Part of the transcript of ABC TV's Q&A program, 7/5/09:
TONY JONES: Let's just hear from Guy Rundle [journalist, crikey.com].
GUY RUNDLE (to Mark Arbib [Parliamentary Secretary for Government Service Delivery]) : What do you think of Randa's [Randa Abdel-Fattah, author & lawyer] argument that Israel was founded on ethnic cleansing and the dispossession of a people?
MARK ARBIB: Well, sorry, I understand the argument, and I certainly understand the argument in terms of dispossession, but in terms of ethnic cleansing, I don't accept that. [So you accept that the Palestinians were dispossessed, but not ethnically cleansed?!]
GUY RUNDLE: But where - but hang on, Mark, when Israeli historians like Benny Morris use the Israel Defense Forces archives to document dozens of massacres of Palestinian people in 1948; men, women and children lined up against a wall and machined gunned by, among other people, Menachem Begin, who became a prime minister of Israel...
GREG SHERIDAN: No. No. No. I don't think we can accept anything that Guy Rundle is saying as true here.
GUY RUNDLE: That is absolutely true. Hang on. Absolutely true.
GREG SHERIDAN: It's all rubbish. That is just rubbish.
GUY RUNDLE: Yes, he has said that.
And what has Benny Morris said? "In certain conditions expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands... There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing... What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape." (Interviewed by Ari Shavit in Haaretz, 9/1/04 - See my 11/5/08 post Benny Unhinged) Morris went on to quantify these massacres (24) and rapes (about a dozen).
And here's his account of the best known massacre, that of the Palestinian villagers of Deir Yassin: "The attacking units [Jewish terrorists of the Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah: MERC] had advanced from house to house, lobbing grenades and spraying the interiors with fire... They blew up several houses with explosives. The attackers shot down individuals and families as they left their homes and fled down alleyways. They apparently also rounded up villagers, who included militiamen and unarmed civilians of both sexes, and murdered them, and executed prisoners in a nearby quarry. On 12 April, Haganah Intelligence Service (HIS) officer in command (OC) in Jerusalem, Yitzhak Levy, reported: 'The conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families - women, old people, children, were murdered viciously by their captors'. The following day he added: 'LHI [Stern Gang] members tell of the barbaric behaviour of the IZL [Irgun] toward the prisoners and the dead. They also relate that the IZL men raped a number of Arab girls and murdered them afterward [we don't know if this is true]'. The HIS operative on the spot, Mordechai Gichon, reported on 1o April: 'Their [ie, the IZL?] commander says that the [initial] order was: To take prisoner the adult males and to send the women and children to Motza. In the afternoon [of April 9], the order was changed and became to kill all the prisoners... The adult males were taken to town in trucks and paraded in the city streets, then taken back to the site and killed with rifle and machine-gun fire. Before they [ie, other inhabitants] were put on the trucks, the IZL and LHI men... took from them all the jewlry and stole their money. The behaviour toward them was especially barbaric [and included] kicks, shoves with rifle butts, spitting and cursing [people from Givat Shaul took part in the torture]'. Gichon reported that the HIS's 'regular informer', 'the mukhtar's son', was 'executed [in front of his mother and sisters] after being taken prisoner'. Meir Pa'il, a Palmah intelligence officer who claimed to have spent part of the afternoon of April 9 in Deir Yassin as a 'guest' of the LHI, reported on 10 April: 'In the quarry near Givat Shaul I saw the 5 Arabs they had paraded in the streets of the city. They had been murdered and were lying one on top of the other... I saw with my own eyes several families [that had been] murdered with their women, children and old people, their corpses were lying on top of each other... The dissidents were going about the village robbing and stealing everything: Chickens, radio sets, sugar, money, gold and more... Each dissident walked about the village dirty with blood and proud of the number of persons he had killed...' Altogether about 100-120 villagers died that day." (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004, pp 237-238)