If I forget thee, O Jerusalem

In response to my challenge to critics of BDS—if not BDS, what would you have the Palestinians do?—defenders of Israel, many of them Jewish, have said to me that the first thing the Palestinians need to do is get over 1948. That was the year that the Israelis drove out some 700,000 Palestinians from the land, creating a nation of permanent refugees who would never be allowed to return to their homes. Aside from not really providing a credible alternative to BDS, it’s a brutal, almost grotesque, argument for a Jew to make. We have an entire liturgy devoted not only to the sorrow of being expelled from that very land, but to the obligation not to forget it. You would think a people who never got over what happened to them two millennia ago—and whose arguments for the land are often based on claims from two millennia ago—would be a little less cavalier about the memory of a people who haven’t gotten over what happened to them less than seven decades ago.


  1. Brian January 12, 2014 at 1:17 am | #

    Aside from the Palestinian issue, the proponents of Zionism (and those simply opposed to BDS) fail consistently to address the logic of a Jewish State: if you define Jews as ‘Volk’, then it is an ethnocracy; if they are a religious group, Israel is a theocracy. There should never be a Jewish state, as there shouldn’t be an Islamic State or a Han Chinese State.

    • neffer January 12, 2014 at 2:04 am | #

      Jews describe themselves as a people. However, the justification for a state for Jews is the need to survive, which Christians and Muslims have seen fit to abuse. Wake up. This is all pure bigotry, using high minded lies.

      • Brian January 12, 2014 at 7:25 am | #

        Here was I thinking that the idea of a ‘Volkisch’ state was discredited in 1945. The problem with Israel is that it has, in effect, globalized its conflict with its enemies, even to places like Thailand, Australia and South America (arms shipments to Argentine fascists being one example). And enough of the “bigotry” talk.

      • neffer January 12, 2014 at 10:51 am | #

        “Here was I thinking that the idea of a ‘Volkisch’ state was discredited in 1945.”

        Obviously, you do not understand the meaning of the word “People” in the Jewish tradition. I also see that you are making a fool of yourself. Am Y’srael Chai!!!

      • Donald Pruden, Jr. a/k/a, The Enemy Combatant January 13, 2014 at 9:35 am | #

        And the need to survive is not something Palestinians have a right to pursue (a right abused by Israel and the nation to which it remains a client in order that such an abusive project may be pursued, the United States) and nor it can it be claimed that the Palestinians are also “a people”, and self-described as such. Rather, they must pay for the crimes of others past, present, and elsewhere.

        Got it.

    • Gary Anderson January 12, 2014 at 11:31 am | #

      There could be a Jewish state if those who were not Jews were afforded complete political and religious and personal rights. But Yinon Zionism wants to destroy the governments in the middle east that are Muslim that actually do support rights of other religions. Yinon Zionism, adopted by the neocons for regime change, is evil to the core. Americans are losing their rights as well. My natural father was Jewish and I am adopted but I, like many descendents of the Jews, are Americans FIRST. But the elite are Israel first.

      • hophmi January 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm | #

        “Yinon Zionism wants to destroy the governments in the middle east that are Muslim that actually do support rights of other religions. Yinon Zionism, adopted by the neocons for regime change, is evil to the core. Americans are losing their rights as well. My natural father was Jewish and I am adopted but I, like many descendents of the Jews, are Americans FIRST. But the elite are Israel first.”

        Oh boy, another one of these people. Just about all of the references to “Yinon Zionism” are on antisemitic conspiracy theory websites. The game here is that Israel is planning to take over Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and parts of Iraq.

        You should keep this crap off of your site, Corey. These people are bigots.

    • hophmi January 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm | #

      “if you define Jews as ‘Volk’, then it is an ethnocracy”

      Israel doesn’t define Jews as “Volk,” and it doesn’t limit citizenship or voting rights to Jews.

      “if they are a religious group, Israel is a theocracy.”

      The government is secular and ruled by civil law for the most part. Saudi Arabia and Iran would be good examples of theocracy.

      “There should never be a Jewish state, as there shouldn’t be an Islamic State”

      And yet, there are nearly five dozen Islamic states, and not one of them is the target of a BDS movement.

      • Harold January 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm | #

        Your last statement is incorrect. To use your numbers, “there are nearly five dozen” Arabic states, which identify as Muslim.

