The Upside-Down World of Israel Haters

A chorus of Israel-haters has turned reality upside-down.

Stories of everyday people in strange and improbable situations — that was the theme of the Twilight Zone, a popular US television program in the 1960s.

In one episode, entitled The Eye of the Beholder, viewers see a woman lying in a hospital bed, her face concealed by bandages. She is surrounded by nurses and surgeons, whose faces the viewer cannot see. The viewer is told that the woman’s face is grotesquely disfigured. She awaits the final of a series of surgeries to make her look normal.

In the climactic moment of the episode, doctors uncover her face after her final surgery to see if she appears normal. When her face is revealed, the doctors and nurses gasp in horror. The surgery has failed. She is unchanged.

But the twist is that the removal of the bandages reveals a beautiful woman. At the same time, the viewers see that it is the doctors and nurses who have grotesquely disfigured faces.

In a moment, viewers understand that this is an alternate reality where beautiful is ugly and ugly, beautiful.

This episode reminds me of the alternate reality of many contemporary anti-Israel narratives. In this upside-down narrative, Israel is the ugly patient, unfit for a world of “normal” nations. But truth and reality have been reversed by Israel-haters.

Just as the Twilight Zone doctors and nurses were the truly ugly people, it is Israel’s enemies who are guilty of the accusations falsely leveled against Israel.

What follows is a list of examples.

Apartheid

One of the most damning and persistent narratives is that Israel is an apartheid nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israeli Arabs have full citizenship and civil rights. Arabs vote for members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. They sit on the Supreme Court and hold many top positions in government, including the armed forces. There is no forced separation of Jews and Arabs in daily life.

Although apartheid is not practiced in Israel, it certainly exists in the treatment of ethnic, religious and racial minorities in Arab countries. With scant exceptions, Jews are not permitted to live in Arab countries. Palestinian residents of Arab countries (other than Jordan) are subjected to extensive apartheid restrictions. In Lebanon, for example, Palestinians are prohibited by law from practicing most skilled occupations, their movements and school attendance are restricted, and they do not qualify for citizenship. Saudi Arabia has apartheid roads: no non-Muslims are allowed to enter the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. Due to threats, harassment and restrictive government policies, the Arab world’s once-large Christian communities are disappearing. By contrast, the Christian population in Israel has thrived and grown.

Ethnic Cleansing

The Israel-haters claim that in Israel’s War of Independence, the Israeli army ethnically cleansed Israel of Arabs, by forcing them out. Israeli historian, Benny Morris, using Israeli army archives, showed this is not true. For security reasons, some Arab communities were forced to flee, but many Arabs remained. Today, over 1.5 million Arabs live in Israel as full citizens.

It is the Jews, not the Arabs, who faced ethnic cleansing. Jews living in Arab countries at the time of Israel’s founding suffered a massive wave of ethnic cleansing by Arab governments seeking revenge after Israel defeated invading Arab armies. Jews in Arab countries faced violent pogroms, expulsions, revocation of citizenship, onerous “Jew taxes,” theft of property, government-sponsored killings, and terrorist attacks against Jewish businesses and community institutions. In the end, more Jews than Arabs lost their homes as a result of the 1948-1949 Arab invasion of Israel.

 Peoplehood

Israel-haters say the Jews are not a people, and thus do not deserve a state. According to the haters, Palestinians are and do.

The Jews are one of the most ancient surviving peoples in the world. Jews share a common faith, language, religion, beliefs, holidays, rituals and customs, as well as a common core of values transmitted by the Ten Commandments and the Torah.

Arabs are certainly a people. But Palestinian, as a category of peoplehood, dates back only to the early 1960s. That was when the Palestine Liberation Organization created its politically-motivated narrative of national liberation. At the time of Israel’s founding, most Palestinians considered themselves to be Syrians. Prior to the 1960s, Arabs living in Palestine called themselves Arabs or Palestinian Arabs. There was no Palestinian national identity.

Indigeneity

As one anti-Israel pundit put it, “The Palestinians have lived in their homeland since time immemorial, while the Jews arrived from Europe after 1948.”

But the facts tell a reverse story. The Jews are the indigenous people of Israel, Judea and Samaria. They have lived continuously in these areas for over 3,500 years. There is historical as well as massive archeological evidence for this.

When the first Arabs arrived from outside the area in the seventh century, the Jews had already lived there for 2,000 years. The Jewish population dwindled after the Roman expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, but so did the Arab population. Jews remained in the Galilee, Judea and Samaria even after the expulsion. When Jews began to return to Palestine in numbers, beginning with the start of the first Aliyah in 1882, Arabs from surrounding countries also came to Palestine, attracted by the jobs created by Jewish development.

Until the late 1990s, Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their descendants accounted for over half of Israel’s Jewish population.1

Self Defense

A common charge is that Arabs merely defend themselves against “Israeli aggression.” But any honest person familiar with the history of the region will tell you: If the Arabs laid down their arms, there would be peace. If Jews laid down their arms, they would be slaughtered. Many groups among Israel’s Arab neighbors have sworn to destroy the Jewish state and they have never ceased their attacks against Israel and Jews.

