Israel Is a Pretty ‘Solid’ Tumor

The President of Iran recently referred to Israel as a cancerous tumor set up by the West. He said, “One of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region.”  While there are some (very few) aspects of truth to it, it is at best an oversimplification of a complicated history and at worst a complete misrepresentation of facts.

Before World War II, when the “tumor” was first developing, the early immigration of the Jews to this land as they embraced Zionism and/or escaped anti-Semitism was caused by the West not set up by the West. The Balfour Declaration was from the West, but outside of the Balfour declaration, legal—with an emphasis on legal—land purchases (which started during the time of the Ottomans) were from absentee landlords of the “East.” So, if the “East” didn’t set up this cancerous tumor, they at least helped provide the genetic mutations that enabled this tumor to develop. Let’s also not forget that before the UN partition plan (UN Resolution 181), Britain issued the White Paper (rejected by the Arabs), which would have negated the establishment of Israel.

UN Resolution 181 was approved after World War II.  When he says “results of World War II,” he really means the Holocaust, although who knows what he thinks actually happened. Thus, what he is saying is that Israel was established by the West because of the Holocaust. This argument is a complete oversimplification as it completely ignores the history and development of the Yishuv prior to World War II. Did Jews “benefit” from sympathy following the Holocaust? I would hope so. However, saying Israel was only established by the West because of the Holocaust is not only an oversimplification, it is inaccurate.

Jumping to the present day is where there are elements of truth. If you think of Israel as the tumor, which is supported by many Western countries, the settlements could be seen as metastases. However, unless we are reading from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” after the Jordan River, Israel does not have any plans for expansion. Thus, a better term would be a “benign tumor,” or a “locally cancerous tumor.” He also claimed that the West uses Israel to further their interests. I find this quite hypocritical as Iran furthers its own interest in the region with its proxy wars against Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Syria. Maybe there is another tumor in the region that rhymes with “I can”? There is a psychological term for what President Rouhani is doing. It is called projection.

What this really is, however, is a denial of responsibility, a denial of history, and a denial of facts. This type of inflammatory speech does nothing to bring us closer to some sort of resolution to this conflict. But, the Iranian President is not interested in the kind of two-state solution that I am. And, that is the real problem. Israel also has problems, many problems. But, with its scientific and technological contributions to this world, it’s a pretty “solid” tumor.

About the Author
Ezra is a recent graduate of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a former Fulbright scholar in Israel. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy with a focus on conflict resolution and mediation at Tel Aviv University. Ezra is the founder of, and co-host of the podcast “Israel-Palestine: Beyond the Headlines with Alec and Ezra."