Great Israeli historian Benny Morris has become a pathetic case.
He made his name in 2004 by writing his seminal book on the history of the Palestinian refugee situation, proving with extensive documentation that the refugees did not leave Palestine on their own, or because Arab leaders told them to, but because they were driven out by Israel.
The book changed the historiography of the issue forever. No one seriously argues anymore that the Palestinians refugees were not forced out by the Israelis.
But for writing that book, Morris paid a heavy price –social ostracism–and like Judge Richard Goldstone who couldn’t take being frozen out by right-wing Jews –he caved.
Although, he has not retracted the findings of his original work (the documentation is too solid), he now says that pushing the Palestinians out was part of the Zionist plan all along, and was also necessary. He has also become a racist.
Today he responds to a piece by Daniel Levy in Peter Beinart’s new blog, Open Zion, by calling Arabs, apparently all Arabs, “barbarians.”
Here is what he writes:
Levy objects to my occasional use, in the past, of the word “barbarian”. Well, how would he define societies that carry out or condone the murder of thousands of women each year simply because they look the wrong way at a man or glance at the wrong man or dress the wrong way (the Arab world); or who practice mass coerced female genital mutilation (Egypt); or which put men on trial for homosexuality (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.); or cut off the arms of thieves (Saudi Arabia) or stone women who are charged with adultery (Iran); or kill masses of fellow Arabs or Muslims, often in funeral processions, in suicide bombings (Iraq); or which dance on rooftops or hand out sweets to children to celebrate the blowing up of a bus crammed with civilians (Palestine); or who shoot down and torture many thousands of civilians who say they merely seek freedom (Syria)? If Levy has a better word, let him offer it.
As is the case with Goldstone and all those other critics of Israeli policies who would rather socialize happily within the community rather than maintain decency, he is now a servant of those he once (and maybe still does) despised. This phenomenon is quite common here as well. See the piece I wrote yesterday about progressive rabbis here, like David Saperstein, who would rather maintain his reputation with the center/right than stand up for justice.