The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe. The borders of fact and myth. By Stephen Howe; Friday 24 November Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, by Jimmy Carter pp, Simon & Schuster, £ The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe pp. And yet, Ilan Pappe unveils, one such crime has been erased from the global public memory: the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in But why is it.

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It is nearly 30 years since Jimmy Carter made his great contribution to the cause of peace in the Middle East: Carter is older and perhaps wiser than the president who doggedly brought Anwar Sadat and Menachem Cleasing together at Camp David inthough the “autonomy” tacked on to the “separate peace” excoriated by most other Arabs never went anywhere.

Still, power to collect garbage and exterminate mosquitoes under Israeli occupation was never going to be enough for the Palestinians.

The intifadas of and were terrible reminders of the price of stagnation: Peace Not Apartheid tells us little that is new or especially insightful to Arabs, Israelis or Europeans. But Carter challenges decades of mainstream American thinking to argue forcefully that Israel is an ally that has been far too palesfine protected by US power as it has continued occupying Arab territory, notwithstanding its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in This view is hardly inflammatory and certainly not anti-semitic, as some of his harsher critics claim.

Most of what he says is the stuff of everyday debate on the left and centre in Israel itself and is winning converts among some Jews elsewhere. Controversy about the book flows largely from the word ethbic in the title: In the West Bank, with its confiscated land, unequal allocation of water resources, fortress-like settlements, security fence and segregated roads, it is fitting enough.

No one who has seen subjugated Palestinians struggling with everyday life alongside armed Palestinee settlers can quarrel with it. Carter implies that South African-type pariahdom will follow if the conflict is not justly and swiftly resolved – though that would have been a lot easier to achieve in Nowadays Israelis and Jews worry about ;appe de-legitimation of their state, especially as the rise of the Pqppe Hamas has revived anxieties about recognition that the PLO had resolved.

The ranting of a Holocaust-denying Iranian leader pursuing nuclear weapons doesn’t help. The answer is to go back to first principles: Historical interpretation and contemporary controversy coexist even more explosively in a new book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. Pape had been going on since the previous November when the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. By May 15, when the British mandate ended and Israel declared its independence,Palestinians had already become refugees.


By the end of the year there were ,plus. Few ever returned to homes taken over by Israelis in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, or blown up and bulldozed in hundreds of villages. Pappe, dthnic revisionists’ revisionist, identifies that March meeting as the start of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” – a term coined in Yugoslavia in the s but foreshadowed in Hebrew usage at the time. For him it was the result of a Zionist ideology whose “wordless wish” was for the Palestinians to disappear to make way for the Jewish state.

Israel’s “war of independence” or “liberation” was the Palestinians’ nakba – ehhnic. Pappe takes issue with fellow scholar Benny Morris, pioneer of the “new” history that has supplanted the rose-tinted version of the birth of Israel in which intransigent Arabs were largely the authors of their own misfortune.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine – Wikipedia

If Morris undermined the foundations of the old myths and smashed large parts of the walls, Pappe brings the roof crashing down: Emphasis apart, it is hard to say what is new in his account. The scheme discussed at the Tel Aviv meeting, Plan Dalet, has been known about for years. It has long been clear that the Palestinians were not, as used to be claimed, encouraged to leave their homes “temporarily” by Arab leaders. The fledgling Israeli state was not invaded, as the old David and Goliath narrative goes, by five Arab armies.

Egypt attacked in the south and Jordanian and Iraqi troops entered the territory allotted to the Palestinians by the UN. Ethnic cleansing in Palestine is Israel’s “original sin” laid bare – but without any mitigating circumstances. Rare exceptions in a catalogue of intimidation, expulsion and atrocity include the Jewish mayor of Haifa appealing to the city’s Ikan to stay, despite attacks by Haganah forces.

Nazareth’s Christian Arabs were spared because Ben-Gurion realised that the outside world would not tolerate cleanslng removal.

Pappe follows writers such as Meron Benvenisti who have documented the post-war cover-up: He fights the “power of deletion” over the fate of the Palestinians. But he does historical understanding a disservice by all but ignoring the mood and motives of the Jews, so soon after the end of a war in which six million had been exterminated by the Nazis. Ben-Gurion’s public rhetoric about the dangers of annihilation or a second Holocaust, Fo argues, was matched by private confidence about the outcome of an unequal fight.

That does not mean the ipan of the Holocaust can be airbrushed out of the story. The Jews were fighting, as they saw it, with their backs to the wall, for survival. To ignore that perception – a huge factor in western sympathy for Israel in and palestiine so long afterwards – is to misrepresent reality.


Pappe’s Israel is the “last post-colonial European enclave in the Arab world”.

It is true that Zionist settlers did act in many ways like French pieds noirs in Algeria or Brits in Rhodesia. But most wanted to replace rather than exploit the natives. The immigrants who began arriving in the late s, pzppe numbers peaking in with 60, mostly German Jews, were invariably fleeing discrimination, pogroms or, afterworse.

Few were leaving good lives or moving to a classic colony. It is not sufficient, in other words, to subsume Zionism into the wider narrative of colonialism, though that specificity made no difference to the final outcome – the near-eradication of Arab Palestine.

Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian historian, lingers perceptively on this absolutely vital point: Zionism simultaneously oppressed the Palestinians and represented a movement of national liberation for the Jews – and has produced a new people speaking their own language, living in a country called Israel.

It is not a question of whether Arabs or anyone else find that paradox palatable or just.

Divided loyalties

It is that this important story, then as now, doesn’t make any sense without grasping it. Khalidi, tackling “historical amnesia”, brilliantly analyses the structural handicap which hobbled the Palestinians throughout 30 years of British rule so that by the time the last high commissioner sailed away in they could neither accommodate nor successfully resist the Jews.

This inbalance was constant: Auden might have been anticipating the fate of the Palestinians in when he wrote in his great poem, “Spain”, that “History to the defeated may say alas but cannot help or pardon. Khalidi restores the Palestinians etnic something more than victims, acknowledging that for all their disadvantages, they have played their role ;alestine can and must still do so to determine their own fate.

The lesson of these books – and the drearily familiar row over Carter’s – is that in Israel and Palestine the past is still far from being another country.

It will always be hard to change that. But independence and freedom for the Palestinians is the only way it ever will.