Wheaton College in Illinois will take no formal action in response to problems associated with Professor Gary Burge's scholarship in his book, Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians.
That's the message sent by the school's provost, Stanton L. Jones.
Three days after CAMERA contacted Provost Jones and the school's president, Philip Ryken, with a Jan. 14,2014 letter highlighting its concerns about the text (see Appendix One below), Jonesresponded withthe following message:
Jones' response comes on the same the day two Evangelical professors who previously used Burge's text in their classes have told CAMERA they are not using the text.After being contacted by CAMERA about problems in the text,aprofessor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California,quickly responded by stating that he is "no longer assigning Burge's book as a text." Another professor at Biola University in La Mirada, California stated, "I am not currently using this text" after being contacted by CAMERA.
In the ensuing paragraphs, he makes a number of allegations to support this characterization. Citing B'Tselem, Rev. Dr. Burge writes:
Later, Burge falsely reports that"no new wells [can] be dug" in the West Bank. Burge ends his indictment with the following paragraph:
In 1967, there was indeed a large gap in the per capita consumption of water between Israelis and Palestinians. This was due to the ancient water supply systems that existed in Judea and Samaria under British and then Jordanian rule, which needed upgrading. This gap however, was reduced during the Israeli administration period and the difference is now negligible.
The report, authored by Professor Haim Gvirtzman, states that in 1967, Israelis consumed, on a per capita basis, 508 cubic meters (508,000 liters) of water per year, which translates into a daily usage of 1,391 liters per day. (One cubic meter of water = 1,000 liters.) Palestinians living in the West Bank only used 93 cubic meters of water on a per capita basis annually. (This translates into 254 liters per day.)
Gvirtzman reports thatby 2006, this gap had closed substantially, because Israel uses much less water on a per capita basis than it did in 1967 and Palestinians have used much more. In 2006, Israelis used, on a per capita basis, 170 cubic meters of water annually (or 465 liters per day) while the Palestinians, Palestinians used, on a per capita basis 129 cubic meters annually (or 353 liters per day).
Since 2006, water availability has improved even further with the drilling of 15 new wells for Palestinian consumption that produce an additional 150 cubic meters of water annually. (This contradicts Rev. Dr. Burge's assertion that no new wells can be dug in the West Bank.) As a result, the current annual per capita consumption of water is 150 cubic meters of water (410 liters daily) for Israelis and 140 cubic meters annually (383 liters daily) for Palestinians.Gvirtzman adds:
It should also be noted that there are two sources of water used by the Palestinians living in the West Bank Israeli operated plants and Palestinian plants and that the increase in water supply enjoyed by the Palestinians is largely the result of improvements and investments made by the Israelis, not the Palestinians, who by the way have missed a number of opportunities to improve their water infrastructure they control. (Readers will find more information about this reality inGvirtzman's report).
As stated above, Rev. Dr. Burge reports that no new wells can be dug in the West Bank.
They can be dug, it's just that the Palestinians have not taken advantage of the aid offered to them to construct these wells. Page five of Gvirtzman's report makes reference to the Joint Water Commission, or JWC. The report states that one of the subcommittees of this commission (the Hydrological Committee), has approved the drilling of about 70 new production wells for the Palestinians and 22 observation wells [
] of which just 50 percent have been drilled. The committee has also approved the upgrading of 55 existing wells (out of 500 authorized wells in Judea and Samaria.
Then on page 21 of this report, we learn that despite the international aid offered to the Palestinians for planning, financing, including the approval of 70 new wells by the JWC, the Palestinians have not succeeded in independently increasing their water supply.
People who read Gvirtzman's report closely will see for themselveswhat Rev. Dr. Burge has done: Blame the scarcity of a shared, common resource on one actor Israel without taking into account the investments Israel has made into improving water supplies and the failure of Palestinian leaders to do what they can to address the problem.
Again, CAMERA must emphasize that there are other errors in this text which the organization has yet to highlight but will in the days and weeks ahead.
Below are three appendixes. Appendix One is the letter sent to Wheaton College on Jan. 14, 2014. Appendix Two is the letter sent to Pilgrim Press in August, 2007. Appendix Three is the text of a draft insert that CAMERA prepared in response to an invitation from Pilgrim Press to prepare an insert to accompany purchases of the second edition of the text. (Thisinvitation was later rescinded).
Readers may find some of the material below familiar. It has been used to prepare articles that have appeared elsewhere on on CAMERA's website.
The Reverend Timothy G. Staveteig August 23, 2007
The Pilgrim Press and United Church Press
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44115-1100
[Note: Rev. Staveteig is no longer working at Pilgrim Press.]
I am writing on behalf of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which works to promote fair and accurate coverage of Israel in the American media.
As Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA, I monitor information provided by churches, para-church organizations, and Christian publications in the U.S. about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
I am writing to you today about Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians published by Pilgrim Press in 2003. This book, written by Dr. Gary Burge, is marred by sourcing problems, inaccuracies, distortions and omissions that result in a distorted portrayal of Israeli policies. Moreover, the book offers contradictory opinions about Jewish sovereignty and self-determination. In the book's preface, he affirms this right. In the main text of the book, however, he denies this right.
During the course of our previous conversation, you were kind enough to tell me that this manuscript an updated version of his 1993 book was previously submitted by Zondervan and turned down and then submitted on short notice to Pilgrim Press. Given the factual errors and sourcing problems, I can understand why Zondervan took a pass. It might be reasonable for Pilgrim Press to do the same on future printings of this book.
At the very least, I hope Pilgrim Press will issue an errata to accompany existing copies of the book and prevail upon Dr. Burge to make corrections and to clarify his opinions about Jewish self-determination in future printings of this book.
