Saturday, May 19, 2012

Le Monde disappoints on the Jewish' Nakba'

With thanks: Ahoovah

I suppose we should be popping the champagne corks at the news that the reputable French newspaper Le Monde has finally published an article on the Jewish 'Nakba'. The bad news is that the journalist, Laurent Zecchini, thought fit to consult two new historians for their views on a subject they know disappointingly little about, or whose 'radical' politics make them dismissive of a 'far-right' party initiative to raise awareness of this issue.
With input from Benny Morris (left) and Tom Segev (right), no wonder Zecchini concludes that the deputy foreign minister's Danny Ayalon push to make justice for the Jewish refugees official policy is doomed to be counter-productive. Here is a Google Translation from French. My comment follows below:

" Mais quelle est la vérité de la "Nakba des juifs" ? Le plus simple est d'interroger les deux chefs de file des nouveaux historiens israéliens, Benny Morris et Tom Segev.

"Le premier estime que le nombre de réfugiés juifs ne dépasse pas "700 000 personnes" et le second qualifie l'estimation de la Knesset de "très idéologique". Tous deux confirment que les juifs d'Irak, du Yémen, d'Egypte, du Maroc, de Tunisie, d'Algérie, de Libye, de Syrie et du Liban ont dû quitter contre leur gré une terre parfois ancestrale, que des pogroms ont eu lieu, et que le montant de la spoliation des juifs d'Orient représente "des milliards de dollars". Benny Morris explique que si la communauté internationale pourrait peut-être se mettre d'accord sur l'indemnisation des réfugiés palestiniens, il y a peu de chances qu'elle en fasse autant pour les juifs.

"Celle-ci serait théoriquement "juste", mais les juifs "sont réputés riches" et surtout, insiste-t-il, "ils ne sont pas réfugiés", contrairement aux 4,8 millions de Palestiniens enregistrés comme tels par les Nations unies. Les deux historiens critiquent l'approche idéologique visant à établir un lien entre les deux Nakbas. Les juifs d'Orient ont été "absorbés" en Israël (environ 600 000), ils n'ont aucune envie de revenir dans les pays arabes, et donc "le problème des réfugiés juifs est inexistant", tranche Benny Morris.

"Tom Segev pousse le raisonnement : "Si Israël est la patrie de tous les juifs, et que tous les juifs qui s'y installent reviennent chez eux, parce que c'est ce qu'ils ont espéré pendant 2 000 ans - c'est la base de l'idéologie sioniste -, comment pourraient-ils être "réfugiés" ?" L'un et l'autre soulignent que, si les Arabes de Palestine sont à l'origine du conflit, les réfugiés juifs ont été autant les victimes des pays arabes que... du sionisme. En tout état de cause, les Palestiniens ne peuvent être rendus responsables du sort des juifs expulsés des pays arabes.

"Alors pourquoi ressusciter la question de la "Nakba des juifs" ? "C'est un exercice de propagande politique, explique Benny Morris. Vous voulez parler du problème des réfugiés palestiniens ? Nous répliquons par les réfugiés juifs !" Curieusement, les jusqu'au-boutistes d'Israel Beitenou ne voient pas que de telles initiatives, qui donnent un regain d'actualité à la question du "droit au retour", sont contre-productives.

"C'est pour cela que, pendant des décennies, les gouvernements israéliens successifs ont laissé dormir la "Nakba des juifs". Celle-ci conserve sa légitimité historique, mais, politiquement, elle n'a plus beaucoup de sens en 2012."

My comment: Benny Morris inexplicably puts the figure of Jews who fled Arab countries at 700, 000, lower than any official estimate. His assertion that the international community is less likely to compensate Jewish than Arab refugees because they are thought to be 'rich' is, frankly, jaw-dropping. The international community has yet to react, and such reasoning would be little short of antisemitic - and an insult to those who left Arab countries with one suitcase and 20 dollars in their pockets to spend years in ma'abarot ( transit camps). If the Jews no longer qualify as refugees, it would seem a travesty to reward Arab states for preserving the anomalous refugee status of Palestinians, in contravention of every humanitarian norm, while penalising Israel for 'doing the right thing' and resettling the Jews as full citizens.

Tom Segev trots out the old chestnut that these were Jews returning to their ancestral homeland in Israel; but Le Monde's readership would be aware that the vast majority of France's half a million Jews came there as refugees from North Africa, and can hardly be described as motivated by Zionism. Nor can the thousands of Jews from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia struggling to survive in working-class areas of Paris or Marseille be summarily stripped of their rights. Benny Morris's dismissal of Yisrael Beteinu's Jewish refugees campaign as 'counter-productive' and 'political propaganda', does not seem rooted in logic, but smacks of a knee-jerk dislike of the 'far-right'.

Read article in full (French)

Benny Morris: 'There were two refugee problems'


Anonymous said...

Jews of Yemen want to play a political role in Yemen:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

I had the honor of having a letter published in HaArets once pointing out a lie in one of Tom Segev's articles. Prof Efraim Karsh wrote a whole book on the fabrications of Benny Morris, especially on the Arab refugee issue. In the last dozen years or so Morris has backtracked on some of his claims of Arab victimization at Israel's hands. But in his lastest book, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, Morris fails to note that Jews were driven out of neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem in December 1947, before there were Arab refugees [a lie also stated in an article in the US weekly, The New Republic]. Such a neighborhood was the Shimon haTsadiq Quarter in what became Jordanian-occupied "east Jerusalem" between 1948 and 1967. I read the relevant chapter of Morris' book and saw no mention of Shimon haTsadiq Quarter in 12/1947-1/1948, now the object of racist, Judeophobic demonstrations by "leftist" pro-Nazis.
I must say that I find the reasoning of both Morris & Segev to be bizarre and unreasonable and aimed at allowing them to support pro-Arab political positions.

Zecchini tells us that in order to find out the truth about the "Jewish Nakba," "the simplest" thing was to interview two of the leading "new historians," Segev & Morris. In other words, Zecchini wanted the answers that they gave him. That's why he interviewed them and not others, maybe like Karsh or Michel Abitbol who is himself a Jew from Algeria [& is French-speaking], and did not refer to Andre Chouraqui's writings on North African Jews --in French.

My conclusion is that it is not enough to insist on the reality of a Jewish expulsion from Arab lands but we must state that the background is more than a 1000 years of oppression of Jews in those countries as dhimmis. That is the one of the big mistakes that the French Jewish community made when the Arab/Muslim attacks on Jews began in earnest in 2000 --in the wake of the fake al-Durah incident. The Jewish leadership should have pointed out from the beginning that Muslims from North Africa were continuing or resuming in France the age-old oppression, exploitation & humiliation of Jews in their countries of origin. I don't think it's too late to start reminding France of the real history of Jews in Islamic lands.

bataween said...

Eliyahu -
I tend to agree that Zecchini's choosing to interview Morris and Segev was to hear from their lips what he wanted to hear. (Please write to Zecchini and tell him so). Morris seemed to be coming around to an understanding of Arab antisemitism in his latest about-turn so his cynicism is shocking. Not sure if educating the French about dhimmitude would help.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Michael Lasker is another academic expert on Jews in North Africa and Egypt, whereas segev and morris are focused on other subjects.