Question: Your parents, they escaped Nazi Germany, yes?
Pappe: That is right
Question: in an interview with the Guardian, you said:
“had it not been for the Zionist movement, my parents and many
like them would not have escaped.”
Pappe: That is true, that is a correct quote.
Question: You are alive today because of Zionism?
Pappe: Absolutely! Absolutely!
Question: Do you feel guilty because you are alive because of it?
Pappe: Coming to Palestine did not have to end in the dispossession of the local people. There was a possibility to come to Palestine and live next to the Palestinians or alongside the Palestinians instead of the Palestinians. My view on this by the way is a famous letter by Mahatma Gandhi to the famous philosopher Martin Buber, when Martin Buber wanted Gandhi to support the Zionist idea in the 1930’s, Gandhi said to him there is nothing wrong of the Jews looking refugee in Palestine, there is something very wrong when they think that the only way to establish that refuge is by kicking out the Palestinians. And I think that this is what I mean that I am thankful to those who saved my parents, but I condemn them for later on expelling the Palestinians. Because my parents were victims of genocidal policies by the Nazis, I do not want to be part of a new genocide. And I do not want someone in my name destroy and expel another people, one reason I am doing what I am doing. My parents were received with open hands by the Palestinians, most of the Jewish settlers …something we have to remember most of the Jewish settler when they came were received by the Palestinians as everyone in the Arab world receives guests, we know about the Arab hospitality. Once I come as a guest to your house, and I claim that this house is mine and eventually I kick you out of your house, I have violated your hospitality, and this is something I cannot accept.
Question: do you agree that your parents came to Israel to escape the Nazi holocaust, the Nazi genocide
Pappe: Yes, I do agree.
Question: and you agree that the people who came to Israel subsequently did so to ensure that that type of event would never happen again to a person of Jewish background.
Pappe: Not entirely. I will explain why. I think the Jews who escaped Germany, and Europe during the time leading to the Nazi holocaust, that is in the 1930’s were indeed refugees looking for a safe haven. The Jews who came between 1882 and the 1930’s and laid the foundation for the Jewish state – and by the way were the people who …. the ethnic cleansing of 1948 came as colonizers, they came for the same reason the Europeans came to Africa, or Asia or Latin America. They came to colonize, they were part of the colonial enterprise, which as you know, even in the case of the Americans, America is a good example, the people who genocided the native Americans were mostly refuges from religious prosecution in Europe. The Jews looking for a safe heaven did not justify the ethnic cleaning of Palestine. After the holocaust, most of the Jews who survived the holocaust in Europe did not wish to go to Palestine, they wanted to go to USA but in 1946 the Americans decided for antisemitic reasons they did not want to have any more Jews in America and this forced the Jews to look for another place and help the Zionist project. In other words, if you are a refugee, it does not give you a license to kill someone or to expel someone.
Question: professor, you did point out that the Jews from Europe wanted to go to America but could not because of the antisemitism there. So do you not agree that the Jews who went to Palestine did so to avoid – to make sure that there would not be a recurrence of the holocaust that they just suffered.
Pappe: That may be true of the Jews who came between 1933 and 1946,the question is was the best way to ensure there would not be another holocaust – by doing what they are doing in 1948 and what they are doing now, they are again endangering the Jewish people around the world with another holocaust. Maybe their intentions were good, we have a saying in Hebrew, the road to hell is paved with good intentions
My questions to Mr. Pappe
1- You say you came to Palestine to live next to the Palestinians, right? Did the Palestinians want to live next to foreigners from Europe? Who decided the fate of the Palestinian? Why were the Palestinians the only lucky folks where foreigners wanted to lived next to them?
2- Why was Palestine the only destination for a European people? The answer is definitely your family were not refugees looking for a ‘safe heaven’ but for a new Jewish country.
3- You mentioned that Gandhi said there was noting wrong for European Jews seeking to land in Palestine. But do you honestly think that the Palestinians would welcome a bunch of Europeans stampeding to their shoes by the thousands without their permission? Would any other people accept that? Who was best suited to judge the way the Palestinians should react to Zionism than the Palestinians themselves? Have you ever asked them what their preferences would be: to live “alongside” total strangers or to be left alone to tend to their fields?
4- Gandhi did say: “Why should they (European Jews) not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.” But I doubt it very much if you would ever be inclined to quote it since it would not serve your Zionist purposes, would it?
5- You seem to be surprised that the Zionists ‘later’ kicked out the natives? The Palestinians were kicked out as soon as it was feasible to kick them out – i.e. as soon as the Zionists were armed and ready. The intention of Zionism starting from Herzl’s writings made it clear that expulsion was on their agenda. Why the pretense?
6- Nowhere do you indicate that the new comers might have needed to seek permission of the natives of the land before arrival. You know and the world knows that these Europeans were not refugees but future citizens of a Jewish country. Why the deception?
7- Why was there a need for those who ‘survived the holocaust’ to seek to head towards Palestine since they faced no more threats after the war was over? The question that you have totally avoided is why Palestine? Is it your grandmother’s land? Why not go to South Africa or Bolivia, for example?
8- You say the European Jews were received with open arms by the Palestinians as the Arabs are generous towards their guests (Arab hospitality). But guests are usually invited and there is a certain duration that guests can stay. Were your family invited by any Arabs to come to Palestine? How long were you expecting to receive “Arab hospitality”?
9- You seem to divide the Zionist who arrived uninvited on Arab land into 3 groups:
a) Those who arrived 1882 – 1930’s
b) Those who arrived in the 1930’s
c) Those who came between 1933 – 1948
You say some are good Zionists and some are bad Zionists, you say some of them had good intentions when they arrived uninvited on Arab land. But the reason for the Jews arrival was propelled by Herzl’s ‘Jewish State’ of 1896 as future citizens of stolen Palestine. You know it, we know it, and the world knows it. Why the deception on your part?