MYTH "Saddam Hussein was never interested in acquiring nuclear weapons." FACT
In 1981, Israel became convinced Iraq was approaching the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. To preempt the building of a weapon they believed would undoubtedly be directed against them, the Israelis launched a surprise attack that destroyed the Osirak nuclear complex. At the time, Israel was widely criticized. On June 19, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the raid. Critics minimized the danger of Iraq’s nuclear program, claiming that because Baghdad had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and permitted its facilities to be inspected, Israeli fears were baseless.
It was not until after Iraq invaded Kuwait that U.S. officials began to acknowledge publicly that Baghdad was developing nuclear weapons and that it was far closer to reaching its goal than previously thought. Again, many critics argued the Administration was only seeking a justification for a war with Iraq.
Months later, after allied forces had announced the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear facilities, UN inspectors found Saddam’s program to develop weapons was far more extensive than even the Israelis believed. Analysts had thought Iraq was incapable of enriching uranium for bombs, but Saddam’s researchers used several methods (including one thought to be obsolete) that were believed to have made it possible for Iraq to build at least one bomb.
MYTH "American Jews goaded the United States to go to war against Iraq in 2003 to help Israel." FACT
Some opponents of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003 claimed that American Jews somehow were responsible for persuading President George W. Bush to launch the military campaign on Israel’s behalf. In fact, President Bush decided that Iraq posed a threat to the United States because it was believed to possess weapons of mass destruction and was pursuing a nuclear capability that could have been used 100 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
directly against Americans or could have been transferred to terrorists who would use them against U.S. targets. The removal of Saddam Hussein was also designed to eliminate one of the principal sponsors ofterrorism.
The war in Iraq liberated the Iraqi people from one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. Even in the Arab world, where many people objected to the U.S. action, no Arab leader rose to Saddam Hussein’s defense.
It is true that Israel will benefit from the elimination of a regime that launched 39 missiles against it in 1991, paid Palestinians to encourage them to attack Israelis, and led a coalition of Arab states committed to Israel’s destruction. It is also true, however, that many Arab states benefited from the removal of Saddam Hussein, in particular, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This is why these nations allowed Allied forces to use their countries as bases for operations.
As for the role of American Jews, it is important to remember that Jews comprise less than three percent of the U.S. population and were hardly the most vocal advocates of the war. On the contrary, the Jewish community had divisions similar to those in the country as a whole, and most major Jewish organizations purposely avoided taking any position on the war. Meanwhile, public opinion polls showed that a significant majority of all Americans initially supported the President’s policy toward Iraq.18
Some critics have suggested that prominent Jewish officials in the Bush Administration pushed for the war; however, only a handful of officials in the Administration were Jewish, and not one of the President’s top advisers at the time—the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Vice President, or National Security Adviser—was Jewish. These opponents of the war chose the age-old approach of blaming the Jews for a policy they disagreed with rather than addressing the substantive arguments in the debate.
1. Washington Post, (August 3, 1990).
2. Washington Post, (January 17, 1991).
3. Near East Report, (February 4, 1991).
4. Jerusalem Post, (January 17, 1992).
5. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (April 15, 1999).
6. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (June 22, 2001).
7. Nick Williams, "Iraq Threatens Israel With Use of Nerve Gas," Los Angeles Times, (April 13, 1990).
8. "Iraq Said to Have Standing Orders for Attack on Israel," Los Angeles Times (April 18, 1990).
9. UPI, (April 22, 1990).
10. Baghdad Domestic Service, (June 18, 1990).
11. Washington Post, (March 29, 1990).
12. Washington Times, (April 3, 1990).10. The Gulf Wars 101
13. Reuters, (April 12, 1990).
14. "Iraq’s 165-ft-long Supergun Examined by UN Inspectors," Houston Chronicle, (August 13, 1991).
15. Washington Post, (August 8, 1991).
16. AP, "Iraq: First Target Tel Aviv," Los Angeles Times, (December 24, 1990).
17. U.S. Department of State, "Memorandum of Conversation including Press Conference Transcript," (January 9, 1991), p. 6.
18. "Public Attitudes Towards the War in Iraq: 2003–2008," Pew Research Center, (March 19, 2008).
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005*MYTH "Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000 caused the Palestinian War." FACT
To believe Palestinian spokesmen, the five-year "al-Aqsa intifada," was caused by the desecration of a Muslim holy place—Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount)—by Likud leader Ariel Sharon and the "thousands of Israeli soldiers" who accompanied him. The violence was carried out through unprovoked attacks by Israeli forces, which invaded Palestinian-controlled territories and "massacred" defenseless Palestinian civilians, who merely threw stones in self-defense. The only way to stop the violence, then, was for Israel to cease-fire and remove its troops from the Palestinian areas.
The truth is dramatically different.
Imad Faluji, the Palestinian Authority Communications Minister, admitted months after Sharon’s visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon’s "provocation." "It [the violence] had been planned since Chairman Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former U.S. president and rejected the American conditions."1 Similarly, in 2010, Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas said that Arafat instructed his organization to launch terror attacks against Israel after the failure of peace negotiations.2
"The Sharon visit did not cause the ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada.’ "
—Conclusion of the Mitchell Report, (May 4, 2001)3
The violence started before Sharon’s September 28, 2000, visit to the Temple Mount. The day before, for example, an Israeli soldier was killed at the Netzarim Junction. The next day, in the West Bank city of Kalkilya,
*Sometimes referred to as the second, or al-Aqsa intifida, the war was never formally declared, but began in September 2000 with a surge of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel. The war also had no formal ending resulting in a cease-fire or peace agreement. The Israeli Defense Forces succeeded in suppressing the violence to the point where the war had petered out by the end of September 2005.
a Palestinian police officer working with Israeli police on a joint patrol opened fire and killed his Israeli counterpart.
Official Palestinian Authority media exhorted the Palestinians to violence. On September 29, the Voice of Palestine, the PA’s official radio station sent out calls "to all Palestinians to come and defend the al-Aqsa mosque." The PA closed its schools and bused Palestinian students to the Temple Mount to participate in the organized riots.
Just prior to Rosh Hashanah (September 30), the Jewish New Year, when hundreds of Israelis were worshipping at the Western Wall, thousands of Arabs began throwing bricks and rocks at Israeli police and Jewish worshippers. Rioting then spread to towns and villages throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami permitted Sharon to go to the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest place—only after calling Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub and receiving his assurance that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. The need to protect Sharon arose when Rajoub later said that the Palestinian police would do nothing to prevent violence during the visit.4
Sharon did not attempt to enter any mosques and his 34 minute visit to the Temple Mount was conducted during normal hours when the area is open to tourists. Palestinian youths—eventually numbering around 1,500—shouted slogans in an attempt to inflame the situation. Some 1,500 Israeli police were present at the scene to forestall violence.
There were limited disturbances during Sharon’s visit, mostly involving stone throwing. During the remainder of the day, outbreaks of stone throwing continued on the Temple Mount and in the vicinity, leaving 28 Israeli policemen injured. There are no accounts of Palestinian injuries on that day. Significant and orchestrated violence was initiated by Palestinians the next day following Friday prayers.
"Philosophically, the difference between me and the terrorist is that he wants to hurt me and my children and my wife, while I want to hit him and spare his children and his wife . . . because even the killing of one innocent person is unfortunate and should be avoided."
—Senior Israeli Air Force pilot5
MYTH "A handful of Israelis were murdered in the war while thousands of innocent Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops."
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 103 104 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
During the Palestinian War, the number of Palestinian casualties was higher than the figure for Israelis; however, the gap narrowed as Palestinian suicide bombers used increasingly powerful bombs to kill larger numbers of Israelis in their terror attacks. When the war unofficially concluded at the end of September 2005, more than 2,100 Palestinians and 1,061 Israelis had been killed. The disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties was primarily a result of the number of Palestinians involved in violence and was the inevitable result of an irregular, ill-trained group of terrorists attacking a well-trained regular army. The unfortunate death of noncombatants was largely due to the habit of Palestinian terrorists using civilians as shields.
What is more revealing than the tragic totals, however, is the specific breakdown of the casualties. According to one study, Palestinian noncombatants were mostly teenage boys and young men. "This completely contradicts accusations that Israel has ‘indiscriminately targeted women and children,’ " according to the study. "There appears to be only one reasonable explanation for this pattern: that Palestinian men and boys engaged in behavior that brought them into conflict with Israeli armed forces."6
By contrast, the number of women and older people among the noncombatant Israeli casualties illustrates the randomness of Palestinian attacks, and the degree to which terrorists have killed Israelis for the "crime" of being Israeli. Israeli troops do not target innocent Palestinians, but Palestinian terrorists do target Israeli civilians.
"It is not a mistake that the Koran warns us of the hatred of the Jews and put them at the top of the list of the enemies of Islam. . . . The Muslims are ready to sacrifice their lives and blood to protect the Islamic nature of Jerusalem and al- Aksa!"
—Sheik Hian Al-Adrisi7
MYTH "Israel created Hamas." FACT
Israel had nothing to do with the creation of Hamas. The organization grew out of the ideology and practice of the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement that arose in Egypt in the 1920s.
Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 as an Islamic Association by Sheik Ahmad Yassin. Initially, the organization engaged pri
marily in social welfare activities and soon developed a reputation for improving the lives of Palestinians, particularly the refugees in the Gaza Strip.
Though Hamas was committed from the outset to destroying Israel, it took the position that this was a goal for the future, and that the more immediate focus should be on winning the hearts and minds of the people through its charitable and educational activities. Its funding came primarily from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The PLO was convinced that Israel was helping Hamas in the hope of triggering a civil war. Since Hamas did not engage in terror at first, Israel did not see it as a serious short-term threat, and some Israelis believed the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza would have the beneficial impact of weakening the PLO, and this is what ultimately happened.
Hamas certainly didn’t believe it was being supported by Israel. As early as February 1988, the group put out a primer on how its members should behave if confronted by the Shin Bet. Several more instructional documents were distributed by Hamas to teach followers how to confront the Israelis and maintain secrecy.
Israel’s assistance was more passive than active, that is, it did not interfere with Hamas activities or prevent funds from flowing into the organization from abroad. Israel also may have provided some funding to allow its security forces to infiltrate the organization.8 Meanwhile, Jordan was actively helping Hamas, with the aim of undermining the PLO and strengthening Jordanian influence in the territories.
Though some Israelis were very concerned about Hamas before rioting began in December 1987, Israel was reluctant to interfere with an Islamic organization, fearing that it might trigger charges of violating the Palestinians’ freedom of religion. It was not until early in the intifada, when Hamas became actively involved in the violence, that the group began to be viewed as a potentially greater threat than the PLO. The turning point occurred in the summer of 1988 when Israel learned that Hamas was stockpiling arms to build an underground force and Hamas issued its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. At this point it became clear that Hamas was not going to put off its jihad to liberate Palestine and was shifting its emphasis from charitable and educational activity to terrorism. Hamas has been waging a terror war against Israel ever since.9
MYTH "Palestinians do not encourage children to engage in terror." FACT
Most Palestinians who adopt terror in the hope of either "ending the occupation" or destroying Israel do so because they freely choose mur
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 105 106 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
der over any other option. Palestinian terrorists also use children, however, to do their dirty work.
On March 15, 2004, Israeli security forces caught an 11-year-old boy attempting to smuggle a bomb through a roadblock. The boy was promised a large sum of money by Tanzim activists in Nablus if he delivered a bag containing a bomb stuffed with bolts to a woman on the other side of the checkpoint. If the boy was stopped and searched, the terrorists who sent him planned to use a cell phone to immediately detonate the explosives he was carrying, murdering nearby soldiers as well as the boy. The plan was foiled by an alert Israeli soldier, and the bomb apparently malfunctioned when the terrorists tried to remotely detonate it. A week later, on March 24, 2004, a 14-year-old Palestinian child was found to be carrying explosives when attempting to pass through the Israeli army checkpoint at Hawara, at the entrance of the town of Nablus.10
Just over a year later, on May 22, 2005, a 14-year-old boy was again arrested at the Hawara checkpoint with two pipe bombs strapped to a belt he was wearing. A few days later, a 15-year-old tried to get through the checkpoint with two more pipe bombs. Yet another teen, a 16-year-old, was caught on July 4, 2005, attempting to smuggle a bomb and homemade handgun. In August, another 14-year-old boy was caught carrying three pipe bombs packed with explosives, shrapnel and glass balls.11
These are a few examples of the cynical use of children by Palestinians waging war on Israel. Young Palestinians are routinely indoctrinated and coerced into the cult of martyrdom.
"Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices."
Despite occasional claims that terror is only promoted by "extremists," the truth is the Palestinian Authority has consistently incited its youth to violence. Children are taught that the greatest glory is to die for Allah in battle as a shahid. The PA regularly broadcast television shows that encouraged children to embrace this concept. One film used the death of Muhammad Al-Dura, the child killed in the crossfire of a shootout between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces, to show that life after death is paradise. An actor playing Al-Dura was shown in an amusement park, playing on the beach, and flying a kite. The Al-Dura in the film invited viewers to follow his example. Similar messages ex
tolling the virtue of the shahid can be found in school textbooks and sermons by Muslim clergy.13
The indoctrination is having an impact. According to one Palestinian newspaper, 79–80% of children told pollsters they were willing to be shahids.14
Palestinian children now play death games, competing to see who will be the shahid. They also collect "terrorist cards" the way American kids collect baseball cards. The maker of the Palestinian cards sold 6 million in just over two years. "I take hundreds of these pictures from children every day and burn them," said Saher Hindi, a teacher at a Nablus elementary school. "They turn children into extremists."15
"As one of the Islamic fanatics who inspired al-Qaida said: ‘We are not trying to negotiate with you. We are trying to destroy you.’ . . . They wish to destroy the whole basis of Western society—secular democracy, individual liberty, equality before the law, toleration and pluralism—and replace it with a theocracy based on a perverted and dogmatic interpretation of the Koran. . . . The idea that we should try to appease the terrorists is wrong in every respect. It would not protect us, for nothing acts as a greater incentive to terrorists than the realization that their target is weak and frightened. And it would only weaken the institutions we are trying to protect, and demonstrate to the terrorists that we are—as they frequently allege—too decadent and craven to defend the way of life to which we claim to be attached."
—London Daily Telegraph16
Many Palestinian youngsters have gone from pretending to carrying out actual terrorist attacks. More than two dozen suicide bombers have been under the age of 18. Between 2001 and March 2004, more than 40 minors involved in planning suicide bombings were arrested. In those years, 22 shootings and bombings were carried out by minors. For example, teens ages 11–14 attempted to smuggle munitions fromEgypt into the Gaza Strip; three teenagers, ages 13–15, were arrested on their way to carry out a shooting attack in Afula; and a 17-year-old blew himself up in an attempted suicide attack. In just the first five months of 2005, 52 more Palestinian minors were caught wearing explosive belts or attempting to smuggle weapons through checkpoints in the West Bank.17
The situation finally became so serious Palestinian families protested. The mother of one of the three teenagers sent to carry out the Afula attack said of the letter he had left behind, "My son doesn’t know how to write a letter like that and has never belonged to one of the organiza
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 107 108 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
tions. Some grownup wrote the letter for him." The boy’s father added, "Nobody can accept to send his children to be slaughtered. I am sure that whoever recruits children in this kind of unlawful activity will not recruit his own children."18
Martin Fletcher interviewed the parents of the 15-year-old stopped at the Hawara checkpoint. His parents expressed their anger at the Al- Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, calling its operatives criminals and saying that Allah would punish them. The correspondent spoke with the boy and read him a letter from his mother asking him to confess and to give Israel all the information in his possession about the men who had sent him.19
MYTH "Palestinian women become suicide bombers because of their commitment to ‘liberate’ Palestine." FACT
It may be that some Palestinian women share the ideology of the terrorists who believe that blowing up innocent men, women, and children will achieve their political objective, but many others are blackmailed into carrying out suicide attacks by sadistic and manipulative Palestinian men.
More than 20 Palestinian women have engaged in suicide attacks. The terrorist organizations that recruit them do so in part because they believe women will generate less suspicion, and that Israeli soldiers will be more reticent to search them.
Some of the women have been convinced to engage in terrorist attacks to rehabilitate their reputations in their community if they have acquired a bad name or done something to bring shame upon their family. Shame is a powerful force in Arab society, and women who are promiscuous, engage in adultery, become pregnant out of wedlock, or behave in other ways deemed improper may be ostracized or severely punished (e.g., husbands may kill wives who shamed them in so-called "honor crimes").
Terrorist organizations have used emotional blackmail against these often vulnerable women to convince them that by carrying out a suicide attack against Jews, they may restore their honor or that of their family. Israeli intelligence declassified a report that said Fatah operatives went so far as to seduce women and then, after they became pregnant, used their condition to blackmail them into committing heinous crimes. The report cited two specific cases, one involved a 21-year-old from Bethlehem who blew herself up in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, killing six and wounding more than 60, and the other was an
18-year-old from the Dehaishe refugee camp who blew up a Jerusalem supermarket and killed two people and wounded 22 others.20
These examples show the merciless way Palestinian terrorists treat not only their victims, but their own people.
MYTH "Palestinians interested in peace are allowed freedom of speech by the Palestinian Authority." FACT
One of the principal deterrents to speaking out against Palestinian irredentism and terror in the Palestinian Authority is the threat of being murdered. By the end of the first intifada in the early 1990s, more Palestinians were killed by their fellow Palestinians than died in clashes with Israeli security forces. During the Palestinian War, intimidation and murder were used to muzzle dissent. Usually those seeking peace or an end to terror are labeled "collaborators" and, if they are lucky, arrested by the Palestinian Authority. The unlucky ones are murdered, often in grisly and public ways, such as stringing them up from lamp posts in public squares to send the message that a similar fate awaits anyone who dares cross those seeking Israel’s destruction.
