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Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
CAMERA may succeed to bring Ilan Pappe to account for his almost certain fabrication of a quote from David Ben-Gurion


Photo of Professor Ilan Pappé

Prof. Ilan Pappe. Email:  I.Pappe@exeter.ac.uk

Editorial Note:
Ilan Pappe, a former professor at Haifa University, now at the University of Exeter, has been long known for a highly controversial reading of the1948 war.  Pappe, along with Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim, created New History, a harshly critical account of Israel's conduct of the war.   Some years ago, he defended Teddy Katz, an MA student whose dissertation alleged that the Alexandroni Brigade carried out a massacre in Tantura, an Arab village outside Haifa.  Katz was sued by the Brigade's veterans in court and lost, but Pappe did not change his mind. The "Tantura massacre" has joined a long list of atrocities that he blamed Israel for committing in the process of what he describes as "ethnic cleansing" of Palestine.  
In spite of the fact that Efraim Karsh and even Benny Morris, the "founding  father" of New History, found much fault  with Pappe's "inventive" use of facts and quotes, nothing changed.  Pappe could get away with such practices because there is a large network of presses and academic journals that specialize in anti-Israel writings, whatever their academic veracity.  Once in print, such facts are propagated by an ever larger network of popular outlets that tend to delegitimize Israel.
CAMERA, an American-based media watchdog, may eventually succeed where others have failed. It has asked the Journal of Palestine Studies and the Oneworld Press as well as University of Exeter to bring Pappe to account for his almost certain fabrication of a quote from Ben-Gurion indicating that he had plotted the war all along in order to expel the Palestinians.

December 12, 2011

by Dexter Van Zile

Pappe Asked to Respond by University of Exeter and Journal of Palestine Studies

It looks like Ilan Pappe will finally have to explain himself for a quote he attributed to Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, in an academic journal, the Journal of Palestine Studies and in his 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Officials at University of Exeter have asked Pappe to respond to a challenge from CAMERA about the origin of the quote, for which Pappe has not provided a legitimate citation. The Journal of Palestine Studies has done the same thing.

Ilan Pappe is the go-to guy for anti-Zionist activists looking to justify their hostility toward Israel. In particular, his 2006 book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, published by Oneworld Publications, is a primer for anti-Israel activists.

Pappe reports on page 23 of his book that in 1937 David Ben-Gurion wrote the following in a letter to his son: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

(In Oneworld's proofs for chapter two of the text, the quotes are only around the first six words of this quote, but in a paperback copy of the published text, printed in 2007, the quotes appear around the entire sentence.)

The quote also appears in a Pappe-authored article titled “The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” published in the Autumn, 2006 edition The Journal of Palestine Studies. In this text, the quotation marks appear around the entire sentence.

It is a damning quote, but it's almost certainly a fabrication. In Dec. 2006, soon after the quote first appeared in print, another historian, Benny Morris, declared that the quote was an invention in a letter to The Independent.

Quote Not in Pappe's Sources

Morris is on solid ground in his assessment. The quote does not appear in any of the references that Pappé cites for it.

In Ethnic Cleansing, Pappe cites the July 12, 1937 entry in Ben-Gurion's journal and page 220 of the August-September issue of New Judea, a newsletter published by the World Zionist Organization. The quote appears nowhere in these texts. Pappe provides yet another source for this quote in the academic article published by The Journal of Palestine Studies. In this article, Pappe reports the quote appears in the 2004 edition of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict written by Charles D. Smith. The quote doesn't appear in this reference either.

Morris' statement that the quote attributed to Ben-Gurion was an “invention” should have prompted Pappe to either provide an accurate, verifiable source for the quote or to issue a retraction to prevent others from using it. Instead, the quote, which lacked a valid citation, lingered on – without correction or retraction – in the fever swamp of anti-Zionist commentary. For example, it eventually made its way into With God on Our Side, an anti-Israel documentary produced by American filmmaker Porter Speakman, Jr. in 2010.

After CAMERA challenged Speakman about the use of this quote in his movie, the filmmaker issued a correction.Speakman acknowledged that the quote could not be found in any of the sources Pappe cited and promised that it would be removed from future editions of the movie.

CAMERA has contacted Oneworld Publications, The Journal of Palestine Studies and officials at the University of Exeter, where Pappe serves as a professor.

Oneworld Publications has stated in a “tweet” that it is “looking into” the matter, but has provided no details.

The Journal of Palestine Studies reports that it has asked Pappe to write a clarification. If Pappe does not respond, JPS reports it will issue a statement of its own in its next issue, which is headed to the printer in late January.

An official from University of Exeter's Ethics Committee has stated that the matter is currently under review, that the university takes such concerns “very seriously” and that a report will be forthcoming.

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