Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Mirror on Israel

By Ilan Pappe
and Ayelet Negev

"Last summer, the Pappe family packed its belongings, rented out its spacious house in Israel and moved to Britain. Ever since his support of an academic boycott on Israel's universities became public, historian Ilan Pappe, 54, has felt like public enemy number one. Pappe says he had received death threats by phone almost on a daily basis......

Claims of ethnic cleansing

In an article published in the Israeli Mita'am Review for Literature and Radical Thought this week, titled "On the destruction of the Palestinian cities, spring 1948," Pappe maintains that the claim that the Arab residents fled or left their homes willingly during the war is false, and that a policy of "cleansing" the area from Arabs was employed as part of a plan to establish a Jewish-only state.

Pappe made similar claims in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which was published in England in 2006, in which he also presented testimonies of alleged massacres of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers.

These claims have been contested by many historians in Israel and abroad. Dr. Mordechai Bar-On, a research fellow at the Yad Ben-Zvi Institute and a former MK, calls Pappe "a propagandist, not a historian." Bar-On said that "the term ethnic cleansing is a vicious one, because it has never been used prior to the wars in former Yugoslavia. Indeed, there were places where Arab were expelled… but to say that there was an evil plan since the inception of Zionism for a forceful transfer – this is simply wrong and vicious."

However, Pappe insists that allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is the only thing that could secure peace in the region.

Would you be willing to vacate your home when they return to what used to be their villages near your house in Tivon?

"After years of working with refugees around the world and attending conferences on the right of return, I believe that no such notion exists on the Palestinian side. They want to return while understanding that they will live alongside the Jews. They don't want to expel anyone. What turned me into a great lover of the Palestinians is the will of many among them to share the land with us. Even people in Hamas.

"The reason most of my friends in the territories voted for Hamas wasn't because they didn't want to share the land with the Israelis, but because they thought Hamas would be more effective in the struggle against the occupation."......"

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