Derfner Blog Partnership Suspended
A few months ago Larry Derfner came to me with an idea I thought was terrific: co-authoring a blog to debate the burning issues of the nature of Israeli society, Israeli democracy and modern Zionism; and to do this from a progressive perspective. We’d tackle the big philosophical issues that don’t get addressed often in political blogs: Zionism vs. Diasporism; Nakba, Right of Return, Law of Return, Religion vs secularism in Israel, etc. I was proud and flattered that Larry found me to be a worthy partner for this project.
We began the blog and for the first few weeks it went well, though I think perhaps I didn’t participate on a regular enough basis for Larry.
Then Larry suggested we debate the issue of Nakba and Right of Return. He warned me that he didn’t agree that the 1948 War was a crucial moral failing of Israel (though he did feel that about 1967). So I wrote the first post about why I felt Nakba was Israel’s Original Sin and why the Right of Return must be resolved along the lines proposed by the Geneva Accords, with a quota of Palestinian refugees permitted to return to Israel as citizens if they refused the generous compensation package offered to settle elsewhere.
Larry replied with a post I thought rather unfortunately titled, The Right of Return is Wrong. I felt that this title attempted to be punchy at the cost of presenting the issue in a nuanced way. Frankly, I thought poorly of Larry’s defense of Israel’s behavior in 1948 and his total dismissal of ROR and Israeli responsibility for Nakba. In fact, I even used the term “cheap and unworthy” to describe one of Larry’s arguments. He didn’t like that. Thought it was insulting, uncivil and violated our agreement to debate the issues in a civil manner.
I told him that though I knew we disagreed about issues, I had no idea his approach to Nakba was going to be so dismissive and I replied in the only way I knew how.
As I watched the comment threads I saw that most of the commenters were either right wingers I’d banned here for violating comment rules or they were Larry’s readers from the Jerusalem Post. Some of my friends and allies here like Deir Yassin and Leonid came over. But 80% of the comments were hostile. And I have a rule that if someone is hostile to me in debate I’m hostile in reply. It ain’t pretty I admit and people I respect take me to task for it. But it’s really the only way I know how to deal with provocateurs, trolls and intemperate right wing racists.
All of which made me realize that I couldn’t achieve the tone Larry wanted for the blog. So we’ve agreed to part company. It was a worthy experiment. It’s unfortunate it couldn’t last longer. But it’s better to recognize something isn’t going to work and end it gracefully, than allow it to drag on with both parties festering in resentment because the partner isn’t living up to his end of the bargain (I don’t see Larry that way, but I imagine he saw me that way or would have had we continued).
I now realize something neither of us took into account before we began. We thought we should allow comments for the blog. But in hindsight I think if two people are debating an issue you don’t really need comments. You are your own commenter in a blog like this. It probably would’ve taken some of the pressure off me if we’d stopped allowing comments and just debated amongst the two of us.
At any rate, my involvement with Israel Reconsidered is ended. I hope Larry continues to use it as his online outlet and blogs there and creates the sort of online community for himself that I’ve tried to create here. I wish him well.
I liked those posts I wrote at Israel Reconsidered so much that I intend to republish them here in the coming days.
50 thoughts on “Derfner Blog Partnership Suspended – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Richard, I’m sorry your project ended so quickly, I really think the idea was great, but in my opinion Larry is the essence of the hypocrisy of Liberal Zionists. I had a long discussion with him, and realized there is absolutely NO questioning about the official zionist history in his mind. He spew exactly the same Hasbara in his answers as most right-wingers have done here.
That said, the questioning on your own ‘voyage’ from being against the ROR to a supporter is a legitimate one, and should make you realize that people change.
It would be great if you set up a blog with a Palestinian: someone like Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh from Beit Sahour, maybe the Israeli Palestinian Hatim Kanaaneh who wrote “A Doctor in Galilee”.
The same assertions of unwillingness to listen and to discuss fill Richard’s and your unnecessarily hostile reactions.
The informative response to someone not understanding your experience and even political conclusions, is to describe them (the experience and political conclusions), NOT to castigate those that have different experiences or different reasonings.
Unless, you believe that only those that “already know” deserve education, but then you are literally preaching to the choir.
Cut the crap, Mr Witty.
You don’t know me, maybe, but I know you. You’ve been posting the same egocentric and ethnocentric shit again and again on Mondoweiss for years – when you’re not moderated. You’re simply a joke, a modern version of Narcissos. And the more people make fun of you, the more your narcissism seems to grow.
Asking Phillip Weiss in front of the whole blogosphere whether his Mum reads his blog, and whether she reads YOUR comments is just an example among others.
Don’t waste your time on me – I’m not wasting mine on you…
I’m again disappointed that you decided to call names, rather than respond to content.
Phil and I, and Phil’s mother and I are family friends, linked by the very close extended relationship of my aunt (now deceased) and his mother.
I comment on his mother, only when Phil brings her up.
You can call that narcisism if you like. It is very relevant content in the context of Phil’s writing. Real.
Again, if your goal is to educate, then to respond to even something that you determine is ignorance is to inform, not to castigate.
We are all impatient with each other. I am impatient with the statements that imply that Palestinian activists are only victims and not participants in any way in mutual harms.
