The Great Hypocrisy: To be Pro-Humanitarian, Pro-Human Rights, Pro-Democracy, Pro-Gay Rights…..But Not to be Pro-Israel

Foreword:

I started writing this in response to @AbbyMartin who was on one of my favorite Podcast’s, The Joe Rogan Experience @JoeRoganEXP on Aug 2nd 2014, hosted by . Abbey is supposedly an objective reporter on RT (Russian Television). Until this podcast I had liked Abbey for her views on the world and her criticism of main stream media for being unobjective. However, on the topic of choice on the podcast, Israel and  “Operation Protective Edge” is something I know something about as a former member of the IDF and as someone who has some experience in the region in question. After listening to her talk, and what she had to say, it showed me that she too was and is clearly non-objective in her ability to report the facts without warping them due to her own personal and emotional reasons. Operation protective edge has now more or less finished, after more than 50 days of fighting in the Gaza strip. However radical Islam is on the rise, and it has become evident that many of the reports against Israel during the operation are turning out to be falsified and out right lies. Many journalists have even said that they feared for their lives should they have reported the truth as it was in Gaza, while they were in Gaza. This article took some time to write in order to insure accuracy of the facts. I even asked my PhD professor in History to edit and review it. Here it is many weeks later….

The Great Hypocrisy: To be Pro-Humanitarian, Pro-Human Rights, Pro-Democracy, Pro-Gay Rights…..But Not to be Pro-Israel

Before I get to the point of this article, I would like to assure readers that I am not blindly pro-Israel nor an extremist, right-wing religious person. I am simply a seeker of truth and remain solidly attached to reality.

I am a Jew by birth, which could cause some bias regarding topics related to Israel, but I am not religious; in fact, I do not think that any religion should have a public role in modern society. I have served in the IDF, but I did so as a proud Canadian citizen. My active service was spent mostly in the West Bank, policing the populace, so I do have some first-hand knowledge of what life is like in the West Bank, from a Canadian perspective.

Even during my service in the IDF, I continued my practice of independently forming my own opinions. This includes the readiness to be highly critical of the policies of the Israeli government, when I think it necessary.  Therefore, I would like to present a few arguments that I consider to be legitimate criticisms.

  • Laws are not equally enforced in the West Bank on both Jews and Arabs.

– I can confirm that this is true.  However, this issue is more complicated than this statement concedes.  In the West Bank, a Jew – whether resident in a settlement legally established 20+ or 30+ years ago or an illegal one established recently – is not always held to the same legal standards as a Jew in Israel itself would be. For example, if an Arab throws a rock at a soldier and persists in doing so, they will be arrested (if possible), held, and charged. If a Jewish settler commits the same offence, the response would be slightly different. Soldiers of the IDF (Army) generally do not arrest Jews for civil offences because there is a separate branch of the IDF, the “Magav,” which serves as the police branch of the IDF.  Therefore, the IDF considers it the responsibility of the “Magav” to arrest the Jew, not a regular member of the IDF.  However, this means that the “Magav” must be summoned to the scene of conflict, and by the time Magav arrives, the conflict is usually over, making it difficult to determine whom should be arrested.  If a Jew is arrested, he/she are usually released quickly because it is believed that the Israeli public does not think it is the job of the IDF to arrest Israeli citizens, it is the job of the police. Technically, this is true – the military and the police have different mandates and authorities.  The fact remains, however, that the IDF (military) is the force with the mandate and authority to police the West Bank, therefore, they SHOULD arrest both Jews and Muslims for violating the laws as set forth by either the government of Israel or the Palestinian authority.

  • If the government of Israel, is at all serious about a two-state solution, then it should not approve continued settlement expansion in the West Bank

– It is irrational to think that further expansion into the West Bank will not prevent a two-state solution from International acceptance or rejection of these settlements is irrelevant because there is a fundamental, and profound, problem caused by these settlements:  they are scattered throughout the West Bank in such a manner that it would be impossible to demarcate reasonable borders for a separate Arab state there. As with everything in this region, this issue is more complicated than it seems.  Despite the fact that the majority of Israelis do not support this continued expansion, the minority groups that promote this process have disproportionate political influence.  I am speaking here of the orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jewish religious sects.  Because Israel has been proclaimed as a Jewish state, there is an assumption that this means “Jewish” in a religious sense, rather than a secular, ethnic/historical sense.  The majority of Israeli Jews – approximately 80% – do not identify themselves as religious.  Which means that those who do identify themselves by their religion constitute only 20% of the population of Israel.  However, because the Constitution of the State of Israel enshrined a system of proportional representation for its legislature, the formation since independence of more than 20 political parties has ensured that no one party can expect to secure a majority of the votes and form a single-party government  Therefore, governments have been formed by building a coalition of one of the larger parties (Labour on the left, and Likud on the right) and many of the smaller, special interest parties, such as the religion-based parties.   In order to construct and maintain a coalition government, it has been considered necessary by the largest party in the coalition (for much of the last three decades, this has generally been Likud) to promote the interests of its coalition allies.  This has given even the smallest parties (with fewer than five elected members) a degree of political power that in no way reflects the actual support these parties have from the population.  It is a disgraceful and dangerous distortion of Israeli democracy.  It has been the need to appease the religious minority, in order to stay in power that has led to the Likud governments of the last 20+ years promoting and supporting the establishment of settlements in the West Bank region – and, until recently, within Gaza as well. Until this political stranglehold by special interest groups can be broken, there is little hope for the establishment of a government that reflects the wishes of the majority.

  • In the current conflict with Gaza (July 2014) the Israeli government and military have warned Palestinians to leave areas which have been designated as military targets, in order to avoid civilian casualties.

– While commendable, and highly unusual, conduct for a combatant nation, attempting to avoid civilian casualties is simply not feasible in this situation. Gaza is high density region with regards to population. Its total size is probably comparable to lower Manhattan in NYC. Even the most sophisticated weapons cannot guarantee a pinpoint strike on a specific target within such a congested zone, without also causing damage to the immediate surroundings, including civilians.  The primary problem for the civilian residents of Gaza, however, is that their homes – or something in their vicinity – have become targets because of the activities of the extremists of Hamas and other Jihadist groups.  It is a common strategy for such groups to deliberately use their own civilian population for tactical or propaganda purposes.  When their opponent – in this case, Israel – seeks to defend itself against extremist attacks, by destroying the extremists and their weapons, it faces a terrible dilemma, because the extremists and their weapons have been carefully embedded deeply within the civilian population.  This is often referred to as the “human shield strategy” and can be very effective against opponents who are concerned about minimizing civilian casualties because it prevents any form of large-scale response, limiting the opponent to extremely difficult attempts to strike only legitimate targets.  As I already pointed out, collateral damage is impossible to avoid in a location such as Gaza, so the extremist group is able to use the inevitable civilian casualties for propaganda – to claim that the IDF is attacking “innocent civilians.”  Therefore, even if a strike manages to destroy weapons (such as missiles), the extremists still benefit from the perception that Israel is deliberately causing the death and injury of civilians.

In the flood of gruesome pictures of the destruction and the harrowing scenes of grief, what is forgotten is the fact that Hamas and the others are primarily responsible for the suffering of Gaza’s civilians.  They are the ones who relentlessly attack Israel’s civilian population, eventually provoking a military response.  They control the people in Gaza, ruthlessly suppressing any dissent or complaint.  They are the ones who ensure that they and their weapons are hidden within residential areas and civilian buildings.  The reality is that the civilians in Gaza are trapped, unable to decide for themselves if they wish to become human shields for Hamas, and unable to find a safe location anywhere in Gaza.  However much the IDF intends and attempts to avoid civilian casualties, and most military strategist and experts will agree that Israel’s military is more successful than any other army in the world in doing so, it cannot always succeed.  The tragic reality is that Gaza has been made into a war zone by Hamas and the other extremists, and, as usual, it is the people who pay the price.

