The Issues - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)See short documented responses to common questions and statements about the Israel/Palestine conflict below. In many cases links are provided to underlying primary sources. While before 1948 both Jewish and Arab citizens of the territory were referred to as "Palestinians", the term "Palestinians" below refers to Arab Palestinians unless otherwise specified. Click on the question to move to the response. To ask a question or leave a comment, please contact DelNATO here.
1. "What is the Israel/Palestine conflict about? What is 'the occupation'?"
2. "SHARED VALUES: We should support Israel because the U.S. and Israel share fundamental values. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East."
3. "SINGLING OUT: Other countries are worse human rights abusers. Aren’t you singling out Israel?"
4. "NO PARTNER FOR PEACE: The Israeli government wants to negotiate but has no partner for peace."
5. "SETTLEMENTS AND OCCUPATION: Israel should be able to keep land conquered in 1967 and build settlements. The Arabs started the war and they lost."
6. "PARTITION: Palestinians would have a state today if they had accepted the UN partition resolution in 1947. The Jews accepted but the Arabs did not."
7. "RECOGNITION: The Palestinians refuse to recognize the state of Israel. How can Israel negotiate with them?"
8. "The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish state'. How can Israel negotiate with them?"
9. "REFUGEES: The refugees are the fault of the five Arab armies that attacked the newborn state of Israel in 1948."
10. "Doesn't the Bible say God will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who don’t?"
11. "The United States was built on stolen land, so how can Americans complain about Israel?"
12. "PEACE OFFERS: Israel made a very generous peace offer at Camp David in 2000, but the Palestinians still refused it."
The six questions below were raised at presentations in 2014, and responses were written by three DelNATO members.
13. "ROCKETS AND GAZA: Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and all it got was rocket attacks. Israel has to bomb Gaza in self-defense."
14. "Why are the Palestinians teaching their children to hate in their textbooks?"
15. "THE WALL: Why are there suicide bombers (Israel needs the Wall)?"
16. "There is no Palestinian leader with whom to negotiate."
17. "Where is the Palestinian peace camp in the U.S.? What Palestinian organization in the U.S. is a leader?"
18. "Why can't the Palestinians accept that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish democratic state?"
The Israel/Palestine conflict is about land and human rights. In 1948, when the state of Israel was created, between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in the land that Israel took for its state, which was about 78% of historical Palestine. The refugees have never been allowed to return or compensated. Many remain stateless and in refugee camps to this day. As of 2014 there are about 5 million UN-registered Palestinian refugees, 1.5 million of whom live in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and occupied Palestine.
In 1967, Israel captured the remaining 22% of historical Palestine (Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem). "The occupation" refers to Israel's military occupation of these territories since 1967. As of 2015, over four million Palestinians live under Israeli martial law on this internationally-recognized Palestinian land. Israel continues to expropriate Palestinians' land and water by force, demolish their homes, and deny them basic human rights. More than 500,000 Jewish Israelis have been transferred by Israel to illegal settlements in occupied territory.
Almost every aspect of Israel's occupation violates the Geneva Conventions. Under Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel's settlements are regarded as war crimes.1. "What is the Israel/Palestine conflict about? What is 'the occupation'?" (long answer)
The Israel/Palestine conflict is about land and human rights. Starting in the early 1880s, millions of Jews left Russia and Eastern Europe to escape persecution and poverty. While almost all came to the United States and Western Europe, some went to Palestine to try to establish a Jewish state. They were part of a small Jewish nationalist movement called "Zionism". Zionists considered several locations, including Argentina and Uganda, but their overwhelming choice was Palestine. At the time, the population of Palestine was only 5% Jewish, and Jews and Arabs lived together in peace. Zionism remained a small movement for years. Over roughly the first four decades from the movement's start in the early 1880s, the Jewish population of Palestine grew by perhaps 60,000, to about 10% of the total Palestinian population. Over the same time, about 2.5 million Russian and Eastern European Jews immigrated to the U.S. Early on in the movement, dominant Zionist leaders stated there was room for only one state in Palestine, a Jewish state, "and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs" (see FAQ 6). Not surprisingly, their publicly-stated intentions and actions caused a conflict between the indigenous Arab Palestinians and new Jewish immigrants.
By 1947, the Jewish population of Palestine had jumped to almost a third of Palestine's total, swelled by Jews fleeing Hitler in the 1930s and others resettling as refugees after World War II. In early 1947, the British gave up trying to facilitate the conflicting goals of their 1922 Mandate and turned the problem over to the UN. According to the Mandate, Britain was to move Palestine from "provisionally independent" to fully independent and at the same time "facilitate" within it "a national home for the Jewish people" without infringing on the rights of the non-Jewish population. On November 29, 1947, the UN voted in a non-binding resolution to partition Palestine into two states. The Jewish state was to be given 55% of the land, although Jews owned less than 7% of Palestine and made up less than one third of the population. Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk later wrote, "the pressure and arm-twisting applied by American and Jewish representatives in capital after capital to get that affirmative vote are hard to describe." (As I Saw It, Norton, NY, 1990, p. 146). A number of UN members voted for the resolution, which many and the U.S. State Department (section 6) believed contravened the principles of the UN Charter, because they felt they had been given only two alternatives: partition, or "utter chaos" with no plan in place when Britain was to pull out in the summer of 1948. The UN resolution stipulated that Arab rights and property were to be protected in the Jewish state, and Jewish rights and property in the Arab state. In the subsequent fighting, but before any Arab armies had entered the conflict, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been forcibly displaced from the land for the Jewish state. By the time the war ended in 1949, the Jewish army had taken 78% of Palestine, including half the land reserved for the Palestinian state. About 750,000 of the 900,000 Palestinians living on this 78% had fled or been driven out. Half the total Palestinian population had become refugees. The Jewish population was less than 700,000.
As of 2014 there are about 5 million UN-registered Palestinian refugees, 1.5 million of whom live in refugee camps, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank. Israel continues to refuse refugees their legal right to return, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13) and other international law; see discussion here.
In 1967, Israel captured and militarily occupied the remaining 22% of Palestine: the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. These are referred to as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or, by the UN after UN recognition in November 2012, occupied Palestine. Almost every aspect of Israel's occupation violates the Geneva Conventions. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli government continues to build illegal settlements in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49, paragraph 6), which prohibits moving the occupier's population into land taken through war. Under Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel's settlements are regarded as "grave breaches" of the Convention and thus war crimes. Palestinians in the occupied territories live under Israeli military control and have virtually no rights, while the Israeli army appropriates their land and water and bulldozes their homes. Illegal settlers burn their fields, attack them, and destroy their springs, all with Israeli army protection (see Life Under Occupation). Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live under blockade, with frequent Israeli army incursions.
