Friday, June 26, 2015

"The Jewish claim to the land they call Israel."

"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and repeated."

"Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’
Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement. . . .
There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession." 
"The Jewish claim to the land they call Israel."


A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. and then, 1,800 years later, the Jews suddenly returned to Palestinedemanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.

The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, GazaAshkelonJaffa and Caesarea. The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in SafedJerusalemand elsewhere during the next 300 years.


By the early 19th century—years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement—more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.
Israel’s international "birth certificate" was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.
MYTH "Palestine was always an Arab country."  FACT    

The term "Palestine" is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C.E., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what are now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century C.E., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Arabic word Filastin is derived from this Latin name.3


The Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 B.C.E., living under a tribal confederation until being united under the first monarch, King Saul. The second king, David, established Jerusalem as the capital around 1000 B.C.E. David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple soon thereafter and consolidated the military, administrative and religious functions of the kingdom. The nation was divided under Solomon’s son, with the northern kingdom (Israel) lasting until 722 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed it, and the southern kingdom (Judah) surviving until the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E. The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward until most Jews were finally driven from their homeland in 135 C.E.


Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than 400 years. This is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States.In fact, if not for foreign conquerors, Israel would be more than 3,000 years old today.

Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most of the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab- American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified


1. Israel’s Roots 3

against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: "There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not."5


Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted:

We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.6
In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: "There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria."The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations echoed this view in a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947, which said Palestine was part of the Province of Syria and the Arabs of Palestine did not comprise a separate political entity. A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of thePLO, told the Security Council: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."8


Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War.

MYTH "The Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites and were in Palestine long before the Jews."  FACT    

Palestinian claims to be related to the Canaanites are a recent phenomenon and contrary to historical evidence. The Canaanites disappeared from the face of the earth three millennia ago, and no one knows if any of their descendants survived or, if they did, who they would be.


Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia, said the Palestinians’ ancestors had only been in the area for 1,000 years.Even the Palestinians themselves have acknowledged their association with the region came long after the Jews. In testimony before the Anglo- American Committee in 1946, for example, they claimed a connection to Palestine of more than 1,000 years, dating back no further than the conquest of Muhammad’s followers in the 7th century.10 Over the last 2,000 years, there have been massive invasions (e.g., the Crusades) that MY T H S A N D FAC T S

killed off most of the local people, migrations, the plague, and other manmade or natural disasters. The entire local population was replaced many times over. During the British mandate alone, more than 100,000 Arabs emigrated from neighboring countries and are today considered Palestinians.

By contrast, no serious historian questions the more than 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, or the modern Jewish people’s relation to the ancient Hebrews.

MYTH "The Balfour Declaration did not give Jews the right to a homeland in Palestine."  FACT    

In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration:

His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.


The Mandate for Palestine included the Balfour Declaration. It specifically referred to "the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine" and to the moral validity of "reconstituting their National Home in that country." The term "reconstituting" shows recognition of the fact that Palestine had been the Jews’ home. Furthermore, the British were instructed to "use their best endeavors to facilitate" Jewish immigration, to encourage settlement on the land and to "secure" the Jewish National Home. The word "Arab" does not appear in the Mandatory award.11


The Mandate was formalized by the 52 governments at the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.

MYTH "Arabs in Palestine suffered because of Jewish settlement."  FACT    

For many centuries, Palestine was a sparsely populated, poorly cultivated and widely-neglected expanse of eroded hills, sandy deserts and malarial marshes. As late as 1880, the American consul in Jerusalem 1. Israel’s Roots 5

reported the area was continuing its historic decline. "The population and wealth of Palestine has not increased during the last forty years," he said.12


The Report of the Palestine Royal Commission quotes an account of the Maritime Plain in 1913:

The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts . . . no orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached [the Jewish village of] Yabna [Yavne]. . . . Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen. . . . The ploughs used were of wood. . . . The yields were very poor. . . . The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist. . . . The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert. . . . The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.13
Surprisingly, many people who were not sympathetic to the Zionist cause believed the Jews would improve the condition of Palestinian Arabs. For example, Dawood Barakat, editor of the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram, wrote: "It is absolutely necessary that an entente be made between the Zionists and Arabs, because the war of words can only do evil. The Zionists are necessary for the country: The money which they will bring, their knowledge and intelligence, and the industriousness which characterizes them will contribute without doubt to the regeneration of the country."14


Even a leading Arab nationalist believed the return of the Jews to their homeland would help resuscitate the country. According to Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia:

The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things until recent times was that the Palestinian used to leave his country, wandering over the high seas in every direction. His native soil could not retain a hold on him, though his ancestors had lived on it for 1000 years. At the same time we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons (abna’ihilasliyin), for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles (jaliya) to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually [to be] an exMY T H S A N D FAC T S
perimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and in all things connected with toil and labor.15


As Hussein foresaw, the regeneration of Palestine, and the growth of its population, came only after Jews returned in massive numbers.

Mark Twain, who visited Palestine in 1867, described it as: ". . . a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse. . . . A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. . . . We never saw a human being on the whole route. . . . There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."16

"Zionism is racism."  FACT    

In 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution slandering Zionism by equating it with racism. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, which holds that Jews, like any other nation, are entitled to a homeland.

History has demonstrated the need to ensure Jewish security through a national homeland. Zionism recognizes that Jewishness is defined by shared origin, religion, culture and history. The realization of the Zionist dream is exemplified by nearly six million Jews, from more than 100 countries, who are Israeli citizens.

Israel’s Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to Jews, but non- Jews are also eligible to become citizens under naturalization procedures similar to those in other countries. Israel’s policy is not unique; many other countries, including Germany, Greece, Ireland and Finland have special categories of people who are entitled to citizenship.

More than one million Muslim and Christian Arabs, DruzeBaha’isCircassians and other ethnic groups also are represented in Israel’s population. The presence in Israel of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and India is the best refutation of the calumny against Zionism. In a series of historic airlifts, labeled Operations Moses (1984), Joshua (1985) and Solomon (1991), Israel rescued more than 20,000 members of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community.


Zionism does not discriminate against anyone. Israel’s open and democratic character, and its scrupulous protection of the religious and political rights of Christians and Muslims, rebut the charge of exclusiv1. Israel’s Roots 7


ity. Moreover, anyone—Jew or non-Jew, Israeli, American, or Chinese, black, white, or purple—can be a Zionist.

Writing after "Operation Moses" was revealed, William Safire noted:
". . . For the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens."17
By contrast, the Arab states define citizenship strictly by native parentage. It is almost impossible to become a naturalized citizen in Arab states such as AlgeriaSaudi Arabia and Kuwait. Several Arab nations have laws that facilitate the naturalization of foreign Arabs, with the specific exception of PalestiniansJordan, on the other hand, instituted its own "law of return" in 1954, according citizenship to all former residents of Palestine, except for Jews.18


The 1975 UN resolution was part of the Soviet-Arab Cold War anti- Israel campaign. Almost all the former non-Arab supporters of the resolution have apologized and changed their positions. When the General Assembly voted to repeal the resolution in 1991, only some Arab and Muslim states, as well as Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam were opposed.

MYTH "The Zionists could have chosen another country besides Palestine."  FACT    

In the late 19th century, the rise of anti-Semitism led to a resurgence of pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, shattering promises of equality and tolerance. This stimulated Jewish immigration to Palestinefrom Europe.

Simultaneously, a wave of Jews immigrated to Palestine from Yemen, Morocco, Iraq and Turkey. These Jews were unaware of Theodor Herzl’s political Zionism or of European pogroms. They were motivated by the centuries-old dream of the "Return to Zion" and a fear of intolerance. Upon hearing that the gates of Palestine were open, they braved the hardships of travel and went to the Land of Israel.


The Zionist ideal of a return to Israel has profound religious roots. Many Jewish prayers speak of Jerusalem, Zion and the Land of Israel. The injunction not to forget Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, is a major tenet of Judaism. The Hebrew language, the Torah, laws in the Talmud, the Jewish calendar and Jewish holidays and festivals all originated in Israel and revolve around its seasons and conditions. Jews pray toward MY T H S A N D FAC T S

Jerusalem and recite the words "next year in Jerusalem" every Passover. Jewish religion, culture and history make clear that it is only in the land of Israel that the Jewish commonwealth can be built.

In 1897, Jewish leaders formally organized the Zionist political movement, calling for the restoration of the Jewish national home in Palestine, where Jews could find sanctuary and self-determination, and work for the renascence of their civilization and culture.

MYTH "Herzl himself proposed Uganda as the Jewish state as an alternative to Palestine."  FACT    
Theodor Herzl sought support from the great powers for the creation of a Jewish homeland. He turned to Great Britain, and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others. The British agreed, in principle, to permit Jewish settlement in East Africa.


At the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basle on August 26, 1903, Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary emergency refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger. While Herzl made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm of protest at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Uganda Program, which never had much support, was formally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905.

"The Arabs saw the Balfour Declaration as a betrayal of their rights."  FACT    

Emir Faisal, son of Sherif Hussein, the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks, signed an agreement with Chaim Weizmann and other Zionist leaders during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. It acknowledged the "racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people" and concluded that "the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab states and Palestine." Furthermore, the agreement looked to the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and called for all necessary measures " . . . to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil."191. Israel’s Roots 9


Faisal had conditioned his acceptance of the Balfour Declaration on the fulfillment of British wartime promises of independence to the Arabs. These were not kept.

Critics dismiss the Weizmann-Faisal agreement because it was never enacted; however, the fact that the leader of the Arab nationalist movement and the Zionist movement could reach an understanding is significant because it demonstrated that Jewish and Arab aspirations were not necessarily mutually exclusive.

"Our settlers do not come here as do the colonists from the Occident to have natives do their work for them; they themselves set their shoulders to the plow and they spend their strength and their blood to make the land fruitful. But it is not only for ourselves that we desire its fertility. The Jewish farmers have begun to teach their brothers, the Arab farmers, to cultivate the land more intensively; we desire to teach them further: together with them we want to cultivate the land—to ‘serve’ it, as the Hebrew has it. The more fertile this soil becomes, the more space there will be for us and for them. We have no desire to dispossess them: we want to live with them."
Martin Buber20

"The Zionists were colonialist tools of Western imperialism."  FACT    

"Colonialism means living by exploiting others," Yehoshofat Harkabi has written. "But what could be further from colonialism than the idealism of city-dwelling Jews who strive to become farmers and laborers and to live by their own work?"21

Moreover, as British historian Paul Johnson noted, Zionists were hardly tools of imperialists given the powers’ general opposition to their cause. "Everywhere in the West, the foreign offices, defense ministries and big business were against the Zionists."22


Emir Faisal also saw the Zionist movement as a companion to the Arab nationalist movement, fighting against imperialism, as he explained in a letter to Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on March 3, 1919, one day after Chaim Weizmann presented the Zionist case to the Paris conference. Faisal wrote:

The Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. . . . We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home. . . . We are working together for 10 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
a reformed and revised Near East and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is nationalist and not imperialist. And there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a real success without the other (emphasis added).23
In the 1940s, the Jewish underground movements waged an anti-colonial war against the British. The Arabs, meanwhile, were concerned primarily with fighting the Jews rather than expelling the British imperialists.

"The British promised the Arabs independence in Palestine."  FACT    

The central figure in the Arab nationalist movement at the time of World War I was Hussein ibn ‘Ali, the Sherif of Mecca in 1908. As Sherif, Hussein was responsible for the custody of Islam’s shrines in the Hejaz and was one of the Muslims’ spiritual leaders.

In July 1915, Hussein sent a letter to Sir Henry MacMahon, the High Commissioner for Egypt, informing him of the terms for Arab participation in the war against the Turks. The letters between Hussein and MacMahon that followed outlined the areas that Britain was prepared to cede to the Arabs in exchange for their help.


The Hussein-MacMahon correspondence conspicuously fails to mention Palestine. The British argued the omission had been intentional, thereby justifying their refusal to grant the Arabs independence in Palestine after the war.24 MacMahon explained:

I feel it my duty to state, and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein.25
1. Dan Bahat, ed. Twenty Centuries of Jewish Life in the Holy Land, (Jerusalem: The Israel Economist, 1976), pp. 61–63.
2. New York Times(November 18, 1981).
3. Yehoshua Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, 1918–1929(London: Frank Cass, 1974), p. 4.
4. Max Dimont, Jews, God and History(NY: Signet, 1962), pp. 49–53.
5. Moshe Kohn, "The Arabs’ ‘Lie’ of the Land," Jerusalem Post(October 18, 1991).
6. Randall Price, Fast Facts on the Middle East Conflict, (Harvest House Publishers: 2003), p. 25.1. Israel’s Roots 11
7. Moshe Kohn, "The Arabs’ ‘Lie’ of the Land," Jerusalem Post(October 18, 1991).
8. Avner Yaniv, PLO, (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Study Group of Middle Eastern Affairs, August 1974), p. 5.
9. Al-Qibla, (March 23, 1918), quoted in Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine(NY: Bantam Books, 1977), p. 126.
10. British Government, Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, 1946, Part VI(April 20, 1946).
11. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 129.
12. Ben Halpern, The Idea of a Jewish State(MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 108.
13. Palestine Royal Commission Report, p. 233.
14. Neville Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism Before World War I, (University of California Press: 1976), p. 8.
15. Al-Qibla, (March 23, 1918), quoted in Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine(NY: Bantam Books, 1977), p. 126.
16. Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad(London, 1881).
17. New York Times(January 7, 1985).
18. Jordanian Nationality Law, Article 3(2) of Law No. 6 of 1954, Official Gazette, No. 1171, January 1, 1954.
19. Chaim WeizmannTrial and Error, (NY: Schocken Books, 1966), pp. 246–247; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 121.
20. From an open letter from Martin Buber to Mahatma Gandhi in 1939, accessed at
21. Yehoshofat Harkabi, Palestinians And Israel(Jerusalem: Keter, 1974), p. 6.
22. Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties(NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p. 485.
23. Naomi Comay, Arabs Speak Frankly on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, (Printing Miracle Ltd., 2005), p. 8.
24. George Kirk, A Short History of the Middle East, (NY: Frederick Praeger Publishers, 1964), p. 314.
25. "Report of a Committee Setup to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915/1916," U.K. Parliament, March 16, 1939.

2. The Mandatory PeriodMYTH "The British helped the Jews displace the native Arab population of Palestine." FACT   
Herbert Samuel, a British Jew who served as the first High Commissioner of Palestine, placed restrictions on Jewish immigration "in the ‘interests of the present population’ and the ‘absorptive capacity’ of the country."The influx of Jewish settlers was said to be forcing the Arab fellahin (native peasants) from their land. This was at a time when less than a million people lived in an area that now supports more than nine million.


The British actually limited the absorptive capacity of Palestine when, in 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill severed nearly four-fifths of Palestine—some 35,000 square miles—to create a brand new Arab entity, Transjordan. As a consolation prize for the Hejaz and Arabia (which are both now Saudi Arabia) going to the Saud family, Churchill rewarded Sherif Hussein’s son Abdullah for his contribution to the war against Turkey by installing him as Transjordan’s emir.


The British went further and placed restrictions on Jewish land purchases in what remained of Palestine, contradicting the provision of the Mandate (Article 6) stating that "the Administration of Palestine . . . shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes." By 1949, the British had allotted 87,500 acres of the 187,500 acres of cultivable land to Arabs and only 4,250 acres to Jews.2

Ultimately, the British admitted the argument about the absorptive capacity of the country was specious. The Peel Commission said: "The heavy immigration in the years 1933–36 would seem to show that the Jews have been able to enlarge the absorptive capacity of the country for Jews."3

"The British allowed Jews to flood Palestine while Arab immigration was tightly controlled."2. The Mandatory Period 13 14 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 


The British response to Jewish immigration set a precedent of appeasing the Arabs, which was followed for the duration of the Mandate. The British placed restrictions on Jewish immigration while allowing Arabs to enter the country freely. Apparently, London did not feel that a flood of Arab immigrants would affect the country’s absorptive capacity.


During World War I, the Jewish population in Palestine declined because of the war, famine, disease and expulsion by the Turks. In 1915, approximately 83,000 Jews lived in Palestine among 590,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs. According to the 1922 census, the Jewish population was 84,000, while the Arabs numbered 643,000.Thus, the Arab population grew exponentially while that of the Jews stagnated.

In the mid-1920s, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased primarily because of anti-Jewish economic legislation in Poland and Washington’s imposition of restrictive quotas.5

The record number of immigrants in 1935 (see table) was a response to the growing persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. The British administration considered this number too large, however, so the Jewish Agency was informed that less than one-third of the quota it asked for would be approved in 1936.6


The British gave in further to Arab demands by announcing in the 1939 White Paper that an independent Arab state would be created within 10 years, and that Jewish immigration was to be limited to 75,000 for the next five years, after which it was to cease altogether. It also forbade land sales to Jews in 95 percent of the territory of Palestine. The Arabs, nevertheless, rejected the proposal.


