I watched an hour-long interview with Israeli historian Ilan Pappe today. Thanks to my friend Malcolm for sharing it with me.
Professor Pappe wrote The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006) and other books, looking at the history of the creation of the State of Israel from the contemporary documentary evidence rather than the myths and propaganda perpetuated by Israeli leaders over the past 60+ years.
Professor Pappe reminds me of historian Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States.”
Pappé is one of Israel’s New Historians who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948, and the corresponding expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s future leaders. He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.
Professor Pappe has received many death threats presumably because his research and writing threatens the dominant narrative of so many Israelis and Jews around the world.
In this interview, he speaks about three myths:
- The myth of the invincible Israeli Army. Israeli leaders deliberately produced an atmosphere of fear in 1948 that Israel was on the eve of the second holocaust. Pappe says that was a lie and the Arab nations were not preparing for war.
- The myth of the refugee problem. In March 1948, David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan and other Israeli leaders decided to expel 750,000 to 800,000 Palestinians by force, if necessary. This expulsion included destroying Palestinian villages, instilling fear in the native population, and massacring thousands of men, women and children.
- The myth of the peace efforts. The Israeli leadership has tried to convince the world that the Arab nations do not want peace with Israel, while the evidence actually shows that the Arabs have offered serious proposals for peace consistent with the framework established by the United Nations, but each effort has been rejected by Israel.
Americans who care about the current tragedy in the Middle East need to watch this interview. I learned alot from it, and I suspect many of my friends and family will too.
However, Americans who want to remain in their comfort zone — believing that Israel is the only victim in the Middle East who has a “right to defend herself” — this interview is not for you. Rather, I recommend that you read “The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World” by Miroslav Volf.