Israel Accused: 75 concise responses
Israel faces many accusations. Here are concise responses to 75 of them. We include links to separate Briefings on our website (www.beyondimages.info) which provide in-depth facts and analysis.
"Israel's treatment of black Africans entering the country shows that it's a racist state....."
"Israel supresses Christian life...."
"Israel has nuclear weapons. Why can't Iran have them, too.....?"
"Israel is an apartheid state ......"
"Israelis have a siege mentality and exaggerate the threats they face...."
“Israel’s settlements block peace....”
“The Palestine papers show Israeli intransigence and deep Palestinian concessions for peace.....”
“Israel destroys the economic prospects of Gaza....”
“The Palestinians are entitled to a state. Why not support a UN declaration of statehood....?”
“The international community must pressurise Israel more on settlements.....”
“Israel is becoming an authoritarian state....”
“Israelis are materialistic and cynical, and don’t care about peace.....”
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about territory. The solution is ‘land for peace’...”
“Israel’s interception of the Gaza flotilla violated international law.....”
“The Goldstone Report was even-handed. It criticises Hamas as well as Israel.....”
“The UN Human Rights Council is anti-Israel, but Goldstone secured a balanced mandate, and Israel should have cooperated with him.....”
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.....”
“Hamas has come round to the idea of Israel within the 1967 borders.....”
“Moderate Palestinian leaders believe in a two-state solution....”
“Israel ethnically cleansed the Arabs in 1948....”
“Israel is the ‘root cause’ of the problems of the Middle East.....”
“Western countries should engage with Hamas.....”
“The Palestinians are victims of Israel....”
1. “ Israel is a militaristic country which does not want peace”
2. “ Israel accuses critics of its policies of being anti-semitic in order to silence them”
3. “Mr Sharon's visit to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in September 2000 caused the Palestinian intifada”
4. “ Israel has used excessive military force to crush the Palestinians”
5. “Israel's war against Hizbollah was disproportionate and Hizbollah won”
6. “ Israel and the Palestinians are involved in a tit-for-tat cycle of violence”
7. “The Palestinian intifada is an uprising against Israel's occupation of their land”
8. “Many more Palestinians than Israelis have died – the casualty figures show that Israel is the aggressor and in the wrong….”
9. “ Israel denies the Palestinians statehood and national rights”
10. “If only Israel would end the occupation there would be peace…”
11. “Hamas were democratically elected by the Palestinians, and Israel must deal with them directly...”
12. “The solution to the conflict is the creation of a single, ‘binational' state where Jews and Palestinians can live together in peace.”
13. “Palestinians have been forced to use violence to make Israel compromise”
14. “Palestinian terrorism is regrettable but the legitimate resistance of a desperate people with their backs against the wall”
15. “The suicide bombers are driven by despair”
16. “The Palestinians want to make progress towards a solution”
17. “ Israel 's security fence is wrong and discriminatory, and disrupts Palestinian daily life”
18. “Israel's plan to define its final borders is a land-grab and a recipe for war.”
19. “Israeli academics should be boycotted until it changes its policies”
20. “ Israel has brought Palestinian society to its knees economically”
21. “Israeli settlements block peace”
22. “The Palestinians are in the right and Israel is in the wrong. This is a struggle for Palestinian human rights”
23. “Hamas rejection of Israel is only rhetoric... ”
24. “The Palestinians are entitled to have a “right to return” to their original homes”
25. “ Israel is an apartheid, racist state”
26. “ Israel never offered the Palestinians a viable state at Camp David – this is Israeli propaganda”
27. “The Arab world offered Israel peace via the Saudi peace initiative in 2002, which Israel rejected. This shows that Israel is not
interested in peace”
28. “ Israel deliberately targets Palestinian civilians”
29. “Jews from all over the world can move to Israel . Palestinians are barred from the country. This is racism”.
30. “ Spielberg's Munich shows how Israel took revenge for the Munich Olympics massacre, and how violence achieves nothing ”
31. “UN Security Council Resolution 242 requires Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank immediately”
32. “Israel is a 'root cause' of Muslim hatred of the West”
33. “ Israel kills international peace activists who come to support the Palestinians”
34. “ Israel disrupts Palestinian higher education and universities”
35. “ Israel cruelly destroys Palestinian farmers' olives trees and livelihoods…”
36. “ Israel massacred Palestinians in Jenin in 2002”
37. “ Israel violated the sanctity of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem
38. “The Jews are taking over Jerusalem and squeezing out the Palestinians”
39. “The USA blindly supports Israel ”
40. “Israeli policies are incompatible with Jewish ideals”
41. “Palestinian violence succeeded in forcing Israel to disengage from Gaza….”
42. “Israel’s disengagement plan is a betrayal of the Road Map for peace…”
43. “Israel is obliged to withdraw from the entire West Bank….”
44. “Israel plans to hold on permanently to large chunks of West Bank territory for settlements….”
45. “Israel has nuclear weapons, so Iran is entitled to have them too ”
46. “Israel’s policy of targeted killing of Palestinians is illegal and wrong…”
47. “Sheikh Yassin was a wheelchair-bound spiritual leader of the Palestinians and Israel was heartless to target him….”
48. “Israel’s military operation in the Gaza town of Rafah was excessive, pointless and cruel….”
49. “The Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s security fence proves that Israel is acting illegally….”
50. “Israel’s punishment of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was excessive, cruel and counter-productive….”
1. “ Israel is a militaristic country which does not want peace”Response:
- The Israeli people yearn for peace, and for an end to war and bloodshed. They have no wish to cause suffering to the Palestinian or Lebanese people, but hope for the time when Israelis can lead normal and secure lives.
- The Jewish people have endured thousands of years of exile, persecution and displacement. They long for their insecurity and suffering to end.
- Israel has never known genuine peace since it was founded in 1948. Over 24,000 Israelis have died as a result of wars and terror since then.
- Every day in Israel , the debate about how to make peace continues, passionately and freely.
- Israel has been forced time and again to use its armed forces to quell terrorism. It is the terrorists who oppose peace, not Israel.
- Government Ministers, opposition politicians, journalists, religious leaders, strategic analysts, writers and artists, student leaders, academics and retired army generals promote rival peace plans. Many participants call for radical new approaches; others argue that the Government's approach is correct. All have in common a desire to end the violence and conflict.
- This debate is not the characteristic of a country that “does not want peace”.
- In 2005, Israel uproots thousands of settlers from their homes in Gaza, and physically destroyed their communities, in the hope of building momentum for peace (see Briefing 127)
- Israel took significant risks and made tangible sacrifices for the opportunity to make peace with Egypt in 1979.
- As part of the controversial Oslo negotiations in the 1990s, culminating in the Camp David and Taba talks in 2000-2001 (see Briefing 21) Israel worked with the Palestinians in progressing towards self-rule. Israel made peace with Jordan in 1994.
- Both public opinion polls, and Israel 's track record, show that the Israeli public supports far-reaching sacrifices for peace.
- Israel has a tremendous amount to offer the Arab world and the world at large (see Beyond Images - Making The World A Better Place). Conflict, terrorism and Israel 's comparative isolation are tragically stifling Israel 's contribution.
2. “ Israel accuses critics of its policies of being anti-semitic in order to silence them”• Legitimate criticism of Israel abounds inside Israel , from politicians, journalists, academics, and religious leaders. Israel has independent media (unlike all the other states in the region) and critics of the government are vocal. Israeli media is generally left-of-centre.
• So why the accusation of anti-semitism levelled at certain critics? Israel clearly does not stifle criticism. The accusation arises for three reasons:-
• Double-standards - Israel is accused by its critics of actions where most other governments placed in a similar situation would act similarly (if not more severely). Israelis feel that its critics are being unfair and applying a double-standard, which leads to a suspicion of bias
• Selective moral outrage - Israelis cannot understand why Israel is the subject of such passionate outrage from critics many of whom appear to turn a blind eye to the many other serious conflict situations in the world. How can the predominance of anti-Israel activity at the UN, or in the letter columns of the newspapers, be explained? Why such a preoccupation?
• The use of anti-Jewish imagery and stereotypes - Over history, many images of the Jew were spread, to incite hatred – the evil, cruel, conspiratorial Jew. Such images and stereotypes are appearing again but this time applied to Israelis . Such imagery has been prevalent in the Arab media for decades, but is now filtering into US and European media coverage of Israel . When such imagery is used, whether in cartoons, photographs or text, it can arouse anti-semitic feelings, and incite physical attacks. Use of such imagery is not a legitimate way of expressing criticism of an Israeli action.
•The accusation of anti-semitism is the inevitable consequence of the methods used by many of Israel's detractors. Blame for this lies with those detractors. Israel has no justification for objecting to fair, balanced and informed criticism.
• Summary: Israelis are entitled to expect that Israel's critics place Israel's actions in context, that they do not lose perspective on all the other conflicts in the world, and that they do not use imagery or stereotypes capable of inciting hatred against Israelis or Jews collectively.
