Exposing A Zionist Hoax: Exposing an Anti-Zionist Hoax
What do you understand when the title of a book criticizing Zionism leaves out the word, Israel and talks about the Palestine conflict as opposed to the Israel-Palestine conflict? Am I just nit-picking here, or does this hint at the level of work presented in this anti-Zionist book?
In exchange for a promise to write a review, Jeremy R. Hammond, author of Exposing A Zionist Hoax, sent out free ecopies of his book. He says that he wants honest appraisals and welcomes substantive constructive criticism as well as rave reviews. Here is my response to his call.
The first thing I do when starting out is to look at the list of references upon which an author based his writing. But before I go into that, let me tell you what his book is supposed to be about.
Inspiration for Hammond’s Novelette-Length Rant
Hammond received an advance copy of the recently published book by Elan Journo entitled, What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. From the reviews I have read about Journo’s book, and pieces published for marketing purposes, I do not think I would like it. Maybe I would not like it as much as Hammond does not like it; but my reasons are very different from Hammond’s. I do not like a book that makes statements such as this one made by Journo:
“Where would you rather live?”
And then that goes on to talk about how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only place where one has freedom of expression, etc etc etc. Sorry, Journo, our legitimacy is not because we are a democracy, not because Arabs have a better life in Israel than they do in any of the Arab countries, not because we do this or do that. Nobody questions the legitimacy of communist dictatorships, countries with abysmal human rights records or poverty stricken countries. Israel is legitimate because it is legitimate for the Jews to have a sovereign state in our own indigenous homeland. End of story.
When we fall into the trap of justifying our existence because we Jews/Israelis are so wonderful and really good people, we open it up for the Hammonds among and around us to spout off how it is a lie that we are a democracy in which Arabs have equality with Jews, a myth that we have freedom of expression, and the door is open for them to rant about the ways they think or want others to think that we are disgusting genocidal killers of “Palestinian” babies who only got this country because we ethnically cleansed it of the Arabs who are the real owners of this land that we stole. And after that mouthful, let us go back to looking at Hammond’s book.
Hammond the Mind-Reader
Hammond suggests that he knows the true motivations behind Journo’s writing of his book:
Demonstrably, Journo’s aim is not to clarify, but to obfuscate the conflict’s essential nature, and to muddy its moral significance. Nay, his aim is not merely to obfuscate, but to systematically deceive his readers about the causes of the conflict, the reasons for its persistence, and the requirements of a just peace. Taking justice seriously, we find that the facts tell a very different story from the fictional narrative Journo presents.
As a therapist, I learned not to assume that I know anyone’s motivations for their actions until they tell me. Often people do not know their own motivations for why they do what they do and in therapy we unravel it together. All I can do is look at what Hammond wrote and see if it holds up to scrutiny. I will leave the psychoanalyzing him to him and his therapist, if he has one.
The Reference List
Any book that suggests it is myth-breaking and fact-telling needs to show that it is based upon facts. Where do we find facts? Well, we should find facts in academic articles and books that were peer-reviewed before they were published or in primary sources, such as government documents. Newspaper articles are not adequate sources. Hammond cites the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, CNN, Daily Beast, BBC, Haaretz and The Washington Post; anything he states based on articles from these sources cannot be taken seriously.
He refers often to his own blog posts, articles that he wrote for the Foreign Policy Journal (for which he is editor), and two books that he wrote,Obstacle to Peace and The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination. Since these are likely not peer-reviewed, they are not serious resources. Likewise, quoting anti-Israeli organizations, such as Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and BADIL (an organization based in the Palestinian Authority) do not provide legitimate bases for myth-breaking or fact-finding.
And citing anti-Israeli writers, such as Avi Shavit and Noam Chomsky, does not add to any academic standard Hammond may have been trying to achieve. Shavit’s book, My Promised Land, has been debunked as a vicious anti-Israeli tome with no documentation at all. I have not read it myself, so take this with a grain of salt until you can check it out for yourself. Noam Chomsky’s book, Fateful Triangle, of which I do have a copy, relies so predominantly on newspaper articles as sources as to render it no better than an opinion piece in The New York Times or a study of contemporary media impressions rather than a historical analysis of what actually happened (keep in mind that the book was published in 1999). In fact, given that Chomsky is a linguist, he may have been more within his area of expertise had he chosen to make a study of contemporary media reports rather than take on the topic as if he was an historian.
There are other secondary sources used by Hammond, but if 50% of what he relied upon is unreliable then it kind-of throws his entire piece off the we-can-take-these-works-seriously shelf and I feel no need to check out everything. I can, though, if you want . . . just let me know and I will write a full-length book exposing the anti-zionist hoax that this work really is.
UPDATE 17 July 2018: Hammond wrote a response to my review of his book in which he called me a liar. He did so because of the glaring and incomprehensible error in my very first point of criticism of his work: the part that concerns the Peel Commission Report. I will discuss that error below and how it likely happened. Then I will tell you what I learned from this error.
Hammond’s Use of Primary Sources
Exposing a Zionist Hoax does make use of primary sources. Today, with the Internet, many documentation materials are available to all of us. Therefore, I looked at comments Hammond made for which he cited a primary source as the basis for those statements in order to see how faithful he was to the original material.
The Peel Commission Report
He uses the quite lengthy Peel Commission report of 1937 to support some of his ideas.This gave me the impetus I had not yet had to actually examine the document. It is a fascinating read. It begins with giving a brief but comprehensive history of Jews and Arabs then residing in the area entrusted to Britain in the form of the British Mandate of Palestine.
Let us look at what Hammond pulls out of this report. Here is one example from page 16 of Exposing A Zionist Hoax:
The truth is that, naturally, during the Mandate period, when the British controlled the formerly Ottoman territory of Palestine, both Arab and Jewish inhabitants were called “Palestinians”.
His footnote shows this is supported by the Peel Commission Report. The real truth is that, in the entire document neither Arabs nor Jews are called “Palestinians”. There is not even one instance in which the term “Palestinian” appears in the text. Jews and Arabs are simply referred to as Jews or Arabs living in Palestine. What do you conclude when someone prefaces a statement with ”the truth is” and then writes something that anyone who wants to make the effort to check up on it can see it is not true at all?
How on Earth did I find absolutely no references to “Palestinians” in the text of the Report? There truly are multiple references to Jewish and Arab Palestinians. I directed readers of my post to look at the Report itself online and anyone who did that would find I was wrong. So if I did lie, then I must be very stupid and bad at lying. The only possible explanation I could find for that is that I mistyped “Palestinian” when I did a word-search of the entire document. Dumb error, most definitely. Had I found only one instance of the use of the term “Palestinian” I would not have taken issue with this particular aspect of Hammond’s book. I would have challenged one of the many other contentious issues in it.
I have learned from this that if a search yields zero instances of a word or phrase, then I must check and recheck the spelling of the word I typed into the “find” box.
Nevertheless, this does not change the substance of the remainder of this article. I will soon respond to Hammond’s critique of my review in a separate post, adding another point or two in order to further my argument that Hammond misrepresents history in order to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Interestingly, on page 7 of the same Peel Commission report, while describing the history of the Arabs in the region, they refer to “Arab Spain” when talking about, of all things, the flourishing of Jewish culture under the Muslim occupation of Spain.
When Arab Spain led the world, they [the Jews] were leaders in Arab Spain — secretaries or viziers of the Caliph, diplomatists, financiers, scientists, physicians, scholars.
Funny . . . nobody refers to this to suggest that Spain is actually an Arab country that the indigenous Spaniards stole from the invading Muslims. (And to which the invading Muslims are now requesting the right to return just as invading Arabs now calling themselves Palestinians are requesting the right to return to the land they colonized.)
The Shaw Commission Report
In 1930, The Shaw Commission published a report for the UK on the results of their study of the 1929 Disturbances. Hammond uses the text of this report to make the following claim:
And, of course, the Arab Palestinians had a very strong sense of nationalism dating back to the earliest origins of the conflict. [emphasis added]
At least Hammond does not claim a strong sense of Palestinian national feeling on the part of the Arabs from the time of the Canaanites. Unless, of course, he considers that the earliest origins of the conflict was when Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. That would make no sense, of course, since the Arabs did not move into this region until 650 CE.
In any case, let us let Hammond continue this thought:
One of their main objections to the League of Nations Mandate forced upon them after World War I was the fact that the British occupation regime was forcibly preventing them from exercising their right to self-determination despite Britain having promised the Arabs that if they supported the war effort against the Ottoman Empire, their reward would be independence. As the British Shaw Commission of 1929 observed, “active recruiting was carried on in Palestine for the Sherifian Army, our allies, the recruits being given to understand that they were fighting in a national cause and to liberate their country from the Turks.” [emphasis added]
Yet, on page 6, the Shaw Report itself says the following:
Viewed in the light of the history of at least the last six centuries, Palestine is an artificial conception. Under the Ottoman regime it formed part only of an administrative unit, the remainder of which consisted of areas now coming within the jurisdiction of the Governments of other neighbouring mandated territories. Its frontiers, too, are largely artificial. In many parts they are frequented by nomad tribes who by intergovernmental agreement are allowed unhindered passage across these frontiers for the purpose of exercising rights of grazing which they have acquired by long usage. In Turkish times the members of all these tribes were Ottoman subjects; today some are technically of Palestinian, some of Trans-Jordanian, and some of Syrian nationality, but it is at least doubtful whether they themselves recognize distinctions of this character. [emphasis added]
Now let us now return to the passage that Hammond quoted only partially, thereby changing its meaning (from page 127 of the Shaw Commission Report). This is the part he quoted:
As late as June, 1918, active recruiting was carried on in Palestine for the Sherifian Army, our allies, the recruits being given to understand that they were fighting in a national cause and to liberate their country from the Turks.
This is the part he left out:
These men, it is believed, actually took part in the offensive against the Turk. The tendency of the evidence is to show that in spite of the fact that nothing had been said about Palestine being included in the Hedjaz Empire and the fact that the Balfour Declaration had been published in 1917, the real impression left upon the Arabs generally was that the British were going to set up an independent Arab State which would include Palestine. [emphasis added]
“Which would include Palestine” and not an independent state of Palestine.
From all of this we can understand that the Arabs never saw themselves as Palestinians and they never saw what was referred to as Palestine as a unit separate from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The Peel Commission Report also makes this claim on page 6. After having helped free the land from the Turks,the Arabs residing in Palestine were upset at the splitting up between Britain and the French of what they had considered indivisible. They were supposed to have been citizens of a Greater Syria. Not a Palestine that had never existed for them as a separate entity.
Now, we could discuss the problem of world powers having divvied up a land the Arabs considered to be all theirs, but then you would have to challenge the legitimacy of Jordan (and perhaps of Syria and Lebanon as well).
So, Mr. Jeremy R. Hammond:
You argue that the Arabs residing in The British Mandate of Palestine regarded themselves as Palestinians since “the earliest origins of the conflict”. But the primary sources you cite for support do not actually support this. If this is what you base your anti-Zionism on, Sir, then I think you have to go back to the drawing board and design some new strategies for delegitimizing Israel.
It is admirable that you turn to primary sources to bolster your arguments. However, when you take quotes out of their proper context and abridge them such that they are not faithful to the source, I wonder if you are sincere in your beliefs or if you know that you have twisted the material in order to fit it to the picture you seem to want to paint. But it really does not matter what you know or think – it matters what you do. And what you have done is produce a biased and dishonest book.
I could go through Exposing A Zionist Hoax with a fine-toothed comb and point out all the inaccuracies and misrepresentations. But what is the point? I think I have shown, through these few examples, how your book can not be trusted to tell the truth. I find your book to comprise the hoax — played on people who do not take the time or who do not have the ability to examine the primary sources for themselves. I am glad that I can do my little bit to expose your anti-Zionist hoax for what it is.
On a more positive note,
Let me just quote from Churchill’s Statement of Policy (1922) that appears on page 196 as an appendix to the Shaw Report:
But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as a right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.
The Peel Commission Report states quite clearly on page 2:
The present problem of Palestine, indeed, is unintelligible without a knowledge of the history that lies behind it. No other problem of our time is rooted so deeply in the past.
What have you done, Jeremy R. Hammond, to help the uninformed make sense of the history that lies behind the Israeli-Arab conflict?