Micah Ben David Naziri
Ha'Shem is a Verb.

New Historians and the Defection of Benny Morris

For over two decades the name Benny Morris has been synonymous with the New Historiography in Israeli Academia. Having not shied away from this designation or many of the positions associated with it, this New Historian has in recent years magnetized towards the pole (and pull), of more right wing politics. The conclusions he espouses today, many would have imagined him having opposed in years past. This article argues that Morris’s shift in views is an outgrowth of a fundamental flaw in the Israeli New Historiography; a tear in the very fabric of intellectual consistency that must be mended if this generally positive academic trend is to be salvaged. The article will peripherally address the sociological bubble of Israeli Academia as it relates to the inevitability of Benny Morris’ “defection.” It will also explore briefly some points of fixation that seem to have gravitated Morris to the political right since the Second Intifada, and which similarly caution even such dedicated supporters of the Palestinian people as Norman Finkelstein.

Before confronting the above, a bibliographic review of the New Historians, as well as a look at the major historiographical debates that Israeli historians, Old and New, must be examined. The works of a few prominent writers, such as those “founding” New Historians cited by Morris, notably Pappé and Shlaim, as well as new faces like Hillel Cohen, will be surveyed. We will further look at how this work is helping to form a composite sketch of history and how it is approximating a realistic middle ground between Israel and the Palestinians. Divergent ideas, such as a One-State versus Two-State solution, and those who advance them, will be examined, as will the contention concerning a “transfer policy.”

Founding New Historian Benny Morris[1] has unequivocally denies an Israeli transfer policy. He acknowledges that certain events occurred but denies that they occurred as a matter of Israeli policy. Yet Morris is far from uncritical of Israel. As a historian, he purports utter neutrality in documenting his finding

In his ground breaking book, 1948, Morris seems to argue quite fervently against not only a traditional Israeli founding myth of the war, but also from a highly critical moral standpoint. Not restricted to this work, the New Historiography and its wave of Historiocritical Israeli scholars would in many ways focus their work on a reexamination of the 1947-9 wars in Palestine, which gave birth both to the Israeli nation and to its founding myth.

Morris who coined the term, “New Historian” was born in a Kibbutz in the year of Israel’s statehood. Morris’s work focuses in particular on the catalysts for the flight and in some cases expulsion of Palestinians that same year. Eschewing the designation of “Post-Zionist” that generally fits with other New Historians, Morris writes, “I embarked upon the research not out of ideological commitment or political interest. I simply wanted to know what happened.”[2]

The “Old Historians,” Morris argues, lived through the founding of the Israeli state as deeply invested adult participants in the epic of the Jewish commonwealth that became the founding myth. For this reason they were unable to separate their lives from this historical event, unable to regard impartially and objectively the processes that they later claimed to document; Morris notes that the “Old Historians,” have written largely on the basis of interviews and memoirs and at best made use of select batches of documents, many of them censored.[3] To this end, Benny Morris has argued that the Old Historians are not really historians at all, in reality manufacturing nothing short of propaganda.[4]

Refusing to serve in the West bank as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1967 war, Morris would do a brief stint in prison.[5] Today he makes a clear distinction between serving in the military during one era from that of another; seeing the IDF response to the Second Intifada as completely justified. This is only one of many positions of Morris that seem to have quickly taken a turn towards the far right since the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Today I would definitely criticize those who refuse to serve in the army or do stints of reserve duty in the occupied or semi-occupied territories, and this is in the wake of the second intifada. During the First Intifada when I actually refused to serve and went to jail for a while, my feeling was that the Israeli occupation was being challenged by basically non-lethal rebellion by people who wanted to get the military government off their backs and that was their aim, to liberate the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from Israeli rule. The Second Intifada, which broke out in the year 2000, had this as one of its purposes, but its main purpose, in my eyes was the ultimate defeat and destruction of Israel… so I think it’s not comparable… refusal in the two Intifadas.[6]

Another New Historian, on the other end of the political spectrum, Ilan Pappé, is one of the more controversial. Pappé originally named by Morris as one of the “founding” New Historians, along with other scholars which we shall soon discuss. As Morris grew more undeniably conservative, his old friend Pappé became the target of much of Morris’s personal ideological revision. In a review of Pappé’s work A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Morris writes:

Ilan Pappe and I walked a stretch together in uneasy companionship, but we have now parted ways. In the late 1980s and early 1990s we belonged to a group dubbed the “New Historians” of Israel, which also included Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev. This group, contrary to the conspiratorial image projected by our critics, was never a close-knit or monolithic school of intellectuals who plotted together around the table at Friday-night meals. Some of us barely knew one another.

We see much of the controversy surrounding Pappé related to his references to the controversial Master’s Thesis on the fate of the Palestinian coastal village Tantura, by University of Haifa student Teddy Katz.[7] Katz is himself a self-professed Zionist. Pappé, however, stands as one of the most truly bi-partisan of New Historians. Whereas Morris is denounced by both Pro-Arabs and conservative Israelis alike, Pappé has received praise from both Israeli New Historians and Arab (and Pro-Arab), scholars alike.

Pappé blames the state of Israel for turmoil in the Middle East. Indicating his unyielding support for the Palestinian people, Pappé initiated the annual Israeli Right of return conferences. The conferences called for the unconditional right of return of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948:

If it is possible Israel’s conduct in 1948 would be brought onto the stage of international tribunals; this may deliver a message even to the peace camp in Israel that reconciliation entails recognition of war crimes and collective atrocities. This cannot be done from within, as any reference in the Israeli press to expulsion, massacre or destruction in 1948 is usually denied and attributed to self hate and service to the enemy in times of war. This reaction encompasses academia, the media and educational system, as well as political circles.”[8]

Indicative of his far left leaning politics, in 1999, Pappé ran in the Knesset elections as seventh on the Communist Party-led Hadash list.[9] He is also a prominent supporter of the One State Solution envisaging one state for Palestinians and Israelis,[10] a position which Morris now views as increasingly implausible and even undesirable. Makes a robust, though unconvincing case against a one-state solution, Morris says:

There isn’t any answer… Maybe the Palestinian Arab entity, unified with the current state of Jordan, Transjordan, would have a large land mass, a lot of empty space, Palestinian expansionist ambitions and demography… would have room to play in. This might make sense… with an Israel with its 1949 borders.[11]

