Ilan Pappe - Stop the War Student Conference 2009. Written by Chris Edwards
Here is a video clip of a speech made by Israel's greatest historian, Ilan Pappe, to the Stop the War Coalition Student Conference last week. During the speech, he comments on the significance of the TUC Congress decisions on Palestine. Crucially, he highllights their weakness: the TUC is to confine itself to boycotting goods originating from the illegal West Bank settlments, but the Israelis are very skilled at disguising the origin of goods made in these settlements. So, while the boycott is an important development, it will be difficult if not impossible to implement.
Ilan Pappe dismisses Digernes’ objectivity-defense: “We are all political”
NTNU dean Torbjørn Digernes has come under some criticism for NTNU’s seminar series on the Palestine-Israel conflict, where both the organizing committee and the speakers are well known for being outspoken critics of Israel. Among the critics are these students, pointing out among other: Not surprisingly we find that the manner in which the topic is presented is rooted in the traditional arguments of the left-of-centre, and the strongest opponents of the state of Israel. Neither is the choice of speakers an arbitrary decision. Here we find strong critics of the state of Israel, both from Norway and abroad.
Another critic of the seminar series is this NTNU academic, who writes: Dean Torbjørn Digernes has claimed that “NTNU has an importent role to play in this conflict”, but is it really the task of NTNU to take sides in such a sensitive and difficult situation? For if NTNU is to have an opinon on this matter, then we ought also to do something about, for instance, the genocide in Sudan, North-Korea’s suppression of its own population and Iran’s attempts at becoming a nuclear power. The list of noble causes is long, but it is my opinion that NTNU should stick with its primary objective, that is to be a university which opens its doors for cooperation with all academics, be they from Isarel, China, Russia, North-Korea or Iran.
In a recent post on the website of The Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), Emily Tall notes that: “These names and those of several Norwegian anti-Israeli lecturers leave little doubt about the pro-Palestinian thrust of the series“.
Dean Torbjørn Digernes replies to the criticism with a letter on his Dean’s Page, where he states: …if a researcher is to maintain his credibility as a researcher, it is required that she clearly differentiates between acting as a citizen – entitled to her opinons on the basis of her personal values and political beliefs – and on presentations based on scientific requirements for documentation and totality. In other words, Digernes relies upon the professional ethos of the speakers. As it happens Ilan Pappe, one of the most controversial guest speakers at the seminar, outrightly dismisses any such notion of objectivity.
In An interview with Ilan Pappe by Baudowiin Loos on June 16th 2008, we find the following: Unlike other new historians, Pappe makes no secret of his political, or ideological agenda. “We are all political”, he argues. “There is no historian in the world who is objective. I am not as interested in what happened as in how people see what’s happened … . I admit that my ideology influences my historical writings… Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts…We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers…
During his visit to Oslo in June 2009, Israeli historian and Naqba-nestor Benny Morris emphasized exactly this aspect of Pappe’s historical perspective. As there were no Norwegian journalists present to cover that event (a two-day seminar on the refugee crisis in the Middle East, see here and here , video recordings here and here), Torbjørn Digernes might be excused for not being aware of it. Now that he is, he might want to elaborate on how it can be scholarly legitimate to invite only adherents of the Palestinian narrative to a seminar series on the Palestine-Israel conflict under the condition that they present their findings in a balanced manner, when the most prominent guest speaker to that seminar series openly professes that he is not objective.
First a dramatic clip from Al Jazeera English. Second, Sherif's summary of and comments on the continuing bad news, not least including an affirmation 8/5/09 by U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (supposed crusader for the public interest) signaling that Congress fully supports Israel's continued occupation of, and violent armed defense of, its settlements onto land and into homes stolen from Palestinian farmers. Finally, a detailed interview with our very special returning guest, the distinguished Professor Ilan Pappé (website: ilanpappe.com; author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, [Oneworld Publications, 2007]). Professor Pappé explains why "two-state" can never be a "solution."
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This Week In Palestine (a weekly part of Truth and Justice Radio) is (normally) a three-quarter-hour segment of news from Palestine and discussion of issues relevant to the Palestinians' struggle for freedom from Israel's brutal military occupation and colonization, and now bombing, devastation, and murder, of their homeland.
It's part of Truth and Justice Radio, aired Sundays 6:00-9:30am ET on WZBC 90.3FM, Newton, MA, streaming (and also archived for two weeks) at wzbc.org. Our website, truthandjusticeradio.org, links to This Week In Palestine's 2008/2009 audio archives; this and earlier editions are obtainable at radio4all.net by typing "This Week In Palestine" into its search box.
The most important message we repeat is that all caring humans must GET INVOLVED.
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli political scientist on the faculty of Haifa University, is a frequent speaker for pro-Palestinian groups including ISM, Al-Awda, and Divestment from Israel, and he is an advisory board member for the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation (CPRR). A “new historian” whose stated goal is to “debunk …myths” in Israel’s heroic nationalist narrative, Pappe almost uncritically embraces the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli atrocities, including rapes and massacres. He contends that Israelis are either in denial or ignorant of this evil because it has been hidden through the Israeli establishment’s “powerful indoctrination machine.”
