Haaretz says post-Zionist era has come to an end

In a defeated tone and in sharp contrast to the fanfare that heralded its beginnings, the era of the new historians, or what is known as the post-Zionist era, has come to an end.

The historical debate between Zionists and anti-Zionists hasn't changed, but it is no longer possible to hide behind claims of a Zionist conspiracy to expel Israel's Arabs and ethnic cleansing of the area west of the Jordan River.

It seems that a group of historians, who actually did not offer any new insights into Zionist historiography, hid behind a fictitious structure of post-modernist realizations that became a system for distorting proofs and rewriting facts. The person who laid the foundation for historical post-Zionism, Benny Morris, is also the one who undermined it and brought about its demise with his own hands. Morris founded the New Historians' school and created the infrastructure for post-Zionist ideology that took over a substantial part of academic writing on the Israeli-Arab conflict. But he gradually refuted the essence of his arguments and in effect closed the book on the entire revisionist writing that tried to present a "different" Zionist history.

His two most recent books, "1948" which will soon be published in Hebrew and was released last year in English, and "One State, Two States," which was released this year, completely contradict his arguments and the factual basis for his revolutionary historical approach.

More than anyone else, Morris provided the historical sources for the argument that the State of Israel was born as a result of a conspiracy to carry out the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

His books and articles provided the basis for an indictment of the State of Israel, something that helped the Palestinian and Arab leadership reject all peace efforts right after the Oslo Accords, at Camp David in 2000 and in discussions of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace proposal in 2008.

The narrative built by the New Historians changed the parameters of political negotiations: A peace agreement is not meant to correct the 1967 "occupation" and create a framework for territories in exchange for peace, but to atone for the atrocities of the nakba. It became apparent to all that the main obstacle is the problem of the right of return to all parts of the State of Israel.

Morris did not make any shocking revelation when he argued that during the War of Independence there were also incidents of killing and expulsion of the civilian population. His wrongs as a historian focused on overlooking the uncompromising Arab hatred and the dynamic of war that persisted for 18 months in civilian areas, the siege of Jewish cities and communities and the constantly reiterated threats of annihilation.

Then suddenly, 20 years later, Morris discovered that the Arabs had declared a jihad against Zionism already back in 1948. He explains his new approach as stemming from the opening of archives, including the Israel Defense Forces' archive, which were closed to researchers until now. He also adds that "in the current book, I placed the refugee problem within the overall context of the War of Independence," and with the help of recent studies, "I tried to present a new and comprehensive description of the war, and primarily of the connections between the military processes and the diplomatic processes."...

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Steven A. Levine - 10/28/2009

The headline of this article is inaccurate. A contributor to Haaretz, Avi Beker, wrote this. It was not an editorial. Haaretz allows for a diversity of views in its opinion pages, including Tom Segev, another noted "post-Zionist" historian. Benny Morris' change of heart occurred in the early part of this decade, not with the publication of 1948. Avi Beker, the author of the article does not speak for Haaretz and Morris is only one historian, albeit an important one.

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