Yet, somehow, many prefer to focus the blame for all this on Israel alone.  This is not rational.  On the one hand, are the extremists: brutal, ruthless, without conscience or any sense of humanity, dictatorial, repressive, and regressive.  On the other hand, are the government, military, and population of Israel: the only country in the Middle East with a democratically elected government, a free press, whose citizens enjoy the rights of freedom of speech and association, and whose LGTB community is legally accepted.

The state of Israel was created by the United Nations partly as a response to the Jews’ two thousand year history of being persecuted, and murdered, which had culminated during the Second World War with the extermination of two-thirds of all the Jews in Europe in the Holocaust.  It was a recognition that the Jews could only be safe if they were able to defend themselves, in their own state, because they could not depend on the care of others.   While remembering their past, the people of the state of Israel have focused on the present, and the future, building a vibrant and successful economy from a barren and resource-poor land.   In the process, it has become the only developed country in the Middle East, with a thriving agricultural sector, and one of the most technologically-advanced industrial and high-tech sectors in the world.  These scientific and technical advances are shared, so that they may benefit all humans. Some examples are: the modern computer microchip, Disk-On-Key, the camera pill, various breakthroughs in artificial heart and pacemaker technologies, and numerous other discoveries.  For Israel has always been known as one of the leaders in humanitarian efforts around the world.  It is regularly one of the first countries to offer help in response to global natural disasters, and usually is the first to open field hospitals where life-saving surgeries desperately needed in disaster zones can be performed.

There are many more examples I could give of how Israel’s existence has proved beneficial to the world, but I want to focus now on the criticisms that have been made of Israel that bear no resemblance to reality, or are based on inaccurate information or outright lies, or are the ravings of those who want only to condemn Israel by ignoring facts or picking only those that suit their purpose.  Therefore, if you assert that you are pro-humanitarian, pro-life, pro-peace, pro-truth, but form your opinion of Israel from such anti-Israel statements, you are a hypocrite, as I shall now demonstrate.

The Claim of Genocide

It is popular in some circles to accuse Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians.  This is a ludicrous and prejudicial statement that has nothing to do with reality, but everything to do with casting Israel in the most negative light possible.  The terrible irony is that the Jews themselves have been victims of persecution and genocide for the last two thousand years.  It was in response to this fact that the United Nations acknowledged that the Jews should have a nation-state of their own, where they could protect themselves from future genocides.  If any state should be accused of genocide, it is those that have promised to destroy Israel, and to “drive the Jews into the sea.”  They have attempted to do precisely this on at least three occasions:  the War of Independence 1948, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1979.  They have also supported and aided many terrorist groups and terrorist acts committed against Jews in Israel and elsewhere.  Before the state of Israel existed, efforts were made to terrorize Jews into leaving the region, and these efforts have continued to the present.

It is exceedingly strange, therefore, that the governments and organizations which have accused Israel of genocide have not persuaded the United Nations that Israeli actions conform to the UN’s Genocide Convention, which would legally oblige the nations that have signed the Convention to take action to stop such activities.  The Convention specified the definition of genocide as :

The international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:

1) the mental element, meaning the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”, and

2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called “genocide.”[1]

There have been a number of situations since the Convention was signed in 1948 that have met this description: the Khmer Rouge slaughter of Cambodians in the 1970s, the “ethnic cleansing” episodes in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s.  In all these cases, the basic elements, intent and bodies (to put it bluntly), have been present.  However, while millions of people throughout the world have died since 1948, in wars, guerrilla wars, or as a result of terrorist acts or government repression, none of these cases has been defined as genocide.  This is because “genocide” refers to a very specific phenomenon; it MUST be used only when it is clear that it meets the requirements of the Convention’s definition. Otherwise, any death in any circumstances could be classified as genocide, thereby defeating the entire purpose of constructing an internationally-recognized category that reflects the profound horror of humanity towards such inhuman acts.

Now, let us consider the accusation against Israel.  It is obvious that, if the people and government of Israel had the intent to destroy Palestinians, they have had the means and opportunity to do so – for the past 60 + years.  Israel has overwhelming superiority, technologically and militarily, over the Palestinians. The Israeli military, one of the most effective in the world, could completely destroy all Palestinian settlements – and their inhabitants – very quickly.  As this has NOT happened, despite all provocation, proves that the people and government – and military – of Israel does NOT have the intent required.  Deaths there have been, but deaths of civilians have been – as explained above – a result of error or because the civilians have been in or near what are considered legitimate military targets. The fact that civilians die does not mean they are being purposely targeted, such unintended consequences are an inevitable, regretful aspect of warfare.

An examination of the relevant statistics will illustrate this point.  Listed are the approximate casualty figures for the series of wars between Israel and the Arab states surrounding it. [2]

Conflict Jewish/Israeli Deaths Palestinian/Arab Deaths
War of Independence 1948 6,373 10,000
Suez Canal Crisis 1956 231 3,000
Six Day War 1967 776 18,300
The Yom Kippur War 1973 2,688 19,000
First Lebanon War 1982 1,216 20,825
Second Lebanon War 2006 164 1,954
Operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 14 1,434
Operation Pillar of Defense 2012 6 158
Operation Protective Edge 2014 43 (Closer to 65 at the time of writing) 1,062 (closer to 1800 at the time of writing)
Total: * Minus the last one 11,468 74,671

 

The following factors must be taken into account:

  1. The deaths on the Palestinian/Arab side include the soldiers in the Arab nations’ armies (Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan), as well as those in various Palestinian groups such as the PLO, and Palestinian civilians.
  2. The death on the Israeli side are primarily IDF soldiers.
  3. The events listed are only those which are considered legitimate military conflicts with specific operational goals, and not prolonged skirmish between military and civilians such as the 1st and 2nd Intifada. The deaths that occurred during these skirmishes while unacceptable and regrettable account for only a small portion of the deaths that have occurred during Israel’s modern existence.
  4. The reason that the death toll for Palestinian/Arab is considerably higher than the Jewish/Israeli side is simply because the IDF has become an extremely effective military, so superior at conducting traditional warfare that anti-Israel or anti-Jewish extremists have to avoid direct engagements with the IDF, using instead tactics such as guerrilla warfare (including terrorist attacks on civilians).
  5. If you choose to make claims that the deaths on the Palestinian/Arab side is largely civilian, please check your sources, because it is extremely difficult to find an unbiased account of such events. For example, an article broadcast by Al Jazeera, a Muslim global news organization based out of Qatar that openly supports Hamas, recently reported that the majority of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge have mostly been combat-aged males.[3] This is very odd, given other claims by “neutral” sources such as the United Nations that most of the victims have been innocent civilians. Presumably, many have obtained figures from the Hamas government in Gaza, but as Hamas is an internationally-recognized terrorist organization, it is hardly a legitimate source for accurate information.

Of course, all deaths by violence are regrettable, but the stark fact is that people die during military conflicts.  We must also remember two key factors:  (1) the primary responsibility of any government is the protection of its people; and (2) the military conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians/Arabs have been conducted to defend Israel from aggressive actions by Palestinian militants or by Arab armies. It should also be remembered that there are Palestinian Arabs (Muslims, Christians, etc.) living in Israel who share all the same legal and civil rights as Jewish citizens, and who are entitled to serve in the IDF.

