David K. Rees

Debunking six myths about Israel

1. Myth: Israel does not want peace.

No country in the world wants peace more than Israel. People here know that over 23,000 Israelis have given their lives protecting this tiny democracy. There is hardly an adult in Israel who has not lost a dear friend or relative in a war. There is hardly an Israeli parent who had a child in the IDF who has not gone to bed at night worrying that their child will come home maimed or in a body bag.

While in 1948, Israel accepted the United Nation’s proposed plan for Israel, the surrounding countries chose war and attacked Israel from three sides: Egypt from the Southwest, Syria from the north, and Jordan’s Arab Legion from the East.

When Jordanian troops crossed the Jordan River, an internationally-recognized border between Israel and Jordan, its actions were both factually and morally indistinguishable from Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. The difference this year is that the entire Western world has come to he Ukraine’s defense. In 1948, no member of the Western world came to Israel’s defense. Rather, Great Britain  joined the war effort on the Jordanian side. Jordan’s Arab Legion was paid for and trained by the British. All of the officers of the Arab Legion were British. The head of the Arab Legion was a British general, Sir John Glubb, known locally as Glubb Pasha.

In 1967, the same Arab countries again attacked Israel. This time Jordan attacked from the West Bank. Israel won that war in six days. The United Nations then passed UNSC 242 which called for negotiated borders. Israel agreed. The Arab League responded with its three nos: no recognition, no negotiations, no peace.

In 1973, the same countries attempted to invade Israel. This time Jordan, which could no longer attack from the West Bank, attacked from the the north. Again Israel prevailed. Having been defeated three times, Egypt entered into a peace treaty with Israel. That treaty has brought over 40 years of peace between Egypt and Israel, proving that when its enemies are willing to negotiate, Israel is willing to make peace.

2. Myth: The situation in which Israel finds itself is the result of its failure to make peace with the Palestinians.

In fact, Israel has made repeated peace offers to the Palestinians, including at Camp David in 2000, when Bill Clinton  attempted to effect a two-state solution. Yasser Arafat’s response to Israel’s peace offer was to “walk away” (Hillary Clinton’s words) and, according to Arafat’s widow, returned to Ramallah where he authorized the second intifada. The reality is that, with the exception of Egypt, no Arab country nor the Palestinian Authority (PA) has ever made a peace proposal to Israel of any sort.

3. Myth: Israel is responsible for the military situation on the West Bank.

Fact: prior to the intifadas, there was freedom of travel between Israel and the West Bank. Israelis liked to party on the West Bank, especially in Jericho. Palestinians who lived on the West Bank were free to come to Israel to work or play. Arafat’s second intifada took a terrible toll on Israel — over 1,000 Israelis were murdered by terrorists. Israel’s response was to crack down on the West Bank. West Bank checkpoints were set up in numerous places and Israel built the hated security barrier (wall). Today, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have been attacking Israel from the West Bank. The IDF has responded to protect Israelis.

4. Myth: Peace with PA will bring Israel peace.

This is the raison d’etre of the J-Streeters’ and Barack Obama’s Israel policy. The reality is that the chief military threat to Israel is not the PA. It is Iran; its proxies Hezbollah and PIJ; and Hamas, which receives millions of dollars and modern missile technology from Iran annually (together Iran et al). Together,  Iran et al have between 150,000 and 200,000 missiles ready to be fired at Israel. The PA has none.

Iran et al have absolutely no interest in a two-state solution. They believe that Allah promised Muslims all the land between the Jordan River and the Sea and want to replace Israel with a Muslim theocracy. No matter what agreement Israel makes with the PA, it will have to prepare for a war with Iran et al.

5. Myth: The “settlements” are an impediment to peace.

This is an Obama, J-Street canard. In fact, prior to 1967, there was no such thing as a “settlement” — Jordan controlled the entire West Bank militarily. Yet, in 1967 Jordan attacked Israel from the West Bank. In response, Israel drove the Jordanian troops back across the Jordan River. The sad fact is that even before there was such a thing as a “settlement”, Israel  had to fight for its survival.


6. Myth: Israel is the result of European imperialism.

This myth was promulgated by Edward Said and continues to be perpetrated by former PLO leader Rashid Khalidi, now a history professor at Columbia University. It is one of the mantras of the Free Palestine folk.

This assertion ignores the very basis of European Imperialism. European Imperialism made the European country rich at the expense of the colonized land. It does not matter whether it was the Spanish in Central America, where they sought gold; the British in India, where they sought diamonds, spices, and tea; the British and Dutch in South Africa, where they sought gold and diamonds; the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies, where they sought oil; or the many countries which simply sought land. In no case was the European country there to build the land; a British soldier who had spent an adult lifetime in India, would return to mother Britain when the soldier retired.

In contrast, when European Jews began to come to Palestine in the late 19th century, they came to a land which had no natural resources. Sparsely-populated Palestine was largely desert, contained some mountainous regions and one huge malaria-infested swamp, which Jews turned into farmland. They had no intention of returning to Europe. They came to build a country.

About the Author
Before making Aliyah from the United States, I spent over three decades as a lawyer in the United States. My practice involved handling many civil rights cases, including women's- rights cases, in State and Federal courts. I handled numerous constitutional cases for the ACLU and argued one civil rights case in the United States Supreme Court. I chaired the Colorado Supreme Court's Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure and served on the Colorado Supreme Court's Civil Rules and Rules of Evidence Committees. Since much of my practice involved the public interest, I became interested in environmental law and worked closely with environmental organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). I was on the Rocky Mountain Board of EDF. I received an award from the Nebraska Sierra Club as a result of winning a huge environmental case that was referred to me by EDF. I also developed significant knowledge of hazardous and radioactive waste disposal. I was involved in a number of law suits concerning waste disposal, including a highly-political one in the United States Supreme Court which involved the disposal of nuclear waste. As I child I was told by my mother, a German, Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany, that Israel was a place for her and her child. When I first visited Israel many years later, I understood what she meant. My feeling of belonging in Israel caused me to make Aliyah and Israel my home. Though I am retired now, I have continued my interest in activism and the world in which I find myself.