I am sending a copy of this letter to Dr. Burge so that it can form a basis for future discussion between you and the professor. I am also available for continued discussion. [...]
In short, the Whose Land? Whose Promise? is a compendium of factual errors, misstatements, omissions and distortions that portray the modern state of Israel in an inaccurate manner. The errors are egregious and numerous.
Dr. Burge portrayed an essay by well-known commentator Daniel Pipes as offering a message exactly the opposite of what Daniel Pipes actually wrote.
Dr. Burge attributed a quote to David Ben-Gurion that had been exposed as false and fabricated several years before publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? (The book the author cites as the source for the quote in question a work book intended for high school-age students does not include the quote in question.)
Dr. Burge falsely stated that Israeli-Arabs are denied membership in Israel's labor movement, when in fact, one of the books he cites reports that Israeli-Arabs have been allowed full membership in Israel's largest union the Histadrut since 1959.
Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are barred from the service in Israel's military.
Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are prohibited from joining Israel's major political parties.
Dr. Burge mis-characterized UN Resolution 242 as requiring Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders when in fact it does not.
Dr. Burge portrays Hezbollah as a resistance organization when in fact its political agenda and leaders clearly state the organization is dedicated to the destruction of Israel a fact he omits in his description.
Dr. Burge portrays the founding of the PLO as an attempt to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war when in fact its founding was motivated by a desire for the destruction of Israel.
I must make clear that my research is not finished and that I will be corresponding with you in the days and weeks ahead with more concerns. This letter represents my first approach to the problems in this book. I am sending it now, despite the fact that I am not finished with my research, because after our conversation earlier this week, I understand that you are in communication with Dr. Burge about issuing an update of this book. I believe that you need to have at least a basic understanding of my concerns with this book as you proceed with these discussions with Dr. Burge.
Use of Sources
One of the most troubling aspects about Dr. Burge's book is his reliance on secondary sources of questionable reliability.
For three crucial citations (on pages, 37, 39, and 40) Dr. Burge relies on a high school workbook, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, by Tony McAleavy as his reference. This workbook, published by Cambridge University Press in 1998, is part of the Cambridge History Programme a group of texts targeted at High School Students in Great Britain. In other words, it is a book targeted at a juvenile, or young adult audience. (When checking Dr. Burge's references, CAMERA obtained a copy of this book from the Children's Department of the Chelmsford Public Library in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The library categorized the book as JNF or juvenile non-fiction.) As would be expected for a workbook of this type, for the most part, it lacks any citations, but typically provides quotes from unnamed publications. It also is devoid of any context needed to assess the full meaning of the quotes in question.
One of the most important principles of research is to use primary sources whenever possible. To be sure, there are times when the use of secondary sources is necessary and legitimate, but this does not allow the use of any secondary source. Dr. Burge did not make a judicious or responsible choice when using a high school work book as a reference.
To make matters worse, Dr. Burge erroneously attributes a damning quote from David Ben-Gurion to T.M. McAleavy's book. On page 39 Dr. Burge writes:
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister was specific about his strategy. In a letter to his son in 1937 he wrote, We will expel the Arabs and take their place.
Dr. Burge states this quote appears on page 22 of T.M. McAleavy's book. I can find no reference to David Ben-Gurion's letter on page 22, or anywhere else in that book, for that matter. Interestingly enough, page 22 does cover that section of Israel's history where such a quote might appear.
When CAMERA emailed Dr. Burge about the actual source of this quote. Dr. Burge stated in an email that Even though the research was back in 2000/2001, I still remember finding the letter and it was so fascinating. In other words, Dr. Burge claims to have seen the text of the letter himself even though the source he attributes it to T.M. McAleavy's book, only provides excerpts of longer documents. If Dr. Burge had seen the letter himself, then why did he cite a much less credible secondary source? Did Dr. Burge see the original text, or did he derive it from another secondary source in which it appeared?
These are crucial questions, because after examining the original text, the actual letter in question some form of which Dr. Burge has claimed to have seen Efraim Karsh professor of Mediterranean Studies at the University of London said the quote is a fabrication.
One possible source of this book is a book by Benny Morris titled The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 published by Cambridge University Press in 1987 (and thoroughly discredited by Karsh). (Dr. Burge cites Morris's book on pages 41 and 145 of Whose Land? Whose Promise?) The relevant passage from Morris's book appears on page 25:
Ben-Gurion understood that few, if any, of the Arabs would uproot themselves voluntarily; the compulsory provision would have to be put into effect. We must expel Arabs and take their places ... and if we have to use forcenot to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal, he wrote to his son, Amos, contemplating the implementation of the transfer recommendation of the Peel Commission report.
As his source for this quote, Benny Morris cites Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, p. 188. The text in question appears not on page 188 of Teveth's book, but on page 189. It reads:
In reflecting on the transfer provision of the Peel Commission's recommendation, Ben-Gurion planned his next step: We must expel Arabs and take their places.' He did not wish to do so, for all our aspiration is built on the assumption proven throughout all our activity that there is enough froom for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine.' But if the Arabs did not accept that assumption, an if we have to use force not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal.
In assessing Morris's use of Teveth's text, Karsh writes:
Teveth claimed that Ben-Gurion did not wish to expel the Palestinians since his fundamental article of faith was that there is enough room for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine'; in Morris's truncated text, Ben-Gurion wished to do precisely that. Again, Morris has taken liberty with his evidence; this time not by putting his words into other people's mouths but by deleting key sentences from the original text in a way that turns its real meaning upside down. (Karsh, page 47)
In his preface to Fabricating Israeli History (page xvii), Karsh reports that Morris himself had not made this error in the Hebrew version of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem :
While leaving through the book's English version, I came across a quote from a letter, written by David Ben-Gurion to his son Amos in 1937 stating that we must expel Arabs and take their places.' Having read the book's Hebrew edition several years earlier, I recalled the letter as saying something quite different. Indeed, an examination of the Hebrew text confirmed my recollection. It read as follows: We do not wish, we do not need 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. (Ellipses in original.)
