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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Beware of the general’s son

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That he trades on his illustrious family’s name is apparent even in the title of his soon to be released book, The General’s Son (Just World Books, 2012). Miko Peled is an Israeli-American whose father, Matti, fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 and who was himself a brigadier-general during the 1967 Six Day War. His grandfather, Avraham Katsnelson, was an early Zionist leader and a signatory to Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

His pedigree might arguably suggest that in a Miko Peled we would see an indefatigable defender of Jewish interests in a modern Jewish state, wrapped in the mantle of a committed and passionate Zionist. Sadly, such an assumption would be entirely illusory.

Instead, Peled is emerging as a new face for various anti-Zionist groups and their fellow travellers. Promoted, somewhat pretentiously, as “an Israeli peace activist,” he toured Australia late last year, and recently he was in Ontario, speaking at McMaster University and the University of Western Ontario during Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) programs on these two campuses.

In some ways, modelling his diatribe along the lines of the so-called “new” (post-Zionist) historians, Peled is able to weave a tapestry of convoluted logic, revisionist history, inherent bias and wilful exaggeration into a simplistic agglomeration of deliberate misstatements and outlandish fantasies that are, at best, ludicrous and, at worst, utterly perfidious.

But what most notably separates him from the post-Zionist historians, or other historians for that matter, is that he is not a historian, nor does he appear to have academic qualifications of any other sort. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see – based at least on his presentation at McMaster, where he spoke to a packed auditorium – how his brashness and charisma more than compensate for his glaring lack of credibility in discussing matters as serious and intellectually challenging as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As we’ve come to realize, mostly through bitter experience, events like IAW, whether on our campuses or in our public squares, are designed to incite, rather than to educate and inform. And with this as the yardstick, we might expect to see much more of Miko Peled. In what he writes and says, he doesn’t hesitate to accuse Israel of “apartheid” practices, he encourages a comprehensive boycott of the Jewish state, he rants that “ethnic cleansing is a process that takes place every single day in the West Bank,” he blames Israel for having initiated the wars of 1948 and 1967, and he calls for the international community to “recognize that the IDF is a terrorist organization and its officers are war criminals.” In his “lecture” at McMaster, he warned that those who associate themselves with Zionism will eventually be shamed into admitting they were wrong, and that they should “remember to go down on their knees and beg for forgiveness when the trials begin and the tribunals take their seat.”

It’s troubling that Peled’s distortions have attracted attention and large audiences. It’s he, not us, who should be ashamed. His fabrications, masquerading as facts, are abhorrent, and it’s time that his vile, solipsistic tirades against the very fabric of Israel and its supporters should be seen for what they are and robustly condemned.

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