Under international law, Israel must return the land it captured in 1967 and reach some equitable settlement with Palestinian refugees. The Israeli government has not complied.
For more information, see the two-page DelNATO
history sheet, the short article “The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Too Complicated for our Beautiful Minds, and the video
"Israel & Palestine: A Very Short Introduction".
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In many ways Israel operates in profound contradiction to American values. Israel is a declared ethnocracy that formally privileges one group of citizens (Jews) over others. U.S. democratic values require equal rights, the same law for all regardless of race or religion, and one person, one vote. While within Israel proper everyone has the right to vote, the Israeli elections commission can bar from running any candidate or party that calls for equal rights for all citizens, because equal rights might negate "the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state" (Basic Law: The Knesset, 7A.(1)). This means that non-Jews can vote, but they can't vote for equal rights for themselves. A 2017 UN-commissioned study on Israeli practices comments: "Voting rights lose their significance in terms of equal rights when a racial group is legally banned from challenging laws that perpetuate inequality ... Israeli law bans organized Palestinian opposition to Jewish domination, rendering it illegal and even seditious." (p. 42/75). Israel's Admissions Committees Law, upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2014, allows legalized discrimination: communities with fewer than 400 families may reject those "who do not suit the lifestyle or social fabric of the community". There are more than 430 Jewish communities where Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens can be legally excluded. The authors of the law "openly declared that, though deliberately written in neutral language, its main aim was to prevent Arabs from living with Jews." Israel proper has a whole set of laws which privilege Jewish citizens over nonJewish citizens (and here).
Outside of Israel proper, in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, the legalized and systematic unequal treatment of Palestinians versus Israeli settlers in illegal settlements has created an apartheid-like situation. (See Stephen Robert, former chairman of Oppenheimer, former chancellor of Brown University, and a founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: “What I witnessed in the West Bank… exceeded my worst expectations. While the world’s statesmen have dithered, Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison… Children are stoned and beaten going to school, and Arab fields are torched when the settlers are angry." See Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.") Israel holds millions of Palestinians under a harsh military occupation that denies them basic human rights, much less the right to vote. Although Israel controls almost every aspect of their lives, Palestinians in occupied territory can't vote in Israeli elections, unlike Jewish settlers living next to them in illegal settlements. Palestinians can’t drive on segregated highways (p. 16, para. 72), can be jailed at will indefinitely and without charge, and have no citizenship rights at all. Their land can be taken from them by force (p. 14, Section 4) with virtually no recourse. In 60% of the West Bank, "Area C" under the Oslo Accords, Palestinians are allowed to build only with permits from the Israeli military, which are almost never granted (p.15, para.70). If they build anyway, a demolition order is issued and their house may be bulldozed with little notice. In 2014 Israel granted 1 Palestinian building permit and carried out 493 demolitions. Two sets of laws are applied in the occupied territory, military law to Palestinians and Israeli civilian law to Jewish settlers in illegal settlements. It should go without saying that apartheid is in gross contradiction to U.S. values.
Unlike Israel, the U.S. does not have laws privileging one ethnic
or religious group over another. It does not hold millions of people under occupation with no civil and political rights and subject to illegal dispossession. It does not routinely deny building permits to one group and then demolish their homes when they add on rooms. It does not
deny one group access to their land and then
expropriate it by declaring them absentees (see here for law text).
It does not frequently enter the homes of one group
in the middle of
the night to arrest and remove their children (also here).
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First, one doesn't have to pick the "worst" abuser to protest against abuse. When the U.S. voted with the UN Security Council in 1977 to impose an arms embargo on apartheid South Africa, very few asked why the U.S. was singling out South Africa (see here for a South African example, using strangely familiar talking points). If you are raising money for cancer research, most people don't ask why you aren't raising money for AIDS or heart disease research instead.
Second, other countries which violate human rights are already being attended to by various members of Congress and the Administration. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Iran, Syria, North Korea, Somalia, Myanmar, Sudan, and others. The U.S. doesn't sell these countries weapons at all, much less give them unconditional military aid. In contrast, not only does the U.S. not sanction Israel, it has made Israel the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since WWII. Israel has received about $124 billion from the U.S. through 2015, most of it military aid, and will continue to receive $3 billion a year through 2018. The U.S. gives Israel more military aid each year than it gives all other countries combined. In 2019 that military aid will rise to $3.8 billion a year for another decade.
The U.S government also does not continually protect other countries diplomatically with its veto in the UN Security Council. The Palestinian crisis and the human rights
violations of the occupation have been going on for a very long time. The U.S. Congress actually singles out Israel for preferential treatment, by not holding it accountable to the same standards to which it holds other countries.
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Given that the way Israel was founded has created certain consequences (see history sheet), namely the dispossession and refugee status of millions of Palestinians, it is the responsibility of Israeli leaders to deal with those consequences in a way consistent with standards of decency and morality and human rights. They are not doing so. Yuval Diskin, ex-head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal intelligence agency, said in April 2012: "The fact that we're not talking with the Palestinians - and guys, forget about all the stories they're selling you in the media about how we want to talk but Abu Mazzen [Abbas] doesn't and so forth. I'm telling you, we're not talking with the Palestinians because this government has no interest in talking with the Palestinians. I was there up until a year ago. I know from up close what is going on in that area. This government has no interest in talking with the Palestinians. Period. It most certainly has no interest in resolving anything with the Palestinians. Period. ...We as a people have an interest in this [but] this government does not have a real interest in changing anything in this area."
Dov Weisglass, senior advisor to Ariel Sharon, said in a 10/6/2004 interview with Ha'aretz: "The significance of the [Gaza] disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda... The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
Supporters of the Occupation maintain a list of reasons as to why Israel can't negotiate. It won't negotiate with a unified Palestinian government which includes Hamas, but it can't negotiate with a non-unified government because that would not represent all the Palestinian people. The Israeli government could negotiate if it wanted to. See FAQ 7. Further, none of these reasons explain why Israel is compelled to continue expropriating land, persecuting Palestinians, and practicing apartheid. If the Israeli government really wanted a just and enduring peace, it would stop building and expanding illegal settlements. It would build the “separation wall” on its own territory instead of inside the occupied West Bank. These actions are illegal under international law and should be repaired by law enforcement, not negotiation.