All of this then points to Ben-Gurion's letter to his son, some form of which Dr. Burge claims to have seen. On pages 50 and 51 of Fabricating Israeli History Karsh reports that the sentence in question was crossed out and rewritten in a slightly different form and in the course of editing the hand-written text, Ben Gurion erased the critical words do not' (ve-ein') leaving the sentence as we need' (anu tsrihim') rathan than as we do not need' (ve-ein anu tshrihim'). Karsh continues:
As a result a momentary, fleeting typographical oversight has become a pointed weapon in the hands of future detractors, though only if this sentence is taken out of context and presented in a truncated form.
(This seems to be a pretty good description of Dr. Burge's use of the quote in question.)
Ultimately, Karsh's translation of the quote appears to be good enough for Benny Morris, who quotes Ben-Gurion as follows in Righteous Victims, his book on the Arab-Israeli conflict published by Vintage in 1999 and revised in 2001: We do not want and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places. (I am quoting from the 2001 version; I cannot state for a fact that this quote appears as so translated in the 1999 version of Morris's text.)
There is, however one issue to contend with. Dr. Burge's version of this quote differs from the version that appears in any of the above mentioned sources. Dr. Burge quotes Ben-Gurion as having written We will expel the Arabs and take their place which is a bit different from what Morris and Teveth report: We must expel Arabs and take their places.
The version of the quote which Dr. Burge uses is inaccurate as well, despite the fact that it appears in the writings of Jerome Slater, a writer for Tikkun, who reports that his source is Michael Bar-Zohar, author of Facing a Cruel Mirror.
The upshot is this: Until Dr. Burge tells us definitively the source of this quote, we are left with the following possibilities as to its source:
Benny Morris's book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem a text which was discredited in reference to the quote in question several years before the publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? (Dr. Burge's reliance on this text is unlikely given the textual differences).
Shabtai Teveth's Ben-Gurion and the Palestine Arabs which reports Ben-Gurion wanting to do exactly the opposite of what Dr. Burge reports him as desiring. (Again, unlikely given the textual differences.
The writings of Jerome Slater or Michael Bar-Zohar.
Some version of the letter itself, the details of which Dr. Burge has yet to provide. Maybe it was the actual text, on file in the IDF's archives, or some facsimile thereof.
The one thing we can be sure of, is that the quote did not come from the source cited in Whose Land? Whose Promise? It is not there.
I would also like to draw your attention to a passage on page 40, in which Dr. Burge quotes an entry from Ben-Gurion's diary. He writes:
Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary on December 19, 1947, how a village must be approached: In each attack, a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.
I have sent Dr. Burge an email asking him for the source of this quote and have spoken with Dr. Karsh at King's College in London about this diary entry, of which he is familiar. During our phone conversation, Dr. Karsh stated that this quote is a reference is referring to tactical operations under discussion and was not setting policy in reference to all the Arabs in the area. In particular, Ben Gurion was discussion how to respond to Arab attacks on Israelis. In a subsequent email, Dr. Karsh writes this about the quote in question:
It doesn't refer to the way to approach a village but is rather a general observation about the need to move to what he calls aggressive defense. In the quote from the published war diary, the editors did precede the parenthetical Arab to the word attack.
The passage starts with BG's words in the preceding paragraph:
I said that it seemed to me that there was a need to reexamine the entire defense plan. We were probably over-optimistic and underestimated the Arab activity. The effectiveness of a post factum response was questionable: it could be interpreted as an aggression, as fanning the fire, as spreading the disturbances.
We must revert to an aggressive defense. In every [Arab] attack, prepare to strike [in response] a decisive blow, destroying the place or expelling the inhabitants and capture their place.
So, yes, he talks about destruction and expulsion but only with regard to specific sites that had been used for attacks could be buildings, neighborhoods, villages. It has nothing to do with approaching villages as a whole, let alone with a desire to dispossess the Arabs. Peace loving villages and localities were not touched!
Dr. Burge may disagree with Dr. Karsh's interpretation of Ben-Gurion's motive, but judging from his translation of the passage in question, it appears Dr. Burge took the quote out of context to prove his point.
Dr. Burge's problems do not end here. He also mischaracterized the writing of Daniel Pipes, a well-known commentator on the Middle East. Citing an essay that appeared in the February 2000 issue of Commentary, Dr. Burge writes:
In an essay published in the journal Commentary, Daniel Pipes describes what he sees as Israel's Moment of Truth. In his mind, Israel has an opportunity to resolve its most basic struggles with the Arabs. But if Israel does not, its own future will be in jeopardy. In a new study of Arab attitudes toward Israel conducted by the American University of Beirut, sixteen hundred (sic) Lebanese, Jordanians, Palestinians, and Syrians were asked about their attitudes toward peace. By a ratio of 69 to 28 (more than 2 to 1), responded said that they did not want peace with Israel. If a resolution to these attitudes is not discovered, the lines of opposition will harden and peace will slip from reach. The jeopardy for Israel is serious. Pipes writes:
Israel today has money and weapons, the Arabs have will. Israelis want a resolution to conflict, Arabs want victory. Israel has high capabilities and low morale, the Arabs have low capabilities and high morale. Again and again, the record of world history shows victory goes not to the side with greater firepower, but to the side with greater determination. (Whose Land? Whose Promise? pp. 261-262)
No where in Dr. Pipes' essay is there any suggestion that the author believes that Israel has an opportunity to resolve its most basic struggles with the Arabs. In fact, Dr. Pipes' essay clearly conveys the opposite. The only people mentioned in Pipes' essay who believe that Israel had an opportunity for peace were leaders in Israel and the U.S.
