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BookReview: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Publications, 11/1/2006, 978-1851684670

Ilan Pappe's research is astounding. He pulls together amazing facts from early Israeli military archives that have only recently been made public. Here's an excerpt from Plan Dalet:

[p39] These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centers which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state. Plan Dalet, 10 March, 1948

The "demographic problem" is a huge one. How do you create a purely Jewish state which is democratic? It's not possible, in my opinion. You either have to have non-democratic repressive policies against minorites or you cannot have an ethnically pure state.

The official history is that the Arabs attacked the weaker Jews, but Ben-Gurion dispells that myth in his May 24, 1948 diary entry:

[p144] We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Transjordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight - we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times.

The other important point of the book is that the Israelis must reconcile their past and present atrocities. There might be a way of paying off this debt "legally", but the guilt is will be worse, and it's not clear that it can officialy be recognized:

[p245] The inability of Israelis to acknowledge the trauma the Palestinians suffered stands out even more sharply when set against the way the Palestinian national narrative tells the story of the Nakba, a trauma they continue to live with to the present. Had their victimhood been the 'natural' and 'normal' outcome of a long-term and bloody conflict, Israel's fears of allowing the other side to 'become' the victim of the conflict would not have been so intense - both sides would have been 'victims of the circumstances: and here one may substitute any other amorphous, non-committal concept that serves human beings, particularly politicians but also historians, to absolve themselves from the moral responsibility they otherwise would carry. But what the Palestinians are demanding, and what, for many of them, has become a sine qua non, is that they be recognised as the victims of an ongoing evil, consciously perpetrated against them by Israel. For Israeli Jews to accept this would naturally mean undermining their Own status of victimhood. This would have political implications on an [p246] international scale, but also - perhaps far more critically - would trigger moral and existential repercussions for the Israeli Jewish psyche: Israeli Jews would have to recognise that they have become the mirror image of their own worst nightmare

Via Rob 5/27/2007
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