(However it could not have been as decentred as the contemporaneous genocides of Muslims and Hindus in the Indian Partition, since clearly the national Zionist leadership had much more firmly embraced a genocidal ideology of transfer than had the national leaderships of India and Pakistan, and was much closer than them to the practical business of expulsion.) On Pappe's account, on the other hand, genocide was much more centrally planned and coordinated in practice, and resulted from a strong, coherent aim of the Zionist leadership to break up much of Arab society and drive most of the Arabs from Israeli- controlled land. It is not for me, as a non-specialist, to resolve these differences, although I agree with Levene that while Pappe may understate the contingent elements of the 1948 expulsions, he has established a strong case that 'the drive ... came from the top'. What I can do is the place these disagreements in the context of comparative genocide research. The trend among scholars has been to move away from the absolutist, singular conceptions of 'intention' (apparently demanded by the law of genocide), regarding these as historically and sociologically unrealistic. The trend here was set in Holocaust studies: despite Hitler's undeniably genocidal ideology that can be traced to Mein Kampf and before, few now believe that the Nazis had a consistent aim of mass extermination before 1941, and all serious historians acknowledge that they developed policy piecemeal and in response to
18 changing situations. Mann (2005: 7) generalises this: 'Murderous cleansing [his preferred term] is rarely the original intent of perpetrators [but] typically emerges as a kind of Plan C, developed only after t he first two responses to a perceived ethnic threat fail … To understand the outcome, we must analyze the unintended consequences of a series of interactions yielding escalation ’ . Moreover scholars are also less inclined to see genocide as a purely top-down affair: there is always a relation between different levels of state and society, involving what Mann (2005: 7) calls the relationships between three elements: radical elites, paramilitaries, and 'core constituencies' in society. Thus to regard the Nakba as an episode of genocide it is not necessary to demonstrate a completely pre-formed, consistent intention on the part of Zionist leaders. On the contrary, it would be surprising if, in the context of a fast-moving political and military situation, it had not developed and adapted its policies in the light of new constraints and opportunities. Nor is it necessary to suggest that the various elements of the destruction of Arab society were decided only at the highest levels of Zionism, rather than in some combination of the Consultancy, various levels of military authority and local political leaderships. The relationships between pre-formed policy and contingent adaptation, and between central leadership and other actors, are empirical questions, not criteria of genocide.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 21 pages?
- Spring '14
- International Relations, Raphael Lemkin