The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, April 25, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Fawcett's Israel Column Factually Correct, Shows Extensive Reading

This letter is in response to David B. Hoffman's letter ("Errors in Israel Column Show Author's Lack of Knowledge on Subject" Oct. 25). He accuses Anne Fawcett of getting her facts wrong. On the contrary, Ms. Fawcett's extensive reading is reflected in her column.

The narrative that Israel has, since its birth, been a constant victim of external aggression is common in the policy community and among American supporters of the state of Israel. As I have rediscovered each time I teach about the conflict, it is not reflected in any of the historical literature. As the Israelis have opened their archives, many historians (Israelis and others) have revised the narrative of 1947-48.

Last year, in the face of compelling evidence, Israeli educators announced that they are changing the textbooks Israeli children use. The new books tell of Israel's responsibility in moving Arabs off of their lands. To imply that this was a "population exchange" (Jews left Arab lands, too) is to ignore both chronology and intent.

I urge everyone to read histories based on a variety of archival sources, and not to rely on polemical statements of advocates, politicians and fund-raisers. Good places to begin are Israeli authors Simha Flapan, Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim. In the meantime, I congratulate Anne Fawcett and wish that more journalists took the time to actually research the historical background of their stories.

Sarah Shields

Department of History

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel's Collaborative Mental Health Edition