What's Fair and Not Fair in the Middle East Debates?

News Abroad

Mr. Slavin is an adjunct at Emory University.

The posting on HNN April 25, 2007 with the title"Norman Finkelstein: Controversy featured at frontpagemag.com" is actually an attack essay by Steven Plaut. Go to Plaut's blog and the following appears:

At the new address of this blog (I cannot explain the 31 Dec 07 dateline on both sites), this photo and caption are at the top of the page:

For those of you unfamiliar with the caption's reference, Naqba is Arabic for" catastrophe" and is a term used by Palestinians to refer to the 1948 expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from territories occupied by the Zionist armed forces when setting up the state of Israel. Addressing the controversy surrounding the Naqba by consulting the Israeli archives, historians such as Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris (the latter now advocating solutions to the conflict which are the opposite of what his scholarship would suggest) have described an"ethnic cleansing" of hundreds of Palestinian villages which were razed to the ground, renamed, and rebuilt to accommodate Jewish settlers who became citizens of the new state of Israel. The way I read this photo and caption is that Plaut advocates a second ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In Israel, this position has been legitimated by the recent appointment of Avigdor Liberman as deputy prime minister. He has put forward plans to offer"incentives" to Palestinians to leave parts of the Occupied Territories and Israel proper. Readers of HNN can decide for themselves the meaning of Plaut's message.

Plaut accuses Finkelstein of being a Jew-baiter, friend of Holocaust deniers, and a denier himself. Finkelstein's parents are both Holocaust survivors, as is known by anyone familiar with his books, a point unmentioned by Plaut. Besides targeting Finkelstein in this particularly hurtful way, Plaut also attacks two professors who wrote letters in support of Finkelstein's tenure. One is John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, co-author of the report on AIPAC that appeared last winter and which Plaut's blog among others bills as the new"Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Plaut attacks the other professor, Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania, citing"Storm Warnings for A Supply-Side War," which was posted March 4, 20003 and written for the Nation. Lustick's essay is mainly a review of Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, published by the Council on Foreign Relations. Lustic wrote it days before the US invasion. Lustick points out that the first 300 pages are a historical background for 2003, but the last 100 pages address the pitfalls of such an invasion:

Having finished The Threatening Storm, the careful reader will wag his or her head in disbelief. How can a book resounding with so many warnings against an invasion be heralded as a compelling call to arms? The question parallels the large question ringing in the ears of millions of puzzled Americans. What is the reason for this war? What has made it such an urgent matter to dispose of Saddam Hussein? What has changed in Iraq to produce a threat to the United States and the world that was not present eight, six or four years ago? What is the"demand" for this war?

The answer is simple. This is a supply-side war. There is very little demand for the war, and nothing in the way of a compelling necessity for it. But the enormous supply of political capital flowing toward the President after 9/11 combines with the overweening preponderance of US military power on a global level to make the production of war in Iraq not a trivial affair but one that can be embraced with relatively little thought and almost no need to appeal to a readiness to sacrifice. That a war is militarily and politically so"easy" for the United States government can explain why so little reason for a war can produce so powerful a campaign for one. It also explains why so weak an argument for it, as is contained in the Pollack book, can be so widely regarded as persuasive.


"This willingness [to make sacrifices after 9/11] may not last forever," [says Pollack]. Exactly. As the American people gain perspective on the character of the threats they do and do not face, as they learn to distinguish Al Qaeda from Iraq, and Iraq from anthrax attacks in New Jersey and Washington, and as they gain the capacity to think rationally about the costs and risks associated with various options for combating national security threats, support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq will virtually disappear. This appreciation of the closing window of political opportunity for the war is another reason for the insistence on it now and the determination to ignore all evidence to the contrary when it comes to discussion of the wisdom of that course of action.

The essay by Lustick seems remarkably clear sighted to me. Today the same people who advocated the Iraq invasion are hinting that the solution to Iraq is a confrontation with Iran, possibly even bombing its uranium processing facility. HNN readers can judge for themselves, but once again objectionable and tendentious writing on Palestinians, Muslims, and Jews who express solidarity with them appears with no rebuttal. If such writing goes unchallenged, the sheer nastiness hampers the discourse throughout the academy and beyond. I hope others will come forward to insist on civility that will allow us all to exercise our reasoning on this crucial topic.

