Review of Benny Morris’ book ‘One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict’

This review is by Brian Goldfarb.

Benny Morris – ‘One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict’

Yale UP, 2009.

By his own admission, Benny Morris has “moved marginally rightward”, as he says of himself in an article in The New Republic in 2009 reviewing and critiquing Avi Shlaim’s book “Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations”   (http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/derisionist-history?page=0,0). By the same token, he notes that the other Israeli “New Historians” – Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim – having started, like himself, on the left of Israeli politics, have “steadily drifted leftward (if that really is the direction of people expressing understanding and sympathy for the likes of Yasser Arafat and Hamas).” It goes further: Shlaim (who, though born in Iraq, is more British than anything else, having been largely brought up and educated in  the UK and is now a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the British Academy) is less than complimentary about Morris’s work.

Thus, in the New Republic article cited above, Morris quotes a Shlaim article in which he says of Morris that he “is in danger of becoming…’a genuine charlatan’”…which is a very British way of saying that [Morris is] a charlatan”. We must also remember that Morris was born in the UK, which accounts for his excellent and untranslated prose style, and for his understanding of the very British nuance that Shlaim displays.

However, Morris’s latest book will do nothing to alter the views of those such as Shlaim and the other “New Historians” as to his supposed rightward drift. His last book, “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War”, published in 2008, was clearly a return by him to a more conventional view, from the Israeli side, of the causes both of that conflict and of the Palestinian refugee situation, as readers of these pages will know. That is, he, in essence, repudiated his earlier views as to which side was the prime mover in the creation of the Palestinian exodus from what became post-1948 Israel. Now, claiming access to official (mainly Israeli) documents not available earlier, he argued that the Arab states encouraged this movement and, anyway, in many cases, civilians, hearing the sound of gunfire getting closer, did what unarmed civilians most often do in such situations: flee. Of course, there was an Israeli push, especially from Irgun, and, occasionally, even Haganah units overstepped the mark. But essentially it was, at worst, six of one, half-a-dozen of the other and there was no official Israeli government policy on expulsion.

Now, his history of the politics of the one state, two state issue will further alienate him from his erstwhile fellow “New Historians” and others of that ilk, all the way from IJV, JfJfP through to the whole of the BDS squadrons, to say nothing of the people who believe that they are advancing the Palestinian cause by demonising Israel.  Whether Morris will care is another matter.

The book starts with 7 pages of maps as to what the various proposals for partition would or did look like “on the ground”. This is followed by a short (27 page) chapter on “The Reemergence of One-Statism”, which is a tour through the mainly Arab and Palestinian retreat from “their at least superficial espousal during the 1990s of a two state solution and a reversion to the openly enunciated policy of the Fatah and Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1960s and 1970s…which posited the elimination of the Jewish state and the establishment in its stead of an Arab-dominated polity encompassing the territory of Israel and the (at present) semioccupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.” (pp 1-2) Just try counting the number of contested and contestable statements in that sentence alone.

The bulk of the book (pp 28 to 160) is concerned with “The History of One-State and Two-State Solutions”. To this reader, this chapter was both interesting and essentially uncontroversial, to the extent that I was already aware of much of the history. Others may well find at least some of his interpretations interesting, to say the least. However, in my view, the real sting comes in the final, 40 page chapter: “Where To?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, he utterly rejects the one-state, bi-national, solution as likely to lead to, at best, a Jewish exodus. However, his own conclusion will, if read with care, come as a surprise, although there are those who will find it anathema.

He concludes, despite his rejection of the “one-state” solution, that the “conventional” two-state solution – a Palestine composed of the West Bank and Gaza, with a guaranteed access between the two, and an Israel essentially within the 1967 Truce lines, with or without land swaps – is no longer viable. The area that would be Palestine is far too small. His proposed solution is for an enlarged Jordan: one that will encompass Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan (again, with or without land swaps to allow for the major settlement bloc(s)). He squeezes this idea into the final two pages of his book, and summarises it thus: “…a partition of Palestine into Israel…along its pre-1967 borders, and an Arab state, call it Palestinian-Jordanian, that fuses the bulk of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the east bank…” (p. 199). It would be physically large enough, Morris argues, to allow for the Palestinian desire for expansion (ie, the Palestinian Right of Return) as well as for future development. Morris’s sting in the tail comes with this gem: “…the unification of the P[alestinian]N[ational]A[uthority] and Jordan, with its relatively powerful army and security services, would provide the possibility of reining in the militants (much as Jordan has easily and successfully reined in its own…militants over the past decades).” Hardly music to the ears of the one-statists!

