KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Friday, November 11, 2005 - ט' בחשון,
SETTING THE RECORD
from an address by Maurice
Ostroff at a Machal Function on November 2, 2005
(Machal is the Hebrew
acronym for volunteers from abroad who served in the 1948 Israel War of
who were there in 1948 and know the facts, have a
duty to correct the damaging distortions being perpetrated by
Israel's new historians. For example, Ilan Pappe of Haifa
University, accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing in 1948. Noam
Chomsky portrays Israel as a terrorist state similar to Nazi
Germany and Norman Finkelstein, is described by The Washington
Post as a writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for comparing
Israel to Nazi Germany
There are others, such as,
Avi Shlaim and Benny Morris. it is not their claims to reveal
the truth, which are objectionable. It is their unbalanced
The influence, which these
academics exert on a very wide range of opinion makers cannot be
overestimated e.g. the Guardian ranks Chomsky with - believe it
or not - Marx, Shakespeare, and even the Bible as one of the ten
most quoted sources in the humanities.
To illustrate how these new
historians are used as tools by our enemies I refer the late
Professor Edward Said, that celebrated voice of the
Palestinians. You will remember him as the guy who was
photographed throwing stones into Israel across the Lebanese
In an interview Sai'd said
that as he had become convinced that a military victory over
Israel was not possible, he looked to these new historians, the
academics I am talking about, to do the job.
Dr. Yoram Hazony, describes
how these "new historians" blame all the suffering of
Palestinians on Jewish aggression, terror, and hunger for power.
Hazony writes ''the state need not be defeated militarily to be
defeated utterly. The entire job may be done on the battleground
The new historians teach
that in 1948 Israel was the Goliath with superior numbers and
weapons. But we know we were invaded by five armies in a Holy
War to drive us into the sea, including the British trained
Jordanian Legion, the well equipped Egyptian army, navy and air
force and the armies of Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.
And we know how desperate
and badly equipped we were. That our total population of only
600,000 included women, children and the elderly and that
tragically 6,000 were killed in the War, not to mention the
seriously wounded. We know that many of our troops were
untrained newcomers, who had survived the death camps, only to
be thrown directly into battle.
On page 7 of his latest
book, Benny Morris explains that in that book
What Jews did to Arabs, including massacres, played a
What Arabs did to Jews was barely relevant.
In other words, Arab actions, which triggered Israeli responses,
were ignored as irrelevant.
In my opinion this is
unforgivable. I believe historians of integrity are obliged to
examine and record ALL relevant source materials no
matter where they may lead, so that events may be seen in their
These new historians ignore
the facts of how Israel reacted to Arabs who stayed neutral in
1948 - such as the village of Abu Ghosh. In an article in the
Jerusalem Post in 1997, Sam Orbaum quoted Mohammed Abu Ghosh as
saying "What we did, we did for Abu Ghosh, for nobody
else." "Others who lost their land, hated us then, but
now all over the Arab world, many people see we were right.
"If everyone did what we did, there'd be no refugee
problem." "And if we were traitors? Look where we are,
look where they are."
In an unguarded moment,
Prof. Avi Shlaim, told Haaretz,the job of the historian is to
judge. A simple sentence - but with serious implications.
I believe that rather than
impose judgment, the task of the historian is to present the
facts and let the reader judge. I quote a few examples to
illustrate how their self-admitted preconceived opinions render
some of these new historians unqualified to judge objectively.
By preconceived, I mean opinions formed before examining the
When Shlaim, tells the world
that Dayan and Ben-Gurion were the source of all evil and that
Ben-Gurion was a wicked man, we must ask to what extent Shlaim's
judgment is clouded by the fact that, since his childhood in
Baghdad, Israel has looked to him like an "Ashkenazi
trick" of which he doesn't feel a part. Yes, that is
exactly what Shlaim recently told Haaretz.
Chomsky's work is equally
prone to being colored by psychological baggage. He told the
Guardian that he has opposed a Jewish state since his childhood,
a preconceived view that must inevitably prevent an unbiased
interpretation of events.
Nor can Finkelstein's
background instill confidence. He relates "The tales of
Holocaust survivors - all concentration camp inmates, all heroes
of the resistance - were a special source of wry amusement in my
home " and that his mother (a holocaust survivor herself),
would ask "if everyone who claims to be a survivor actually
is one, who did Hitler kill?"
These academics are entitled
to their opinions. Their sin is to present them as factual. They
also present as fact, their opinions that Israel never wanted
peace and that the Arab leaders are the ones who remained with
outstretched arms. Incredibly, their strong prejudices prevent
them from acknowledging not only Israel s attempts to negotiate
peace, but even the infamous three noes resolution of
Arab leaders in Khartoum in August 1967; "no peace, no
recognition of Israel and no negotiation?"
One can readily
understand the reactions of well meaning persons whose
perceptions of Israel are based on the damming MIS-information,
which they are fed by these academics. The consequences
are that even erstwhile friends are influenced to support
divestment and boycott programs.
It is unforgivable that none
of these experts who researched the independence war, have
bothered to interview people who were there and able to tell
about 1948 as it was.
We Jews are often accused of
being paranoid but there is much truth in the maxim. "Just
because you're paranoid - doesn't mean they aren't after
I rest my case
||Two of the
founders of the Israel Air Force, Smoky Simon,
deputy Chief of Air Operations on the left and Sid Cohen
who commanded 101 Squadron on the right. Maurice
Ostroff is in the center.
more articles by Maurice Ostroff
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