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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian refugees’

The Conversion Of Benny Morris

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Benny Morris was one of the original, and in some ways the most destructive,
of Israel’s “ New Historians” – Jewish academics who seek to revise history to make it jibe with Arab propaganda. 
Born on an Israeli socialist kibbutz and the son of a diplomat, Morris earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge on Anglo-German relations. He seemed to think this qualified him to be a Middle East historian and Orientalist. 
Morris’s main venture into revisionism came with the publication of his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, published by Cambridge University Press in 1988. It was by and large a retelling of the “Arab narrative” concerning the creation of Palestinian refugees.
The alternative narrative, also known as the truth, is that any Palestinians who became refugees resembled the ethnic German refugees at the end of World War II – people who had supported the losing side in a genocidal war of aggression or who had fled the battle zones of the victorious armies in a war they themselves started.
That book, and a slew of articles expressing a similar theme, made Morris the darling of the campus left in Europe and the U.S.
Leftists loved citing Morris to prove how evil Israel is and was. After all, a tenured Israeli academic was saying so. 
But then something happened. 
Morris suddenly appeared to have second thoughts. He repented, sort of. He repudiated much (but not all) of his earlier anti-Israel radicalism and started espousing pro-Israel views, especially regarding the 1948-9 Israeli war of independence. 
Not everyone is convinced Morris has really wised up. (The scholar Efraim Karsh believes Morris is engaging in pragmatic and cynical posturing; Karsh is particularly critical of Morris’s not having renounced outright his earlier histories of the Palestinian refugee issue).
I too was initially skeptical of Morris’s “conversion,” but I now feel it to be more or less genuine. I think his first public break with the Israel-bashing left took place in Berkeley in the late 1990s, when I happened to be in town. He was invited to speak in a church, and the place was packed with the usual Berkeley jihadists and anti-Zionists, who expected from Morris a characteristic demonization of Israel. Instead, he spent the entire talk explaining that the Middle East conflict – including any “refugee” problem – was the fault of the Arabs.
You can imagine the hysterical reactions in the local Berkeley media. These days the Bay Area has its own specialized anti-Morris hate organizations. 
This is all so amusing. The jihadists love citing Morris’s old writings on how Israel is to blame for “Palestinian suffering” – but refuse to listen when Morris himself repudiates those earlier claims.
Later, Morris would go on to make statements that were unabashedly Zionist. He went so far as to argue that any expulsions by Israel of any Arabs that took place in 1948 were entirely justified. He partly apologized for his early claims about Palestinian refugees, pleading that he had not had access to the right documents when he wrote his early book. Today he is opposed to the so-called two-state solution, arguing that it is not viable. 
As a result of this, Morris has become the Israeli historian leftists and anti-Zionists most love to hate. They have special contempt for him because, after all, he used to be one of them.
When Morris was invited a few months back to speak at Cambridge University, the local Israel haters made a fuss, insisting he be disinvited because he is a “racist.” (Anyone who believes Israel has the right to defend itself is considered a “racist” in such circles.) His talk was cancelled. This is academic freedom in Britain.
More recently, Morris was invited to speak at the London School of Economics, which, despite its name, is an institution chock full of leftists. On his way to the talk Morris was accosted by a mob of local anti-Israel “activists” and radical Islamists. They pushed and cursed him. They had gathered in the area earlier to hand out fliers accusing him of being an “old racist.” 
Morris said he “had the feeling that I was surrounded by Nazis, except that instead of black shirts these were wearing Arab scarves on their heads. They were unambiguously Islamofascists. Some of them screamed in their broken foreign English that the UK should never have allowed me into the country. I am no racist, but that term could be correctly applied to the inciters and critics I ran across at LSE.”
Once he reached the hall the lecture proceeded, under heavy security and with police guards, with 300-400 students present.
The Jewish Chronicle, the main Jewish weekly in the UK, described how the LSE mob kept attacking Morris as a “racist” and a “social darwinist” and how Morris held his own and made monkeys of those attempting to discredit him during the lecture. In particular, he silenced the trolls by documenting the fact that there was no Israeli policy in 1948-9 to expel Palestinian Arabs.
What does the one-time Post-Zionist “New Historian” Morris make of nearly being lynched for his pro-Israel views?
I would like to think he is rededicating himself to expunging every last vestige of his old mindset and doing further research to promote the truth – or what some pseudo-academics prefer to call the “Zionist narrative.”

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com.He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

The Truth About ‘Palestinian Refugees’

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

Try to imagine what the world would be like if Israel had granted the “Palestinian refugees” who fled from Israel in 1948-49 the right to return to Israel. Not to the West Bank. Not to the Gaza Strip. But to Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

What, then, would the world have left to bash Israel about? What would the anti-Semites have left to scream about, or the crowd claiming to be “anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic,” or the self-hating leftist Jews?

Well, hold on to your shtreimel, your shaitel (non-Indian hair, of course) or your beanie. Because I’ve got something shocking to tell you: Israel did grant “Palestinian refugees” the right to return.

In 1947-48, the UN proposed partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state of approximately equal sizes. The Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it. When the British Mandate over Palestine was ended under the UN decision, the Arab states attacked the newborn state of Israel, tried to annihilate it and its population, and at the same time gobbled up most of the territory the UN had allotted for the proposed Palestinian Arab state.

