It’s an article of faith in academic circles that Zionism as understood and practiced by Ben-Gurion included the ‘transfer’ of the Arabs of Palestine. And we now ‘know’ that Golda Meir conspired with King Abdullah of Jordan in 1948 to divide up the part of Mandate allocated to the Palestinian Arabs between Israel and Transjordan. And we have ‘learned’ that most Palestinian refugees were really driven from their homes by the Jews under threat of massacre.
The ‘Zionist myths’ about the founding of the State have been debunked; even those of us who support the state need to understand that it was born in sin, thanks to the so-called New Historians such as Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappé, etc. Right?
And not only wrong, but wrong because the real sins here were of those of dishonest scholarship — worse, of national slander by means of falsification of sources, deliberate mistranslation, removing whole sentences and paragraphs from quotations in order to completely reverse their meaning, etc.
This is convincingly demonstrated in a book by historian Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History (Second, revised edition. London: Frank Cass, 2000). I almost said “a new book”, because the book has not received the attention it deserves, perhaps because the academic departments of Mideast Studies are unhappy with its contents.
Karsh shows in detail just how these historians have distorted the record, particularly Morris, who is probably the most respected and influential of them. It is not simply a question of interpretation, but — as Karsh proves conclusively — of deliberate falsification of sources.
In fact, Ben-Gurion deeply wished for a state in which Arab residents would have full citizenship and be treated fairly, and he did not advocate or favor their transfer or expulsion. King Abdullah of Jordan never believed that there should be an independent Jewish state, and Meir and others did not make a deal with him to violate the partition resolution. And only a small minority of the refugees left their homes under pressure from the Jews.
This is enormously important, because these writers provide the theoretical underpinning for the anti-Zionism of so many left-leaning Jews who have come to accept the so-called “Palestinian narrative” about the founding of the State. And because many of these ‘scholars’ are anti-Zionist — Pappé is perhaps no less anti-Israel than your average Hamasnik — their dishonesty can be traced to the basest of motives.
As always, the fact that these are Jews and Israelis gives more weight and influence to their tendentious writings. Although it is impossible for anyone to truly divorce his political views from his understanding of history, the cynical substitution of propaganda for academic research does violence to the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth.
Karsh himself is no right-wing ideologue, but in fact favors an independent Palestinian state.
Read this book.