The Pessimism of Benny Morris

My review of his new book in the Sunday Times Book Review is here. The man is dark. Sometimes he's appropriately dark, and not at all wrong about the Palestinian (and Muslim) unwillingness to see Jews as people with a right to their historic homeland, but sometimes I think he's giving up too soon:

Morris ignores the possibility that recent Israeli mistakes have marginalized the lives of Palestinians who might in fact have been ready for compromise. Take the Palestinian reaction to the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005. The Morris camp would cite the rocket fire that followed the withdrawal as further proof of unyielding Arab rejectionism. But the empowerment of Hamas was inevitable, given the foolish way Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, engineered the withdrawal. He could have negotiated the pullout with the more moderate Palestinian Authority government, which would have then been able to prove to its constituents that it could extract concessions from Israel. But Sharon handled the pullout unilaterally, which allowed Hamas to claim -- not wrongly -- that it pushed out the Israelis by force, while the Palestinian Authority stood by impotently.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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