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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 11, 2003

The Rejection

Benny Morris, the well-known left-wing Israeli historian, who claims to have changed much of his thinking since the outbreak of the Intifada, has a lengthy but fascinating article in the new issue of The New Republic (free registration required). In it, Morris discusses the book The Palestinian People: A History by Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, his own views of the current conflict and the history of Palestinian nationalism and how it has forged current Palestinian rejectionism of Israel's existence. Some of his revelations will startle those who are famillair with his earlier work. An excerpt:
Palestinian behavior during the past three years has provided the unhappy ground for a serious re-examination of my own political assumptions. But, to be completely candid, it is not just the experience of the past three years that has provoked this reconsideration. I have spent the past twenty years studying the hundred years of Zionist-Palestinian conflict. At first I focused on the revolutionary events of 1948. Later I began to study the decades before and after the establishment of Israel—and this research, in conjunction with recent events, has left me profoundly unhopeful.

I have come away from my examination of the history of the conflict with a sense of the instinctive rejectionism that runs like a dark thread through Palestinian history— a rejection, to the point of absurdity, of the history of the Jewish link to the land of Israel; a rejection of the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Palestine; a rejection of the right of the Jewish state to exist. And, worse, this rejectionism has over the decades been leavened by a healthy dose of anti-Semitism, a perception of the Jew as God's and humanity's unchosen.
Read it all.