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Ilan Pappe: Profile

By Stand4Facts.org


Overview

Ilan Pappe, an Israeli political scientist on the faculty of Haifa University, is a frequent speaker for pro-Palestinian groups including ISM, Al-Awda, and Divestment from Israel, and he is an advisory board member for the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation (CPRR).[1] A “new historian” whose stated goal is to “debunk …myths” in Israel’s heroic nationalist narrative,[2] Pappe almost uncritically embraces the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli atrocities, including rapes and massacres.[3] He contends that Israelis are either in denial or ignorant of this evil because it has been hidden through the Israeli establishment’s “powerful indoctrination machine.”[4]

In his view, Zionists/Israelis always intended to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and did so ruthlessly in 1948, started all the Arab-Israeli wars, committed atrocities during the 1948 War, consistently refused to make peace, established an apartheid regime and still hope to ethnically cleanse the Territories. He advocates divestment and boycotts of Israel, the right of return of Palestinians and a one-state solution. [5]

Pappe has credibility when he speaks because he is an Israeli and on the faculty at Haifa University. But he is a controversial, marginal figure at the farthest end of Israel’s political spectrum. “I am the most hated man in Israel,” he said in an interview in 1999.[6] Nor are his scholarship and conclusions widely accepted. “In my case,” he admitted in the same interview, mainstream historians “dispute everything. They seem to accept Benny Morris more easily than me….” He admits this is partially because Morris tries to rely on documented evidence while he is “more relativist,” and draws conclusions from what he thinks is “implicit” in the documents and because “[my] ideology influences my historical writing.”[7] Consider some of Pappe’s positions:

  • “If you look at Israeli textbooks, curricula, media, and political discourse you see how this chapter in Jewish history - the chapter of expulsion, colonization, massacres, rape, and the burning of villages - is totally absent. It is not there. It is replaced by a chapter of heroism, glorious campaigns and amazing stories of moral courage and superiority unheard of in any other histories of people's liberation in the 20th century.” [8]
  • “Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth-seekers.”[9]
  • “…my [pro-Palestinian] bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the 'truth' when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.... Mine is a subjective approach....”[10] (A History of Modern Palestine)
  • ‘[T]he Jewish state was built on the ruins of the indigenous people of Palestine, whose livelihood, houses, culture and land had been systematically destroyed.”[11]
  • “I fully support it (the second intifada) and regard it as a popular movement determined to stop a peace process which would have destroyed Palestine once and for all.”[12]
  • “[T]here is what I call the “Nakba Denial….I think there is a similar ‘Holocaust Denial’ on the Palestinian side…..”[13]
  • “[T]he two-state solution nowadays is not the end of the occupation but continuing it in a different way.” Sept 16 2002[14]

[1] For records of his talks for these organizations, see www.al-awda.org.uk/events/past.htm , www.washington-report.org/backissues/072000/0007020.html , www.freepalestinecampaign.org/video_descriptions-1.htm

[2] Pappe interview with Greg Dropkin, Sept. 13, 1999 www.labournet.net/world/0209/pappe1.html

[3] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[4] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[5] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[6] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[7] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[8] Ilan Pappe Lecture to Yale Divestment group, October 2002 newsletter at http://www.yaledivestmentnews.org/pappeHistory.html

[9] http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/7891/loos_pappe.html

[10] Cited from Pappe’s new book by Benny Morris, “Politics by Other Means,” New Republic, March 22 2004 at http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040322&s=morris032204

[11] Ilan Pappe article in Al-Ahram, May 22, 2002, at http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2002/586/sc1.htm

[12] Ilan Pappe Lecture to Yale Divestment group, October 2002 newsletter at http://www.yaledivestmentnews.org/pappeHistory.html

[13] Pappe Interview by Dropkin, 9/13/02, at www.labournet.net/world/0209/pappe1.html

[14] www.pflp-pal.org/opinion/israeli/16september02ilanpape.html

Biography

Dr. Ilan Pappe, an Israeli, is a senior lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University and the Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva. He earned his doctorate at Oxford University where his research on the1948 War made him acutely aware “for the first time of what the Nakba had been about.”[1] In the late 1980’s, he, Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim became the core of the “new” or revisionist historians who debunked Israel’s “national myths” and, as Pappe said, “adopted major chapters in the Palestinian interpretation, narrative, of the past.”[2] Pappe claims that his major contribution was to undermine the myth of “Israel the Peace-Seeker.” He argued that the opportunity for peace after 1948 was missed because of “Israel’s intransigence and inflexibility.”[3]

The author of books such as A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples and The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, Pappe is best known as an international activist who believes a one-state solution is the only moral outcome for the conflict and calls for Israelis to stop denying the atrocities they have committed against the Palestinians. He is a controversial figure well outside the Israeli mainstream, and described himself as “the most hated man in Israel.”[4] In 1996, he made an unsuccessful bid for a Knesset seat as a member of a small, far left political party. Just before the US-Iraq War began in 2003, he signed “an urgent warning from Israeli Academics” that condemned Israel for what they claimed was its plan to use “the fog of war….to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing.”[5] Nothing of the sort was planned or occurred.

