The establishment-left Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz published this interview with the Israeli historian Benny Morris, who is widely known for his revisionist critiques of Zionism and Israel’s founders.
The interview is remarkable, especially the second page, where Morris discusses the nature of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Morris’s profound new pessimism regarding the possibility of Israel’s reaching a peaceful accommodation is astonishing. Indeed, not only is he pessimistic, his current position sounds almost like last year’s leftist caricature of the Israeli Right’s position.
I forwarded the interview to a relative of mine who is sympathetic to the Israeli Left. She was shocked. In U.S. terms, it’s as if Anthony Lewis had come out in 1970 in favor of nuking North Vietnam.
I don’t know much about Morris, and this is pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if his new hard attitude foretells changes in the Israeli Left paralleling those that occurred in the American Left after 9/11. In our case there has been a broad split, with many serious liberals (in the current U.S. sense of the term) aligning themselves with the Bush administration on defense issues. It will be interesting to see if Morris’s apparent shift is idiosyncratic or the harbinger of a similar ideological move in the Israeli Left. My sense is that in Israel, as in the U.S., big things are happening, and that much of what’s going on is beneath the surface — or that we are too close to events to see what will be obvious to future historians.
As I wrote, remarkable.