The Pessimism of Benny Morris

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2009/05/the-pessimism-of-benny-morris/18175/