The depressing part of the article is that it's all well-known and obvious for the few of us who follow these matters in depth; the author is however probably correct that a general public of the sort which reads City Journal doesn't know this all pat, and indeed may even find it novel. On the other hand, given enough articles such as this and its content could one day again become generally accepted; as Stern says, that would actually encourage the creation of two sovereign states alongside each other.
Unfortunately, no amount of documentation and evidence about what really happened in 1948 will puncture the Nakba narrative. The tale of dispossession has been institutionalized now, an essential part of the Palestinians’ armament for what they see as the long struggle ahead. It has become the moral basis for their insistence on the refugees’ right to return to Israel, which in turn leads them to reject one reasonable two-state peace plan after another. In the meantime, the more radical Palestinians continue to insist that the only balm for the Nakba is the complete undoing of the historical crime of Zionism—either eliminating Israel or submerging it into a secular democratic state called Palestine. (The proposal is hard to take seriously from adherents of a religion and a culture that abjure secularism and allow little democracy.)One of the historians Stern mentions is Benny Morris, a central figure in the academic research into the story of 1948. It just so happens that Morris has a long interview with Shimon Peres, one of the few people left who saw those events from their center and is still around to tell the tale. Yet it's a frustrating interview. Morris, unlike any journalist who might interview Peres, knows a lot about the periods Peres can reminisce about, and is in the position to ask intelligent questions; for whatever reason, however, the interview tantalizes, but doesn't supply the goods. Peres and Morris both skim along the years in a perfunctory matter. This is doubly regrettable in that Peres is 87 and visibly aging. By the time he steps down at the end of his term as president he'll be 90, and won't have the strength to write a serious memoir (though there as a collaboration of his with David Landau about Ben Gurion somewhere in the pipeline).
Nor will the facts about 1948 impress the European and American leftists who are part of the international Nakba coalition. The Nakba narrative of Zionism as a movement of white colonial oppressors victimizing innocent Palestinians is strengthened by radical modes of thought now dominant in the Western academy. Postmodernists and postcolonialists have adapted Henry Ford’s adage that “history is bunk” to their own political purposes. According to the radical professors, there is no factual or empirical history that we can trust—only competing “narratives.” For example, there is the dominant establishment narrative of American history, and then there is the counter-narrative, written by professors like the late Howard Zinn, which speaks for neglected and forgotten Americans. Just so, the Palestinian counter-narrative of the Nakba can now replace the old, discredited Zionist narrative, regardless of actual historical facts. And thanks to what the French writer Pascal Bruckner has called the Western intelligentsia’s new “tyranny of guilt”—a self-effacement that forbids critical inquiry into the historical narratives of those national movements granted the sanctified status of “oppressed”—the Nakba narrative cannot even be challenged.
Comically, the part of the interview which drew a lot of attention was when Peres didn't really say that the English are antisemitic, and the UK media got all offended by what he didn't really say (here, too).