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Rashida Tlaib: The Low Rent Logic of a Clever Bigot.

Here at The Violent Ink we are on the left because we are against capitalism.

We are against capitalism because it is a form of slavery and a corporate dictatorship that lives and breathes a soul crushing fascism built on the need for poverty. In order to maintain artificial scarcity and inflate the value of stock, the system must enforce and expand poverty while selling the con about “free enterprise” and other lies. That is not freedom but tyranny.

However we are utterly irrevocably opposed to the racism at the heart of the official left in which significant cadres ranging from avowed communists, to the intellectually irradiated leadership of the UK’s Labour Party, to so called “Progressives” and “Democratic Socialists” express an industrial scale, Orwellian double speak, in which up is down, left is right, and what is blatantly anti-Semitic language is defended as a reasonable criticism of Israel but is in reality, an expression of a hatred of Jews and pathological antagonism towards Israel.

That this places us on the same side of an argument as the depraved racist imperialist Trump enablers and assorted fascists, speaks not to a lack of integrity in our position, but directly to the cancer at the heart of the Euro-American left.

The left is a baggy suit, a big tent full of a wide variety of groups that do not now and historically never have agreed on much of anything.

When we say “left” we refer specifically to the gutter dwelling keyboard and video warriors who like to pretend they are the reasonable face of the huate left – draped in self-righteous woke, and “resistance” to Trump.

They are however, hypocrites and dangerous fellow travelers and useful idiots with the radical racist right resurgent across Europe and America.

Insistent that they are not bigots, they repeat that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic and then proceed to utter anti-Semitic propaganda.

Disregarding the Daily Stormer style comments posted on YouTube below their videos, they chant for responsibility among others who they say are ginning up the mob.

Twisting the Historical facts to suit their racism they repeat the same lies, half truths and distortions over and over again.

Given the atrophied, mongoloid jackboot style rhetoric of so many on the right, and the spineless feckless bend the knee cynicism of still others in what used to be the Republican Party, these leftists by comparison appear to be The Night’s Watch atop the wall.

But with the recent comments by Rashida Tlaib, the cynical defense of her comments by the Democratic establishment and the Orwellian double speak and gaslighting by the “alternative media” has reached a truly dangerous breaking point.

Here is what Tlaib said:

“There’s always kind of a calming feeling, I tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports, And, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And, I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways, but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them.”

First there is the total disregard by Tlaib of the Palestinian fascists led by Grand Mufti Husseini and the blatant illogic of claiming an attachment to genocide by way of attaching genocide to a claim of being a noble victim of her ancestor’s alleged goodwill towards Jews.

The idea, such as it is, that there is a moral symmetry between the Palestinians and, for example, the martyrs of The White Rose, or the 101st airborne, would be funny were it not so rancid and sinister.

If as she claims, the Palestinians were victims of a sacrifice and the sacrifice was betrayed in that the otherwise noble Palestinians were thrown under the historical bus, than the creation of Israel as the culmination of Zionism is at best morally compromised, or at worst immoral and thus, illegitimate – which of course is her stealth point because of course she is being completely disingenuous.

And when she says “goodwill” we assume she means the pogroms in the 1920s and 1930s, the Arab Legion guilty of war crimes in Europe, and the importation of not so ex Nazis to help the Arabs finish the job. We assume she refers to the formation of the PLO by Arab dictators who provided money and weapons to assist in the extermination of Jews.

Her version of the narrative is of course a fiction that claims the Palestinians were and remain a monolithic socio-historical bloc that on the one hand is a rainbow coalition of noble diversity (in the face of the imperial boot) but at the same time is devoid of all the facets of and shades of grey that comprise the human condition.

In other words, if we take Tlaib at her word and posit the Palestinians as being as human as everyone else than the fact is that Hamlet and Quentin Compson are also Palestinian and the full range of humanity is as much there’s as it is everyone else’s. Which of course means Palestinian fascists, sociopaths, bigots, psychopaths, imperialists, rapists, misogynists, religious fanatics assorted Ahabs, Kowalskis, Macbeths, Lears, Magic Rats, Pinball Wizards, and Elanor Rigbys, and local versions of Charles Maurras and George Wallace.

And of course, crucially the spectrum of narratives is the issue. Tlaib in keeping with the stylistic talking points of the current left anti-Semites, demands recognition of the “Palestinian narrative” which she then renders as monolithic and noble and noble because it is monolithic.

Not only does this shabby tautology elide the examples listed above it eliminates the hall of mirrors quality to every one of the national narratives involved.

There was little to no unanimity between the Arabs, the British, the Jews, or anyone else. There was a consistent atmosphere of the truth being a question of who had spoken last. There were factions within factions within factions with each one offering its version of the official narrative.

Secondly she has elided everything else that occurred including but not limited to Arab bigotry, terrorism, wars and declarations of a commitment to driving the Jews into sea, which is a euphemism for genocide.

Her professed love is in fact the neurosis of the cult of the Nakba which serves to enforce conformity of opinion, and elimination of dissent by invoking a biblical supernatural explanation for the plight of the Palestinians.

This removes responsibility, while asserting private memory as public ritual which then claims the privileges of responsibility with none of the cost.

The result is a Palestinian fiction in which they exist inside History as perpetual victims, but outside of History devoid of agency or culpability for the attempted crime of genocide, and repeated efforts at mass violence and systemic bigotry and dictatorship.

Her version of events has the same authenticity as Uncle Remus does to life on a plantation.

The reason this dichotomy exists is because either Tlaib is a spectacular moron or a catastrophically stupid liar and moderately clever bigot.

Or some combination of all three.

She is appearing to enter through the front door of reasonable, if aggrieved victim committed to justice, but is exiting through the backdoor of left bigot fascist.

She is of course entitled to her opinion but as the saying goes, she is not entitled to her own set of facts.

Zionism was never a secret.

It was openly discussed and debated across the political spectrum and the Arabs were kept fully in the loop – notwithstanding the loop being as described above – and thus a Mobius loop of competing factions.

If the Palestinians were screwed into exile than it’s because no one told them the hard truth:

Get better generals or avoid wars you can’t win.

The stubborn facts however, remain.

Many Arabs and key figures in the Palestinian leadership, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, allied themselves with the Nazis and Italian fascists before, during and after the war.

Following their defeat they participated in the UN sponsored negotiations regarding the British Mandate for Palestine and then participated in the legally binding vote on Partition.

Following their loss in that process they declared and began an illegal war with the aim of either genocide, enslavement or both with an attached forced expulsion of the Jews back to the scene of the crime or into a perpetual exile.

This too is part of her legacy and the “goodwill” of her ancestors and pretending it isn’t true, claiming it didn’t occur or that it is somehow a twisting of the facts is a lie in the service of a crime.

It may not be Holocaust Denial but it is a footnote to the denial of the truth which becomes a distinction without a difference.

The fact is that the Palestinian exile came after and was a result of the illegal war started by the Arabs.

