Finkelstein Norman G. - Beyond chutzpah


Author : Finkelstein Norman Gary
Title : Beyond chutzpah On the misuse of anti-semitism and the abuse of history
Year : 2005

Link download : Finkelstein_Norman_G_-_Beyond_chutzpah.zip

Introduction. In the course of writing this book, I passed a small milestone in my life. Twenty years ago, while researching my doctoral dissertation on the theory of Zionism, I came across a newly published book on the Israel-Palestine conflict: From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters. Promising to revolutionize our understanding of the conflict, the book was adorned on the back cover with glowing praise from the Who’s Who of American Arts and Letters (Saul Bellow, Elie Wiesel, Barbara Tuchman, Lucy Dawidowicz, and others), and it went on to garner scores of reviews in the mainstream media ranging from ecstasy to awe. Its first edition, eventually going into seven hardback printings, became a national best seller. The central thesis of Peters’s book, apparently supported by nearly two thousand notes and a recondite demographic study, was that Palestine had been virtually empty on the eve of Zionist colonization and that, after Jews made the deserted parts of Palestine they settled bloom, Arabs from neighboring states and other parts of Palestine migrated to the Jewish areas and pretended to be indigenous. Here was the, as it were, scientific proof that Golda Meir had been right after all: there was no such thing as Palestinians. As it happened, From Time Immemorial was a colossal hoax. Cited sources were mangled, key numbers in the demographic study falsified, and large swaths plagiarized from Zionist propaganda tracts. Documenting the hoax and the rather more onerous challenge of publicizing these findings in the media proved to be a turning point for me. From then on, much of my life has, in one fashion or another, centered on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Looking back after two decades of study and reflection, I am struck most by how uncomplicated the Israel-Palestine conflict is. There is no longer much contention among scholars on the historical record, at any rate for the foundational period from the first Zionist settlements in the late nineteenth century to the creation of Israel in 1948. This wasn’t always the case. For a long time two acutely divergent narratives on the Israel-Palestine conflict coexisted. On the one hand, there was the mainstream, or what one might call, with considerable accuracy, the Exodus version of the past—basically the heroic, official Zionist tale immortalized in Leon Uris’s best-selling historical novel. On the other hand, beyond the margins of respectable opinion, a small dissenting body of literature challenged prevailing wisdom. To take one indicative example, the mainstream Israeli account maintained that Palestinians became refugees in 1948 because Arab radio broadcasts had instructed them to flee. Yet already by the early 1960s, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi and Irish scholar Erskine Childers, after examining the archive of Arab radio broadcasts from the 1948 war, concluded that no such official Arab exhortations had been given. But revelations such as these had little or no impact on mainstream opinion. Beginning in the late 1980s, however, a steady stream of scholarly studies, mostly by Israelis, dispelled much of the Zionist mythology enveloping the origins of the conflict. Thus, it was now conceded by all serious scholars that the “Arab radio broadcasts” were a Zionist fabrication and that the Palestinians had been ethnically cleansed in 1948, and scholarly debate now focused on the much narrower, if still highly pertinent, question of whether this cleansing was the intentional consequence of Zionist policy or the unintentional by-product of war. Ultimately, on this and related issues, the dissenting narrative, proving closer to the truth, displaced the official Zionist one while, after heated polemics, a broad scholarly consensus on the historical record crystallized. ...

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