Caroline Glick says there were no Palestinian refugees

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It is the prime of Caroline Glick. The contributing editor of the Jerusalem Post who grew up in Chicago and moved to Israel after graduating from Columbia University in 1991 had a showdown with European diplomats ten days ago in which she told them that their concern with Israeli settlements was a manifestation of anti-Semitism that goes back to Jesus.

A couple weeks before that, she got to spout three paragraphs of her intolerant ideas in a long piece in The New Yorker on the one-state reality:

Like Netanyahu, Glick sees a Palestinian state as little more than a staging ground for assaults on Israel. “The border will be permeable,” she said. “Jerusalem will be divided and people will walk in the Damascus Gate and then through the Jaffa Gate and murder people. There is no way of securing the country…”

That piece mentioned her book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. It came out earlier this year from a big US publisher, Crown, with blurbs from the governor of Indiana and former UN Ambassador John Bolton.

I got the book. Glick denies the Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948; denies the existence of Palestinian refugees; denies that Palestinians are the “indigenous population” of the land; and denies the existence of the West Bank, which she mentions only in quotation marks– its real name for her is its biblical Jewish designation, Judea and Samaria.

The book affirms “the Jewish people’s status as the indigenous people of the Land of Israel.” Glick may have grown up in Chicago, but she has a religious view of Middle East history:

[T]he Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria–as with their rights to the rest of the Land of Israel– are overwhelming….[D]uring the 3,500 year political history of the Land of Israel, the Jews were the only nation that viewed Israel as a single political unit…

The Temple Mount is… the holiest site in Judaism. According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount is where the world was created… The destruction of the Temple Mount [by what Glick calls a Palestinian “campaign” today to excavate the site] is a cultural crime certainly no less damaging than the Taliban’s destruction of the ancient Buddhist Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan in March 2001…

The people of Israel, and indeed the Jewish people worldwide, are a community of memory. The reconsitution of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel is an unprecedented historic accomplishment. No other indigenous people has preserved its national identity for so long and against such great odds, only to repatriate itself to its historic homeland…

And it was in recognition of this remarkable feat that in 1922, the nations of the world determined that the legal right to sovereignty over the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people alone.

Glick’s one straight reference to the “Nakba,” is the claim that it is the Palestinian name for May 15, 1948. In fact the Nakba refers to a months-long period of expulsion. Glick generally puts the word “Palestine” inside quotations too. It has never existed as a political entity, she asserts, just a geographical one.

And so there could be no Palestinian refugees from the land of Israel, because they were interlopers. The refugees in her view are “the so-called Palestinian refugees.” She says the refugee problem began after Israel’s establishment on May 15, 1948– thereby denying the Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing that began weeks before that, including the massacre at Deir Yassin in April 1948 and the campaign against the coastal city of Jaffa: Jaffa’s Palestinian population went from 75,000 to 4,500 over several months ending on May 13, 1948.

But Glick says the so-called refugees left later than that:

During the course of the war  [with Arab armies that commenced May 1948], several hundred thousand Palestinians had left the territory of Israel and relocated to neighboring Arab states. Since they left, the Arab states, aside from Jordan, have denied them and their descendants citizenship…

Today there are several million Arabs whom the United Nations classifies as Palestinian refugees who have lived for generations in the Arab states neighboring Israel…

As for the right of return, Glick never mentions UN Resolution 194, guaranteeing the right of refugees to return. She does say:

“This demand is without precedent in the history of warfare. There is no precedent of a civilian population, displaced by a war that their leadership started and lost, claiming a right to return to territory that they failed to conquer…. In other words, the demand for a ‘right of return’ of the ‘refugees’ is a Palestinian — and pan-Arab, and UN– attempt to retroactively achieve the result they failed to achieve in a war of aggression instigated by their ancestors.”