Thanks to Israel's position of strength, Prime Minister Ehud Barak now speaks confidently of an end to wars and of his country's being finally accepted as a permanent presence by its neighbors. These sentiments are widely echoed both in Israel and in Washington.
Pipes then states, in the very next sentence: And yettwo trends suggest otherwise. The first has to do with Arab strengths, the second with Israeli weaknesses. In the remainder of the essay, in which he describes these trends, Pipes makes it perfectly clear that Israel faces threats and challenges to its very existence and that peace is not Israel's for the making.
For example, Pipes continues:
The point cannot be made often or strongly enough that, in their great majority, Arabic speakers do continue to repudiate the idea of peace with Israel. Despite having lost six rounds of war, they seem nothing loath to try again. In one of the most recent in-depth surveys of Arab opinion, conducted by the political scientist Hilal Khashan of the American University of Beirut, 1,600 responded divided equally among Jordanians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians, stated by a ratio of 69 to 28 percent that they personally did not want peace with Israel. By 79 to 18 percent, they rejected the idea of doing business with Israelis even after a total peace. By 80 to 19 percent, they rejected learning about Israel. By 87 to 13 percent, they supported attacks by Islamic groups against Israel. (Emphasis added).
This passage reveals some troubling omissions. While Dr. Burge accurately reports that by a ratio 69 to 28 (more than 2 to 1) respondents reject peace with Israel, he omits some damning and telling details. Huge majorities of Arabic speakers do not want to learn about Israel, don't want to do business with Israel, and that by a ratio of almost 7 to 1, they support Islamist attacks against Israel. These statistics indicate that the lines of opposition have already hardened and that peace is not, as Dr. Burge suggests, in Israel's reach.
Dr. Pipes concludes his essay as follows:
This is not to say that the Jewish state is immediate danger; it continues to have a strong military and a relatively healthy body politic, and democracies have demonstrated the capacity to right their mistakes at five minutes to midnight. But one shudders to think of what calamity Israel must experience before its people wake up and assume, once again, the grim but inescapable task of facing the implacable enemies around them.
These passages and others in Pipes' essay (a copy of which I have enclosed) indicate that Dr. Burge has taken Pipes' assessment that Israelis must wake up and face the grim inescapable task of facing the implacable enemies around them and turned it into an essay about Israel's opportunity for peace. If Dr. Burge believes that Israel has an opportunity for peace, he should say so in his own voice. Instead, he has used Dr. Pipes as a ventriloquist's dummy.
Here are some other factual errors and problems I have noted. The list is not exhaustive, but preliminary.
Dr. Burge's description of UN Resolution 242 which appears on page 42 is inaccurate. Dr. Burge writes:
The United Nations Concluded that Israel had no intention of returning to its pre-1967 borders and in November 1967 demanded that it do so. This U.N. decision Resolution 242 is famous and is still cited today as a call for Israel to return conquered lands and set captive people free.
Dr. Burge asserts that UN Resolution 242 called for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, when in fact it intentionally avoids doing so. Instead, the resolution called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict without specifying to what extent Israel should withdraw from the territory it acquired.
The resolution calls for withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict. It does not read from the territories or from all territories. This is not an accident. Lord Caradon, permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations (1964-1970) and chief drafter of Resolution 242 explained:
Much play has been made of the fact that we didn't say the territories or all the territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the the or all the that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend. (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, pg. 13, qtd. in Egypt's Struggle for Peace: Continuity and Change, 1967-1977, Yoram Meital, pg. 49)
Eugene Rostow, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs from 1966 to 1969 and another drafter of the resolution, has also stated numerous times that the negotiated settlement did not require Israeli withdrawal to the Armistice Line of 1949, but that the negotiated settlement would create boundaries that would replace the Armistice Line of 1949. (The resolution's drafters in fact have repeatedly made clear that Israel is not required to withdraw to pre-war lines under UN Resolution 242. The comments can be seen at: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1267).
The PLO and Hezbollah
On page 25, Dr. Burge describes the PLO as follows:
From 1971 until 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization (the PLO) was based in Lebanon and waged numerous conflicts with Israel in an attempt to redress the refugee problem.
Dr. Burge's portrayal of the PLO as an organization founded in an attempt to redress the refugee problem is inaccurate. The PLO's stated goal was Israel's destruction. The PLO was founded in 1964 three years before Israel took possession of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Six Day War to liberate Palestine. In 1964, the liberation of Palestine meant Israel itself. Article 15 of the PLO's charter, approved in July 1968 (and subsequently translated into English by the PLO) is explicit in its call for the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. The original Arabic is even more decisive, calling for the liquidation of the Zionist presence.
On that same page, Dr. Burge's description of Hezbollah as a resistance movement makes no mention the organization's explicit desire to destroy Israel a desire that was stated numerous times before his book's publication in 2003. Pandering to Terrorists, an article written by Rita Katz and Evan Kohlmann and published in 1999 by The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International, provides some detail:
Hizballah regards all territory of the state of Israel as occupied land, and is thus firmly committed to the aggressive annihilation of Israel. In the February 1985 statement of Hizballah's goals and principles, an entire paragraph is dedicated to the necessity for the destruction of Israel, stating unequivocally that our struggle will end only when [Israel] is obliterated... we recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated. The platform goes on to emphasize that Hizballah "vigorously condemns all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regards all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine." Hizballah's propaganda has become, if anything, more insistent about the destruction of Israel over the last 15 years.
