Prof. Ilan Pappé: I.Pappe@exeter.ac.uk
In a decision to upgrade its quality, Iranian Press TV has employed Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah, a former editor of the Middle East Affairs Journal. Abd el Fattah forays into history are based on quoting Ilan Pappe and other radical Israeli scholars.
IAM has commented on Pappe's tendentious reading of history before. In his book, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples Pappe blamed British colonial-imperial powers for helping Jews to colonize the region. The theme of Jews as colonial builders by proxy fits the colonial or post-colonial theory popularized by Edward Said. As for Lord Balfour and the British cabinet who offered the Jews a homeland in Palestine, Pappe portrayed them as the colonial puppet masters.
This time around Pappe "found religion," in a manner of speech. In what looks like a rather belated discovery of the influence of Evangelical Christians (known as Christian Zionists) on the decision to grant Jews a homeland in Palestine, Pappe now is ready to proclaim Balfour to be a Christian Zionist.
As for Pappe, his capacity for "evolution" has landed him a front page gig on Press TV.
Iranian Press TV
Faulty premises plaguing peace in Palestine
Thu Jan 3, 2013 5:18PM GMT
In a paper by senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Haifa University, Ilan Pappe, The Palestine peace process: unlearned lessons of history, Pappe makes an extremely important observation in respect to the history of what we have come to know as the Palestine/Israel peace process.
He states that current US attempts at peace have failed because they are based upon three “faulty premises.” He presents the faulty premises and lists as the third, the following:
“Each attempt at peace can be seen as beginning from scratch, as if nothing had been tried before. At best the issues are seen as dating back to the late 1960s and are limited to the disposal of the areas occupied by Israel after the June 1967 war. But the roots of the problem go further back, to a less recognized war in 1948 when the Israelis expelled 250,000 Palestinians from their homeland and exerted control over Jerusalem.”
As Pape suggests, the historic peace processes have addressed only the impact of the June 1967 war, while ignoring an ongoing war that began in 1948 with the UN Partition Plan by some assessments and since 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, by some other assessments and opinions.
The lack of a proper historic approach in respect to the various incidents that shifted the balance of real power between the two peoples cannot be ignored in any honest assessment of peace process failure. How can we ignore the truth that from the very beginning the preponderance of power was given to Israel against the will of the Palestinian people and even against the desires of a majority of Jewish people?
The Balfour Declaration was an unpopular imposition, not only upon the Palestinian people, but also upon the British Jews, who originally rejected the idea of Jews as a people in need of a homeland. In The Zionist Movement and the Balfour Declaration: From Theodore Herzl to Lord Balfour’s Declaration, author Ronald Smith recognized that The Balfour Declaration resulted from the insistence and influence of the political elite and powerful pro-Zionist groups in Europe and the US.
He wrote, “The Balfour Declaration issued by British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour in 1917, declared that the government of Great Britain was in support of creating a national home for the Jews. However, the declaration faced strong opposition. Surprisingly the toughest opposition came from within the British Jewish community…the declaration did gain support with those in power in Britain and from pro-Zionist groups in America and Europe and thus began the immigration of the Jews to the Arab controlled land of Palestine.”
Pappe recognizes as do I, that from the very beginning the Palestinian people were disadvantaged by Britain, who he says was strongly under the influence of a Jewish policy. I believe that the primary influence was not Jewish but Christian and that Balfour was in fact the first recognizable Christian Zionist.
We know that Britain has historically claimed through the Church of England to be the true authority over Jerusalem (al-Quds) and the throne of David. Balfour, as a representative of the Queen and therefore the Church, very likely considered himself fulfilling Biblical prophecy by returning people who were believed to be the descendants of Abraham’s grandson Israel to Palestine, in preparation for the return of Jesus and rapture. This suggests that the first faulty premise of Israel’s narrative, preventing a solution to the current and illegal occupation of Palestine is the idea that the British Crown has divine authority over Palestine and therefore had a divine right to issue the Balfour Declaration.