        One of the things I see happening when defending Zionism is that the religion of the Jews and the race of the Jews are conflated. Take the religion out of it, and what you have is a subrace of humans deposing and displacing another subrace of humans, which is barbaric no matter what time period it is done in. And before the screams of “anti-Semite” start pouring in, I use the anthropological terms, as well as I know them. I have no racial superiority issues – we are all humans, and our “racial” differences are just subtypes of that overall race.

        I guess my question would be, “Why is the area around Jerusalem so important?” If the overwhelming priority is not religious in nature, then wouldn’t any area do for the Jewish people? Why displace a people just because it was Jewish in the past?

      • Harold January 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm | #

        Also, I should have said “five dozen” Middle Eastern and Asian countries, of various cultures, who identify as Muslim. My apologies.

      • Everett Benson January 17, 2014 at 12:28 am | #

        Excellent reply, hophmi. Right on the mark. But naturally these truths will not be acknowledged by the sort of people for whom truth is irrelevant and slurs replace fact.

  2. neffer January 12, 2014 at 1:44 am | #

    “That was the year that the Israelis drove out some 700,000 Palestinians from the land, creating a nation of permanent refugees who would never be allowed to return to their homes.”

    The problem with this claim is that it is not true. It is not true because most of the Arabs who left did so at the behest of the Arab leaders, who wanted them out of the way so that they could drive out the Jews. It is not true because many who left did so (most particularly in Yafo, where there were appeals to Muslims to flee from the possibility of non-Muslim rule) because they believed – as is the traditional Islamic view – that is wrong to live under a government that is not governed by a Muslim. It is not true because the British, for example, in Haifa, literally drove out the thousands of those among the Arabs who wanted to leave that city. It is also not true because that overstates, by a wide margin, the number of people who actually left.

    It also is misleading as it ignores the 856,000 Jews driven out of Jerusalem, the areas conquered in the 1948 war by the surrounding Arab states and out of the Arab world, as a result of pogroms, riots, massacres and loss of rights that occurred from 1920 on.

    Even if what you claimed were true – which it is not -, it does not justify the BDS. At the very period of time that hundreds of thousands of Arabs lost their homes in Israel, often being forced to move to homes within only a few miles of their prior homes and often within what you call Palestine – akin to you being forced to move from Brooklyn to Queens -, millions of ethnic Germans lost their homes in the countries that surround Germany. 2 1/2 ethnic Germans were marched out of Poland and then Czechaslovakia, at gun point, as revenge and in order to assure that Germany would never again use the problem of ethnic Germans as justification for agression. At about the same time, 14 million Indians were displaced from the birth of India and Pakistan, with a million killed in the violence. German refugees and their offspring are not permitted to return to their homes in Danzig/Gdansk or in the Czech Republic. Hindus refugees and their offspring cannot return to their homes in what is now Pakistan. Muslim refugees and their offspring pushed out of India, like the family of former Prime Minister, cannot return to India.

    Your view that Israel deserves shunning shows you have become unmoored from reality. Cosmic justice does not exist in the world. Jews displaced from Europe cannot return to their homes. What the Palestinians need to do is recognize reality and agree to resolve the dispute, which requires that they accept that Jews have the right to rule – which, as an historical manner, is the main reason Arabs object to rule by Jews and, thus, Israel. That is why they claim that settling with Israel is a sin. How do I know that? Because prominent Palestinians have said that is the case.

    BDS assumes that Israel is uniquely evil. It is a claim born out of traditional views that Jews and Judaism were uniquely evil. It is another big calumny directed against Jews. It is a disgrace that any person would support this big lie about Jews.

    • Anthony Greco January 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | #

      “…most of the Arabs who left did so at the behest of the Arab leaders…” This myth, carefully nurtured by Israeli governments for decades, has been refuted dozens of times, yet still manages to survive. Read the relevant works by Simha Flapan, Benny Morris, and Ilan Pappe. Yes, Israeli expulsions and terror weren’t the only cause of the Palestinian exodus, but they were a major cause. See again the preceding, but also Ari Shavit’s new book. Your assertion that the 700,000 figure is somehow overstated is also not supported by reputable scholarship.

