On November 10, 1975 the United Nations General Assembly adopted, by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), Resolution 3379, which stated that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."
In this BBC Hardtalk episode, Stephen
Sackur challenges professor Ilan Pappe’s views.
As expected, BBC’s Sackur
presents the hard core Right wing Zionist viewpoint. Unexpectedly, Sackur
displays a wide range of knowledge about Israel and seems almost as
knowledgeable as Ilan Pappe - a leading pro-Palestinian historian who has
dedicated his life to studying the conflict and the Palestinian plight.
How is that possible? Is it because Pappe lacks erudition?
Not at all, Pappe is an ethical human being and a superb scholar, he
remains courteous and calm throughout the program. But Pappe attempts to argue
his case with his hands tied behind his back.
The history professor is afraid to utter the ‘J word,’ he fails to
analyze Zionism and Israel’s actions within the appropriate ideological,
historical and cultural context and he refuses to question the true meaning of
the Jewish State.
History is an attempt to
narrate the past. A few brave historians aim for a consistent narrative that sets
events within the appropriate context which includes ideology, culture and
heritage. Most historians however, are engaged in the opposite: the active
concealment of the shameful i.e. that which is better to shove under the
of identifying the Zionist crime within the context of Jewish history and
culture, Pappe attempts to isolate the Zionist crime by disconnecting it from
Jewish history and continuum. Pappe injects the discourse with a dose of
politically-correct terminology (such as colonialism, apartheid, etc.) that
serves only to divert attention from the particular nature of Jewish
nationalism. In practice, Pappe actually attempts to conceal that which
is most shameful – the Jewishness of the Jewish State.
So, with eyes wide open the history professor marches straight
into the ambush and finds himself engaged in an awkward, incoherent historical
discourse that is restricted by parameters set by the very ideology he is
supposed to untangle; namely Zionism and Jewishness.
Was the expulsion of the Palestinians premeditated? Do we really
need the ‘personal accounts’ of Haganah elders to establish the fact that
Palestinians were expelled? Are not five million Palestinian refugees who
cannot return to their land due to the racist Israeli Law of Return a
sufficient argument that Israel is an ethnic cleanser? Pappe, like every
commentator on the subject, knows full well that it was premeditated but he
struggles to produce an argument.
He finds it impossible to admit that the making of the Jews-only
state was determined by the same Jewish exclusivism, ghetto-mentality,
ethno-centrism and racial orientation that is symptomatic of all Jewish
collectives whether Zionist or ‘anti.’
Ilan Pappe, who, more than any other historian, contributed to an
understanding of Israel’s original sin of ethnic cleansing, fails to pinpoint
exactly what it was that made the Jewish State into an ethnic cleanser. And the
problem does not end with Professor Pappe
Within the Left and the progressive discourse, a clear distinction
between scholarship and activism is missing. While activism is committed to
social change, scholarship is inspired by the notion of truth. Pappe, like many
other progressive thinkers, will compromise scholarship and even truth in order
to deliver a ‘slogan’ or a populist ‘motto’ that may excite or appease the
masses. Thus, the conquest of Palestine is simply ‘colonialism’ because to tell
it for what it really is might offend some Jews.
the foundation of this duplicity has, in recent years, become obvious. The
progressive Palestinian solidarity movement is in a precarious state.
Decades of activity have led to zero progress. Instead of resistance and
change, what we have is a thriving ‘solidarity industry’ largely funded
by liberal Zionist organizations such as George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
I want to believe in Pappe’s ability to introduce true change – a
spiritual and conceptual shift in our understanding of the situation. But
before Pappe liberates Palestine or the Israelis, he may have to liberate
himself from the shackles of ‘correctness.’
When this happens, then will he be able to
trounce the BBC and every other Hasbara outlet. Truth reveals its face only
when there is the freedom to think and to express.