Sunday, July 24, 2011

Karsh Creams Morris

In response to Benny Morris' defense against the attack of Efraim Karsh, Karsh now rebuts and his main thrust is this:

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian war of terror in September 2000, Morris has been playing an intricate game of Jekyll-and-Hyde. In press articles and media appearances, he blames the Palestinians for initiating and perpetuating the conflict since the 1920s and 1930s. In his books, he casts Israel in the role of the regional villain, as he has done for decades.

...Zionism, he explains therein, is a "colonizing and expansionist ideology and movement... intent on politically, or even physically, dispossessing and supplanting the Arabs."

...[later, he was] peddling the longstanding Arab canard that "the displacement of Arabs from Palestine... was inherent in Zionist ideology" and can be traced back to the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl.  How can this possibly square with his present day public statements squarely putting blame for the conflict on "the instinctive rejectionism that runs like a dark thread through Palestinian history"?

...Consider, for example, Morris's emphatic oath of allegiance to the Zionist ideal - "the establishment and perpetuation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the historic patrimony of the Jewish people" (a definition readers will be hard pressed to find in his books) - and its simultaneous derision as a "colonizing and expansionist ideology and movement."

Keenly aware that the latter libel - the standard Arab depiction of the Jewish national cause since the early 1920s - might not wash well with his present cohort of Israel sympathizers, yet reluctant to disown anything he ever wrote, Morris performs his trademark textual acrobatics in an attempt to square this impossible circle. "Zionism was never, as the Arabs charged, a 'colonialist' or 'imperialist' movement," he argues, "but it did proceed by establishing colonies (moshavot) in Palestine and expanding from them outward, to encompass as much of Palestine as possible."

So it has all been a matter of misunderstood semantics. Zionism is not a colonialist movement à la the Arabs, only a movement establishing and expanding colonies. But if the Land of Israel is the historic patrimony of the Jewish people, as Morris now admits, there is surely nothing wrong in the existence of Jewish localities there. Why then should communal villages, agricultural settlements, and rural communities (as moshavot would be translated in non-archaic Hebrew) be described as colonies? By this reckoning, the 1909 establishment of Tel Aviv would also qualify as such.

The truth, of course, is that in describing Zionism as "a colonizing and expansionist ideology and movement" Morris meant precisely that: an offshoot of European imperialism at its most rapacious...

But there is so much more.

Read it all.


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