Morris on Pappe, Pappe on Morris

Historians in the News

Dalia Shehori, in Haaretz.com (May 5, 2004):

Ilan Pappe lets his political opinions control facts, says Benny Morris. Pappe says Morris is captive to his own right-wing ideology. Two historians show post-Zionism is anything but dead. Third article in a series.

The relativist approach typified by post-Zionist research is subjected to a crushing attack in the review by Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University, of the new book by Ilan Pappe, "A History of Modern Palestine: One Country, Two Peoples." The review appears in the March 22, 2004 issue of The New Republic, under the title, "Politics by Other Means," and in it Morris disparages the book, mainly because of its subjugation of history to the author's political ideology.

"This truly is an appalling book," Morris writes at the end of the review. "Anyone interested in the real history of Palestine/Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would do well to run vigorously in the opposite direction."

Morris offers a catalog of the mistakes and inaccuracies he found in the book, which partly stem, he feels, from slovenliness and laziness, but mainly from the same philosophy of relativism in which there is no value to facts and historic truth.

Pappe's response was not long in coming. It appeared, flashing sparks and brusque statements, on March 30, 2004 on the Internet's "Electronic Intifada" site, after The New Republic refused to publish it (mentioned in the introduction to the response). Morris told Haaretz that The New Republic does not, as a matter of policy, publish lengthy responses to articles appearing in the magazine, and it was suggested to Pappe that he submit a brief rebuttal to the weekly.

Pappe claims he did in fact send The New Republic a short response, which will apparently be published alongside a counter-response by Morris. The skirmishing between the two and the great interest it has elicited on the Internet (numerous letters of response) indicate that although post-Zionism may be in a state of suspension, as some commentators believe, it has by all means become part of the public discourse, as others might argue....

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