Daniel Ben Abraham
The opposite of war is nuance

Why Israel is NOT violating international law

Why Israel is NOT ethnic cleansing, apartheid, colonizing, occupying, or racist

Common anti-Semitic tropes today are that Israel (or “Zionism” which is the desire for a Jewish state) is committing apartheid, colonialism, white supremacy, racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. These are false.

Of course, as Israel is not doing these things, it shows the accusers of these terms to likely be anti-Semitic in turn, or misled by anti-Semitic ideology. So let’s define these terms the only way they make sense.


“Apartheid” is an Afrikaans word which means apartness, and only applies in South Africa. No definition outside South Africa has been agreed to. It was committed by a minority of European-origin Dutch settlers in South Africa against a majority indigenous population of native African Blacks. But Jews are indigenous to Israel, have no other homeland, and coexist with and give all ethnicities rights including to be in government, to be court judges, and to be in the IDF, so Israel cannot be committing Apartheid.


“Colonize” means people with one homeland exerting power over a people in another distant land (ex: England controlling colonies in America). Otherwise it would be an “annexation.” Jews are indigenous to the Holy Land with Jerusalem as the Jewish Capital for over 3000 years, after Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt. Jews (from “Judea”) who pray toward Jerusalem, have no other capitol or home country, and by definition cannot “colonize” their only and home territory. Unlike Roman, Greek, Persian, Islamic, Mongol, and other empires, the ancient Hebrew civilization 1000 BCE to 70 CE is one of the only that in over 1000 years in the Holy Land (until many Jews were forcibly displaced) that never sent armies to colonize or conquer other distant lands. Only the Arabs which the “Palestinians” are can be colonizers in Israel, as “Arabs” came from “Arabia” in the 7th century, after the land had already been Jewish for 1700 years, with their Islamic capitol that they pray toward in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In fact, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples General Assembly Resolution 61/295 of 2007, should, if the world is fair, apply to Israel as an indigenous Jewish people. It should protect Israel’s rights including collective rights against the 1400 year-long colonization of indigenous Jewish land by other nations that have capitols elsewhere, including a lengthy colonization by Islamic peoples including to the Turk Ottomans, and eventually British Mandate. Israel being in the hands of the Jewish people is de-colonization, a respected value in the U.N. and everywhere else in the world.  In fact, the Arabic name for Jerusalem is Al Quds, short for “Al Quds Bayt al-Maqdis”, which means the place of the Holy Jewish Temple. In Hebrew, it is Beit Hamikdash, as Beit (בית) means house and mikdash (מקְדָּשׁ) meaning sanctuary. Most of the Arabic language developed after Hebrew, in the 6th and 7th century. Even the Islamic Quran written 1400 years ago says that God has given this “Promised Land” to the “People of Moses” and “Children of Israel”? (Qur’an 5:20-21, and 17:104)

“White supremacist” or “Racist:

“Racism” is hatred toward another race. The U.N. passed a resolution saying that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination” in 1975 pushed by the Arab League, and many Muslim majority countries, but revoked it in Resolution 46/86 in 1991. Firstly, almost half of Jews are Saphardi, Mitzrahi, South American, or African, with Israel as their only home, so Israel cannot be White supremacist or racist as Israeli Jews are of every skin color, nationality, and origin. Second, Israel has 2 million Arabs living within its borders, Druze, Armenians, Samaritans, Bahai, and other cultural and ethnic groups. The Arabs in Gaza on the other hand are 99% Arab Muslim and allow virtually no other ethnicities or religions. Palestinians also admit that if Israelis converted to Islam, there would be no dispute, and the dispute only exists because Israel is controlled by Jews. Finally, there are many nations that bar or restrict certain religions or ethnicities, their holding of office, or have other restrictions to preserve an ethnic or cultural identity. Some nations ban all religion except Islam; other nations effectively ban Islam, just as examples. Israel has no such restrictions, but is blamed far more than countries that do. Muslims also have a rule that other religions are beneath them and have to pay Muslims a tax called Jizya. Thus, if anyone, the Palestinian Arabs are racist and supremacist, but Israel is not.