"If Muslims claim that we are against violence, why aren’t we demonstrating in the streets against suicide bombings? Why is it so much easier to draw us into protest against a French ban on the hijab, but next to impossible to exorcise ourselves about slavery, stonings and suicide killings? Where’s our collective conscience?"
—Muslim author Irshad Manji21
A Palestinian need not be interested in peace to become a target of violence; one need only express opposition or offer a challenge to the ruling Fatah party. For example, after student elections at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah resulted in the Islamic Bloc of Hamas and Islamic Jihad receiving more votes than Fatah, Palestinian security forces and members of Fatah attacked members of the Islamic groups and their supporters. Security forces opened fire on the crowd and wounded more than 100 students.22 When the president of the Gaza-based National Institute of Strategic Studies, Riad al-Agha, criticized the Palestinian security forces on Palestine TV for failing to impose law and order after Israel’s disengagement, he was arrested.23
There are no exact figures for the number of Palestinians killed in the
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 109 110 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
internecine war; however, Amnesty International reported that "scores of Palestinians" had been unlawfully killed and that the PA "consistently failed to investigate these killings and none of the perpetrators was brought to justice."24 The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a Palestinian organization that monitors slayings of Palestinians by Palestinians, recorded 43 such murders in 2002; 56 in 2003, and 93 in 2004. By October, 151 Palestinians had already been killed in 2005, more than had died in clashes with Israeli troops.25
The killings continued after the Palestinian War. Between January 2006 and June 2007, Palestinian factions killed an estimated 616 Palestinians during the civil war between Fatah and Hamas, according to the ICHR. From January 2008 to March 2011, ICHR reports at least 570 Palestinians were killed as a result of murder, tribal fighting, gang violence, tunnel collapses (Egypt to Gaza), weapons misuse, torture, executions, revenge actions and public safety.26
MYTH "The shooting of a child being protected by his father shown on TV proves Israel does not hesitate to kill innocent Palestinian children." FACT
Perhaps the most vivid image of the Palestinian War was the film of a Palestinian father trying unsuccessfully to shield his son from gunfire. Israel was universally blamed for the death of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura, but subsequent investigations found that the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian bullets.
The father and son took cover adjacent to a Palestinian shooting position at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip. After Palestinian policemen fired from this location and around it toward an IDF position, soldiers returned fire toward the sources of the shooting. During the exchanges of fire, the Palestinian child was hit and killed.
Contrary to the conventional belief that the footage of the incident was live, it was actually edited before it was broadcast around the world. Though a number of cameramen were in the area, only one, a Palestinian working for France 2, recorded the shooting.
An IDF investigation of the incident released November 27, 2000, found that al-Dura was most likely killed by a Palestinian policeman and not by IDF fire. This report was confirmed by an independent investigation by German ARD Television, which said the footage of al-Dura’s death was censored by the Palestinians to look as if he had been killed by the Israelis when, in fact, his death was caused by Palestinian gunfire.27
James Fallows revisited the story and found that "the physical evi
dence of the shooting was in all ways inconsistent with shots coming from the IDF outpost." In addition, he cites a number of unanswered questions, which have led some to conclude the whole incident was staged. For example, Fallows asks, "Why is there no footage of the boy after he was shot? Why does he appear to move in his father’s lap, and to clasp a hand over his eyes after he is supposedly dead? Why is one Palestinian policeman wearing a Secret Service-style earpiece in one ear? Why is another Palestinian man shown waving his arms and yelling at others, as if ‘directing’ a dramatic scene? Why does the funeral appear—based on the length of shadows—to have occurred before the apparent time of the shooting? Why is there no blood on the father’s shirt just after they are shot? Why did a voice that seems to be that of the France 2 cameraman yell, in Arabic, ‘The boy is dead’ before he had been hit? Why do ambulances appear instantly for seemingly everyone else and not for al-Dura?"28
Denis Jeambar, editor-in-chief of the French news weekly l’Express, and filmmaker Daniel Leconte, a producer and owner of the film company Doc en Stock, saw raw, unedited video of the shooting and said the boy could not have been shot by Israeli soldiers. "The only ones who could hit the child were the Palestinians from their position. If they had been Israeli bullets, they would be very strange bullets because they would have needed to go around the corner."29
Despite the evidence that the report was inaccurate, France 2 has refused to retract the story.
"I think when you are attacked by a terrorist and you know who the terrorist is and you can fingerprint back to the cause of the terror, you should respond."
—U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell30
MYTH "Israel’s policy of targeted killings is immoral and counterproductive." FACT
Israel is faced with a nearly impossible situation in attempting to protect its civilian population from Palestinians who are prepared to blow themselves up to murder innocent Jews. One strategy for dealing with the problem has been to pursue negotiations to resolve all of the conflicts with the Palestinians and offer to trade land for peace and security. After Israel gave back much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 111 112 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
offered virtually all of the remainder, however, the Palestinians chose to use violence to try to force Israel to capitulate to all their demands.
A second strategy is for Israel to "exercise restraint," that is, not respond to Palestinian terror. The international community lauds Israel when it turns the other cheek after heinous attacks. While this restraint might win praise from world leaders, it does nothing to assuage the pain of the victims or to prevent further attacks.
"The assassination of Hamas head Sheik Ahmed Yassin in 2004 played in the world as the killing of a crippled holy man by Israeli rockets as he was leaving the mosque in a wheelchair after morning prayers. Because of secrecy surrounding the operation, no file was prepared to explain why he was being killed, that he was an arch-terrorist who had, two days previously, sent two Gaza suicide bombers into Ashdod Port in an attempt to cause a mega-blast of the fuel and nitrates stored there. Or that he had been directly responsible for the deaths of scores, if not hundreds of Israelis."
—Columnist Hirsh Goodman31
Moreover, the same nations that urge Israel to exercise control have often reacted forcefully when put in similar situations. For example, the British assassinated Nazis after World War II and targeted IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland. In April 1986, after the U.S. determined that Libya had directed the terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discotheque that killed one American and injured 200 others, it launched a raid on a series of Libyan targets, including President Muammar Qaddafi’s home. Qaddafi escaped, but his infant daughter was killed and two of his other children were wounded. President Reagan justified the action as self-defense against Libya’s state-sponsored terrorism. "As a matter of self-defense, any nation victimized by terrorism has an inherent right to respond with force to deter new acts of terror. I felt we must show Qaddafi that there was a price he would have to pay for that kind of behavior and that we wouldn’t let him get away with it."32 The Clinton Administration attempted to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 1998 in retaliation for his role in the bombings of the United States embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. George W. Bush ordered "hits" on the Iraqi political leadership during the 2003 war in Iraq and his Administration said it would not hesitate to kill bin Laden while targeting a number of other al-Qaeda operatives.33 Similarly, the Obama Administration has used drones to kill Taliban fighters and terrorists and found and killed bin Laden in 2011. 34
More recently, Israel has chosen a third option—eliminating the masterminds of terror attacks. It is a policy that is supported by a vast
majority of the public (70 percent in an August 2001 Haaretz poll supported the general policy and a similar percentage in 2003 specifically backed the attempt to kill the leader of Hamas). The policy is also supported by the American public according to an August 2001 poll by the America Middle East Information Network. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents felt Israel was justified in killing terrorists if it had proof they were planning bombings or other attacks that could kill Israelis.35
Then Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Moshe Ya’alon explained the policy this way:
There are no executions without a trial. There is no avenging someone who had carried out an attack a month ago. We are acting against those who are waging terror against us. We prefer to arrest them and have detained over 1,000. But if we can’t, and the Palestinians won’t, then we have no other choice but to defend ourselves.36
The Israeli government also went through a legal process before adopting the policy of targeted killings. Israel’s attorney general reviewed the policy and determined that it is legal under Israeli and international law.37
Targeting the terrorists has a number of benefits. First, it places a price on terror: Israelis can’t be attacked with impunity anymore, for terrorists know that if they target others, they will become targets themselves. Second, it is a method of self-defense: pre-emptive strikes eliminate the people who would otherwise murder Israelis. While it is true that there are others to take their place, they can do so only with the knowledge they too will become targets, and leaders are not easily replaceable. Third, it throws the terrorists off balance. Extremists can no longer nonchalantly plan an operation; rather, they must stay on the move, look over their shoulders at all times, and work much harder to carry out their goals.
Of course, the policy also has costs. Besides international condemnation, Israel risks revealing informers who often provide the information needed to find the terrorists. Soldiers also must engage in sometimes high-risk operations that occasionally cause tragic collateral damage to property and persons.
The most common criticism of "targeted killings" is that they do no good because they perpetuate a cycle of violence whereby the terrorists seek revenge. This is probably the least compelling argument against the policy, because the people who blow themselves up to become martyrs could always find a justification for their actions. They are determined to bomb the Jews out of the Middle East and will not stop until their goal is achieved.
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 113 114 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
In August 2002, we had all the leadership of Hamas—Sheik Yassin and all his military commanders . . . in one room in a three-story house and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them—the whole leadership, 16 people, all the worst terrorists. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, due to the criticism in Israeli society and in the media, and due to the consequences of innocent Palestinians being killed, a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved and we hit the building with a much smaller bomb. There was a lot of dust, a lot of noise, but they all got up and ran away and we missed the opportunity. So the ethical dilemmas are always there.38
MYTH "Israel indiscriminately murders terrorists and Palestinian civilians." FACT
It is always a tragedy when innocent civilians are killed in a counterterrorism operation. Civilians would not be at risk, however, if the Palestinian Authority arrested the terrorists, the murderers did not choose to hide among noncombatants and the civilians refused to protect the killers.
Israel does not attack Palestinian areas indiscriminately. On the contrary, the IDF takes great care to target people who are planning terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Israeli forces have a history of accuracy in such assaults, nevertheless, mistakes are sometimes made. Whereas the terrorists make no apology for their attacks on civilians, and purposely target them, Israel always investigates the reasons for any errors and takes steps to prevent them from reoccurring.
Israel is not alone in using military force against terrorists or in sometimes inadvertently harming people who are not targets. For example, on the same day that American officials were condemning Israel because a number of civilians died when Israel assassinated a leader of Hamas, news reports disclosed that the United States bombed a village in Afghanistan in an operation directed at a Taliban leader that instead killed 48 Afghan civilians at a wedding party. In both cases, flawed intelligence played a role in the tragic mistakes.
"In Gaza last week, crowds of children reveled and sang while adults showered them with candies. The cause for celebration: the cold-blooded murder of at least seven people—five of them Americans—and the maiming of 80 more by a terrorist bomb on the campus of Jersualem’s Hebrew University."
—Historian Michael Oren39
The terrorists themselves do not care about the lives of innocent Palestinians and are ultimately responsible for any harm that comes to them. The terrorists’ behavior is a violation of international law, specifically Article 51 of the 1977 amendment to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the use of civilians to "shield, favor or impede military operations."40
1. Jerusalem Post, (March 4, 2001).
2. Khaled Abu Toameh, "Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000," Jerusalem Post, (September 28, 2010).
3. Conclusion of the Mitchell Report, (May 4, 2001).
4. Israel Radio, (October 3, 2000), cited by Independent Media Review & Analysis, http:// www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=4750.
5. Christian Lowe and Barbara Opall-Rome, "Israel Air Force Seeks Expanded Anti-Terror Role," Defense News, (March 28, 2005).
6. "An Engineered Tragedy: Statistical Analysis of Casualties in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, September 2000-June 2002," International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, (June 2002).
7. Quoted in Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee First Statement of the Government of Israel, Israeli Foreign Ministry, (December 28, 2000).
8. Richard Sale, "Hamas history tied to Israel," UPI, (June 18, 2002).
9. Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’’ari, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising—Israel’s Third Front. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990), pp. 227–239.
10. Associated Press; Jerusalem Post; New York Post, (March 16, 2004); CNN.com (March 24, 2004).
11. Jerusalem Post, (May 25, July 5, August, 29, 2005).
12. Amnesty International, Press Release, (March 24, 2004).
13. Itamar Marcus, "Ask for Death," The Review, (March 2003).
14. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, (June 18, 2002).
15. Jerusalem Post, (December 25, 2003).
16. London Daily Telegraph, (March 14, 2004).
17. Jerusalem Post, (March 15, 2004, May 25, 2005).
18. Associated Press, (February 29, 2004).
19. MSNBC, (May 27, 2005).
20. "Blackmailing Young Women into Suicide Terrorism," Israeli Foreign Ministry, (February 12, 2003).
21. Pearl Sheffy Gefen, "Irshad Manji, Muslim Refusenik," Lifestyles Magazine, (Summer 2004), p. 29.
11. The Palestinian War, 2000–2005 115 116 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
22. NewsFirstClass, (December 12, 2003).
23. Khaled Abu Toameh, "PA arrests academic voicing criticism," Jerusalem Post, (July 5, 2005).
24. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices—2002, The State Department, March 31, 2003; B’tselem, Amnesty International, January-December 2002; Jerusalem Post, (August 25, 2002).
25. Mohammed Daraghmeh, "Palestinian Vigilante Killings on the Rise," Associated Press, (October 6, 2005).
26. "Over 600 Palestinians killed in internal clashes since 2006," Reuters, (June 6, 2007); "Monthly Reports on Violations of HR," The Independent Commission for Human Rights, http://www.ichr.ps/etemplate.php?id=12, accessed March 28, 2011.
27. CNN, Israel Defense Forces, Jerusalem Post, (November 27, 2000); Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (March 21, 2002).
28. James Fallows, "Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura?" The Atlantic Monthly, (June 2003).
29. Eva Cahen, "French TV Sticks by Story That Fueled Palestinian Intifada," CNSNews. com, (February 15, 2005).
30. News Conference, (September 12, 2001).
31. Hirsh Goodman, "A Lesson Learned," Jerusalem Report, (September 19, 2005).
32. Ronald Reagan, "Ronald Reagan on Libya," Ronald Reagan.com, Posted (June 5, 2004).
33. Washington Post, (September 14 and 18, 2001).
34. "Drones are Lynchpin of Obama’s War on Terror," Der Spiegel, (March 12, 2010).
35. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (August 31, 2001).
36. Jerusalem Post, (August 10, 2001).
37. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (December 3, 2001).
38. Amos Yadlin, "Ethical Dilemma’s in Fighting Terrorism," Vol. 4, No. 8, JCPA, (November 25, 2004).
39. Michael Oren, "Palestinians Cheer Carnage," Wall Street Journal, (August 7, 2002).
40. Customary International Humanitarian Law, "Practice Relating to Rule 97—Human Shields," ICRC, Additional Protocal #1.
12. The United NationsMYTH "According to Security Council Resolution 242, Israel’s acquisition of territory through the 1967 war is ‘inadmissible.’ " FACT
On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 242, establishing the principles that were to guide the negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.
The first point addressed by the resolution is the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." Some people take this to mean that Israel is required to withdraw from all the territories it captured. On the contrary, the reference clearly applies only to an offensive war. If not, the resolution would provide an incentive for aggression. If one country attacks another, and the defender repels the attack and acquires territory in the process, the former interpretation would require the defender to return all the land it took. Thus, aggressors would have little to lose because they would be ensured against the main consequence of defeat.
"This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender."
The ultimate goal of 242, as expressed in paragraph 3, is the achievement of a "peaceful and accepted settlement." This means a negotiated agreement based on the resolution’s principles rather than one imposed upon the parties. This is also the implication of Resolution 338, according to Arthur Goldberg, the American ambassador who led the delegation to the UN in 1967.2 That resolution, adopted after the1973 war, called for negotiations between the parties to start immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire.
MYTH "Resolution 242 requires Israel to return to its pre-1967 boundaries." 118 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
The most controversial clause in Resolution 242 is the call for the "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." This is linked to the second unambiguous clause calling for "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and the recognition that "every State in the area" has the "right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
The resolution does not make Israeli withdrawal a prerequisite for Arab action. Moreover, it does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up. The Security Council did not say Israel must withdraw from "all the" territories occupied after the Six-Day War. This was quite deliberate. The Soviet delegate wanted the inclusion of those words and said that their exclusion meant "that part of these territories can remain in Israeli hands." The Arab states pushed for the word "all" to be added; when the Council rejected their idea, they read the resolution as if it was included. The British Ambassador who drafted the approved resolution, Lord Caradon, declared after the vote: "It is only the resolution that will bind us, and we regard its wording as clear."3
This literal interpretation, without the implied "all," was repeatedly declared to be the correct one by those involved in drafting the resolution. On October 29, 1969, for example, the British Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons the withdrawal envisaged by the resolution would not be from "all the territories."4 When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said: "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial."5
Similarly, U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg explained: "The notable omissions—which were not accidental—in regard to withdrawal are the words ‘the’ or ‘all’ and the ‘June 5, 1967 lines’ . . . the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal."6
The resolutions clearly call on the Arab states to make peace with Israel. The principal condition is that Israel withdraw from "territories occupied" in 1967. Since Israel withdrew from approximately 94 percent of the territories when it gave up the Sinai, the Gaza Strip and portions of the West Bank, it has already partially, if not wholly, fulfilled its obligation under 242.
The Arab states also objected to the call for "secure and recognized boundaries" because they feared this implied negotiations with Israel. The Arab League explicitly ruled this out at Khartoum in August 1967, when it proclaimed the three "noes." Amb. Goldberg explained that this phrase was specifically included because the parties were expected to
12. The United Nations 119
make "territorial adjustments in their peace settlement encompassing less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure." The question, then, is whether Israel has to give up any additional territory. Now that peace agreements have been signed with Egypt and Jordan, and Israel has withdrawn to the international borderwith Lebanon, the only remaining territorial disputes are with the Palestinians (who are not even mentioned in 242) and Syria.
The dispute with Syria is over the Golan Heights. Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to negotiate a compromise in exchange for peace; however, Syria has refused to consider even a limited peace treaty unless Israel first agrees to a complete withdrawal. Under 242, Israel has no obligation to withdraw from any part of the Golan in the absence of a peace accord with Syria.
