Noah Pollack is right in his criticism of Tom Segev as a “scholar” who writes as a “revisionist” not as a historian but as someone who wants to “see politics triumph over scholarship”. However, in response to Segev’s review of “Icon of Evil,” saying that it “is of little scholarly value, and may be potentially harmful to Middle East peace prospects”, Pollack makes a point, that I think is extremely unuseful: “What in fact has been very harmful to the peace process is the New Historians themselves.”
I am not saying he is mistaken. But it is entirely irrelevant. A historian should not be thinking of the consequences of his writing in his books. He should strive to uncover the truth, the whole truth and make it publicly known. Not try and figure out what is harmful to the peace process. By saying this, Segev belies his own medicority as an academic.
But Segev is more than just mediocre. He is a danger and harmful to all those seek the truth.
Tom Segev has long been a despicable figure in the arena of Israeli history and the history Arab-Israeli relations, changing historical facts to match his own distorted view of the situation. How one can describe the British as pro-Zionist during the period of the mandate is beyond me. Are these the same British, whose police did nothing to stop the Hebron Massacre of 1929? The same British who basically banned Jewish immigration to what was then known as Palestine? The same British who, in breach of the mandate, whose purpose was “putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917” (The Balfour Declaration) gave away over 70% of the mandate territory to the Hashemite family? How very Zionist of them.
Segev claims, regarding the Six Day War, that “the war with Egypt was inevitable because the Israeli society was so weak…[that] Israel was simply too weak not to start the war with Egypt.” That’s right. Closing the Straits of Tiran was not an act of war. Nasser’s declarations about “how to totally exterminate the State of Israel for all time” were a moderating influence. As Michael Oren has pointed out, in his wonderful review of Segev’s latest piece of drivel, Segev simply chooses to ignore any “Arab calls for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its citizens”. It would undermind his point that Israel is bad, and wouldn’t let him modify history to fit his opinions, never mind what actually happened.
When publications like the New York Times publish such garbage, they are doing more than just harm their own reputation, and possibly the good name of the authors of “Icon of Evil”, for “he who controls the past, controls the future,” and if the past is not controlled by those who tell the truth, what will the future look like?