It must be left to the reader to decide how viable such a solution would be, but to Engage and other supporters of the “Euston Manifesto” (of whom the author is proud to be one), it’s certainly a solution worthy of serious consideration and debate.

Morris offers one further satisfaction for regular readers of these columns: his preparedness to dub many writers on this issue and also the lobby as guilty of “mendacity”, including Mearsheimer and Walt and many other proponents of the one-state solution. For those without a dictionary to hand, “mendacity” is a very British way of calling someone a liar. It also carries clear implications of being a knowing liar.

42 Responses to “Review of Benny Morris’ book ‘One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict’”

  1. Mira Vogel Says:

    Thanks Brian – very interesting. I hope he touches on plebiscites in those final 2 pages!

  2. Sarah AB Says:

    Thanks – this reminded me of something which troubled me a little while ago concerning Benny Morris. He was invited to speak at Cambridge and this was opposed in some quarters.

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/26804/benny-morris-talk-cut-cambridge-israel-society

    Although I don’t agree that he shouldn’t have been invited, I did feel troubled by some of the things he is supposed to have said. For example this from an interview with Haaretz.

    “We have to heal the Palestinians. 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.” (quote in Wikipedia entry for BM)

    I suppose this is in support of the security barrier – but the language seems really unpleasant and goes beyond an assertion of the importance of maintaining Israel’s security.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Sarah, I followed up your comment on Morris’s comment in Wikipedia, and I came up with this link: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=380984.

      However, it appeared to say nothing about Morris. I agree that your quote is what Wikipedia says, but their source for it doesn’t match. Did you check? I’m going to search the other Morris “googles”. Perhaps others should to!

    • zkharya Says:

      Edited out is Morris’ endorsement of the creation of a Palestinian state, Sarah, so his pronouncement against Palestinian nationalists profoundly hostile to Israel sounds unqualified. The wikipedia link no longer works because Haaretz has had a face lift.

      “We have to try to heal the Palestinians. 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.”

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=380984

    • zkharya Says:

      Here is the only link to the article I could find, in Counter Punch:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/shavit01162004.html

      I can’t seem to insert it into the wiki entry as a footnote, so I’d be grateful if someone does who can.

      Thank you,

      Z

    • zkharya Says:

      Some other parts:

      “…that’s so for the Jewish people, not the Palestinians. 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 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.”

      I am not sure into what category of tragedy such a view falls.

  3. Sarah AB Says:

    I’m completely open to the possibility that this is fake quote. It’s been done before after all. Here is a link to the supposed interview but the link to Haaretz, again, doesn’t take you to the article.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/shavit01162004.html

    I apologise if it’s a fake – but seeing as it’s on the wikipedia entry it’s perhaps useful to air this.

    • zkharya Says:

      It is unpleasant. But it is an unpleasant conflict, and Morris is realistic about the possibility of a threat to Israel that is long term and perhaps inveterate, one Israel may simply have to become habituated to.

      I think he is honest.

    • Lynne T Says:

      Morris can get very negative as he did in a piece he wrote a few years back in discussing the leaven of malice that is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      As for the source, bear in mind that Counterpunch’s contributors include Gilad Atzmon, “Israel Shamir” and Alison Weir, a propagtor of the organ theft libel.

  4. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    So I went back to google and Benny Morris, and on the first two pages, all I came up with was this: “Sources on Morris: History News Network: George Mason’s University
    Benny Morris’s Shocking Interview
    By Baruch Kimmerling” (not a proper link, I’m sorry to say), which while a strong critique of Morris, says nothing like the Wikipedia quote. And Kimmerling is hardly a fan of Morris’s.

