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Monday, August 09, 1999 4:49

ZOA criticizes US Holocaust Museum for promoting book accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing"

(IsraelWire-8/9) The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is praising and promoting a new book that contains eight anti-Israel essays, including one that falsely accuses Israel of engaging in "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinian Arabs states the Zionist Organization of America.

The book, Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know," is edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff and has just been published by W.W. Norton. The US Holocaust Museum held a public symposium about the book on July 20. The Museum's press release about the symposium praised the book as "a timely A-to-Z guide for journalists and the general public".

In a letter to Museum chairman Miles Lerman and executive director Sara Bloomfield, Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America, urged them to dissociate the Museum from the book, and make clear that the Museum not only does not endorse the book, but publicly condemns it for spreading anti-Israel propaganda.

Klein wrote: "As a child of Holocaust survivors, I am deeply pained that a Museum dedicated to the memory of the Jews murdered by the Nazis is praising and promoting a book that falsely accuses Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and other barbaric war crimes. The Museum's stamp of approval on the book follows the Museum's invitation to Yassir Arafat-whose official media denies the Holocaust occurred-- and the Museum's attempt to hire as its research director John Roth, who compared Israel to the Nazis and the Palestinian Arabs to Holocaust victims. The US Holocaust Museum was established to never forget the unspeakable crimes against Jews, not to serve the political agenda of those who defame the very country that has been a salvation and refuge for the Jews."

Among the articles in the book are:

"Case Study: Arab-Israeli War," by Benny Morris, who accuses Israel of carrying out "a variety of ethnic cleansing," "atrocities," and "massacres," during the 1948 war and in subsequent wars, and says that Israeli soldiers fighting Palestinian Arab terrorists during the Intifada were "acting like death squads."

One of Morris's examples of a Jewish "massacre" of Arabs is the battle of Dir Yassin, even though there is no evidence any massacre took place there. In fact, Arab eyewitnesses who spread the "atrocity" stories in 1948 admitted last year that their claims were deliberate fabrications. (Jerusalem Report, April 9, 1998)

Morris served a jail term in 1988 for refusing to serve with his army unit beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders.[Jerusalem Post, September 18, 1988] (Such refusals are opposed by virtually all Israelis, including even the far-left Meretz Party.)

Morris's books have been criticized by leading scholars in the field. Dr.. Shabtai Teveth of Tel Aviv University has written that Morris's books contain "distortions, omissions, tendentious readings, and outright falsifications" and Morris "ignores essential facts and background material necessary to a proper understanding of the historical scene" (Commentary, September 1989) Even Professor Robert O. Freedman, a Peace Now activist and president of Baltimore Hebrew University), has written that some of Morris's work "reflects an anti-Israeli left-of-center bias," and that Morris sometimes relies on sources that "have clear anti-Israeli biases." (American Historical Review, April 1993)

An article by Roger Cohen, Berlin bureau chief of the New York Times, on "Ethnic Cleansing" which includes Israel among the practitioners of ethnic cleansing on the grounds that it engages in "mass deportation" of "Palestinians from occupied territories." (In fact, Israel has only deported a small number of Palestinian Arabs, and only because of those Arabs' involvement in terrorism.)

"Civilians Illegal Targeting of," by Joel Greenberg of the New York Times, who claims that the late Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin's strikes against terrorist bases in Lebanon in July 1993 were war crimes. Greenberg served a jail term in 1983 for refusing to serve with his army unit in southern Lebanon [Moment, May 1984]

"Collective Punishment," by Daoud Kuttab, which describes the Nazis' collective punishment techniques, and then proceeds to describe Israeli anti-terrorist tactics, implying that the two are comparable. Kuttab even implies that Israel is worse than the Nazis, when he emphasizes that the Israeli presence in Judea-Samaria and Gaza "differs from almost anywhere else because it has continued for more than one generation."

The ZOA release adds that Kuttab is a Palestinian Arab extremist who in 1995 urged Arab-Americans to "try and help get Sirhan Sirhan [assassin of Robert F. Kennedy] released." On August 5, 1983, Kuttab wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post in which he justified the use of Arab violence against "Israeli occupation soldiers."

Essays accusing Israel of committing war crimes by being too tough in dealing with Intifada rioters ("Command Responsibility," by Nomi Bar-Yaakov); by deporting small numbers of Arab terrorists ("Deportation," by Roy Gutman); by holding terrorists in administrative detention ("Due Process," by Gideon Levy); by attacking terrorist sites situated in civilian areas in Lebanon ("Indiscriminate Attack," by Roy Gutman and Daoud Kuttab); and by implementing the court-ordered dismantling of terrorists' homes ("Property: Civilian, Destruction of," by Amira Hass).

An essay on "Child Soldiers" (by Anna Cataldi) that makes no reference to the PLO's widespread use of Palestinian Arab chilDr.en as participants in violent Intifada attacks on Israelis, and an essay on "Death Squads" (by Jean-Marie Simon) that makes no reference to the PLO death squads that murdered over 1,000 fellow-Arabs during the Intifada.

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