Atlantic Review

I rarely ever discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on this blog anymore, or with my Jewish and Palestinian friends, mostly because it’s nearly impossible to have a dispassionate discussion about the issue. So I only mention this Atlantic article by Benjamin Schwarz because it’s about a book review (of Benny Morris’ The Birth of The Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited) so for the love of God spare me your hate mail.

In 1949 about 700,000 fewer Palestinian Arabs lived in the area that had become the state of Israel than had lived there in 1947. Explanations of how and why that came about have fueled bitter debate for half a century, and help sustain two contending national mythologies. (…) Morris’s conclusions for which he was excoriated as both a PLO supporter and a “sophisticated Zionist propagandist” undermined the national identity of Palestinians and Israelis alike. According to the Arab version of events, the Israelis, inspired by an inherently expansionist Zionist ideology, systematically drove out the Palestinians in accordance with a master plan of what we now call ethnic cleansing. For their part, Israelis were taught that the refugees left their homes largely on orders from Arab leaders. Morris demonstrated that neither version of history was sustainable.

I thoroughly enjoyed the review, and agree with the assertion that there is some ambiguity to what each side holds as facts, though I don’t see that as any reason to maintain the status quo.