Roger Cohen’s Racist Opposition to the Palestinian Right of Return

Palestinian refugees fleeing Galilee in the fall of 1948 (Fred Csasznik)
Palestinian refugees fleeing Galilee in the fall of 1948 (Fred Csasznik)

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen this week made an openly racist argument against the Palestinian right of return, declaring his opposition to this goal of the BDS movement on the grounds that it would threaten Israel’s existence as a “Jewish state”.

In his article, Cohen first expresses his support for the two-state solution and position that Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian territory, describing it is a “positive factor” that when foreign companies stop doing business with Israeli companies that have operations in Israel’s illegal settlements, “they send a powerful signal to Israel to get out of the West Bank.”

But then he says that such developments make him “uneasy” because he doesn’t “trust” the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, claiming they have a “hidden agenda”. How so? Well, the movement’s “stated aim is to end the occupation, secure ‘full equality’ for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees.” So what’s wrong with any of that? The problem for Cohen is that for Arab citizens of Israel to be treated equally and for Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from Palestine to return to their homes would mean “the end of Israel as a Jewish state.”

Cohen explicitly rejects the right of Palestinians to return to their homes from which they were ethically cleansed so that Israel could be established as a demographically “Jewish state”. He denies that they have any such right, asserting that this is merely a “claim” and that Palestinian refugees should be compensated instead. It isn’t clear whether Cohen thinks they have a right to be compensated for having been expelled from their homes and having their property confiscated or whether he just thinks it would be a nice thing to do. But the fact is that it is an internationally recognized right of refugees to return to their homes.

U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948 invoked this recognized principle of international law when it resolved that “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”.

Note that Cohen is not saying that Palestinians who choose not to return to their homes should be compensated. He is saying that refugees should be compensated and not allowed to return. In Cohen’s view, this is not the refugees’ choice to make. And he rejects this right of the Palestinians explicitly on the grounds that Israel should remain a “Jewish state”. In other words, he is making a strictly racist argument for rejecting Palestinians’ individual right of return.

By 1948, the right of return of refugees was already recognized as customary international law. The U.S. representative at the U.N. acknowledged that Resolution 194 did not create a new right, but rather “endorsed a generally recognized principle and provides a means for implementing that principle”. Incidentally, Israel’s admission into the U.N. as a member state was conditional upon its implementation of Resolution 194.

The right of refugees to return to their home was recognized in the Hague Regulations annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention Respecting the Laws of War on Land and again in the 1949 Geneva Convention IV Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. The Hague Regulations and Geneva Conventions also prohibited forced expulsions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on December 10, 1948, recognized that “Everyone has a right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights later also affirmed that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”

Cohen closes by touting Israel as “a democracy” and saying that all Israel’s citizens “should enjoy equality” and be “permitted to identify themselves as Israelis if they so wish, rather than as Jews or Arabs or Druze — that is as undifferentiated citizens.” This is, of course, totally incompatible with his rejection of Palestinians’ rights and insistence that Israel must remain a “Jewish state” — an illustration of extreme cognitive dissonance.

What Cohen is in effect saying, when he declares his rejection of the right of return on the racist grounds that it would threaten Israel’s existence as a “Jewish state” is that the ethnic cleansing by which this “Jewish state” came into existence was legitimate. This is, after all, the purpose of Israel’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel explicitly as a “Jewish state”. While expressing opposition to the occupation and spouting rhetoric about democracy and equality, what Roger Cohen is actually doing is siding with Israel in its effort to oppress and coerce the Palestinians into surrendering their internationally recognized rights.

It is highly instructive that such an openly racist rationale for doing so is regarded in the American mainstream media as perfectly acceptable, provoking not the least bit of controversy. As a simple thought experiment, one might imagine what the reaction would be if a columnist argued, say, against the right of Jewish refugees to return to their homes in Germany following World War II on the grounds that it could threaten Germany’s existence as an “Aryan nation”. But Cohen is, after all, merely serving his duty as a high priest for the state religion. In accordance with the mainstream media’s usual role, he is dutifully performing the task of manufacturing consent for U.S. foreign policy, which includes backing Israel’s position and pressuring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”.

That is to say, the U.S. government has adopted an explicitly racist policy. But you won’t read that in the New York Times or other U.S. mainstream media.

