How does this statement make you feel?
I am shocked when people say that they do not recognize Israel, or that it does not have a right to exist. I am literally at a loss for words how this narrative is blatantly followed and comprehended as the only truth.
Please help me understand and maybe together we can make a statement that will at least make people think that what they are saying is misinformation. There is a respected and followed American leader, and what he is saying is just horrifying. While some people stand for equality for all, for some reason they feel that it does not apply to Israel and Jews.
For 24 hours, I’ve been engaging in debates and conversations about Palestine. I’m exhausted by the repetition of the same myths and lies. Here are some of the big ones:
1) “These people have been fighting forever.” – Not only is this historically inaccurate, but it frames the issue as something unsolvable and intractable. It also reinforces ideas of Arabs as barbaric and inherently violence.
2) “This is a religious conflict.” Again, historically inaccurate. Early zionist settlers were mainly secular, as were the Palestinians. Also, Palestinians are not only Muslim. More importantly, by framing the conflict as religious, we are able to see it as an internecine squabble by two equally earnest parties with competing texts or interpretations. This is not about religion. It’s about land theft, expulsion, and ethnic cleansing by foreign settlers to indigenous land.
3) “It’s very complicated.” no it’s not. See last sentence of #2
4) “Palestinians keep turning down fair deals.” That argument presumes that any deal that involves sharing stolen land with the victims of said theft can be fair. But even in relative terms, this is not true. At no point have Palestinians been offered a deal that allow for a true, independent, continuous, fertile, and safe state.
5) “Palestinians don’t want peace.” Again, this argument plays on Orientalist narratives of Palestinians as inherently violent, pre-modern, and irrational. It also castigates Palestinians for resistance to their brutal occupation and repression. Occupied people have a legal and moral right to defend themselves. To ask them not to resist is to ask them to die quietly. Palestinians want peace. But justice is always a precondition of peace.
6) “Israel has a right to exist.” This is a creation of Israel/US propaganda. No COUNTRY has a right to exit, PEOPLE do. To frame the conversation in this way is to strip away the legitimate moral critique of Israel’s origin story. It also reifies the nation-state, erasing its relatively new emergence as a political imaginary. It also limits our ability to imagine the world on different terms, with different political formations, including the reconstitution of historic Palestine as a single democracy for ALL citizens. (That said, every major Palestinian organization has acknowledged Israel’s right to exist. I have yet to hear the Israeli Right argue that Palestine has a right to exist.)
7) “You’re just anti-Semitic.” This is not only a juvenile rejoinder of the “whoever smelt it, dealt it” variety, but also a key Zionist strategy in equating Jewishness with Israeli citizenship. Under this logic, to critique Israel is to critique Jewishness. Such arguments also ignore the fact that the Jewish tradition is one that covets justice and fairness, whose principles are in fundamental opposition with Israeli statecraft.
Maybe I’ll turn this into an article… Hmmmm
Below are two responses which resonate with me,
I would love your thoughts, words, and assistance to answer these misconceptions head on.
Israel – The World’s Mistake
Israel does not have a right to defend itself. It has no right to protect its people. It has no right to freedom and it has no right to peace. It has no right to build houses. It has no right to use its water resources, and it has no right to grow crops. It also has no right to allow Jews to immigrate there. It has no right to take part in international organisations. And it has no right to be a part of the international community.
While you might not hear this from any leader in the west, it’s a sentiment that many feel.
And the reason is simple.
The world believes Israel is a mistake.
Have you ever wondered why Israel gets treated differently to every other country in the world? It’s not double standards by the way – it’s triple standards.
There’s Israel: Everything they do is wrong.
There’s the Arab world: Everything they do is ignored.
There’s the West: Everything they do is right.
But why is that? What is so different about Israel, compared to other countries?
For much of the world, the story goes like this: Israel was created in 1948 as a result of the Holocaust, and by pushing out the indigenous people of the country of palestine. That is what they truly believe and it is the story the palestinian merchants of fiction peddle, even though the Arabs of the time were never known as palestinians.
But if this is so – and the world body believed there was a country already existing there, how did it even get to the point where it was even accepted and voted on by the UN?
