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119 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking book - should be compulsory reading for everyone interested in human rights, 27 Oct 2006
This review is from: Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Hardcover)
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.
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