Archive for May 17th, 2011

Once again, history becomes the battlefield in the Israel-Palestine conflict. And as usual, both sides in the debate have their self-serving versions.

In 2011, there is a lot less gray area in this history. Most of the history of 1948 is clear as far as the facts are concerned. Serious students of those facts can still disagree on

Neither Abbas (l) nor Netanyahu can be called a historian

matters of interpretation, and honest scholarship, which is nonetheless influenced by the students’ own points of view as it is in all matters of history, is still often divided by the lines of the scholars’ sympathies.

What does get tiresome, though, is the willful distortion of history by politicians.

Both Mahmoud Abbas, in his New York Times op-ed, and Benjamin Netanyahu, in his ranting response, distort the factual record.

Let me try to set the record straight, at least for my readers. And let’s start with Abbas.

He wrote: “In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative [regarding partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state]. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.”

There’s plenty of context missing here, of course. One cannot expect a textbook reading in the limited space of an op-ed. But it’s simply not the case that the UN passed its plan and the Zionists simply started expelling Arabs. (more…)

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