Let’s now compare these numbers to those of some REAL genocide that have occurred since 1948.   Although most were not categorized as genocide at the time by the United Nations, this was usually because the members were avoiding their legal obligation to take action to prevent or stop genocide – which is a requirement in the Convention.  Some governments have applied sanctions to those governments which are promoting or engaging in genocidal acts, but this is not an effective method of preventing or stopping genocide.  It is only a way by which those who are trying to salvage their reputation for humanitarianism, but do not want to inconvenience themselves – or demand sacrifice from their own population – pretend to be doing something.  It has been repeatedly proved that sanctions only work if the country or government that they are being placed on actually care about international opinion. For example, the government of North Korea, does not care and continues to do what it wants.

Genocide Location Victims The Guilty Parties Deaths
First Sudanese War 1955-1972 Non-Muslims Sudanese Government approx 500,000
Brazilian Indian 1957-1968 persecution Brazilian Indians Brazilian Government unknown
Tibet 1956-1966 Tibetans Chinese Government unknown
Indonesia 1965-1967 Communist party members and left- wing activists Indonesian government approx 500,000
Nigeria 1967-1970 Predominantly members of the Igbo ethnic group Other Local factions and the Nigerian Government 30000 +, though over 1 million people died due to famine as a result of the conflict
Paraguay 1968-1978 Ache Indians Government and corporations unknown
Guatemala 1968-1996 Mayan Indians Guatemalan government Approx. 200,000
Bangladesh 1971 Bangladeshi people West Pakistani Army 200,000- 5 million
Uganda 1971-1979 Acholi & Lango Tribes Idi Amin’s Government Estimated 200,000-500,000
Burundi 1972 Hutu Tutsi Estimated 80,000 -200,000
Cambodia 1975-1979 Cambodians Pol Pot (Khmer Rouge) Estimated 2.2 million
Sudan 1983-2005Sudanese people Civil War between Sudan’s Central Government & Sudanese Peoples liberation Army Civil War between Sudan’s Central Government & Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Army Approx 2 million
Sri Lanka 1983-2009Sri Lankan people and Tamil Tigers collectively Civil war between Government and Tamil Tigers Civil war between Government and Tamil Tigers Estimated 80,000-100,000
Azerbaijan (Khojaly Massacre) 1992 Residents of the town  Khojaly Armenian & Russian forces 613
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1992-1995 Ethnic Muslims Ethnic non-Muslims Estimated 25,000-40,00
Rwanda 1994 Tutsi and moderate Hutu Hutu Estimated 1,174,000
Darfur 2003-present Non-Arab/Non-Muslim Government and Muslim/Arab militias Estimated up to 400,000
Syria 2011-current Predominantly civilians Assad Regime vs Opposition Groups Up to 200,000 and counting
Iraq 2014 Iraqi Christians ISIS (Islamic Jihadist group) Estimated 5,000 and counting * based on various news sources

[4]

In all of these actual Genocides, the reasons for killing individuals were not for specific military operational goals, as is the case with Israel, but were due to tribal or political reasons. This usually means that the perpetrators simply didn’t agree with or did not like the specific opposing group. While it could be argued that many Israelis do not like the Palestinian people, the majority of the population (both Israeli and Arabs) simply wish to live in peace.

If you (the reader), or anyone else, wish to claim that Israel regularly commits genocide, then clearly you do not understand what a genocide actually is. To make such claim is a profound insult to those who have died in REAL genocides and only serves to demonstrate the claimant’s ignorance and willingness to make inaccurate pronouncements.

The “Illegal” Blockade of Gaza

There have been claims, promoted by organizations such as Hamas, and repeated by today’s irresponsible “news” media, that Gaza is essentially an open air prison, due to the Israeli blockade.   Such claims are an example of the tendency of media outlets to compete for attention through the use of sensationalized “reports” meant to manipulate emotions, rather than to convey accurate information.

To return to reality, we must first ascertain exactly what a blockade entails.  The primary standard for international law – the UN Charter – does not actually provide a clear definition of what constitutes a blockade, or when it may be considered legal or not; however, the general guidelines, as stated in Articles 41 and 42, specify that:

“Article 41 – The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures.  These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42 – Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security, Such actions may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of members of the united Nations”[5]

These Articles mean that the members of the UN Security Council have the authority to determine whether a blockades imposed by one nation against another are legal or not.  Further, that the members of the Security Council can also enforce a blockade and are the only international council which determines the legality of such actions.

Therefore, if a majority in the General Assembly makes a decision that a blockade is or is not legal, it is doing so without the use of any specific written guidelines as to what a legal blockade actually is, because it is the Security Council which has the authority to determine the legal definition.  Thus, if the General Assembly makes a decision, the decision is not legally binding on any member of the United Nation, because only decisions by the Security Council are enforceable.  As the five permanent members of the Security Council hold veto power, it only takes one member to block any decision by the Security Council, and by the General Assembly.

Yet still people believe that blockades are illegal under international law, as if all blockades are identical.  Again, we resort to reality: the last official international treaty regarding blockades was signed in London in 1909,[6] pre-WW1. Prior to that, a treaty had been signed in Paris in 1856,[7] by the world powers of the time. However, the world powers in 1856 and 1909 are not the world powers of today, so how can these treaties still be in effect?   In any case, neither of these treaties state that it is illegal to create a blockade, they only specify how to properly run a blockade, which ships can be subject to a blockade, which goods can be confiscated as wartime goods and which goods must be allowed to pass through the blockade.

Based on the latest official international treaty, signed in 1909, Israel does not violate any international laws whatsoever. It has the right to stop and search any ship of any nationality within its maritime territory, and it has the right to confiscate any and all goods, as listed in the treaty, which are, or could be classified as, used for war purposes.

If the international community, or any part of it, wishes to declare Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be illegal, therefore, a definitive statement to this effect must first be obtained from the Security Council of the United Nations.  This is required, under the UN Charter, Articles 41 and 42.  A definition of whether or not the blockade is an act of war, and what the standards of the blockade should be, must also be determined by the Council.

Given that, at any time, various members of the UN Security Council are using forms of blockades against other nations, often to enforce their own internal policies and ideologies, it is highly unlikely that the Council will ever agree on a precise definition of a legal blockade, because that could be used against them.  An example of this is the U.S. blockade of Cuba, in force for over 65 years now.

There are those who argue that the legality of Israel’s blockade is irrelevant because it is immoral:  the blockade means that food is not allowed into Gaza, and its citizens do not have access to “proper” medical treatment.    Again, these are people who prefer to ignore facts that contradict their beliefs, especially when, as in this case, the facts demonstrate that the Israeli authorities do their best to ensure that humanitarian standards are met.

The fact is that there is not enough food in Gaza, but this is because not enough food can be grown in Gaza to feed the entire population.  Therefore, most food products must be imported into Gaza, either from Israel or from Egypt.  Consider the geographical facts of the situation:

  • The Gaza Strip is 360 square km in size (About the size of Manhattan, NY).
  • The estimate of the population in 2014 is 1,816,379, which means a density of about 5056 people per square km. There is simply not a lot of available space for agriculture.
  • Nor is there much fertile land: only 7.39% of Gaza is arable land (26.6 square km). Between 20-40% of this land is inaccessible because it is used as a security buffer zone by Israeli, which means it is on or adjacent to the border between Israel and Gaza.
  • Another 74.3% of the space is urban (267 square km). [8]

If it is not physically possible for Gazans to grow their own food, then they are totally reliant on imported food.  Therefore, if the Israeli authorities really did want to starve the populace, it could simply not allow any food into the Gaza Strip.   However, food does pass through Israeli border posts and into the Gaza strip.

As this information is easily available, the claims attempt to argue that that Israel is intentionally trying to starve out the Gazans by limiting their caloric intake; in other words, not allowing sufficient food into Gaza.  This is yet another example of information being misused and misrepresented.  Those propagating this claim cannot even agree on what the average citizen of Gaza is being limited to: reports vary between 1800 and 2200 calories per person, per day.