The reason can be found in what I can only term, a temporary world-wide sympathy for the Jews and an understanding that they needed a homeland. And even though the British were against it and even though many in the Truman administration rigoursly opposed it, David Ben-Gurion still declared a state anyway.
But other than some words of support, Israel received little else. America imposed an embargo on the region effectively meaning Israel wouldn’t get any weapons to defend itself. Britain, meanwhile, had no such embargo and Jordan’s Arab Legion, trained by the British including British officers, were well armed with the latest weaponary. The Jews meanwhile, were forced to smuggle them in mainly from Czechoslovakia, where many of them were old World War 2 relics.
Israel survived the war, but it didn’t change the underlying reality that the world didn’t want to see a strong Israel, because they didn’t like to see Jews with too much power. Perhaps it’s because they had been the whipping boys for so long that the sudden change in fortunes was a bit too jarring to accept. Along with the Arab fairy tales of how everything was some kind of nirvana before the Jews came long, the attitude of much of the world became sealed.
The false Arab narrative was born. Arabs were living wonderfully and harmoniously in the state of palestine until the evil European Jews, who have no connection to the land, came long to take it away. Jews were only given this land because of the Holocaust, which much of the Arab world denies, including the palestinian dictator Abbas – the one considerated moderate.
So because the world believed this false narrative, the practical effect of this is that Israel can do no right, because it doesn’t deserve to be there anyway. It’s as if a criminal broke into your house and beat up your wife or husband – and you, in turn, defended your family against that criminal by hitting him. No one is going to blame you, right?
And that is how Israel is seen – as that criminal.
Whatever Israel does, it will always be seen as wrong. If they defend themselves, they’ll say: Well, shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
If an Arab deliberately steers his car into innocent bystanders, they’ll say: Well, you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
If they argue against world bias, they’ll say: Well, you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
If they ask the world, why are you only condemning us and no one else, the response will be: Well, you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
If they get condemned for building houses in areas that are Jewish anyway, the response will be: Well, you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Now, they may not say this publically, but it is a thought that occupies their minds and formulates their policy.
Throughout history the world has had a bias against Jews – it’s the reason that Israel, as the national symbol of the Jews, is always treated differently. It’s the reason that somehow countries like Saudi Arabia, which beheads peoples as a matter of routine, and has no human rights to speak of, is treated with respect, while Israel is treated with disdain.
It is the reason that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria without much international interest, but if an Arab gets killed attacking Israeli civilians – as what’s happened in Gaza – there’s an international outcry.
It’s the reason that in the so called peace process – the only country being pressurized to compromise is Israel. Certainly not the palestinians, who celebrate the murder of Jews by handing out sweets in the streets or naming town squares after terrorists, or paying murderers or their families pensions for live.
It’s the reason so many resolutions have been passed that attempt to wipe out Jewish history in Israel, supported by many western democracies.
Yet somehow, the world continues in their ridiculous attempt at trying to apply what they call “moral equivalency”, although I’m still trying to work out how a democracy with equal rights for all, can even be spoken about in the same breath as a racist regime that has kids television shows with cartoon characters preaching death to Jews.
Each time the world succeeds in forcing more concessions out of Israel – concessions that genuinely endanger the country, it is a victory as it somehow goes one step further into reversing what they perceive as their mistake. And that is why, I doubt there will ever be a time where much of the world community will genuinely take Israel’s side in an unequivalent and fair manner. Because ultimately, it doesn’t matter what Israel does, it will always be perceived as wrong.
These are the challenges that Israel faces. It’s not about land, or refugees, or moral equivalency, or proportional response. It is their very legitimacy to even be there in the first place. The palestinians don’t accept it, as does much of the Arab world, or if they do, it is with a forced reluctance, tempered only by American aid.
And as far as the greater world goes, the legitimacy of Israel is something that many are still grappling with – 70 years after the state was formed. The Jewish connection to the land for the last four thousand years is simply ignored.
In international politics, truth seldom plays a role. What formulates policy is not history, or facts, or morality. Instead, it is myth and fairy tales that governs the minds of others.
All we can do is fight the good fight, armed with truth on our side.