ILAN PAPPE, a senior lecturer in the political science department of Haifa University, has suffered vilification by Zionists who object to his revisionist interpretation of Israel's history. Pappe's academic dean campaigned for his dismissal but his efforts were thwarted by a worldwide protest. Pat McDonnell Twair interviewed the maverick professor when he visited Los Angeles shortly after the release of his new book, A History of the Modern Middle East.
TME: You have expressed the opinion that this is the most depressing stage in Israeli-Palestinian relations. What do you base this on?
Ilan Pappe (IP): Previously there was always some hope, but now we are at a juncture where the Israeli consensus argues there is no problem while the Palestinians counter that there is no peace process.
In 2005, the Israeli evil in the Occupied Territories reached new levels starting with the so-called Separation Wall that has dislocated 200,000 Palestinians and disconnected them from the most fertile land and water resources of the West Bank. This fall, the Palestinians were unable to harvest their crops.
Every year appears to be the same, but each year is worse and introduces a new feature of Israeli oppression. In 2004, it was the game of the Road Map. This year produced the charade of the Gaza pullout, armoured cars that spray stones at non-violent demonstrators and Israelis dressed as Arabs who throw stones at Israelis so mounted police can trample the Palestinians. Who knows what new methods will be harboured in 2006?
TME: YOU speak as if there is no solution.
IP: I find it amazing that the majority of Palestinians do not seek revenge or retribution. They sketch a vision of the future without revenge, but I'm not sure it will always be so if there are more Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians.
We must proceed by principles of reconciliation. After 38 years of trying to stop the occupation with diplomatic efforts from above, we must abandon the paradigm of two equal regional actors. Israel has 80% of the land, Israel is a sovereign state. The Palestinians are offered autonomous enclaves--Bantustans or prison camps. The premise of solving the problem only from the Israeli point of view has failed.
A consensus of Israelis believes Palestinians didn't listen to them so now it's time to punish them. Two main points of this consensus are that Israel no longer has to withdraw from what it offered in the summer of 2000 and that it doesn't need to...