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Ari Shavit has a selective memory for war crimes, Khalidi says

Israel/Palestine
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Ari Shavit

Ari Shavit

Ari Shavit’s new book My Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, will be published this week, and tomorrow night the author and David Remnick will have a conversation at the 92d Street Y.

A section of the book dealing with the expulsion of the Palestinian population of Lydda in 1948 was published last month in Remnick’s magazine, The New Yorker, and historian Rashid Khalidi spoke about this piece during his appearance in Brooklyn last week with Brooklyn for Peace. The context for Khalidi’s remarks was praising young Americans for having a more honest engagement than their forebears with the truth about the “systematic theft” of Palestinian land. Though the media are still not in step:

You read something like The New York Times or The New Yorker and you see things that on the face of it simply involve contradictions that are absolutely impossible. I don’t know if anyone saw the piece by Ari Shavit about the massacre and the expulsion of the population in Lyd. What is not said in that article is so much worse than the awful things that are said. He talks about what is, if you read it, clearly a war crime. He never uses the word war crime, and he justifies it. And he doesn’t talk about so much else. It’s not as if those few tens of thousands were the only ones who were forced to flee. The overwhelming majority of the Arab population of Palestine–there were about 1.3 million, between 700 and 800,000 of them, the majority– were forced to flee in similar ways. That’s the background to this.

Right next to Lyd is Ramle. The same thing happened in Ramle. Another several tens of thousands. He never mentions it. It’s one of the most extraordinary pieces the New Yorker ever published. And it is typical of the kind of quotation which is involved in saying I’m pro-Israel. If that’s pro-Israel, you’re pro-war crime. That’s what Shavit is basically saying. He’s saying I’m pro war crime, I recognize that we did these bad things.

Read the article. It’s extraordinarily contradictory in its very essence. And that very much represents I think the way that a lot of people here feel. But it is remarkable that some of these things are finally being talked about. I have friends who say, I’m glad that they’re talking about Lyd at all. In a sense that’s true, I suppose…. At least it’s being talked about. You have glass half full, you have people creeping out and being willing to say some things that they never were before.

Later in Brooklyn, Khalidi responded to a young questioner by remarking on the growing awareness of the facts of the conflict among intellectuals and activists and students, including many Jews:

The media is pretty much occupied territory. Capitol Hill is completely occupied territory. Outside of those very important crucial bastions, I would not like to be fighting the other side of this issue, because they have no moral case whatsoever. There’s not much of a strategic case in my view. And lot of the myths that were so essential to the early decades of Israel’s establishment and expansion and the way in which it fixed itself in the American mind have a lot more of a hold over people in their 70s and 60s and 50s than they do over people in their 20s and 30s. The connection between the Holocaust and Israel, the idea that Israel was on the verge of extermination in the 67 war– these are articles of faith among people much older than you.

 

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24 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    November 18, 2013, 10:15 am

    “He talks about what is, if you read it, clearly a war crime. He never uses the word war crime, and he justifies it.” Unfortunately those war crimes that happened in 1948 are still going on, the only difference is that they are happening on a smaller scale, but the end game is still the same, albeit by death by a thousand cuts, that way it is easier for the International community to turn a blind eye, or even facilitate it. Far easier and more profitable [in the short term] to defer to the stronger side who have US backing, than to be on the side of truth and justice for the Palestinians, I can only hope that the Palestinian leadership stop being conned [or intimidated] and realize that what’s happening today is just a continuation of 1948, and that this is in the DNA of Zionists and therefore must be resisted.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      November 18, 2013, 1:52 pm

      The thousand cuts! Yes, in 1948 Israel tossed away the whole salami (or 85% of it) (the salami being the Palestinian residents of green-line Israel) but now slices the remaining salami very thin and tosses away these very thin slices on a daily basis. This time it’s not so much the exile of people as the talking of land, and a little displacement of people and some torture and imprisonment and demolition of housing and killing.

      “Salami tactics”. Death by 1000 cuts on the salami-slicing machine.

  2. Krauss
    Krauss
    November 18, 2013, 10:58 am

    The social pathology of Ari Shavit creeps out in the article.
    He says that after the cleansing, those who were left behind were better of it.

    I mean, this almost on the level of a slaveholder saying his slaves are better off after being sent to America from Africa. Sure, they’re not free. But you know, material standards are higher? This is actually an argument a lot of Zionists use.

    And there’s also a secondary irony, how can an Ashkenazi Jew like Shavit know how Palestinians feel? If you’ve read Max Blumenthal’s book, and he actually tries to engage them and talk to them and live around them, you know that they are facing the same kind of slow-mo ethnic cleansing as Palestinians are in East Jerusalem. They are being ‘concentrated’ into poorer Arab towns in the periphery.

    And that’s just those who stayed behind. As Max also wrote about; they would all have been ethnically cleansed if it wasn’t for a single moral decision by the commander at that time. Ben-Gurion had just waved with his hand on every single community to give the signal to the commander to commence ethnic cleansing. When a single commander refused, Ben-Gurion was forced to put his orders into paper and he refused to leave documentation of any of this. So it was really a fluke that a minority of the people in those areas were spared (to a small extent).

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      November 18, 2013, 11:00 am

      P.S.

      I’m beginning to absorb the same kind of venomous disdain of “liberal” Zionism as Blumenthal has had for a long time. As he likes to say; at least the right-wing are honest about their intentions, about their core beliefs.

      The “liberal” Zionists fundamentally agree with the ethnic cleansing, as Shavit demonstrates, but they do PR-damage control on other issues like settler attacks in order to try to salvage their “liberal” principles. Whatever’s left of them.

      But once you push them to the wall, if they have to choose, they will always choose Apartheid and ethnic cleansing. We saw it with Alterman, Beinart and Shavit too.

  3. ritzl
    ritzl
    November 18, 2013, 11:01 am

    Any and all internal acknowledgements/discussions of the holes in Israel’s founding mythology, however slim, tenuous, and qualified, are as crucial and impactful as the external forces for change such as BDS. Converging dynamics, imho.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      November 18, 2013, 11:16 am

      I think so too. The memes are so threadbare. They can’t maintain their media dominance with nonsense. Ultimately they are a minority with power and the biggest thing they fear is irrelevance.

  4. seafoid
    seafoid
    November 18, 2013, 11:19 am

    My promised land. I think all the violence necessary to keep the jewish grip on the land shows the promise as either an iron age delusion or a test from gd that her people are still incapable of passing.

  5. November 18, 2013, 11:29 am

    Mr Khalidi also has selective “memory”. At the same time events described by Ari Shavit were taking place enlightened Europeans were busy committing infinitely greater crimes of “official” ethnic cleansing of 12 mln Germans from vast territories of Eastern Europe. More than 600.000 were killed in this process. Russia simply annexed Konigsberg – the capital of East Prussia where Germans lived for at least 7 centuries. However the main point here is that this was done following the Potsdam conference in which
    “The Three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agree that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner.[34]”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_and_expulsion_of_Germans_(1944%E2%80%9350)

    AT THAT TIME these were the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations. Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys.

    Another point – there are no demands now to allow the return of the expelled Germans. Not even compensation. In fact such demands are considered “revanschism” by progressive Europeans.

    And final point – at the same time ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population from Egypt, Iraq, Jordanian occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and other Arab countries was going on without war hostilities. All in all close to 1 mln Arab Jews were expelled.

    Again – this is not to justify anything but to put things into correct proportions. If this blog deals with the “Middle East” – it must deal with the Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern countries too.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      November 18, 2013, 11:56 am

      “AT THAT TIME these were the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations. Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys”

      Bullshit. Stalin presented the ethnic cleansing of the Germans as a fait accompli.
      It was never the plan of the Western powers.
      It still sucks.

      • annie
        annie
        November 18, 2013, 6:15 pm

        the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations.

        and palestine was not a ‘defeated nation’ when israel started clearing it out in 47. israel started a war, they weren’t ending one.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        November 19, 2013, 1:00 am

        And whenever israel is defeated it will all be about border integrity and UN recognition.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      November 18, 2013, 12:17 pm

      However the main point here is that this was done following the Potsdam conference . . . Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys.

      Well you can’t cite an exception or grevious offense as “the norm” – and Israel certainly wasn’t following the Potsdam example. Eyal Benvenisti has explained at length that unilateral annexation as a result of private wars had been outlawed in the 19th century. See Eyal Benvenisti, “The Origins of the Concept of Belligerent Occupation, Law and History Review 26.3 (2008), link to archive.is

      The territories that were allocated as reparations by the Versailles and Potsdam Peace Conferences were the last examples of that now-senescent practice and they were agreed upon multilaterally after the world wars. None of Israel’s illegal annexations have complied with the rules laid down in international law and reflected in the UN Charter, which was one of the bases for the prohibition against the acquisition of any territory by war.

      • Mike_Konrad
        Mike_Konrad
        November 18, 2013, 2:09 pm

        . Eyal Benvenisti has explained at length that unilateral annexation as a result of private wars had been outlawed in the 19th century.

        Nonsense! India annexed Gao in 1961. International Law is murky.

        Britain annexed Rockall island by landing a Marine on it.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        November 18, 2013, 6:46 pm

        Nonsense! India annexed Gao in 1961. International Law is murky.

