Zionist Historiographical Trickery: Benny Morris and 1948.

Asad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service

Saturday, September 27, 2008

When I read Benny Morris’ massive study, 1948, I became convinced that many of the reviewers in the press did not probably read the whole thing. I say so because even reviews in serious publications, like the Economist–the best magazine there is–did not note the racist and disturbingly political biases of the author. The agenda of the author (who at least has revealed his true colors when he expressed his acceptance of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians) is not hidden if you bother to read the book and the endnotes.

But at least one thing made me laugh: Israeli historians now have a habit: they of course continue to ignore and disregard Palestinian narratives from their histories, but they include a token account, that of the diaries of Khalil As-Sakakini, and only those diaries. The diaries have been published in Hebrew so it does not require knowledge of Arabic: even Tom Segev in his really massive, One Palestine: Complete, ignores Palestinian but manages to include that Sakakini account. Morris does the same, but it is hardly surprising.
In fact, it is very clear in the book by Morris that he really does not think that Palestinians amount to humans. He not only ignores their sufferings but ignores their deaths. Only Zionist victims are mentioned and counted. Now you are by now wondering (assuming that you have not dosed off) about the trickery I mention in the headline: you see, I have encountered this feature in Israeli historiogrophy, like in Yehoshua Porath in his history of the Palestinian national movement. You would be reading some analysis of account on Palestinian public opinion or even sentiments and feelings, and then you look at the endnotes only to find a Jewish Agency’s report, or some report by some Zionist organization.

Do you see what I am saying. For example, Morris is keen in this book to assume throughout that Palestinian Christians and Muslims were at each other’s throats since the beginning of the Zionist invasion of the land. So keen, that I encountered only one reference to the Muslim-Christian associations when they were the nucleus of Palestinian national organization in Palestine. On p. 13, he goes on about fears and hatred between Muslim and Christian Palestinians (and slogans that were invented by agents of the Zionist organiztion), and then you go to the endnote and you find some silly reference to a silly report by some silly agent of the silly Zionist organization at the time. No evidence, whatever, at a time when a Christian Palestinian (Emile Ghuri) was chosen to lead the party of the Mufti (Hajj Amin Al-Husayni).
Morris also typically identifies any Palestinian opposition to Zionism as anti-Semitic (p. 8; he finds some obscure article by some obscure person and yet he does not cite the thousands of Palestinian statements, poems, flyers, and proclamations that clearly expressed opposition to anti-Semitism. He could have bothered checked the private collection of Akram Zu`aytar which contains all that and more, but he did not. And Zionist discussions about the explusion of Arabs from their land is discussed casually by Morris (see pp. 18-19).
His account of how Palestinians fared under Zionism is as fictious as was the account in Herzl’s work of fiction, Alteuland. Morris says that Palestinian assets “grew substantially” under Zionism (p. 25). And when he cites outrageous statements by Zionists, he never offers any comments, when he is unrestrained if any Palestinain said anything that bothered him. He again casually cites Ben Gurion when he said about Arabs: “And it is better to expel them than jail them.” (p. 52) And what is hilarious about this book is that–typical of Zionist accounts–there is such love expressed for the Hashemites, presumably due to the their services to Zionism over the decades. (He says that the Jordanian regime “flourishes” (p. 419) under King PlayStation). He even maintains that all Arab leaders at the time suffered from a crisis of legitimacy..except King `Abdullah (p. 66), as if he died from high cholesterol.

And the notion that Plan D did not intend to expel Arabs because it did not say so on paper (p. 121) is as ridiculous as the claim by anti-Semitic David Irving when he talks about the smokin’ gun and the Nazis. He admits in the book (twice) that Zionists killed more POWs than the other side did but he always finds excuses to justify the deed and to justify the FACT that more prisoners were killed by Zionists than by the Arabs by talking about Zionist military victories and control of more lands.(p. 153)
The conclusion of this propagandistic book is clearly written for the readers in the West in post-Sep. 11 world. He goes on (in a section that is written by the style you read by anti-Islam haters in neo-con media these days) to elaborate on the “Jihadi impulse.” (p. 395) He wants to convince the reader that Palestinian Arab opposition to Zionism was rooted in religious bigotry: as if the Palestinians would have acted differently if their lands were stolen and occupied, say, by Buddhists or Hindus or atheists.

But then Morris has to contend with the fact of Palestinian Christian opposition to Zionism. He has to explain it. So what does Morris do here. I kid you not, he says this: “Even Christian Arabs appear to have adopted the Jihadi discourse.” (p. 395) I kid you not. Is that not funny? So George Habash and Nayif Hawitimah and Edward Said and `Azmi Bisharah are all motivated by Jihadi impulses. Thus is Zionist historiogrophy.

It is also equally comical when he maintains that the Arabs were stronger than the Yishuv in Palestine. To bolster his case, or to make it sound less ridiculous, he says that they were stronger in “geopolitical terms”(p. 398)–whatever that means. Maybe by that token, Panama is stronger than the US in “geopolitical terms”. He does not shy away from invoking the racist arguments of Patai and others about Arabs: he talks about Arab traditions of “disunity, corruption, and organizational incompetence.” (p. 399) I guess that Olmert is resigning due to the Arab tradition of corruption. And is Morris trying to make us laugh when he refers to the Zionist forces as “ragtag Jewish militia”(p. 400). Ragtag in comparison to what? The Arab forces with their 19th century rifles in some cases? He does admit that both sides killed civilians but he argues that the Arabs killed civilians “deliberately” while the Zionists did so accidentally or recklessly but provides no evidence for the claim (p. 404). He then adds that massacres decreased after the transformtion of forces on both sides into regular armies but then adds casually “except for the series of atrocities committed by IDF troops…” (p. 405). Is this guy for real?


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