Benny Morris’s untenable denial of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

The Israeli historian Benny Morris has been very vocal of late in denying that Palestine was ethnically cleansed of Arabs in order for the “Jewish state” of Israel to be established. In a series of articles in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Morris has debated the question with several of his critics who contend that ethnic cleansing is precisely what occurred. Not so, argues Morris. So who’s right?

It’s worth noting at the outset that, while such a debate exists in the Israeli media, the US media remains, as ever, absolutely silent on the matter. Americans who get their information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only from the nightly news or papers like the New York Times and Washington Post would never even know that there is a discussion about it. Not only that, but they would have absolutely no familiarity at all with the idea that Palestine was ethnically cleansed of most of its Arab inhabitants in 1948. That this occurred (or even that this might have occurred) is entirely absent from the discussion; it is simply wiped from history altogether, in the narrative of the conflict propagated by the US media.

Even in those rare instances when the mainstream media outlets do refer to the expulsion and flight of Arabs from their villages, it is characterized as only as an unfortunate but unintended consequence of a war started by the neighboring Arab states to wipe the new state of Israel off the map—a narrative that is not merely over-simplified, but false.[1]

So was Palestine ethnically cleansed in 1948? The debate between Benny Morris and his interlocutors provides a unique occasion to clear up several myths and misconceptions about what actually happened during the 1948 war. An examination of the arguments Morris presents to deny its occurrence is highly instructive, and offers an opportunity to settle the matter once and for all—and, in doing so, to finally move the discussion about how to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians forward.

References

[1] Jeremy R. Hammond, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Cross Village: Worldview Publications, 2016), 310–312, 316–319.

[2] Daniel Blatman, “Netanyahu, This Is What Ethnic Cleansing Really Looks Like,” Haaretz, October 3, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.745561.

[3] Benny Morris, “Israel Conducted No Ethnic Cleansing in 1948,” Haaretz, October 10, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.746676.

[4] Daniel Blatman, “Yes, Benny Morris, Israel Did Perpetrate Ethnic Cleansing in 1948,” Haaretz, October 14, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.747508.

[5] Steven Klein, “Does the ‘Father’ of the 1948 Ethnic Cleansing Narrative Really Want to Recant His Words?” Haaretz, October 19, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.748135.

[6] Ehud Ein-Gil, “Israel Did Do Ethnic Cleansing in 1948. My Father’s Words Prove It,” Haaretz, October 20, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.748220.

[7] Benny Morris, “‘Ethnic Cleansing’ and pro-Arab Propaganda,” Haaretz, October 23, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.748673.

[8] Hammond, Obstacle to Peace, 5 (see fn 26).

[9] Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008), Kindle Edition, Locations 5726–5728.

[10] Hammond, Obstacle to Peace, 5.

[11] Ibid., 317.

[12] United Kingdom, Palestine Royal Commission Report (Peel Commission), July 1937, 389–391.

[13] Ibid., 248.

[14] Morris, 1948, 5717–5718.

[15] Ibid., 299–300.

[16] Ibid., 302–303.

[17] Hammond, Obstacle to Peace, 317.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Morris, 1948, 781–788.

[20] Ibid., 1127–1136.

[21] Ibid., 1547–1552.

[22] Ibid., 1556–1559.

[23] Ibid., 1559–1565.

[24] Ibid., 5591.

[25] Ibid., 313–315.

[26] United Kingdom, Disturbances in May, 1921 (Haycraft Commission), October, 1921, 54.

[27] Ibid., 57.

[28] Ibid., 150.

[29] Morris, 1948, 223–225, 251–253.

[30] Ibid., 256–257.

[31] Ibid., 5496–5499. The bracketed insertions are Morris’s.

[32] Ibid., 5500–5503.

[33] Jeremy R. Hammond, The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Raleigh: Lulu Press, 2009), 8.

[34] Peel Commission, 23.

[35] Peel Commission, 24.

[36] Peel Commission, 24.

[37] Peel Commission, 51.

[38] Peel Commission, 42.

[39] Peel Commission, 25.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Hammond, The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination, 14.

[42] Peel Commission, 29.

[43] Ibid., 28.

[44]http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

[45] United Kingdom, Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development (Hope Simpson Report), October 1930, https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/E3ED8720F8707C9385256D19004F057C.

[46] Ibid., 55.

[47] Haycraft Commission, 55.

[48] Hope Simpson Report.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Hammond, The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination, 6–7.

[51] United Kingdom, Report of the Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August, 1929 (Shaw Commission), 119–120.

[52] United Kingdom and United States, Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine (Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry), April 20, 1946, 30.

[53] Shaw Commission, 114.

[54] Ibid., 117–118.

