Thursday, June 10, 2010

Geoffrey Wawro Distorts History To Make Offensive Comparison

One would have thought that the HP was gutsy enough comparing Holocaust survivors with murderous terrorist supporters once, but now they have come forward and done it twice! Yes, that's right. Geoffrey Wawro of the University of North Texas has done it again, comparing the story of the Exodus to Israel's recent flotilla raid. It should be noted that this is now his third article, of which his entire body of work on the HP is devoted to publishing anti-Israel articles. So we should be seeing more of him in the future.

Anyway, in order to make his distorted comparison between two completely different situations, Mr. Wawro distorts history utterly as well as relying on some not-so-reliable information. Let's take a look at his article and see just how far he is willing to go.

Mr. Wawro starts by telling a slightly distorted version of history leading up to the departure of the Exodus. He talks about 500,000 Jewish refugees in Europe who "wished to emigrate to Palestine, but were barred by immigration restrictions." This is misleading for two reasons: 1) It isn't just that they wanted to go to Palestine specifically, it was that they weren't allowed to go anywhere else and were sitting there stuck. They wanted to get out of the camps most of all, because the conditions there were terrible. By framing it in terms of a "they wished to do X" debate, Mr. Wawro is making the refugees look like vacationers instead of asylum seekers, which of course is what they were. Unlike, say, the activists on the Free Gaza flotilla.

Of course at this point Mr. Wawro stops talking about the activist fleet and concentrates exclusive on the "history" of the Exodus. He expects us simply to ignore that the Jewish refugees were Holocaust survivors and just wanted to start a new life, which is pretty much the opposite of Hamas and their supporters on the flotilla. But at this point, things start to get weird. Mr. Wawro starts saying things and making claims, quite a few of whom that I can't find anywhere else online.

For instance, he claims that there is an (unnamed) British officer who said that the Jews were using naval units that were trying to goad the British into counterattacking, "thereby releasing a storm of atrocity propaganda [that would] unite Jewish Zionists and anti-Zionists across the world and divide Britain and the U.S." I typed that phrase into Google and found nothing. I am not an expert about Israeli history by any means, but I have never heard of "Jewish naval units." Maybe Mr. Wawro knows something I do not and maybe he has evidence of this in a book I haven't read. But in that case basic journalist (and academic integrity) demands that he cite his sources. What's the deal?

He does this again when he says that the King of Saudi Arabia expressed contempt for Jewish immigration to Palestine, and quotes him with saying, "In the name of humanity it is proposed to force on the Arab majority of Palestine a people alien to them, to make these new people a majority, thereby rendering the existing majority a minority." Now I Googled that quote: It doesn't appear anywhere else other than the article. Again, maybe Mr. Wawro is making it up. Again, maybe he is just not citing his sources correctly. But when he is making bold statements, especially about things that his audience is not already familiar with, providing references is required.

Moving on...Mr. Wawro's next few paragraphs are simply a rehash of history, mostly of the political machinations that were going on. But as he gets toward the founding of Israel, he references to another shaky source:
"The British knew the answer. A 1946 British report compared Palestine to South Africa: enriched by aid dollars from abroad, the Jews "behaved as a Herrenvolk" in Palestine, "a master race." And a classified British report on terrorist activities in Palestine found the Jews far more dangerous than the Arabs, for the simple reason that the Jews rejected all criticism - even the fairest kind - of their methods: "the totalitarian organization and regimentation of the [Jewish community] has negated free thought and speech.""
I fed all of those quotes into Google, and even tried using other context words. I found zilch. If Mr. Wawro can directly quote from these things, it would stand to reason that they must exist somewhere on the Internet. Considering he doesn't even provide a link or a reference for this "British report" I'm definitely going to take it with a grain of salt. If for no other reason then that if it did exist I'm sure an AZ would have used it somewhere along the line.

And finally we have the ridiculous psuedohistory surrounding the Exodus. I've already mentioned that Mr. Wawro completely ignores the circumstance and the motivations of the trips, so let's get right into his lying-by-omission account of the boarding and taking of the boat (emphasis is mine):
"In 1947, the British had a last stab at blocking the illegal Jewish flotillas trying to breach the immigration blockade of Palestine. The HMS Ajax intercepted the Exodus 1947, a twenty-year old U.S.-built passenger steamer, which was carrying 4,515 Jewish settlers from France toward Palestine. Aware that the Exodus was skippered by Hagana paramilitaries (not mere "activists"), British troops boarded the ship 20 nautical miles off the coast of Palestine. The British boarding party was attacked by the Jewish crew and passengers. The British commander on the scene described the melée thus: "Every available weapon up to a biscuit and bulks of timber was hurled at the soldiers. They withstood it admirably and very stoically till the Jews assaulted and in the first rush several soldiers were downed with half a dozen Jews on top kicking and tearing." He concluded: "It should be borne in mind that the guiding factor in most of the actions of the Jews is to gain the sympathy of the world press."
I'll do this one with bullet points.
1) Notice how Mr. Wawro refers to penniless Jewish refugees seeking asylum as "Jewish settlers." Loaded language perhaps?
2) Mr. Wawro neglects to mention how the British rammed the Exodus before boarding it.
3) Mr. Wawro neglects to mention how the British killed three passengers (including a crew member) and wounded more than two hundred. And I'm sure the world did not call them war criminals for doing that.
4) The British also took three soldiers wounded, and none of them were taken hostage or hospitalized (according to my research).
5) Notice how according to this account the Jews were unarmed (at least with real weapons). Unlike the people on the MM, despite the claims of their PR department. Not that it saved the lives of those three people.

Just another biased article from the Huffington Post.


  1. Yup. The HP can't even run an impartial story on the Exodus. It prefers to have unsourced claims and pure fiction substituted for the historical truth in order to put Israel in a poor light on the MM incident last week.

    So much for expecting even handedness in coverage on all things Israel-related from them!

  2. Great call, and great coverage, guys.

  3. The reason you can't check out Wawro's sources on Google because they aren't on Google yet for the simple reason that Google has no arrangement with the Brits for copying their military archives.
    I know it is too much for you guys to buy the book, and you're far too honest to steal one, but maybe you can stroll by your local bookstore and take a peak or two inside. That's what I did and now the book has a nice home on my bookshelf.

  4. So Jeff, do you mean to tell me that even though the British military archives haven't been copied into Google, *no* historian, journalist, archivist or activist ever stumbled upon this information and put it online before Mr. Wawro did? He must be quite the historian, to have an exclusive to such damning evidence.

    That being said, I will check out his book next time I'm in the neighborhood. We'll see if he does such a bang-up job citing his sources in it as he did in this article.

  5. u guys are pissed that Wawro got it right: that American foreign policy in the middle esat is made in Tel Aviv and vetted in NYC

  6. cant take any criticism eh?

  7. Thats DOCTOR Wawro

  8. Doctor wawro's background is utterly unrelated to the middle east. He does not speak Arabic or hebrew. His book reads like a British foreign office critique of Zionism circa 1946. Like them, he gets it all wrong. Doctor wawro should perhaps read a book or two on the subject - that is better than trying to write one. This article, his book, will be forgotten. And yes, I read his book. Unbelievably sloppy, not just absurdly biased. It is not history, it is a man mad at Israel, who decided to write a screed.