      • Everett Benson January 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm | #

        Flapan, Morris and Pappe are not reliable scholars. Efraim Karsh has given chapter and verse on this, showing how each invents or “edits” quotes or knowingly misrepresents their sources, wilfully construing negatively even positive evidence, and allows agendas to replace genuine scholarship. See Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History: The New Historians (1997), among other works. On the claims that Jews expelled the Palestinians in 1948, Karsh has given devastating assessments in his Palestine Betrayed, which proves that those claims are simply false. See for example, Karsh, “Benny Morris and the Reign of Error,” Middle East Quarterly, IV:1, March 1999. There Karsh presents the texts of the original sources Morris quotes or cites, showing that he doctored or even made up those “quotes” to prove Israeli responsibility, particularly inventing Ben-Gurion quotes to reverse Ben-Gurion’s actual insistence on a pluralist democracy and keeping Arabs in Israel, if possible. Karsh presents archival evidence of precisely this insistence, explicitly and in his administration, by Ben-Gurion, showing how Morris cuts-and-pastes those texts to make them say the opposite of what they actually say.

        Interestingly, Morris, not only wilting under the avalanch of evidence of falsifications that Karsh provides, but also getting a reality check from the on-going terrorist atrocities of the Palestinians and the rejection by Yasser Arafat of the extraordinarily generous peace deal offered by Ehud Barak at Camp David and Tata in 2000, and Ehud Olmert in 2007, finally made it clear (without admitting previous culpability and false quotes, etc.) that in fact Israel had not expelled the Palestinians: their flight was almost entirely self-caused. In a letter to the Irish Times of Feb. 21, 2008, he repudiated claims that Israel was responsible for Palestinian flight, or that it must repatriate Palestinian “refugees.” Also see Karsh, “Benny Morris and the Reign of Error, Revisited: The Post-Zionist Critique,” Middle East Quarterly, XII:2, Spring 2005, dealing with Morris’ 1987 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, and its 2004 revision. Karsh concentrates on Morris because he has much more academic credibility than Flapan and Pappe, who are as confessed by themselves far-left ideologues who justify tailoring the facts to suit the bias.

        On the actual numbers of Palestinian “refugees,” Karsh has given the archival figures and statistics emerging from examination of British and other contemporary historical sources, in his thoroughly researched and painstaking “How many Palestinian Refugees were there,” Israel Affairs (April 2011), available at Middle East Forum, http://www.meforum.org/2875/how-many-palestinian-arab-refugees He shows that the actual numbers are between 583,000 to 609,000. That website also provides a number of recent articles from the Middle East Quarterly documenting other “Palestine nation” mythic inventions: see the Summer 2012 issue, and among other articles from it the ones from Alexander Joffe, “The Rhetoric of Nonsense: Fabricating Palestinian History,” and David Bukay, “Founding National Myths: Fabricating Palestinian History.”

        After all, a leadership that can say with a straight face that there never were any Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the land of Israel, the “Holy Land” made so by its Jewish and Biblical connections, can certainly lie with ease about anything else less easily proven to be false.

    • Brian January 13, 2014 at 9:28 am | #

      It seems that “neffer” believes that anti-Jewish sentiment exists in a vacuum, whereas I subscribe to Arendt’s view that Jews “played the political games of the 20th century”. From the Armenian genocide (which Herzl arranged financial support for) to the excesses of the Russian Revolutionaries, the Zionist pact with Hitler, Deir Yassin, Suez, Israel’s attempt to sell nukes to South Africa, the USS Liberty incident, Sabra & Shatila to the mysterious “Israeli art students” and the less mysterious “5 Dancing Israelis”, the Second Iraq War, the chicanery of AIPAC over Iran, Jews and the so-called Jewish state have been at the forefront of some of the worst behaviour of modern era. That this has been mirrored by the Gentile world doesn’t excuse this—it’s simply a statement of reality. Jews simply haven’t been passive victims during the last century, so stop the whining.

      • Everett Benson January 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm | #

        So Jews “simply haven’t been passive victims” but are responsible for antisemitic libels and massacres, while the poor dear Palestinians are solely passive victims never responsible for their own terrorist atrocities and antisemitic hate-incitement. Cool.

