Israeli history


A rare person indeed.

joan peters

The controversy of ‘From Time Immemorial’

Joan Peters, a pro-Palestinian researcher, drastically changed her political views while writing her opus “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine” • I seek to shed light on facts that were hidden from me, she writes.

Nadav Shragai

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: An Obama administration official quits his job and devotes seven years of his life to writing a well-researched book that pulls the rug out from underneath his former boss regarding the Iranian issue. Then imagine that the book offers a sympathetic view of Israel that is factually based and that reveals information that was not previously known. U.S. President Barack Obama can only express anger, bewilderment, and frustration in response. This leaves the Democrats with a dilemma. Do they remain true to the facts or loyal to their president?

Astonishingly enough, this is a true story, though it took place in another era. It happened at a time when the administration in power — also Democratic — was about as friendly as the current administration. It happened during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was in power at the time, and Benjamin Netanyahu was making his initial foray into Israeli politics.

Joan Peters, a journalist, television producer, and political commentator, was a pro-Palestinian human rights activist during those years. She had even made frequent visits to the Middle East. Something unusual happened to her, though — she gradually changed her views. Peters had been working as a special adviser to the Carter administration. Her area of expertise was the Israeli-Arab conflict.

She signed a contract to write a book about the conflict in the Middle East, even getting a handsome advance for it. As she started her research, however, she discovered startling new facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that did not sit well with her employers. At that point, Peters gave back the advance and freed herself from any contractual obligations that were originally agreed upon with the book publisher. After seven years of research, which included long hours in long-forgotten archives and interviews with hundreds of people, Peters wrote a book titled “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine.” The release of the book in 1984 ignited controversy.

Published by Harper and Row, the book became a best-seller. It also earned Peters the National Jewish Book Award. She slaughtered the sacred cow known as “the Palestinian refugee problem” by revealing just how the United Nations altered the criteria for gaining refugee status in order to exacerbate the problem well beyond its proper dimensions. Peters discovered that the U.N.’s changing requirements for being listed as a Palestinian refugee essentially turned them into something else, something far different from other refugees in distant crises.

Peters even offered proof that many of the Palestinian refugees that earned special status in the eyes of the U.N. were never even residents of prestate Israel “from time immemorial,” contradicting a long-standing Palestinian claim. Instead, these were immigrants who had only arrived quite recently.

There were many who followed in Peters’ footsteps. They backed up her facts, but she was the first to bring them to light. Peters was the first to challenge the underlying assumptions of Palestinian wretchedness and refugee status. She also didn’t hesitate to criticize “the Jewish victim,” though the criticism wasn’t what one would expect. She quoted Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister who once famously said that a lie repeated often enough for an extended period of time eventually is recognized as a truism. Peters noted that Goebbels forgot to mention that the victim of that lie (in this case, the Jews) is also liable to believe it as true.

More here.  H/T: YM

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