Every Palestinian I’ve ever asked about the right of return has said that it is a central issue. In part this is because the right affirms Palestinian history and grievances: their expulsion in 1948 and the refusal to allow them to return to their property. As endless peace processors have discovered, any resolution of the conflict must honor and reckon with the right of return. Whether or not a sizable portion of refugees and descendants would choose to return is not the question; the issue is one of acknowledgement of a grave injustice. Imagine how Jews would respond if a prominent writer denied the Holocaust; that kind of lie has generated lawsuits and laws. What’s more, the Nazi extermination of Jews resulted years ago in German reparations to Jews and other goodwill gestures between Germany and Israel, to the point that Netanyahu has a German car. Yet there have been no reparations to Palestinians for the theft of their property and their expulsion from their lands 66 years ago.Reporting on the Ground

Glick’s statements must be understood in that context, as hugely offensive. Can you imagine someone who denies the history of Jim Crow being granted a platform in The New Yorker to spout her ideas? Impossible. She’d be marginalized. And this is the journalist who is regarded as representative of rightwing Israeli thought!

Yizhar Smilansky, who wrote under the name S. Yizhar
Yizhar Smilansky, who wrote under the name S. Yizhar

This very month, an American publisher has reissued a historic 1949 book by the late Israeli writer S. Yizhar, called Khirbet Khizeh. The short book is a novel but it documents the expulsion of Palestinians from a village in 1948 in the most vivid and undeniable terms. The narrator of the book is an officer who at the climax of a day of expelling villagers observes a dignified woman walking with her son to a transport truck to be taken from her home and realizes that Zionists are creating a refugee crisis, in an upside-down reflection of Jewish history:

Something struck me like lightning.. This was exile. This was what exile was like. This was what exile looked like.

I had never been to the Diaspora… but people had spoken to me, told me, taught me, and repeatedly recited to me, from every direction, in books and newspapers, everywhere: exile. They had played on all my nerves. Our nation’s protest to the world: exile! It had entered me, apparently, with my mother’s milk. What, in fact, had we perpetrated here today?…

My guts cried out. Colonizers, they shouted. Lies, my guts shouted. Khirbet Khizeh is not ours. The Spandau gun never gave us any rights. Oh, my guts scream. What hadn’t they told us about refugees. Everything, everything was for the refugees, their welfare, their rescue… our refugees, naturally. Those we were driving out– that was a totally different matter. Wait. Two thousand years of exile. The whole story. Jews being killed. Europe. We were the masters now.

Our refugees from Europe and their refugees from Palestine. That is a true Jewish witness to history. Caroline Glick is a false one. What a disgrace that she is getting so much attention. Sadly, her ideas get traction outside the right. Her rise is reminiscent of Joan Peters’s book 30 years ago. Norman Finkelstein destroyed those lies; and the late Anthony Lewis picked up Finkelstein’s research in The New York Times in a great column titled, “There Were No Indians.” Glick deserves the same treatment.

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“There is no precedent of a civilian population, displaced by a war that their leadership started and lost, claiming a right to return to territory that they failed to conquer.”

Weirdly, that’s a pretty good summation of the history of Zionism.

Phil~ I am glad that you continue to follow this Nakba/Palestinian denier. Yesterday I had my eyes opened even wider by Ally Cohen here: In that article, she made me aware of a violent, extremist settler named Anat Cohen. From a “New Yorker” article by Goldberg in 2014: “Cohen pulled up a few minutes later, in a station wagon, its windshield cracked from stone-throwing attacks. She is one of the leaders of the Hebron… Read more »

Reading this… I just feel my head is about too explode !

I can’t comment as I won’t stumble into the sin of being “uncivil” . As time passes I am getting more and more lost for words . But thanks to all of the commenters here and of course Philip Weiss , Annie Robbins, Adam Horowitz the valiant three … they speak much better than I ever could. I embrace you all !!

This is becoming annoying. Norman Finkelstein did great work on Joan Peters, but as he will tell you, he was not the only person who did significant work in shooting down Peters (as the Anthony Lewis column you mentioned points out).

S. Yizhar’s book is magnificent–an amazing book on ethnic cleansing that deserves to be as well known as Heart of Darkness. But its reception history is complicated: many Israelis took it as testimony to the heroism of “dirty hands” necessary for modern nation building. The narrator proceeds with the ethnic cleansing; S. Yizhar proceeded with his literary and political career as an MK and an ally of David Ben Gurion.