Monday, May 01, 2006

On the Madman Ahmedinejad and Other Mad Men

by Anwaar Hussain

It is becoming clearer with each passing day that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has much to learn.

It all started in October last year when the newly elected Iranian President told a conference called "The World without Zionism" that "there is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world."

The Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres immediately responded by a call to the UN to expel Iran from the United Nations. “Since the United Nations was established in 1945, there has never been a head of state that is a U.N. member state that publicly called for the elimination of another U.N. member state" adding, “there is no place in the world body for such a country.” The then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a kind hearted gentleman of great standing in the Israeli history, too joined this humane call by saying, "a state which calls for the destruction of another people cannot be a member of the United Nations." How true.

The little matter of Israel having historically trampled upon more than 60 resolutions of the same august body that it has appealed to not withstanding, this is a pristine example of how responsible leaders of responsible nations talk. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

Also, if one’s memory serves right, Ariel Sharon is the same considerate gentleman who in an interview with General Ouze Merham in 1956, said, “I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child's existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I've killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do." [blog owner's comment: the existence of Ouze Merham and hence the validity of this Sharon quote is in dispute.] The most charitable sentiment, indeed, if there ever was one that one has had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

Sharon is also probably the same gentleman who, much before the arrival of Ahmadinajad on the scene on November 8, 2002, in an interview given to the New York Post, said that the U.S. war on terror should not end with Iraq. “As soon as Iraq is dealt with, I will push for Iran to be at the top of the ‘to do’ list . . .” he added. Now who would call that statement as ‘destruction of another people’? Judging by his past altruistic pronouncements about the Palestinian people, he seems to be a man of great compassion. One is quiet sure Sharon was suggesting nothing more than a massive one-time delivery of the combined milk of human kindness to the Iranian people. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

The Iranian President, on the other hand, seems to have perfected the fine art of taking potshots at his own feet. The fact that his feet are now raw pulp and very soon he may not have them to even stand on, does not stop him from shooting off at a tangent with his runaway bombast. Here is his latest;

"Some 60 years have passed since the end of the second world war. Why should the people of Germany and Palestine pay now for a war in which the current generation was not involved?" Mr. Ahmadinejad said during a recent press conference in Tehran, "this fake regime cannot logically continue to live."

The tit for tat came from the outgoing Israeli defence minister Shaul Mofaz, who told a Tel Aviv conference that "of all the threats we face, Iran is the biggest. The world must not wait. It must do everything necessary on a diplomatic level in order to stop its nuclear activity. Since Hitler we have not faced such a threat." Unlike the Iranian President’s dangerous swagger, please note the peaceful emphasis on the words ‘diplomatic level’ by the esteemed minister. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

It is another matter that any one who has had even a chance encounter with Israel’s ‘diplomatic skills’ either, sort of, does not live to tell the tale of the Israeli finesse in the department, or else does not exactly want to recall the moment. The Palestinian would be the people who could tell the world a little bit about Israel’s ‘diplomatic skills’. Other than them, we may have to rely solely on our imagination about the ‘diplomacy’ the Israelis would like to dish out to a contemporary Hitler. They do not share that secret with the world a la Ahmadinejad. He needs to learn.

The aforementioned kindhearted gentlemen, however, are not the only Israeli philanthropists harboring such benevolent thoughts. Israel’s history is replete with such towering personalities and their stellar ideas. As far back as 1948, another great Israeli from the yore, David Ben-Gurion, once said to his General Staff, “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." Then is the example of the one time Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s statement on Gaza who, just before signing the Oslo Accords, said, “If only it would sink into the sea".

Likewise, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech at Bar-Ilan University in 1989, stated, “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories." Yet another distinguished Israeli was the Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv. In October 1983, he pronounced, "We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves." Now these are faultless examples of responsible statements from responsible leaders. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

Similarly, Israel Koenig noted in ‘The Koenig Memorandum’ that, "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." Not to be left behind was Ehud Barak, the Prime Minister of Israel at the time, who very kindly observed, "The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more” as reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000. Then the one time Israeli Prime Minister Menahim Begin in a speech to Jewish settlers, as reported in The New York Times of April 1, 1988, observed that the Palestinians" would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls." A quick connection of the words ‘grasshoppers’, 'heads', 'smashed', 'boulders' and 'walls' throws up a subtle hint of the Israeli ‘diplomatic skills’. Ahmadinejad needs to learn.