Witty, stop dealing with irrelevancies. If you have a comment on substance pls. do so, otherwise stop maundering.
Well, at least you were able to agree that you couldn’t even agree to disagree.
“I told him that though I knew we disagreed about issues, I had no idea his approach to Nakba was going to be so dismissive and I replied in the only way I knew how.”
And this is the heart of it, i am relatively new to this blog, and forgive me for saying, but you are rather rude, to those who don’t agree with you.
You are full with, what i see as contempt, towards those who don’t agree with you, I’ve been met with snark since the very first moment, iv’e been called brainless and for what ? for telling you your Hebrew assertion is wrong ? or that history is proven you wrong ?
I think you should go back to debating with Larry, it is an opportunity, in my mind , for everyone to gain something, for you to gain more exposure, and for the rest of us to get another opinion, One that most of us who support a two state solution do not agree with, nevertheless it forces everyone to think.
No, I won’t. If I need editorial advice or advice about my rhetorical style I’ll ask, OK?
Dialogue is very difficult. I’ve seen Arab-Jewish dialogue (in Boston, 1980s) from outside (my wife participating as an Arab from inside) and in some cases it worked well (when the Jews were able and eager to present pro-Palestinian view — feelings and facts — to audiences in local synagogues). My own attempts failed, however, perhaps because I didn’t/don’t have the social skills to define a purpose for the dialogue or to conduct it without rancor. My own position, as a Jewish (secular) proponent of Palestinian facts and feelings was easy for me but hard for others to swallow.
This is very saddening. It seemed like a very important enterprise. I hope you guys reconsider.
I was interested in the project at the beginning, but I never felt inspired to comment. I share Deir Yassin’s reservations about liberal Zionism, particularly its reliance on speculative history – e.g. Larry using what Palestinians *might* have done to the yishuv *if* their roles had been reversed to justify denying the refugees the right of return. Then there were the Cassandra-like prophecies about what would happen if the right of return were to be implemented. Ifs, mights, and maybes are no basis for historical scholarship, and they certainly can’t be used as practical justification for unsavoury present realities. I chose not to participate because of this. I would be repeating myself ad nauseum if I debated with everybody who said these things.
“And I have a rule that if someone is hostile to me in debate I’m hostile in reply. It ain’t pretty I admit and people I respect take me to task for it. But it’s really the only way I know how to deal with provocateurs, trolls and intemperate right wing racists.”
I used to be the same. I have a lightning temper. I still have trouble controlling it sometimes. One of the things that helped me to change was training as a counsellor – I had to learn to listen not just to what people say, but why they say it in the first place. Last week I was talking to a very right-wing Israeli who compared Arabs to animals. Literally. It knocked the breath out of me. I immediately thought of my host family and my colleagues and all my friends here, and I was at a loss for words. As a concession, the guy retracted his remark with, “OK, OK, I saw your face, I won’t say that. But they are a primitive people…” I didn’t get angry with him for any of this, because he also said, “They want to kill me.” He kept repeating that. There was a time when I would have been beyond furious with him for holding such a prejudice, but now I just saw it as evidence of how afraid he was. Fear doesn’t have to be rational to be real, and it’s hard to be hostile to someone who is that afraid. The other thing that emerged in our conversation was that he’s weary and jaded by the whole situation. That taught me that maybe debate is not what he needs; it will only make his cynicism and hostility worse.
The big question I always ask myself when I’m arguing with someone is whether I want to win the debate, or whether I want to make things a bit better. If it’s the second one, sometimes that means letting go of an argument. I don’t know if you want to change your debating style, Richard – your role in the peace movement is very different from mine, and what works for me might not work for you at all. I work with a small number of individuals daily; you have a sizeable blog to moderate, which covers controversial topics and naturally attracts its fair share of trolls. I can spend hours working out how to respond to a person in the most helpful way for them, and obviously you would never have the time for that. But if you ever do feel like trying a different way of doing things, it might help to incorporate elements of this approach – it’s widely taught in the non-violent/pacifist movement.
Vicky, it always a pleasure to see someone who writes as eloquent as you are, a true breath of fresh air.
Just minor correction, Larry wasn’t referring to what the Arabs *might* have done, it’s actually what they did, each time they had the opportunity.
Uri Avnari which Larry quoted in the other blog said:
“There can be no dispute that ethnic cleansing took place in 1948 – though allow me to remark, in parenthesis, that the ethnic cleansing was on both sides, and that there was not a single Jew left residing in whatever territory was conquered by the Arab side.” – Uri Avnery, June 2007, in debate (“Two States or One State”) with Ilan Pappe
Neither Uri Avnery – with all my respect – nor Larry Derfner are historians. I’m sorry to use the H-word again, but it’s simply Hasbara to talk about the ‘mutual ethnic cleansing’ in 1948. I addressed Larry on that but he simply spew the standard Zionist responses.
How many Jews were ethnically cleansed from the future Arab state ? According to the demographic surveys made prior to the Resolution 181, 10.000 Jews were living in the 45% of Mandatory Palestine supposed to constitute the Arab State. A further 23% were conquered by the Zionists/Israelis, leaving 22% to the Palestinians. How many of the 10.000 Jews lived on these 22% ??? And of these, how many were actually born in Palestine, and how many had come from Europe as adults with the project of establishing a Jewish state on foreign land ?