In his view, Zionists/Israelis always intended to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and did so ruthlessly in 1948, started all the Arab-Israeli wars, committed atrocities during the 1948 War, consistently refused to make peace, established an apartheid regime and still hope to ethnically cleanse the Territories. He advocates divestment and boycotts of Israel, the right of return of Palestinians and a one-state solution.
Pappe has credibility when he speaks because he is an Israeli and on the faculty at Haifa University. But he is a controversial, marginal figure at the farthest end of Israel’s political spectrum. “I am the most hated man in Israel,” he said in an interview in 1999. Nor are his scholarship and conclusions widely accepted. “In my case,” he admitted in the same interview, mainstream historians “dispute everything. They seem to accept Benny Morris more easily than me….” He admits this is partially because Morris tries to rely on documented evidence while he is “more relativist,” and draws conclusions from what he thinks is “implicit” in the documents and because “[my] ideology influences my historical writing." Consider some of Pappe’s positions:
1. Quotes clearly showing historical bias:
“If you look at Israeli textbooks, curricula, media, and political discourse you see how this chapter in Jewish history - the chapter of expulsion, colonization, massacres, rape, and the burning of villages - is totally absent. It is not there. It is replaced by a chapter of heroism, glorious campaigns and amazing stories of moral courage and superiority unheard of in any other histories of people's liberation in the 20th century.”
“Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth-seekers.”
“…my [pro-Palestinian] bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the 'truth' when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.... Mine is a subjective approach....”(A History of Modern Palestine)
“I use Palestinian sources for the Intifada: they seem to me to be more reliable, I admit." March 30, 2004
2. Quotes clearly stating historical mistruths:
‘[T]he Jewish state was built on the ruins of the indigenous people of Palestine, whose livelihood, houses, culture and land had been systematically destroyed.”
“[T]here is what I call the 'Nakba Denial….I think there is a similar ‘Holocaust Denial’ on the Palestinian side…..”
“I condemned the uprooting of the Palestinians and the violence inflicted on them, as well as the de—Arabization of Jews who came from Arab countries to Israel, the imposition of military rule on Palestinians in Israel before 1967 and the de—facto Apartheid policies put in place after 1967. I also cry out against the callous Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I do it not only as human being, but also as Jew, who feels appalled that such crimes can be committed by Jews after the holocaust. I studied history to find out why it happened and gave answers through analyzing Zionist ideology, the historical colonialist context in which Zionism emerged and so on. . .” March 30, 2004.
“One utopia envisaged by an Austro-Hungarian Jew, Theodore Herzel, ruined Palestine and its people.” September 27, 2004
Pappe believes that Israel must “bring an end to more than a century of colonization, occupation and dispossession of Palestinians . . . 37 years of endless brutal and callous oppression of the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and . . 57 years of colonization and dispossession of the Palestinians as a whole. . .” April 20, 2005
After the failure of the Camp David meeting in 2000, "Israel was given a free hand" by the US to take any action it wanted in the West Bank and Gaza, which is why there have been "the worst atrocities committed against the Palestinian people" October, 30, 2005 Speech at the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco
3. Quotes showing support for terrorism:
“I fully support it (the second intifada) and regard it as a popular movement determined to stop a peace process which would have destroyed Palestine once and for all.”
4. Quotes advocating the "one-state solution":
“[T]he two-state solution nowadays is not the end of the occupation but continuing it in a different way.” Sept 16 2002.
On January 31, 2005 Pappe spoke at Columbia Universitie’s panel entitled “One State or Two: Alternative Proposals for Middle East Peace.” When it came to the Two-State solution Pappe said, “As a salesman, I would be hesitant to offer it.”
5. Quotes showing support for boycotting Israel, Israeli institutions, and Israeli academia:
When it comes to “Military and financial support to Israel” Ilan Pappe asserts that “any possible measure of decreasing such aid is most welcome.”
“Shielded by this particular support for academia, and other cultural media, the Israeli army and security services can go on, and will go on, demolishing houses, expelling families, abusing citizens and killing, almost every day, children and women without being accountable regionally and globally for their crimes. . .Calling for a boycott of your own state and academia is not an easy decision for a member of that academia.”
Pappe supports the boycott imposed on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) for "symbolizing aspects of the occupation." Haaretz, Haifa U. academic remains steadfast in support of boycott, April 27, 2005.
“I believe that unless external pressure is brought to bear on Israeli institutions involved in the occupation, including universities, the barbaric occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will continue."
6. Quotes on the Gaza disengagement:
“We [Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis, Tamar Yaron] believe Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz are considering to utilize provocation for vicious attacks in the near future on the approximately one and a half million Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip: a possible combination of intensified state terror and mass killing.” July 15, 2005.
7. Quotes comparing Israel to Nazis:
“They [my two sons] will do all they can to prevent the Nazi venom from slipping through the veins of its own and ultimate victims who came and colonized Palestine, uprooted its population and occupied and brutalized many of them.” March 30, 2004.