The Warped Mirror/JPost
23 May '10
Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, has achieved considerable fame - some would say notoriety - with his blog "Informed Comment" where he posts "Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion". Among Cole's critics, Martin Kramer stands out for succinctly summarizing the problem already years ago, when he wrote a blog post entitled "Making Cole-slaw of history". Kramer's post is by now five years old, but the "recipe" is still in use: recent offerings include Cole's "Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis" and a post from last weekend on the Palestinian commemoration of "Nakbah or Catastrophe Day".
Both the opening and the closing paragraph of Cole's "Nakbah" post provide excellent examples of how to fit a lot of misrepresentation into just a few sentences:
Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza on Saturday to commemorate the Nakbah or national catastrophe of 1948, when European Jewish settlers brought into the Mandate of Palestine by imperial British policy expelled 700,000 Palestinians from what is now Israel and then sealed the border, confiscating all their property without compensation. These actions turned the bulk of the Palestinians into poverty-stricken camp dwellers and/or stateless persons living under the rule of others, and prevented the rise of an independent Palestinian state such as was envisaged by the League of Nations and the British government just a decade before.
Millions of Palestinians remain stateless, and citizenship was defined by Warren Burger as 'the right to have rights.' As long as so many Palestinians do not have the right to have rights, there will be no end of trouble in the Mideast, and Israel cannot itself be a normal country. Although the current situation is often called Apartheid by analogy, it is worse, since most South Africans had citizenship, whereas the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, etc. lack that basic guarantee of a decent life. And they are being actively deprived of it by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Likud-Shas-Yisrael Beitenu rightwing coalition."
Both paragraphs illustrate that Cole blames Israel for Palestinian statelessness - even though the professor of Middle East history undoubtedly knows that the relevant facts tell a very different story. As the Oxford scholar and former Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Samih Khalidi once explained in an article appropriately entitled "Thanks, but no thanks":
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