Skip to comments."The Arabs Are Responsible"
Posted on 12/10/2001 9:59:26 AM PST by Nachum
For the past two decades, Benny Morris - a prominent Israeli and international academic, and a leading figure in Israel's Post-Zionism camp - has been advocating the notion that Israel's official version of history is filled with misconceptions and misleading myths. However, in a surprising recent interview, Morris now argues that others have misconstrued his thesis. He argues that the Palestinians, not Israel, are to blame for the ongoing conflict and for the current state of affairs.
In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Morris clarified his positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (this interview followed a September 2001 lecture at UC Berkley's Theological Institute in which Morris first articulated these positions). Following are excerpts from the article, which included an interview with Morris:(1)
"The audience at UC Berkley's Theological Institute thought it knew what they were in for. They were promised a lecture on the peace process by Professor Benny Morris - an Israeli historian, well-known leftist, who had a hard time finding a niche in Israel's academia due to his extreme opinions, which reject [Israel's] official Zionist history. Berkley is still the stronghold of America's radical left [and] all the listeners who filled the lecture hall were sure that the lecturer would say exactly what they wanted to hear: that Israel is to blame for everything, that Israel is the aggressor and the evil perpetrator, that the Palestinians are the good guys..."
"Morris had different plans. He knew exactly what was in store for his audience: a surprise, a big surprise. [In the lecture] he told them that the Palestinians have been obstinately refusing to accept any compromise since the 1930's. They refused to accept the 1937 Partition Plan of the Peel Commission (a Jewish State on 20% of the Sharon and Galilee regions of territorial Palestine), they rejected the 1947 UN partition plan (an Arab state on 40% of the territory), they did not even want to hear about Sadat and Begin's  Autonomy Plan (which was a part of the Camp David Accord and which was never implemented), and they rejected Bill Clinton's generous offer (which included 95% of the West Bank). To make a long story short, [Morris said that] the Jews always agreed [to various compromise offers] whereas the Arabs always refused to accept them, and the blame falls squarely on the Palestinians. They have been making historic mistakes for seventy years now, and there is a price for historic mistakes..."
"Yes, the Palestinians are to blame. And this is true not only because they rejected Ehud Barak's generous offer but also because they are unwilling to come to terms with Israel's existence here. They want to throw [the Jews] into the ocean, and anyone who holds a different opinion is mistaken. These are the words of the Historian."
Were The Palestinians Forced to Leave?
"One has to go back in time thirteen years in order to understand how surprising [Morris'] statements are. Morris - a Jerusalem Post reporter at the time, a Cambridge University Ph.D, and a Kibbutz and [Israeli Defense Force] Paratroopers veteran - published his book The Birth of The Palestinian Refugee Problem in 1988. His book created an immediate outburst [of an acute debate in Israel]."
"Up until then, it was generally assumed that 700,000 Palestinians left their homes voluntarily during the 1948 War of Independence, following promises by their leaders that they will be able to return and plunder Jewish property when the war was over. According to what Morris wrote in his 1988 book, that never happened; these stories are nonsense. The leaders of the Yishuv [the Jewish Zionist community in pre-state Israel] believed in a transfer, and in their actions contributed much to the fleeing of the refugees. Some ran away to escape the battles, others left after the Jews made their lifes difficult, and still others were simply expelled. [According to Morris' 1988 book], the Palestinians did not leave and did not run away, these words are too soft. They were also not expelled - that word is too harsh. The Palestinians "were driven out."
"[After the book was published,] Morris became [Israel's] public enemy number one, and the price he paid was considerable. He was fired from The Jerusalem Post and he had a hard time finding a job in Israel's academia despite the success of his book outside of Israel..."
"In the heart of every Palestinian exists a desire that the State of Israel will not be here anymore."
"[Morris] is denying that his views have shifted. He claims that this was his opinion all along. However, no one knew it. Even when he expressed his opinion, the interviewers preferred not to quote him on that. 'It is not politically correct,' he says. Nevertheless, he admits, he has a lot of built up anger over the past two years against the Palestinians since they rejected Clinton's proposal. He says that Barak also made mistakes but that these were marginal. The bottom line is that Barak accepted Clinton's generous proposal which demanded [of him] to give up 95% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza, and to divide Jerusalem."
