From TNR (thanks to TNR for giving a pass-through link beyond the paywall for EoZ readers):
At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two.
Here is a clear and typical example—in detail, which is where the devil resides—of Pappe’s handiwork. I take this example from The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. On February 2, 1948, a young Jewish scientist named Aharon Katzir came to see David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive and the leader of the Jewish community in Palestine.
Two months earlier, the General Assembly of the United Nations had recommended the partition of the country into two states. The Zionist establishment had accepted Resolution 181, but the Palestinian Arab leadership, and the surrounding Arab states, had rejected it—and Palestinian militiamen began to shoot at Jewish traffic, pedestrians, and settlements. The first Arab-Israeli war had begun.
Katzir had come to report to the man managing the Jewish war effort (Ben-Gurion also held the defense portfolio in the Jewish Agency Executive) about an experiment that he and his team in the Haganah’s “science branch” had been conducting. As was his wont, Ben-Gurion jotted down in his diary what his visitor told him. (Ben-Gurion’s diary, a major source on Israeli and Middle East history, consists almost entirely of his summaries of reports by people coming to see him; very few entries actually enlighten the reader about what Ben-Gurion thought or said.) The entry reads:
Aharon: ‘Shimshon’ [the operation’s codename], an experiment was conducted on animals. The researchers were clothed in gas masks and suit. The suit costs 20 grush, the mask about 20 grush (all must be bought immediately). The operation [or experiment] went well. No animal died, the [animals] remained dazzled [as when a car’s headlights dazzle an oncoming driver] for 24 hours. There are some 50 kilos [of the gas]. [They] were moved to Tel Aviv. The [production] equipment is being moved here. On the laboratory level, some 20 kilos can be produced per day.
This is the only accessible source that exists, to the best of my knowledge, about the meeting and the gas experiment, and it is the sole source cited by Pappe for his description of the meeting and the “Shimshon” project. But this is how Pappe gives the passage in English:
Katzir reported to Ben-Gurion: “We are experimenting with animals. Our researchers were wearing gas masks and adequate outfit. Good results. The animals did not die (they were just blinded). We can produce 20 kilos a day of this stuff.”The translation is flecked with inaccuracies, but the outrage is in Pappe’s perversion of “dazzled,” or sunveru, to “blinded”—in Hebrew “blinded” would be uvru, the verb not used by Ben-Gurion—coupled with the willful omission of the qualifier “for 24 hours.” Pappe’s version of this text is driven by something other than linguistic and historiographical accuracy. Published in English for the English-speaking world, where animal-lovers are legion and deliberately blinding animals would be regarded as a barbaric act, the passage, as published by Pappe, cannot fail to provoke a strong aversion to Ben-Gurion and to Israel.
Such distortions, large and small, characterize almost every page of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. So I should add, to make the historical context perfectly clear, that no gas was ever used in the war of 1948 by any of the participants. Pappe never tells the reader this. Raising the subject of gas is historical irrelevance. But the paragraph will dangle in the reader’s imagination as a dark possibility, or worse, a dark reality: the Jews, gassed by the Nazis three years before, were about to gas, or were gassing, Arabs. I note also, for accuracy’s sake, that, apart from the 1917 battle for Gaza in World War I, the only people in the Middle East who have used poison gas against their enemies in the past century have been Arabs—the Egyptians in Yemen in the 1960s, the Iraqis in Kurdistan in the 1980s. So there can be no escaping the conclusion that Pappe introduced the subject, and perverted the text, for one purpose only: to blacken the image of Israel and its leaders in 1948. This is also among the purposes of The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty and Out of the Frame.
...Those who falsify history routinely take the path of omission. They ignore crucial facts and important pieces of evidence while cherry-picking from the documentation to prove a case.
Pappe is more brazen. He, too, often omits and ignores significant evidence, and he, too, alleges that a source tells us the opposite of what it in fact says, but he will also simply and straightforwardly falsify evidence.