Jewish Immigrants to Palestine7















































2. The Mandatory Period 15 By contrast, throughout the Mandatory period, Arab immigration was unrestricted. In 1930, the Hope Simpson Commission, sent from London to investigate the 1929 Arab riots, said the British practice of ignoring the uncontrolled illegal Arab immigration from Egypt, Transjordan and Syria had the effect of displacing the prospective Jewish immigrants.8

The British Governor of the Sinai from 1922–36 observed: "This illegal immigration was not only going on from the Sinai, but also from Transjordan and Syria, and it is very difficult to make a case out for the misery of the Arabs if at the same time their compatriots from adjoining states could not be kept from going in to share that misery."9

The Peel Commission reported in 1937 that the "shortfall of land is . . . due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population."10

"The British changed their policy after World War II to allow the survivors of the Holocaust to settle in Palestine."  FACT    

The gates of Palestine remained closed for the duration of the war, stranding hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, many of whom became victims of Hitler’s "Final Solution." After the war, the British refused to allow the survivors of the Nazi nightmare to find sanctuary in Palestine. On June 6, 1946, President Truman urged the British government to relieve the suffering of the Jews confined to displaced persons camps in Europe by immediately accepting 100,000 Jewish immigrants. Britain’s Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, replied sarcastically that the United States wanted displaced Jews to immigrate to Palestine "because they did not want too many of them in New York."11

Some Jews were able to reach Palestine, many smuggled in by way of dilapidated ships organized by members of the Jewish resistance organizations. Between August 1945 and the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, 65 "illegal" immigrant ships, carrying 69,878 people, arrived from European shores. In August 1946, however, the British began to intern those they caught in camps in Cyprus. Approximately 50,000 people were detained in the camps, 28,000 of whom were still imprisoned when Israel declared independence.12

"As the Jewish population in Palestine grew, the plight of the Palestinian Arabs worsened."16 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 


The Jewish population increased by 470,000 between World War I and World War II, while the non-Jewish population rose by 588,000.13 In fact, the permanent Arab population increased 120 percent between 1922 and 1947.14

This rapid growth of the Arab population was a result of several factors. One was immigration from neighboring states—constituting 37 percent of the total immigration to pre-state Israel—by Arabs who wanted to take advantage of the higher standard of living the Jews had made possible.15 The Arab population also grew because of the improved living conditions created by the Jews as they drained malarial swamps and brought improved sanitation and health care to the region. Thus, for example, the Muslim infant mortality rate fell from 201 per thousand in 1925 to 94 per thousand in 1945 and life expectancy rose from 37 years in 1926 to 49 in 1943.16

The Arab population increased the most in cities where large Jewish populations had created new economic opportunities. From 1922– 1947, the non-Jewish population increased 290 percent in Haifa, 131 percent in Jerusalem and 158 percent in Jaffa. The growth in Arab towns was more modest: 42 percent in Nablus, 78 percent in Jenin and 37 percent in Bethlehem.17

"Jews stole Arab land."  FACT    

Despite the growth in their population, the Arabs continued to assert they were being displaced. From the beginning of World War I, however, part of Palestine’s land was owned by absentee landlords who lived in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. About 80 percent of the Palestinian Arabs were debt-ridden peasants, semi-nomads and Bedouins.18

Jews actually went out of their way to avoid purchasing land in areas where Arabs might be displaced. They sought land that was largely uncultivated, swampy, cheap and, most important, without tenants. In 1920, Labor Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion expressed his concern about the Arab fellahin, whom he viewed as "the most important asset of the native population." Ben-Gurion said "under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to fellahs or worked by them." He advocated helping liberate them from their oppressors. "Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement," Ben-Gurion added, "should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price."19

It was only after the Jews had bought all of the available uncultivated land that they began to purchase cultivated land. Many Arabs were will2. The Mandatory Period 17

ing to sell because of the migration to coastal towns and because they needed money to invest in the citrus industry.20

When John Hope Simpson arrived in Palestine in May 1930, he observed: "They [Jews] paid high prices for the land, and in addition they paid to certain of the occupants of those lands a considerable amount of money which they were not legally bound to pay."21

In 1931, Lewis French conducted a survey of landlessness for the British government and offered new plots to any Arabs who had been "dispossessed." British officials received more than 3,000 applications, of which 80 percent were ruled invalid by the Government’s legal adviser because the applicants were not landless Arabs. This left only about 600 landless Arabs, 100 of whom accepted the Government land offer.22

In April 1936, a new outbreak of Arab attacks on Jews was instigated by a Syrian guerrilla named Fawzi al-Qawukji, the commander of the Arab Liberation Army. By November, when the British finally sent a new commission headed by Lord Peel to investigate, 89 Jews had been killed and more than 300 wounded.23

The Peel Commission’s report found that Arab complaints about Jewish land acquisition were baseless. It pointed out that "much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when it was purchased. . . . there was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land."24 Moreover, the Commission found the shortage was "due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population." The report concluded that the presence of Jews in Palestine, along with the work of the British Administration, had resulted in higher wages, an improved standard of living and ample employment opportunities.25

"It is made quite clear to all, both by the map drawn up by the Simpson Commission and by another compiled by the Peel Commission, that the Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they are in useless wailing and weeping" (emphasis in the original).
—Transjordan’s King Abdullah26
Even at the height of the Arab revolt in 1938, the British High Commissioner to Palestine believed the Arab landowners were complaining about sales to Jews to drive up prices for lands they wished to sell. Many Arab landowners had been so terrorized by Arab rebels they decided to leave Palestine and sell their property to the Jews.27

The Jews were paying exorbitant prices to wealthy landowners for 18 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

small tracts of arid land. "In 1944, Jews paid between $1,000 and $1,100 per acre in Palestine, mostly for arid or semiarid land; in the same year, rich black soil in Iowa was selling for about $110 per acre."28

By 1947, Jewish holdings in Palestine amounted to about 463,000 acres. Approximately 45,000 of these acres were acquired from the Mandatory Government; 30,000 were bought from various churches and 387,500 were purchased from Arabs. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73 percent of Jewish plots were purchased from large landowners, not poor fellahin.29 Those who sold land included the mayors of Gaza, Jerusalem and Jaffa. As’ad el-Shuqeiri, a Muslim religious scholar and father of PLO chairman Ahmed Shuqeiri, took Jewish money for his land. Even King Abdullah leased land to the Jews. In fact, many leaders of the Arab nationalist movement, including members of the Muslim Supreme Council, sold land to Jews.30

"The British helped the Palestinians to live peacefully with the Jews."  FACT    

In 1921, Haj Amin el-Husseini first began to organize fedayeen ("one who sacrifices himself") to terrorize Jews. Haj Amin hoped to duplicate the success of Kemal Atatürk in Turkey by driving the Jews out of Palestine just as Kemal had driven the invading Greeks from his country.31 Arab radicals were able to gain influence because the British Administration was unwilling to take effective action against them until they began a revolt against British rule.

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, former head of British military intelligence in Cairo, and later Chief Political Officer for Palestine and Syria, wrote in his diary that British officials "incline towards the exclusion of Zionism in Palestine." In fact, the British encouraged the Palestinians to attack the Jews. According to Meinertzhagen, Col. Waters-Taylor (financial adviser to the Military Administration in Palestine 1919–23) met with Haj Amin a few days before Easter, in 1920, and told him "he had a great opportunity at Easter to show the world . . . that Zionism was unpopular not only with the Palestine Administration but in Whitehall and if disturbances of sufficient violence occurred in Jerusalem at Easter, both General Bols [Chief Administrator in Palestine, 1919–20] and General Allenby [Commander of Egyptian Force, 1917–19, then High Commissioner of Egypt] would advocate the abandonment of the Jewish Home. Waters-Taylor explained that freedom could only be attained through violence."32

Haj Amin took the Colonel’s advice and instigated a riot. The British withdrew their troops and the Jewish police from Jerusalem, allowing 2. The Mandatory Period 19


the Arab mob to attack Jews and loot their shops. Because of Haj Amin’s overt role in instigating the pogrom, the British decided to arrest him. Haj Amin escaped, however, and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia.


A year later, some British Arabists convinced High Commissioner Herbert Samuel to pardon Haj Amin and to appoint him Mufti. By contrast, Vladimir Jabotinsky and several of his followers, who had formed a Jewish defense organization during the unrest, were sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.33

Samuel met with Haj Amin on April 11, 1921, and was assured "that the influences of his family and himself would be devoted to tranquility." Three weeks later, riots in Jaffa and elsewhere left 43 Jews dead.34

Haj Amin consolidated his power and took control of all Muslim religious funds in Palestine. He used his authority to gain control over the mosques, the schools and the courts. No Arab could reach an influential position without being loyal to the Mufti. His power was so absolute "no Muslim in Palestine could be born or die without being beholden to Haj Amin."35 The Mufti’s henchmen also ensured he would have no opposition by systematically killing Palestinians from rival clans who were discussing cooperation with the Jews.

As the spokesman for Palestinian Arabs, Haj Amin did not ask that Britain grant them independence. On the contrary, in a letter to Churchill in 1921, he demanded that Palestine be reunited with Syria and Transjordan.36


The Arabs found rioting to be an effective political tool because of the lax British response toward violence against Jews. In handling each riot, the British prevented Jews from protecting themselves, but made little or no effort to prevent the Arabs from attacking them. After each outbreak, a British commission of inquiry would try to establish the cause of the violence. The conclusion was always the same: the Arabs were afraid of being displaced by Jews. To stop the rioting, the commissions would recommend that restrictions be placed on Jewish immigration. Thus, the Arabs came to recognize that they could always stop the influx of Jews by staging a riot.


This cycle began after a series of riots in May 1921. After failing to protect the Jewish community from Arab mobs, the British appointed the Haycraft Commission to investigate the cause of the violence. Although the panel concluded the Arabs had been the aggressors, it rationalized the cause of the attack: "The fundamental cause of the riots was a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with, and hostility to, the Jews, due to political and economic causes, and connected with Jewish immigration, and with their conception of Zionist policy. . . ."37 One consequence of the violence was the institution of a temporary ban on Jewish immigration.

The Arab fear of being "displaced" or "dominated" was used as an 20 MY T H S A N D FAC T S


excuse for their merciless attacks on peaceful Jewish settlers. Note, too, that these riots were not inspired by nationalistic fervor—nationalists would have rebelled against their British overlords—they were motivated by racial strife and misunderstanding.

In 1929, Arab provocateurs succeeded in convincing the masses that the Jews had designs on the Temple Mount (a tactic still used today). A Jewish religious observance at the Western Wall, which forms a part of the Temple Mount, served as a pretext for rioting by Arabs against Jews that spilled out of Jerusalem into other villages and towns, including Safed and Hebron.


Again, the British Administration made no effort to prevent the violence and, after it began, the British did nothing to protect the Jewish population. After six days of mayhem, the British finally brought troops in to quell the disturbance. By this time, virtually the entire Jewish population of Hebron had fled or been killed. In all, 133 Jews were killed and 399 wounded in the pogroms.38

After the riots were over, the British ordered an investigation, which resulted in the Passfield White Paper. It said the "immigration, land purchase and settlement policies of the Zionist Organization were already, or were likely to become, prejudicial to Arab interests. It understood the Mandatory’s obligation to the non-Jewish community to mean that Palestine’s resources must be primarily reserved for the growing Arab economy. . . ."39 This, of course, meant it was necessary to place restrictions not only on Jewish immigration but on land purchases.

"The Mufti was not anti-Semitic."  FACT    

In 1941, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, fled to Germany and met with Adolf HitlerHeinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders. He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.


The Mufti sent Hitler 15 drafts of declarations he wanted Germany and Italy to make concerning the Middle East. One called on the two countries to declare the illegality of the Jewish home in Palestine. He also asked the Axis powers to "accord to Palestine and to other Arab countries the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the interest of the Arabs, and by the same method that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries."40

In November 1941, the Mufti met with Hitler, who told him the Jews were his foremost enemy. The Nazi dictator rebuffed the Mufti’s requests for a declaration in support of the Arabs, however, telling him 2. The Mandatory Period 21

the time was not right. The Mufti offered Hitler his "thanks for the sympathy which he had always shown for the Arab and especially Palestinian cause, and to which he had given clear expression in his public speeches. . . . The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely. . . . the Jews. . . ." Hitler told the Mufti he opposed the creation of a Jewish state and that Germany’s objective was the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere.41


In 1945, Yugoslavia sought to indict the Mufti as a war criminal for his role in recruiting 20,000 Muslim volunteers for the SS, who participated in the killing of Jews in Croatia and Hungary. He escaped from French detention in 1946, however, and continued his fight against the Jews from Cairo and later Beirut.

MYTH  "The bombing of the King David Hotel was part of a deliberate terror campaign against civilians."  FACT    
British troops invaded the Jewish Agency on June 29, 1946, and confiscated large quantities of documents. At about the same time, more than 2,500 Jews from all over Palestine were placed under arrest. A week later, news of a massacre of 40 Jews in a pogrom in Poland reminded the Jews of Palestine how Britain’s restrictive immigration policy had condemned thousands to death.

As a response to what it viewed as British provocations, the Irgun decided to target the King David Hotel. Besides guests, the hotel housed the British military command and the British Criminal Investigation Division and was the place where information about Jewish Agency operations, including intelligence activities in Arab countries, was taken.


Irgun leader Menachem Begin stressed his desire to avoid civilian casualties. In fact, the plan was to warn the British so they would evacuate the building before it was blown up. Three telephone calls were placed, one to the hotel, another to the French Consulate, and a third to the Palestine Post, warning that explosives in the King David Hotel would soon be detonated.

On July 22, 1946, the calls were made. The call into the hotel was apparently received and ignored. Begin quotes one British official who supposedly refused to evacuate the building, saying: "We don’t take orders from the Jews."42 As a result, when the bombs exploded, the casualty toll was high: a total of 91 killed and 45 injured. Among the casualties were 15 Jews. Few people in the hotel proper were injured by the blast.43

In contrast to Arab attacks against Jews, which were widely hailed by 22 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

Arab leaders as heroic actions, the Jewish National Council denounced the bombing of the King David.44

For decades the British denied they had been warned. In 1979, however, a member of the British Parliament introduced evidence that the Irgun had indeed issued the warning. He offered the testimony of a British officer who heard other officers in the King David Hotel bar joking about a Zionist threat to the headquarters. The officer who overheard the conversation immediately left the hotel and survived.45

1. Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World(NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1970), p. 172; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 146.
2. Moshe Auman, "Land Ownership in Palestine 1880–1948," in Michael Curtis, et al., The Palestinians(NJ: Transaction Books, 1975), p. 25.
3. Palestine Royal Commission Report (the Peel Report), (London: 1937), p. 300. Henceforth Palestine Royal Commission Report.
4. Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession(Tel Aviv: Hidekel Press, 1984), p. 28; Yehoshua Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, 1918–1929(London: Frank Cass, 1974), pp. 17–18.
5. Porath (1974), p. 18.
6. Cohen, p. 53.
7. Yehoshua Porath, Palestinian Arab National Movement: From Riots to Rebellion: 1929–1939vol. 2, (London: Frank Cass and Co., Ltd., 1977), pp. 17–18, 39.
8. John Hope Simpson, Palestine: Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development, (London, 1930), p. 126.
9. C. S. Jarvis, "Palestine," United Empire (London), Vol 28 (1937), p. 633.
10. Palestine Royal Commission Report, p. 242.
11. George Lenczowski, American Presidents and the Middle East(NC: Duke University Press, 1990), p. 23.
12. Cohen p. 174.
13. Dov Friedlander and Calvin Goldscheider, The Population of Israel(NY: Columbia Press, 1979), p. 30.
14. Avneri, p. 254.
15. Curtis, p. 38.
16. Avneri, pp. 264; Cohen p. 60.
17. Avneri, pp. 254–55.
18. Moshe Aumann, Land Ownership in Palestine 1880–1948, (Jerusalem: Academic Committee on the Middle East, 1976), pp. 8–9.
19. Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War(London: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 32.
20. Porath, pp. 80, 84; See also Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2008).
21. Hope Simpson Report, p. 51.
22. Avneri, pp. 149–158; Cohen, p. 37; based on the Report on Agricultural Development and Land Settlement in Palestine by Lewis French, (December 1931, Supplementary; Report, April 1932) and material submitted to the Palestine Royal Commission.
23. Netanel Lorch, One Long War(Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), p. 27; Sachar, p. 201.
24. Palestine Royal Commission Report (1937), p. 242.
25. Palestine Royal Commission (1937), pp. 241–242.2. The Mandatory Period 23
26. King Abdallah, My Memoirs Completed, (London, Longman Group, Ltd., 1978), pp. 88–89.
27. Porath (77), pp. 86–87.
28. Aumann, p. 13.
29. Abraham Granott, The Land System in Palestine, (London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1952), p. 278.
30. Avneri, pp. 179–180, 224–225, 232–234; Porath (77), pp. 72–73; See also Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2008).
31. Jon Kimche, There Could Have Been Peace: The Untold Story of Why We Failed With Palestine and Again With Israel(England: Dial Press, 1973), p. 189.
32. Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary 1917–1956, (London: The Cresset Press, 1959), pp. 49, 82, 97.
33. Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine(NY: Bantam Books, 1977), pp. 63–65; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 97.
34. Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties(NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p. 438.
35. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!(NY: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 52.
36. Kimche, p. 211.
37. Ben Halpern, The Idea of a Jewish State(MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 323.
38. Sachar, p. 174.
39. Halpern, p. 201.
40. "Grand Mufti Plotted To Do Away With All Jews In Mideast," Response, (Fall 1991), pp. 2–3.
41. Record of the Conversation Between the Fuhrer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on November 28, 1941, in the Presence of Reich Foreign Minister and Minister Grobba in Berlin, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, Series D, Vol. XIII, London, 1964, p. 881ff in Walter Lacquer and Barry Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader(NY: Penguin Books, 2001), pp. 51–55.
42. Menachem Begin, The Revolt(NY: Nash Publishing, 1977), p. 224.
43. J. Bowyer Bell, Terror Out Of Zion(NY: St. Martin’s Press), p. 172.
44. Anne Sinai and I. Robert Sinai, Israel and the Arabs: Prelude to the Jewish State, (NY: Facts on File, 1972), p. 83.

45. Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., "International Terrorism: Challenge And Response," Proceedings of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, July 25, 1979, (Jerusalem: The Jonathan Institute, 1980), p. 45.

3. PartitionMYTH "The United Nations unjustly partitioned Palestine." FACT   
As World War II ended, the magnitude of the Holocaust became known. This accelerated demands for a resolution to the question of Palestine so the survivors of Hitler’s Final Solution might find sanctuary in a homeland of their own.

The British tried to work out an agreement acceptable to both Arabs and Jews, but their insistence on the former’s approval guaranteed failure because the Arabs would not make any concessions. The British subsequently turned the issue over to the UN in February 1947.

The UN established a Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) to devise a solution. Delegates from 11 nations* went to the area and found what had long been apparent: The conflicting national aspirations of Jews and Arabs could not be reconciled.

When they returned, the delegates of seven nations—CanadaCzechoslovakiaGuatemalaThe NetherlandsPeruSweden and Uruguayrecommended the establishment of two separate states, Jewish and Arab, to be joined by economic union, with Jerusalem an internationalized enclave. Three nations—IndiaIran and Yugoslaviarecommended a unitary state with Arab and Jewish provinces. Australiaabstained.

The Jews of Palestine were not satisfied with the small territory allotted to them by the Commission, nor were they happy that Jerusalem was severed from the Jewish State; nevertheless, they welcomed the compromise. The Arabs rejected UNSCOP’s recommendations.


The ad hoc committee of the UN General Assembly rejected the Arab demand for a unitary Arab state. The majority recommendation for partition was viewed as a more just solution and subsequently adoptedby a vote of 33–13 with 10 abstentions on November 29, 1947.1

*Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.3. Partition 25 26 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

"It is hard to see how the Arab world, still less the Arabs of Palestine, will suffer from what is mere recognition of accomplished fact—the presence in Palestine of a compact, well organized, and virtually autonomous Jewish community."
London Times editorial2

"The partition plan gave the Jews most of the land, including all the fertile areas."  FACT    

The partition plan took on a checkerboard appearance largely because Jewish towns and villages were spread throughout Palestine. This did not complicate the plan as much as the fact that the high living standards in Jewish cities and towns had attracted large Arab populations, which ensured that any partition would result in a Jewish state that included a substantial Arab population. Recognizing the need to allow for additional Jewish settlement, the majority proposal allotted the Jews land in the northern part of the country, the Galilee, and the large, arid Negev desert in the south. The remainder was to form the Arab state.


These boundaries were based solely on demographics. The borders of the Jewish State were arranged with no consideration of security; hence, the new state’s frontiers were virtually indefensible. Overall, the Jewish State was to be comprised of roughly 5,500 square miles (about 55 percent of Palestine), and the population was to be 538,000 Jews and 397,000 Arabs. Approximately 92,000 Arabs lived in Tiberias,SafedHaifa and Bet Shean, and another 40,000 were Bedouins, most of whom were living in the desert. The remainder of the Arab population was spread throughout the Jewish state. The Arab State was to be 4,500 square miles with a population of 804,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews.3

Critics claim the UN gave the Jews fertile land while the Arabs were allotted hilly, arid land. To the contrary, approximately 60 percent of the Jewish state was to be the desert in the Negev while the Arabs occupied most of the agricultural land.4


Further complicating the situation was the UN majority’s insistence that Jerusalem remain apart from both states and be administered as an international zone. This arrangement left more than 100,000 Jews inJerusalem isolated from their country and circumscribed by the Arab state.


According to British statistics, more than 70 percent of the land in 3. Partition 27
what would become Israel belonged to the mandatory government. Those lands reverted to Israeli control after the departure of the British. Another 9 percent of the land was owned by Jews and about 3 percent by Arabs who became citizens of Israel. That means only about 18 percent belonged to Arabs who left the country before and after the Arab invasion of Israel.
MYTH "Israel usurped all of Palestine in 1948."  FACT    

Nearly 80 percent of what was the historic land of Palestine and the Jewish National Home, as defined by the League of Nations, was severed by the British in 1921 and allocated to what became Transjordan. Jewish settlement there was barred. The UN partitioned the remaining 20-odd percent of Palestine into two states. With Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank in 1950, and Egypt’s control of Gaza, Arabs controlled more than 80 percent of the territory of the Mandate, while the Jewish State held a bare 17.5 percent.6

"The Palestinian Arabs were never offered a state and therefore have been denied the right to self-determination."  FACT    

The Peel Commission in 1937 concluded the only logical solution to resolving the contradictory aspirations of the Jews and Arabs was to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs rejected the plan because it forced them to accept the creation of a Jewish state, and required some Palestinians to live under "Jewish domination." The Zionists opposed the Peel Plan’s boundaries because they would have been confined to 1,900 out of the 10,310 square miles remaining in Palestine. Nevertheless, the Zionists decided to negotiate with the British, while the Arabs refused to consider any compromises.

In 1939, the British White Paper called for the establishment of an Arab state in Palestine within 10 years, and for limiting Jewish immigration to no more than 75,000 over the following five years. Afterward, no one would be allowed in without the consent of the Arab population. Though the Arabs had been granted a concession on Jewish immigration, and been offered independence—the goal of Arab nationalists— they repudiated the White Paper.


With partition, the Palestinians were given a state and the opportunity for self-determination. This too was rejected.28 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 3. Partition 29

"The majority of the population in Palestine was Arab; therefore, a unitary Arab state should have been created."  FACT    

At the time of the 1947 partition resolution, the Arabs did have a majority in western Palestine as a whole—1.2 million Arabs versus 600,000 Jews.But the Jews were a majority in the area allotted to them by the resolution, and in Jerusalem.

The Jews never had a chance of reaching a majority in the country given the restrictive immigration policy of the British. By contrast, Palestine’s Arab population, which had been declining prior to the Mandatein 1922, grew exponentially because Arabs from all the surrounding countries were free to come—and thousands did—to take advantage of the rapid economic development and improved health conditions stimulated by Zionist settlement.

The decision to partition Palestine was not determined solely by demographics; it was based on the conclusion that the territorial claims of Jews and Arabs were irreconcilable, and that the most logical compromise was the creation of two states. Ironically, that same year, 1947, the Arab members of the United Nations supported the partition of the Indian sub-continent and the creation of the new, predominantly Muslim state of Pakistan.

MYTH "The Arabs were prepared to compromise to avoid bloodshed."  FACT    

As the partition vote approached, it became clear little hope existed for a political solution to a problem that transcended politics: the Arabs’ unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in Palestine and the refusal of the Zionists to settle for anything less. The implacability of the Arabs was evident when Jewish Agency representatives David Horowitz and Abba Eban made a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise in a meeting with Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha on September 16, 1947. Pasha told them bluntly:

The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It’s likely, Mr. Horowitz, that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won’t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not 30 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
sure we’ll succeed, but we’ll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost Spain and Persia. It may be that we shall lose Palestine. But it’s too late to talk of peaceful solutions.8
1. Voting in favor of partition: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian SSR, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian SSR, Union of South Africa, USSR, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Voting against partition: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.
Abstained: Argentina, Chile, China, Columbia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, UK, Yugoslavia. Yearbook of the United Nations, 1947–48, (NY: United Nations, 1949), pp. 246–47.
2. London Times, (December 1, 1947).
3. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 292.
4. Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World(Boston: Beacon Press, 1976), p. 238.
5. Moshe Aumann, "Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880–1948," (Academic Committee on the Middle East: Israel, 1974), p. 18.
6. Historic Palestine comprised what is today Jordan (approximately 35,640 square miles), Israel (8,019 square miles), Gaza (139 square miles) and the West Bank (2,263 square miles).
7. Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession(NJ: Transaction Books, 1984), p. 252.

8. David Horowitz, State in the Making(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), p. 233.
4. The War of 1948MYTH "The Jews started the first war with the Arabs." FACT   

The Arabs made clear they would go to war to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. The chairman of the Arab Higher Committee said the Arabs would "fight for every inch of their country."Two days later, the holy men of Al-Azhar University in Cairo called on the Muslim world to proclaim a jihad (holy war) against the Jews.Jamal Husseini, the Arab Higher Committee’s spokesman, had told the UN prior to the partition vote the Arabs would drench "the soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood. . . ."3

Husseini’s prediction began to come true almost immediately after the UN adopted the partition resolution on November 29, 1947. The Arabs declared a protest strike and instigated riots that claimed the lives of 62 Jews and 32 Arabs. Violence continued to escalate through the end of the year.4

The first large-scale assaults began on January 9, 1948, when approximately 1,000 Arabs attacked Jewish communities in northern Palestine. By February, the British said so many Arabs had infiltrated they lacked the forces to run them back.5


In the first phase of the war, lasting from November 29, 1947, until April 1, 1948, the Palestinian Arabs took the offensive, with help from volunteers from neighboring countries. The Jews suffered severe casualties and passage along most of their major roadways was disrupted.

On April 26, 1948, Transjordan’s King Abdullah said:

All our efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Palestine problem have failed. The only way left for us is war. I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine.6
On May 4, 1948, the Arab Legion attacked Kfar Etzion. The defenders drove them back, but the Legion returned a week later. After two days, the ill-equipped and outnumbered settlers were overwhelmed. Many defenders were massacred after they had surrendered.This was prior to the invasion by the regular Arab armies that followed Israel’s declaration of independence.

The UN blamed the Arabs for the violence. The UN Palestine Commission, which was never permitted by the Arabs or British to go to 32 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 4. The War of 1948 33

Palestine to implement the resolution, reported to the Security Council on February 16, 1948, that "powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein."8


The Arabs were blunt in taking responsibility for the war. Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948:

The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.9


The British commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb admitted:

Early in January, the first detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through Amman . . . They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of the Arabs of Palestine.10


Despite the disadvantages in numbers, organization and weapons, the Jews began to take the initiative in the weeks from April 1 until the declaration of independence on May 14. The Haganah captured several major towns including Tiberias and Haifa, and temporarily opened the road to Jerusalem.


The partition resolution was never suspended or rescinded. Thus, Israel, the Jewish State in Palestine, was born on May 14, as the British finally left the country. Five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) immediately invaded Israel. Their intentions were declared by Abd Al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League: "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."11

"The United States was the only nation that criticized the Arab attack on Israel."  FACT    

The United States, the Soviet Union and most other states recognized Israel soon after it declared independence on May 14, 1948, and immediately condemned the Arabs for their aggression. The United States urged a resolution charging the Arabs with breach of the peace.


Soviet delegate Andrei Gromyko told the Security Council, May 29, 1948:34 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 4. The War of 1948 35

This is not the first time that the Arab states, which organized the invasion of Palestine, have ignored a decision of the Security Council or of the General Assembly. The USSR delegation deems it essential that the council should state its opinion more clearly and more firmly with regard to this attitude of the Arab states toward decisions of the Security Council.12


On July 15, the Security Council threatened to cite the Arab governments for aggression under the UN Charter. By this time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had succeeded in stopping the Arab offensive and the initial phase of the fighting ended.

MYTH  "The West’s support of Israel allowed the Jews to conquer Palestine."  FACT    

The Jews won their war of independence with minimal help from the West. In fact, they won despite actions that undermined their military strength.


Although the United States vigorously supported the partition resolution, the State Department did not want to provide the Jews with the means to defend themselves. "Otherwise," Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett argued, "the Arabs might use arms of U.S. origin against Jews, or Jews might use them against Arabs."13 Consequently, on December 5, 1947, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the region.

Many opponents of the Jewish state in the State Department saw the embargo as a means of obstructing partition. President Truman, however, supported it because he hoped it could avert bloodshed. This was naive given Britain’s rejection of Lovett’s request to suspend weapons shipments to the Arabs and subsequent agreements to provide additional arms to Iraq and Transjordan.14

The Arabs had no difficulty obtaining all the arms they needed. In fact, Jordan’s Arab Legion was armed and trained by the British, and led by a British officer. At the end of 1948, and beginning of 1949, British RAF planes flew with Egyptian squadrons over the Israel-Egypt border. On January 7, 1949, Israeli planes shot down four of the British aircraft.15

The Jews, on the other hand, were forced to smuggle weapons, principally from Czechoslovakia. When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, the army did not have a single cannon or tank. Its air force consisted of nine obsolete planes. Although the Haganah had 60,000 trained fighters, only 18,900 were fully mobilized, armed and prepared for war.16 On the eve of the war, chief of operations Yigael Yadintold David Ben-Gurion: "The best we can tell you is that we have a 50–50 chance."1736 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

The Arab war to destroy Israel failed. Indeed, because of their aggression, the Arabs wound up with less territory than they would have had if they had accepted partition.


The cost to Israel, however, was enormous. "Many of its most productive fields lay gutted and mined. Its citrus groves, for decades the basis of the Yishuv’s Jewish community economy, were largely destroyed."18 Military expenditures totaled approximately $500 million. Worse yet, 6,373 Israelis were killed, nearly one percent of the Jewish population of 650,000.

Had the West enforced the partition resolution or given the Jews the capacity to defend themselves, many lives might have been saved.

The Arab countries signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949, starting with Egypt (Feb. 24), followed by Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3) and Syria (July 20). Iraq was the only country that did not sign an agreement with Israel, choosing instead to withdraw its troops and hand over its sector to Jordan’s Arab Legion. None of the Arab states would negotiate a peace agreement.

MYTH  "The Arab economic boycott was imposed in response to the creation of Israel."  FACT    

The Arab boycott was formally declared by the newly formed Arab League Council on December 2, 1945: "Jewish products and manufactured goods shall be considered undesirable to the Arab countries." All Arab "institutions, organizations, merchants, commission agents and individuals" were called upon "to refuse to deal in, distribute, or consume Zionist products or manufactured goods."19 As is evident in this declaration, the terms "Jewish" and "Zionist" were used synonymously. Thus, even before the establishment of Israel, the Arab states had declared an economic boycott against the Jews of Palestine.

The boycott, as it evolved after 1948, is divided into three components. The primary boycott prohibits direct trade between Israel and the Arab nations. The secondary boycott is directed at companies that do business with Israel. The tertiary boycott involves the blacklisting of firms that trade with other companies that do business with Israel.20


The objective of the boycott has been to isolate Israel from its neighbors and the international community, and deny it trade that might be used to augment its military and economic strength. While undoubtedly isolating Israel and separating the Jewish State from its most natural markets, the boycott failed to undermine Israel’s economy to the degree intended.


In 1977, Congress prohibited U.S. companies from cooperating with 4. The War of 1948 37

the Arab boycott. When President Carter signed the law, he said the "issue goes to the very heart of free trade among nations" and that it was designed to "end the divisive effects on American life of foreign boycotts aimed at Jewish members of our society."21

The boycott has gradually crumbled and few countries outside the Middle East comply with it. The primary boycott—prohibiting direct relations between Arab countries and Israel—cracked when nations such as QatarOman and Morocco negotiated deals with Israel. Saudi Arabia, pledged to end its economic boycott as a condition for membership in the World Trade Organization but, after winning acceptance, continued its prior policy.22 Meanwhile, the boycott remains technically in force.23

1. New York Times, (December 1, 1947).
2. Facts on File Yearbook, (NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1948), p. 48.
3. J.C. Hurewitz, The Struggle For Palestine(NY: Shocken Books, 1976), p. 308.
4. Palestine Post, (January 2, 7, 27; April 1; May 1, 1948).
5. Facts on File 1947, p. 231.
6. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 322.
7. Netanel Lorch, One Long War(Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1976), p. 47; Ralph Patai, ed., Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, (NY: McGraw Hill, 1971), pp. 307-308.
8. Security Council Official Records, Special Supplement, (1948), p. 20.
9. Security Council Official Records, S/Agenda/58, (April 16, 1948), p. 19.
10. John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, (London: Staughton and Hodder, 1957), p. 79.
11. "Interview with Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha," Akhbar al-Yom (Egypt), (October 11, 1947); translated by R. Green.
12. Security Council Official Records, SA/Agenda/77, (May 29, 1948), p. 2.
13. Foreign Relations of the United States 1947, (DC: GPO, 1948), p. 1249. Henceforth FRUS.
14. Mitchell Bard, The Water’s Edge And Beyond(NJ: Transaction Books, 1991), pp. 171175; FRUS, pp. 537-39; Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem: American Jews and the State of Israel, (NY: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1970), pp. 366, 370; Shlomo Slonim, "The 1948 American Embargo on Arms to Palestine," Political Science Quarterly, (Fall 1979), p. 500.
15. Sachar, p. 345.
16. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!(NY: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 352.
17. Golda Meir, My Life(NY: Dell, 1975), pp. 213, 222, 224.
18. Sachar, p. 452.
19. Terence Prittie and Walter Nelson, The Economic War Against The Jews(London: Corgi Books, 1977); Dan Chill, The Arab Boycott of Israel(NY: Praeger, 1976), p. 10.
20. Prittie and Nelson, pp. 47–48; Sol Stern, "On and Off the Arabs’ List," The New Republic, (March 27, 1976), p. 9; Kennan Teslik, Congress, the Executive Branch and Special Interests(CT: Greenwood Press, 1982), p. 11.
21. Bard, pp. 91–115.
22. "Congress to Saudis: End Israel Boycott," Jerusalem Post, (April 6, 2006).
23. "Saudis Flout Vow to End Israel Boycott," Jerusalem Post, (May 29, 2006).