  3. Markha Valenta January 12, 2014 at 2:34 am | #

    @Neffer – if Palestinians need “to recognize reality” on the ground and “agree to resolve the dispute, which requires that they accept that Jews have the right to rule” then, by this same logic, Israeli Jews need “to recognize” the reality that the Palestianian/Israeli issue has become a global issue that affects politics across the world, which means that the whole world has a stake in resolving the issue and has something to say about it. By your own logic, it does not matter how and why this happened, but simply the fact that this is reality here and now needs to be accepted. Furthermore, given the “reality” of the dominance of American and European power in the world, this “requires that [Israeli Jews] accept that [Americans and Europeans] have a right” to impose pressure on Israel to resolve the dispute as they believe to be moral and just. If we’re going by the facts on the ground, from the perspective of realpolitiek, then Israeli Jews need to accept that they are a small minority in the world and that American and Europeans “have the right to rule” international relations & to interfere in local ones purely by virtue of their global power since this is the game of international relations. This is not my perspective, but it is the outcome of the framework and logic you apply. It has absolutely nothing to do with some purported notion of Jews as being uniquely evil. No: the Israel/Palestine issue is simply a global political problem at this point. The fact that many people in the world disagree with proposed Israeli solutions is not anti-Semitism, it is simply intense disagreement. The fact that the rest of the world does not agree that a Jewish nation-state is essential to the safe future of Jews is not anti-Semitism but disagreement. The West has learned, even if it does not always implement these lessons, the dangers of ethno-religious nationalism. It no longer “believes” in this in an institutionalized fashion. A country that still does while calling itself democratic and committed to the rule of law – even as it justifies mass punishment, mass incarceration, extra-judicial killing, dispropriation, and discrimination in the name of safeguarding the ethno-religious nation can then only seem old-fashioned and destructive. The belief that every “people” has a sovereign right to its own territory and state at the expense of other “peoples” is no longer persuasive. One cannot be both an ethno-religious nation-state and an egalitarian democracy with the rule of law and equality for all, irrespective descent, religion, and culture. To state this is not anti-Semitism, but realism.

    • neffer January 12, 2014 at 11:10 am | #

      Markha Valenta,

      I disagree with just about every word you have written. The world, by and large, could care less about the dispute. Arabs and Muslims care quite a bit. Christians – primarily those who hate Jews – care quite a bit. Chinese and Japanese care very, very little. Indians care very little.

      It is, in fact, Antisemitism that drives people to obsess about Israel, to claim the country is an “apartheid” state, to claim the country is the worst of the worst among states. It is a small dispute that ought be important to those actually involved, not the outside Jew haters. If the world does not like Israel, the world can f–k itself.

      My suggestion to you is that you read a few books about Antisemitism. Nearly everything said about Israel corresponds exactly – one to one – to what has always been said of Jews. It is all lies.

      Please do not tell me garbage that Antisemitism is not a major factor among those who obsess about Israel. Somehow people think that Jew hatred ended with WWII. Needless to say, there are still people – and not merely uneducated people – who have a strong and innate revulsion to Jews and Judaism, and thus also to Zionism. There have also been some, who, cognizant of their hatred of the Jews, have realized it to be an irrational prejudice and have, as a result, stood up against their own deeply felt convictions. For example, the great German theology, Karl Barth, known for his advocacy of Jewish causes, confessed in a letter on September 5, 1967:

      I am decidedly not a philosemite, in that in personal encounters with living Jews (even Jewish Christians) I have always, so long as I can remember, had to suppress a totally irrational aversion, naturally suppressing it at once on the basis of all my presuppositions, and concealing it totally in my statements, yet still having to suppress and conceal it. Pfui! is all that I can say to this in some sense allergic reaction of mine. But this is how it was and is.

      Do you really think that what Barth calls an irrational aversion is limited to a few people or only uneducated people? Do you know anything about the history and hatred directed against the Jews? Do you think that WWII was a one off event?

      I do not object to people trying to help the Palestinians. That’s fine with me. However, they do not face anything like what the Jew haters claim. And, Palestinians have contributed more than their share towards making the dispute impossible to settle. This is not a difficult thing. Accepting the fact that the Jewish people have legitimately returned to their ancestral home is not such a difficult thing for them to accept, if they really wanted to settle the dispute.

      • Donald Pruden, Jr. a/k/a, The Enemy Combatant January 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm | #

        Can you disagree with this, “neffer”?: The United States pays out of its national treaury the money Israel uses to dispossess the Palestinians of their land. This fact alone buys us the right to criticize Israeli policy, no matter how you characterize such criticism.