Jeremy R. Hammond

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Jeremy R. Hammond
There is a massive criminal organization that threatens the lives and liberty of millions of people around the globe. Popularly known as the United States government, the mainstream media serve as its very own Ministry of Propaganda. To learn the truth about any given issue requires a research project. I research critical issues, deconstruct propaganda narratives, broaden the scope of discussion, and empower readers with invaluable knowledge. I’m an award-winning independent analyst, author, and publisher of <a href="http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com"Foreign Policy Journal. Read my articles, follow me on social media, subscribe to my free newsletter, and contact me at JeremyRHammond.com

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  • hammersmith46

    Cohen gives new (?) meaning to “the Chosen.”

  • jay

    It seems the official Israeli position has always been one of genocide of the Palestinians. Peace could be made, but obstructionism reigns. They would rather crush all Palestinians than share a shitty chunk of dirt.

    • dubinsky

      it doesn’t at all seem ” the official Israeli position has always been one of genocide ” to sane people, jay….. but you’re special.

    • Don Sagal

      Really Jay??? If anything the Israelis have been extraordinarily restrained. What nation would allow hundreds of rockets to come slamming into their territories without responding immediately? Israel has dropped leaflets, sent out text messages and so on warning people in the Gaza to stay away from Hamas rocket sites way in advance. Would any other country do this? If Israel’s position was genocidal, Gaza would have been completely obliterated long ago…and within hours!

  • dubinsky

    is this idiocy serious?

    Cohen’s argument is poor and shouldn’t be used to reject a claim of a right to return that is obvious nonsense.

    every single Palestinian who fled the area in 1948 and 1949 should be allowed to return if willing to follow the law and live in peace.

    people born elsewhere and generations later have no right of return

    • It is nice to see that you respect the right of those ethnically cleansed in ’48-’49 to return.

      • dubinsky

        they deserve to be allowed back and the wounds that were opened when the Palestinian and their Arab League allies decided to start the wars rather than accept peaceful partition should be allowed to close.

        • The ethnic cleansing operations began months before neighboring Arab states sent armies to confront the Zionist forces.

          • dubinsky

            the ethnic cleansing operation began with the 1920 Nebi Musa riots when they started lynching Jews.

          • There have been atrocities by both sides. But it wasn’t 750,000 Jews who were ethnically cleansed from Palestine by Arabs.

          • dubinsky

            had the Palestinians and their allies not fought with such great ineptitude, they would have acted far worse, Jeremy.

            have a care in what you assert.

            http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/12/04/article-2242722-1657FE04000005DC-339_634x474.jpg

          • It was, rather, 750,000 Arabs who were ethnically cleansed from Palestine by Jews.

          • Don Sagal

            Do the 856,000 Arab Jews who were ethnically cleansed at gunpoint out of Arab countries in the late ’40s also get the right of return? There are more of them than the Palestinians and the value of their confiscated properties is more than double. If you don’t agree to this then you are a hypocrite.

          • Don Sagal

            Yes…pretty bad, but not as bad as the 856,000 Arab Jews ethnically cleansed (at least those who weren’t murdered) from Arab countries at the same time. Not only were there more of them than Palestinians, but the value of their confiscated properties is worth more than double that of the Palestinians.
            Do you believe that they also have the right to compensation for their confiscated properties? If you don’t, then you’re a hypocrite.

          • Don Sagal

            I would like to see you write an article about the 856,000 Arab Jews who were ethnically cleansed at gunpoint from Arab countries in the late ’40s and ordered to go to Israel. Why have you not written about them? I guess they don’t fit very conveniently into your tight narrative. Or maybe it’s because they’re Jewish.

          • Don Sagal

            Yeah…almost as bad as the 856,000 Arab Jews who were ethinically cleansed from Arab countries (at least those who weren’t murdered) and were told to get out and go to Israel. I guess you could care less about them since they inconveniently screw up your narrative.

  • The right of return is a universal right.

  • The right of return is a universal right.

    I’ll take it from your comment that you are not a hypocrite yourself and therefore support the right of Arab refugees ethnically cleansed from Palestine to return to their homeland.

  • There have been many crimes committed throughout history. I cannot write on all of them. My focus is US foreign policy. As the US supports Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, that is something I, as an American, focus my attention on.

  • In what way do the Jews expelled from Arab countries “screw up” anything I’ve written? You’re welcome to explain.

  • It is difficult to see how launching military operations with a policy of deliberate use of disproprtionate force and intentional destruction of civilian infrastructure of Gaza could possibly be described as “restraint”.