If the Arabs claim that Israel was forced upon them then they should never have participated in the negotiations or the UN vote and having participated and lost, and started a decades long war of attrition and attempted annihilation, they can’t now claim to be victims unless like a child who has murdered their parents, they want to stand before the court and beg for understanding because, they say, they are orphans.

As a result of their failure to win the war, their failure to exterminate the Jews and their failure to accept any responsibility with and to the wider community the Palestinians were screwed and were sent into exile.

The Palestinian exile is the fault of and responsibility of the Palestinians and the Arabs – within the wider context of the blunt realities of the post war political diktat which contextualizes everything within the narrative of imperial hegemony.

And claims that The Balfour Declaration was illegitimate, and that The Mandate was nothing more than imperialism in drag, are undermined by participation in negotiations with those they claim were acting illegally and advocacy for their own imperial ambitions including the establishment of kingdoms as satrapies of the British empire.

All subsequent attempts at genocide by the Arabs are to blame for the plight of the Palestinians.

Had they accepted the fact that they had backed the wrong side during the war, and had they accepted the fact that by participating in the UN vote they were legally required to accept its outcome, they would have had all of the territory they subsequently fought for and lost.

Tlaib’s sickening, twisted distortion of the truth is mendacity as a neon sign; it is an attempt on par with the worst of Trump’s hall of mirrors psychosis and the defense of it by so called leftists represents the final proof if any were required, that the contemporary left is spiritually and intellectually bankrupt or decidedly, toxically, bipolar. Or both.

The idea that the moral hermaphrodites of the right end up being correct should set off alarm bells everywhere in the so called “resistance.”

That the right wing defense of Israel is coldly cynical, opportunistic and hypocritical, that it is as useful as trading an orgasm for syphilis, is no small issue because the conservative who is your friend today is the one burning a cross on your lawn next week or making excuses for the thugs in white hoods holding the can of gasoline and torches.

But that does not change the truth.

Tlaib’s comments are a rancid twisting of the facts in the service of a concerted effort to eliminate Israel.

The Palestinians did not nobly sacrifice anything.

They were either silent and complicit in the attempted genocide, victims of their morally bankrupt leaders, or they were willing participants.

Tlaib echoing the racist rhetoric of others has coughed up a rhetorical black hole and at the event horizon the truth vanishes as it exceeds the g force tolerance of her shit on a stick soft-peddled, bespoke vengeance weapon.

As to her claim to be an advocate for a “one state solution” we reject it completely.

Having revealed either her stupidity or her bigotry or both, with her collapsing of the historical time line, she can not be trusted as either an honest interlocutor or as an intelligent partner for peace.

Since she has dressed up lies in the costume of gossamer heartfelt pleas for sensitivity, it is clear that her goal is to insert a rhetorical trojan horse into the essential need for Israel to exist.

As with the blatantly neurotic rhetorical tics of one state advocate Tony Judt – a man who however flawed, is intellectually to Tlaib as a cheetah is to a brick in a race – Tlaib’s offer is clearly nothing more or less than the same old “final solution” in a new mask.

The conditions for considering a one state solution or any peace plan including a two-state solution, must be first a formal declaration by the Arabs that they are responsible for the Palestinian diaspora, that they have spent decades engaged in attempted genocide, terrorism, and systemic hypocrisy including but not limited to embracing Soviet imperialism and state terror, American and European imperialism and state terror, the subjugation of their own people including but not limited to the suppression of civil liberties, the subjugation of women, ethnic and religious minorities, periodic spasms of mass murder against their own people, and in conjunction with every other state actor the whole sale destruction of the environment.

They must then declare a commitment to free speech, freedom of religion, an independent and non-religious judiciary, fair trials by independent juries, a non militarized police force, free and fair elections, emancipation of women, and protection for a free press and the right to dissent and freedom from assault against citizens by the government.

Nothing less than a formal commitment to the basic tenants of a free and pluralistic society are acceptable as a basis for peace.

The organized bigotry and corruption of the Israeli right is not now, or will it ever be an excuse for the systemic bigotry, tyranny, spasms of violence, and hypocrisy of the Arab dictatorships or their apologists among the left.

The facts, the stubborn facts, remain and unlike their Arab counterparts, former terrorists and fascists like Shamir and Begin, retired when they lost their last elections and again, unlike their neighbors, they did not have the opposition executed or demand a recount until they got the results they wanted.

Rashida Tlaib is complicit in the on going, increasingly dangerous assault on Jews and civil society. The on going attempt to normalize the destruction of Israel and anti-Semitism by disguising them as “reasonable criticism” must be resisted.

Claiming anything else is to insist lynching was intended as a way to teach arboreal respect, and slavery was a way to teach a sense of belonging, and that the official seal of the former Confederate states should be the Stars and Bars, while the official song should be Strange Fruit and no one in this Orwellian gaslighting, is supposed to say the contradictions are vile, sinister and a threat to freedom.


Editor’s note: We may have linked to this previously but here is an example of a thoughtful, nuanced point of view by an artist, Nick Cave:

Addendum: It should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention or who isn’t an idiot, The Guardian, as the flagship media platform of pseudo-intellectual left bigots,* dropped an anti-Semitic turd in defense of Tlaib and their joint effort at eliding the facts.

From an article in today’s Guardian:

“Tlaib had tried to speak about the interwoven tragedies of the Jewish and Palestinian people, of the Holocaust, and the Nakba (in Arabic, the catastrophe). Though perhaps in a manner less than ideal, Tlaib was attempting to broach a difficult subject—how the creation of a national home for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust also led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.”

Less than ideal?

Yes in the same way that claiming you had to destroy the village in order to save it is less than ideal.

“…how the creation of a national home for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust also led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.”

This is like saying the intervention of a weather event prevented The Challenger from reaching space.

What goes missing of course are the facts and the actual sequence of events.


First there is the fact that there were negotiations in which the Arabs participated.

Second, there is the fact that there was a legally binding vote in which the Arabs participated.

Third, there is the fact that the Arabs lost the vote and subsequently started an illegal war with the aim of genocide, enslavement and expulsion.

Fourth, there is the fact that each of those other facts led to the Palestinian diaspora.

Fifth, ignoring these facts or claiming they did not occur is fundamentally racist and a mutation and evolution of Holocaust Denial.

Sixth, it eliminates the fact that significant numbers of Arabs and leaders allied with the Nazis and that after losing the war, they helped set in motion the essential need for Israel and the continued refusal to acknowledge their support for fascism is a moral defect and a major factor in the causation of the Palestinian diaspora.

See the propaganda here:

Update: 7/24/19

Continuing her race to the gutter Tlaib offered the idea that a boycott of Israel is the moral equivalent of the Civil Rights movement in America and what she claims was a boycott of Nazi Germany from 1933 until 1941.