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If it were permissible in modern times to keep conquered land, then the U.S., Britain, and France could have kept Germany, Italy, and Japan after World War II. It is illegal under the UN Charter and other international law to keep land conquered by war. The UN Security Council has reaffirmed this numerous times, unanimously passing Resolution 242 in November 1967 "emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and calling for "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." For other examples, see Resolution 252 (5/21/1968) and Resolution 298 (9/25/1971).
Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. The Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49, paragraph 6) states that it is illegal to transfer the conqueror's population into occupied territory, i.e. to build settlements. This fundamental convention was put in place after World War II, in light of Hitler's occupation and attempted colonization of Poland. Building settlements in occupied territory is regarded as such a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that it is a war crime under the First Protocol (Article 85, paragraphs 4.(a) and 5.)
Israeli settlements repeatedly have been declared illegal under international law by the United States (Ambassador Scranton in 1976, para. 66-68, and Ambassador McHenry in 1980, para. 18-19), the rest of the international community (for example, UN Security Council Resolutions 446 of 3/22/79, 452 of 7/20/79, and 465 of 3/1/80), the International Court of Justice (pp. 99/139 and 101/139, paragraph 120), the Israeli Supreme Court, and Israeli legal officials (see below). Security Council Resolution 446 (3/22/79) "determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity" and "calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention ... and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories." It was passed 12 votes to none, with Norway, the U.K. and the U.S. abstaining. U.S. Ambassador McHenry declared to the UN in 1980, "The position of the United States on the question of settlements is clear and consistent... We regard the settlements in the occupied territories as illegal under international law...". The legal counsel of the Israeli Foreign Ministry wrote in September 1967, "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention." See his full legal opinion.
The Israeli Supreme Court has held repeatedly that the territories captured in 1967 are occupied and thus subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention, noting in 2005 (pp. 8-9): "... we shall discuss the Supreme Court's caselaw regarding the military commander's authority, according to the law of belligerent occupation...This caselaw was developed by this Court in scores of judgments it has handed down since the Six Day War...The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation... the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation ... the law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention."
Although who started the war is irrelevant as far as applicable international law,
Israel started it, according to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. In an August 1982 speech to the National Defense College, he said (about halfway down), "In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army
concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really going to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him... Who
knows if there would have been an attack against us? There is no proof of it. There are several arguments to the contrary."
General and later prime minister Yitzhak Rabin said in a 1968 interview, "I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions that he sent in Sinai on the 14th of May were not enough to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it." General Matityahu Peled, the army's quartermaster general in the war, calls the argument that Israel was existentially threatened "a bluff which was born and developed only after the war". The Egyptian air force was destroyed while it was sitting on the ground. (See also The Myth of Annihilation and the Six-Day War, Joseph Ryan, 9/1/1973, 'NYT' Perpetuates Myth Israel Was 'Fighting for Its Very Survival' During 1967 War, Stephen Shalom, 1/29/15, and The Six Day War and Israeli Lies: What I Saw at the CIA, Melvin Goodman, former CIA analyst and professor of government at Johns Hopkins, 6/5/2017.)
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Given the early and continual declarations of Zionist leaders that their goal was to take all of Palestine, and the nonbinding and nonenforceable (also here) nature of the 1947 partition resolution, it is very doubtful that Palestinian acceptance would have made any difference to Israel's expansion. And why shouldn't Jewish leaders have accepted such a good offer from the UN? At the beginning of 1947, the Jewish population, almost half of whom had arrived in the previous 15 years, made up less than a third of the population, owned less than 7% of the land, and were allocated 55% for a state. [Population and immigration statistics from British Mandatory Survey of Palestine: population 1922-45, population 1946, immigration 1921-1944, immigration 1945-46] Even so, while in public Zionist leaders claimed to accept the resolution, in private they accepted none of its terms. Israel complied with almost nothing of the resolution. It did not protect Arab property and rights (Chapters 2 and 3). It did not grant "equal protection of the laws" (Chapter 2, paragraph 3). It did not respect partition borders, even though it declared them for President Truman's recognition. Historian Jerome Slater writes (p. 173, p.4/30 of pdf), “The evidence is now irrefutable that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and the other leading Zionists ‘accepted’ the UN compromise only as a necessary tactical step that would later be reversed, a base from which Israel would later expand to include all of biblical Palestine.”
- By 1902, the “father of Zionism” Theodor Herzl had prepared a charter to present to the Ottoman sultan which would give Herzl’s proposed Jewish-Ottoman Land Company the right to transfer out the native population. (Walid Khalidi, "The Jewish-Ottoman Land Company: Herzl's Blueprint for the Colonization of Palestine", Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol.22 No.2, Winter 1993, pp. 44-45.)
- In 1918, British Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann gave an interview to The Times in which he spoke of making Palestine “as quickly as possible as Jewish as England is English” (UN Doc A/364 Add.1, Sept. 3, 1947, p. 43/109, para 3, of print file). Palestine at the time was about 10% Jewish. Weizmann's statement was addressed in the British Government White Paper of 1922: "Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become 'as Jewish as England is English'. His Majesty's Government regard such expectations as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated ... the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language, or culture in Palestine."
- In 1921, the British "Haycraft Commission" was set up in Palestine to investigate "recent disturbances in the town and neighborhood of Jaffa." They wrote of their interview with the chairman of the Zionist Commission, “Dr. Eder was a most enlightening witness… In his opinion there can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish predominance as soon as the numbers of that race are sufficiently increased … he was quite clear that the Jews should, and the Arabs should not, have the right to bear arms... it is relevant to our report to show that the acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission asserts on behalf of the Jews those claims which are at the root of the present unrest...” (pp. 56-57).
- In 1937, future first prime minister David Ben-Gurion wrote to his son Amos, “every increase in strength helps in possession of the land as a whole. The establishment of a state, even if only on a portion of the land, is … a powerful boost to our historical endeavors to liberate the entire country.” Entire letter available here.
- In 1938, Ben-Gurion addressed the Zionist Executive on why he favored accepting partition: ”... after the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.” (Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, Pantheon Books, New York, 1987, p. 22, citing Zeev Tzur, From the Partition Dispute to the Allon Plan, Tel Aviv, 1982, p.20. The Birth of Israel is available in the DE library system.)