    I’m sorry to say that I’m wary of Wikepedia without further verification. Perhaps someone out there can verify or otherwise the quote.

    None of this is to say that Morris (like the rest of us) isn’t prone to unfortunate comments or even, perish the thought, contradictory thoughts. That said, given his last two books, the reported comment isn’t necessarily out of line with that.

  5. yoni Says:

    here is a re-print of Benny Moriss interview to Ari Shavit of Haaretz. Morris supports ethnic cleansing and it seems that some here support him. Is this your way to engage?

    http://www.logosjournal.com/morris.htm

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      “Support him”? Historians are not football teams. Benny Morris is twice the historian of many who are touted with the anti-Zionist movement (e.g. Shlomo Sand, Ilan Pappe) – but as with them you have to question his judgement and ability to think clearly if he reveals thinking like that, and in that cold and casual way.

    • Sarah AB Says:

      I think perhaps we should remember, between Morris’ discussions of a hypothetical past and an equally hypothetical future, the all too real ethnic cleansing of Jews in, for example, Egypt.

      • DD Says:

        No to mention attempts to drive Jews out of Palestine. Maybe one day somebody will spend as much effort at looking at how the Palestinian leadership and the leaders of Arab states attempted to murder and kill Jews in Palestine. The fact that they weren’t very successful is not from want of trying.

    • zkharya Says:

      ‘Morris supports ethnic cleansing and it seems that some here support him.’

      No. He said there were grounds for it 60 years ago when Palestinian Jews were threatened with ethnic cleansing.

      He also said that it could happen again if Israeli Jews were in similar existential peril.

      By your argument all pro-Palestinian nationalists, like you, perhaps, who turn a blind eye to Palestinian and other Arab threats to ethnically cleanse Palestinian, Israeli or other Jews, or worse, also ‘support’ such threats. But I bet you don’t agree with that proposition, although it is equally valid.

    • zkharya Says:

      Further, Yoni, if you had bothered to read the previous thread, you’d have seen I had already printed a link to the whole original article. You weren’t reading very closely, were you? Yet you thought you were entitled to pronounce forth upon what people here allegedly think or ‘support’ with such authority…

      I suggest that makes you look like a bit of a pompous, self-opinionated ass.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Or we can acknowledge that history and, in so doing, move past it.
    Nationalists of all hues spend forever digging up and raking the past and utilising it as a resource to keeps wounds open.
    Many countries have managed to recognise and commorate past events, horrors and tragedies whilst living in peace, if not without conflict, with their former enemies. Der Yessien needs to be remembered (just as, .eg. the UK’s behaviour in Kenya) as does the massacres at Hebron and elsewhere. Their use to kick both Israel and Palestine in the testacles so that any negotiation of peace is deemed illegitimate is what must be challenged.

  7. zkharya Says:

    ‘Morris supports ethnic cleansing’

    Even if that were true without qualification, so has Palestinian Arab nationalism from at least the 1930s, and most of the time subsequent. Yet it is only Palestinian or Israeli Jews who are held to some standard of ethical perfection.

    One day Palestinian Arab revisionist historians, and their western equivalents, will tell their story with the honesty of Benny Morris. But, as he says, by then it may be too late…

  8. Confused dot com Says:

    I am confused. If Israel ethically cleansed the state of Arabs in 1948, why is it an ongoing project? I mean 60 odd years! Really, they can’t be that incompetent in their absolute domination, can they?

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      Well, I’m sure they’ll be happy to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the next and explain to you that it “doesn’t work like that”.

  9. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Any chance of discussing Morris’s unusual, to say the least, 2 state solution to the I/P situation, and leaving “ethnic cleansing” and other such issues to one side, for the moment? It’s the reason I wrote the article/review, and I’d like to read other’s views of his “Palestinian-Jordanian” other state, as well as, if considered relevant, his analysis of the history of the whole “One State, Two States” debate – if it can be dignified as such.