How that squares with Dr. King’s views on antisemitism or Jesse Owens running faster than the SS and Gestapo is not clear. How that alleged boycott squares with Ford and IBM doing business with the Nazis, and in the case of IBM, assisting in building the infrastructure of the Holocaust, is not something she seems to be able to explain, assuming she actually knows the details.

What is clear is that Tlaib is either too stupid to understand that Israel is not a ruthless genocidal fascist police state or such a committed bigot she doesn’t care.

See the gaslighting here:

*We draw a distinction between the run of the mill anti-Semitism of The Guardian and the far more refined Designer anti-Semitism of The London Review of Books. The bigotry of the LRoB is generally far more sophisticated as the writers are smarter and better at twisting turds into the shape of balloon animals. At the LRoB one is far more likely to run across the likes of Jacqueline Rose and the late Tony Judt expressing sly literary hymnals about the need to eliminate Israel where as at The Guardian you’re more likely to run into well dressed bigots too stupid to realize their using the same rhetoric as any other gutter dwelling anti-Semite.

Of course in the end it’s a distinction without a significant difference.


Amid the hysteria in the latest round of hysteria about Israel and the US it’s important to have a sense of context.

The media which runs on the toxic fumes of a kind of amnesia always acts as if the latest political mess is new and not part of a fraught nuanced and complex history.

That’s in part because the government does not want anyone to filter their opinions through context.

After all, context is based on the facts and why let the facts get in the way of a useful or lucrative rant.

Rashida Tlaib is a Palestinian Uncle Remus – or Aunt as the case may be.

Her comments about the “sacrifice” of her ancestors is as we’ve outlined, both hilarious and sinister.

Below is an attempt by a Washington Post tool attempting to justify Tlaib’s elision of the dreary uncomfortable facts about the history of her ancestors and in trying to justify her bigotry, he pours gasoline on the flames.

While the conservatives taking rhetorical target practice at Tlaib are as cynical in their reptilian outrage as described, the fact is, by whitewashing her fanciful version of history, the Post is aiding in the ongoing war of attrition against Israel and Jews.

It is acting as a fellow traveler and useful idiot for the radical right and radical left.

Not only does it lend legitimacy to Tlaib’s toxic fantasies it sets the stage for the current circular firing squad in which the bigots and opportunists all aim for each other’s heads.

And hit the target.

Trump, the malignant troll and demagogic, racist, neo-fascist half wit, dances around the bonfire with Netanyahu, the racist, demagogic thug, and together they hold hands with Tlaib, the racist political harpy with the atrophied soul and small caliber intellect.

Aided and abetted by hysterics across the political divide and the soulless self-righteous Muppets and sock puppets of the media, it is, to borrow an old joke, like running to the bridge of the Titanic, after its hit the iceberg, and discovering the captain is Daffy Duck.

Except in this case it’s Daffy coming down from an ether binge. And looking for his crack pipe.

Read the shit on a stick here:

Update: 8/20/19

Here’s an opinion piece in the better late then never category from the old but still trying, The Forward:


Update: 8/20/19

A perfect illustration of Isiah Berlin’s use of Kant’s concept of “The Crooked Timber of Humanity” (from which no straight thing will ever grow).

Here we are confronted with a veritable buffet of historical contradictions.

Palestinian LGBTQ activists are banned by the PLO and HAMAS – threatened with arrest, torture and arbitrary executions.

So they have offices inside Israel.

While supporting the BDS movement.

And the Israeli Justice Minister is gay.

And works for the right wing opportunistically racist corrupt gangster Netanyahu.

And Rashida Tlaib has her mouth glued to the rusty exhaust of her own self-righteous Uncle Remus tractor and thus has nothing to say about the fascism of the Palestinians, their gangster leaders, and the hilarious Catch-22 reality of History.

Read about some of the details here:


Update: 8/30/19

The article below deserves attention as it is a manifestation of a hard truth – the Arabs lost the war and Israel won.

Take note of this comment:

“But with a younger generation far more comfortable with a dual Israeli-Arab identity and demanding solutions to everyday domestic issues, the political calculus has changed.

Polls show an overwhelming majority of Arab citizens want their leaders to focus more on reducing crime, improving education and addressing a housing crunch rather than solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The message is we don’t just want you to get elected, we want you to influence,” said Thabet Abu Rass, co-director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, a non-profit dedicated to promoting equality in Israel. “The Arabs haven’t stopped supporting the Palestinians, but they know that peace will take time. The other issues are more urgent.””

It sounds like the sort of thing you hear from American voters.

It also sounds like a generational change and an example of what is euphemistically called, “facts on the ground.”

No doubt this will be pissed on by the usual suspects in the anti-Semitic left but, they would, wouldn’t they.

See the details here:


In excavating the fanciful notion of “noble sacrifice” one restores what has been elided.

The narratives that emerge as one should expect, add not only layers of information but, as with any story, contradictions.

The Arab and Palestinian Arab communities were of course hardly monolithic. Clan and familial rivalries created scenes reminiscent of standard Elizabethan tragedies mixed with the best of Dashiell Hammett’s novels involving the machinations of rivals over control of cities in America.

In the era of the British Mandate the al-Husseini fought with other families for control of key cities, industries, construction contracts and patronage.

These in turn involved issues over who was to be mayor of Jerusalem, or other important positions which in turn involved the elaborate system of bribes.

While publicly avowing their support for Arab and Palestinian Arab nationalism and independence, everyone of the key figures in the Arab communities was either directly or indirectly involved in payola schemes with the Zionists and/or the British.

Offering “intelligence” as well as various “protection rackets” as with a Hammett noir, everyone was dirty.

The Zionists in turn were riven by factionalism but, being generally better educated and more familiar with standard forms of civil society in Europe they were more adept at working the British.

However, that was no guarantee of success.

A constant ad hoc approach by the British, combined with systemic anti-Semitism that both worked for and against the Zionist cause, as well as an imperial British commitment to maintaining the empire, created a push-pull dynamic fraught with difficulties.

While Chaim Wiseman was able to meet with then PM, Lloyd George, Balfour and the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, and get assurances that the smuggling of guns (in the wake of the two pogroms in the early 1920s) would be overlooked, there were still all of the murky and byzantine promises the British were making to everyone else.

In other words, a mugs game of liar’s poker.

Amid this one also has the clash between Zionists with political lineage attached to Bolshevism, and others who were socialists; religious vs atheist, and so on each with its agenda and organizations.

In the 1920s clashes between various left branches of Zionists were not uncommon.

That in turn adds a context to the narrative that simplistic “noble sacrifice” iterations leave out.

Zionism while a big tent and a baggy suit of competing cadres, was radical in that it was left of center if not outright, in some corners, hard left.

All together the movement represented a direct threat to the reactionary, tribal monarchist feudalism of the Arab ruling elites and their supporters.

A constant refrain in the early years of the Mandate was that the Arabs would declare they were not against the Jews but against Zionism.

Simplistic and usually racist narratives paint this as an example of the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

What goes missing is that the reason the Arabs were against Zionism was not because they were in favor of Pan Arab independence and civil society, but because they were in favor of the feudalistic, tyrannical tribalism that dominated their culture.

