Gloves on

Benny Morris
Image via Wikipedia

I can’t write much at the moment, due to a skin complaint that has my hands moving through various unpleasant appearances: my fingers start off looking like a tray of freshly baked croissants, then like those of the Thing from the Fantastic Four, then a set of elongated cola cubes. I am writing this wearing green rubber gloves.

But I couldn’t allow this excerpt from a ‘plucky little Israel’ boilerplate pass without comment.

Brave Israel has every right to bomb Hamas – Analysis – Independent.ie

The majority of Israelis are desperate for peace, and accept a two-state solution in which land is bartered for security. But as the leftish Israeli revisionist historian Professor Benny Morris, who has never hesitated to condemn Israeli military excesses, wrote last week in the New York Times, they are also fearful that “the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state”.

To say that Benny Morris has never hesitated to condemn Israeli military excesses is a bit odd. Benny Morris, as anyone remotely familiar with Israel/Palestine historiography knows, is best known for demonstrating at a time when it was quite unpopular to say so in certain circles, how the State of Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 of the indigenous Palestinian population (the population of Gaza is largely composed of Palestinian refugees and their descendants).

But Morris doesn’t condemn this act of ethinc cleansing – he thinks it was the right idea. He justifies it thus:

Survival of the fittest (cont.) – Haaretz – Israel News

Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

However, he does have some criticisms of the ethnic cleansing: he doesn’t think David Ben-Gurion went far enough:

I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country – the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River.

That is not to say that the Sindo columnist would find such views uncongenial. In fact, on other matters, her views appear to dovetail quite nicely with those of Morris.

Ruth Dudley Edwards:

At home, although in sharp contrast to the Arab countries which persecute Jews and Christians, Israel has treated its Arab citizens (1.3 million to 5.5 million Jews) well: their reward has been the gradual radicalisation of Israeli Arabs, whose high birthrate presents a demographic threat.

Benny Morris:

The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb. 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.

Which is a pretty good encapsulation of how the Nazis viewed the Jews.

For those unaware of who these Arab citizens are: they are the indigenous people Israel did not expel from its territory in 1948. One of them, Azmi Bishara, a Knesset member who fled Israel last year, summarises their status here.

Why Israel is after me – Los Angeles Times

When
Israel was established in 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians were
expelled or fled in fear. My family was among the minority that escaped
that fate, remaining instead on the land where we had long lived. The
Israeli state, established exclusively for Jews, embarked immediately
on transforming us into foreigners in our own country.

For the
first 18 years of Israeli statehood, we, as Israeli citizens, lived
under military rule with pass laws that controlled our every movement.
We watched Jewish Israeli towns spring up over destroyed Palestinian
villages.

Today we make up 20% of Israel’s population. We do not
drink at separate water fountains or sit at the back of the bus. We
vote and can serve in the parliament. But we face legal, institutional
and informal discrimination in all spheres of life.

More than 20
Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. The Law of
Return, for example, grants automatic citizenship to Jews from anywhere
in the world. Yet Palestinian refugees are denied the right to return
to the country they were forced to leave in 1948. The Basic Law of
Human Dignity and Liberty — Israel’s “Bill of Rights” — defines the
state as “Jewish” rather than a state for all its citizens. Thus Israel
is more for Jews living in Los Angeles or Paris than it is for native
Palestinians.

Israel acknowledges itself to be a state of one
particular religious group. Anyone committed to democracy will readily
admit that equal citizenship cannot exist under such conditions.

Most
of our children attend schools that are separate but unequal. According
to recent polls, two-thirds of Israeli Jews would refuse to live next
to an Arab and nearly half would not allow a Palestinian into their
home.

Treated ‘well’ indeed.

For sheer racist venom, Morris’s interview is hard to beat.

A large part of the responsibility for the hatred of the Palestinians rests with us. After all, you yourself showed us that the Palestinians experienced a historical catastrophe.

“True. But when one has to deal with a serial killer, it’s not so important to discover why he became a serial killer. What’s important is to imprison the murderer or to execute him.”

Explain the image: Who is the serial killer in the analogy?

“The barbarians who want to take our lives. The people the Palestinian society sends to carry out the terrorist attacks, and in some way the Palestinian society itself as well. At the moment, that society is in the state of being a serial killer. It is a very sick society. It should be treated the way we treat individuals who are serial killers.”

What does that mean? What should we do tomorrow morning?

“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.”

To fence them in? To place them under closure?

“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.”

Delightful.

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