Ilan Pappe IS a historian. Why don’t you read his “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”: a good antidote to Zionist brainwashing. And if he’s too ‘radical’, you could start by Avi Shlaim, Pappe’s former director at Oxford. Even Benny Morris before he turned Likudnik would give you insight into THE ethnic cleansing.
Richard, I was going to bring to your attention a series of exchanges some of us had with Larry Derfner over at MW. The exchange was buried in the comments so perhaps many did not see it. This is one of 2 threads where he made an appearance. The link below starts with my comment but it’s worth scrolling down to see the aggravating turn the “debate” took when Larry basically refers to the “savage streak” of the Palestinians.
I am on record as questioning Larry’s sudden interest in carrying on a debate with people thought to be “pro-Palestinians” or “one-staters” or “pro-human-righters” or whatever. It was interesting to me that not too long after this exchange took place that he offered to debate with you.
Personally, my theory is that we are seeing a deep crisis among the liberal zionist crowd of the Derfner/Bradston mode. They just can’t believe that the 2-state “thing” is slipping away, so they are looking to reaffirm beliefs long held and redraw their own lines in the sand, so they can somehow hand on to the zionist “dream”. The quest for new boundaries in the face of onslaught from left and right would explain why Larry is so stubborn when it comes to ROR.
BTW, don’t feel bad, you can see that the commenter Avi on MW took to Derfner with a two-by-four (not good to trigger him, not good at all). Alas, that’s the last we’ve seen of him there,
Now I just can’t wait till Bradley Burston pops in…..
PS based on what I’ve seen from you, Richard, you’ve been the epitomy of patience….hey – you definitely gave it the good old college try:)
I had this vaguely in mind when I read Derfner’s articles at “Israel Reconsidered” and reread your link again. The fact that Derfner talks about a ‘savage streak’ within the Palestinian society but is only capable of using ‘cruel’ or ‘brutal’ when it comes to Israelis – and only after being asked – is worth noticing. And that he’s not willing to admit his own bias when it comes to the use of ‘savage’, ‘brutal’ or ‘cruel’ is speaking for itself: Derfner has the typical ‘cultural traits’ of “Liberal Zionists”: hypocrisy and double standards.
I think it’s very difficult for liberal Zionists to lose their illusions about what their Zionism is and about what the Palestinians are. I say that as someone who was a very contented, proud liberal Zionist for years. I understand why this is frustrating for Palestinians to understand since their suffering is so much more real than the intellectual problems faced by liberal Zionists, but nevertheless…
You seem to be talking about “liberal Zionists” in this comment as if you are no longer one of them.
On the “about” page of this site, you write that you are a “progressive (critical) Zionist” – is that still an accurate description?
Is there a distinction that you would make between being a liberal Zionist and being a progressive Zionist? I ask because I’ve seen the two terms used interchangeably elsewhere (such as Tikkun).
As a progressive Zionist (if that is indeed still a label you would embrace), are you also facing the same intellectual problems that you believe liberal Zionists are facing?
Thank you so much for taking the time to consider these questions, and I am sorry that your involvement in the other blog has been suspended.
Of course there’s a distinction. If I considered myself a “liberal” Zionist I would’ve used the term. I didn’t & don’t. Tikkun Magazine is a periodical that shifts in its views of Israel & Zionism, but largely Michael Lerner is a liberal Zionist. At times his views rise above liberalism & are progressive. Progressive Zionists are more willing to be critical of classical Zionism, the Occupation, & are also more willing to meet “the enemy” half-way. Liberal Zionists almost never oppose any Israeli wars or military operations. They are more critical of Palestinians & when a liberal Zionist is torn about who to blame or who to side with on a particular issue it will invariably favor the Israeli side.
This is of course a very short-hand explanation lacking nuance. But it’s a good general guide.
@ Deïr Yassin
I’m not offended by you resorting to the H word, this is what we all do here, you explain your views i explain mine, as long as we understand that no there are no problems.
The Arabs which invaded Israel on may 15 1948, kicked out the Jews whether it was the Jordanian Legion, or the Egyptian Army this is a well known documented historical fact, Even Richard acknowladge that himself.
I read in the other blog your assertion that the Egyptian Army didn’t actually enter into the territory assigned to Israel, and you are a bit right, but mostly wrong.
The Egyptian army advanced in two columns, one along side the beach highway, and the other column took the eastern route towards Jerusalem, that column did advance via Israeli territory. luckily for Israel) they were both brought to a halt, and with that let’s put that subject to rest, don’t get into a contest of insults with me as you did with Hala.
As for who has a better recollection of the events, Uri Avneri was a soldier in the southern front, as part of the Samson Fox unit. Avneri experienced everything first hand, Ilan pepe was born in 1954. I would go with Avneri’s version not because it suits me, because he lived through that time, and experiencing something is far better then reading it in a book.
“Kicked out” how many? Again, very, very few compared to the number of Palestinians expelled by the Haganah.
what do you mean how many ? every place they conquered no exceptions, whether it was the holly city, beit harava or kfar darom (and others).
Given the chance they would have continued. They weren’t able to because they were brought to a halt.
