Benny Morris is a rather famous Israeli historian who has made his name by writing revisionist history of Israel’s fight for independence. This interview posted on Brad DeLong’s weblog (copied from Ha’aretz) blows me away. Mainly, I’m shocked to find someone who fully embraces the facts of the situation (the war crimes committed by Israel) and yet still comes down on the side of committing some of those war crimes — specifically mass population transfers and ethnic cleansing. His point is that if the Israaelis were going to ethnically cleanse some Arabs in 1948, they might as well have ethnically cleansed them all. That certainly strikes me as morally bankrupt, but hypothetically, I do wonder how having done so would make Israel and the Middle East different today.

Reading the larger interview, I think that Morris has developed some bigoted and false views about Arabs and Arab society. Certainly there are Arabs who fit the description that Morris provides, but there are also plenty who do not. I also think that his views of Arab immigration to Western countries are far off base. What is perhaps most interesting is the effect that ongoing terrorism has had on Morris himself. I have no reason to believe that these views were not honestly arrived at as a reaction to being surrounded by several years of intense, random, meaningless violence aimed at an end that can never be achieved.