Arab attempts at establishing civil society, with the emancipation of women, freedom of expression and religion, were blocked by the British as it would undermine their strategic aims but also by Arab royalists who wanted independence within the confines of a royalist tyranny.

Setting a pattern that has endured to contemporary times, the few Arabs who wanted to open their communities to pluralism found themselves betrayed by the British and by their own people – a combination of royalists and right wing religious tyrants.

In this cauldron the Arab left was betrayed and then coopted until it morphed  into various left fascist terror organizations indistinguishable from right wing fascist terrorist organizations except for hollow rhetoric shared by both.

The first pogroms in the Mandate era were provoked by the breakdown of traditional Arab culture as it was confronted by the pluralism of Zionism.

The emancipation of women is a perfect illustration of this confrontation.

Zionist women’s groups demanded the right to vote in the first years of the 1920s.

Resisted by some in the Zionist establishment (including, initially, David Ben Gurion) because of a fear that women’s suffrage would antagonize the already antagonistic religious community, the issues was debated, and put to a vote.

Women were given the right to vote, around the same time as women in the UK and the United States (it took France until after the Second World War and of course women’s rights are problematic at best in most Arab countries or, abysmal).

Zionism of course upended traditional norms. The very fact of open debate, involving women, and the decision to grant the franchise, represented, in today’s political patois, an existential threat to Arab tribalism.

Confronted by emancipated women, engaged in work ranging from labor to being doctors and lawyers, the Arab monarchists and religious fascists combined forces.

While their leaders proclaimed support for independence they simultaneously sold land to their “Zionist ememies.”

The land sold was then developed to expand urban centers like Tel Aviv but also, to create communal farms.

The racist narrative employed by faux leftists that defines Zionism as a “colonial settler project” leaves out the legal participation of Arab landowners, the byzantine feuds between Arab factions and of course deliberately leaves out the reason(s) Zionism existed in the first place – namely the systemic violent anti-Semitism imbedded across Europe.

The “noble sacrifice” narrative is of course as we stated, a kind of Palestinian Uncle Remus fable designed to not only fool the bigots, but to fool everyone else into ignoring the ugly complicated truth of the circular firing squad reality.

Update: 9/24/19


Here, specifically a few words about BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanction – the movement to destroy Israel.

As with the rest of the Euro-American left efforts, BDS operates without regard to context.

As a result, again, the Palestinians are said to exist inside History as perpetual victims (of Israeli and Euro-American imperialism) but also outside of History without any responsibility for their current condition.

Thus, as with any other racist narrative, magical thinking dominates the process.

In this shared delusion, Israel (i.e., “The Jews”) are criminals, Zionism is a scam, and the Palestinians, are victims.

Following from this, the Palestinians have no responsibility for their actions – and therefore, it does not matter that they supported the Nazis, and Italian fascists, it does not matter that they supported reactionary, conquering Arab Royalists, it does not matter that they participated in the legally binding UN vote on Partition, lost the vote and then started an illegal war, which contextualizes the past decades of conflict, and their diaspora.

Having amputated the facts, BDS supporters, perpetuate the same dreary anti-Semitic narratives while claiming that they only want justice – for the Palestinians.

At the same time, there is an additional delusional aspect at work.

BDS operates as if moral consistency only applies to their opponents.

That many members of the BDS movement are associated with terrorist organizations, tyrannical regimes, and or live in, and pay taxes in, countries that do business with Israel and Arab dictatorships, is, they insist, a non issue.

That in the 21st century capital is borderless, is not a fact they can either comprehend or entertain as something crucial to the nature of contemporary politics.

As a result, one finds BDS supporters perfectly willing to profit from the labor of Chinese slaves in Foxconn Gulags, Mexican slaves in Ciudad Juarez, or Palestinian slaves in Saudi Arabia.

As a result one finds a uniform silence among BDS supporters regarding the tyranny of the Gulf States, or the brutal military dictatorship in Egypt, or how the EU, and the United States are comfortably in bed with China, and the oil barons and so on – everyone dancing around the bonfire of the hypocrisies.

As to the open letter in the LRoB and the, shocked, shocked to discover a reluctance in Germany to support a movement that seeks to paint an enormous yellow Star of David on Israel, one should never underestimate the hypocrisy of artists – after all, poetry may be the home of the unacknowledged legislators of the world but that doesn’t mean the country of letters isn’t a political animal no different than your congress or parliament or local book club.

The letter of course having succeeded in not mentioning the history of the Palestinians and how they have, to reheat an old witticism, never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, also succeeds in not mentioning the spectacular history of Germany’s previous efforts at boycotting Jewish run establishments, and how those efforts nearly succeeded.

The letter also operates as if current German and European politics is not once again dancing with the devil and that anything – anything – that recalls past efforts to make the trains run on time, must be resisted.

But then, Holocaust denial, and denial of the facts, are a hallmark of BDS and bigots.

This in turn brings us to another aspect of the hypocrisy of the movement.

They are quick to point out that the right to free speech, includes the right to organize boycotts.

And they are absolutely correct.

However it is also a fact of the law that no government agency, nor any public institution that receives government assistance, including tax payer money, can legally engage in a boycott of any ethic group, or any individual based on ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

Therefore, any effort to force a university, or a government agency, or a government, to boycott a group, or organization, or nation, comprised of a specific ethnic identification, is illegal.

The counter argument is easy to imagine.

For example, one could say, then a boycott of Japan because of its whaling polices should be illegal.

Which is a logical point, except, the boycotts that exist, have been focused on Japanese whaling, not Japanese writers, actors, films, or art, or anything else produced in or by Japan.

No one who is against whaling, has called for Japanese writers and academics to be prevented from attending events in other countries, and no one who supports the environmental need to save the whales, has called for universities in Europe and America to refuse grants or joint research programs involving the Japanese government, its corporations or philanthropists.

The second, inevitable argument is that the Japanese government is not occupying the land of other people.

And that’s another valid point, except for Japan’s investments in Europe, America, and Africa, and Asia, and Central and South America and Russia, and China and Israel – all of which places Japan on the index of nations turning a profit from slavery, environmental degradation, torture, organized crime, and the general circular firing squad of contemporary politics.

This leaves us with a few remaining points.

The insistence by BDS advocates that Israel is an apartheid state is of course a lie. The Palestinians are not in their current morass because of bigotry though bigotry is as prevalent in Israel as it is in England, France or the US.

They are in their current jam because they skipped modernity and went from tribalists to Royalists to fascists, and now cough up Uncle Remus-esque supernatural, biblical Nakba explanations for reality.

The ugly truths remain: The Arabs were never against Zionism because of their systemic hatred of the Jews – they were against Zionism because it posed a direct threat to tribal hierarchies through pluralism – the emancipation of women, the establishment of collectives, the establishment of independent legal systems, the right to own property, the right to speak freely and the right to religious freedom including the right to be left alone.