Admitting that the road to get there would be difficult and Jordanian compliance would be unlikely, Morris pessimistically surmises this “would probably be it,” if a solution was to be plausible. This is one of many issues that pit Morris and Pappé at odds with one another today, not so much showing the diversity of thought amongst the New Historians (which, to an extent, perhaps it does), as it highlights the latent thinking of Morris over the years. In many ways epitomizing his opposition to many of Morris’s ideas, Pappé work, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, places him clearly on the side of the Palestinians in the debate over an Israeli transfer policy. Like Katz, whom Pappé vocally supported, he believes a governmental policy is undeniable. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an impromptu basis, as Old Historians and Morris alike have argued, but instead constituted a deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestine. To this end, Pappé cites accordance of his analysis with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s soon to be leaders.[12] Before he left Israel in 2008,[13] Pappé had been condemned even in the Knesset, having called for an international boycott of Israeli Universities.[14] Pappé justified the boycotts reasoning:

The Israeli occupation is a dynamic process and it becomes worse with each passing day. The AUT can choose to stand by and do nothing, or to be part of a historical movement similar to the anti-apartheid campaign against the white supremacist regime in South Africa. By choosing the latter, it can move us forward along the only remaining viable and non-violent road to saving both Palestinians and Israelis from an impending catastrophe.[15]

Another of those founding “New Historians” originally cited by Morris in coining the term, Avi Shlaim was as an outside examiner on the doctoral thesis of Ilan Pappé.[16] Shlaim was born to Jewish parents in Baghdad, Iraq, who emigrated shortly thereafter to Israel. After studying as a teenager in England, he moved back to Israel in the mid-60s. He served in the Israel Defense Forces, though finally returned to England a year before the approaching war. He regularly contributes to The Guardian newspaper, and signed an open letter in January 2009 to the same publication condemning Israel’s military incursion in Gaza.[17]

Shlaim’s interest in the Israeli Historiography began in 1982, when Israeli government archives from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War were opened.[18] Avi Shlaim writes:

The upsurge of new histories would not have been possible without the declassification of the official government documents. Israel adopted the British thirty-year rule for the review and declassification of foreign policy documents. If this rule is not applied by Israel as systematically as it is in Britain, it is applied rather more liberally.[19]

The bulk of primary source material for the New Historiography comes from Israeli government papers. Over-reliance on these primary sources, however, is part of the criticism that they are utilized largely to the exclusion of `Arab documents by New Historians, who while composing a less biased account, do not know the whole story. Avi Shlaim defends that this is because parallel archives are simply not available from such sources.[20]

However, former director of the Arab Affairs Department of the left-wing Mapam Party, and editor of the monthly New Outlook, Simcha Flapan (1911 – 1987), revealed that there is more to the story than some in this camp are comfortable admitting:

The myths that Israel forged during the formation of the state of all an account of what happened behind the scenes on the Arab side, is possible without access to the Arab state archives. But difficulty should not be construed as impossibility. In the first place, some official Arab documents are available. A prime example is the report of the Iraqi parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Palestine question, which is packed with high-level documents. Another example is the collection of official, semiofficial, and private papers gathered by the Institute for Palestine Studies. In addition, there is a far from negligible literature in Arabic that consists of firsthand accounts of the disaster, including the diaries and memoirs of prominent politicians and soldiers.[21]

Flapan, best known for his book The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, published the year he died, and posthumously designated a New Historian (though he was of the generation previous which had not yet identified such historical critics by this label). Flapan commented that a historian of the Medieval period would be “green with envy” over such an abundance of sources, which introduces us to the inconsistencies – very much related to the matter of Morris’s conservativization – borne of the Israeli social bubble of the New Historiography. Israeli New Historians, in many cases are trapped within their own social perspective. Arabs whom they know and interact with (if any) tend to be academic elites. In Morris’s case, it is difficult to imagine him having dinner with any Arab family, particularly when we consider his more recent conservative turn, and unapologetic over-generalizations.

Morris’s primary historical hang-ups are often quite legitimate, though the conclusions and prejudices he draws from them (or finds support for in them), are not. Though a full treatment of these issues point by point is far beyond the scope of this analysis, it is worth noting that two matters that rise to the surface of contention are the series of pogroms, as Morris terms them, typified by the Hebron massacre in 1929, and the Nazi collaboration of the Grandmufti, Amin Al-Husseini. These are particularly focused on in his latest book. Such contentions are hardly a conservative fixation, or exaggeration of facts. Even unequivocal Jewish supporters of Palestinian equal rights, such as Norman Finkelstein, have in recent years, grown increasingly burdened by the Husseini-Nazi connection in Palestine (directly resulting in the aforementioned Hebron massacre), Iraq, even Berlin (1941-5), to Egypt. While treatment of this issue as well is beyond the scope of this discussion, it is an issue that we will see reoccurring with various individuals discussed here; most notably Morris and Finkelstein.

Whereas Morris seems more drawn to fixation on this negative Palestinian example, which from a Jewish perspective is easy enough to do, other New Historians have instead accentuated the Nashashibi counterexample.[22] One such scholar is Hillel Cohen, who became known to many Westerners with the publication, last year, of his English edition Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948.[23]

Again, demonstrating the interrelation of New Historians which Morris now seems to shrink from, Cohen collaborated with Morris in the past, going through Palestine’s Arabic newspapers from 1947 to 1948 for Morris’s writing of 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.[24] Cohen’s popular Hebrew work Kikar Ha’Shuk Reka (The Marketplace is Empty), focuses particularly on East Jerusalem, enriched by his years as a correspondent for the Israeli weekly Kol Ha’ir. The Jerusalem Post has commended his works for managing “to show empathy when relating human issues,” while maintaining a “professional distance.”[25]

Another member of the press, Tom Śegev is a columnist for Ha’Aretz newspaper. He studied History and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned a doctorate in History from Boston University. This academic combination of History and Political Science appears to be key in unlocking an evenly-reasoned perspective, which takes into consideration socio-political factors that a study of history alone might not be guaranteed to illuminate. Śegev has authored two classic works on Israeli history, 1949: The First Israelis and The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust.