How do we successfully argue that peace can only be achieved when there is a true equal balance of power between the Israelis and the Palestinians, when what we are facing is a supposedly divine decree issued by a European monarchy claiming to be descendent from Jesus Christ and the heir to the Throne of King David? This monarchy, through its mandate is declaring by divine writ that European Jews are an exclusively chosen people. To make matters worse they gave the Zionists of Israel the land and billions in weapons, security aid, and other types of foreign aid that amounts to billions of dollars per year for Israel, while the Palestinians receive almost nothing, not even from the neighboring Arab nation/states. Along with this injustice the people of Palestine are being subjected to a campaign of ethnic cleansing, genocide and apartheid. There has been no greater injustice committed against humanity in the past two centuries than the crime that is occurring in Palestine today.
There are also several other faulty premises that we must abandon if we are to achieve peace in Palestine and the region. The narrative that says God gave the land of Palestine to the ancient Hebrew people is one and that Jews ever had an extensive kingdom in or including Palestine is another, and the idea that 9th century Jewish coverts from East Europe can legally inherit anything from the ancient Hebrew people is yet another..
Among the Biblical scholars writing on these topics and questioning the claim of the converted Jews from Europe to a promised land in Palestine, is Alice Bach. Bach is a Catholic nun who undertook extensive Biblical research on the issue of land possession in respect to the so called Promised Land claimed by modern Jewish coverts. Bach wrote the following in an article that summarizes and explains her findings titled, “Whose Bible is it anyway?”
In the article she says, “It is time to question the Biblical claims of the settlers, living in luxurious neighborhoods that mirror ones in the valley east of Los Angeles; red tiled roofs, swimming pools, neatly tended flower beds, Stolen Olive trees, ancient witnesses to the violence done to the land, are now re-rooted on this settler land, surrounded by circlets of well watered grass and brilliant flowers.”
According to Bach, the primary question she sought to answer through her research is “do today’s Israelis have a right to re-create the biblical stories like an ongoing pageant with props, including Abraham and Sarah’s tomb, the tomb of sweet pious Rachel, even the mountain where Moses received the law from God?”
Perhaps Bach’s most important findings for our purpose are the findings that no covenant existed between God and Abraham and God did not give any land to Abraham for a promised land for the ancient Hebrew people. The Bible says in Gen. 23:16-20,
“Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites; four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants. So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre, both the field and the cave in it and all of the trees within the border of the field was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of the Hittites…”
Also, Judea and Samaria were not extensive kingdoms. They were lands given to the various tribes by the rulers of those lands, including Babylon, Alexander the Great and the Romans. Bach says Judea fell to the Romans in 36 BC and the Jews never again gained possession of the land. Bach wrote, "It becomes clear that the Israelites, Judeans, Jews, depending upon the historical period, never gained possession of Israel again."
With Israel bidding to expand beyond the West Bank and Gaza into Syria, Egypt and other lands claimed as part of an ancient Jewish kingdom called Eretz (Greater) Israel, it is of the utmost importance that we revisit the premises upon which the original mandate and UN partition of Palestine were granted seeking the truth. The only way we will avoid the destabilization of the entire region and a regional war that will result from Israel’s attempts to expand, is to assert the true history and review the arguments that gave currency to the very bad idea that is Israel and creation of a homeland for what has wrongly been described as a Jewish people with an unquestionable right to inherit historic Muslim lands.
Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah is a political analyst and human/civil rights activist. She is the former editor of the Middle East Affairs Journal (MEAJ) a peer reviewed international journal which focused on the political progress and intellectual and ideological development of the Islamic movements in the Muslim world. She has a Ph.D. in Islamic Jurisprudence and now heads a newly established think tank, The Center for Muslim World Studies. She has been published in many of the major newspapers in the United States such as the Boston Globe, The Washington Times and the New York Times and has lectured at some of the United State's most prestigious universities including Georgetown University, Columbia University in New York and the American University in Washington DC.