Guardian looks to the future to demonise Israel today

The Guardian’s Alison Flood begins her July 25th review of a new science fiction book by Palestinian writers imagining “what their country might look like in 2048” with a historical inaccuracy of her own:

Twelve acclaimed Palestinian writers have imagined what their country might look like in 2048, 100 years after the Nakba saw more than 700,000 people expelled from their homes, in what is believed to be the first ever collection of science fiction from the occupied territories.

As we noted to Flood – who appears to have copied and pasted that stat from the book’s website – in a tweet, and to editors in a complaint, there are no serious historians who claim that all 700,000 Palestinians were “expelled” during the 1948 war.  Historian Benny Morris has demonstrated that the overwhelming majority fled due to the war, which, let’s remember, was an Arab war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state, not because of an expulsion order.  In fact, the Guardian itself almost always is careful with their language about this issue, merely claiming that “some were expelled and some fled”.

In the piece, Flood also quotes Basma Ghalayini, the editor of the collection, in her introduction describing what she terms Israel’s “totalitarian” occupation of the West Bank, an extraordinarily misleading framing given that most West Bank Palestinians are ruled (militarily and administratively) by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and that it is Ramallah – not Jerusalem – which routinely exercises authoritarian control over its Palestinian population.

Later, she quotes Ghalayini insinuating that Zionism is racist, when she writes “Everything in that area that was former Palestine is determined by how Jewish you’re considered to be”, a claim undermined by the fact that 25% of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish, yet enjoy equal rights under the law.

Finally, Flood uncritically quotes Ghalayini repeating a popular Guardian and Corbyn Left narrative in asserting that this volume of essays are important because “Palestinians who voice any opinion about the situation are [often] interpreted as being antisemitic, [which] makes people very nervous to write about their situation”.  However, as anyone following the antisemitism crisis within the Labour Party would understand, this is a canard, as antisemitism accusations regarding the Palestinian issue are only leveled when the conversations include antisemitic tropes per the IHRA Working Definition.  Ghalayini’s broader suggestion that there’s a dearth of public conversations about ‘Palestine’ is the exact opposite of the truth, as the issue is discussed in the British media and in Parliament (not to mention at the UN) to a degree that’s far disproportionate compared to more deadly conflicts. The idea that Palestinian and pro-Palestinian voices are being ‘silenced’ is absurd.

The Guardian review further quotes Ghalayini offering her view that “Palestine is such a rich canvas for science fiction, all these themes we deal with as Palestinians … questions of the past and the present and ideas of memories and alternative realities, what might have been.”  Yes, ‘what might have been’….if only their leaders had, from the start, sought compromise, peace and co-existence, whilst rejecting scapegoating, hatred, and violence.

But, Flood’s review suggests there’s little such self-criticism or reflection on display from these Palestinian writers – no evidence of stories in the anthology premised on the view that Palestinians are masters their own fate, that the future is not pre-ordained and that good Palestinian decisions in 2019 will likely result in better outcomes in 2048.

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73 replies »

  1. The only questions to be asked about what Palestine will look like it 2048 are: which particular bunh of mafia kleptocrats will be in charge, how Islamist will they be, and how much protection money will the West be paying them?

  2. It is worth noticing just how stark the contrast is between the verbs “expelled” and “fled,” since leaving only the first verb operative in a statement about the consequences of Arab rejection of the legal founding of Israel really does cast the Israelis as extremely harsh and altogether culpable. They would have simply been involved in what would presumably be a systematic expulsion of peaceful residents from their homes.
    I don’t see how anyone can seriously write about that era and fail to understand the difference. It’s bad enough that the Guardian seems incapable of adding any historical context to the legal arrival of Jewish settlers for many decades before statehood. This makes the entire Zionist project look like nothing but an illegal land grab. It’s absurdly biased.

  3. I bet if Alison had a gander at Palestine in 1848, she’d be pretty shocked. “Where are all the people? What do you mean this territory spans all the way into Syria and Iraq? Whatever happened to the Kingdom of Jordan????”

  4. When one is committed to not allowing the facts to get in the way of a good story, science fiction could be an ideal genre insofar as reality is by definition thereby excluded.

  5. What’s the difference between being “expelled” and fleeing for your life. Benny Morris, who later wrote regretting that ALL of the Palestinians hadn’t been expelled, said:
    “Most fled when their villages and towns came under Jewish attack or out of fear of future attack. They wished to move out of harm’s way.”
    ― Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

    • What’s wrong with redefining history, says a person who lives his life anonymously in chat rooms.

      Cheap propaganda aiming for low hanging fruit. That’s all you’ve ever brought to the table, and would you look at that…. Palestinians still don’t have a state.

