Sunday, December 02, 2012

Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

(p.121) "We were at a dialogue at Majeed's house.  Majeed was explaining a point when he said, "The Palestinians had barely 10,000 fighters, but the Haganah and the other Jewish militias combined were triple that number if not more.  So when the Jews attacked, the Palestinians never had a chance."  That was the most outrageous version of history I had ever heard: that the fighting forces of the Jewish militias in1948 were superior to the Arabs' and that the Jews attacked.

My father and all of his friends had fought in that war.  I'd heard first-hand stories about the sieges, the fierce attacks, and the touch-and-go battles where our forces were outnumbered and won only because they had the wits and the moral high ground.....

I was fully convinced that with my background I knew more than anyone else about this aspect of the conflict and that what Majeed was saying made no sense.  In a way it dishonored the story of the creation of the Jewish state, a story in which the few defeating the many is a crucial element.  If what he said was true, then it de-glorified much of the story.

That could easily have been my breaking point.  I could not explain why Majeed would be perpetuating this insane notion that Israel was not a "David" defending itself against the Arab "Goliath," but I wasn't ready to dismiss him as a liar.

I could not dismiss him because by now trust had been built between us.  This trust allowed me to let go of the safe comfort of "knowing"  so that I could explore the unknown territory of the "other".  This was very difficult, but I felt that even if what he said was not the truth that I knew, I would have to explore it.

I didn't say anything right away because I didn't want to start arguing.  Instead, when I got home that night, I called my brother Yoav, who taught political science at Tel Aviv University.

"Yes, what your friend said has merit.  If you want to know more, read a few books by Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, and Avi Shlaim."  These three "New Israeli (p.122) Historians" had all recently rewritten the history of the establishment of Israel.  I did exactly as Yoav advised.  Over the following weeks and months I read all the books by these authors.  And the more I read, the more I wanted to know.  They had corroborated what Palestinians had been saying for decades.  In fact, the corroborated what most of the world had known for years: that Israel was created after Jewish militias destroyed Palestine and forcibly exiled its people.  This was a rude awakening for me."

From: "The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine" by Miko Peled, Just World Books, 2012

p.102 - "Then, in the fall of 1997, an unthinkable disaster befell our family.  Two young Palestinians blew themselves up on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem and killed my niece."

p.31 - "As an adult, my father made his mark on Israeli history.  First as a young officer, who distinguished himself in battle as a fearless, committed, and levelheaded leader of men during Israel's War of Independence.  Then as a career officer who dedicated himself to building a well-organized fighting force for the young state of Israel.  But probably most notably as one of the generals of the Six Day War of 1967, when the Israeli army captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula."

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