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Media Analyses





Did Pappé Invent Another Quote?


It took several years for historian Ilan Pappé to respond to a challenge about a quote he attributed to Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

In 2006, historian Benny Morris declared that a quote that Pappé had broadcast (“The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as war”) was “an invention, pure and simple.”

It took several years, and a direct challenge to the Ethics Committee at the University of Exeter, where Pappé teaches, but eventually the truth came out.

In 2006, Pappé provided a total of three sources for the quote, none of which checked out.

In 2012, he provided a fourth citation, and that source says exactly the opposite of what Pappé says it does.

The conclusion is inescapable. Benny Morris was right. The quote Pappé attributed to Ben-Gurion, was an invention, pure and simple.

Another Quote, Another Invention?

Well, it is time for Pappé to provide the source for yet another quote, this one attributed to Sir Walter Shaw, chairman of the commission charged with investigating the 1929 riots.

The full title of this body, typically referred to as “The Shaw Commission,” is the “Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August, 1929.” This commission issued its report in 1930.

On page 248 of The Rise & Fall of A Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis 1700-1948, Pappé reports the following: “‘The principal cause [of the riots]”, Shaw wrote after leaving the country, ‘was twelve years of pro-Zionist policy.'”

Again, historian Benny Morris has challenged this quote. In 2011 Morris wrote:

It is unclear what Pappe is quoting from. I did not find this sentence in the commission's report. Pappe's bibliography refers, under “Primary Sources,” simply to “The Shaw Commission.” The report? The deliberations? Memoranda by or about? Who can tell? The footnote attached to the quote, presumably to give its source, says, simply, “Ibid.” The one before it says, “Ibid., p. 103.” The one before that says, “The Shaw Commission, session 46, p. 92.” But the quoted passage does not appear on page 103 of the report. In the text of Palestinian Dynasty, Pappe states that “Shaw wrote [this] after leaving the country [Palestine].” But if it is not in the report, where did Shaw “write” it?

Looking at the citation Pappé provides and the Shaw Commission's report, it appears that Pappé is referring to the deliberations of the Shaw Commission, not the report itself.

“Session 46,” appears to be a reference to a meeting of the Shaw Commission that heard testimony from leaders in Palestine. This meeting took place on December 26, 1929, where the commission heard the closing speech from the Palestine Arab Executive.

A list of these meetings was included in an appendix to the Shaw Commission's report. According to this list, there were a total of 47 public meetings of the Shaw Commission, so this was the second-to-last public meeting.

As stated in a previous CAMERA article, the record of a proceeding held in Palestine would be an odd place to find a quote from Sir Walter Shaw written sometime “after leaving the country.”

Nevertheless, it's important to let the historical record speak for itself.

The proceedings of these meetings were compiled and issued in two volumes by the British government in 1930.

The first volume contains the proceedings of the first 29 public meetings of the Shaw Commission.

The second volume contains the proceedings of the last 17 meetings of the commission and some of the other evidence gathered by the commission.

An index to the first two volumes was compiled in a third.

CAMERA has inspected the record for the 46th meeting of the Shaw Commission (included in volume two) and looked for the quote in question.

The document in question includes both the morning and afternoon sessions of the Shaw Commission's meetings for Dec. 26, 1929.

CAMERA also inspected pages 92 and 103 of the first volume of the Shaw Commission's evidence, just in case Pappé got confused as to where the quote actually appeared.

The quote Pappé attributed to Sir Walter Shaw is not in any of these locations.

We are confronted with some familiar questions:

What is the correct source for this quote?

Did Sir Walter Shaw actually write the words attributed to him, or is this another invention similar to the quote Pappé falsely attributed to David Ben-Gurion in 2006?


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