Finally, just to counter some of the 'karmic disharmony' of Plaut's screeds, please consider the following poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, an American poet of Palestinian background. It only takes a minute or two.

Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement:

If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.

Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a,shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard my words she knew -- however poorly used -- she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we're fine, you'll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let's call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English.

I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies -- little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts -- out of her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo -- we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers -- non-alcoholic -- and the two little girls for our flight, one African-American, one Mexican-American -- ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar, too.

And I noticed my new best friend -- by now we were holding hands -- had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate -- once the crying of confusion stopped -- has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen, anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Response by Steven Plaut

David H. Slavin, a historian of France, has taken time off from his busy teaching schedule as an adjunct at Emory University to defend pseudo-scholar, Neo-Nazi, and terrorism apologist Norman Finkelstein, and to distort what I had earlier written. This is hardly his first attempt at rewriting Middle East history - see his earlier comments and their rebuttal here, including Slavin's bon mot "If any analogy applies to 'clash of civilizations' thinking, it is anti-Darwinism or refusal to accept human sources of global climate crisis." Critics of Islamofascists are "anti-Darwinian?" Cowabunga!

It is not necessary for me to repeat or explain my denunciations of Finkelstein and of the academic prostitutes who tried to get him tenured, now that his own colleagues from DePaul University have decided to deny him tenure. Slavin's own career difficulties may well be explained by his inability to distinguish between Arab fictional lies and actual history. He repeats the false claim that Israel "ethnically cleansed" the area that became Israel in 1948-49, and claims that Israel "expelled" 750,000 "Palestinians" at that time. As "proof," he cites pseudo-historian Ilan Pappe, whose "research" makes Ward Churchill and Finkelstein look like serious scholars, and erstwhile "New Historian" Benny Morris, not quite a credible source but one who today decidedly denies Israel ever engaged in ethnic cleansing. In fact the entire Israeli War of Independence of 1948-49, and all later Arab-Israeli armed conflicts, were essentially Israel's successful efforts that prevented the Arab world conducting ethnic cleansing, actually -- genocide, against Israeli Jews.

The silly Naqba (Arabic for catastrophe) slogan has been invented by Arab fascists and their apologists to describe Israel's military victories in 1948-49 and its exerting its independence. Those tossing about the "Naqba" nonsense word just want to see Israel annihilated and its Jewish population destroyed or expelled, in a 21st century implementation of the Arab world's program from 1948. Had the Arab world accepted the 1947 UN partition plan, as Israel did, a Palestinian Arab state would have arisen in 1948. Instead, the Arab forces attempted to annihilate Israel and its population, and illegally annexed the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Any "suffering" by Palestinian Arabs is exactly as self-created as was the suffering of German civilians during World War II, and just as deserving of being deemed irrelevant.

I stand by everything I ever wrote about Finkelstein, Mearsheimer, and Lustick. I suggest that Slavin read some real Middle East historians, rather than silly poems about airports.

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Ilan Covina - 12/2/2009

Irish Times lettersed@irish-times.ie
February 21, 2008
Israel and the Palestinians

Benny Morris:

Madam, - Israel-Haters are fond of citing - and more often, Mis-citing - my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections.

The Palestinian Arabs were not responsible "in some bizarre way" (David Norris, January 31st) for what befell them in 1948. Their responsibility was very direct and simple.

In Defiance of the will of the International community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181),
They launched Hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps Destroying that community.
But they Lost; and one of the RESULTS was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in Dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders Advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa's Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to STAY, to no avail.

Most of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled their homes because of the flail of War (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of Victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops.

The displacement of the 700,000 Arabs who became "refugees" - and I put the term in inverted commas, as 2/3's of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another and not from their country
(which is the usual definition of a refugee)
- was not a "racist crime" (David Landy, January 24th) but the RESULT of a national conflict and a WAR, with religious overtones, from the Muslim perspective, launched by the Arabs themselves.

There was NO Zionist "plan" or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of "ethnic cleansing". Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah - the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. That's what it explicitly states and that's what it was. And the invasion of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq duly occurred, on May 15th.