Meanwhile, other Arab states—such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Libya—continue to maintain a state of war with Israel, or have refused to grant Israel diplomatic recognition, even though they have no territorial disputes with Israel. These states have nevertheless conditioned their relations (at least rhetorically) on an Israeli withdrawal to the pre- 1967 borders.
"There are some who have urged, as a single, simple solution, an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4. . . . this is not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities."
—President Lyndon Johnson, speech on June 19, 19677
MYTH "Resolution 242 recognizes a Palestinian right to self-determination." FACT
The Palestinians are not mentioned anywhere in Resolution 242. They are only alluded to in the second clause of the second article of 242, which calls for "a just settlement of the refugee problem." Nowhere does it require that Palestinians be given any political rights or territory.
MYTH "The Arab states and the PLO accepted Resolution 242 whereas Israel rejected it."120 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
The Arab states have traditionally said they accept 242—as defined by them—that is, requiring Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from all the disputed territories.
The Palestinians, angered by the exclusion of any mention of them in the text, rejected the resolution.8
By contrast, Ambassador Abba Eban expressed Israel’s position to the Security Council on May 1, 1968: "My government has indicated its acceptance of the Security Council resolution for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace. I am also authorized to reaffirm that we are willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on all matters included in that resolution."
It took nearly a quarter century, but the PLO finally agreed that Resolutions 242 and 338 should be the basis for negotiations with Israel when it signed the Declaration of Principles in September 1993.
MYTH "The United Nations plays a constructive role in Middle East affairs." FACT
Starting in the mid-1970s, an Arab-Soviet-Third World bloc joined to form what amounted to a pro-Palestinian lobby at the United Nations. This was particularly true in the General Assembly where these countries—nearly all dictatorships or autocracies—frequently voted together to pass resolutions attacking Israel and supporting the PLO.
In 1975, at the instigation of the Arab states and the Soviet Bloc, the Assembly approved Resolution 3379, which slandered Zionism by branding it a form of racism.
U.S. Ambassador Daniel Moynihan called the resolution an "obscene act." Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog told his fellow delegates the resolution was "based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance." Hitler, he declared, would have felt at home listening to the UN debate on the measure.9
On December 16, 1991, the General Assembly voted 111–25 (with 13 abstentions and 17 delegations absent or not voting) to repeal Resolution 3379. No Arab country voted for repeal. The PLO denounced the vote and the U.S. role.
Israel is the object of more investigative committees, special representatives and rapporteurs than any other state in the UN system. The Commission on Human Rights routinely adopts disproportionate resolutions concerning Israel. Of all condemnations of this agency, nearly 49 percent refer to Israel alone (38 total resolutions), while rogue states 12. The United Nations 121
such as Iran and Libya have only been criticized once each and Syria was never mentioned until Syrian troops began slaughtering its citizens in the summer of 2011.10
In March 2005, the Security Council issued an unprecedented condemnation of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv carried out by Islamic Jihad. Unlike Israeli actions that provoke resolutions, the Security Council issued only a "policy statement" urging the Palestinian Authority to "take immediate, credible steps to find those responsible for this terrorist attack" and bring them to justice. It also encouraged "further and sustained action to prevent other acts of terror." The statement required the consent of all 15 members of the Security Council. The one Arab member, Algeria, signed on after a reference to Islamic Jihad was deleted.11 The Council has never adopted a resolution condemning a terrorist atrocity committed against Israel.
In August 2005, just as Israel was prepared to implement its disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority produced materials to celebrate the Israeli withdrawal. These included banners that read, "Gaza Today. The West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow." News agencies reported that the banners were produced with funds from the UN Development Program and were printed with the UNDP’s logo.12
History has proven that the path to peace is through direct negotiations between the parties; however, the UN constantly undercuts this principle. The General Assembly routinely adopts resolutions that attempt to impose solutions disadvantageous to Israel on critical issues such as Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and settlements. Ironically, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 proposed the bilateral negotiations that are consistently undermined by the General Assembly resolutions.
Thus, the record to date indicates the UN has not played a useful role in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"What takes place in the Security Council more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving."
—former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick13
MYTH "The Palestinians have been denied a voice at the UN." FACT
Besides the support the Palestinians have received from the Arab and Islamic world, and most other UN members, the Palestinians have been 122 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
afforded special treatment at the UN since 1975. That year, the General Assembly awarded permanent representative status to the PLO and established the pro-PLO "Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People." The panel became, in effect, part of the PLO propaganda apparatus, issuing stamps, organizing meetings, and preparing films and draft resolutions in support of Palestinian "rights."
In 1976, the committee recommended "full implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their return to the Israeli part of Palestine." It also recommended that November 29—the day the UN voted to partition Palestine in 1947—be declared an "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." Since then, it has been observed at the UN with anti-Israel speeches, films and exhibits. Over the objections of the United States, a special unit on Palestine was established as part of the UN Secretariat.
In 1988, the PLO’s status was upgraded when the General Assembly designated the PLO as "Palestine." Ten years later, the General Assembly voted to give the Palestinians a unique status as a non-voting member of the 185 member Assembly.
Palestinian representatives can now raise the issue of the peace process in the General Assembly, cosponsor draft resolutions on Middle East peace and have the right of reply. They still do not have voting power and cannot put forward candidates for UN bodies such as the Security Council.
In 2011, Palestinian leaders went to the UN to seek recognition of a state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. By using the international body to circumvent negotiations, the Palestinians sought to avoid the necessity of recognizing Israel and ending the conflict, and to convince the UN to force Israel to capitulate to their demands.
MYTH "Israel enjoys the same rights as any other member of the United Nations." FACT
Israel had been the only UN member excluded from a regional group. Geographically, it belongs in the Asian Group; however, the Arab states have barred its membership. Without membership in a regional group, Israel cannot sit on the Security Council or other key UN bodies. For 40 years, Israel was the only UN member excluded from a regional group.
A breakthrough in Israel’s exclusion from UN bodies occurred in 2000, when Israel accepted temporary membership in the Western 12. The United Nations 123
European and Others (WEOG) regional group. The WEOG is the only regional group that is geopolitical rather than purely geographical. WEOG’s 27 members—the West European states, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States—share a Western-Democratic common denominator. This historic step opened the door to Israeli participation in the Security Council. Israel formally applied for membership to the Council in 2005, but the next seat will not be available until 2019.
MYTH "The United States has always supported Israel at the UN." FACT
Many people believe the United States can always be relied upon to support Israel with its veto in the UN Security Council. The historical record, however, shows that the U.S. has often opposed Israel in the Council.
The United States did not cast its first veto until 1972, on a Syrian- Lebanese complaint against Israel. From 1967–72, the U.S. supported or abstained on 24 resolutions, most critical of Israel. From 1973–2010, the Security Council adopted approximately 130 resolutions on the Middle East, most of which were critical of Israel. The U.S. vetoed a total of 43 resolutions and, hence, supported the Council’s criticism of Israel by its vote of support, or by abstaining, roughly two-thirds of the time.14
American officials also often try to convince sponsors to change the language of a resolution to allow them to either vote for, or abstain from a resolution. These resolutions are still critical of Israel, but may not be so one-sided that the United States feels obligated to cast a veto. In 2011, for example, the Palestinians called on the Security Council to label Israeli settlements illegal and to call for a construction freeze. The U.S. ambassador to the UN tried to convince the Palestinians to change the wording, but they refused. After vetoing the resolution, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice still criticized Israeli policy.15
In July 2002, the United States shifted its policy and announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution on the Middle East that did not condemn Palestinian terror and name Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as the groups responsible for the attacks. The U.S. also said that resolutions must note that any Israeli withdrawal is linked to the security situation, and that both parties must be called upon to pursue a negotiated settlement.16 The Arabs can still get around the United States by taking issues to the General Assembly, where nonbinding resolutions pass by majority vote, and support for almost any anti-Israel resolution is assured.124 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
MYTH "America’s Arab allies routinely support U.S. positions at the UN." FACT
In 2010, Morocco was the Arab nation that voted with the United States most often, and that was on only 35 percent of the resolutions. U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt, voted with the United States only 32 percent of the time. As a group, in 2010, the Arab states voted against the United States on nearly 70 percent of the resolutions. Syria was at the bottom of the list, opposing the U.S. 84 percent of the time. By contrast, Israel has consistently been America’s top UN ally. Israel voted with the U.S. 92 percent of the time in 2010, outpacing the support levels of major U.S. allies such as Great Britain, and France, which voted with the United States on only 73 percent of the resolutions.17
"The UN has the image of a world organization based on universal principles of justice and equality. In reality, when the chips are down, it is nothing other than the executive committee of the Third World dictatorships."
—former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick18
MYTH "Israel’s failure to implement UN resolutions is a violation of international law." FACT
UN resolutions are documents issued by political bodies and need to be interpreted in light of the constitution of those bodies. Votes at the UN are not based on legal principles, but the self-interest of the member states; therefore, UN resolutions represent political rather than legal viewpoints. Resolutions can have moral and political force when they are perceived as expressing the agreed view of the international community, or the views of leading, powerful and respected nations.
The UN Charter (Articles 10 and 14) specifically empowers the General Assembly to make only nonbinding "recommendations." Assembly resolutions are only considered binding in relation to budgetary and internal procedural matters.
The legality of Security Council resolutions is more ambiguous. It is not clear if all Security Council resolutions are binding or only those adopted under Chapter 7 of the Charter.19 Under Article 25 of theCharter, UN member states are obligated to carry out "decisions of the Security 12. The United Nations 125
Council in accordance with the present Charter," but it is unclear which kinds of resolutions are covered by the term "decisions." These resolutions remain political statements by nation states and not legal determinations by international jurists.
Israel has not violated any Security Council resolutions and the Council has never sanctioned Israel for noncompliance.
1. Abba Eban, Abba Eban, (NY: Random House, 1977), p. 446.
2. "Middle East Peace Prospects," Christian Science Monitor, (July 9, 1985).
3. Security Council Official Records, 1382nd Meeting (S/PV 1382), United Nations, (November 22, 1967).
4. Eban, p. 452.
5. Beirut Daily Star, (June 12, 1974).
6. Speech to AIPAC Policy Conference, (May 8, 1973).
7. "Address by President Johnson at National Foreign Policy Conference of Educators," (June 19, 1967).
8. Joel Beinin, "The Palestine Liberation Organization," Middle East Research and Information Project, http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intro-pal-israel-primer. html.
9. Chaim Herzog, Who Stands Accused?, (NY: Random House, 1978), pp. 4–5.
10. "Human Rights Actions," Eye on the UN, accessed on April 27, 2011, at http://www. eyeontheun.org/browse-un.asp?ya=1&sa=1&u=344&un_s=0&ul=1&tp=1&tpn= Resolution&hc=1&av=19&mn=1&mx=38&ta=78; "Anti-Israel Resolutions at the HRC," UN Watch, accessed on April 27, 2011, at http://www.unwatch.org/site/c. bdKKISNqEmG/b.3820041/.
11. "Policy Statement by Security Council on Terrorist Attack in Israel," Press Release SC/8325, United Nations, (February 28, 2005).
12. "U.N. Funds Palestinian Campaign," Fox News, (August 17, 2005).
13. New York Times, (March 31, 1983).
14. U.S. State Department.
15. Richard Grenell, "Susan Rice Fails to Convince the Palestinians, and Offers a Rebuke to Israel," Huffington Post, (February 17, 2011), accessed April 27, 2011, at http://www. huffingtonpost.com/richard-grenell/susan-rice-fails-to-convi_b_824897.html; "United States vetoes Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements," UN News Centre, (February 18, 2011).
16. Washington Post, (July 26, 2002).
17. "Voting Practices at the United Nations—2010," U.S. State Department.
18. Jerusalem Post, (September 5, 2001).
19. Bruno Simma, ed., The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 237–241; 407–418.
13. The Refugees
"One million Palestinians were expelled by Israel from 1947–49."FACT
The Palestinians left their homes in 1947–49 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle.
Many Arabs claim that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1947–49. The last census taken by the British in 1945 found approximately 1.2 million permanent Arab residents in all of Palestine. A 1949 census conducted by the government of Israel counted 160,000 Arabs living in the new state after the war. In 1947, a total of 809,100 Arabs lived in the same area.1 This meant no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine arrived at an even lower refugee figure—472,000.2
MYTH "Palestinians were the only people who became refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict."FACT
Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. Their situation had long been precarious. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened them. For example, Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: "The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition."3
The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions.4 13. The Refugees 127 128 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab reparations for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay anything to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries. Through 2010, at least 153 of the 914 UN General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East conflict (17 percent) referred directly to Palestinian refugees. Not one mentioned the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.5
The contrast between the reception of Jewish and Palestinian refugees is even starker when one considers the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation experienced by the two groups. Most Jewish refugees traveled hundreds—and some traveled thousands—of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language. Most Arab refugees never left Palestine at all; they traveled a few miles to the other side of the truce line, remaining inside the vast Arab nation that they were part of linguistically, culturally and ethnically.
MYTH "The Jews had no intention of living peacefully with their Arab neighbors." FACT
In numerous instances, Jewish leaders urged the Arabs to remain in Palestine and become citizens of Israel. The Assembly of Palestine Jewry issued this appeal on October 2, 1947:
We will do everything in our power to maintain peace, and establish a cooperation gainful to both [Jews and Arabs]. It is now, here and now, from Jerusalem itself, that a call must go out to the Arab nations to join forces with Jewry and the destined Jewish State and work shoulder to shoulder for our common good, for the peace and progress of sovereign equals.6
On November 30, the day after the UN partition vote, the Jewish Agency announced: "The main theme behind the spontaneous celebrations we are witnessing today is our community’s desire to seek peace and its determination to achieve fruitful cooperation with the Arabs. . . ."7
Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, issued May 14, 1948, also invited the Palestinians to remain in their homes and become equal citizens in the new state:
In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve the ways of peace 13. The Refugees 129
and play their part in the development of the State, on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its bodies and institutions. . . . We extend our hand in peace and neighborliness to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all.
MYTH "The Jews created the refugee problem by expelling the Palestinians." FACT
Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee. An independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel. The responsibility for the refugee problem rests with the Arabs.
The beginning of the Arab exodus can be traced to the weeks immediately following the announcement of the UN partition resolution. The first to leave were roughly 30,000 wealthy Arabs who anticipated the upcoming war and fled to neighboring Arab countries to await its end. Less affluent Arabs from the mixed cities of Palestine moved to all-Arab towns to stay with relatives or friends.8 By the end of January 1948, the exodus was so alarming the Palestine Arab Higher Committee asked neighboring Arab countries to refuse visas to these refugees and to seal their borders against them.9
On January 30, 1948, the Jaffa newspaper, Ash Sha’ab, reported: "The first of our fifth-column consists of those who abandon their houses and businesses and go to live elsewhere. . . . At the first signs of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle."10
Another Jaffa paper, As Sarih (March 30, 1948) excoriated Arab villagers near Tel Aviv for "bringing down disgrace on us all by ‘abandoning the villages.’ "11
Meanwhile, a leader of the Arab National Committee in Haifa, Hajj Nimer el-Khatib, said Arab soldiers in Jaffa were mistreating the residents. "They robbed individuals and homes. Life was of little value, and the honor of women was defiled. This state of affairs led many [Arab] residents to leave the city under the protection of British tanks."12
John Bagot Glubb, the commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, said: "Villages were frequently abandoned even before they were threatened by the progress of war."13
Contemporary press reports of major battles in which large numbers of Arabs fled conspicuously fail to mention any forcible expulsion by the Jewish forces. The Arabs are usually described as "fleeing" or 130MY T H S A N D FAC T S
"evacuating" their homes. While Zionists are accused of "expelling and dispossessing" the Arab inhabitants of such towns as Tiberias and Haifa, the truth is much different. Both of those cities were within the boundaries of the Jewish State under the UN partition scheme and both were fought for by Jews and Arabs alike.
Jewish forces seized Tiberias on April 19, 1948, and the entire Arab population of 6,000 was evacuated under British military supervision. The Jewish Community Council issued a statement afterward: "We did not dispossess them; they themselves chose this course. . . . Let no citizen touch their property."14
In early April, an estimated 25,000 Arabs left the Haifa area following an offensive by the irregular forces led by Fawzi al-Qawukji, and rumors that Arab air forces would soon bomb the Jewish areas around Mt. Carmel.15 On April 23, the Haganah captured Haifa. A British police report from Haifa, dated April 26, explained that "every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe."16 In fact, David Ben-Gurion sent Golda Meir to Haifa to try to persuade the Arabs to stay, but she was unable to convince them because of their fear of being judged traitors to the Arab cause.17 By the end of the battle, more than 50,000 Palestinians had left.
"Tens of thousands of Arab men, women and children fled toward the eastern outskirts of the city in cars, trucks, carts, and afoot in a desperate attempt to reach Arab territory until the Jews captured Rushmiya Bridge toward Samaria and Northern Palestine and cut them off. Thousands rushed every available craft, even rowboats, along the waterfront, to escape by sea toward Acre."