In October 1991, during the Madrid Conference, Hizballah radio declared that as for the peace... it can only be achieved by eliminating Israel from existence and liberating all the territories of usurped Palestine.
In December 1994, Hizballah's former Secretary General, Shaykh Subhi al-Tufayli, proclaimed that we shall forever reject Israel's existence... resistance will go on even after Israel's withdrawal... our goal is to destroy the Zionist entity, and in the future there won't be a single Jew or Zionist left in Palestine.
In March 1996, Hizballah Deputy Secretary General Nayim Qassem stated that we oppose, and will continue to oppose, the Zionist entity... Israel has no reason to exist, and the solution must be the return of all the Jews to their countries of origin.
In August 1998, Secretary General Nasrallah called Israel a cancerous cyst... a germ of corruption... an unnatural presence in the region that cannot exist in this region and will certainly be eliminated. Nasrallah continued the grounds for struggle and holy war against this usurping enemy are strengthening every day, and we think that sooner or later this evil presence will face destruction.
On July 26, 1999, Nasrallah pledged that even if the entire world recognizes Israel, even if they threaten to hang us, we cannot recognize this cancer, this racist and terrorist entity.
For a resistance group solely interested in ending the Israeli presence in southern Lebanon, Hizballah seems unusually preoccupied with the total eradication of not only the Jewish state but even the very presence of ethnic or religious minorities in the Middle East. The statements and activities of the organization candidly demonstrate that the ideology and goals of the organization remain as fanatical, belligerent, and uncompromising as ever.
This is hardly the agenda of a resistance group. Several years before the book's publication date, Hezbollah has long been known to be explicitly intent on Israel's destruction, not merely Lebanon's liberation.
On page 139 Dr. Burge writes: Essentially Palestinians within Israel's borders cannot enter the main systems of Israeli society. The major labor organizations, political parties, and even the military are off limits. On the following page, he writes
Palestinians are restricted from joining [the IDF] (for obvious reasons), and thus a whole network of financial benefits are denied to them.
Dr. Burge is quite simply wrong on all counts.
Israeli Arabs (i.e. Palestinians within Israel's borders) were granted full membership in the Histadtrut, Israel's largest labor organization in 1959, reports Ian Lustick, author of Arabs in the Jewish State: Israel's Control of a National Minority, (University of Texas, 1980). Lustick writes:
In 1965 Arabs were permitted to participate actively in the elections to the Histadrut convention, and subsequently the official name of the Histadrut, which had been the General Federation of Jewish Workers in the Land of Israel was changed by omitting the work [sic] Jewish. In 1978 there were 130,000 Arab members of the Histadrut, or somewhat less than 10 percent of its total membership. (p. 96)
Interestingly enough, Dr. Burge invokes this very book on page 138 of Whose Land? Whose Promise? Clearly, Dr. Burge is familiar with the book in question, but contradicts the facts it provides.
Moreover, the 1991 human rights report for Israel issued by the U.S. Department of State in 1992 includes the following passage:
Israeli workers have freely established organizations of their own choosing. Most unions belong to the General Federation of Labor in Israel (Histadrut), although there is another, much smaller federation also in existence. Histadrut is independent of the Government and political parties, even though a majority of the elected leadership is identified with the Labor Party and there is also a significant Likud minority. Histadrut also has a significant Israeli Arab membership. About 80 percent of the work force, including Israeli Arabs, are members of Histadrut trade unions, and still more are covered by Histadrut social and insurance programs and collective bargaining agreements.
Histadrut members democratically elect national and local officers and officials of its affiliated women's organization, Na'amat, from political party lists. Plant or enterprise committee members are elected individually.
Arabs serve in important leadership posts in the Histadrut. For example Jihad Akel, an Arab living in the Negev served as a Histradrut strike organizer in 1999 and has led several strikes since. On March 24, 1999 the Associated Press reported on an open-ended strike that took place two months before general elections on May 17, 1999:
All we want is to protect the rights of the workers. We're not the ones who called the elections, said Histadrut strike organizer Jihad Akel.
On Aug. 7, 2007 Ha'aretz reported:
This was the fifth strike for Jihad Akel since he became head of the Histadrut labor federation situation room.
In short, Dr. Burge's assertion that labor unions in Israel are off-limits to Israeli-Arabs is quite simply false. It was demonstrably false more than a decade before the publication of Dr. Burge's book.
Service in the Military
On the issue of Arab service in the military, Dr. Burge is also wrong. While most of Israel's Arab citizens are not required to join the IDF, they are allowed to join. Israel's Druze male citizens over the age of 18 must serve in the IDF. (Druze are ethnically Arab.) Beduins, who are also ethnically Arab, have volunteered and served with distinction in Israel's army.
Non-Druze and non-Bedouin Arabs are also allowed to enlist in the IDF.
On Aug. 8, 1991 the Jerusalem Post reported An increasing number of Christian Arabs are volunteering for service in the IDF, government sources revealed yesterday. The report, published more than a decade before Dr. Burge's book was issued, continues:
This brings the number of Christian Arab volunteers in the army to about 400 the highest number since the establishment of the State, the sources said. They noted that a further 300 had volunteered to join, marking a significant change in previous attitudes toward army duty.
Dr. Alexander Bligh, the prime minister's advisor on Arab affairs, has put forward a program to integrate Israeli Arabs into all the country's institutions, including the army. The emphasis, however, is on volunteering, instead of making army service compulsory as is the case for young Druse, as well as Jews.
After completion of army service, they would be entitled to the same rights and privileges as other demobilized soldiers.