It is true that Plan D gave the regional commanders carte blanche to occupy and garrison or expel and destroy the Arab villages along and behind the front lines and the anticipated Arab armies' invasion routes. And it is also true that mid-way in the 1948 war the Israeli leaders decided to bar the return of the "refugees" (those "refugees" who had just assaulted the Jewish community), viewing them as a potential fifth column and threat to the Jewish state's existence. I for one cannot fault their fears or logic.

The Demonisation of Israel is largely based on Lies - much as the Demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on Lies.
And there is a Connection between the two.

I would recommend that the likes of Norris and Landy read some history books and become acquainted with the facts, not recycle shopworn Arab propaganda. They might then learn, for example, that the "Palestine War" of 1948 (the "War of Independence," as Israelis call it) began in November 1947, not in May 1948. By May 14th close to 2,000 Israelis had died - of the 5,800 dead suffered by Israel in the whole war (ie almost 1 per cent of the Jewish population of Palestine/Israel, which was about 650,000).

Prof Benny Morris, Li-On, Israel.
Feb 21, 2008

Elliott Aron Green - 8/14/2007

I am aware that Zurayk was a Christian Arab. Bear in mind that traditionally some Christians under Arab-Muslim rule may have taken solace from their own oppressed status by asserting their own superiority over the Jews who were in practice, if not Muslim, lower on the totem pole. Also, many Arabic-speaking Christians seem to have believed that they could ensure a safe future for themselves in the Arab countries by advocating secular Arab nationalism, which it seems that Zurayk did.

Elliott Aron Green - 8/14/2007

Bill, are you in any way related to Big Bill Haywood of the Wobblies? It would be interesting to hear some family reminiscences.

As to "Nakba." It means catastrophe in Arabic. It was first popularized among Arabs as a term for their defeat in the 1947-1949 Arab-Israeli War through an article by Constantine Zurayk. His article was published in English translation in an early issue of the Middle East Journal, probably in 1949 or 1950. In Zurayk's article, the main thing that bothers him is the military defeat of the Arab armies at the hands of what were --at the start of the fighting-- a few poorly armed Jewish militias. After Israel became independent, the new state was able to bring in some fighter aircraft, from Czechoslovakia, as I recall, and some heavy guns. Before May 15, 1948 [independence date], the Jews could smuggle in only relatively small weapons. So the Arabs rightly saw their defeat as shameful. What's more, they had always despised Jews and treated Jews in a humiliating way. The Jews were at the bottom of the totem pole of Arab-Muslim society, below even the Christians, who were traditionally dhimmis like the Jews. So, to be defeated by people whom they were used to humiliating [with the sanction of the Quran and Shari`ah law] made their the Arab defeat exponentially humiliating. That defeat of the Arabs collectively was what Nakba originally referred to, not to the loss of homes by palestinian Arabs --who had begun the war on November 30, 1947, by attacking Jewish civilians in the country, which in December of 1947 had gone over to attacking Jewish residential neighborhoods from which Jewish civilians were fleeing in that month.

sagi cohen - 8/13/2007

It means that no "Naqka" ever took place an dthat it is an invention of Islamofascism

Elliott Aron Green - 8/13/2007

Two things are most important in arguments: logic and facts. That is, the conclusion or conclusions should logically follow from the premises. Then, the premises should be true and not false. Without discussing Slavin's logic, I can say that his premises are false. And that he is dishonest or ignorant in other ways. First, he talks about Arabs expelled in the 1947-49 Israeli War of Independence or First Arab-Israeli War. The first people driven out of their homes in that war were Jews whose homes were attacked in various parts of Jerusalem, south Tel Aviv, and elsewhere in the country by Arabs, without British interference. These attacks followed a series of expulsions or --if you like-- ethnic cleansing events perpetrated by Arabs against Jews starting in 1920, then 1921, 1929, and 1936-39. After a massacre of Jews in Hebron [1929], the Jewish community there was effectively destroyed, despite sporadic efforts of Jews to return to Hebron. Note the British cooperation and/or acquiescence with these pogroms/ethnic cleansing operations, such as Hebron in 1929, but not only there. My article linked to below discusses the expulsion of Jews from certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem in December 1947-January 1948. I did interview a survivor who has kept his diary of that period. This article was first published in Midstream in July 2005.

