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316 of 355 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morality or prejudice - which is the best basis for peace?, 18 Nov 2006
This review is from: Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Hardcover)
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.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Feb 2009 05:50:16 GMT
It's ok you don't need to feel bad. Pappe is a proven liar and if you have any doubts you should check the back to see how many sources he has for the stuff he writes. If you are really keen you can check those sources too. You'll find they say nothing of the sort. He was part of a huge scandal where a student of his fabricated a "massacre" and was caught. Read Morris, at least he bothered to actually do some research instead of just making it up - you can see the quality difference when the preface has more primary sources than the whole of Pappe's book.

Oh and as for the "demographics" of Israel - 80% are Jewish. There is absolutely no issue there, except for the Israeli equivalent of the BNP who just got a tiny fraction of the vote - less than the arab parties did. Note on the other hand that the Palestinian equivalent of the BNP won outright their elections.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2009 22:32:02 GMT
S Wood says:
Danny of Arabia, firstly rather than state Pappe is a proven liar provide an example? You state there was a scandal regarding of his students but no details of how Pappe is responsible for this?

With regard to the other issues you raise you are obviously willfully blind if you cannot recognise the strength of the issue of demographics in the Israeli political system. The popularity of the Transfer issue, and the ramifications of the population balance in the whole of the area of Mandated Palestine which is the are that Israel has been occupying for the last 42 1/2 years. What would happen if the Palestinians demanded to be citizens of Israel and have the rights that would go with it? That would be the end of the Jewish State as it is now. Thats been a constant dilema for Israeli Politicians - how to hold onto the land but not accept the ramifications of the people who live there already. And presumably you are aware of the second class citizen status of Palestinian Arabs of either Christian or Muslim religion?

Posted on 19 Jun 2009 19:13:32 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 23 Jun 2009 12:13:02 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jun 2009 02:45:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2009 03:49:23 BDT
S Wood says:
Oh dear, M.Walker, your 1st site is an article in some Evangelical rag - the author Mike Moore I have heard nothing of, the points made in it and some of the attached links, are the tired, weary distortions of those who want to deny the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine during the formation of Israel. That is what the Nakba was. Implicit and explicit in the ideology of Zionism is the removal of the Palestinians, the claim used to be that it was broadcasted over the radio, but there has never been much (if any) evidence found for it, indeed the oppostite that the Palestinians were being urged to stay in their villages. Massacres DID occur, and they in large part provided impetus for the fleeing of people from their homes and villages. There were other clearing out operations by Israeli forces, cleansing areas of their populations. The quotes that I found in the site (the providence of which I am unaware) refer to highly individual cases that can not be generalised, presuming they are accurate and not taking out of context.

The bottom line, is that for what ever reason the Palestinian Arabs left their homes, villages and land they were entitled to return under International Law - the fact that the Israelis refused to allow them return quite clearly makes it ETHNIC CLEANSING. Period.

Your Pappe quote (from an entirely different book), which I'll put in a fuller context-

"As an author living in the region, I am only too well awre of the difficulties of reconstructing history outside one's own ethos and myths. While one may wish to write a detached and neutral history, one's own sympathies and affiliations remain. The reader of this book will find instances and descriptions that fit many of the claims of one narrative, the Palestinian one, but fewer of the Israeli one. That is not because the writer is Palestinian: I am not. My bias is apparent despite the desires of my peers that I stick to facts and the "truth" when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. [my comment. ie. those who claim that their spin on the facts and "truth" are objective impartial truth are being a little too cocksure]. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers; and sides with the workers not the boses. He feels for women in distress, and has little admiration for men in command. He cannot remain indifferent towards mistreated children, or refrain from condeming their elders. In short, mine is a subjective approach, often but not always standing for the defeated over the victorious."

So what Pappe is saying is he is sympathetic to the underdog, those who have been trampled under, expelled from the land where they and there ancestors have lived for centuries, had their culture and society destroyed. whats your problem with that? He is admitting the position he comes from which is a noble one, and particularly brave for an Israeli to take. Those such as the ignoble Karsh, with their dubious neo-con links, their shrill and shabby writings which are regarded as a joke in academic circles, claim to be speaking facts and the "truth" when they are propagandizing from an activist Zionist, neo-con and Islamophobic perspectives with little actual regard for facts or truth.

