Benny Morris: History as Platform for Racism

On Tuesday 14th June 2011 human rights activists came together to oppose the visit of Israeli historian Benny Morris to the London School of Economics.

The visit was organised by the Anglo Israel Association, whose honorary president is the Israeli Ambassador. The Anglo Israel Association boast that their most fruitful work is as propagandists for Israel bringing ‘opinion formers’ to the UK on speaking tours in partnership with British think-tanks and universities to push the Israeli perspective.

Benny Morris is well known for his racist views of Arabs and Muslims, his support and whitewashing of ethnic cleansing and his justification of genocide.

Justifying Genocide

US soldiers pose over a mass grave with some 300 bodies of innocent Native American Lakota Sioux, two-thirds women and children, massacred at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation in 1891.

One of the few survivors of the massacre was a baby girl, found 4 days after the massacre, lying beneath her mothers dead frozen body, her mother having protected her in death as she had in life. The baby girl having survived the massacre and blizzard with temperatures 40 below zero, was then abducted by US Brigadier General Colby as a trophy of the massacre, in his own words “a most interesting Indian relic”.

Every single state in the United States had in place a scalp bounty law that would stipulate the fee the state would pay for the murder of an Indian, any Indian — it didn’t matter, it was a clear policy of genocide. The payment scale was graduated with the murder of an adult male Indian achieving the highest reward, but even murdering a baby Indian would secure a good reward.

Between Columbus’s arrival in 1492 and the massacre at wounded knee in 1891, 98% of the Indigenous population had been wiped out and 97.5% of their land had been stolen.

In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haartez in 2004, Benny Morris justifies this crime against humanity saying that “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.”

Whitewashing Ethnic Cleansing

Unlike some Zionists, Benny Morris doesn’t deny Israel’s crimes of ethnic cleansing, rape, and murder of Palestinian people in 1948 to facilitate the founding of the Jewish state, rather he justifies the countless massacres, rape and the forced expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, the destruction of over 500 Palestinian towns and villages, resulting today in more than 7 million Palestinian refugees.

He justifies it as a means to an end, he says, “Under some circumstances 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. You have to dirty your hands.”1

On 9th April 1948 soldiers of the Irgun, a Zionist terror group, commanded by Menachem Begin, entered the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. They slaughtered 250-300 men, women and children in cold blood. Their bodies were purposely mutilated to terrorise other Palestinians into fleeing their homes before they suffered similar massacres.
The Irgun, having proved itself, became part of the Israeli army. And its leader Menachem Begin went on to become the Prime Minister of Israel.

“peanuts” — Benny Morris’s description of massacres like Deir Yassin

Benny Morris describes such massacres as “peanuts” and “chicken feed” insisting that when compared to other massacres in history “we behaved very well.”

In fact he says Ben Gurion didn’t go far enough:

I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948… he got cold feet… 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.

To this day the relentless quest to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the land between the River Jordan and the Sea is still going on. Only now it is less ‘noticeable’ to the outside world, with coded terms such as ‘transfer’ and creating of ‘security zones’ being used to mean ethnic cleansing.

But this isn’t enough for Benny Morris, he proposes that in the future Arab citizens of Israel will also need to be ethnically cleansed because they have more children than Jewish citizens and their numbers will become an existential threat to the Jewish state. He says,

acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential. The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb… emissary of the enemy that is amongst us… a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then.

Racism

Benny Morris compares the Palestinians to wild animals that need to be caged, he says, “Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.”

In February 2010 the Cambridge University Israel Society cancelled Benny Morris’s scheduled talk and issued a statement saying that they “apologise for any unintended offence.. We want to clarify that the intention of the Israel Society was never to give racism a platform”

The LSE’s Shame

But it seems unlike Cambridge, the London School of Economics, shamefully are happy to invite and give centre stage to a racist. And what’s more the LSE awarded those attending the talk with credits that count towards the CDP Continuing Professional Development Certification which is a requirement of Government, professional and trade institutions. Apparently they see attendance of Benny Morris’s talk as a way of fulfilling your professional requirements of updating your skills and knowledge.

The security arrangements were unprecedented for what was after all a public lecture by a historian promoting his book. Attendees had to pre-register days in advance of the event, providing personal details including their address and then if they qualified for a ticket, on the day they had to bring a photo id like a passport or driving licence before they would be allowed in. The actual venue for the event was kept secret until 24 hours beforehand. Bags were strictly banned, and handbags and coats were searched before entry.

