Dayan Quotation:

In the comments to my post reconstructing a quotation, distorted by an ellipsis, attributed to Ariel Sharon, a reader wrote,"Next up, Prof. Bernstein explains the quote attributed to Moshe Dayan, 'we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave.'" Sure, why not. This quote comes up pretty often, and is a particular favorite of Noam Chomsky. It's generally attributed to Dayan as saying that this is what he said Israel should tell "the Palestinians" or "the Palestinians in the occupied territories."

The problem is that the original English source for this quote is Noam Chomsky, in his 1992 book Deterring Democracy. Not surprisingly, Chomsky provides no meaningful context; all he writes is "Dayan's advice was that Israel should tell the Palestinian refugees [note that even in Chomsky's original, Dayan is referring to "refugees" assumedly living in refugee camps, not Palestinians in general, something that Chomsky has conveniently forgotten over time] in the territories 'that we have no solution, that you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave — and we will see where this process leads... [beware the ellipsis!] In five years we may have 200,000 less people — and that is a matter of enormous importance.'"

Chomsky's source is Yossi Beilin, Mehiro shel Ihud 42-43 (Revivim, 1985), a Hebrew book written by Israeli dove Beilin. If we have any Volokh Conspiracy readers who are fluent in Hebrew and have access to the book, let me know in more detail what specifically Dayan was referring to, what is missing via the ellipsis, and if, for that matter, Chomsky is indeed quoting accurately (which with Chomsky cannot be taken for granted), please write in.

UPDATE: In a debate with Alan Dershowitz, the cheeky Chomsky states: "Dayan was in charge of the occupation. He advised them that we must tell the Palestinians, that we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave. That's the solution that is now being implemented. Don't take my word for it. Go check the sources I cited, very easy, all English." Well, all English so long as you allow Chomsky to cite himself citing the Hebrew original!

FURTHER UPDATE: Here's a translation of the original Hebrew:

At this stage, there was, it seems, in Dayan's position, a willingness to go back to the international border in Syria and Sinai, to find a way to transfer the refugees from Gaza to the West Bank, to add Gaza, and to divide authority on the West Bank with Jordan.

The single voice that represented the dovish position in the internal deliberations in RAFI [a small center-left party] was Itzhak Navon. Three months after the war, he said, "Time is not in our favor but against us... the West Bank is tied to hundreds of thousands, we need to decide on policy based on coordination with the Palestinians and not with Hussein...! We need to reach a settlement with them, meaning building an independent country. Meaning, part of the West Bank, and the IDF will say... 'if we don't stand face to face with [occupy and confront] the Palestinians, we didn't solve anything, and we cannot keep our position as ruler of a million and a quarter Arabs... it's a different nation, a different people that you can't explain to them [the Arabs] why we're sitting there."

No one supported this position, and Navon himself didn't repeat his position in RAFI forums, and later in Labor Party forums.

On the other hand, the RAFI attitude became more hawkish, under the leadership of Moshe Dayan. Even his position became more extreme after the Fall of 1967.

In the RAFI secretariat meeting in September of 1967, Tvzi Shiloah, one of the Founders of the Greater Israel movement, said, "borders is the most delicate thing in world politics, and we need to expel 'arrangements' from our thoughts. Our job is to educate our party to the notion that there are no political agreements."

An argument between Dayan and Peres at the same meeting demonstrates a very extreme approach regarding the Palestinian refugees. Moshe Dayan states during this discussion "let's say 'we don't have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and we'll see how this procedure will work out.' For now, it works out. Let's say the truth. We want peace. If there is no peace, we will maintain military rule and we will have four to five military compounds on the mountains, and they will sit ten years under the Israeli military regime. Whoever wants to go, will want. It's possible that in five years, there will be 200,000 fewer people, and that's an enormous thing."

RAFI secretary Shimon Peres retorts, "we could act like Rhodesia, but we need to avoid that. Putting aside our standing in the world, there is a problem for ourselves. We need to consider how to maintain Israel's moral status, and let's not ignore that." To that, Dayan replies, "Ben-Gurion said that whoever approaches the Zionistic problem in the moral aspect is not a Zionist."

So, first, the original Hebrew source is a secondary source that provides only the barest context for Dayan's remark--all the book tells us is that Dayan's comment illustrates an extreme attitude toward Palestinian refugees, and was made during a meeting with other leaders of the small RAFI party, which was composed of hawkish defectors from the dominant Labor Party. Apparently, Chomsky couldn't be bothered to look up the original transcripts, which are footnoted by Beilin.

