Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lies and Truths - part 1

Dror Ben Yemini 28/09/15

There is a difference between a legitimate argument, relevant criticism of Israeli policy, and a monumental campaign of false claims of apartheid, genocide, crimes against humanity, and proclamations that Israel was born in sin because it is a colonialist entity and as such is involved in the serious crime of ethnic cleansing.

The following short answers to the propagandists lies do not attempt to defend this government, or any other government of Israel. They are meant only to refute some of the false claims that are uttered time and again against Israel.

Serious accusations have also been heard from within Israeli’s academia and the Israeli media. Here, too, you can hear the accusation that Israel is an apartheid State. Here, too, there are people who claim that Israel is involved in genocide. Israelis claim that the IDF treats the Palestinians the same way the Nazis treated the Jews. The fact that such claims are heard in Israel does not make them true. It is simply proof that Israel is a vibrant democracy, with freedom of speech that allows for the expression of false accusations.

The problem is that throughout the world such claims gain very serious platforms. “Factual” claims are not examined, even though a simple examination would lead to their dismissal.

The ideas presented here are NOT intended to be a political stance. It is a presentation meant to fight incitement, propaganda and demonization, and facilitate a fair political debate.

These are not all the claims against Israel. There are others. Some are just claims. Not every closing of every store in Hebron is fair. Not every hold-up in every check-point is justifiable. Not every prevention of digging a well is excusable. 

Israeli society, as a democratic society, with a free press and watchdog organizations, analyzes and monitors itself. This is the reason for many changes in the last two decades. Mainly changes for the better. There are fewer check points. There is more self-rule for the Palestinians.

The wish for settlement or agreement is a just wish, even if there is a heated debate in Israel and outside regarding the terms. It is clear, though, that the Boycott Movement does not wish for peace or a settlement. It is a movement that uses arights discoursein order to deny the right of one people to self-determination. It is a movement whose leaders and guides mislead many of its supporters. The leaders oppose peace.

Many of the supporters wish for a just peace settlement, based on two States for two peoples, so the points presented here are not meant to support any one political stance. They are meant to present basic facts. They are intended to refute the propaganda of lies and enable a dialogue that is fair, even if it is critical, which is a fundamental condition to solving the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The Lie: "Zionism is a colonialist movement. You conquered from the Palestinians land that is not yours."

The Truth: Zionism is a national liberation movement, like many others that were established in the 19th and 20th centuries. Zionism did not "conquer." Many Jewish people, who were persecuted, especially in Eastern Europe and the Arab countries, started making their way to Israel. There was no entity called Palestine at that time. It was a piece of land extremely sparsely populated, under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Herzl appealed to the Turkish Sultan and other dignitaries in order to get permission to allocate this part of the land to the Jews. The consent was received only in 1917, with the Balfour Declaration stating “A national home for the Jewish People”, and was confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922. Until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 not one Arab was driven away from his land, and every piece of land that the Jews settled on was purchased and paid for in full.

The Lie: "You drove millions of Palestinians off their land. That is ethnic cleansing."

The Truth: In the first half of the 20th century, there were waves of population exchanges for the purpose of establishing Nation States. About 60 million people were uprooted from the homeland. In 1947 the U.N. declared the establishment of two States between the River Jordan and the sea – a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews accepted the decision. The Arabs rejected it, and declared a war of annihilation.

Many Arabs fled because of the upcoming war, and a few were driven away following the invasion of the Arab state armies into the newly born State. About 711 thousand Arabs became refugees. As a result of that conflict about 850 thousand Jews were forced to leave the Arab countries. Many of them were driven out and their possessions confiscated. Out of tens of millions of refugees in those years, the only ones who remained as refugees are the Palestinians, and that is as a result of a conscious decision of the Arab countries to perpetuate their situation.

The Lie: "Palestinians who live in Israel are second-class citizens."

The Truth: Israeli Arabs are citizens with equal rights. Arabs serve as Members of Parliament, as judges in courts, including the Supreme Court, as professors and doctors. In the past there were incidents of discrimination, and sometimes there still are. But according to any objective measure, the condition of Israeli Arabs is far better than that of Muslim minorities in Europe.

The head of the panel of judges who sent former Israeli president Moshe Katsav to jail, for example, was an Arab judge. The chairman of the Central Election Committee in 2015 Elections was also an Arab. There are numerous examples of the ways in which Israeli Arabs are integrated in the culture, art, economy and academia of Israel.

The Lie: "Israel enforces an apartheid policy in the occupied territories."

The Truth: Israel has completely withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, and most West Bank Arabs live under the Palestinian Authority which covers most aspects of their lives. The Palestinians on the other side of the Green Line are not Israeli citizens, because they aspire for a Palestinian State, and Israel did not annex the West Bank. Over the last few decades, Israel has accepted, time and again, a settlement of two states for two peoples. Arafat rejected Bill Clinton’s proposal, and Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) rejected a similar proposal by Ehud Olmert. On the very day that the Palestinian leadership accepts a two state solution – a peace agreement will be within reach.

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