Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Persistence of Dishonesty

The advertisement below sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? But read on. The ad is an astonishing piece of misrepresentation:


“Jan 27, 2006


"Author of 'FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL' to address myths of Mideast

“WASHINGTON – Joan Peters, author of the best-selling, critically acclaimed history of the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine, 'From Time Immemorial,' is confirmed as a presenter at News Expo 2007 – the Washington, D.C., conference like no other ever produced.
Peters joins WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein, columnist Ann Coulter, WND founder and Editor Joseph Farah and managing editor David Kupelian, author of the best-seller, 'The Marketing of Evil.'
Peters' book struck the world like an earthquake when it was first published in 1984 – shattering many of the myths and misconceptions involving the origins of the Mideast debate. Based on seven years of meticulous research and fearless reporting, Peters documented the complex history of the region and in so doing deftly and authoritatively contradicted common misperceptions about the role and strategy of each side of the struggle.”

No wonder it’s a “rare” appearance. Her book is a fraud.

I wrote about Joan Peters on VIEW FROM THE MOON on January 18, and some of what I’m publishing today is lifted from that earlier post. The point is that her book, “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine”, published in 1984, has been widely acknowledged for years to be inaccurate, even fraudulent.

Her book tries to justify Zionism (the takeover of Palestine by Jews from other countries) by proving the constant presence of Jews in Palestine, contrary to the truth. As one critic put it:

“The thesis of this book is that when the state of Israel came into existence Palestine was largely unpopulated, except for a few Jews who had been there for many centuries; just a desert really, made to bloom by the ingenuity and hard work of Jews who subsequently arrived. Consequently the Palestinians we find there today must have arrived recently, freeloaders, no doubt attracted by the modern state built by the efforts of said hard-working Jews. And consequently Israel has a right to send them back where they came from.

“In fact, the book is rubbish. It was exposed as a fraud by several critics, including Norman Finkelstein (whose exposé is included in Blaming the Victims, edited by Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens, also available via Amazon) and later Oxford University's Albert Hourani.”

A less forthright reviewer explained: “Much of Mrs. Peters's book argues that at the same time that Jewish immigration to Palestine was rising, Arab immigration to the parts of Palestine where Jews had settled also increased. Therefore, in her view, the Arab claim that an indigenous Arab population was displaced by Jewish immigrants must be false, since many Arabs only arrived with the Jews." Peters concludes, therefore, that many of the refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war were not native Palestinians. She has repeatedly been proven wrong.

Professor Norman Finkelstein (see “Links” on this blog) calls Ms. Peters’ book a “monumental hoax,” and “the most notorious source of historical bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English language . . . “

Not one critic now accepts her thesis as valid.

“The New York Review of Books”: “Everyone familiar with the writing of the extreme [Zionist\ nationalists of Zeev Jabotinsky's Revisionist party would immediately recognize the tired and discredited arguments in Mrs. Peters's book. I had mistakenly thought them long forgotten. It is a pity that they have been given new life."

Even a friendly reviewer, Daniel Pipes, wrote: “‘From Time Immemorial’ quotes carelessly, uses statistics sloppily, and ignores inconvenient facts. Much of the book is irrelevant to Miss Peters's central thesis. The author's linguistic and scholarly abilities are open to question.”

For a lengthy discussion of the criticisms of Joan Peters' book, see Paul Blair's six-part article published in 2002 beginning at http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2135.

Blair writes in his Conclusion:

“From Time Immemorial is work of propaganda, with all the bad connotations that term carries. Peters' case rests upon distortion and fabrication. Time and again, she misconstrues sources in a tendentious manner. She cribs uncritically from partisan works. She conceals crucial calculations, and draws hard conclusions from tenuous evidence. She speculates wildly and without ground. She exaggerates figures and selects numbers to suit her thesis. She adduces evidence that in no way supports her claims, sometimes even omitting "inconvenient" portions of the citation. She invents contradictions in sources she wishes to discredit by quoting them out of context. She "forgets" undesirable numbers in her calculations. She ignores sources that cast doubt on her conclusions, even when she herself uses those sources for other purposes. She makes baseless insinuations and misleading claims.”

