Washington, DC (TFC) – Anytime conversation turns to the mistreatment of the Palestinian people, a few statements are certain to be said in Israel’s defense. Some of them are heard so often that many accept them as truth without thinking about the reality behind them. How much truth is there to those statements?
“Israel is America’s strongest ally.” Israel was created in 1948. In 1950, the Korean War broke out. Israel sent no troops. During the Vietnam War, they committed no troops. The first Gulf War? They committed no troops, though this may have been strategic. Afghanistan? None. Second Gulf War? None.
Although the country has never actually allied with the United States during a war, it has been caught spying on the US repeatedly and was listed as the top espionage threat by the National Security Agency. Israel also attacked a US Navy ship while it sat in international waters. That attack killed 34 and wounded another 174 Americans. With friends like this, who needs enemies?
“If the Palestinian people laid down their arms, there would be peace.” The Israeli government is constantly taking lands from indigenous peoples. 40,000 Bedouins are about to be ordered out of their homes as part of Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign. If a group in Israel is unarmed, they fare no better than the Palestinians. The Palestinians could certainly expect the same treatment. Even while the Palestinians are armed, the Israelis are engaging in an active campaign to remove them. If the Palestinians laid down their arms, they would become the victims of ethnic cleansing at an even more rapid rate.
“Nobody self-identified as Palestinian until after 1948.” This is sometimes said as “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian.” The people that make up the group we know as “Palestinian” today were members of separate tribes, clans, or groups. They were not unified. It took genocide to unify them.
The premise that because not many identified themselves as “Palestinian” in 1948, it is ok to ignore their human rights or that they don’t even exist is insane. It would be similar to saying “Because there was no tribe in the Americas called ‘indian,’ they have no rights and do not exist.” No matter what name you wish to assign them, the indisputable fact is that at least 700,000 people were the victims of ethnic cleansing.
“Israel limits civilian casualties, Palestinians target civilians.” The numbers say otherwise. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 2000) Israel has killed 2061 Palestinian children. Palestinians have killed 133 Israeli children. The numbers for adults civilians are just as lopsided. There is no evidence that Israel engages in even the most basic policies to limit civilian casualties.
“Israel is the only country that protects women’s rights in the region.” Israel was actually named the worst violator of women’s rights in the region by the UN because of its treatment of more than one million Palestinian women. People mocked the condemnation because in other countries women suffer more severe penalties, but the reality is that in those other countries there is at least the appearance of due process. Palestinian women have no such rights.
“Israel is the only country in the area that children are not abused and rounded up.” Wrong again. In fact, Human Rights Watch is campaigning to have Israel added to the children’s rights “list of shame” because of its treatment of of Palestinian children. Children as young as 12 can be tried as adults… but only if they are Palestinian.
“Israel is the only democracy in the region.” The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that there will be no “two state solution.” So, that means that Palestine is considered by Israelis to be a part of their nation. The Palestinians cannot vote. The disenfranchised Palestinian population is about 2.5 million. The population of the rest of Israel is about 8 million. If a country denies the right to vote to a quarter of its population based on ethnicity, is it really a democracy?
“Israel is only exercising self-defense.” Israel is an occupying power. By the nature of war, it is the aggressor. A nation cannot simultaneously engage in proactive naval blockades, sieges, or no fly zones and claim to be engaging in self-defense. This chart clearly shows that increased rocket attacks come as a result of Israeli aggression, not the other way around.
“Israel only blows up schools, neighborhoods, and hospitals because the Palestinians hide weapons there or train fighters there.” There is some truth to the claim that weapons are hidden and training takes place in some of these facilities. However, this makes the assumption that presence of weapons or military training grants permission to target a non-military target. Those that advocate this talking point seem to miss the fact that if this standard was applied to Israel or the United States, almost every high school, college, and university is a legitimate military target. Imagine the headlines if an Israeli or US school was leveled and the children were called “collateral damage” because of the ROTC program.
No matter what spin the media or political figures attempt to place on the situation, the fact is that Israel is actively engaging in an ethnic cleansing campaign.