Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Part I

I keep looking for a source of information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would at least try to depart from the “bad Jews/good Arabs” or “bad Arabs/good Jews” model. Both of these approaches are equally reductive and offensive. Still, I’m getting a feeling that nobody is even attempting to discuss the issue in any other manner. Initially, I had high hopes for Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine but I have to admit that the book has been a serious disappointment. I listed some of my objections to Pappe’s writing here but that was only the beginning.

For some incomprehensible reason, Pappe decided to alienate every Jewish reader – even the potentially anti-Israel and pro-Palestiane one – from the get go. It is hard for a Jewish person to remain open to a point of view that insistently equates the displacement of the Palestinian people from their villages with the Holocaust. I don’t see why it is so necessary to equate two such different events at all. The forcible removal of the Palestinians is a horrible, horrible crime and a huge tragedy. But it cannot even begin to compare to the Holocaust. Pappe tries to make the two tragedies similar by making it hard to figure out that the Palestinians were displaced from their villages without being killed. (It took me a while, for example, to realize that when Pappe says, “Village X was destroyed,” he is forgetting to mention that only the physical buildings were destroyed (or simply damaged), while the people were not.)

Ilan Pappe is altogether very careless about the Holocaust. He discusses it as a reality that has certain bearing on the actions of the international community. He says, for example, that after the Holocaust, any instance of ethnic cleansing in the world becomes impossible to conceal. This is a very strange statement to begin with, since the Holocaust was very obviously not an example of ethnic cleansing but of genocide. As Pappe explains at length, ethnic cleansing does not involve the mass murder of the displaced ethnicity while the genocide does. At the same time, there is no discussion in the book of how the Holocaust might have influenced the Jews. To the contrary, Pappe suggests time and again that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would exist in pretty much the same form had the Holocaust never happened.

For those who manage to keep reading the book even in the face of this cavalier dismissal of the Holocaust, Pappe brings out the argument that will surely convince any person who does not passionately hate the Jews as a group to stop reading. I am speaking, of course, of the trope of the greedy Jew.

For a while, the suggestion of Jewish greediness is made without the direct use of the word “greedy”. This allows a reader to keep convincing herself that she is being too sensitive and is imagining anti-Semitism where there is none. Until, that is, a story of “a greedy Tel-Aviv municipality” that sets out to steal the crop of oranges grown by hard-working Palestinians. And the story of the “monstrous villas and extravagant palaces for rich American Jews” that have been created because of “constructors’ greed” and that are disfiguring the architectural ensemble of Jerusalem. And many other stories of greedy, dishonest Jews who don’t create anything of their own but, rather, steal the fruits of the labor of others. (The words “exploit” and “exploitation” appear constantly in the text to describe the intentions of the Jews.)

(To be continued. . .)

P.S. I would very much like to avoid the third-grade level of discussion of this serious issue that such debates almost always slip down to. This is why I’m asking everybody to refrain from the egregiously unintelligent analysis of who was where “first” and whom “this land initially belonged to.” I have to issue this warning because I looked through the Amazon reviews of the book and this is all I have seen there.

6 thoughts on “Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Part I”

  1. You might like either Benny Morris or Michael Oren. Morris takes the line that yes Israel did engage in ethnic cleansing, but it was a really messy situation that had no morally decent solution. Oren’s book on the 67 war places the events within the context of the Cold War and therefore spends a lot of time talking about Soviet policy in regards to the Middle East.

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  2. This is why I’m asking everybody to refrain from the egregiously unintelligent analysis of who was where “first” and whom “this land initially belonged to.”

    Hey, the Natufians need their propers.

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  3. how the Holocaust might have influenced the Jews
    If you want, I can send a Doc file via email on why many Jews after Holocaust went to Israel and their unique position.

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    1. I know why many Jews moved to Israel. However, let’s remember that yet another mechanism of nationalistic brain-washing is the extensive use of the “uniqueness” myth. Every nation-state insists on its own special uniqueness and eternal history. There is nothing unique about the myth of uniqueness. 🙂 🙂

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      1. //I know why many Jews moved to Israel.
        I didn’t mean the “uniqueness” myth. I meant:

        В Польше более 1000 евреев было убито в первый год после освобождения, когда правительство было еще слишком слабо, чтобы предотвратить резню.

        Послевоенные погромы проводились уже не нацистами, а самим местным населением различных стран. Самый известный из этих погромов произошел в польском городе Кельце в июле 1946 г. Этот погром выделяется не только тем, что было убито 42 еврея, но и тем, что он происходил при свете дня и при участии (или, по крайней мере, попустительстве) местной полиции. Выжившие в Катастрофе евреи, единственные уцелевшие из своих семей, жили вместе в одном из домов города, разыскивая своих друзей и родных. Как и в Средние века, на них был возведен кровавый навет – в данном случае их обвинили в похищении мальчика-христианина. Мальчика не было дома три дня, а когда он вернулся домой (от друга, у которого гостил), то заявил, что его похитили евреи. Полиция начала расследование, были вызваны солдаты для поддержания порядка, но это лишь распалило местное население. Поляки напали на евреев с ножами, топорами, дубинами и камнями. К ним присоединились полицейские и солдаты. Когда страсти улеглись, выяснилось, что 42 еврея, включая женщин и детей, были убиты, и более шестидесяти получили ранения.
        Многие из тех, кто пытался отстроить свою жизнь в Польше, утратили надежду на это.

        После погромов в Кельце движение бриха («побег») резко изменило свой характер. Тонкий ручеек беженцев превратился в бурный поток, который стал полулегальным. Когда разразился погром, Ицхак Цукерман, пользовавшийся уважением польских властей, сумел достичь секретной договоренности с польским министром обороны, маршалом Марианом Спыхальским: ввиду неспособности властей справиться с антисемитизмом и обеспечить безопасность евреев они согласились, что предпочтительнее решить «еврейскую проблему», предоставив евреям полулегальную возможность эмиграции. Было решено, что евреям будет позволено покинуть Польшу через определенные пограничные посты, хотя формально переход границы оставался нелегальным. Это соглашение оставалось в силе до 22 февраля 1947 г., когда граница была закрыта. За это время Польшу смогли покинуть от 75.000 до 100.000 евреев

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