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August 27, 2001
A letter from Jacques to Norman Finkelstein



Mr. Norman Finkelstein

It is only after a long time of reflection, that I finally decided to send you this message.
I hope that I do not waist your time, and that you will find some time to read it and maybe answer my question.

I am not reviewing one of your books, because I did not read one of them yet (the French translation of The Holocaust Industry is right now on his way to my doormat).
My name is Jacques, I live in Tel Aviv, and I arrived in Israel from France in 1969 when I was 19 years old.

Before I decided to move to Israel (I did it alone, the rest of family did stay in France) most of the information I had about Israel and the Palestinian /Israeli conflict was for the most, the official Zionist version, from the Jewish Agency propaganda, and rubbish stuff like the reading of "L' Information d'Israel "a French language Israeli news paper (worst than the English language Jerusalem Post) , Leon Uris "Exodus" and other stuff of the kind.

The Jewish Agency propaganda worked perfectly on my teenage brain and I arrive in Israel while knowing a lot of lies and half truth and ignoring a lot of real history. Every thing was clear and simple...black and white: I knew that Israel was surrounded by cruel primitives seeking to destroy it We are the good side and they are the bad side
We want peace they want war
They are strangers trying to steal our land but we have "historical" rights Before the creation of Israel the land was empty and the few Arabs who lived they were some lazy fellows that did not worked the land I did not know about:
The 750,000 refugees
The ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed against the Arab population....

I could go on a long list, but the point is that I am the typical product (and victim) of the Jewish Agency propaganda brainwashing machine.
Six months after I arrived in Israel I enlisted the IDF and it was on my really first day in the West Bank as an Israeli soldier that I began to understand that things were not exactly like I have been told and I that Israel was not the White Knight fighting some dark forces. But it took me many years to discover (and admit) how much I have been cheated. It seems that today I have to learn everything from the beginning.

When the El-Aqsa Intifada began I have been quite disappointed by the huge silence of the Israeli Left (in particular by Meretz, the party I voted for) who was reluctant to break ranks with the fake "national consensus and unity orgy"at a time of crisis, and broke the silence only to blame the Palestinians for the burst of the violence. I searched for an alternative and found it in the Uri Avnery Gush Shalom, which is extra-parliamentary grass roots movement. www.gush-shalom.org/

From the reading of different articles I began to be aware of historian like Tom Segev, Benny Morris and I am right now reading a copy of Beit-Hallahmi's Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel.

I also read some articles from other historians and among them from Efraim Karsh where he demonstrates (so he pretends) how Benny Morris is using official and primary sources material and distort them (upon what he says): "misrepresents documents, resorts to partial quotes, withholds evidence, makes false assertions, and rewrites original documents". All these attacks between historians confused me. I asked myself: how can I know who tells the truth?

I have not the time, nor the means to do a Ph.D. on the History of the Middle East and my feeling is that, no matter how many books from both "schools" I will read, it will only confused me, more and more. Reading any history book on the conflict I will always ask myself: does the author use the primary sources to give a picture of the conflict through his own ideological filter or only the truth?
I am sure that most of what I knew not long ago was untrue, but, is all what is said in the New Historian books, true? I simply do not want to be manipulated once more!

From all these last 2 months readings, I am in a state of shock and my life very profoundly troubled. It is, after all, a big part of my "self " and my last 30 years of activity who are put into question.
It is like discovering something that I suspected the existence for long, but that I was afraid to look at. I am only seeking for the truth no matter how painful it is.
After having read 3/4 of Beit-Hallahmi's Original Sins, I asked myself: what the hell am I doing here?? I have no more right to be here than an Indian Apache.

One week ago, this feeling for reinforced by a very loud, hard and hot discussion I had with a right wing settler from Ariel in the West Bank. When he told me how life became dangerous for the settlers I asked him if he has ever thought of going back and settle within the Green line. I must admit that in his response he had some good point. He said to me: if upon International law my house in Ariel is illegal, so is yours... Upon International law, any territory not included in the 181 resolution and conquered by Israel since 1948 is occupied territory. Your house in Ramt Aviv is built on the remains of what once was the Arab village of Cheik Mines. Why is my house in Ariel less legal than yours or any house in Nahariya, Carmiel, Lod, Ramle, Ashdod, Beer-Sheba? Because the Israeli left decided what is legal or illegal?

If you steal something to someone and give him back half of it, is the half that you keep not stolen? ...What makes you more "righteous" than me? Not only on a legal, but also on a moral principal you are not stealing less than me from the Palestinians. You call us conquerors? What are you? His last sentence was something like: if you want to be true with yourself and just to the Palestinians, you even should not accept the 181 resolution. Maybe only 10% of the lands in the territories given to us by the Partition plans belong to us, all the rest is maybe legally ours, upon the Partition plan, but morally stolen from Arab. Only if you are ready to build a Jewish State within these 10%, then you are a hypocrite. It reminds me a passage from the "Original Sins ": "We can mention here a group of South African Jews who were opposed to apartheid, so they moved to Israel. They settled together in the Galilee, with fresh air and a beautiful view of the Mediterranean, especially at sunset. The land they now live on was expropriated from Palestinians. This is Zionism today."

My question is: how can I apart my own feelings and common sense, which of course are not objective, or on what facts can I rebuild a valid opinion and have a true knowledge of the history of this conflict, if that History is described so differently by Historians of different "school"??

As I told you in the beginning of my message, your book "The Holocaust Industry " will soon be in my hands and from all I read about it I am very impatient to read it. Four members of my very close family, were sent from France to Auschwitz, never came back and the only things I know from them, are some old black and white photos.

Maybe this fact, long before being aware of any "holocaust industry ," made me react so negatively to this kitschy, orchestrated Live show called "March of the Living." A real Walt Disnechwitz.

Thank you for reading my message