A new book by Thomas Suarez (‘State of Terror – How terrorism created modern Israel’) was presented and discussed at SOAS Palestine Society on 3 November.
I have now read the book. It is 328 pages of unremitting vilification of Israel, covering the period from early in the 20th century up to the Suez Crisis in 1956, with a final chapter covering selective subsequent events. There is a brief mention of Arab terror attacks in the Introduction (‘Palestinians also committed terror attacks, and this book’s focus on Zionist terror must never be misinterpreted as excusing Palestinian violence against civilians’). But that is all we get about Arab terror. No mention of the Hebron massacre of 1929 which left 67 Jews dead; no mention of Haj Amin al-Husseini’s meetings with Hitler to try to persuade him to extend his anti-Jewish campaign into Arab lands.
The book is so biased and contains so many untruths, distorted quotes and unsubstantiated allegations, that one must conclude that it would never have seen the light of day, were it not for the fact that the publisher is Karl Sabbagh’s new company. (Sabbagh thinks Israel is responsible for global anti-Semitism. He spoke at the meeting last month in Parliament hosted by Tonge (as a result of which she quit the Lib Dems (before she could be expelled))).
The publisher’s website says: “This book has been turned down by a number of publishers because of the sensitivity of its subject matter”. The innuendo being: ‘Zionists in the publishing industry tried to suppress the book’. The truth – surely – is that no mainstream publisher wanted to risk publishing such a shoddy and biased distortion of the truth.
Another clue to the true nature of the book is provided by the bibliography and the names mentioned in the endnotes (680 of them). The anti-Israel industry has a number of names who inevitably feature and most of them appear in this book: Amira Hass, Joseph Massad, Chris McGreal, Lenny Brenner, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Uri Davis, David Hirst, Ghada Karmi, Ilan Pappe, John Rose, Shlomo Sand and Avi Shlaim. (In an incestuous mockery of scholarship, these anti-Israel authors quote and feed off each other incessantly).
What are the most egregious falsehoods and distortions in the book? I list these in the order in which they appear.
First, the description of Deir Yassin. Suarez fails to mention that residents and foreign troops opened fire on the attackers. Dr. Uri Milstein has written that Deir Yassin was hardly a peaceful village. Arab attacks against Jewish transportation in western Jerusalem emanated from Deir Yassin in 1948 and it was therefore necessary to take measures to take over the village.
Page 10: Endnote #8 suggests that Weizmann said ‘Arabs are inferior people and do not deserve a vote’. No source is given.
Page 13: Suarez writes ‘UN Resolution 181 can fairly be described as a scam’. No evidence is offered for this statement – simply an assertion that ‘no Israeli leader had any intention of honouring Partition’.
Pages 15/16: Suarez states that ‘Gazan fishermen are killed for fishing in their own waters and Gazan farmers blown up for farming their own soils.’ No evidence is provided – because it isn’t true.
Page 25: Suarez writes that ‘Israel wields ‘the Jewish state’ as a talisman fending off censure: critics hesitate to fire accusatory words at such a state for fear of hitting this three-word human shield, alleged to be the embodiment of Jews and Judaism, that the state holds out in front.’ This is patently not true. The accusation that critics of Israel are deterred by the possibility of being accused of being antisemitic is a time-worn device beloved of antisemites. None of them can ever give an example of a supporter of Israel misusing the charge of antisemitism in this way.
Page 27: Suarez suggests that the World Zionist Organisation refused to participate in the 1938 Evian conference for resettling refugees, because it was not predicated on a Zionist State in Palestine. That is not true. The WZO was not invited – the conference was for states only.
Page 28: Suarez says that Ben Gurion argued that rather than seeing all the Jewish children in Germany escape to England, it was better that half of them should be slaughtered by the Nazis if that meant that the other half could go to Palestine. Endnote #24 has the precise quote. It is a hugely offensive canard, as camera.org has explained – deriving from taking a single quote out of context and ignoring other comments made by Ben Gurion that directly contradict this interpretation.
Page 28: Suarez claims that ‘Jewish orphans …. became targets of a formal kidnapping campaign launched to snatch them from their adoptive European homes to ship them to Palestine as demographic facts-on-the-ground.’ There is no evidence for this blatantly antisemitic assertion. Similarly for the claim (same page) that ‘When in 1944 President Roosevelt provisionally secured safe haven for a half million Displaced Persons, outraged Zionist leaders sabotaged it.’ And for the similar claim on page 48: “rescue for its own sake was never part of Jewish Agency policy”.