[55] Ibid., 118–119.

[56] Hammond, Obstacle to Peace, 3–4. Morris notes that “the Jews had been given the best agricultural lands (the Coastal Plain and Jezreel and Jordan Valleys)” under UNSCOP’s plan. See Morris, 1948, 959–960.

[57] Hammond, Obstacle to Peace, 5.

[58] Morris, 1948, 1152–1153.

[59] Ibid., 1476–1477, 1508–1509, 1512–1513.

[60] Ibid., 1472–1473.

[61] Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2006), Kindle Edition, Locations 1382–1387.

[62] Ibid., 1413–1418.

[63] Morris, 1948, 1515–1517.

[64] Pappé, 1429–1440.

[65] Morris, 1948, 1763.

[66] Walid Khalidi, “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1, Special Issue: Palestine 1948, (Autumn, 1988); Appendix B, “Text of Plan Dalet (Plan D), 10 March 1948: General Section,” 29.

[67] Morris, 1948, 1783–1785, 1793–1794.

[68] Pappé, 1913–1916.

[69] Ibid., 220–221.

[70] Ibid., 1964–1970.

[71] Morris, 1948, 1408–1410, 1418–1423.

[72] Ibid., 1504–1508, 1533–1536

[73] Pappé, 1449–1450.

[74] Ibid., 1607–1609.

[75] Morris, 1948, 1534–1536.

[76] Ibid., 1539–1545.

[77] Ibid., 1797–1798.

[78] Ibid., 2055.

[79] Ibid., 2059–2064.

[80] Ibid., 2089–2092, 2096–2100.

[81] Ibid., 2100–2103.

[82] Ibid., 2111–2120.

[83] Ibid., 2126–2141, 2147–2151.

[84] Ibid., 1437–1438.

[85] Pappé, 1606–1623.

[86] Ibid., 1624–1639.

[87] Morris, 1948, 1852–1853.

[88] Ibid., 1960–1961.

[89] Ibid., 1964–1965.

[90] Ibid., 1962–1963.

[91] Ibid., 2265–2269.

[92] Ibid., 2291–2294.

[93] Ibid., 2297–2312.

[94] Ibid., 2314–2322.

[95] Ibid., 2322–2323.

[96] Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest,” Interview with Benny Morris, Haaretz, January 8, 2004, http://www.haaretz.com/survival-of-the-fittest-1.61345 (part 1), http://www.haaretz.com/survival-of-the-fittest-cont-1.61341 (part 2).

[97] Morris, 1948, 1496–1497.

[98] Ibid., 1497–1500.

[99] Andrew Bell-Fialkoff, “A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing,” Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1993-06-01/brief-history-ethnic-cleansing.

[100] US Department of State, Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo: An Accounting, December 1999, http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/kosovoii/homepage.html.

[101] International Court of Justice, “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro)”, Judgment of 26 February 2007, 83, http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/91/13685.pdf.

[102] Pappé, 405–406.


2017-11-14
About the author:

Jeremy R. Hammond is an award-winning independent political analyst and editor and publisher of Foreign Policy Journal. Described by Barron’s as “a writer of rare skill”, he is the author of Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2016), Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian Economics in the Financial Crisis (2012), and The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict (2009). Find him on the web at JeremyRHammond.com.