For more: For a powerful appeal to the international community to understand the context of Israel 's actions and to judge the country fairly, see Beyond Images Briefing 55 – “Can A Country Be Born In A Day?” – a speech in April 2002 by Chief Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks.
3. “Mr Sharon's visit to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in September 2000 caused the Palestinian intifada”Response:
• Mr Sharon's visit was coordinated in advance with the Moslem authorities in charge of the Temple Mount area, and with the Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub.
• The visit passed off without major incident. The violence started the next day (the eve of the Jewish New Year) when Arabs protesting against Mr Sharon's visit hailed stones down from the Temple Mount plaza onto Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall (the holiest site in Judaism). That was the event that triggered the escalation of violence (see Briefing 8).
• A US Commission led by respected international mediator George Mitchell investigated the causes of the Palestinian intifada and reported in May 2001 that the Palestinians had been planning violence for at least a year before September 2000. The Mitchell Commission stated that Mr Sharon's visit was not the cause of the intifada.
• The Palestinian Authority communications minister has publicly admitted that the immediate trigger for the intifada was Mr Arafat's rejection of Israel's proposals for Palestinian statehood at the Camp David talks in Summer 2000 (see Briefing 21).
Summary: Mr Sharon's visit to Al Aqsa was the Palestinians' pretext for starting the intifada – not its underlying reason.
4. “ Israel has used excessive military force to crush the Palestinians”Response:
• Since September 2000 there have been over 24,000 acts of Palestinian violence against Israel; 1100 Israelis have been killed, and many thousands wounded and traumatised, with over 140 suicide bombings and over 200 suicide bombings which were intercepted or otherwise failed (See Beyond Images Briefings 8, 10, 12, 18 and 48 for detailed information on the wave of terrorism and Briefings 88 and 144 on Foiled attacks).
• The Palestinians have also attempted several so-called “mega-terror” attacks against Israel capable of causing massive numbers of Israeli casualties. These include an attack on Israel 's largest fuel depot (see Beyond Images Briefing 4 – Pi Glilot), plots to attack Tel-Aviv skyscrapers, and the crowd at a Jerusalem sports stadium (see Briefing 3 – Mega-Terror, and rocket attacks on energy facilities in Ashqelon (see Briefing 171)
•Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it has been subjected to hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza (see Briefing 176) and threats of terrorism from Hamas leaders (see Briefings 154 and 166)
• Who is to measure what constitutes an “over-reaction” by Israel in light of these dangers?
• Every accountable government has a duty to protect its citizens. Israel 's policies are acts of self-defence which are intended to quell the terrorism against its citizens (see Briefings 7 and 75).
• Israeli society has internal checks and balances against the excessive use of force by its army: an elected and accountable government; free and critical newspapers and TV; many civil rights groups, and pro-Palestinian parliamentary representatives; and strict rules of military engagement. (See Briefings 92 and 98) These are all curbs against “excess” and “over-reaction”. Some measures were strongly criticised in Israel as being excessive, and Israeli policies changed as a result.
Summary: Critics who claim Israel 's policies are an“over-reaction” should be reminded of the background to Israel 's actions. What would other governments do, faced with the intense terrorism launched by Palestinian groups which reject Israel 's right to exist and translate that rejection into daily violence?
For more: Briefing 64 – Demonisation of Israel
5. “Israel's war against Hizbollah was disproportionate and Hizbollah won”Response:
Hizbollah's goal – the destruction of Israel
• Hizbollah is a fundamentalist Islamic group which advocates the destruction of Israel
• Hizbollah serves as an extension of Iranian foreign policy
• Between May 2000 (when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon) and July 2006 Hizbollah built up a massive arsenal of missiles and other weapons right on Israel 's Northern border
• This took place after Israel withdrew from all of Lebanese territory. The UN does not recognise Lebanon as having a legitimate claim over the Sheba'a Farms.
Hizbollah's existence since 2004 has defied the international community
• In September 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed, requiring the disarmament of Hizbollah
• Hizbollah ignored this Resolution. The Lebanese Government proclaimed itself too weak to enforce it
• The international community failed to demand implementation of Resolution 1559
• Hizbollah's continued operations flout the will of the international community. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (of August 2006) reiterates the need to implement UN Resolution 1559.
Hizbollah triggered the war, not Israel
• Hizbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers on 12 July 2006 was an unprovoked attack on sovereign Israeli territory, across an internationally recognised border
• If there had not been an attack, there would not have been a war
• Israel responded strongly because if Hizbollah or other groups believe that they can use territory they control (and from which Israel has withdrawn) to attack Israel with impunity, there will never be peace
• The logic behind Hizbollah tactics make a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and regional peace, impossible
Israel 's reaction was intended to restore deterrence of Iran and Hizbollah
• Israel 's military response to Hizbollah was designed to signal to Iran that it cannot build up a proxy military presence on Israel 's border and then think it can engineer attacks on Israel in pursuit of Iran 's wider objectives
• Hizbollah leader Nasrallah has now stated that if he had known the consequences of the war, he would not have ordered the kidnapping (See Beyond Images Briefings 182 and 183)
• The kidnapping was the trigger for the war, not its underlying reason
Hizbollah's rocket assault on Northern Israel
• During the 34 day war Hizbollah fired over 4000 rockets into Israel . The level of Israeli fatalities (43 civilians) was a miracle, not a result of Hizbollah restraint
• As many as one million Israeli citizens took shelter in air-raid shelters
• Urban and agricultural life were turned upside down, in Northern Israel . Israel 's tourist industry has been severely affected.
• Hizbollah threatened the lives of many non-Israelis – students and tourists – in Israel
• Israel 's experience on the receiving end of the rocket barrage has been under-reported internationally, which has contributed to the belief that Israel reacted “disproportionately”.
• Israel 's response to Hizbollah was an act of self-defence, intended to secure the release of the kidnapped soldiers, and to drive Hizbollah back from Israel 's Northern border
• In the context of Hizbollah's rocket assault on Israel , and the wider strategic situation, Israel 's counter-attack was not disproportionate
Civilian casualties in Lebanon as a result of Israel 's counter-attack
• Israel took steps to minimise civilian casualties. It gave lengthy advance warning to civilians that it was going to attack targets such as weapons stores and rocket-launching sites positioned in civilian areas
• Many accusations levelled against Israel of wanton destruction of civilian targets have been proven since the war to have been grossly exaggerated or downright false
• Israel targeted Hizbollah rocket launching squads, command and control centres, weapons stocks, and also targeted roads, bridges and airport runways which could be used by Hizbollah to rearm themselves
• Hizbollah sheltered among Lebanese civilians, using them as human shields against Israeli attack
• UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accused Hizbollah of “holding Lebanon hostage”. UN Humanitarian chief Jan Egeland accused Hizbollah
of “cowardly blending” among women and children (see Beyond Images Briefing 180)
• Lebanon 's civilian infrastructure was heavily attacked is because of the sustained abuse of that infrastructure by Hizbollah to sustain its illegal and dangerous military build-up
• Lebanese civilian society is paying a tragic price for the brinkmanship of Hizbollah and its primary sponsor Iran (see Briefings 180, 182 and 183)
“Hizbollah won the war”….?
• Hizbollah's arsenal of weapons has been drastically reduced
• Hizbollah has been pushed away from the Northern border of Israel , with a strengthened UN buffer force and Lebanese army between Hizbollah and Northern Israel
• The Hizbollah mini-state in Southern Lebanon has ceased to exist, as has its command and control systems and organisation in the south
• Hizbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah has now admitted that he would not have started the war if he would have known how strongly Israel would react (see Briefings 182 and 183)
• That is not the talk of a victorious leader, but of someone who has made a grave miscalculation, and has to restore his credibility in Lebanese society
• Hizbollah claims of “victory” against Israel are a hollow attempt to cloak itself in glory (Briefing 182)
• Hizbollah has achieved little but destruction and chaos for Lebanon – its short-term “popularity” is transient, and hyped by the Western media (see Briefing 182)
For more see: Briefings 179, 180, 181, 182, and 183
6. “ Israel and the Palestinians are involved in a tit-for-tat cycle of violence”
• For Israel , its use of force is a last resort – a means to defend its citizens when all other options have been exhausted.
• For the Palestinian terrorist groups, terror is a strategy of first resort.
• The Palestinian groups aim to maximise Israeli casualties (see for example Briefings 3, 11 ,68 , 160 and 169); Israel seeks to minimise Palestinian casualties (see Briefings 7 and 175).
• Israel did not initiate the violence in 2000, and has repeatedly appealed to the Palestinians to halt the violence, so that diplomacy can resume.
• Israel 's tangible steps to meet legitimate Palestinian needs have frequently been frustrated by Palestinian terror (for illustrations see Briefings 49 and 176 ). This is not a “cycle of violence” but a pattern of Palestinian sabotage.
• Palestinian society has embraced a culture glorifying terror and honouring suicide bombings (see Briefings 27 ,41, 104, 150 and 166). There is no equivalent to this in Israel .