Based on information from Web MD, the average child, ages 0-18, needs about 1900 calories per day, this represents a very well-fed child.[9]   The average adult, ages 19 +, requires about 2300 calories per day.  This is an important distinction when calculating the total calories required by the population of Gaza because approximately 50-60% of the population is under the age of 18: around 800,000-900,000 people, out of a total population of approximately 1.8 million. This is a common ration in the majority of the underdeveloped at present due to the increase in the number of children surviving to the age of 18, thanks to improved sanitation, medical care, and quality/quantity of food supplies.

Thus, the Israeli authorities’ determination of how much food needs to be imported into Gaza is based on the actual population demographics: they calculate how much food, on average, is required to sustain the average Gazan, and the calculation is based on the average medical requirements (not minimums).  The statistics quoted above were taken from the high(maximum) end of the scale, as provided by the Army’s medical advisor.  Given that Israel is one of the most medically-advanced countries in the world, it is reasonable to assume that the medical advisor is a credible authority on this issue.

Therefore, based on appropriate medical advice, the alleged “limited” 1800 to 2200 calories per person, per day, should be more than sufficient to feed the entire population in Gaza.  Do the math: 800,000 – 900,000 at 1900 calories, and around 1 million at 2300 calories, versus 1800 to 2200 calories for a total population of 1.8 million.  This is more than sufficient to sustain the population.  Furthermore, these calculations do not take into account the food that crosses into Gaza from Egypt.

The problem, if there is one, is not caused by the Israeli blockade because those claiming that Israel is “limiting” the amount of food allowed into Gaza actually demonstrate that, based on their statistics, more than enough food is entering Gaza to ensure that every person should be well-fed. The problem is that Israel does not control who gets the food that enters Gaza, the government of Gaza does, and that government is currently controlled by Hamas.

So, on the one hand, there is Israel, whose government is conducting a blockade of Gaza, because the government of Gaza not only swears to destroy Israel but commits violent acts against Israel and its population, and on the other hand, there is Hamas, an organization that has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it is willing to sacrifice its own people if its leaders think such ruthlessness will further their cause.  When you add to this equation the historical rarity of an “occupying” power ensuring that the population it is “oppressing” are well-fed, as Israel clearly does, then a charge of “immorality” in this situation can only be made of Hamas.

Let us now consider some of the other absurd, ill-informed, and bigoted statements that have been made about Israel, and Israelis.

You are a Jew, this means you are a Zionist and a religious Zealot

“Israel is a Jewish state so that must make it a religious state, which is no different than an Islamic state.”   Only someone seriously ill-informed about Israel and Jews would make such a statement.  “Jewish” is an adjective not confined to a religious categorization.  Judaism is a religion.   A “Jew” is a genetic descendant of the Jewish tribes of the ancient era.  “Jewish” refers to a variety of cultural practices and traditions that specific Jews follow.   A person who is not of Jewish descent can convert to the more liberal sects of Judaism.  A person who is not Jewish can reside in, and be a citizen of, Israel.   “Jew” is a very elastic term, and is frequently mis-applied and mis-interpreted.

As is the term “Zionist,” which refers to someone who believes that the Jews constitute a nation, and thus should – under the principle of self-determination – occupy their own nation-state.  Not all Zionists are – or have been – Jews, and not all Jews are – or have been – Zionists.

“Israel” is the name of the nation-state established by the vote of the UN General Assembly in 1948.  It was established as a secular state, a republican democracy, and there is no requirement that citizens can only be Jews.  As a result, only around 75% of the now 8 million Israelis is actually defined as Jewish.[10] The rest are Israeli Muslim, Israeli Christian, or Israeli other, because the constitution of Israel guarantees its inhabitants freedom of religion, and of speech, and of association, etc.

To clear up any remaining misunderstanding, let’s break down the percentage of the Jews in Israel, and determine how many of them actually consider themselves religious. According to Jewish religious laws, in order to be a Jew, you must be born of a Jewish mother or have legally converted to Judaism (though only the more liberal sects of Judaism accept the principle of conversion).   The state of Israel classifies any Jew thus defined as a Jew, regardless of whether or not the individual considers themselves secular.

The state recognizes three types of Jews, based on ethnic (genetic) or cultural background:

 

Type Meaning
Ashkenazim A Jew whose origin is European
Sephardim A Jew whose background can be traced to displacement from Spain by the Catholic Inquisition
Mizrahim A Jew whose background can be traced to a Middle Eastern country

Jews in Israel classify themselves as:

Denomination % of Israel’s Jewish Population
Haredi 8.00
Religious 12.00
Traditional Religious 13.00
Traditional 25.00
Secular 42.00

[11]

Outside of Israel, only those categorized as Haredi or Religious would be considered “religious.” Traditional Religious would mean that they are practicing Jews who keep traditions, such as keeping kosher, in North America they would be considered conservative. Traditional signifies that these people do not regularly practice Judaism, but keep Jewish traditions, such as kosher. This could be compared to the Reform movement in North America.  Therefore, most “Jews” in Israel are actually secular.

To demonstrate the complex nature of identity, In America, Jews define themselves as:

Denomination % of American Jewish Population
Orthodox 13.00
Conservative 26.00
Reform 34.00
Reconstructionist 2.00
Just Jewish 25.00

[12]

For the record, I would like to specify that I grew up in Canada as a Reform Jew, and, traditionally, Reform Jews in Canada are slightly more conservative in practice than those in America. So when I say that most Reform Jews are not really religious, I mean just that. In Israel the reform movement is not considered a category. Most reform Jews identify themselves as Jewish may or may not follow some of the practices and may or may not go to a synagogue.   In any case, while I identify, culturally, as Jewish, my religious beliefs would be categorized as agnostic.

Of course, this is all how Jews identify themselves; others have different definitions.  For example, in 1935, the Nazi government of Germany – in their infamous Nuremberg Laws – categorized Jews as anyone who had 3-4 grandparents, no matter which side they came from, as a Jew. This meant that even if a person did not identify as a Jew, did not practice Jewish tradition or religion could and was still identified as a Jew and, as a result, sent to the Death camps. Other aspects of the Nuremberg laws made it illegal for Jews to marry or intermingle with those with “pure German” blood. [13]

So what does any of this matter to the argument? It means that the majority of modern Jews are not religious, so cannot be considered religious fanatics by any rational person.  Furthermore, just because Israel is identified as a Jewish state does not mean that it is a Judaic state, a theocracy that is so anti-everyone-not-a-Jew that its government is determined to kill or destroy Arabs, Palestinians, or anybody else it doesn’t approve of.  While there are in Israel, as in every country, a small minority of extremists – people whom would be considered mentally unstable by western standards – who preach hate and violence, they cannot be considered in any way representative of Jews or of Israelis.  In Judaism, all life is considered precious, as it is in most mainstream religions.

This includes Islam, of course.  Indeed, it is a tragedy for both Jewish and Muslim (and Christian) communities in the Middle East that their religions have been so debased and defamed by extremists of various forms.  It is those who are driven by mindless fanaticism or political expediency who have created, and continue to foment, the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that makes peace so difficult to attain. The average Israeli or Palestinian wants to live their life in peace, free from terror and turmoil, as do all rational human beings.  The extremists want no part of that, determined to torment the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians for their own purposes.  Consider who benefits from the present situation, and it is certainly not the average Israeli or Palestinian.  While a small minority of radicals on both sides continue to poison the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians – even relationships within each community – rational and reasonable people of good will must keep trying to resolve the basic conflict over the future.

