The intellectual dishonesty of Benny Morris: Blame the Palestinians, always

Slog through Benny Morris’ latest screed about who’s to blame for the collapse of the two state solution at your own risk… It’s like a ride on a quadruple loop roller coaster. The twists and turns of the rampant intellectual dishonesty, complete with the requisite comparison of “dealing with the Palestinians is like appeasing Hitler,” will leave your stomach in your throat. A few rebuttals to Morris:

Palestinian political elites, of both the so-called “secular” and Islamist varieties, are dead set against partitioning the Land of Israel/Palestine with the Jews…. Fatah’s leaders, led by Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, flatly reject the Clintonian formula of “two states for two peoples”…

Anyone who’s spoken personally with Fatah’s senior leaders, as I have, cannot with a straight face claim anything other than that they are desperate to partition Palestine. Really, where does Morris get this stuff?

Now let’s address the persistent “Hamas myth” — the myth that Hamas would block a viable two state solution. Israel’s apologists like to drag this one out of the fridge like expired, three-week old, moldy meatloaf. Morris writes (yawn!):

Hamas, which may represent the majority of the Palestinian people and certainly has the unflinching support of some 40 percent of them, speaks clearly. It openly repudiates a two-state solution. Hamas leaders, to bamboozle naïve (or wicked) Westerners…occasionally express a tactical readiness for a long-term truce under terms that they know are unacceptable to any Jewish Israelis (complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders and acceptance of the refugees’ “Right of Return”), but their strategic message is clear, echoing the Roman statesman Cato the Elder: “Israel must be destroyed.”

Let’s turn the microphone over to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh – other Hamas leaders, by the way, said virtually the same thing several years ago:

Ismail Haniyeh…signaled a softening of Hamas’s long-standing position prohibiting the ceding of any part of the land of what was British-mandated Palestine until 1948….

“We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees… Hamas will respect the results (of a referendum) regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles.”

And what about the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a “just, mutually agreed” solution to the refugee crisis? Benny Morris sends the words “just, mutually agreed” through his reality distortion field, and says:

The idea that the refugees must return to their homes has been the ethos, the be-all and end-all of Palestinian politics and policy, since 1948….In their public utterances during the past two years, Abbas and his colleagues have been rock-solid in their advocacy of an unrestricted “Right of Return”—and why not take them at their word?…

In reality, every Arab state/member, including the PA, including Abbas, has signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a “just, mutually agreed” solution. In what universe would Israel “mutually agree” to an “unrestricted” Right of Return? Israel would not. Abbas is rock-solid in endorsing “mutually agreed.”

I could go on and on about Morris’ distortions and slights of hand, for example, not mentioning that the Gaza pullout was explicitly intended not to give the Palestinians justice or a fair start at a state, but instead to expand Israel’s hold on West Bank colonies and put the “peace process” into formaldehyde. Or I could mention the massive elisions about what’s really blocking the two-state solution, namely, Israel’s insistence on continuing to gobble more pizza – steal land, steal water, build more illegal colonies — while the two parties pretend to negotiate about the pizza.

But perhaps the most interesting parts are where Morris happens to drop some pearls of wisdom:

I believe that the successive Israeli prime ministers—Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Benjamin Netanyahu—were (and are) mistaken in not following up this Arab [Peace] Initiative…

What remains, in the absence of a basic change of Palestinian mindset, is a bleak picture. No viable peace agreement is remotely in prospect. Neither is the emergence of a full-fledged Palestinian state.

…Continued Israeli rule over the territory and its people, obnoxious to most Israelis and to the rest of the world, raises the prospect of a bi-national state or an apartheid state…

Minor corrections to the above… change the words “Palestinian mindset” to “Israeli mindset that support endless colonization” and also change “prospect of an apartheid state” to “current reality of a de facto apartheid state from the river to the sea” and we’d be getting somewhere.

Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

{ 10 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Walid says:

    It’s great for Matthew for having caught this but we are encouraging this kind rubbish that keeps us on the defensive because we go along with the use of courteous and sanitized words for what Israel has done and continues doing. Israelis stole the land and are therefore thieves and this is how they should be defined. Israelis have been killing Palestinians in cold blood and should therefore be called killers and the killings called assassinations and not the usual garbage talk that calls it collateral damage. It’s time the thieves and killers were put on the defensive to put a stop to the stuff that people like Morris keep putting out. Morris shouldn’t be accused of “intellectual dishonesty” and “distortions” as Matthew is politely doing here but straightforwardly called a “liar”.

