In light of such facts, it is little short of amazing for the
Economist to state that in the 1930s, when Rafael Eitan was
a boy, the “only vestiges” of the Jewish homeland
were “pockets like Tel Adashim”.
The Economist obituary for Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat died on November 11th 2004. The Economist’s
obituary was published in its 13th November edition (and contains,
it has to be said, a sequence of highly contentious observations
about Arafat’s life).
Leaving those aside, The Economist opens by recalling how Yasser
Arafat formed Fatah in 1953, because he was “disenchanted
with the Arab world’s inability to do anything about Israel’s
1948 conquests” [our emphasis]. It then charts his leadership
spanning over 40 years.
Our comment: We focus on that single, telling
phrase “Israel’s 1948 conquests”.
This is a curious way to describe the 1948 war of independence.
Israel did not “conquer” Palestine in 1948. Israel’s
creation was endorsed by the international community in the
UN partition plan of 1947. Its military actions in the ensuing
months were a reaction to Arab rejection of partition, and the
military invasion of the new state of Israel which took place
in May 1948. With its use of the phrase “Israel’s
1948 conquests”, the Economist perpetuates the myth that
the Jews “conquered” Palestine, and glosses over
key facts surrounding the establishment of the Jewish national
Conclusion: Many commentators, politicians
and Palestinian advocates depict Israel as being a foreign colonial
implant which was imposed by Western powers on the indigenous
Palestinian population. The Economist’s obituary writers
have regrettably reinforced this historical myth. The magazine’s
misleading account of aspects of Israeli history, and its apparent
disregard for key facts, reveal how far such methods, which
were once the domain of extreme anti-Israel ideologues, have
become part of mainstream discourse.
Needless to say, misleading historical narratives about Israel’s
creation fuel the Palestinians’ sense of historic grievance
and do not advance coexistence, reconciliation or mutual understanding
among Israelis and Palestinians.