5. The 1956 War MYTH "Arab governments were prepared to accept Israel after the 1948 war." FACT   
In the fall of 1948, the UN Security Council called on Israel and the Arab states to negotiate armistice agreements. Thanks to UN mediator Ralph Bunche’s insistence on direct bilateral talks between Israel and each Arab state, armistice agreements between Israel and EgyptJordan, and Syria were concluded by the summer of 1949. Iraq, which had also fought against Israel, refused to follow suit.

Meanwhile, on December 11, 1948, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the parties to negotiate peace and creating a Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC), which consisted of the United States, France and Turkey. All Arab delegations voted against it.

After 1949, the Arabs insisted that Israel accept the borders in the 1947 partition resolution and repatriate the Palestinian refugees before they would negotiate an end to the war they had initiated. This was a novel approach that they would use after subsequent defeats: the doctrine of the limited-liability war. Under this theory, aggressors may reject a compromise settlement and gamble on war to win everything in the comfortable knowledge that, even if they fail, they may insist on reinstating the status quo ante.

MYTH "The threat from Israel, and the withdrawal of the United States’ offer to build the Aswan Dam, drove Egypt to seek arms from the Soviet Union in 1955. This started the Middle East arms race." FACT   
In 1955, Nasser turned to the Soviet Union in anger because the United States had armed IraqEgypt’s hated rival, and promoted the Baghdad Pact. Nasser opposed that agreement, as he did any defense alliance with the West.


Egypt began to receive Soviet Bloc arms in 1955. The United States, hoping to maintain a degree of influence in Egypt and to induce Nasser to reduce his arms acquisitions, offered to build the Aswan Dam. But5. The 1956 War 39


Nasser increased his arms orders and spurned a U.S. peace initiative. Egypt had embarked on a policy of "neutralism," which meant that Nasser intended to get aid from both East and West if he could, while maintaining his freedom to attack the West and assist Soviet efforts to gain influence in the Arab and Afro-Asian worlds. As a result of these actions, and Nasser’s increasing hostility to the West, the United States withdrew the Aswan offer. Egypt then nationalized the Suez Canal.

Immediately after Nasser made his 1955 arms deal, Israel appealed to the United States—not for a gift of arms, but for the right to purchase them. The U.S. recognized the need to maintain an arms balance, but it referred Israel to France and other European suppliers. It was not until 1962 that the United States agreed to sell Israel its first significant American system, the HAWK anti-aircraft missile.

MYTH  "Israel’s military strike in 1956 was unprovoked."  FACT    
Egypt had maintained its state of belligerency with Israel after the armistice agreement was signed. The first manifestation of this was the closing of the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping. On August 9, 1949, the UN Mixed Armistice Commission upheld Israel’s complaint that Egypt was illegally blocking the canal. UN negotiator Ralph Bunche declared: "There should be free movement for legitimate shipping and no vestiges of the wartime blockade should be allowed to remain, as they are inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the armistice agreements."1


On September 1, 1951, the Security Council ordered Egypt to open the Canal to Israeli shipping. Egypt refused to comply.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Muhammad Salah al-Din, said early in 1954 that:


"The Arab people will not be embarrassed to declare: We shall not be satisfied except by the final obliteration of Israel from the map of the Middle East."2


In 1955, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser began to import arms from the Soviet Bloc to build his arsenal for a future confrontation with Israel. In the short-term, however, he employed a new tactic to prosecute Egypt’s war with Israel. He announced it on August 31, 1955:

Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the disciples of Pharaoh and the sons of Islam and they will cleanse the land of Palestine. . . . There will be no peace on Israel’s border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel’s death.3
These "heroes" were Arab terrorists, or fedayeen, trained and equipped by Egyptian Intelligence to engage in hostile action on the border, and to 40 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 5. The 1956 War 41

infiltrate Israel to commit acts of sabotage and murder. The fedayeen operated mainly from bases in Jordan, so that Jordan would bear the brunt of Israel’s retaliation, which inevitably followed. The terrorist attacks violated the armistice agreement provision that prohibited the initiation of hostilities by paramilitary forces; nevertheless, it was Israel that was condemned by the UN Security Council for its counterattacks.


The escalation continued with the Egyptian blockade of Israel’s shipping lane in the Straits of Tiran, and Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956. On October 14, Nasser made clear his intent:

I am not solely fighting against Israel itself. My task is to deliver the Arab world from destruction through Israel’s intrigue, which has its roots abroad. Our hatred is very strong. There is no sense in talking about peace with Israel. There is not even the smallest place for negotiations.4


Less than two weeks later, on October 25, Egypt signed a tripartite agreement with Syria and Jordan placing Nasser in command of all three armies.


The blockade of the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, combined with the increased fedayeen attacks and the bellicosity of Arab statements, prompted Israel, with the backing of Britain and France, to attack Egypt on October 29, 1956. The Israeli attack on Egypt was successful, with Israeli forces capturing the Gaza Strip, much of the Sinai and Sharm al-Sheikh. A total of 231 Israeli soldiers died in the fighting.


Israeli Ambassador to the UN Abba Eban explained the provocations to the Security Council on October 30:

During the six years during which this belligerency has operated in violation of the Armistice Agreement there have occurred 1,843 cases of armed robbery and theft, 1,339 cases of armed clashes with Egyptian armed forces, 435 cases of incursion from Egyptian controlled territory, 172 cases of sabotage perpetrated by Egyptian military units and fedayeen in Israel. As a result of these actions of Egyptian hostility within Israel, 364 Israelis were wounded and 101 killed. In 1956 alone, as a result of this aspect of Egyptian aggression, 28 Israelis were killed and 127 wounded.5

"The United States’ blind support for Israel was apparent during the Suez War."  FACT    

President Eisenhower was upset by the fact that Israel, France and Great Britain had secretly planned the campaign to evict Egypt from the Suez 42 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

Canal. Israel’s failure to inform the United States of its intentions, combined with ignoring American entreaties not to go to war, sparked tensions between the countries. The United States subsequently joined the Soviet Union (ironically, just after the Soviets invaded Hungary) in a campaign to force Israel to withdraw. This included a threat to discontinue all U.S. assistance, UN sanctions and expulsion from the UN (see exchanges between Ben-Gurion and Eisenhower6).


U.S. pressure resulted in an Israeli withdrawal from the areas it conquered without obtaining any concessions from the Egyptians. This sowed the seeds of the 1967 war.


One reason Israel did give in to Eisenhower was the assurance he gave to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Before evacuating Sharm al- Sheikh, the strategic point guarding the Straits of Tiran, Israel elicited a promise that the United States would maintain the freedom of navigation in the waterway.In addition, Washington sponsored a UN resolution creating the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to supervise the territories vacated by the Israeli forces.

The war temporarily ended the activities of the fedayeen; however, they were renewed a few years later by a loosely knit group of terrorist organizations that became known as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

1. "Israel’s Complaint to the U.N. Security Council on the Suez Canal Blockade; S-2241," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (July 11, 1951).
2. Al-Misri, (April 12, 1954), cited in, "Mideast-History’s Lesson," Florida Times Union, (May 7, 2002).
3. Middle Eastern Affairs, (December 1956), p. 461.
4. Middle Eastern Affairs, (December 1956), p. 460.
5. Security Council Official Records, S/3706, (October 30, 1956), p. 14.
6. Jewish Virtual Library,

7. Janice Gross Stein and Raymond Tanter, Rational Decision Making: Israel’s Security Choices, (OH: Ohio State University, 1976), p. 163.

6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970MYTH "Arab governments recognized Israel after the Suez War." FACT   
Israel consistently expressed a desire to negotiate with its neighbors. In an address to the UN General Assembly on October 10, 1960, Foreign Minister Golda Meir challenged Arab leaders to meet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to negotiate a peace settlement. Egyptian President Nasser answered on October 15, saying that Israel was trying to deceive the world, and reiterating that his country would never recognize the Jewish State.1

The Arabs were equally adamant in their refusal to negotiate a separate settlement for the refugees. Nasser made clear that solving the refugee issue was not his concern. "The danger of Israel," he said, "lies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents."2

Meanwhile, Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria’s attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, while Nasser’s rhetoric became increasingly bellicose: "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand," he said on March 8, 1965. "We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood."3

Again, a few months later, Nasser expressed the Arabs’ aspiration: ". . . the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel."4

"Israel’s military strike in 1967 was unprovoked." FACT   

A combination of bellicose Arab rhetoric, threatening behavior and, ultimately, an act of war left Israel no choice but preemptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for 44 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 45


an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage.


In addition to Nasser’s verbal threats, Israel was under actual attack from Arab terrorists. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched.5


Meanwhile, Syria’s attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967, during which Israeli planes shot down six Syrian MiGs. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union—which had been providing military and economic aid to both Syria and Egypt—gave Damascus information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt.

On May 15, Israel’s Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.

Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force, stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly, as his predecessor had promised, Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed (May 18, 1967):

As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.6


An enthusiastic echo was heard on May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:

Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. . . . I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.7


On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel’s only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier,Iran. The following day, President Johnson declared the blockade illegal and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize an international flotilla to test it.


Nasser was fully aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel’s hand. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: "The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war."846 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight," he said on May 27.The following day, he added: "We will not accept any . . . coexistence with Israel . . . Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. . . . The war with Israel is in effect since 1948."10


King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:

The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel . . . to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.11
President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear—to wipe Israel off the map."12 On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel.13


By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel’s best option was to strike first. On June 5, 1967, the order was given to attack Egypt.

MYTH  "Nasser had the right to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping."  FACT    
In 1956, the United States gave Israel assurances that it recognized the Jewish State’s right of access to the Straits of Tiran. In 1957, at the UN, 17 maritime powers declared that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. Moreover, the blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was adopted by the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958.14

The closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli in 1967. Israel’s attack was a reaction to this Egyptian first strike.6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 47 48 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 49


President Johnson acknowledged as much after the war (June 19, 1967):

If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Strait of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.15

"The United States helped Israel defeat the Arabs in six days."  FACT    

The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it could not persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Still, right before the warPresident Johnson warned: "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone."16 Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: "Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed."17


Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel’s other main arms supplier, also embargoed arms to Israel).


By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of KuwaitAlgeriaSaudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts.18

"Israel attacked Jordan to capture Jerusalem."  FACT    

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities. When Jordanian radar picked up a cluster of planes flying from Egypt to Israel, and the Egyptians convinced Hussein the planes were theirs, he then ordered the shelling of West Jerusalem. It turned out the planes were Israel’s, and were returning from destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. Meanwhile, Syrian and Iraqi troops attacked Israel’s northern frontier.


Had Jordan not attacked, the status of Jerusalem would not have changed during the course of the war. Once the city came under fire, however, Israel needed to defend it, and, in doing so, took the opportunity to unify the city, ending Jordan’s 19-year occupation of the eastern part.50 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 51

"Israel did not have to fire the first shot in June 1967."  FACT    

By using the element of surprise, Israeli forces managed to break through the enemy lines after just six days of fighting and were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus and Amman. A cease-fire was invoked on June 10.


The victory came at a very high cost. In storming the Golan Heights, Israel suffered 115 dead—roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm. Altogether, Israel lost twice as many men—777 dead and 2,586 wounded—in proportion to her total population as the U.S. lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam.19 Also, despite the incredible success of the air campaign, the Israeli Air Forcelost 46 of its 200 fighters.20 Had Israel waited for the Arabs to strike first, as it did in 1973, and not taken preemptive action, the cost would certainly have been much higher and victory could not have been assured.

"Israel expelled peaceful Arab villagers from the West Bank and prevented them from returning after the war."  FACT    

After Jordan launched its attack on June 5, approximately 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank fled.21 These were Jordanian citizens who moved from one part of what they considered their country to another, primarily to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a war.

A Palestinian refugee who was an administrator in a UNRWA camp in Jericho said Arab politicians had spread rumors in the camp. "They said all the young people would be killed. People heard on the radio that this is not the end, only the beginning, so they think maybe it will be a long war and they want to be in Jordan."22

Some Palestinians who left preferred to live in an Arab state rather than under Israeli military rule. Members of various PLO factions fled to avoid capture by the Israelis. Nils-Göran Gussing, the person appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the situation, found that many Arabs also feared they would no longer be able to receive money from family members working abroad.23

Israeli forces ordered a handful of Palestinians to move for "strategic and security reasons." In some cases, they were allowed to return in a few days, in others, Israel offered to help them resettle elsewhere.24

Israel now ruled more than three-quarters of a million Palestinians— most of whom were hostile to the government. Nevertheless, more 52 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 53

than 9,000 Palestinian families were reunited in 1967. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Palestinians were allowed to return.25

After the Six-Day War ended, President Johnson announced his view of what was required next to end the conflict:
"Certainly, troops must be withdrawn; but there must also be recognized rights of national life, progress in solving the refugee problem, freedom of innocent maritime passage, limitation of the arms race and respect for political independence and territorial integrity."26

"During the 1967 War, Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty."  FACT    

The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a grievous error, largely attributable to the fact that it occurred in the midst of the confusion of a full-scale war in 1967. Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake.

On June 8, 1967, the fourth day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli high command received reports that Israeli troops in El Arish were being fired upon from the sea, presumably by an Egyptian vessel, as they had a day before. The United States had announced that it had no naval forces within hundreds of miles of the battle front on the floor of the United Nations a few days earlier; however, the USS Liberty, an American intelligence ship under the dual control of the Defense Intelligence Agency/ Central Intelligence Agency and the Sixth Fleet, was assigned to monitor the fighting. As a result of a series of United States communication failures, whereby messages directing the ship not to approach within 100 miles were not received by the Liberty, the ship sailed to within 14 miles off the Sinai coast. The Israelis mistakenly thought this was the ship shelling its soldiers and war planes and torpedo boats attacked, killing 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounding 171. Ships from the Sixth Fleet were directed to launch four attack aircraft with fighter cover to defend the Liberty, but the planes were recalled after a message was received at the White House that the Israelis had admitted they had attacked the ship.

Tapes of the radio transmissions made prior, during and after the attack do not contain any statement suggesting the pilots saw a U.S. flag before the attack on the ship. During the raid, a pilot specifically says, "there is no flag on her!" The recordings also indicate that once the pilots became concerned about the identity of the ship, by virtue of 54 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

reading its hull number, they terminated the attack and they were given an order to leave the area.27

A CIA report on the incident issued June 13, 1967, found that an overzealous pilot could mistake the Liberty for an Egyptian ship. In 1981, the National Security Agency concluded: "While these [signal intelligence of Israeli communications] reports revealed some confusion on the part of the pilots concerning the nationality of the ship, they tended to rule out any thesis that the Israeli Navy and Air Force deliberately attacked a ship they knew to be American."28

Initially, the Israelis were terrified that they had attacked a Soviet ship and might have provoked the Soviets to join the fighting.29 Once the Israelis were sure what had happened, they reported the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and offered to provide a helicopter for the Americans to fly out to the ship and to supply any help they required to evacuate the injured and salvage the ship. The offer was accepted and a U.S. naval attaché was flown to the Liberty.

In October 2003, the first Israeli pilot to reach the ship broke his 36-year silence on the attack. Brig.-Gen. Yiftah Spector said he had been told an Egyptian ship was off the Gaza coast. "This ship positively did not have any symbol or flag that I could see. What I was concerned with was that it was not one of ours. I looked for the symbol of our navy, which was a large white cross on its deck. This was not there, so it wasn’t one of ours." The Jerusalem Post obtained a recording of Spector’s radio transmission in which he said, "I can’t identify it, but in any case it’s a military ship."30

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress on July 26, 1967: "It was the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an admiral of the Navy in whom we have great confidence, that the attack was not intentional." Twenty years later, he repeated his belief that the attack was a mistake, telling a caller on the "Larry King Show" that he had seen nothing in the 20 years since to change his mind that there had been no "coverup."31

In January 2004, the State Department held a conference on the Liberty incident and also released new documents, including CIA memos dated June 13 and June 21, 1967, which say that Israel did not know it was striking an American vessel. The historian for the National Security Agency, David Hatch, said the available evidence "strongly suggested" Israel did not know it was attacking a U.S. ship. Two former U.S. officials, Ernest Castle, the United States Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in June 1967, who received the first report of the attack from Israel, and John Hadden, then CIA Chief of Station in Tel Aviv, also agreed with the assessment that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake.32

Israel apologized for the tragedy and paid nearly $13 million in hu6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 55


manitarian reparations to the United States and to the families of the victims in amounts established by the U.S. State Department. The matter was officially closed between the two governments by an exchange of diplomatic notes on December 17, 1987.


Many of the survivors of the Liberty remain bitter, and are convinced the attack was deliberate. None of Israel’s accusers, however, can explain why Israel would deliberately attack an American ship at a time when the United States was Israel’s only friend and supporter in the world. Confusion in a long line of communications, which occurred in a tense atmosphere on both the American and Israeli sides is a more probable explanation.