Source: Foreign Policy Journal

2017-11-Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save 

RELATED POSTS
“Greater Israel” in the Making? Israel to Control Mediterranean from Beirut to Gaza?
With the recruitment of novice French President, Emmanuel Macron, the US Israel lobby can now boast a powerful political agent inside the corridors of power of the Élysée Palace, to liaise with those agents already resident in the British Parliament and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington. It is, of course, no small achievement to have managed to recruit half of the European Union as well as the United States Senate to support the dispossession of five million indigenous Arabs who have populated the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza for over a thousand years.No small achievement of the powerful minority Zionist movement ...
READ MORE
Balfour at 100: A legacy of Racism and Propaganda
The coming months mark the centennial of Palestine’s forcible incorporation into the British Empire. In November 1917, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declared his government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”; in December, Jerusalem fell to British troops. One hundred years later, the effects of these events continue to reverberate. This should be a time of sombre reflection about international responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Palestine.This responsibility should weigh heavily on the West. Walid Khalidi put it well: “The Zionists were the initiators. But they were also, as they still ...
READ MORE
Myths and Facts аbout the 1967 Six Day War
June 5 marks the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War of conquest. Any objective examination of that war, and the events leading to and following it, make clear that the dominant narrative in the United States is reality turned upside down. It is “fake news” that is perpetrated on the public by the corporate media continually, right up to the present day.The Six Day War began on June 5, 1967. Israel launched the war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan with what could correctly called a “sneak attack,” although it is never referred to that way here. In the vocabulary of ...
READ MORE
The Harvesting Of Palestine. The Zionist Project Prevails?
With the recent failed bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League at the UN security council, to try and end Israelis’ occupation of Palestinian land and to create a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, it seems an appropriate moment to review the situation for Palestinians since 1915.What is the background to the demonization and brutalization of Palestinians? Most of all, why is the international community was assisting properly and why has it not assisted the Palestinians in protecting or restoring their inalienable rights over decades? Why is their situation so brutally upside-down almost a century after ...
READ MORE
The Arab-Israel War of 1973 and Its Legacy
Each of the full-blown wars between Israel and its Arab neighbours have carried a great measure of significance. The War of 1948 led to the creation of the modern state of Israel, a cause for euphoria among the world’s Jews in the post-Shoah-era, in contrast to the Nakba inflicted on the Arabs of Palestine. The War of 1967, during which Israel routed three Arab armies in six days established Israel as a regional hegemon while its defeated Arab neighbours stewed in their humiliation and the Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza came under occupation. The Arab-Israeli War of ...
READ MORE
How Palestinians Can Reverse Israel’s Divide and Conquer Tactics
Most veteran observers, including Israeli security authorities and Palestinian leadership, were dumbfounded by recent events in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized non-violently in response to the Israeli closure of the Old City and placement of metal detectors at the entrance of the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. What was the secret ingredient that made such a mass action take place and be a successful example in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the 50 years of Israeli military occupation? How did it happen so spontaneously, non-violently and with seemingly no leadership?A new report by the group, titled, Relations Between Palestinians Across ...
READ MORE
Golan Heights And The Greater Israel Project
After the first ever cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on April 17, 2016 that the territory “will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” This elicited admonitions from some of Israel’s greatest allies, the United States and Germany, and renewed attention on the issue.The Golan Heights were opportunistically occupied by Israel after its victory in the 1967 six-day-war. A United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has monitored the region since 1974, when Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement, and it has been considered an occupied territory of the UN and the ...
READ MORE
The Contradictory Statement of Riyadh on Syria Talks
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir currently stated that the Syrian talks in Astana would lead to ceasefire in the country.However, in this context, the minister’s statement sounds a little bit strange as throughout the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been providing comprehensive assistance to Islamic State terrorists, supplying weapons, equipment and mercenaries to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There are undeniable proofs of these “acts of good will” on behalf of Saudi Arabia.Large chemical reserves seized by the Syrian army last week in eastern Aleppo destined for the manufacture of explosives can be characterized as striking ...
READ MORE
The Demonization Of Islam
Much is being written regarding the Charlie Hebdo issue in Paris, France. I do not condone any killing but at the same time I do not support issues that violate human rights, religious freedom or freedom of speech and thoughts. Using cartoons to condemn Divine thoughts and beliefs is utterly wrong because they fall under hate crimes and not under freedom of speech as we are lied about. The perpetrators of hate continue to be protected. Islam is under attack and its adherents, the Muslims, are being targeted through provocation. In a recent article Charlie Hebdo and Tsarnaev’s trial: Cui ...
READ MORE
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
READ MORE
Is “Jewish Supremacy” a Form of Racism? The Zionist Exception
Today, we hear a lot about White supremacy but very little about Jewish supremacy, as if the former stands for the latter.It is true there are more similarities than differences between Jewish supremacy and White supremacy. Both are based on ethnic/nationalist bias and racism. They are both“historically based, institutionally perpetuated system[s] of exploitation and oppression … a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural. As a system, racism affects every aspect of life in a country.”Within Israel and militarily occupied Palestinian lands, Jewish supremacy is sometimes described as White supremacy, as in this headline:“Israel’s White Supremacy Agenda ...