Last but not the least, and to make some sense of Britain willingly acting as the gun dog for the Neocons, let us remind ourselves of the words of that most venerated of all the British gentlemen, the one time Secretary of State at the British War Office, one Winston Churchill. He, while authorizing the use of Chemical weapons on rebelling Iraqis in 1919, very nicely observed, "[I advocate] using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes [and] against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment. [I do not understand] the squeamishness about the use of gas [...] We cannot in any circumstances acquiesce in the non-utilization of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier.”

Now no one in his right mind can ever suggest that ‘since the United Nations was established in 1945’ the above quoted statements from ‘responsible leaders of responsible nations’ ever called for ‘destruction of another people’ and that, therefore, ‘there is no place in the world body for their countries’. Not me.

The Iranian President Ahmadinejad has much to learn, and faster too, or risk the booting out of his country from the hallowed halls of the United Nations, it seems.

Comment: very recently, Ehud Olmert, also resorted to comparing Ahmedinejad to Adolf Hitler, during a visit to Germany. Many Germans must have cringed, at least internally. But this kind of churlish, childish, tit-for-tat statement undoubtedly sits well with a considerable slice of the European populace...

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At 9:37 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

your right, Israel is a horrible place, and the iranians will never hurt a fly (maybe a Jew but not a fly).

and here I thought that someone from Britian would have learned the lesson of history after the Great MR. Chamberline did such a great job stopping Hitler back in 1938.
Let's see what Iran will do. that's the way to go. What's the worst that could happen - A few Jews will die?? a small price to pay to prove that you were worng. hmm.. where have I seen this before???

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Wolfie said...

Blimey Gert, that post was somewhat stronger than usual. What has prompted this more forthright stance?

Oleh, that statement was rather predictable - Is that the best you can say?

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

Gert, Wolfie,

Ahamdi-Nejad's rethoric ios meant to increase his popularity at home. When he was elected, bourgeois iranians were unhappy with him, now they are rallying around him because they feel that the west does not have to meddle in their affairs and certainly not preventing Iran, which is seen by these bourgeois as a great nation (it is always the bourgeois who are the support for nationalisms), from acquiring nuclear technology, so it is servig him well at home. Why the rethoric against jews, because jews are seen by ME populations as the darlings of the West. So the rethoric is directed mainly at the west.
Now this rethoric nmay serve well Bush, Israel and the neo-cons of course, but this is no worry for Ahmadi-Nejad because what is important for him is his political survival at home. Buish does the same thing and Sharon did the same thing after he became a pariah of israeli politics after Sabra and Shatila. The provocation of the temple mount propulsed him to the pinnacle of Israeli and world politics.
However, i think that Ahmadi-Nejad's rethoric has an internal logic also initiated by the west as a tactic for escalation.

Gert, Wolfie,
Do you remeber our discuaaion on the conspiracy theory to partition the ME starting with Iraq in order to assure Israel of tranquil and undiputed hegemony ? It seems now that the US is caressing the project of partitionning iraq into three parts, out of good intentions of course as to end the civil war !

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

the link for Tactics of escalation

At 2:41 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Gert, I do not want to debate the idea that Sharon and Ahmadinejad are similar because I know far too little about Iran and its leader. What I am interested in is the statement made by Sharon to General Ouze Merham that Hussain uses as a key quote in his argument that the Israeli and Iranian leader are one in the same.

In the numerous books I have read on Israeli & Israeli-Palestinian history, there is no mention of someone named Ouze Merham. In "The Jewish State" by Alan Dowty, "Righteous Victims" by Benny Morris, "The Iron Wall" by Avi Shlaim and "A History of the Middle East" by Peter Mansfield, there is no mention of such an interview given by Sharon or a General Ouzman. That doesn't necessarily mean he doesn’t exist or the interview never happened. But, there is evidence that shows that Sharon's statement was not made.

In 1956, Sharon was a Lieutenant Colonel, which is a Field Officer. I am unsure why a General would be interviewing a man of such a rank. Perhaps a journalist, researcher, etc would be more understandable, but (as you will point out) this is speculation.