- In the summer of 1947, Arab representatives warned a UN commission that partition would not work (UN Doc A/AC.13/PV.38, August 4, 1947, p. 6/10 of print file): “In 1944, Mr. Ben Gurion publicly declared that the Jews who propose to settle in Palestine, by force if necessary, will not hesitate to extend the boundaries of the country, since the Jewish State demanded by the Zionists is not their movement’s final goal but only a preliminary step thereto”.
- In September 1947, two months before the UN partition vote, the president of Hebrew University, Judah Magnes, wrote a letter to the New York Times: "… I hope that what I am writing now may not be too late… Partition will not stop the terrorist activities of Jewish groups… It is largely the Jewish terror groups which have made the people of Britain weary of their task in Palestine. Having secured the partition proposals through terror, they are now prepared to secure the rest of the country for the Jews in the same way.”
- The day after the 1947 UN partition vote, commander of the underground terrorist group Irgun and future prime minister Menachem Begin declared: “The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized … Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.” (Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall, p. 25, citing Menachem Begin, The Revolt, rev. ed, NY, 1977, p 433. The Iron Wall is available in the DE library system.)
- A few days before Israel declared independence in 1948, the U.S. consul in Jerusalem reported, “Jewish Agency spokesman … replied that Ben-Gurion had always said that main aim of Jews was to get all of Palestine.”
From the Palestinians’ point of view, why should they have accepted a plan that was not only illegal and grossly unjust, but in addition had no chance of success? The UN resolution remained a nonbinding recommendation (see "Section III-Conclusions") which was never accepted by the UN Security Council and could not be imposed by force. Many UN members and the U.S. State Department (section 6) argued that partition contravened the principles of the UN Charter. Two months before the partition vote, the State Department wrote: "The proposals contained in the UNSCOP plan are not only not based on any principles of an international character ... but they are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the Charter as well as principles on which American concepts of Government are based. These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state." Three months after the partition vote, the U.S. CIA, with the concurrence of other U.S. intelligence agencies, urged that the UN reconsider its plan "since the failure of the partition is already evident." They wrote, "It is apparent that the partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states ... cannot be implemented... Arab opposition automatically invalidates the UNGA partition recommendation, whose basic assumption is Arab-Jewish cooperation.” (p. 666 and p. 674, paragraph c(1))
In addition to its perceived illegality under the UN Charter, the partition plan appeared strikingly unjust: the Jewish state was to be given 56% of Palestine, while Jews at the time made up a third of the population and owned just over 6% of the land (also here, Table 2, for 1943 figures). Furthermore, the Jewish state would include the most fertile land and almost all the citrus groves (pp.2-3/14 of print file), which produced the main export crop and over half of which were then owned by Palestinians.
For its part, the UN Special Committee on Palestine stated naively: “The fact that the solution carries the sanction of the
United Nations involves a finality which should allay Arab fears of further expansion of the Jewish state.” (p. 92/136 of print file, Item 9.)
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The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized Israel at the UN about thirty years ago on December 13, 1988, in a speech by Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO. Arafat said, “Our people do not want a right that is not theirs or that is not vested in them under international legitimacy and international law. They do not seek freedom at the expense of anyone else's, nor do they want a destiny which negates that of another people… the PLO will work for the achievement of a comprehensive settlement among the parties concerned in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the State of Palestine, Israel and the other neighbouring States, within the framework of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1974), so as to guarantee equality and the balance of interests, especially our people's rights to freedom and national independence, and respect for the right of all the parties to the conflict to exist in peace and security."
In 1993, Arafat again recognized Israel explicitly during the Oslo peace process, writing in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin : "The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security."
Both the ruling party in Israel, Likud (2017), and the ruling party in Gaza, Hamas (2017), have said each other’s state has no right to exist. See Likud charter here and here (p. 6/26, Article 2.1.b), and Hamas Charter (Article 6) and November 2012 speech by exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. Nevertheless, Likud and Hamas occasionally have negotiated ceasefires and prisoner exchanges. Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari reportedly was about to accept a long-term truce with Israel when it assassinated him in November 2012, triggering more rockets from Gaza.
As far as the views of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the "Palestine Papers" released in 2011 show that Palestinian Authority negotiators made extraordinary concessions concerning East Jerusalem and the right of return, and the Israelis flatly rejected them.
It is in Israel's interest to hold successful negotiations. The longer the conflict goes on, the more obvious the intuitive moral aspect of
the Palestinians’ struggle becomes to the world. Without real movement toward a two-state solution, it will become even more difficult to conceal the apartheid
reality in the West Bank. As former prime minister Ehud
Olmert said in 2007: if "the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights ... as soon as that happens,
the state of Israel is finished." Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned
in 2010, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish or non-democratic.
If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”
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A pre-condition to negotiations required by Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2009, in addition to the pre-condition that Israel be allowed to continue building settlements in violation of international law, was that the Palestinians “recognize Israel as a Jewish state”. What “a Jewish state” means has never been defined. Is it a state in which the current 25% non-Jewish population will always have inferior rights? A state from which they may be expelled? A state which may use any means to maintain a Jewish majority? Neither Egypt nor Jordan recognized Israel as a Jewish state, and yet Israel was able to sign peace treaties with them.
The 1947 UN partition resolution did not assume the proposed Jewish state would have a permanent Jewish majority. In fact, the UN was hard pressed at the time to find enough land to create a viable Jewish state containing even a small Jewish majority. Under the original UN plan (p. 105/136 of print file), the Jewish state would have had equal Jewish and Palestinian populations (including Bedouin). The Palestinian state, on the other hand, under all plans would have been about 1% Jewish.
Israel is only a Jewish-majority state because in 1948 it expelled about 85% of its Palestinian population. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven out and never allowed to return so that Israel could create the 80/20 demographic balance that Ben Gurion
considered necessary for "a viable and stable state". (Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Publications, New York, 2006, p.48,
citing David Ben-Gurion, In the Battle, Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1949, pp.255-72 for whole speech.) The 1947 UN resolution, of course, did
not intend that either state rid itself of its minority citizens. It stated explicitly
(pp. 6-7/19 of print file, Part I, Section C) that Palestinian property and rights were to be protected within the Jewish state, and Jewish property and rights
within the Palestinian state.
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First, regardless of how the refugees were created, Israel caused the problem by refusing to allow them to return to their homes. Second, at least half of the Palestinian refugees were created before any Arab armies ever entered Palestine. A Jewish army intelligence report written in June 1948 estimated that 390,000 refugees had been created by the end of May 1948, with Jewish military operations driving them into Gaza, the West Bank, and neighboring countries well before Arab armies entered on May 15. (Benny Morris, 1948 and After, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994, pp. 86-89.)