Just like Benny Morris says the Haganah made a serious error by not expelling EVERY Israeli Palestinian in 1948. If Ben Gurion could’ve gotten away with it he would’ve. He just had a failure of nerve. So what’s the difference?
Well, if you go by percentages, the Arabs kicked out and cleansed 100% of the Jews that fell under their control. The Zionists? Much less. Make of that fact what you will.
Pea, prior to Zionism’s advent there were Palestinian Jews living in Palestine’s towns and villages as Palestinians. Currently I’m researching the Jewish families who lived in Galilee’s villages. They spoke Arabic and were a fully integrated part of community life.
There is a significant difference between the meticulously orchestrated ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 indigenous people and the retaliatory expulsion of people whose families had chosen to emigrate to Palestine as part of the Zionist project. Was the second expulsion moral? No. Was it an ethnic cleansing? Also no.
It was not necessary for the yishuv’s forces to expel every single Palestinian in order for them to achieve territorial and political dominance, which is what they wanted. This is why a Palestinian population remained. (Benny Morris has subsequently argued that a full expulsion should have taken place, in order to prevent the problems of today.) Using percentages to try and make out that Arabs perpetrated an extra-brutal ethnic cleansing while the Jews had the kind-hearted grace to let some Arabs remain is not only disingenuous, but a callous minimisation of Palestinian suffering.
Vicky if i may intervene, The Arab armies executed the same ethnic cleansing, luckily they were stopped.
as for the Integrated jews, In 1929 The arabs massacred jews in: Jerusalem (Aug 23) killed 19, Hebron (Aug 24) killed 67 raped mutilated etc; The jews of gaza were expelled, Jews were attacked in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and in Beit-Shan, the communities of Ako, Nablus, Ramla, and Jenin were evacuated by the British (and in Nabalus and Jenin, just like the Gaza community were never allows back)
In Motza they attacked the Maklef family killing all but Mordechai Maklef who later became the Ramatkal.
In Har-Tuv, everyone left but people returned later, Kfar Uria was looted and burned to the ground. In Tzfat they killed 18 wounding 80.
You can see that ethnic cleansing was the weapon of choice of the Arabs before the State of Israel we even founded.
I guess the Jews had a great life, in the land of Palestine prior to the establishment of the state of Israel.
For reasons already stated this is a tendentious, misleading reply. 1 million to 10,000. Stop with the hasbara. It’s becoming annoying.
The crucial thing about those massacres is that they were sporadic (not part of an organised scheme like Plan Dalet), self-contained (limited to particular places, not sweeping the country), and all of them occurring within the twentieth century – after the Zionist project had gained significant traction in Palestine. This is what I meant when I dated retaliatory attacks on Jews from ‘the advent of Zionism’. These killings happened when Palestinian Arabs began to see that Zionism was a colonial enterprise. Again, such killings were gravely wrong – but they did not constitute an ethnic cleansing. The chronology alone makes it quite clear that they were a reaction to a nationalist ideology that posed a major threat to the Palestinian way of life, of which Palestinian Jews had long been a part. I am not talking about immigrants from Europe here, but Arabic-speaking Arab Jews such as the ones who lived in the village of Al-Bassa, alongside their Christian and Muslim neighbours.
As for present-day Palestinian Jews (who openly identify as such), I know there are some living in Nablus and some in Tel Aviv. They have a heritage and an identity that is worth remembering, even if it doesn’t slot in conveniently with the official Israeli narrative. In order to preserve that narrative, which relies so heavily on the myth of genocidal anti-Semitic Arabs, it is necessary to ignore centuries of Palestinian Jewish history and culture. This is one of Zionism’s lesser-discussed failings – its distortion and denial of Jewish communities whose stories don’t corrobate the fairytale of the Zionist dream, one unified Jewish identity, and a universal yearning for a Jewish nation-state.
You miss one minor point in the history of the region; Jews in Israel lived as an oppressed minority due to the conquest of the land by different armies.
Since 1260 – 1517 the Mamluk were ruling the land, Then Ottoman Turks then in 1830 Egypt took over and in 1838 Israel was given back to the Turks, during all that time Jews in Israel where Dhimmi’s an oppressed minority due to ….ethnic cleansing (among other things) Jews were not allowed to own a horse (only donkeys ) carry a gun, they had to bare there heads very low to avoid any type confrontation.
That’s of course if you want to look at the entire time line, if you wish to look only at the 51 years between 1897 (First Zionist Congress,) and 1948 then yes you are probably right, Kind of narrow sighted to look at it that way, after all the Palestinians are demanding the ROR after 63 years.
Where did you get this information from? Your high school history class? I’d be a lot more comfortable believing this if you could quote a credible source confirming it. I’ve never heard there was any such thing as ethnic cleansing of Jews in Palestine. Never. Where is this claim coming from? Actually, the Ottomans were quite enlightened colonial rulers (until the end of the Ottoman era) & I seriously doubt yr claims are correct about this particular period.
