The Tundra Tabloids has always placed great trust in the facts presented by Professor Efraim Karsh, concerning the history of Israel and of the likes of the ‘New Historians’ of Israeli history, in this case, Benny Morris. The TT has rendered similar opinions of the man (meeting him last year in Helsinki). KGS
Israel’s Human Chameleon Strikes Again
By Efraim Karsh
In the opening scene of Woody Allen’s 1983 film Zelig, F. Scott Fitzgerald is seen to observe a curious little man as he chats with socialites at a sumptuous bash, speaking adoringly of President Coolidge and the Republican Party — all in an upper class Boston accent. Then, an hour later, the renowned novelist is stunned to see the same man speaking to the kitchen help. Only now he claims to be a Democrat, and his accent has become coarse as if he were one of the crowd.
This scene comes to mind when observing the incessant, ideological acrobatics of the Israeli academic Benny Morris. For years, he basked in the dubious glory of being one of Israel’s foremost, homegrown bashers, deriding Zionism as “a colonizing and expansionist ideology and movement … intent on politically, or even physically, dispossessing and supplanting the Arabs” and going out of his way to fabricate Israel’s history so as to prove the sinful circumstances of its birth. He paraded the Arab canard of an age-old Zionist design to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs from their homes; he ignored the sustained Arab efforts to destroy the Jewish national cause and the no less sustained efforts of the Jews at peaceful coexistence, both prior to and after Israel’s establishment; he dismissed the Zionist acceptance of the November 1947 partition resolution as a ruse, claiming that “large sections of Israeli society” were looking forward to war as an opportunity for territorial expansion and ethnic cleansing; he even went so far as to present the Palestinians as the real victims of the pan-Arab assault on Israel in May 1948, with the Jewish state supposedly colluding with the invading Arab states to prevent the birth of a Palestinian Arab state.
But then, all of a sudden, Morris was reborn. He acknowledged truths about the Arab-Israeli conflict that he had previously taken great pains to deny and distort, notably that “the Palestinian national movement, from its inception, has denied the Zionist movement any legitimacy and stuck fast to the vision of a ‘Greater Palestine’.” He even went so far as to argue that there was nothing fundamentallywrong in the notion of mass displacement of Arabs so long as it was born of dire necessity and that, over the long term, such a displacement might even have been conducive to peace. Had David Ben-Gurion “gone the whole hog” and “engineered a comprehensive rather than a partial transfer,” he claimed, “today’s Middle East would be a healthier, non-violent place.”
This turnover astounded many Israel-bashers, who failed to grasp how the person who for over a decade had provided them with endless ammunition against the Jewish state’s legitimacy could so whimsically change his colors. And as if to add insult to injury, Morris has never produced any evidence substantiating his newly-adopted, anti-Palestinian stance: Surely the launch of the September 2000 “al-Aqsa Intifada,” which triggered Morris’s u-turn, does not change one iota of what happened some fifty-plus years earlier. Nor for that matter, has he ever disowned his early writings, which continue to adorn countless anti-Israel sites and publications, thus placing him in the unique position of simultaneously entertaining, and expressing, wildly discrepant views to different audiences.
It was hardly surprising, therefore, that when he arrived last month at the London School of Economics (LSE), perhaps the foremost leftist bastion of British academia, Morris was accosted by agitated activists protesting his public utterances. “Earlier that evening, Palestinian rights campaigners sitting in a coffee shop near the LSE, spotted Benny Morris walking down Kingsway, a busy street near Holborn Tube Station,” reported a London-based pro-Palestinian website.
This was too good an opportunity to miss; in a flash, campaigners gathered around him and took turns to put questions directly to Morris about his writings and statements on the necessity of ethnic cleansing, his call for the caging of Palestinians, and the racist overtones of his descriptions of Arabs. Morris ignored the questions and instead marched on … his demeanor throughout had been more like a criminal trying to hide from the spotlight rather than an academic confident of his ground and willing to take up the invite of open debate.