Śegev’s The Seventh Million, achieved a lauding Los Angeles Times review by the likes of Elie Wiesel, who describes it as “Richly documented and written with great passion.” Śegev argues against the Israeli founding mythology, saying that during the 1930s and 40s Jews in Palestine were more interested in creating a Jewish state than actually saving Jews in Europe. Detailing a scathing critiques of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, Śegev writes:

Ben-Gurion identified rescue almost exclusively with immigration to Palestine and realized that there was no chance of saving many this way… He frequently said that ‘everything should be done’ to save the Jews but sounded much like the newspaper editorials on the subject. “I was not well-informed at the time in the matter of saving Jews under Nazi occupation,” he later wrote. “Although I was then chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, the enlistment of the Jewish people in the demand for a Jewish state was at the center of my activity.”[26]

In some ways pessimistic, Śegev contends in One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, that violent conflict between Jewish and Arab nationalism was inevitable, as “from the start there were, then, only two possibilities: that the Arabs defeat the Zionists or that the Zionists defeat the Arabs. War between the two was inevitable.”[27] While pessimistic, his critique is certainly true. Nationalism, whether Jewish or Arab, itself makes harmonizing two unofficial states on the same land an impossibility. In part, Morris’s latest book would emerge as a counter-thesis to Śegev’s promotion of a One-State possibility.

More controversially, Śegev has argued that the British were pro-Zionist, and that British Zionism was rooted in a bizarre modern Christian-influenced perspective that the Jewish people “turned the wheels of history,” a view which Śegev finds patronizing and even racist. On the issue of transfer, Śegev contends in 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East, that Israel considered deporting local Arabs to Iraq when the war was over as part of a continuation of an early transfer policy in the wars of 1947-9.

The tragedy of the Arab refugees from Palestine was a product of the Zionist principle of separation and the dream of population transfer. The tragedy was inevitable, just as the war itself was inevitable. The number of refugees reached approximately 750,000. Some planned their departure, some fled, and about half were expelled.[28]

Though the “Baghdad Plan” was never implemented, Śegev’s turn towards the subject of an official Israeli transfer policy comprises one of the foremost concerns of the New Historian movement, and another point of departure we find consistently in the works of Morris (though not just recent ones).

The Debate Between Morris and Pappé, and the Broader Right-Wing Opposition

As indicated by our survey, one of the most vocal proponents of Palestinian human rights is the aforementioned Ilan Pappé. In critique of Pappé’s A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Morris tries to dissuade readers, saying that “unfortunately much of what Pappé tries to sell his readers is complete fabrication.” Morris asserts that the work is “awash with errors of a quantity and a quality that are not found in serious historiography… The multiplicity of mistakes on each page is a product of both Pappé’s historical methodology and his political proclivities.”[29]

In a humble reply, Pappé acknowledged that his books as well as Morris’s, and all works attempting to chronicle history, will inherently contain some degree of mistakes and errors.

We should all try and minimize them to note, I agree. Very few of us succeed and one can only hope to become perfect in the next work—which has not as yet been written. … They should not however be pointed out as part of an ideology or a basis for ad hominem attack. Worse, a reviewer is not allowed to lie openly about them as Morris does.[30]

Nevertheless, Pappé and indeed all New Historians would find far bigger problems in the biased rhetoric of Efraim Karsh. Often regarded as the most vocal critic of the New Historians, Karsh manages to ralley Morris to defense. Unquestioning in his support for all things Zionist, and dismissed by Dr. Anthony Toth as “polemical,”[31] Karsh is difficult to take seriously as a scholar. His criticism of Pappé goes deeper than Morris’s dispute over details and the motivation behind Palestinian transfer.[32] One need look no further than Karsh’s total denial of the Tantura massacre to see that Karsh is unmoved by facts which do not serve his political agenda.

Readers [of Pappé’s works] are told of events that never happened, such as the nonexistent May 1948 Tantura “massacre” or the expulsion of Arabs within twelve days of the partition resolution. They learn of political decisions that were never made, such as the Anglo-French 1912 plan for the occupation of Palestine or the contriving of ‘a master plan to rid the future Jewish state of as many Palestinians as possible. And they are misinformed about military and political developments, such as the rationale for the Balfour declaration…[33]

Karsh’s real opposition lies in his role as a colonial apologist, or as Pappé elicits, because he “has taken upon himself the mantle of spokesperson” in the unquestioning defense of the Israeli national myth. Pappé rationally argued that anyone so committed to a national narrative is incapable of accepting the counter-narrative, regardless of whether or not it is accurate.[34] Pappé explains that his own works are “written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.”[35]

This sort of bias that we find with Karsh is evident in all opposition to the New Historians in general, and to Pappé specifically, from the political Right. Michael Oren, author of Six Days of War, and currently Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., attacked Śegev’s book on the Six Day War, saying that, “Śegev [is forced] not only to contradict himself but also to commit glaring oversights.” Oren further claims that “…by disregarding the Arab dynamic and twisting his text to meet a revisionist agenda, he undermines his attempt to reach a deeper understanding of the war.”[36] Alluding to the acknowledged importance of such matters, Oren seems delusional in imaging that his own “understanding of the war” somehow brings Arabs and Israelis closer to peace, and a political situation that is actually “good for Jews,” than does the research and openness to a national counter-narrative found in the work of Śegev, and indeed typical of the New Historiography.

Political Zionism and Post-Zionism in History-Making

The “revisionism” known as the “New Historiography;” catalyzed an ideological orientation of “Post-Zionism,” which fits with many even most, but not all New Historians. Yet the range of New Historians continues to be more diverse than this term implies. Critics, such as Pro-Palestinian Historiographers, Norman Finkelstein and Nur Masalha, have repeated critiqued the “New Historian” movement and Benny Morris specifically for their academic isolation. The New Historians, they argue, are in many ways like Israel itself, barricaded within a self erected wall, an socio-political bubble of Jewish nationalism and segregation. Turning Morris’s contention with Pappé back on himself, Finkelstein and Masalha argue that in denouncing Israeli crimes he has been stopped short of even approximating true objectivity, due to infection with a prevailing Israeli bias that so often goes unchallenged.

Before the Nazi Holocaust many Jews regarded political Zionism as a fanciful and unrealistic movement. To this end Śegev writes, in The Seventh Million, that “in the early days of the Reich, when immigration to Palestine was significantly less restricted and it might have been possible to bring over large number of European Jews, most were less than interested in coming; all efforts to persuade them failed.”[37] He writes further “In fact, Zionism suffered its own defeat in the Holocaust; as a movement, it failed. It had not, after all, persuaded the majority of Jews to leave Europe for Palestine while it was still possible to do so. And, in time of need, the Zionist movement was too weak to help them.”[38]

Nur Masalha an Israeli Arab along with Norman Finkelstein, has been critical of Benny Morris’s first publication on the 1948 Palestinian exodus: The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. He, along with Finkelstein, forecasted Morris’s defection, in a way, noting his treatment of the evidence in the Israeli documents uncritically; accepting them as factual, at face value, not taking into account their apologetic nature. We might understand Morris’s defection as an inevitable result of his approach to such documents. It is that very approach that seems to render him incapable of understanding or relating to the Palestinian rage borne of often suppressed or politically spun Israeli actions, not reflected in, nor justified by, released Israeli documents.

