Factoids not facts

What’s a factoid? According to one definition, it’s a questionable or spurious (unverified, false, or fabricated) statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence. (Wikipedia) Factoids are what passes for knowledge among Westerners who vilify Israel and describe it as apartheid, neo-Nazi, warmongering, and more.

Advocates for Israel are often ignorant of many facts themselves, hindering their ability to easily counter the fabrications hurled against Israel. As a primer for those who wish to have quick retorts to factoids, I present the following. It helps to keep in mind what our Jewish guide in Rome, Micaela Pavoncello, replied when I asked her how she answered Jewish and Gentile critics of Israel. Micaela said, “I tell them to go and learn something about Israel and then we can have an intelligent discussion.”

Palestine is the original name of Israel.No, in 132 CE the Roman emperor Hadrian renamed Judea and the Galilee, “Syria Palaestina,” in an effort to eradicate the Jewish identification of the region.

The Arabs were the first inhabitants of Israel.
No, Abraham and his tribe entered Canaan about 1,800 BCE. Moses/Joshua led the Israelites from the desert into Canaan in about the 13th century BCE. (www.historyworld.net). The Arabs entered the region of Greater Syria during the Arab conquest of 634 CE, after the death of Mohammed.

The Muslim faith was founded in Israel.
No, Mohammed founded Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jerusalem is the Muslim’s holiest city.
No, Jerusalem is the Jews’ holiest city. It is the third holiest city for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina.

Palestine is an ancient Arab country and Jerusalem was its capital.
No, there has never been a Palestinian country or state. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jews for 3,000 years. Lod was the regional capital of the Palestine district for the Umayyad dynasty (661-750). After 80 years the capital was moved to the new city of Ramla. (www.ancientlod.com) Jerusalem was briefly a capital of the Christians during the Crusades, from 1099-1187.

Arabs have always been the majority in Palestine.
No, the Arabs, who came lately to the region, were one of many peoples who have lived here. Except for the brief Christian reign, the only kingdoms here were Jewish, dating back to the time of King David, 3,000 years ago. In Jerusalem, Jews have been the majority at least since the mid-18th century as well as in antiquity.

Before Israel’s independence, the Arabs living in Mandatory Palestine called themselves Palestinians and published the Palestine Post newspaper.
No, the Jews called themselves “Palestinians” and had institutions such as the Palestine Electric Co., the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Post, etc. After Israel’s independence in 1948, “Palestine” was replaced by “Israel.” The Arabs began to call themselves “Palestinians” after 1967. Before that they identified themselves mostly as “Arabs.”

The UN partition Plan in 1947 called for a Jewish and a Palestinian state.
No, the plan stipulated a Jewish and an Arab state.

The Arabs accepted the Partition Plan.
No, the Arabs rejected the plan and immediately began organized attacks against the Jews.

After declaring its independence in May 1948, Israel attacked five neighboring Arab countries, vowing to throw the Arabs into the sea.
No, the reverse is true.

Israel’s conflict with the Arabs is over territory.
No, the Arabs’ goal is to replace the State of Israel with the State of Palestine, or perhaps a Caliphate. That’s the reason why “Land for Peace” will never work.

During the War of Independence, the Jews captured the Old City of Jerusalem and ethnically cleansed it of Muslims.
No, Jordan captured the Old City in 1948 and cleansed it of Jews, destroying all the synagogues and desecrating the graveyards.

Jerusalem has been divided for most of its 3,000 year history.
No, in all of its history Jerusalem was divided only for 19 years, from 1948-1967, when the Jordanians captured the Old City.

During the 19 years (1948-1967) that Jordan annexed the “West Bank,” and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Arabs clamored for an independent state.
No, the PLO was founded in 1964 (in Moscow) and agitation for a Palestinian state gained momentum only after 1967.

In 1967, the Jews perpetrated a sneak attack on Egypt and Syria, vowing to throw the Arabs into the sea.
No, it was the reverse.

The Jews have no right to build settlements (communities, that is) on “Palestinian land.”
No, Judea and Samaria are the ancient homeland of the Jews. Since the Six Day War, Jews have returned to communities settled before 1948 (i.e. Hebron, Jaffa, Golan Heights, Gush Etzion) or have built new communities on unused land or land purchased from its owners.

Judea and Samaria are archaic, Biblical names and the West Bank is the proper name for this “Palestinian land”.
No, the term West Bank was invented by the Jordanians in 1950, to accord with the country’s change of name from Transjordan to Jordan. Judea and Samaria were the names used by Britain, the League of Nations, and the United Nations in the first half of the 20th century. Incidentally, the name “Palestine” had long been anachronistic until Britain revived it for the Mandate for Palestine. (Names on maps and in atlases are inherently political and should be recognized as such.)

In 1973, on the holiest day of the Muslim calendar, the Israelis pulled a sneak attack on its Arab neighbors, vowing to throw the Arabs into the sea.
No, it was the reverse.

Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, the Israelis have never made the Palestinian Arabs a peace offer.
No, the Palestinian Arabs have turned down numerous offers, even ones that included almost everything that was demanded – most notably Ehud Olmert’s 2008 plan (jpost.com).

In the only Palestinian Authority election, Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a lifetime presidency.
No, Mahmoud Abbas was elected for a term of 4 years in 2005. His term of office ended in January, 2009, though he remains in office unofficially.

Israel alone closes Gaza’s borders and occupies it.
No. In 2006, the Israelis pulled all its troops and civilians out of Gaza but retained control of its borders, except Gaza’s border with Egypt. Both countries keep tight control of their border crossings in an attempt to prevent terrorists and weapons entering Gaza.

When the Israelis left Gaza, the Palestinians took advantage of their newfound freedom to build a viable state.
No, the Hamas leadership has continued to pursue its goal to destroy Israel, instead of building a Palestinian state.

Israel returned to Gaza after 2005 and threw Fatah party members off of rooftops.
No, after Hamas won the 2006 election in Gaza, it murdered many Fatah supporters, even throwing some off of rooftops.

For no apparent reason, Israel has attacked Gaza continuously since 2006.
No, Israel has been shelled by thousands of rockets since withdrawing, in addition to terror attacks across the border fence and through tunnels under the fence.

After an Israeli soldier was thought to be captured by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge (2014), Israel executed a dozen Israelis in the street, ostensibly suspecting them of collaborating with Hamas (despite the fact that they had been in prison).
No, that was the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Israel is an apartheid state.
No, non-Jewish Israeli citizens have equal rights with Jewish citizens. This charge can be quickly refuted by a visit to Israel, where Arabs are part of the “landscape” in entertainment and work venues, the hospitals, the universities, shopping centers, and on the streets. There are no segregated facilities. Beyond the 1949 Armistice Line, there are restrictions on Palestinian Arabs, who have yet to come to peaceful terms with Israel. These restrictions are necessary to protect the safety of Israelis, who have suffered hundreds of terror attacks perpetrated by Arabs.

The Israeli security barrier is an “apartheid wall.”
No, the barrier was built to help prevent infiltrators, and also terrorists intent on carrying out bombings, murders, kidnappings, etc. It has been quite successful, largely because it is augmented by preemptive Israeli security force activities beyond the Green Line (1949 Armistice Line). About 97% of the barrier is an electronic chain link fence. The rest is a 30 ft. high wall. (jewishvirtuallibrary.com)

Some people, when learning the facts, are capable of changing their minds about the conflict over Israel. They are worth talking to. It’s best not to argue with others who don’t wish to be “confused” by the facts. In their case, take Micaela’s advice and tell them to educate themselves before broaching the subject again.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.