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One of the things that I have found most troubling in the nine years since I was ordained is the Jewish community’s inability to stand up to the massive amount of anti-Israel propaganda that is out there. If Jews can’t counter the lies and hate that undermine the Jewish State, who can? We need to be the spokespeople for Israel – standing up for, defending, and teaching our friends and neighbors the truth about her. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Israel will celebrate her 62nd birthday on April 19th, most of us know very little about her. We rely upon the media to give us most of our Israeli knowledge. This is a huge mistake as most of the information on the internet, in the press, and on the air is either a distortion of the truth or a flat out lie. Below, I have listed what I consider to be the “Top 10 Truths About Israel” that every Jew and friend of Israel needs to be able to share with anyone and everyone who will listen.
1. TRUTH: Jews have called what we now know of as the modern State of Israel home for over 4,000 years. The facts to back it up: 3,000 years ago, King David ruled a powerful Jewish kingdom which included modern day Israel and land that is now part of neighboring Arab nations. In 70 C.E. the Romans conquered the region and expelled the Jews, but many remained and countless others would return to their homeland over the next 2,000 years.
2. TRUTH: Jews and only Jews have claimed Jerusalem as her capital for more than 3,000 years. The facts to back it up: Under King David’s reign 3,000 years ago, Jerusalem became the capital of the Jewish nation. In 1980 Israel established that the complete and united city of Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. (Important History: In 1947, it was determined that Jerusalem would be placed under UN supervision and remain a “neutral” city. When Israel was created in 1948, neighboring Arab nations attacked the young Jewish nation and Israel defended herself. As a result, Jerusalem was divided – the western half going to Israel; the eastern half, including the old city and the site of the ancient Jewish Temple, went to Jordan. In 1967, after Jordan attacked Israel, specifically the western portion of Jerusalem, Israel stood up for herself and pushed the Jordanians back and, in doing so, gained the eastern portion of Jerusalem, reuniting the city under Jewish rule for the first time since the Romans expelled the Jewish community in the year 70.) In 1980 Israel enacted the Jerusalem Law which states that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” In 1995, the United States passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act that states: Jerusalem “should remain a united city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected; that it should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.
3. TRUTH: There was never an independent nation of Palestine or a distinct group of people known as Palestinians. The facts to back it up: After expelling the Jewish people from Israel, the Romans named the region “Palestine” in an attempt to erase the region’s powerful connection to Judaism. Palestine is a derivative of “Philistine” the collective name given to the biblical enemies of the Jewish people. The term “Palestine” was never associated with an Arab nation. In 1922, the British Mandate of Palestine was established. “Palestinians” was a term used to describe anyone living within the mandate. Jews living within this region were considered to be Palestinians. Palestine remained a region associated with Jews, so much so that before WWII, anti-semites in Europe would tell Jews to “go back home to Palestine.” After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the term “Palestine” was replaced by “Israel”. In 1964, the term was inaccurately revived by the Arab world with the creation of Palestinian Liberation Organization, a terror organization whose main purpose was to destroy the State of Israel, “recapture” the land and return it to the “Palestinian” people. From this point on, the world was inaccurately taught that “Palestine” was an Arab nation taken over by Jews and the “Palestinians” were a repressed people who were helpless victims of the Jews.
4. TRUTH: In 1947, the Arabs refused to accept the United Nations two state solution which divided the region of Palestine/Israel into two independent countries, one Jewish and one Arab. The facts to back it up: The Jews accepted this two state solution. The Arabs attacked the new Jewish State when she was created in 1948. The young Jewish nation defended herself against the Arab attack and pushed them back. As a result, Israel expanded her borders to include West Jerusalem, territory bordering the West Bank and Gaza/Egypt and territory in northern Israel up to the Lebanon border. These borders, also known as the Green Line, were formalized by the 1949 Armistice Agreements which were signed by Israel and neighboring Arab nations. (Important History: In the 1956 Suez War, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and unilaterally withdrew from the region in 1957 despite the fact that Egypt refused to make peace. Nevertheless, Israel withdrew after Egypt stopped its illegal blockade of Israeli ships in the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran and after the UN put peacekeeping troops along the Egyptian-Israeli borders.)