—New York Times, (April 23, 1948)
Syria’s UN delegate, Faris el-Khouri, interrupted the UN debate on Palestine to describe the seizure of Haifa as a "massacre" and said this action was "further evidence that the ‘Zionist program’ is to annihilate Arabs within the Jewish state if partition is effected."18
The following day, however, the British representative at the UN, Sir Alexander Cadogan, told the delegates that the fighting in Haifa had been provoked by the continuous attacks by Arabs against Jews a few days before and that reports of massacres and deportations were erroneous.19
The same day (April 23, 1948), Jamal Husseini, the chairman of the Palestine Higher Committee, told the UN Security Council that instead 13. The Refugees 131
of accepting the Haganah’’s truce offer, the Arabs "preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings, and everything they possessed in the world and leave the town."20
The U.S. Consul-General in Haifa, Aubrey Lippincott, wrote on April 22, 1948, for example, that "local mufti-dominated Arab leaders" were urging "all Arabs to leave the city, and large numbers did so."21
An army order issued July 6, 1948, made clear that Arab towns and villages were not to be demolished or burned, and that Arab inhabitants were not to be expelled from their homes.22
The Haganah did employ psychological warfare to encourage the Arabs to abandon a few villages. Yigal Allon, the commander of the Palmach, said he had Jews talk to the Arabs in neighboring villages and tell them a large Jewish force was in Galilee with the intention of burning all the Arab villages in the Lake Hula region. The Arabs were told to leave while they still had time and, according to Allon, they did exactly that.23
In the most dramatic example, in the Ramle-Lod area, Israeli troops seeking to protect their flanks and relieve the pressure on besieged Jerusalem, forced a portion of the Arab population to go to an area a few miles away that was occupied by the Arab Legion. "The two towns had served as bases for Arab irregular units, which had frequently attacked Jewish convoys and nearby settlements, effectively barring the main road to Jerusalem to Jewish traffic."24
As was clear from the descriptions of what took place in the cities with the largest Arab populations, these cases were clearly the exceptions, accounting for only a small fraction of the Palestinian refugees. The expulsions were not designed to force out the entire Arab population; the areas where they took place were strategically vital and meant to prevent the threat of any rearguard action against the Israeli forces, and to ensure clear lines of communication. Historian Benny Morris notes that "in general, Haganah and IDF commanders were not forced to confront the moral dilemma posed by expulsion; most Arabs fled before and during the battle, before the Israeli troops reached their homes and before the Israeli commanders were forced to confront the dilemma."25
MYTH "The Arab invasion had little impact on the Palestinian Arabs." FACT
Once the invasion began in May 1948, most Arabs remaining in Palestine left for neighboring countries. Surprisingly, rather than acting as a strategically valuable "fifth-column" that would fight the Jews from132 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
within the country, the Palestinians chose to flee to the safety of the other Arab states, still confident of being able to return. A leading Palestinian nationalist of the time, Musa Alami, revealed the attitude of the fleeing Arabs:
The Arabs of Palestine left their homes, were scattered, and lost everything. But there remained one solid hope: The Arab armies were on the eve of their entry into Palestine to save the country and return things to their normal course, punish the aggressor, and throw oppressive Zionism with its dreams and dangers into the sea. On May 14, 1948, crowds of Arabs stood by the roads leading to the frontiers of Palestine, enthusiastically welcoming the advancing armies. Days and weeks passed, sufficient to accomplish the sacred mission, but the Arab armies did not save the country. They did nothing but let slip from their hands Acre, Sarafand, Lydda, Ramleh, Nazareth, most of the south and the rest of the north. Then hope fled.26
As the fighting spread into areas that had previously remained quiet, the Arabs began to see the possibility of defeat. As that possibility turned into reality, the flight of the Arabs increased—more than 300,000 departed after May 15—leaving approximately 160,000 Arabs in the State of Israel.27
Although most of the Arabs had left by November 1948, there were still those who chose to leave even after hostilities ceased. An interesting case was the evacuation of 3,000 Arabs from Faluja, a village between Tel Aviv and Beersheba:
Observers feel that with proper counsel after the Israeli-Egyptian armistice, the Arab population might have advantageously remained. They state that the Israeli Government had given guarantees of security of person and property. However, no effort was made by Egypt, Transjordan or even the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission to advise the Faluja Arabs one way or the other.28
MYTH "Arab leaders never encouraged the Palestinians to flee." FACT
Despite revisionist historical attempts to deny that Palestinians were encouraged to leave their homes, a plethora of evidence demonstrates that the Palestinians who later became refugees were indeed told to leave their homes to make way for the invading Arab armies. In fact, in recent years, more Palestinians have come forward to candidly admit this truth.13. The Refugees 133
The Economist, a frequent critic of the Zionists, reported on October 2, 1948: "Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit. . . . It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades."
"The [refugee] problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Palestinians—and . . . surrounding Arab states—had launched."
—Israeli historian Benny Morris29
Time’s report of the battle for Haifa (May 3, 1948) was similar: "The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city. . . . By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa."30
Starting in December 1947, historian Benny Morris said, "Arab officers ordered the complete evacuation of specific villages in certain areas, lest their inhabitants ‘treacherously’ acquiesce in Israeli rule or hamper Arab military deployments." He concluded, "There can be no exaggerating the importance of these early Arab-initiated evacuations in the demoralization, and eventual exodus, of the remaining rural and urban populations."31
The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the March 8, 1948, instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, ordered women, children and the elderly in various parts of Jerusalem to leave their homes: "Any opposition to this order . . . is an obstacle to the holy war . . . and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts." The Arab Higher Committee also ordered the evacuation of "several dozen villages, as well as the removal of dependents from dozens more" in April- July 1948. "The invading Arab armies also occasionally ordered whole villages to depart, so as not to be in their way."32
Morris also said that in early May units of the Arab Legion ordered the evacuation of all women and children from the town of Beisan. The Arab Liberation Army was also reported to have ordered the evacuation of another village south of Haifa. The departure of the women and children, Morris says, "tended to sap the morale of the menfolk who were left behind to guard the homes and fields, contributing ultimately to the final evacuation of villages. Such two-tier evacuation—women and children first, the men following weeks later—occurred in Qumiya in the Jezreel Valley, among the Awarna bedouin in Haifa Bay and in various other places."134 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948–49, also admitted the Arab role in persuading the refugees to leave:
"Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return."33
Who gave such orders? Leaders such as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, who declared: "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down."34
The Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, wrote in his book, The Arabs: "This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to reenter and retake possession of their country."35
"The refugees were confident their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two," Monsignor George Hakim, a Greek Orthodox Catholic Bishop of Galilee told the Beirut newspaper, Sada al-Janub (August 16, 1948). "Their leaders had promised them that the Arab Armies would crush the ’Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile."
"The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies," according to the Jordanian newspaper Filastin, (February 19, 1949).
One refugee quoted in the Jordan newspaper, Ad Difaa (September 6, 1954), said: "The Arab government told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in."
"The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade," said Habib Issa in the New York Lebanese paper, Al Hoda (June 8, 1951). "He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean. . . . Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down."
The Arabs’ fear was exacerbated by stories of Jewish atrocities following the attack on Deir Yassin. The native population lacked leaders who could calm them; their spokesmen were operating from the safety13. The Refugees 135
of neighboring states and did more to arouse their fears than to pacify them. Local military leaders were of little or no comfort. In one instance the commander of Arab troops in Safed went to Damascus. The following day, his troops withdrew from the town. When the residents realized they were defenseless, they fled in panic.
"As Palestinian military power was swiftly and dramatically crushed, and the Haganah demonstrated almost unchallenged superiority in successive battles," Benny Morris noted, "Arab morale cracked, giving way to general, blind, panic, or a ‘psychosis of flight,’ as one IDF intelligence report put it."36
Dr. Walid al-Qamhawi, a former member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, agreed "it was collective fear, moral disintegration and chaos in every field that exiled the Arabs of Tiberias, Haifa and dozens of towns and villages."37
As panic spread throughout Palestine, the early trickle of refugees became a flood, numbering more than 200,000 by the time the provisional government declared the independence of the State of Israel.
Even Jordan’s King Abdullah, writing in his memoirs, blamed Palestinian leaders for the refugee problem:
The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.38
These accounts have been bolstered by more recent statements by Palestinians who have become fed up with the phony narrative concocted by some Palestinian and Israeli academics. Asmaa Jabir Balasimah, for example, recalled her flight from Israel in 1948:
We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the "Catastrophe" . They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours.39
An Arab resident of a Palestinian refugee camp explained why his family left Israel in 1948:
The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: ‘Get away from the battle lines. It’s a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we’ll bring you back to Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem].’ And we said to ourselves, ‘That’s a very long 136 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
time. What is this? Two weeks? That’s a lot!’ That’s what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by.40
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, a Palestinian journalist wrote in the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper:
. . . The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the "Catastrophe" in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those "Arkuvian" promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events . . . ["Arkuvian" is a reference to Arkuv, a figure from Arab tradition known for breaking promises and lying.]41
Another Palestinian journalist, Jawad Al Bashiti, explained the cause of the "Catastrophe":
The following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the "Arab Salvation Army" came and told the Palestinians: ‘We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (destroy Israel) in the best way and so you won’t be hurt.’ It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion. Arabs fought as if intending to cause the "Palestinian Catastrophe."42
"The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live."
—Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas43
MYTH "The Palestinian Arabs had to flee to avoid being massacred like the peaceful villagers in Deir Yassin." FACT
The United Nations resolved that Jerusalem would be an international city apart from the Arab and Jewish states demarcated in the partition 13. The Refugees 137
resolution. The 150,000 Jewish inhabitants were under constant military pressure; the 2,500 Jews living in the Old City were victims of an Arab blockade that lasted five months before they were forced to surrender on May 29, 1948. Prior to the surrender, and throughout the siege on Jerusalem, Jewish convoys tried to reach the city to alleviate the food shortage, which, by April, had become critical.
Meanwhile, the Arab forces, which had engaged in sporadic and unorganized ambushes since December 1947, began to make an organized attempt to cut off the highway linking Tel Aviv with —the city’s only supply route. The Arabs controlled several strategic vantage points, which overlooked the highway and enabled them to fire on the convoys trying to reach the beleaguered city with supplies. Deir Yassin was situated on a hill, about 2,600 feet high, which commanded a wide view of the vicinity and was located less than a mile from the suburbs of Jerusalem.44
On April 6, Operation Nachshon was launched to open the road to Jerusalem. The village of Deir Yassin was included on the list of Arab villages to be occupied as part of the operation. The following dayHaganah commander David Shaltiel wrote to the leaders of the Lehi and Irgun:
I learn that you plan an attack on Deir Yassin. I wish to point out that the capture of Deir Yassin and its holding are one stage in our general plan. I have no objection to your carrying out the operation provided you are able to hold the village. If you are unable to do so I warn you against blowing up the village which will result in its inhabitants abandoning it and its ruins and deserted houses being occupied by foreign forces. . . . Furthermore, if foreign forces took over, this would upset our general plan for establishing an airfield.45
The Irgun decided to attack Deir Yassin on April 9, while the Haganah was still engaged in the battle for Kastel. This was the first major Irgun attack against the Arabs. Previously, the Irgun and Lehi had concentrated their attacks against the British.
According to Irgun leader Menachem Begin, the assault was carried out by 100 members of that organization; other authors say it was as many as 132 men from both groups. Begin stated that a small open truck fitted with a loudspeaker was driven to the entrance of the village before the attack and broadcast a warning for civilians to evacuate the area, which many did.46 Most writers say the warning was never issued because the truck with the loudspeaker rolled into a ditch before it could broadcast the warning.47 One of the fighters said, the ditch was filled in and the truck continued on to the village. "One of us called out on the loudspeaker in Arabic, telling the inhabitants to put down their weapons and flee. I don’t know if they heard, and I know these appeals had no effect."48138 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Contrary to revisionist histories that say the town was filled with peaceful innocents, evidence shows that both residents and foreign troops opened fire on the attackers. One Irgun fighter described his experience:
My unit stormed and passed the first row of houses. I was among the first to enter the village. There were a few other guys with me, each encouraging the other to advance. At the top of the street I saw a man in khaki clothing running ahead. I thought he was one of ours. I ran after him and told him, "advance to that house." Suddenly he turned around, aimed his rifle and shot. He was an Iraqi soldier. I was hit in the foot.49
The battle was ferocious and took several hours. The Irgun suffered 41 casualties, including four dead.
Surprisingly, after the "massacre," the Irgun escorted a representative of the Red Cross through the town and held a press conference. The New York Times’ subsequent description of the battle was essentially the same as Begin’s. The Times said more than 200 Arabs were killed, 40 captured and 70 women and children were released. No hint of a massacre appeared in the report.50
"Paradoxically, the Jews say about 250 out of 400 village inhabitants [were killed], while Arab survivors say only 110 of 1,000."51 A study by Bir Zeit University, based on discussions with each family from the village, arrived at a figure of 107 Arab civilians dead and 12 wounded, in addition to 13 "fighters," evidence that the number of dead was smaller than claimed and that the village did have troops based there.52 Other Arab sources have subsequently suggested the number may have been even lower.53
In fact, the attackers left open an escape corridor from the village and more than 200 residents left unharmed. For example, at 9:30 A.M., about five hours after the fighting started, the Lehi evacuated 40 old men, women and children on trucks and took them to a base in Sheik Bader. Later, the Arabs were taken to East Jerusalem. Seeing the Arabs in the hands of Jews also helped raise the morale of the people ofJerusalem who were despondent from the setbacks in the fighting to that point.54 Another source says 70 women and children were taken away and turned over to the British.55 If the intent was to massacre the inhabitants, no one would have been evacuated.
After the remaining Arabs feigned surrender and then fired on the Jewish troops, some Jews killed Arab soldiers and civilians indiscriminately. None of the sources specify how many women and children were killed (the Times report said it was about half the victims; their original casualty figure came from the Irgun source), but there were some among the casualties.13. The Refugees 139
At least some of the women who were killed became targets because of men who tried to disguise themselves as women. The Irgun commander reported, for example, that the attackers "found men dressed as women and therefore they began to shoot at women who did not hasten to go down to the place designated for gathering the prisoners."56 Another story was told by a member of the Haganah who overheard a group of Arabs from Deir Yassin who said "the Jews found out that Arab warriors had disguised themselves as women. The Jews searched the women too. One of the people being checked realized he had been caught, took out a pistol and shot the Jewish commander. His friends, crazed with anger, shot in all directions and killed the Arabs in the area."57
Contrary to claims from Arab propagandists at the time, and some since, no evidence has ever been produced that any women were raped. On the contrary, every villager ever interviewed has denied these allegations. Like many of the claims, this was a deliberate propaganda ploy, but one that backfired. Hazam Nusseibi, who worked for the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1948, admitted being told by Hussein Khalidi, a Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate the atrocity claims. Abu Mahmud, a Deir Yassin resident in 1948 told Khalidi "there was no rape," but Khalidi replied, "We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews." Nusseibeh told the BBC 50 years later, "This was our biggest mistake. We did not realize how our people would react. As soon as they heard that women had been raped at Deir Yassin, Palestinians fled in terror."58
The Jewish Agency, upon learning of the attack, immediately expressed its "horror and disgust." It also sent a letter expressing the Agency’s shock and disapproval to Transjordan’s King Abdullah.
Arab radio stations broadcast accounts of what happened over the days and weeks that followed and the Arab Higher Committee hoped exaggerated reports about a "massacre" at Deir Yassin would shock the population of the Arab countries into bringing pressure on their governments to intervene in Palestine. Instead, the immediate impact was to stimulate a new Palestinian exodus.
Just four days after the reports from Deir Yassin were published, an Arab force ambushed a Jewish convoy on the way to Hadassah Hospital, killing 77 Jews, including doctors, nurses, patients, and the director of the hospital. Another 23 people were injured. This premeditated massacre attracted little attention and is never mentioned by those who are quick to bring up Deir Yassin. Moreover, despite attacks such as this against the Jewish community in Palestine, in which more than 500 Jews were killed in the first four months after the partition decision alone, Jews did not flee.
The Palestinians knew, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, the 140 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Jews were not trying to annihilate them; otherwise, they would not have been allowed to evacuate Tiberias, Haifa or any of the other towns captured by the Jews. Moreover, the Palestinians could find sanctuary in nearby states. The Jews, however, had no place to run had they wanted to. They were willing to fight to the death for their country. It came to that for many, because the Arabs were interested in annihilating the Jews, as Secretary-General of the Arab League Abd Al-Rahman Azzam Pasha made clear in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper (October 11, 1947): "Personally, I hope that the Jews will not force this war upon us, because it will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades."59
References to Deir Yassin have remained a staple of anti-Israel propaganda for decades because the incident was unique.
MYTH "Israel refused to allow Palestinians to return to their homes so Jews could steal their property." FACT
Israel could not simply agree to allow all Palestinians to return, but consistently sought a solution to the refugee problem. Israel’s position was expressed by David Ben-Gurion (August 1, 1948):
When the Arab states are ready to conclude a peace treaty with Israel this question will come up for constructive solution as part of the general settlement, and with due regard to our counterclaims in respect of the destruction of Jewish life and property, the long-term interest of the Jewish and Arab populations, the stability of the State of Israel and the durability of the basis of peace between it and its neighbors, the actual position and fate of the Jewish communities in the Arab countries, the responsibilities of the Arab governments for their war of aggression and their liability for reparation, will all be relevant in the question whether, to what extent, and under what conditions, the former Arab residents of the territory of Israel should be allowed to return.60
The Israeli government was not indifferent to the plight of the refugees; an ordinance was passed creating a Custodian of Abandoned Property "to prevent unlawful occupation of empty houses and business premises, to administer ownerless property, and also to secure tilling of deserted fields, and save the crops. . . ."61
The implied danger of repatriation did not prevent Israel from al13. The Refugees 141
lowing some refugees to return and offering to take back a substantial number as a condition for signing a peace treaty. In 1949, Israel offered to allow families that had been separated during the war to return, to release refugee accounts frozen in Israeli banks (eventually released in 1953), to pay compensation for abandoned lands and to repatriate 100,000 refugees.62
The Arabs rejected all the Israeli compromises. They were unwilling to take any action that might be construed as recognition of Israel. They made repatriation a precondition for negotiations, something Israel rejected. The result was the confinement of the refugees in camps.
Despite the position taken by the Arab states, Israel did release the Arab refugees’ blocked bank accounts, which totaled more than $10 million, paid thousands of claimants cash compensation and granted thousands of acres as alternative holdings.
