Benny Morris Takes Ilan Pappe to the Woodshed and Beyond

Benny Morris reviews Ilan Pappe, the radical and factually uninterested historian, in the latest New Republic: The Liar as Hero. All the kids are talking about it. It’s devastating.

At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two…

You may as well go on and check out the rest. This is what you call destroying the enemy in detail.

Yaacov Lozowick’s comments on this are worth reading in full, but here’s a taste:

…The third reason it’s so depressing is that it’s so rarefied. If he got the dates wrong, the chronology of the story can’t be true. If he spelled the name wrong, it proves he never saw the document, only read about it in a known tendentious rendering of it. By mistranslating, even ever so slightly, he creates an intention which never existed. If he cites oral evidence for a case that probably didn’t happen, while overlooking the documentary evidence that supports the skepticism, he maligns a group of soldiers and through them the entire IDF without indicating there isn’t much of a case against them. My point being that the art and profession of historical research aren’t mere mumbo jumbo and copious citing of arcane footnotes. Historical research is the professional attempt to peer backwards in time, to collate as much information as possible from as many varied sources as possible, and to evaluate the findings in a plausible way. Pappe doesn’t do that, on the contrary, by pretending he does he acquires the gravitas without having the substance; but the only way to refute him is to do the job correctly, and that takes time, and discipline, professionalism. And lots of patience, first from the researcher, then from the reader. It would be so easy, and acceptable in our age of tweets, to brush aside the objections as tiresome pedantry.

Defending the truth from intentional liars is hard work; even then, it will succeed only when people are willing to take the time to listen to the defense.

Bingo. Thus is described a huge problem.

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