"The Arabs say they want their territory back, but they don’t want to talk to us, and they don’t want to negotiate with us, and they don’t want to recognize us. They want peace by immaculate conception."
Abba Eban33

"After the 1967 war, Israel refused to negotiate a settlement with the Arabs."  FACT    

By the end of the war, Israel had captured enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem as well as capture the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel hoped the Arab states would enter peace negotiations. Israel signaled to the Arab states its willingness to relinquish virtually all the territories it acquired in exchange for peace. As Moshe Dayan put it, Jerusalem was waiting only for a telephone call from Arab leaders to start negotiations.34

But these hopes were dashed in August 1967 when Arab leaders meeting in Khartoum adopted a formula of three noes: "no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel. . . ."35

As former Israeli President Chaim Herzog wrote: "Israel’s belief that the war had come to an end and that peace would now reign along the borders was soon dispelled. Three weeks after the conclusion of hostilities, the first major incident occurred on the Suez Canal."3656 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

"The Palestinians were willing to negotiate a settlement after the Six-Day War."  FACT    

The Arab League created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Cairo in 1964 as a weapon against Israel. Until the Six-Day War, the PLO engaged in terrorist attacks that contributed to the momentum toward conflict. Neither the PLO nor any other Palestinian groups campaigned for Jordan or Egypt to create an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. The focus of Palestinian activism was on the destruction of Israel.


After the Arab states were defeated in 1967, the Palestinians did not alter their basic objective. With one million Arabs coming under Israeli rule, some Palestinians believed the prospect for waging a popular war of liberation had grown. Toward that end, Yasser Arafat instigated a campaign of terror from the West Bank. During September-December 1967, 61 attacks were launched, most against civilian targets such as factories, movie theaters and private homes.37


Israeli security forces gradually became more effective in thwarting terrorist plans inside Israel and the territories. Consequently, the PLO began to pursue a different strategy—attacking Jews and Israeli targets abroad. In early 1968, the first aircraft was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.

MYTH  "Israel was responsible for the War of Attrition."  FACT    
Egypt’s President Gamal Nasser thought that because most of Israel’s army consisted of reserves, it could not withstand a lengthy war of attrition. He believed Israel would be unable to endure the economic burden, and the constant casualties would undermine Israeli morale. To pursue this strategy of slowly weakening Israel, Nasser ordered attacks on Israel that were calibrated so that they would not provoke an all-out Israeli war in response.


As early as July 1, 1967, Egypt began shelling Israeli positions near the Suez Canal. On October 21, 1967, Egypt sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat, killing 47. A few months later, Egyptian artillery began to shell Israeli positions along the Suez Canal and Israeli military patrols were ambushed. This bloody War of Attrition, as it became known, lasted three years. The Israeli death toll between June 15, 1967, and August 8, 1970, when a cease-fire was declared, was 1,424 soldiers and more than 100 civilians. Another 2,000 soldiers and 700 civilians were wounded.386. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 57

"Egypt terminated the War of Attrition and offered peace to Israel, only to have Jerusalem spurn these initiatives."  FACT    

In the summer of 1970, the United States persuaded Israel and Egypt to accept a cease-fire. This cease-fire was designed to lead to negotiations under UN auspices.


On August 7, however, the Soviets and Egyptians deployed sophisticated ground-to-air missiles in the restricted 32-mile-deep zone along the west bank of the Suez Canal. This was a violation of the cease-fire agreement, which barred the introduction or construction of any military installations in this area. The "most massive anti-aircraft system ever created" provided air coverage for Egypt’s surprise attack against Israel in 1973.39


Despite the Egyptian violations, the UN-sponsored talks resumed— additional evidence that Israel was anxious to make progress toward peace. The talks were swiftly short-circuited, however, by UN Special Envoy Gunnar Jarring, when he accepted the Egyptian interpretation of Resolution 242 and called for Israel’s total withdrawal to the pre-June 5, 1967, demarcation lines.

On that basis, Egypt expressed its willingness "to enter into a peace agreement with Israel" in a February 20, 1971, letter to Jarring. But this seeming moderation masked an unchanging Egyptian irredentism and unwillingness to accept a real peace, as shown by the letter’s sweeping reservations and preconditions. The crucial sentences about a "peace agreement with Israel" were neither published nor broadcast in Egypt. Moreover, Egypt refused to enter direct talks. Israel attempted to at least transform the struggling Jarring mission into indirect talks by addressing all letters not to Jarring, but to the Egyptian government. Egypt refused to accept them.


Just after the letter to Jarring, Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s new president, addressed the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Cairo. He promised support to the PLO "until victory" and declared that Egypt would not accept Resolution 242.40

Five days after Sadat suggested he was ready to make peace with Israel, Mohammed Heikal, a Sadat confidant and editor of the semi-official Al-Ahram, wrote:

Arab policy at this stage has but two objectives. The first, the elimination of the traces of the 1967 aggression through an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it occupied that year. The second objective is the elimination of the traces of the 1948 aggression, by the means of the elimination of the State of Israel itself. This is, however, as yet an abstract, undefined 58 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
objective, and some of us have erred in commencing the latter step before the former.41


Sadat was only willing to sign a peace agreement if Israel capitulated to all his demands. This was unacceptable to Israel and suggested that Sadat was not genuinely interested in peace.

1. Encyclopedia Americana Annual 1961, (NY: Americana Corporation, 1961), p. 387.
2. Speech by Nasser to the United Arab Republic National Assembly, March 26, 1964, quoted in Yehoshafat Harkabi, ArabAttitudes To Israel, (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972), p. 27.
3. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 616.
4. Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (NY: Bantam Books, 1985), pp. 10–11, 185.
5. Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), p. 110.
6. Isi Leibler, The Case For Israel, (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972), pp. 60–61.
7. Ibid.
8. Abba Eban, Abba Eban, (NY: Random House, 1977), p. 331.
9. Leibler, p. 60.
10. Leibler, p. 18.
11. Leibler, p. 60.
12. Leibler, p. 61.
13. Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, (NY: Random House, 1982), p. 149.
14. United Nations Conference on tshe Law of the Sea, (Geneva: UN Publications 1958), pp. 132–134.
15. Yehuda Lukacs, Documents on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1967–1983, (NY: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 17–18; Eban, p. 358.
16. Eban, p. 358.
17. Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963–1969, (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 299.
18. Sachar, p. 629.
19. Katz, p. 3.
20. Jerusalem Post(April 23, 1999).
21. Encyclopedia Americana Annual 1968, p. 366.
22. George Gruen, "The Refugees of Arab-Israeli Conflict," (NY: American Jewish Committee, March 1969), p. 5.
23. Gruen, p. 5.
24. Gruen, p. 4.
25. Encyclopedia Americana Annual 1968, p. 366.
26. Lyndon B. Johnson, Public Papers of the President, (DC: GPO 1968), p. 683.
27. Hirsh Goodman, "Messrs. Errors and No Facts," Jerusalem Report(November 21, 1991); Arieh O’ Sullivan, "Exclusive: Liberty attack tapes revealed," Jerusalem Post(June 3, 2004).
28. "Attack on a SIGINT Collector, the U.S.S. Liberty," "Special Series Crisis Collection," National Security Agency, p. 64.
29. Dan Kurzman, Soldier of Peace: The Life of Yitzhak Rabin, (NY: HarperCollins, 1998), pp. 224–227; Rabin, p. 108–109; Washington Post(November 6, 1991); L. Wainstain, "Some Aspects of the U.S. Involvement in the Middle East Crisis, May-June 1967," Institute for Defense Analysis, (February 1968).6. The Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, 1967–1970 59
30. Jerusalem Post (October 10, 2003). See also Nathan Guttman, "Memos show Liberty attack was an error," Ha’aretz(July 9, 2003); Hirsh Goodman and Zeev Schiff, "The Attack on the Liberty,Atlantic Monthly, (September 1984).
31. The Larry King Show" (radio), (February 5, 1987).
32. Jerusalem Post(January 13, 2004); Washington Times, (January 12, 2004).
33. Quoted in Alfred Leroy Atherton, Jr., Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, (Summer 1990).
34. Walter Lacquer, The Road to War, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), p. 297.
35. "Khartoum Resolutions," (September 1, 1967), Peace/three_noes.html.
36. Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, (NY: Random House, 1982), p. 195.
37. Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), pp. 139–146.
38. Some historians consider the starting date of the War of Attrition in 1968 or 1969. We are using Chaim Herzog’s time frame. Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, (NY: Random House, 1984), pp. 195–221; Nadav Safran, Israel The Embattled Ally, (MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 266.
39. Time, (September 14, 1970); John Pimlott, The Middle East Conflicts From 1945 to the Present, (NY: Crescent Books, 1983), p. 99.
40. Cited in, Anwar Sadat, The Public Diary of President Sadat, Vol 2. (BRILL: 1978), pp. 33–34.
41. Al-Ahram, (February 25, 1971).

7. The 1973 War MYTH "Israel was responsible for the 1973 War." FACT   
Throughout 1972, and for much of 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat threatened war unless the United States forced Israel to accept his interpretation of Resolution 242—total Israeli withdrawal from territories taken in 1967. In an April 1973 interview, Sadat again warned he would renew the war with Israel.But it was the same threat he had made in 1971 and 1972, and most observers remained skeptical.


The U.S.-sponsored truce was three-years-old and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had opened a new dialogue for peace at the UN. Almost everyone was confident the prospect of a new war was remote.

On October 6, 1973—Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar—Egypt and Syria opened a coordinated surprise attack against Israel. The equivalent of the total forces of NATO in Europe was mobilized on Israel’s borders.On the Golan Heights, approximately 180 Israeli tanks faced an onslaught of 1,400 Syrian tanks. Along the Suez Canal, fewer than 500 Israeli defenders were attacked by 80,000 Egyptians.

Thrown onto the defensive during the first two days of fighting, Israel mobilized its reserves and eventually repulsed the invaders and carried the war deep into Syria and Egypt. The Arab states were swiftly resupplied by sea and air from the Soviet Union, which rejected United States efforts to work toward an immediate cease-fire. As a result, the United States belatedly began its own airlift to Israel. Two weeks later, Egypt was saved from a disastrous defeat by the UN Security Council, which had failed to act while the tide was in the Arabs’ favor.

On October 22, the Security Council adopted Resolution 338 calling for "all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately." The vote came on the day that Israeli forces cut off and isolated the Egyptian Third Army and were in a position to destroy it.3

Despite the Israel Defense Forces’ ultimate success on the battlefield, the war was considered a diplomatic and military failure. A total of 2,688 Israeli soldiers were killed.7. The 1973 War 61 62 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
"Israel missed the opportunity for peace by rejecting Sadat’s 1971 peace proposal."  FACT    

In 1971, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat raised the possibility of signing an agreement with Israel, provided that all the disputed territories were returned by the Israelis.

Contrary to revisionist histories suggesting that Israel missed a chance to make peace and avoid the 1973 war by failing to respond favorably to Sadat’s initiatives, Sadat did not sound like a leader interested in peace. He threatened to go to war if a political solution was not achieved and demanded Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Sinai and a resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem, while at the same time declaring he would never establish diplomatic relations with Israel. He was also unwilling to negotiate because of fears he would anger his financial patrons in Libya and Saudi Arabia and possibly lose power. Furthermore, Sadat could not have made peace in 1971 because it would have been from a point of weakness and dishonor.4

In 1972, after Israel rejected his offer, Sadat said war was inevitable and he was prepared to sacrifice one million soldiers in the showdown with Israel.He carried out his threat a year later.

"All countries should wage war against the Zionists, who are there to destroy all human organizations and to destroy civilization and the work which good people are trying to do."
—King Faisal of Saudi Arabia6

"Egypt and Syria were the only Arab states involved in the 1973 war."  FACT    

At least nine Arab states, including four non-Middle Eastern nations, actively aided the Egyptian-Syrian war effort.

A few months before the Yom Kippur War, Iraq transferred a squadron of Hunter jets to Egypt. During the war, an Iraqi division of some 18,000 men and several hundred tanks was deployed in the central Golan and participated in the October 16 attack against Israeli positions.Iraqi MiGs began operating over the Golan Heights as early as October 8, the third day of the war.7. The 1973 War 63

Besides serving as financial underwriters, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait committed men to battle. A Saudi brigade of approximately 3,000 troops was dispatched to Syria, where it participated in fighting along the approaches to Damascus. Also, violating Paris’s ban on the transfer of French-made weapons, Libya sent Mirage fighters to Egypt.8

Syrian Minister of Defense Mustafa Tlas told the Syrian National Assembly in December 1973 of the following example of "supreme valor" by Syrian troops:
"There is the outstanding case of a recruit from Aleppo who murdered 28 Jewish soldiers all by himself, slaughtering them like sheep. All of his comrades in arms witnessed this. He butchered three of them with an ax and decapitated them. . . . He struggled face to face with one of them and throwing down his ax managed to break his neck and devour his flesh in front of his comrades. This is a special case. Need I single it out to award him the Medal of the Republic. I will grant this medal to any soldier who succeeds in killing 28 Jews, and I will cover him with appreciation and honor his bravery."9


Other North African countries responded to Arab and Soviet calls to aid the frontline states. Algeria sent three aircraft squadrons of fighters and bombers, an armored brigade and 150 tanks. Approximately 1,000– 2,000 Tunisian soldiers were positioned in the Nile Delta. The Sudan stationed 3,500 troops in southern Egypt, and Morocco sent three brigades to the front lines, including 2,500 men to Syria.

Lebanese radar units were used by Syrian air defense forces. Lebanon also allowed Palestinian terrorists to shell Israeli civilian settlements from its territory. Palestinians fought on the southern front with the Egyptians and Kuwaitis.10

The least enthusiastic participant in the October fighting was probably Jordan’s King Hussein, who apparently had been kept uninformed of Egyptian and Syrian war plans. But Hussein did send two of his best units—the 40th and 60th Armored Brigades—to Syria. This force took positions in the southern sector, defending the main Amman-Damascus route and attacking Israeli positions along the Kuneitra-Sassa road on October 16. Three Jordanian artillery batteries also participated in the assault, carried out by nearly 100 tanks.11

1. Newsweek, (April 9, 1973).
2. Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars(NY: Random House, 1984), p. 230.
3. Herzog, p. 280.
4. Shlomo Aronson, "On Sadat’s Peace Initiatives in the Wake of the Yom Kippur War"; Mitchell Bard, Will Israel Survive, (NY: Palgrave, 2007), pp. 8–9.64 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
5. Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time(NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 747.
6. Beirut Daily Star, (November 17, 1972).
7. Trevor Dupuy, Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947–1974(NY: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 462.
8. Dupuy, p. 376; Herzog, p. 278; Nadav Safran, Israel The Embattled Ally(MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 499.
9. Official Gazette of Syria, (July 11, 1974).
10. Herzog, pp. 278, 285, 293; Dupuy, p. 534.

11. Herzog, p. 300.
8. BoundariesMYTH "The creation of Israel in 1948 changed political and border arrangements between independent states that had existed for centuries." FACT   
The boundaries of Middle East countries were arbitrarily fixed by the Western powers after Turkey was defeated in World War I and the French and British mandates were set up. The areas allotted to Israel under the UN partition plan had all been under the control of the Ottomans, who had ruled Palestine from 1517 until 1917.

When Turkey was defeated in World War I, the French took over the area now known as Lebanon and Syria. The British assumed control of Palestine and Iraq. In 1926, the borders were redrawn and Lebanon was separated from Syria.


Britain installed the Emir Faisal, who had been deposed by the French in Syria, as ruler of the new kingdom of Iraq. In 1922, the British created the emirate of Transjordan, which incorporated all of Palestine east of the Jordan River. This was done so that the Emir Abdullah, whose family had been defeated in tribal warfare in the Arabian peninsula, would have a Kingdom to rule. None of the countries that border Israel became independent until the Twentieth Century. Many other Arab nations became independent after Israel.1

"Israel has been an expansionist state since its creation." FACT   

Israel’s boundaries were determined by the United Nations when it adopted the partition resolution in 1947. In a series of defensive wars, Israel captured additional territory. On numerous occasions, Israel has withdrawn from these areas.

As part of the 1974 disengagement agreement, Israel returned territories captured in the 1967 and 1973 wars to Syria.


Under the terms of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula for the third time. It had already withdrawn from large parts of the desert area it captured in its War of 66 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 8. Boundaries 67


Independence. After capturing the entire Sinai in the 1956 Suez conflict, Israel relinquished the peninsula to Egypt a year later.

In September 1983, Israel withdrew from large areas of Lebanon to positions south of the Awali River. In 1985, it completed its withdrawal from Lebanon, except for a narrow security zone just north of the Israeli border. That too was abandoned, unilaterally, in 2000.

After signing peace agreements with the Palestinians, and a treaty with Jordan, Israel agreed to withdraw from most of the territory in the West Bank captured from Jordan in 1967. A small area was returned to Jordan, and more than 40 percent was ceded to the Palestinian Authority. The agreement with the Palestinians also involved Israel’s withdrawal in 1994 from most of the Gaza Strip, which had been captured from Egypt in 1973.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip in a final settlement. In addition, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his successors offered to withdraw from virtually all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.

In August 2005, all Israeli troops and civilians were evacuated from the Gaza Strip and the territory was turned over to the control of the Palestinian Authority. In addition, four communities in Northern Samaria that covered an area larger than the entire Gaza Strip were also evacuated as part of the disengagement plan. As a result, Israel has now withdrawn from approximately 94 percent of the territory it captured in 1967.

Negotiations continue regarding the final disposition of the remaining 6 percent (about 1,600 square miles) of the disputed territories in Israel’s possession. Israel’s willingness to make territorial concessions in exchange for security proves its goal is peace, not expansion.

