By richmillett
March 16, 2010

It was a good old Independent doubly-whammy to nicely finish off International Israel Apartheid Week.

Last Friday (12 March) Johann Hari had a piece Palestinians should now declare their independence.

On Saturday (13 March) Fisk recommended books to help you understand the Middle East.

Fisk recommends and quotes from George Antonius’s The Arab Awakening:

“The cure for the eviction of Jews from Germany is not to be sought in the eviction of the Arabs from their homeland …”

Fisk sees this as “the first truly eloquent warning of what was to come”.

He didn’t recommend Benny Morris’ The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem but he mentioned it in passing:

“Benny Morris was the most prominent Israeli researcher to prove that it was indeed Israel’s intention to evict the Palestinians from their homes in their tens of thousands in 1948 – the fact that Morris has since gone completely batty by claiming the Israelis didn’t ethnically cleanse enough of them does not detract from his seminal work.”

But Morris did not prove any such intention!

Morris, for starters, quotes Ze’ev Jabotinsky, leader of a right-wing Zionist movement, who said in 1931: “We don’t want to evict even one Arab from the left or right banks of the Jordan. We want them to prosper economically and culturally.”

If anything it was the 1937 Peel Commission, which was under the auspices of the British government, that first recommended transfer of the Arab population out of areas earmarked for the Jewish population on partition.

Morris’ view is that there was no specific Zionist policy of transfer although there had been unofficial “transfer thinking” that preceded the war. But it was only once the Arabs rejected the 1947 UN partition resolution, civil war between the Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs and then the full-scale Arab invasion of Israel ensued that “Jewish hearts hardened towards the Palestinian Arabs who were seen as mortal enemies, and should they be coopted into a Jewish state, a potential Fifth Column”.

To be fair to Fisk has lived in the heart of Beirut for 30 years and so he is highly biased out of necessity.

Johann Hari does not live in the heart of Beirut and so has no such excuse for his bias (or is it just ignorance?).

Hari suggests the Palestinians should declare their own state forthwith to concentrate the minds of the West and he narrates his own version of the Arab/Israeli wars including, like Fisk, that of 1948:

“Until 1948, the Palestinians were living in their own homes, on their own land – until they were suddenly driven out in a war to make way for a new state for people fleeing a monstrous European genocide.”

Again there is no mention of the total Arab rejection of UN partition resolution 181, the consequent civil war started by the Palestinian Arabs against the Jews and the Arab invasion after Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948.

For Hari one side is evil while the other side is totally innocent. He continues this theme throughout the piece.

He quotes Golda Meirs’ “there are no Palestinians”. Well to Meir there were no Palestinians 40 years ago just like there were no Palestinians as such to the Jews that came to Palestine 100 years ago because they did not view the Arabs living there as a nation. But that doesn’t mean to say there is no Palestinian nation now. There is and one deserving of a country.

But it is a common anti-Israel tactic to take an ancient quote of an Israeli or Jewish leader and put it in today’s context to make the speaker look evil.

Hari also writes of “some heroic Israelis who argue back”, so painting the rest of Israel’s citizens as weak, ignorant and cowardly.

But Hari thinks he has found the answer to why there are so few “heroic Israelis”:

“It may be that surviving the most horrific atrocities doesn’t make you compassionate, but more often makes you hard, and paranoid. It may make you see the ghost of your murderer even in your victims: Adolf Hitler in a Gazan child.”

For Hari Jews are still so obsessed by the gas chambers that every one of us, apart from his “heroes”, has turned into our own self-contained irrational killing machine.

Not for Hari do Israelis fight back against thousands of deadly Kassam rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza towards Israel’s southern towns or against Katyushas hitting nothern Israel from Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon.

And Hari thinks that Hamas, “the ugly fundamentalist group”, tacitly accepts a two-state solution but how ignorant can one be.

Accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as Hamas does, is not the same as accepting the existence of Israel.

But Hari has fallen for Hamas’ rhetoric hook, line and sinker.

Hari finishes off urging the Palestinians:

“They should declare independence. Then it is up to us – the watching billions – to pressure our governments to make it real, rather than a howl in the dark.”

Hari doesn’t understand that Palestinian society is in no state to declare independence. While building consruction is swiftly taking place in West Bank towns the hatred that persists between Hamas and Fatah will mean that civil war, bloodshed and revenge killings would not be far away.

Hari hasn’t thought the consequence of his logic through but, then again, for Israel’s haters the demonisation of Israel and Israelis far outweighs any concern they really have for the Palestinian people.

For full piece see:



Tue, 03/16/2010 - 16:57

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But it is a common anti-Israel tactic to take an ancient quote of an Israeli or Jewish leader and put it in today’s context to make the speaker look evil.

But that is exactly the tactic you use against the Palestinians EVERY time.


Tue, 03/16/2010 - 18:14

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Give an example then.

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 18:18

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Rich, how does accepting a two-state solution not mean accepting that Israel will continue to exist? I would suggest that Hamas does not accept a two-state solution and in that they are being helped by the Israeli government's insistence on building in the occupied territories.

Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 22:53

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Demonisers of Israel always give themselves away by using false or doctored quotations, allegedly from Israeli or Zionist leaders. (That is because they are stupid). Hari is no exception. Ben White does the same. So do the haters on Guardian “Comment Is Free.”

