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Monday, August 30, 2004

Benny Morris, An Honest Zionist Historian

The following is an interview with Benny Morris conducted by Ari Shavit (originally published in Haaretz). Benny Morris strikes me as an honest man, and one who is not afraid to confront either the authority, or the entrenched notions.

I think he is utterly wrong in his advocacy of extremism. He describes various war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 War. According to his description, those crimes were the main reason why hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled from their homes,- and he believes that this was a deliberate tactic used to achieve precisely that result. Of war crimes he describes in his works, Morris says,
"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

This sounds like a rerun of the general justification extremists of all stripes have used throughout history.

However, unlike many other students of the matter, Morris seems honest and calls things by their proper name. That is commendable, and I think he is an author and a historian whose works are definitely worth a read.

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