So, let’s take a more serious approach to Sharon’s statement.

The term "Palestinian" to refer to the Arab population in Palestine is historically out of context. In the 1920s, the term 'Palestinian referred to those living in mandatory Palestinian - either Jew, Muslims, Christian, Druze, etc. One Zionist organization at this time was even called the Palestine Zionist Organization. In 1949, the U.S. Ambassador to Damascus referred to the uprooted refugees as "Arab" not as "Palestinian" (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, 264). In Zionist discourse in the pre-state period, only the revisionists (followers of Jabotinsky) discuss the issue of the ‘Palestinians’ who they also called "Arabs." (Jabotinsky, "The Iron Wall," 1923). Labour and religious Zionists tended to ignore the local Arab, either Palestinian or Arab-Israeli, population.

Using the term ‘Arab’ to refer to the Palestinians by Israelis continued after 1948. In a 1950 diary entry from Kibbutz Erez near Gaza, a report of security breaches uses the term "Arab" to describe the infiltrators coming from Gaza. In the same year, Moshe Dayan stated "We shoot at those among the 200,000 hungry Arabs who cross the line (to graze their flocks) - will this stand moral review?" (Morris, 274-5). Here, Dayan was referring to the Palestinians of the West Bank.

In 1953, Ariel Sharon discussing the retaliatory policy of the IDF stated: "Army units proved unable to locate their targets at night and wandered aimlessly in the dark. If they did manage to find their objective, they would exchange a few shots with Arab guard, then withdraw." This quote was in the context of Israeli snipers killing 6 Arabs in response to a series of abductions and murders that took place in Jerusalem from inhabitants of the West Bank - today Palestinians. (Morris, p. 276)

Alan Dowty's work also provides more evidence as to why Sharon's use of the term Palestinian is highly improbable. After 1948, Israel, finding itself in a position of unprecedented superiority, had trouble formulating a coherent policy towards its Arab minority. (A product of Labour zionists ignoring them for so long.) In Alan Dowty's discussion of this he shows how Israeli officials referred to these people as Arabs, not as Palestinians. Many officials from 1948 to 1966 and perhaps beyond viewed the Arab minority as a threat. Dowty's evidence illustrates that there is no reason why the officials, who viewed both the Arab-Israeli minority and the Arabs outside Israel as a threat, would have referred to them using different terms. In fact, to call them "Arabs" illustrates that they were clumping them in together as one enemy. This mentality is a product of their situation and ideology.

In 1969, Golda Meir illustrated a sentiment held by some Israelis that an entity known as the Palestinian people do not exist. It was only in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, that Israeli leaders came to terms with a legitimate Palestinian national group. This acceptance was one factor leading to the recognition of the PLO in 1993.

I think this evidence clearly shows that Israelis in 1956 were not using the term ‘Palestinian’ to describe the Arabs of Palestine.

Is there an editorial process that goes on before you choose to posy an article?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Wolfie said...

Absolutely on the same page Sophia. This new confidence in Tehran was totally predictable from the moment that the US announced its plans to attack Iraq and I have no doubt that advisers in the White House predicted this too. Ahmadinejad is a rabid popularist but MSM analysis carefully glosses over the fact that he wields little real power so the question we should ask ourselves is would Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hit the nuclear button? Somehow I think not but no doubt there are plenty of people who insist the Iranian leaders are religious fanatics devoid of any strategic logic (the inherent racism of that assertion is not lost on me). The Israeli nuclear weapons program is far too advanced for any Arab state to be a realistic threat and they know it.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Sophia said...

From 1927 to 1946 the British mandate printed coins in Palestine with the name Palestine on them. They are on sale on eBay
Young Sharon must have used them !
First they deny that there was such a thing as Palestinians, then they deny that there was such a thing as Palestine and they still deny that the denomination ever existed.

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Sophia (if your comment was directed at me):

Sharon probably used those coins. 'Palestine' was a part of the Zionist vocabulary but not the term 'Palestinian' to refer to only the Arab population.

I have just learned that this statement by Sharon referring to 'Palestinians' was used by a student columnist Mariam Sobh in the newspaper the Daily Ilini on December 11, 2003. She was forced to apologize because it was established the statement was a forgery and no reliable source could be attributed to it.