    Furthermore, it is Israel that has repeatedly violated its ceasefire agreements with Hamas. It was Israel, for instance, that violated the 2008 ceasefire prior to Operation Cast Lead. It was Israel again that violated the 2012 ceasefire prior to Operation Pillar of Defense.

    • Rumpleforeskin

      You sir are sadly mistaken. Instead of believing biased UN reports such as the Goldstone report, which he has rescinded actually. Why not believe a report by Ex Generals and high ranking officers that are actual experts in warfare policy procedure and protocols from several different countries instead of information largely gathered from Hamas and other Palestinian domestic organizations. Believing anything that comes out of the UN shows your complete disregard for a fair and impartial examination of the facts. I can’t wait to hear your reasoning why this report is biased and should not be used as a definitive opinion of Israels actions. I’m also curious,.. Have you ever been to Israel?

      Here’s the report….
      http://www.high-level-military-group.org/pdf/hlmg-assessment-2014-gaza-conflict.pdf

      • No, I am not mistaken. But if you wish to assert otherwise, you are welcome to try to produce an actual argument.

        That’s not what you’ve done here. Example: rather than pointing to any error in fact or logic, you allege prejudice, attributed to me by virtue of being so willingly gullible as to accept the claims of the allegedly biased Goldstone Report. The fact that I never even mentioned the Goldstone Report, cited it, or even had it in mind when writing any of the above is not surprising, since the whole point of the comment is to deflect from what I did actually say. As evidence of this alleged “bias”, you assert that Richard Goldstone “retracted” the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Never mind also the fact that Goldstone neither had any authority to retract the report nor ever claimed to, among countless other problems with this fantasy account, any of which would be superfluous to list.

        • Rumpleforeskin

          I was referring to what you said… “It is difficult to see how launching military operations with a policy of deliberate use of disproprtionate force and intentional destruction of civilian infrastructure of Gaza could possibly be described as “restraint”.”. And I think I did produce an actual argument. I pointed to your entire statement as erroneous. It’s not easy responding to a generalized degrading comment meant to vilify Israel when you yourself used no facts no numbers no nothing. You sited no information whatsoever. Just general slander.

          Israel has a policy of deliberate use of disproportionate force? Officially Israeli policy? Or just your opinion? I could provide other examples if you need. So in my response to your “facts” regarding Israeli policy, I provided a link to an extensive analysis of Israels actions conducted by ex generals from many different countries. It’s not my opinion that Israel has one of the most moral armies in history, it’s the opinion of actual experts in warfare. So there you have it. I provided you with expert opinions to oppose your general one sided bias of Israel. I have told you what you’re wrong about and provided proof as to why you’re wrong. I’d say if anyone needs to provide an actual argument it is you. But we can make this about goldstone if you’d like.

          • No, you did not produce an actual argument. You employed the ad hominem fallacy. I am not mistaken, and I repeat:

            It is difficult to see how launching military operations with a policy of deliberate use of disproprtionate force and intentional destruction of civilian infrastructure of Gaza could possibly be described as “restraint”.

            Furthermore, it is Israel that has repeatedly violated its ceasefire agreements with Hamas. It was Israel, for instance, that violated the 2008 ceasefire prior to Operation Cast Lead. It was Israel again that violated the 2012 ceasefire prior to Operation Pillar of Defense.

  • Mayibongwe

    How is Israel supposed to go about distinguishing those who want to leave in peace from those who don’t want to leave in peace with them.Allowing millions of refugees to return to Israel will only lead to an ugly civil war between the Arabs and Jews just like the one in the early 20s and 1947.As desirable as it may be for the refugees to return,it is an unrealistic demand.It will only create a new conflict,many people will die,millions will be displaced and then you will have another refugee crisis.

  • Don Williams

    Israel; does encourage Arabs to migrate to Israel Mayobongwe, Israel offers financial inducement to encourage Arabs to migrate to Israel, so far some 250,000 Arabs have migrated to Israel since 1947.

    They are all Jewish Arabs, from many Arab lands, not all Arab Jews of course many Jewish Arabs have chosen to remain in their own homelands.

    Israel, despite agreeing, as a condition of UN membership, to accept the right of return for displaced Palestinian Arabs, has refused to keep her word, 4.9 million UN registered Palestinian refugees are denied the right of return to their homeland simply because they are Christian or Muslim.

