chapter  18
50 Pages

What Happened at Lydda

(With responses by Benny Morris)
WithMartin Kramer

"Lydda, 1948", concerns an alleged massacre of Palestinian Arabs that preceded an act of forcible expulsion. The Lydda chapter gained resonance early on because Shavit's friends at the New Yorker decided to abridge and publish it in the magazine. Shavit relies largely on his interviews, conducted those many years ago. Shavit himself has proclaimed that Israel is "all about complexity. If you don't see that, you don't get it". On July 11, Israeli troops under the command of Moshe Dayan put Lydda in a state of shock with a guns-ablaze dash skirting both towns. The entry of historians into the debate over Ari Shavit's Lydda chapter, in his bestselling book My Promised Land, constitutes progress. In the New Yorker abridgment of his Lydda chapter, Shavit invokes Benny Morris as his source. Morris's narrative of the "massacre" is austere in comparison to Shavit's, because Morris claims he never resorts to oral testimony to establish a fact, only to add "color".