Yossi Klein Halevi wrote an article about non-Bedouisn and non-Druze Arabs serving in the IDF for the Aug. 12, 1993 issue of Jerusalem Report. Halevi writes:
Though not subject to the draft, they have volunteered to serve a full three years' service. Perhaps because the army doesn't know quite what else to do with them, they've been placed in Beduin unit, which patrols the desert border with Egypt.
They've joined the army because they wanted to break out of their villages and into mainstream Israeli society. And, like those young Jewish Israelis who volunteer for combat units, they wanted to prove their manliness. But most of all, they say, they joined simply because they're good citizens.
On Jan. 15, 2002, one year before the publication of Dr. Burge's book, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that Several hundred Muslim and Christian Arabs volunteer for the army, generally seeing it as a source of livelihood or a prudent career step.
Here are some of the names of Israeli Arabs who have died while serving in the Israeli military:
· Sgt. Maj. Omar Souad, an Israeli Arab soldier who was kidnapped by Hezbollah in October 2000.
· Sgt.-Maj. Madin Grifat, 23, of Beit Zarzir, killed by a mine in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 9, 2002.
· Maj. Ashraf Hawash, 28, of Beit Zarzir.
· Sgt.-Maj. Ibrahim Hamadieh, 23, of Rehaniya.
· Sgt.-Maj. Hana (Eli) Abu-Ghanem, 25, of Haifa.
· St.-Sgt. Mofid Sawaid, 25, of Abu Snan.
(Hawash, Hamadieh, Abu-Ghanem and Sawaid were killed by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated their unit on January 9, 2002.)
Moreover, Christian Arab Staff Sgt. Rogia Salame wasmortally wounded by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza on Feb. 5, 2001. Likewise, Druze Border Police Cpl. Yusef Madhat was shot to death by Palestinians Oct. 1, 2000 at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
Arab-Israelis in Israeli Politics
Contrary to Dr. Burge's claim, Israeli Arabs are not denied access to political parties in Israel. Arab-Israelis have served in the Knesset as members of numerous parties, including the Labor and Likud.
Arab members of the Labor party who have served on the Knesset include:
· Abdel Wahab Darousha. Darousha was a 25-year member of the Labor Party before resigning from the party during the First Intifada to form the Arab Democratic Party.
· Nawah Mazalha. Mazalha served as Deputy Minister of Health from 1992 to 1996. In 1999 he was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister by Ehud Barak.
· Salah Tarif. Tarif served in the Knesset from 1992 until 2002 when he resigned after he was investigated on charges of bribery. He was convicted in 2003.
Moreover, the right of Israeli-Arabs who have encouraged violence against Israel to serve in the Knesset has been protected by the Israeli Supreme Court. In January 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Azmi Bishara and Ahmad Tibi could run in the elections after the election commission barred their candidacy.
According to a Spring 2002 article published in Middle East Quarterly, Bishara called Ariel Sharon the murderer of Sabra and Shatila,' and described the Likud leader as worse than Hitler and Mussolini. The article recounts some of Bishara's other public statements :
Azmi Bishara - in the Knesset plenum - described some Israeli soldiers as sexual deviants. I am willing to bet that anyone who writes Born to Kill' on his helmet is at root a sexual deviant, he said. I am sure he has a tendency to sexual violence, which he has to express by shooting at small children. He can't do it in a kindergarten, so he does it at a demonstration. During an interview with Palestinian television from the U.N. Conference against Racism in South Africa, Bishara opined that the Palestinians would ultimately be victorious over the cruel enemy, referring to Israel. It is worth recalling that this conference, a festival of hate as Foreign Minister Shimon Peres then called it, was hijacked by Arab and Muslim states which - together with international NGOs and human rights groups - attempted to cast Israel as a genocidal state and equate Zionism with racism. A few months later, this MK characterized Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza as an apartheid regime and launched a global campaign against Israel: Our goal is to reach the antiapartheid movements that were against South Africa to try to draw them, to attract them, to this struggle.
In June 2001, Bishara's Democratic National Union organized the festival of freedom and dignity in honor of the Lebanese Shiites who fought the IDF in south Lebanon. The occasion was marked with a minute of silence in memory of the martyrs who were killed during the war against the Zionist enemy. At that Hizbullah victory rally, which took place in the Arab-populated city of Umm al-Fahm, Azmi Bishara said: Hizbullah has won, and for the first time since 1967, we have tasted the sweet taste of victory.
This same article also recounts some of Tibi's public statements and political affiliations:
Arab Movement for Renewal leader MK Ahmad Tibi termed Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz a fascist who is responsible for murder, and called Israel's prime minister a bloodsucking dictator.
[Tibi] enjoys the distinction of being listed as an Israeli affairs advisor to Arafat in the yearly directory of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA), the closest thing to an official directory of Palestinian officialdom. When Likud MK Michael Kleiner cited this in calling for Tibi's resignation from the Knesset, Tibi explained that it was an old, uncorrected list. Yet Tibi was first listed as an advisor in 1999 (and not in the 1996,1997, and 1998 listings) and his name has appeared since then in the 2000 and 2001 editions.
Dr. Burge also ignores the influence Arab voters play in Israeli politics. Arab voters were credited with playing a role in Ehud Barak's defeat of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999. The refusal of Arab voters to support Ehud Barak in the 2001 election played a substantial role in his loss to Ariel Sharon that year. On Feb. 1, 2001 The Los Angeles Times reported:
For weeks, polls have registered an astonishing crumbling of support among the nation's Arabs, who had a 76% turnout in 1999, with more than 94% of those voters casting ballots for Barak. The polls indicate that between 60% and 80% of the half a million Israeli Arab voters intend to either boycott the election or cast blank ballots. Only between 6% and 20% say they will vote for Barak.