All the indigenous people of Palestine (Palestinian Jews included) were oppressed because of previous imperialism. This is not relevant to the Nakba. You seem to be implying that Ottomans, Mamluks, and Palestinians are all one and the same (your use of the word ‘dhimmi’ suggests that you are trying to frame this as one unbroken conflict with Muslims against Jews) and that the Nakba was justified (or at least excused) by the behaviour of Palestine’s former overlords. But those overlords were not Palestinian, and the Palestinians of ’48 bear no responsibility for their behaviour to anyone. Every Palestinian – Muslim, Christian, Jewish – faced hardship under empire. I have spoken to elderly people here who recall their fathers and brothers going into hiding in the hills to escape conscription into the Ottoman army, risking very cruel punishments if they were caught out. You can’t logically use non-Palestinian imperial rule of Palestine to justify the Zionist dispossession of Palestinians.
I have no problem with delving deeper into history, but I do have a problem with false conflations and parallels. As for the right of return, Palestinians continue to ask for this right to be respected because the refugee crisis goes on, and it needs a resolution. You can’t walk through the streets of a refugee camp and not see that. The earlier imperial history of the Middle East, while an interesting topic, has no bearing on their situation.
You missed my point entirely, You stated that the massacres took place in the 20th century, the history of the region was brought up to show you that prior to that time frame, there was no reason to massacre the Jews:
1. they had no political aspiration of self governance.
2. they were oppressed by the ruler (and yes more so then the Muslims residents of the country)
3. Murders, massacres were always inflected upon the Jews, prior to the Palestinians it was just the central ruler who did that, that’s all. same massacre, different ruler name.
Yoram, many Palestinian Jews did aspire to self-governance under Ottoman rule – as did many Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims, especially towards the era’s end (when living conditions deteriorated, as Richard has pointed out). But there is a difference between a desire to have a state for all inhabitants and a state that is specifically Jewish, run by and for Jews. This desire was imported from Europe; it did not have its origins in the Palestinian Jewish community. This much can be seen from a look at living arrangements in the country – Palestinian Jews didn’t build their own separate communities, as did European Zionists when they moved in. They lived in towns and villages alongside everybody else.
You also need to stop trying to pit Palestinian Jews against Palestinian Muslims, as not only does it ignore the Christian community (who at this time made up nearly a quarter of the Palestinian population), but it also doesn’t accurately reflect the dynamic between the three religious communities. The many shrines and maqams dotted about the country were used by all three – to the point where the original religious provenance of the shrines was often forgotten! In the Galilee, Muslims retrieved an ikon of Mary from the Greek Catholic church in Al-Bassa and carried it outside in procession when there was drought and they wanted to pray for rain. Christians used to pray in the mosque of Umar in Bethlehem. Members of all three faith communities would visit the church of the Milk Grotto when a woman was having difficulties in her pregnancy. There were many overlapping customs and manners of worship, and in some villages it was nearly impossible to tell who was a member of which religion unless you were familiar with their surnames. But even if the living situation for non-Muslims under Ottoman rule had been especially difficult, that still wouldn’t justify the Nakba.
In writing that the aspiration for self-governance gave birth to massacres, you have just conceded my point – the massacres were the fruit of a desire for a very specific type of self-governance, Zionism. Land ownership amongst the Zionist Jewish community in Palestine was low, only extending to 7% of the land on the eve of the Nakba, so it is little to be wondered that Palestinian people objected to the idea of 55% of Mandatory Palestine being made over to the new Jewish homeland, led and dominated by Ashkenazim. To them, it would have been like substituting one form of colonial rule for another. Murdering people for holding Zionist aspirations was wrong, but it does not fit the definition of ethnic cleansing, because a.) ethnicity/religion was not the motive for the attacks and b) the attacks were sporadic, without the clear goal of dispossession in mind.
I have noticed that supporters of Zionism have only started to speak of ethnic cleansing and ‘Jewish Nakba’ comparatively recently, when the Nakba itself started to receive more publicity and attention. Attempting to retrospectively present Zionists as innocent victims is not going to divert attention away from the Palestinian plight, or halt the growing awareness of what happened to them. It’s too late for that now. The world is waking up.
@ Vicky, Ya ukhtî.
Great comment on the interreligious co-existence in pre-State Palestine.
I guess you have tons of biographical recommendations on the topic. Please share with us when you have time and enegy – all while waiting for your Master thesis with impatience 🙂
Yakov Rabkin, teaching history at the University of Montreal has written a book, originally in French: “A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” where he also addresses the opposition among the Jews in the Old Yichuv.
In one of the first acts of Jew on Jew political assassination, a Dutch-Palestinian Jew who was the leading spokesperson for the Mizrahi movement was assassinated in 1921 just after tefilot on the orders of Yitzhak Ben Tzvi, leader of the Avodah (Labor) movement & future president of Israel. He was killed because he’d become a powerful irritant in the Zionist hide, as he represented a rising anti Zionist stream within the Yishuv. Mizrahi never again contested political leadership internally in the Yishuv.
Bet. 800,000-1 million Israeli Palestinians were expelled. About 150,000 remained. That’s a rate of expulsion of 80-85%.
If 10,000 Jews were expelled from their towns and villages out of 800,000 total, that would make an expulsion rate of just over 1%. To be charitable let’s call it 5%.
Your comment was fatuous & intellectually shoddy.
The UN reported 700,000 Palestinian refugees, and has for fifty years.