Pappe has also run into problems with academia. Mainstream scholars generally dismiss his work. “In my case,” he said in an interview, mainstream historians “dispute everything. They seem to accept Benny Morris more easily than me….” He admits this is partially because Morris tries to rely on documented evidence while he is “more relativist,” and draws conclusions from what he thinks is “implicit” in the documents and because “[my] ideology influences my historical writing.”[6] “Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth-seekers.”[7]

Pappe’s academic credibility was further undermined in 2000, when he gave the highest marks to a student’s Masters Thesis that alleged Israelis had committed a massacre at the Arab village of Tantura in 1948.[8] A libel suit was brought against the student, Theodore Katz, who retracted his claims but then regretted the retraction[9] . The University disqualified the thesis after finding that Katz had falsified testimony “gravely and severely”[10] and had him revise and resubmit it. When the University also sought to discipline Pappe for not meeting academic standards on the Katz thesis, Pappe urgently sought the support of the international academic community and succeeded in forcing the school to back down.[11] Pappe claimed that the University’s efforts were “an act of silencing academic freedom”[12] and a “McCarthyite charade,” and continued to support Katz’ original findings.[13]

In essence, Pappe energetically “deconstructs” the Israeli narrative, but uncritically accepts the Palestinian narrative.

Affiliations/Lecture Sponsors

Al-Awda

ISM

Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation

Divestment CampaignsRight of Return Coalition


[1] http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2002/586/sc1.htm

[2] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[3] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[4] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[5] Palestine Chronicle April 22, 2003

[6] Pappe interview with Baudouin Loos November 29 1999 at www.mideastfacts.com/loos_pappe.html

[7] http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/7891/loos_pappe.html

[8] See “The Rector’s Response to the Academic Press concerning Mr. Katz’s Thesis,” at www.ee.bgu.ac.il/~censor/katz-directory/03-04-10ben-zeev-haifa-univ-katz-thesis-english.pdf ; for Pappe’s views of the incident, see Ilan Pappe, “Demons of the Nakba,” in Al-Ahram, May 17, 2002 at www.mediareviewnet.com/Demons%20of%20The%20Nakbah.htm and Ilan Pappe, “Contents Bearing on the Case of Ilan Pappe,” Znet, May 14, 2002 at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=1787 ; and another account relatively sympathetic to Pappe by Tom Segev, “His Colleagues Call Him a Traitor,” Ha’aretz, May 24, 2002 at http://www.ee.bgu.ac.il/~censor/katz-directory/02-05-23segev-haaretz-pappe-trial.pdf

[9] http://www.between-lines.org/archives/2001/jan/BTL_Teddy_Katz.htm

[10] “The Rector’s Response to the Academic Press concerning Mr. Katz’s Thesis,” at www.ee.bgu.ac.il/~censor/katz-directory/03-04-10ben-zeev-haifa-univ-katz-thesis-english.pdf

[11] www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=1787

[12] www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=1787

[13] http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2002/586/sc1.htm

Accusations and Defamations

·    Pappe on Benny Morris:

“ I was fully aware - as he seemed to trust me - of his abominable racist views about the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular…Unlike others, I did not feel that his good qualities as a chronologist - he was never a proper historian -….made up for his bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Electronic Intifada March 30 2004[1]

  • Pappe on the Dean of Humanities at Haifa University and on Haifa University’s intentions and procedures for putting him on trial because of his role in the ‘Katz Affair.’

“The prosecution, represented by Haifa Dean's of humanities demands my expulsion from the university due to the positions I have taken on the Katz affair….The reason the university waited so long is that now the time is ripe in Israel for any act of silencing academic freedom. My intent to teach a course on the Nakbah next year and my support for boycott on Israel has led the university to the conclusion that I can only be stopped by expulsion. Judging by past procedures this is not a request, but already a verdict, given the position of the person in question in the university and the way things had been done in the past. The ostensible procedure of a 'fair trial' does not exist and hence I do not even intend to participate in a McCarthyist charade.” Znet Mideast, May 14 2002[2]

 


[1] https://lists.resist.ca/pipermail/project-x/2004-April/006055.html

[2] http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=1787



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