, the Zionist forces uprooted more than half Palestine's population, 800,000 people, destroyed 531 villages and emptied eleven urban neighbourhoods of their inhabitants. Pappe concludes that this was "a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity."
200 of 230 people found the following review helpful
This review, By Dr Ilan Pappe of Haifa University, of the history of the establishment of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is the most straightforward treatment of the subject I have ever read. All the familiar media claptrap is stripped away and a clear chronological factual description of the expulsion of the Palestinian population is retold, together with the documented strategy of the Zionist leaders who created the modern state of Israel. The book comes right up to date with the second Intifada and the attacks on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006. The reasons for the inevitable failure of the American/Israeli 'peace' initiatives are well analysed and future choices reviewed. Contains an excellent chronological table. A book that is an absolute necessity for anyone trying to understand the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Should be required reading for British and American diplomats and media commentators who, to a man, display complete ignorance on the subject.
92 of 106 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2007
This book is about how the Zionist movement captured the land of Palestinians and founded Israel. Pappe uses an interesting method in his book. He compares the events in Palestine during 40's to the events in Bosnia during 90's. He then shows how the legal actions of the international community against Serbs have not and are not matching against Israelis. On the contrary, he claims that the Palestinians have been labeled as the aggressors in many cases.
According to Pappe, there is a myth instead of fact-based history being produced about the foundation of Israel. In the last decades, this myth making machine has been attacked by a new breed of historians inside and outside of Israel. The works of these historians are revealing the obvious reality of the continuing ethnic cleansing of Muslim and Christian Palestinians since 40's. Pappe is one of these historians. It is really amazing how weak the humans can be in the presence of strong propaganda, e.g. new generations of Israelis were made to believe that everyone was against them and Arabs, during the foundation of Israel, tried to create a second Holocaust (where the reality is that the Israelis are the aggressors.)
There is also a lot of information about JNF (Jewish National Fund) and how they have perfectly served the interests of the Zionist regime in confiscating the land of Palestinians and found innovative ways to brand themselves as an environmentalist institution towards the outside world! The story is amazing yet not the center of this book. I am sure there are better sources for that subject.
Pappe claims that the Zionist movement basically created hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, killed tens of thousands of them, destroyed their villages and farms, and settled Jewish immigrants in Palestinian land so that Palestinians' coming back would not be possible. One needs to know about the foundation of Israel in order to understand the discriminative legal and social structure of today's Israel. Zionism has been and is still in the genetic structure of Israel's political institutions and education system.
It is overwhelming to read this book; you can not stop yourself sympathizing with the Palestinians and their struggle against the Zionist regime. Although the book was written on factual events, it has an emotional component to it. This book made me think that it will be painful yet better and peaceful for Israelis in the long term to push for a democratic state for all citizens, come clean with their history and start questioning the motives of the Zionist regime.
All of us need this one way or another, don't we?
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2014
This book may not please many people but for me it was a complete eye opener. I cannot help but feel sad for the Palestinian people, as, the way that their land was removed and the way that they have been subjugated is nothing short of disgusting. I have great respect for the author Ilan Pappe as he has clearly done much research into the history of Palestine and has written a very credible book. I actually bought 2 copies, one for a friend who also was astonished with the revelations in the story. I would recommend anyone to read this to get a better understanding of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
129 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2006
Ilan Pappe does an incredible job recreating the gradual Zionist take-over of Palestine in the lead up to 1948 and beyond. The outline of the story is well known, and few would argue with the main facts of what happened and when, or the end result: the establishment of the State of Israel and the migration of almost a million Palestinians. Pappe's achievement here is to piece together the driving ideology, the game plans, and strategies that successfully achieved it.
Many will automatically accuse Pappe of having an agenda (as virtually every writer seems to have on this issue). However, he puts forward a persuasive argument that plans had been afoot to expropriate Palestine long before the War of Independence, and goes on to detail the discussions in which the plans were laid down, and give a blow by blow, village by village account of their execution. In the process, he marshalls an impressive array of facts to lay before the reader, from Ben-Gurion's personal diary entries that reveal a truly chilling cold-bloodedness vis-à-vis the indigenous Palestinians, extracts from the personal memoirs and diaries of a number of key players, and military archives including telegrams and orders to commando and army units.
Even if you distrust the detail, there is no arguing with the facts on the ground - almost a million Palestinians were refugees by the end of 1949, and over 400 villages had been destroyed. As Pappe notes in his introduction, if this had happened a mere 50 years later, it would have been called ethnic cleansing, and that is what he calls it. Regardless of why you think the Palestinians fled (deliberately forced from their homes or an inevitable by-product of war), the fact remains that they have not been allowed to return to their homes and lands, despite UN Resolution 194 defending their right to do so, and despite the fact that Israel's entry into the UN was conditional on their compliance with this resolution, to which they agreed.
Pappe writes with great humanity about the Palestinian plight and their inhumane treatment in the decades since, but argues passionately that Israelis have also lost in this fight for land and nationhood. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be compulsory reading for every believer in human rights, and after reading it, everyone should book an appointment with their MP and ask what - exactly - they are doing about the Palestinian refugee question. It's the least we can do.
166 of 192 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2007
Ilan Pappe has written a moving account of the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948. The founding of the State of Israel at the expense of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine has for a long time been surrounded by Zionist inspired myths, designed to delegitimize the claims of the Palestinians and reduce them to a non-entity.