Second, Dayan didn't make this remark in the "early 1970s," he made it in September 1967, just three months after the Six Day War.

Third, he didn't say it to his "cabinet colleagues," or in any official government capacity, but at meeting of the leaders of his small party, and his statement on that particular day may or may not have reflected his more general, or his longer-term, views regarding the Palestinians.

Fourth, according the book, Dayan was addressing the situation of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, not all Palestinians, or even all Palestinians in the West Bank.

Fifth, and by far most significant, Chomsky leaves out the next few sentences uttered by Dayan: "For now, it works out. Let's say the truth. We want peace. If there is no peace, we will maintain military rule and we will have four to five military compounds on the hills, and they will sit ten years under the Israeli military regime." Thus, rather than this quote reflecting a long-term "plan" by Israel, it reflected Dayan's view of the alternative if a peace deal with Jordan (Beilin notes on the same page that Dayan was willing "to divide authority on the West Bank with Jordan"), could not be reached. Moreover, even in the absence of an immediate peace deal, Dayan was not speaking of a permanent occupation, but of a ten-year Israeli presence.

Nevertheless, the quotes in the book don't make Dayan look good. Shimon Peres objects that the occupation proposed by Dayan would make Israel act immorally like Rhodesia, and Dayan responds that moral considerations should be irrelevant.

So, if you want to claim, as Beilin does, that Dayan was prone to adopting extreme views regarding the Palestinian refugees in September 1967, this certainly provides strong supporting evidence. You could argue, moreover, that this suggests a moral blind spot on Dayan's part, as Shimon Peres (whom Chomsky also despises, and also claims was not interested in peace) did at the time. But if you want to argue, as Chomsky does, that the relevant quotation shows that in the early 1970s the man in charge of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was lecturing his cabinet colleagues (without apparent dissent) that they should reject peace, and mistreat the Palestinian population so badly that they will all want to leave, you are stretching the truth beyond recognition.

The Rabbi:
It seems the quote is correct see the highlighted language (in Hebrew) here
8.27.2007 3:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Isn't this the text of an interview with Noam Chomsky? With Chomsky again quoting Dayan? How about a source for this quote other than Chomsky?
8.27.2007 3:28pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
I'm not sure that Chomsky is fluent in Hebrew. If not, the interview that The Rabbi linked to was most likely conducted in English and then translated to Hebrew, so it's possible that the quote linked to is not Beilin's original Hebrew but rather Chomsky's English version translated back.
8.27.2007 3:59pm
Tel Avivi:
Yes it's just an interview with Chomsky. And presumably the interview was in English and translated.
8.27.2007 4:00pm
A law unto himself:
That is more than an elipse. That is completely circular sourcing...
8.27.2007 4:16pm
Steven Lubet (mail):
One of the counts against Ward Churchill was that he ghost wrote an article and then cited it as the sole source for a proposition in an article under his own name. In other words, he cited himself as authority (not so unusual) without acknowledging it (thus, scholarly deception).

Not really parallel to Chomsky's Dayan quote (unless there's more to the story), but interesting enough to mention.
8.27.2007 4:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
This is another instance of Chomsky’s methods. He cites obscure references that are often in other languages thus making checking him very difficult. I simply ignore him completely, and I don’t care what he says or thinks.
8.27.2007 4:40pm
Sounds like a winning strategy: if it doesn't exist in my preferred tongue, it doesn't exist. C'mon Noam, find some more popular sources (in English plzkthx!).
8.27.2007 4:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I’ll settle for French, Russian, German and Japanese. But when someone cites something like Vuk Stefanović Karadžić in the “The DUH Group Annals” written in Serbian, you have wonder. But I learned a long time ago not to argue with a Chomsky groupie.
8.27.2007 10:13pm
LM (mail):
I watched the Kennedy School's stream of the Chomsky-Dershowitz debate in 2005. Much of it consisted of arguing over the accuracy of what was or wasn't in various histories and other source materials. On the recurring issue of who was to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David talks, Chomsky naturally rejected the Dennis Ross / Bill Clinton maps and diaries for a more Palestinian-friendly narrative by Israeli academic and political advisor, Ron Pundak.

I believe the determinative moment in the debate came when, answering a question from an Israeli who had been at Camp David as an advisor to Ehud Barak, Chomsky referred to Pundak’s Camp David maps as authority for his answer. The Israeli seemed to surprise Chomsky by pointing out that Pundak had not in fact been at Camp David. Chomsky hemmed and hawed a bit, finally doing what he could to rescue his credibility by insisting that Pundak had nonetheless certainly been an advisor in the background (“background” presumably meaning Israel or someplace else that just doesn’t happen to be where the disputed events actually took place, Camp David).