MYTH "UN resolutions call for Israel to repatriate all Palestinian refugees." FACT
The United Nations took up the refugee issue and adopted Resolution 194 on December 11, 1948. This called upon the Arab states and Israel to resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations either directly, or with the help of the Palestine Conciliation Commission established by this resolution. Furthermore, Point 11 resolves:
that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which under principles of international law or in equity should be made good by Governments or authorities responsible. Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation . . . (emphasis added).
The emphasized words demonstrate that the UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands. Furthermore, the resolution uses the word "should" instead of "shall," which, in legal terms, is not mandatory language.142 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
The resolution met most of Israel’s concerns regarding the refugees, whom they regarded as a potential fifth-column if allowed to return unconditionally. The Israelis considered the settlement of the refugee issue a negotiable part of an overall peace settlement. As President Chaim Weizmann explained: "We are anxious to help such resettlement provided that real peace is established and the Arab states do their part of the job. The solution of the Arab problem can be achieved only through an all-around Middle East development scheme, toward which the United Nations, the Arab states and Israel will make their respective contributions."63
"The Palestinian demand for the ‘right of return’ is totally unrealistic and would have to be solved by means of financial compensation and resettlement in Arab countries."
—Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak64
At the time the Israelis did not expect the refugees to be a major issue; they thought the Arab states would resettle the majority and some compromise on the remainder could be worked out in the context of an overall settlement. The Arabs were no more willing to compromise in 1949, however, than they had been in 1947. In fact, they unanimously rejected the UN resolution.
The UN discussions on refugees had begun in the summer of 1948, before Israel had completed its military victory; consequently, the Arabs still believed they could win the war and allow the refugees to return triumphant. The Arab position was expressed by Emile Ghoury, the Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee:
It is inconceivable that the refugees should be sent back to their homes while they are occupied by the Jews, as the latter would hold them as hostages and maltreat them. The very proposal is an evasion of responsibility by those responsible. It will serve as a first step towards Arab recognition of the State of Israel and partition.65
The Arabs demanded that the United Nations assert the "right" of the Palestinians to return to their homes, and were unwilling to accept anything less until after their defeat had become obvious. The Arabs then reinterpreted Resolution 194 as granting the refugees the absolute right of repatriation and have demanded that Israel accept this interpretation ever since. Regardless of the interpretation, 194, like other General Assembly resolutions, is not legally binding. 13. The Refugees 143
MYTH "Palestinians who wanted to return to their homes posed no danger to Israeli security." FACT
When plans for setting up a state were made in early 1948, Jewish leaders in Palestine expected the new nation to include a significant Arab population. From the Israeli perspective, the refugees had been given an opportunity to stay in their homes and be a part of the new state. Approximately 160,000 Arabs had chosen to do so. To repatriate those who had fled would be, in the words of Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, "suicidal folly."66
In the Arab world, the refugees were viewed as a potential fifth-column within Israel. As one Lebanese paper wrote:
The return of the refugees should create a large Arab majority that would serve as the most effective means of reviving the Arab character of Palestine, while forming a powerful fifth-column for the day of revenge and reckoning.67
The Arabs believed the return of the refugees would virtually guarantee the destruction of Israel, a sentiment expressed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Salah al-Din:
It is well-known and understood that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of the Homeland and not as slaves. With a greater clarity, they mean the liquidation of the State of Israel.68
The plight of the refugees remained unchanged after the Suez War. In fact, even the rhetoric stayed the same. In 1957, the Refugee Conference at Homs, Syria, passed a resolution stating:
Any discussion aimed at a solution of the Palestine problem which will not be based on ensuring the refugees’ right to annihilate Israel will be regarded as a desecration of the Arab people and an act of treason.69
A parallel can be drawn to the time of the American Revolution, during which many colonists who were loyal to England fled to Canada. The British wanted the newly formed republic to allow the loyalists to return to claim their property. Benjamin Franklin rejected this suggestion in a letter to Richard Oswald, the British negotiator, dated November 26, 1782:
Your ministers require that we should receive again into our bosom those who have been our bitterest enemies and restore 144 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
their properties who have destroyed ours: and this while the wounds they have given us are still bleeding!70
MYTH "The Palestinian refugees were ignored by an uncaring world." FACT
The General Assembly voted on November 19, 1948, to establish the United Nations Relief For Palestinian Refugees (UNRPR) to dispense aid to the refugees. Since then, more than 150 resolutions have been adopted that refer to Palestinian refugees, roughly 17 percent of all the resolutions on the conflict.71
The UNRPR was replaced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on December 8, 1949. UNRWA was designed to continue the relief program initiated by the UNRPR, substitute public works for direct relief and promote economic development. The proponents of the plan envisioned that direct relief would be almost completely replaced by public works, with the remaining assistance provided by the Arab governments.
UNRWA had little chance of success, however, because it sought to solve a political problem using an economic approach. By the mid- 1950s, it was evident neither the refugees nor the Arab states were prepared to cooperate on the large-scale development projects originally foreseen by the Agency as a means of alleviating the Palestinians’ situation. The Arab governments, and the refugees themselves, were unwilling to contribute to any plan that could be interpreted as fostering resettlement. They preferred to cling to their interpretation of Resolution 194, which they believed would eventually result in repatriation.
Palestinian Refugees Registered by UNRWA72
Field of Operations
Registered Refugees in Camps
13. The Refugees 145 MYTH
"The Arab states have provided most of the funds for helping the Palestinian refugees." FACT
While Jewish refugees from Arab countries received no international assistance, Palestinians received millions of dollars through UNRWA. Initially, the United States contributed $25 million and Israel nearly $3 million. The total Arab pledges amounted to approximately $600,000. For the first 20 years, the United States provided more than two-thirds of the funds, while the Arab states contributed a tiny fraction.
For many years, Israel donated more funds to UNRWA than most Arab states. The Saudis did not match Israel’s contribution until 1973; Kuwait and Libya, not until 1980. After transferring responsibility for virtually the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, Israel no longer controlled any refugee camps and in 1997 ceased contributing to UNRWA.
In 2010, the United States donated $228 million (approximately 20 percent) of UNRWA’s more than $1.23 billion cash budget. Since 1950, the U.S. has contributed more than $4 billion, making it by far the largest donor. Despite their rhetorical support for the Palestinians, only two Arab countries are among UNRWA’s top 10 donors, Nine other Arab states made nominal contributions. Interestingly, the total 2011 budget for the UN High Committee on Refugees (UNHCR), which handles all the world’s non-Palestinian refugees, is only $2.78 billion.73
In addition to receiving annual funding from UNRWA for the refugees, the PA has received billions of dollars in international aid, most of which has come from Europe, the United States and other countries outside the region.
Given the amount of aid (approximately $1.45 billion in 2009) the PA has received from the international community, it is shocking that more than half a million Palestinians under PA control are being forced by their own leaders to remain in squalid camps. The PA has failed to build a single house to allow even one family to move out of a refugee camp into permanent housing. In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians had insisted before the disengagement that Israel demolish all the homes of the Jewish settlers so they could build high-rise apartment buildings for refugees. Six years later, not a single brick had been laid.146 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
MYTH "The Arab states have always welcomed the Palestinians." FACT
No one expected the refugee problem to persist after the 1948 war. John Blandford Jr., the Director of UNRWA, wrote in his report on November 29, 1951, that he expected the Arab governments to assume responsibility for relief by July 1952. Moreover, Blandford stressed the need to end relief operations: "Sustained relief operations inevitably contain the germ of human deterioration."74 In 1952, the UNRWA set up a fund of $200 million to provide homes and jobs for the refugees, but it went untouched.
Meanwhile, Jordan was the only Arab country to welcome the Palestinians and grant some citizenship (Gazans were excluded). King Abdullah considered the Palestinian Arabs and Jordanians one people. By 1950, he annexed the West Bank and forbade the use of the term Palestine in official documents.75 In 2004, Jordan began revoking the citizenship of Palestinians who do not have the Israeli permits that are necessary to reside in the West Bank.76
Although demographic figures indicated ample room for settlement existed in Syria, Damascus refused to consider accepting any refugees, except those who might refuse repatriation. Syria also declined to resettle 85,000 refugees in 1952–54, though it had been offered international funds to pay for the project. Iraq was also expected to accept a large number of refugees, but proved unwilling. Likewise, Lebanon insisted it had no room for the Palestinians.
After the 1948 war, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and its more than 200,000 inhabitants, but refused to allow the Palestinians into Egypt or permit them to move elsewhere. Saudi Arabian radio compared Egypt’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza to Hitler’s rule in occupied Europe.77
"The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die."
—former head of UNRWA in Jordan, Sir Alexander Galloway, in April 195278
Little has changed in succeeding years. Arab governments have frequently offered jobs, housing, land and other benefits to Arabs and non- Arabs, excluding Palestinians. For example, Saudi Arabia chose not to13. The Refugees 147 148 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
use unemployed Palestinian refugees to alleviate its labor shortage in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Instead, thousands of South Koreans and other Asians were recruited to fill jobs.
The situation grew even worse in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Kuwait, which employed large numbers of Palestinians but denied them citizenship, expelled more than 300,000 Palestinians. "If people pose a security threat, as a sovereign country we have the right to exclude anyone we don’t want," said Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States, Saud Nasir Al-Sabah.79
Today, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not have social and civil rights, and have very limited access to public health or educational facilities. The majority relies entirely on UNRWA as the sole provider of education, health, and relief and social services. Considered foreigners, Palestinian refugees are prohibited by law from working in more than 70 trades and professions.80
The Palestinian refugees held the UN responsible for ameliorating their condition; nevertheless, many Palestinians were unhappy with the treatment they were receiving from their Arab brethren. Some, like Palestinian nationalist leader Musa Alami were incredulous: "It is shameful that the Arab governments should prevent the Arab refugees from working in their countries and shut the doors in their faces and imprison them in camps."81 Most refugees, however, focused their discontentment on "the Zionists," whom they blamed for their predicament rather than the vanquished Arab armies.
"I briefly visited the Balata refugee camp with its 20,000 residents. The camp is inside the West Bank city of Nablus—that is, within the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA) . . . Balata’s children, like the children in similar camps in Gaza and neighboring Arab countries, are nurtured on the myth that someday soon they will return in triumph to their ancestors’ homes by the Mediterranean Sea. While awaiting redemption, Balata’s residents are prohibited, by the Palestinian Authority, from building homes outside the camp’s official boundaries."
MYTH "Millions of Palestinians are confined by Israel to refugee camps." FACT
By 2011, the number of Palestinian refugees on UNRWA rolls had risen to nearly five million, several times the number that left Palestine in 13. The Refugees 149
1948. One-third of the registered Palestine refugees, about 5 million, live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The other two-thirds of the registered refugees live in and around the cities and towns of the host countries, and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, often in the environs of official camps.83
During the years that Israel controlled the Gaza Strip, a consistent effort was made to get the Palestinians into permanent housing. The Palestinians opposed the idea because the frustrated and bitter inhabitants of the camps provided the various terrorist factions with their manpower. Moreover, the Arab states routinely pushed for the adoption of UN resolutions demanding that Israel desist from the removal ofPalestinian refugees from camps in Gaza and the West Bank.84 They preferred to keep the Palestinians as symbols of Israeli "oppression."
Journalist Netty Gross visited Gaza and asked an official why the camps there hadn’t been dismantled. She was told the Palestinian Authority had made a "political decision" not to do anything for the more than 650,000 Palestinians living in the camps until the final-status talks with Israel took place.85
The Palestinians have received billions of dollars in international aid since 1993, but have not moved the refugees into permanent housing. The refugees who remain in camps are there only because the host Arab governments and the Palestinian Authority keep them there.
"If refugees return to Israel, Israel will cease to exist."
MYTH "The Palestinians are the only refugee population barred from returning to their homes." FACT
After World War II, 12.5 million Germans in Poland and Czechoslovakia were expelled and allowed to take only those possessions they could carry. They received no compensation for confiscated property. World War II’s effects on Poland’s boundaries and population were considered "accomplished facts" that could not be reversed after the war. No one in Germany petitions today for the right of these millions of deportees and their children to return to the countries they were expelled from despite the fact that they and their ancestors had lived in those places for hundreds of years.150 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Another country seriously affected by World War II was Finland, which was forced to give up almost one-eighth of its land and absorb more than 400,000 refugees (11 percent of the nation’s population) from the Soviet Union. Unlike Israel, these were the losers of the war. There was no aid for their resettlement.
Perhaps an even better analogy can be seen in Turkey’s integration of 150,000 Turkish refugees from Bulgaria in 1950. The difference between the Turks’ handling of their refugees and the Arab states’ treatment of the Palestinians was the attitude of the respective governments. As the Des Moines Register noted:
Turkey has had a bigger refugee problem than either Syria or Lebanon and almost as big as Egypt has. . . . But you seldom hear about them because the Turks have done such a good job of resettling them. . . . The big difference is in spirit. The Turks, reluctant as they were to take on the burden, accepted it as a responsibility and set to work to clean it up as fast as possible.87
Had the Arab states wanted to alleviate the refugees’ suffering, they could easily have adopted an attitude similar to Turkey’s.
Another massive population transfer resulted from the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The eight million Hindus who fled Pakistan and the six million Muslims who left India were afraid of becoming a minority in their respective countries. Like the Palestinians, these people wanted to avoid being caught in the middle of the violence that engulfed their nations. In contrast to the Arab-Israeli conflict, however, the exchange of populations was considered the best solution to the problem of communal relations within the two states. Despite the enormous number of refugees and the relative poverty of the two nations involved, no special international relief organizations were established to aid them in resettlement.
". . . if there were a Palestinian state, why would its leaders want their potential citizens to be repatriated to another state? From a nation-building perspective it makes no sense. In fact, the original discussions about repatriation took place at a time that there was no hope of a Palestinian state. With the possibility of that state emerging, the Palestinians must decide if they want to view themselves as a legitimate state or if it is more important for them to keep their self-defined status as oppressed, stateless refugees. They really can’t be both."
—Fredelle Spiegel8813. The Refugees 151
MYTH "Israel expelled more Palestinians in 1967." FACT
After ignoring Israeli warnings to stay out of the war, Jordan’s King Hussein launched an attack on Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. UNRWA estimated that during the fighting 175,000 of its registrants fled for a second time and approximately 350,000 fled for the first time. About 200,000 moved to Jordan, 115,000 to Syria and approximately 35,000 left Sinai for Egypt. Most of the Arabs who left came from the West Bank.
Israel allowed some West Bank Arabs to return. In 1967, more than 9,000 families were reunited and, by 1971, Israel had readmitted 40,000 refugees. By contrast, in July 1968, Jordan prohibited people intending to remain in the East Bank from emigrating from the West Bank and Gaza.89
When the Security Council empowered UN Secretary-General U Thant to send a representative to inquire into the welfare of civilians in the wake of the war, he instructed the mission to investigate the treatment of Jewish minorities in Arab countries, as well as Arabs in Israeli-occupied territory. Syria, Iraq and Egypt refused to permit the UN representative to carry out his investigation.90
"The demand that the refugees be returned to Israeli territory must be rejected, because if that were to happen, there would be two Palestinian states and no state at all for the Jewish people."
MYTH "All Palestinian refugees must be given the option to return to their homes." FACT
According to UNRWA, as of 2011, there were nearly five million Palestinian refugees. Does Israel have any obligation to take in some or all of those people?
The current Israeli population is approximately 7.7 million, 5.8 million are Jews. If every Palestinian refugee was allowed to move to Israel, the population would exceed 12 million and the Jewish proportion would shrink from 75% to 46%. The Jews would be a minority in their own country, the very situation they fought to avoid in 1948, and which the UN expressly ruled out in deciding on a partition of Palestine.152 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Current peace talks are based on UN Resolution 242. The Palestinians are not mentioned anywhere in Resolution 242. They are only alluded to in the second clause of the second article of 242, which calls for "a just settlement of the refugee problem." The generic term "refugee" may also be applied to the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
Furthermore, most Palestinians now live in historic Palestine, which is an area including the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. When Palestinians demand to return to Palestine they are referring not just to the area, but to the houses they lived in prior to 1948. These homes are either gone or inhabited now.
Even respected Palestinian leaders acknowledge that it is a mistake to insist that millions of refugees return to Israel. Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh, for example, said the refugees should be resettled in a future Palestinian state, "not in a way that would undermine the existence of the State of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. Otherwise, what does a two-state solution mean?"92 In leaked cables from the Palestinian negotiating team, PA President Mahmoud Abbas admitted this as well. "On numbers of refugees," he said, "it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million—that would mean the end of Israel."93
In the context of a peace settlement, Israel has offered to accept some refugees, as Ben-Gurion said he would do more than 50 years ago. If and when a Palestinian state is created, most, if not all of the refugees should be allowed to move there, but the Palestinian leadership has expressed little interest in absorbing these people.
1. Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossesion, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1984), p. 272; Benjamin Kedar, The Changing Land Between the Jordan and the Sea, (Israel: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1999), p. 206; Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, (NY: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 529. Efraim Karsh analyzed rural and urban population statistics and concluded the total number of refugees was 583,000–609,000. Karsh, "How Many Palestinian Refugees Were There?"Israel Affairs, (April 2011).
2. Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Submitted to the Secretary- General for Transmission to the Members of the United Nations, General Assembly Official Records: Third Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/648), Paris, 1948, p. 47 and Supplement No. 11A (A/689 and A/689/Add.1, p. 5; and "Conclusions from Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine," (September 16, 1948), U.N. doc. A/648 (part 1, p. 29; part 2, p. 23; part 3, p. 11), (September 18, 1948).
3. "Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine – 30th Meeting," United Nations Press Release GA/ PAL/84, (November 24, 1947).
4. Avneri, p. 276.
5. Jerusalem Post, (December 4, 2003).
6. David Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, (NY: Philosophical Library, 1954), p. 220.
7. Atalia Ben Meir, "The Palestinian Refugee Issue and the Demographic Aspect," Israel and A Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, (ACPR Publishers: 2001), p. 215.13. The Refugees 153
8. Joseph Schechtman, The Refugee in the World, (NY: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1963), p. 184.
9. I.F. Stone, This is Israel, (NY: Boni and Gaer, 1948), p. 27.
10. Shmuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (Taylor Publications Ltd: 2002), p. 10.
12. Avneri, p. 270
13. London Daily Mail, (August 12, 1948) cited in Shmuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (Taylor Publications Ltd: 2002), p. 13.
