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'What Happened at Lydda'

10:01 AM, Jul 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Martin Kramer, writing for Mosaic:

Others have found Shavit’s account of Lydda “riveting” (Avi Shlaim), “a sickening tour de force” (Leon Wieseltier), and “brutally honest” (Thomas Friedman). As I read through it, however, the alleged actions and attitudes of Shavit’s Israeli protagonists struck me as implausible. To me they seemed to personify much too readily Shavit’s broader thesis: that “Zionism” had been preprogrammed to depopulate the country of its Arabs, and that this preprogramming filtered down even to the last soldier. In Lydda, soldiers licensed by “Zionism” then became wanton killers of innocents, smoothing the work of expulsion.

Perhaps my suspicion was stoked by the fact that, time and again over the decades, Israeli soldiers have stood accused of just such wanton killing when in fact they were doing what every soldier is trained to do: fire on an armed enemy, especially when that enemy is firing at him. That such accusations might even be accompanied by professions of “love” for Israel is likewise no novelty. (See under: Richard Goldstone.) When such charges are made today, they tend to be subjected to rigorous investigation. Could Shavit’s narrative withstand a comparable level of scrutiny?

Shavit relies largely on his interviews, conducted those many years ago. Since he doesn’t cite documents in a public archive, I have no way of knowing whether he fairly represents his subjects. But it did occur to me that these same protagonists may have told their stories to others. And, with a bit of research, I discovered that they had.

Whole thing here.

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