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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thank you Yaeli!

Fellow blogger Yaeli of 'Aliyah step by step' posted a link to an article entitled 'The Arabs of Palestine' which was published in the Atlantic Monthly back in October of 1961.

This article is, quite simply, a must read for anyone who wants to be able to discuss the current 'situation' with anything approaching intelligence and honesty.   

Written more than half a decade before the Six Day War, the article gives a clear-eyed, outsider's view of the mindset and pathology behind the Palestinian refugee problem and those who have used the so-called refugee issue to bludgeon the world's collective conscience into submission.

In preparation for writing the piece, the author, Martha Gellhorn, toured refugee camps throughout the region (back while I was still in diapers) and despite being prepared to relate to her readers the unparalleled suffering of the Palestinians... she ended up writing about a people that were, on the whole healthier, wealthier (or at least more secure) and better educated than most of the Arab world.

The author manages to keep her dismay at disinformation, exaggeration and out-and-out lying in check with utterly charming phrases like "There is a limit to the amount of Mad Hattery one can endure...", and the course of the article reads like a triptych of her journey from sympathy to incredulity over the mythic, insoluble problem that turned out to be neither.  Remember, this is an 'objective' third party who actually came prepared to champion the Palestinian cause!

I won't say more than that for fear of ruining the reading experience for you... but please read it.  It is long, but there isn't a single word or sentence that can be considered wasted or superfluous.  And as you read, remember that it was written long before the war that revisionists, inside Israel and abroad, consider the raison d'être of Israel's current pariah status.

So go read it... then go thank Yaeli for sharing the link... and then point every single thinking person you know (and some of the non-thinkers as well) to this incredible article. 

Posted by David Bogner on February 26, 2008 | Permalink

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Long?
25 printed pages!

Posted by: JoeSettler | Feb 26, 2008 2:43:32 PM

FYI, Ms. Gellhorn (the author of the article) was not some novice journalist. According to wikipedia, Martha Gellhorn was one of the greatest war journalists of the 20th century. She has a long and impressive list of credentials. Ms. Gellhorn covered the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Hilter, WWII, the Vietnam conflict, the Six-Day War and many central American civil wars.

Posted by: zahava | Feb 26, 2008 3:24:26 PM

Remarkable journalism. The article is an epiphany and revelation -- namely, that the Arabs who fled to Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon did so because they fully expected to be killed if they stayed put in Israel.

Why?

Because they could not comprehend people who were not particularly interested in murdering, maiming or massacring. Yes, in their own minds, they were in mortal danger. Because if the tables were turned, they would have literally ripped the hearts out of Jews. And surely the Jews were going to do the same to them.

The Jews, and Arabs, who were successful in life were the ones who did not spend every waking moment nurturing grievances, both real and imagined. They got on with the business and pleasures of life. The losers here were, literally, the losers. The mentally weak links -- endemic to every nation -- would rather weep, moan, gnash teeth, imagine conspiracies, and foment than live life.

Posted by: Ari | Feb 26, 2008 4:05:03 PM

I enjoyed the article, but looked her up on wikipedia to see if she was objective enough to convince people I know who have believed Arab propaganda. I am aware that wikipedia is not always to be believed, but I don't know any better source. It says:
Political and Religious Views

Gellhorn remained a committed leftist throughout her life and was contemptuous of those, like Rebecca West, who became more conservative. She considered the so-called objectivity of journalists “nonsense”, and used journalism to reflect her politics. Politically, Gellhorn had two major favorites, Israel and the Spanish Republic. For Gellhorn, Dachau had “changed everything” and she became a life-long champion of Israel. She was a frequent visitor to Israel after 1949, and considered moving to Israel in the 1960s. An uncompromising opponent of Fascism, Gellhorn's attitude toward communism was more complex. While she did not praise communism and Stalinism, she equally refused to criticize it, and remained a believer in Alger Hiss until her death. A self-described “hater”, she attacked fascism, anti-communism, racism, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the Palestinian and German peoples with equal vigor. Gellhorn never forgave the German people for Hitler, and reveled in their suffering after WW II. Her hatred of the Palestinians was extreme and friends learned never to mention them in her presence.

Posted by: Channah | Feb 26, 2008 6:20:02 PM

I don't know why trackbacks from my blog don't work... but I put a link to this highly interesting article on my blog. Thank you for the link.

Posted by: Lila | Feb 26, 2008 8:27:26 PM

lol, you are quite welcome. I was just passing along information that was passed along to me via the comment section on Pajamas :) The Elder of Ziyon wrote that Gellhorn wrote a further follow-up for The Nation in 1967 and I've been trying to track it down ...would be very interesting to see her take on things at that point!

Posted by: Yaeli | Feb 27, 2008 4:48:12 PM

I have managed to find time to get a few pages into it. What amazing writing. Her style and use of language is incredible.

As for the subject matter. It is just as incredible how nothing has really changed.

She wrote this before the '67 war, before the "Occupation". Yet it could have been written today about today. In fact, I went back to the top of the article to see when she actually wrote it.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Feb 27, 2008 7:46:58 PM

Fascinating read.....

Posted by: Gila | Feb 29, 2008 6:57:48 AM

Fascinating read.....

Posted by: Gila | Feb 29, 2008 6:57:49 AM

JoeSettler... Go to 'format' and select 'font'. Now reduce the point size from 48 to, say, 12. How's that look now?

zahava... I hope I didn't suggest she was a novice. One doesn't wake up one morning and get published in The Atlantic.

Ari... Perhaps the most memorable lines from the article was when she talked about how hard it was to pity the pitiless.

Channah... I generally trust Wikipedia, but in this case I would probably want some corroboration of when her views on the Palestinians arrived at their final destination.

Lila... Thanks Lila. In my next life I promise to learn German. ;-)

Yaeli... If you find it please let me know. I'd like to read it too.

JoeSettler... Pictures might have helped you get through it, no? :-)

Gila... I agree.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 3, 2008 12:35:03 PM

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