Page 68: Suarez recounts the story of the Patria. The Patria was a ship that was ordered by the British in 1940 to take back Jews fleeing Europe. The Haganah wanted to damage the ship so that it could not sail. Unfortunately the operation went wrong and 267 people died and 172 were injured. But Suarez simply suggests that Jewish terrorists blew up the ship, without relating the context. And then he suggests that there was a ’cover-up’by the Israeli government which suggested that the passengers committed suicide, rather than being taken back to Europe. Again – no evidence.
Page 78: Suarez writes ‘The Jewish Agency maintained its opposition to Jews joining the Allied struggle against the Nazis’. There is no evidence for this.
Page 79: Suarez quotes Henry Hunloke, Defence Security Officer in Palestine, who reported ‘mutilated bodies are found with labels tied to them saying ‘This is what happens to an informer’.’ Hunloke also reportedly said that the Jewish Agency stirred up antisemitism, in order to force Jews … to come to Palestine. Both statements are accepted without question even though there is no evidence of either from any other source.
Page 120: Suarez asserts that to address the (supposed) ‘problem’ of the displaced Jews not wanting to go to Palestine, ‘a triple campaign was waged: the forceful isolation and coercion of the survivors themselves, the sabotage of international safe havens for them and the kidnapping of Jewish orphans.’ His assertion about the coercion of Displaced Persons relies on a book by Yosef Grodzinsky (‘In the Shadow of the Holocaust’). But many Displaced Persons have challenged the assertions in that book, see Elhanan Yakira (‘Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust’). Grodzinsky is also the source for the lie proposed by Suarez, that Chief Rabbi Herzog ‘kidnapped’ Jewish orphans in Europe after the War.
Page 211: Suarez asserts that the State of Israel systematically stole German reparation money intended for survivors who continued to live in poverty. The source for this is Norman Finkelstein (‘The Holocaust Industry’) – a book which has no credibility whatsoever.
Page 257: It is stated that the Jewish Agency opposed the Marshall Plan because it would have made the lives of Jews in Europe more comfortable. This is unsubstantiated nonsense.
Page 276: Suarez quotes from Israel Archives, saying that the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the fleeing of Arabs would reduce the refugees to “a human heap, the scum of the earth”. But Suarez does not tell us who said it. It is perfectly possible that the Foreign Ministry kept a record of a statement made by someone not connected with government.
Page 282: Suarez suggests that Israel destroyed the Iraqi Jewish community and blocked other countries from helping Jews who wanted to leave Iraq. Neither is true. Iraq destroyed the Iraqi Jewish Community, in the Farhud in 1941.
Page 286: Suarez says that ‘Israel kidnapped Mizrahi newborns, giving the babies to Ashkenazi couples and telling the children’s parents that the child had died. This practice persisted at least through Israel’s first decade. The final cynical irony of Israel’s uprooting of Middle Eastern and North African Jews from their homelands is that the state now uses it as a racial ‘settling of scores’ for its own ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.’ There was never a conspiracy to kidnap Mizrahi babies. This trope is sourced by Suarez from Jonathan Cook – who of course has a history of anti-Israel falsehoods and bigotry.
Page 286: Suarez suggest that UN Resolution 194 gave unqualified right to Arab refugees to return home. That is plain wrong.
Page 291: Suarez cites Chris McGreal in support of a story about the rape of a Palestinian woman. Chris McGreal again has a history of false reports that traduce Israel. He achieved the rare distinction of being singled out by the CST (the British charity that protects the Jewish community) in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse.
The back cover of the book has two endorsements.
Ilan Pappe: ‘A tour de force, based on diligent archival research that looks boldly at the impact of Zionism in Palestine and its people in the first part of the 20th century. The book is the first comprehensive and structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel against the people of Palestine. Much of the suffering we witness today can be explained by, and connected to, this formative period covered thoroughly in this book.’
Baroness Jenny Tonge: ‘I thought I knew a fair bit about the Middle East after all the years I’ve been involved in its politics but this book came as an eye-opener. I realised how ignorant I was, not of the events leading up to the establishment of Israel but of the terror campaign that led up to it. Everyone who has ever accepted Israel’s account of its own history should read this book and hear the truth. It should change them forever.’
Such uncritical sycophancy is really a disgrace. Tonge and Pappe should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Of course they are not – and that is a massive part of the problem. In particular the fact that Pappe is entrusted to teach students is positively chilling.