Responsibility for Lack of Peace

The Arabs have repeatedly rejected offers of Palestinian statehood. They have done so because of their unwillingness to share sovereignty with Jews over any part of Palestine or Israel. They rejected offers in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, and continue to do so today. It is the Israelis, not the Arabs, who have agreed to share the land.

Illegal Occupation

The notion that Jews have illegally occupied Arab land is repeated so often by the media, unsympathetic nations and international organizations that it has taken on the aura of truth. But the 1922 San Remo Resolutions of the League of Nations granted rights to the land to the Jews. These Resolutions were never rescinded. They remain international law today.

To call the Israeli presence in the West Bank an illegal occupation is equally wrong. Under the Geneva Conventions, one sovereign nation can only occupy another nation. Palestine has never been a nation.

It was Jordan who illegally occupied the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. This was an illegal occupation because Jordan invaded, and later annexed, territory that was never part of Jordan. In the Middle East’s upside-down narrative, those voices that condemn Israel for its presence in the West Bank, never uttered a word of criticism against Jordan’s illegal occupation.

Crowding Out

Israel-haters claim that Jewish settlement of the West Bank has been so extensive that it leaves little room for a Palestinian state.

The Israel-haters must be looking at an upside-down map. Over 50 per cent of the West Bank is empty land. Jewish settlements comprise less than two per cent of West Bank land. All the large Jewish settlements hug the 1949 Armistice Lines. Thus, they could easily be absorbed into Israel in exchange for land swaps given to the Arabs. This has not happened because of Arab rejectionism.

Although the media and international groups condemn Israel for building in the West Bank, Arabs have built thousands of unauthorized structures there. They do this with funds from anti-Israel governments and organizations in Europe.

Massacre-Blaming

The Middle East is no stranger to massacres. Arab nationalists often boast of their history of massacring Jews, including Mohammed’s massacre of the Jewish community of Medina in the seventh century. Arab-on-Arab massacres have continued to the present day. Two recent examples are Syria’s repeated chemical attacks against civilians and many mass executions of Shia, Yazidis and other populations.

But in true upside-down fashion, it is Israel who is blamed for massacres that never occurred or were committed by others.

The fabled massacre of villagers in Deir Yassin during Israel’s War of Independence is one example. It never happened.

A Jewish militia entered the village in order to stop incessant Arab attacks from the village on Jewish travelers. Iraqi troops, dedicated to the fight against the Jews, were stationed in the village. Jewish travelers were fired upon from houses in the village. Some male Arab fighters were dressed in women’s clothing, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. As a result, when Arab fighters attacked Jewish forces, the Jewish defenders were unable to distinguish between combatants and civilians. Nevertheless, testimony from villagers themselves proved there was no massacre.

What really happened is that the Arab Higher Committee used the Palestine Broadcasting Company radio station to spread false rumors of a massacre in Deir Yassin in order to convince surrounding Arab countries to invade Israel and kill the Jews. These false rumors persist to this day.

Another upside-down narrative is that during the 1982 Lebanon War, Israel massacred Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps of Beirut. But not a single Israeli soldier entered these camps. Rather, civilians were massacred by a Lebanese Christian militia in retaliation for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s assassination of the newly elected Lebanese Christian president.

An Israeli investigation assigned partial blame to the Israeli army for allowing and possibly facilitating the killings. But in a New York City court case, Israeli general Ariel Sharon proved that Israeli forces were innocent of the killings. This has not stopped the upside-down anti-Israel crowd from spreading this lie to this day.

Water Theft

Israel-haters claim that Israel is stealing Palestinian water. The opposite is true.

For years, Israel has provided West Bank Palestinians with a greater share of water than called for in the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel does not use water from wells in the West Bank. It uses the same water sources as it did prior to its presence in the West Bank in 1967. And Jewish settlements in the West Bank are supplied by Israel’s national water system.

Far from stealing water, Israel has shared water with Palestinians living in the West Bank. Since 1967 Israel has also invested heavily in extending and modernizing the West Bank’s water system. Under Israeli control, the supply of fresh water provided to Palestinians tripled. The number of Arab towns connected to the water system increased from four in 1967 to over three hundred today.

Water shortages in the West Bank are not the result of Israeli theft. Rather, they are due to the refusal of Palestinian Authority leaders to maintain their water systems and their long-standing refusal to meet with Israeli representatives of the joint Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee to plan and coordinate.

Human Rights

Anyone listening to the many condemnations of Israel at the United Nations would believe that Israel is the worst human rights violator in the world.

The reality is that, in the face of security challenges not faced by any other country, Israel consistently receives top ratings from human rights monitoring groups. Israel’s Arab neighbors, who are far less subject to accusations of human rights abuses, all rank toward the bottom.

Israel has a free press, open government elected by all its citizens, an independent judiciary and press, and complete freedom of expression. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the rulers respectively of the West Bank and Gaza, have none of these. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas eschew free elections. They ruthlessly suppress the press, civil society organizations and public dissent.  They routinely imprison and torture dissidents.