The destruction of their villages and covering their ruins with forests and claims that Palestinians never existed, as were made by the late Israeli PM Golda Meir, are all part of this.
Accounts of how more thant 700.000 Palestinians lost everything they had in the Nakba of 1948, in what is known as the War for Independence in Israel, have been around for decades. The eminent Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi wrote a seminal account in From Haven To Conquest (1971) and numerous other Western authors have written about the plight of the Palestinians.
In the middle of the 1980s a number of Israeli historians (Simha Flapan, Benny Morris, Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe) began to question the Zionist founding myths as more and more historic documents came available, shining light on the events of 1948.
That in 1948 more than 700.000 Palestinians were expelled by force of arms or fled Palestine and were never allowed to return is beyond doubt. The only question remains the degree of premeditation on the part of the Zionist leadership.
Palestinian historian Nur Masalha has showed convincingly that the concept of transfer of the indigenous Palestinian population was widely discussed among the Zionist leadership in the days of the Mandate. And founding father Theodor Herzl himself spoke in terms of "spiriting the penniless population across the border".
The aim of the Zionist movement was to create a homogenous ethnic Jewish state in the whole of Palestine. But the presence of a significant majority of Palestinian arabs (Moslems and Christians), owning more than 93% of the cultivated land in Palestine stood in the way. The only way therefore to create an exclusive Jewish state was through force of arms and by ethnic cleansing, which is exactly what happened in 1948.
This is the subject of Ilan Pappe's book and it is a tour de force. He describes the meetings of the Consultancy, a small group of decision makers led by Ben-Gurion, the finalising of Plan Dalet, which served as the masterplan for ethnic cleansing. He offers new evidence, like the Village Files, a detailed record of all the Palestinian arab villages, their composition, strength and weaknesses which was compiled by Zionist volunteers over decades. The Village Files gave vital information for the military forces, who attacked the villages during their cleansing operations.
The extent of the massacres of Palestinian villagers, that took place, the systematic destruction of hundreds of ancient villages and buildings of great architectural and historic value is heart breaking.
This is a truly moving account of the tragedy that befell the Palestinian people in 1948, a tragedy that continues to this day. In spite of all the pretenses that the State of Israel seeks peace it's objective is unchanged and that is to get as much Palestinian land as possible with the smallest number of Palestinians. What happens in the Occupied Territories is none other than ethnic cleansing in disguise.
Ilan Pappe's book is essential reading for all who want to understand the reasons why Palestinians are in conflict with the State of Israel. True peace between Palestinians and Israelis is not possible without addressing the crucial events of 1948. Israelis must end their state of denial in this respect.
With this book Pappe has made an invaluable contribution to the cause of peace.
96 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2007
An excellent and meticulously researched historical text.
The level of cold, calculated brutality and unprovoked savagery used against a largely peaceful peasant population usually offering little or no resistance, a population quite unprepared for a war, who were usually just 'going about their business', is absolutely shocking. As is the clinical pre-planning and ruthless, cold efficiency with which the plan was then carried out. It is no exaggeration to compare what happened with the Nazi push into the Baltic states and Russia in the early 1940's.
The reality of what actually happened during the years 1948-49, compared with the 'official' Israeli version, is astonishing. This is a subject I have had an interest in for some considerable time now, but despite my interest and knowledge of the subject, I was not prepared for the detail. The unnecessary nastiness and inhumanity of the jewish forces, is really hard to come to terms with.
It is also interesting to compare the present day horror and outrage that is expressed at the actions of a 'suicide bomber' with events in early 1948 [when there was no war]. The Stern Gang and Hagana routinely threw bombs into CIVILIAN Palestinian gatherings and blew up houses with all the occupants asleep inside, often killing scores of people, simply to terrorise the population into fleeing Palestine.
I am also deeply ashamed of the role [or non-role] played by the British forces, with one or two notable exceptions, [and the Bevin Government] who, until May 1948, were still officially charged with upholding law and order in Palestine.
Anyone who still buys the notion that the events at Quana, the murder of the UN workers [despite hours of telephone conversations], the very high civilian casualty rates during the 2006 push into Lebanon, the deaths on the beach in Gaza and so on, were all REALLY accidental, should read this book. This particular brand of terror is long established practice by the Israelis.
In fact, it is hard to understand how most of our media and politicians, people who have chosen to make a career informing the rest of us about what goes on, in and around the world, seem remarkably oblivious to this information. Well, there are no excuses now are there ?
I am not sure how anyone could [intelligently] argue that this is 'a piece of anti-zionist fiction' as one of your reviewers suggests, it is far too factually based and closely referenced. It IS a testament to the power of the Israeli lobby and their campaign of distortion and misinformation that we are still presented by most of the media for most of the time the image of Israel as the victim in the Middle East. Now THAT is a piece of PRO-zionist fiction. Excellent, though disturbing book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2013
I found this book very illuminating and having been rather uninterested in the Palestinian cause I felt a deep sense of shame at the way the West stood by and allowed all this to happen. It is difficult to see how these wounds could ever heal. This is a readable book, but not an easy read. If you wonder why the Jews and Palestinian arabs don't make peace, suggest you read this. Harrowing stuff.