        You wanna pretend Palestinians are the Nazis re-incarnate, then no one can disabuse you or hophmi of your delusions (frankly, the Palestinians are doing quite a bad job of it if is they who are blockaded, strafed, check-pointed, imprisoned by the thousands without trial, their legislature kidnapped….) but as long as Israel takes US money, then the citizens who pay that money can weigh in on how it is spent by its client regime. This is because WE AMERICANS ARE IMPLICATED IN THE POLICIES OUR CLIENT REGIMES ADOPT.

        Tell you what. Have the Israeli leadership vote to reject ALL future economic support from the United States, then you can claim that any American criticism of Israel is suspect and selective. It won’t be true, of course, as long as Israeli policy does not change, but at least the position could be taken seriously.

      • Everett Benson January 17, 2014 at 12:35 am | #

        Pruden makes up his facts to suit his bias. The US does not pay out money to Israel that is used to dispossess the Palestinians. US aid is ear-marked for purchase of American goods, chiefly military goods, all made in the U.S., often with the use of Israeli technology which improves all American self-defense. So the money goes to shore up the American economy, employ its workers and engineers, companies, etc. It is not charity but massive self-benefit that drives that aid. On the other hand, American aid to Palestinian refugees goes to enhance Swiss bank accounts of Fatah leaders, and a good deal of it is diverted as well to large annual “salaries” to terrorist prisoners held in Israeli jails and to their families, thus directly supporting and sponsoring terrorism. That is the aid that runs directly counter to American interests worldwide.

        The difference between the use of aid, one enormously benefiting the US and its worldwide strategic interests, the other actually supporting terrorism, corruption and a fascist state machine, offers an insight into the two different societies that are recipients.

      • Everett Benson January 17, 2014 at 1:05 am | #

        And of course I should have mentioned that Israel is a fellow liberal democracy, with values very similar to the American ones (on the Jewish influence on basic American political values and institutions, see Eric Nelson, The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought, 2010). Israel is therefore quite naturally the most reliable and firmest ally of the U.S. in the entire Middle East. Both the Israeli people and the American people benefit from and overwhelmingly support that relationship, as shone in democratic elections and opinion polls. (Pruden typically enough is hostile to the democratic will of both the American people and the Israeli people.)

        The Obama administration, like most previous ones, has explicitly affirmed that Israel is a major strategic ally in U.S. global foreign policy. It benefits enormously from the Israel connection, in many ways. For example, the contribution of Israeli Nobel Prize winners and other Israeli scientists to American scientific and medical advances is enormous, enhancing and even saving many American lives every year. American military technology, from airplanes to tanks and software, has been greatly enhanced by Israeli innovations, contributing to the protection of American lives and supporting American goals around the world. Technologically, Israel is a world center of innovation, whose products are in everyone’s computer and mobile phone. (I believe therefore that in all honesty — if one can use the word here — the BDS advocates should ban and throw away their computers and mobile phones altogether, for these greatly benefit the Israeli economy and often involve workers from the “settlements” and even Palestinian or at least Israeli Arab workers. They should also repudiate for themselves all Israel’s medical advances, which are saving lives around the world.)

        Naturally and tellingly, BDS boycotters want to stop all those benefits of American-Israeli friendship, including the benefits to Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. By the way, on the anti-American bent of the ASA discipline which helps to explain its eventual BDS tilt as well, see Alan Wolfe’s article in the New Republic back in 2003: “Anti-American Studies,” online at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/anti-american-studies

        Not coincidently, with the Obama fixed policy of weakness and withdrawal from its allies, the Chinese and Russian are now trying to move into the former U.S. place in the Middle East, seeking to divert Israeli contributions to themselves, precisely because Israel’s contributions and scientific importance, even to military technology, are so great and world-leading in quality.

  4. J. Otto Pohl January 12, 2014 at 8:36 am | #

    If the Palestinians were to get over 1948 the Zionists would just push the goal posts forward and demand they get over 1967. The idea of a two state solution was first broached by the PDFLP in 1974. In practice it got nowhere. The only reason some Zionists now claim to be in favor of a two state solution is that it has become obvious that the Palestinians are going to soon once again push for a one state solution which will mean the end of Zionism. The reason for this change of course is that a two state solution has become impossible.

    • hophmi January 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm | #

      “If the Palestinians were to get over 1948 the Zionists would just push the goal posts forward and demand they get over 1967. The idea of a two state solution was first broached by the PDFLP in 1974. In practice it got nowhere”

      That’s because the PDFLP was a tiny party with no grassroots support.

