Last week the Minneapolis Star Tribune allotted Steve Hunegs a few paragraphs to comment on the occasion of Israel’s sixtieth anniversary. Among his comments were accurate observations such as these:
Today, Israel remains the region’s only democracy, replete with a resoundingly free press and an independent judiciary. It is the only country in the region where Arab women have the right to vote. In 60 years, Israelis have created a modern nation-state, absorbing millions of immigrants, building prestigious educational institutions and making great advances in agriculture, medicine and technology that have helped the world. This has been accomplished in what can only be called a challenging environment.
The Star Tribune being the Star Tribune, the price of its publication of Hunegs’s brief column was steep. To balance Huegs’s accurate observations, the Star Tribune opened its pages to one Fedwa Wazwaz. Parroting the PLO/Hamas party line, Wazwaz bewails Israel’s founding as a catastrophe resulting in the “forced removal” of Arabs by the Israelis. Among other things, Wazwaz somehow forgets to mention the war declared and waged on Israel by the surrounding Arab states and Iraq in 1948. Wazwaz’s column in substance calls for Israel’s destruction. It is difficult to imagine the Star Tribune running a comparable column on any other subject.
Efraim Karsh has been something of a one-man truth squad rebutting the mythical Arab and Israeli anti-Zionist accounts of Israel’s founding. His work on the subject goes back to his book Fabricating Israeli History and related essays such as “Rewriting Israel’s history.” Among his most recent writings on the subject are “The 60-year war for Israel’s history” and “The fight over ‘1948.’”
The current issue of Commentary features Karsh’s new essay reflecting archival research in London, Jeruslaem, and elsewhere with newly declassified documents from the British Mandate and Israel’s early days. If truth had anything to do with it, Karsh’s new essay on the events of 1948 would put an end to the notion that Israel intended or acted to displace the Palestinian Arab population. The Commentary site has just posted an enhanced Web-only version of Karsh’s essay as “1948, Israel and the Palestinians: Annotated text.” Its opening paragraphs address Fedwa Wazwaz and her ilk:
Sixty years after its establishment by an internationally recognized act of self-determination, Israel remains the only state in the world that is subjected to a constant outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and blood libels; whose policies and actions are obsessively condemned by the international community; and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged not only by its Arab enemies but by segments of advanced opinion in the West.
During the past decade or so, the actual elimination of the Jewish state has become a cause célèbre among many of these educated Westerners. The “one-state solution,” as it is called, is a euphemistic formula proposing the replacement of Israel by a state, theoretically comprising the whole of historic Palestine, in which Jews will be reduced to the status of a permanent minority. Only this, it is said, can expiate the “original sin” of Israel’s founding, an act built (in the words of one critic) “on the ruins of Arab Palestine” and achieved through the deliberate and aggressive dispossession of its native population.
This claim of premeditated dispossession and the consequent creation of the longstanding Palestinian “refugee problem” forms, indeed, the central plank in the bill of particulars pressed by Israel’s alleged victims and their Western supporters.
Summarizing the results of his research, Karsh writes:
The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-1948) and Israel’s early days, documents untapped by earlier generations of writers and ignored or distorted by the “new historians,” paint a much more definitive picture of the historical record. They reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.
Karsh’s essay of course warrants reading in full.
To comment on this post go here.