The territory that became Israel had never been a Palestinian Arab state. In fact, most of the Arabs in Palestine had migrated there from neighboring Arab countries during the last decades of the 19th century, seeking to benefit from the first stages of the great Zionist awakening – namely, the influx of capital and the availability of jobs and services

In other words, the Arabs of Palestine in 1948, exactly like the Jews, were by and large people from families who had been in the country for three generations or less.

During the fighting in the 1948-49 war, thousands of Arabs living in the territory that became Israel fled. The main reason they fled was that they understandably wanted to put some distance between their families and the battle zones. At the same time, they were ordered by the Arab political leadership to leave the territory of Israel. Why take my word on this? Listen to Arab sources:

“The Arab states encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.” – Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949.

“The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.” Ad Difaa (Jordanian daily), September 6, 1954.

“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland.” – Abu Mazen, erstwhile prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, in “What We Have Learned and What We Should Do,” published in Falastin el Thawra, the official journal of the PLO, March 1976.

So how many Arabs fled? The number has become enormously distorted over time by the bash-Israel lobby and Arab propagandists and their apologists, who usually claim between
500,000 and a million. A more realistic estimate is between 300,000 and 450,000, based in part on Arab and UNRWA sources.

Most of these refugees ended up in some of the twenty-two sovereign Arab states, including those from which they had migrated into Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the first place. In other words, the “refugees” went back to their earlier homelands in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. It was a sort of “right of return.” At the same time, the Arab states carried out a near-total ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Jews, who had been living there since biblical days and in many cases before those states had Arab populations.

In the years immediately following World War II, there were more than 50 million refugees: Poles, Germans, Indians, Pakistanis, Hungarians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and others. They were all long ago resettled and forgotten. But not the “Palestinian refugees.”

For decades, the Arab states found it convenient to utilize the “refugees” as a political and military weapon against Israel. Palestinians inside Arab states were trained as terrorists and sent out to murder. At the same time, there was enormous incentive for the Arab locals in the countries into which the refugees had entered to pretend also to be “Palestinian refugees.” After all, the UN and other agencies were handing out free food and other perks to anyone
claiming to be a refugee from Palestine.

Unlike all those many millions of other people considered refugees in the late 1940’s, the Palestinian Arabs were the only ones for whom the “right of return” to their previous homes was considered an entitlement. The reason was not a selective affection for Palestinians, but a selective hostility toward Israel and Jews.

Israel would have been insane had it allowed itself to be inundated with real and make-pretend Palestinian “refugees” in a tiny sliver of land the size of Maryland. Just like the infant United States, which refused to allow any of the tens of thousands of Tory Loyalists expelled by the patriots to return after the War of Independence, Israel was entirely in its rights to refuse to
allow the return of masses of Palestinian Arabs whose migration was being demanded by those seeking to liquidate Israel via a demographic flooding.

Even so, Israel did let Palestinian refugees return – tens of thousands, in fact, were quietly allowed back, in many cases to their original homes, once the fighting in 1949 subsided. Many continue to be admitted today within the framework of “family reunification” agreements.

Between 1948 and 2001, Israel allowed about 184,000 “Palestinian refugees” or their families to return to Israel proper (Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2001; see also Haaretz 28 December 28, 2000). These are in addition to about 57,000 Palestinians from Jordan illegally in Israel, toward whom the authorities are turning a blind eye (Haaretz, April 4, 2001). Not the West Bank, not Gaza, but Israel inside its pre-1967 “Green Line” borders.

The call for a “right of return” by Palestinians to Israel is no doubt the most absurd political demand floating anywhere around the planet. There is already an Arab state in two thirds of Mandatory Palestine. It’s called Jordan, and most of its population is Palestinian Arab. The Oslo Accords and Israel’s Camp David II offer would have created a second Arab state in Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza as part of a comprehensive peace settlement. Any “Palestinian” from anywhere could have moved to “Palestine” or to Jordan within the
framework of such a peace, the same way any Jew who wishes to may immigrate to Israel, or any Armenian may immigrate to Armenia, and Greeks from the Greek diaspora are automatically welcomed in Greece.

The PLO and the Islamofascist states backing it demand that in addition to establishing a second Arab state in Palestine within the framework of any peace settlement, Israel itself must also be converted into a third Arab Palestinian state, via unlimited massive immigration of people claiming to be Palestinians. Benjamin Franklin, who opposed granting even a dime in compensation to the Tory refugees expelled from the United States during the War of
Independence, would be splitting his sides laughing.

But the most Orwellian absurdity of all is that Israel, as we have seen, long ago did grant the right to “return” to Israel itself to tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees.” Did this earn Israel the world’s gratitude for its uniquely generous gesture? Did the world denounce the Arab fascist states who ignored this generosity and continued to seek Israel’s destruction? Do today’s bleeding hearts and recreational compassion posturers, always pretending to feel such
exquisite pain for Palestinians, even know about the limited “right of return” granted by Israel over the past decades?

Hindus have never been returned to Pakistan. Muslims from Pakistan have not been returned to India. Ethnic Germans were not returned to their pre-war homes in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia or Romania. Japanese have not been returned to Manchuria. Greeks have not been returned to Anatolia. Jews have not been compensated for the billions they left behind when ethnic cleansing of Jews in Muslim countries took place, and Tory Loyalists were never returned to New England.

But tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees” were granted by Israel what none of these others received.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-truth-about-palestinian-refugees/2004/08/04/

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