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November 04, 2012



Nothing of the Greek vs Turk turmoil was taught (here) when I was in High School. My first introduction came through reading 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', Bernier.
Great post, M.H.


You have completely omitted the most massive and brutal deliberate acts of forcible population transfer of the twentieth century, namely those undertaken by the Soviets, with the reluctant agreement of the British and Americans, at the end of World War Two, involving the forcible transfer of all ethnic Germans east of the Oder-Neisse line, over 10,000,000.

Then there was the forcible transfer of Poles from what became Soviet Ukraine into what had been the territory of pre-War Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line, over 750,000, 200,000 Baltic state nationals deported from their states, plus the deportation of the entire populations of the Tatars and the Chechens. All this and more is described in horridix, though restrained but impeccably referenced detail in Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands", Chapter 10, which everyone who comments on the subject of "ethnic cleansing" should read.

As for "Palestine", although Benny Morris' studies of the contemporary records have shown that in some areas, Arab inhabitants of towns and areas were forcibly expelled by the Jewish forces, this was by no means a majority of the Arab civilians who chose to flee, and the situation was one in which the forces of the surrounding Arab nations were conducting a declared war of expulsion and intended extermination against the Jewish population of what is now Israel. 150,000 Arabs remained and became citizens of the state of Israel. Jordanian forces under British command expelled without exception all the Jewish inhabitants of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Jewish Quarter which they had inhabited for many generations.

Mick H

Well OK Judy, but clearly I was sticking to the Middle East. As I said, "Europe, we know about". This wasn't intended to be a definitive history of ethnic cleansing in the 20th century.


You were reviewing a book about a city in Europe, and referred to Europe. You said, "We know about" European ethnic cleanings. Actually, most people do not, especially the sheer scale and brutality involved in Soviet post war mass population deportations and expulsions and their subsequent impact on wider post world politics.

A very substantial key theme in the Palestinian propaganda representation of themselves is the promotion of their claimed status as unique and supreme victims of post war ethnic cleansing amidst a world of stable self-determining nation states.

The fact that this is so widely and uncritically believed is in no small measure due to the efforts of the Soviet Union and its allies, supported by western Marxists and their allies, who remove the whole context of the bloody postwar history of forced population transfers, especially the role of the Soviet Union, which then relentlessly projected its own actions onto the narratives it propagated for and with its client states and terror groups, at the centre of which was the myth of the ethnically cleansed and robbed passive victim Palestinians, zionism as racism and all the rest of it.

Along with this went the British and the US readiness, even more enthusiastically taken up by the EU, to accept the virtually permanent status of Palestinians even unto the fourth generation as refugees from 1948 who have a Right of Return, whilst absolutely denying such rights to the ethnic Germans and the deported ethnic groups from what became the Soviet-defined mono-ethnic states of Eastern Europe.

Very few people outside the countries concerned realise that the populations of modern Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania and other Eastern European countries were deliberately recreated by Stalin through the use of unprecendented mass forced deportation as mono-ethnic countries from the highly ethnically diverse states they were before World War II.

Snyder eloquently describes this process and its impact on generic post war mythologies of national grievance and wildly exaggerated victimhood very eloquently in "Bloodlands".

Mick H

I wasn't aware that I was reviewing a book about a city in Europe. I linked to Mike Mazower's "Salonica" without mentioning it, but I was writing about Smyrna (Izmir), and then extended that to the Middle East in general, and Palestine in particular.

It's not that I disagree with anything you've said. I'm sure you're right about the scale and brutality of Soviet post war ethnic cleansing and forced population transfers. And yes, of course it's relevant, and I thank you for the contribution. I'm just a bit puzzled as to why you seem to be so critical. We're saying basically the same thing, aren't we? - that the Palestinian propaganda representation of themselves as the sole recent victims of ethnic cleansing is a fabrication. It's just that I didn't deal with the Soviet Union. But - you know - it's just a blog post, not a treatise. It's a huge topic. I picked one aspect which, I thought, deserved to be better remembered.

If it makes you feel better, "Bloodlands" has been sitting in my Amazon basket for a while now, and yes, I will get round to it soon.


I'm not in need of therapy, so buy and read Bloodlands when you're ready to, though I do very strongly recommend it.

A central theme of "Bloodlands" is the importance of recognising our own hypocrisy and complicity in the case of forgetting the forcible transfers and accompanying murders via mass starvation and other privations which were the history of wartime and post war Eastern Europe under Stalin as well as the Nazis.

The Palestinian propaganda only has the purchase it has in UK and western politics today because we have never allowed ourselves to recognise the wider history of the creation of postwar mono-ethnic nations with accompanying mythologised histories. On that basis, it is easy to be taken in by the accompanying construction of Israel as a unique transgressor nation, the instigator of unparalleled crimes, which now has quite some purchase in the Labour Shadow Cabinet. "Palestine" as it is today presented politicially is a major part of the agenda and legacy of Stalin and his successors. It is highly misleading and self-deceiving to categorise it as a "Middle East" issue.


"Bloodlands" is very good


Another point which Snyder makes very clearly and eloquently is that the systematic and developed portrayal of the Israelis as the inheritors and direct equivalents of the Nazis came out of the Soviet determination to deter the people of Poland from identifying with Israel ("our little Jews") as they did at the time of the 1967 War. The Poles saw the Israelis ( a very large number of whom were indeed Polish Jews) successfully defeating the Egyptian and other Soviet client states of the Arab world, and identified with them as a surrogate for their own wished for resistance to Soviet occupation.The infant Palestine Liberation Organization was at the time receiving its terror training and "education" at the hands of the KGB.

Which is the context of how Palestinian President Abbas came to write his PhD in a Soviet University on the subject of how the Holocaust death toll was greatly exaggerated and there was an alliance between the zionists and the Nazis.

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