    What is unrealistic, is demanding an exclusive Jewish State in a predominantly Islamic part of the world, indeed the huge majority of the worlds 15 million Jews choose to live in their own respective homelands and not on stolen Palestinian land.

    You are avoiding the use of logic Mayibongwe.

    • Mayibongwe

      First of all,I was referring to the Arabs who left Israel in 1948.You talk about stolen land,78% of historic Palestine is recognized by major organisations and by over 100 UN member states(including the 5 veto holding members of the UN security council) as Israeli sovereign territory.Israel just like any other sovereign can appropriate its land as it wishes with or without compensation.

      If you argue the land was stolen because the boundaries were obtained by force.Well,I live in Zimbabwe.The group that I belong to originally lived in South Africa,Over a hundred years ago they arrived in this area and kicked out the local population and I assume that was also the case in the USA,Canada,Australia,Many of the South American countries and many other countries in the world.I guess we are all squatters living on stolen land Mr Williams.

      About the refugees.The UN recommendation explicitly states ” Those wishing to return to their homes and live at PEACE with their neighbours “.I go back to my question,how is Israel supposed to distinguish from those who want to live in peace and those who do not intend to leave in peace with them?

  • Don Williams

    Actually Don, there are only 250,000 Jewish Arabs who migrated to Israel, between 1947 and today, Israel provided financial grants to those who did so.

    The number of Jewish Arabs that chose to remain in their respective Arab homelands vastly outnumber those who migrated to Israel.

    There are over 30,000 Iranian Jews (and 300,000 Iranian Christians), all protected by the constitution, which guarantees them seats in the Iranian Parliament, I understand Israel would pay each Jewish Iranian $60,000 were they to migrate to Israel (2011 figures).

    I mention Iran simply because that is the country most demonised by Israeli politicians,

    P.S. There is a very nice Jewish restaurant in Terhan!

  • Israel just like any other sovereign can appropriate its land as it wishes with or without compensation.

    Expropriate. Not “appropriate”. The fact it is a state rather than a non-state entity doing the deed does not render it anything less than than the same theft.

    If you argue the land was stolen because the boundaries were obtained by force.

    In 1948, the Jewish community owned less than 7% of the land. The “Jewish state” was established by ethnically cleansing 750,000 Arabs from Palestine. The land was stolen by force. This is not a claim, but a historical fact.

    how is Israel supposed to distinguish from those who want to live in peace and those who do not intend to leave in peace with them?

    I fail to perceive any difficulty here. Israel has a legal and moral obligation to respect the right of those refugees who wish to return to their homeland to do so. Period.

    • Mayibongwe

      You are missing my point Mr Hammond.I’m talking about the pre-1967 land,not the settlements.It is RECOGNIZED by the international community,the UN,over a hundred UN member states including the five permanent members of the security council as Israeli sovereign territory.In simple terms it means the land belongs to the State of Israel.It all comes down to recognition.

      Many countries in the world were born out of the displacement or genocide of the local inhabitants.I’m not disputing your facts.I’m just saying in warfare,these kinds of things happen.Israel is a legitimate state,It’s RECOGNIZED by the international community,I keep coming back to that word.

      UN Resolution 194 recommends a conditional right not an absolute, ” live at PEACE”,the devil is in the details .That was to make sure Israel did not have to accept a hostile population that would not endanger it’s security.Israel does not have to accept them if it genuinely believes they will endanger its security.That’s why resolution UNSC 242 never mentioned the Palestinians or them having to return to Israel.

  • Yes, Israel is recognized as a state by the international community. So what? That does not legitimize the means by which it was established or its theft of Palestinian land.

    The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their home is most certainly not conditioned upon Israel’s opinion, genuine or otherwise, of whether or not they might “endanger its security”. UNGA Resolution 194 does not place this condition on the right of return. The phrase you are referring to simply meant that CIVILIANS — as opposed to COMBATANTS — must be allowed to return.

    • Mayibongwe

      Every legal sovereign in the world has the right to LEGALLY take over land without the consent of the owner,with or without payment as long as that action is in accordance with its domestic law and the area is under its formal sovereignty.The State of Israel has been the legal sovereign in that area since 1948.

      Yes it does.Every country in the world ultimately decides whom it allows or denies entry into its sovereign territory.Even if Israel does acknowledge the right of return,it does not mean it has to allow them to return simple because the UNGA has no power to impose consequences for non-compliance or use military force to enforce its resolutions(Which are legally non-binding) and from the fact that UNSC 242 never compelled Israel to recognize that right or allow the refugees to return.

