Resurrecting the Myth: Benny Morris, the zionist movement, and the ‘transfer’ idea

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The accusation that the Zionist movement had a pre-arranged plan to ‘transfer’ the Palestinian Arab population out of Palestine, and that this took place during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, has been a staple of Arab anti-Zionist propaganda for over half a century. In its most recent manifestation it has been an important argument of the group of Israeli historians–who labelled themselves ‘New Historians’–who have championed the Arab cause. This article examines the accusations made by leading ‘New Historian’ Benny Morris regarding Zionist ‘Transfer Policy’ in his recently-published expanded version of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947–1949. It systematically shows how Morris has distorted the public and private positions of a number of leading Zionist leaders on the issue of ‘Transfer’–from Theodor Herzl to Arthur Rupin and from Chaim Weizmann to David Ben-Gurion. It also places the issue of ‘Transfer’ in its correct historical context in order to underline that this concept, so central to the arguments of champions of the Arab cause, was never part of Zionist ideology or practical politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-490
Number of pages22
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


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