      “The only reason some Zionists now claim to be in favor of a two state solution is that it has become obvious that the Palestinians are going to soon once again push for a one state solution which will mean the end of Zionism. ”

      Most Jews have favored a two-state solution for at least two decades, now, so I really have no clue what you’re talking about.

  5. afraid to say who I really am January 12, 2014 at 8:54 am | #

    since we’re talking history, and you raised some of the questions, let’s examine what proposition undergirds all of this thinking:

    1) Palestinian belief: Israel was created as a means for Jews to exterminate a certain group of Arabs from the earth.

    2) Israeli belief: Arab opposition to Israel is continuous with a centuries-long worldwide campaign of hatred and genocide against Jews.

    The problem with everything you are saying, Corey, is that #2 makes sense, is widely known, and even has history dating back to exactly the period you mention (by the way, which side were the Arab states on during WWII? It’s an interesting history, worth reading into, because a lot of people in the Middle East, to put it charitably, were not on the Allies’ side).

    What about #1? What evidence is there of a worldwide Jewish effort to destroy the Arab people? What historical genocides, wars, pogroms, have been coordinated and conducted in this interest?

    I am not a Zionist–I believe a religious state was always a mistake. I believe that puts me on the Left inside Israel, did I live there. But to buy into the frame the Palestinians offer, as Neffer tries to suggest, is to posit #1 above, a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence and which, frankly, makes little sense–not least because #2 is clearly true.

    That the conflict goes this deep is evident no more clearly than in the Palestinians’ deliberate use of World War II rhetoric (including the word “Nazi”) to describe the Jews.

    Jews, like blacks, indigenous people, Roma, and some others, have been marginalized, ostracized, murdered, and exterminated throughout Western history. Arabs simply have not. The world tried to rectify this situation in 1948 after the worst genocide we have ever seen. From that moment, huge numbers of people have fought against it, 100% continuous with the hatred that already existed. If you think it is politically or ethically wise to abstract away from that history so as to ignore the context in which Israel exists, we live in very different realities. If the US had given African Americans their own country at some point in the past, for example in the deep south, I guarantee you it would be the site of terrible conflict, even today. KKK people would call the blacks there “slave holders” and “plantation owners” and accuse them of “lynching.” I guarantee you the African-Americans would have to do bad things to defend the territory they’d been given. But I would never even consider siding against them.

    • J. Otto Pohl January 12, 2014 at 9:23 am | #

      Lots of Arabs including Palestinians fought with the Allies. Even in occupied France a number of resistance fighters were in fact Moroccan Arabs. In contrast almost no Palestinians fought with the Axis powers. Those Arabs that did were almost all from North Africa. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem helped recruit Bosnians for the Waffen SS fighting against Tito’s partisans, but he was only one man.

      Your projection of Palestinian beliefs is a straw man. What many Palestinians believe is that the Israelis want as much territory from the former British Mandate of Palestine with as few Arabs in it as possible. Nur Masalah has done a pretty good job of proving that this has indeed been the goal of Zionism. To achieve this they have forcibly expelled a number of Palestinians from the territory first in 1948 and again to a lesser extent in 1967. I am not sure where you are getting the idea that Palestinians believe that Israel was created to physically exterminate them like was done to the Jews in the Holocaust.

      Number two seems equally silly. Palestinian resistance to settler colonialism isn’t any different in its motivation than similar movements against European settlers in Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Namibia. The Israelis know this. Their linking of everything to the Holocaust is no different than the Afrikaners constant harping about their genocide at the hands of the British during the Boer War was during the years of apartheid. Yes the Nazis murdered about a third of the world’s Jews and the British killed a quarter of the Afrikaners in concentration camps. But, neither fact has anything to do with Israeli and South African apartheid.

      The comment just gets sillier after that comparing the indigenous population of Palestine to the KKK, a group composed of the descendants of settler colonists. To make the analogy work you would have to have African-American colonists establish a colony where they disenfranchise the indigenous population. This actually happened, but in Liberia, not the US South. You might want to look at the history of Liberia and the mistreatment of indigenous Africans there by settlers. Their dominance came to an end in 1980. Yes, the Americo-Liberians did horrible things to the indigenous Africans and no they were not justified.

