Ilan Pappe: “You’re all just brainwashed”

It is one thing being abused by the audience, which I am regularly, but it is another thing being abused by the actual speaker at an Israel hate-fest.

At these meetings it is with trepidation that one raises an arm to ask a question or put Israel’s side of the case. The hatred is like no other I have felt before in any other place.

I have recently been called a “Holocaust denier”, “scum” and even , horror of horror, “from the Zionist Federation”.

But after listening to Ilan Pappe and Ronnie Kasrils speak at Parliament on Wednesday on Opposing Apartheid: Palestine and the experience of South Africa I approached Pappe.

Professor Pappe is an anti-Zionist Israeli who used to lecture at Haifa University. He claims that his views were so anathema to Israeli academia that he was hounded out of the country and now he is Professor of History at Exeter University.

I have read a lot of his work and have found him interesting on nationalism and identity so I wanted to ask him why he felt that there should be no Jewish state when there have always been Jews living in the area of what is now Israel, West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

“Jews made up just 1% of the population and even they weren’t Zionist,” was his answer.

This bemused me especially as arch anti-Zionist Ben White quotes a Jewish population figure of 5%.

I told Pappe that I couldn’t understand the relevance of whether these Jews were Zionist or not. Surely, their mere presence as Jews was proof enough of uninterrupted Jewish lineage in the area. And it wasn’t as if the 500,000 Arabs there considered themselves “Palestinian”.

I asked Pappe where he got the “1%” statistic from and he referred me to Ottoman records. I questioned how he was sure they were accurate but he’d had enough and said “You’re all just brainwashed”.

Imagine you are a student with a £20,000 loan and you ask Pappe a simple question like that in class but get told you are “brainwashed”.

Pappe is also a prolific writer on how Jews “ethnically cleansed ” the Palestinians.

I would be shocked and amazed if he ever offered an alternative view to his history students about the complex events on the Israeli-Arab war that took place between 1947-1949. For Pappe there is only one view: It was Zionist policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.

But would he, for example, recommend his students to read Benny Morris who has a much more nuanced view of what took place in 1947-1949?

But one of Pappe’s most undesirable comments was reserved for Jewish students in the UK. Just after leaving Israel for the UK he gave an interview to the Times Higher Education Supplement of 6 April 2007:

“By concentrating their efforts on defending Israel, Jewish student groups were exacerbating this perception. They then risked drawing Muslim anger against the state of Israel upon themselves.”

His insinuation was that if Jewish students support Israel they only have themselves to blame if something dreadful happens to them. It was his warning for Jewish students to just shut up.

I did a Masters at SOAS and came across no problems from any Muslim students or Muslims in general when Israel/Palestine was discussed on campus.

The only insults came from middle-aged hard-lefties consumed with rage that the Jews can have state.

Yet, now Pappe comes here trying to stir up trouble and silence Jewish students.

Is this the sort of person who should be lecturing our students?

Really, Exeter University seems to be doing itself no credit by giving Pappe tenure.

21 responses to “Ilan Pappe: “You’re all just brainwashed”

  1. Jonathan Hoffman

    Kasrils used the ‘chosen people’ antisemitic trope. I protested and Martin Linton MP ejected me from the meeting.

    I understand that on 6 May Linton is highly likely to be ejected by his constituents from his seat.


  2. Richard: an stimulating post – I will add Benny Morris to my reading list. It is not clear to me that IP advocates the abolition of Israel – rather the observance of the pre 1967 borders.

    Jonathon: you were actually ejected by the parliamentary police for repeatedly ignoring standard debate procedures.

  3. Jonathan Hoffman

    Which particular ‘standard debate procedure’ would that have been then?

  4. As in the main debating chambers of the Palace of Westminster.

  5. Jonathan Hoffman

    You haven’t answered the question

  6. I leave it to others who were present to comment on Hoffman versus Linton.

  7. Jonathan Hoffman

    As was obvious to all and sundry you cannot defend what you wrote about ’standard debate procedure’.

    The reason I was ejected was because I stood up against antisemitism.

    How come you did not?

  8. You are conflating criticism of the state of Israel with anti-semitism.

  9. Jonathan Hoffman

    Stock idiotic answer of course – I predicted it.

    To use the ‘chosen people’ reference to imply thet Jews think they have special privileges – as Kasrils did – is profoundly antisemitic. In the Bible it is about responsibilities as much as it is about anything else.

    Please go away and learn something about Jews and about antisemitism and maybe next time you will be better informed.

    Start here:

    Click to access AS-WorkingDefinition-draft.pdf

  10. richardmillett

    Thanks, Richard. No, IP does envisage the end of Israel as a Jewish state. He is an anti-Zionist.

  11. richardmillett

    I think it was bad of Kasrils to mention the Chosen People phrase like that. It makes Jews out that they think they are superior to everyone other religion and race. It is terrible and only makes Jews look very bad.

  12. Jonathan Hoffman

    It is worse than bad. It is antisemitic.

    “This vicious anti-Semitic canard, frequently repeated by other Soviet writers and officials, is based upon the malicious notion that the “Chosen People” of the Torah and Talmud preaches “superiority over other peoples,” as well as exclusivity. This was, of course, the principal theme of the notorious Tsarist Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[20]”

  13. Jonathan and Richard:

    I hope your ire is equally directed at the many Jewish supremacist types that really do seem to follow that narrow interpretation of “chosenness”.

  14. richardmillett

    Gert, many Jewish supremacists? Like who? This seems to be an out and out attack on Jews generally now.

    Your attack on Zionists and Zionism is just about passable. But now you seem to be coming from a different angle altogether.

  15. Another comical display by Jonathan – I knew you wouldn’t disappoint

  16. richardmillett

    Try to criticise Jonathan’s arguments instead of Jonathan. Jonathan’s point is correct.

  17. modernityblog

    Another display of racism from Gert, how predictable.

    Anyone familiar with the themes, lies, racism and obsessions of the Extreme Right will know that they bang on about the “chosen people” ad nauseam.

    It is use a standard piece of their repertoire, not something that anyone else should try to emulate.

  18. Richard, you forgot to mention your little run in with Ronnie at the end of the talk.

  19. Pingback: Liberal Judaism and the state of “Palestein” « Richardmillett's Blog

  20. Jim Mickelson

    I read his book on ethnic cleansing. I didn’t realize how hard it is for the Palenstines to even function in Israel.. One thing I know I would not want to be a Arab Israeli or a Palenstine living in that part of the world. Just give them the right of return and everything will be fine.