Monday, October 20, 2003

HONEST REVIEWS: Earlier this week we had an honest conservative with an honest review of Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." Becky Miller called Franken's book "amazing." This time around we have an honest review of Alan Dershowitz's "The Case For Israel" by Adam Rubin, assistant professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Look, I'm not into demonizing Israel's hard-core supporters (unless they do something that totally discredits themselves) because it's a) time-consuming b) childish and c) tiring. I'd just like to quote Rubin's review....

...it is the latest in a long tradition of hasbarah, propaganda, that is not unlike the material produced by the Israeli Office of Hasbarah in years past, or pamphlets issues today by various pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States... In seeking to "make the case for Israel," Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard and prominent defense attorney, has abandoned any pretense of balance, nuance or objectivity, all of which are guiding values for professional historians.

[...]

Dershowitz also uses evidence from Morris to argue that the Arab leaders of Haifa encouraged their community to leave. What emerges from Dershowitz’s selective use of Morris’ book is an account of the refugee problem that places responsibility for the problem squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians themselves.

However, Dershowitz neglects to mention Morris’ conclusion, based on detailed research and stated quite clearly in several of his books (including those cited by Dershowitz), that the majority of Palestinian refugees were in some cases expelled by Jewish forces and in others fled out of fear of expulsion or massacre by those forces. On the very same pages Dershowitz cites to make his argument for Palestinian culpability, Morris writes the following:

"During the second stage, while there was clearly no policy of expulsion, the Haganah’s Plan D clearly resulted in mass flight. Commanders were authorized to clear the populace out of villages and certain urban districts, and to raze the villages if they felt a military need. Many commanders identified with the aim of ending up with a Jewish State with as small an Arab minority as possible. Some generals, such as [Yigal] Allon, clearly acted as if driven by such a goal.... Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish State. But there was still no systematic expulsion policy.... Yet Israeli troops ... were far more inclined to expel Palestinians than they had been during the first half of the war. In Operation Yoav, Allon took care to leave almost no Arab communities along his lines of advance."

Clearly, Morris’ argument is considerably more complicated and morally ambiguous than the simplistic version Dershowitz presents. The latter has violated a cardinal rule of historical scholarship: an author is responsible for weighing all evidence at his or her disposal before making a conclusion, even if some of that evidence contradicts one’s own argument or bias.
Norman Finkelstein recently accused Dershowitz of plagarism, saying that he had made extensive use of "From Time Immemorial," which turned out be one great hoax as exposed by Finkelstein.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home