      • The fact a state may claim such authority and makes it “legal” to engage in theft does not make it a “right”. There is no such “right” of governments. That is nonsense.

        It does not follow from the fact that UNGA resolutions are non-binding that therefore Israel is not obligated to allow the refugees to return. The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes was not conferred upon them by the UN. It is an inherent right recognized as customary international law which Resolution 194 merely recognized. Israel is morally and legally obligated to allow the refugees to return.

        • Mayibongwe

          The question is weather it was illegal or not.If I’m right,the legal definition of theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property.My argument is,Since Israel was the legal sovereign in that area.If taking possession of the land was done in accordance with its own laws,It means it was legal and therefore disqualifying it from being classified as theft.My understanding is that a government ultimately determines what is legal or not inside of its sovereign territory.That is why something that is illegal in one country may be perfectly legal in another country.

          The right of freedom of movement is so vague that you can literally come up with an infinite number of interpretations.Is it referring to an individual leaving his country or mass displacement of people during wars like in Bosnia,Rwanda or Europe during WW2? Can the 7 million Palestinians refugees(95% born outside Israel) claim to be Israeli nationals? Is a national’s right absolute?Even after all that we still have to ask ourselves,Is it practical to return people back to a place were there was a conflict that was based on ethnic lines without provoking another one.

          • No, the Zionist ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestinian land was most certainly not legal. How ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

            No, the right of return is not “vague” at all. People made refugees by war have a right to return to their homes and their rightful property.

            The question of the practicality of Palestinian refugees actually doing so is an entirely separate one.

          • Mayibongwe

            I guess we have to agree to disagree.

            We can’t turn back the clock.I would support creating a fund to compensate the refugees in which Israel and the Arab states that took part in the war equally contribute.I believe the Palestinian refugees should be treated like all other refugees.It means they should be transferred to UNHCR and be resettled in other countries.

            Returning to Israel is unrealistic and impractical.Clinging to this idea of returning to Israel will only secure their future as refugees for centuries to come.

  • Javed Mir

    –rejection of the right of return–

    only for the Palestinians — although UNO resolution 194 confirms the recognized principle of international law “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted”. But the problem is that USA the sponsor of Israel, is above every law. As such UNO resolutions are generally ignored and dumped.

  • It is not a matter of opinion. To argue that Israel’s ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestinian land was “legal” is absurd.

    As for the right of return, I defer to my previous comment.

    • Mayibonwe

      I disagree with the notion of ethnic cleansing.The Israelis say they left on their own will or under Arab orders while the Palestinians say they were forcibly expelled.The truth is,some were forced out and some left on their own will but it is impossible to definitively prove to which one accounted for the vast majority of refugees.I personally think they left on their own will.Just like Syrians leaving Syria or Afghans leaving Afghanistan,civilians generally don’t like being in combat zones.The fact that many left their homes intact and left behind money and valuables would suggest these were people who were planning to return in a few weeks(I read the Arabs had promised to overrun the Jews in 3 days).

      With the issue of land,My argument is still the same.It was done within the context of the law.I don’t know how things are done in your country but in my country,something done in within the law is perfectly LEGAL.

  • The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, too, is not a matter of opinion, but historical fact.

    Again, to argue that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and theft of Arabs’ land was “done within the context of the law” and “perfectly LEGAL” is perfectly asinine.

    Again, it is an internationally recognized right of refugees of war that they are entitled to return to their homeland.

    • Mayibongwe

      There was forced displacement.I never disputed that.You can’t take the Arab narrative that 750 000 people were forcibly expelled and decide its a fact.People will always be displaced in war,intentionally or unintentionally.Anyone who suggests that they know with certainty how 750 000 Palestinians became refugees is lying.

      You can keep repeating “theft of Arab Land” again and again but it won’t change a thing.Does the fact that a government forcibly takes away a chunk of people’s hard earned money make it theft or extortion?No,They are mandated by the State to take that action.It’s done within the context of the law,that’s my argument.

      There is no such thing as an absolute right,i’m sure you know this.Under international law,countries also have absolute discretion on whom they may grant Citizenship to.

      • Asgharshoe

        I’m guessing that he banned you once he started to lose the argument ?

        So predictable….

  • That 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from Palestine is not “the Arab narrative”. It is a well-documented historical fact. See, for example, ISRAELI historian Ilan Pappe’s book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”.