Noam Chomsky wrote in his 2002 book, “Understanding Power”:

“From Time Immemorial ... was a big scholarly-looking book with lots of footnotes, which purported to show that the Palestinians were all recent immigrants ... And it was very popular — it got literally hundreds of rave reviews, and no negative reviews: the Washington Post, the New York Times, everybody was just raving about it. Here was this book which proved that there were really no Palestinians! Of course, the implicit message was, if Israel kicks them all out there's no moral issue, because they're just recent immigrants who came in because the Jews had built up the country. ... That was the big intellectual hit for that year: Saul Bellow, Barbara Tuchman, everybody was talking about it as the greatest thing since chocolate cake. Well, one graduate student at Princeton, a guy named Norman Finkelstein, started reading through the book. He was interested in the history of Zionism, and as he read the book he was kind of surprised by some of the things it said. He's a very careful student, and he started checking the references — and it turned out that the whole thing was a hoax, it was completely faked: probably it had been put together by some intelligence agency ... [The Mossad?]

“Every major journal, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review, the Observer, everybody had a review saying, this doesn't even reach the level of nonsense, of idiocy.”

How strange, then, that on January 22, 2007, Joan Peters’ discredited propaganda hoax should be trumpeted as “critically acclaimed” and “based on seven years of meticulous research”.

Joseph Farah, director of “News Expo 2007” and co-founder of the website which published the advertisement, WorldNetDaily, says:

“We're very excited about the appearance of Joan Peters. This presentation alone will make News Expo a spectacular, one-of-a-kind, can't-miss event.”


Nabila Harb said...

Well done, Fleming! I often forget that most of the general public remains in ignorance of these colossal frauds. People like Joan Peters need to be exposed again and again... and again...

N. said...

I think the argument of Palestinians being recent immigrants is so thin that the majority of zionists I hear are just content with the "Jealous Loser Arab" argument!

Something that I wish was more spoken about was the interplay between the Ottoman empire and the Europeans (mostly the British) in that region. Somehow I feel that piece of history is well tucked under the carpet and the Jews are made the subject of Arab hatred (and vice versa) for reasons beyond their own doings!!

Fleming said...

Nabila and N., thank you very much for the comments.

Nabila, I wish I had such a wide readership that this post would bury the Peters book for good.

N., I have only a general knowledge of the history you mentioned, but I would like to know a lot more. If you've written about it elsewhere, or intend to write about it, please tell me. I know that the English were treacherous ("as usual" I want to say), and I know that there was considerable interplay between Arab nationalists and the German National Socialist government.

N. said...

Hi Fleming, no I haven't written about it, but the history I was thinking about goes farther than the age of National socialism in Germany.

Here's a primer.

Fleming said...

N., thank you. I've read the Primer you cited and it has filled in some missing parts of the picture for me and refreshed my memory about others. One thing I had not realized was the extent of the responsibility of the British for expediting Zionist movement into Palestine before the Second World War. I see that the English have a lot of responsbility for creating the situation which led the UN to recommend a Jewish state in Palestine. It's interesting, isn't it, that the Zionists always cite the UN as the source of the "legitimacy" of Israel but ignore all the rest of the UN partition plan. Typical.

Smitty Broham said...

Hello Fleming,

It was good for your point to include criticism from someone people would generally expect to be sympathetic toward a book such as Peters'.

However, it was bad for your point to cut the citation off as to miss the meat of what they were saying. In the case of your quote of Daniel Pipes' review of From Time Immemorial, you include:

"I would not dispute the existence of those faults. From Time Immemorial quotes carelessly, uses statistics sloppily, and ignores inconvenient facts. Much of the book is irrelevant to Miss Peters's central thesis. The author's linguistic and scholarly abilities are open to question."

You could have even included the following sentence that continues Pipes' criticism,

"Excessive use of quotation marks, eccentric footnotes, and a polemical, somewhat hysterical undertone mar the book. In short, From Time Immemorial stands out as an appallingly crafted book."

But to be taken seriously or seen as objective in any sense of the word, you would have had to include where Pipes' says this which is just one paragraph below where you stopped your citation,

"Granting all this, the fact remains that the 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."

I noticed your post here that collects the conclusions of people who have reviewed the book also fails to actually provide the refuting data. Don't get me wrong, when you've cited enough opinion that all concludes a book is a sham, it is convincing, but what would be more convincing is to actually post the information that illustrates this conclusion rather than just repeats it.

For those interested in something other than carefully edited citations, here is the link to Pipes' full review: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1110

-Smitty Broham