      But a lot blood has been spilled. And you get Baptize yourself in that shit, Homes. Party with Sencar!!

  6. 2:30: quote from Abbas admitting that Arab armies told them to leave.
    3:40: quote from Benny Morris that Israel had no expulsion policy in 1948.

    • Abbas’ remarks are ambiguous at best. He is not an historian and has no special knowledge. Benny Morris has at least studied the question, albeit from a Zionist perspective. His view is that there was no preconceived plan for ethnic cleansing but that individual Zionist armed groups conducted massacres and forced populations to abandon their homes, thereby causing many others to flee in fear. He may be right about the absence of a central plan, although the idea of forced ‘transfer’ of Palestinians was widely discussed in Zionist circles prior to 1948.

      • What part of “we were taken out and we were told, after a week we would return you” is ambiguous to you. Do you think that there were talking about a Broadway play or maybe a future scene in “Pallywood?”

        • Wrong. First-hand accounts are notoriously unreliable and this one could have been bought from any Arab on any street any time. Historians rely on physical and documentary evidence (like radio recordings and transcripts, for example). Even genuine witnesses recall with great inaccuracy. We have no reason to suppose that your Arab was even a real witness.

          • Oh and by the way, the second video shows Arabs. Note the “s” at the end of the word indicating plural, not singular. Are you going to try to tell me that different people in different locations all experienced the same illusion at the same time?

          • “First-hand accounts are notoriously unreliable and this one could have been bought from any Arab on any street any time.”

            That’s quite an interesting claim considering that so much of the animus against Israel in the media and popular culture relies on the purported eye-witness testimonies of her implacable enemies. Publications such as the Guardian rely heavily on such one-sided testimonies, as do the preponderance of anti-Israel NGO’s and other organizations. And it is part and parcel of intersectional theory with which Western hipsters are heavily indoctrinated.
            Of course, in your case sencar, we, who know your history, know your sympathies are far more in line with certain far right parties in New Zealand.

      • On the Arab side there was a preconceived plan for ethnic cleansing.
        Transfer was a British suggestion. And at that time in the world not all that unusual an idea or outcome. The Zionist leadership rejected it, and as it turned out, at the lethal peril of their own people.

  7. Perhaps you should address your thoughts to Benny Morris, a Zionist extremist historian, who clearly doesn’t agree with you.

    • Which means that Palestinians cannot possibly be held responsible for their own actions, even though most of them were born well after 1948. Right.

        • You cited this passage in Adam’s editorial:

          “The Guardian review suggests there’s little self-criticism or reflection on display from these Palestinian writers – no evidence of stories in the anthology premised on the view that Palestinians are masters their own fate, that a distopian future is not pre-ordained and that better Palestinian decisions in 2019 will likely result in better outcomes in 2048.”

          You then said that Benny Morris, whose work focuses on Israel’s War of Independence and the subsequent issue of refugees disagrees.

          What am I missing?

          • Firstly I didn’t cite that passage at all. My remarks addressed the nature of the Palestinian flight from their country in 1948.
            With regard to “better Palestinian decisions”; there are none available. Israel is determined to occupy as much of Palestine as possible and to confine the native population to the smallest area they can, or to drive them out. Nothing the Palestinians do will change that since Israel is the most powerful nation in the region and there is no significant opposition to that policy within Israel.
            Benny Morris disagrees with the discredited notion that Palestinians left because their leaders told them to do so.

            • “My remarks addressed the nature of the Palestinian flight from their country in 1948.”
              “They” didn’t refer to themselves as the Palestinians in 1948 and “they” didn’t actually have their own country in 1948, before or since. “They” fled to some neighboring recently created states where often times their relatives lived or they fled to different parts of the Palestine Mandate, where their descendants live today claiming to be “Palestinian refugees.” “I used to be a Jordanian living in Jordan in the “West Bank,” but now without taking a step I am a Palestinian refugee living in Palestine in the West Bank and demanding the right or return to Palestine.” What a racket.

  8. Since absolutely everything about ‘Palestine’ is a work of total fiction, how is this any different?

  9. The Arabs changed their name to “Palestinians” quite some time after the Palestinians changed theirs to “Israelis.”
    Up until that time, the local Arabs objected to most things “Palestinian.”

  10. Ignorance is thinking you’re helping the Palestinians by redefining all terms and the playbook in order to suit your needs. Last I checked, Israel exists while Palestine does not. And, interestingly, it has been this way for over 70 years.

    Is Mike Farmer the world’s oldest Nazi?

  11. Guardianistas creating a “Palestinian” future perfect tense narrative. I guess they’d become bored with the past tense history they’d invented for them.