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Benny Morris' The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem was published in 1988. Its startling revelations about how and why 700,000 Palestinians left their homes and became refugees during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948 undermined traditional interpretations as to whether they left voluntarily or were expelled as part of a systematic plan. This 2004 book represents a revised edition of the earlier work, compiled on the basis of newly-opened Israeli military archives. While the focus remains the 1948 war and the analysis of the Palestinian exodus, the new material contains more information about what happened in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa, and how events there led to the collapse of Palestinian urban society. It also sheds light on the battles and atrocities that resulted in the disintegration of rural communities. The story is a harrowing one. The refugees now number four million and their existence remains a major obstacle to peace.
Benny Morris is the founding father of the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who have challenged long-established perceptions about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their research rigorously documented crimes and atrocities committed by the Israeli armed forces, including rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing. With Making Israel, Morris brings together the first collection of translated articles on the New History by leading Zionist and revisionist Israeli historians, providing Americans with a firsthand view of this important debate and enabling a better understanding of how the New Historians have influenced Israelis' awareness of their own past.
"What is so striking about Morris's work as a historian is that it does not flatter anyone's prejudices, least of all his own," David Remnick remarked in a New Yorker article that coincided with the publication of Benny Morris's 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. With the same commitment to objectivity that has consistently characterized his approach, Morris now turns his attention to the present-day legacy of the events of 1948 and the concrete options for the future of Palestine and Israel. The book scrutinizes the history of the goals of the Palestinian national movement and the Zionist movement, then considers the various one- and two-state proposals made by different streams within the two movements. It also looks at the willingness or unwillingness of each movement to find an accommodation based on compromise. Morris assesses the viability and practicality of proposed solutions in the light of complicated and acrimonious realities. Throughout his groundbreaking career, Morris has reshaped understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Here, once again, he arrives at a new way of thinking about the discord, injecting a ray of hope in a region where it is most sorely needed.
Righteous Victims, by the noted historian Benny Morris, is a comprehensive and objective history of the long battle between Arabs and Jews for possession of a land they both call home. It appears at a most timely juncture, as the bloody and protracted struggle seems at last to be headed for resolution.With great clarity of vision, Professor Morris finds the roots of this conflict in the deep religious, ethnic, and political differences between the Zionist immigrants and the native Arab population of Palestine. He describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers, which was eventually fiercely resisted by the Arabs during the decades of British Mandatory government following World War I. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 - 48 gave the Jews a homeland in the wake of the Holocaust, but the ensuing flight of the Palestinian Arabs shattered their society and led to the birth of a festering refugee problem. Morris describes these epic events and the Arab onslaught that followed, as he does each of the subsequent wars (in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 - 85); the Intifada of 1987 - 91, when the Palestinian populace of the West Bank and Gaza Strip rebelled against Israeli rule; and the rise of fundamentalist religious movements on both sides of the barricades. Tracing the successes and failures of politicians, generals, and diplomats in both camps, he regards their actions and plight with accuracy and empathy, drawing on archival materials, memoirs, and secondary works to give a vivid account of each major military encounter--and of the vicissitudes of peace efforts from the post-1948 negotiations through the Camp David (1977 - 79), Oslo (1993 - 95), and Wye River Plantation (1998) accords. Mr. Morris offers sharply etched portraits and illuminating anecdotes about the charismatic leaders who have been the chief protagonists of this contentious history, including Theodor Herzl, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, David Ben-Gurion, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin, to name only a few. Righteous Victims ends with Mr. Morris's analysis of the current state of play, when the election of Ehud Barak as prime minister (May 1999) has opened the door to a renewal of negotiations between Israel and its Palestinian and Syrian neighbors. As the denizens of the Middle East set out to write the next chapter in this long and difficult struggle, Righteous Victims is essential reading: a monumental work of narration and explication for all who seek to understand the history of the conflict and the prospects for peace.From the Hardcover edition.
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