14. New York Times, (April 23, 1948).
15. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 332; Avneri, p. 270.
16. Secret memo dated April 26, 1948, from the Superintendent of Police, regarding the general situation in Haifa, cited in Shmuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (Taylor Publications Ltd: 2002), p. 13.
17. Golda Meir, My Life, (NY: Dell, 1975), pp. 267–8.
18. New York Times, (April 23, 1948).
19. London Times, (April 24, 1948).
20. Schechtman, p. 190.
21. Foreign Relations of the U.S. 1948, Vol. V, (DC: GPO, 1976), p. 838.
22. Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, (NY: The Free Press, 1986), pp. 27–8.
23. Yigal Allon in Sefer ha-Palmach, quoted in Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!, (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 337; Yigal Allon, My Fathers House, (NY: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc, 1976), p. 192.
24. Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, (MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 423–5.
25. Morris, p. 592.
26. Middle East Journal, (October 1949).
27. Terence Prittie, "Middle East Refugees," cited in Michael Curtis, et al, The Palestinians, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1975), p. 52.
28. New York Times, (March 4, 1949).
29. The Guardian, (February 21, 2002).
30. "International: On the Eve?," Time Magazine, (May 3, 1948).
31. Morris, p. 590.
32. Middle East Studies, (January 1986); See also, Morris, pp. 263, 590–2.
33. The Memoirs of Haled al Azm, (Beirut, 1973), Part 1, pp. 386–7.
34. Myron Kaufman, The Coming Destruction of Israel, (NY: The American Library Inc., 1970), pp. 26–7.
35. Edward Atiyah, The Arabs, (London: Penguin Books, 1955), p. 183.
36. Morris, p. 591.
37. Yehoshofat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel, (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1972), p. 364.
38. King Abdallah, My Memoirs Completed, (London: Longman Group, Ltd., 1978), p. xvi
39. Al-Ayyam, (May 16, 2006), quoted in Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook, "The Evolving Palestinian Narrative: Arabs Caused the Refugee Problem," Palestinian Media Watch, (May 20, 2008).
40. Palestinian Authority TV, (July 7, 2009), quoted in Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, (July 23, 2009).
41. Al-Hayat al-Jadida, (December 13, 2006), quoted in Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook, "The Evolving Palestinian Narrative: Arabs Caused the Refugee Problem," Palestinian Media Watch, (May 20, 2008).
42. Al-Ayyam, (May 13, 2008), quoted in Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook, "The Evolving 154 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Palestinian Narrative: Arabs Caused the Refugee Problem," Palestinian Media Watch, (May 20, 2008).
43. Falastin a-Thaura, (March 1976).
44. Walid Khalidi, Palestine Reborn, (I.B. Tauris: 1992), p. 289.
45. Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948, (OH: New American Library Inc., 1970), p. 141.
46. Menachem Begin, The Revolt, (NY: Nash Publishing, 1977), pp. xx–xxi, 162–3.
47. See, for example, Amos Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, (NY: Doubleday, 1987), p. 214; J. Bowyer Bell, Terror Out of Zion, (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1977), pp. 292–6; Kurzman, p. 142.
48. Uri Milstein, History of Israel’s War of Independence, Vol IV, (Lanham: University Press of America, 1999), p. 262.
49. Milstein, p. 262.
50. Dana Adams Schmidt, "200 Arabs Killed, Stronghold Taken," New York Times, (April 10, 1948).
51. Kurzman, p. 148.
52. Sharif Kanaana and Nihad Zitawi, "Deir Yassin," Monograph No. 4, Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project, (Bir Zeit: Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, 1987), p. 55
53. Sharif Kanaana, "Reinterpreting Deir Yassin," Bir Zeir University, (April 1998).
54. Milstein, p. 267.
55. Rami Nashashibi, "Dayr Yasin," Bir Zeit University, (June 1996).
56. Yehoshua Gorodenchik testimony at Jabotinsky Archives.
57. Milstein, p. 276.
58. "Israel and the Arabs: The 50 Year Conflict," BBC Television Series, (1998).
59. "Interview with Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha," Akhbar al-Yom (Egypt), (October 11, 1947); translated by R. Green.
60. Sachar, p. 335.
61. Schechtman, p. 268.
62. Prittie in Curtis, pp. 66–7.
63. New York Times, (July 17, 1949).
64. Jerusalem Post, (January 26, 1989).
65. Telegraph (Beirut), (August 6, 1948), quoted in Schechtman, pp. 210–11.
66. Moshe Sharett,"Israels Position and Problems," Middle Eastern Affairs, (May 1952), p. 136.
67. Al Said (Lebanon), (April 6, 1950), cited in Prittie in Curtis, p. 69.
68. Al-Misri, (October 11, 1949), cited in Nathan Feinberg, The Arab-Israeli Conflict in International Law, (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1970), p. 109.
69. Beirut al Massa, (July 15, 1957), cited in Katz, p. 21.
70. Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin, Vol 1, (M’Carty & Davis: 1834), p. 463.
71. Melissa Radler, "UN Marks Partition Plan Anniversary with anti-Israel Fest," Jerusalem Post, (December 4, 2003).
72. UNRWA, (as of December 30, 2010).
73. UNRWA, http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/file/fimnancial_updates/2009/Total_Contributions_to_UNRWA_2009_All_Donors.pdf; "Biennial Programme Budget 2010-2011 of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees," UN General Assembly, (September 17, 2009), http://www,unhcr.org/4abc7cc19.html
74. Schechtman, p. 220.
75. "Speech to Parliament – April 24, 1950," Abdallah, pp. 16–7; Aaron Miller, The Arab States and the Palestine Question, (DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1986), p. 29.13. The Refugees 155
76. Khaled Abu Toamed, "Amman Revoking Palestinians Citizenship," Jerusalem Post, (July 20, 2009).
77. Leibler, p. 48.
78. Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky, "A Tale of Two Galloways: Notes on the Early History of UNRWA and Zionist Historiography," Middle Eastern Studies, (September 2010).
79. Jerusalem Report, (June 27, 1991).
81. Musa Alami, "The Lesson of Palestine," Middle East Journal, (October 1949), p. 386.
82. Sol Stern, "Mr. Abbas, Tear Down This Wall!" Jewish Ideas Daily, (September 28, 2010).
84. Arlene Kushner, "the UN’s Palestinian Refugee Problem," Azure, (Autumn 2005).
85. Jerusalem Report, (July 6, 1998).
86. Katz, p. 21.
87. Editorial, Des Moines Register, (January 16, 1952).
88. Jerusalem Report, (March 26, 2001).
89. UNRWA Annual Reports, (July 1, 1966–June 30, 1967), pp. 11–19; (July 1, 1967–June 30, 1968), pp. 4–10; (July 1, 1968–June 30, 1969), p. 6; (July 1, 1971–June 30, 1972), p. 3.
90. Maurice Roumani, The Case of the Jews from Arab Countries: A Neglected Issue, (Tel Aviv: World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, 1977), p. 34.
91. Associated Press, (October 23, 2001).
92. "Meeting Minutes: President Abbas Meeting with the Negotiations Support Unit," (March 24, 2009).
93. Amos Oz, "Israel Partly at Fault," Ynetnews, (March 29, 2007).14. Human Rights*MYTH "Arabs cannot possibly be anti-Semitic as they are themselves Semites." FACT
The term "anti-Semite" was coined in Germany in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr to refer to the anti-Jewish manifestations of the period and to give Jew-hatred a more scientific sounding name.1 "Anti-Semitism" has been accepted and understood to mean hatred of the Jewish people. Dictionaries define the term as: "Theory, action, or practice directed against the Jews" and "Hostility towards Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, economic and political discrimination."2
The claim that Arabs cannot be anti-Semitic because they are themselves a Semitic people is a semantic distortion that ignores the reality of Arab discrimination and hostility toward Jews. Arabs, like any other people, can indeed be anti-Semitic.
"The Arab world is the last bastion of unbridled, unashamed, unhidden and unbelievable anti-Semitism. Hitlerian myths get published in the popular press as incontrovertible truths. The Holocaust either gets minimized or denied. . . . How the Arab world will ever come to terms with Israel when Israelis are portrayed as the devil incarnate is hard to figure out."
—Columnist Richard Cohen3
MYTH "Jews who lived in Islamic countries during the days of the Islamic Empire were treated well by the Arabs."
*The situation of Jews in Arab/Islamic countries today can be found online in the Jewish Virtual Library at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/arabjewtoc.html.14. Human Rights 157
While Jewish communities in Islamic countries fared better overall than those in Christian lands in Europe during the nearly 1,300 years the Islamic Empire lasted, Jews were no strangers to persecution and humiliation among the Arabs. As Princeton University historian Bernard Lewis has written: "The Golden Age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam."4
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, traveled to Medina in 622 A.D. to attract followers to his new faith. When the Jews of Medina refused to recognize Muhammad as their Prophet, two of the major Jewish tribes were expelled. In 627, Muhammad’s followers killed between 600 and 900 of the men, and divided the surviving Jewish women and children amongst themselves.5
The Muslim attitude toward Jews is reflected in various verses throughout the Koran, the holy book of the Islamic faith. "They [the Children of Israel] were consigned to humiliation and wretchedness. They brought the wrath of God upon themselves, and this because they used to deny God’s signs and kill His Prophets unjustly and because they disobeyed and were transgressors" (Sura 2:61). According to the Koran, the Jews try to introduce corruption (5:64), have always been disobedient (5:78), and are enemies of Allah, the Prophet and the angels (2:97–98).
Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbors; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews. In the ninth century, Baghdad’s Caliph al-Mutawakkil designated a yellow badge for Jews, setting a precedent that would be followed centuries later in Nazi Germany.6
When Jews were perceived as having achieved too comfortable a position in Islamic society, anti-Semitism would surface, often with devastating results. On December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power.
Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in "an offensive manner." The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco.7
Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th century, where whole communities were wiped out by the Muslim ruler Idris I; North Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where 158 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830; and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.8
Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293–4, 1301–2), Iraq (854-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Despite the Koran’s prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790–92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344).9
The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased, and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.10
As distinguished Orientalist G.E. von Grunebaum observed:
It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.11
MYTH "As ‘People of the Book,’ Jews and Christians are protected under Islamic law." FACT
This argument is rooted in the traditional concept of the "dhimma" ("writ of protection"), which was extended by Muslim conquerors to Christians and Jews in exchange for their subordination to the Muslims. Yet, as French authority Jacques Ellul has observed: "One must ask:‘protected against whom?’ When this ‘stranger’ lives in Islamic countries, the answer can only be: against the Muslims themselves."12
Peoples subjected to Muslim rule often faced a choice between death and conversion, but Jews and Christians, who adhered to the Scriptures, were usually allowed, as dhimmis (protected persons), to practice their faith. This "protection" did little, however, to ensure that 14. Human Rights 159
Jews and Christians were treated well by the Muslims. On the contrary, an integral aspect of the dhimma was that, being an infidel, he had to acknowledge openly the superiority of the true believer—the Muslim.
In the early years of the Islamic conquest, the "tribute" (or jizya), paid as a yearly poll tax, symbolized the subordination of the dhimmi.13
Later, the inferior status of Jews and Christians was reinforced through a series of regulations that governed the behavior of the dhimmi. Dhimmis, on pain of death, were forbidden to mock or criticize the Koran, Islam or Muhammad, to proselytize among Muslims, or to touch a Muslim woman (though a Muslim man could take a non- Muslim as a wife).
Dhimmis were excluded from public office and armed service, and were forbidden to bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, to construct houses higher than those of Muslims or to drink wine in public. They were forced to wear distinctive clothing and were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices—as that might offend the Muslims. The dhimmi also had to show public deference toward Muslims; for example, always yielding them the center of the road. The dhimmi was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court. To defend himself, the dhimmi would have to purchase Muslim witnesses at great expense. This left the dhimmi with little legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim.14
By the twentieth century, the status of the dhimmi in Muslim lands had not significantly improved. H.E.W. Young, British Vice Consul in Mosul, wrote in 1909:
The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed.15
MYTH "Modern Arab nations are only anti-Israel and have never been anti-Jewish." FACT
Arab leaders have repeatedly made clear their animosity toward Jews and Judaism. For example, on November 23, 1937, Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud told British Colonel H.R.P. Dickson: "Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus) and their subsequent rejection of His chosen 160 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Prophet." He added "that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty."16
When Hitler introduced the Nuremberg racial laws in 1935, he received telegrams of congratulation from all corners of the Arab world.17 Later, during the war, one of his most ardent supporters was the Mufti of Jerusalem.
Jews were never permitted to live in Jordan. Civil Law No. 6, which governed the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, states explicitly: "Any man will be a Jordanian subject if he is not Jewish."18
After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis found public school textbooks that had been used to educate Arab children in the West Bank. They were replete with racist and hateful portrayals of Jews.19
According to a study of Syrian textbooks, "the Syrian educational system expands hatred of Israel and Zionism to anti-Semitism directed at all Jews. That anti-Semitism evokes ancient Islamic motifs to describe the unchangeable and treacherous nature of the Jews. Its inevitable conclusion is that all Jews must be annihilated."20 An Arabic translation of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf was distributed in East Jerusalem and the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and became a bestseller. The official website of the Palestinian State Information Service also published an Arabic translation of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."21
Arab officials have also resorted to blood libels. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, for example, said that Jews "have a certain day on which they mix the blood of non-Jews into their bread and eat it. It happened that two years ago, while I was in Paris on a visit, that the police discovered five murdered children. Their blood had been drained, and it turned out that some Jews had murdered them in order to take their blood and mix it with the bread that they eat on this day."22
"Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday [May 5] offered a vivid, if vile, demonstration of why he and his government are unworthy of respect or good relations with the United States or any other democratic country. Greeting Pope John Paul II in Damascus, Mr. Assad launched an attack on Jews that may rank as the most ignorant and crude speech delivered before the pope in his two decades of travel around the world. Comparing the suffering of the Palestinians to that of Jesus Christ, Mr. Assad said that the Jews ‘tried to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad.’ With that libel, the Syrian president stained both his country and the pope. . . ."
—Washington Post editorial2314. Human Rights 161
Scurrilous allegations made by Palestinian officials include claims that Israel dumped toxic waste in the West Bank, marketed carcinogenic juice to Palestinians, released wild pigs to destroy crops in the West Bank, infected Palestinians with the AIDS virus, dropped poison candy for children in Gaza from airplanes, and used a "radial spy machine" at checkpoints that killed a Palestinian woman.24
The Arab/Muslim press, which is almost exclusively controlled by the governments in each Middle Eastern nation, regularly publish anti- Semitic articles and cartoons. Today, it remains common to find anti- Semitic publications in Egypt. For example, Al-Ahram published an article accusing Israel of using the blood of Palestinian children to bake matzos.25
Anti-Semitic articles also regularly appear in the press in Jordan and Syria. Many of the attacks deal with denial of the Holocaust, the "exploitation" of the Holocaust by Zionism, and the odious comparison of Zionism to Nazism.
In November 2001, a satirical skit aired on the second most popular television station in the Arab world, which depicted a character meant to be Ariel Sharon drinking the blood of Arab children as a grotesque-looking Orthodox Jew looked on. Abu Dhabi Television also aired a skit in which Dracula appears to take a bite out of Sharon, but dies because Sharon’s blood is polluted.26
The Palestinian Authority’s media have also contained inflammatory and anti-Semitic material. Here is an example of a sermon broadcast on Palestinian Authority television:
"The loathsome occupation in Palestine—its land and its holy places—by these new Mongols and what they are perpetrating upon this holy, blessed and pure land—killing, assassination, destruction, confiscation, Judaization, harassment and splitting the homeland—are clear proof of . . . incomparable racism, and of Nazism of the 20th century. The Jews, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger! Enemies of humanity in general, and of Palestinians in particular . . ."27
Even Palestinian crossword puzzles are used to delegitimize Israel and attack Jews, providing clues, for example, suggesting that a Jewish trait is "treachery."28
MYTH "Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens." FACT
Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs in 2011 162 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
held 14 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel’s ambassador to Finland and the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Oscar Abu Razaq was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the first Arab citizen to become chief executive of a key government ministry. Ariel Sharon’s original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who served as a minister without portfolio. An Arab is also a Supreme Court justice. In October 2005, an Arab professor was named Vice President of Haifa University.
Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel’s founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.29
The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.
Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military. Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.
On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.
Although Israeli Arabs have occasionally been involved in terrorist activities, they have generally behaved as loyal citizens. During the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars, none engaged in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty. Sometimes, in fact, Arabs volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists. During the Palestinian War that began in September 2000, Israeli Arabs for the first time engaged in widespread protests.
The United States has been independent for 235 years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, nearly half a century after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only 63 years.14. Human Rights 163
"Israeli Arabs are barred from buying land in Israel." FACT
In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel’s War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92 percent belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.
In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that the government cannot allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose.30
Meanwhile, in 1996, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mufti, Ikremah Sabri, issued a fatwa (religious decree), banning the sale of Arab and Muslim property to Jews. Anyone who violated the order was to be killed. At least seven land dealers were killed that year.31
On May 5, 1997, Palestinian Authority Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein announced that the death penalty would be imposed on anyone convicted of ceding "one inch" to Israel. Later that month, two Arab land dealers were killed. A year later, another Palestinian suspected of selling land to Jews was murdered. The PA has also arrested suspected land dealers for violating the Jordanian law (in force in the West Bank), which prohibits the sale of land to foreigners.32 An Islamic judge renewed the fatwa barring Palestinians from selling property to Jews in 2008 and, as recently as June 2010, a Palestinian was imprisoned for 10 years on charges of selling land to Israel.33
MYTH "Arabs held in Israeli jails are tortured, beaten and killed." FACT
Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone and complaints about the treatment of prisoners in American institutions abound. Israel’s prisons are probably among the most closely scrutinized in the world. One reason is the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.