    Yes, the fact a government uses force to expropriate private wealth and property makes it theft — same as if individuals did the like.

    You say “It’s done within the context of the law,that’s my argument.” But you don’t have an argument. What law are you referring to? There is no law that rendered the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and theft of Arab land “legal”. What stupid nonsense!

    It is an elementary principle of customary international law that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible. Hence UN Security Council Resolution 242 calling for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. It is also an elementary principle of customary international law that refugees have a right to return to their homes. Hence UN General Assembly Resolution 194 supporting the right of Palestinian refugees to do so.

    • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

      “…historian Ilan Pappe…”

      Ilan Pappé is the Israeli-born political science professor and historian who has been at center stage in the attempt by Great Britain’s 40,000–member Association of University Teachers’ (AUT) to blacklist Israeli universities.

      An activist in Israel’s fringe Communist party,
      he is among the most extreme of a group of radical Israeli historians who have sought to rewrite Israel’s history to suggest the country was born in original sin.

      Pappé has long acknowledged that he is not objective
      and cares little about factual accuracy.
      He readily admits that ideology drives his historical writings and statements.
      And his ideology can be simply summed up:
      Israel is illegitimate and should be the target of international sanctions until it is dismantled as a Jewish state.
      Pappé freely expresses his attitude toward historical investigation and academic objectivity:
      There is no historian in the world who is objective.
      I am not as interested in what happened
      as in how people see what’s happened.
      (“An Interview of Ilan Pappé,”
      Baudouin Loos, Le Soir [Bruxelles],Nov. 29,1999)

      I admit that my ideology influences my historical writings…(Ibid)

      Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts.
      Who knows what facts are?
      We try to convince as many people as we can that
      our interpretation of the facts is the correct one,
      and we do it because of ideological reasons,
      not because we are truthseekers. (Ibid)

      The debate between us is on one level between historians
      who believe they are purely objective reconstructers of the past, like [Benny] Morris, and those who claim that they are subjective human beings striving to tell their own version of the past, like myself.
      (“Benny Morris’s Lies About My Book,” Ilan Pappé,

      Response to Morris’ critique of Pappé’s book,
      “A History of Palestine” published in the New Republic, March 22, 2004,
      History News Network, April 5, 2004)
      end quotes

      BTW, even if Pappé’s claims were true, they make the wrong impression by not mentioning “havlaga” and why it failed, the Arab rejection of the UN Partition plan and Jewish acceptance, and why Jewish policy changed after March 1948.

      “…UN Security Council Resolution 242…”

      It’s silly to read the preamble and ignore the operative part of UNSCR 242.

      “…elementary principle of customary international law that refugees have a right to return…”

      An international law virtually ignored everywhere in the world.
      But let’s take it seriously.
      Let’s have a peace conference involving all countries which took part in the 1948 war. Each side will accept its part of the blame for the refugees of that war.

      But don’t expect too much.
      The guilt may be less than you’re willing to admit,
      and it involves certain Arab states impoverishing
      themselves to enrich Jewish refugees and the same for Israel and the Palestinian refugees.
      Neither of these potential beneficiaries are very popular in the ME.

      • Ad hominem fallacy.

        Here it is from Israeli historian Benny Morris, if you prefer:

        “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population….” — Benny Morris

        • Javed Mir

          Well quoted.

        • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

          “Ad hominem fallacy”

          Not when he discredits himself.
          Not when his ideology matches only too well, his political/historical agenda.
          Not when he loses his job because of an academic scandal he was involved in.

          But no one thinks that the Arab refugees came from Mars, or that the nakba never happened.
          Morris summarized his current political views of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Irish Times (and other publications):

          “There was no Zionist ‘plan’ or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of ‘ethnic cleansing'” and “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.”[11]

          Critics allege that Morris’s first book is biased. Morris believes they failed to read his book with moral detachment, assuming that when he described Israeli actions as cruel or as atrocities, he was condemning them. In fact, he supports Israeli actions during 1948 such as the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. In a 2004 interview in Ha’aretz with Ari Shavit he stated:

          A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.[5]

          Morris also said that Israel was justified in uprooting the Palestinian ‘fifth column’ after the Arabs attacked the infant state, and that proportion should be employed when considering the “small war crimes” committed by Israel in 1948:[5]

          You have to put things in proportion. These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that’s peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that’s chicken feed. When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost an entire 1 percent of the population, you find that we behaved very well.[5]