Anwaar Hussain either used it unknowingly which means he, and his editor, were negligent in their duties as journalists. Or he used it knowingly indicating his clear political agenda at the expense of honesty. It seems as if Hussain has succeeded in spreading one-sides propaganda with the posting of this article.

Gert: I think in a blurb before the article it should be indicated that the statement attributed to Sharon is a fake.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Gert said...


The Chamberlain argument is ridiculous: it implies that if Chamberlain hadn't been around, the UK would have attacked Nazi Germany "pre-emptively" but that wouldn't have happened; there were many forces acting in Europe trying to cling on to peace, not just Chamberlain. Only 20 year previous, Europe had come out of its bloodiest conflict ever, "never again" was still very much the order of the day.

You also imply that Israel would be defenceless against an Iranian attack but that's just preposterous. What we do know with reasonable certainty is that such an attack would reduce Iran to a pile of radioactive, smouldering rubble.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...


"Is there an editorial process that goes on before you choose to posy an article?"

Don't be facetious: as you well know this is a blog, not an academic journal. This article was chosen because broadly speaking I agree with it and because I recognised many quotes as being in the public domain, uncontested.

Whilst it's very well possible that the General Ouze Merham is a fabrication, I'll even take your evidence for it, in essence it takes little away from the position of Hussain's piece: when Ahmadinejad shoots himself in the foot the West howls and half the bloggosphere calls for immediate nuking of Iran, forgetting that similar, rash and irresponsible statements have been made by other leaders in the West and of course these same armchair generals (check out some US "milblogs": the "wiping Iran off the map" has been studied, planned and played out in great detail).

Perhaps you also dispute the sources of this particular Sharon quote, too?. Feel free.

So, there will be no blurb or retraction: your own rebuttal is there for all to read, that should suffice.

Thanks for your comment.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Sophia said...


I am having a hard time understanding your argument. You mean it is because Sharon and his zionist fellows didn't use the word Palestinian, he could not have made the statement attributed to him in this post ? This is not a valid argument. Lebanese, syrians, Palestinians and other citizens from the ME were and still sometimes called turks in latin America and also in Australia (because of the Ottoman domination of their country at the time they emigrated). may be Sharon could have said the word Arabs instead of Palestinians but he was anyway speaking of Palestinians proper. And we can easily conclude that the person who reported his statement might have used another denomination for the sake of the clarity of a disctinction Sharon didn't actually see when speaking of Palestinians.
Now the truth of the statement is another matter. If you are saying that the statement is false, you have to prove it. Otherwise, it is the saying of a person against the saying of another person, one of them being a falsificator or a liar.
The fact that soemone was forced to retract his statement is not important, waht is important is what was the basis for such a retraction?

Unless you give some evidence, not opposing statements, I don't feel that Gert should label his citation as fake.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

Behind Maryam Sobh retraction fro the statement she attributed to Sharon there is CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reprotind in America). This is a pro-zionist advocacy and pro-Israel watchdog group. They have no credibility. They never report on the many inaccuracies and biases related to American news reporting on Palestine and Arab countries. Their name is a hoax meant to suggest integrity and honesty and balance while their only interventions are on behalf of Israel. I suggest that they should rename 'Committee for Accuracy in Israel reporting in the American news' and even there they are not for accuracy, they are for the image, polishing the image of Israel in the american news. I don't know all the details about the retraction of Maryam Sobh but I am quite sure that, not being able to produce published written sources for her citation outside the web, she was forced to retract but this does not mean that the Sharon statement is actually false. Sharon did actually what was said in the statement and this is more important for our debate here than the words attributed to him.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

I have to add that david's argument is taken (or was David actually the author ?) from wikipedia. The irony is that the wiki entry proves that there is no general Ouze Merham just on the basis of the CAMERA article. More than that those who accused Ms Sobh of fabrication didn't produce any evidence outside websources which are pro-Israel and autoreferential. Just look at the sources of the article published by Wikipedia, they are laughable ! I am writing to Wikipedia on the subject.
wiki entry

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Just calm down on one thing: David is David, as the profiles show. To assume he's fabricated an entry in Wiki, just to prove a point, is a serious allegation and I, for one, don't believe it.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Gert: If you happen to agree with Hussain's argument you should illustrate it yourself with your own writing (something you do quite well). In my opinion, I feel it takes away from the integrity of your blog if you reproduce something of poor quality especially when you are genuinely concerned with honesty in the media and open debate. I would much rather read something you have written.

