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Exchange with John Rentoul re ethnic cleansing in Palestine

 
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Exchange with John Rentoul re ethnic cleansing in Palestine Reply with quote

exchange with Rentoul re Palestine
Posted by emersberger on February 7, 2009, 2:22 am

For background see

http://johnrentoul.independentminds.livejournal.com/18843.html

especially the superb post by JoeS
***************************

Jemersberger@aol.com
06/02/2009 01:03
To j.rentoul@independent.co.uk
cc
Subject Please clarify

Mr. Rentoul.
I just want to clarify a something you wrote on you blog.
You maintain that the expulsion of 700 000 Arabs from Israel in 1948 was not an act of ethnic cleansing?
Joe Emersberger

In a message dated 2/6/2009 11:08:29 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, J.Rentoul@independent.co.uk writes:

Rhetorical questions should be posted as blog comments, rather than sent as emails.
JR

My Reply

It wasn't rhetorical. Please clarify.Do you maintain that the expulsion of 700 000 Arabs from Israel in 1948 was not an act of ethnic cleansing?

Joe Emersberger
Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:48 pm
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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

FOLLOW UP EMAIL TO RENTOUL

I sincerely wonder why you haven't responded to such a simple question.

REPLY FROM RENTOUL

I have. I suggested that you post a comment on my blog, where everyone else, including Medi Aliens, the Cat's Whiskers, the Pope and the Attorney General, will be able to read my answer.

JR
Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:33 am
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joe emersberger



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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

MY REPLY

Can't seem to comment on your blog. Had the same problem with Andre Buncombe's in the past.
Why not simply post all this (or simply the question whichever you like) there yourself and include your answer?
Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:43 am
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joe emersberger



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Post Post subject: Reply with quote

RENTOUL REPLIES AGAIN

I have done so.
http://johnrentoul.independentminds.livejournal.com/22175.html
Grateful for your interest.
JR

Rentoul stated on his blog (finally) that in answer to the question

Do you maintain that the expulsion of 700 000 Arabs from Israel in 1948 was not an act of ethnic cleansing?

Rentoul's answer:

Yes, I do, as would anyone with even a glancing objective knowledge of the history of the period. Tensions between Arabs and Jews had been growing for decades, with harassment, aggression and even terrorism on both sides. In 1948 the proclamation of the State of Israel prompted an attack by the Arab League, repulsed by the new state, which was already stronger militarily. It was the action of the Arab League that was immediately responsible for the departure of any Arabs from Israeli territory.
Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:05 am
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joe emersberger



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Post Post subject: Reply with quote

MY REPLY TO RENTOUL

Mr. Rentoul:
Your reply doesn't make any sense but, to be honest, I did not expect it to.

You wrote that the expulsion of 700,000 Arabs from Israel was not ethnic cleansing becauae

"It was the action of the Arab League that was immediately responsible for the departure of any Arabs from Israeli territory."

Why the Arab invasion would cause only Arabs and not Jews to flee Israel you leave unexplained. But then you have no choice but to descend into absurdity and denial of the facts to absolve Israel of ethnic cleansing.

The exact numbers of Palestinians driven out directly versus those who merely sought safety is still contested, but all were victims of ethnic cleansing because Israel refused to allow them to return. (In Kosovo, ethnic Albanian refugees, whether forced out at gunpoint or not were entitled to return.) In 1948, even Palestinians who moved from one place within Israel to another during the war were declared "present absentees" and their property seized.[1]

No doubt, the Arabs who invaded bear some responsibility for what happened to the Palestinians, as the 9/11 bombers bear some responsibility for subsequent hate crimes against Arabs and other retaliation. However, no one in their right minds absolves people for crimes by pointing to the 9/11 bombers.

Thanks for finally clarifying your position. It is good to have on record the depths that a "chief political commentator" for liberal newspaper will go to absolve a UK ally of its crimes.

Please post this on your blog.

Joe Emersberger

[1] Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987; Norman G. Finkelstein, "'Born of War, Not By Design," in Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., pp. 51-87.
Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:05 am
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joe emersberger



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Post Post subject: Reply with quote

RENTOUL RETUNS TO THE TOPIC AFTER CONSULTING WITH A FORMER BOOS AND POSTDE THIS ON HIS BLOG.

It appears he no longer denies that hundreds of thousands were ethnically cleansed from Israel but merely "resists" applying the term "ethnic cleansing" to only one side. Progress I suppose. His blog post is below.
**********************************************************
RENTOUL WRITES

In engaging one-sided revisionists on intricate historical detail irrelevant to the point I was making, I seem to have made a sweeping generalisation. When asked by a Media Lens correspondent, after a long detour of "who started it" in Gaza, if I denied that Israel was guilty of ethnic cleansing in expelling 700,000 Arabs in 1948, I replied that I did.

I have no idea about the number involved - another commenter says it is many fewer - but from my limited knowledge of the history I knew that it was more complicated than alleged. I knew that, although some Arabs may have been expelled by Israeli forces, many fled - obviously in fear, but that is not the same as expulsion, and many others stayed. And I thought that most of the Arabs left after the Arab League attacked the new State of Israel.

I am grateful to Don Macintyre, the Independent's peerless Jerusalem correspondent (and my former boss as political editor) for putting me right. His view is that


something perilously close to ethnic cleansing took place on both sides and in some places, but that much more of it happened in what became Israel largely because the Haganah/IDF took much more territory.
It's true that the pan-Arab invasion of 15 May followed the Declaration of Independence ... But a very large part - according to Avi Shlaim, who as far as I know has not been challenged on this point (The Iron Wall, p31) the "first and largest part" - of the flights/explusions had occurred before 15 May, when there still was what was in effect a civil war between Arab/Palestinian units and the Haganah.

Benny Morris - no Ilan Pappe he - in his latest book 1948 sums up (p93): "The civil war half of the 1948 war, which ended with the complete destruction of Palestinian Arab power and the shattering of Palestinian society, began on 30 November 1947 and ended on 14 May 1948, by which time hundreds of thousands of townspeople and villagers had fled or been forcibly displaced from their homes." Morris further suggests that the Arab League Military Committee's original reluctance to intervene - on the sensible grounds that they were too weak to do so - was partly overcome precisely because of those same flights and expulsions. He writes (p181): "The events of of April 1948 - Deir Yassin [where the famous Etzel massacre took place, my parenthesis], Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa - rattled and focused their minds, and the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees drove home the urgency of direct intervention."
I suppose you could argue that without the revolt which followed the UN vote on partition in November 1947 there would have been no war, and that had the Palestinians accepted the partition plan as only their communist linked left - Haider Abdel Shafi and others - argued in vain they should, there might have been no expulsions, at least not in 1948. That said, not many historians would justify them today, even so.

Well, I wasn't seeking to justify the displacement of Arabs, merely to resist the term "ethnic cleansing", especially when applied to only one side. In that at least I seem to have Don's support.

http://johnrentoul.independentminds.livejournal.com/24116.html
Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:54 am
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