Drowning in ‘Narratives’ at UCL

ucl 1 oct 19

ucl 2 oct 19

I went to this meeting last night. Hollis’ book is about the responses to the ten questions she posed to her ‘Olive Tree’ Israeli and Palestinian students at City University, together with responses from Israelis and Palestinians who had not been on the Olive Tree programme. Her conclusions seem bleedin’ obvious:  National ‘narratives’ can drive conflict and those on one side are sometimes reluctant to listen to the narrative of the other side. And she had observed two parallel narratives (no shit Sherlock).  However it got both more interesting and more fictional: She mentioned that when her Israeli students go home, their opinions are suppressed ‘by the authorities‘ …. ‘you do not question the accepted narrative or you get called a ‘self-hating Jew‘.  No evidence was provided for this rubbish and those of us familiar with the incredible diversity of views expressed in Israel will regard Hollis’ claim with enormous scepticism. Hollis also talked about a ‘blockade’ of Gaza. She clearly knows nothing. There is no ‘blockade’: truckloads of goods arrive every day, only goods which might be used for making weapons cannot go in.

Anziska cited a report in Ha’aretz earlier this year, entitled Migration Report 1948. Ha’aretz reported that the Defence Ministry kept back some archives relating to conduct toward Palestine’s Arabs, particularly during the 1948 war. Anziska suggested that the report contained revelations about atrocities committed by Israel: “3 to 400,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.”  No it does not say that! As Benny Morris says – most of the ‘revelations’ were nothing of the sort – they were already known.

I asked a question about ‘narratives’: What had happened to facts? Anziska’s response was weak: facts are not facts because more source documents might become public and might change the facts.

As I had expected, the meeting at UCL simply confirmed the parlous state of Middle East Studies at British Universities.

Postscripts

Dennis Ross’ interesting review of Anziska’s book

Sitting in front of me was the Israeli Professor who tells students that Hamas Supports Two States ………………