Summary: There is no moral equivalence between Israel 's use of force on the one hand, and the terror carried out by the Palestinian groups. The acts of each side are not in any sense “tit-for-tat” actions. The motivations are different, the underlying culture is different, the methods used are different, and the political attitudes are different.
For more see: Beyond Images Briefings 7,11, 14, 41 and 64
7. “The Palestinian intifada is an uprising against Israel's occupation of their land ”Response:
• Israel was winding down the occupation when the Palestinian intifada started (see Briefing 15).
• Israel withdrew from main Palestinian population centres such as Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin between 1995 and 1997, years before the intifada began.
• In 2000 the Palestinians rejected Israel 's offer to end the occupation virtually completely (for more see Briefing 21).
• The current Palestinian leadership does not claim that ending the West Bank occupation is the limit of their ambition. Hamas and the other rejectionist groups challenge the legitimacy of Israel , claim sole sovereignty over Jerusalem , and they and the Palestinian Authority continue to demand an unconditional ‘right of return' into Israel for refugees (see Briefing 165 and 166 ).
• None of these claims would be satisfied by Israel 's complete withdrawal from the West Bank .
• Israel's complete withdrawel from Gaza in 2005 has led not to peaceful state-building, but to rocket attacks and a Palestinian military build-up. (see Briefings 150. 171 and 176)
Summary: Israel does not want to dominate the lives of the Palestinians. But its steps to end the 'occupation' have resulted in the escalation
of violence, not the opposite.
8. “Many more Palestinians than Israelis have died – the casualty figures show that Israel is the aggressor and in the wrong….”Response:
• Most Palestinian casualties have been young men who have been involved in violent attacks against Israelis at the time they died.
• Most Israeli casualties are civilian men, women, children, teenagers and the elderly going about their daily lives who are deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorist groups
• Most Palestinian attacks against Israel are foiled or fail (see for example the Pi Glilot attack (Briefing 4) and Mega-Terror (Briefing 3). If such attacks had succeeded, the Israeli casualty figure would be much higher than the Palestinian casualty figure.
• Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza have struck Israeli energy facilities (see Briefing 171)
• The intention behind Palestinian attacks is to maximise Israeli civilian casualties; the intention behind Israeli operations is to minimise Palestinian civilian casualties.
• The method of operation of the Palestinian groups exploits Palestinian civilians, uses them as “cover” to avoid Israeli retaliation, but makes it inevitable that they will suffer greatly.
Summary: The high Palestinian casualty figure is the tragic result of Israel being forced to respond to the intense wave of terrorism originating from the Palestinian areas, and the disregard for human life which the terrorists demonstrate.
9. “ Israel denies the Palestinians statehood and national rights”Response:
• Over the last 50 years, the Arabs and Palestinians have rejected several opportunities to progress towards Palestinian statehood (see Briefing 45 which describes these rejected opportunities).
• In 1947 the future leaders of Israel agreed to the UN partition plan creating a Palestinian state. That state did not come into being because Arab leaders refused to agree to the other part of the partition plan – the creation of a Jewish state.
• Israel has repeatedly declared that it wishes to achieve long-term peace which recognises the legitimate rights of the Palestinians (see Briefing 32).
• Mr Arafat was offered self-determination 2000-1, but rejected it. The Palestinians opposed the creation of a West Bank state then, not Israel (see Briefing 21).
• The Palestinians continue to demand their rights not side-by-side with Israel but at the expense of Israel (see Briefing 6, Briefing 39 , 74, 165 and 177).
• Summary: It is not Israel which denies Palestinian national rights, but the Palestinians who deny Israeli national rights.
10. “If only Israel would end the occupation there would be peace…”Response:
• Arab hostility to Israel , wars against the country and Palestinian terror each predate Israel 's control over the territories.
• The Hamas-dominated Palestinian leadership does not accept a two-state solution and peace with Israel within the pre-1967 borders (see Briefing 6 , 154, 165, 166 and 177 ). To them Israel 's “occupation” includes Tel Aviv and Haifa .
• The Palestinian demand for a right of return into Israel would not be fulfilled by Israel 's withdrawal to the pre-1967 ceasefire line (see Briefing 34 and 142).
Summary: The future of the territories and the settlements can only be finally resolved if the Palestinians accept Israel's legitimate rights. The Palestinian culture of terror and of rejectionism is the main obstacle to winding down the occupation.
For more: see Briefing 17
11. “ Hamas were democratically elected by the Palestinians, and Israel should stop trying to isolate them…. ”Response:
Hamas rejection of Israel is not rhetoric but core ideology
• Hamas rejects Israel 's right to exist - this is not rhetoric, but core ideology. Their leaders repeatedly restate this position, and their refusal to change. See Briefings 154, 165 and 166.
• This alone makes it impossible for Israel to deal with them directly, and transfer funds to a Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority
• The US and the EU have each suspended funding to the Palestinian Authority, while maintaining support for Palestinian humanitarian relief.
• The Palestinian Prisoners' Letter of Summer 2006 does not “implicitly recognise” Israel . In fact it reiterates rejectionist Hamas positions (see Briefing 177)
Hamas has a long record of terrorist violence and they demand the right to conduct future terrorism
• Hamas has a long record of violence against Israeli civilians: over 50 suicide bombings in the last ten years (see Briefing 169) and a total of over 500 civilian victims of these bombings, as well as drive-by shootings and other attacks. The current leaders of Hamas supported and in many cases inspired and planned those killings.
• Hamas permit Islamic Jihad and other groups to continue attacks despite the so-called ‘lull' in Hamas violence. And there are plenty of foiled attacks from all Palestinian groups – including Hamas itself.
• The Hamas ‘military wing' kidnapped Israeli corporate Gilad Shalit in June 2006, and triggered another crisis in Gaza
• The Hamas ‘calm' is a tactical ploy, designed to enable Hamas to increase its power in Palestinian society.
Democracy brings responsibilities as well as rights
• Hamas were democratically elected. Israel is not ignoring that fact by refusing to negotiate with the elected leaders, but respecting the fact that Hamas were elected
• The Palestinians cannot demand statehood, international recognition, and large amounts of foreign aid from the West, while avoid taking responsibility when their leaders call for the destruction of a sovereign country, and member of the United Nations
Soundbite: Hamas are trying to act in a tactically pragmatic way. But they are strategically fanatical and extreme
Soundbite: Israel is reluctantly forced into conflict, but its goal is long-term coexistence. Hamas is trying to give an impression of ‘calm', but its goal is long-term conflict.
Soundbite: It is not Israel which is avoiding coming to terms with the consequences of Palestinian election results, but the Palestinian people
Further Beyond Images resources: Briefings 74, 88, 154, 165, 166, 169 and 177.
12. “The solution to the conflict is the creation of a single, ‘binational' state where the Jews and Palestinians can live together in peace.”Responses:
• The Jews created Israel to be a Jewish state, giving democratic rights to all citizens, Jewish or non-Jewish (see Beyond Images Briefing 1 –
Israel and the Jews).
• The Palestinians demand a Palestinian state in which the Palestinian people can achieve self-determination.
• The concept of a bi-national state would annul the idea of a Jewish state or a Palestinian state. It would put in its place the concept of a state with equal rights for Jews and for Palestinians. This would defeat the goals of both national movements, and completely undermine the rationale for Israel and for a future State of Palestine.
• The call for a binational state is also driven by a mistaken reading of the situation on the ground, namely that a “two-state solution” is already no longer possible. The majority of experts in Israel disagree with this, though there is a limited amount of time within which such a solution can be practically achieved.
• It is also driven by a supposedly 'liberal' approach to resolving the conflict. In fact the binational state formula is discriminatory and intolerant (see Briefing 158 and 167)
• Jewish and Moslem national life cannot simply be merged together into one: there is no precedent for this anywhere in the Moslem world, or in Islamic history.
Summary: The call for a “binational state” is a defeatist formula which presents itself as a forward-thinking and liberal idea. It should not be used as a distraction from the difficult challenges of negotiating a viable two-state solution.
13. “Palestinians have been forced to use violence to make Israel compromise”• Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade are driven by an ideology of rejection (see Briefings 6 and 74). They don't claim that their violence is to “make Israel compromise”, but to bring Israel to an end.
• Their acts of violence have repeatedly sabotaged Israeli compromise moves.
For more: see Briefing 49, 142, 150, 165, 166 and 176
14. “Palestinian terrorism is regrettable but the legitimate resistance of a desperate people with their backs against the wall”Response:
• The terrorism is ultimately driven not by grievance but ideological fanaticism. The grievance is not with what Israel does, but the fact that Israel exists at all.
• Terrorism against innocent civilians can never be justified or explained away, no matter how severe the grievance. Atrocities against civilians is not a legitimate expression of a sense of injustice.
• Otherwise, every group with a grievance could use mass suicide bombings as a justifiable response – which thankfully they do not do (See Briefing 41 by Professor Shlomo Avineri).
• Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have each described deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians as “war crimes”.
• Where is the Palestinian non-violent protest movement? In many parts of the world, it is non-violence which has achieved the most radical change in recent decades. And with the Palestinians they of course also have the diplomatic route, which the Israelis are constantly offering them, provided the violence can be curbed (see Briefing 133, 161 and 170).
• Summary: Palestinian violence is not a response to their having their “backs against the wall” but the reason why their “backs are against the wall”. It is the primary cause of the grim condition of Palestinian society
15. “The suicide bombers are driven by despair”Response:
• The motives and ideology of Islamic Jihad and Hamas are not based on despair, but on calculated rejection of Israel . Their attacks on Israel are intended to escalate the conflict, even if it means that Palestinian despair intensify.
• The carrying out of suicide bombing requires careful planning, recruitment, indoctrination, training, logistical support and targetting (see Briefing 27). These can't be carried out merely on impulse by “desperate” individuals.
• Many suicide bombers have been educated, relatively wealthy Palestinians. Their motivation is not so much desperation as a religious ideology of ‘martyrdom' that has embedded itself in Palestinian society (see Briefing 104 and 108)
Summary: The suicide bombing and other terrorism is the result not of despair but of the manipulation of despair by fanatics pursuing extreme political ends. To claim that “desperation” is the cause of the suicide bombings ignores the stated goals and method of operation of the groups which plan them.
For more: on desperation and suicide bombers see Briefing 27; for the reaction of an outraged Israeli dove and medic, see Briefing 54.
16. “The Palestinians want to make progress towards a solution”The Palestinian people are being let down by their Hamas-dominated leadership, and by a culture of “victimhood” in which everyone is blamed for the Palestinians' plight apart from their own leaders. Palestinian leaders and spokespeople:-
• demonise and vilify Israel at every opportunity in every international forum
• spread wild exaggerations and downright lies about Israel in the media
• incite hatred towards Israelis
• cultivate honour and respect for ‘martyrdom operations' – ie suicide bombers
• always blame Israel for over-reacting while justifying or excusing Palestinian excesses
• never speak up for the right of the Jews to live in their homeland
• deny Jewish history and the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel
• constantly complain that Israel is not fulfilling its international obligations, while avoiding the question of whether the Palestinians
comply with theirs'
• find every excuse for not tackling the sources of terrorism in Palestinian society
and, above all, do nothing to prepare the Palestinian people for peace and coexistence with Israel in an atmosphere of mutual respect and recognition.
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (founder and religious mentor of Hamas): “The Jews could set up a state in Europe ….” (December 2003 – see Briefing 74)
Yasser Arafat (former Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, and of Fatah): “Suicide bombers improve the land with their blood….” (see Briefing 70).
Summary: Ordinary Palestinian people may desire a peaceful life: but the ideology and methods of their leaders are obstacles to progress.
17. “ Israel 's security fence is wrong and discriminatory, and disrupts Palestinian daily life”• The fence is a last-resort measure which Israel has reluctantly been forced to build to protect its citizens against the sustained Palestinian terror.
• If the terror stopped, support in Israel for the fence would quickly reduce (see Briefing 123).
• Palestinian humanitarian concerns are taken into account in the building of the fence, and it has been rerouted many times (see Briefing 138 and 156).
• The fence around Jerusalem has been bought about by an intensive suicide bombing wave in the capital (see Briefing 160).
• Israel has replanted 68,000 fruit and olive trees uprooted because of the fence, in locations chosen by Palestinian farmers (see Briefing
• The fence has no ideological or territorial rationale. The governing Kadima party wishes to withdraw from territory, not annex it (see Briefing 161).
• Many Israeli Jews are outside the fence, and the fence protects Arabs in Israel . The fence has nothing to do with racial discrimination or apartheid.
• Victims of terror attacks have included citizens of 19 other countries who were residing in Israel (see Briefing 79).
• As part of a peace agreement, the fence could be dismantled.
For more: on the Security Fence in-depth see Beyond Images Briefings 73 and 76; see also Briefing 5.
18. “ Israel 's plan to define its ‘final borders' is a recipe for war, and a land-grab…..”Response:
• Israel entered the West Bank in 1967 in response to Arab attack (see Briefing 103)
• Since 1967 Israel has declared its wish to negotiate the final status of the West Bank territories, with its neighbours
• The Israeli people wish to withdraw from West Bank territory, avoid involvement in the lives of the Palestinians and coexist side-by-side with them.
• This was a clear outcome of the 2006 Israeli General Election
• Ironically, at precisely this moment the Palestinians have elected Hamas leaders, whose platform calls for the destruction of Israel .
• Accordingly Israel 's leaders and the majority of its people reached the conclusion that the country had no partner with whom to negotiate a new arrangement.
• The Palestinian leadership refuse to recognise Israel , and renounce terrorism
• Israel was forced to prepare what it calls a territorial “consolidation” unilaterally – even though it realised this was not the preferred formula, and will be perceived as “controversial”. (see Briefing 170).
• This is what Israel meant by “defining its final borders”
• Israel is not obliged to withdraw from the entire West Bank – historically, morally, or under international law. Its plan to create “final borders” is consistent with its international obligations.
• As part of its plan, the Kadima party of Ehud Olmert (founded by Ariel Sharon) announced that it wished to retain three major Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank (in which live about 150,000 people). This would involve retaining 8-10% of the territory of the West Bank
• Israel would evacuate other Jewish settlements in the West Bank – currently housing about 80,000 Israelis
• The 2006 war with Hizbollah was launched by Hizbollah from territory from which Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2000
• The continued attacks on Israel by Gaza Palestinians emanate from territory from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005
• As a result of this, the Israeli Government's plan for unilateral withdrawal from large parts of the West Bank , and for the “creation of its final borders”, have been suspended
• Israel 's citizens are too distrustful of their neighbours to risk being attacked from further territory from which they unilaterally withdraw
Soundbite: The Palestinians and Hizbollah have sabotaged Israeli plans to withdraw from further territory.
Soundbite: Israel 's government and society wishes to reduce its West Bank presence; but Palestinian policy has the effect of perpetuating it.
And see: Beyond Images Briefing 170.
19. “Israeli academics should be boycotted until it changes its policies”• The call for an academic boycott arises from a one-sided view of the conflict.
• Israel 's academic community is independent of the Israeli government, and very diverse. They should not be isolated.
• The boycott abuses academic freedom.
• Israeli academics are at the forefront of many humanitarian projects (see for instance Making The World A Better Place), and these would be stifled by a boycott.
• The boycott idea pushes Israeli public opinion to the right.
• The proper target for protest should be Arab universities not Israeli ones.
• Israeli university students have been blown up including at the Hebrew University cafeteria, and on a bus to Haifa University (see Briefing 57). Jewish students on campuses outside Israel have been physically attacked. Such attacks should be the focus of concern.
Summary: The world of academia offers opportunities to break down barriers, and to educate towards peace and coexistence. Academia should not be used as a forum for demonising Israel and for creating obstacles to dialogue.
For more see : Beyond Images Briefing 30 , 140 and 141
20. “ Israel has brought Palestinian society to its knees economically”Response
• Israel has a vested interest in a stable and prosperous Palestinian society
• During the Oslo era Israel supported investment in the Palestinian areas, and encouraged international financial support from other
countries for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza .
• Palestinian terrorism is the root cause of the Palestinians' economic woes. It has brought about the slowdown in inward investment, and caused a massive increase in unemployment in the territories. Thousands of Palestinians who previously worked in Israel have been unable to retain their work.
• Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat presided over massive corruption (see Briefing 115).
• Israel has a vested interest in seeing Gaza becoming stable and prosperous.
• In conditions of peace and stability Israel would wish to share its technological expertise and would have every reason to do so with the Palestinian people.
21. “ Israel 's settlements block peace”Response:
• The conflict started 100 years ago, before Israel occupied the West Bank or built any settlements
• On several occasions Israel has offered to freeze settlements.
• In 2005, Israel destroyed all its settlements in the Gaza Strip, but this did not end the Palestinian violence (see Brieifing 153).
• At Camp David in 2000 Israel proposed withdrawal of most West Bank settlements as part of a peace deal. This was rejected by the Palestinians.
• Between 1993-2000 (according to a comprehensive recent study by left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz), Israel only built one new permanent settlement.
• The increase in settler population in the last ten years has been due to the expansion of population in existing settlements.
• Despite the absence of diplomatic progress, Israel has on several occasions removed unauthorised settlements unilaterally, although this was strongly opposed by the settlers' representatives.
• The Jewish connection with Hebron is even older than the Jewish connection with Jerusalem , and goes back over 3,500 years. The Jewish community of Hebron were massacred by Arabs in 1929. Any peace agreement must recognise the depth of the Jewish religious connection to Hebron .
• To the rejectionist Palestinian groups, Tel-Aviv and Haifa are settlements – part of the “Zionist occupation”. They are not demanding the removal of post-1967 settlements, but all Jewish national presence.
