Benny Morris in Londonistan
Published in: Melanie's blog
The Israeli historian Professor Benny Morris is currently spending time in Britain doing research for a new book. Morris has earned the unusual distinction of becoming a target of ire from both sides of the political divide. Once excoriated as a ‘New Historian’ for allegedly distorting the early history of Israel, in recent years he has become a hate-figure for the left. This is because, since the 2000 intifada, he has come to believe that the single most important reason for the Middle East impasse is that there is no Palestinian ‘partner for peace’, and that instead the Palestinians show by every word and deed that they want to wipe Israel off the map.
He remains committed to a ‘two-state solution’; he still believes the Israeli ‘settlements’ are an obstacle to peace (although not the obstacle, which is Palestinian rejectionism); in no way can he be described a man of ‘the right’. Maybe it is for that reason that he sustains such vicious abuse from the left; nothing drives them more crazy than being confronted by an apostate upon whom they cannot pin the lazy label that automatically consigns him or her to exile beyond the pale.
Whatever; the fact remains that Morris displays considerable courage by bluntly and implacably telling the brutal truth as he sees it – that there is no real difference between Abbas and the Hamas, and that a Palestinian state that doesn’t accept Israel’s right to exist will be a staging post for the elimination of Israel. To those on the left – including Jews – this is a heresy that is simply impossible to acknowledge without provoking in themselves an existential political and moral meltdown. And the fact that one of their own is voicing it means that he must therefore be banished to the third circle of hell, aka ‘the right’.
Last year, the Israel Society at Cambridge University cravenly cancelled a proposed talk by Morris after a Facebook campaign whipped up complaints against him of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘racism.’
Last week, on his way to speak at the London School of Economics, Morris encountered even more graphically the reality of Londonistan (he has written about this himself here). Walking with his wife and London host down Kingsway towards the LSE, he was accosted by a group of young keffiyah-ed Muslims and others who, recognising him, started hurling abuse. Shouting and screaming in his face that he was a ‘fascist’, ‘murderer’ and other insults, they swarmed round him until he reached the LSE. The police were called, but when they arrived the thugs had melted away.
In the LSE itself, by all accounts, his lecture received an orderly reception even if some of the questioning was hostile. But when he finished, he was unceremoniously bundled away through the back of the building past the garbage cans, out of fears for his safety if he left the building in the normal manner.
Apparently, Morris has never encountered such a reception in Israel, home to millions of Arabs at the very heart of this dispute. No, he has to come to Britain to experience the pathological hatred and bigotry towards Israel that is now on open display in the streets of London, where a professor of history who commits the crime of telling the truth has to be bundled away through the trash cans for his own safety from the howling mob.