Historikeren Benny Morris kommer med to nye bøker om Israel og palestinerne, den ene om flyktningesituasjonen. Morris sier det fant sted mange flere israelske massakrer enn han tidligere har vært klar over. Samtidig dokumenterer han at araberne oppfordret palestinerne til å evakuere. Han blir intervjuet i Haaretz: Benny Morris, in the month ahead the new version of your book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem is due to be published. Who will be less pleased with the book – the Israelis or the Palestinians?
«The revised book is a double-edged sword. It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.
«At the same time, it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself.»
Morris forteller uten å fordømme Ben Gurion eller fordrivelsen av palestinere. Han har et ikke ukontroversielt syn, sett fra vår kant: Det var nødvendig, ellers kunne ikke den israelske staten eksistere. Han aksepterer etnisk rensing når alternativet er folkemord (på eget folk), m.a.o. mener han at israelerne ikke hadde noe valg. Det er et intervju som stikker dypt ned i noe som gjør vondt, og er vanskelig å forholde seg til, og den stoiske skikkelsen som framtrer av Morris når han forteller provoserer også intervjueren:
Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?
«From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.»
Ben-Gurion was a «transferist»?
«Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.»
I don’t hear you condemning him.
«Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.»
«A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it’s better to destroy.»
There is something chilling about the quiet way in which you say that.
«If you expected me to burst into tears, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I will not do that.»
So when the commanders of Operation Dani are standing there and observing the long and terrible column of the 50,000 people expelled from Lod walking eastward, you stand there with them? You justify them?
«I definitely understand them. I understand their motives. I don’t think they felt any pangs of conscience, and in their place I wouldn’t have felt pangs of conscience. Without that act, they would not have won the war and the state would not have come into being.»
You do not condemn them morally?
They perpetrated ethnic cleansing.
«There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide – the annihilation of your people – I prefer ethnic cleansing.»