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General Articles
Historical record comes back to bite the Israel-haters


May 01, 2008 12:15am AEST

Peter Manning, in The Sydney Morning Herald, cites historian Benny Morris to discredit 'Israeli propaganda'

FOR many decades after (the creation of the state of Israel) it was the Israeli propaganda narrative that the Palestinians had simply abandoned their country, not fought enough for it and left for friendly Arab countries.
The narrative conveniently defined the Palestinians as ignorant and cowardly.

But since the opening of the Israeli archives in the past decade, that narrative has been demolished by a younger band of Israeli historians - Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev and others - who have argued that the period from December 1947 to May 1948 involved a series of massacres designed to terrorise the native population into abandoning their homes and fleeing to safety.

And in Pappe's latest book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2006), he draws from the archives of David Ben-Gurion, Haganah and Irgun papers and other sources to reveal how deliberate and articulated was the famous Plan Dalet of March 10, 1948: the plan by Jewish leaders to ethnically cleanse Arab cities (like Haifa and Jaffa) and villages getting in the way of the creation of the Jewish state.

In a letter to The Irish Times, Benny Morris sets the record straight:

ISRAEL-HATERS are fond of citing my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections. In defiance of the will of the
international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 1947, (Palestinian Arabs) launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

Most of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders).

There was no Zionist "plan" or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of "ethnic cleansing". Plan Dalet of March 10, 1948, was the master plan of the Haganah - the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces - to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. And the invasion of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq duly occurred, on May 15.

It is true that Plan D gave the regional commanders carte blanche to occupy and garrison or expel and destroy the Arab villages along and behind the front lines and the anticipated Arab armies' invasion routes. And it is also true that midway in the 1948 war the Israeli leaders decided to bar the return of the "refugees" (those "refugees" who had just assaulted the Jewish community), viewing them as a potential fifth column and threat to the Jewish state's existence. I for one cannot fault their fears or logic.

Nushin Arbabzadah, in The Guardian, on Afghan suicide bombers:

IN 2007, a stranger appeared in Kandahar. He flagged down a taxi and asked to be driven around the town. After an hour, the driver was asked to stop the car. But before getting out, the passenger had this message: "You are an unlucky man. Today you missed the chance of becoming a martyr." That was when the driver realised that he had been giving a lift to a suicide bomber looking for potential targets. He decided to quit working as a taxi driver and find a less risky occupation.

The story first appeared in Afghanistan in 2007 and soon reached England via the internet.

It is quite likely a fabrication, simply because it is too good to be true. The suicide bomber is efficient, the innocent driver has a lucky escape and there is no bloodshed. This is the opposite of the reality of suicide bombing in Afghanistan, a reality of confused teenage bombers, poorly planned missions, premature detonations and heavy civilian losses. Like everything else in contemporary Afghanistan, suicide bombings have tragicomic elements.

To illustrate, here is a true story. The protagonist is a wannabe suicide bomber. He fills his car with explosives and sets off towards his target. Halfway through the journey, it suddenly dawns on him: Petrol! He is running out of fuel. A change of plan, then. He drives to a petrol station, the backseat of the car piled with explosives. The station attendant notices and becomes suspicious. He calls the police and the driver is arrested. If Hollywood made a film based on the story, they'd call it Dude, Where's my Petrol?




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