MYTH  "Israel seized the Golan Heights in a war of aggression."  FACT    
Between 1948 and 1967, Syria controlled the Golan Heights and used it as a military stronghold from which its troops randomly sniped at Israeli civilians in the Hula Valley below, forcing children living on kibbutzim to sleep in bomb shelters. In addition, many roads in northern Israel could be crossed only after being cleared by mine-detection vehicles. In late 1966, a youth was blown to pieces by a mine while playing soccer near the Lebanon border. In some cases, attacks were carried out by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, which Syria allowed to operate from its territory.2

Israel repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, protested the Syrian bombardments to the UN Mixed Armistice Commission, which was charged 68 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

with enforcing the cease-fire. For example, Israel went to the UN in October 1966 to demand a halt to the Fatah attacks. The response from the Syrian ambassador was defiant: "It is not our duty to stop them, but to encourage and strengthen them."3

Nothing was done to stop Syria’s aggression. A mild Security Council resolution expressing "regret" for such incidents was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Israel was condemned by the UN when it retaliated. "As far as the Security Council was officially concerned," historian Netanel Lorch wrote, "there was an open season for killing Israelis on their own territory."4


After the Six-Day War began, the Syrian air force attempted to bomb oil refineries in Haifa. While Israel was fighting in the Sinai and West Bank, Syrian artillery bombarded Israeli forces in the eastern Galilee, and armored units fired on villages in the Hula Valley below the Golan Heights.

On June 9, 1967, Israel moved against Syrian forces on the Golan. By late afternoon, June 10, Israel was in complete control of the plateau. Israel’s seizure of the strategic heights occurred only after 19 years of provocation from Syria, and after unsuccessful efforts to get the international community to act against the aggressors.

MYTH  "The Golan has no strategic significance for Israel."  FACT    
Syria—deterred by an IDF presence within artillery range of Damascus—has kept the Golan quiet since 1974. But during this time, Syria has supported and provided a haven for numerous terrorist groups that attack Israel from Lebanon and other countries. These include the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). In addition, Syria still deploys hundreds of thousands of troops—as much as 75 percent of its army—on the Israeli front near the Heights.

From the western Golan, it is only about 60 miles—without major terrain obstacles—to Haifa and Acre, Israel’s industrial heartland. The Golan—rising from 400 to 1700 feet in the western section bordering on pre-1967 Israel—overlooks the Hula Valley, Israel’s richest agricultural area. In the hands of a friendly neighbor, the escarpment has little military importance. If controlled by a hostile country, however, the Golan has the potential to again become a strategic nightmare for Israel.


Before the Six-Day War, when Israeli agricultural settlements in the Galilee came under fire from the Golan, Israel’s options for countering the Syrian attacks were constrained by the geography of the Heights.8. Boundaries 69 70 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

"Counterbattery fire was limited by the lack of observation from the Hula Valley; air attacks were degraded by well-dug-in Syrian positions with strong overhead cover, and a ground attack against the positions . . . would require major forces with the attendant risks of heavy casualties and severe political repercussions," U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Irving Heymont observed.5


When Israel eventually took these risks and stormed the Syrian positions in 1967, it suffered 115 dead—roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm.

Relinquishing the Golan to Syria without adequate security arrangements could jeopardize Israel’s early-warning system against surprise attack. Israel has built radar systems on Mt. Hermon, the highest point in the region. If Israel withdrew from the Golan and had to relocate these facilities to the lowlands of the Galilee, they would lose much of their strategic effectiveness.

MYTH  "Syria is willing to make peace if Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights."  FACT    
Syria’s position has not wavered: Israel must completely withdraw from the entire Golan Heights before President Assad will discuss what Syria might do in return. Assad has never expressed any willingness to make peace even if Israel met his demand.

Israel has been equally adamant that it would not give up any territory without knowing what Syria was prepared to concede. Israel’s willingness to trade some or all of the Golan is dependent on Syria’sagreement to normalize relations and to sign an agreement that would bring about an end to the state of war Syria says exists between them.

The topographical concerns associated with withdrawing from the Golan Heights could be offset by demilitarization, but Israel needs to have a defensible border from which the nation can be defended with minimum losses. The deeper the demilitarization, and the better the early warning, the more flexible Israel can be regarding that border.


In addition to military security, Israelis seek the normalization of relations between the two countries. At a minimum, ties with Syria should be on a par with those Israel has with Egypt; ideally, they would be closer to the type of peace Israel enjoys with Jordan. This means going beyond a bare minimum of an exchange of ambassadors and flight links and creating an environment whereby Israelis and Syrians will feel comfortable visiting each other’s country, engaging in trade, and pursuing other forms of cooperation typical of friendly nations.8. Boundaries 71


In past negotiations, Israel has expressed a willingness to make substantial concessions, and the outline of an agreement has been essentially sitting on the table waiting for Syria to agree to the exchange of peace and security for land. In the meantime, substantial opposition exists within Israel to withdrawing from the Golan Heights. The expectation of many is that public opinion will shift if and when the Syrians sign an agreement and take measures, such as ending support for Hezbollah and closing the headquarters of terrorist organizations in Damascus, that demonstrate a genuine interest in peace. And public opinion will determine whether a treaty is concluded because of a law adopted during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s term that requires any agreement to be approved in a national referendum.

Meanwhile, Syria has continued to build up its military forces, attempted to establish a nuclear weapons program, smuggled arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon and allowed terrorist groups to retain headquarters in Damascus, all of which have increased Israel’s concerns about Assad’s intentions. Upheaval in Syria has raised the possibility of a change in regime; nevertheless, absent dramatic changes in Syria’s government and its attitude toward Israel, the Jewish State’s security will depend on its retention of military control over the Golan Heights.

"From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders."
—Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, June 29, 1967

"Israel illegally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981."  FACT    

On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to annex the Golan Heights. The statute extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967. The law does not foreclose the option of negotiations on a final settlement of the status of the territory.


Following the Knesset’s approval of the law, Professor Julius Stone of Hastings College of the Law wrote: "There is no rule of international law which requires a lawful military occupant, in this situation, to wait forever before [making] control and government of the territory permanent. . . . Many international lawyers have wondered, indeed, at the patience which led Israel to wait as long as she did."672 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 8. Boundaries 73

"It is impossible to defend Jerusalem unless you hold the high ground. . . . An aircraft that takes off from an airport in Amman is going to be over Jerusalem in two-and-a-half minutes, so it’s utterly impossible for me to defend the whole country unless I hold that land."
—Lieutenant General (Ret.) Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War7

"Israel can withdraw from the West Bank with little more difficulty than was the case in Sinai."  FACT    

Several pages of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt are devoted to security arrangements. For example, Article III of the treaty’s annex concerns the areas where reconnaissance flights are permitted, and Article V allows the establishment of early-warning systems in specific zones.

The security guarantees, which were required to give Israel the confidence to withdraw, were only possible because the Sinai was demilitarized. They provide Israel a large buffer zone of more than 100 miles of sparsely populated desert. Today, the Egyptian border is 60 miles from Tel Aviv and 70 from Jerusalem, the nearest major Israeli cities.

The situation in the territories is entirely different. More than two million Arabs live in the West Bank, many in crowded cities and refugee camps. Most of them are located close to Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinians have rockets capable of threatening these cities as well as Ben-Gurion Airport.

It is important for Israel that the West Bank not fall into the hands of hostile neighbors. The infiltration in recent years of terrorists from the Palestinian Authority, who have committed horrific acts such as suicide bombings, illustrate the danger. The 2011 uprisings in Egypt are a reminder of the risk involved in making permanent territorial concessions to leaders whose tenure is only temporary. Israel must consider the possibility of a hostile regime coming to power in the future and account for the likelihood that the Palestinians will have even more sophisticated weapons at their disposal in the future.


Despite the risks, Israel has withdrawn from more than 40 percent of the West Bank since Oslo. In past negotiations, Israel has offered to give up 97 percent of it in return for a final settlement with the Palestinians. Israel will not, however, return to the pre-1967 borders as demanded by the Palestinians and the Arab states.74 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 8. Boundaries 75

"Defensible borders are unrealistic in an era of ballistic missiles and long-range bombers."  FACT    

History shows that aerial attacks have never defeated a nation. Countries are only conquered by troops occupying land. One example of this was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, in which the latter nation was overrun and occupied in a matter of hours. Though the multinational force bombed Iraq for close to six weeks, Kuwait was not liberated until the Allied troops marched into that country in the war’s final days. Defensible borders are those that would prevent or impede such a ground assault.

Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders, which the Arab states want to reimpose, would sorely tempt potential aggressors to launch attacks on the Jewish State—as they did routinely before 1967. Israel would lose the extensive system of early-warning radars it has set up in the hills of Judea and Samaria. Were a hostile neighbor then to seize control of these mountains, its army could split Israel in two: From there, it is only about 15 miles—without any major geographic obstacles—to the Mediterranean.

At their narrowest point, these 1967 lines are within 9 miles of the Israeli coast, 11 miles from Tel Aviv, 10 from Be’er Sheva, 21 from Haifa and one foot from Jerusalem.


To defend Jerusalem, the U.S. Joint Chiefs concluded in a 1967 report to the Secretary of Defense, Israel would need to have its border "positioned to the east of the city."8

Control over the Jordan River Valley is also critical to Israeli security because it "forms a natural security barrier between Israel and Jordan, and effectively acts as an anti-tank ditch," military analyst Anthony Cordesman noted. "This defensive line sharply increases the amount of time Israel has to mobilize and its ability to ensure control over the West Bank in the event of a war." He added that sacrificing control over the routes up to the heights above the West Bank makes it more difficult for the IDF to deploy and increases the risk of Jordanian, Syrian, or Palestinian forces deploying on the heights.9

Even in the era of ballistic missiles, strategic depth matters. The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, an Israeli think tank considered dovish, concluded: "Early-warning stations and the deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries can provide the time needed to sound an air-raid alert, and warn the population to take shelter from a missile attack. They might even allow enemy missiles to be intercepted in mid-flight. . . . As long as such missiles are armed with conventional warheads, they may cause painful losses and damage, but they cannot decide the outcome of a war."1076 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 8. Boundaries 77

"Israel ‘occupies’ the West Bank."  FACT    

In politics words matter and, unfortunately, the misuse of words applying to the Arab-Israeli conflict has shaped perceptions to Israel’s disadvantage. As in the case of the term "West Bank," the word "occupation" has been hijacked by those who wish to paint Israel in the harshest possible light. It also gives apologists a way to try to explain away terrorism as "resistance to occupation," as if the women and children killed by suicide bombers in buses, pizzerias, and shopping malls were responsible for the plight of the Arabs.

Given the negative connotation of an "occupier," it is not surprising that Arab spokespersons use the word, or some variation, as many times as possible when interviewed by the press. The more accurate description of the territories in Judea and Samaria, however, is "disputed" territories.

"For a Texan, a first visit to Israel is an eye-opener. At the narrowest point, it’s only 8 miles from the Mediterranean to the old Armistice line: That’s less than from the top to the bottom of Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. The whole of pre-1967 Israel is only about six times the size of the King Ranch near Corpus Christi."
—President George W. Bush11
In fact, most other disputed territories around the world are not referred to as being occupied by the party that controls them. This is true, for example, of the hotly contested region of Kashmir.12


Occupation typically refers to foreign control of an area that was under the previous sovereignty of another state. In the case of the West Bank, there was no legitimate sovereign because the territory had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Only two countries— Britain and Pakistan—recognized Jordan’s action. The Palestinians never demanded an end to Jordanian occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.


It is also important to distinguish the acquisition of territory in a war of conquest as opposed to a war of self-defense. A nation that attacks another and then retains the territory it conquers is an occupier. One that gains territory in the course of defending itself is not in the same category. This is the situation with Israel, which specifically told King Hussein that if Jordan stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel. While 78 MY T H S A N D FAC T S


fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank.

By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, UN Security Council Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.

Since Oslo, the case for tagging Israel as an occupying power has been further weakened by the fact that Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and 100 percent in Gaza came under the PA’s authority. The extent to which Israel has been forced to maintain a military presence in the territories has been governed by the Palestinians’ unwillingness to end violence against Israel. The best way to end the dispute over the territories is for the Palestinians to negotiate a final settlement.

MYTH  "Israel’s security fence is meant to create a Palestinian ghetto."  FACT    
Israel did not want to build a fence, and resisted doing so for more than 35 years. If anyone is to blame for the construction, it is HamasIslamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorists.

Following the 1967 war, the frontier separating Israel from the West Bank had no physical obstacles to prevent the infiltration of terrorists. In response to dozens of suicide bombings, and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians, Israel decided to construct a security fence near the "Green Line" (the 1949 armistice line) to prevent Palestinian terrorists from crossing the border.


A large majority of Israelis support the construction of the security fence. Israelis living along the Green Line, both Jews and Arabs, favor the fence to prevent penetration by thieves and vandals as well as terrorists. In fact, the fence caused a revolution in the daily life of some Israeli Arab towns because it has brought quiet, which allowed a significant upsurge in economic activity.13

The fence is not impregnable. It is possible that some terrorists will manage to get past the barrier; nevertheless, the obstacle makes it far more difficult for incursions and thereby minimizes the number of attacks. During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1,950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment 8. Boundaries 79


at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003. The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2010, 8 Israelis were killed.

MYTH  "Israel is the only country that has a fence to secure its borders."  FACT    
It is not unreasonable or unusual to build a fence for security purposes. Israel already has fences along the frontiers with LebanonSyria, and Jordan, so building a barrier to separate Israel from the Palestinian Authority is not revolutionary. Most nations have fences to protect their borders and several use barriers in political disputes:

■■The United States is building a fence to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants.
■■Spain built a fence to separate its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco to prevent people from sub-Saharan Africa from entering Europe.
■■India constructed a 460-mile barrier in Kashmir to halt infiltrations supported by Pakistan.
■■Saudi Arabia built a 60-mile barrier along an undefined border zone with Yemen to halt arms smuggling of weaponry and is constructing a 500-mile fence along its border with Iraq.
■■Turkey built a barrier in the southern province of Alexandretta, which was formerly in Syria and is an area that Syria claims as its own.
■■In Cyprus, the UN sponsored a security fence reinforcing the island’s de facto partition.
■■British-built barriers separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in Belfast.14
Ironically, after condemning Israel’s barrier, the UN announced plans to build its own fence to improve security around its New York headquarters.15

"The security fence should be built along the pre-1967 border."  FACT    

Critics have complained that the fence is being built beyond Israel’s pre-1967 border, but the so-called "Green Line" was not an internation80 MY T H S A N D FAC T S


ally recognized border, it was an armistice line between Israel and Jordan pending the negotiation of a final border. As Israel’s Supreme Court noted in its ruling on the route of the barrier, building the fence along that line would have been a political statement and would not accomplish the principal goal of the barrier, namely, the prevention of terror.

The route of the fence must take into account topography, population density, and threat assessment of each area. To be effective in protecting the maximum number of Israelis, it also must incorporate some of the settlements in the West Bank.


Most of the fence runs roughly along the "Green Line." In some places, the fence is inside this line. One of the most controversial questions has been whether to build the fence around Ariel, a town of approximately 20,000 people. To incorporate Ariel, the fence would have to extend approximately 12 miles into the West Bank. In the short-run, Israel decided to build a separate fence around Ariel.


Palestinians complain that the fence creates "facts on the ground," but most of the area incorporated within the fence is expected to be part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians. Israeli negotiators have always envisioned the future border to be the 1967 frontier with modifications to minimize the security risk to Israel and maximize the number of Jews living within the State, and a growing number of Israelis have come to the conclusion that the best solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is separation.

The original route has been repeatedly modified. As a result of the June 2004 Supreme Court decision, the route was altered to move the barrier closer to the 1967 cease-fire line and to make it less burdensome to the Palestinians. The fence is now expected to cover approximately 500 miles and incorporate just 7 percent of the West Bank—less than 160 square miles—on its "Israeli side," while 2,100 square miles will be on the "Palestinian side." To date, more than 320 miles of the fence has been completed.

Approximately 99 percent of West Bank Palestinians are on the Palestinian side of the fence. Every effort is being made to exclude Palestinian villages from the area within the fence and no territories are being annexed. The land used in building the security fence is seized for military purposes, not confiscated, and it remains the property of the owner. Legal procedures are already in place to allow every owner to file an objection to the seizure of their land. In addition, Israel budgeted $22 million to compensate Palestinians for the use of their land.


Israel is doing its best to minimize the negative impact on Palestinians in the area of construction and is providing agricultural passageways to allow farmers to continue to cultivate their lands, and crossing points to allow the movement of people and the transfer of goods. Moreover, property owners are offered compensation for the use of their land and 8. Boundaries 81


for any damage to their trees. Contractors are responsible for carefully uprooting and replanting the trees. So far, more than 60,000 olive trees have been relocated in accordance with this procedure.

Despite Israel’s best efforts, the fence has caused some injury to residents near the fence. Israel’s Supreme Court took up the grievances of Palestinians (who are allowed to petition the court without being Israeli citizens) and ruled the government had to reduce the infringement upon local inhabitants by altering the path of the fence in an area near Jerusalem. Though the Court’s decision made the government’s job of securing the population from terrorist threats more difficult, costly, and time-consuming, the Prime Minister immediately accepted the ruling.

If and when the Palestinians decide to negotiate an end to the conflict, the fence may be torn down or moved (as occurred after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon). Even without any change, a Palestinian state could now theoretically be created in 93 percent of the West Bank (the PA now controls 100 percent of the Gaza Strip). This is very close to the 97 percent Israel offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, which means that while other difficult issues remain to be resolved, the territorial aspect of the dispute will be reduced to a negotiation over roughly 90 square miles.

