Pappe, Ilan. THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE. 2007. Oneworld, Oxford UK.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe: A Book Review by Theresa Wolfwood“Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity, and people who perpetrate it today are considered criminals to be brought before special tribunals.”

Pappe is a distinguished and respected Israeli historian. His research and publications have made him the object of death threats; he left Israel to teach in the UK. In this book he carefully records the often refuted, little—known and suppressed history of one of the major crimes against humanity. Palestinians call it the Nakba, the disaster in which Zionists drove nearly a million people from their homes and lands in 1948.

The story of this crime has been obfuscated by Zionist and their supporters. They deny anyone the right to investigate or criticize their deeds. They claim only they and their supporters, mainly the USA government, can solve the increasing injustice and impose a settlement.
Pappe is very clear: he is a historian who accepts the responsibility of his knowledge. As a previous historian once said; Knowing is not Enough: Work for Peace and Justice. Pappe explains his position:
“But the story of 1948, of course, is not complicated at all, and therefore this book is written as much for the newcomers to the field as it is aimed at those who already, for many years and many reasons, have been involved with the question of Palestine and how to bring us closer to a solution. It is the simple but horrific story of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, a crime against humanity that Israel has wanted to deny and cause the world to forget. Retrieving it from oblivion is incumbent upon us…but it is, as I see it, a moral decision, the very first step we must take if we ever want reconciliation to have a chance, and peace to take root, in the torn lands of Palestine and Israel.”

To read this book and not act is in itself a crime of apathy and cruelty. Palestine is the location of one of the last major struggles against colonialism of our time. When the 60th anniversary of the Nakba was marked in Canada as well as across the world, the mainstream finally began to notice what peace activists and independent media have been saying for years; injustice was done to Palestinians and it continues to be done. I was amazed to read in Canada´s major newspaper, the Globe & Mail, an excellent interview of a film maker who is planning to tell the events of the Nakba thorough the story of his grand mother.

Some Arabs have Israeli citizenship, others live in refugee camps in other countries or have emigrated abroad, but many still suffer life in a brutally occupied and shrunken Palestine (now 15% of its historical size) Pappe warns that unless a just solution is reached and the colonization ends, “…many Palestinians who are not under occupation,… and this includes those in refugee camps” are not free “from the potential danger of future ethnic cleansing”.

Pappe records the ugly details of home destruction, massacres, disempowerment, brutality and rape by the colonizing Israelis. He praises the work of the many groups, which include Palestinians and committed Jews who try to support Palestinians today — the internal and external refugees, those who still daily face the loss of homes and lands — while they try to convince others of the injustice of the past and present and the need for political wisdom. He says that, “But before these committed few will make a difference, the land of Palestine and its people, Jews and Arabs, will have to face the consequences of the 1948 ethnic cleansing”.

This book is an immediate message and urgent appeal to the whole world.

Filed under Book Reviews, Ilan Pappe