READ MORE
New Israeli School Textbook Highlights Jewish Supremacy. Paints Palestinians As “Inferior”
To mark so-called ‘Independence Day’, Palestinian citizens forced to study the book that paints them as inferior to JewsRamallah: An Israeli civics textbook under the theme of ‘Being a Citizen in Israel’, launched to mark the regime’s commemoration of the 68th anniversary of its establishment, has been slammed for its negative and dismissive attitude towards the native Palestinian citizens.After the Israeli Education Ministry officially launched the textbook as part of the curriculum taught in Israeli schools, including those attended by Palestinian citizens, Palestinians reacted by condemning the move.Israel on Thursday marks the 68th anniversary of its 1948 founding in Palestine, ...
READ MORE
Historical & Other Maps
Administrative division of the Roman Empire about 395 A.D.Europe in the early Middle Ages: The Carolingian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Arab Caliphate and the SlavsEurope in 526: The Germanic kingdoms and the Byzantine EmpireEthnographic map of Europe about 900Europe, North Africa and the Near East at the time of the First CrusadeThe Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Kreve Union (1385)A time after the First CrusadeGerman Central Europe about 1500Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13-15th centuriesThe Balkans from 1815 to 1859: Political division between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg MonarchyThe Balkans in ...
READ MORE
Behind the Balfour Declaration
AcknowledgementsTo Benjamin H. Freedman, who committed himself to finding and telling the facts about Zionism and Communism. and encouraged others to do the same. The son of one of the founders of the American Jewish Committee, which for many years was anti-Zionist, Ben Freedman founded the League for Peace with Justice in Palestine in 1946. He gave me copies of materials on the Balfour Declaration which I might never have found on my own and encouraged my own research. (He died in April 1984.)The Institute for Historical Review is providing means for the better understanding of the events of our ...
READ MORE
Top Ten Myths Аbout The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the regionAlthough Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.For instance, after a ...
READ MORE
Israel: The Ghetto of the Middle East. History of the Political Zionist Movement
Diaspora families living worldwide, the vast majority in New York with smaller communities in Paris, London and other major conurbations, are taught from an early age to believe that the modern State of Israel is their homeland. Not merely a biblical place of ‘milk and honey’, military might, innate intelligence and integrity but a place of final security; a sanctuary to which they can flee to escape the apparently insidious rise of anti-Semitism in the various land(s) of their birth. An ultimate insurance policy in case of need. That is how it is ‘sold’ to the average Jewish family in ...
READ MORE
Draft Constitution of the Syrian Republic
Syrian constitution is questionableThe Russian-proposed constitution for Syria is raising a storm in Media. Not only the opposition but the governmental circles are discussing it. Many forums are endlessly debating its 85-controversial articles. Some Syrians feel insulted by a charter authored by one outside power and approved by two others, Turkey and Iran.The Islamists are furious, because the draft constitution scraps Article 3, which specifies Islam as the religion of the president of the republic. This is a long-standing article since 1920 which several Syrian leaders, including Hafez Al Assad, tried to change, with little luck. Arab nationalists are also ...
READ MORE
The Illegitimacy Of Israel’s Colonisation Of Land In Arab East Jerusalem, The Palestinian West Bank And The Syrian Golan Heights
‘If you buy fruit from Israel you deprive another human being of water and life’Israel’s comparative economic success is essentially based on water stolen, since 1967, from Syria’s eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee – that provides Israel’s current primary source of fresh water. Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment area feeds into the River Jordan to provide about 30% of Israel’s current water supply.Without this stolen water there would be no citrus fruit, melons, avocados or dates available for export under the label of ‘Produce of Israel’. And that is why the Netanyahu government is determined – with help ...
READ MORE
‘Barbarism by an Educated and Cultured People’ — Dawayima Massacre was Worse than Deir Yassin
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?”For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The ...
READ MORE
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
A newly-released Hilary Clinton email confirmed that the Obama administration has deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as the “best way to help Israel.”In an indication of her murderous and psychopathic nature, Clinton also wrote that it was the “right thing” to personally threaten Bashar Assad’s family with death.In the email, released by Wikileaks, then Secretary of State Clinton says that the “best way to help Israel” is to “use force” in Syria to overthrow the government.The document was one of many unclassified by the US Department of State under case number F-2014-20439, Doc No. C05794498, following the uproar ...
READ MORE
“Greater Israel” in the Making? Israel to Control Mediterranean from Beirut to Gaza?
Balfour at 100: A legacy of Racism and Propaganda
Myths and Facts аbout the 1967 Six Day War
The Harvesting Of Palestine. The Zionist Project Prevails?
The Arab-Israel War of 1973 and Its Legacy
How Palestinians Can Reverse Israel’s Divide and Conquer Tactics
Golan Heights And The Greater Israel Project
The Contradictory Statement of Riyadh on Syria Talks
The Demonization Of Islam
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
Is “Jewish Supremacy” a Form of Racism? The Zionist Exception
New Israeli School Textbook Highlights Jewish Supremacy. Paints Palestinians As “Inferior”
Historical & Other Maps
Behind the Balfour Declaration
Top Ten Myths Аbout The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel: The Ghetto of the Middle East. History of the Political Zionist Movement
Draft Constitution of the Syrian Republic
The Illegitimacy Of Israel’s Colonisation Of Land In Arab East Jerusalem, The Palestinian West Bank And The Syrian Golan Heights
‘Barbarism by an Educated and Cultured People’ — Dawayima Massacre was Worse than Deir Yassin
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel

Donate & Support The Global Politics