Ilan Pappe’s lies about Israel | Article

Ilan Pappe’s lies about Israel | Article
Ilan Pappe’s lies about Israel | Article

Historian Ilan Pappe during an interview in 2009: narratives against Israel| Photo: EFE/Antonio Pita

It was in 2002. I read a text by Dr. Ilan Pappe, who at the time was teaching at the University of Haifa. Pappe published an article in Egypt’s most read newspaper, Al-Ahramin which he wrote: “Senior Labor ministers presented a proposal to transfer [da população palestina] to the Israeli government”, and about “professors and media people openly recommending transfer”, and that “an academic institution has officially and morally adopted transfer as the preferred option”, and summed up his grim claims by saying that “few in Israel dare to oppose the transfer”.

I read it and was surprised. At the time, I was the opinion editor of Maariv, daily newspaper in Israel. No one sent me an article in support of the transfer of Arabs, and if someone did, I wouldn’t publish it. There is no academic institution that has made transfer the preferred option. Since when has an academic institution adopted any policy? I called Pappe that day. We had a very uncomfortable conversation. Pappe was unable to validate any of his statements.

Ten years passed, and I went to a talk in downtown Boston. At the entrance, there were some students protesting against the “genocide perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians.” What genocide are you talking about, I asked two young students. One of them cited “Israeli professor Ilan Pappe” as a source of information about the genocide. Sometimes it seems to us that lies have short legs. This is a mistake. Over the years, Professor Pappe has become one of the most prominent disseminators of lies about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Pappe’s main argument concerns the Nakba (the catastrophe caused by Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, after which 715,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees). According to Pappe, it was “one of the worst forced expulsions in history”. Wrong. After the dissolution of empires and the establishment of nation-states, a huge wave of expulsions and population exchanges occurred in the previous century, especially in the first half. Greeks, Turks, Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Indians, Pakistanis and many other peoples underwent expulsions. Sixty million people have experienced displacement and expulsion. In most cases, this happened while terrible massacres were being committed.

For Palestinians, the story is different. They rejected the UN partition resolution, which gave them an Arab state alongside a Jewish state. They launched a war of annihilation against the barely born state. As part of this conflict, around 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries. Most of them came to Israel, and a smaller number of Arabs, as part of the war, fled or were expelled from Palestine. Pappe led a global campaign that made the Palestinian Nakba unique, even though he knows, and certainly should know, that tens of millions have had the same experience. Furthermore, at that time, population exchanges and transfers were the accepted norm.

Not many academics have made lying — yes, a lie — the mainstay of what academic research is supposed to be. In a review of one of Pappe’s books, historian Prof. Benny Morris wrote: “Ilan Pappe’s new book is shocking.” In fact, in the preface to the same book, Pappe wrote:

My bias is evident despite my peers’ desire for me to stick to facts and “truth” when reconstructing past realities. I see any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by someone who admits compassion for the colonized, not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied, not with the occupiers.” (‘History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples’, Ilan Pappe, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 11)

In an article titled “The Liar as Hero,” Morris exposed the distortions, errors, and manipulations that appear on every page of the book. Pappe distorts sources according to his opinions, invents references that don’t exist, and even “revamped” his biography to fit the crown of thorns he tied around his head, like a victim of Zionist McCarthyism crucified for his political views. “At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In fact, he probably deserves a place somewhere between the two,” Morris wrote.

Pappe himself has admitted in the past that he is not a historian. He is a propagandist. He said in an interview with the newspaper Le Soiron November 29, 1999: “In fact, the fight is about ideology, not about facts, who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as possible that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do this by ideological reasons, not because we seek the truth.”

In recent decades, Pappe has become one of the most prominent propagandists against Israel. He is a former Israeli. He is Jewish. And this legitimizes his slanderous comments against Israel and Zionism. There are many distortions and many liars working in the field. Not everyone who criticizes Zionism or Israel is a liar. Every national movement was criticized. But Pappe is a special case. He is no longer a liar. Pappe is a mega liar.

Ben-Dror Yemini is a journalist and researcher, author of “The Industry of Lies – The Media, The Academy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”.

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