Middle East Maverick

Haim Watzman My profile of Sari Nusseibeh and his new book are up on the website of The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s a pleasure to see my byline in the paper again—I served as its Israel correspondent for many years. My replacement, friend, and neighborMatthew Kalman, does a fine job there now.

Finkelstein Contra Aljazeera

Haim Watzman Worth reading: Israel Finkelstein’s rebuttal to Aljazeera’s propaganda film Looting the Holy Land, which accuses Israel of a systematic policy of stealing artifacts from the West Bank. Finkelstein is the Tel Aviv University archaeologist whose “late chronology” theory claims that most of the finds once attributed to the era of Kings David and … Read more

Where the Extremes of Zionism and Anti-Zionism Meet

Haim Watzman

Many of the comments on my post First Sheikh Jarrah, Then Baka?, here and at The Forward, constitute textbook examples of how the mere mention of Israel acts like a gravitational lens that bends the rays emanating from extreme Zionism and anti-Zionism until they merge into a single image.

Let’s take, as an exhibit on the anti-Zionist side, Phillips Brooks. Brooks argues that the land on which the state of Israel was created belonged to the Palestinians. Therefore, it is stolen. Therefore, Israel is founded on a crime. Therefore there is no difference between the land Israel took in 1948 and in 1967; it’s all stolen and held illegitimately and the Jews should return whence they came.

Now, that might sound like a voice of conscience to the unthinking. But if you think it through, it’s based on a concept of originalism that makes no sense in the real world. In other words, for Brooks’ logic to work, there has to be some particular point in history in which the world’s territory was divided up fairly between different nations. Then bad nations started conquering peaceful ones to gain territory. Peace and justice can be regained if everyone goes back to where they came from.

But of course there was no such point in history.

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