• It is this attitude, not the Jewish settlements, which is the real “block” to peace.
For more see: Briefing 25 ‘Why settlements: Israeli Arguments For and Against'
22. “The Palestinians are in the right and Israel is in the wrong. This is a struggle for Palestinian human rights”• The Israelis and Palestinians each have legitimate rights – it is a question of achieving a solution under which these rights can coexist side by side.
• The stated goal of Hamas is not justice for the Palestinians but elimination of Israel. That attitude makes peace and a two-state solution impossible to achieve.
• Of course Israeli security measures diminish individual human freedoms on a day-to-day basis, but the underlying cause of this is the Palestinian rejectionism and terror which prompted Israel 's measures in the first place.
• The Palestinians do not have a monopoly on concern over human rights.
• The right of the Jewish people to live in peace in Israel free from the constant threat of being killed is also a human right, and is being violated daily by the Palestinians.
• The Israeli people have suffered a massive injustice and denial of human rights since independence: having been deprived of a homeland for thousands of years, the Jews now find themselves at war, suffering unending violence, carried out by a Palestinian people who have repeatedly rejected the opportunity to attain what they claim to seek (see Briefing 45).
• Summary: Israel is forced to take security measures which diminish Palestinian human rights. But Palestinian violence and rejection destroy Israel human rights.
23. “ Hamas rejection of Israel is only rhetoric….”• Hamas policy is enshrined in the Hamas Charter (see Briefing 165). It refused to revoke it
• Hamas has presided over a huge weapons build-up in Gaza since 2005, culminating in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006. This is not rhetoric
• Hamas statements rejecting Israel are reflected in its policies and deeds on the ground. Those deeds reinforce the Hamas Charter, rather than contradicting it
• Hamas has carried out a 12 year suicide bombing campaign against civilians throughout Israel . Over 400 people have been murdered. This campaign is not rhetoric (see Briefing 169)
• Hamas promotes “martyrdom”, and an ideology which rejects Israel , from mosque sermons to lessons and summer camps for Palestinian schoolchildren. This is not rhetoric
• The “political wing” of Hamas gives freedom of operation to Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsas Martyrs Brigade and other Palestinian groups which aim to destroy Israel . This policy is not rhetoric
• Hamas leader Khaled Mashal proudly aligns himself with the current Iranian leadership which also calls for the destruction of Israel
For more see: All Briefings on Hamas
24. “The Palestinians are entitled to have a ‘right to return' to their original homes”Response:
• Arab rejectionism, not Israeli aggression, caused the war in 1948 which led to the refugee problem
• The policies of the Arab states have magnified the refugee problem for over 50 years.
• Israel is under no legal obligation under UN Resolution 194 to grant a general “right of return” to the Palestinians.
• The right of return would risk destroying the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
• The right of return undermines the principle of a two-state solution.
• The Jews expelled from Arab countries after 1948 have never been compensated but have resettled and built new lives. The Palestinians should rebuild rather than recriminate about the past.
Summary: presented as a formula for achieving “absolute justice” the Palestinian right of return is in fact a formula for absolute stalemate, and guarantees perpetual conflict.
For more : see Briefing 34 and 142
25. “ Israel is an apartheid, racist state”• The concept of Israel as a Jewish state is legitimate and no different from any other country wishing to define its national existence.
• Israel is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society, in which the Arabs have full democratic rights and are represented in Israel 's Parliament.
• Arab claims have been vigorously upheld in the Israeli Courts (for a dramatic example see Briefing 53).
• Israel 's Law of Return is a legitimate immigration law, which the Palestinians would one day seek to emulate if and when they attain statehood of their own (see Briefing 2).
• Arabs in Israeli society have opportunities in all spheres of life – education, healthcare, government and public service, sports, media and entertainment.
For more see: Briefings 82, 109, 136 and 172
26. “ Israel never offered the Palestinians a viable state at Camp David – this is Israeli propaganda”• Israel offered the Palestinians a viable state at Camp David and in the negotiations leading to the Taba summit in 2001.
• The pragmatic redivision of Jerusalem was also tabled at the initiative of the USA .
• The Palestinians rejected the opportunities of the Camp David-Taba process because it would have meant surrendering the unconditional right of return, which they were not prepared to do. And it would have meant making an “end-of-conflict” statement which Mr Arafat was also unwilling to do.
• Since the end of the talks, the Palestinians have downplayed what they were offered, and sought to place the blame on Israel for the failure of diplomacy. But this is a way of diverting attention from their own historic errors.
• Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who took part in the negotiations, stated in February 2001 that Israel had offered the Palestinians 97% of West Bank territory, and territorial “contiguity” (ie not just disconnected chunks of land).
For more see: See “ Camp David and Taba – What Did Israel Offer?” - Beyond Images Briefing 21
27. “The Arab world offered Israel peace via the Saudi peace initiative in 2002, which Israel rejected. This proves that Israel is not interested in peace”• In March 2002 the Saudis proposed that the Arab world recognise Israel , and that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 borders in return.
• The proposal was formulated vaguely, and publicised in part by an American journalist. Many commentators at the time suggested that Saudi Arabia 's motivation was to improve relations with the USA after the September 11 attacks six months earlier in which Saudi nationals had been heavily involved.
• The Saudi peace initiative had at least two fatal flaws:-
• It did not demand an end to Palestinian violence and indeed was proposed during the most violent month of the intifada, March 2002
• It did not require the Palestinians to surrender their claimed ‘right of return' into Israel .
• It is meaningless to talk about Arab “recognition” of Israel if terror continues, and if the Arabs maintain their demand that all refugees can relocate as of right into pre-1967 Israel .
• Israel 's rejection of the Saudi proposals of 2002 does not indicate Israel is “not interested in peace”. But it shows that peace cannot be achieved without an end to terror, and without the Palestinians conceding ground on the ‘right of return'.
• The Saudis refused to address either issue.
28. “ Israel deliberately targets Palestinian civilians”• Israel flatly denies that it deliberately targets Palestinian civilians.
• Its soldiers operate under strict rules of engagement which prohibit this (see Briefing 92 and 98).
• There have been many Palestinian civilian casualties, but these are the tragic side-effect of the war of terror perpetuated by the Palestinian groups.
• In the 2006 war against Hebollah, Hezbollah fired rockets intensively at Israel, while hiding behind Lebanese civilians. Israel did not wish to harm civilians in the course of its fighting against Hezbollah (see Briefings 179, 180 and 181).
• On occasions, Israel has held back from military operations, even when it knew that massive attacks were being planned on its own territory, because of its concern not to harm Palestinian non-combatants (for an example read about the delays in the airstrike on Hamas leader Saleh Shehadeh – see Briefing 9).
• Israel is in an impossible dilemma in trying to combat terrorism of a sort no other society has ever had to combat, while maintaining its respect for human life.
• Specific allegations of attacks are investigated. Israel is an open society where the army is publicly accountable for its actions, and subject to critical scrutiny from the press and politicians.
• It is this system of accountability which helps to ensure that its rules of engagement are not just theory, but adhered to in practice.
For more: see Beyond Images Briefing 7 , 11 and 175
29. “Jews from all over the world can move to Israel . Palestinians are barred from the country. This is racism”.• Israel has its basic immigration law – the Law of Return. This law gives Jews the right to become citizens of the Jewish state, no matter where they currently live. This is no different in principle from the citizenship rules of any other country.
• To have such a law is not racist. Indeed, it has enabled Israel to offer refuge to millions of Jews fleeing racial persecution in Europe , the Arab world, and elsewhere.
• The reason why Palestinians cannot migrate to the territory over which they want to have self-rule is that the Arab-Israeli conflict has not been resolved.
• Under a “two-state solution”, Palestinians would inevitably have their own right to take up residence in the State of Palestine.
• To achieve this, they would need the Palestinian equivalent of Israel 's law of return. No-one would think to call such a law discriminatory for giving priority rights of residence to Palestinians from outside the territory of the State of Palestine.
• It is counter-productive for Israel 's critics to condemn Israel 's immigration laws when one day the Palestinians will need to emulate them.
For more: see ‘The Law of Return: Fulfilling A Humanitarian Mission' Briefing 2.
30.“ Spielberg's ‘ Munich ' shows how Israel took revenge for the Munich Olympic massacre, and how violence achieves nothing…..”• The makers of Munich admit that the film is not true. Screenwriter Tony Kushner has called it “historical fiction”. Steven Spielberg's spokesman has commented that the film “takes a degree of cinematic licence”
• The film's main source of information is a 1984 book by George Jonas called ‘Vengeance'. That book was based on testimony by a supposed former Mossad agent, called Yuval Aviv. The Jonas book has been discredited by scholars, and Aviv has been condemned as a phoney, who “never set foot in the Mossad”
• Everyone involved on Israel 's part confirms that Israel was not motivated by a desire for “revenge”. Rather, Israel 's goal was to prevent future atrocities by Palestinian Black September, the group which was responsible for the massacre of Israeli sportsmen at Munich
• Following Israel 's strikes against Black September and related Palestinian groups in 1973-4, Palestinian terror in Europe declined
For more see: Briefing 168
31. “UN Resolution 242 requires Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank immediately”• Israel entered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and reconquered East Jerusalem in a war of self-defence (see Briefing 103).
• UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 obliges Israel to withdraw from territories seized in the 1967 war but within the context of a negotiated peace agreement with the Arabs and the Palestinians.
• It does not oblige Israel to withdraw from the West Bank unilaterally, and in a vacuum, without an agreement in place.
• Furthermore, the Resolution applies to “territories”, not “all” the territories. Even in the context of negotiations, Israel is not obliged to withdraw from "all" the territories captured in 1967. This choice of language was deliberate.
• UN Resolution 242 places obligations on the Arab states to recognise Israel , and commit themselves to live in peace with Israel .
• Israel 's peace agreements since 1967 fulfil the letter and spirit of UN Resolution 242 – the peace treaty with Egypt involving Israel 's withdrawal from Sinai, and the peace with Jordan .
• Israel 's proposals and positions in the Oslo process fulfilled its part of UN Resolution 242, as does Israel 's commitment to the Road Map.
• Palestinian pursuit of an unconditional right of return into Israel is completely inconsistent with UN Resolution 242.
• The major block to implementation of UN Resolution 242 remains Arab rejectionism and violence.
32. “ Israel is a ‘root cause' of Muslim hatred of the West….”• Israel is an object of hatred, state-sponsored incitement and demonisation in virtually the entire Arab and Muslim world
• It is viewed as a foreign colonial implant, with conspiratorial designs to dominate the region, and without any humane, redeeming features.
• Israel is portrayed in demonic terms on Al Jazeera, and on cable and satellite TV throughout the Islamic world. It is never portrayed as democratic or having any redeeming features
• No Arab viewer would ever know that Israel Arabs have democratic rights, that Palestinians are treated in Israeli hospitals, or that Israeli leaders repeatedly offer the Palestinians opportunities for statehood and coexistence
• Thus, it is not Israel , but the deep-rooted misrepresentation of Israel , which causes hatred of Israel and, by extension, the West
• Hatred of Israel distracts attention from problems within Arab societies, and helps Arab leaders to avoid calls for greater democracy, human rights, equality for women, due process of law, an end to corruption, economic reform, freedom of speech and other much needed developments
• Israeli policy is to seek to work with Palestinian and Arab leaders who renounce violence and recognise Israel , to build Palestinian statehood.
• Blind hatred of Israel hinders this process, rather than helping it, and therefore harms the legitimate rights of Palestinians
• Israel is a world leader in many areas of science, medicine and agricultural and environmental technology. It is also a melting pot of ethnic groups from Europe, the Middle East and Africa
• In conditions of peace, Israel could serve as a unique cultural and technological bridge between the West and the Muslim world.
Soundbite: It is not the reality of Israel , but the demonisation of Israel , which is a root cause of Muslim hatred of the West
Soundbite: Hatred of Israel is a product of Arab political culture, not a product of Israel 's actions
For more see: Beyond Images Briefings 64 and 145
33. “ Israel kills international peace activists who come to support the Palestinians”• Thousands of Israelis and non-Israelis demonstrate inside Israel for their particular peace proposals , without fear and free of intimidation
• International 'peace activists' from the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) have placed themselves in the middle of what the Palestinians admit is effectively a war zone, ignoring appeals by Israeli authorities for them not to enter for their own protection.
• The Israeli authorities have investigated the deaths of ISM members and these have been found to be non-deliberate. These deaths are tragic side-effects of heavily armed conflict in a war zone.
• In the case of British ISM member Tom Hurndall, who died in January 2004 nine months after being shot, an Israeli soldier was convicted of killing him and imprisoned. This is consistent with the Israeli position that if any civilian is found to have been deliberately killed, this would require criminal prosecution of those responsible.
• The best way for third parties to protect Palestinian women and children in the territories is to call upon the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders to stop the terrorism.
34. “ Israel disrupts Palestinian higher education and universities”• Thousands of Arabs study freely and productively in Israeli higher educational establishments, such as Haifa's Technion, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Ariel College.
• Palestinian universities have grown dramatically in size and numbers since 1967, but several have become conspicuous hotbeds for anti-Israel incitement, and have hosted graphic demonstrations in support of terrorism.
• For instance, the temporary erection of a bombed life size model of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizza house (19 Israelis killed) in the middle of one of the universities in 2002, was hardly likely to prompt Israeli moderation.
• Israel 's temporary closures of these institutions is a last-resort response to this anti-Israel agitation.
• With an end to terrorism, Palestinian academic life could flourish further, and academic bridges could again be built.
35. “ Israel cruelly destroys Palestinian farmers' olive trees and livelihoods”• Many attacks on Israeli armed forces and civilians have been launched from under the cover of olive groves. In certain situations the army has felt compelled to remove, or reduce the size of, those holdings (for more see Briefing 64 – section on Olive Groves).
• Israel has uprooted thousands of Palestinian-owned olive and fruit trees in the course of building the security fence. But the Defence Ministry has ordered that these trees (68,000 so far) should be replanted in locations which the owners have a right to choose, and at Israel 's expense. Building contractors do not get paid until they replant (see Briefing 76).
• It is not only Palestinian livelihoods which have been harmed in the recent years. Thousands of Israeli livelihoods have been ruined by the terror. This warrants recognition too.
• Hezbullah rocket attacks from Lebanon and Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza have set fire to huge numbers of Israeli crops and resulted in major agricultural loss to Israel.
• Israeli agricultural expertise is world-leading. In conditions of peace, Israel could share this expertise with the Palestinian agricultural community, for the benefit of all.
• In Summer 2005, Israel handed over some of the worlds sophisticated greenhouses in Gaza. The Palestinians destroyed them.
36. “ Israel massacred Palestinians in Jenin in 2002 ”• A small section of the Jenin refugee camp was a nerve centre for extremely fanatical groups, and used as a base to launch suicide attacks against Israelis.
• In the months before Israel moved against the Jenin camp, 23 suicide bombings were carried out from there, and Palestinian leaders promised to carry out more.
• The Palestinian Authority stood by, passively.
• The UN, formally responsible for the camp, also did nothing to curb this activity.
• Israel only moved against the Jenin camp in April 2002 after specific advance warnings, and after first demanding that the Palestinians surrender.
• The Palestinian centre of operations was a heavily fortified cluster of houses – and the Israeli operation was confined to those, and was not against the Jenin refugee camp as a whole (as was conclusively proved by means of aerial photos taken at the time).
• The Palestinian groups booby-trapped dozens of houses, endangering Palestinian civilians. “We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four meters apart throughout the houses – in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas” (Hamas member Omar, quoted in Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram).
• The UN later concluded that the Palestinian military base set up in this densely populated civilian centre was a breach of international humanitarian law.
• Israeli forces moved house-by-house and through walls against heavily armed terrorists in order to minimise innocent Palestinian civilian casualties. They did not bombard from the air.
• Israel lost 23 soldiers in its Jenin operations; the Palestinians lost 52, mainly heavily armed fighters.
• The UN investigation concluded in August 2002 that there had been no “massacre” by Israel in Jenin. Reports at the time which came from Palestinian spokesmen and which were repeated at face value by many media outlets and which suggested there had been a massacre, were shown to be completely false.
For more: see (Briefing 64 and 97)
37. “ Israel violated the sanctity of the Church Of The Nativity in Bethlehem ”• Thousands of Christians freely visit Bethlehem , Nazareth and other holy sites in Israel , each year.
• This contrasts with the situation in many Muslim countries where Christian minorities face serious and routine persecution.
• In their effort to escape approaching Israeli forces, Palestinian gunmen broke into the Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem in April 2002, in flagrant violation of the sanctity of the church. This triggered a 6 week siege.
• The ringleaders were hardened terrorists with proven involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians. Many priests were among those caught up in the siege.
• During the siege, Israel sought to maintain the sanctity of the church, even when fired upon from inside the Church precincts. Israeli offers to bring in food and drink were repeatedly refused by the Palestinians inside.
• Israel negotiated a peaceful end to the siege.
• Christians in Bethlehem are intimidated by Islamic extremists (See Briefing 163)
Summary: It was not Israel which violated the sanctity of the Church during this episode but the Palestinian gunmen. They showed a disregard for Christian rights and sensitivities.
38. “The Jews are taking over Jerusalem and squeezing out the Palestinians”• Jerusalem 's Arab population is increasing numerically more quickly than its Jewish population – hardly a sign of being “squeezed out”.
• Terrorist attacks are targeted at Jerusalem 's Jews by Arabs, not the other way round. Hundreds of Jewish residents of Jerusalem have been murdered in recent years (See Briefings 160).