Hari says that Menachem Begin called the Palestinians “beasts walking on two legs”.

The “quote” can be traced to a speech Begin made in the Knesset on June 8 1982. He was speaking in response to a no-confidence motion about the invasion of Lebanon. He talked about defending the children of Israel and (according to a June 9 1982 AP report) “his voice quaver[ed] with anger and sadness.” According to the minutes of the session, Begin stated:

The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

As you can see, when speaking about any “two-footed animal” Begin was talking not about “the Palestinians” but about terrorists who target children within Israel.

Hari’s respect for the facts in the rest of the piece is no greater than his respect for historical accuracy. Shame on his rotten twisted journalism and shame on the Independent for publishing it. No wonder it is losing money hand over fist.

CAMERA has a great ‘Quotebusting’ site. It needs someone to amplify it though – there are so many from Hari and the other fabricators.

Hari’s Twisted Quotes: #2

Hari: “Yitzhak Shamir said they [the Palestinians] should be “crushed like grasshoppers… heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” ”

Now for the truth. Amid riots in the West Bank, Shamir “standing atop an ancient West Bank castle, told reporters:

Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls.

He was speaking about the rioters, not all Palestinians.

He was referring to the rioters when he said: “We say to them from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us.”

He never said “crushed like grasshoppers”.

Hari’s Twisted Quotes: #3

Golda Meir never said “there are no Palestinians”. She was making a historical statement.
Here is her interview (Sunday Times June 15 1969):

Q: Do you think the emergence of the Palestinian fighting forces, the Fedayeen, is an important new factor in the Middle East?

A: Important, no. A new factor, yes. There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the first world war and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist.

The historian James L. Gelvin says that Meir was neither denying indigenous Palestinian people nor the existence of the Palestinian nation. Rather, her remarks are directed at the Fedayeen’s causing of the nation to exist. Gelvin states that while Meir’s “assertion that a Palestinian nation did not exist until after 1967 war is absurd, the sketch she provides of the historical nationalism that engendered that nation — and her implicit understanding of the unpredictable and conditional evolution of nationalism in general—is, in the main, accurate.”

In other words Hari's article is shamefully intellectually dishonest


Tue, 03/16/2010 - 23:03

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Moshe, i agree Hamas does not and never will accept a TSS. They are ideologically opposed even if every settlement was removed. I refer you to their Charter for that.

Accepting a Paletinian state does not mean they accept Israel should exist. They are clever with their wording.

As for Meir's comment. She is right. You are like Hari: You take a comment out of context to make the speaker appear evil. What Meir was saying was a valid view at the time. Palestinian nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Yet, you, like Hari, take out of context and twist and twist and twist and then add one final big stretch in order to do the speaker no justice whatsoever.

It is a dishonest manoeuvre.

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Wed, 03/17/2010 - 07:54

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Ever so slightly disingenuous, Mr Hoffman. For Begin and Shamir, all Palestinians were terrorists and rioters, so Hari was right on that. Meir's quote cannot be whitewashed.
CAMERA is one of those megaphone sites that is one-eyed and disingenuous. It's about as accurate and unbiased as the Orwellian CiFWatch and JCWatch.

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Wed, 03/17/2010 - 07:56

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So, Rich, that puts Israel and Hamas in the same boat. Not a surprise really, since Israel was behind the founding of Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah in 1987. What you reap etc etc etc.


Wed, 03/17/2010 - 10:55

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I don't think so, Moshe, Have you read the Hamas Charter and the bits about killing Jews, Israel always being an Islamic waqf and there must be no peace negotiations at all?

As for Israel founding Hamas well we supported the Taliban against USSR, Israel supported Iran against Iraq. No one can see the future tragic consequence of any action.

And if Israel didn't encourage Hamas do you think they wouldn't exist today? Did Israel invent Islamic Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida etc.?

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Wed, 03/17/2010 - 11:18

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Hamas charter, Hamas schmarter. Israel, by carrying on its expansionism, is the author of its own demise. It really doesn't need Hamas for that. And as for the other jihadis, well it seems that no less a figure than David Petraeus believes that Israel's policies are contributing to their growth. Israel has become the jihadis' best recruiting sergeant.


Wed, 03/17/2010 - 12:06

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You and your ilk never properly address the Hamas Charter. It is all there for you to read. Not even Hamas want to hide their true intentions.

"Contributing to their growth"? So Al Qaida and Hamas aren't big enough already?

So Israel should just stop defending itself and disband as a state? Only then Hamas will be happy!

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Wed, 03/17/2010 - 12:15

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I care as much about the Hamas charter as I do for political programmes of Israeli far right organisations, with which there are huge similarities. And no, Hamas and al-Qaeda are not "big enough already". They are quite small in the great scheme of things. Israel needs to defend itself cleverly, not by using sledgehammers to crack nuts. By behaving as it does, like a rogue state that views itself above the law, it is hastening its own demise.


Wed, 03/17/2010 - 12:47

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Aren't we and the US rogue states for being in Afghanistan and for what we did in Iraq? Full scale invasions of Muslim countries did far more to inflame Al Qaida (as if they weren't inflamed enough already). You preserve your ire only for Israel.


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