I don’t know the authoritative number of Jewish displaced in 1948. How did you determine 10,000?
In any case, the displacement of Palestinian refugees is not uniformly accurately described as intentional ethnic cleansing, as many that fled, fled from active and very mutually violent war zones.
And, in other locales, Palestinians were asked by Zionist leaders to remain, sincerely asked.
In contrast, to flip your same numbers, if 150,000 of even 1,000,000 million remained, then that is 15%. In the West Bank and elsewhere, less than 1% of former Jewish residents remained.
15% comprising forced displacement, 1% comprising ethnic cleansing.
The more critical events were the institutionalization of the prohibition from right of return in three laws passed in 50-51, prohibiting physical return, prohibiting argument for title before courts of law, and then expropriation of “abandoned” land.
There is good and very bad reasons for those laws at the time. Good reasons are that there truly were repeated and very violent incidents of terror directed at civilians accompanied by communications demanding that the Jewish refugees leave, and that the new Israeli administration could not and did not bother to tell which Palestinians would be violent or civil.
Further, that they feared opportunistic claims of “I used to live in ….” by people that didn’t. So, they opportunistically denied everyone the right to return.
What to do now?
Restore the right to a day in court, to assert for title claims, individually allowing for and incorporating the contending title claims of original and current residents.
There were 10,000 Jews living in areas destined to be in the Arab partition zone. The number of expelled ranges from 700,000 on the low end to 1 million on the high end. Wikipedia’s estimate ranges from 715,000 to 750,000, which I think may be too low.
Witty, you don’t know what you’re talking about. It is ethnic cleansing. The Israelis at the time knew it was. The new historians including Benny Morris know that it was. Ephraim Karsh & that bogus lot say otherwise & you’ve thrown in yr lot with the anti Palestinian, pro Israeli propagandists. For shame, Witty. For shame.
They “fled?” How in God’s name do you call “fleeing,” even if nominally voluntary, not an act of ethnic cleansing. If you tell me you’re going to rape me if I don’t cooperate & I allow you to rape me without laying a finger on you, does that mean sex was consensual? That’s essentially what you’re arguing. For shame. These Palestinians feared for their lives. They heard about Deir Yassin. They witnessed bombings, killings & rapes by Israeli forces. They knew what was up if they stayed.
They were asked to remain?? Like Haifa’s mayor who asked his Arabs to remain while the Haganah sent mortars flying into the Arab market killing a score. How credible is such an appeal? Do you know any history Witty? THis is all freely available to you for review. Yet you spout utter nonsense. I simply don’t have any patience for willful ignorance.
No, there were no “good” reasons institutionalizing Nakba by preventing Palestinians fr. returning. None. Palestinians were not violent by & large & posed no threat to the State. If you argue otherwise you’re either ignorant or a liar. But even if you’re ignorant there’s simply no excuse.
Your using heightened language does not change facts.
From Israel, there was a mix of some intentional ethnic cleansing, and of assertive invitation to remain and some temporary and permanent voluntarily fleeing a warzone. All material amounts.
Did you consider the %’s important. 15% of Palestinians (by your estimates) remained in Israel. .5% of Jews remained in the West Bank.
Maybe the 15% was only attempted ethnic cleansing, and the .5% was successful ethnic cleansing.
The 85% expulsion (or mostly prohibition from return) is material. The 99.5% is also material, and indicative of intent as well.
I hope you acknowledged that I did clearly identify the institutionalization as a wrong, even if rationalizable.
The choice to adopt the view of “it was all ethnic cleansing” is propagandistic choice, one that Ilan Pappe continued at and that Bennie Morris rejected.
Not loyal vs turncoat, friend vs enemy, but polemics vs history.
No, I don’t think you read my assertion on “Israel Reconsided” that the Egyptian Army didn’t enter the territory assigned to Israel. I think you just took Hala’s words on my statements on that for granted. She is a manipulator who did exactly the same thing before being banned here.
I clearly quoted the part of her comment that I addressed, and I did it twice: “After the Arab armies invaded Israel they were able to conquer a few places: Gush Etzion, Kfar Darom, Nitzarim, Yad Mordechai”.
None of these places were within Israel, they were ALL in areas assigned to the Arab state. You can’t change that no matter how much you distort historical facts ! I verified them all before answering and I didn’t address anything else.
If you write: “5+5=10, 6+6=12,7+7+15” and I intervene to say “NO, 7+7 is NOT 15, it’s only 14″, and then you respond”You’re lying, 5+5=10 and 6+6=12” and I insist that I only addressed your “7+7=15” and nothing else, and then another answer on “5+5=10, 6+6=12” etc etc then you have Hala’s methods.
The fact that Avnery was a soldier in the ’48 doesn’t make his statement of ‘mutual ethnic cleansing’ more right. Are you contesting the fact that no more than 10.000 Jews were expelled from the Arab areas, and that minimum 800.000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes ? And that talking of ‘mutual ethnic cleansing’ is a distorsion of facts ? Participating in a war gives you the expertise to talk about what you saw on the ground, but no expertise on a more global level. Pappe has that because he has spent years studying military archives and has assembled thousands of testimonies such as Avnery’s.