If Slavin wants to research the Dec 1947-Jan 1948 period in Israel, and see who was winning the war then and who driving whom out of their homes, he could read over the Palestine Post [now Jerusalem Post] and other papers. Since Slavin seems to know French as well as English, he could read the French and English papers published in Egypt and Lebanon, as well as major American, French, Italian, and British papers. Yes, although British policy was pro-Arab, he could read the UK press too and see if it confirms what I say about the first two months of the war. Likewise the Arab papers. The Arab leadership, not just the local Palestinian Arab leaders and spokesmen, made genocidal threats against Jews. Consider the threats/warnings of Abdul-Rahman Azzam Pasha, sec'y general of the Arab League, about massacres to overshadow the Mongol massacres and the Crusades. Then, Haj Amin el-Husseini, a collaborator in the Nazi Holocaust, had been allowed to return to the Arab world from France with Allied cooperation. In Egypt in 1946, he resumed his leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, which was a widely reported fact.

As far as Arabs who lost their homes were concerned, most fled the fighting before it reached them. They believed that the Arab armies were winning the war but wanted be out of harm's way. In the case of Haifa, Prof Efraim Karsh has documented the encouragement by the Arab leadership under Husseini for the Arabs to leave the city.

These Arabs were not expelled by the "Zionist armies" of Slavin's lurid imagination.

Next, Slavin attacks Plaut for writing in a "hurtful" way about N Finkelstein. Is Slavin unaware that N Finkelstein regularly writes in a way that is "hurtful" to normal, rational sensitive Jews?
Then, Slavin tells us that John Mearsheimer has defended NF. Mearsheimer is very close to those "realist" circles around the Council on Foreign Relations, whereas he endorsed Ian Lustick's criticisms of a book advocating war on Iraq sponsored by that same Council. Isn't it odd that Slavin finds himself so close to the "realist" Mearsheimer who places American "interests" [Who knows exactly what Mearsheimer means by these interests? Capitalist interests, perhaps?] above all?
Slavin also mentions Ian Lustick as defending N Finkelstein's tenure. Before Slavin gets too enthused over Lustick's commitment to academic freedom, the marketplace of ideas in academia, the wide range of opinions considered in academia, etc., he should examine Lustick's role in the dismissal or departure of Prof Francisco Gil-White from the University of Pennsylvania where both Lustick and Gil-White were teaching.

I won't ask Slavin to explain his irrelevant lengthy digressions into Lustick's views on the Iraq war and a C- poem on sisterhood or whatever at the airport. But if he opposes "nastiness" and "disharmony" as he says he does, then I suggest he notice the nastiness and disharmony in N Finkelstein's public writings and utterances, such as they are.

sagi cohen - 8/12/2007

Actually no serious scholar on earth accepts anything Pappe writes and Pappe himself dismisses the need for facts and "documentation" in order to make his case that Israel must be annihilated. Pappe starred in the infamous Tantora "massacre" fabrication.

sagi cohen - 8/11/2007

the mass expulsion of a million Jews from every Arab country following 1948 with their property stolen from them

David Marcus Weintraub - 8/9/2007

My understanding, reinforced by many appearances I have seen of this word, is that the term "Naqba" refers not, as you state, to the supposed "1948 expulsion," but is rather a reference to the creation of the State of Israel, and the loss by the combined Arab armies to the underarmed and vastly outnumbered Israeli forces.

The only attempted "ethnic cleansing" occurring is the ongoing desire of the Arabs to have a Middle East (if not a world) free of Jews. One still sees the phrase "send then back to Europe" appearing in quotes from Arab leaders, which rather ignores the fact that the by the early 50s, the majority of new Jews in Israel were refugees who had been expelled from Arab countries.

Serge Lelouche - 8/8/2007

I'm all for grace under pressure, but Slavin's mean-spirited and dishonest scholarship is itself a sort of rudeness. His distortions of both historical events, and Plaut's take on them, is nasty. He covered himself in mud in the first few sentences, and then challenged Plaut to come wrestle with him. I suppose you can fault Plaut for sinking to his level.

Howard NA Beeth - 8/8/2007

But manners matter because rudeness, snideness and anger get in the way of clear thinking--and for this reason need to be consciously resisted and called down when they occur.