  10. John Strawson Says:

    I agree with Brian the key point of Morris’s book is to resuscitate the “Jordanian option.” This was of course he Labor Party’s position in the 1970’s and 1980’s that Jordan was the solution. What is startling is that Morris returns to this position without taking into account what has changed in Palestinian – and indeed Israeli politics since. After 1988 and the PLO “declaration of independence” the de-coupling of Palestine from Jordan was quite decisive. At the time this did suit most Israeli politician who judged that Jordan’s moderation would cancel out the “extremism” of the PLO. However, the 1990-1991 Kuwait crisis and the Jordanian and PLO support for Iraq was to change all that. The Jordanian leadership was not as reliable as had been thought. This revelation alongside the collapse of communism in East Europe and the end of the USSR underlined that truth that the PLO was now on its own – no Jordanian option – but also no supporters in the Arab world and no “socialist camp” to fall back on. Inside the occupied territories the first intifada also transformed Palestinian identity and forged the politics of Fatah and Hamas. Palestinian nationalism has intensified and not diminished. It is this that rules out any effective support in Palestine for a one-state solution – unless it is on the terms of the 1946 London Conference position a state with Arab or Palestinian hegemony modeled on North Ireland 1922-1969. Morris has become so ideological that he has undermined his historical judgment as he sees psychology and not politics as the issue. A viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories is quite feasible as the Rand research has shown. To achieve it requires a new politics both in the international community and in the region. The old politics of the “Jordanian option” will not cut it.

    • N. Friedman Says:

      John,

      I suggest you read Morris’ book, which is really among his most interesting books. His contention is that, whatever merits the two-state solution may have in theory, it has no chance of success in fact, no matter what the parties may want. And, as he notes, there are very substantial threads of thought that are prominent, not just marginal, most particularly on the Arab side (e.g. the Hamas) which will simply never, ever accept a two state solution and will use violence both to prevent it or, if there were a paper agreement, to destroy it.

      I tend to think that the Jordanian solution, which, in fact, was what the Israeli leadership thought they were creating at Oslo, is no more viable than the two state solution. In this regard, I believe Morris’ argument, not from the book but from his interviews, that there will, in the end, be only one state which is, depending on who wins the conflict, mostly Jewish or entirely Arab. Which is to say, my view is that those who are working for a two-state solution so totally misunderstand the dispute as to be advancing a world-historical folly (and see Barbara Tuchman’s book, The March of Folly, to understand what I mean here by “folly”).

  11. Saul Says:

    This seems somewhat pertinent to the current discussion,

    http://www.thejc.com/node/31735

  12. Michael Ezra Says:

    If anyone likes interesting exchanges of views. I do suggest reading Efraim Karsh’s article, “Revistting Israel’s Original Sin: The Strange Case of Benny Morris,” published in the September 2003 issue of Commentary. The December 2003 and March 2004 issues of that magazine contained long exchanges of views between Karsh and Morris on that article.

    On the subject of Karsh, recently delivered to me was a copy of his latest book, Palestine Betrayed. I have not yet read it, but I believe the “New Historians” may have to consider some of the material that Karsh has included.

  13. Inna Says:

    The question I always return to is not how historian A or Government B feel about an option but how do the people on the ground (in this case the Palestinians in the West Bank) feel about it? I seem to recall a poll last year that showed that a majority of the Palestinians were actually in favor of either a coalition with Jordan or of autonomy within a Jordanian state.

    I can’t remember where I read the poll–sorry–but I do recall that it was by a reputable Arab source.

    If my memory serves, should this preference be taken into account no matter what academics of any stripe or nationality think “is best”?

    Regards,

    Inna

  14. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ah, Friedman is back, this time extolling an existential fight to the death between Israel and Palestine (makes a change from his Islam v the West dichotomy, in which he echoes the views of his enemy).
    Rather than suggesting that we Tuchman’s book, I suggest he stop reading Carl Schmitt.