Israeli law prohibits the arbitrary arrest of citizens. In addition, de164 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
fendants are considered innocent until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards. Israel holds no political prisoners and maintains an independent judiciary.
Years ago, some prisoners, particularly Arabs suspected of involvement in terrorism, were interrogated using severe methods that were criticized as excessive. Israel’s Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1999 prohibiting the use of a variety of practices that were considered abusive.34
The death penalty has been applied just once, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man largely responsible for the "Final Solution." No Arab has ever been given the death penalty, even after the most heinous acts of terrorism.
"The Israeli regime is not apartheid. It is a unique case of democracy."
—South African Interior Minister Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi35
MYTH "Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa." FACT
Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa. As David Ben-Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934:
We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland.36
Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens who enjoy equal rights and are represented in all the branches of government. Arabs are represented in the Knesset, and have served in the Cabinet, high-level foreign ministry posts (e.g., Ambassador to Finland) and on the Supreme Court.
Under apartheid, skin color determined every aspect of your life from birth until death. Black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population. Laws dictated where they could live, work, go to school and travel. And, in South Africa, the government killed blacks who protested against its policies. By contrast, Israel allows free14. Human Rights 165
dom of movement, assembly and speech. Some of the government’s harshest critics are Israeli Arabs who are members of the Knesset.
"The difference between the current Israeli situation and apartheid South Africa is emphasized at a very human level: Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room, with the same facilities, attended by the same doctors and nurses, with the mothers recovering in adjoining beds in a ward. Two years ago I had major surgery in a Jerusalem hospital: the surgeon was Jewish, the anaesthetist was Arab, the doctors and nurses who looked after me were Jews and Arabs. Jews and Arabs share meals in restaurants and travel on the same trains, buses and taxis, and visit each other’s homes.
Could any of this possibly have happened under apartheid? Of course not."
The situation of Palestinians in the territories is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Israeli policy is not based on race, but is a result of Palestinian animosity. Palestinians in the territories dispute Israel’s right to exist, whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.
If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed. No Israeli government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiations, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state. The principal impediment to Palestinian independence is not Israeli policy, it is the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to give up terrorism and agree to live in peace beside Israel.
Despite all their criticism, when asked what governments they admire most, more than 80 percent of Palestinians consistently said Israel because they can see up close the thriving democracy in Israel, and the rights the Arab citizens enjoy there. By contrast, Palestinians place Arab regimes, including their own Palestinian Authority, at the bottom.38
In fact, growing numbers of Palestinians in East Jerusalem have been applying for Israeli citizenship and, given the choice, many say they would rather live in Israel than Palestine. A poll of Arabs living in East Jerusalem, for example, found that 35% would choose living in Israel, compared to 30% who preferred to live in a future Palestinian state. Forty percent said they would consider moving to another neighbor166MY T H S A N D FAC T S
hood to become a citizen of Israel rather than Palestine and 54% said that if they their neighborhood was part of Israel, they would not move to Palestine.39
"There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans."
MYTH "Israel is pursuing a policy of genocide toward the Palestinians that is comparable to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews." FACT
This is perhaps the most odious claim made by Israel’s detractors. The Nazis’ objective was the systematic extermination of every Jew in Europe. Israel is seeking peace with its Palestinian neighbors. More than one million Arabs live as free and equal citizens in Israel. Of the Palestinians in the territories, 98 percent live under the civil administration of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli policies are designed to protect Israeli citizens—Jews and non-Jews—from the incessant campaign of terror. There has never been a plan to persecute, exterminate, or expel the Palestinian people.
In response to one such comparison, by a poet who referred to the "Zionist SS," The New Republic’s literary editor Leon Wieseltier observed:
The view that Zionism is Nazism—there is no other way to understand the phrase "Zionist SS"—is not different in kind from the view that the moon is cheese. It is not only spectacularly wrong, it is also spectacularly unintelligent. I will not offend myself (that would be self-hate speech!) by patiently explaining why the State of Israel is unlike the Third Reich, except to say that nothing that has befallen the Palestinians under Israel’s control may responsibly be compared to what 14. Human Rights 167
befell the Jews under Germany’s control, and that a considerable number of the people who have toiled diligently to find peace and justice for the Palestinians, and a solution to this savage conflict, have been Israeli, some of them even Israeli prime ministers. There is no support for the Palestinian cause this side of decency that can justify the locution "Zionist SS."41
The absurdity of the charge is also clear from the demography of the disputed territories. While detractors make outrageous claims about Israel committing genocide or ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian population has continued to grow exponentially. In Gaza, for example, the population increased from 731,000 in July 1994 to 1,657,155 in 2011, an increase of 127 percent. The growth rate was 3.2 percent, one of the highest in the world. The total Palestinian population in all the disputed territories (they include Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem) was 1,006,000 in 1950, 1,094,000 in 1970, and grew to 3,736,210 in 2011.42
MYTH "Palestinians have the lowest standard of living in the Middle East." FACT
When Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, officials took measures to improve the conditions that Palestinians had lived under during Jordan’s 19-year occupation of the West Bank, andEgypt’s occupation of Gaza. Universities were opened, Israeli agricultural innovations were shared, modern conveniences were introduced, and health care was significantly upgraded. More than 100,000 Palestinians were employed in Israel, and were paid the same wages as Israeli workers, which stimulated economic growth.
The rise in violence during the 1990s, and then the war instigated by Palestinian terrorists beginning in 2000, took a heavy toll on the Palestinian economy. To protect its citizens from suicide bombers and other terrorists, Israel was forced to take measures that had a deleterious impact on the economy in the Palestinian Authority. The most serious step was to limit the number of Palestinian laborers entering Israel to reduce the risk of terrorists pretending to be workers slipping into the country. This raised the level of unemployment, which, in turn, had a negative spillover effect on the rest of the Palestinian economy.
More recently, however, despite the global economic downturn, the West Bank economy grew by more than 7 percent, representing the 26th best growth rate in 2009 out of 212 countries and territories in the world, second in the Middle East, and double the rate of Israel. This remarkable growth was attributable to continued aid from the West, the 168 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
implementation of economic reforms, and the easing of security restrictions on movement by Israel.43
Even when the economy was at a lowpoint, Palestinian Arabs were better off than many of their neighbors. The most recent Human Development Report from the United Nations ranks the PA 110 in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income out of the 182 countries and territories in the world, placing it in the "medium human development" category along with most of the other Middle Eastern states (only the Gulf sheikdoms are ranked "high"). The PA is ranked just below Egypt (#101) and ahead of Syria (#111) and Morocco (#114).44 Few Palestinians would trade places with Arabs in neighboring countries. Well, perhaps, with one exception. They might aspire to the standard of living in the country ranked 15th by the UN— Israel.
"I am a proud Israeli—along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but . . . By any yardstick you choose—educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation—Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East."
—Bedouin Diplomat Ishmael Khaldi45
MYTH "Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and to humiliate them." FACT
It is not unusual for nations to guard their borders and to establish checkpoints to prevent people from illegally entering their countries. The United States has checkpoints at its borders and airports and, as Americans saw on September 11, these are necessary but not foolproof security precautions.
In the case of Israel, the necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an incon14. Human Rights 169
venience to innocent Palestinians, but they also prevent terror and save lives.
For example, on October 5, 2008, two pipe bombs were found in a parcel carried by a Palestinian man at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus. On June 8, 2008, an 18-year-old Palestinian was arrested at the same checkpoint carrying six pipe bombs, an ammunition cartridge, bullets, and a bag of gunpowder. "It’s routine to find bombs at this checkpoint . . . every day, we find knives and other weapons," said Cpl. Ron Bezalel of the military police. Just three weeks earlier, another Palestinian was arrested at Hawara carrying five pipe bombs, which he had attached and strapped to his chest to act as an explosives belt.46
"One does not judge a democracy by the way its soldiers immediately react, young men and women under tremendous provocation. One judges a democracy by the way its courts react, in the dispassionate cool of judicial chambers. And the Israeli Supreme Court and other courts have reacted magnificently. For the first time in Mideast history, there is an independent judiciary willing to listen to grievances of Arabs—that judiciary is called the Israeli Supreme Court."
On November 10, 2008, at the Taysir checkpoint outside of Jenin, Israeli soldiers caught a Palestinian attempting to smuggle through a pipe bomb.48
On January 9, 2011, a Palestinian was killed at the Bekaot checkpoint after charging at the soldiers. He was carrying a pipe bomb and another explosive device.49
On March 9, 2011, five pipe bombs and 3 Molotov cocktails were found in a Palestinian’s bag at Tapuach junction.50
Hyperbolic media reports and anti-Israel propaganda have suggested Israel is harassing Palestinian women at checkpoints. It is unfortunate that women cannot be ignored as potential security threats. Border policemen at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, for example, arrested a Palestinian woman pushing a baby stroller that concealed a pistol, two ammunition clips and a knife.51
Commercial goods, food, medicine, ambulances and medical crews continue to circulate freely, hampered only by continuing attacks. Palestinian workers going to jobs in Israel also may pass through the checkpoints with the proper identification; restrictions are only imposed when necessitated by the security situation.
Barriers are not set up to humiliate Palestinians, but to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Frequently, when Israel has relaxed its policy 170 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
and withdrawn checkpoints, Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on innocent Israelis. Still, Israel has dismantled more than 120 unmanned checkpoints and reduced the number of manned checkpoints from 41 to 14 in the last two years.52
MYTH "Israeli checkpoints prevent Palestinians from receiving medical attention." FACT
Israel has instituted checkpoints for one reason—to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel. If the Palestinian Authority was fulfilling its Road Map obligations to dismantle the terrorist networks and disarm the terrorists, and its security forces were taking adequate measures to prevent Palestinians from planning and launching attacks, the checkpoints would be dismantled.
Israel tries to balance its security concerns with the welfare of the Palestinians, and is especially sensitive to the medical needs of Palestinians. According to IDF guidelines, any Palestinian in need of urgent medical care is allowed passage through checkpoints. The severity of the medical condition is determined by the checkpoint commander, who is to make decisions in favor of the Palestinian if there is any doubt. Palestinians are also allowed to enter Israel for routine medical care unless there is a security problem. Even then, Palestinians can appeal decisions and are also offered other options, such as transfer to neighboring states.
Ambulances are still stopped and searched at Israeli checkpoints because they have frequently been used as a means to transport terrorist bombs, and many of the murderers who have triggered suicide bombings in Israel gained access by driving or riding in Red Crescent ambulances. For example:
■ ■In October 2001, Nidal Nazal, a Hamas operative in Kalkilya, was arrested by the IDF. He was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent who served as a messenger between the Hamas headquarters in several West Bank towns.53
■ ■In January 2002, Wafa Idris blew herself up on the crowded Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, becoming one of the first female suicide bombers. She was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, as was Mohammed Hababa, the Tanzim operative who sent her on her mission. She left the West Bank by way of an ambulance.54
■ ■On March 27, 2002, a Tanzim member who worked as a Red Crescent ambulance driver was captured with explosives in his ambulance. A 14. Human Rights 171
child disguised as a patient was riding in the ambulance along with the child’s family. The explosives were found under the stretcher the "sick" child was laying on.55
■ ■On May 17, 2002, an explosive belt was found in a Red Crescent ambulance at a checkpoint near Ramallah. The bomb, the same type generally used in suicide bombings, was hidden under a gurney on which a sick child was lying. The driver, Islam Jibril, was already wanted by the IDF, and admitted that this was not the first time that an ambulance had been used to transport explosives or terrorists. In a statement issued the same day, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that it "understands the security concerns of the Israeli authorities, and has always acknowledged their right to check ambulances, provided it does not unduly delay medical evacuations." The sick passengers in the ambulance were escorted by soldiers to a nearby hospital.56
■ ■On June 30, 2002, Israeli troops found 10 suspected Palestinian terrorists hiding in two ambulances in Ramallah. They were caught when soldiers stopped the vehicles for routine checks.57
■ ■In December 2003, Rashed Tarek al-Nimr, who worked as a chemist in hospitals in Nablus and Bethlehem, supplied chemicals from the hospitals to Hamas for use in making bombs and admitted he used ambulances to transport the chemicals. He also said the Hamas commanders would hide in hospitals to avoid arrest.58
■ ■In December 2004, a Hamas agent with forged documents claiming that he was a cancer patient in need of medical treatment from an Israeli hospital was arrested by security forces. Hamed A-Karim Hamed Abu Lihiya was to meet up with another terrorist, obtain weapons from allies inside Israel, and carry out an attack. That same month, a man recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to plant a bomb on the railway tracks near Netanya tried to use false papers indicating he needed hospital treatment to enter Israel. Another Hamas terrorist planning a suicide bombing was arrested in March 2005 after pretending to be a kidney donor.59
"Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada."
—Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish60
On June 20, 2005, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas aroused 172 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
the suspicion of soldiers at the checkpoint when a biometric scanner revealed she was hiding explosives. When she realized they had discovered the explosive belt, she attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it.61
Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received as a result of a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack. In an interview shown on Israeli television, Bas said her "dream was to be a martyr" and that her intent was to kill 40 or 50 people—as many young people as possible.
Since its founding in 1996, Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli humanitarian group that treats children suffering from heart problems, has treated more than 900 children from Gaza.62
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, who has worked at the Soroka Hospital, wrote that he was "outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt." Dr. Abuelaish said he does research at the hospital’s Genetic Institute and has warm relations with his colleagues. "I make a point, whenever I’m at the hospital, of visiting Palestinian patients," he said. "I also schedule appointments for other Gaza residents, and even bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip. . . . On the very day that she planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent treatment at Soroka."
Dr. Abuelaish added, "Wafa was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Bas feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment?"63
By using this tactic, the Palestinians have reinforced the necessity of retaining the checkpoints and forced Israel to carry out more stringent inspections, yet another example of how terrorists are making life unnecessarily difficult for innocent Palestinians.
Despite a number of other cases where Palestinian terrorists tried to take advantage of the "medical route" to infiltrate Israel, more than 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza, and 175,000 from the West Bank, were allowed to travel to hospitals in Israel in 2010 to receive treatment from some of the finest medical facilities in the world. This includes approximately 7,500 children. Many of these patients receive life-saving treatments that are not available in the Palestinian territories.6414. Human Rights 173
Picture a 19-year-old soldier commanding a checkpoint. An ambulance arrives, and inside is a woman who is seemingly pregnant. The woman appears to be in pain and her husband is also highly anxious. But the soldier has been warned about an ambulance bearing a pregnant woman who is not really pregnant. The intelligence said that underneath the stretcher in the ambulance a wanted terrorist is hiding with an explosive belt for a suicide attack. It is a hot day and there is a long line of cars. His commanders are yelling at him on the two-way radio, "Do not let ambulances go through because there is a terrorist in an ambulance!" To complicate the picture, a news video crew is present.
The soldier has to make an incredible number of decisions in a very short time. He is only 19 and has no medical training. He knows that if he lets the ambulance go through and it contains a terrorist, then innocent people will die and he will have failed in his mission. On the other hand, if there is not a terrorist in this particular ambulance, and he delays a truly pregnant woman from reaching a hospital, the lives of the mother and baby could be endangered.
What would you do?
MYTH "Israeli textbooks are just as hateful as those in the Palestinian Authority." FACT
The best hope for the future is that Israeli and Arab children will grow up with a greater understanding and tolerance of one another. Unfortunately, the textbooks in Arab countries, and the Palestinian Authority, in particular, do not promote coexistence. By contrast, Israeli textbooks are oriented toward peace and tolerance. The Palestinians are accepted as Palestinians. Islam and Arab culture are referred to with respect. Islamic holy places are discussed along with Jewish ones. Stereotypes are avoided to educate against prejudice.
