Benny Morris at LSE on 1948.


By richmillett
June 16, 2011
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Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris gave a talk at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night and was labeled a “racist”, “theologian” and a “social darwinist” by some anti-Zionists in the audience and others protesting his presence outside.

His talk was called Reconsidering the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The “theologian” accusation (see video clips) is absurd on two counts.

First, as Morris suggested, if anyone has a problem with his thesis all they need do is look at the footnotes in his book 1948 and then go and check the documents referred to and if they disagree with his interpration of the documents then they can challenge him.

Second, Morris questions the narrative, that many Zionists hold dear, that the Palestinians simply left during the 1948 war on the orders of the surrounding Arab countries with a view to returning once the Jews had been defeated.

He cited incidences of transfer of Palestinians and massacres of Palestinians by Jewish/Israeli militias during the 1948 war, although, he said, whether any of this happened as a matter of “policy” is another matter; no governmental documentation was ever discovered that indicated such orders, and it is likely that such decisions were made independently by generals on the ground during individual battles (incidentally, it was the British that introduced the idea of transfer in the 1937 Peel Commission report)

He said that during the 1948 war 800/900 Palestinians were massacred by Jewish/Israeli militias, while 200/300 Jews were massacred by Arab militias; the disparity was because Jewish/Israeli militias conquered some 400 Palestinian towns and villages, whereas the Arabs conquered only a dozen Jewish settlements.

He said that as wars go 1948 was not, in the scheme of things, as bloody as many try to make it out to be when considering that, for example, 8,000-9,000 Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in the space of just two days during the Bosnian war.

He also said that the 1948 war created two refugee problems; a Palestinian one and a Jewish one. 700,000 Palestinians were displaced as were some 600,000 to 700,00 Jews who were intimidated and harassed and forced to leave their Arab countries; for example, in 1956 Jews were literally expelled from Egypt.

The difference is that the expelled Jews were aborbed into other countries, while the Palestinians were not. 700, 000 Jews and 150,000 Palestinians remained in Israel in 1949 and even today, after Israel has absorbed 3,000,000 Jewish immigrants, the ratio of Jews to Arabs remains the same in Israel, indicating the high birthrates of Arabs living in Israel.

On the war itself Morris said it was fought in two phases; the civil war from 29th November 1947, when the UN partitioned British Mandate Palestine, until 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence. The first shots of the civil war were fired by Palestinian guerillas who ambushed a bus and killed seven Jews near Tel Aviv.

The second phase was from 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence and the surrounding Arab armies invaded, until the ceasefire in 1949. Israel won the war possibly due to their purchase of airplanes after they declared independence. Until that time the Jews had no planes. The Israelis still had far fewer planes than the combined Arab armies, but were able to fly far more missions and had better trained pilots.

Morris also suggested that, in additon to the 1948 war being one about territory, it was regarded by the Arab side as a Holy Jihad. Many Imams declared a pan-Muslim Jihad and called for the mobilisation of Muslims to fight the Jewish state.

This was hotly disputed by some in the audience who asked for proof. Morris said he wasn’t an expert, as it would involve going through every Arab newspaper between 1947 and 1949, but this is his view based on what he has read and it is an issue that only occupies four pages in his book.

But, and this seemed to be the crux of the matter, all of the Arab archives remain closed. If they were opened it would shed light on this issue.

One woman in the audience claimed that, if anything, it was the Zionists who were waging a Holy Jihad due to their nature of wanting a Jewish state. Another woman suggested that proof that the Jews were fighting a holy war was their desire to reclaim Jerusalem.

Morris refuted both claims (see video clips) by answering that most Israeli Jews in 1948 were either atheist or agnostic and that ben Gurion had decided against the mention of “God” in Israel’s Declaration of Independence as he thought it would alienate many Jews; in 1948 Israel was totally dominated by socialist thinking.

As for Jerusalem he said that the Jews simply saw it as an issue of reclaiming their old capital city, as opposed to a religious requirement.

He did say, though, that he believed that Jerusalem should become internationalised, as was originally foreseen by the UN. He is also against the settlements.

Morris was also asked to explain his comments in 2004, when he was quoted in Haaretz as saying that the Palestinians should be fenced in or have a cage built for them. He answered that at the time Palestinian suicide bombers were getting into Israel on a daily basis and his comments were aimed at the suicide bombers; if they couldn’t be stopped from entering Israel, then they should be fenced in or caged. He said that the questioner was taking his comments completely out of context.

On leaving the talk we were met with the same old faces of the small group of anti-Israel activists. They hadn’t been in the talk but had “Morris is a racist” stickers on their foreheads and were giving out leaflets headed “Is Benny Morris a Serious Historian or a Plain Old Racist?”

http://richardmillett.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/benny-morris-fends-of-all...

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 10:25

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Bruce Levy - one of the haters who walked out - told one of the LSE security guards that I had been in prison. (Levy is the one who said at one of the Ahava demos that Gilad Shalit should be dug up and then reburied).


Joe Millis

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 10:44

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Is this the same Bruce Levy you called the "Queen of Renegade Jews"? That's as bad as him saying Gilad Shalit should be dug up and reburied or spreading porkies about you having been imprisoned.


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 10:49

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Truth: He is a renegade Jew

Lie: I have not been in prison

You need to learn the difference


Joe Millis

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 11:08

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But did you call him the "Queen of Renegade Jews"? If you did, that's homophobic and not very nice and as bad as him saying Gilad Shalit should be dug up and reburied. I know you haven't been in prison. That's why I called it a porky. Did you miss that?


Advis3r

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 13:55

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"and as bad as him saying Gilad Shalit should be dug up and reburied" your immoral inversion is despicable!


Joe Millis

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 14:03

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Obviously, Advis3r, you have no problems with homophobia. How about other forms of prejudice and hatred? You OK with racism? With chauvinism? Do you think gays should be forced to wear distinguishing clothing?


Watchful Iris (not verified)

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 14:29

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StevenKalka

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 15:09

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Bruce Levy sounds like a real life version of the Sam Finkler character from the recent novel The Finkler Question.


JonOtway

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 15:26

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Do we have anything other then jonathans word that Levy made the Gilat comment ?


cityca

Sat, 06/18/2011 - 18:28

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I don't know anything about Bruce's sexual preferences but I agree with Jonathan that he is a renegade Jew and he's certainly an obnoxious little shit.


Real Real Zionist

Tue, 06/26/2012 - 16:40

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I am no fan of Bruce Levy. He is crass and ineffective. However I have never believed he said anything like " Gilad Shalit should be dug up and reburied ". That always came over as the kind of thing the handful of rabid extremist nutjob fringers of the ZF would invent. I don't doubt the mirror image cultists on " the other side " of the parochialLondon inter cult squabble are capable of similar inventions.

It seems this instinct is correct. Liars need good memories. Jonny and Richard Millett don't seem to be able to agree who he said it to. Hoff says he said it to him. Millett says he said it to him. Hoff actually says NO he didn't say it to Millett.

Clearly time to consign that one to the cutting room floor.


Mary in Brighton

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 09:22

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What extremely bizarre behaviour.


Mary in Brighton

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 10:35

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Morning Janet. Why don't you be my remedial teacher du jour and explain it to me?

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