Masalha and Finkelstein alike have accused Morris of treating the issue as “a debate amongst Zionists which has little to do with the Palestinians themselves.”[39] Both Finkelstein and Masalha embrace the conclusion that there was in fact a transfer policy, and like liberal New Historians such as Pappé, they have targeted this point of denial with Morris. While acknowledging that Morris had brought to light a vast quantity of previously unknown archival material, Finkelstein and Masalha accused him of presenting the evidence with a marked bias that took a defensive posture towards political Zionism. Finkelstein too asserts that Morris deliberately minimized the number of expulsions, noting that in most cases presented in documents as “military assault on settlement” were actually instances of forced expulsions. Finkelstein, the author of the widely denounced, and yet intriguing Holocaust Industry, and the more recent Beyond Chutzpah, criticizes Morris, saying:

Morris has substituted a new myth, one of the “happy medium” for the old. … [T]he evidence that Morris adduces does not support his temperate conclusions. …[S]pecifically, Morris’s central thesis that the `Arab refugee problem was “born of war, not by design” is belied by his own evidence which shows that Palestine’s `Arabs were expelled systematically and with premeditation.[40]

Finkelstein concludes that Morris’s research was skewed with respect to the evidence presented. When the conclusions are unavoidably harsh for Israel, Morris has tended to spin them less incriminatingly. In reply to Finkelstein and Masalha, Morris answered that he “saw enough material, military and civilian, to obtain an accurate picture of what happened,” from Israeli sources alone. He further countered that Finkelstein and Masalha are conversely guilty of a pro-Palestinian bias, though how this could be argued in the case of Finkelstein is unclear.[41] Morris concludes that the discrepancy is found in his “more narrow and severe” definition of expulsions, maintaining his conclusion that there was no transfer policy.[42]

The Defection of Benny Morris

To some, Morris’s defection was perhaps a decision which some saw coming miles away. Morris had, in his own words, maintained a “more narrow and severe” definition of “expulsion,” even when this was clear to all whose vision had not been obscured by the intoxicants of ethno-nationalism and ideology. Morris does not so much “revise” his own statements following the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada, as he does backpedal and attempt to caste his earlier, more liberal claims in a more conservative, even anti-Arab light.

An avowed political Zionist, we have seen that Morris was always at odds with Pro-Arab scholars both within the New Historian movement and in some cases located just to the left of it, (such as Masalha and Finkelstein). Yet many of his current views, if he held them previously at all, were not clear and he made no direct attempts to clarify before the second Intifada.

In the United States this sort of contradiction is not an uncommon phenomenon with white racism towards the descendants of African slaves in America. The socio-economic woes of the Black Lower Class is directly correlative to the disadvantage not only of centuries of slavery, but of the credit burden immediately imposed upon sharecroppers and other hard working newly freed African Americans who did not have an economic legacy to lean upon in building their new lives.

To the white racist, even the latent white racist who convinces themselves – like Morris – that “it’s not about race,” the socio-economic quagmire of Black Poverty, amidst various government programs to level the playing field begins to look more and more as though the Black Lower Class simply “will not,” or “cannot” take the opportunities afforded to them. For some reason, often inexplicable to the Latent White Racist, suburban whites just seem to “get it,” while the majority of poor blacks won’t try, or are incapable of achieving up to white standards.

Morris follows this exact pattern of uncritical thinking in post-second Intifada interviews. Making extreme, even racist statements and characterizing Arabs as being wholly incapable of “respecting democratic values,” Morris becomes as nonsensical as suggesting Israeli Arabs are somehow innately “worse drivers.” Morris has embarked on a downward spiral which does more to argue against his recent positions, than any rebuttal every could. The Guardian interviewer, Jonathan Freedland even notes the bizarre parallel example, saying “how would this sound if we replaced ‘Black’ with ‘Arab.’”[43] All of these bizarre recent statements have led Baruch Kimmerling to characterize Morris as a “Jewish chauvinist.”[44] Freeland comments in interviewing Morris for the Guardian: “You make some very sweeping generalizations about Palestinians, Arabs, about Muslims. You talk a lot about the word ‘mindset,’ ‘mentality;’ describing the ‘Arab mentality.’ Not the mentality of this leader or that leader but of the entire people.” Morris responded throughout with an eager nodding of the head in affirmation. Citing Morris’s latest book, Freedland evidenced:

The value placed on human life and the rule of secular law is completely different, as exhibited in Israel itself in the vast hiatus between Jewish and Arab perpetration of crimes and lethal road traffic violations. Arabs, to put it simply, proportionately commit far more crimes, and commit far more lethal traffic violations than do Jews. In large measure, this is a function of different human value systems, such as the respect accorded to human life and the rule of law.

“Now that kind of statement,” Freedland explained, “if you took out the words Muslims and Jews and put in, say, black and whites, and were saying ‘Blacks have less respect for human life and accord to the rule of law than white people,’ say in South Africa 20 years ago, people would have said “that’s pseudo-scientific racism.’”

Indeed, Freedland is spot on. One should not imagine Morris to be some sort of sociological authority, nor an expert in Political Science merely due to his authority on matters of history. Indeed, even this matter of his area of expertise does not immunize him against clouded judgment borne of cultural and classist bias. We need look no further than the recent audacious comments on racial superiority from Dr. James Watson, who though responsible for discovering the DNA double-helix has over-looked basic flaws in his reasoning, not taking into account historical, sociological and class-imposition, borne of colonialism and slavery, when analyzing the position and achievements of Africans in Western societies (indeed, even his lack of awareness of many achievements, born out of their under-reporting in mainstream, White-dominated society).[45]

To Freedland’s comments, Morris somewhat predictably defended, “I don’t think it’s racist. We’re talking about facts,” a common defense from any reluctant racist. Morris confounds the listener in what he cites in an effort to justify his new views and rhetoric. For Morris, it is “about police statistics… Israeli Arabs commit twice as many lethal traffic violations as Jews and more than twice as many murders per capita than Jews. You can’t dispute these facts. I’m not saying this is an ‘Arab race.’” However, Morris is more or less saying that this is an Arab race, by suggesting that a more or less homogenous Arab cultural force is unable or unwilling to accept democratic values, which Morris sees as part of a linear sociological evolution, with Western democratic ideals as the capstone of socio-political evolution. That is, for Morris democracy is not an outgrowth of a particularly Western sociological evolution, but an almost cosmic ideal, capable of being transplanted easily into various cultures in parts of the world where this political method did not evolve over the course of millennia. Noting the increasingly deep hole of contradictions which Morris has dug, Freedland notes, “But you are saying that. You said, ‘This goes to their values, that they don’t have respect for the sanctity of human life.’” Morris responded further:

No I don’t think so. It goes to cultural norms, not to race. It has nothing to do with genes; it has to do with the ways people behave within society and outside of their society. I think that there is less respect for human life and the value of human life amongst Palestinian Arabs than amongst Jews. I think their suicide bombings and their cult of suicide bombing shows this. I cannot see Jews committing suicide or trying to kill, indiscriminately, large numbers of Arabs. This is very, very unusual if it has ever occurred and I don’t think it has occurred. Whereas Arabs have done it readily and with the support and enthusiasm of their societies. And this shows something wrong with that society in terms of their cultural and society values.