It is, as we have posted previously, no small fact that the largest public event in Israel is the annual Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, which draws an average of 250,000 people.

In Israel, as in Western Europe, the US, Canada, and some of S.E. Asia, you can vote left, right or for the Yoga Party, and you can choose not to vote, to get a divorce, to be gay, to read what you want, say what you want, drive a car, travel, or call the government a gang of malodorous perverts.

And as in those other countries you also have out of control secret police, mafia, brain dead and toxic media, alienation, anxiety, and spectacular morons like Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Mitch McConnell, and all the rest.

No nation state is perfect.

Israel is not perfect.

It has gangsters in government and they commit crimes.

Palestinians are generally treated like shit.

Of course supporting Nazis or avowed “leftists” who kidnap and murder children, or keeping your mouth shut while your unelected leaders do it, is bound to make some people nervous if not down right violent.

But all of that is about context.

And that vanishes at the event horizon of the moral black hole of the BDS movement.

As with any other hypocrite, it is difficult to take BDS supporters seriously when they scream about Israel and pay their taxes to governments that do business with Israel.

In other words, their attitude is essentially, well someone has to pick the cotton, so let’s fuck the Jews.


See the Open Letter in the London Review of Books here:



Below is a not too awful short review of a few of the competing narratives regarding the so called “Palestinian question.”

Philip Mendes does an adequate if seriously flawed job of presenting the views of some of the more famous historians, revisionist historians and assorted political hacks each with their own agenda.

What’s missing, or tepidly referred to, are all of the other usual suspects that always go missing.

First, Mendes, no Postmodernist, or Structuralist or Post Structuralist, has no room to spare for any meta-textual awareness and as a result the idea of excavating the idea of his narrative (that x, y and z, are the narratives each generating what amount to fictions due to what’s left in, what’s left out and the order in which facts are organized) is excluded, though we do get a few cursory reviews of the usual academic trench warfare – in which sources are championed or dismissed based on rhetorical acrobatics that disguise caprice, whimsy and professional rivalries, and political blood feuds with byzantine digressions.

Mendes takes note of the argument that a failure to consult Arab archives is complicated by the fact that said archives either don’t exist or are off limits.

That this speaks to the historical torpor and/or psychosis of generations vanishing into the black hole of dictatorship, and that in turn speaks to a crucial issue in regards to defining some narratives, is vanished at the event horizon of the paper.

Mendes does offer some cursory recognition of the idea that a plan (in this case the Israeli Plan Dalet) while containing consideration of expulsion of the Palestinians does not constitute prima fascia evidence of a coordinated effort to expel the Palestinians.

He gives credence to claims by Post Zionist and a few Arab scholars that the 1948-49 period was chaotic, full of ad hoc actions, contradictions, and that more than one cause is to be found for the subsequent effects.

Among the points he addresses are, mutual fears of what defeat would entail based on heated rhetoric and legitimate military concerns about how to secure borders with hostile, armed militias operating in your rear – that is, the Haganah/IDF forces were attempting to secure the outer borders and were simultaneously dealing with enemy forces behind them.

Mendes also addresses the great bugaboo issue of whether or not the Arab states ordered or suggested to the Palestinians that they flee.

This in turn rebounds against the availability of Arab archives but takes into account that multiple reviews by divergent historians have found no extant evidence of Arab leaders publically calling for the Palestinians to leave.

All well and good except for what Mendes leaves out – that the Arabs as proxy for the Palestinians, participated in the legally binding UN vote on partition, lost the vote, and subsequently started an illegal war which, as he says, included public statements by Arab leaders that their goal was genocide.

That, as he says, the rhetoric may have been a bluff, does not change the political calculus of people who had just survived the German efforts to teach them how to sing Wagner.

There is brief mention of violence in Arab states against Jews but no mention of the mass expulsion of Jews from Arab states, no mention of Palestinian support for fascism, and conspicuously no mention of Amin al Husseini.

Worth noting is that the Grand Muffti had not only fled British Palestine but that he was part of the fascist coup in Iraq during the Second World War.

That one could make the argument that Iraq should have been independent is not without merit, but a failure to mention that the alternative to Imperial Britain was Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany is hardly of minor consequence.

Nor is it unimportant that following the collapse of the attempted fascist coup, the local Arab community in Baghdad set about staging a pogrom and killed anywhere from several hundred to perhaps a thousand Jews.

Nearly a decade before Israel existed.

And then there’s the fact that following his defeat in Iraq, al Husseni got a free pass to visit Mussolini, and from there was passed on to the charmers in Berlin where, after offering to blow the SS, he was introduced to Hitler and co, given a bag of cash and assistance in establishing an Arab SS corps that subsequently committed war crimes in the Balkans.

In other words, context, context, context.

In place of that, Mendes elides the UN vote on partition, and argues about the horse, and the open barn door.

In particular consider the following from his paper:

“Whilst there is little doubt that the pre-state Zionist leaders favored having as few Arabs as possible in their state, this does not necessarily mean that they actually planned to violently transfer or expel the Arab population. A comparison can and should be drawn here with the bloodthirsty war rhetoric of the Arab States.

On the eve of the May 1948 invasion of Israel, for example, the Secretary General of the Arab League Azzam Pasha promised that there would be a “war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades”. Other Arab spokespersons threatened to “drive the Jews into the sea”.

But as with Zionist pre-state propaganda concerning `transfer’, none of the above constitutes firm evidence that the Palestinians and Arab States would have committed terrible massacres if they had won the war.”

Except that this is disingenuous at best precisely because Mendes writes as if al Husseni was unknown the the Zionists, and as if pre 1947 pogroms or more loosely organized but no less lethal outbursts of anti Jewish violence had not occurred.

Since both were part of the Zionists political calculus, Mendes’ assertions fall flat.

But, without admitting it makes the above problematic, he adds:

“They place the expulsion of the Palestinians in the wider Jewish political context of the period: “The Jewish fear, in the aftermath of the Holocaust and with the mounting attacks in Arab countries against Jews, of what the Arabs would do if they prevailed, and of not being able to sustain a state with a vanquished and disloyal Arab population (a third or more of the state); the anxiety of Jewish commanders at having a hostile population behind their advancing lines during the fighting; the Israeli sense of what could be accomplished with abandoned Arab property; and, not least, the Palestinians’ own image of what the Jews would do to them if Israel prevailed and they were left in its territory”.”

But to compound this set of contradiction Mendes does not contextualize the Israeli response after the cease fire by highlighting the fact that at least publically the Arabs were adamant that the war would continue – and until the Jews were exiled or exterminated.

And then he sticks the dismount with:

“What is less equivocal is the Israeli decision – taken as early as June 1948 – to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees.

As a number of commentators have documented, most of the Palestinians (regardless of the factors that caused their exodus) expected to return home. Many took just the keys to their homes and left behind all their personal possessions.