Activists had made the decision before hand that they would allow Benny Morris to speak uninterrupted. There was a silent protest inside the hall with people walking out with stickers over their mouths reading “Morris is a racist”.
Many people who were not part of any protest also just walked out, they had had enough of Morris’s opinions presented as history.

Security paranoia continued to the end of the talk when the audience were kept kettled inside the hall whilst Benny Morris was escorted out of the hall and out of the LSE.

In Benny Morris’s own words: “I was ushered by the security team down an elevator and through a narrow basement passage full of kitchen stores and out a side entrance.”

These ridiculous security arrangements can only be interpreted as indicative of the unpopularity of LSE’s decision to bend to Zionist pressure and promote hate speech on campus.

It seems Benny Morris has a neurosis when it comes to Muslims, he has said for Muslims “human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West” and sees Muslims living in the West as “creating a dangerous internal threat.”

His racism and islamophobia distorts his perception of everyday reality. He sees ‘Muslims under the bed’ everywhere. For example he describes his encounter outside the LSE as a “mob of some dozen Muslims, Arabs and their supporters.. surrounded me.. raucously harangued and bated me… Several spoke in broken, obviously newly acquired, English. Violence was thick in the air… Passersby looked on in astonishment, and perhaps shame, but it seemed the sight of angry bearded, caftaned Muslims was sufficient to deter any intervention. To me, it felt like Brownshirts in a street scene in 1920s Berlin… Uncurbed, Muslim intimidation in the public domain of people they see as disagreeing with them is palpable and palpably affecting the British Christian majority among whom they live, indeed, cowing them into silence. One senses real fear…”

As the video evidence shows, this is a total figment of his imagination, unfortunately such fabrications are not restricted to his personal encounters and cloud his whole work as a historian.

Is that really what happened?

A week after the encounter with human rights activists outside the LSE Benny Morris wrote an article for The National Interest (20 June 2011) in which he described what happened in the following words:

“mob of some dozen Muslims, Arabs and their supporters.. surrounded me..”

What mob? Do you see a dozen Muslims? Do you see any dozen people?
“raucously harangued and bated me..”

Watch the video, they were talking to you. At one stage you even asked them a question “Have you read my books?” to which they replied “Yes, we have…”

the two women on the left are part of Benny Morris’s entourage, the two men on the right are human rights activists

“Several spoke in broken, obviously newly acquired, English.”

Broken English? Not that it matters, but watch the video you will hear the activists spoke in clear English.

“Violence was thick in the air..

Ridiculous, it would be funny if it were not for the fact that the purpose of such inflammatory statements is to incite islamophobia. The activists can clearly be heard saying “this is what free speech is about; we are going to let you have your platform and you’ll be able to talk without being interrupted but right now it would be nice to have a couple of answers…” — hardly the words of someone contemplating violence.

“Passersby looked on in astonishment, and perhaps shame, but it seemed the sight of angry bearded, caftaned Muslims was sufficient to deter any intervention. To me, it felt like Brownshirts in a street scene in 1920s Berlin..”

Passersby took our leaflets explaining who you were, and yes they were astonished, astonished that a professor could get away with saying such racist things. What ‘angry, caftaned Muslims’? Do you see any, or is that also a figment of your imagination, a part of your racism?

“Uncurbed, Muslim intimidation in the public domain of people they see as disagreeing with them is palpable and palpably affecting the British Christian majority among whom they live, indeed, cowing them into silence. One senses real fear…”

Yes you are afraid, your fear is that the British public have woken up to Israels crimes and are no longer prepared to give Israel a free pass on account of the Holocaust. You fear that the activists were mainly not Muslims but were of all faiths and none, all united against your racism and against Israels racism.

Watch the video [below] or see the stills above and decide for yourself if there is a shred of truth in Benny Morris’s account of what happened.

In the ‘best’ Zionist tradition, others like Melanie Phillips have continued, where Morris stopped, in adding their own embellishments to the story in their own reporting of the encounter which they never witnessed. Melanie Phillips writes for the Daily Mail newspaper and is a regular panelist on BBC’s Question Time (BBC One) and The Moral Maze (BBC Radio 4), her shoddy journalism is clearly a reflection on the publications and on the programmes that pay her to spout her lies.

Its strange that Benny Morris should mention the Brownshirts of 1920s Berlin, and yet at the same time be oblivious to the parallels between his justification of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians to make way for his ‘Jewish state,’ his racially pure Jewish State and the Nazis justification of cleansing Germany of the Jews in order to make way for their racially pure Aryan state.

  1. Haaretz Magazine, January 8, 2004. []

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