Though an admirable historian of the Modern Middle East, it would seem that Morris is under-educated in Jewish history and particularly in the Second Temple Era’s Jewish revolutionaries. The official story, in fact, of the Sicarri last stand at Masada, is recorded by Josephus as ending in mass-suicide after several years of resistance. Perhaps he knew this well-known account and it merely slipped his mind that when faced with colonialism, Jews have reacted identically with Palestinians. It was only resultant of Jewish immersion in Western cultures that acclimation to democracy took place in Jewish culture so seamlessly. Morris writes in his latest book, “Palestinian Arabs, like the world’s other Arab communities are deeply religious and have no respect for democratic values.” Defending this position, Morris says to Freedland:

It’s proved by the situation of the Middle East, where there is no Muslim, Arab democratic state. It’s a contradiction in terms. The fact is that the idea of Democracy has been around for thousands of years, or in its modern variety at least hundreds of years and no Arab society has ever taken to it.

Freedland astutely pointed out, the recent Hamas victory, decried by Israel, and indeed by the Western powers in general:

What about these elections in 2006 they were monitored, observes said they were actually the freest fairest elections they had seen in the Middle East. They matched all the standards of transparency. The outcome was a Hamas majority and the rest of world, including Israel said “We’re not going to deal with you, we don’t like your choice.” Who’s got the real lack of respect for democratic values there.

Unwilling to budge, or to concede the point, Morris shrugs the checkmate off:

So there was an election that worked. A few months later the Hamas took their rivals, the Fateh, to task in the Gaza strip and then started throwing their opponents from the Fateh off tall buildings after shooting them in the knees. So this isn’t exactly democratic practice, or respect for democracy.[46]

While Morris has a point concerning the brutal practices of Hamas, it is irrelevant to his failed assertion that Democratic values in an Arab context is a “contradiction in terms.” The reality is that when Western democracy is applied in Arab, or even Central American contexts, the outcome is usually a ruler or party that is not favorable to the West, in large part because the masses of these populations (the masses electing their leaders), themselves do not view the West (or in this case Israel), favorably. Thus, it is unrealistic, even ignorant, to hold out hope that there could be both a democratic party that is Palestinian and at the same time favorable to Israel, as the Palestinian populace does not view Israel favorably. If, instead, Israel would like to see a party put into power, through a democratic process, in Palestine, then they should work to cultivate the support of the Palestinian people; support that does not come from the inhumane blockade and sanctions in Gaza, or the punishment of families and even entire neighborhoods of suicide bombers for the actions of a tiny minority. Hardly restricted to the flaws in Morris’s personal reasoning, this political reality is one that the Israeli Right is apparently oblivious to as well.

There is another side to the defection of Morris, perhaps a blessing in disguise. His conservativization places him to the left of right-wing Israelis, and thus offers a more easily digestible form of New Historiography for the average Israeli, otherwise blinded to the perspective of the Palestinian people. For such people, the likes of Pappé would never do. Such radical egalitarianism is too foreign to right-wing Israelis (perhaps as much so as democracy is to the Arab world, the underbelly of Jewish acclimation to Western “values”). Morris thus has received greater and greater acceptance amongst those who might otherwise have considered themselves blanket opponents of the New Historiography.

Though he abstains from partisan cheerleading, cutting through slogans and propaganda, in his own accounts of Israeli history, Colin Shindler is, a family friend of Morris, hardly a New Historian. Commenting on the increasing right-leaning views of Morris, Shindler theorized:

My sense is that people have not moved from the left to the right, but that the left has become more complex, and that views held by people who adhere to the left, are more sophisticated, not black and white, not as they were in 1982 or indeed during the first intifada because the situation has changed…[47]

Perhaps this weak pull more to the Left (or arguably towards the political Center), would not have occurred amongst thinkers such as Schindler, had it not been for the more conservative orientation of Morris. It might be argued, from a diplomatic perspective, that Morris’s weakness is also a strength for the dissemination of the New Historiographic trends, even if inadvertent and unintentional on the part of Morris. The very same Israeli bias, manifesting (for example), in Benny Morris’ denial of a transfer policy, also makes him more easily relatable, and as I said, “digestible” by a greater number of Israeli’s. This includes, importantly, more mainstream historians such as Shindler, whose public opinion is necessary for any true political change to transpire.


In many ways the defection of Morris is useful in that it epitomizes the social and even class-related bubble of Israeli academia amongst New Historians. To this end, he may serve to highlight the latent flaws within the trend, so that others might better know their own prejudices and biases, through seeing them manifest in Morris. Furthermore, the New Historians interact primarily with each other (despite what Morris would revise), or when interacting with Arabs, their familiarity is foremost with Arabs of academia. They are inherently out of touch with grassroots frustration, anger and the legitimate complaints of Palestinians and Arabs towards Israel, as well as the sort of oral history we find in the research of Katz, and indeed common amongst Palestinians. Thus fixating on Israeli attempts at peace, they simultaneously fail to note the paradox of early Arab concessions which were denied by the very nation who now asks why the Palestinians will not come to the table to “reconcile.”

