You are completely dismissing what I've said. That there were hostilities between the two sides well before the 1948 war. If you had actually read Benny Morris, which I doubt you've had, you would know this.
Originally Posted by Edwin30
Really? Now, I know you haven't read Benny Morris, so why do you use him as a source? Benny Morris, himself, concludes that Ben-Gurions mistake is that he didn't complete the ethnic cleansing.
Originally Posted by Edwin30
Here's the interview with Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz (excerpt):
Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?
"Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."
I don't hear you condemning him.
"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."
When ethnic cleansing is justified
Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?
"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."
We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society.
"A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it's better to destroy."
There is something chilling about the quiet way in which you say that.
"If you expected me to burst into tears, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I will not do that."
So when the commanders of Operation Dani are standing there and observing the long and terrible column of the 50,000 people expelled from Lod walking eastward, you stand there with them? You justify them?
"I definitely understand them. I understand their motives. I don't think they felt any pangs of conscience, and in their place I wouldn't have felt pangs of conscience. Without that act, they would not have won the war and the state would not have come into being."
You do not condemn them morally?
They perpetrated ethnic cleansing.
"There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide - the annihilation of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing."
And that was the situation in 1948?
"That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on."
The term `to cleanse' is terrible.
"I know it doesn't sound nice but that's the term they used at the time. I adopted it from all the 1948 documents in which I am immersed."
What you are saying is hard to listen to and hard to digest. You sound hard-hearted.
"I feel sympathy for the Palestinian people, which truly underwent a hard tragedy. I feel sympathy for the refugees themselves. But if the desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice. It was impossible to leave a large fifth column in the country. From the moment the Yishuv [pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine] was attacked by the Palestinians and afterward by the Arab states, there was no choice but to expel the Palestinian population. To uproot it in the course of war.
"Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them."
And morally speaking, you have no problem with that deed?
"That is correct. Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history."
And in our case it effectively justifies a population transfer.
"That's what emerges."
And you take that in stride? War crimes? Massacres? The burning fields and the devastated villages of the Nakba?
"You have to put things in proportion. These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that's peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that's chicken feed. When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost an entire 1 percent of the population, you find that we behaved very well."
The next transfer
You went through an interesting process. You went to research Ben-Gurion and the Zionist establishment critically, but in the end you actually identify with them. You are as tough in your words as they were in their deeds.
"You may be right. Because I investigated the conflict in depth, I was forced to cope with the in-depth questions that those people coped with. I understood the problematic character of the situation they faced and maybe I adopted part of their universe of concepts. But I do not identify with Ben-Gurion. I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered."
I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that Ben-Gurion erred in expelling too few Arabs?
"If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."
I find it hard to believe what I am hearing.
"If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself."
In his place, would you have expelled them all? All the Arabs in the country?
"But I am not a statesman. I do not put myself in his place. But as an historian, I assert that a mistake was made here. Yes. The non-completion of the transfer was a mistake."
Very interesting arguments. :rolleyes:
Originally Posted by Edwin30
So, in any event, Benny Morris, the historian, is quite sterile and morally disassociates himself from his conclusions.
Regarding the other New Historians, you would do well to remember that the reason they came to being is because of Israel's thirty year rule regarding classified information. The New Historians came into existence only after the information from the Israeli National Archives was declassified and they had time to research all of the relevant documents from the time. So, yes, it's revisionist history in the sense that it corrects the myths long associated with the "benign" Zionist endeavor.
But it appears that you can come up with false charges of the New Historians being "discredited," which is disengenuous. There has been controversy and criticism, but that is to be expected when the traditional narrative is threatened. The "Old Guard," as it were, resorted to invective, smears and distortions of truth, which is hardly surprising; their entire belief in the sanctity of the birth of Israel was being questioned. It didn't matter that this new information was based in the historical record, what mattered was the integrity of the prevailing mythos.
Anyway, I understand that I'm not going to change your mind. That's your prerogative. My aim is to make sure that information is available to those that are interested in reviewing it. Any reader can form their own conclusions. When I see inaccurate or disputed assertions put forth, whether the topic is Universal Health Care, The Fairness Doctrine, or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or any other political issue, I will chime in with the information that I have. That is the purpose of forums such as these, to discuss and share information - even if we come to different conclusions.
You have a right to your view. I have a right to mine.