  15. zkharya Says:

    Michael, Colin Shindler reviews Karsh’s book in the JC:

    http://thejc.com/arts/book-reviews/31735/review-palestine-betrayed

  16. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    John, thank you for your response. Morris suggests that the 2000 square miles of the WB & Gaza is insufficient for a viable Palestine. The figure on area is his. It is thus instructive to read a counter-argument that disputes this. Are you able to be a bit more specific as to why the WB etc would be sufficient. And I’m leaving aside, in _my_ assumptions, any question of the role or spoiling of Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Michael, re Karsh, isn’t there a long-running feud between the two, not least on the grounds that Karsh feels/felt “dethroned” by Morris and the other New Historians? I recall arguing some time ago that Morris et al might have adopted their original stances on the basis of needing to be different to establish themselves. And that approach of mine was based on the 2003 Karsh article and a response (possibly elsewhere) by Morris.

    There is a similar phenomenon in all academic disciplines, in that the “young Turks” have to muscle the older generation aside to get _their_ moment in the sun. I lived through a number of those in my own academic career – though I was never a participant, merely an observer!

  17. Michael Ezra Says:

    @Zkharya,

    Thank you for the link to Colin Shindler’s review. I had not seen it.

    @ Brian,

    Yes, it is true, there does seem to have been some kind of quite long running dispute between Karsh and Morris. While I have not yet read my copy of Karsh’s Palestine Betrayed, in my flick through I did notice the two quotations that Karsh has placed above his introduction. I smiled when I read one of them as follows:

    “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations — proven throughout all our activity in the Land of Israel— that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.”

    David Ben-Gurion, 1937

    This is exactly the quotation that Karsh accuses Morris of misquoting to imply that Ben-Gurion said the exact opposite. Karsh deals with this at some length in his book, Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ (first published in 1997 and revised in 2000.) On purpose, in my previous post, I used the Commentary reference as that gives readers the chance to see Morris’s side of the dispute,.

    In the preface to the second revised edition of Fabricating Israeli History, Karsh goes as far as to claim (pp.xvii-xviii):

    To my bewilderment I discovered that there was scarcely a single document quoted by Morris [in The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem, 1947-1949] which had not been rewritten in a way that distorted its original meaning altogether.

    I tend to agree with you that these academic disputes are common in many areas of many disciplines. Long running debates will occur in the pages of various journals on some obscure point that it is of little interest to the vast majority.

    I would guess that like myself, you would hope that there is some kind of proper peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states. I cannot imagine that negotiations for that peace treaty would get very far if participants allowed themselves to get bogged down in arguing over the exact words that Ben-Gurion used in 1937. These debates should be left for the academic journals and the comments boxes of various blog posts where such matters are argued in a point scoring fashion between supporters of the different sides.

  18. zkharya Says:

    Pertaining to Wikipedia and Israel, here is a JP article one may find interesting:

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=175660

  19. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    On the same page as zkharya’s link to the wikipedia article is the following:

    http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=175654

    Emanuel to Rabbis: ‘US screwed up’

    Also an interesting article.

  20. N. Friedman Says:

    Absolute Observer,

    Apart from attempting to paint me a Nazi by writing “Rather than suggesting that we Tuchman’s book, I suggest he stop reading Carl Schmitt,” I suggest you read Bernard-Henri Lévy’s discussion about Schmitt in Left in Dark Times. Schmitt, as Lévy shows, has a quite a number of readers on the left, most especially among people who think it cool to smear the West and Israel. In any event, I am not among Schmitt’s fans and, while I consider myself liberal in the American sense, I distance myself from those portions of the left which are betraying universal values in their opposition to the West and Israel.

    Apart from the attempt to smear me, I do not see your point at all. Mine was an observation, not a hope. I stated my view that there is, at present, no settlement to the dispute and that, if things continue, as they almost certainly will no matter what we do, along their current trajectory, Morris’ prediction that there would be either a mostly Jewish state or an entirely Arab state seems most likely. Hence, the efforts to resolve the dispute are basically a folly. Have you a reasoned response or can you only employ the smear?

    To the Editor: I think it unfortunate that a comment calling me, in all but blunt language, a Nazi was allowed to be posted.