And your 2nd site is the Middle East Forum funded by right wing conservatives in the U.S; the article isby the inexecrable Efram Karsh, whom even the Zionist Historian Benny Morris regards as a fraud. Karsh himself is a member of neo-con think tanks whose defence of Israel is unquestioning and its distortion of the reality of the Palestinians past and present is frankly disgusting. The Karsh article is preaching to the perverted, it has no academic worth nor humanitarian motive- nobody takes him seriously except the spectacularly unthinking pro-zionist faction of which I presume you are a fully paid up member.

So no M.Walker, you maybe enjoy lies, distortion and slander and seeing the Palestinians living under seige, repeated Israeli attack, under occupation and having their land stolen from them, what they had destroyed, what they try and rebuild destroyed over decades. I dont, I have a sense of right and wrong something the Zionist fraternity do not have. On your way. . .

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jun 2009 17:26:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2009 17:29:21 BDT
Well that was quick. All I have done here is post some links to people taking issue with Pappe and his methodology so that they can make up their own minds about him. That is the point of my post.

To take issue with some things you have said:

One, I do not think that you understand what the neo-conservative movement is.

Two, you bring in Benny Morris because he is a Zionist e.g. he believes in the right for a Jewish state to exist, which is Israel. He is also one of the 'New Historians'. Did you read his glowing endorsements of Pappe? The links are available on that blog post. I think you would be better off reading Benny Morris to be honest because he is a real historian who uses primary sources and does not make things up.

Third, this relates to my point in using that quote (I know it is from 'One Land, Two Peoples). Pappe is a post-modernist - so he believes that history is simply a tool with which to push a political agenda. He has an extremely biased one.

P.S. On a personal note I find it unfortunate that Pappe does not side also with the c. 800,000 Jews ethnically cleansed from Muslim states after the creation of Israel or simply the Jews ethnically cleansed by the combined Arab forces in the 1948 war. I think a person who truly cares about human rights would be concerned about this as well as his own thesis.

P.P.S. You have an ingrained ideology that is pathologically anti-'Zionist' but here is a question for you to ponder.

How many people were ethnically cleansed to facilitate the creation of Pakistan? I don't actually want an answer, you should just think about what happens when states are formed.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2009 13:05:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jul 2009 19:08:26 BDT
S Wood says:
Hello yes it was quick. I always feel one shouldnt leave great steaming turds lying around - best to clean them up forthwith before they attract flies. With regard to your issues-

One, well you tell me what a neo-con is? - Looking forward to be englightend.

Two, Benny Morris. I respect him for the vast amount of historical research he has done, but find certain of his views and statements to be obnoxious. His commitment to Zionism certainly flavours some of his interpretation. I am well aware that Morris has no time for Pappe and enjoys the odd ad-hominem attacks.

Your third point - that is a crude reading of Pappes intentions as a historian which is constantly wheeled out with regard to his writings by those of the pro-zionist persuasion. They are far superior to the likes of Karsh and the others that are referenced in the blog link you so smugly supplied.

Regarding your personal notes; The Jews ethnically cleansed from other Muslim states: I think it was a massive piece of inhumanity. I also think that it would not have happened without the polarising effect of the Zionist project to which it was a response to. I also think it was something the Israelis were more than happy to see and encourage and it is no excuse for the continually outrageous actions of the Israelis regarding the Palestinian people.

Yes well noticed, I am an anti-zionist and proud to be so. Not as the result of some pathology as you assert, but as a result of reflecting on the actuality of the Zionist project, its costs to the people of Palestine and the region which have been immense. It is the same reason that I am critical of all such projects, whether it is Indonesia in East Timor or Irian Jaya (forgive my spelling), Europeans in the Americas, France in North Africa and Indochina, Nazi Germanys plans for Eastern Europe, South Africa throughtout the most of the twentieth century or indeed what happened in the Indian sub-continent or any form of imperialising or colonizing other peoples lands and lifes.

I am pragmatic enought to realise that Israel is here to stay, but it should minimally return to its 1967 borders and allow the Palestinians real prospects for a normal existence in the 22% of Palestine that is the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It should also recompsense those (and their descendants) who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 aswell as returning the Golan to Syria. I am becoming more and more persuased that a one secular state solution is ideal though I have concerns about the practicalities in such a polarised situation. One wonders what you consider to be a reasonable way forward? And I would like an answer, if you wouldnt mind.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2009 12:16:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Oct 2009 12:19:38 BDT
We went over the Tantura "massacre" in detail under Karsh's book review, it is a perfectly open and shut case. The only thing to be said in Pappe's case is as were quoted, he is openly unconcerned about historical facts. Philosophically he is happy to just talk about "narratives", which is lucky because no one has ever been able to dig up any actual historical documentation to back up his claims - which is presumably why he resorted to claiming a document from the archives was from the IDF chief of Staff - it was wasn't - and that it talked about massacres - it didn't. Again to reiterate he is open about this, it is not some underlying plot to discredit him - he is perfect capable of discrediting himself. A quick exercise if you think he is a serious historian, check the primary documentation he uses to support his claims... do a quick count of the number of primary documents he quotes vs what a serious historian such as Morris uses.