Historians are not always the best political scientists, though a good political scientist must understand history to understand contemporary politics in the region. We thus often find the best amongst the New Historians being those versed in both history and Political Science. Morris recalls that he wanted to simply know “what happened,” with regards to the 1947-9 wars. But knowing what happened does not necessarily explain why it happened (or why the second Intifada happened for that matter). Morris ignores the direct path from a historical cause to a political effect. He seems not only unconcerned with this, but oblivious to the gaps in his own knowledge related to such matters.[48]


Finkelstein, like Morris, has come to reevaluate some of his political positions, while not retracting any previous statements, and certainly not defecting from his far left-leaning. Finkelstein has recently pointed out a distinct position that juxtaposes him from the sort of accounts that would gain a foothold in the `Arab world.[49] Finkelstein is not alone. The problem of the Grandmufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini and the Arab entanglement with Nazism – while well beyond the scope of this discussion – goes further than many New Historians and Pro-Arab scholars may have originally been aware of. It would seem that this problem has philosophically latched onto the question of the New Historiography and the question of what Morris would regard in late interviews as a necessary brutality on the part of Israel. It is a weight that must be lifted, a topic that must be openly addressed a reality that must be reconciled, lest it invariably drag the New Historian movement down.

While for Morris the attested breaking point was the Second Intifada and the apparent refusal of modern Palestinians to talk peace with Israel, in his latest book Morris cannot escape the problem of the Mufti. It seems no small coincidence that the now infamous images from Das Bundesarchiv,[50] of Al-Husseini’s four year stay as a guest of the Fuehrer, have been increasingly employed in Israeli propaganda,[51] correlative with the conservativization of Morris and both he and Finkelstein’s frequent recent addressing of Arab involvement with the Nazis. Though unswayed in his support for the Palestinian people, Finkelstein’s disappointment seems to grow from more nutrient rich soil than Morris’s unrestrained prejudice. Far from failing to understand the politics of the modern conflict and the stubbornness of both sides, Finkelstein is burdened by the far reaching implications of Nazi influence and acceptance amongst Arab Nationalists in the formative era of the Israeli state. He acknowledges Arab collaboration on his website, extols Robert Satloff’s new book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories From the Holocaust’s Long Reach Into `Arab Lands, specifying: “`Arabs played a role at every level. Some went door to door with the Germans, pointing out Jews for arrest. Others led Jewish workers on forced marches or served as overseers at labor camps.” He further finds it necessary to respond to, in some cases acknowledging, his adversary Alan Dershowitz’s analysis of the Mufti in his own prologue of Beyond Chutzpah. Though he agrees “it is well known that the Mufti personally collaborated with the Nazis.” Finkelstein concludes that “Dershowitz makes many claims beyond this fact… [often] from an unsourced opinion column in a right-wing Israeli newspaper.”

He points again to Morris in dealing with his rebuttal, saying, Dershowitz’s claim that the Arab revolt of 1936-1939 was financed by the Nazis traces to Morris’s Righteous Victims,[52] “but there isn’t any mention of this on the cited pages or any others in Morris’s study.”[53] Indeed, according to the report of The Arab Higher Committee, by Nation Associates, Inc. New York, submitted to the United Nations in May 1947, the Third Reich did indeed fund the Mufti in the Iraqi revolt against the British, but there is no evidence therein, or elsewhere that I have found, of funding prior to this.[54]

This hot button issue seems to make whole-hearted liberal Jewish commitment to Palestinian resistance sadly an impossibility. In some cases it has turned marginal supporters such as Morris to the other side completely. Yet this road block continues to exist, I would argue, because of the fact that everything from the New Historians to the Israeli Peace Now movement are scenery within a bubble of Israeli ethno-national segregation. Palestinian frustration as well, seems not only to exist in cultural isolation from Jewish inclusiveness, but seems to incubate in it. Further, a hard truth for Israelis must be remembered, that it is no more the role and responsibility of the oppressed Palestinian to forcibly extend their hand towards an unwilling Israeli populace than it is the responsibility of Black America to apologize to White suburbia for the uncomfortable stares they get when driving luxury vehicles downtown. To that end, the proverbial ball has been, and continues to be, in Israel’s court.


Cidor, Peggy. Reluctant Residents. 10 October 2007. 1 November 2009.
Cohen, Hillel. Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008.
Elie Podeh, Asher Kaufman. Arab-Jewish relations: from conflict to resolution? Essays in Honour of Professor Moshe Ma’oz. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2007.
Finkelstein, Norman G. Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.
—. Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. London, New York: Verso, 1995.
Finkelstein, Norman. Hitler’s Mideast Helpers. 22 12 2006. 1 10 2009 …
Freedland, Jonathan. Benny Morris: ‘Palestinian Arabs have no respect for democratic values’. 5 November 2009 …
Israel to use Hitler shot for PR. 22 July 2009. 23 July 2009 …
Kimmerling, Baruch. Benny Morris’s Shocking Interview. 26 January 2004. 31 October 2009 …
Morris, Benny. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israel War. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008.
—. Righteous Victims: A History Of The Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-1999. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
—. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Nashashibi, Nasser Eddin. Jerusalem’s Other Voice: Ragheb Nashashibi and Moderation in Palestinian Politics, 1920-1948. Exeter: Ithaca Press, 1990.
Pappe, Ilan. “Two States or One State” A debate between former Knesset Member Uri Avnery and Doctor Ilan Pappe. 17 June 2008. 2 November 2009 …
Pappé, Ilan. A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
—. From Ilan Pappé, to the Association of University Teachers in Britain: Back the Boycott. May 2005. …
—. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oneworld Publications, 2006.
—. “The Tanture Case in Israel.” Journal of Palestinine Studies 30.3 (2001): 19-39.
Rothmann, David G. Dalin and John F. Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam. New York: Random House, 2008.
Śegev, Tom. The Seventh Million. n.d.
Shapira, Anita. ““The Failure of Israel’s “New Historians” To Explain War and Peace.”.” The New Republic 29 (1999).
Shehori, Dalia. One man’s history is another man’s lie. 5 May 2004. 3 November 2009 …
Shlaim, Avi. How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. 7 January 2009. 2 November 2009 …
Shlaim, Avi. “The Debate About 1948.” Morris, Benny. Making Israel. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. 124-146.
Tom Segev, Haim Watzman. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1999.
Traubman, Tamara. Haifa University academic remains steadfast in support of boycott. …
Wilson, Scott. A Shared History, a Different Conclusion. 7 March 2007. 1 11 2009 …