Sophia: In my initial response to the piece I did not use wikipedia. I listed the sources I was using, even with parenthetical referencing, so by no means was my argument unsubstantiated with serious accredited research. If you have not yet read them, I urge you to read those books. They are excellent.

The arguments I make are valid. I am not fabricating evidence or making things up. So, there is no need to belittle them just becaues they perhaps challenge your specific viewpoint or agenda. Debate them and challenge them on their merits. It would be a better and more interesting intellectual excercise for both of us.

MY arguments are this:

1) In the best history books on the topic, no such statement by Sharon was reproduced. If it was legitimate, I would imagine a historian digging through archivces would have found it and used it since it would have been quite illuminating regarding sharon's views.

2) No mention of someone named Ouze Merham appears in these same history books. Generals tend to be important figures in Israel worthy of mention. Maybe this general happened to do nothing during the 1948 war and the 1956 war?

3) The term "Palestinian" was not used to refer to only Arabs in 1956. I have shown this through much evidence.

To most, I feel such evidence would be convincing to show that this statement most likely was not made. But, there is plenty of room for disagreement.
I have illustrated cleary my postion that this statement was not made in the way it was reproduced in the article and on many pro-Palestinian and Pro-Arab websites.

Sophia, I ask you to confirm the validity of this statement - where is the source in Hussain's article that Sharon said this? Or did he take it from a website that has a strong political bias just as CAMERA does. The issue is not Sharon;s actions. Rather, it is the validity of this incriminating statement.

Now in regards to CAMERA. They do have a political agenda. They are selective in their criticism. This is the problem with internet research on this topic. I did use it only because I could not find other information on it. I was negligent in learning of their politics - I agree to that.

But Sophia, I recall you sending me a link entitled "Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem." Opposite to CAMERA, this is a pro-Palestinian website. Both are biased sources with their own agendas, I would never see any academic cite this as a source just as they would not cite CAMERA. That being said, they both have their points that we must appreciate- whether accept or reject. They are of equivalent validity.

Gert: I feel as if the most recent debates on your blog have been domiated by contrarians (myself included). We need to be more accepting of opposing postions and honest research. I have no agenda. I only hope we can debate without feeling personally attacked and that our arguments and research (and time spent responding) are valued by those reading them. Otherwise, we entrench ourselves and this becomes a mini Arab-Israeli conflict with few appreciating the other side.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

What I don't understand - is Ouze Merham supposed to be an Israeli general or what? It doesn't sound Israeli (unless it's Oz or Uzi, but Merham still doesn't sound like an Israeli last name).

Also, if such a general existed, I'd expect to find something about him on google that isn't related to the quote. I couldn't. A search on Google Scholar found only one search result - a jewish congregation's newsletter with a "quote busters" section (why a community publication comes up on a supposedly academic search engine beats me). Ouze Merham is not mentioned in any academic paper or book.

Highly suspicious.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi David:

Just responding (admittedly selectively) to few points.

If you happen to agree with Hussain's argument you should illustrate it yourself with your own writing (something you do quite well). In my opinion, I feel it takes away from the integrity of your blog if you reproduce something of poor quality especially when you are genuinely concerned with honesty in the media and open debate. I would much rather read something you have written.

Agreed but it's an "ideal world" suggestion: lack of time makes it very difficult for me to produce my own material. In fact, I may anytime soon have to cut down my blogging time even more. I think you can sympathise with that. But, I'll do my best.

Gert: I feel as if the most recent debates on your blog have been domiated by contrarians (myself included). We need to be more accepting of opposing postions and honest research. I have no agenda. I only hope we can debate without feeling personally attacked and that our arguments and research (and time spent responding) are valued by those reading them. Otherwise, we entrench ourselves and this becomes a mini Arab-Israeli conflict with few appreciating the other side.

