Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Unpalatable Truth About Martha Gellhorn 4

In the West Bank (under Jordanian rule at the time), Gellhorn, who had hearted Republicans in 30s Spain, uncharacteristically finds herself warming to monarchists:

"In Jordan, a refugee's education and self-reliance showed at once in his politics. The better educated, the more able do not waste their time on thoughts of violent revenge, and give their loyalty to King Hussein. The more ignorant and less competent nourish themselves with a passion for Nasser, war, and Return."

In Israel itself, she seeks out "the [Palestinians] who stayed behind, the non-refugees," interviewing a Christian Arab schoolteacher in Galilee who informs her that "[i]n the 1948 war, the next village was bombed by the Jews; when we saw that, we knew we had no hope."

Gellhorn responds with the following parenthetical comment to the reader: "(Pause for breath: the Jewish Air Force at the time consisted of 19 Piper Cubs, a nice little plane, not a bomber...)"

In fact, the fledgling AIF had "25 Avia S-199s (purchased from Czechoslovakia, essentially Czechoslovak-built Messerschmitt Bf 109s) and 62 Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXEs (also purchased from Czechoslovakia)... Many of the first IAF's pilots in 1948 were foreign volunteers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) and World War II veterans... As the war progressed more and more aircraft were procured, including Boeing B-17s, Bristol Beaufighters, de Havilland Mosquitoes and P-51D Mustangs..." (Wikipedia)

The following conversation ensues, with Gellhorn displaying a mastery of Zionist talking points, an appalling condescension and racism, and a palpable impatience with an interlocutor who sounds suspiciously like the proverbial straw man:

"'The Arab Kings [says the teacher ] were not the true representatives of the Arab peoples when they made war against Israel. Now all the refugees should come back and we should have Palestine.'

"At this point, I decided to make one long, determined stand to see whether there was any meeting ground of minds on a basis of mutually accepted facts and reasoning.

"'Please bear with me and help me,' said I. 'I am a simple American, and I am trying to understand how the Arab mind works, and I am finding it very difficult. I want to put some things in order; if I have everything wrong, you will correct me. In 1947, the United Nations recommended the Partition of Palestine. I have seen the Partition map and studied it. I cannot tell, but it does not look to me as if the Arabs were being cheated of their share of good land. The idea was that this division would work, if both Jews and Arabs accepted it... The Jews accepted this Partition plan; I suppose because they felt they had to. They were outnumbered about two to one inside the country, and there were the neighboring Arab states with 5 regular armies and 40 million or more citizens, not feeling friendly. Are we agreed so far?'

"'It is right.'

"'The Arab governments and the Palestinian Arabs rejected Partition absolutely. You wanted the whole country. There is no secret about this... The Arab governments never hid the fact that they started the war against Israel. But you, the Palestinian Arabs, agreed to this... And you thought... that you would win and win quickly. It hardly seemed a gamble; it seemed a sure bet. You took the gamble and you lost. I can understand why you have all been searching for explanations of that defeat ever since, because it does seem incredible. I don't happen to accept your explanations, but that is beside the point. The point is that you lost.'

"'Yes.'  It was too astonishing; at long last, East and West were in accord on the meaning of words.

"'Now you say that you want to return to the past; you want Partition. So, in fact you say, let us forget that war we started, and the defeat, and, after all, we think Partition is a good, sensible idea. Please answer me this... If the position were reversed, if the Jews had started the war and lost it, if you had won the war, would you now accept Partition? Would you give up part of the country and allow the 650,000 Jewish residents of Palestine - who had fled from the war - to come back?

"'Certainly not,' he said, without an instant's hesitation. 'But there would have been no Jewish refugees. They had no place to go. They would all be dead or in the sea.'

"He had given me the missing clue. The fancy word we use nowadays is 'empathy' - entering into the emotions of others. I had appreciated and admired individual refugees but realized I had felt no blanket empathy for the Palestinian refugees, and finally I knew why... It is hard to sorrow for those who only sorrow over themselves. It is difficult to pity the pitiless. To wring the heart past all doubt, those who cry aloud for justice must be innocent. They cannot have wished for a victorious rewarding war, blame everyone else for their defeat, and remain guiltless. Some of them may be unfortunate human beings... But a profound difference exists between victims of misfortune... and victims of injustice. My empathy knew where it stood, thanks to the schoolteacher... He has never seen even a corner of a real big war; he cannot imagine it. He thinks war is something that lasts a few weeks... you run away for a bit and then come home to your undamaged houses and lead a good life, indeed a better material life than before. None of these Arabs has suffered anything comparable to what survivors of modern war know; none can imagine such catastrophe."

So the Palestinian nakba, the ethnic cleansing of 85% of the population of Palestine overrun by Zionist forces in 1948, the Israeli refusal to allow their return as demanded by international law and the United Nations, the theft of their homes, lands, businesses and bank accounts, and the consignment of around 750,000 people, all indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, to exile in perpetuity, is a mere "misfortune" which cannot even begin to compare with the "injustice" suffered by European Jewry.

But it gets worse. Gellhorn (whose knowledge of Arabic is zero) plumbs new depths of calumny and racist abuse with this outburst:

"Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and en masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good has it done them?"

In fact, today's Islamophobic banshees, such as Oriana Fallaci, Pamela Geller, and Melanie Phillips have nothing on Gellhorn:

"Victory over a minor near enemy is planned as as the essential first step on a long triumphant road of conquest. A thousand-year Muslim Reich, the African continent ruled by Egypt, may be a mad dream, but we have experience of mad dreams. We cannot be too careful. The echo of Hitler's voice is heard again in the land, now speaking Arabic."

But, as the following data indicates, there's more, much more, to Gellhorn's Atlantic Monthly hatchet-job on the hapless victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing than meets the eye:

"In the early 1960s the American Zionist Council's (AZC) [AIPAC's parent organization] Magazine Committee met regularly with writers to prepare articles for top US magazines such as Reader's Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, and Life. In its program for 'cultivation of editors' and 'stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines,' the committee pushed lighter subjects with prepared texts such as the 13th anniversary of Israel's founding while killing investigative pieces at such publications as the Christian Science Monitor. The committee confronted two major news items challenging Israel: fallout from the 'Lavon Affair' (a cover up of failed false-flag Israeli terrorist attacks on US government facilities in Egypt) and American peace proposals calling for the return of some expelled Palestinian refugees to their homes and property in Israel. The Israeli government and its US lobby invested heavily in arguing against the return of Palestinian refugees through The Atlantic, according to yet another secret AZC report: 'The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country. We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories. Acting on information that anti-Israel groups were bombarding the Atlantic with critical letters, we stimulated a letter campaign designed to counteract their impact... Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who's Who in America... The November issue of the Atlantic carried a special 64-page Supplement on Israel, with articles by some of Israel's top names... Our Committee is now planning articles for the women's magazines for the trade and business publications'." (The Israel lobby swims The Atlantic, Grant F. Smith,, 17/8/10)

To be continued...

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