[1] The “New Historians,” first gained foothold in the groundbreaking article “The New Historiography: Israel Confronts Its Past,” published in the Fall 1988 issue of Tikkun magazine. Benny Morris, “The New Historiography: Israel Confronts Its Past.” Tikkun (1999). Therein, Morris’s self-description, along with his inclusion of Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappé (from academia), and Simcha Flappan (from political journalism), located them at the epicenter of a controversy, with which the name was instantly branded. Anita Shapira, “The Failure of Israel’s “New Historians” To Explain War and Peace.” 29 November 1999. The New Republic Online. 1 10 2009
[2] Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3
[3] Benny Morris, Making Israel, (Ann Arbor, 2007), 14–15.
[4] Benny Morris, 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians, (Oxford, 1994) 6
[5] Morris went to prison for 21 days but got out after 17 for good behavior. He was supposed to go for 31 days to the Kasbah in Nablus, but he describes his imprisonment for refusing as “no big deal.”
[6] Jewish book week and the Jewish book council, in the UK, with Colin Schindler from the University of London
[7] Therein, Katz used the primary source of direct interviews with both the veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade as well as Palestinian eye witnesses from Tantura. Teddy Katz claimed that the Alexandroni Brigade committed a massacre in the `Arab village of Tantura during the 1948 War. The Tantura debate remains heated, largely due to the efforts of historian Ilan Pappé who supports the allegations of a massacre. Following an initial granting of the highest grade possible for such a work, the veterans of the brigade sued Katz for libel. During the court hearing Katz conceded by issuing a statement retracting his own work. He then tried to retract his retraction, but the court disallowed it and ruled against him. He appealed to the Supreme Court but it declined to intervene. Meanwhile a committee at Haifa University claimed to have found serious problems with the thesis, including “quotations” that were contradicted by Katz’s records of interview. The university suspended his degree and asked him to resubmit his thesis. The new thesis was given a “second-class” pass, following the initial thesis having received the highest possible grade. Ilan Pappé, “The Tanture Case in Israel.” Journal of Palestinian Studies Vol. 30 (2001): 19-39.
[8] Elie Podeh, Asher Kaufman. Arab-Jewish relations: from conflict to resolution? Essays in Honour of Professor Moshe Ma’oz (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2007), 244
[10] “Two States or One State” A debate between former Knesset Member Uri Avnery and Doctor Ilan Pappe>
[11] From an interview with Colin Shindler, which we will see more from throughout this discussion.
[12] Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (Oneworld Publications, 2006)
[13] University of Haifa President Aharon Ben-Ze’ev called on Pappé to resign, saying: “it is fitting for someone who calls for a boycott of his university to apply the boycott himself.” Tamara Traubman, “Haifa University academic remains steadfast in support of boycott,” >
[14] Scott Wilson, “A Shared History, a Different Conclusion,” The Washington Post, March 7, 2007. >
[15] Ilan Pappé, “From Ilan Pappé, to the Association of University Teachers in Britain: Back the Boycott,” May 2005, >
[16] This further highlights Morris’s revisionist distancing of himself from his former friends and acquaintances. As can be seen, many paths of the New Historians were quite intertwined with one another.
[17] “Growing outrage at the killings in Gaza,” The Guardian, January 16, 2009. >
[18] Avi Shlaim, “How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe,” The Guardian, January 7, 2009. >
[19] Avi Shlaim, The Debate About 1948, cited by Benny Moris, Making Israel (Ann Arbor, 2007) 126
[20] Avi Shlaim, “The Debate About 1948,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 27:3, 1995; Reprinted in Ilan Pappé, ed., The Israel/Palestine Question (London: Longman, 1999); and in “The Debate About 1948.” Morris, Benny. Making Israel (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 126
[21] Ibid. 128; referencing: Parliament of Iraq, Taqrir Lajnat al-Tahqiq al-Niyabiya fi Qadiyat Filastin [Report of the Iraqi Parliamentary Committee Investigations of the Palestine Affair] (Baghdad, 1949); the references in Walid Khalidi, “The Arab Perspective,” in The End of the Palestine Mandate, ed. William Roger Louis and Robert W. Stookey (London, 1986)
[22] For a full treatment of this counterexample, see Nasser Eddin Nashashibi’s, Jerusalem’s Other Voice: Ragheb Nashashibi and Moderation in Palestinian Politics, 1920-1948 (Ithaca Press, Exeter, 1990)
[23] Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 (University of California Press, 2008)
[24] Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (Yale University Press, 2008), referenced in his Acknowledgments.
[25] Peggy Cidor, “Reluctant Residents,” The Jerusalem Post (2007-10-10), Retrieved November, 1 2009 >
[26] Tom Segev, Haim Watzman, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, (New York, 1999), 98
[27] Ibid, 6
[28] Ibid, 508
[29] Benny Morris, “Politics by other means,” New Republic (2004, March 22),
[30] Dalia Shehori, “One man’s history is another man’s lie,” Ha’Aretz (2004, May 5).
[31] Anthony B. Toth, “History as Ideology,” a review of Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923 by Efraim and Inari Karsh, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2. (Winter, 2002), 85-86.
[32] Karsh however, rightly fingers Pappé as “the odd man out among the so-called New Historians,” in some ways, such as employing secondary sources and his honesty in admitting “My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the ‘truth’ when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous.”
[33] Ilan Pappé, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) 333; Cited in review by Efraim Karsh
[34] Taken from Middle East Quarterly, September 1996; web archived via WayBackMachine: >
[35] Ilan Pappé, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 333. Comments from review of the text by Efraim Karsh
[36] Review by Michael Oren, “Who Started It?,” The Washington Post, June 10, 2007 >
[37] Tom Śegev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1991), 42
[38] Ibid 98
[39] e.g. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, (Verso, London; Norman Finkelstein, 2003), “Myths, Old and New,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 21, 1, 66-89; Nur Masalha, “A Critique of Benny Morris,” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 21,1, 90-97
[40] Ibid, Masalha, 90-97.
[41] That is, seeing eye to eye with Palestinians on many issues does not equate Norman Finkelstein’s perspective with a “bias,” as such a charge would make more sense if levied against one who is a member of the group that they are defending.
[42] Benny Morris, “Response to Finkelstein and Masalha,” Journal Palestine Studies Vol 21, 1, 98-114
[43] (Freedland) “Benny Morris: ‘Palestinian Arabs have no respect for democratic values’”>
[44] (Kimmerling) “Benny Morris’s Shocking Interview” <>
[45] See, for example, Morris’s comments: “Since then, since the Middle Ages, for the past 700 years, it’s not that easy to find great cultural contributions from the Arab and Islamic world, to world civilization. This may be a problem, but look at the number of Nobel Prize winners, a very simple criteria.”
[46] (Freedland)
[47] Morris, responded, “I’m not even sure that things are more complex now than they were then. But what happened, I think, is that the Arabs or at least the aims of the Arabs, have changed or have become clearer, if you like. In terms of my own positions, in the 1980s, in the 1970s I supported a two-state solution, I think it’s the only solution that affords a modicum of justice to both peoples, and that it’s possible, it’s practicable, today it’s less practicable, but it remains what I think should be done if there’s ever going to be a way out of this conflict. Unfortunately, my sense is that whereas in 1990s I was guardedly optimistic that the Arabs at last, that the PLO at last, was moving on towards accepting a two-state solution, my sense, from 2000 onwards is that this was not their intention, that they still retained the desire to establish one Arab state in all of Palestine.”
[48] To this end, we can almost psychoanalyze the positions of many authors examined herein, simply by inquiring of their Curriculum Vitae; whether they have devoted any significant study to Political Science or Sociology. The father of said discipline, Ibn Khaldun, deemed sociology the science of the rise and fall of nations, a notion which he derives from the Qur’ān itself
[49] Finkelstein quotes Rober Satloff, further, in specifying: “`Arabs played a role at every level. Some went door to door with the Germans, pointing out Jews for arrest. Others led Jewish workers on forced marches or served as overseers at labor camps.” It must be noted however, that while this critical position is a central element of Satloff’s work, he pays equal attention to those he terms “righteous Arabs,” who heroically intervened to save Jews from oppression. Finkelstein’s general tendency is to focus on such examples, and this would likely be what Morris considers his “Pro-Palestinian bias.” It is, however, less a bias and more an optimism, yet an optimism which I have noticed a gradual waning of since his courageous publication of the Holocaust Industry. This is, undeniably and unavoidably due to these difficult, and as of yet – for liberal Jewish supporters of Palestinian liberation – unreconciled tough issues, primarily tracing back to Husseinism, which Finklestein, like Morris and others, has growing increasingly fixated on. (N. Finkelstein) Hitler’s Mideast Helpers, < >
[50] Image source accessed via Bundes Archiv Internet database[form][SIGNATUR]=Bild+146-1987-004-09A
[51] (Israel to use Hitler shot for PR) < >
[52] Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History Of The Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-1999 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), 165
[53] Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005), 277
[54] Still, and also beyond the scope of this discussion, Finkelstein is wrong when he challenges Dershowitz’s assertion that the Mufti was claimed to have visited concentration camps, which Dershowitz claims is contained in the voluminous logs of the Nuremburg Trials. This may be the only time in history that Alan Dershowitz is proven right (even to a partial degree), in a debate with Norman Finkelstein. This was in fact attested to at the Nuremburg trials by Dieter Wisliceny before he was executed. Nevertheless, Finkelstein is absolutely correct in the crux of his contention, however, that Dershowitz vastly overstates the role of the Mufti in the actual prosecution of the Nazi Holocaust. While he was a cheerleader, and while he invited the Nazi ideology into the Arab world, he can hardly be blamed for the “Final Solution” itself, which Dershowitz insanely seems to want to connect him to. As far as I can tell from the Mufti’s correspondences with Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials, it was Al-Husseini who petitioned the Nazi’s. Hitler was cordial, even inviting, in his reply, yet he seems guarded and qualifies his statements of support for Husseini. David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann confirm my reading in the occasionally partisan, yet well documented Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam (New York: Random House, 2008)