The two state solution has not worked, let’s just make it one state

I will start of in this section by stating that, no, I am not so arrogant as to claim that I can solve the problem; however, I wish to point out some basic facts regarding both options. I leave it to you to analyze the possibilities that these facts provide.

Firstly, the two-state solution: why has it failed?

On Nov 27, 1947, the U.N. officially voted on Resolution 181: the partition of the territory of Palestine into 2 states, one predominantly Jewish (Israel), and one predominantly Arab (Palestine).[14]  The results of the vote were:  33 countries for, 13 against, and 10 abstaining. It should be noted that all of those voting against were the Muslim and/or Arab members of the United Nations at the time.  This Resolution was a response to the British government’s decision to return the mandate over Palestine to the United Nations, so that the principle of self-determination could be applied to the population in that area.  Given that this would result in the creation of an independent state for the Arab population of the former Ottoman Empire province of Palestine, it seems odd that their fellow Arabs (and/or Muslims) would vote against this proposition.

Therefore, in accordance with the will of the majority of the states in the United Nations, the creation of the state of Israel was announced on May 14/15, 1948 (the dates set out in the Resolution) by David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.  The new state’s borders were to be based on the locations established in the Resolution.  Despite the hostility of the Arab states, and the refusal of the Palestinian Arab leaders to abide by the Resolution, the Israelis stated their willingness to resolve the conflict by working with their Arab neighbours, peacefully, as was clearly evident in Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL  will be ready to cooperate with the organs and representatives of the United Nations in the implementation of the Resolution of the Assembly of November 29, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the Economic Union over the whole of Palestine.

We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building of its State and to admit Israel into the family of nations.

In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions — provisional or permanent.

We offer peace and unity to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all.”  [15]

The “wanton aggression” referred to in the Declaration was the declaration of war issued on May 15th by the governments of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, followed by the invasion across the borders of Israel – as delineated by the UN Resolution – of the military forces of those nations.  However, they did not only invade Israel’s borders, but crossed the borders of what was supposed to become the new, independent state of Palestine.[16] The situation immediately following independence was chaotic for everyone living in the former Palestinian-mandate territory.  The invasion of five armies, from every direction, into an area where the residents were trying to construct new states resulted in a truly horrendous situation.

1947-partition

[17]

When the intended borders had been determined by the UN, full citizenship rights had been offered to the Arabs who were residing within the boundaries of what was to become the new state of Israel.  Unfortunately, the Palestinians were simultaneously being urged, by radio broadcasts from the Arab states surrounding Palestine and other media, to remove themselves from the area because the Arab states would be sending their armies into the territory in order to “drive the Jews into the sea,” as the repeated assurances said.  Therefore, the state of Israel would be destroyed, and the Palestinian Arabs would then – supposedly – be able to create a new state of Palestine that encompassed the entire former mandate territory.  Given what actually happened to the territory that had been intended to form the state of Palestine, there is good cause to question whether or not the “victorious” Arab armies would have fully withdrawn, once Israel had been destroyed.

Many of the Palestinians heeded the assurances of the Arab states and moved – temporarily, they believed – to the east, away from the territory that was supposed to become Israel.  Some may simply have thought it wiser to get out of the way of the impending violence.  Some may have moved because they were intimidated by attacks on Arabs by Jewish extremists.  However, some also stayed where they were, inside the borders of Israel.

When the Arab armies duly drove across the borders specified by Resolution 181, things did not turn out quite as they had expected.  Despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, with few trained soldiers, and little military equipment, the Israelis not only defeated the Arab armies, they drove them back across the intended borders of Palestine.  Before the Israeli success could result in the effective occupation by Israel of the entire former mandate territory, the UN negotiated a cease-fire.  The borders of Israel were adjusted to include most of the territory the Israeli had taken control of as a result of the warfare, and the Palestinians who had left the area before or during the war found themselves in UN refugee camps in what became the West Bank (occupied by Jordan) and Gaza (occupied by Egypt).  There was no territory left to form a state of Palestine.  At least, none that Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt were willing to release.

map04

[18]

The readiness of the Arab governments to take control over the remaining territory of what had been intended to form Palestine demonstrated more clearly what their aggression had really been designed to accomplish.  Since 1948, some have tried to claim that the Arab states were only trying to protect the Palestinians from being massacred by the Jews.  As the Arab states were clearly the ones who started this war, by crossing the borders of a sovereign state (no matter how “new” it was), and as they themselves took over the remnants of what should have been another sovereign state, the question, surely, is exactly whom did the Palestinians need protection from?

In common with much of the propaganda spewed forth against Israel since 1948 (to say nothing of before 1948), the Palestinian refugees were used (and are still being used) as “evidence” of the inhumanity of Israelis.  It was the United Nations which established refugee camps – in the West Bank and in Gaza – and which provided food and medical care for the displaced (voluntarily or not) Palestinians.  The Arab states not only refused to supply even basic necessities, they deliberately kept the refugees in the camps, not allowing them to assimilate into the Arab communities which shared their ethnicity, language, culture, and religions.  Far better, for propaganda purposes, that the refugees stay stranded in tents, dependent upon UN charity, cut off from opportunities to work or attend school, left to rot and to fester with resentment and hatred that was carefully aimed at Israel, not their fellow Arabs.  Ironically, many of these refugees were allowed to travel into Israel to find work and education – and medical services.

Yet the “story” for the Palestinians has been that all their troubles are, and have been, caused by the Jews.  This began soon after the territory had been taken away from the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the Middle East since the 14th century, and became a League of Nations mandated territory, administered by the government of Britain, in the 1920’s New “leaders” of the Palestinian Arabs emerged, to try to construct a basis for their own political ambitions and to oppose any concessions to the Jews already residing in the territory.  The “conflict” between Arabs and Jews was deliberately initiated by the Arab elite in order to provide the elite with a rationale for their claim to “represent” the Palestinian Arabs, and a “target” for them to claim to be “protecting” the Palestinian Arabs from.

I have lived on a kibbutz in Israel, where I learned about the history of the kibbutz, as well as the kibbutz movement in general.  In the pre-independence period, most of the kibbutz were agricultural settlements.  The land had been purchased from Turkish or Arab landowners, and the Jews – many of them European socialists – had toiled, often for years, to build thriving farms.  As socialists, the kibbutzim wanted to share their modern technologies and ideas with their Arab neighbours, for example, offering to open their schools to the village children, or pipe water from their wells into the village.  Such modernization was sorely needed, for the Arabs were predominately uneducated, oppressed peasants – deliberately kept so by the Turkish and Arab landowners because that made it easy to keep them oppressed.  Not surprisingly, the landowners were alarmed at the prospect of their peasants learning new ways, so were determined to drive a wedge between the peasants and the Jews.  As the landowners were the traditional authorities, when they told the peasants that the Jews wanted to take over their land, steal their children under the pretext of educating them, and poisoning the villagers with their piped-in water, the peasants believed these lies.  Thus the conflict began, and increasingly became violent, with deaths and injuries on both sides – which always serves to feed still more conflict.

In this way, the mutual suspicion and antagonism was well-established decades before 1948, and not only could be used during the War of Independence – in particular, to inflame Arab hostility –  but has been used ever since, to maintain and intensify the perceived conflict.  In consequence, little has improved for the majority of Palestinian Arabs, and Israelis have been forced to deal with continuous terrorist attacks and repeated attempted invasions from various neighbours.

After the failure by the Arab states to abide by UN Resolution 181, the Israelis continued to build their new nation – and duly extended full citizenship to all who resided within its borders, as promised.  They created a modern democracy, with a diverse and prosperous economy, all the while absorbing hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who had been living (for centuries) in Arab or Muslim states throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as immigrants from around the world.  They also had to fight – and win – several wars against Arab states which continued to try to “drive them into the sea.”  Note that I said “had to … win.”  This is the stark reality that has faced Israel from the beginning: if Israel loses a war, the state of Israel – and probably most of its Jewish population – would be destroyed.  There is no other option but to win – that is a fundamental issue that needs to be remembered.  The Arabs can – and have – lost repeatedly, with little consequence.   Given that the Arab states are authoritarian by nature, the government controls the information provided to their populations.  Until recent technological improvements, their populations had no other source of information, so believed whatever their governments told them.  The contrast between the Arab/Muslim states and Israel, with its often raucous free press, is very clear.

Ironically, this is what made it possible for a president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, to initiate discussions with the government of Israel (at the time, led by Menachem Begin).  Sadat had simply informed Egyptians that the 1973 war against Israel had been a success.   On March 26, 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty – mediated by the government of the U.S., and its president, Jimmy Carter – in which Egypt recognized the legitimate existence of the state of Israel, and Israel returned control of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.  It was hoped that negotiations could continue from this which would lead to another two-state solution.   Sadat’s reputation in the Arab world as a serious and capable leader – and a long-time bitter enemy of Israel – gave him the political standing to argue for a settlement between Arabs and Israelis.  Unfortunately, Arab extremists in Egypt – probably members of the Muslim Brotherhood organization – assassinated Sadat and many of his colleagues before any further progress was made.

Despite the clear danger to anyone willing to stand up for a negotiated peace, a third serious attempt at constructing a two-state solution work was made in 1993.  The OsloAccords, was signed between Israel (represented by its prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin) and Palestine (represented by PLO leader, Yasser Arafat), again with the mediation of the U.S. under President Bill Clinton.[19]  The Accords agreement was intended to lay the foundation for further, detailed negotiations on the issues.  The meetings which had resulted in the Accords had been kept secret, in order to avoid the risk of any outside interference. Unfortunately, after the Accords were announced, with the hope that this progress could be encouraged to continue by public support, the momentum towards peace was again stopped dead in its tracks when Rabin was assassinated by a radical Jew on November 15th 1995.  As with the case of Sadat, Rabin had a solid reputation – both as a military leader and as a cautious politician – which provided him with the “capital” to undertake negotiations with such an infamous enemy of Israel.

Since Rabin’s death, few have been willing to lead negotiations – on either “side” of the table.  Instead, the situation has become ever more violent and the political positions ever more hardened.  It seems that the major road block to a two-state solution is extremists of every stripe simply do not want to come to a mutually-beneficial agreement, and are determined to stop anyone who does want peace, by any means necessary.  It is no coincidence that, every time a breakthrough seems possible, terrorist actions raise public fears, which deflect attention away from negotiations and toward retaliation.  In such a climate, no one dares suggest any compromise – which is the only possible avenue by which to reach a settlement. Until moderates on both sides take a determined stand against those who wish to manipulate the public through acts of terror, nothing can be accomplished.

Until that becomes possible, perhaps other solutions should be considered.   One of these is to simply absorb the West Bank and Gaza into Israel, all of the security barriers and giving all of those residents the same rights as those who are currently living in Israel. I think that, logically, this is the best option, especially for the Palestinian Arabs in those territories, because they would thereby obtain more rights and freedoms than any of the populations in any Arab or Muslim country. Unfortunately, from a historical, political, and sociological perspective, it would not be possible to ensure that this could actually work.  There are a number of factors to be considered:

First, who legitimately represents the Arab population of the former Ottoman province of Palestine?   Certain individuals and organizations have claimed to be the representatives of the Palestinian Arabs, but by what authority? There had not been any such representation during the centuries of Ottoman rule, there was no election at the end of World War I to chose Arab representatives, nor was there any election immediately prior to the passage of Resolution 181.   Self-appointed “representatives” have claimed that “their” people, want their own state, but the people have never actually been given a clear – and free – choice about anything.  Except, of course, for those who accepted the Israeli offer of citizenship in 1948, and since.  These “leaders” have consistently rejected any compromise by which a two-state solution can become a reality.  Most of them refuse to accept that there should even be a state of Israel.   Therefore, the possibility of a one-state solution, that is, a state of Israel that encompasses the West Bank and Gaza, with all inhabitants having Israeli citizenship, has no chance of meeting their approval.

Secondly, a group of people who consider themselves ethnically, linguistically, religiously, distinct is supposed to want their own nation-state, where they can have complete autonomy over their affairs.  This concept has been used to legitimize and rationalize “nationalism” and the principle of self-determination since the 19th century.  As most geographical territory is usually occupied by two or more distinct groups, the disagreement over exactly which part of a geographical territory “belongs” to which group has been source of considerable conflict, and violence.  Because this violence is conducted against people with whom the group has lived  in close proximity – often, for centuries – the violence is generally extremely bitter and cruel, more than the “usual” wars with foreign countries.   Such violence, however, is not always a factor – some groups have managed to separate themselves from others in relatively peaceful ways, although the rhetoric used to promote “the cause” can be extreme.  At present, there are a number of these separatist movements in progress:

  1. Scotland (to separate from the United Kingdom)
  2. Wales (to separate from the United Kingdom)
  3. Flanders (to separate the Flemish part from the rest of Belgium)
  4. Catalonia (to separate from the rest of Spain)
  5. Basque (to create their own country from areas in northern Spain and southern France)
  6. Quebec (the descendants of French settlers, want to separate from the rest of Canada – there have been several referendum’s to this effect, but no majority support yet)
  7. Kurdistan (Kurds wish to create their own country out of the territory they occupy in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey)

I would like to point out many of those separation movements at one point or another have had violent outburst.  The Kurds in fact who were heavily oppressed under Saddam Hussein in Iraq are now the front line fighters in the once again war on radical Islam as they fight the terrorist organisation ISIS, who has taken over due to the power gap in Iraq.

This of course brings up the final issue, what it takes to be defined as a Palestinian. Prior to 1948 any one in the region, including Jews were Palestinian. There were many Jews who advocated for the freedom of Palestine. In all essence this was achieved. One group made of Jews made a successful nation state and the other the Arabs have failed to do so. I say specifically Arabs because many of the other ethnic minorities in the region such as the Bedouin and Druze have not had the same issues that the Arabs seem to have. So if a single state was made, would this stop the propaganda and violence from the Arab radicals? It is doubtful.

In the end, the problem remains as to what can, or should, be done in regard to the Palestinian Arabs that have become “refugees” since 1948, an issue that has become a powerful propaganda weapon against Israel because it is claimed that:

The Palestinian refugee issue is the worst in the world

According to the U.N., there are approximately 43 million refugees globally, with approximately 15 million of them living as refugees in other countries and 27 million of them living as refugees in their own country[20]. The breakdown of the major refugee groups, according to the U.N., is as follow:

Refugee Group Number of Official Refugees
Palestinians 4.8 Million
Afghans 2.9 Million
Iraqis 1.8 Million
Somalis 700,000
Congolese 456,000
Burmese  “Myanmar” is the name given to the country by the military dictatorship in the 1980s – I think – so using Myanmar signifies acceptance of the military dictatorship 407.000
Colombians 390,000
Sudanese 370,000

[21]

Therefore, the 8 largest refugee groups in the world equal about 11.8 million people, or about one quarter of the world’s total official refugee population. The Palestinians constitute the largest of the groups, accounting for about 11% of the world’s refugee population. This seems straightforward, but we should come to a clear understanding of exactly what defines “refugee” status.

