Michael Kinsley, the founding editor of Slate, is incensed by what he has read in Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land about a 1948 massacre, allegedly committed by the Palmah, in the Palestinian town of Lydda. As Martin Kramer has demonstrated, there is no evidence that such a massacre occurred—and yet Kinsley not only repeats Shavit’s claim but goes beyond it, accusing Jews of rewriting Israel’s past and adding ludicrous comparisons to the Rwandan genocide. Kramer writes:
[T]ake this point of supposed similarity between Lydda and Rwanda: “Crowding people into a church (or, in this case, a mosque) and then blowing it up or setting it on fire.” This originates in Shavit’s claim that Israeli troops detained Palestinian Arabs in a small mosque, and then fired an anti-armor rocket into it as an act of revenge, killing 70 persons.
Trouble is, to borrow Kinsley’s phrase, “all this is not even close to being true.” Kinsley, far from showing himself a careful sifter of history, clearly has been seduced by Shavit’s dramatic opera, mistaking it for history. And Kinsley then amplifies Shavit’s biases still further, for reasons known only to him, producing a grotesque defamation of Israel that goes even beyond Shavit’s account. . . . To insinuate a parallel between the battle in Lydda and the most heinous crimes against humanity, committed as part of a genocide, is simply obscene.
And it suggests that Kinsley didn’t even read Shavit carefully, for Shavit concludes his account with this admission: “The small-mosque massacre could have been a misunderstanding brought about by a tragic chain of accidental events.” But for Kinsley, there are no accidents. He attributes a murderous intent to Israeli troops not because he can be sure of it, but because it suits his forced narrative of Israeli sin.