        No, the international law on the subject of Decolonization and the status of Portugese “possessions” in India; other parts of Asia; and Africa wasn’t at all murky. France and Great Britain had given up their possessions in India and Portugal was condemned along with South Africa for refusing to end white minority rule in its colonies in Southern Africa: Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Angola.

        Britain annexed Rockall island

        And many members of the international community of states don’t formally recognize that act.

    • talknic
      talknic
      November 18, 2013, 12:17 pm

      @ fnlevit “… ethnic cleansing of 12 mln Germans from vast territories of Eastern Europe.” …”AT THAT TIME these were the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations. Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys.”

      You can find the agreements and treaties under which this was carried out…if you bothered to look. There are no treaties or final agreements between Israel and the Palestinians

      “link to en.wikipedia.org”

      Wikipedia is second hand opinion not fact or truth

      ” at the same time ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population from Egypt, Iraq, Jordanian occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and other Arab countries was going on without war hostilities. All in all close to 1 mln Arab Jews were expelled”

      Quite NORMAL to expel or inter possible 5th columnists and freeze their assets when countries are at war. The US, UK Australia interred and expelled their Japanese and German citizens in WWII . It’s also normal to allow their release or return and reinstatement of their assets if they haven’t taken up citizenship in a country other than the country of return.

      “this is not to justify anything but to put things into correct proportions … If this blog deals with the “Middle East” – it must deal with the Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern countries too.”

      What Jewish refugees? They’ve all forgone refugee status by becoming citizens of Israel and other states. There are no Jewish refugees from Arab states. Those who ended up in Israel were encouraged to take Israeli citizenship

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder
      November 18, 2013, 2:22 pm

      At the same time events described by Ari Shavit were taking place enlightened Europeans were busy committing infinitely greater crimes of “official” ethnic cleansing of 12 mln Germans from vast territories of Eastern Europe. More than 600.000 were killed in this process.

      This is an interesting argument, but also classic. ;)

      From the top of my head: Interesting to see you accept the idea of “German victimhood” in this context. Highly, interesting, actually.

      You think that works to create some type of consuetudinary right? Would you for instance consider ethnic Germans brought to Poland by the Nazis to occupy former Polish and Jewish real estate should have remained there? Or only the ones occupying Polish real estate? … Let’s just keep to Poland. How easy you think it would have been to sort out Polish Nazis from the “innocent ethnic German bystanders”?

      Or is that only immediately on your mind since the Germans somewhat managed to integrate these people, while the “evil Arabs” that were supposed to do the same did’t? Can you point out to me what specific crimes “the Arabs” living in Palestine had committed that made a similar transfer justified?

    • tree
      tree
      November 18, 2013, 3:09 pm

      Well, that explains a lot about the Zionist mindset. Stalin was an “enlightened European”, according to fnlevit!

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      November 18, 2013, 4:20 pm

      “Again – this is not to justify anything but…”

      Everything after the word “anything” demonstrates the lie to the claim. Like every zio, you eventually reach this point where you are essentially justifying the holocaust.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        November 18, 2013, 8:00 pm

        Maybe fnlevit only pretends to be a Jew and is in fact a German Neo-Nazi trying to whitewash their WW2 war crimes indirectly and accusing anybody with antisemitism who doesn’t follow his “norms” like expulsion, dispossession, disenfrenchisement denationalization, annexation, settlements in occupied territories, Lebensraum policy, ethnocracy, etc.

        OMG! Maybe there’s no such thing as a real Zionist at all!!!

    • annie
      annie
      November 18, 2013, 6:11 pm

      Again – this is not to justify anything

      lol, i had to laugh at this fnl, you gotta lotta nerve.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      November 18, 2013, 7:51 pm

      fnlevit: AT THAT TIME these were the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations. Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys.

      Great. Please tell us what “norms” the “big guy” Nazi Germany set dealing with defeated nations and which Israel just had to follow, because it didn’t want to violate the “norms” of crimes against humanity. Start with Poland and focus on Jews.

      Another point – there are no demands now to allow the return of the expelled Germans.

      But Germany allowed its expellees to return.

      If this blog deals with the “Middle East” – it must deal with the Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern countries too.

      Sure, cause you support the right to return in general, don’t you?

    • Bandolero
      Bandolero
      November 18, 2013, 8:36 pm

      @Ari Shavit
      Your analogies miss some important points, which makes you turn justice from it’s feet onto it’s head.

      AT THAT TIME these were the norms of conducting wars and dealing with nationals of defeated nations. Israel followed the “norms” set by the big guys.

      Another point – there are no demands now to allow the return of the expelled Germans. Not even compensation. In fact such demands are considered “revanschism” by progressive Europeans.