Public discourse includes the liklihood of criticism. It comes with the territory. The best way to handle it is to follow Hemingway's "grace under pressure" maxim and to remember that thoughtful criticism can provoke re-thinking and better thinking. It can move the discussion forward. Of course, criticism can also surely hurt--but not as much as an intemperate response to it.

E. Simon - 8/8/2007

Mr. Haywood goes hamhandedly on about ascribing "special" negatives to Zionism as a nationalism, but they never materialize convincingly. He capitalizes ETHNIC, as if that weren't the basis of nationalism generally. No ethnicity in Israel is denied citizenship, as Haywood states. Is he talking about the sub-ethnicities of the hundreds of places of origin of Israeli Jews? None of them seem any less inclined to Zionism, whether their forebears sojourned in Yemen, Tunisia, India, Haifa or Bulgaria. Do the non-Jewish Druze or Bedouin feel less inclined to fight for the Jewish state and enlist in the IDF that forms such an important core experience in expressing the sense of solidarity that so strongly defines Israeli identity? Ok, I'll answer that one: In a word, no. Whose citizenship is being stripped by virtue of their membership in what Haywood imagines to be the apparently "wrong" class of ethnicities in Israel? And what is his deal with relating any of this melarchy to life in the U.S.? Where is the relevance? Is he from.... Europe, which sometimes seems to (delusionally) see itself as having forever been at the forefront of abandoning the concepts of ethnicity and nationalism? Well, given their history, I could see why they think that abandoning all efforts at understanding the past is more important from being discerning about its true lessons and their applicability. These terse statements of his are so unfounded and off-base as to verge on lies. They are certainly stated with the tone and intent of giving the unbiased observer anything other than an accurate impression of Israel.

N. Friedman - 8/8/2007

Mr. Haywood,

No one denies that Arabs label that the Arab side lost the 1948 war and interpreted that loss as a catastrophe. What is disputed is what occurred. The Arab side conveniently forgets that their role and their well stated - both publicly and privately - war aims. And, the Arab side conveniently forgets that 856,000 Jews were ultimately made refugees from what Arabs call Arab lands. And, the Arab side conveniently forgets that Jews legitimately migrated to a place where refuge was available - a basic human right, which the Arab position largely denies as a right available to Jews.

That Arabs were displaced is not denied. It is, however, denied that there was a well set plan to displace people or that the majority were intentionally displaced. That, you will note, is what Benny Morris's research shows, not that he denies the logic of his own research.

And, other research, most notably Ephraim Karsh, shows that the group intentionally displaced was actually rather small and that others left for reasons, such as an unwillingness to live under non-Muslim law (e.g. in and around Jaffa), large numbers were transported by the British against the will of the Israeli leadership (e.g. in Haifa) and large numbers merely left on rumors that inflated or invented massacres and/or to join in the fighting and/or to make way for Arab fighters to defeat the Jewish forces. In fact, Karsh's research shows that a lot of the revisionist history simply involves creating events and conversation and records that did not occur and/or exist.

N. Friedman - 8/8/2007

Mr. Haywood,

Saying something does not make it so. Israel's nationalism is no more exclusive than any other. Your stating otherwise does not change that.

Your theory is confused and is based on a misunderstanding of the circumstances involved.

First and foremost, the creation of Israel involved people being displaced - both Jews and Arabs. In fact, more Jews were displaced than Arabs. Arab countries that displaced their Jews are not pining to get them back. And, the Jews driven out were not wonderfully treated even before being driven out. The point here is that the circumstances that exist are that of a dispute, not one party denying the just due to the other.

Second, the aims of the Arab side - and, to this day, the aims set forth by the Hamas, among others - is that Jews had no right to have exercised the basic human right to find refuge where it is available and the more modern right to pursue political ends. Rather, the position adopted by the Arab side is that Jews in Islamic lands must meld themselves under the wings of Islam - as stated explicitly in the Hamas Covenant. That means, at best, that Jews deemed appropriately within the region would be permitted to live as second class citizens - something far less than what Jews offer to Arabs, even in the captured territories.

Third, Jews - and, most particularly, Israelis - have good reason to be concerned and, perhaps, even paranoid. The reasonable view that an Israeli might hold is that any concession made could, absent a true end to hostilities, undermine their future and that of their children. Hence, the concern - bordering on seeming paranoia - about the absence of Arabs willing to consider Israel legitimate, whether or not such Arabs would sign a peace agreement. The assumption is that any agreement would merely be interim and the Israelis want to end the dispute, not an interruption to fighting, if the Israelis are to cede anything permanent.