• Palestinian leaders and intellectuals continue to deny the Jews' religious connection to Jerusalem , despite it being over 3,000 years old (see Briefing 1 – The Unbreakable Bond and Briefing 145).
For more: see Briefing 54.
39. “The USA blindly supports Israel ”• The USA is constantly pressing Israel to adapt its policies.
• Many policies adopted by Israel in favour of Palestinian rights have come about in light of American pressure: Israeli recognition of the Palestinian right of self-determination (going back 15 years); the pragmatic redivision of Jerusalem (an initiative tabled by President Clinton in December 2000); disengagement from Gaza, and frequent rerouting of the security fence.
• For the first 25 years of Israel 's existence, Israel did not critically rely on the USA for military or even diplomatic support.
• US military support for Israel today offsets its support for Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia , and gives Israel the reassurance necessary to make concessions and take long-term risks for peace.
• American policies are not anti-Muslim but have repeatedly backed Muslim causes (see Briefing 20 and 152).
• Arab regimes use Israel , and American support for Israel , as an excuse for domestic political and social oppression and for economic stagnation.
• The focus on hating the US-Israel connection diverts attention from the need for democracy, human rights, higher living standards and other badly needed changes in the Arab world (See Briefing 173).
• America opposes blind anti-Israel bias at the UN, and demands fairness and balance in the treatment of Israel .
• America strongly advocates Palestinian statehood side-by-side with a secure Israel.
Summary: the US and Israel have strong natural affiliations and similarities, but the US does not “blindly” support Israel . Many of Israel 's most significant policy changes have been influenced by American pressure.
Furthermore, it is senseless for the Arab world to vilify Israel as “the 51 st state”: in conditions of peace Israel could serve as a natural and strong bridge between the West and the Muslim world.
For more: see Briefing 20 “ America is anti-Muslim…”
40. “Israeli policies are incompatible with Jewish ideals”• Israel faces the daily challenge of how to combat terrorism the like of which no other country has had to face.
• The right to self-defence is moral, and consistent with Jewish ideals, which do not advocate that Israel should allow its citizens to be murdered.
• Democratic rights of Arabs in Israel are upheld in impressive fashion .
• Suicide bombers (whose missions “fail”) are treated in Israeli hospitals.
• Israeli humanitarian efforts continue despite the conflict, such as the heart treatment provided to over 150 Palestinian Arab children in recent years in the Wolfson Medical Centre, near Tel-Aviv (see Making the World A Better Place ).
• Israel is constantly looking for ways to ease the day-to-day burdens on the Palestinians, for humanitarian reasons (see Briefings 13, 49 and 76).
For more: see Briefing 16 – “Israeli policy is incompatible with Jewish ideals”
41. “Palestinian violence succeeded in forcing Israel to disengage from Gaza….”Response:
- Israel withdrew its army from Gaza in 1994, under the Oslo Agreements. Israeli settlements remained, with vulnerable access routes out of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Authority took over.
- Palestinian violence, corruption and rejectionist ideology since 1994 have wrecked efforts to build viable statehood for the Palestinians.
- Israel's decision to withdraw from Gaza was taken for strategic reasons, not because of the Palestinian violence (see Briefing 127 and 133).
- The Palestinian groups who carry out the violence want to “prove” that it is their attacks which are forcing Israel to withdraw, as the Shiite Hezbollah movement supposedly did with its attacks on the Israelis in Lebanon in the late 1990s.
- The motivation for the Palestinian violence is rooted in internal Palestinian politics, not the day-to-day welfare of the Palestinian people (see Briefing 150).
- Inside Israel, the most common argument against Israeli plans to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza is that the area will become even more of a hotbed of rejectionist fanaticism (see Briefing 153).
- By any rational calculation the Palestinian violence originating from Gaza is completely counterproductive to Palestinian interests.
Briefing 17 – “If only Israel would end the occupation…”
Briefing 91 – “Is this a struggle for freedom?” The murder of Tali Hatuel and her daughters
42. “Israel’s disengagement plan is a betrayal of the Road Map for peace…”Response:
- In 2003 Israel and the Palestinians committed themselves to pursuing the Road Map for peace – a process of negotiation leading to a secure Israel co-existing with a viable Palestinian state.
- The first step in the Road Map was a requirement on the Palestinian leadership to make every effort to halt the Palestinian violence.
- Not only have the Palestinians not fulfilled this commitment, but they have on many occasions stated that they have no intention of doing so.
- Hamas ideology and the Road Map are completely incompatible.
- It is against this background that Israel decided that serious negotiations with the Palestinians under the Road Map framework were currently impossible.
- Instead it formulated Israel’s disengagement plan – a series of unilateral steps to be taken by Israel which do not require negotiations with the Palestinians.
- Israeli spokesmen have stressed that Israel was reluctant to act without a negotiated solution, but was forced to do so.
- Under its disengagement plan, Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005 and dismantled all Israeli settlements in Gaza and the Northern part of the West Bank.
- The measures of disengagement involve significant territorial concessions by Israel. They do not preclude future negotiations towards a two-state negotiation.
See Briefing 127, 133 and 170
43. “Israel is obliged to withdraw from the entire West Bank….”Response:
- The so-called ‘Green Line’ separating pre-1967 Israel from the West Bank is an armistice line, not a permanent border.
- It was created as a ceasefire line following Israel’s war of independence in 1948-9, and neither Israel, the Palestinians nor the Arab world have ever recognised it as being a permanent border.
- Such borders can only be finalised as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.
- The West Bank was acquired by Israel in a war forced upon it by its neighbours (see Briefing 103). UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the war, requires Israel to withdraw from “territory” in exchange for a secure peace – but it does not state “all territory” (that wording was deliberate).
- It is open to Israel to propose absorbing certain West Bank settlements within its borders, while recognising that the Palestinians demand that Israel yield 100% of the West Bank.
- Palestinians may complain, fiercely, of their further “loss of land”. But it can be argued that the Arab states and the Palestinians have brought this on themselves. Israel would probably not be in the West Bank were it not for the Arab refusal for so many years before and after 1967 to accept a Jewish state in any corner of historic Palestine (see Briefing 6).
- Israel is considering a land-swap proposal to “compensate” the Palestinians for their possible “loss” of some West Bank territory to the settlement blocs.
Briefing 82 - Living in Israel or in a Palestinian state….
44. “Israel plans to hold on permanently to large chunks of West Bank territory for settlements….”Response:
- In April 2004 Israel obtained support from the US for its desire to retain 5 major “settlement blocs” in the West Bank – Maale Adumim, the Etzion Bloc, Ariel, Pisgat Ze’ev (outer Jerusalem), and Kiryat Arba (next to Hebron).
- These areas contain the vast majority of Israel’s West Bank settlers by number, but they only cover a small physical area of West Bank territory.
- The area retained by Israel to include these five blocs would be increased further because of the need to protect key roads connecting these areas with pre-1967 Israel. But if the Palestinian violence ceases then the need for this extra layer of protection would cease.
- Israel has dismantled unauthorised West Bank outposts, withdrewn from four settlements in the Northern part of the West Bank. These steps have been taken before negotiations towards a two-state solution begin.
- Israel's government proposes to 'realign' its borders to aborb the settlement blocs. This would involve retaining 8-10% of the territory of the West Bank.
- These Israeli steps are bitterly controversial in Israel. But they hardly indicate a country determined to hold on to “large chunks” of West Bank territory.
- It remains logistically possible for Israel to retain the key settlement blocs, and for the Palestinians to achieve a viable Palestinian state.
45. “Israel has nuclear weapons. So Iran is entitled to have them too….”Response:
- Who threatens to destroy whom?
• Iran and Israel are not in equivalent situations
• Israel does not challenge the right to exist of Iran , or any other country
• By contrast, Iran denies the right to exist of Israel and its leaders openly call for Israel to be “wiped off the map”
• Israel requires nuclear arms as a last-resort deterrent against Iran and others who proclaim their wish to destroy it and who acquire and use either massive conventional armouries or weapons of mass destruction
The ideology of their countries' leaders
• Iran 's leaders make open genocidal statements advocating mass destruction
• Israel 's leaders are silent about their nuclear capability. Leading Israeli advisers speak in cautious and low key terms about it
The position of the international community
• The international community accepts Israel 's nuclear capability as a strategic reality
• Iran 's nuclear ambitions are strongly opposed by the UN Security Council and by almost the entire international community
Nuclear weapons and national prestige
• Iran claims the right to make nuclear weapons as a matter of national prestige and Muslim honour.
• Israel makes no equivalent claim to this
- Israel faces at least five groups of Palestinian terrorists each of which regard Israeli men, women and children as legitimate targets.
- In legal terms these groups are at war with Israel, and Israel has a right to take measures of self-defence against them.
- These groups repeatedly declare their intention to continue attacks against civilians. The burden of proof is not on Israel to prove that their ring-leaders and operations chiefs represent a danger to the country.
