Friday, January 26, 2007

Historical Agents

Marty Peretz, 10/02/06:
Khalidi is still making the case that there was no real war between the Zionists and the Arabs--and that this is a myth created by the victors to obfuscate and disguise their overwhelming force. Actually, 6,000 Jews were killed in the War of Independence. This was fully 1 percent of the Jewish population of Palestine at the time. Were they fighting phantoms? Or were the Jews a real functioning nation and the Palestinians (like many of their Arab cousins) still mired in more backward social formations, of which the brutal internecine warfare among the populations in Gaza and the West Bank remain devastating exemplars?

There is something pathetic in Khalidi's blaming the Jews for the absence of a reliable record of Palestinian Arab history. My God, the Jews kept records and made archives of their very extermination by the Nazis. These serious and definitive collections dot the world: Jerusalem, New York, Warsaw, Germany, and on and on. "There is no central depository of Palestinian records," whines Khalidi, and this has prevented a real national myth from having been written. Mind you, what he wants is not true history--as far as truth is determinable in complex circumstances--but what he calls official history. "The production of a standard 'official' Palestinian narrative was never really possible." Now, Khalidi himself has written such a volume--not "the" narrative but a part of the "official" narrative. It is Under Siege: PLO Decision-making in the 1982 War. Is it to be trusted? If this is Khalidi's ambition and intent, one cannot know.

If Khalidi wants a state he'd do better to try to grasp their instinct for fratricide than blame the Israelis for having "carried off" Arab archival materials to which, in any case, scholars have free and unfettered access. There is no sin here about which the Jews need atone.

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