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    I agree that the term "narrative" is widely used to discuss the Palestinian issue but not that it doesn't get used elsewhere. I would have said it is intrinsically linked with any discussion of identity politics. "Herstory" for example.

    The BBC seemed to go through a phase of using the term several years ago and then it stopped. Nevertheless as a method it is still used as a filter to ensure that stories that tend to reinforce the supported narrative get reported, whereas others get ignored.


    I do think that the concept of "narrative" is a useful one. History is a complicated mess of facts and perspectives. Even as events happen, they're experienced differently by the actors involved. Scholars, journalists, and policymakers should try rigorously to understand the motivations and views of all sides.

    That said, I nevertheless agree with your contention, Judy, that the concept of "narrative" can be abused. It's helpful when it sensitizes us to our own preconceptions or wishful thinking, and challenges us to work harder to understand points of view adversarial to our own. But it can be unhelpful when:

    - It becomes a device for political manipulation, used to accuse those who don't accept every detail of the Palestinian viewpoint. After all, if all narratives are equally valid, then why is the "Israel narrative" often denied equal validity? It's one thing to say that we do not truly understand the ways in which the Palestinians have experienced the history of Israel/Palestine for the last 57 years. It's another to repeat that contention, not just to achieve fuller understanding and sympathy, but to get unquestioning support for Palestinian political objectives.

    - Instead of encouraging us to take a more honest look at the other side's experience, it creates the opposite effect. The notion of narratives (and of relativism) can generate lazy, partisan scholarship among historians and political scientists. Since there is no objectivity, why even bother keeping up the pretense?

    Ami Isseroff

    You never hear about a Nazi or a Carthaginian narrative (or an American Indian aka Native American one) because the victors won the war. Often many many years later you hear about the other narrative.

    Yes there are fake quotes at Miftah. Yes there are blood libels about Zionists killing children to steal their organs.

    And it is important to remind anti-ZIonists that Arabs were massacring Jews in Palestine before any Arabs were massacred by Zionists as, in Hebron for example.

    It is incorrect to present two narratives uncriticallly, especially to children as I point here -

    However, you can't say that our side's version is absolutely true, and that there is no truth at all in Arab Palestinian claims:

    - There really were Arabs here way back when. My grandparents remembered them, and they parents remembered them. Joan Peters is wrong.

    - Some Zionists did some really bad things. That doesn't invalidate Zionism, but we have to admit that it is true.

    - Nobody ever can capture the whole truth in an unbiased way. We learn all the time. The little history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I wrote ( with the help and corrections of our readers tries to provide both balance and accuracy. However, people are constantly pointing out errors or omissions that favor one side or another incorrectly. Fanatics of either side insist it is biased in the other direction, so I guess we did something right there.


    Joan Peters never argued that there were no Arabs in Palestine, and neither has her main argument been proven wrong by anyone. Daniel Pipes, while acknowledging the many flaws in her work, says this:

    "[T]he book presents a thesis that neither Professor Porath nor any other reviewer has so far succeeded in refuting. Miss Peters's central thesis is that a substantial immigration of Arabs to Palestine took place during the first half of the twentieth century. She supports this argument with an array of demographic statistics and contemporary accounts, the bulk of which have not been questioned by any reviewer, including Professor Porath." Link:


    It was my comment at HP which is quoted in the post above.(I have always commented as ami, not to be confused with ami isserof) I have read ami isserof's first link above, and it is a very valid and laudable statement of the dangers of incorporating myths into narratives. I then skimmed the material about Deir Yassin -no time right now to read it all, and stopped at the section headed Deir Yassin revisited, where isserof says new Deir Yssins are being created on both sides, including a 12 year old boy "killed apparently by Israelis". This is the example of Muhamed Al Durah I give in my quoted comment, and by labelling something which even in 2001 when he wrote that comment was only apparent, as a new Deir Yassin, Isserof is doing just that- contributing to a new mythical narrative.

    Alex Bensky

    Gee, there are narratives and narratives. There's my narrative that the Holocaust happened and yours that it didn't. Who's to say which is correct?

    This line of thinking offers possibilities: there's my narrative that Lucy Lawless is madly in love with me and her narrative that she doesn't know who the hell I am. Again, who can say which is correct?


    "There's my narrative that the Holocaust happened and yours that it didn't. Who's to say which is correct?"

    The truth lies somewhere between-- with the Revisionists, 99% of whom are not 'deniers' (daft Zionist slur) at all and who disagree widely among themselves.

    Since the official Holocaust story no longer shields Israel from the world's criticism, and since most survivors of the Second World War are dying off, my hunch is that large elements of the 'mainstream' version of the Shoah will be modified pretty drastically in the next 20 years. Especially the parts that originated in the fertile imaginations of Red Army propagandists.

    For instance, we still hear that 6m Jews died by Nazi enemy action. Yet the foremost 'respectable' chronicler of those times, Raul Hilberg, makes it 5.1m and is not vilified in consequence. The gulf between the orthodox and the heterodox is not as absolute as the Devorah Lipstadts of this world make out.


    University history department professors are becoming the authors and dispensors of this Palestinian naarative. With all the peoples around the world, it is becoming the Palestinian "peoples" naarative that is being shoved to the forefront. Analysis of the Middle East does not focus on the problems and histories and conflicts within tribes and states, such as Sunnis, Kurds, Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather the "Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" is analyzed and inflated to cover the impact Arab laws, governments, monarchies and tribal conflicts have on Middle East events. This is echoed in the media, where a typical day in the Sudan or Congo and the daily slaughters by Muslims and Human rights violations oparticularly against women, is completely ignored, while Palestinian "news" is reported daily, often on the front page. Even a slaughter of a whole village by Muslims in Sudan does not make it to the pages of the New York Times.

    I believe that "Palestinianism" is a movement, that like communism, and fascism, must be battled and exposed wherever it takes hold. Indeed, Palestinianism is a tool used to allow fascism and Islamism to spread unhindered.

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