"... a microcosm of what Palestine's Arabs had in mind for Israel as a whole."
At the end of his 1988 essay, Morris suggested that "what is now being written about Israel's past" might "in some obscure way serve the purposes of peace and reconciliation." The intifada had just erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, pushing the Palestinian issue into the center of Israeli politics. Since then, a peace process with the Palestinians began and failed, and a second, more violent uprising has erupted and burned out. By now, as Morris wrote recently in a Newsweek column, he has "come to a much bleaker opinion about the possibility of reconciliation."
The change in his views, he asserts, is strictly the result of his continuing research—the work that underlies his new book, 1948. In Israeli archives, he says, he studied statements of Arab leaders in Palestine from the 1920s on, and discovered how unwilling they were to accept either a binational state or partition between Jews and Arabs. He says he found that the Arab side had regarded the conflict with Zionism as not just a national struggle but also a "religious crusade against an infidel usurper," and that on the eve of the invasion of Palestine in 1948, Arab League Secretary General Abd al-Rahman Azzam spoke of "sweep[ing] the Jews into the sea." The new material led him to conclude that the Jews were the underdogs in 1948. It lessened his surprise when, in Morris's words, Yasser Arafat "rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's two-state proposals at Camp David in July 2000," and it made him regard each Palestinian suicide bombing as "a microcosm of what Palestine's Arabs had in mind for Israel as a whole."