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Monday, December 10, 2012

David N. Myers, the historian who doesn't know history

From the chair of the UCLA History department, David N. Myers, at The Daily Beast/Open Zion:
Sixty-five years ago, the Zionist movement scored the greatest success in its history—recognition on November 29, 1947, by the United Nations General Assembly, of the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. U.N. General Assembly resolution 181 called for the creation of a Jewish state alongside an Arab State, with Jerusalem as an international protectorate. It was this diplomatic act that brought the State of Israel into existence.
Myers then draws a tendentious analogy between the 1947 UN partition vote and the recent UNGA vote upgrading the PLO's status to a non-member state.

Given that Myers is a historian, the bolded statement is astonishing.

Myers no doubt knows that General Assembly resolutions do not create states, and UNGA 181 in 1947 was no exception. UNGA resolutions have no force in international law.

Israel was not created by that resolution. It was created because Zionists fought for a state in the vacuum left by the departing British in May of 1948, against combined Arab armies, and survived. In 1949 the Security Council then admitted Israel as a member, but its existence as a state was established beforehand - by the Zionists winning a defensive war.

If Myers were correct, then Arab Palestine was also "brought into existence" in 1947. Obviously it wasn't, and there was essentially no call for an Arab Palestinian state at the time, even from Palestinian Arabs themselves. Palestinian Arab nationalism - both the original variety before 1948 and the post 1967 variety -  is entirely a reaction to Zionism and Israel, as opposed to an movement for self-determination of a people. This weakness of Palestinian Arab nationalism, and the frantic attempts to manufacture a retroactive history  and culture of Palestinian Arab peoplehood, is perhaps a fascinating topic for historians who are not blinded by ideology.

(Bizarrely, Myers also says "As a result of that armed conflict, the State of Israel came into existence." But his basic thesis in the article is the analogy between the 1947 partition vote and Abbas' stunt as both being momentously important.)

Myers also lies when he says "It is the Palestinians who, through their request for recognition by the U.N. General Assembly affirmed the long-standing principle of partition. By seeking sovereignty in territories currently occupied by Israel, they are affirming the ideal of two states, Jewish and Palestine, dwelling side by side."

Of course, the Palestinian Arabs do not accept the idea of a Jewish state, and have made that very clear. In fact, they are willing to actively disregard history itself if it contradicts their goals. They are as insistent that Israel be the home of hundreds of thousands of so-called "refugees," destroying the Jewish state, as they are on the 1949 armistice lines. Myers no doubt knows this as well.

When reporters and pundits twist history for their purposes, it is despicable, But when historians choose to elevate their own political viewpoints above history and well-known facts, it is unconscionable.