Schama critic suffers ‘Jewish Nakba denial’

Ben White must be a worried man: Jews from Arab countries driven from their homes, are increasingly being talked about by figures in the public eye. This activist for the Palestinian cause has been responding  to a piece in the Financial Timesby the well-known historian Simon Schama, The Left’s problem with Jews.  Schama mentions Jewish refugees from the Arab world – hooray! White feels he must deconstruct the comparison with Palestinians  at once lest people start to think that  a Jewish refugee problem existed. See my comment below: 

Simon Schama

Ben White writes in Middle East Monitor

….” Schama does not stop there; he also compares the Palestinians
expelled in the Nakba to “Jews who were violently uprooted from their
homes in the Islamic world.” But as Israeli academic Yehouda Shenhav
has written, “any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must
acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Arab Jews is

Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine. Many
Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000
Palestinians were expelled, or fled, from the borders of historic
Palestine. Those who left did not do so of their own volition.
In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the
initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some came of
their own free will; others arrived against their will.

Ben White

As Australian professor – and public Israel supporter – Philip Mendes
has also pointed out, “the Jewish exodus from Iraq and other Arab
countries took place over many decades, before and after the Palestinian
exodus.” So while Israel’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs certainly sees the propaganda value in such an analogy, others are less convinced.

Iraqi-born, former Israeli minister Shlomo Hillel put it like this: “I do not regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands
as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists.” Former Knesset speaker, Yisrael Yeshayahu stated:
“We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations.”

The fact that Schama includes this paragraph is telling, and his
Nakba denial says a lot about his argument as a whole. The ethnic
cleansing of Palestine – its massacres, the detonated villages, the
killings of refugees harvesting crops –
is historical fact. This was how a ‘Jewish majority’ was created.”


My comment: Jews did not want to leave Arab countries either, yet they were forced out. The reason why they did not leave all at once is that Arab states often held them as hostages, banning emigration (eg. Morocco). Shlomo Hillel was one of a minority of ideological Zionists, but even he saw the writing was on the wall for the Jews when he learned of the massacre of 600 Assyrians in Iraq in 1933. Ben White suffers from Jewish Nakba denial.


  • it was good of Sammish to mention Indo-Pak. How come those who damn Israel for supposedely being a Jewish religious state never complain about Pakistan which is a fanatic Muslim state?

  • Eliyahu, Amie

    White is not a cleric, but I think he is a believing Christian

  • White's position is about the definition of refugee is shared by the majority of Arabs. In that the Jews left their former homes and businesses on their free will. And the poor Palestinians left under duress and threat. This is a fallacy and a twisted over generalization of the facts. Yes, maybe some Jews may have left because they did not had to leave anything behind worth saving, but I can attest that the MAJORITY of Jews left because their lives were in grave danger (case of Algeria, Egypt and Libya) and they left so much behind that it would not compare to nothing (I mean NADA) of what the landless sharecroppers Palestinians farmers had lost. (I am not sure about the Arab city dwellers of shop keepers -if they were any- and business owners because I have not seen any data about their losses). But this issue should not matter at all, because the UN resolution clearly stated a land partition which Arabs did not agree to and refused to comply with. A partition of the like of the split of the Indian Subcontinent between Pakistan and India to the dismay of the great Ghandi. The Pakistani muslims were eager to have their Paki-land Hindu-free, yet India allowed many muslims willing to stay to remain.

    Is all this debate about what constitute a refugee? Or what criteria needs to be meet to be tagged a "refugee"? Is this what this all about?? I suggested to White and his self-righteous followers to do their own research, I mean gather data and information about this phenomenon before they can make any rebuttal about the refugee problem, let alone questioning the stand made of the great historian Simon Schama.

  • Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, you are mistaken. Ben White is no cleric, Anglican or at all. He is as UKMediawatch points out:
    .. a freelance writer and journalist and author of “Justice is Mission” and “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” who now lives in the UK. White writes extensively about what he terms “Palestine/Israel” to the point of near obsession and was a regular contributor to ‘Comment is Free’ and the virulently anti-Israel ‘Electronic Intifada’.

    An open supporter of the one-state solution, White regularly accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, colonisation, racism and apartheid.

    In an article entitled Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’? White stated that “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”.

    Below is a selection of statements and Tweets made by Ben White “in his own words”:

    (Also, his malign obsession with Israeli is apparent by viewing his Twitter feed)

  • Ben White, an Anglican cleric if I am not mistaken, does not know about or want to know about the age-old dhimmi status of Jews in Arab lands as well as the fact that the Palestinian Arab leadership took part in the Holocaust, and massacred Jews in several Arab countries as part of their enthusiasm for the Nazi cause.

    These facts should be stressed in any reply to White. Furthermore, White does not know the true history of the Israeli War of Independence. It started in the early morning of 30 November 1947 just hours after the UN GA partition plan recommendation. It started with Arab attacks on Jewish civilians throughout the country. The first refugees in the war were Jews. The first in the war who could not go home afterwards were also Jews, Jews who lived in parts of Jerusalem and nearby Jewish villages like Atarot and Neveh Ya`aqov, who could not go home after war since their homes were occupied by the Arab Legion of Transjordan, a British-commanded force. It was explicitly stated Arab policy to drive Jews out of the whole country.


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