More than 20 years ago, it was true that some Israeli textbooks used stereotyped images of Arabs; however, the books in use in public schools today are very different. Israeli texts go out of their way to avoid prejudices and to guard against generalizations. In one seventh grade lesson, students are given the following problem:
Many people think: The dove is a bird that pursues peace. This belief is incorrect; it is a prejudice: people believe it without checking it. There are a lot of prejudices. For example:174 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
1. The Jews control the world and exploit all those who live in it.
2. The blacks are inferior; they are incapable of being scientists.
3. The Arabs only understand the language of force . . .
Be ready to explain orally why these are prejudices.65
In an elementary textbook on reading comprehension, students read how a Jewish girl was saved by an Arab woman. The book notes, "The Arabs are like the Jews. . . . There are nasty people among them and there are decent people and . . . they should not be labeled."66
Contrary to suggestions that Israelis do not accept the idea that Palestinians are a people, Israeli textbooks explain the origins of Palestinian nationalism. For example, a ninth grade text observes that "during the 1930’s, Arab nationalist movements evolved all over the Middle East. Many of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael also began formulating a national consciousness—in other words, the perception that they are not just part of the larger Arab nation, but are also Palestinians."67
While Palestinian texts omit references to Jewish contributions to the world, the Israeli books recognize the achievements of Arabs and Muslims. One text highlights the Arab role as creators of culture: " . . . they were the first to discover the existence of infectious diseases. They were also the first to build public hospitals. Because of their considerable contribution to various scientific fields, there are disciplines that to this day are called by their Arabic names, such as algebra." Islam’s contributions are also acknowledged in the same passage: "The Islamic religion also influenced the development of culture. The obligation to pray in the direction of Mecca led to the development of astronomy, which helped identify the direction according to the heavenly bodies. The duty to make a pilgrimage developed geography and gave a push to the writing of travel books. These books, and the Arabs’ high capability in map drawing, helped develop trade. To this day, merchants use Arabic words, such as bazaar, check and tariff."68
Palestinian textbooks also negate the Jewish connection to the Holy Land while Israeli texts show respect for the Arab/Muslim attachment to the land. "The Land of Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, have been sanctified more and more in Islamic thought—as Islam has developed and spread, both religiously and geographically. As Islam absorbed more and more of the world conquered by it, so it adapted and Islamized the values that it absorbed, including the holiness of the Land of Israel, its flora and its water, living in it, the sanctity of being buried in it and the like. All these became from that time onwards part of orthodox Islam." 69
Israeli textbooks contain a plurality of views, including those that conflict with conventional research and are critical of Israeli policies. 14. Human Rights 175
Controversial topics, such as the disputed territories, the refugee issue, and the status of Israeli Arabs are covered from multiple viewpoints.70
The content of the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan is detailed, along with the implications of those agreements. Agreements with the Palestinians are discussed as well, and the atlas used in Israeli schools shows the Palestinian Authority.71
Israeli texts also use simulation games to help students understand different perspectives on an issue. In one, students are told to divide into groups representing Jewish and Palestinian journalists and prepare a report on the discussion in the United Nations leading to the partition resolution. Students are then asked to discuss the differences between the reports of the Jewish and Palestinian journalists.72
Israel is not perfect and exceptions do exist. Some generalizations and patronizing terminology are found in textbooks used in the ultra- Orthodox schools. These schools comprise less than 10 percent of the Israeli educational system, and the same Israeli watchdog organizations that have pointed out problems in Palestinian textbooks have also publicized the need to remove inappropriate references from school books in this system.73
MYTH "Israel is a theocracy and should not be a Jewish State." FACT
It often makes people uncomfortable to refer to Israel as "the Jewish State" because it suggests a theocracy and, therefore, the demise of Israel as a Jewish state is viewed by some people as a positive development. Israel is not a theocracy; it is governed by the rule of law as drafted by a democratically elected parliament. It is informed by Jewish values and adheres to many Jewish religious customs (such as holidays), but this is similar to the United States and other nations that are shaped by the Judeo-Christian heritage and also have expressly religious elements (e.g., church-state separation in the U.S. does not preclude the recognition of Christmas as a holiday). Israel has no state religion, and all faiths enjoy freedom of worship; yet, it is attacked for its Jewish character, whereas the Arab states that all have Islam as their official religion are regarded as legitimate.
Why shouldn’t the Jews have a state? The Jewish people are a nation with a shared origin, religion, culture, language, and history. No one suggests that Arabs are not entitled to a nation of their own (and they have not one, but twenty-one) or Swedes or Germans, or that Catholics are not entitled to a state (Vatican City) headed by a theocrat (the Pope). To suggest that Zionism, the nationalist movement of the Jewish people, is the only form of nationalism that is illegitimate is pure bigotry. It 176 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
is especially ironic that the Jewish nation should be challenged given that Jewish statehood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.
It is also not unusual that one community should be the majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status. In fact, this is true in nearly every country in the world. Moreover, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. India and Pakistan were established at the same time as Israel through a violent partition, but no one believes these nations are illegitimate because one is predominantly Hindu and the other has a Muslim majority, or that these nations shouldn’t be influenced by those communities (e.g., that cows in India should not be treated as sacred).
In the United States, a vigorous debate persists over the boundaries between church and state. Similar discussions regarding "synagogue and state" are ongoing in Israel, with philosophical disagreements over whether Israel can be a Jewish and a democratic state, and practical arguments over Sabbath observance, marriage and divorce laws, and budgets for religious institutions. Nevertheless, most Jews take for granted that Israel is, and must remain, a Jewish state. Arab citizens also understand that Israel is a Jewish state and, while they might prefer that it was not, they have still chosen to live there (nothing prevents Arabs from moving to any of the 190-odd non-Jewish states in the world). Both Jews and Arabs realize that if Jews cease to be a majority in Israel, Israel will no longer have a Jewish character or serve as a haven for persecuted Jews, and that is one of the elements underlying peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
MYTH "Israel is persecuting Christians." FACT
While Christians are unwelcome in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, and most have been driven out of their longtime homes in Lebanon, Christians continue to be welcome in Israel. Christians have always been a minority in Israel, but it is the only Middle East nation where the Christian population has grown in the last half century (from 34,000 in 1948 to 150,000 today), in large measure because of the freedomto practice their religion.
By their own volition, the Christian communities have remained the most autonomous of the various religious communities in Israel, though they have increasingly chosen to integrate their social welfare, medical and educational institutions into state structures. The ecclesiastical courts of the Christian communities maintain jurisdiction in mat14. Human Rights 177
ters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. The Ministry of Religious Affairs deliberately refrains from interfering in their religious life, but maintains a Department for Christian Communities to address problems and requests that may arise.
In Jerusalem, the rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places were established during the Ottoman Empire. Known as the "status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem," these rights remain in force today in Israel.
It was during Jordan’s control of the Old City from 1948 until 1967 that Christian rights were infringed and Israeli Christians were barred from their holy places. The Christian population declined by nearly half, from 25,000 to 12,646. Since then, the population has slowly been growing.
Some Christians have been among those inconvenienced by Israel’s construction of the security fence, but they have not been harmed because of their religious beliefs. They simply live in areas where the fence is being built. Like others who can show they have suffered some injury, Christians are entitled to compensation. Meanwhile, Israel has taken measures to minimize the impact of the fence on Christians. For example, a special terminal was built to facilitate security checks for those traveling between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Special gates were built in other areas allowing pilgrims to visit religious sites on the Palestinian side of the fence. Israel often moved the fence route to accommodate requests of Christians, as in the case of the Rosary School that was moved to the Israeli side in response to requests from the Mother Superior. Ultimately, 19 of 22 Christian sites in and around Jerusalem were brought inside the fence, with the exceptions primarily due to the desire to avoid moving the fence deep into the West Bank or compromising Muslim property rights.74
Meanwhile, Israel’s detractors ignore the precarious plight of Christians under Arab rule, especially under the Palestinian Authority, where approximately 50,000 Christians live among 3 million Muslims. The total number of Christians in the Palestinian territories has remained stable since 1967, however, the proportion has dropped from 15 percent of the Arab population in 1950 to just over 1 percent today. Three-fourths of all Bethlehem Christians now live abroad, and the overwhelming majority of the city’s population is Muslim. By contrast, Israel’s Christian population grew by approximately 114 percent since 1967.75
Jonathan Adelman and Agota Kuperman noted that Yasser Arafat "tried to erase the historic Jesus by depicting him as the first radical Palestinian armed fedayeen (guerrilla). Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has adopted Islam as its official religion, used shari’a Islamic codes, and allowed even officially appointed clerics to brand Christians (and Jews) as infidels in their mosques." The authors add that the "militantly 178 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Islamic rhetoric and terrorist acts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad . . . offer little comfort to Christians."
David Raab observed that "Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims—as were Lebanon’s Christians—as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the Palestinian War in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza." Raab also wrote that "anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: ‘First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians),’ " and that "Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents." In 2002, Palestinian terrorists holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, endangering the shrine and provoking a tense standoff with Israeli troops.
When Arafat died, Vatican Radio correspondent Graziano Motta said, "The death of the president of the Palestinian National Authority has come at a time when the political, administrative and police structures often discriminate against [Christians]." Motta added that Christians "have been continually exposed to pressures by Muslim activists, and have been forced to profess fidelity to the intifada." In addition, he reported, "Frequently, there are cases in which the Muslims expropriate houses and lands belonging to Catholics, and often the intervention of the authorities has been lacking in addressing acts of violence against young women, or offenses against the Christian faith."76
It certainly wouldn’t be difficult for critics to find evidence of mistreatment of Christians in the PA if they were interested, but unlike Christians who enjoy freedom of speech as well as religion in Israel, beleaguered Palestinian Christians are afraid to speak out. "Out of fear for their safety, Christian spokesmen aren’t happy to be identified by name when they complain about the Muslims’ treatment of them . . . off the record they talk of harassment and terror tactics, mainly from the gangs of thugs who looted and plundered Christians and their property, under the protection of Palestinian security personnel."77
"Christian Arabs," Adam Garfinkle noted, "see Israel as protection against the rising sea of Islam in which they live." Christians also rarely publicly complain, Garfinkle says, "because Arab Christians are somewhat marginalized in majority Islamic culture, they have often gone out of their way to act more Arab than the Arabs, and that has sometimes meant taking the lead in anti-Western and anti-Israel advocacy."78
One Christian who has gone public is Samir Qumsiyeh, a journalist from Beit Sahur who told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Christians were being subjected to rape, kidnapping, extortion and expropriation of land and property. Qumsiyeh compiled a list of 93 cases of anti-Christian violence between 2000 and 2004 and specifically mentioned the case of a 17-year-old girl from his town who was raped by members of Fatah. "Even though the family protested," 14. Human Rights 179
he said, "none of the four was ever arrested. Because of the shame her family was forced to move to Jordan." He added that "almost all 140 cases of expropriation of land in the last three years were committed by militant Islamic groups and members of the Palestinian police" and that the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped from 75 percent in 1950 to 12 percent today. "If the situation continues," Qumsiyeh warned, "we won’t be here any more in 20 years."79
MYTH "Hamas respects the rights of Palestinian Christians." FACT
In Gaza only about 2,000 Christians live among more than one million Muslims. The population has declined as Hamas persecution has intensified.
On June 14, 2007, the Rosary Sisters School and Latin Church in the Gaza Strip were ransacked, burned and looted by Hamas gunmen who used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the buildings. Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the Latin community in Gaza, expressed outrage that copies of the Bible were burned, crosses destroyed and computers and other equipment stolen. The same year, the owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore was murdered.80
"I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza," said Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that opened a "military wing" to enforce Muslim law in Gaza. The application of Islamic law, he said, includes a prohibition on alcohol and a requirement that women be covered at all times while in public.81
Critics of Israel who express concern for Christians, such as Jimmy Carter, have consistently ignored the persistent discrimination and abuse of Christians by Muslims throughout the Middle East. It is therefore not surprising that they have remained silent while Palestinian Muslims persecute Christians.
The Christian position throughout the territories has always been precarious, which is why many have fled the Palestinian Authority.
MYTH "Israel denies Palestinians basic rights and freedoms" FACT
Palestinians are deprived of the freedoms Americans and Israelis take for granted, namely, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom 180 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
of speech, gay rights and women’s rights. Israel has nothing to do with the denial of these rights, however, they are all blocked by the Palestinian Authority.
As documented elsewhere in this book, non-Muslims regularly face discrimination and Christians have been driven out of Gaza by Hamas. Journalists are not allowed to report freely and critics of the leadership are harassed, jailed or prevented from reporting. In a December 2010 poll, only 27 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and 19 percent in Gaza said they can criticize officials without fear.82 Gays are not tolerated and many have fled to Israel for sanctuary. Women are routinely discriminated against and honor killings are still practiced.
While human rights groups obsessively focus on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, they routinely ignore abuses by Palestinians against their own people. While Israel may be blamed for hardships faced by Palestinians, the denial of these basic civil and human rights in the territories has been the sole responsibility of the Palestinian leadership.
MYTH "The Goldstone Report proves Israel is guilty of war crimes in Gaza." FACT
Following the report’s release, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said, "The mandate was unbalanced, one-sided and unacceptable . . . The weight of the report is something like 85% oriented towards very specific and harsh condemnation and conclusions related to Israel and very lightly treats without great specificity Hamas’ terrorism and its own atrocities."83
The Goldstone Commission was created to conduct a fact-finding mission and to investigate whether any violations of international humanitarian law took place during the conflict between Israel and Hamasduring Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008/ January 2009. No one was surprised when the Commission issued a report highly critical of Israel given that it was created by the UN Human Rights Council, an organization long ago discredited for its obsessive and biased focus on Israel, and that one of the Commission members, Christine Chinkin, had previously accused Israel of war crimes.84
The four-person panel, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, based virtually all of its 575-page report on unverified accounts by Palestinians and NGOs. The Goldstone Commission fixated on Israel’s incursion intoGaza while failing to adequately address the provocation—three years 14. Human Rights 181
of Hamas rocket bombardment of Israeli towns and villages—that led to the Israeli operation. The Israeli government did not cooperate with the Commission because of its one-sided mandate that presumedIsrael was guilty of war crimes.85
While ignoring journalistic accounts of the activities of Hamas, the Commission relied on critical reports of Israeli actions by groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), which had already been disputed. HRW, in particular, has been discredited by revelations that it has tried to raise money from Saudi Arabia by touting its history of anti-Israel reportage and that its "senior military expert," Marc Garlasco, is a collector of Nazi memorabilia.86
When interviewing Gazans, the Commission was chaperoned by Hamas officials.87 Hence, it was not surprising that investigators made little effort to investigate Hamas activities before or during Operation Cast Lead. It was equally unremarkable for the commission to then report that it found no evidence that Hamas fired rockets from civilian homes, that terrorists hid among the civilian population, fired mortars, anti-tank missiles and machine guns into Palestinian villages when IDF forces were in proximity, or that they seized and booby-trapped Palestinian civilian houses to ambush IDF soldiers. In fact, the report refers to Hamas "police" as civilians, absolving them of terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and their illegal actions in Gaza during the conflict.88 This directly contradicts the ample photos, video and reports by journalists that depict Hamas militants participating in all of these illegal activities.89
One postwar study rebutting Goldstone’s conclusions found that many Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians; some were seen in videos firing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at troops. The report also documented the use by Hamas of dozens of mosques as armories, command centers and launching areas for rockets. Evidence was also found of Hamas fighters using civilians as shields.90
Ironically, Hamas undermined claims by Goldstone and other critics of Israel who insisted the victims of the war were mostly innocent civilians when Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad admitted in 2010 that it lost more than 600 men during the war. This is consistent with the figure of 709 calculated by the Israel Defense Forces after it released an official list of the 1,166 names of Palestinians killed during the war.91
Even the UN’s Humanitarian Affairs chief, John Holmes, had criticized Hamas for "the reckless and cynical use of civilian installations . . . and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations," which he characterized as "clear violations of international law."92
By not holding Hamas accountable for targeting Israeli civilians, the report essentially legitimizes terrorism and criminalizes self-defense.182 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
"For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they are saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death like you desire life."
—Hamas parliamentarian Fathi Hammad93
Israel does not need outsiders to tell it how to defend itself or how to investigate the actions of its military. The people of Israel expect their soldiers to uphold the highest moral standards and they demand that allegations of misconduct be promptly and thoroughly probed even when the results may be embarrassing. The war in Gaza was no exception. Israel has already examined various charges, and taken action against soldiers who acted inappropriately, and will continue to do so without intervention by parties with political agendas who start with the premise that Israelis are guilty and then set out to prove it.
MYTH "Justice Goldstone remains convinced that Israel committed war crimes documented in the Goldstone Report." FACT
In an April 1, 2011, editorial published by the Washington Post, Justice Richard Goldstone retracted his accusations that Israel intentionally targeted civilians and was guilty of war crimes during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza in December 2008.94 The principal author of the 575 page report bearing his name, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of criminal misconduct during the Gaza conflict, Goldstone now admits the work used by Israel’s detractors to vilify Israel was based on incomplete information and falsely accused Israel of wrongdoing. Goldstone conceded that "if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."95
The report, which erroneously claimed that Israel led a "deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population," became a tool for Israel’s detractors to demonize the Jewish state and denigrate its right to self-defense.96 Goldstone now accepts that "civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy" and that in the aftermath of having thousands of rockets and missiles fired at its cities, Israel had the "right and obligation to 14. Human Rights 183
defend itself and its citizens against such attacks."97 In fact, as Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander British Forces in Afghanistan, testified to the Goldstone committee in 2009, "The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."98
Israel’s claims regarding casualties also have proved correct, Goldstone acknowledges. "The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas." He is referring to the recent Hamas admission that, as Israel maintained, most of the Palestinians who were killed in the fighting were terrorists and not bystanders.99
Goldstone also takes the UN Human Rights Council to task, noting that its original mandate was "skewed against Israel." He said he "hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted."100
"Everything that we said proved to be true. Israel did not intentionally target civilians and it has proper investigatory bodies. In contrast, Hamas intentionally directed strikes towards innocent civilians and did not conduct any kind of probe ... The fact that Goldstone changed his mind must lead to the shelving of [the Goldstone Report] once and for all."
—Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister101
Goldstone also now rightfully focuses his criticism on Hamas. "That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza," Goldstone writes, "in no way minimizes their criminality."102 He added that Hamas’ actions during the conflict were intentional and "purposefully indiscriminate" and he excoriates them for failing to investigate any of the war crimes accusations. By contrast, Goldstone acknowledged that Israel has "dedicated significant resources to investigate" allegations of misconduct.
Though long overdue, Goldstone’s retraction is timely because Hamas has resumed rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel may again be forced to reengage Hamas to defend its citizens. Nevertheless, the damage caused to Israel by the Goldstone Report is incalculable. Public protests, university forums and official declarations have used the "evidence" released in the report to smear Israel and its brave soldiers. Unfortunately, renouncing his report will not stem the tide of anti-Israel propaganda based on its mendacious claims. Goldstone nevertheless has an obligation to go to all the forums where his report was misused and set the record straight. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the United States should demand that the Goldstone Report be denounced as a sham and erased from the record.184 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
MYTH "Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment." FACT
International law requires that Israel permit passage of food, clothing and medicines intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. If Israel has reason to believe Hamas will intercept these goods and the enemy will benefit, even these provisions may be prohibited. Israel also need not provide these supplies; it is obligated only to allow others to transfer provisions.
Furthermore, the law does not prohibit Israel from cutting off fuel supplies and electricity to Gaza, withholding commercial items or sealing its border. Israel also is not obligated to provide any minimum supplies to prevent a "humanitarian crisis."
Some critics of labeled Israel’s actions "collective punishment"; however, this refers to the "imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt." Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile territory. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy and has never been regarded as "collective punishment."103
Israel has complied with international law and gone beyond it by delivering humanitarian supplies it was not required to provide.
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