Anecdotal evidence of the large-scale expulsion of refugees before May 15, 1948 is available from The New York Times reporting at the time. For example, from a report dated May 4, 1948, "it is believed that possibly 50,000 Arabs have left Jaffa, thousands of them by sea. Other thousands have fled inland... It is believed that at least 40,000 Arabs left Haifa when the combined Haganah and Irgun Zvai Leumi force stormed the Arab marketplace and conquered all of the city except the British-held waterfront." See "Palestine Strife Creates DP Issue - 200,000 Arabs Are Now Listed as Homeless - Jews Put Own Refugees at 15,000", May 4, 1948. See also "Despair is Voiced by Arab Refugees - Evacuees from Palestine Say Jews Crash Through Weak Resistance by Volunteers", May 3, 1948.
In fact, the growing number of Palestinian refugees was one of the justifications given by Arab armies for entering Palestine. The Arab League declared on May 15, 1948 that "Arab Governments find themselves compelled to intervene" in Palestine in part because "more than [a] quarter million Arabs have been compelled by Jewish aggression [to] seek refuge in other Arab countries." In the war that followed, in which almost all battles took place on land allocated by the UN to the Palestinian state, more refugees were created. By the end of the war, the UN estimated that about 726,000 persons, almost half the Palestinian population, had become refugees. Other credible British and Israeli estimates ranged from 700,000-800,000. (Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949, Cambridge University Press, 1987, pp. 297-298.)
It is sometimes still claimed that Israel is not responsible because Arab leaders ordered the population to flee in 1948.
The Jewish intelligence report referred to above put the onus on the Zionists. It found that 75% of villages were evacuated due to “hostile Jewish military
operations” and expulsions, 10% due to "general fear", and only 5% due to "Arab orders". Further, two detailed studies of newspapers and radio broadcasts of the time found no evidence that
any orders to leave were broadcast, and that "there is repeated, monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put." Every Arab broadcasting station in the region in 1947 and 1948 was monitored and recorded and transcribed by the BBC.
See articles by Erskine Childers and Walid Khalidi.
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Orthodox Jews who oppose Zionism have interpreted this Biblical verse as follows: (see bottom of linked page):
"… The verse in Genesis 12:3 often quoted by Christians reads: ‘And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.’ This was G-d's blessing to Abraham and his descendents, the Jewish people. It means that all people in the world should bless and befriend the Jews if they want to earn G-d's favor. But it has nothing to do with the Zionists, who do not represent the Jews. Supporting the true Israel, that is the Jewish people, is indeed a good thing. The state created in 1948 that bears the name 'Israel' is not really Israel at all. It is a country founded by non-believing Jews who did not understand the historic destiny and belief system of the Jewish people...
… Even in a practical context, Torah-true Jews find it hard to believe that these [Zionist] Christians have the Jews' best interest at heart. They are sending them off to the battlefield called the West Bank, where every successful Zionist settlement is an obstacle to peace, a victory in the war of these extremists to dominate the land and subdue its inhabitants. The true goal of these Christians is not to be ‘those who bless Jews’ but to prepare the ground for the final battle at the end of the world, when they believe their messiah will return and all who did not believe in him (i.e. Jews and Muslims) will perish and burn in hell. Historically, those gentiles who welcomed Jews into their country and allowed them freedom to practice the Torah and full rights were considered friends of the Jews. Anti-Semites were those who expelled Jews from their country and wanted them elsewhere...
It is true that G-d promised the Land of Israel to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and this promise will be fulfilled again someday, when the messiah comes. However, Scripture makes it clear that until the coming of the messiah, the Jews will be in exile in various countries, and it will be only the messiah who gathers them in and reestablishes the Jewish kingdom...
In addition, the Talmud warns Jews with an oath not to force the end of exile, not to make war with the nations of the world,
and not to ascend en masse to the Holy Land until the messiah comes. The reasoning behind this is that a covenant is a two-way street. The Jews were not promised
the land for no reason other than their genetic makeup. They have to keep the Torah to retain their rights to the land. Moreover, even a gentile can join the
Jewish people and will have a right to the land. So we see that it is not primarily the race of the Jews that G-d is interested in; it is their beliefs and
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The U.S. maintained and profited from slavery, too. If today Israel started importing slaves, would Americans have no moral right to object because the U.S. did the same 150 years ago? Americans and others have the right to object to the behavior of any country today, including their own.
Indigenous people in the U.S. are full citizens. If Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories were treated in the same way in which Native Americans in the U.S. are treated, they would have full equal rights under the law to Jewish Israelis. Israel
would be a binational state. Palestinians would be able to buy or lease property anywhere in Israel just as Jewish Israelis can.
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As of late 2017, no Israeli government has ever offered the Palestinians what they are entitled to under international law. Israel has never offered to withdraw completely from the occupied Palestinian territories, or to recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967. The "generous offer" made by Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000 apparently was not that generous: Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2000-2001 and a key participant in both the Camp David negotiations (July 2000) and the follow-up Taba negotiations (January 2001), described it in 2006, saying "Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well."
There are no official maps from Camp David and Taba, so that various claims have been made about what was offered. Barak's offer was made only orally, and included no written documents, maps, or explicit definitions. Aaron David Miller, who worked on Israel-Palestine negotiations for six Secretaries of State and was the State Department Deputy Special Middle East Envoy at Camp David, said in an interview in 2002, "There was not a formalized written proposal that covered the four core issues. There was no deal on the table. None of the issues were explained enough in detail to make an agreement ..." (Clayton Swisher, The Truth About Camp David, Nation Books, New York, 2004, p. 352)
Nearly five years after the collapse of the Camp David summit, in 2005, Miller acknowledged that American officials, "myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations... Our departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one - Israel." At Camp David, "what we ended up doing was advocating Israel's positions before, during, and after the summit."
The late author Richard Ben Cramer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Middle East reporting in 1979, described the Israeli offers of 2000-2001 this way:
"'Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat ninety-seven percent of the land! And that idiot, Arafat, turned it down!'... But what was the three percent - and what did it mean? Actually, by the bitter end of the peace talks, the Israelis were proposing to keep about six percent of the West Bank - three blocs of settlements (all the big ones), and the new highways that lead to them. In exchange, they would cede to the Palestinians desert land in Israel that was, in area, equivalent to three percent. But the map that resulted from Israel keeping just six percent would have yielded a 'Nation of Palestine' that was actually three small ghettos, each walled off from the others by Israeli fortifications, or roads patrolled by the Israeli army, or fences with checkponts... In addition Israel proposed to keep five army bases in the Jordan valley (on the east side of 'Palestine'), and to maintain full control of the airspace above 'Palestine', and the water aquifers below 'Palestine', and the seacoast and all the borders of 'Palestine'...The way I'd say it, Israel proposed to continue their occupation, with a prettier name - 'Palestine'." (Richard Ben Cramer, How Israel Lost, Simon and Schuster, NY, 2004, pp.232-233.)
