The dissident Israeli historian and activist Ilan Pappe is known for his challenging and meticulously researched books on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. His two latest books are in keeping with this reputation. By Susannah Tarbush
Ten Myths About Israel (Verso) is a paperback intended to be accessible to the general reader. The hefty hardback The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories (Oneworld Publications) drills into the 50-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It is rich in recently declassified material from the Israel State Archives.
The publication of the books coincides with two key anniversaries this year: the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and the fiftieth anniversary of the June 1967 six-day Arab-Israeli war.
At the launch of Ten Myths About Israel at the Mosaic Rooms in London, Pappe said the idea of the book had come to him during a visit to Australia. At the National Press Club in Canberra he had discussed Israel and Palestine with politicians, diplomats and journalists. ″I was surprised how they repeated one Israeli myth after another.″
Distortions with global resonance
Ignorance among the political elite: ″basic historical facts about the reality of Israel and Palestine are not known to people who impact and affect the lives of those who live in Israel and Palestine,″ criticises Pappe. He adds that the distorted historical picture ″may help explain our difficulty in changing European, American and Western policy towards the question of Israel and Palestine″
He has had similar experiences at the Houses of Parliament in London and with U.S. politicians. ″Basic historical facts about the reality of Israel and Palestine are not known to people who impact and affect the lives of those who live in Israel and Palestine,″ he said.
″This might have been forgiven 20 or 30 years ago when there was very little new research on Israel and Palestine, but in the last 25 years so much new stuff has been written about Israel and Palestine, a lot of it by critical Israeli scholars.″
He thinks the distorted historical picture″may help explain our difficulty in changing European, American and Western policy towards the question of Israel and Palestine.″
In Ten Myths About Israel Pappe tries to debunk some of the most important myths of Israel. The first part of the book is on the past and explores six myths: ″Palestine was an empty land″; ″The Jews were a people without a land″; ″Zionism is Judaism″; ″Zionism is not colonialism″; ″The Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948″ and ″The June 1967 war was a war of ′no choice′″.
The book′s second part on ″fallacies of the present″, tackles the myth that ″Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East″.
A chapter on ″The Oslo mythologies″ covers two myths. The first is that the 1993 Oslo Accord started a genuine peace process. The second is that it was intransigence from the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that assured the failure of the Camp David Summit in 2000 and that he instigated the second intifada as a terrorist operation against Israel.
Ilan Pappe is Professor of History at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. He has written more than a dozen books, including the acclaimed best-seller “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” (Oneworld, 2006)
Pappe′s other new book The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories investigates the mechanism created for ruling the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza after the June 1967 war.
He details cabinet resolutions adopted between June and August 1967, which charted the principles to which future Israeli governments would adhere.
In 1963 Israel had drawn up a a new military strategy – the ′Shacham Plan′ – for controlling the West Bank as an occupied military area.
″The fact that four years before the actual occupation the Israeli military was ready with a judicial and administrative infrastructure for ruling the lives of one million Palestinians is highly significant,″ Pappe writes.
Israel′s ′open prison′ policy
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Interview with Israeli historian Ilan Pappe: “This situation is not temporary, it is the future”
In interview with Emran Feroz, Israeli historian and Exeter University professor Ilan Pappe criticises the unilateral policy favoured by the Netanyahu government, which is committed to retaining control of historical Palestine in its entirety and approves of the restoration of authoritarian Arab regimes
A few days ago the Israeli government once again approved the building of new settlements in the West Bank. Meanwhile, politicians in the European Union and the United States still believe in a two-state solution. How realistic is this at the moment?
Ilan Pappe: It′s not. The two-state solution has been an unrealistic prospect since 2000, if not before. The reason are incontrovertible facts on the ground, created by Israel. Large parts of the West Bank are already colonised. It’s physically impossible to build a state there. That’s one reason why it’s not realistic.
The other reason is that even if for a short period, the two sides had agreed to a two-state solution, it would have not ended the conflict, because it’s not a solution that tackles the main problems in Israel and Palestine. And the main problem is that Palestinians and Israelis do not enjoy equal status as the citizens of those lands between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean.
Israeli apartheid and Zionist settler colonialism, not to mention the ethnic cleansing conducted by Israel in the past are the real problem. You won’t solve them with a two-state solution. You can only solve them with a political structure that stops such strategies and ideologies from determining the relationship between Palestinians and Jews in historical Palestine.
You often suggest a bi-national state as a solution. What would such a solution look like under the current circumstances in Israel and Palestine and what would life be like in such a state?
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Book Review Ilan Pappé: “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” : Not Just Collateral Damage
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé takes a new look at the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948. According to Pappé, the Palestinians’ exodus was not an unfortunate side-effect of the war, but an act of ethnic cleansing planned long in advance. Martina Sabra reports on the book
Pappé says, the exodus of the Palestinians was no mere collateral damage but an ethnic cleansing planned long before
By this time Germany has seen so many books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that even the most politically committed sometimes feel their eyes glazing over.
However, despite the deluge of books, the topic has hardly been exhausted, as the recent book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappé shows. Originally published in English in 2006, the Israeli historian’s study is a milestone and a must for those interested in the Middle East, as Pappé sheds a whole new light on the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948.
In Israel itself and in many western countries the 1948 war was for decades regarded exclusively as an act of heroic self-assertion. Morally speaking, the Zionists were right by definition.
Against the background of the Holocaust there could be no doubt as to the legitimacy of the Zionist project. And a Jewish soldier, according to a belief that is widespread even today, simply could not be “bad”. Against this background, terrorist acts were spoken of as unavoidable or glorified as acts of liberation.
Reports of planned massacres of the Arab population or the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians were written off as anti-Semitic propaganda.
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About Ilan Pappé on Wikipedia
Ilan Pappé (Hebrew: אילן פפה; born 1954) is an expatriate Israeli historian and socialist activist. He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies.
Pappé was born in Haifa, Israel. Prior to coming to the UK, he was a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa (1984–2007) and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa (2000–2008). He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine(2006), The Modern Middle East (2005), A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples(2003), and Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict(1988). He was also a leading member of Hadash, and was a candidate on the party list in the 1996 and 1999 Knesset elections.
Pappé is one of Israel’s New Historians who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948, and the corresponding expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s future leaders. He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.
Read more on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilan_Papp%C3%A9