And, were there to be the sort of state that your comment suggests, what is the model from the region to go by? Frankly, the best case scenario is Lebanon. Would you wish Lebanon's history on anyone?

Now, this is not intended to immunize the Israelis from criticism. It is, instead, to place criticism in some manner of context and to understand the matter fairly. Your approach, by contrast, is to confuse a dispute with a final situation.

I would suggest to you that for Arab Israeli citizens, they have rights at least as good, if not better, than Muslim citizens of, for example, France. Arab Israelis certainly have better representation in the government and likely less actual discrimination, notwithstanding the dispute over Israel's existence and activities.

Joseph Mutik - 8/8/2007

of course

Joseph Mutik - 8/8/2007

There are at least 20 countries having "right of return" laws:

Check: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_Return"

Some of these countries are:

# 1 Armenia
# 2 Belarus
# 3 Bulgaria
# 4 China
# 5 Republic of China (Taiwan)
# 6 Croatia
# 7 Czech Republic
# 8 Finland
# 9 France
# 10 Germany
# 11 Greece
# 12 India
# 13 Ireland
# 14 Israel
# 15 Japan
# 16 Lithuania
# 17 Norway
# 18 Poland
# 19 Serbia
# 20 Spain
A quote from the link presented above:

"Significantly, the UN maintains a separate and distinct definition of the word "refugees" for Palestinians who left Palestine (including present-day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza) in 1948 and/or 1967. Palestinian refugees from Palestine are classed as both the individuals who left their homes and any descendants of those individuals. This stands in contrast to the UN definition of refugee as it applies to displaced persons connected with territories other than those of the State of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza: in the latter case it refers only to those individuals who were forced to flee, not to their lineal descendants.[13]"

Check also:

William J. Haywood - 8/8/2007

Are you saying that if someone accepts that the Naqba occurred, they therefore believe it was the same level of horror as the Holocaust?

Explain that.

The generals who carried out the Naqba know perfectly well what they did. No one disputes the existence of Pappe's documents -- they are archival. The denials are meant only for people who need them.

William J. Haywood - 8/8/2007


William J. Haywood - 8/8/2007

"Unless you assume that mere nationalism in any form is an abominable evil..."

There is a huge difference between most nationalisms and Israeli.

Israeli is based on ETHNIC exclusion. It is like apartheid South Africa, where millions of people were denied citizenship in the homelands, despite remaining under the control of Pretoria.

A nationalism based on racial or ethnic privilege is much more toxic than the usual.

Do you live in the U.S.? I don't suppose you'd like citizenship stripped from anyone who isn't Lutheran, and driven into exile in Baja. (But look how good we treat the non-Lutherans who remain! The only democracy in North America!)

This idea that Zionism is the same as any other nationalism is bandied about constantly. It is partly true, but it has a whole extra layer of xenophobia wrapped around it.

Serge Lelouche - 8/7/2007

Well a Miss Manners point, possibly, but nothing more. Plaut is rude, and snide, but only his piece approaches anything like scholarship.Slavin is a very confused man, as his factually incorrect and structurally incoherent piece demonstrate. Further more, Plaut has been a frequent victim of Slavin's--he may have reason to be getting a little annoyed.

sagi cohen - 8/7/2007

all in the name of even handedness

E. Simon - 8/7/2007

"t's not just that they are usually Zionist..."

People say "Zionist" as if it's a position too extreme to forego challenge. On what basis? It makes no sense to assert that Jewish nationalism is in itself any more insidious than French nationalism, Japanese nationalism, Tibetan nationalism, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Unless you assume that mere nationalism in any form is an abominable evil, than there is no point to challenging Zionism. And let's also nevermind the fact that the strongest political platform for advancing anti-Zionism propagandizing on its behalf is, ironically, the United "NATIONS" itself. They should at least be honest and first disband and reorganize into the United Non-Nations if they want to continue spending the energies they do attempting to delegitimize the national rights of just one people.