The Taba negotiations took place six months after Camp David, in January 21-27, 2001. They were suspended by Prime Minister Ehud Barak because of imminent Israeli elections. On January 27 both sides published a statement saying they had never been closer to agreement. In February Barak lost to Ariel Sharon, who chose not to continue the talks. (See also this article about Barak's offer.)
Meanwhile, Israeli governments have turned down generous peace offers. In 2002, revised in 2007 to allow land swaps, the Arab League made Israel a peace offer which is still outstanding. The Arab Peace Initiative stated that if Israel reached agreement with the Palestinians about the establishment of a state based on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital and with territorial swaps, and to a just, agreed-on solution for the refugees, then all Arab nations would sign peace accords with Israel and establish full diplomatic relations. The Arab Initiative is in compliance with international law and UN resolutions. Israel did not respond for years but has apparently rejected the offer: in June 2016, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his Likud ministers in a private meeting that he would never accept the Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He had rejected a peace initiative brokered by John Kerry a few months earlier in February 2016: "Netanyahu turned down secret peace offer, former U.S. officials say - Israel's prime minister turned down a regional peace initiative last year, ... former American officials confirmed Sunday [2/19/2017], in apparent contradiction to Benjamin Netanyahu's stated goal of involving regional Arab powers in resolving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians."
Return to top 13. "Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and all it got was rocket attacks. Israel has to bomb Gaza in self-defense."
[Update Feb 2015] On 2/10/15, the National Lawyers Guild submitted this report to the International Criminal Court debunking Israeli claims that the 2014 summer attack on Gaza was self-defense.
[Update Sept 2014] Israel's 2014 summer war on Gaza was framed by most U.S. media and politicians as “Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel is defending itself from Hamas rocket attacks.” Putting aside the facts that (1) an Occupying Power* cannot make war on the people it is occupying and legitimately call it “self-defense”, and that (2) Gazans have the right under international law to resist Israel's illegal occupation "by all available means, including armed struggle", although not to target civilians, the immediate cause for this conflict was specific Israeli aggression, not indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks. Israel started it. Prime Minister Netanyahu used the June 12 abduction of three Jewish Israeli teenagers as an excuse to go on a rampage in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Hamas supporters, destroying homes, and killing six Palestinians. Israel later fired a missile into Gaza, killing a Hamas operative. Only then, on June 30 at the earliest (Hamas claims July 7), two weeks after the rampage began, did Hamas respond with rockets. It was later revealed that the Israeli government knew from Day One (and here) that the boys were dead and that Hamas leadership had nothing to do with it. Israel’s responsibility for starting the violence is amply discussed in the several articles listed below**. The timeline can be seen directly from the weekly reports of Israel’s own Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:
Report for Week of June 3-10, 2014 [the week before three teenagers were abducted and Netanyahu's rampage began in West Bank]: "This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israel's south." (p.3)
Report for Week of June 11-17, 2014 [the week of Netanyahu's initial operations against Hamas in the West Bank]: “According to the Israeli media, so far (as of the morning of June 18, 2014) more than 200 Palestinians have been detained, most of them Hamas activists and operatives …In addition to searching for the abducted youths, the Israeli security forces have launched intensive activities to damage the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].” See www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20659
Report for the Week of June 18-24, 2014: "...The IDF has also carried out extensive activities throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in order to damage Hamas infrastructure. So far more than 300 suspects have been detained, most of them (240) Hamas activists and operatives... Four Palestinians were killed in local clashes when they tried to attack the Israeli security forces and interfere with their activities... PA spokesmen represent the IDF operation as the collective punishment of the Palestinians ... the PA also undertook international political activity, calling for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to 'put an end to Israel's aggression and collective punishment.'" See http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20661 under tabs "Overview", "Efforts to Find the Three Abducted Israeli Youths - Update" and "Other Palestinian Reactions to Operation Brothers' Keeper"
Report for Week of June 25-July 1, 2014: “On June 30, 2014, 12 rocket hits were identified. Some of them may have been fired by operatives of Hamas' military wing. If Hamas was in fact responsible for rocket fire, it was the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012).” [Hamas later claimed it was not responsible for these rockets and that it first fired July 7.] “So far, during Operation Brothers' Keeper more than 400 Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities have been detained.” See www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20663, under tabs "Rocket Fire into Israeli Territory Escalates" and "The Three Abducted Youths"
*As of 2018, Gaza is still considered occupied by Israel. Although Israel claims that after pulling its soldiers and settlements out in 2005 it is no longer the Occupying Power, occupation is defined in international law as being "under the authority of the hostile army" (Article 42 Section III of the 1907 Hague Regulations), and is based on control, not the presence of settlements or location of soldiers. The Israeli military still controls Gaza's airspace, coastline, and most land borders, unilaterally sets a wide buffer zone on the Gaza side of the security fence, controls Gaza's telecommunications, water, and most electricity networks, and makes military incursions at will. Israel still controls Gaza's population registry and ID cards. The international community and the UN Security Council still regard Israel as the Occupying Power, with UNSC Resolution 1860 in 2009 "stressing that the Gaza Strip remains an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967." Israel's occupation is considered unlawful and the UN Security Council has demanded its end.
**Selected articles describing the timeline of the 2014 conflict and Israel’s instigation:
- J. J. Goldberg, former editor-in-chief, The Jewish Daily Forward, “How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza, 7/10/14, http://forward.com/articles/201764/how-politics-and-lies-triggered-an-unintended-war/
- Avi Shlaim, emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford, “What’s the Use of the Word ‘Balance’ in Such an Asymmetric War?”, The Independent, 7/27/14, www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/israelgaza-conflict-whats-the-use-of-balance-in-such-an-asymmetric-war-9630766.html , pp. 2-3.
- Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree and associate professor at USC, www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175880/, p. 8.