While Israeli-Arabs are a minority in Israeli politics, they do have greater access to political involvement than Dr. Burge suggests. Benny Morris, a historian whom Dr. Burge invokes in his book has stated the following in recent correspondence with CAMERA:
Indeed, Arab representatives in the Knesset, who continuously call for dismantling the Jewish state, support the Hezbollah, etc., enjoy more freedom than many Western democracies give their internal Oppositions. (The U.S. would prosecute and jail Congressmen calling for the overthrow of the U.S. Govt. or the demise of the U.S.) The best comparison would be the treatment of Japanese Americans by the US Govt... and the British Govt. [incarceration] of German emigres in Britain WWII ...Israel's Arabs by and large identify with Israel's enemies, the Palestinians. But Israel hasn't jailed or curtailed their freedoms en masse (since 1966 [when Israel lifted its state of martial law]).
Dr. Burge also complains on page 138 that For many years no nationwide Palestinian political party that includes the Occupied Territories has been permitted into the system, so Arabs hold only a few Knesset seats (merely 7 percent).
Again, a quote from Benny Morris is useful:
But Gaza's and the West Bank's population (Arabs) are not Israeli citizens and cannot expect to benefit from the same rights as Israeli citizens so long as the occupation or semi-occupation (more accurately) continues, which itself is a function of the continued state of war between the Hamas-led Palestinians (and their Syrian and other Arab allies) and Israel.
Clearly, Israel remains committed to democracy under some very difficult circumstances, and yet, Dr. Burge's factual errors distort the record.
Massacre at Tantura
Dr. Burge's portrayal of the controversy surrounding an alleged massacre at Tantura is also marred by omissions and distortions.
On page 110, Dr. Burge writes that Israel has exhibited an emerging national culture of self-examination of criticism, which has not been embraced by everyone, however, particularly since the outbreak of violence in 2000. Resistance within the Israeli academy has been firm as well.
To buttress his depiction of intransigence in the Israeli academy Burge writes:
In 1998, an M.A. student at the University of Haifa completed a well-researched thesis that uncovered an Israeli atrocity in the Arab village of Tantura during May 22-23, 1948, in which Israeli soldiers massacred 250 Arabs. He interviewed Jews and Arabs who claimed to be eyewitnesses and published the results in 2000.The Israeli army unit that committed the crime sued Katz, and today the case is still pending in court. Ilan PappeŽ teaches in the political science department of that university, has examined the thesis carefully and affirmed its truthfulness. According to PappeŽ, the affair has created a tremendous legal and academic storm in Israel. (page 110)
It should be noted however, that while Ilan Pappé (to whom Katz dedicated his thesis) found the document truthful, an internal committee at Haifa University discovered that it contained fabricated quotes purporting to come from veterans (The Times Higher Education Supplement, Aug. 3, 2001). According to the report:
Amatzia Bar-Am, head of the Jewish-Arab Centre at the university and a member of the committee appointed to investigate, said: We looked at a sample of the dissertation. Each one of us took three our four interviewees. We looked at 28 percent of all cases in which massacre or mass murder were mentioned. We were dealing with only one chapter Tantura. (sic) We can say nothing about whether there were mass murders or whether the rest of the work was good or bad.
Mr Katz sometimes quoted people as saying things they did not say. One source is his cassettes; the other source is his notes. There are cases where the recording and the notes are the same, but the dissertation says something else. The way he poured interviews into the thesis was wrong. When someone is saying something in an interview, you can paraphrase. If you choose to quote, you have to do it word for word.
On Nov. 18, 2001, the Graduate School Council at the University of Haifa concluded that there are substantive defects in the work and that the thesis cannot be accepted in its current form. The bookwas removed from the shelves of the University of Haifa and the council requested that other university libraries follow suit. Katz was allowed to rewrite and re-submit his work, and he did.
Moreover, the case filed against Katz by the soldiers in question was not as Dr. Burge reported in 2003, still pending. Katz's final appeal was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court on November 6, 2001 two calendar years before Whose Land? Whose Promise? was published in 2003.
It should also be noted that the initial trial against Katz (which began in Dec. 2000) was halted after he agreed to print an apology in two Israeli papers. An excerpt of this apology was included in the Ilan Pappé article cited by Dr. Burge, but it is not mentioned in Whose Land? Whose Promise? Soon after agreeing to issue the apology, Katz reneged on his promise and filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, which issued its ruling in November 2001. I understand that most of the research for this book was conducted in 200/2001, but
The overall impact of Burge's omission of readily available information about the fabricated quotes and the university's decision to reject Katz's thesis is to portray it as merely consequence of Israel's political environment when in fact the case involved substantive and legitimate issues regarding the quality of Katz's work, the existence of a massacre, and the reputation of the soldiers in question. His failure to report that the case was resolved in 2001 two years before the book was published lends a false air of unsettled controversy regarding the case. Troublingly, Burge writes, without qualification, of the army unit that committed the crime when there is no credible evidence or judicial judgment that such a crime take place.
[Jan. 17, 2014 Note: To his credit, Rev. Dr. Burge included some of this information in the second edition of his book.]
Regarding Jewish Self-Determination
Dr. Burge offers contradictory statements about the Jewish right of self-determination in his book. He appears to affirm this right in his preface where he writes:
We need to make an unequivocal statement affirming Israel's right to exist as a nation in the region. Israeli anxiety about the rejection, about the denial of its own legitimacy, is profound and grounded in the reality of both Christian and Arab rejection of the right to Jewish self-expression in a sovereign Israel. (Page xvii)
Nevertheless, what Dr. Burge affirms in his preface, he denies on page 258 where he writes:
Evangelicals opposed to the secular nationalism of Israel are not discriminating against the Jews as a people. On the contrary, evangelical critics are expressing dissatisfaction with the behavior of a nation that ought to know better-a nation whose possession of the Scriptures ought to give it more light.
