OPINIONS

Wed 06 Dec 2023 1:45 pm - Jerusalem Time

The idea of transfer and the Israeli political mind

It must be noted that Morris, in his research, in which he corrected errors that he admitted to having committed, did not come to a decisive conclusion that the deportation of the Palestinians in 1948 was the result of a prior plan, but was satisfied with seeing that the link between the idea and its actual implementation in reality...


Every time there is talk about transfer, I believe it is necessary to bring back the book “Correcting a Wrong” (2000) by the Israeli historian, Benny Morris, which includes a collection of articles/studies that deal with various aspects of the system of relations between Arabs and Jews in Palestine between the years 1936-1956. Among the events and issues that he researches and dissects, the following can be mentioned: the deportation operations against the Palestinians of Majdal to the Gaza Strip in 1950, the activities of Yosef Nahmani, from the Hashomer and the Keren Keimet organization, during 1948, and how the Israeli press dealt with the Qibya massacre in 1953, and the displacement policy towards the Palestinian masses remaining in the Galilee during “Operation Hiram” in 1948. This book, in addition to other books by Morris, the forefront of which is his book “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949” (published in English by Cambridge Press in 1988), qualified him to be known as the "'New Historians' Movement."


The mistake that Morris corrects here is that, in his book on the Palestinian refugee problem, he did not give sufficient importance to the transfer tendency of the Zionist leaders in explaining what actually happened in Palestine in 1948, and such importance, while his description of it must be considered relatively adequate, is included in this book. Rather, he engages in a debate with Israeli historians who claimed, in everything they wrote, that the Zionist leaders completely rejected the idea of deportation, stressing that there are mountains of evidence proving the opposite. In addition, he adds that it was logical for these leaders to support deportation, since from the Zionist perspective, this deportation provided the easiest “natural solution” to the “Arab problem.”


Among what he wrote in this regard, in a context other than the book: “...It is true that my treatment, in the book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, of the migration thinking among Zionist leaders before 1948, was superficial and limited, because the topic requires long research covering the period from eighties of the nineteenth century until 1947, to determine the importance of the idea of deportation in the development of Zionist thought through multiple stages. The book 'The Birth of the Refugee Problem' did not conduct such research, because it was not primarily the subject of the book. Perhaps I made a mistake in not giving sufficient importance to the transfer tendency in Zionists in explaining what actually happened in Palestine in 1948.”


It must be noted that Morris, in his research, in which he corrected errors he admitted to having committed, did not come to a decisive conclusion that the deportation of the Palestinians in 1948 was the result of a prior plan. Rather, he was satisfied with seeing that the link between the idea and its actual implementation in reality does not respond to prior planning as much as it does. In what he calls a “state of mind” he accepted deportation as a legitimate solution. Once that transfer began voluntarily, in late 1947 and early 1948, the Zionist leadership, under the guidance of Ben-Gurion, was prepared to proceed with the process, sometimes using expulsions. The initial light flow of refugees turned into a flood during the period April - July 1948, which led to the exacerbation of the Palestinian refugee problem.


It is clear that Morris departs from what was proven by other historians (Nour al-Din Masalha, Norman Finkelstein, and others) who gave much greater weight to the “idea of deportation” during the decade preceding 1948, in relation to what actually happened in the context of that war, and they saw that the link between the idea and implementation responds to the existence of Advance design.


In any case, the arguments and proofs he presents in this book bring us before an unambiguous fact that the return to the Israeli-Zionist context, specifically linked to the issue of transfer, soon indicates the entrenchment of this dark, infernal idea at the basis of official Israeli political thinking, its ideologized with Zionism. Simply put, this is an introduction to touching on possible theoretical influences that lead, in turn, towards capturing the formula of the Israeli structure as a historical fact, more than it has been accomplished in its current political form.




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The idea of transfer and the Israeli political mind

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