- Eric Cheyfitz, Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell, “Some Thoughts on the Cornell-Technion Partnership in Light of the 2014 Israeli Invasion of Gaza”, 9/9/2014, www.mondoweiss.net/2014/09/thoughts-partnership-invasion
[Original answer] First, the Gazans live continuously under a suffocating siege imposed by Israel: land, sky and sea. Gaza is a big open air prison. Nothing goes in or out of Gaza without Israeli permission (food, fuel, construction materials, medicine, etc.). A large proportion, 75-80%, of the Gaza population are refugees from what is today Israel. They were expelled from their towns which are a few miles away and which they cannot see or visit. They are constantly reminded of their losses and agonies by the frequent Israeli air and land raids. These people need their rights and freedoms.
Secondly, in the past few years after so many people promised the Palestinians that peace was on the way, they stopped tossing very primitive, home-made , mostly harmless rockets on Israel. Did that change the Israeli behavior ?... NO. Again Israel should look in the mirror first to see how its own behavior is driving the Palestinian reaction! They should also recognize the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves. Gaza is under occupation. Ariel Sharon’s evacuation of the settlements in Gaza in 2005 was simply the jailer leaving the cell. Israel never ended its control of land, sea and air borders. Israel remains the unlawful Occupying Power. According to the UN, people under occupation have the right to resist occupation.
Jewish Israeli blogger Assaf Oron in November 2012:
“Does anyone in the West really think they have the moral authority to wag a finger at Gaza’s residents? They don’t need hypocritical Western politicians and pundits to tell them lobbing missiles at other people is bad. They know it’s bad. But they also know that the rest of the world is perfectly sweet and easy with dishing them far-worse-than-bad, every day, every month, every year, for decade after decade. Have you ever envisioned what it is to live in a small confined region, not knowing how you’ll feed your family, not knowing whether your family will survive the next air bombing or shelling, having enemy drones, helicopters and jets zoom overhead at all times of days and nights without any defense against them – no defense at all? And nowhere to go. Day after day, year after year, decade after decade. And with all that, the Beautiful People of the world look at you and see a monster, a primitive, a blood-thirsty menace that should be placed in this situation forever, you, your children, your grandchildren. With no end in sight. Have you really imagined that? The Israelis around Gaza are now traumatized too. It is sad. It is a ripple effect of what we have inflicted on the people inside.”
From an anonymous Palestinian: "You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my mother and father, kill my brothers, starve us all and humiliate us all, but I am to blame, I shot a rocket back."
a. On the specific textbook issue:
They are not, according to the only comprehensive academic joint US-Israeli-Palestinian study on the issue, published in early 2013 and funded by the US State Department. The study is titled “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian Schoolbooks”. Links to the study and supporting material can be found at http://IsraeliPalestinianSchoolbooks.blogspot.com. There are plenty of articles about the study online, including this from the NYT:
NYT, 2/3/2013, Isabel Kershner, “Academic Study Weakens Israeli Claim that Palestinian School Texts Teach Hate”:
“An academic study of the contents of Israeli and Palestinian Authority textbooks, to be published Monday, finds that each side generally presents the other as the enemy, but it undermines recent assertions by the Israeli government that Palestinian children are educated ‘to hate’… The project was originated by Dr. Bruce E. Wexler, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who co-founded an organization to promote Israeli-Palestinian cooperation…Unimpressed with the quality of previous, more subjective studies, Dr. Wexler said that he insisted on applying scientific research methods for this one, so as ‘to provide real facts about a controversial issue.’… It found that extreme examples of dehumanization and demonization were ‘very rare’ on both sides… [Professor Bar-Tal] and others cautioned that the textbooks were only one factor influencing the younger generation, among others like teachers, the media and the Internet.”
b. Underlying issue:
Why would one be more worried about what Palestinian children are learning in their textbooks than what they must be learning from living under a brutal fifty-year-long occupation and seeing their land stolen, their homes demolished, and the Israeli army standing by while settlers attack them?
The Palestinians are teaching their kids the facts about what happened over the past 100 years. They are teaching them the history of the Nakba and what Israel has done to the land and the people. Do you expect those kids to love Israel once they know what happened? Anyway, the Palestinian kids born and raised over the past 60 plus years have been witnessing for themselves what Israel is doing in confiscating Palestinian lands and freedoms. Many of them live under the toxic Israeli occupation with all its daily insulting & humiliating behavior… in fact it is the Israeli government behavior that is teaching Palestinian kids how to feel towards Israel.
Israel has been controlling the life of Palestine since 1948 for some, and since 1967 for others. Actually, the Israelis’ actions (military occupation, home demolition, discrimination, racism . . . etc.) are the reasons why Palestinians do not like Israel. Put yourself in Palestinian shoes and tell me how you feel. It is the utmost in arrogance and callousness that the oppressors demand that the oppressed like them and enjoy the oppression.
a) Suicide bombings and the Wall:
According to the Shin Bet (Israeli security agency), suicide bombings declined sharply after Hamas decided to “scale back its engagement in terror” and “focus on the political arena” (see below). Suicide bombings and terrorists attacks remain low because of Palestinian choice. The Wall is not stopping them - by mid 2013, the Wall was only 62% complete. It is quite porous, with “the [Israeli] defense establishment” estimating that 6,000 Palestinians cross through every month.
Yediot Ahronot, 1/5/2014: “Sources with the defense establishment estimated that currently some 80,000 Palestinians who have crossed into Israel illegally reside in the State, and that some 6,000 cross the border fence every month.” http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4473355,00.html
Haaretz, Amos Harel, 1/2/ 2006: “The Shin Bet's statistics on terror attacks confirm the public perception that terrorist activity in 2005 dropped considerably compared to the previous four and a half years. The main reason for the sharp decline is the truce in the territories, the security service said yesterday… The security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it. The fence does make it harder for them, but the flawed inspection procedures at its checkpoints, the gaps and uncompleted sections enable suicide bombers to enter Israel… But the main reason for the reduction in terrorist acts over the past year is the truce in the territories, as partial as it may be. The fact that Hamas, in general, stopped engaging in terror activities changed the picture. The Islamic Jihad network in the West Bank upgraded its capability and was responsible for the murder of 23 Israelis in 2005, but during that time, Hamas - the leading terror organization in recent years - has scaled back its engagement in terror. Its focus on the political arena and the preparations for the Palestinian parliamentary elections have limited its active involvement in terror to a large extent.” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/shin-bet-palestinian-truce-main-cause-for-reduced-terror-1.61607
The graph below shows that suicide bombings dropped precipitously before the wall was half complete:
DATA: Suicide bombings: 4 in 2000, 34 in 2001, 55 in 2002, 25 in 2003, 14 in 2004, 7 in 2005, 4 in 2006, 1 in 2007. Wall completion: by August 2004, the wall was 20% complete; by June 2006, 50% complete; by mid 2013, 62% complete.
