Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Benny Morris' 180-Degree Turnabout

Avi Beker points out how Benny Morris has basically, made a "Return to the fold" in his historiographical presentation of the Israel-Arab conflict.


...the post-Zionist era, has come to an end. The historical debate between Zionists and anti-Zionists hasn't changed, but it is no longer possible to hide behind claims of a Zionist conspiracy to expel Israel's Arabs and ethnic cleansing of the area west of the Jordan River. It seems that a group of historians, who actually did not offer any new insights into Zionist historiography, hid behind a fictitious structure of post-modernist realizations that became a system for distorting proofs and rewriting facts.

...More than anyone else, Morris provided the historical sources for the argument that the State of Israel was born as a result of a conspiracy to carry out the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. His books and articles provided the basis for an indictment of the State of Israel, something that helped the Palestinian and Arab leadership reject all peace efforts right after the Oslo Accords, at Camp David in 2000 and in discussions of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace proposal in 2008.

The narrative built by the New Historians changed the parameters of political negotiations: A peace agreement is not meant to correct the 1967 "occupation" and create a framework for territories in exchange for peace, but to atone for the atrocities of the nakba. It became apparent to all that the main obstacle is the problem of the right of return to all parts of the State of Israel.

...suddenly, 20 years later, Morris discovered that the Arabs had declared a jihad against Zionism already back in 1948. He explains his new approach as stemming from the opening of archives, including the Israel Defense Forces' archive, which were closed to researchers until now. He also adds that "in the current book, I placed the refugee problem within the overall context of the War of Independence," and with the help of recent studies, "I tried to present a new and comprehensive description of the war, and primarily of the connections between the military processes and the diplomatic processes."

"A new description"? The exact opposite, in fact...The dismissal of the threats of jihad was intentional and critical for the rewriting in order to turn the nakba into a "holocaust", but the jihad was apparent to all: threats of annihilation were heard from all sides and even from the dais of the UN in 1947 and 1948.

The mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini repeated it over and over again; and religious scholars in Cairo issued an official manifesto calling for jihad two days after the resolution on the partition plan was passed on November 1947...


Morey Altman said...

Morris, and the other 'New Historians' (many of whom are really ideologues in the guise of historians but that's another issue) have long-suffered from selective memory and a bad case of 'presentism.' They not only conveniently ignore Arab calls for jihad which originated decades before 1948, they then apply modern moral standards to the Jewish fighters, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, or relatives of those who lost family in the Shoah. This aspect, I believe, is crucial in understanding the actions of Palmach and the Irgun. There's no doubt there WERE attacks against Arab civilians; but, the historical record reveals that these attacks weren't the result of a 'Plan' or even simple racism, but came from fear, and were often triggered by the discovery of mutilated Jewish bodies, which confirmed Jewish worry of another Holocaust.

I was recently asked to look into one of the 1948 massacre allegations described by Benny Morris. Hope you don't mind if I link to it here:

YMedad said...

As for Duweima, there is much more information available. Usually, Lechi fighters who were merged with the 89th were blamed. I spent 6 months at Amatzia, built next to the ruins of Duweima and visited the cave where some of the slaughter was supposed to have taken place. I cannot discount anything but one thing for sure: there is always gross exaggeration of numbers of killed, types of wounds, and numbers of injured as well as property damage.