Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In a Land Called "Holy"

"[T]here is no denying that the ethnic cleansing of [indigenous Palestinians by Zionists in} 1948 has been eradicated almost totally from the collective global memory and erased from the world's conscience. Imagine that not so long ago, in any given country you are familiar with, half of the entire population had been forcibly expelled within a year, half of its villages and towns wiped out, leaving behind only rubble and stones. Imagine now the possibility that somehow this act will never make it into the history books and that all diplomatic efforts to solve the conflict that erupted in that country will totally sideline, if not ignore, this catastrophic event. I, for one, have searched in vain through the history of the world as we know it in the aftermath of the Second World War for a case of this nature and a fate of this kind. There are others, earlier, cases that have fared similarly, such as the ethnic cleansing of non-Hungarians at the end of the nineteenth century, the genocide of the Armenians, and the holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi occupation against travelling people (the Roma, also known as Sinti) in the 1940s. I hope in the future that Palestine will no longer be included in this list.

This is from Ilan Pappe's book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006) at p. 9. It is a summary and raison d'etre for his wrting thte book. Pappe is an Israeli-born historian who teaches history in Britain. His website is here. This book is an effort to correct the "narrative" surrounding the beginnings of the modern state of Israel by means of the displacement of its Arab population. I know that the book is controversial, but so far I have only read negative reviews by those inclined to the Zionist or pro-Israel side of the story; others have been much more positive.

I think that we USAmerican Christians must come to grips with the facts in the Middle East. And chief among those facts are that we have betrayed the cause of justice and peace by our (often intentionally ignorant) support for the modern state of Israel at all costs. As Christians and as USAmericans, we should get the history straight and work for a revision of American foreign policy that will allow for a just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

This book is saddening me, sickening me, angering me, and judging me. I think we should all read it.

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