Clearly the Israeli decision to make permanent exiles of the Palestinians raises enormous moral and ethical questions which need to be addressed in any permanent settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

He concludes by saying that peace requires admission by both sides about the false and partially true competing narratives regarding the events of 1947-49.”

The “Israeli decision” of course was based on a variety of factors including but not limited to, American, French and British re-purposing of ex not so ex Nazis like Klaus Barbie, the repeated Arab threats of genocide, and the very recent experience of German discipline.

He’s not wrong but hardly honest.

The truth being that until the Palestinians admit the Nakba is a collective uncle Remus mythology (which in turn in a Faulknerian sense contains any number of other truths), admit their participation in the Holocaust, admit their commitment to tyranny, admit their selling out to Soviet, American and European imperialism and situational ethics, and admit that support for terrorism has brought them nothing and will bring them nothing, and until the publically declare their support for the basic planks of a pluralistic society including repudiating American support for Arab dictators, they are historically screwed.

The paper however is a solid example of the strange refusal to address context, facts, the time line and sequence of events, and a failure to be honest which is a hallmark of the ongoing faux debate.


“A HISTORICAL CONTROVERSY: THE CAUSES OF THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEE PROBLEM by Philip Mendes, address to Melbourne Jewish Museum, 20/10/2000


During the 1948 Israeli/Arab war, approximately 500,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from the territory of Israel/Palestine. The issue of responsibility for the Palestinian exodus has since become one of the most vexed questions of the modern era.

The official Israeli view has long been that the Palestinians left voluntarily at the behest of Arab leaders. Accordingly, the Palestinians were responsible for their own exodus and should be resettled in neighbouring Arab countries.

In contrast, the Palestinians and Arab States argued that the refugees were driven out by planned and systematic Israeli violence. They demanded the right of the refugees to return to their former homes inside Israel.

The on-going Israeli-Arab debate concerning the causes of the exodus has not been merely an academic exercise. Rather, both sides have persistently linked the events of 1948 with their contemporary political claims. Prior to the 1967 Six Day War, the contentious issues were the Arab refusal to recognize the State of Israel, and the Israeli refusal to allow the Palestinian refugees to return. Since 1967, the differing versions of the exodus have also influenced debates around the legitimacy of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Remarkably, they have also directly influenced the contemporary politics of the Melbourne Jewish community which is one of the reasons why I was keen to explore this topic tonight.

I refer obviously to the events surrounding the forced resignation of former Jewish News Editor David Bernstein in April 1999. Bernstein’s demise followed the publication of a cartoon in the Jewish News drawing an analogy between ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo and the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

What was particularly interesting about this train of events was the narrow set of views expressed by most Jewish readers about the events of 1948. According to four representatives of the Shtetl on the Yarra published in the Jewish News on 16 April 1999, it was an absolute fact that the Palestinian Arabs departed in 1948 at the behest of their own leaders, and that Israel desperately attempted to persuade them to stay. Unfortunately, this ahistorical view was also repeated by a responsible Jewish community leader in a recent issue of The Australian newspaper, dated 12 July.

This paper considers the seminal writings of the Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris and his influence on the debate. Morris’ research exposed both the official Israeli and Palestinian versions of the exodus as propaganda. In their place, he substituted a new version of the exodus which attributed responsibility to a number of factors, rather than one single Israeli or Palestinian action. Nevertheless, he did identify Israeli military action – either directly or indirectly – as in most cases the decisive contributing factor to the exodus.

Morris’ conclusions have been challenged by a number of sources including the Israeli writers Shabtai Teveth and Efraim Karsh, and the Palestinian & pro-Palestinian academics Nur Masalha, Walid Khalidi, and Norman Finkelstein.

In the opinion of the author, whilst all these writers add to our understanding of the Palestinian exodus, their arguments do not disprove Morris’ multi-causal explanation. The different interpretations appear to reflect the contrast between Morris’s moral relativity vis/vis the moral certainty of his critics. Nevertheless, it is still possible to draw some specific implications from this debate for the direction of the contemporary peace process.

Part One: The Israeli Version 1948-1967

The official Israeli version of the Palestinian exodus first appeared in an October 1948 report to the Israeli Government by Yosef Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund’s Lands Division and Chairman of the Government’s Transfer Committee.

Weitz argued that the Palestinians had not fled due to persecution, violence, or expulsion. Rather according to Weitz, the flight was “deliberately organized by the Arab leaders in order to arouse Arab feelings of revenge, to artificially create an Arab refugee problem…and to prepare the ground for the invasion of Palestine by the Arab States who could then appear as saviours of their brother Arabs”.

Weitz’s thesis concerning Arab responsibility for the Palestinian flight was soon adopted by Joseph Schechtman, a prominent American Jewish writer and former confidante of the right-wing Zionist leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky.

The purpose of the Weitz/Schechtman account was explicitly political: to provide a legal and moral justification for the Israeli refusal to allow the Palestinians to return to their former homes. Conversely, evidence that the Palestinians had been forcibly expelled would strengthen their claims for repatriation and/or compensation.

Part Two: The Palestinian Version

The Israeli version of the Palestinian exodus has not gone unchallenged. Since 1948, the Palestinians and their supporters have consistently presented an alternative thesis – that the Palestinians were forcibly driven by their homes by organized and premeditated Israeli violence. The political purpose of this thesis was to deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel, and to assert the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes.

The Palestinians attributed particular importance to refuting the Israeli “Arab orders” thesis. In 1959, the Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi conducted a detailed study of the press releases and broadcasts made by the Arab League at the time of the 1948 exodus. Khalidi found no evidence of any Arab order to evacuate Palestine. On the contrary, Khalidi found evidence of considerable pressure placed on the Palestinians to stay in their homes. Khalidi concluded that the exodus was caused by “a mixture of Zionist psychological and terroristic warfare”.

Another study by the Anglo-Irish writer Erskine Childers drew similar conclusions. In my opinion, Khalidi and Childers successfully destroyed the credibility of the “Arab orders” thesis. Yet, their findings were dismissed by many as marred by pro-Arab bias. The debate continued.

Part Three: Benny Morris and the Israeli Post-Zionists

In the mid-late 1980s, a group of Israeli historians including the late Simha Flapan, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, and Benny Morris used recently declassified documents from the Israeli State Archives to provide an alternative perspective of the founding of Israel. Some of these historians – especially Pappe and Shlaim – explicitly saw their research as a means of undermining Zionist ideology and identity.

Particular emphasis was placed by the revisionists on debunking four official Israeli myths: 1) That the Palestinians and Arab States were united in their desire to destroy Israel; 2) That the 1948 war was fought between a relatively weak Israel (David) and a relatively powerful Arab (Goliath); 3) That the Palestinians had voluntarily left their homes at the behest of the Arab leaders; 4) That Israel sought peace after the war but the Arab world remained intransigent.

The most balanced and cogent revisionist contribution arguably came from Benny Morris, today an academic at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.  Morris exposed both the official Israeli and Palestinian versions of the exodus as propaganda. Despite his criticism of Zionist discourse and historical narratives, Morris continues to identify as a Zionist.