          His work has been criticized by Arab writers for failing to act on the evidence he found of forced evictions.[12] In the Haaretz interview, he said:

          There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don’t think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes.[5]

          When Shavit called the 1948 Palestinian exodus “ethnic cleansing”, Morris responded, “[t]here are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide — the annihilation of your people — I prefer ethnic cleansing.”[5] Morris criticized David Ben-Gurion for not carrying out such a plan, saying: “In the end, he faltered… If he had carried out a full expulsion — rather than a partial one — he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.”[5]

          His views changed in 2000 after the Palestinian rejection of President Clinton’s peace accords and the beginning of the Second Intifada:

          My turning point began after 2000. I wasn’t a great optimist even before that. True, I always voted Labor or Meretz or Sheli and in 1988 I refused to serve in the territories and was jailed for it, but I always doubted the intentions of the Palestinians. The events of Camp David and what followed in their wake turned the doubt into certainty. When the Palestinians rejected the proposal of [prime minister Ehud] Barak in July 2000 and the Clinton proposal in December 2000, I understood that they are unwilling to accept the two-state solution. They want it all: Lod and Acre and Jaffa.[5]

          Morris still describes himself as left-wing because of his support for the two-state solution, but he believes his generation will not see peace in Israel.[5] He has said, “I don’t see the suicide bombings as isolated acts. They express the deep will of the Palestinian people. That is what the majority of the Palestinians want.”[5] On the subject of “people the Palestinian society sends to carry out the terrorist attacks,” who he calls “serial killers” and “barbarians who want to take our lives,” Morris said:

          The bombing of the buses and restaurants really shook me. They made me understand the depth of the hatred for us. They made me understand that the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim hostility toward Jewish existence here is taking us to the brink of destruction…. Palestinian society is a very sick society. It should be treated the way we treat individuals who are serial killers. Maybe over the years the establishment of a Palestinian state will help in the healing process. But in the meantime, until the medicine is found, they have to be contained so that they will not succeed in murdering us…. Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.[5]

          In the same Haaretz article Morris called Israeli Arabs “a time bomb.”

          If you are asking me whether I support the transfer and expulsion of the Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza and perhaps even from Galilee and the Triangle, I say not at this moment. I am not willing to be a partner to that act. In the present circumstances it is neither moral nor realistic. The world would not allow it, the Arab world would not allow it, it would destroy the Jewish society from within. But I am ready to tell you that in other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions. If we find ourselves with atomic weapons around us, or if there is a general Arab attack on us and a situation of warfare on the front with Arabs in the rear shooting at convoys on their way to the front, acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential….Their slide into complete Palestinization has made them an emissary of the enemy that is among us. They are a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then. If we are attacked by Egypt (after an Islamist revolution in Cairo) and by Syria, and chemical and biological missiles slam into our cities, and at the same time Israeli Palestinians attack us from behind, I can see an expulsion situation. It could happen. If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified.[5]

          Morris called the Israel–Palestinian conflict a facet of a global clash of civilizations between Islamic fundamentalism and the Western World in the Haaretz interview, saying, “There is a deep problem in Islam. It’s a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien…Revenge plays a central part in the Arab tribal culture. Therefore, the people we are fighting and the society that sends them have no moral inhibitions.”[5]

          He sees the Jews as the greater victims:

          “A people that suffered for 2,000 years, that went through the Holocaust, arrives at its patrimony but is thrust into a renewed round of bloodshed, that is perhaps the road to annihilation. In terms of cosmic justice, that’s terrible. It’s far more shocking than what happened in 1948 to a small part of the Arab nation that was then in Palestine…We are the greater victims in the course of history and we are also the greater potential victim. Even though we are oppressing the Palestinians, we are the weaker side here. We are a small minority in a large sea of hostile Arabs who want to eliminate us. So it’s possible than [sic] when their desire is realized, everyone will understand what I am saying to you now. Everyone will understand we are the true victims. But by then it will be too late.”
          end excerpt from en.wikipedia org/wiki/Benny_Morris

          I assume you have nothing to say about the other issues which were brought up.

          • Long rambling comment. Point? Do you have an argument? I repeat:

            Here it is from Israeli historian Benny Morris, if you prefer:

            “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population….” — Benny Morris

          • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

            I’m sorry about the “rambling” comment, but the point was the difference between the works of the two historians and I couldn’t show that in a short post.

            And I’m sorry you have nothing to about
            the other points I previously brought up.