Israeli “Siege” of Gaza

Israel evicted 8,000 Israeli Jews and handed Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005 in order to give the Arabs a chance to develop their own state. Instead they turned it into a terrorist base, bristling with weapons and dominated by anti-Jewish hate education for their children. Since then, terrorist groups in Gaza have relentlessly attacked Israel. They have launched thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians, infiltrated terrorist killers into Israel, dug a vast system of terror tunnels, and recently massed civilian rioters on the border with Israel in an attempt to infiltrate and murder Jews. They have started three wars with Israel.

Before these attacks, it was possible to cross the border between Israel and Gaza and a great deal of trade took place. Hamas attacks forced Israel to restrict the movement of people and goods and to set up a blockade to prevent Israeli citizens from being murdered.

But the upside-down crowd claims that Israel has laid siege to Gaza. Not so. Hundreds of trucks loaded with food, medical supplies and consumer goods pass between Israel and Gaza daily. Unfortunately, in order to defend itself, Israel is forced to inspect and restrict goods coming into Gaza to prevent the transfer of materials Gazans can use to murder Jews.

In true upside-down fashion, Israel-haters ignore the reality that it is Egypt, rather than Israel, that has imposed a siege against Gaza. Although this siege has been partially lifted in recent months, for long periods of time the Egyptians have allowed very few people or goods to pass between Gaza into Egypt—-that is, they have imposed a true siege. The international press and western nations mostly turn a blind eye to Egypt’s siege, while they howl indignantly at Israel’s defensive blockade.

Disproportionate Farce

Since the establishment of the modern state of Israel, it has been the target of murderous attacks by armed Arab groups. Israel must defend its population from these attacks. But this has been made difficult by Israel-haters who cry, “Israel uses disproportionate force.”

Under international law that applies to armed conflict, use of proportionate force does not mean that a state may rightfully respond to an attack with the same level of force as the attacking enemy. Rather, it means that a state may only defend itself by using a level of military force that is proportionate to what is required to control the threat. The purpose of this principle is to minimize civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure.

But in the upside-down world of Israel-haters, the enemies of Israel consider any force used by Israel as “disproportionate.” At the same time, these enemies exhibit a higher level of tolerance to the aggression of Arab terrorist groups and governments against Israel.

The High Level Military Group (HLMG) conducted an in-depth review of Israel’s army operations during the armed conflict with Gaza in 2014. The HLMG is made up of 11 former military personnel from a number of countries across the world, as well as a former United Nations war crimes prosecutor. Its report stated that Israel took extraordinary precautions to minimize civilian casualties. It gave the Israeli army high marks for its conduct of the war. It stated that Israel’s conduct in the war was entirely justified and that in some respects it “exceeded the highest standards” for ethical conduct. According to the report, “Israel’s efforts were entirely justified, appropriately conceived and lawfully carried out, and necessary in the defence of that country’s national security.”2

One delusional Israel-hater, a Rutgers University professor, has accused Israel of the fantastical crime of deliberately seeking to maim Palestinians in order to control the Palestinian population. She was referring to the attempt by Israeli soldiers to neutralize Arab attackers—-while preserving their lives—-by shooting at their legs, rather than their torsos. This Israel-hater has turned realty upside-down by transforming a humanitarian practice into a grotesque human rights abuse.

Why do Israel-haters never refer to attacks by Arab terrorist militias as disproportionate, when those attacks are specifically targeted at civilians and intended to achieve maximum death and destruction? Instead, Israel-haters obscure the disproportionate force of Arab terrorists by referring to a “cycle of violence.” The haters ignore a simple fact: Israel’s actions are defensive; those of her enemies are unrestrained attempts to kill, maim and destroy Jews. More upside-down reality.

Farced Sterilization

A university professor, with whom I spoke recently, told me that Israel sterilizes Jewish African women against their will. This is nonsense.3

Once again, Israel stands accused of a crime it did not commit, a crime that has been committed by a number of other nations, including the United States, Canada, China, Germany, Peru and Bangladesh.

A Twilight Zone World

A chorus of Israel-haters has turned reality upside-down. The haters accuse Israel of human rights crimes it has not committed, while they turn a blind eye to countries that have indeed carried out such crimes. The Israel-haters have turned reality into a Twilight Zone fantasy world like the one described at the beginning of this post.

Israel is like the beautiful woman of the Twilight Zone episode. The “experts” who surround her are convinced she is deformed. But the wider viewing audience understands that the alternate reality of the experts is phony.

In the same way, the anti-Israel “experts” will one day be sidelined. The wider world will see the beautiful woman as she really is: neither perfect nor flawed.

Just like Israel.

Footnotes

  1. Israel 101, Stand With Us, Los Angeles, CA, 2015, p. 14.
  2. Jackman, J. The IDF is the Most Ethical Army in the World, Say Military Experts. The JC, December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2018 from:

https://www.thejc.com/news/israel/the-idf-is-the-most-ethical-army-in-world-say-military-experts-1.64004

  1. Berger, R.M. The Big Lie: Involuntary Sterilization of Black Ethiopian Women. Times of Israel (The Blogs), November 25, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018 from:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-big-lie-involuntary-sterilization-of-black-ethiopian-women/

About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors. Dr. Berger also blogs at: https://realbulletpoints.wordpress.com/
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