Barak Hullman
Former Scholar of Islamic History, Storyteller, Author and Podcaster. Every Question Deserves an Answer.

12 tough questions, 12 simple answers about Israel

A Birthright Israel group exploring the desert. (Sarah Kornbluh)

I read Gil Troy’s attempt to answer the following questions ( and felt that they needed shorter and punchier answers.

He wrote:

My good friend, Taglit-Birthright Israel’s CEO Gidi Mark, challenged me recently: ‘Can you offer short, punchy answers to some of the pressing questions our participants have—and some of the accusations being thrown at them?’

After spending decades researching and writing about how to answer questions like these, here are my answers.

  1. Isn’t Israel an apartheid state?

Yes it is, but the apartheid is against Jews and not Arabs. As a Jew I am not allowed to go into Palestinian villages or towns but a Palestinian can safely drive into the heart of Jerusalem, walk anywhere, speak Arabic out loud, go to work, shop, eat in restaurants and no one will say a word.

  1. Isn’t Israel a settler-colonialist enterprise?

It is the settler-colonialist enterprise of the Jewish people. Against all odds after 2,000 years of exile and persecution the Jewish people finally came back home to resettle and recolonize their ancient homeland.

  1. Don’t Israelis have white privilege?

If they have white privilege it’s not because they’re white. The country was founded by Ashkenazi Jews but populated mainly by Middle Eastern Jews who were kicked out of the Muslim countries they had been living in for over a thousand years after the state of Israel was established.

  1. Why does Israel still occupy the Palestinians?

Because the Palestinians don’t want a Palestinian state next to Israel, they want a Palestinian state instead of the state of Israel. There have been numerous peace deals offered to the Palestinian leadership, despite the Arabs starting all of the wars, and they rejected every single one.

  1. Why is Israel committing genocide in Gaza?

The population of Gaza in 1990 was 645,100. The population of Gaza in 2024 is 2.1 million. That’s reverse genocide. Why aren’t you asking how come the world found room for more than a million Syrian refugees during their civil war when over 500,000 were killed, but can’t find room in their countries for the people of Gaza?

  1. Why can’t everyone just make peace in the Middle East?

For the past 1,400 years (since the beginning of Islam) more Muslims have been killed by other Muslims fighting over which is the true version of Islam: Sunni or Shia. Until they resolve that there will never be peace in the Middle East. The irony is that most Muslim countries will probably make peace with Israel before they make peace with one another.

  1. Why does everyone hate us?

It makes life easier. For the communists, Jews were the capitalists. For the capitalists, the Jews were the communists. When we were stateless, people blamed us for not having a national home. Now that we have one they claim we are the greatest violators of human rights. Antisemitism shapeshifts because thinking is hard and blaming the Jews is easy.

  1. What about those who say, “I’m not antisemitic, I’m just anti-Israel”?

How many other countries around the world do you think should not exist? Are you also anti-China? Anti-North Korea? Anti-Hamas? Or only anti-Israel?

  1. Aren’t there many Jews who hate Israel and reject Zionism?

The majority of Jews support and embrace Israel. There are always people on the fringes of society and the media loves to gives attention to Jews who hate Israel.

  1. C’mon, don’t you have any criticisms of Israel?

A very long list but none of my complaints about Israel have led me to believe that it should be destroyed or sanctioned or not use its power to protect its citizens.

  1. What is Zionism anyway?

The national movement of the Jewish people to return and rebuild their ancient homeland (“Zion”), revive the Hebrew language and give agency to the Jews.

  1. With Israel targeted by Hamas and other Gazans, terrorists in Judea and Samaria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran, even the Houthis from Yemen and the world, aren’t you worried?

At the beginning of this war, my wife put a sign on our front gate in Hebrew that says, mi shemamin lo mifached. Which means, someone who has faith in Hashem, the Master of the Universe, is not afraid. The only thing to fear is a lack of faith in God.

About the Author
Barak Hullman studied for a PhD in Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MA at Princeton). He made aliyah from South Florida in 1995. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and their 7 children (all born in Jerusalem). Barak is the author of two books, Figure It Out When You Get There: A Memoir of Stories About Living Life First and Watching How Everything Else Falls Into Place and A Shtikel Sholom: A Student, His Mentor and Their Unconventional Conversations, available at He has two podcasts, Jewish People & Ideas: Conversations with Jewish Thought Leaders (guests have included Yossi Klein Halevi, Michael Oren, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Gordis and others) at and The Chassidic Story Project at   Learn more by going to
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