More Anti-Israel Propaganda in New York Times Op-Eds

An opinion column is meant to be just that, but when opinion is supported by incendiary falsehoods, a newspaper must draw the line. The New York Times apparently does not — at least not for columns repudiating the Jewish State.
A May 18th Op-Ed entitled “For Israelis, an Anniversary. For Palestinians, a Nakba” employs the usual, oft-debunked canards put forth by pro-Palestinian propagandists. It was penned by Elias Khoury, described in the newspaper’s blurb as a Lebanese writer and professor. Not mentioned in the blurb was Khoury’s one-time membership in the PLO and Fatah, during a time they claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israelis and Americans. Basing his claims on such discredited historians as Ilan Pappe, Khoury describes Arabs “expelled” from the Galilee and claims that the “new invaders” [the Jews] wanted the land “emptied of its inhabitants.”

This implied charge of ethnic cleansing is blatantly false. Research by Israeli scholars (Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History: The New Historians; and “1948, Israel, and the Palestinians–The True Story”, Commentary, May 2008; Shabtai Teveth, “The Palestine Arab Refugee Problem and its Origins”, Middle Eastern Studies, April 1990; Anita Shapira, “The Past is not a Foreign Country”, New Republic, November 29, 1999) and recently declassified documents from the British Mandate period have proven the Palestinian allegations of dispossession by the Jews to be wrong. Had the Arabs not chosen to launch a war of aggression against the nascent State of Israel, had they not attempted to erase the Jewish presence through violence, had they accepted the UN Partition Resolution calling for two states existing side-by-side, and had Arab leaders not urged their constituents to leave their homes until such time as they succeeded in obliterating the Jewish state, there would have been no Palestinian displacement and no Palestinian refugees.

Zionist leaders repeatedly voiced their hope for Arab-Jewish reconciliation and talked of a Jewish democracy in which Arab citizens would feel at home and enjoy equal rights. In a speech to Mapai supporters, soon-to-be Prime Minister David Ben Gurion proclaimed:

In our state there will be non-Jews as well–and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception, that is: the state will be their state as well…If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, and if his status will not be in the least different from that of the Jew…..and if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance, will be built.(December 13, 1947)

Khoury goes on to directly accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing” when he describes an Israeli military defense plan, dubbed “Plan D,” as a “comprehensive ethnic cleansing operation,” citing what he refers to as “the courageous voices of Israeli ‘new historians.'” In fact, contrary to Khoury’s false description, the Haganah’s Plan D was a contingency plan to defend the Jewish state; its stated objective was to

gain control of the areas of the Hebrew state and defend its borders. It also aims at gaining control of the areas of Jewish settlement and concentration which are located outside the borders [of the Hebrew state] against regular, semi-regular, and small forces operating from bases outside or inside the state….

Moreover, even Benny Morris, one of the foremost “new historians” whom Khoury speaks of so admiringly, acknowledges in his book “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” that

Plan D was not a political blueprint for the expulsion of Palestine’s Arabs: it was governed by military considerations and was geared to achieving military ends.

While Khoury points to Ilan Pappe’s writings in support of his own allegations, Pappé himself has long acknowledged that he is neither objective nor cares about factual accuracy. He readily admits that ideology  drives his historical writings and statements. And his ideology can be simply summed up: Israel is illegitimate and should be dismantled as a Jewish state.

Khoury blames Israel completely for the Palestinian situation.  Not only does he ignore the responsibility of the Arabs for the 1948 war, he disregards Arab rejection of Israel’s repeated peace overtures and the non-adherence of the  Palestinians to the Oslo accords. He makes no mention of Yasir Arafat’s well documented rejection of an independent Palestinian state in 95% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza, plus parts of the Negev, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem. In fact, the only thing he faults the Palestinian leadership for is not ” find[ing] new methods of confronting the occupation.”

It is not surprising that someone like Khoury — whose radical anti-Israel views were no doubt shaped or reinforced by his work for the PLO and Fatah in the 1970’s — would spout these standard, discredited  charges. What is surprising is that the New York Times gives a platform and credence to the falsehoods.

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