Rethinking 1948


Rethinking 1948

Back in the late 1980s and 90s, Benny Morris was identified, some would say targeted, as the stormy petrel among Israeli historians. In tomes such as The Birth of the Palestinian Problem (1988), Israel’s Border Wars (1993), and Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict (1999) he slaughtered any number of sacred cows. He started with the heretical idea that during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, 600,000 or so Palestinians did not leave their homes out of their own free will but had been expelled by the Israeli army. He ended with the equally heretical one that most of the Palestinians who were caught (many of who were shot) by the IDF while trying to “€œinfiltrate”€ across the border to Israel during the 1950s were unarmed civilians who were simply trying to return to their former lands. It speaks volumes about Morris’s work that for several years, no Israeli university would give him a job. That work also earned its author the undying hatred of many Israelis from Likud minister of education Limor Livnat down (or up: when it comes to nationalist stupidity, it is hard to sink lower than she did). As the saying goes, it is by his enemies that a man should be judged.

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