Guest Column: More on Middle East facts and delusions

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In The Rock River Times, Oct. 11-17, 2006, W. Harrison Goodenow criticized my guest editorial, “Facts, not delusions, about the Middle East” (TRRT, Sept. 6-12), which concerned the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Goodenow claimed to be a student of Middle Eastern history and accused me of not providing a full listing of my sources.

He’s right—I didn’t. Because there isn’t much space in a guest editorial for full academic references. Editorial writers generally don’t provide footnotes and indexes. For his information, many of my facts came from the very book he recommended in his letter, The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz. I suggest that Mr. Goodenow read it more carefully, because he completely mischaracterized Dershowitz’s central, thoroughly documented arguments. I also used A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin and Righteous Victims by Benny Morris, both of which are considered authoritative by Western historians, although probably not by Palestinian propagandists and their American supporters.

Goodenow wrote concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict: “the intractable nature of this hostility makes it difficult to discern truth from falsehood.” Evidently, this student of Middle East history is unaware that certain facts about the Middle East actually exist, according to Dershowitz, Fromkin, Morris and many other world-class scholars, not to mention the documentary record which includes treaties, government documents, land deeds, first-person accounts, journalism and the work of historians.

For example, it is indubitably true that all land occupied by Jews in Palestine before 1947 was bought and paid for. Without question, there never was a Palestinian state in history. No reasonable researcher argues that Palestinian Muslims didn’t stage a pogrom against Palestinian Jews in 1929, killing 133 and injuring 339, long before the so-called “occupation” usually cited as cause of Palestinian grievances. No responsible history book denies that five Muslim nations attacked Israel in 1948. No intellectually respectable college professor refuses to accept the reality that Muslim governments refused to absorb most Palestinians displaced by the Muslim-originated war of 1948. Does Goodenow believe that Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia really didn’t recommend the Clinton-Barak peace plan personally to Yasir Arafat, and that Arafat didn’t reject it, choosing instead to suicide bomb Israeli civilians?

I challenge Goodenow to prove in the pages of this publication that the above facts are untrue. I especially challenge him to prove that Chaim Weizman, first president of Israel, believed the above facts are mere opinions, as Goodenow seemed to imply.

Goodenow seems not to comprehend the vast differences between facts and allegations. I can’t imagine what kind of history professors are filling his mind with obfuscation. If Goodenow believes that Jews actually swindled Israel from Muslims, why doesn’t he come out and say so, and list his documentary evidence, instead of laying down a smoke screen of vague, unsubstantiated charges? He accuses me of being “simplistic.” I accuse him of bad faith.

Lenny Levinson is the author of 83 novels, mostly in the category of high adventure. He lived most of his life in New York, but is now a resident of Mt. Morris.

From the Nov. 15-21, 2006, issue

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