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10 Most common arguments against Israel and how to refute them:
Courtesy Marcus Sheff, Executive Director, TIP Israel Office of The Israel Project Team
1. Israel is an Apartheid State:
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation. In South Africa, the rights of majority black inhabitants were curtailed and Afrikaner minority rule was enforced on them. Black South Africans, separated from whites, were denied a swath of civil rights.
Israel is a vibrantly multicultural liberal democracy whose legal system upholds equal rights, liberties, and protection for all its citizens. Like all multi-ethnic democracies, including the UK, Israel struggles with the disadvantage its minorities face, but like the UK, its laws seek to eradicate- not institutionalize- these problems.
- Israel’s 25% non Jewish minority has always had equal political and civil rights.
- Arab Israelis were elected to the first Knesset in 1949 and have won as many as 14 seats in a single election.
- Arabs and other non-Jews have attained high positions in the government including: deputy speaker, acting president, member of the prime minister’s cabinet, ambassador, and consul general.
- In 2011 Arab-Israeli Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran sat as judge in a case against former Israeli president Moshe Katsav and convicted him to a lengthy term in prison.
- Multicultural societies are not perfect – they are work in progress. But anyone who has spent a day in Tel-Aviv Jaffa, Beersheva, Akko, Netanya, Kfar Saba and yes, even the very complicated Jerusalem, will see a free, open and multicultural country.
2. Israel does not want peace
In recent years polls have shown that a large majority of Israelis favour a two-state solution – including 57% of Likud voters.
Israeli governments have for 20 years made serious efforts to bring about peace with the Palestinians. Israel offered to leave the territories and help the Palestinians create their own state. From Oslo in 1993, Barak’s offer to Arafat at Camp David in 2000, Olmert’s very generous offer to bu Mazen in 2008 and when Netanyahu froze building activity just to negotiate peace in 2009.
Israelis have made painful sacrifices for peace. Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), each time giving away either land, oil, settlements, or strategic military advantages to achieve a peaceful agreement.
Israel gave the Palestinian Authority land, money, weapons, training, and intelligence, all in the hope that the PA would reciprocate with and end to terror and incitement.
3. It is all about the occupation and land grabs
The future of the West Bank is an issue that must be resolved in the negotiation room.
Israel’s offer of West Bank land for peace has been on the negotiating table for 20 years.
Palestinians have yet to take up offers made to them – at Camp David in 2000, and by Olmert in 2008.
Israel will no doubt continue to make the painful sacrifices for peace. They did it in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. Unfortunately, Israel has often experienced an increase in terror attacks after withdrawing from territories in hopes of peace.
4. So why did you build a wall?
Israel built the SECURITY FENCE to prevent Palestinian terrorists from killing Israeli civilians.
In 2002, 220 Israelis were killed by terror emanating from the West Bank. In 2006, following the building of the fence, that was reduced to zero.
Palestinians can file legal suites to change the route of the barrier and have done so successfully on numerous occasions.
95% of the barrier is a chain-linked fence, 5% is a concrete wall built soly to prevent Palestinian snipers from shooting at civilians driving on Israeli roads.
When the two sides reach a peace agreement and the threat of Palestinian terrorism ceases the barrier can be removed.
5. Israel totally disregards international law – it thinks it is above the law
Israel faces a barrage of attacks in international organizations because of a built-in pro-Arab majority. In effect, Israel is singled out.
Take the UNHRC; fully one half of its condemnations were against Israel, despite the myriad of atrocities raging across the world.
The Oslo Accords, which weer signed by the Palestinian leadership, do not prohibit Israel from building houses in the West Bank, particularly in Area C which remains under Israeli control.
Palestinian terror groups are the ones who disregard international law. Hamas’ goal is to maximize civilian casualties, in flagrant violation of international law. It commits double war crimes when it repeatedly target civilians and intentionally puts Palestinian civilians in danger, using them as human shields and operating from populated areas.
