The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
|The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine|
During the 1948 War, around 720,000 Palestian Arabs out of the 900,000 who lived in the territories that have become the State of Israel fled or were expelled from their home. The causes of this exodus are controversed and debated by historians. In his own words, Ilan Pappé "want[s] to make the case for the paradigm of ethnic cleansing and use[s] it to replace the paradigm of war as the basis for the scholarly research of, and public debate about, 1948."
The thesis of the book is that the forced move of Palestanians to the Arab World was an objective of the Zionist movement, and a must for the desired character of the Jewish State. According to Ilan Pappé, the 1948 Palestinian exodus resulted from a planned ethnic cleansing of Palestine that was implemented by the Zionist movement leaders, mainly Ben Gurion and the other ten members of his "consultancy group" as referred to by Pappé. The book argues that the ethnic cleansing was put into effect through systematic expulsions of about 500 Arab villages, as well as terrorist attacks executed mainly by members of the Irgun and Haganah troops against the civilian population. Ilan Pappé also refers to Plan Daleth and to the Village files as a proof of the planned expulsions.
In his review of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, New Historian Benny Morris writes: "At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world's sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two." Adding that "Such distortions, large and small, characterize almost every page of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. "
Ian Black, The Guardian's Middle East editor writes, "Emphasis apart, it is hard to say what is new in his account." He calls the book "a catalogue of intimidation, expulsion and atrocity", and notes that Pappe "does historical understanding a disservice by all but ignoring the mood and motives of the Jews, so soon after the end of a war in which six million had been exterminated by the Nazis".
He fights the "power of deletion" over the fate of the Palestinians. But he does historical understanding a disservice by all but ignoring the mood and motives of the Jews, so soon after the end of a war in which six million had been exterminated by the Nazis. Ben-Gurion's public rhetoric about the dangers of annihilation or a second Holocaust, Pappe argues, was matched by private confidence about the outcome of an unequal fight. That does not mean the shadow of the Holocaust can be airbrushed out of the story. The Jews were fighting, as they saw it, with their backs to the wall, for survival. To ignore that perception—a huge factor in western sympathy for Israel in 1948 and for so long afterwards—is to misrepresent reality.
To him, Israeli politicians and soldiers, one and all, are so many murderers. Forests have been planted only to cover up the past. Houses are ˜monstrous villas and palaces for rich American Jews". Everything Israeli is ugly, everything Palestinian is beautiful. For evidence of Israeli monstrosity, he relies on quotations from his own previous works or from Palestinian polemicists, and above all on the oral testimonies of Palestinian refugees. Over half a century of military and ideological conflict has passed since their exodus, but Pappe declares his faith that whatever they now say is true.
Stephen Howe, professor of the history of colonialism at Bristol University, said that Pappé's book was an often compelling mixture of historical argument and politico-moral tract. According to Howe, while the book won't be the final word on the events of 1948, it is "a major intervention in an argument that will, and must, continue".
The "ethnic cleansing" thesis
The thesis of the ethnic cleansing is controversed among scholars.
The idea that the 1948 events were the results of a planned expulsion had already been suggested by historians Walid Khalidi in Plan Dalet: The Zionist Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine (1961) and Nur-eldeen Masalha in Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought (1991). Yoav Gelber published an answer criticizing the interpretation of Plan D made by Walid Khalidi and Ilan Pappé: History and Invention. Was Plan D a Blueprint for Ethnic Cleansing ? (2006)
Benny Morris proposed several interpretations. The conclusion of his main work on the topic The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (1989) is that the exodus was the "result of war, not intent". Nevertheless, he stated later that "[i]n retrospect, it is clear that what occurred in 1948 in Palestine was a variety of ethnic cleansing of Arab areas by Jews. It is impossible to say how many of the 700,000 or so Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 were physically expelled, as distinct from simply fleeing a combat zone." In an interview to Ha'aretz in 2004, he also defended the idea that having performed an ethnic cleansing in 1948 had been a better choice for the Jews than living a genocide. In his last book about the 1948 War : 1948: A History the First Arab-Israeli War (2006), he nuanced all this and stated that "[d]uring the 1948 War, (...) although there were expulsions and although an atmosphere of what would later be called ethnic cleansing prevailed during critical months, transfer never became a general or declared Zionist policy. Thus, by war's end, even though much of the country had been "cleansed" of Arabs, other parts of the country -notably central Galilee- were left with substential Muslim Arab popultions (...).".
More recently, Rosemarie Esber in Under the cover of war (2008) concur with Ilan Pappé and brings new arguments from British documents to support the thesis that the exodus had been planned by the Yishuv leaders.
- Benny Morris – Nur Masalha – Walid Khalidi – Yoav Gelber
- 1948 Palestinian exodus
- Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus
- Plan Dalet
- Pappé (2006), Preface xvii
- Ilan Pappe (2006). The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Oxford. ISBN 978-1-85168-555-4
- Divided Loyalties February 17, 2007
- Raus Mit Uns David Pryce-Jones Literary Review
- The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe (The Independent, November 24, 2006)
- Yoav Gelber, Palestine 1948, Appendix I, Sussex Academic Press, 2006
- Benny Morris, 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Crimes of War.
- '""Survival of the fittest", Ha'aretz, 2004.
- Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab=Israeli War (2008), pp.407-408.