Palestine Betrayed by Efraim Karsh

(National Review) Reviewed by Daniel Pipes - Nakba Day serves as a mournful Palestinian counterpart to Israel's Independence Day festivities, annually publicizing Israel's alleged sins. The Nakba ideology presents Palestinians as victims without choices and therefore without responsibility for the ills that befell them. It blames Israel alone for the Palestinian refugee problem. In Palestine Betrayed, Efraim Karsh of the University of London - relying on masses of recently declassified documents from the period of British rule and of the first Arab-Israeli war, 1917-49 - argues the opposite case: that Palestinians decided their own destiny and bear near-total responsibility for becoming refugees. "Far from being the hapless victims of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who, from the early 1920s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival which culminated in the violent attempt to abort the UN partition resolution." "There was nothing inevitable about the Palestinian-Jewish confrontation, let alone the Arab-Israeli conflict." Karsh successfully establishes two main points: that (1) the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli side perpetually sought to find a compromise while the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim side rejected nearly all deals; and (2) Arab intransigence and violence caused the self-inflicted "catastrophe." From the early 1920s, then, one witnessed a pattern still in place and familiar today: Zionist accommodation, "painful concessions," and constructive efforts to bridge differences, met by Palestinian anti-Semitism, rejectionism, and violence. Proving that for 90 years the Palestinian political elite has opted to reject "the Jewish national revival and [insisted on] the need for its violent destruction," Karsh correctly concludes that the conflict will end only when the Palestinians give up on their "genocidal hopes."

2010-05-07 08:30:59

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