"By the way, with regards to Jerusalem, Morris disagrees with Barak. Morris would not be willing to give up the Temple Mount."
Morris: "If there is a nation that deserves the title to the Temple Mount it is we. But injustice was perpetrated and two mosques were erected on the ruins of the [Jewish] Temple 1,400 years ago, and [now] the Arabs [also] have a claim to the Temple Mount. I accept a compromise in which both Jews and Arabs will control the Temple Mount. But why should the Palestinians have sole control over there? Why? What kind of justice is that?"
"In any case, everything shrinks when compared with Yasser Arafat's mistake [when he] rejected the Clinton proposal. "Both people - Israelis and Palestinians - are paying with their lives for [the Palestinian] mistakes" Morris says..."
"In Camp David and Taba the issue of the 'right of return' emerged; it was prominent [in the discussions]. The Israelis claimed that the Palestinian demand to allow millions of refugees to return into Israel destroys any possibility for peace, since this demand translates into the destruction of the state of the Jews. The Palestinian spokespersons tried to downplay the gravity of the dispute. Publicly they continued to demand the 'right of return,' while at the same time they were hinting [to the Israelis] that it would be possible to reach an agreement on this issue. In his book A Guide for the Wounded Dove, Yossi Beilin - who headed the Taba negotiation team in charge of the refugee issue - claims that he reached satisfactory agreements on this issue with the Palestinians."
"Morris, the one who brought this issue to public awareness, is very determined regarding this question. [He believes that] any mentioning of the right of return is a disaster, a recipe for the destruction of the State of Israel. Even if Arafat will agree that Israel will only recognize its responsibility in creating the refugee problem while the Palestinians give up the actual right to implement it, Israel must still object to such a proposal."
Morris: "If you recognize the responsibility, millions will demand their lands in return immediately thereafter. If the notion of the right of return will be recognized, there is also going to be an attempt to utilize that notion, and that will be the end of the State of Israel. [If that happens], there won't be a Jewish State here."
Yediot Aharonot (Y.A.): "In Taba it was proposed that Israel would recognize its responsibility in creating the refugee problem, but that the refugees will not be absorbed in Israel, except for a very small number on which Israel will decide. Do you think that this is also a bad idea?"
Morris: "The Palestinians told Beilin that they are willing to consider all kinds of formulas regarding refugees, but they lied to him. They will never back away from [the demand for] the right of return. They cannot come to their people in the refugee camps and tell them: 'We gave in on the right of return.' They are unable to do this."
Y.A.: "[But] Sari Nusaiba, head of the PA office of Jerusalem Affairs said it himself."
Morris: "He is an exception. His statements are putting his life in danger. He is not one of the first rank senior leadership. I never heard Mohammad Dakhlan, Jibril Rajoub, or Abu Allah and their guys saying this. Even if they will sign on such a text at one stage or another, a new generation will emerge in ten or twenty years and will argue that they had no right to give up [the right of return]."
Y.A.: "You are the man who revealed to the Israelis that they have responsibility for the refugee problem. Are you asking them to ignore what you revealed to them?"
Morris: "I revealed to the Israelis the truth of what happened in 1948, the historic facts. But the Arabs are the ones who started the fighting, they started the shootings. So why should I take responsibility? The Arabs started the war, they are responsible."
Y.A.: "Should we ignore this issue in a permanent agreement?"
Morris: "We need to give some kind of a solution to the Palestinians but we must not recognize the right of return. Arafat and his generation cannot give up on the vision of the greater land of Israel for the Arabs. [This is true, because] this is a holy land, Dar-al Islam. It was once in the hands of the Muslims, and its inconceivable [to them] that infidels like us would receive it. And besides, even if Arafat will sign an agreement, I find it hard to believe, in view of his behavior during the last two years, that he or his heirs will abide by it."
Y.A.: "Is that because they are Arabs?"