      • neffer January 12, 2014 at 11:26 am | #

        I think, if you actual investigate the matter, that you will find that the leader of the Palestinian Arabs lived, during WWII, in Germany and was close with the Nazi regime and, as the record shows, he worked hard to have as many Jews as possible killed and was, in fact, knowledgeable about the numbers of Jews being killed. Moreover, he worked with the Nazi regime for purposes of setting up a plan, if the Germans were successful (and had won their battles in Egypt and moved into historic Palestine), in which the Germans would, as they had done in portions of Eastern Europe, used the local populations to kill off the Jewish population.

        This has all been recently documented by two German historians, Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cuppers, in their book, Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das “Dritte Reich”, die Araber und Palästina, (i.e., Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine”). The book was released in English as Nazi Palestine, which missed the point (and which is why I provide a better translation for of the original title. I trust you know that they are quite well known historians. French writer Bernard Henri Lévy, in his fascinating book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism writes, with respect to this:

        First, that Arab anti-Semitism was not, as is always said, a circumstantial anti-Semitism, mainly linked to English support for the nascent Israeli state, which the Arabs therefore saw as a colonial creation: Germany, says the Grand Mufti in a statement the authors discovered, is “the only country in the world that has not merely fought the Jews at home but have declared war on the entirety of world Jewry; in this war against world Jewry, the Arabs feel profoundly connected to Germany”—one could hardly put it better! And second, that there was, stationed in Athens, under the orders of the Obersturmbannführer Walther Rauff the very same man who refined and then developed the use of gas trucks at Auschwitz, a special intervention force, the Einsatzgruppe Ägypten, intended to reach Palestine and liquidate the 500,000 European Jews who had already taken refuge in the Yishuv in the event Rommel won the battle of the desert: this was an Arab unit, and it was al- Husseini who, there again, in his conversations with Eichmann, had put the final touches on the intervention plan, which should indicate his full and entire participation in the Final Solution; and only Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein stymied the project for extermination.

        Enough said.

      • J. Otto Pohl January 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm | #

        You are saying that because of the opinions of one man who was not elected by anybody that everybody who shares his nationality should be deprived of all human rights forever. The Mufti was not responsible for the Holocaust and he does not represent all Palestinians today and forever. Under this logic the crimes of Kaganovich justify the Holocaust.

      • Everett Benson January 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm | #

        Note Pohl’s dodge that the Grand Mufti was “only one man,” and cannot be made a representative of Palestinian values or “militancy.” That one man led the Palestinians during the 1920s and 30s, and tutored Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians from the 60s through to the first decade of the 21st century, in his own deeply folkist, Nazistic and antisemitic values, inspiring PLO terrorist tactics and putting the mainstream stamp on the current generation of Palestinian “nationalism.” Mahmoud Abbas has very recently alluded to the Grand Mufti as a “hero” and model for Palestinian “resistance” and values. Etc.

    • El Cid (@EnBuenora) January 12, 2014 at 9:23 am | #

      “Jews, like blacks, indigenous people, Roma, and some others, have been marginalized, ostracized, murdered, and exterminated throughout Western history. Arabs simply have not.”

      That phrase “throughout Western history” is a curious one in this example — for example, if colonial powers in North Africa slaughter hundreds of thousands of locals (Arabs, Berbers, a grand variety of ethnic and national groups), is that “Western history”?

      If the US or a European nation directly or via a client state back the slaughtering of tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Middle East, is that “Western history”?

    • Jonny Butter January 12, 2014 at 9:24 am | #

      um…’afraid to say who I really am’? Your comment is a mess.

      “What evidence is there of a worldwide Jewish effort to destroy the Arab people?” is not what your #1 says.

  6. Corey Robin January 13, 2014 at 11:09 am | #

    I would urge anyone who’s interested in the topic of the 700,000 refugees to consult Benny Morris’s The Origins of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (Cambridge University Press, 1988, 2004). This is considered the gold standard among historians and scholars (Morris has become a fairly conservative Zionist). I’ve found there’s no point arguing with people who, on this issue, are the equivalent of climate change denialists. So I won’t. But anyone interested in the documentary record should start with Morris and go from there.

    • hophmi January 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm | #

      ” have said to me that the first thing the Palestinians need to do is get over 1948. That was the year that the Israelis drove out some 700,000 Palestinians from the land, creating a nation of permanent refugees who would never be allowed to return to their homes. ”

      That is not what I said. I said that Palestinians have to stop trying to reverse the outcome of 1948, and by extension, to stop confusing their national liberation struggle with their struggle simply to negate the Jewish state. There is a very big difference between that and forgetting 1948.

