A University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) student group was caught on Wednesday falsely claiming that Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion backed the expulsion of Arabs from areas that would become part of the Jewish state.
The school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, which functions under the name UCSB Divest, was found having written on its “apartheid wall” on campus that Ben-Gurion — the pre-state Jewish leader who would go on to become Israel’s first prime minister — once said, “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.”
In fact, the correct quote, from a 1937 handwritten letter, made the exact opposite assertion: “We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.”
The quote was written on one of the wall’s panels titled “In their own words,” which was meant to reveal Israel’s supposed real intentions regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. However, other quotes used on the UCSB wall were also misconstrued, including one attributed to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in which he said, “If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, then we would use much more force.”
The anti-Israel students failed to provide the second half of Barak’s comment — made in a 2000 interview with Israel Radio — in which he added, “But in our opinion the opposite is true, and the State of Israel would then be in a much more complicated situation” (as quoted by the LA Times).
The truncated and distorted Ben-Gurion quote has been used on multiple other occasions, including on a website that offers information about why one should support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. That site was created and maintained by University of Manchester Professor Mona Baker, who is a translation expert serving as the school’s director of the Center for Translation and Intercultural Studies.
The falsified quote was also the subject of a 2012 corrective report issued by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) in response to it being published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, in an article by revisionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe titled, “The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.”
According to CAMERA, this botched publication followed Pappe’s use of the fake quote in his 2006 book on the same subject — a volume subsequently relied on as a source by producer Porter Speakman, Jr, who then used the supposed quote in his 2009 film “With God on Our Side,” which is a criticism of Christian support for Israel. (After CAMERA informed him of his error, Speakman deleted the quote from the movie).
CAMERA noted that in Ben-Gurion’s handwritten letter, the words “we do not want to and we do not [have to]” were later scribbled out, but it is unclear by who or when. However, according to CAMERA, it makes little sense to read the scribble as the prime minister voicing a need to “expel” Israel’s Arabs, because the lines that immediately follow the quote — which were never crossed out — read: “All of our ambitions are built on the assumption that has proven true throughout all of our activities in the land [of Israel] — that there is enough room for us and for the Arabs in the land [of Israel]. And if we will have to use force, not for the sake of evicting the Arabs of the Negev or Transjordan, but rather in order to secure the right that belongs to us to settle there, force will be available to us.”
CAMERA asserted that taken in full, Ben-Gurion’s words cannot be interpreted as in support of an expulsion project.
The wall is part of UCSB SJP’s renewed boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, which was launched on Holocaust Memorial Day.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Rachel Frommer