Howard NA Beeth - 8/7/2007

Mr. Plaut and Mr. Slavin obviously are both engaged scholars. However, Mr. Slavin makes his case in a polite manner, with a calm presentation that is fact-centered. In contrast, Mr. Plaut, from his first sentence onwards, shows a preference for snide ad hominem that discredits his reputation, damages his cause, and hinders a discussion of serious problems.

Point to Mr. Slavin.

Charles S Young - 8/7/2007

Err, can't people sympathize with two groups of victims at once?

Explain how that follows.

sagi cohen - 8/7/2007

want a new Holocaust of Jews in Israel to be perpetrated by Islamofascists.

William J. Haywood - 8/7/2007

That sounds remarkably similar to neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust, but clearly would like one.

Yisrael Medad - 8/7/2007

This term mis too often bandied about. I put it to all that it was the Arabs that began to ethnic cleanse the area that was scheduled to become the Jewish state already in 1920, when they killed 8 at Tel Hai and wiped it out. They continued in Old Jerusalem in April that year, Jaffa in 1921, Petach Tikva in 1924 and at Hebron, Tsfat and Beer Tuviah in 19292. And it goes on and on. The communities of Atarot and Neveh Yaakov, the Gush Etzion kibbutzim and the Bet Haaravah kibbutz, among others, as well as Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter.

If there was any "ethnic cleaninsing in Palestine", the Jews were the victims. The Arabs were not "ethnically cleansed" but lost a war of agression intended to wipe out all Jews in the country.

sagi cohen - 8/6/2007

Roses are Red, Violets are Blus,
The "Naqba" was not, but there should have been TWO.

sagi cohen - 8/6/2007

Because there is no such thing as a Naqba. All that happened was the Arabs launched a series of wars of aggression and lost them. And paid the piper far less than they should have!

Joseph Mutik - 8/6/2007



Special Dispatch Series - No. 1479
February 28, 2007 No.1479

In a Satirical Poem, Saudi Author Laments Conditions in the Arab World

In a satirical poem titled "When," posted on Arabic reformist websites including www.aafaq.org , reformist Saudi author and journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider lamented what she regards as the conditions in the Arab world. In the introduction to this poem, she wrote: "'When' is an ode to the troubles of the Arab citizen. Both men and women participated in its [writing], and it is still open to additions. This ode will be hung on the walls of the palaces of the Arab rulers, [1] so feel free to add you contributions."

The following are excerpts from the poem:

"When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner - you know that you are in an Arab country…

"When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

"When religion has control over science - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

"When clerics are referred to as 'scholars' - don't be astonished, you are in an Arab country.

"When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or relinquishes his power, and whom nobody is permitted to criticize - do not be too upset, you are in an Arab country.

"When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery - do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

"When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but [see them] seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions [in the government] - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When monarchies turn into theocracies, and republics into hybrids of monarchy and republic - do not be taken aback, you are in an Arab country.

"When you find that the members of parliament are nominated [by the ruler], or else that half of them are nominated and the other half have bought their seats through bribery… - you are in an Arab country…

"When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When you see that the authorities chop off a man's hand for stealing a loaf of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions - do not be too surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When you are forced to worship the Creator in school and your teachers grade you for it - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country…

"When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their eyes - you are in an Arab country…

"When a boy learns about menstruation and childbirth but not about his own [body] and [the changes] it undergoes in puberty - roll out your prayer mat and beseech Allah to help you deal with your crisis, for you are in an Arab country…

"When land is more important than human beings - you are in an Arab country…

"When covering the woman's head is more important than financial and administrative corruption, embezzlement, and betrayal of the homeland - do not be astonished, you are in an Arab country…

"When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse - be upset, you are in an Arab country…

"When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time - bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.

"When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot - place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country…

"When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged off and buried in a dark prison - you are in an Arab country…

"When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people - you can be certain that you are in an Arab country."

Charles S Young - 8/6/2007

"Benny Morris...today decidedly denies Israel ever engaged in ethnic cleansing."

He does? He's changed his position that it happened, but was incomplete?

Like Dr. Slavin, I am perplexed by the mix of articles chosen at HNN. It's not just that they are usually Zionist, but so often the more extremist and hateful flavors. Naqba deniers commit the same torture of evidence that Holocaust deniers do.

Joseph Mutik - 8/6/2007

It could save a lot of grief to the lady from the "Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal" poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.