In 1951, the UN Convention relating to the status of refugees was signed into law. According to this document the definition of a refugee is as follows:

“A refugee, according to the Convention, is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”[22]

In addition, the Convention also specifies how a state must treat refugees in its country:

the Convention lays down basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees, without prejudice to states to grant more favorable treatment. Such rights include access to the courts, to primary education, to work, and to the provision of documentation including a refugee travel document in passport form.

The document also establishes under what circumstances a refugee will no longer be considered a refugee.

A later Convention, in 1967, removed the time limitations (Which stated only persons claiming status prior to 1951 could be a refugee) which now allowed all persons including those after 1951, who met the criteria to be granted the status of refugee.

In addition, in 1998, the guiding principles of internal displacement were brought into law. These indicate that a person who is displaced in their own country is now defined as a internally displaced person and not automatically a refugee. The main difference between the two is that IDP’s were not the subjects of persecution under the terms established in the original conventions on refugees.

This means that a refugee is not the same as an IDP.  So a Palestinian who resides in the West Bank or Gaza cannot legitimately be categorized as a refugee, because he/she is actually an IDP.  In any case, since the Palestinian Authority has become the legal government of the West Bank, those living there are residents of the West Bank, and, as such, cannot be classified as refugees, no matter what definition is applied.  Furthermore, those Palestinians born in Jordan, for example, according to the Conventions, should be categorized as Jordanian, not Palestinian, and, therefore, not refugees or IDP.   This also raises the question of precisely how many Palestinian refugees are there?

According to the U.N, the Palestinian refugee count is presently 4.8 million. However, according to the U.N.’s own definitions, those living in Gaza or the West Bank are actually internally displaced persons, and the young Palestinians born in other countries, while ethnically Palestinian, are “nationals” of whatever country they were born in.  So the U.N.’s numbers are obviously inaccurate.  Which also means that any statement that uses those numbers is also based on inaccuracies.

Furthermore, the claim that the “Palestinian refugees” are in the “worst” situation, is – again – not an accurate reflection of their condition.  Unlike so many other groups, the Palestinians have, not one, but two organizations representing them in the U.N.:   UNRWA and UNHCR. However, they are not equal in their representation. UNRWA, which apparently allows Hamas to store weapons and explosives in their schools in Gaza, defines a refugee as:

“Persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab- Israeli conflict.” [23]

While UNHCR applies a more appropriate definition:

“owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”[24]

This means that UNRWA considers all ethnic Palestinians, even those with full Jordanian citizenship, as refugees, but UNHCR applies the actual international legal definition of a refugee, which would not include those with full citizenship in other countries.

Besides having two international organizations operating on their behalf, many governments provide millions of dollars in aid, either to these organizations or to the Palestinian organizations that are supposed to administer the West Bank and Gaza.  Of course, how this money is actually spent, is another issue entirely.  The level of corruption in both areas is acknowledged by any reasonably well-informed observer to be catastrophic.  Some of the funds are diverted to private accounts, some are spent on weapons and terrorist activities, some just disappears – the Palestinian authorities, and the other organizations in receipt of aid money, do not seem to follow standard accounting practices.  However, it is clear that the bulk of the funding does not benefit the general Palestinian population. So it is small wonder that the conditions in which some of them live are deplorable, though that is hardly the fault of the Israelis.

Still, some people prefer to blame Israel for everything that could be seen from a negative perspective, as can be determined by the following.

The “new” Israeli media strategy

It has been suggested that the government of Israel’s use of social media, transmitting account of current events through various “cartoony” images is belittling to those who are being killed in these incidents. There is nothing “new” about this: graphics have been employed for relaying information or political views for hundreds of years, throughout the world.

One of the earliest known examples in Europe was during the Reformation, Martin Luther and his supporters used cartoons to attack the Church – they had the printing press, so could run off loads of pamphlets, but few people could read, so they had to use cartoons (pictures) to get their message across.  The Church soon issued their own against Luther, of course.

Another example, the earliest recorded political cartoon in America was created by none other than Benjamin Franklin in 1754.[25]  However, before I go on I would like to establish the difference between a political cartoon and an infographic.

Political cartoons (also known as editorial cartoons) are defined as: illustrations or comic strips containing  a political or social message that usually relates to current events or personalities.[26]

An Infographic is defined as: A visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram: a good infographic is worth a thousand words. [27] 

            For the most part, the Israeli Defence Forces’ official social media feeds have been using Infographics, because that is the best way to convey the information to the masses, who have become accustomed to understanding communications in this manner since the growth of modern technology.  It seems obvious to me that, given the tsunami of mis-information – and lies – produced by the anti-Israel propaganda machine, the Israelis would focus their efforts on making their account as clear as possible.  The following examples demonstrate the appropriate use of graphics to convey accurate information, as quickly and coherently as possible.

IDF TargetsIDF rocket locations

IDF sheltersIDF leaflets

[28]

            The first item, top left, is a brilliant example.  The IDF intelligence map, on the left, shows all known terror sites. To its right, is a U.N. official report on the location of damages in the Gaza strip. The correlation between the targets and the site of damage cannot be clearer.  To hit specific targets in such a densely populated area requires not only effective military weapons and skills, but also the intent to cause as little collateral damage as possible.

I would also like to point out that the IDF map is an example of the Israeli attempt to provide accurate information.  Even during the current conflict in Gaza, the Israeli government and military is willing to declassify, in real time, intelligence maps and videos, so that the international community can see precisely what is going on.  This level of transparency -especially during a conflict – is unique.  You have only to reflect on the uproar caused by unauthorized releases of “secret” information by people such as Edward Snowden to realize how unusual it that videos or images of military activities are released to the public.

The other graphics clearly illustrate that Israel’s “new media strategy,” is not childish, nor does it make a mockery of those who have died.  It is simply a way to provide clear information, using the most up-to-date communications technology, an effective response to the proliferation of social media.

Why this conflict was/is fundamentally different than previous ones

The present conflict between Hamas and Israel actually is different than prior engagements.  For the first time, leaders in the Arab and Muslim world are publically expressing their disagreement with Hamas over their aggressive actions. Others are recognizing that this conflict is not just another round in the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but is a global problem, that has severe political ramifications for everyone because of the increasing extremism of radical Islamists. This does not mean that these leaders have decided to take Israel’s side, but it does mean that they have decided that it is in their best interests to be against organizations such as.

This is such a dramatic shift that evidence should be provided:

The Saudi Paper, Asharq Al-awsat was published saying:

“The conflict in now regionalized at the geopolitical level, with Iran and Turkey directly involved through their backing Hezbollah and Hamas respectively. The conflict has also become religious in nature rather than ethnic, especially after the Israeli government insisted on the Jewish identity of their state. The conflict has also become more sectarian on the Arab side due to the new rift within Islam between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. The involvement of moderate Sunni Arab states is one of nothing more than providing a forum for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo, or in the case of the Gulf states, providing aid for reconstructing Gaza or southern Lebanon.”[29]

The Saudi former head of intelligence was quoted as saying:

“Hamas is responsible for the slaughter in the Gaza Strip following its bad decisions in the past, and the haughtiness it shows by firing useless rockets at Israel, which contribute nothing to the Palestinian interest. The Hamas rockets pose no threat to the Israeli occupation, even when they reach Tel Aviv.”[30]

Though he still condemned Israel, of course, by referring to its “occupation,” that he clearly blamed Hamas for Israel’s military response to its actions is a step in the right direction at least – the direction of accuracy and reality.

A Kuwaiti cleric has also condemned Hamas.  Although I think he was more upset by their inefficiency, any criticism of Hamas is worthy of note.