          • Don’t see the relevance. Both confirm that 700,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine in order for the “Jewish state” to be created. The difference is Pappe abhors this while Benny Morris thinks Ben-Gurion didn’t do a thorough enough job of it.

          • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

            Morris sees it in context.
            It’s more honest.

          • Morris is honest, yes — honest that in order for the “Jewish state” to be established, three-quarters of a million Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine.

          • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

            Not only honest, morally right.

            “[t]here are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide — the annihilation of your people — I prefer ethnic cleansing.”

            Benny Morris

          • So you’ve gone from denying the ethnic cleansing occurred to asserting it was the “morally right” thing to do. Astonishing.

          • Hafuch_Al_Hafuch

            “denying the ethnic cleansing”

            Not me.
            You may be confusing me with someone else.

            “morally right”

            Morris explains.
            Why not say why you disagree?

          • Morris’s defense of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is racist and immoral.

  • davidben

    Racism? Look the way Arabs are treating Arab refugees that is racism. Racism ? Look the ethic cleansing of Jews in Arab lands. Racism ? One has to look in the mirror before daring to throw a stone…

    • The expulsion of Jews from Arab states was racism, therefore the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine by Jews was not?

      You seem to struggle greatly with logic. But, indeed, you ought to look in the mirror and recognize your own racism, manifest in your stupid denial that what is described in the article is racism.

  • Johnny Red

    In my view, a nation has the right to be racist, if that’s what the majority of the people in that nation want. If Japan wanted their country to be only for Japanese, they have the right to expel (not kill) any non-Japanese, and to deny any non-Japanese immigration. After all, the Japanese are indigenous to that land. However, with Israel, it was created out of a land where Arabs were indigenous, and they were forcibly expelled, and many were killed. A very different scenario.

    • Javed Mir

      Very true.

    • Rumpleforeskin

      You’re not at all right. You will find no Arab/Muslim Palestinian history prior to 1948. Jews were known as Palestinians until one day in 1948 and overnight they became Israelis. Look at the names of Palestinians and you can easily tell what country they emigrated from. Mostly Egypt and Syria.

      They also weren’t forcibly expelled. The Arab league told the “Palestinians” to leave their homes for a short time, just until they “drove the Jews into the sea. ” So they left, expecting to return in mere hours. Well Israel won that war, and no you can’t come back in. Those who remained are still and now Israeli citizens with full rights

      • Entirely nonsense.

        Arab Palestinians were the majority, of course, well prior to 1948 (as after), and 700,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine for the establishment of the “Jewish state”.

  • Rumpleforeskin

    why are you ignoring the call from the Arab world for all the Arabs in Palestine/Israel to leave their homes until the Jews are driven in to the sea? There’s are many examples of Palestinians leaving their homes with no belongings since they figured they’d be back in a matter of hours. Those who left were not let back in after Usrael won the war started by 5 Arab nations. Those that stayed are now Israeli citizens with full rights. We can save the fact of many Arabs selling their land to Jews for another time.

    But I find it hypocritical of you to state how refugees are to be allowed to return to their homes…. As if the Jews weren’t refugees returning to their homes.

    • It is difficult to understand how one can be faulted for “ignoring” a myth.

      Acknowledging that Palestinians, too, are human beings, to which internationally recognized rights also apply is an act of hypocrisy? What a puzzling suggestion.

      • Zev_disqus

        In many cases, refugees don’t return to their original homes.

        • Yes. Is there a conclusion you wish us to draw from that, or are you just making a random observation?

          • Rumpleforeskin

            I’ll make this short and sweet. You referenced the following. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on December 10, 1948, recognized that “Everyone has a right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights later also affirmed that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” But apparently you forgot that Palestine is not a country and never has been. So I guess these refugees have a right to return to their homes in the Ottoman Empire? In Jordan since they owned Jerusalem or Egypt since they owned Gaza? What country are we talking about that they have a right to return to?

          • You read too much into the letter and nothing into the spirit of the law.

            Palestinians have rights, just the same as everyone else. This includes the right of refugees to return to their homeland. This is an inherent right. It isn’t derived from international treaties. All humans are born with it.

        • Rumpleforeskin

          Actually in every case, refugees don’t return home. They are always absorbed into the neighboring countries. Every time, except the Palestinians. They are the only ones not absorbed into other countries. Wonder why that is? 70 yrs and these people are still refugees?