A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in the NY Times by Palestinian president Abbas. I was troubled by it because, having done the research for “O Jerusalem” by Larry Collins and Dominque Lapierre, I was familiar with the events of 1948 and frankly felt the article was self- serving and not factual. So I am thankful that Prof. Shlomo Avineri took it on to separate truth from “narrative,” in this Ha’aretz op-ed:
…. it is a fact, not a “narrative” — that in 1947, the Zionist movement accepted the United Nations partition plan, whereas the Arab side rejected it and went to war against it. A decision to go to war has consequences….
The importance of this distinction becomes clear upon perusing the op-ed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently published in The New York Times. Abbas mentioned the partition decision in his article, but said not one single word about the facts — who accepted it and who rejected it. He merely wrote that “Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs.”
That is like those Germans who talk about the horrors of the expulsion of 12 million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe after 1945, but fail to mention the Nazi attack on Poland, or the Japanese who talk about Hiroshima, but fail to mention their attack on Pearl Harbor. That is not a “narrative,” it is simply not telling the truth. Effects cannot be divorced from causes.
The pain of the other should be understood and respected, and attempts to prevent Palestinians from mentioning the Nakba are foolish and immoral….
But just as nobody, even in German schools, would dream of teaching the German “narrative” regarding World War II, the 1948 war should also not be taught as a battle between narratives. In the final analysis, there is a historical truth. And without ignoring the suffering of the other, that is how such sensitive issues must be taught.
One can read Avineri’s entire article online here:
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-truth-should-be-taught-about-the-1948-war-1.368167. Please click on this link, or copy and paste the address into a browser window.
Lilly’s comparisons of Arab actions in 1948 with actions by Nazi Germany and Japan’s attack by Pearl Harbor, etc. are absurdly and frighteningly out of line.
She also seems unaware that Zionst groups were carrying out attacks on Palestinians throughout the period, regardless of whether the Zionist movement claimed to accept the partition or not. She fails to mention the fundamental injustice of the partition plan as well as credible analysts who suggest that the Zionist movement’s acceptance of partition may well have been with the full intention of finding ways to take additional land beyond the partition lines (which it eventually did, of course).
In short Lilly is guilty of what she accuses Abbas of, propagating a narrative here without recognizing facts that contradict her preferred narrative.
Her earlier comments on Yale’s anti-semitism institute reflect a similarly hysterical tone (see my comment on that:
One has to wonder, if these types of views reflect those of the leadership in the pro-Israel “left,” what hope is there of Israel reforming itself?
It isn’t Lilly’s analysis per se that Ted is arguing with here, but that of Dr. Shlomo Avineri, a renowned scholar. Ted is welcome to deny the historical fact that the Arab rejection of the UN’s partition plan, and especially the serious military efforts–first by Palestinian irregulars and then of outside Arab armies–to destroy Palestine’s Jewish community in 1948, led to the Palestinian Nakba.
You describe Avineri as a renowned scholar. Others familiar with his body of work might beg to differ. Personally, I’d call go far as to call him a “hack.”
I may have misunderstood what was Lilly’s writing and waht was Aviner’s. it’s not clearly difefrentiated. Nonetheless, she endorsed his views.
You did not acknowledge any of the substance of my comments:
-Lilly/Avineri compare Arab actions in 1948 with actions by Nazi Germany and Japan’s attack by Pearl Harbor. A bit much, no?
-Zionst groups were carrying out attacks on Palestinians throughout the period, regardless of whether the Zionist movement claimed to accept the partition or not.
-Lilly/Avineri fail to acknowledge what some view as the fundamental injustice of the partition plan (%s of land for relative population) as well as credible analysts who suggest that the Zionist movement’s acceptance of partition may well have been with the full intention of finding ways to take additional land beyond the partition lines (which it eventually did, of course).
-In a previous post, Lilly backed the hypothesis that Yale was closing the Anti-semitism institute due to pressure from Arab donors. She failed to acknowledge any of the excesses of the institute, that were noted by many, including way out there topics addressed at its last conference. She embarassingly took the side of the right-wingers against many progressive and respected Yale staff who found the institute problematic. The JTA article she cites suggests that criticism of Yale by Iran was an important factor inclising the institute. Again, a bit much no, and more irrefutably now that we see Yale has opened a new program to replace it and to address the weaknesses.
All in all, a lot of over the top assertions coming from the pro-Israel “left.”