According to Morris, “The Palestinian refugee problem was born of war, not by design, Jewish or Arab”. The exodus could be attributed to a number of factors including the bitter fighting that characterized the first Israeli-Arab war; the structural weaknesses of Palestinian Arab society and the voluntary departure of many upper and middle class families; Arab fears of Jewish atrocities; and Jewish fears of the potential consequences of an Arab victory.

A number of Morris’ findings were particularly important: 1) Direct Jewish expulsions did play a significant part in the exodus; 2) However, there was never any Cabinet or General Staff-level decision to expel Arabs from Jewish areas, although the Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion did personally authorize the expulsions of large numbers of civilians from Lydda and Ramleh; 3) There was no evidence of any blanket Arab orders to the Palestinians to flee the country. In fact, from early May 1948 onwards, the Arab States and the Arab Higher Committee appealed to the Palestinians to stay in their homes, although there was some passive acquiescence in the earlier departure from Haifa; 4) The exodus developed in an adhoc, incremental manner linked closely to events in the war. Many Palestinians were expelled or fled due to fear of attack. A minority of Palestinians – mainly Christians and Druze in Nazareth, the Galilee and elsewhere – remained in place; 5) At the conclusion of the war, Israel made a considered decision to prevent the return of the refugees, irrespective of the outcome of peace negotiations with neighbouring states.

Morris’ findings completely demolished the traditional Israeli version of the exodus. Unlike Childers and Khalidi, Morris could not credibly be accused of pursuing an anti-Israel agenda. But, Morris also undermined the traditional Palestinian thesis of an Israeli master plan to expel the Arab population.

Part Four: Israeli and Palestinian Critiques of Morris

Both Israelis and Palestinians have contested Benny Morris’ findings. The most substantial Israeli criticism has come from Shabtai Teveth, a prominent “old” historian and biographer of the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Teveth attacked Morris on three grounds: 1) His failure to consult works in Arabic which allegedly contradict his findings; 2) His failure to acknowledge that the Palestinians left under explicit instructions from their leaders; 3) His exaggeration of the importance and influence of Yosef Weitz, the Director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Development Division and Chairman of the Israeli Government’s Transfer Committee. According to Teveth, Weitz was a self-aggrandizing minor official of little importance in the Zionist hierarchy.

In response, Morris argues that there is no evidence of Arab orders to flee Palestine. On the contrary, Israeli and western archives reveal Arab orders to the Palestinians to stay in their homes.

Morris also refutes Teveth’s attempt to deride the role played by Yosef Weitz. According to Morris, Weitz “was a powerful bureacrat…one of the emergent state’s major executives in everything that concerned the key question of Arabs: the apportioning of Arab lands, the destruction of Arab villages, and the establishment of new settlements”.

In regards to his non-use of Arabic sources, Morris argues that there is simply no accessible Arab primary sources for the 1948 period. According to Morris, “The Arab states’ archives are closed to all researchers, Jewish and Arab; the Palestinians produced no `state’ papers. Arab private and political party papers are also largely inaccessible or non-existent. There is simply no Arab documentation of the sort historians must rely on”.

Whilst further research may be required on this particular matter, Teveth’s critique remains (in my opinion) unsubstantiated.

Less serious criticism has come from the London-based Israeli academic, Professor Efraim Karsh. In his book Fabricating Israeli History, Karsh seeks to destroy the credibility and legitimacy of the post-Zionist historians. Using consistently harsh and ad-hominem language, he accuses the post-Zionists of all sorts of ethical violations. Yet strangely Karsh, in his attacks on Morris and others, regularly employs the same techniques he condemns.

As for the content of his critique, Karsh claims, for example, that Morris distorts the extent of mainstream Jewish support for the “transfer” of Arabs prior to the establishment of Israel. In particular, he argues that transfer was to be carried out by Britain only with the blessing of the United Nations, and linked specifically to the implementation of the 1938 Peel Partition Plan. In response, Morris demonstrates that the majority of Zionist leaders including Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann supported transfer throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

Part Five: Palestinian Critics of Morris

More substantial critiques of Morris have emanated from Palestinian academics Nur Masalha and Walid Khalidi, and the controversial American Jewish academic Norman Finkelstein.

These writers criticize Morris on two principal grounds. Firstly, they argue that Morris considers the Palestinian exodus in a historical vacuum, and fails to draw the allegedly obvious connection between the expulsion of the Palestinians and the earlier Zionist support for the concept of `transfer’.

In his authoritative study, Expulsion of the Palestinians, Masalha documents the long history of Zionist proposals for transferring the indigenous Palestinians to neighbouring countries. Support for transfer was voiced by both left-wing Labour Zionists and right-wing Revisionist Zionists. Proponents of transfer included the first two Israeli Prime Ministers, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett, the first Israeli President, Chaim Weizmann, and the Revisionist Zionist leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky. According to Masalha, the transfer plans of the 1930s and 1940s clearly inspired the 1948 expulsion of the Palestinians.

Whilst there is little doubt that the pre-state Zionist leaders favored having as few Arabs as possible in their state, this does not necessarily mean that they actually planned to violently transfer or expel the Arab population. A comparison can and should be drawn here with the bloodthirsty war rhetoric of the Arab States.

On the eve of the May 1948 invasion of Israel, for example, the Secretary General of the Arab League Azzam Pasha promised that there would be a “war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades”. Other Arab spokespersons threatened to “drive the Jews into the sea”.

But as with Zionist pre-state propaganda concerning `transfer’, none of the above constitutes firm evidence that the Palestinians and Arab States would have committed terrible massacres if they had won the war. Until the 1948 Arab archives are opened to the public, we cannot prove to the contrary either since no one actually knows what the Arab armies planned to do with the Jewish population if successful. In the meantime, neither Arab nor Israeli pre-war rhetoric can be reasonably equated with firm intentions.

The second criticism of Morris relates to the role of Plan Dalet, the Israeli operational plan for securing the state’s borders against the expected Arab invasion on May 15, 1948. According to Masalha and others, Plan Dalet was not only a military blueprint to defend the state’s borders as described by Morris, but also a master plan for the expulsion of the Palestinians.

Morris clearly disagrees with this assessment, although the language used in his analysis suggests some uncertainty. He writes: “Plan D was not a political blueprint for the expulsion of Palestine’s Arabs: it was governed by military considerations and was geared to achieving military ends. But, given the nature of the war and the admixture of the two populations, securing the interior of the Jewish State for the impending battle along its borders in practice meant the depopulation and destruction of villages that hosted hostile local militia and irregular forces…

“The plan, which reached all brigade OCs and district commanders, and probably also many battalion-level commanders, was neither used nor regarded by the Haganah senior field officers as a blanket instruction for the expulsion of the country’s civilian inhabitants. But, in providing for the expulsion of communities and/or destruction of villages that had resisted the Haganah, it constituted a strategic-ideological anchor and basis for expulsions by front, district, brigade and battalion commanders (who in each case argued military necessity) and it gave commanders, post facto, a formal, persuasive covering note to explain their actions”.