If Uri Avnery’s partication in the War of ’48 gives credentials to his ‘mutual ethnic cleansing’ then a Serbian soldier witnessing ethnic cleansing of Serbs in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina also gives credential to the ‘mutual ethnic cleansing’ when we know that it was an almost one-way Serbian cleasning of Bosnian Muslims.
Ok, thanks for clearing out what was unclear.
Now i see that you are right. You are justifying the ethnic cleansing of those who didn’t live in the territory assigned to their people, Jews sitting in Palestinian area, and i guess that you support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians who resided in the Israel designated territory. Did i get that right ? if you don’t support that, then what is the purpose of your argument ?
crimes against humanity – which is what you claim Israel did, such as ethnic cleansing are not depended upon numbers, crimes are crimes, whether its against 1 person or 800K people.
or are you trying to say that the ethnic cleansing on our side was an organized act,and on the other side it was the act of singles ?
so i am afraid that if you were trying to show that Israel acted differently then the other side your arguments fell short, certainly if you look at it from the perspective of the international law.
as for historians, it’s not that you respect any historian out there, you are being very selective in respecting those who’s conclusion fit your narrative. pointless to argue over it. Look at how unappreciative you are towards Beni Morris
as an example.
“What is the purpose of you argument ?”
YOU brought up my argument with Hala on another blog here, do I have to remind you ? And in that argument I ONLY opposed those very precise points about Gush Etzion, Yad Mordechai, Nitzarim and Kfar Darom being in Israeli assigned territory. They were NOT.
You still don’t address the fundamental assymetry: According to the typical Zionist narrative wrongs were done on both sides, so let’s fotget it and turn the page. I stole 1.000.000 £ from you, but you stole 10.000 £ from me, so let’s forget. My claim is: no, you give me back what you stole, and I give you back what I stole. And I’m not even talking about who broke into who’s house !
Erratum: whose house
I didn’t bring anything up, you responded to my quote of Uri Avneri, that’s how it all started.
Your analogy is not that great, because you tried to brake into my house, and i was able to stop you (and that came first), and given the chance, you would have killed me to, and we saw that in many incidents throughout the years.
Deir Yassin, my point is simple, unless both sides would recognize that both did wrong, there will be no peace. Our discussion here, though a bit more civilized with comparison to your discussion with Hala, is an example.
“You tried to break into my house and I was able to stop you”
You’re wrong in the chronology: when the Zionist Congress in Bale decided to establish a Jewish State in Palestine they dispatched two rabbis to inspect the territory: they cabled back: “The bride is beautiful, but she’s already married to another man”. And this is not a Palestinian legend.
“Untill both sides would recognize that both did wrong”
I have to repeat the story by the French historian Marc Ferro :”A German who participated in the WWII in the Wehrmacht and a Jew who lost familymembers during the Holocaust were making business together after the war. One day the German said to the Jew: ‘Why can’t you just forget and turn the page. We were able to forgive you, why can’t you ?’
Let me quote from the interview with El-Masri
תראו, יש עוגה. בשנת 1947, בהחלטת החלוקה, נקבע שהיא תחולק בינינו, אתם 54 אחוז ואנחנו 46 אחוז. היינו טיפשים ודחינו את זה. חשבנו שזה לא הוגן
There is a cake. In 1947 the UN decided to split it between our people, 54% for you and 46% for us, we were stupid we rejected it, we thought it wasn’t fair.
שמע, יש בעיה. צריך לפתור אותה. צריך לשבת יחד, ולחשוב על משהו הגיוני ששני הצדדים יוכלו לקבל. אם תקראו את היוזמה הערבית, תגלו שכתוב שם שהפתרון לסוגיית הפליטים צריך להיות צודק ומוסכם. זאת אומרת, מוסכם גם על ידיכם. אז למה אתם מפחדים
And as for the refugees:
Listen there is a problem it needs to be solved, we need to sit together and think about something logical that both sides can live with. If you’ll read the Arab initiative (I guess he means Saudi) it’s written that the solution for the refugee problem needs to be just and agreed upon, which means acceptable to you to, so what are you afraid from ?
Israel offered Arafat according to both Shlom ben-Ami (published in his book) and Eli Avidar who was the head of the Israeli interest office in Qatar (an interview with him was published in one of the news papers) that israel agreed to absorb 400,000 refugees. That wasn’t enough.
Israelis will chose war over allowing 4.5 million to immigrate to Israel, Israeli’s would like to retain our sovereignty and national identity, we will not dismental Israel to solve the refugee problem we are not entirely responsible for (the other side rejected 181 and started a war).
Al Masri is a logical guy, and i hope he other like him will play a bigger role in the Palestinian leadership.
if the ruling logic in would be up the one you show (aka blaming the Israelis and not taking responsibility) we will be fighting for ever.
Who said it wasn’t enough? That’s ludicrous since that’s the number I believe quoted by the Geneva Accords. The Camp David talks didn’t break down over the fact that Arafat refused to accept 400,000 returnees as sufficient. If you argue this you’re being dishonest. It broke down over how much territory Israel was willing to return to Palestine among other things.
