Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Arabs of Palestine

John Pilger, blissfully unaware of the humongous irony that his short rant on the Guardian's Comment is Free offers, begins it with the following paean to Martha Gellhorn:

Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great US war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or "official drivel", as Gellhorn called it.

The irony is that "official drivel" and "establishment propaganda" are excellent descriptors for Pilger's own paradigmatic attempts to revise recorded history, and adorn himself and his protegees with the iconic reputations of legendary journalists, legendary for their tireless investigative efforts to understand complex conflicts and their truth. Pilger is a pro-boycotting mover and shaker whose views represent the official drivel and established propaganda of the British Indecent Left, well received in the salons of the chattering classes. In this article, he tries to rope in Martha Gellhorn's journalistic reputation in order to boost that kind of drivel. He is, as I suggested, blissfully unaware of Martha Gellhorn's journalistic triumphs, such as represented in this article in the Atlantic Monthly, in which she meticulously probes the Palestinian claims and gets to the very heart of the moral asymmetry that exists between the Palestinian ethos and Israel's struggles, which is this:

If the position were reversed, if the Jews had started the war and lost it, if you had won the war, would you now accept Partition? Would you give up part of the country and allow the 650,000 Jewish residents of Palestine -who had fled from the war--to come back?"

"Certainly not," he said, without an instant's hesitation. "But there would have been no Jewish refugees. They had no place to go. They would all be dead or in the sea."

_____

An article in the October 1961 Atlantic Monthly, in which Martha Gellhorn "novelist, journalist, and former war correspondent, has recently returned from a journey to the Middle East, where she went to see the "Palestinian Refugee Problem" in terms of real life, real people...reports how the Arab refugees and the Arab Israelis live, and what they say about themselves, their past and their future."

At this point, I decided to make one long, determined stand to see whether there was any meeting ground of minds on a basis of mutually accepted facts and reasoning.

"Please bear with me and help me," said I. "I am a simple American, and I am trying to understand how the Arab mind works, and I am finding it very difficult. I want to put some things in order; if I have everything wrong, you will correct me. In 1947, the United Nations recommended the Partition of Palestine. I have seen the Partition map and studied it. I cannot tell, but it does not look to me as if the Arabs were being cheated of their share of good land. The idea was that this division would work, if both Jews and Arabs accepted it and lived under an Economic Union. And, of course, the Arab countries around the borders would have to be peaceful and cooperative or else nothing would work at all. The Jews accepted this Partition plan; I suppose because they felt they had to. They were outnumbered about two to one inside the country, and there were the neighboring Arab states with five regular armies and forty million or more citizens, not feeling friendly. Are we agreed so far?"

"It is right."

"The Arab governments and the Palestinian Arabs rejected Partition absolutely. You wanted the whole country. There is no secret about this. The statements of the Arab representatives, in the UN are on record. The Arab governments never hid the fact that they started the war against Israel. But you, the Palestinian Arabs, agreed to this, you wanted it. And you thought, it seems to me very reasonably, that you would win and win quickly. It hardly seemed a gamble; it seemed a sure bet. You took the gamble and you lost. I can understand why you have all been searching for explanations of that defeat ever since, because it does seem incredible. I don't happen to accept your explanations, but that is beside the point. The point is that you lost."

"Yes." It was too astonishing; at long last, East and West were in accord on the meaning of words.

"Now you say that you want to return to the past; you want Partition. So, in fact you say, let us forget that war we started, and the defeat, and, after all, we think Partition is a good, sensible idea. Please answer me this, which is what I must, know. If the position were reversed, if the Jews had started the war and lost it, if you had won the war, would you now accept Partition? Would you give up part of the country and allow the 650,000 Jewish residents of Palestine -who had fled from the war--to come back?"

"Certainly not," he said, without an instant's hesitation. "But there would have been no Jewish refugees. They had no place to go. They would all be dead or in the sea."

Read it all: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/196110/gellhorn

(via: Engage)

1 Comments:

At 1:48 PM EDT, Anonymous TNC said...

Gelhorn was similarly naïve regarding Communist control of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.

Here’s Pilger praising the International Brigades:

http://www.blythe-systems.com/pipermail/nytr/Week-of-Mon-20050801/021025.html

The long tradition of useful idiots in the journalistic profession continues…

 

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