The Shoddy Scholarship of the Media’s Favorite Anti-Israel Revisionist Historian

Since October 7, editorials by and interviews with the historian Avi Shlaim have been showing up throughout international media. Shlaim’s celebrity can be attributed to the fact that he is an Israeli with a professorship at Oxford who blames the Jewish state (along with Britain) for all its woes and insists that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Jonathan Leaf takes a close look at how he acquired his reputation as a great scholar:

This reputation is based on a series of books he has written, . . . starting with his supposed magnum opus, Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Running to 686 pages, this hefty tome is regarded by its many anti-Zionist admirers as a definitive analysis—proof—of a conspiracy theory that, if true, would lay upon Israel much of the responsibility for the present absence of a Palestinian state.

But there is a curious thing about this book. Now past the 35th anniversary of its publication, it has never been reprinted. Instead, its author arranged for it to be somewhat abridged, re-titled, and put out in paperback with a number of its major contentions rewritten. In the new version, the word “Collusion” is taken out of the title and one of the basic arguments of the first book has been sliced away.

Shlaim, however, has never publicly acknowledged the obvious: that his first book made claims that were refuted by the release of previously unavailable documents, and that had he republished it as originally written, he would have made himself a laughingstock in his field. It is an astonishing act of chutzpah. Without ever admitting the baldness of his errors, he refashioned the book upon which his reputation was founded but stripped out some of his wilder mistakes.

But is the new version of his conspiracy theory reliable? Is the account he now provides of the subject at least credible in its basic claims and suppositions? Unfortunately, the new version is only marginally better than the old and, in some respects, actually worse.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Israeli history, Media, New historians

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy