Friday, October 01, 2010

Walid Khalidi: Reconquering Palestine

A summary or précis of Walid Khalidi ‘s article “The Hebrew Reconquista of Palestine” in the Autumn 2009 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies has been posted on the DESIP website at:

Professor Khalidi’s article, about twice as long as the précis, addresses some of the myths regarding the transformation of the former Palestine into the State of Israel.

Here are a few selections from the summary.

Since the issue [of who should inherit Palestine was divine right], questions of who fired the first shot, and who did or did not accept partition are mere diversions and irrelevancies.

The genius of the Zionist narrative is its ability to depict the Palestinians’ resistance to this plan to dispossess them as Palestinian aggression, and the Zionist drive to impose this revolutionary status quo on the Palestinians by force of arms as Jewish self-defense.

Aggression and offensive action were built into the very concept of the UN partition resolution. The area of the proposed Jewish state was 15 million dunams (1 dunam = 1,000 sq meters) while Jewish land ownership in 1948 totaled 1.7 million dunams. The UN was effectively saying to the Yishuv: go seize those additional 13.3 million dunams that you don’t own from those who do.

The outcome of the [1948] regular war was already sealed in favor of Israel by the time it began. The “existential threat” supposedly posed by the Arab armies, like the ostensible equity and moral viability of the UN partition resolution, is a myth. Ben Gurion was without doubt the most capable political leader operating in the Middle East in the 40s and 50s. He had his priorities right. Unlike the leaders of the Irgun and Stern gang who fought the British, Ben Gurion understood that the real enemy was the Palestinians and Arabs. (Although one could argue that it came down to a question of shared responsibility: Stern and Irgun would fight the British-–with discreet help from Ben Gurion–-and so Ben Gurion could devote the bulk of his energies to uprooting the natives.)

Perhaps the mother of all ironies is that Ben-Gurion spent 1916 researching the history of Palestine in—of all places—the New York Public Library. One of the conclusions of his research was that the Palestinian peasantry were the real descendents of the ancient Hebrews.

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