Morris: "Not because they are Arabs, but rather because they don't understand that justice exists on the other side as well. We do understand that justice exists on the other side. Have you ever heard a senior Palestinian official who says that the Jewish demand for the State of Israel is justified? I have never heard that being said..."
"We will not reach a compromise in this generation, and I have a sneaking suspicion that we will never reach a true and permanent agreement. In the heart of every Palestinian exists a desire that the State of Israel will not be here anymore. For many of them this translates into more than just a desire. As far as they are concerned, all of their misfortunes are a consequence of our deeds, and our destruction will bring about their salvation. Their salvation is the whole of Palestine."
Y.A.: "Do they not understand the reality? Do they not understand that they absorb all these blows as a consequence of their unwillingness to compromise?"
Morris: "Every nation has its own particular way to understand reality, and their reality is very fluid. They feel that demographics will defeat the Jews in one hundred or two hundred yeas, just like the Crusaders. Or [the Palestinians are hoping that] the Arabs will have nuclear weapons. Why should they accept a compromise that is perceived by them as unjust today?"
Y.A.: "And when you hear Palestinian leaders, like Abu Mazen and others, who say that they are willing to accept Israel, and living alongside it, do you not believe them?"
Morris: "Not really. I do believe them when they cheer for bin Laden..."
Endnotes: (1) Yediot Ahronot, November 23, 2001.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request. E-Mail: email@example.com
It is also horrible to attempt to paint all Palestinians as "[not being against occupation by] Israelis of Israel proper". Many of them still regard all of Israel as being occupied. Hamas in particular, which has the alliegance of perhaps some 30% of Palestinians, advocates a very extreme position regarding "occupation".
This position of your is indefensible. You assertion that because "they are frequented by settlers" they are then legitimate targets for mass murderers is absurd.
Since I've read his book, The Birth Of the Palestinian Refugee Problem this is no surprise. While typically categorized as a "New Historian", Morris, when he kept with the historical record was pretty good and indeed reflected exactly the blame he is indicating in this article, i.e, on the Arabs. It's when he started fooling around with the primary sources where the problems arose as Efraim Karsh pointedly showed in his book Fabricating Israeli History(2000).
Looks like BM's getting older and wiser.
Even if they get all of the "occupied" West Bank and Gaza tomorrow. Wake up!!
..."Delphino, the shopping mall, the areas at Haifa were frequented by settlers. The bus stop were the areas where military personnel hitchhikes. I think it is important that we are educated on these small details that play such a significant role.Plastique is the way you should spell your screenname, the key ingredient in the bombs you apologize for.
This distinction is the reason that Israel proper residents are not affected personally by the suicide attacks - beyond to military family members..."
You know, I thought I had seen it all from you people. I have to admit that you have managed to amaze me with this statement.
This is roughly the equivelent of saying the earth is flat.
1.The Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish People by virtue of our Forefather's legacy.
2. Recognition of a Palestinian State contradicts the very purpose of a Jewish State.
3. An endorsement by an Israeli government of the premise that Eretz Yisrael is the sovereign homeland of an alien people will not obligate the Jewish people.
4. The very notion of uprooting Jewish men, women and children from their homes is an act of brutality, violence and barbarism that is palpably illegal as a violation of fundamental rights of human dignity and liberty.
The world has never witnessed an act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by a nation upon itself. No nation would tolerate such an action and no democracy would acquiesce to it.
We call upon every coalition party with a sense of duty towards the Jewish People not to share responsibility for such a decision. We call upon the political parties of Israel to deny a majority to any government, which conspires to such action We call upon the citizens of Israel to refuse to participate in this betrayal of trust in any way, do not violate the rules that hold us together as one nation in one state.
We call upon every person and citizen of Israel to avoid taking part in any capacity whatsoever in the criminal acts which the uprooting of Jews represents.
We express our readiness to make our stand in a totally non-violent struggle, against anybody who dares to transfer Jews from their homes. Each one of us is but a link in the chain of generations upon which the fate of the Jewish People is dependent. Therefore, we are obligated to participate in this struggle.
We will not allow the government of Israel to cause a third destruction and a third exile from our land, during our lifetimes.
With the aid of the G-d of Israel, we shall be delivered !
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