new haven schull Survival of the fittest (Part 1) (journal article)

Survival of the fittest (Part 1)

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Article/book #: 5412
Title: Survival of the fittest (Part 1)
By: Ari Shavit (interviewer)   Benny Morris (interviewee)  
Published in: Ha’aretz
Date of issue: Friday, 9 January 2004
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item: Place(s) mentioned in this item: Timeline event(s) mentioned in this item:
   09 Apr 1948:Massacre at Deir Yasin
   22 May 1948:Massacre at al-Tantura
   09 Jul 1948:Operation Danny (Mivtza Dani in Hebrew)
   12 Jul 1948:Massacre at Dahmash mosque in al-Lydd
   13 Jul 1948:Expulsion of the population of Lydda and Ramleh
   29 Oct 1948:Operation Hiram
   29 Oct 1948:Massacre at al-Dawayima
   29 Oct 1948:Massacre at Jish
   30 Oct 1948:Massacre at Eilabun
   30 Oct 1948:Massacre at Majd al-Kurum
   30 Oct 1948:Massacre at Safsaf
   30 Oct 1948:Massacre at Sasa
Commentary (by JB):

An interview with Benny Morris which reveals what an astonishing creature he is, a strange mixture of amorality and racist conceit. This article illustrates perfectly the dangers of narcissistic self-pity; it is a shocking, but probably useful, reminder of the dangerously irrational amorality that informs and motivates Israeli atrocities.

Morris documents that, in 1948, Ben-Gurion ordered the expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs and goes on to say

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. ... 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. ... 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. ... 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. ... The non-completion of the transfer was a mistake.
Morris then proceeds to justify all this in a way which documents both his strange personal psychology, his apparently deliberate misrepresentation of the Clinton-Barak/Arafat negotiations in 2000 and his ignorance of the real history of the Arab expansion in the seventh century.

Benny Morris says he was always a Zionist. People were mistaken when they labeled him a post-Zionist, when they thought that his historical study on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem was intended to undercut the Zionist enterprise. Nonsense, Morris says, that's completely unfounded. Some readers simply misread the book. They didn't read it with the same detachment, the same moral neutrality, with which it was written. So they came to the mistaken conclusion that when Morris describes the cruelest deeds that the Zionist movement perpetrated in 1948 he is actually being condemnatory, that when he describes the large-scale expulsion operations he is being denunciatory. They did not conceive that the great documenter of the sins of Zionism in fact identifies with those sins. That he thinks some of them, at least, were unavoidable. Advertisement

Two years ago, different voices began to be heard. The historian who was considered a radical leftist suddenly maintained that Israel had no one to talk to. The researcher who was accused of being an Israel hater (and was boycotted by the Israeli academic establishment) began to publish articles in favor of Israel in the British paper The Guardian.

Whereas citizen Morris turned out to be a not completely snow-white dove, historian Morris continued to work on the Hebrew translation of his massive work "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001," which was written in the old, peace-pursuing style. And at the same time historian Morris completed the new version of his book on the refugee problem, which is going to strengthen the hands of those who abominate Israel. So that in the past two years citizen Morris and historian Morris worked as though there is no connection between them, as though one was trying to save what the other insists on eradicating.

Both books will appear in the coming month. The book on the history of the Zionist-Arab conflict will be published in Hebrew by Am Oved in Tel Aviv, while the Cambridge University Press will publish "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited" (it originally appeared, under the CUP imprint, in 1987). That book describes in chilling detail the atrocities of the Nakba. Isn't Morris ever frightened at the present-day political implications of his historical study? Isn't he fearful that he has contributed to Israel becoming almost a pariah state? After a few moments of evasion, Morris admits that he is. Sometimes he really is frightened. Sometimes he asks himself what he has wrought.

Quotations from this item:
Benny Morris:  "The revised book ... is based on many documents that were not available to me wh... "

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