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Benny Morris

Benny Morris is a prominent Jewish, Zionist Israeli historian. He is considered the most influential and proflific member of the New Historians, a group of scholars who have challenged much of the received wisdom of the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The son of immigrants from England, Morris was born in Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh and was a member of the left-wing Hashomer Hatza'ir youth movement. In 1988, he was imprisoned for refusing military service in the West Bank town Nablus.

Morris received his doctorate from Cambridge. For a number of years, he was the diplomatic correspondent of the Jerusalem Post.

Morris is currently professor of history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva.

In his studies of the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem, Morris argues that the approximately 700,000 Palestinians who fled from their homes in 1947 were not dispelled with premeditation on the part of the Israeli's nor did the invading Arab states urge them to leave.

He also unearthed and documented many atrocities on the part of the Israeli armed forces, including cases of rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing.

Morris was once considered a representative of the radical left; he was accused of being an "Israel hater" and was boycotted by the Israeli academic establishment. But his disillusionment with the peace process has caused him to turn increasingly more rightwing in recent years. In an interview with Haaretz in 2004, he denounced the atrocities committed against Palestinians but supported the policy of expelling them:

There is no justification for acts of rape [...] or acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Morris believes the atrocities were part of a concious strategy:

Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres."

According to Morris, the leader of the Yishuv (and later first prime minister of Israel) David Ben-Gurion was an ardent supporter of "population transfer" (the removal of Arabs):

He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist. [...] If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. [...] Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.

Morris takes Ben-Gurion to task for not doing the job more thoroughly:

I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered. If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. [...] my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country -- the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. If he had carried out a full expulsion -- rather than a partial one -- he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."

There is no question in his mind of the legitimacy of the Zionist project:

The desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice. It was impossible to leave a large fifth column in the country. [...] Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history. [1]

Table of contents
1 Bibliography
2 See also
3 External links


See also

External links