Sunday, February 01, 2009

More explaining Gaza

Israeli historian Benny Morris discusses the war in Gaza. He's the author of "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War." Morris is a professor in the Middle East Studies Department at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Listen here:

6 Comments:

At 12:08 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Efraim Karsh has his way with Benny Morris

http://www.meforum.org/article/711

 
At 2:05 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny Morris has done great damage to his country by publishing books that present historical events out of context. Thus he wrote a book about the Palestinian refugees with hardly a reference to the Arab-initiated war that was taking place and which was the root cause of them becoming refugees.

Now he has written a book about the 1948 war without mentioning the expectations and desires of the US and Britain, and of the Arabs. It was they who initiated the war and fully expected that Israel will lose, with "a massacre such as the world had not seen since the time of the Mongols" to follow. And the Holocaust, and the plans of the Palestine leader Amin al Husseini to exterminate the Palestine Jews when Hitler conquered Palestine, could have happened on a different planet as far as Morris' telling is concerned. Furthermore, Morris distorts and presents in a perverse manner Ben Gurion's decisions and actions in 1943. It was then, when 5000 Jews were being murdered daily by the Germans, that it became clear that Europe's Jews would not be saved and that Palestine's Jews were destined to be attacked and must therefore prepare to defend themselves militarily.

In contrast, his book about the history of the Mossad is quite good.

Recently Morris has adopted the view that Ben Gurion made a mistake when he did not expel all the Arabs and captured all of Eretz Israel west of the Jordan. He believes the Palestine Arabs want victory over Israel with vengenace to follow, rather than peace with Israel. He foresees a nuclear exchange with Iran. And he has become a resident of the West Bank.

 
At 6:18 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny Morris seems so depressed.

I too think that his book on the Palestinian refugees which did not prove its case did a lot of damage to Israel.

Working with and incomplete set of documents from only one side of the conflict led him to make some egregious mistakes.

I wonder if his depression isn't due to is realization that he is part responsible for the rise in antisemitic and antizionist feelings in the world today.

 
At 6:39 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I wonder if his depression isn't due to is realization that he is part responsible for the rise in antisemitic and antizionist feelings in the world today."

I tend to agree.

In his defense I might suggest that at the time that he wrote his first book, he may have lived under the impression, as many many Israelis and Jews did, that the existential threat hovering over Jewish existence was over and done with, after the Holocaust, that anti-Semitism was a dead monster, pursued only by far-right loonies.

 
At 10:47 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny Morris' mistakes were not caused by "...working with an incomplete set of documents from only one side of the conflict..."

They were caused by a lack of judgement and judiciousness in evaluating conflicting accounts, and an unwillingness to understand how the rise of National Socialism had transformed Zionism from being a gradualist-elitist movement to an emergency operation for saving the Jewish masses from death.

His dispute with Shabetai Tevet concerning Ben Gurion's actions and motives during WW2 leave Morris in a very bad light, where he was shown by Tevet to be dishonest in his quotations and interpretations.

In my opinion Morris was motivated by personal vanity, and wanted to make a name for himself as a ground-breaking historian. So he pandered to the anti-Israeli propagandists; he also suffers from the common Jewish failing of seeking approval and admiration from the Gentiles at the expense of his own people.

As far as I know he has not revealed anything historically significant that was not known before.

 
At 10:43 AM EST, Anonymous TNC said...

"I wonder if his depression isn't due to is realization that he is part responsible for the rise in antisemitic and antizionist feelings in the world today."

I think Morris’ influence on left-wing anti-Zionism, let alone antisemitism, might be overstated. I know very few non-historians who have actually read any of his books. They might be familiar with his name and his general ideas, but it all supports a pre-existing framework in their heads.

I can’t speak for elsewhere but here in the U.S., most anti-Zionists get their information on the Middle East from authors like Said and Chomsky rather than from historians who specialize in the region. The more radical types cite Ilan Pappe, Lenni Brenner and Ralph Shoenman.

"In my opinion Morris was motivated by personal vanity, and wanted to make a name for himself as a ground-breaking historian. So he pandered to the anti-Israeli propagandists; he also suffers from the common Jewish failing of seeking approval and admiration from the Gentiles at the expense of his own people."

I do not know the man personally. I have no idea whether he was motivated by personal vanity, a better paying position, or a search for the truth.

Your second point helps to explain why there are so many radical Jews involved with anti-Zionist projects and organizations.

 

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