This is an explicit refusal to allow Jews living in Israel the right to embrace secular nationalism a movement embraced by dozens of nations throughout the world. Dr. Burge refuses to allow Israel the right to embrace this cause because of its possession of the Scriptures. In this passage, it appears that Dr. Burge insists that the Jews of Israel must be a people of God whether they wish to be or not. Dr. Burge is entitled to express whatever opinion he wishes about Jewish-self determination, but his book would be clearer if he were consistent in his writings on the subject.
Again, these are only some of the more egregious errors I have been able to find in Dr. Burge's book. There are others which I will work to document in the weeks ahead.
Dexter Van Zile
Christian Media Analyst
On page 27, the author reports that From 1971 until 1982 the Palestine Liberation Organization . . . waged numerous conflicts with Israel in an attempt to redress the refugee problem. This minimizes the PLO's rejectionism. The PLO was founded in 1964 three years before the Six Day War and its goal was the destruction of Israel, not merely a resolution of the refugee problem. The Palestinian National Charter approved in 1968 called for the total liberation of Palestine, the elimination of Zionism in Palestine and expressed hopes for the destruction of the the Zionist and imperialist presence in the Middle East. The charter also stated Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong. (The charter can be seen at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/plocov.asp.)
On page 43, the author reports that Israel took possession of East Jerusalem and the West Bank (which were held by Jordan) and the Golan Heights (which was held by Syria) without reporting that Israel was attacked first by Jordan and Syria before taking possession of these territories. Israel's pre-emptive strike was launched on Egypt, not Jordan and Syria.
On page 55, the author fails to report that the Palestinians failed to make a counter offer during peace negotiations at Camp David in 2000. Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal, said former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami in September, 2001. (See Ari Shavit, End of a Journey, Haaretz, Sept. 13, 2001.) Dennis Ross, former special Middle East coordinator in the Clinton administration, described the negotiations as follows: The big difference between the two sides was, [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak, in the end, was prepared to confront history and mythology, and make decisions; and Arafat gave no indication that he was prepared to confront history and mythology and make decisions. (See Dennis, Ross, Margaret Warner and Jim Hoagland, From Oslo to Taba: Setting the Record Straight, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 14, 2001.
The author also omits that the Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters (which the Israelis accepted) put forth by then President Bill Clinton a few months after the collapse of Camp David negotiations. Former President Clinton to said the following in response to Arafat's death in November, 2004: I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring [a Palestinian state] into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace.
On page 58, the author reports that visitors to Israel will see a security barrier surrounding a city like Bethlehem. The security barrier does not surround Bethlehem but separates it from Jerusalem. There is no security barrier on the eastern and southern sides of the city. (Numerous maps of the barrier can be found at CAMERA's website, www.camera.org.)
On page 70, the author describes the Free Gaza flotilla that attempted to break Israel's blockade of Gaza as follows: Ships with 700 international activists. The Israeli Navy intercepts, 16 killed. Passengers on board the Mavi Mamara, (where a total of nine not 16 deaths occurred), attacked Israeli soldiers as soon as they landed on the vessel. Israeli soldiers, who were equipped with paintball guns, were beaten with iron bars, had their side arms stolen, and were stabbed with knives. (See Alex Safian, Latest Video Clips -- Gaza Flotilla Incident, CAMERA, June 20, 2012.) Prior to the flotilla some of the passengers chanted Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!" (Khaibar is a reference to a 7th century battle that resulted in the extirpation of Jews from the Arabian Peninsula.) (See Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere before confronting Israel: Participants chanted Islamic battle cry invoking killing of Jews and called for Martyrdom, Palestinian Media Watch, May 31, 2010.) The people who engaged in these actions are combatants, not activists.
On page 151, the author states that Israeli identification cards and drivers' licenses indicate if the driver is Jewish or Arab and that Jews renew their licenses on the fifteenth of the month, non-Jews on the first. There is no reference to ethnicity on either licenses or identification cards. Drivers' licenses are renewed on the holder's date of birth.
On page 152, the author mischaracterizes Israel's Law of Return. The author fails to mention the 1970 amendment to this law that allows anyone with one Jewish grandparent and who has not converted to a non-Jewish religion to claim Israeli citizenship.
On page 157, the author's description of the July 13, 1948 expulsion of the inhabitants of Lydda omits a crucial fact: The expulsion was a self-defense move that took place after militia in Lydda violated the terms of a surrender that had been negotiated between the IDF and the city's leaders on July 11, 1948. The militia attacked and mutilated the bodies of five Israeli guards, prompting another round of fighting, after which the inhabitants were expelled from the city. (For more information please see Alon Kadish and Avraham Sela, Myths and Historiography of the 1948 Palestine War Revisited: The Case of Lydda, Middle East Journal, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 617-634.)
On page 216, the author reports that Palestinian Christians claim that they are reliving for the first time in history the conditions of the first century church, in which a Christian minority is suffering under the rule of a Jewish majority. In the West Bank, Palestinian Christians live under the Palestinian Authority, which controls their civil government. Israel is the one country in the Middle East where the indigenous population of Christians has increased in the last several decades. The Statistical Abstract of Israel reports that in 1949, there were approximately34,000Christians living in Israel. The vast majority of these people were Arab Christians. At the end of 2011, there were approximately,125,000Arab Christians living in Israel. This is a 268 percent increase.
On pages 296-297, the author states (without citation) that in polling, Israelis consistently reject the option of a two-state solution. Surveys conducted in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute For the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research all report that a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution.