Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Gotcha ... Norman Finkelstein!

What Norman Finkelstein said:

[Benny] Morris has indisputably produced landmark studies ... Morris has tapped a wealth of archival material which no serious student of Israeli-Palestinian conflict can afford to ignore. In fact Morris’s research will serve as the bench mark for all future scholarship on the topic. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, page 86-87, emphasis mine
What Benny Morris has said:
"[W]hen writing The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949 in the mid-1980s, I had no access to the materials in the IDFA [IDF Archive] or the Haganah Archive and precious little to first-hand military materials deposited elsewhere. Nonetheless, the new materials I have seen over the past few years tend to confirm and reinforce the major lines of description and analysis, and the conclusions, in The Birth and in a subsequent volume, 1948 and After, published in 1990 ... [S]ome of the material relating to the [Palestinian exodus] may have been open to researchers in the early and mid-1980s, when The Birth was written, but I was not then aware of its existence." Benny Morris, The War for Palestine: Rewriting History of 1948 As quoted in Middle East Quarterly emphasis mine.
Also as Professor Efraim Karsh points out:
Morris inadvertently reveals the falsehood of "new historian" scholarly pretensions. This group insists on tracing its origin, indeed its raison d’être, to the opening of Israeli state archives in the late 1980s but now its foremost member admits to having written the single most influential "revisionist" work without the use of the most important archives ... Morris made no use of [some of] the Israeli archives due to his own ignorance.
So this is how Norman Finkelstein thinks landmark research in archival material is done.


At July 15, 2004 at 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the hell is Efraim Kharsh, and can he prove his accusations? BTW, Benny Morris has now slipped into the Christopher Hitchens slot: former Leftist turned center Rightist, so he isn't a good example of "the idiot Leftist historian being backed by the Leftist you despise" gambit you seem to be playing.

At July 16, 2004 at 1:12 AM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

The quote is actually from Morris himself not Karsh, I just quoted Karsh’s comments on Morris’s remarks as the second part of the post. I think he was quite right, given what Morris has said. Karsh also has a great book called Fabricating Israeli History.

At July 18, 2004 at 6:47 AM, Blogger benjamin said...

I took a seminar with Morris last year. He's a very strange guy, but a talented historian. However, there's no question that he allowed his political convictions - his shift to the Right is a recent phenomenon, certainly it came long after his more famous works were completed - to interfere with his objectivity. I have firsthand experience with David Ben-Gurion's diaries and Morris' use of them in Righteous Victims is, while not outright dishonest, certainly biased. I am skeptical of his use of sources, although I think some of his conclusions on specific issues are not necessarily erroneous. I certainly disagree, however, with his broader historiography.

At July 18, 2004 at 10:39 AM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

AActually I have similar sentiments about Morris myself. He is probably the most honest out of all the 'new' historians. Though I am not as familiar with Ben Gurion’s diaries as you are I do know that Morris has penned some questionable statements. Also there was an interesting spat between Morris and Ilan Pappe, another new Historian, over at the New Republic regarding Pappe's new book. The two just destroyed each other's creditability. Morris claiming Pappe knows very little about Israeli History and Pappe claiming that Karsh was right about Morris he falsifies evidence. His recent conversion actually also has to do with the 2000 peace offer and the Arab rejection.

PS If you haven't read Karsh's work it is a most read.

At July 27, 2004 at 2:38 PM, Blogger benjamin said...

I haven't read Karsh, though Morris despises him enough to make me think that Karsh is probably on to something. There is a bit of Chomsky in Morris; he certainly has meglomaniacal tendencies -- he has a weakness for describing himself as the sole owner of "truth", and accusing every other historian in Israel of being an apologist for Zionism -- but unlike Chomsky, he has a capacity for self-examination and political conscience which Chomsky quite conspicuously lacks; which is why I think Morris ultimately has become a somewhat admireable figure while Chomsky remains forever mucking about in the moral sewer.

At July 27, 2004 at 3:52 PM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

Haven't read Karsh? We can fix that. You have got to read his article posted online:


Rebuttal by Karsh:

And also see:
Karsh on Morris:

The last article was cited by Pappe, claiming Morris was a loony after the Haaretz article and Morris' critique of Pappe's work in the New Republic.

At March 4, 2005 at 10:16 PM, Blogger Gregla said...

Who is Karsh? I believe he is Professor of Mediterranean Studies at the University of London.
He has a very interesting theses about how the Ottomas pursued Germany in 1914 and wanted to join the Axis rather than the Allies. This pursuit contradicts a popular stereotype of countries in the Middle East being dominated by "outsiders" and "colonialists." Imperial Germany had no colonies at all in the Middle East and was not "interfering" there. Nonetheless, the Ottoman Turks took the initiative and threw their lot in with Germany rather than with England and France. The Ottomans' choice proved calamitous when the Allies defeated the Axis

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At January 10, 2008 at 6:36 AM, Anonymous Grendal said...

Karsh reveals the shoddy and biased work of the "new historians".
He's not famous, because he doesn't say what the radical left wants to hear.


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