6. Israel is a global destabilizing force – and the regional destabilizing force
As the Shia/Sunni war rages in the Middle East it is clear that it is not ‘all about Israel-Palestine.’
Today Israel has peace with two of its four nation-state neighbors – with the Kingdom of Jordan to the east and with Egypt to the south. Israel expressed many times in the past its willingness for peace with Lebanon, Syria and with all countries in the Arab world.
7. Israel blockades Gaza and oppresses the people of Gaza
Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005 in the hope of peace. Instead of building a civil society Iran-backed Hams in Gaza fired over 15,000 rockets and mortars at the citizens of Israel.
Despite that, Israel ensures the daily flow of goods into Gaza; goods can go in. Weapons and war material cannot. Individuals with severe health conditions are allowed to get treatment in Israel despite many occasions of attempted attacks by Palestinians in need of healthcare.
- Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007 when it violently overthrew Fatah.
- Hamas does not want peace. It does not recognize Israel. It does not want a Fatah-lead Palestinian Authority. It is a Jihadi terror group that has fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel.
- Promoting war not peace: The Hams Charter calls for the murder of Jews and ‘obliteration’ of Israel.
- Hamas has smuggled significant quantities of weapons into Gaza. Left to its own devices, Hamas would be able to take delivery of tons of Iranian weapons – as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon – to be used against innocent Israelis and beyond.
- Human and civil rights violations: Gaza residents face imprisonments, torture and arrests for ‘morality offences’.
- There is not freedom of the press. Political opposition is violently suppressed: Hamas routinely tortures and executes political rivals. Woman are repressed.
8. Israel is war mongering about Iran. In any case, Israel has nukes so why can’t Iran
Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror; arming, funding and training terrorist groups targeting Americans and Israelis across the globe.
A nuclear Iran would unleash a regional arms race
The Iranian leadership has repeatedly expressed aggressive sentiments, such as vowing to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, chanting ‘death to America’ and attempting to expand their control of the region using terrorism and belligerent rhetoric.
Simultaneous to its nuclear activities, Iran is developing ballistic missiles with constantly increasing ranges which could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.
9. Israel uses disproportionate force
The Israel Defense Forces exercises utmost restraint and upholds the highest standard when forced to act.
Israeli soldiers are trained to protect civilian life on both sides. Israel regrets civilian causalities and carries out thorough inquiries. Like any democracy facing terror, Israel is constantly trading the line between stopping the terrorists from killing and ensuring that innocents do not get hurt.
Israel faces serious threats. Palestinian terrorists have repeatedly fired at civilians and soldiers from hospitals, mosques and schools, using human as shields and ambulances to transport weaponry.
Palestinian terrorists target civilians intentionally, while Israel attempts to minimize civilian casualties. When Israel is forced to respond to terrorist attacks it takes unprecedented measures to avoid civilian casualties.
According to Richard Kemp, former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, the IDF does more to ‘secure the rights of civilians …. than any other army in the history of warfare.’
Israel has spent billions on its civil defense system: waning sirens, infrastructure of bomb shelters, and preventative measures such as closing schools – which prevented mass civilian casualties when Hamas bombs struck schools hospitals and residential apartments.
In April 2002, IDF ground forces went door-to-door to target terrorists in Jenin rather than use artillery or carpet bomb the city from above. Israel put its own troops at risk and lost 23 of its own soldiers because of this concern to not injure the innocent among its enemies.
10. Israel threw the Palestinians out of Palestine and has a state because the world felt sorry for the Jews after the holocaust.
Zionism as a political movement was emerging in the late 19th century.
Jews were a continuous presence in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years and in the 1800’s many Jews returned to the land of Israel in a movement called aliyah. The Jews legally purchased land in the region known as ‘Palestine’. Palestine was a province of the Ottoman Empire, not an independent state.
The British were less than friendly to the Yishuv and Holocaust survivors trying to get to Mandate Palestine.
Palestinians did not have to pay a price or give up their homeland. For the first time in their history, they were given an opportunity to create a state. They rejected this offer.