SOURCES: # bombings (study written in 2007): http://mfa.gov.il/MFA_Graphics/MFA%20Gallery/2008/6/suicideattacks2000-7.jpg Wall completion:
b) Suicide bombers:
When people are desperate, with no hope and no way out, they do crazy things. People commit suicide when they feel that their life has no value and they become desperate. The Israeli occupation, killing of Palestinians, destruction of property, military arrest and discrimination are what make Palestinians desperate.
Suicide bombing is the ultimate in desperate action ... when normal people are exposed to extreme insults, deprivation and humiliation, and when their land is confiscated and their immediate relatives are imprisoned for trivial reasons, sometimes their life loses meaning and becomes useless. Constant pressure causes mad explosions! This reminds me of the story of the young Palestinian woman who several years back walked into a dinner party in Haifa and blew herself up and killed and injured several people. The next day, the Israeli and American newspapers and TV stations raised a huge fuss about how savage the Palestinians were. The only fact they NEVER mentioned is the fact that the Israelis had killed -in cold blood- her only brother a week earlier. Again ... we urge the Israelis to look in the mirror to recognize their role in driving the Palestinian behavior!
Do you expect no violent resistance to Israel’s actions? Suicide bombers are desperate hopeless people fighting back with the weapons they have. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land in 1948, and then in 1967, and were never allowed back and never compensated. Many remain stateless and in refugee camps to this day. And their land and homes are still being stolen under a systematic, violent, racist oppression. It never stopped. Thousands are imprisoned and tortured, including children. What would you do if this was happening to you, your family and your neighbors? Some desperate people become suicide bombers.
c) Why ask the question?
What is the point of the question? Is the existence of suicide bombers supposed to be an excuse for continuing a brutal and illegal occupation? Violent slave rebellions occurred in the U.S. Was that a good argument for continuing slavery? In South Africa Nelson Mandela started an armed resistance and refused to renounce violence throughout the apartheid years. Was that a good argument for supporting apartheid?
The truth here is that yes, there is no Palestinian leader who is willing to sign a surrender agreement that delivers everything that Israel wants and nothing to the Palestinians. The Palestinians including Arafat and Abu Mazen (Abbas) have been involved in marathon negotiation sessions with Israeli leaders - mostly in the presence of Zionist American helpers - for many years, like since 1993. The story remains the same: Israel wants "Peace" on its own terms which do not give anything substantial to the millions of Palestinians. In fact, before any negotiations, the Palestinians should insist on establishing the ground rules for these negotiations which include the preparedness of Israel to accept and abide by international law, including human rights law.
Israel wants an “Israeli tailored, occupation-accepting” Palestinian leader. If Israel wants to give the Palestinians their rights, they can do it now. They control the land and the people. The head of the Palestinian Authority (Abbas) and his prime minster cannot travel five miles without Israeli permission. Many believe that Arafat was assassinated because he was not an “Israeli tailored, occupation-accepting” Palestinian leader. Finally, whether the Palestinians have a leader or not does not deny them their basic human rights.
If the Israelis want to negotiate honestly with the intent to reach a just peace, on the basis of international law, they could negotiate with any number of people, including Abbas. Or they could unilaterally stop building settlements, end the occupation, and abide by all the UN resolutions already passed. Put the Wall on the Green Line, for a start. What has Israel ever done that indicates it wants a just peace?
In spite of the fact that AIPAC seems to own most American politicians and American news media (by design), the Palestinians and their growing number of supporters are making inroads to reach the American silent majority to tell them the truth about Israel and what it did to the Palestinians and the Americans as well. We do not have a single organization, but we do have several small organizations and many many dedicated individuals who are working hard to attain the above goals. Eventually, the truth will prevail and we hope that when that happens, the American silent majority will not blame the Zionists for all the damage they have done to American world interests. The Israelis should keep in mind the fate of slavery in America and apartheid in South Africa!
Most Palestinians in the U.S. are in the peace camp. They want equality, justice and a non-discriminating secular state in Palestine, just like the one they enjoy in the U.S.
While it’s fine to have Palestinian peace organizations in the U.S., the U.S. movement against South African apartheid was led by U.S. academics, churches, and students. It was not led by a South African peace camp or organization in the U.S.
The Palestinians know that Israel exists. What they want to know first is that Israel recognizes that the Palestinians exist and that they have rights (other than being slaves to the Israelis). Back in the late 1980's the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized Israel and they negotiated on the basis of this recognition. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat declared in writing to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: "The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." The problem is that Israeli demands have no limits… they keep adding more and more demands they know the Palestinians cannot yield to, and that is why negotiations with Israel are futile. Israel exists for all its inhabitants - including the 1.6 million Palestinian Arabs who did not become refugees. We believe that if the Palestinians recognize that Israel is only for the Jews, the 1.6 million Palestinians would lose their rights to citizenship. Moreover, in 2002 under the Arab Peace Initiative, the Arab League notified Israel and the world that all Arab countries would recognize Israel inside its 1967 borders if they would recognize an independent, viable Palestinian State and come to some agreement about refugees. What was Israel's reaction? We are still waiting.
Let me start with this question. Why did black South Africans not accept an officially “white” regime to rule their lives? For this same reason the Palestinians cannot accept a “Jewish” regime to rule their lives. What is next after a Jewish state? What rights will non-Jews have in a Jewish state? I maintain that it will be the same rights black South Africans had in a white state. About 20% of the population (about 1,600,000) now living in the state of Israel are non-Jewish Palestinians. What would be their status in an officially “Jewish” state? Confined to a bantustan? Forcibly removed? Ethnically cleansed? Or forcibly converted? If history is a guide, any state that declares exclusivity for a specific group of people (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or white South Africa) discriminates against everybody else.
The Palestinians are the descendants of the many peoples who lived on this land over thousands of years. Some remained Jewish but most did not. Israel already has many laws that discriminate against Palestinians. Who knows how Israel would use the designation of "Jewish state"? Despite its demand, Israel has not defined what a "Jewish state" even means. Israel was able to sign peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and neither one recognized Israel as a Jewish state. Would you want the US to be recognized as a “white Christian state”? It should not be hard to imagine why the Palestinians do not want to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”.