Tuesday 16 September 2008

Alef List Posting Number 10

Message to Alef List December 30, 2007

A litany of errors

Tony Greenstein wants to know "where the myths I and countless others grew up with, viz. that the Palestinians ran away because they were ordered to do so, came from and why?"

Despite the words of Greenstein, these are not "myths" because as Benny Morris commented:

"... it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself."[1]

As Efraim Karsh points out,

[whilst] the Jews were attempting to keep the Arabs in Haifa, an adhoc body, the Arab Emergency Committee, was doing its best to get them out. Scaremongering was a major weapon in its arsenal. Some Arab residents received written threats that, unless they left town, they would be branded as traitors deserving of death…..
Already on April 25, the American consulate in Haifa was reporting that the "local Mufti-dominated Arab leaders urge all Arabs [to] leave [the] city and large numbers [are] going." Three days later it pointed a clear finger: "Reportedly Arab Higher Committee ordering all Arabs [to] leave." Writing on the same day to the colonial secretary in London, Sir Alan Cunningham, the British high commissioner for Palestine, was equally forthright: "British authorities in Haifa have formed the impression that total evacuation is being urged on the Haifa Arabs from higher Arab quarters and that the townsfolk themselves are against it." Finally, a British intelligence report summing up the events of the week judged that, had it not been for the incitement and scaremongering of the Haifa Arab leadership, most Arab residents might well have stayed. [2]

Tony Greenstein states: "Ben Gurion's attitude to transfer, as opposed to when speaking for the record, is also too well, known for serious contradiction." Sadly, Tony Greenstein does not state what this attitude of David Ben-Gurion was:

Ben Gurion at the November 1936 Jewish Agency Executive meeting, "We do not deny the right of the Arab inhabitants of the country, and we do not see this right as a hindrance to the realization of Zionism." [3]

Ben-Gurion in an October 1941 internal policy paper, "Jewish immigration and colonization in Palestine on a large scale can be carried out without displacing Arabs." [4]

Ben-Gurion in the same paper from 1941 'in a Jewish Palestine the position of the Arabs will not be worse than the position of the Jews themselves."[5]

Presumably, Greenstein would view the above as Ben-Gurion, "speaking for the record." Consequently, it may be worthwhile to consider Ben-Gurion's 1937 letter to his son, as properly quoted and not in the distorted format:

We do not wish and do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations is built on the assumption – proven throughout all our activity – that there is enough rooms for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine. [6]

Flicking through some of Greenstein's post this month leaves me amazed at the catalogue of distortions and errors that he makes. I have not got the time to detail them all, but to mention just one, Greenstein commented the other day "Zionists like Nathan Schwalb … [said] that the murder of Jews in the Nazi holocaust was a price that the Jews had to pay to obtain a state." Whilst he does not give a reference, Greenstein is no doubt referring to an alleged letter that Schwalb sent that subsequently appeared in Rabbi Weissmandel's book, Min Hametzar (From the depths) that was published posthumously in 1960.

Greenstein ignores the fact that Schwalb testified under oath in 1987 that he never sent such a letter. [7] Whilst no one is suggesting that Weissmandel is a liar, as both Yehuda Bauer and Walter Laqueur pointed out, as Weissmandel's book was published posthumously, we cannot say for certain that the book was not altered by some of his fanatical followers prior to publication. [8] Dina Porat dismisses the letter out of hand. She describes it as a "pure invention" whose "contents contradict both Shwalb's true position on the matter and the Zionist leaders in Palestine." [9] Shabtai Teveth, author of a multivolume biography of David Ben-Gurion and numerous other historical works, agrees with Porat and calls the letter "entirely a figment of Weissmandel's imagination." [10]

I could go on and on and on pointing out errors by Greenstein. He seems not to care about the truth, all he wants to do is to propagate his own myths about Zionism. What amazes me is that more people on this list have not told Greenstein that either he simply does not know what he is talking about or he is a blatant liar. There is no other possible explanation.


December 30, 2007

[1] Ha'aretz interview, January 9, 2004
[2] Efraim karsh, "Were the Palestinians Expelled?" Commentary Vol 110, No. 1 (July-August 2000) pp.29-34
[3] Efraim Karsh, "Resurrecting the Myth: Benny Morris, the Zionist Movement, and the 'Transfer' idea," Israel Affairs Vol 11 No. 3, July 2005 pp. 469-90
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Efraim Karsh, "Revisiting Israel's 'Original Sin': The Strange Case of Benny Morris," Commentary, September 2003, pp. 46-50
[7] Statement of Claim between Nathan Dror (Plaintiff) and Ithaca Press, David Wolton and Jim Allen , High Court Of Justice Queen's Bench Division 1987-D-1648
[8] Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale:Nazi Jewish Negotiations 1933-1945, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) pp. 74-81, p. 99 and Walter Laqueur, "The Anti-Zionism of Fools" New Republic November 2, 1987 pp 33-39
[9] Dina Porat "'Amalek's Accomplacies' Blaming Zionism for the Holocaust: Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel during the 1980's ," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 27 No. 4 October 1992. pp. 696-729.
[10] Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Holocaust, (New York and San-Diego: Harcourt Brace and Company,1996) p. 7

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