...About the 1929 “Temple Mount” riots, which included two large-scale massacres of Jews, in Hebron and in Safed, Pappe writes: “The opposite camp, Zionist and British, was no less ruthless [than the Arabs]. In Jaffa a Jewish mob murdered seven Palestinians.” Actually, there were no massacres of Arabs by Jews, though a number of Arabs were killed when Jews defended themselves or retaliated after Arab violence. Pappe adds that the British “Shaw Commission,” so-called because it was chaired by Sir Walter Shaw (a former chief justice of the Straits Settlements), which investigated the riots, “upheld the basic Arab claim that Jewish provocations had caused the violent outbreak. ‘The principal cause ... was twelve years of pro-Zionist [British] policy.’
It is unclear what Pappe is quoting from. I did not find this sentence in the commission’s report. Pappe’s bibliography refers, under “Primary Sources,” simply to “The Shaw Commission.” The report? The deliberations? Memoranda by or about? Who can tell? The footnote attached to the quote, presumably to give its source, says, simply, “Ibid.” The one before it says, “Ibid., p. 103.” The one before that says, “The Shaw Commission, session 46, p. 92.” But the quoted passage does not appear on page 103 of the report. In the text of Palestinian Dynasty, Pappe states that “Shaw wrote [this] after leaving the country [Palestine].” But if it is not in the report, where did Shaw “write” it?
Actually, the thrust of the “Report of the Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August, 1929,” which appeared in 1930, is completely contrary to what Pappe asserts (though it does list some non-lethal Jewish provocations—peaceful demonstrations, a newspaper article—as among the immediate triggers of the eruption of the Arab violence). The report states: “The fundamental cause, without which in our opinion disturbances either would not have occurred or would have been little more than a local riot, is the Arab feeling of animosity and hostility towards the Jews consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future.” As to the riots themselves, the report states: “The outbreak in Jerusalem on the 23rd of August [the start of the riots] was from the beginning an attack by Arabs on Jews for which no excuse in the form of earlier murders by Jews has been established.” The disturbances “took the form, for the most part, of a vicious attack by Arabs on Jews accompanied by wanton destruction of Jewish property.... In a few instances, Jews attacked Arabs and destroyed Arab property. These attacks, though inexcusable, were in most cases in retaliation for wrongs already committed by Arabs in the neighborhood in which the Jewish attacks occurred.”
Pappe repeatedly asserts, in order to demonstrate an Arab readiness for conciliation, that the Palestinian leadership in 1920-1922, including Hajj Amin, was “ambiguous” about Zionism and “was willing to compromise.” This is nonsense. Indeed, Hajj Amin was tried and convicted in absentia by a British court for helping to incite the murderous riots of April 1920.
Some of Pappe’s “historical” assertions are, quite obviously, politically motivated, but they are mistakes nonetheless. He refers to “statements made by Jewish and Zionist leaders about the need to build the ‘Third Temple.’” Husaynis often leveled that charge against the Jews, in order to incite the Muslim masses. But which important Zionist leader in the 1920s advocated the construction of a Third Temple? None whom I can name. Later Pappe reinforces this lie by remarking that “Palestinian historiography, including recent work that draws on newly revealed materials, suggests that the mufti’s concern was not baseless, and that there really was a Jewish plan to seize the entire Haram [Temple Mount].” Pappe offers no evidence for this extraordinary assertion.
Pappe repeatedly refers to “Harry Lock” of the British Mandate government secretariat in the 1920s—but the chief secretary’s name was Harry Luke. Pappe obviously encountered the name in Hebrew or Arabic and transliterated it, with no prior knowledge of Luke against which to check it: if he had consulted British documents, he would have known the correct spelling. Pappe refers to “the Hope Simpson Commission”—there was no such commission, only an investigation by an official named John HopeSimpson. He refers to “twenty-two Muslim ... states” in the world in 1931, but by my count there were only about half a dozen. He refers to “the Jewish Intelligence Service”—presumably the Haganah Intelligence Service—and then adds, “whose archive has been opened to Israeli historians but not to Palestinians.” To the best of my knowledge, this is an outright lie. All public archives in Israel, including the Haganah Archive in Tel Aviv, which contains the papers of its intelligence service, are open to all researchers.Read the whole thing, which also shows that Pappe has no problem making up facts about his own history as well!
(h/t Folderol and Mr. K. Dilkington)