Once again, you raise a dead, red herring argument. And don’t do it again, do you hear? I am not advocating the return of 4.5 million refugess to Israel. You’re shadow boxing with an opponent who isn’t even there. If you want to debate about 4.5 million returnees do me a favor & go somewhere else to do it. Don’t waste my time w. such nonsense. And if you want to debate here you address the issues as they’re presented & don’t create bogeymen-like arguments for which I have NO respect.
Well, we apparently don’t have the same informations on Shlomo Ben-Ami and the myth of the “generous offer”;
In a interview with an Israeli radio in 2006:
“Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well”.
As I don’t understand Hebrew, there’s maybe a mistake in the translation ….
The best deconstruction of ‘the generous offer’-myth is by the French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin, and I realized recently that his book is translated into English. It’s great journalistic work, he spoke with all involved parts and have many insight-scoops:
I don’t like the snarky tone. I don’t like putting words into the mouths of others. I just plain don’t like you. She never said she approved of ethnic cleansing of anyone on either side. She merely said that Arab armies conquered territory that was supposed to be part of the Arab portion of the Partition.
DO NOT put words into others’ mouths. If you do, you will treading on the edge of what is acceptable behavior.
In case you didn’t notice–crimes are punished according to their severity. It’s much more morally & legally egregious to expel 1 million citizens of a country than 10,000. Israel certainly DID act differently than the other side. It expelled 85% of the Israeli Palestinans, while the Arabs expelled perhaps 5%, if that.
Benny Morris was an excellent historian until he let his ideological blinders & bias run away with him. There are books of his (the earlier ones) which I’m sure Deir Yassin would find extremely valuable and which would set your teeth on edge. In those days, Morris was a good enough scholar that he let his conclusions be guided by the evidence. Today, he lets his conclusions be guided not by evidence but by his own personal political ideology & prejudices.
I read Benny Morris’ “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-49” (1984). It’s absolutely a great piece of historical work – who would think that Morris as a private person was sympathetic towards the ethnic cleasing that he described in his book ?
He wrote “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Revisited” in 2004 that I have not read, and I won’t read it either. According to book reviews, even though Morris found more destroyed villages, more massacres, and more expulsions in the meantime – due to further access to Israeli military archives – his conclusions were less critical to the Zionist responsabilities, so I conclude that he has no more intellectual credentials.
In this famous interview with Ari Shavit from Haaretz “Survival of the Fittest”, Morris states that his turning point started in 2000. By the way, when I read Derfner’s comments, he reminded me of Morris in that interview.
Top Ten Reasons Why Apologists for Israel’s Occupation/Colonisation Have Reached New Lows
10. They arrogantly use previous Israeli crimes (eg. illegal theft of Palestinian land, murder of unarmed protesters, summary executions) as “legal precedents” and blueprints for current and future Israeli crimes
9. They mockingly ask why Palestinians don’t adopt non-violent resistance, even as they hypocritically condemn non-violent actions (eg. BDS: Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) and remain conspicuously silent when non-violent protests are met with Israeli violence resulting in deaths, injuries or arbitrary arrests of protesters
8. They indignantly denounce any limited BDS action targeted at Israel as cruel, unfair or overwhelmingly punishing civilians, while they tacitly support or remain totally indifferent to the barbaric collective punishment meted out to 1.5 million Palestinian civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and 2.5 million Palestinian civilians in the suffocatingly walled-in and segregated West Bank and East Jerusalem
7. They self-righteously demand that the Palestinians recognise Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” (in effect negating/renouncing their own indigenous and human rights), even as they continue to deny the Palestinians’ existence by misrepresenting/distorting/trivialising Palestinian history, culture, national aspirations and suffering
6. They unashamedly vilify even the closest of Israel’s friends/supporters/donors as anti-Semites, are quick to blame any person/organisation/nation for Israel’s problems and behaviour (except for Israel itself), and invent absurd new derogatory slurs such as “delegitimizer” and “cultural terrorist” after they misuse and overuse old slurs rendering them totally meaningless (anti-Semite, Nazi, jihadist, terrorist, traitor, kapo, token/self-hating Jew)
5. They tirelessly plead for the immediate and unconditional release of the only captured Israeli prisoner-of-war Gilad Shalit, while they willfully ignore the 7,000 nameless, faceless Palestinians languishing behind Israeli bars (including hundreds of children, those held without trial, political prisoners, kidnapped members of Palestinian parliament)
4. They callously smear the dead when Israeli forces murder protesters and humanitarian activists (Rachel Corrie, flotilla passengers), and jubilantly cheer when Israeli forces use warplanes/helicopters/drones/death squads to summarily execute Palestinians without trial, but uncompromisingly demand the benefit of the doubt, due process and rule of law for the “alleged” Israeli murderers
3. They unhesitatingly slander all major international and Israeli human rights organisations, and contemptuously demand that the laws of war be changed/relaxed whenever Israel is blatantly caught and condemned for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity
2. They perpetually plead Israeli victimhood while denying Israeli-inflicted Palestinian suffering, and don’t like to discuss the Nakba, ethnic cleansing, occupation, body counts or disproportionality especially when 1,417 Palestinians or 1,287 Lebanese are massacred in one-sided wars, but will recount every Jewish/Israeli casualty in every pogrom/war since time immemorial
1. They are so single-mindedly concerned about the rights, welfare and security of Israelis and Jews, that they forget that the Palestinians are human too