Myths and Facts About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
MYTH: “THE PALESTINIAN USE OF TERRORISM IS JUST BECAUSE THEIR CAUSE IS JUST.”
FACT: Terrorism has a clear and unambiguous definition – the deliberate targeting of innocent men, women and children for death or injury by a political or religious movement. No political or religious cause can justify such cold-blooded mass murder.
MYTH: “THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES IS ILLEGAL.”
FACT: The Israeli military presence on the West Bank (and Gaza prior to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005) is not an “occupation.” The territories are disputed, and no nation had recognized sovereignty over them when Israel arrived there after winning its 1967 defensive war. The land has never been under Palestinian jurisdiction. Even during the years 1948-67 when Jordan controlled the West Bank, no Palestinian state was established or even talked about.
Since 1993, Israel has been trying to end its presence in the territories by negotiating an end-of-conflict agreement with the Palestinians. In interim agreements, Israel’s army has withdrawn from territories on the West Bank containing 98% of the Palestinian population, as well as from the entire Gaza Strip. Israel is the only “occupier” in the world which has been and continues to be willing to negotiate an end to its military presence. Meanwhile, Israel’s critics remain silent over China’s refusal to end its occupation of Tibet and India’s control of Kashmir.
MYTH: “ISRAEL HAS STOLEN PALESTINIAN LAND.”
FACT: Jewish historical and religious claims to the land date back to Biblical times. Since then, a continuous Jewish community has existed there up to modern times. Jewish immigration into Turkish Palestine – a neglected, sparsely populated area – began to accelerate from 1880 onward, with settlements built on land purchased legally from absentee landlords. As Palestinian Jewish settlements prospered, Arab migrants moved to Palestine in search of jobs..
MYTH: “ISRAEL IS EQUALLY TO BLAME FOR THE CONTINUING VIOLENCE.”
FACT: There is “no cycle of violence” between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. There is only Palestinian terror and Israeli efforts to end it. Israel’s military actions are done in legitimate self defense. For example, when Palestinian structures are targeted, it is because those locations hide snipers shooting at civilians, contain basement weapons factories, or conceal arms smuggling tunnels. Israel has agreed to every cease fire negotiated since the outbreak of violence in September 2000. Without exception, every cease fire violation has been caused by Palestinian Arabs.
MYTH: "THE ARAB REFUGEES WHO LEFT ISRAEL IN 1948 AND THEIR DESCENDANTS HAVE A LEGITIMATE CLAIM TO COMPENSATION AND THE RIGHT TO RETURN."
FACT: Most of the Arab refugees of 1948 left voluntarily at the urging of the surrounding Arab countries, who thought that they would easily destroy Israel in 1948. When against all odds Israel survived its war of independence, the Arab states failed to or even refused to absorb or integrate the Palestinian refugees within their borders – this despite their vast unoccupied territory and growing oil-based wealth. Instead, they forced the refugees to remain living under appalling conditions in dismal camps, using them as propaganda tools against Israel. In contrast, about the same numbers of Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands with no compensation, but most of them were immediately welcomed by and resettled in Israel. Out of the 100 million refugees created since World War II, Palestinian Arabs are the only refugee group in the world that has not been absorbed and integrated into their lands of refuge.
Under the Roadmap to Peace two-state solution that Israel has accepted, Palestinian refugees could return to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as other countries willing to accept them. Some may also be allowed to return to Israel, but too many returning would threaten the Jewish majority of the Jewish homeland. Israel has also proposed compensation for Palestinian Arab refugees. A negotiated comprehensive peace agreement should encompass all of these issues, as well as compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab lands.Back to top
MYTH: “ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS ARE ILLEGAL AND AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE.”
FACT: Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were built by Israel to address her security concerns about the surrounding Arab states whose armies had threatened or invaded Israel several times. Israel gave back settlements and an entire city, Yamit, to make peace with Egypt, and has been willing to apply the same “land for peace” formula with its other neighbors.
While experts may disagree about their legality, the settlements were accepted by the Palestinians as a negotiating topic in the Oslo peace process which began in 1993. But in summer of 2000, the Palestinians rejected a peace deal brokered by President Clinton that offered them more than 95% of the West Bank including the dismantling of most Israeli settlements.
MYTH: “ISRAEL'S MILITARY OPPRESSES THE PALESTINIANS”
FACT: Israel is at war against Palestinian terrorists. War necessarily means destruction, roadblocks, and disruptions to the economy and to everyday life. Israel does its best to minimize the impact of its security measures on ordinary Palestinian civilians, and the IDF has strict rules of engagement to protect civilians. But Israel’s first priority is and must be the safety of its people. The difficulties posed by Israel’s military presence in the territories will end when the Palestinians end the terror and return to the negotiating table.
MYTH: “ISRAEL DISCRIMINATES AGAINST ARAB ISRAELIS.”
FACT: Arab Israelis are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel, enjoy all of the legal rights of Jewish Israelis, and even serve in Israel’s parliament. Israel’s democracy, while not perfect, is self-critical and self-corrective. It has a free press, independent judiciary and freely operating civil liberties organizations which, together, safeguard the rights of women, gays, Arabs and other minorities. There are no such institutions elsewhere in the in the Arab world, and Arabs in Israel enjoy more freedom than anywhere else in the Middle East.
MYTH: “PALESTINIAN LIVES ARE VIEWED AS 'CHEAP' BY ISRAEL.”
FACT: The tension and animosity between Israelis and Palestinians can at times be great. But there are no buses being blown up by Jewish terrorists in Ramallah or Hebron or Nablus. Israeli hospitals treat Palestinians who are sick or injured. Israelis employ Palestinians and trade with them.
MYTH: “ISRAEL THREATENS ITS NEIGHBORS WITH NUCLEAR BOMBS.”
FACT: While Israel does not admit to possessing nuclear weapons, its alleged nuclear program is said to have begun in the late 1950s after two wars launched by the Arabs to annihilate it. As the only Jewish nation, Israel views itself as the refuge of the Jewish people and an obstacle to another Holocaust against the Jews. If Israel has nuclear weapons, they are meant not as a threat but as a deterrent to enemies who would destroy Israel. Iran continues to “wipe Israel off the map.” Israel has never threatened to destroy any nation.