MYTH  "Israel’s security fence is comparable to the Berlin Wall."  FACT    
Although critics have sought to portray the security fence as a kind of "Berlin Wall," it is nothing of the sort. First, unlike the Berlin Wall, the fence does not separate one people, Germans from Germans, or deny freedom to those on one side. Israel’s security fence separates two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and offers freedom and security for both. Second, while Israelis are fully prepared to live with Palestinians, and 20 percent of the Israeli population is already Arab, it is the Palestinians who say they do not want to live with any Jews and call for the West Bank to be judenrein. Third, the fence is not being constructed to prevent the citizens of one state from escaping; it is designed solely to keep terrorists out of Israel.

Finally, most of the barrier will be a chain-link type fence, similar to those used all over the United States, combined with underground and long-range sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, trenches, landmines and guard paths. Less than 3 percent (about 15 miles) is a 30 -foot -high concrete wall, built in areas where it will prevent Palestinian snipers from shooting at Israeli cars, as they did for three years along the Trans-Israel Highway, one of the country’s main roads.82 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

1. Egypt didn’t achieve independence until 1922; Lebanon, 1946; Jordan, 1946; and Syria, 1946. Many of the Gulf states became independent after Israel: Kuwait, 1961; Bahrain, 1970; the United Arab Emirates, 1971; and Qatar, 1971.
2. Netanel Lorch, One Long War(Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), pp. 106–110.
3. Anne Sinai and Allen Pollack, The Syrian Arab Republic(NY: American Academic Association for Peace in the Middle East, 1976), p. 117.
4. Lorch, p. 111.
5. Sinai and Pollack, pp. 130–31.
6. Near East Report, (January 29, 1982).
7. Jerusalem Post(November 7, 1991).
8. Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, June 29, 1967, cited in "Israel’s Requirements for Defensible Borders," Major General (Res) Yaakov Amidror, pp. 25–26.
9. Anthony Cordesman, "Escalating to Nowhere: The Israeli-Palestinian War—The Final Settlement Issues," (DC: CSIS, January 13, 2005), p. 15.
10. Israel’s Options for Peace, (Tel Aviv: The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 1989), pp. 171–72.
11. Speech to the American Jewish Committee, (May 3, 2001).
12. U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet: India, (February 2011).
13. Yair Ettinger, "Highway, fence spur growth in Wadi Ara," Haaretz(July 14, 2004).
14. Ben Thein, "Is Israel’s Security Barrier Unique?" Middle East Quarterly, (Fall 2004), pp. 25–32.

15. United Nations, (May 6, 2004).

9. Israel and Lebanon
"The PLO posed no threat to Israel in 1982 when Israel attacked Lebanon."

The PLO repeatedly violated the July 1981 cease-fire agreement. By June 1982, when the IDF went into Lebanon, the PLO had made life in northern Israel intolerable through its repeated shelling of Israeli towns.


In the ensuing 11 months, the PLO staged 270 terrorist actions in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and along the Lebanese and Jordanian borders. Twenty-nine Israelis died, and more than 300 were injured in the attacks.The frequency of attacks in the Galilee forced thousands of residents to flee their homes or to spend large amounts of time in bomb shelters.
A force of some 15–18,000 PLO members was encamped in scores of locations in Lebanon. About 5,000–6,000 were foreign mercenaries, coming from such countries as LibyaIraq, India, Sri Lanka, Chad and Mozambique.The PLO had an arsenal that included mortars, Katyusha rockets, and an extensive anti-aircraft network Israel later discovered enough light arms and other weapons in Lebanon to equip five brigades.The PLO also brought hundreds of T-34 tanks into the area.Syria, which permitted Lebanon to become a haven for the PLO and other terrorist groups, brought surface-to-air missiles into that country, creating yet another danger for Israel.

Israeli strikes and commando raids were unable to stem the growth of this PLO army. Israel was not prepared to wait for more deadly attacks to be launched against its civilian population before acting against the terrorists.

After Israel launched one such assault on June 4–5, 1982, the PLO responded with a massive artillery and mortar attack on the Israeli population of the Galilee. On June 6, the IDF moved into Lebanon to drive out the terrorists.


Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger defended the Israeli operation: "No sovereign state can tolerate indefinitely the buildup along its borders of a military force dedicated to its destruction and implementing its objectives by periodic shellings and raids."584 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
"Israel was responsible for the massacre of Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatila." 

The Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was responsible for the massacres that occurred at the two Beirut-area refugee camps on Sep- tember 16–17, 1982. Israeli troops allowed the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila to root out terrorist cells believed to be located there. It had been estimated that there may have been up to 200 armed men in the camps working out of the countless bunkers built by the PLO over the years, and stocked with generous reserves of ammunition.6
When Israeli soldiers ordered the Phalangists out, they found hundreds dead (estimates range from 460 according to the Lebanese police, to 700–800 calculated by Israeli intelligence). The dead, according to the Lebanese account, included 35 women and children. The rest were men: Palestinians, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Iranians, Syrians and Algerians.The killings were perpetrated to avenge the murders of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel and 25 of his followers, killed in a bomb attack earlier that week.8


Israel had allowed the Phalange to enter the camps as part of a plan to transfer authority to the Lebanese, and accepted responsibility for that decision. The Kahan Commission of Inquiry, formed by the Israeli government in response to public outrage and grief, found that Israel was indirectly responsible for not anticipating the possibility of Phalangist violence. Subsequently, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon resigned and the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Raful Eitan, was dismissed.


The Kahan Commission, declared former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, was "a great tribute to Israeli democracy. . . . There are very few governments in the world that one can imagine making such a public investigation of such a difficult and shameful episode."9


Ironically, while 300,000 Israelis protested the killings, little or no reaction occurred in the Arab world. Outside the Middle East, a major international outcry against Israel erupted over the massacres. The Phalangists, who perpetrated the crime, were spared the brunt of the condemnations for it.


By contrast, few voices were raised in May 1985, when Muslim militiamen attacked the Shatila and Burj-el Barajneh Palestinian refugee camps. According to UN officials, 635 were killed and 2,500 wounded. During a two-year battle between the Syrian-backed Shiite Amal militia and the PLO, more than 2,000 people, including many civilians, were reportedly killed. No outcry was directed at the PLO or the Syrians and their allies over the slaughter. International reaction was also muted in 9. Israel and Lebanon 85
October 1990 when Syrian forces overran Christian-controlled areas of Lebanon. In the eight-hour clash, 700 Christians were killed—the worst single battle of Lebanon’s Civil War.10 These killings came on top of an estimated 95,000 deaths that had occurred during the civil war in Lebanon from 1975–1982.11

"Israel has not withdrawn completely from Lebanon." 

Despite the UN ruling that Israel completed its withdrawal from southern LebanonHezbollah and the Lebanese government insist that Israel still holds a largely uninhabited patch of Lebanese territory called Shebaa Farms.12
Israel, which has built a series of observation posts on strategic hilltops in the area, maintains that the land was captured from Syria; nevertheless, the Syrians have supported Hezbollah’s claim. The controversy benefits each of the Arab parties. "For Syria, it means Hezbollah can still be used to keep the Israelis off balance; for Lebanon, it provides a way to apply pressure over issues, like the return of Lebanese prisoners still held in Israeli jails. For Hezbollah, it is a reason to keep its militia armed and active, providing a ready new goal for a resistance movement that otherwise had nothing left to resist."13
"If they go from Shebaa, we will not stop fighting them. Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine . . . [Jews] can go back to Germany or wherever they came from."
—Hezbollah spokesperson Hassan Ezzedin14


In January 2005, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the violence along the Israel-Lebanon border and reasserted that the Lebanese claim to the Shebaa Farms area is "not compatible withSecurity Council resolutions" affirming that Israel completely withdrew from Lebanon.


In November 2008, Nawaf Musawi, Hezbollah’s head of international relations, told Norway’s ambassador to Lebanon that portions of northern Israel belong to Lebanon. He referred to the Blue Line, the border demarcation accepted by the United Nations in 2000 after Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon, as merely a "withdrawal line." Musawi’s comments have been interpreted to mean thatHezbollah has territorial demands that extend beyond the Shebaa Farms and into northern Israel.1586 MY T H S A N D FAC T S 9. Israel and Lebanon 87
"Lebanon has abided by UN Resolution 1701 and poses no direct threat to Israel." 

On August 11, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 in response to the Israel-Hezbollah war. The resolution called upon the Lebanese government "to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms and related materials."


In May 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT) to evaluate Lebanon’s compliance with Resolution 1701. The committee concluded that "the performance of the (Lebanese inspection) agencies in stopping ongoing arms smuggling, which is generally accepted as a fact, can only be described as not up to what can be expected."16
The committee discovered widespread corruption amongst Lebanese border police and described the ease by which missiles and militants move across the Syrian-Lebanese border. The report illustrated theUnited Nations’ skepticism of Lebanese attempts to end the flow of illegal arms into Lebanon when it said "one would have expected that an occasional seizure of arms . . . would have taken place. If by nothing else, then by pure chance. This lack of performance is worrying."17
Lebanon’s failure to implement Resolution 1701 poses a direct threat to Israel and to Lebanese stability. Since the war in 2006, large quantities of weapons (including rockets capable of striking as far south asTel Aviv and southern Israel), have been smuggled into Lebanon from Syria and IranHezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has declared openly that Hezbollah will not disarm so long as Israel remains a threat. He also claims to have tens of thousands of rockets ready to fire at Israel (Israeli military estimates place the number at 20,000).18 The smuggling and stockpiling of weapons by Hebollah, with the complicity ofLebanese border officials, also threatens the pro-Western Lebanese government. If the UN does not take steps to ensure the implementation of its resolution, the risk of renewed violence between Israel andHezbollah will grow, as will the possibility of a takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah.

"Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians during the war instigated by Hezbollah." 

Three weeks after the beginning of the war initiated by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report that charged 88 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Israel with indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon."19 Nothing in the report was based on first-hand knowledge of HRW; rather, it was gathered from interviews with "eye-witnesses and survivors" of Israeli strikes who "told HRW that neither Hezbollah fighters nor other legitimate military targets were in the area that the IDF attacked."
If the investigators did not find evidence of Hezbollah’s presence at bomb sites, it does not necessarily follow that the terrorists had not been there since it is possible that any weapons, documents or bodies were removed before HRW arrived on the scene. As analyst Joshua Muravchik observed, "There was no dependable method by which HRW could assess the veracity of what it was told by the ‘witnesses,’ many of whom were in areas where the population was sympathetic to, or intimidated by Hezbollah. Indeed, there was no means by which it could be sure that they were not Hezbollah cadres, since members of the group do not ordinarily wear uniforms or display identity badges."20


HRW also has no evidence for the scurrilous accusation that civilians were "deliberately" killed.On the contrary, a great deal of evidence was available showing the efforts Israel made to avoid harming noncombatants, such as dropping leaflets to warn civilians to evacuate locations before they were attacked, the pinpoint attacks of buildings in neighborhoods that could more easily have been carpet-bombed, and the reports of Israeli pilots and others who withheld fire because of the presence of civilians in target areas.


Anyone watching television saw the images of rockets being fired from civilian areas, and the photos of weapons and armed men in what should have been peaceful neighborhoods. Numerous witnesses told reporters very different stories than those reported by HRW, giving examples of weapons caches in mosques and fighters using UN troops as shields.21 HRW had no trouble accepting the word of the Lebanese people it interviewed, but gave no credence to evidence presented by Israel, such as weapons captured in fighting in civilian areas or videos showing the deployment and launching of rockets from areas that were attacked.

HRW ignored basic moral and legal distinctions. The group did not differentiate between Hezbollah’s action in initiating the conflict and Israel’s reaction in self-defense, or between Hezbollah’s deliberate targeting of civilians and Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties. Most remarkably, HRW did not take note of the contrasting goals of the combatants. One of Hezbollah’s declared aims is to destroy Israel, while Israel’s goal was to survive and to protect its citizens.


The spurious allegations made by HRW, as well as similar ones published by Amnesty International, were further undermined by a report issued in November 2006 by the Intelligence and Terrorism Center at the Israeli Center for Special Studies. This publication provided extensive documentation and photographic evidence of "Hezbollah’s consis9. Israel and Lebanon 89
tent pattern of intentionally placing its fighters and weapons among civilians." It also shows that Hezbollah was "well aware of the civilian casualties that would ensue" from this activity.22

"The overwhelming majority of casualties in the war with Hezbollah were civilians." 

Throughout the 2006 war with Hezbollah, the media reported casualty totals offered by Lebanese officials as facts with no apparent effort to verify them. When the number of Hezbollah terrorists killed was mentioned at all, it was invariably with a qualifier such as "Israel says" or "Israel claims." The evidence suggests, however, that it is likely that half or more of the casualties were not innocent civilians, butHezbollah fighters.


According to Lebanon’s Higher Relief Council, the total number of Lebanese who died in the war was 1,191.23 No distinctions were made between civilians and terrorists. Press reports usually ignored the fact that it was in Hezbollah and the Lebanese government’s interest to exaggerate the number of civilian casualties to blacken the image of Israel and support their contention that Israeli attacks were disproportionate and indiscriminate. Simultaneously, Hezbollah sought to conceal its casualties to enhance its prestige and make propagandistic claims about the damage it was inflicting on Israel while suffering few losses of its own.
The truth did dribble out, though it was largely ignored. For example, the Daily Telegraph reported:
Lebanese officials estimate that up to 500 fighters have been killed in the past three weeks of hostilities with Israel, and another 1,500 injured. Lebanese officials have also disclosed that many ofHezbollah’s wounded are being treated in hospitals in Syria to conceal the true extent of the casualties. "Hezbollah is desperate to conceal its casualties because it wants to give the impression that it is winning its war," said a senior security official. "People might reach a very different conclusion if they knew the true extent of Hezbollah’s casualties."24
The Kuwait Times quoted a report that said Hezbollah "buried more than 700 fighters so far, with many more to go."25 Military expert John Keegan said Hezbollah losses might have been as high as 1,000 out of a total strength of 5,000.26
These sources are consistent with information provided by Israel. 90 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former senior officer in Israeli military intelligence, said "Israel identified 440 dead guerillas by name and address, and experience shows that Israeli figures are half to two-thirds of the enemy’s real casualties. Therefore, Amidror estimated, "Hezbollah’s real death toll might be as high as 700."27 A subsequent report three weeks later said that Israel had identified the names of 532 deadHezbollah terrorists and estimated at least 200 others had been killed.28


These reports suggest that at a minimum, roughly half the casualties in the war were combatants. It is more likely the figure approaches 60 percent, which would mean the majority of dead were terrorists. This reinforces the Israeli position that it did indeed inflict heavy losses on Hezbollah and that the civilian casualties were not a result of deliberate or indiscriminate attacks.

Tragically, many civilians were killed, often because they were used as human shields. Of course, there would have been zero casualties if Hezbollah had not attacked Israel and kidnapped and murdered its soldiers.

"The media fairly and accurately covered the second war in Lebanon." 

Reporters covering the war from Lebanon were particularly egregious in revealing their own biases based, it seems, on living in the country and developing sympathies for their subjects. More serious, however, was the way some of these correspondents allowed themselves to be used by Hezbollah. In the first Lebanon war, the PLO threatened reporters and made favorable coverage the price of access. Hezbollah learned from their example and now influences much of what reporters can see and say.

CNN’s Nic Robertson, for example, was taken to an area of Beirut and told that the rubble of buildings was a result of Israeli air strikes on civilian targets. He repeated the allegation as fact. He had no way of knowing what was in the buildings, whether it was a rocket workshop, a hiding place for Katyushas, the home of a Hezbollah leader, or a command center. In fact, he didn’t even know if Israel was responsible for the destruction that he was shown.


