'The recent death of Joan Peters recalls one of the most intense and bitter literary controversies in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Her 1984 book From Time Immemorial set off a memorable scuffle between both Israeli and Arab writers. But like many such controversies the ultimate impact of the discussion did more to obscure the truth about the origins of the conflict over Palestine than to shed light on it.The moral of the story is that while Peters's book was flawed, it might have prompted an important debate about one of the key assumptions of Israel's critics. Instead, the angry pushback her volume received from liberals and Arab apologists served only to demonstrate that anyone who seeks to challenge the Palestinian narrative of dispossession by the Jews does so at their own peril.Peters's intention was to write a book sympathetic to the Palestinian refugees. But in the course of her research, she stumbled across an important fact that had hitherto received no notice from Westerners who opined about the Arab-Israeli conflict: though the Arabs claim to have possessed Palestine for many centuries, a significant percentage of their population in 1948 could trace their origins to immigrants who crossed into what is now Israel during the last years of Ottoman rule and during the era of the British Mandate for Palestine.The idea that Arabs rather than just Jews arrived in the country during the period when Jews were working to build it up contradicts the basic conceit of all attacks on Zionism. Instead of thePalestinians losing a country that had been theirs "from time immemorial," this revelation placed both sides in the conflict on a somewhat equal footing.If a great many of those Arab refugees who fled the country during Israel's War of Independence were, at best, second-generation immigrants to Palestine then surely it would not have been so difficult to reintegrate them into other Arab countries just as Jewish refugees from Arab countries were resettled in Israel.But to admit that not all Palestinian refugees had roots going back for many centuries to what had become Israel undermined the basic critique of Zionism. To those who wish to cast the struggle over the land as one of Palestinian victims and Jewish aggressors, the narrative of dispossession has taken on the aspect of a catechism that may not be questioned. Thus, by calling into question one of the basic Palestinian myths, Peters had committed an unpardonable sin for which she had to be punished.'Powerful stuff and indicative of how the pro Palestinian narrative holds such sway amongst 'liberals'. I just cannot imagine the BBC ever repeating such information.
Friday, 23 January 2015
Joan Peters And The Perils Of Challenging The Palestinian Narrative
This articleshould be required reading for journalists at the institutionally anti Israel BBC.
Here's an extract: