Zionists and Liars: Pots and Kettles
Jeremy Hammond has added me to his category of Zionist Liars. A shame. I prefer to sink my teeth into a good argument rather than seeing the bared teeth of someone I disagree with. Perhaps this is what comes from me writing a review of his book that was not gushingly complimentary. Here is how he begins a blog post in response to my review:
Zionists pile lie upon lie to sustain their defenses of Israel’s egregious crimes against the Palestinian people. Don’t they get that truth will prevail?
The fact is that she fails to identify even a single factual or logical error in Exposing a Zionist Hoax.
Hammond makes assumptions about people. He claims that Elan Journo, the author of the book he was supposedly debunking, deliberately set out to “systematically deceive his readers” and that I lied when I claimed that the word “Palestinian” does not appear in the Peel Commission Report. I admit that I made a mistake in this matter – does that mean that I lied? I made a corrective note in the book review post and posted the revised article. Here is Hammond’s tweet in response, demonstrating possible reading comprehension difficulties. I leave it to readers to decide what they think.
So where is your correction? An apology would also be appropriate.
— Jeremy R. Hammond (@jeremyrhammond) July 17, 2018
In any case, does it really matter what a person’s psychological intent was behind what they wrote? What matters is what they wrote and if it stands up to scrutiny. Therefore, I appreciate that Hammond took the time to critique my critique. I am happy to re-examine my thoughts in light of intelligent criticism (when such can be found).
So, I will first look at Hammond’s review of my review to see if he expands or deepens the discussion. Then, I will return to his book in order to provide only one additional point of contention that I have with it. Whether or not Hammond defines this as having identified a single factual or logical error remains to be seen. But I write, not for Hammond, but for those who may happen to read Hammond.
The Shaw Commission Challenge
I challenged Hammond’s use of the Shaw Commission Report as substantiation for some kind of Palestinian Arab nationalism. Here is what Hammond writes in response:
Does the Shaw Commission’s observation that Palestine was “an artificial conception” belie my statement that “the Arab Palestinians had a very strong sense of nationalism dating back to the earliest origins of the conflict”? No, it does not!
Does this statement even make sense? If Palestine was an artificial conception, then having a strong sense of nationalism to an artificial conception seems to me to be a bit — off, perhaps?
In my review of his book, I made an oblique comment inferring that I have no idea what Hammond is referring to when he writes: “the earliest origins of the conflict”. It is unfortunate that he did not take the opportunity in his latest post to state what that is. It would help to know what period of time he means.
He cannot mean pre-650 CE because there were no Arabs in the region before the Muslim Conquests that colonized so much of the world back then. So when did the conflict begin? This is important to know because the situation was one way before and certainly under the Ottoman Empire, another way in the final years of the Empire when the Arabs put themselves on the side of Britain and France against the Turks, another way between the two World Wars, and then it was still different again, during the years of the British Mandate. And, of course, it peaked in 1948 and again in 1956, 1967 and 1973. So what, for Hammond, is the earliest origins of the conflict? We can only debate this issue if I understand his point of reference.
Then, he really should define “very strong sense of nationalism” because many are confused about this, Arabs included.
In an 1996 television discussion with Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, he makes it clear there was no Palestinian people but an Arab people – their nationalism, according to him is Arab and not Palestinian:
Let me translate all of what Bishara says because the video does not include all of it:
No. I don’t think there is a Palestinian people; I think there is an Arab People. I always thought so. I have not changed my mind. I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation. I think that is a colonial invention, Palestinian nation. When were there Palestinians? In spite of my fight against the occupation, I [we] have not turned into [a] Palestinian people. Never. I think that Palestine until the end of the 19th Century was southern Greater Syria.
So while the Arabs of the region may have come to be known as Palestinian Arabs, that really only happened after the Allies started involving themselves in those parts of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 20th Century.
In fact, leader of the Italian Muslim community, Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, explains how a so-called Palestinian People is a recent invention made up for political purposes (see 1:25 and 6:35-8:15 in the video):
This still might not be sufficient to prod Hammond into re-examining his basic assumptions about Arabs as Palestinians. He does not have to change his mind, but he should really contend with claims of Arabs, themselves, that being Palestinian is a political invention and not a longstanding identity.
Another supposed misunderstanding on my part
Jeremy Hammond again shows signs of reading comprehension problems and needs me to spell things out more. As if there is proof here of a Palestinian people, he wrote:
Furthermore, notice what Oz does not emphasize with bold text: “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…”
What this means, Jeremy, is that during the era of the Ottoman Empire, these tribes had no nationality. But “today” — meaning at the time of the writing of the Shaw Commission Report (1930), after France and England had divided the previously held lands into mandates, there were at that time Arabs who resided within the Mandate of Palestine (1920) so they were technically Palestinian, the protectorate of Trans-Jordan (1921) so they were technically Trans-Jordanian, and the Mandate of Syria (1920) so they were technically Syrian. Since when is being called technically something synonymous with identity? Building a country and establishing a sense of nationality have not been quite so simple in the Arab world. Jordan has been relatively successful at that, perhaps because of the combination of the Hejaz king brought in who understood tribal mentality and culture and the British team helping him who learned to trust his judgement (based on Yoav Alon’s The Making of Jordan). Syria? Remains to be seen.
I do believe that there is now a Palestinian Arab identity for some of the population. That identity, however, has been forged in part by the rejection of the refugees by their fellow Arabs (locked into refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria and even in the Palestinian Authority to this day, their differential and discriminatory treatment in the Kingdom of Jordan, and more) and it is not clear how resilient that identity is. On the other hand, there is a school of thought that suggests that loyalties of the Arabs is less to nation and more to clan.
It seems that for some Arabs, themselves, identity is still fluid and something that is evolving. Given these circumstances, for Hammond to claim that he knows that there has been a “very strong sense of nationalism” is presumptuous and a topic that is one for debate and study and not simple closure.
One More Problem With Jeremy Hammond’s, Exposing the Zionist Hoax
Throughout the book, Hammond attempts to show how Journo neglected to mention certain important details that if not omitted would have made it impossible for Journo to claim that Israel operated and operates morally and justly. Let me just show one example. On page 17-18, as part of his demonstration of the supposedly vicious ethnic cleansing carried out by the Jews, Hammond writes:
Journo does not remind us how Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan in a 1969 interview related, “We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here. . . . Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. . . . There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
For some reason, he cites his source for this quotation as having come from one of his own books. In fact, the original source for the quote is an article by Edward Said published in 1979 entitled “Zionism from the standpoint of its victims“. I do not know how Hammond cited the quote in his earlier book, but the generally accepted manner is to cite the original source.
This particular quote has been misused by others as well as by Jeremy Hammond – it seems to be a convenient propaganda byte that is just passed on from anti-Zionist to anti-Zionist. Were he to have checked the origin of the quote, Hammond may have found that CAMERA provided the more accurate picture of the context from which it was taken: from a question-and-answer period following a speech Dayan gave at the Technion (and not an interview). In addition to this quote being taken totally out of context and used for malicious purposes, Hammond (and others) placed three dots and omitted a sentence Said left in place, namely: “In considerable areas of the country we bought the land from Arabs.” (In the original, it was: “In a considerable number of places, we bought the land from Arabs” because, of course, it was not a country then.)
Were Journo to include Dayan’s lecture in his book, he would of course have quoted it accurately and used it to show Dayan’s humanity.
The quote, in fact, began thus: “We came to a region of land…” and not thus: “We came to this country…” for the simple reason that Palestine was not a country before it was Israel. The second three dot section left out by Hammond simply names a few towns. And the quote ends with: “There isn’t any place that was established in an area where there had not at one time been an Arab settlement.” and not what is written by Hammond. According to CAMERA, the statement arose:
In answer to a student’s question suggesting that Israel adopt a policy of punishing Arabs who commit crimes in the West Bank by deportation to Jordan, Dayan answers that he is vehemently opposed to this idea, insisting that the answer to the longstanding Arab-Israeli problem is to learn to live together with Arab neighbors.
In the misquote, the key phrase “we purchased the land from Arabs” is omitted, and thus Dayan’s meaning is reversed. Dayan was not saying that Arabs were dispossessed. On the contrary, he was indicating that though Arabs sold the land of their own free will, given their presence in the region, the Israeli goal is to live peacefully together with them.
Certainly many Arabs were dispossessed or ran off and then could not get back after the war. But the point is that Dayan was not talking here about a so-called brutal stealing of Arab land and to twist and use his statement to indict Israel is a malicious misrepresentation of the facts.
I can add something here that neither Jeremy Hammond nor Elan Journo know – in fact, many Israelis do not know this. I interviewed the leader of the Arab town Ras Ali last year. He told me a story about the close relations between the Jews and the Arabs in the region north of Haifa. When the War of Independence began, Arab legions came to conscript army-age Arab men and those who refused were killed or imprisoned. The men of this town did not want to fight against their Jewish neighbours so those who could, ran off out of reach. The Israeli forces took upon themselves to protect the women who had been left alone. After the war, the men walked back home from Jordan. The town thrives to this day. (By the way, they are petitioning the government to prevent sale of land next to their town to anyone outside their own tribe in order to protect its character.)
Hammond ends his tirade against me thus:
I, for one, am not going to sit by and watch people like Journo and Oz resort to outright lying in order to defend egregious crimes against humanity!
Take a stand against this hypocrisy! Only by understanding the truth about the nature of the conflict can we hope to ever resolve it. Arm yourself with the knowledge to become an effective voice for a just peace.
I do wonder about someone who goes on and on about lying and hypocrisy.