Some time later, I listened to the debate again from the Democracy Now site you linked. I was taken aback to discover that the Israeli’s question and the ensuing exchange had been edited out of the Democracy Now broadcast. Which means it’s also absent from their website transcript. So neither listening to nor reading about this debate on the Democracy Now site will offer any hint of what I think was its crucial moment.

I'm not saying it was overtly deceptive to delete such a key portion of the debate. Amy Goodman never said she was broadcasting the entire thing, and fitting a one and a half hour event into a one-hour radio program does necessitate some cutting. Also, to be fair, they do link to the Kennedy School's video stream of the entire program. Finally, let’s face it -- it’s Pacifica. Nobody really expects them to be objective.

Still -- call me naive -- I was surprised. This was the only moment in the debate when either Dershowitz or Chomsky seemed the least bit thrown. Removing it wasn’t just point shaving; it was arguably fixing the winner. All else being equal, I'd think that such a rare moment of tension, being of interest to an audience, would be singled out for inclusion, not removal. So I have to believe the Democracy Now editors cut the segment precisely because they saw it as I did, i.e., the Israeli's revelation and Chomsky's reaction to it seriously impeached Chomsky's credibility.

Apropos of your earlier post about ellipses, I suppose the take away message here is that electronic media has its own versions of ellipses, equally capable of changing or distorting meaning unbeknownst to a credulous (Hello!) audience.
8.28.2007 1:11am
Mitchell J. Freedman (mail) (www):

Chomsky is very literate in Hebrew. His parents taught Hebrew, too, and were Zionists, first of the Ahad Ha'am variety, and then supportive of Ben-Gurion. Noam never wavered from his support of Ha'am.

Beilin did repeat that comment from Dayan somewhere, but damned if I can find it on the web. Maybe someone else can do better than me in finding it. Still, it's a gotcha at most, isn't it? Kind of like Paul Robeson saying he wouldn't fight for the US against Russia based upon the President and Congress not supporting anti-lynching legislation at the time. Should Dayan be judged on that one comment? Hardly.
8.28.2007 2:31am
LM (mail):

Chomsky is very literate in Hebrew. His parents taught Hebrew, too, and were Zionists, first of the Ahad Ha'am variety, and then supportive of Ben-Gurion.

One of the first things you learn from the aforementioned debate is that in the 1950's Dershowitz was a camper while Chomsky was a counselor at a Hebrew language, Zionist summer camp.
8.28.2007 4:21am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Indeed, Chomsky's father was a distinguished scholar of the Hebrew language, perhaps best known for his book "David Kimhi's Hebrew Grammar", and Chomsky wrote his M.A. thesis on Hebrew. Any errors in his quotations from Hebrew sources are not due to an inadequate command of Hebrew.
8.28.2007 6:46am
Just a Nut (mail):
Assuming that the quote is correct and that Chomsky is reliable in matters of language, it is worth considering what exactly is wrong with Dayan's political/tactical stance? It is not a unique stance. It is not even a Jewish stance. Non-muslims under Islam were routinely subjected to a similar treatment, as were non-Christians in Christian dominions; non-Hindus and untouchables in Hindu dominion. On the positive side, it is a lot better than what Hitler tried.

Thus, for a hardened general to take a firm view without genocide in consolidating a conquest against odds is not all that surprising. Old timers would have either slaughtered or been slaughtered.
8.29.2007 4:46am
SF (mail):
Hindus have certainly discriminated against their own but Hindu kingdoms did not historically discriminate against non-Hindus. The world's only Hindu state, Nepal, does not do so today. Neither, of course, does secular India.

I find it interesting that the conversation has moved from Chomsky is doing something shady to Chomsky does not know Hebrew to well, it doesn't matter anyway. Shorter Bernstein: Chomsky criticized Isreal, Chomsky must be a morally bankrupt person who makes up his own quotes. Nice.
8.29.2007 5:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Hindus have certainly discriminated against their own but Hindu kingdoms did not historically discriminate against non-Hindus. The world's only Hindu state, Nepal, does not do so today. Neither, of course, does secular India.
Well, I think you'll find Muslims in India disagreeing with that sentiment.

Shorter SF: Jews are bad.
8.29.2007 10:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And no, I don't think SF was saying that, but it's as accurate as his "shorter" was.
8.29.2007 10:10pm