“For God’s Sake, show some regard for the lives of Muslims who were killed… What were they killed for? How many Jews did we hit?… how many Jews were killed in return? Not even a hundred”[31]

Another article discusses how Arab leaders, especially in Egypt, would like to see Hamas destroyed,

“Over the past week there are voices coming out of Egypt and some Arab countries — voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims. “Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” — Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram. Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs.”[32]

And, of course, there is the often repeated story of the “Son of Hamas,” Mosab Hassan Yousef, who not only denounces Hamas, but has renounced Islam.

It is clear that many individuals in the Arab/Muslim world, are now speaking out against Hamas, while remaining extremely anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic, (which is odd, given that Arabs are also Semitic), but they are at least facing reality at last.  This conflict – and so many before it – really is Israel vs Hamas, and not Israel vs the Palestinians.   When even previous supporters, fellow Arabs and/or Muslims, are condemning Hamas – for whatever reason – it should be obvious to all that Hamas is the problem here, and must be eliminated before it destroys any more Palestinian and Israeli lives.

 

Conclusion

I hope that by reaching the Conclusion, you have actually read all the points and not just scrolled down to it. If you have not even read my opinion based on solid evidence, I simply ask that that you do not comment on the subject further until you make an effort to learn what you need to, in order to form an educated opinion on the subject.

I would like to establish that I am by no means supporting or condoning unnecessary death, no matter whose it is.  I would also like to point out that the real victims in this situation are not all Palestinians, but only those who, due to circumstance, ended up in the Gaza Strip under the exclusive control of Hamas.

Now that some facts have been established I encourage you to delve even farther than I have on the matter.

As such I would like to reiterate what my purpose here is.  It is not to announce or explain that I am Pro-Israel, Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian, or Anti-Palestinian, it is simply to address the fallacy of the statements that are often made in the media or at Anti-Israel/Pro-Palestinian rallies. This is an extremely complex and complicated situation; simplistic (and inaccurate) slogans only serve to poison what should be a rational and reasonable discussion.

I am not attempting to convert you to anything, I am simply asking you to be objective. You do not need to agree with Israel, or anybody else’s, policies, but if you are going to make claims such as “Israel violates international law,” you should actually read that law first.  Do not blindly follow some of the members of the U.N. General Assembly and support their demand for sanctions against Israel, for example.   In the real world, such demands rarely reflect ethical principles; it is far more likely to be a carefully calculated, politically expedient decision.  Indeed, it is not unknown for substantial benefits to accrue to governments who choose to make an “appropriate” vote.  Making decisions in accordance with the U.N.’s own regulations is not usually something that governments consider an imperative.

In the final measure, if you are a humanitarian, pro-human rights, pro-democracy, and pro-gay rights, then you cannot also be anti-Israel (and especially not pro-Hamas).  Remember, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which is consistently active in international humanitarian efforts, and does the best it can to help Palestinians, despite the obstructions created by groups such as Hamas.  It is the only country in the Middle East which actively practices the concept of human rights, it is the only legitimate democracy in the Middle East and it is the only country that has legislated rights for minorities such as the LGBT community.

To concede these facts does not mean that you cannot condemn the needless deaths of Palestinians or Israelis. It does mean, however, that you should reconsider the appropriateness of an anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian attitude.  Remember, there is a reason why most rational people agree that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and think about what that means – especially to those Palestinians who are forced to live under their control, some of whom have recently been publically executed, without trial, allegedly for being “spies.” The reality is that more Palestinians suffer because of other Palestinians, or Arabs, or Muslims than at the hands of Israelis.  This in no way denies that some have suffered at the hands of Israelis, it simply means that you cannot, logically, blame only Israel.

This is more than a semantic quibble.  Without understanding this fundamental issue, you will never understand the situation; indeed, you will only be tempted to continue making inflammatory and inaccurate statements that deepen the antagonism and make any resolution even more difficult. If you really cared about the Palestinians, you would support all efforts to build a stable government in the West Bank and Gaza that could negotiate in good faith with the government of Israel and, perhaps even more importantly, provide the Palestinians with a government that functions to benefit them.  It would be a profound change in their circumstances.

When you look at the situation in Syria, or Iraq, whom do you blame for the suffering of the people there?  If you are not as concerned about them as you claim to be about the Palestinians, why not?  Is it because you can enjoy the delusion of “doing something” by joining rallies and repeating slogans at anti-Israel demonstrations because it’s so much easier to find one of those?   You need to look up the definition of “hypocrite.”  If you are only willing to “care” about some people, but not others – who are so obviously suffering unfathomable atrocities far worse by comparison – what kind of “humanitarian” are you?   At the end of the day, it is not about who is right or wrong, it should be about using the facts to sift through the bullshit and  make a legitimate effort to support real peace.

 

Written By: Jonathan Fader

Edited & Reviewed by: Dr. Jake Newton (phD History)

[1] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/res/260(III)

[2] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/casualtiestotal.html – while this may be considered a bias source it is extremely difficult to find accurate information that is pre-2000. If you can find any that also breaks down the deaths more completely, please send it to me. (accessed Aug 4th 2014)

[3] http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/27/latest-al-jazeera-data-shows-gaza-casualties-still-mostly-combat-aged-males/

[4] http://www.ipahp.org/index.php?en_acts-of-genocide – List compiled from here, with the exception of Syria countries involved in the Arab spring uprising, were not included as it is far too broad a subject across far too many countries, however, hundreds of  thousand of people died across the Middle East.

 

[5] http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml

[6] http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/1909b.htm

[7] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/decparis.asp

[8] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gz.html

[9] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/estimated-calorie-requirement

[10] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html

[11] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3890330,00.html *information from 2010 (accessed aug 2014)

[12] http://www.jewishfederations.org/local_includes/downloads/7579.pdf *information form 2005 (accessed Aug 2014)

[13] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nurlaws.html

[14] http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/181(II)

[15] http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/declaration%20of%20establishment%20of%20state%20of%20israel.aspx (Accessed 08/27/2014)

[16] https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/arab-israeli-war : http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/mfadocuments/yearbook1/pages/5%20arab%20league%20declaration%20on%20the%20invasion%20of%20pales.aspx (Accessed 08.10/2014)

[17] http://www.mythsandfacts.org/replyonlineedition/chapter-4.html (Accessed 08/27/2014)

[18] http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/history/images/map04.gif Accessed 08/27/2014

[19] http://usforeignpolicy.about.com/od/middleeast/a/What-Were-The-Oslo-Accords.htm (Accessed 08/10/2014)

[20] http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/refugees/overviewofforceddisplacement.html (Accessed 08/12/2014)

[21] http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/refugees/index.shtml (Accessed 08/12/2014)

[22] http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf (Accessed 08/12/2014)

[23] http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees (Accessed 08/27/2014)

[24] http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c125.html (Accessed 08/27/2014)

[25] http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002695523/ (Accessed 08/13/2014)

[26] http://www.nationalww2museum.org/learn/education/for-students/ww2-history/at-a-glance/political-cartoon-snapshot.pdf (Acceddes 08/13/2014)

[27] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/infographic (accessed 08/13/2014)

[28] https://www.facebook.com/idfonline (Accessed 08/14/2014) Images available from the IDF’s Official facebook page.

[29] http://www.thetower.org/0880-saudi-paper-israels-conflict-now-with-iran-qatar-turkey-and-their-proxies/ (Accessed 08/14/2014)

[30] http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/28/saudi-official-hamas-responsible-for-deaths-in-gaza/ (Accessed 08/14/2014)

[31] https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153449793572316 (Accessed 08/14/2014)

[32] http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4401/egypt-israel-hamas# (Accessed 14/08/2014)

*I apologize in advance for the misspelling errors and errors of that nature you may find in this article as I am mildly dyslexic. Please feel free to email me at: jfader@urbantacticscanada.com with any grammar errors and things of this sort you may find.

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