    • Citizen says:

      Morris won’t face up to the fact as Pappe has done, the fact that Zionism is a criminal ideology (supported by a nuclear armed state with the most powerful military in the Middle East [key font of the world's energy needs] , enabled by the sole super power in the world). Any single Zionist, whether self-proclaimed by a Jew or Gentile, may be a nice human being, with good intentions, but that individual’s dedication to Zionism cannot be supported by anyone familiar with the basic premises of Zionism. If the freedom to self-govern has no limits, there would be no criminal laws; this applies to the individual and to any sovereign state. Criminal master minds are not allowed complete freedom, e.g., Charles Manson. Criminal laws have changed over time, addressing ever more exotic & technologically and industrially assisted forms of basic crimes. As they apply to modern states, the beginning of effective change came at Nuremberg. This was followed by Geneva. It’s not 70 AD, not 1913, not 1938, not 1945; we are nearly in 2011. Israel cannot be allowed to continue to implement a world-recognized matrix of crimes to achieve a practical version of the myth that Palestine is “a land without people, for a people without land.” The buck did not stop at Harry Truman’s desk. It built walls not so much to corral the natives, but to keep them invisible. It has not honored the Palestinian right of return, an internationally recognized right. The world needs to stop the continuing criminal enterprise, decade after decade, which has been specially enabled by Uncle Sam since 1967. This post-Nuremberg de facto criminal precedent is financially dependent on Uncle Sam’s misguided charity. Said charity itself has remained a product of US domestic politics since Truman made it so (in order to be elected POTUS; quite the little man after all, and his tradition continues).

      The US mainstream media has led the PR for this criminal enterprize; it did not always so effectively sneer at its own constitutionally protected obligation to supply fully informed consent to the American people.
      From Muzzlewatch:
      “… from Time magazine, 1952, announcing the selection of newly elected Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh as Person of the Year for 1951. This sobering analysis is striking because of the way in which it speaks from the perspective of Arabs. It’s exactly the kind of analysis we simply don’t see anymore in the MSM (mainstream media) here in the United States, thanks, in no small part, to the growth of the Israel lobby which obscures not just Israel’s responsibility, but even more damning, the United States’.

      Here the Time magazine writer makes the case for why the Palestinian “problem” is the United States’ problem.

      “The word “American” no longer has a good sound in that part of the world [the Middle East]. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a U.S. creation, and the U.S., therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the U.S. nor Israel will take the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of U.S. perfidy.

      “No enmity for the Arabs, no selfish national design motivated the clumsy U.S. support of Israel. The American crime was not to help the Jews, but to help them at the expense of the Arabs. Today, the Arab world fears and expects a further Israeli expansion. The Arabs are well aware that Alben Barkley, Vice President of the U.S., tours his country making speeches for the half-billion-dollar Israeli bond issue, the largest ever offered to the U.S. public. Nobody, they note bitterly, is raising that kind of money for them.”

      Arab fears that Ben Gurion’s real plans were to expand were not unfounded. In 1937, before he became Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion wrote to his son:

      “A partial Jewish state is not the end, but only the beginning. The establishment of such a Jewish State will serve as a means in our historical efforts to redeem the country in its entirety….We shall organize a modern defense force…and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means….We will expel the Arabs and take their places…with the force at our disposal.”

      Of course, the US did much more to win the Arab and Persian world’s enmity than simply support the creation of the State of Israel. Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s valuable oil industry and paid the price with his freedom thanks to a US CIA sponsored coup which led to his imprisonment. He was later put under house arrest until his death in 1967. Iran, or more accurately, Iran’s citizens, have been paying the price ever since.”

  2. RoHa says:

    “Blame the Palestinians, always”

    Well, of course. There is no-one else around who could be blamed for anything, is there?

  3. Shingo says:

    It’s timely that you posted this colum Matthew. I just received this link:

    Arab fears that Ben Gurion’s real plans were to expand were not unfounded. In 1937, before he became Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion wrote to his son:

    “A partial Jewish state is not the end, but only the beginning. The establishment of such a Jewish State will serve as a means in our historical efforts to redeem the country in its entirety….We shall organize a modern defense force…and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means….We will expel the Arabs and take their places…with the force at our disposal.”

    link to muzzlewatch.com

    Also remarkable, is this what Time magazine had to say. It’s remarkable how much the narrative has shifted since:

    “The word “American” no longer has a good sound in that part of the world [the Middle East]. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a U.S. creation, and the U.S., therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the U.S. nor Israel will take the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of U.S. perfidy.

