Welcome to my 99th Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan post, occasioned by the following damning admission.
"I buy most of my books at second-hand stores because the best books are invariably out of print, but occasionally a new book is exciting. Tony Blair's memoir was one recent case." (The Forum, The Australian, 28/5/11)
There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth: despite the veritable flood of new books on all facets of the Middle East conflict, many of which, you may have noticed, inform my posts, Israel's loudest megaphone in the Australian corporate press remains ignorant of the latest research, testimonies, or perspectives. No surprises here, of course. Sheridan's preferred reading matter on Palestine/Israel is, as he admitted in an earlier 2009 emission, a 'wild eastern' such as the 1968 Morris West novel, The Tower of Babel (See my August 2009 series West's Wild East, 1-5).
Sheridan's admission further confirms him as a mere transmission belt for dated (and current) Israeli propaganda. Recall, for example, the reference in the previous post to his peremptory dismissal of evidence of ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces in 1948, culled from the Zionist archives by Israeli historian Benny Morris, as "just rubbish."
Consistent with such Nakba denial, the books of Israeli revisionist historians, such as Morris (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited 2004) and Ilan Pappe (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006), on what really transpired in Palestine in 1948, are bound to be missing from Sheridan's shelves. Apart from musty and profoundly orientalist wild easterns such as Leon Uris' Exodus and West's The Tower of Babel, you're more likely to find musty and profoundly orientalist propaganda tomes such as Encounter With Israel: A Challenge to Conscience (1970) by Ziophilic Protestant theologians Alice & Roy Eckardt, where the Nakba is preposterously portrayed as the human version of whale beaching:
"Why should so many Arabs (some 560,000) have fled from homes and land in areas heavily populated by their own people? No one planned or anticipated such an extensive flight... Certainly the Jews had no reason to expect this outcome. Initially, the Jewish leaders tried to stop the flight. To them, it meant a denial of the ideals of harmonious coexistence they were determined to demonstrate. With respect to the Arab refugees themselves, the major promptings were fear, and the traditional Arab way of responding to approaching trouble... centuries of cumulative experience with invading desert tribes and rapacious armies of Mongols, Turks, and others had taught Arabs of different regions the wisdom of flight.* After the invaders retired with their booty, as usually happened, or order was restored, the people normally returned." (p 173)
"Fear of Jewish reprisals, based on an awareness of Arab atrocities against Jews, was intensified by knowledge of Jewish extremists' actions against the British forces, and a few instances of apparently wanton killing of some Arab villagers. Arab propagandists sought to rouse the populace to a frenzy of hatred and vengeance by spreading stories of Jewish atrocities (some of which were believed by Jews also). The attempts backfired. The stridency of these stories and their exaggerated character, aided and abetted by rumor (the most common news medium of the Arab masses), failed to incite them to violence. Instead, the people were simply terrorized, and there was a panic-stricken rout. The flight tended to create its own momentum. After Israel's forces were able to assume the offensive, Arab multitudes fled before them. The Jewish authorities ceased trying to stop them. Although unanticipated, the flight was perceived, in Weingrod's words as, 'a quick way to 'solve the Arab question'.' Some Israeli troops and commanders changed their behavior at this stage, making more deliberate efforts to get Arabs to leave. Some used purely psychological scare tactics, some resorted to physical eviction. The extent of such harrassment is impossible to determine. Yet there was never an overall plan of any kind to expel the Arabs." (p 174)
Nakba? What Nakba? Who? Us? Now steady on!
[* Isn't it amazing - Israeli Jews too seem to have acquired the exact same wisdom of flight as the Eckardts' Arabs!: "When Iraqi scuds hit Tel Aviv and its environs during the Gulf war in 1991, thousands of Jewish families fled to take their families and children to safety. They went to Jerusalem, assuming that Iraq would refrain from targeting the third holiest city of Islam, and to Elat, assuming that the city is beyond the range of the Iraqi missiles. They were accused by the mayor of Tel Aviv, General (Reserve) Shlomo Lahat, of desertion." (Crossing the Border: An Autobiography of an Anti-Zionist Palestinian Jew, Uri Davis, 1995, p 26)
However, as Davis reminds us, "[N]obody suggested that their properties should be confiscated and distributed among those who remained in the city throughout the war, or that they should be prohibited from return to their homes in Tel Aviv and condemned to remain as refugees in the localities where they had sought shelter. After all, they were Jews - not Arabs."]