About the Author
Dr. Micah Naziri was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. The son of a multitude of peoples, Micah has Ashkenazi Jewish, German, Native American and Melungeon Sefardic background. Micah has often said he has “one foot in the masjid and the other in shul.” Spiritually, Micah considers his understanding of Judaism to be “Judeo-Sufi,” or “Istislam” as described by Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Paqudah, in his Medieval Judeo-Arabic work “Guide to the Duties of the Hearts” (Al-Hidayat ila Fara`id al-Qulub), which quoted Muhammad and his son-in-law `Ali profusely – reference each as being “a great chasid” – while fully embracing the Torah as the framework of religious practice for the Jewish people. Dr. Naziri is the founder of the Martial Sufi Tariqah alternatively known as the Taliyah al-Mahdi (2001) and the Jamat al-Fitrah (2005), as well as Hashlamah Project Foundation (2012), and the White Rose Society “reboot” (2016). As the founder of the Hashlamah Project Foundation, Micah uses his education in Near Eastern Languages, Religions and historical models of building bridges between Jewish and Muslim communities, to help reconcile and unite Jews and Palestinian Muslims. He is a prolific author who has penned numerous academic articles, donating 100% of the proceeds to charities working towards social justice. He has also authored a science fiction novel fused with history and politics. His Master’s thesis on the religious milieu of Judaism in Muhammad’s life time, in Arabia, has been published by New Dawn Publications and is available on Amazon, with all proceeds similarly going to charity work. He has served as an editor for written works on Martial Arts and Eastern Medicine, transcribing and creating numerous titles for some of his teachers. He has himself authored several martial treatises using the pen name Seng, Hern-Heng – his Taoist lineage name given to him in 2006 by Huang, Chien-Liang. On that front, he is currently working on a new Taoist translation of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) based on the original Mawangdui manuscripts. Micah became well-known for activism confronting an anti-Muslim protester peacefully and reasoning with her outside of a Dublin, Ohio mosque. After nearly 45 minutes of debate and reconciliation, the woman embraced a Muslimah woman from the mosque, and went into the mosque with her and Micah for bagels, coffee and a tour of the house of worship. When she left, the Muslims there gave her a gift bag. Micah became somewhat infamous – loved by some, hated by others – not only for several high-profile, viral protests, but also for teaching free self-defense classes available to all interested parties from historically oppressed communities. Law enforcement, however, have without question been the most hostile to Naziri, as he became a regular protester against police brutality and murder of unarmed African-Americans. Micah has been equally as virally-known as an avowed anti-rape activist, who confronted the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner at his home in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, after he was released from his mere three-month jail sentence for raping an unconscious woman. Today, Micah continues activism in the areas surrounding Yellow Springs, and abroad, focusing on weekly protests and vigils supporting families of innocent, unarmed African-American youths, gunned down by local police or vigilante citizens attempting to hide behind gun culture and the Second Amendment, such as in the recent case of Victor Santana – who was recently arrested, charged with murder, and convicted after months of pressure put on Montgomery County prosecutor Matt Heck by protests Micah organized in conjunction with Donald Dominique of the New Black Panther Party. Micah is currently coordinating expanded work with international Hashlamah Project chapters and the Jam`at Al-Fitrah, the name used in the Palestinian Territories for the Sufi Martial Tariqah known as the Taliyah al-Mahdi. He is seeking grant-writing partnerships to grow the Hashlamah Project organization’s efforts – particularly in the State of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
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