      “Aside from not really providing a credible alternative to BDS, it’s a brutal, almost grotesque, argument for a Jew to make. We have an entire liturgy devoted not only to the sorrow of being expelled from that very land, but to the obligation not to forget it.”

      No, it really isn’t, Corey. And I wish you would avoid imputing to Jews special obligations and special responsibilities to act in a certain way. We’re human beings. And in the context of historical nationhood, Israel has much less blood on its hands than almost any nation I can think of. How many innocent people died to found America? How much fratricide has taken place in Arab nations (hundreds of thousands of dead in Syria)? How many innocents have died in African nations in the past two generations? And how many innocent Europeans died in WWI and WWII?

      Jews may talk about Jerusalem in their liturgy. We have that institutionalized memory. But we have always tried to thrive wherever we were, and until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we never tried to turn the tide of history by returning, and even then, as anti-ZIonists love to point out, we did so in contravention of long-established religious norms against establishing a Jewish political entity in the Holy Land in the pre-messianic age (even though they always ignore the rest of that idea, which is that Jews must suffer in exile until that point).

      And when we did establish a state, we did it the hard way, building most of the place up from scratch, from an Ottoman backwater into a functioning, sustainable democracy. That’s not to say that Palestinians didn’t suffer in the process, not to say that Palestinians do not deserve a state now. But Israel didn’t come into being because Jews were looking to take revenge on their oppressors. It came into being because we built it, fought for it (including fighting on the side of our colonial masters for a greater cause), and in the end, compromised a lot to bring it into existence. I’m not convinced that the Palestinians are interested in building their own state, because they’ve done comparatively little with what they have so far, and they’ve focused much more energy on hating us, than on helping themselves. That’s why my solution is for Palestinians to keep building modern cities like Rawabi, and to work at developing functioning government and non-governmental institutions. The Jews working on these projects with Palestinians, project the BDS movement would boycotts, are not supporters of the settlements; some of them even boycott settlement products personally. They’re peaceniks, And they’re horrified by the goals of the BDS movement, and by the rhetoric of its supporters, which is unremittingly belligerent.

    • Everett Benson January 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm | #

      I refer Corey Robin to my earlier post, above, relating to Morris’ scholarly reliability in the book she cites, and how Efraim Karsh has taken its “evidence” apart footnote by footnote, invented quote by invented quote. I give the references to some of those studies by Karsh, in my earlier post. As I also point out there, Morris reversed himself on this matter after the Intifada of 2001-2007 (proving yet again that his “scholarship” has always sailed with the wind of his bias), stating now plainly and emphatically, that Israel did not drive out the Palestinians but on the contrary sought to keep them in Israel, as is of course very well-documented anyway in general histories for example in regards to the Haifa Arab communities. But he did not apologize for his earlier doctored “quotes” from Ben-Gurion, intentional falsifications, etc. So his work is highly misleading, both before and after his disillusionment with Arafat’s P.A. As Karsh showed in excruciating detail, never responded to by Morris, his work is not “the gold standard,” rather “the fool’s-gold standard.”

  7. Dan Floros January 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm | #

    If I may tack in a different direction for a moment, I would like to address Prof. Robin’s comparison of the Jewish and Palestinian exile narratives. As this thread amply shows, the expulsions of 1948 are still firmly rooted in modern historical time. This keeps the door open to all manner of debate, disagreement, and polemic. Benny Morris may be as close to an authority as we’re going to get, but we are far from agreement on the basic facts. Partisans of each side continue to hew to their most favored narratives, making it difficult to achieve even a modicum of historical consensus.

    On the other hand, the biblical narratives of Jewish exile, exodus, slavery, etc. have long since passed into the realm of myth and legend. Their formative effect on Jewish identity and culture, and by extension the manner in which Jews are perceived by outsiders, is a done deal. This is ironic, considering that modern experts have roundly debunked the Egyptian slavery story, and the fact that the Babylonian exiles were a relatively small (albeit elite) percentage of the Hebrew population. Whatever; exiles they were when the old testament was written, so exiles they stay.

    One need not approve of the way Zionist partisans attempt to de-legitimize the Nakba. However, I think I understand why it poses a tempting target. In another thousand years or so, when the slow process by which these messy historical events are smoothed over by the sands of time (sorry) and admitted into the canon of myth, the factual nit-picking will end.

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