    “No enmity for the Arabs, no selfish national design motivated the clumsy U.S. support of Israel. The American crime was not to help the Jews, but to help them at the expense of the Arabs. Today, the Arab world fears and expects a further Israeli expansion. The Arabs are well aware that Alben Barkley, Vice President of the U.S., tours his country making speeches for the half-billion-dollar Israeli bond issue, the largest ever offered to the U.S. public. Nobody, they note bitterly, is raising that kind of money for them.”

    link to pulsemedia.org

    • RoHa says:

      “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”

      Attributed to John Sheehan, S.J., though I can’t confirm this attribution.

      ——————————————————————————–

    • Walid says:

      What Truman and the Americans did for the Jews with the hapless Palestinians was not out of love but simply to get them out of their hair. The unvarnished truth about the US and the Jews goes back to 1924 and the Congressional law that limited immigration and when Hitler started doing his thing, the Jews were still on the US list that limited the number of Jews that could enter the US. The first to turn their backs on the Jews in their hour of need were the Americans that organized the bogus Evian Conference to resolve the Jewish refugee problem for which Hitler was asking for cash in return to let them go and this turning of their backs effectively signalled to Hitler that he was free to do with the Jews as he wished. Today, you only hear talk of how the Palestinians had inhumanely refused to let the refugees into Palestine but not a word on how the fate of the Jews had been sealed by the US and friends at Evian before any of the horrors had actually started. In the following excerpt, it’s stated that only the Dominican Republic had accepted to take in Jews but it was written elsewhere that even those had to be doctors and for which the Dominican Republic expected to be paid. It can’t be be any more unvarnished than that:

      From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

      “… Between 1933 and 1941, the Nazis sought to make Germany “Judenrein” (cleansed of Jews) by making life so difficult for the approximately 600,000 German Jews that they would be forced to leave the country. By 1938, about 150,000 German Jews, one in four, had already left. After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, an additional 185,000 Jews were brought under Nazi rule. Many German and Austrian Jews who wanted to leave were unable to find countries willing to take them in. A substantial percentage tried to go to the United States but were unable to obtain the necessary immigration visas. The U.S. Congress had established immigration quotas in 1924 that limited the number of immigrants and discriminated against groups considered racially and ethnically undesirable.

      President Franklin D. Roosevelt, responding to mounting political pressure, called for an international conference to facilitate the emigration of refugees from Germany and Austria, and to establish an international organization to work for an overall solution to the refugee problem. In early July 1938, delegates from 32 countries met at the French resort of evian on Lake Geneva. Roosevelt chose Myron C. Taylor, a businessman and close friend, to represent the U.S. at the conference. During the nine-day meeting, delegate after delegate rose to express sympathy for the refugees. But most countries, including the United States and Britain, offered excuses for not letting in more refugees. Only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept additional refugees.

      The conference attendees created the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (ICR), charged with approaching “the governments of the countries of refuge with a view to developing opportunities for permanent settlement” and seeking to persuade Germany to cooperate in establishing “conditions of orderly emigration.” The ICR received little authority and virtually no funds or other support from its member nations. Its achievements were minimal until September 1939 when the beginning of World War II largely ended all efforts.

      Commenting on the evian Conference, the German government was able to state how “astounding” it was that foreign countries criticized Germany for its treatment of the Jews, yet none of them opened their doors. Although the events of the violent Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) pogroms of November 1938 were widely reported in graphic detail, Americans remained reluctant to welcome Jewish refugees and the quotas remained in place. Even efforts by some Americans to rescue children failed: the Wagner-Rogers Bill, an effort to admit 20,000 endangered Jewish refugee children, was not supported by the Senate in 1939 and 1940. ”

      link to ushmm.org

      • Potsherd2 says:

        Of course this is why many Israeli supporters in the US and in Europe can continue to cling to this position – out of guilt from their complicity in Hitler’s genocide.

        link to haaretz.com

        Of course they fail to realize that they are now doing to Palestinians as they did to Jews, then, actively contributing to their destruction.

  4. Citizen says:

    Sorry, Shingo–I posted some of the same material from Muzzlewatch before I scrolled down and saw your comment. Odd that we would both find that material so relevant here? Coincidental, yes, but odd, no.

  5. Kathleen says:

    House Vote On Passage: H.R. 2194: Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment…
    link to govtrack.us

    Go read the text of this legislation. A great deal of inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims
    link to govtrack.us
    Aye FL-8 Grayson, Alan [D]

  6. andrew r says:

    Morris hasn’t forgiven himself for exposing the details of the nakba.