Robertson later admitted that his report had been influenced by his Hezbollah guide. He acknowledged that he had been told what to film and where. "They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath." Robertson said Hezbollah controls south 9. Israel and Lebanon 91
Beirut. "You don’t get in there without their permission. We didn’t have enough time to see if perhaps there was somebody there who was, you know, a taxi driver by day, and a Hezbollah fighter by night." Unlike what he said on air during his guided reports, Robertson told CNN’s Reliable Sources, "there’s no doubt that the bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities."29
Robertson’s CNN colleague, Anderson Cooper, one of the journalists who was consistently fair and balanced, highlighted Hezbollah’s mendacity. He said the group was "just making things up," and gave as one example a tour he was given in which Hezbollah had lined up some ambulances. They were told to turn on their sirens and then the ambulances drove off as if they were picking up wounded civilians when, in fact, they were simply going back and forth.30
Time Magazine contributor Christopher Albritton made clear that reporters understand the rules of the game. "To the south, along the curve of the coast, Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I’m loath to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalist’s passport, and they’ve already hassled a number of us and threatened one."31
Under no duress whatsoever, the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks made perhaps the most outrageous charge of the war when he claimed that Israel intentionally left Hezbollah launchers intact because having Israeli civilians killed helps Israel in the public relations war.32
Israel’s image was tarred by suggestions that it targeted Lebanese Christian areas, intimating that Israel was killing innocent Christians rather than restricting its attacks to the Shiite Muslims of Hezbollah. CNN reported, for example, an Israeli strike "on the edge of the city’s mostly Christian eastern district" that killed 10 people. In the next paragraph, however, the report says Israel hit "a building near a mosque.33
Photographs can be especially powerful, but they can also be misleading or outright fakes. A photo of a baby pulled from the rubble of a building in Qana that appeared on front pages around the world, for example was exposed as a fake.34 One of the photographers involved, Adnan Hajj, was discovered to have doctored at least two photographs, one of which was changed to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings in Beirut bombed by Israel, and the other changed the image of an Israeli jet so it showed three flares being discharged instead of one. Reuters admitted the photos had been changed, suspended the photographer, and removed all of his photographs from its database.35
Reporters in Lebanon exaggerated the destruction in Beirut and elsewhere by showing tight shots of buildings hit in Israeli air strikes and rebroadcasting the same images repeatedly. "You would think Beirut has begun to resemble Dresden and Hamburg in the aftermath of Second World War air raids," observed former Sunday Telegraph correspondent Tom Gross. But, Gross notes, "a careful look at aerial satel92MY T H S A N D FAC T S
lite photos of the areas targeted by Israel in Beirut shows that certain specific buildings housing Hezbollah command centers in the city’s southern suburbs have been singled out. Most of the rest of Beirut, apart from strategic sites such as airport runways used to ferry Hezbollah weapons in and out of Lebanon, has been left pretty much untouched."36
While an Israeli strike that killed UN observers drew headlines, little attention was given to reports that Hezbollah was using the UN posts as shields. A Canadian soldier with UNIFIL, for example, reported that his team could observe "most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol base" and noted that Israeli ordnance that fell near the base was not a result of deliberate targeting, but "has rather been due to tactical necessity."37
Over the years, Arab propagandists have learned one sure-fire way to get media attention is to scream "massacre" when Israelis are in the neighborhood. On August 7, news outlets repeated Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s claim that Israel had committed a "massacre" by killing 40 people in an air raid on the village of Houla. Later, it was learned that one person had died.38


Here are some facts the media neglected during the war:
■■Two million Israelis lived under threat of rockets, including approximately 700,000 Israeli Arabs.
■■More than 300,000 Israelis were displaced from their homes.
■■Fifteen percent of the entire Israeli population lived in bomb shelters.
■■Approximately 5,500 homes were damaged by Hezbollah rockets.
■■Israel’s tourist industry, which had finally started to recover from the Palestinian War, was again devastated.
■■Towns that are home to important sites of the three major religions came under fire, including TiberiasNazareth and Safed.
■■Fires sparked by rockets destroyed 16,500 acres of forests and grazing fields in Israel.

Wars are never easy to cover, and each side of a conflict wants to make its case through the media. A responsible press, however, does not repeat whatever it hears, it first makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reporting.
1. Jillian Becker, The PLO(London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984), p. 205.
2. Becker, p. 205.
3. Jerusalem Post(June 28, 1982).
4. Quoted in Raphael Israeli ed., PLO in Lebanon(London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983), p. 7.9. Israel and Lebanon 93
5. Henry Kissinger, "From Lebanon to the West Bank to the Gulf," Washington Post, ( June 16, 1982).
6. Zeev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Israel’s Lebanon War(NY: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 70.
7. Becker, p. 212.
8. Schiff and Yaari, p. 257.
9. Washington Post(February 8, 1983).
10. New York Times(October 19, 1990).
11. Becker, p. 212.
12. "Security Council Endorses Secretary-General’s Conclusion on Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon as of 16 June," UN Press Release, (June 18, 2000).
13. Washington Post(January 30, 2001).
14. Jeffrey Goldberg, "In the Party of God," New Yorker, (October 14, 2002).
15. Yoav Stern, "Hezbollah: Large Swaths of North Israel Belong to Lebanon," Haaretz(November 4, 2008).
16. Lebanonwire, Independent Border Assesment Team Report, (June 2007).
17. Lebanonwire, Independent Border Assesment Team Report, (June 2007).
18. Uzi Mahnaimi Zarit, "Hezbollah ‘has stockpiled rockets’ on Israeli border," Timesonline. The Sunday Times. (June 10, 2007).
19. Human Rights Watch, "Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon," Vol. 18, No. 3, (August 2006), p. 3.
20. Joshua Muravchik, "Human Rights Watch vs. Human Rights: The cynical manipulation of a worthy cause has a history," The Weekly Standard(September 11, 2006).
21. Alan Dershowitz, "What Are They Watching?" New York Sun(August 23, 2006).
22. Dr. Reuven Erlich (Col. Ret.), "Hezbollah’s use of Lebanese civilians as human shields: the extensive military infrastructure positioned and hidden in populated areas. From within the Lebanese towns and villages deliberate rocket attacks were directed against civilian targets in Israel." Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centerat the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S), (November 2006).
23. Lebanese Higher Relief Council, (December 6, 2006).
24. Con Coughlin, "Teheran fund pays war compensation to Hezbollah families," Daily Telegraph(August 4, 2006).
25. Kuwait Times(August 30, 2006).
26. John Keegan, "Why Israel will go to war again—soon," Daily Telegraph(November 3, 2006).
27. UPI, (September 7, 2006).
28. Washington Times, (September 27, 2006); Steven Stotsky, "Questioning the Number of Civilian Casualties in Lebanon," CAMERA, (September 7, 2006); Wikipedia.
29. CNN, (July 23, 2006). Also, corrected transcripts from broadcast.
30. Anderson Cooper, "Our Very Strange Day With Hezbollah," AC 360 (CNN), (July 23, 2006).
31. Tom Gross, "The media war against Israel: The Jewish state is fighting not one enemy but two: Hezbollah, and those who peddle its propaganda," National Post, (August 2, 2006).
32. CNN, (August 6, 2006).
33. CNN, (August 7, 2006).
34. Reuven Koret, Hezbollywood Horror: "Civil Defense Worker" doubles as Traveling Mortician,", (August 3, 2006) and "Hezbollywood? Evidence mounts that Qana collapse and deaths were staged,", (July 31, 2006); EU Referendum, (July 31August. 1August 5, 2006).
35. Ricki Hollander, "A Reprise: Media Photo Manipulation," CAMERA, (August 9, 2006).94 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
36. Tom Gross, "The media war against Israel: The Jewish state is fighting not one enemy but two: Hezbollah, and those who peddle its propaganda," National Post, (August 2, 2006).
37. "A Canadian soldier’s report from South Lebanon,", (July 26, 2006).

38. AP, (August 7, 2006) and Amos Harel, "One Dead in IDF Strike in Beirut Southern Suburb," Haaretz, (August 7, 2006).
10. The Gulf Wars
"The 1991 Gulf War was fought for Israel."

Prior to President George Bush’s announcement of Operation Desert Storm, critics of Israel were claiming the Jewish State and its supporters were pushing Washington to start a war with Iraq to eliminate it as a military threat. President Bush made the U.S. position clear, however, in his speech on August 2, 1990, saying that the United States has "longstanding vital interests" in the Persian Gulf. Moreover, Iraq’s "naked aggression" violated the UN charter.1


Over the course of the Gulf crisis, the President and other top Administration officials made clear that U.S. interests—primarily oil supplies—were threatened by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.


Most Americans agreed with the President’s decision to go to war. For example, the Washington Post/ABC News Poll on January 16, 1991, found that 76 percent of Americans approved of the U.S. going to war with Iraq and 22 percent disapproved.2


It is true that Israel viewed Iraq as a serious threat to its security given its leadership of the rejectionist camp. Israeli concerns proved justified after the war began and Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at its civilian population centers.

Israel has never asked American troops to fight its battles. Although Israeli forces were prepared to participate in the Gulf War, they did not because the United States asked them not to. Even after the provocation of the Scud missile attacks, Israel assented to U.S. appeals not to respond.

"Israel’s low profile in the Gulf War proved it has no strategic value to the United States."

Israel was never expected to play a major role in hostilities in the Gulf. American officials knew the Arabs would not allow Israel to help defend them; they also knew U.S. troops would have to intervene because the Gulf States could not protect themselves.96 MY T H S A N D FAC T S

Israel’s posture reflected a deliberate political decision in response to American requests. Nevertheless, it did aid the United States’ successful campaign to roll back Iraq’s aggression. For example:
■■By warning that it would take military measures if any Iraqi troops entered Jordan, Israel, in effect, guaranteed its neighbor’s territorial integrity against Iraqi aggression.
■■The United States benefited from the use of Israeli-made Have Nap air-launched missiles on its B52 bombers. The Navy, meanwhile, used Israeli Pioneer pilotless drones for reconnaissance in the Gulf.
■■Israel provided mine plows that were used to clear paths for allied forces through Iraqi minefields.
■■Mobile bridges flown directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia were employed by the U.S. Marine Corps.
■■Israeli recommendations, based upon system performance observations, led to several software changes that made the Patriot a more capable missile defense system.
■■Israel Aircraft Industries developed conformal fuel tanks that enhanced the range of F-15 aircraft. These were used in the Gulf.
■■General Dynamics, a U.S. military contractor, has implemented a variety of Israeli modifications to improve the worldwide F16 aircraft fleet, including structural enhancements, software changes, increased capability landing gear, radio improvements and avionic modifications.
■■An Israeli-produced targeting system was used to increase the Cobra helicopter’s night-fighting capabilities.
■■Israel manufactured the canister for the highly successful Tomahawk missile.
■■Night-vision goggles used by U.S. forces were supplied by Israel.
■■A low-altitude warning system produced and developed in Israel was utilized on Blackhawk helicopters.
■■Israel offered the United States the use of military and hospital facilities. U.S. ships utilized Haifa port shipyard maintenance and support on their way to the Gulf.
■■Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. Consequently, U.S. troops did not face a nuclear-armed Iraq. Even in its low-profile mode, Israeli cooperation was extremely valuable: Israel’s military intelligence had focused on Iraq much more carefully over the years than had the U.S. intelligence community. Thus, the Israelis were able to provide Washington with detailed tactical intelligence on Iraqi military activities. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said, for example, that the U.S. utilized Israeli information about western Iraq in its search for Scud missile launchers.10. The Gulf Wars 97
"Israel benefited from the 1991 Gulf War without paying any price." 

It is true that Israel benefited from the destruction of Iraq’s military capability by the United States-led coalition, but the cost was enormous. Even before hostilities broke out, Israel had to augment its defense budget to maintain its forces at a heightened state of alert. The Iraqi missile attacks justified Israel’s prudence in keeping its air force flying round the clock. The war required the defense budget to be increased by more than $500 million. Another $100 million boost was needed for civil defense.

The damage caused by the 39 Iraqi Scud missiles that landed in Tel Aviv and Haifa was extensive. Approximately 3,300 apartments and other buildings were affected in the greater Tel Aviv area. Some 1,150 people who were evacuated had to be housed at a dozen hotels at a cost of $20,000 per night.


Beyond the direct costs of military preparedness and damage to property, the Israeli economy was also hurt by the inability of many Israelis to work under the emergency conditions. The economy functioned at no more than 75 percent of normal capacity during the war, resulting in a net loss to the country of $3.2 billion.3
The biggest cost was in human lives. A total of 74 people died as a consequence of Scud attacks. Two died in direct hits, four from suffocation in gas masks and the rest from heart attacks.4
A UN committee dealing with reparation claims against Iraq dating to the 1991 Gulf War approved more than $31 million to be paid to Israeli businesses and individuals. The 1999 decision stemmed from a 1992 Security Council decision calling on Iraq to compensate victims of the Gulf War.In 2001, the United Nations Compensation Commission awarded $74 million to Israel for the costs it incurred from Iraqi Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War. The Commission rejected most of the $1 billion that Israel had requested.6

"Iraq was never a threat to Israel." 

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a leader of the rejectionist Arab states and one of the most belligerent foes of Israel. On April 2, 1990, Saddam’s rhetoric became more threatening: "I swear to God we will let our fire eat half of Israel if it tries to wage anything against Iraq." Sad98 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
dam said his nation’s chemical weapons capability was matched only by that of the United States and the Soviet Union, and that he would annihilate anyone who threatened Iraq with an atomic bomb by the "double chemical."7
Several days later, Saddam said that war with Israel would not end until all Israeli-held territory was restored to Arab hands. He added that Iraq could launch chemical weapons at Israel from several different sites.The Iraqi leader also made the alarming disclosure that his commanders had the freedom to launch attacks against Israel without consulting the high command if Israel attacked Iraq. The head of the Iraqi Air Force subsequently said he had orders to strike Israel if the Jewish State launched a raid against Iraq or any other Arab country.9
On June 18, 1990, Saddam told an Islamic Conference meeting in Baghdad: "We will strike at [the Israelis] with all the arms in our possession if they attack Iraq or the Arabs." He declared "Palestine has been stolen," and exhorted the Arab world to "recover the usurped rights in Palestine and free Jerusalem from Zionist captivity."10
Saddam’s threat came in the wake of revelations that Britain and the United States foiled an attempt to smuggle American-made "krytron" nuclear triggers to Iraq.11 Britain’s MI6 intelligence service prepared a secret assessment three years earlier that Hussein had ordered an all-out effort to develop nuclear weapons.12 After Saddam used chemical weapons against his own Kurdish population in Halabja in 1988, few people doubted his willingness to use nuclear weapons against Jews in Israel if he had the opportunity.
In April 1990, British customs officers found tubes about to be loaded onto an Iraqi-chartered ship that were believed to be part of a giant cannon that would enable Baghdad to lob nuclear or chemical missiles into Israel or Iran.13 Iraq denied it was building a "supergun," but, after the war, it was learned that Iraq had built such a weapon.14
Iraq emerged from its war with Iran with one of the largest and best-equipped military forces in the world. In fact, Iraq had one million battle-tested troops, more than 700 combat aircraft, 6,000 tanks, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. Although the U.S. and its allies won a quick victory, the magnitude of Hussein’s arsenal only became clear after the war when UN investigators found evidence of a vast program to build chemical and nuclear weapons.15


Iraq also served as a base for several terrorist groups that menaced Israel, including the PLO and Abu Nidal’s Fatah Revolutionary Council.


After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein consistently threatened to strike Israel if his country was attacked. If the U.S. moves against Iraq, he said in December 1990, "then Tel Aviv will receive the next attack, whether or not Israel takes part."16 At a press conference, following his January 9, 1991, meeting with Secretary of State James 10. The Gulf Wars 99
Baker, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz was asked if the war starts, would Iraq attack Israel. He replied bluntly: "Yes. Absolutely, yes."17


Ultimately, Saddam carried out his threat.


  1. How many holidays do the Arabs-Muslims celebrate due to historical events in the land of ancient Israel and Jerusalem.
    The Jewish people celebrate most of their holidays and fast days in memory of Jerusalem and Israel since 70 AD (that is over 2,000 years).
    Pleading the Jewish goal and aspiration to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - where it was before it was destroyed and desecrated by the enemies of the Jews. Many of the Jewish prayers for thousands of years recite the love of Israel and the Jewish aspirations to return to their ancestral land and bring back its glory and holiness.
    At Jewish weddings they break a glass in memory of Jerusalem and the aspiration to return and build the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
    Every day at the end of the meal the Jews recite a blessing and thank G-d for providing sustenance and beseech G-d to return and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
    Most Jewish prayers mention our pleading to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
    “Lord bring us back to you in Jerusalem like yesteryear and we shall return” Rebuilt Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple as it was previously with all its holiness and grander.
    YJ Draiman

  2. How many holidays do the Arabs-Muslims celebrate due to historical events in the land of ancient Israel and Jerusalem.
    The Jewish people celebrate most of their holidays and fast days in memory of Jerusalem and Israel since 70 AD (that is over 2,000 years).
    Pleading the Jewish goal and aspiration to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - where it was before it was destroyed and desecrated by the enemies of the Jews. Many of the Jewish prayers for thousands of years recite the love of Israel and the Jewish aspirations to return to their ancestral land and bring back its glory and holiness.
    At Jewish weddings they break a glass in memory of Jerusalem and the aspiration to return and build the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
    Every day at the end of the meal the Jews recite a blessing and thank G-d for providing sustenance and beseech G-d to return and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
    Most Jewish prayers mention our pleading to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
    “Lord bring us back to you in Jerusalem like yesteryear and we shall return” Rebuilt Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple as it was previously with all its holiness and grander.
    YJ Draiman

    (Eretz Yisrael) THE LAND OF ISRAEL
    By David Ben Gurion
    “No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel. No Jew has the authority to do so. No Jewish body has the authority to do so. Not even the entire Jewish People alive today has the right to yield any part of Israel.
    It is the right of the Jewish People over the generations, a right that under no conditions can be cancelled. Even if Jews during a specific period proclaim they are relinquishing this right, they have neither the power nor the authority to deny it to future generations. No concession of this type is binding or obligates the Jewish People.
    Our right to the country – the entire country – exists as an eternal right, and we shall not yield this historic right until its full and complete redemption is realized.”
    This quotation of David Ben Gurion made at the Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1937, more than 65 years ago. At the Freeman Center, we quote this profound statement often.

    (Eretz Yisrael) THE LAND OF ISRAEL
    By David Ben Gurion
    “No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel. No Jew has the authority to do so. No Jewish body has the authority to do so. Not even the entire Jewish People alive today has the right to yield any part of Israel.
    It is the right of the Jewish People over the generations, a right that under no conditions can be cancelled. Even if Jews during a specific period proclaim they are relinquishing this right, they have neither the power nor the authority to deny it to future generations. No concession of this type is binding or obligates the Jewish People.
    Our right to the country – the entire country – exists as an eternal right, and we shall not yield this historic right until its full and complete redemption is realized.”
    This quotation of David Ben Gurion made at the Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1937, more than 65 years ago. At the Freeman Center, we quote this profound statement often.