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Monday, April 19, 2010

Neil MacFarquhar invents history

The New York Times' Neil MacFarquhar reviews Kai Bird's Crossing Mandelbaum Gate, Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978. Bird's father was an American diplomat in Jerusalem and Cairo in the 1950's and 1960's. Here's a bit of MacFarquhar's review (Hat Tip: Ron G).
Bird’s education in the region’s seemingly endless cycles of war and armistice actually began when he was 4. In 1956, his father, Eugene Bird, an adventurous sort if not a terribly worldly one, moved his young family from Oregon to East Jerusalem, where he was to begin his new job as the American vice consul.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war had left the city divided in two, with soldiers, minefields and coiled barbed wire gashing an often tense cease-fire line between Palestinian East and Israeli West. The line also divided the twin pillars of Kai’s life. The family’s rented house stood on the Arab side, but Kai attended the Anglican Mission School across the barbed wire. So he was driven almost daily through Mandelbaum Gate, the single crossing, its name drawn from the remnants of a once splendid family villa on the spot. (Technically the “gate” was two facing checkpoints.)
And that is what I wanted to point out to you: In 1956, there were no people who were called 'Palestinians.' The last 'Palestinians' - who were Jews - started to be called Israelis in 1948. The 'Palestinians' - as we call them today - were not known as 'Palestinians' by anyone until the PLO was founded in 1964.

But what can you expect from MacFarquhar? He was the Times' correspondent in Saudi Arabia for years, and is undoubtedly afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome.

That's Mandelbaum Gate, circa 1956 at the top of this post.

2 Comments:

At 12:39 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

What we is see total ignorance of history - to point out the fact it was the Jordanians who controlled "east" Jerusalem between 1948-1967. That's totally erased from the review. And it should be mentioned the American Consulate in Jerusalem has represented Arab interests there before the State Department and it is the only consulate in the world not located in a city other than the country's capital.

But now we can't very well say that's evidence of bias these days. The last thing we'll hear in our time is the truth about what the Middle East looked like more than fifty years ago.

 
At 1:26 AM, Blogger NormanF said...


The distortion of history is so taken for granted these days that an Al Jazeera program saw nothing amiss in pairing Uri Davis, a well known anti-Zionist Israeli who converted to Islam, with Professor Barry Rubin of the Gloria Center - they misspelled his name as as Levin.



Needless to say, Rubin was not amused and observed he would be the clown in a media circus who would spend all his time refuting the most outrageous claims advanced against Israel. Naturally, he declined to participate in the exercise.



Background is here: If You Join The Circus, You'll End Up As A Clown: Why You Won't Be Seeing Me On Al-Jazeera



Indeed.

 

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