You know from past discussions I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Perhaps one point though. You say: "I have no agenda". In this debate (Israel/Palestine), you would be truly the only one not to have some kind of an agenda or at least the only one to be seen as not having one. I can't say I easily admit to having an adgenda myself, but there is something called perception. An American Republican blogger with whom I've built quite a few bridges recently concluded that "You must hate Israel", based on recent posts. That's how some perceive my position, whilst this is simply not the case. Perhaps I've called that on myself, or perhaps these detractors can't read properly.

I found your own rebuttal of the W & M paper leaning dangerously close to simply dismissing it as "anti-Semite twaddle"(, as I believe to some extent does Dershowitz'). In the same context you may not have an agenda but will be perceived by others as having one. This is inevitable in this kind of debate.

No personal attacks were in my view recorded in the debate following this post, I'm sure you'll concur. When I consider what goes on in the name of debate on so many other blogs I count myself relatively lucky...

As always, amicably yours.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

I never alleged that David fabricated the Wiki entry, please reread my comment, I alluded to the fact that he could have written the entry. I have a neighbor who is a student in history and he is a great contributor to Wikipedia. I never spoke of fabrication. And you can erase the comment if you find it offending for David. I think mine wasn't.

The encyclopedia of the Palestine problem is pro-Palestinian, this is a fact but I don't see it as biased as CAMERA. There are two sorts of biases: biases that adopt a point of view, a perspective, and the encyclopedia is of this kind. The author and the forward point to knowledgeable people. I don't actually know who runs CAMERA and CAMERA operates as a watchdog group. The difference is huge. I think CAMERA's biases are more of the sort of intimidation into adopting one's views which is very different from the former.

As for the documents you mention on Sharon and the statement he didn't made and the general who does not exist, I can tell you honestly I don't have time to go through these documents. I may, at one point, but not in the near future, so in the meanwhile, I have to rely on your academic knowledge in defending this matter. This is an authority argument.
That the general did not exist because he is not mentioned in history books is a non sequitur argument.
The fact that Sharon could not have called Palestinians as such is a guarantee for the absence of such a statement made by him is necessary but not sufficient to refute the argument.

You call me a contrarian when I really enjoy debating you. there should be contrarians in every debate. I know you are from the Humanities culture where contrarians are not well considered and where facts and evidences have less weight than the authority of established knowledge. I am from the natural experimental sciences culture where contrarians are well considered and where authority of established knowledge is something every one should transcend.

If my presence in this debate is bothering you then I will happily retire.
No hard feelings. I really appreciated your calm in the exchanges we had. Good luck with your blog and your studies.

At 3:04 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Thanks for your comment Gert.

Sophia, I have no problem with you being a part of this debate. In fact, its existence requires your presence. I guess I felt as if I had to air some "grievances" in order to continue down a difficult path.

Gert, in an earlier comment you wondered whether I would challenge some of the quotes made by Zionists in regards to the Arabs that you posted on your blog. From what I have read in the past, I believe I can challenge one of them.

The first quote on the link you prvided attributed to Ben-Gurion was: "We must expel the Arabs and take their places."

In Benny Morris' 'The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949' he argues that Israel expelled the Palestinians from their homes with force and fear as it was the 'unofficial' (meaning unwritten, but spoken) policy of the IDF. On page 25, he uses the same quote noted above by Ben-Gurion which seemed to underpin Haganah, then IDF, policy. In Morris' english version of his book this is how the statement was reproduced. But historian Efraim Karsh points out that in Morris' hebrew edition of the book the quote appears quite differently (as it is found in the orginal document):

"We do not wish, we do not want, to expel Arabs and take their place...All our aspiration is built on the assumption that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs." (Translated from Hebrew, can be found on page 45 of Morris' Hebrew book).

Efraim Karsh has made a name for himself (and many enemies) in challenging some Israeli historians who have misquoted and manipulated certain primary source documents to further their ideological beliefs. Some of the books that I rely on are those written by the historians who Karsh has challenged in his book "Fabricating Israeli history: "The New Historians"".

I hope you will read this shorter article by Karsh which is a brief example of what can be found in much greater detail in his book.

Karsh has his political leanings and unfortunately is at times too polemical which hurts his cause. He is characterized as right wing and pro-Israel but from my impression of what I have read by him, he seems to be a very serious scholar whose work is important while still noting his agenda.

