Let me first make this clear: I oppose this Gaza war and am heartsick over the images of mass suffering conveyed from the scene. This post is on how a historian is not to be trusted as a commentator. The extreme formulations on current policy that have come from historian Benny Morris on nuking Iran or on the prospects for peace, are not the only instances of a good historian gone bad in commenting on current events.
To Oxford University Professor Avi Shlaim, in his commentary piece that I’m linking to in the UK Guardian, it’s Hamas that is moderate and reasonable, and Israel that is never other than unscrupulous in what it does. So he rightfully rails against the settlements in the Gaza Strip, but barely mentions that they are no longer there, and completely credits Hamas for their evacuation. As we of the Zionist peace camp said at the time and after, it was the unilateral nature of Sharon’s “disengagement” policy that gave Hamas a propaganda victory – one which Shlaim both buys and now propagates.