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    Don’t flatter yourself that I would even bother to smear you. You do a good enought job on your own.
    The equivocation that you point to between “hope” and “view” is precisely that blurring of terms that one finds in Schmitt’s views.
    As to the implication that you are a nazi through my reference to Schmitt. Not at all.
    Whilst it is true that there is no question of Schmitt’s membership of the NSDAP from 1933 onward and includes a two to three year period (and slightly beyond) of rabid antisemitic publications, conferences, etc., the question of whether his earlier work (especially that in Weimar) is or is not nazi and antisemitic is open to question. One the one hand, you have Gross’ thesis which I am not convinced by, and on the other the Schmitt apologists who, again I am not convinced by.
    The reference I made to Schmitt was that of his work from 1922 through to 1932, most notably Political Theology and Concept of the Political. Both of these works are hghly problematic politically; bascially because of their anti-liberal authoritarianism. The question of these works being “nazi” or antisemitic has yet to be settled.
    So, no Friedman, I refute completely the allegation that I called or inferred you are a “nazi”. Far from it. As you say, you think of yourself as a liberal. If that is the case, then a liberalism that passes as an existentialist authoritarian ontology, tell us more about the state of liberalism than any assumed smear.
    Get over yourself.

  22. N. Friedman Says:

    So that my views are clearly understood as clearly as I can express them in a post: I think a two state solution is desirable. However, I do not think that it is possible, at least as the world is now, to reach a two state solution. A one state solution is also quite impossible (because the Israelis would never go for it) and, frankly, morally unacceptable because it would, were the Israelis stupid enough to accept the idea, effectively return Jews to their circumstance of displaced wanderers or, in the best case scenario, tolerated infidels under, to quote the Hamas covenant, the “wing of Islam.” So, a one state solution is no solution, except for Antisemites. The Jordanian option espoused by Benny Morris – and, previously, the position held by most countries -, has the problem that it is not acceptable to Palestinian Arabs and likely never will be notwithstanding the ethnic, religious and historical affinity of Arabs on the two sides of the Jordan River. Which is to say, I think that such a solution is morally acceptable and desirable just as I think the two state solution is morally acceptable and desirable but, acceptable or desirable, it does not seem to be remotely desired by Palestinian Arabs. So, that leaves, quite unfortunately, the most likely scenario, namely, that the parties continue to fight until one side wins. That, I predict, is what will occur.

    If my view of what is likely is correct, that has the consequence of coloring what should be done to change how the parties see their situation. My view is that the world should do basically the opposite of what it is doing. Which is to say, I think the world should walk away from the pushing the parties and ignore, as we do in pretty much all other disputes, that both sides will fight and commit atrocities. That will alter the grounds of the dispute to being a local dispute, making it far more likely to be resolved, if not now, then later. And, even then, the chances of a settlement are not that great.

    The view taken by the world, which has been in operation since at least the early 1990’s has cost, at this point, some 6,000 to 7,000 lives. And, we are still no closer to peace. In fact, we are likely as far from peace, given the state of the dispute, as we were in 1948 – i.e., in the very distant future. As matters now stand, Palestinian Arabs will not even negotiate in the same room with Israelis – and that is under a US president who, more than any other US president, favors a Palestinian Arab state and has no obvious sentimentality towards Israelis.

  23. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Thank you Brian for this excellent review. I own six or seven books of Benny Morris in English and Hebrew. Also the book One State, Two States, which I have not yet read.
    Yesterday I looked on the Website of the Palestinian Delegation in Berlin on the actual PLO Charta and found the National Charta of 1968 which is a scandal.
    I found it in English on http://www.iris.org.il/plochart.htm:
    Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.

    Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory.
    Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
    Considering this I can understand Benny Morris, even if I do not share all his views.

  24. N. Friedman Says:

    Karl Pfeifer,

    I think that One State, Two States is likely the best book written by Morris because it explains, in no uncertain terms, the ideologies of those involved. This is something missing from most histories of the subject, which attempt to understand the Arab side’s activities solely as a reaction to the Israelis. I might also note, his book 1948 is also an excellent book.


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