Morris strongly denies that Plan Dalet constitutes proof of a planned, systematic Israeli policy of expulsion. As evidence, he points to the obvious exception – the continuing presence in Palestine of over 100,000 Arabs spread over a wide range of villages and towns.

Corroboration for Morris’ middle-ground explanation has come from other sources. The Palestinian academic Issa Khalaf rejects the notion of Plan Dalet as a master plan for forced expulsion. According to Khalaf, “Much of what happened in 1947-48 developed according to immediate circumstances. That is, it is doubtful the Zionists conceived that the Palestinians would either leave or be easily pushed out. It was during the various phases of the war, when military fortunes accelerated in Jewish favor, that the Zionist leadership increasingly did all it could to facilitate the removal of Arabs or to resort to psychological warfare, terrorism, and physical expulsion”.

Khalaf argues that the role played by poor leadership and internal divisions in weakening Palestinian morale cannot be underestimated. Whilst the Israelis took advantage of the opportunities presented to transfer as many Palestinians as possible, they “could not possibly have foreseen the ease with which they sliced through Palestine and the collapse of its people”.

Similarly, the Israeli historians Kimmerling and Migdal (who are not unsympathetic to the Palestinians) argue that “Plan Dalet itself was full of inner contradictions, referring to both expulsion of Arabs and their administration in secured areas”.

They place the expulsion of the Palestinians in the wider Jewish political context of the period: “The Jewish fear, in the aftermath of the Holocaust and with the mounting attacks in Arab countries against Jews, of what the Arabs would do if they prevailed, and of not being able to sustain a state with a vanquished and disloyal Arab population (a third or more of the state); the anxiety of Jewish commanders at having a hostile population behind their advancing lines during the fighting; the Israeli sense of what could be accomplished with abandoned Arab property; and, not least, the Palestinians’ own image of what the Jews would do to them if Israel prevailed and they were left in its territory”.

In support of their argument, it should be noted that on the few occasions the Arabs were victorious in the 1948 war at Kfar Etzion and elsewhere, terrible atrocities were in fact committed.

Placing Jewish actions in a broader context is of course a subjective and somewhat risky exercise. The Palestinians could equally attribute their hostile activities to fears (ultimately justified) that the creation of a Jewish State would lead to their dispossession and exile.

But, overall the evidence regarding the ultimate intentions of Plan Dalet remains equivocal. Both Benny Morris and his Palestinian critics hold credible, but opposing points of view.

What is less equivocal is the Israeli decision – taken as early as June 1948 – to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees.

As a number of commentators have documented, most of the Palestinians (regardless of the factors that caused their exodus) expected to return home. Many took just the keys to their homes and left behind all their personal possessions.

Clearly the Israeli decision to make permanent exiles of the Palestinians raises enormous moral and ethical questions which need to be addressed in any permanent settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Part Six: Moral Relativity vs. Moral Certainty

It seems to me that Morris’ position is basically one of moral relativity versus the moral certainty of his Palestinian critics.

The assumption underlying Morris’ position appears to be that the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine was a morally just objective irrespective of its impact on the Palestinian Arabs. Or put differently, the non-creation of Israel would have been a greater injustice for the Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, than the injustice the creation of Israel imposed upon the Palestinians.

Consequently, any actions taken to secure the boundaries and security of the Jewish State against hostile military forces or potentially hostile civilians were justifiable on pragmatic and military grounds. The expulsion of the Palestinians (whilst not unwelcome to the Israeli leadership) cannot, therefore, be viewed in isolation from broader military objectives.

In contrast, Palestinian and pro-Palestinian critics of Morris regard the whole notion of a Jewish State in Palestine as morally untenable. They, therefore, automatically assume that the Israelis are solely to blame for the Palestinian exodus irrespective of the wider political and military context.

Norman Finkelstein, for example, condemns Morris for failing to draw the allegedly obvious conclusion from his findings: that the Palestinians were expelled systematically and with premeditation. For the anti-Zionist ideologue Finkelstein, the Palestinian exodus was the inevitable consequence of the inherently immoral nature of Zionism. Even if there had been no military conflict, the Zionist movement would still have conspired to expel the Palestinians from their homeland.


Part Seven: The Question of Responsibility and Its Implications for Contemporary Peace Process

As with Morris, my conclusion is that no single factor – neither non-existent Arab orders nor the non-existent proof of a pre-planned Israeli conspiracy to expel the Palestinians – can adequately explain why over half a million Palestinians went into exile.

Nevertheless, the victorious Israelis must take a major share of the responsibility – not so much for expelling the Palestinians as part of a military strategy, but more so for electing to make this exile permanent regardless of moral or humanitarian considerations.

The Arab States must also accept a share of the responsibility. Their stated intention (at least in their rhetoric) was to destroy the newly-created State of Israel, and expel if not massacre its Jewish population. They turned the conflict into a zero-sum game, and the Palestinians were the ultimate victims.

What does all this mean for the current peace process including particularly the continued plight of the Palestinian refugees? Any lasting settlement will require at least the following two components: 1) A symbolic acknowledgment by the Israelis that their military activities contributed at least in part to the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem; 2) The payment of compensation by Israel to Palestinians who choose not to return to a Palestinian State.

There will probably be two principal objections to this plan. The Israeli concern will be that any discussion of the 1948 events will open up a Pandora’s box of historical claims and rights within the Green Line borders. However, the alternative argument is that only some resolution of the events of 1948 will allow real and lasting reconciliation to take place. Otherwise, 1948 refugees who return to a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza will almost certainly act as a force for further conflict and irredentism. It would also have to be clear from the start that no Palestinians would be able to return to the Green Line borders, except for a small number accepted as part of an organized family reunion program.

The Palestinian concern will be that this plan unilaterally revokes their claimed right to return home to property and lands inside Israel. However, it is inconceivable that any Israeli Government would make political concessions within the Green Line. It is either symbolic reparations or nothing.
























This talk is based on an earlier paper published in Deakin University’s Journal of Arabic, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, 3(1), 1996, pp.83-102, and in an alternative version in the New York Jewish magazine Response, 68, Fall 1997, pp.198-209. A copy is also available on the Australian Jewish Democratic Society website: (


I have also added tonight some material from more recent publications. They include:


Karsh, Efraim (1997), Fabricating Israeli History: The New Historians. Frank Cass. London.


Karsh, Efraim (2000), “Were the Palestinians expelled?”, The Review, 25(8), August, pp.24-27.


Morris, Benny (1998), “Refabricating 1948”, Journal of Palestine Studies, 27(2), Winter, pp.81-95.


Morris, Benny (1999), Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999. Alfred Knopf. New York.


Silberstein, Laurence (1999), The Postzionism Debates. Routledge. New York.



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