As for the costs to the region? What are they? A very very low intensity war? Well more people have been killed in the last few years in Darfur than were killed in all the Arab-Israeli conflicts since 1947. Brutal dictatorships? Well, there are exactly three countries in the region that have anything approaching free elections - Israel, Turkey and post-saddam Iraq. Costs to the Palestinians? Well the only country in the Levant that doesn't have a single Palestinian in a single refugee camp is 1948 Israel. The only country in the Middle East where Palestinians have the same legal rights as the majority is .... 1948 Israel. One may argue about how the Palestinians came to be refugees - although the facts, which you don't seem to like, are pretty well known by now - but the reason why they are STILL refugees is exactly two groups fault - Arab leadership and the UN.

Reasonable solution? Federal state - Jordan, Israel, territories and Palestinians born abroad get naturalised.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2009 21:01:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Oct 2009 21:10:03 BDT
S Wood says:
You may regard it as a perfectly "open and shut case" but as is evident from the debate we had around your review of Karsh's Fabricating Israeli History: The New Historians (Israeli History, Politics and Society) history I, and others, don't.

"As for the costs to the region? What are they? A very very low intensity war?" - sounds like the line of the current Israeli foreign minister who seems more than happy to consider the status quo continuing, a fact thats not exactly alligned with PM Netanyahus protestations that the recent Goldstone report on the "very very low intensity war" in Gaza that resulted in around 1,400 deaths over New Year 2008/09 is undermining the "peace" process. Yes your points regarding Darfur are in all probability correct, there are regimes that are more brutal than Israel in the world, but to the best of my knowledge (and I'm sure you'll fill in any gaps if required) the UK Government does not allow the recruiting for fighters in that War, supply them with weaponary, diplomatic cover and support nor did it play the significant part in the creation of the problem in the first place, ie. Balfour declaration, the post WW2 fiasco. And it still does not provide an excuse for the depredations, violence, humanitarian crimes that the Israeli state has been the author of, and have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Arabs.

I'm not sure why you refer to "Brutal dictatorships?" as if it was something I brought up and you were answering? Yes Israel has elections, Palestinians are represented in the Israeli Parliament but they are also second class citizens in the context of Israeli political and economic life and to suggest that they have the same "legal rights as the majority" is somewhat dubious.

Certainly criticism of how neighbouring countries have dealt with the Palestinian refugees is entirely reasonable, but one should remember who expelled them in the first place and refused them their legal right of return as enshrined in International Law. I would disagree with you totally in putting the blame primarily on "Arab leadership and the UN" - the blame is with the initial aggressor.

To talk of Israeli being the only country in the Middle East where the "Palestinians have the same legal rights as the majority" is questionable with regard to Israel proper (pre-67 borders), with regard to the Palestinians who were expelled and/or have either been occupied or annexed by Israel since 1967 it is a statement of breath taking duplicity and to make that statment without in any way qualifying it exhbits a frightening level of mendacity.

If your last sentence means you support a Federal State of Jordan, Israel, the territories (or occupied territories as they are commonly known) with naturalisation rights for Palestinians then that is something I find in principal quite reasonable, the one state solution on a larger scale than the territory (mandatory Palestine) that is usually considered in that light. Im much less hopefull with regard to the implementation of that, due to levels of aminosity that have been formenting over a century and supect that the two state solution is the only option that can be realised, and only with pressure brought upon Israel from the outside, especially its U.S. sponsors, and despite the feverish rhetoric aimed at Obama by supporters of Israel, I dont see that happening any time soon.

P.S. enjoyed your comment in Charles Sopers review of Lord Gilberts Israel: A History, if you wish to make speculative insults regarding myself- fine, if you wish to align yourself with Mr D.Brook criticism of myself then perhaps you ought to read some of his other comments/reviews, enjoy the company

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2011 03:12:05 BDT
Magdalena says:
Mr Walker I just want to ask you a question? Do you agree that Palestinians, as Jews, have the same right to have their own state?

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2012 14:13:17 GMT
Federal state? You mean a single state?

Why would you want Israel subsumed into a federation of states where one's leader is a Holocaust denier and another has the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jews enshrined in its Charter?

This is insane.
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