      Germans eastern neighbors never intended to ethnically clean and colonialize their and German territories from Germans. It was the Germans who used a racial pretect of protecting ethnical Germans and gaining “Lebensraum” in the east to start wars.

      As the Germans lost the wars they started, the Germans serving as stepping stones and pretext for the German wars had to go. That may be considered fair or unfair, but however, Germany has accepted now that changing borders and gaining Lebensraum by military action brings only great sufferings onto people.

      In Palestine the situation is different. It was the zionists who were bend to colonialize the land and gain “Lebensraum” in the east by aggression as the Germans did in WWII. It is the zionists that are colonializing “Lebensraum” in the east that does not belong to them. That the “big guys” – all friends of racist zionism – don’t intervene to stop that injustice, does not nullify that injustice committed by zionists.

      All in all close to 1 mln Arab Jews were expelled.

      It’s well known that it was the Mossad who organized the emigration of jews from arab countries with false flag attacks and propaganda lies. You may well read this under keywords like “Operation Susannah” or in books like ” Ben Gurion’s Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad Eliminated Jews.” So, instead of bragging for saving jews, Israel should pay compensation for that covert campaign to stir up racist violence and apologize to the arab jews they tricked them into Israel then.

      Sum of it all: Israel is entirely based on falsehoods, racism and occupation and should be held accountible as racist Germany was hold accountable for it’s crimes. When the Israeli perpetretors are ready to acknowledge the crimes the commit, time is ripe for peace. Before that, people will strive for truth and justice.

      Many crimes the zionists did commit are understandable, as the zionists saw that racism was rampant and successful violence trumped everything, however crimes are still crimes. There is no justification for Europeans to colonialize Asian land on the terms that Europeans can’t live with each other because Europeans are too racist for that.

  6. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    November 18, 2013, 6:15 pm

    Keith Lowe ‘Savage Continent’ has a terrifying chapter on the ethnic cleansing of the Germans. He quotes contemporary condemnations – ‘the most inhuman decision ever made by governments dedicated to the defence of human rights’ (Anne O’Hare McCormick) p.234, leading to ‘nationalist tensions transmitted down the generations’ p.371, though he ends on a more optimistic (perhaps contradictory) note.
    Lowe also mentions somewhere, though I can’t find the page reference for the moment, that there is considerable difference in the German and Polish figures for the numbers of ethnic Germans expelled.
    But it’s worth noting that some people at the time saw the expulsion for the outrage that it was – also that governments, presiding over scenes of chaos, worse than the Black Death or Attila’s raids, did try to limit the damage. It is a poor defence for Zionism to say that its activities differed only in scale from ‘the most inhumane decision ever made’ and a sort of self-condemnation by those who offer the defence. What we shouldn’t do is get drawn into endless comparisons of different episodes and insoluble wrangles over this and that statistic. What we should do is point out that no action is seriously defended by saying it wasn’t or isn’t as bad as the worst.

  7. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    November 18, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Of the mass deportations carried out by the Allied powers during or after World War Two, it is those ordered by Stalin in the USSR that can best be compared to the Nakba, because very few if any members of the “disloyal” ethnic groups deported to Central Asia were guilty of anything (the Volga Germans, unlike the Volksdeutsche of Eastern Europe, had lived in Russia for centuries and had nothing whatsoever to do with the Nazis).

    Soon after the Nakba a Soviet diplomat — the USSR was a key ally of the Zionists in the late 1940s and early 1950s — helpfully suggested that the problem of the Palestinian refugees might be “solved” by dumping them too in Central Asia. Clearly ethnic cleansing was a quite “normal” state measure in the minds of Soviet officials at that time. The norm that victors have the right to deport people they don’t want was widely shared, so the Zionists must have thought: “Everyone else is allowed to do it, so why shouldn’t we?” Of course, to be consistent they should not have objected to Stalin’s plans to deport Soviet Jews (he died before he could implement them).

    In terms of absolute moral standards it is indeed “not serious” to defend an action by saying that it wasn’t as bad as the worst. But lots of people are satisfied with relative moral standards — that is, if they are no worse than many others that is enough to put their conscience at ease. “Everyone is doing it.” They dislike people who demand more than that of themselves and others.

    Now Judaism did impose absolute moral standards on its followers. Jews were to be “a light unto the nations.” (Recognizing that does not mean agreeing with those standards.) That attitude was passionately rejected by the Zionists. They wanted to make Jews “normal” — that is, no better and no worse than other peoples. Absolute morality was associated with the diaspora Judaism that the Zionists were rejecting. That also helps explain why they thought that “non-serious” relativistic excuses were good enough for them.

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