His work is important in exposing some problematic scholarship trends in regard to Israeli-Palestinian historiography. Let me know what your thoughts are on the article if you do choose to read it.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi David,

I think I would have enjoyed reading "Benny Morris's Reign of Error, Revisited - The Post-Zionist Critique" by Efraim Karsh a lot more if the link you provided hadn't appeared on a site called "The Middle East Forum - Promoting American Interests" (ahem...) which also links to Campus-Watch via... Daniel Pipes, who else?

About Pipes, the least said, the better in my opinion. I come across samples of this person's wisdoms regularly and can't honestly say I recall agreeing with him even once.

To put it to the test, I checked out Campus-Watch updated harvest of quotes, to find that there is very little in there that actually riles me. It's the usual list of "usual suspects", featuring of course multiple quotes from Juan Cole, someone I rarely disagree with (although it has happened). I find it hard to believe that a scholar (Pipes) would resort to this kind of tactics (however legitimate strictly speaking they are). In Europe, Campus-Watch would be... laughed off the campus and rightly so.

In such a context, my defences are automatically raised.

I have nonetheless read the Karsh article with interest and conclude I will probably have to accept your recommendation (made some months ago) to read both Karsh's and Morris' work.

Until then, I cannot but refrain from further judgement. Historiography is always problematic and even more so for laymen like me.

I will in future be more careful when linking to articles that themselves do not provide clear, verifiable references.

Best regards.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Gert said...

After some Google research it's now clear that the Ouze Merham quote is at least seriously challenged and a note has been added to the post to that effect.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

You are right, that website takes away from Karsh's work. On my blog I have posted a piece taken from the academic journal Israel Studies that you may also be interested in. That journal is far less "biased" than what we have seen in the website I provided and those provided by others.

I have not read enough of Daniel Pipes' work to formuate an adequate assessment of what I think of him. All I do know is that he is the son of the esteemed (and anti-Soviet) Harvard prof Richard Pipes. And that he is shunned in the academic community because of his "right-wing" views. I am curious to know what specifically about Pipes' do you disagree with. While you probably won't suggest me reading him, what articles have you read by him that really got you?

Pragmatically, Karsh's association with Pipes does his work a serious injustice.

Also, here is an very interesting link which is a conversation between Karsh and another academic Ian Lustick.

Sorry for all the reading, I know you are busy.

Best regards Gert.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Re Pipes: I come across quotes from Pipes frequently, often on very right wing, often quite racist, often quite bellicose sites or blogs and those tell me enough. I can't say I'm tempted to read an entire article. I suggest you surf his site and weblog:

From How Israel Can Win:

"Applying these insights to Israel's war with the Palestinian Arabs points to several conclusions:

* Israel hardly enjoys freedom of action to pursue victory; in particular, it is hemmed in by the wishes of its primary ally, the American government. That is why I, an American analyst, address this issue with the intention of influencing policy in the United States and other Western countries. [my italics]
* Israel should be urged to convince the Palestinian Arabs that they have lost, to influence their psychology.
*An aggressive step like "transferring" Palestinian Arabs out of the West Bank would be counterproductive for Israel, prompting greater outrage, increasing the number of enemies, and perpetuating the conflict.
* Contrarily, perceptions of Israel's weakness lessen the possibility of Palestinian Arab defeat; thus did Israeli missteps during the Oslo years (1993-2000) and the Gaza withdrawal inspire Palestinian Arab exhilaration and more war.
* Israel needs only to defeat the Palestinian Arabs, not the whole Arab or Muslim populations, who eventually will follow the Palestinian Arab lead.

I refrain from suggesting specific steps Israel should take in part because I am not Israeli, and in part because discussing tactics to win is premature before victory is the policy. Suffice to say that the Palestinian Arabs derive immense succor and strength from a worldwide network of support from NGOs, editorialists, academics, and politicians; that the manufactured Palestinian Arab "refugee" problem stands at the dank heart of the conflict, and that the lack of international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital festers. These three issues are clearly priorities."

Anyway, I suggest you make up your own mind but Pipes is clearly very politically motivated. To be fair, he does also debunk a few myths, such as his alleged involvement with the Danish Cartoons.


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