Per the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, “Genocide” is intending to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. There are 440 million Arabs in the Arab world, and only 7 million Jews in Israel. There are 22 other Arab states, and no other Jewish state. Israel only uses force against Palestinian Arabs to stop, prevent, and deter acts by those who admittedly intend to destroy the Jewish state “from the river to the sea”, so only Arabs can be committing Genocide. Five Arab armies tried to destroy the Jewish state the day after its founding on May 14, 1948, and again in 1967, and 1972. Iran threatens to destroy the Jewish state as does Hamas’ Charter. Assad killed 350,000 Syrians and bombed villages with poison gas, Iran killed 300,000 Kurds, Turkey destroyed 4000 Kurdish villages, Russia invaded Ukraine in 2021 to destroy the entire existence of the nation of Ukraine, and the world is not aggressively accusing any of them of genocide. So, Hamas-led Palestinians who are Arab, and Iran’s leadership, are trying to commit genocide against Jews, but Israel is not and could never destroy a population of Arabs 50 or 100 times its size.


As an “aggressor” is a country that attacks first, Israel is not an aggressor, as it has only fought defensive wars after repeated attacks by Arab groups and states trying to destroy her. Every nation has the right of self-defense. The “right of conquest” is the historic international law principle that a nation that possesses land after force of arms has ownership. While wars of aggression are illegal under the U.N. Charter, land acquired in a defensive war, as Israel has reacquired its ancient land after being attacked, is legally owned by Israel.   


The Hague Convention of 1907 defines “occupation” in Article 42 “military authority over the territory of the hostile state”, and as a treaty between nations, it applies, per Article 1 only to signatory nation states, “Article 1. The Contracting Powers shall…” Palestinian territories are not a nation state and not a treaty signatory, so Israel cannot legally be an occupier over the territory of a non-state and non-signatory. The term is intended for an existing nation’s land being occupied, not an unincorporated territory, because a nation can be signatory to agreements and negotiate, whereas a terrorist group has no accountability and cannot. From 1948 to 1967, Jordan controlled the “West Bank” which is really Judea and Samaria, and Egypt controlled Gaza, and they were not accused of “occupation.” Israel ended occupation of Gaza in 2005 withdrawing every last troop and civilian. Instead of Gaza forming a state, they launched near-daily missile attacks culminating in the October 7th attack killing over 1200 civilians. Thus, Israel’s “security presence” is made necessary by her right of self-defense.   

“Ethnic cleansing”:

While “ethnic cleansing” is not a defined crime under international law, a U.N. Commission described ethnic cleansing as S/1994/674 as “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” Israel is not ethnic cleansing, and would not be even if Palestinians were displaced. Many Palestinians want to leave Gaza voluntarily. But even if not, Israel is not selecting people for displacement based on ethnicity or religion, but being part of a terrorist group and its supporting population Israel is defending herself from. Palestinians are 99% Arab and Muslim and are homogenous because they are racist towards other ethnicities, but that’s not Israel’s fault. Israel allows millions of Arabs and Christians and other groups within her borders. The people of Gaza do not. So, if a group that is homogenous because their own racism is displaced, their racism does not transfer onto Israel. Pakistan expelled 1.5 million Afghan refugees from their country in 2023, and a million Uyghurs are separated and held in camps by China, and none of their leaders are being aggressively accused of ethnic cleansing.

So, since Israel is not doing these things, no person, organization, or body, or even the United Nations, should be wrongfully directing these accusations against Israel, in speech or in resolution. It harms both these values, and the credibility of their people and institutions. People who seek constructive discussion of Israeli policy should be aware that they may be unintentionally aligned with those who don’t stand up for the absolute right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, but who would distort these values to attack and try to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. Such mislabeling of Israel spreads hatred of Jews, as anti-Semites have done throughout history. And anti-Semites were never the good guys.

About the Author
Daniel was born in Budapest, Hungary, to the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and grew up in New York City. Daniel obtained his Bachelor's degree from Penn State University, has a Juris Doctorate with a specialization in public international law. He is the author of several books and articles, including The PeaceMatrix™, about a theoretical new system for solving all human conflicts. Daniel's approaches to the challenges of anti-Semitism, terrorism, and Israeli and international peace and security combine understandings of psychology, philosophy, law, Judaism and spirituality, and metaphysics.
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