Israeli-born academic clashes with Shatter over Gaza violence


THE VIOLENCE used in the recent attack on Gaza was an introduction to a far-worse catastrophe in the future, an Israeli-born academic told the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs at Leinster House yesterday.

Prof Ilan Pappé, an anti-Zionist historian from the University of Exeter, clashed with Alan Shatter, who accused the visiting academic of “sniggering” during the Fine Gael TD’s response to his remarks.

Independent Senator David Norris said he wished to dissociate himself from the “very hostile approach” of Mr Shatter.

Prof Pappé in turn accused the Fine Gael frontbencher of “a personal sneering campaign”.

The professor said the main reasons for the Gaza operation were twofold. One was to compensate for the “very poor performance” of the Israeli military in Lebanon and to show the Arab world that it could still react in a very powerful way. Another reason was the “genocidal” elimination of Hamas and Hizbullah. Unless Europe took a tougher stance, there would be worse to come. The Israelis had found a “formula”, containing the people of Gaza in a prison camp and those of the West Bank in an apartheid-style bantustan, he said.

“People can be eliminated from history, they can be eliminated from consciousness,” he continued. But this was not going to happen and, he warned, there could be world instability on a scale that was unimaginable at this time because of reaction from the Arab world. Author of a study, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Prof Pappé said that in 1948 the Israeli state expelled almost one million Palestinians “in what today we would call ethnic cleansing”.

Mr Shatter accused Prof Pappé of putting forward “historical inaccuracies” and exaggerated statistics in an effort to fit the past into an ideological perspective. “You are incapable of understanding the fear in Israel of what might happen in the future,” he said. This was exacerbated by suicide bombings. “The plight of the Palestinian people is appalling,” Mr Shatter said, but this primarily resulted from the “destructive politics of Hamas and Iran”.

A motion unanimously agreed by the committee urged the Government “to continue its support for moves to establish an independent international investigation into alleged violations of international humanitarian law during Israel’s military action in Gaza”, along with “the indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians perpetrated by Hamas and others, the alleged storage of munitions in civilian locations and the allegations of the shooting of innocent Palestinians by Hamas, the alleged use of civilians as human shields by any actor and the alleged firing of rockets from positions adjacent to UN facilities, to schools and hospitals”.