A couple of days ago, I bought the German version of Ilan Pappe’s book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”1 and that led me to do some basic research on a certain “Benny Morris” who, it would appear, dons the guise of a Historian when spewing forth a series of allegations against Pappe that are invariably of a personal nature. Moreover, to some, his opinions on Arabs might appear downright racist. For instance, he writes, “…. in Arab and Islamic societies women are by tradition, and often by law, third-class members, who often lack basic rights (in some countries they have no vote, in others they cannot drive cars, and so on).2 It would be nice to put this into some sort of worthwhile context but it really doesn’t have much to do with anything and certainly nothing to do with the main thesis being put forward in Pappe’s book. However, I confess, Pappe also seems to go off on tangents that don’t bear any real relation to his central thesis. Indeed, at the very beginning of the book he appears to be just filling pages when he gives us a number of different types of definition for the phrase, “ethnic cleansing”.3 Still, “ethnic cleansing” is what the book is about Mr Morris and not Palestinian and Arab women, who, to be honest, are not really your concern unless, of course, you really do care about their well-being. Should that be the case you can discuss them elsewhere, perhaps, and, perhaps, less patronisingly and maybe you can even get a wee part time job at BTslem, where you can report them being pelted by stones or lynched by some zealot settlers . Enough of the drivel and let us concentrate on the main thesis of the book, which would appear to be that there was an intentional ethnic cleansing on the part of the Zionists.
Yesterday, for the first time, I was confronted with the famous, infamous, defensive, aggressive, whatever you want to call it, “Plan D” or “Plan Dalet”. On the 10th March 1948, eleven men met in a house in Tel Aviv and planned the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.4 Now, while these days even Benny Morris would agree that the Palestinians didn’t just pack their bags and voluntarily walk away from their houses, he would contend that “Plan D” was defensive. Alright Benny, I don’t really know you, you might be a nice chap and you are the “Historian” oh, and, you are Israeli and I am only a foreigner. “Defensive” it was and what if it was and was it “defensive” like the Golan Heights are needed to “defend” Israel and was it “defensive” like the wall in the West Bank and the fences around the settlements? Benny, I don’t really care; hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced off their land and they are still being forced off of their land and even if you are right, and Ilan Pappe gets his facts wrong and a particular event didn’t happen like that, and that incident never quite happened like that and that date is wrong, the reality is they were forced off their land and somebody else is living on their land and to force people off their land you have to at least point a gun at them and the evidence would seem to suggest that …. well the guns weren’t just pointed at them, were they?
Now we have really had it all haven’t we? The lands were empty and, if they weren’t empty, they were up for grabs for as Golda Meir told the ‘Sunday Times’ in 1969, “There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”.5 Who didn’t exist, the people, who were there or the Palestinians? Then we had the lie that the people who were there just moved on of their own free will and then we got a well, they might have been forced out but they forced us to force them out and really it wasn’t intentonal. Call them Palestinians, call them Smurfs, call them what you want to call them, but they were forced off of their land and Ilan Pappe is right when he calls this ethnic cleansing. The maps above tell their own story!
1 Ilan Pappe, ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ Oxford, 2006
3 Ilan Pappe, ‘Die Ethnische Säberung Palästinas’, German 1st Edition, 2007, Frankfurt am Main pp19-26