- The Israeli intelligence community acquires a large amount of intelligence about Palestinian terrorists. When their location is known, and it is seriously feared that they are planning attacks, it would be negligence on the part of the Israeli government (or for that matter any other national government placed in a similar situation) not to act on that intelligence.
- The Palestinian Authority has done virtually nothing to curb the activities of these groups (See Briefings 14 and 70).
- Rather than targeting them from afar, Israel has often sent elite commando units into West Bank towns and villages to arrest bomb-makers and those who plan the attacks. But incursions are not always possible, because of the serious risk of high civilian casualties in built-up areas.
- Israel also erects checkpoints in order to foil Palestinian attackers (see Briefing 5 and 164) and is now building the security fence (see Briefing 73).
- Waiting to intercept suicide bombers after they have entered Israel is not possible: because at that stage they can inflict immense suffering.
- Against this background, Israel has been left with no choice but to strike at the masterminds, ring-leaders, bomb-makers, and incoming suicide bombers by means of pre-emptive attacks – or “targeted killings”.
- Many of the leaders of Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the PFLP, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Fatah Tanzim have been targeted this way in the last three years – including the former Hamas chief bomb-maker Saleh Shehadeh (see Briefing 9), and Hamas chiefs Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi.
- Israeli and neutral military commentators agree that these targeted killings have driven the terrorist groups’ leadership largely underground, and significantly curbed their ability to maintain attacks against Israeli targets.
- There have been civilian Palestinian casualties in these “targeted killing” operations: but Israel is adamant that it tries to minimise them.
- The Palestinians terrorists who are targeted are ultimately responsible for bringing this suffering on their own civilian population.
- If the Palestinian violence were to stop, Israel would have no reason or basis for targeted attacks.
Briefing 9 – Attacking Hamas’ military mastermind Saleh Shehadeh
47. “Sheikh Yassin was a wheelchair-bound spiritual leader of the Palestinians, and Israel was heartless to target him….”Response:
- Sheikh Yassin was founder and “religious” mentor of Hamas, a group responsible for many acts of mass murder of Israeli civilians (see Briefing 78).
- Israel’s strike against him in March 2004 has to be viewed in the context of the acts and intentions of the movement he led.
- Sheikh Yassin rejected the existence of Israel inside any borders, and regarded a two-state solution as an “interim solution” (see Briefing 74).
- He gave ideological direction and support to suicide bombers, and was ardent in advocating women as suicide bombers too.
- When asked whether there was a place for a Jewish state, he stated that the Jews “could set up a state in Europe” (see Briefing 74).
- Thousands of Israelis have been wounded, and many are now in wheelchairs for life, thanks to suicide bomb and gun attacks inspired by Sheikh Yassin.
- He never articulated a message of peace, coexistence or respect for human dignity: core values for “spiritual leaders”.
Briefing 74: “The Jews could have a state in Europe…”
Briefing 48: Palestinian suicide bombings 1994-2004: don’t let the world forget
Briefing 165: The Hamas Charter: extracts
48. “Israel’s military operation in the Gaza town of Rafah was excessive, pointless and cruel….”Response:
- Israel entered the Palestinian town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in May 2004 to close down Palestinian weapons-smuggling tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
- The rockets, missiles, heavy arms and explosives equipment smuggled into Gaza in the past had fuelled acts of violence against Israeli civilians both in Gaza and against nearby Israeli towns like Sderot.
- Rafah was also the hometown of the murderers of the Hatuel family (see Briefing 91), and the location of extremely brutal attacks on Israeli soldiers (see Briefing 92).
- Since 2002 Israel has experienced hundreds of mortar and Qassam missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip.
- Palestinian missile attacks into Israel are by definition indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
- Although fatalities have been relatively low, these attacks could kill many Israeli civilians. For instance, an anti-tank missile fired in July 2004 landed on a community centre in Neve Dekalim in the Gaza Strip, during a communal gathering. Scores of people narrowly escaped being killed or injured.
- Furthermore, an Israeli Cabinet Minister claimed in May 2004 that the new generation of missiles being smuggled into Gaza could be used to launch ground-to-air attacks on airplanes using Ben-Gurion airport. No government could sit by passively in the face of such a threat.
- The Palestinian Authority did nothing to curb weapons-smuggling into Gaza.
- Egypt proved ineffective at curbing the smuggling of weapons from its territory
- Israel only moved its soldiers into Rafah when all other options to curb the smuggling were exhausted.
- Many Palestinian civilians were killed in the operation, which was controversial inside Israel.
- Palestinians have admitted that the weapons smuggling has been significantly curbed as a result of Israel’s operation (see report by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz, 25 May 2004).
- The Palestinian civilians who died were not deliberately targeted, but killed in the cross-fire, or as a result of being involved in armed attacks against the Israeli forces (Palestinian spokespeople claim that Israeli snipers deliberately targeted civilians).
- At a protest rally of Rafah Palestinians on 19 May a disastrous error by an Israeli tank crew killed many civilians. They believed Israeli soldiers were about to be surrounded by Palestinian demonstrators, but their “warning” shell (targeted at an empty building) detonated next to the crowd. Israel’s Defence Minister and entire senior military leadership apologised.
- In the midst of the Rafah operation, the Israeli High Court issued a legally binding ruling on the obligations of Israel’s army to maintain Palestinian humanitarian rights (see Briefing 98).
Accusation 32, above
Briefing 7: “Israel targets Palestinian civilians”
Briefing 98: The Israeli army and Palestinian civilians: the court clarifies humanitarian rules
Briefing 92: Reducing Palestinian suffering: Israeli soldiers pay the ultimate price
49.“The Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s security fence proves that Israel is acting illegally….””Response:
- Israel never accepted the authority of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It claimed that the request for an Advisory Opinion was a politically motivated act in the first place which was initiated by the UN General Assembly which has a built-in majority hostile to Israel.
- The question on which an Opinion was sought was framed to prevent the ICJ from looking at the reason why Israel was building the fence in the first place – namely terrorism (see Briefings 3, 8, 12 and 78, for instance).
- The Advisory Opinion is legally non-binding.
- The British Judge on the ICJ (see Briefing 101) described the ICJ proceedings as being “hugely unbalanced”.
- She also described the ICJ’s account of the history of the conflict as “neither balanced nor satisfactory”.
- The ICJ held that Israel has no right of self-defence against Palestinian terrorism under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The British judge (and many commentators) have criticised this conclusion as simply wrong.
- If the ICJ’s interpretation of the UN Charter were to be correct, then no countries could lawfully take action against non-state terrorists under Article 51. The world should be very careful before welcoming such a conclusion.
- The ICJ Opinion failed to heed the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court of June 30 2004 that the security fence is a legitimate means of protection against terrorism, but that its route needs to take account of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
Summary: The proceedings before the ICJ were politically motivated. In the eyes of the British judge on the ICJ, its Opinion is seriously flawed in its legal reasoning, fairness and historical grasp. In all the circumstances the ICJ Opinion cannot be taken as “proof” of the legal status of Israel’s security fence.
Briefing 138: The security fence: Israel's justice system upholds Palestinian rights
Briefing 156: The location of the security fence: Palestinian villagers succeed in top Israeli court
Briefing 101 – Israel’s security fence: criticisms of the ICJ by the British Judge
Briefing 99 – How the security fence is bringing security and prosperity to Jenin
Briefing 76 – 68,000 olive and fruit trees replanted by Israel
Briefing 73 – The case for Israel’s security fence
50. “Israel’s punishment of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was excessive, cruel and counter-productive….” .””
- Mordechai Vanunu was a government employee at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor plant, and had agreed in writing to keep his activities strictly confidential.
- His disclosure of detailed information about the Dimona programme to the Sunday Times newspaper in the UK in 1986 was a serious violation of Israeli national security, as well as being a blatant breach of his legal responsibilities.
- His supporters claim that his actions were motivated by opposition to Israeli nuclear weapons. There are campaigning groups in Israel on this topic. His proper course of action was to resign his position and join a campaign.
- His disclosure of secrets of such sensitivity was an act of treason, not so-called “whistleblowing”. The government of any other country would perceive such acts in the same way, and the person revealing them would receive a very severe sentence.
- After 18 years in prison Mordechai Vanunu was freed in 2004, but Israel placed conditions on his release, particularly that he would not talk to foreign media about Israel’s nuclear programme.
- It is not unreasonable to require that a person who has committed treachery should only be released if he agrees not to commit treachery again.
- Since his release Vanunu has been providing information to foreign media from his home in Israel, fulfilling Israel’s fears.
- He has spoken to two British-based papers, and a Saudi Arabian newspaper. Besides providing more information about Israel’s weapons programme he has accused Israel of being behind the assassination of President Kennedy, and claimed that there is no need for a state of Israel to exist (see Jerusalem Post 30 July 2004).
Summary: The world applies a double-standard in its criticism of Israel over Mordechai Vanunu. How would any country treat an individual who so blatantly betrays vital national secrets, and then demonstrates his intention, once free, to continue to do so?