All the reports that I read about the dwindling support for Israel by liberal Jews, and other Westerners, stress one thing: ignorance on the part of those who have taken an adversarial stance towards Israel. Of course, readers of my articles are very well acquainted with the facts about the Jews and Israel, because I reiterate them in many of my articles. However, because I’m often surprised by gaps in the knowledge of many of my Diaspora friends, I’ve devised a relatively simple, multiple choice test for those of you who want to gauge your understanding of Israel’s history and policies. Because of the breadth of Jewish history, I’ll limit the questions to the modern era.
TEST (answers below) 10 points for each correct answer. All correct is the goal.
1. Although Jews lived in the Land of Israel in ancient, biblical times, they were expelled by the Romans in 70 CE, and didn’t return until the 20th century.
b. False. Communities of Jews remained in the land throughout the Diaspora period, building synagogues and Torah academies. Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and other areas by the Romans, but they always managed to return. By the mid-19th century, Jews were the majority in Jerusalem.
c. Maybe. Everyone thinks that all the Jews became Europeans and returned as colonialists around 1948.
2. The Palestinians are descendants of the Philistine people and have lived in Palestine since time immemorial. Palestine was a famous place when the Jews were still slaves in Egypt. The name “Palestine” was not made up by the Romans to discredit the Jews’ claim to Israel.
False. The Philistines and other pagan inhabitants of the Land of Israel disappeared millennia ago, assimilated into the more dominant societies of the region. The Romans renamed the province “Syria Palestina,” reminiscent of the long-gone Philistines, after the Bar Kochba Revolt in the 2nd century CE. This name change was a bid to erase the Jewish connection with Israel. The Jews alone are the indigenous people of Israel.
Maybe. Everyone says that the Palestinians have controlled Palestine for millennia and that the Jews left no mark, even if they were there for a brief period.
3. The Palestinians built their capital in Jerusalem and their achievements were written about from ancient times. When the Mandate for Palestine was given to the British by the League of Nations, Palestinian rule ended.
b. False. There was never a Palestinian capital, nor an Arab capital, in Jerusalem. Nothing is written about the “Palestinians,” prior to the 1960s. That’s because the only ones who were called “Palestinians” were Jews born during the Mandate period. For 400 years before the Mandate, Ottoman Turks controlled the entire area.
c. Maybe. Jerusalem is actually Al Quds, the place where Mohammed rode his steed Barak up to the heavens. Jews have no history there, according to the UN.
4. All the holy places of the Jews are actually Muslim holy places. For example, there was never a Holy Temple of the Jews on the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron is a mosque, not the resting place purchased by Abraham as a resting place for his wife, Sarah.
b. False. Muslims entered the Land of Israel only in the 7th century CE, after the death of Mohammed. Jewish history in Jerusalem and Hebron goes back 3-4 thousand years.
c. Maybe. UNESCO and the UN have passed many resolutions discrediting Jewish history and favoring the Arabs, so they must be correct.
5. Judea and Samaria are “biblical” names for Arab land (the West Bank). Any Jews who live there are occupiers stealing Palestinian land.
b. False. The name “West Bank” was an invention of Jordan’s King Hussein after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence . Judea and Samaria were the longstanding names designated by the League of Nations and other parties for the “hill country” of Palestine, the homeland of the Jews. Jews can’t be occupiers of their own land.
c. Maybe. Everyone knows that the West Bank has been the home of the Palestinians since time immemorial.
6. Jews are colonialists who overpowered the indigenous Palestinians, dominated them, and derived all the benefit from their labor.
False. When Jewish nationalists came to Palestine in the late 19th century, they bought land and settled it, cleared marshes, started businesses, and employed Arab labor. Arabs from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean flocked to Palestine to find employment.
c. Maybe. The Jews should go back to Europe, where they came from. But wait, the Europeans say they should go back to Palestine.
7. Israel is a racist country where the Jews rule all others.
b. False. Israel is a democracy, where all citizens have equal rights. Israel even extends all rights except political ones to non-citizen permanent residents.
c. Maybe. The Muslims are 2nd class citizens, treated like the Blacks and Latinos in America, who are also 2nd class citizens, according to some.
8. Israel is an apartheid country.
b. False, see #7. Israel is not even close to the former South Africa or the formerly segregated South (and elsewhere) in the US. This is proved by a visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
c. Maybe. Even some South Africans say so. (Maybe they’ve never visited the museum.)
9. The Palestinians deserve a state, just like Israel.
b. False. Why a state with Jerusalem as its capital? The Palestinians are not the indigenous inhabitants of the land, they never had a capital there, they didn’t conquer it, they are not capable of governing themselves and rely on international handouts, and they claim incessantly that Israel must be destroyed. If Palestine attains statehood, it will not be demilitarized (try enforcing that) and it will quickly become another terrorist state. No country would agree to an independent neighboring country under such circumstances.
c. Maybe. There are already 22 Arab states, most of them disallowing any religion other than Islam. Why not a Jew-free Palestine?
10. Israel is losing its soul.
b. False. Israel is forced to protect itself from murderous Islamists. It does the best job that it can under the circumstances, which is equivalent to holding a poisonous snake by the neck and fearing to let it go. Israel’s Muslim minority (20%) has more civil rights than citizens in any Muslim country. Most prefer an Israeli government to a Palestinian one, for good reason.
c. Maybe. What does that even mean?
11. (BONUS) Israel is the most advanced country in the Middle East, with a population composed of many nationalities and religions. The great majority of its residents are happy to reside there. According to “happiness” polls, Israel is at the top of the list, after several English speaking countries (not including the US) and Scandinavian countries.
c. Maybe. Many Israelis say they would like to try living somewhere else, but the grass is always greener…
All “b” except for number 11, which is “a.”