5. TRUTH: In 1967, Israel was again forced to defend herself against the attacks of her Arab neighbors and, as a result, expanded her borders, gaining control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, Gaza, all of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The facts to back it up: These regions are erroneously referred to as the “Occupied Territories” implying that Israel aggressively took control of these areas. Israel acquired these regions as she defended herself. The “Palestinian” community made absolutely no claim to these regions until Israel acquired control of them in during the 1967 war. The territories that Israel gained control of after the Six Day War were previously controlled by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt nations involved in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. (Important History: In 1967, Israel did accept UN Resolution 242-Land for Peace Formula- which called for Arab states to make peace, recognize Israel’s right to exist and to negotiate with Israel to create new, more “secure borders.” In return, Israel was to withdraw from some of the territory it had captured in the 1967 War. Arab states rejected the formula in their Khartoum Resolution with its “Three NOs”—no peace, no negotiations and no recognition of the Jewish State. In the 1979 Peace Treaty with Egypt: When Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem and made a sincere peace offer, Israel welcomed him. Although Israel had discovered oil and gas in the Sinai, Israel gave the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt (91% of all the land captured in the 1967 War), dismantled all Jewish communities that had been built, ceded its oil drilling infrastructure intact and gave up the oil revenues the wells had produced. In 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Egyptian extremists for striking a deal with Israel.)
6. TRUTH: Israel was forced to continue her presence in Gaza and the West Bank from 1967 until 1993 because no Palestinian leader emerged as a peace partner. The facts to back it up: International law and custom required Israel to administer the territories it acquired as a result of the 1967 war until a successful peace treaty could be negotiated. International law and UN Resolution 242 required the Arab nations to negotiate with Israel to determine new borders that would be mutually recognized by Jews and Arabs. Initially, the international community assumed that Israel would negotiate with Jordan and Egypt, which had occupied the contested territory before 1967, but Egypt and Jordan refused to negotiate at the time. When both countries renounced their claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1979 and 1988, respectively, Israel was left with the responsibility to continue administrating these regions. Once Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization claimed they would accept Israel’s existence and negotiate for peace, Israel seized the opportunity to resolve the conflict by entering into negotiations and eventually signing The Oslo Accords in 1993.
7. TRUTH: Despite the fact that Palestinians have failed to live up to their promises to end violence and recognize the right of Israel to exist in peace, Israel has taken significant steps to bring about peace. The facts to back it up:
- In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed and called upon Israel to turn over parts of the West Bank and Gaza to the newly created Palestinian Authority in exchange for the Palestinians bringing an end to violence against Israel, renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel’s right to exist in peace as a Jewish State within secure borders. In the five years after the Oslo Accords were signed, Palestinian terrorist groups killed 282 Israelis, far more than the number killed (216) in the entire 15 years that preceded the Accords. Despite escalating terrorism and incitement, by 1997, Israel saw to it that 98% of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank were governed by the Palestinian Authority.
- In 1994, Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan.
- In 2000 Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat met with President Clinton at Camp David to negotiate a “final status settlement”. However, as President Clinton has stated: “I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that nation into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace.” Yasser Arafat rejected the 2000 Camp David proposals and the Intifada, a violent uprising of Muslims against Israel, began. Israel was forced to intermittently redeploy its troops in emergency counterterrorism operations that became necessary because terrorist groups refused to end hostilities against the Jewish State.
- In 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Southern Lebanon despite continuing hostilities and threats from the Iranian and Syrian sponsored terrorist group, Hezbollah, and despite the fact that Lebanon had not made peace with Israel. Unfortunately, between 2000 and 2006, Hezbollah amassed over 12,000 rockets in Lebanon that were aimed at Israel, continued rocket attacks against Israel’s northern border, and performed multiple acts of violence in the region and elsewhere.
- In August 2005, Israel withdrew from the remaining few areas it still held in Gaza and from sections of the Northern West Bank, which was three times the size of Gaza. In the process, Israel uprooted more than 8,500 Jews who had built thriving communities over the previous 30 years in Gaza, where Israeli residents had employed over 10,000 Palestinians from the surrounding areas. Israel left their expensive infrastructure intact for future use by the Palestinians. After Israel’s disengagement, no Jewish or non-Jewish Israelis remained in Gaza. Even Jewish cemeteries were moved out of the area.
- Since Israel has pulled out of Gaza, the region has become a breeding ground for Hamas terrorists who took Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captive in 2006 and use Gaza to launch missiles into Israel and torment, maim, and kill innocent civilians.
- On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah launched an unprovoked attack against Israel, kidnapping two soldiers and killing eight while simultaneously attacking Israeli cities beginning the Hezbollah War.
8. TRUTH: Hamas, the leading political part of the Palestinian Authority refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Ask yourself, how can Israel make peace with a government that does not recognize Israel right to exist?
9. TRUTH: Israeli settlements that were built in undeveloped, uninhabited areas of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967 are completely legal. The facts to back it up: The various agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993 contain no prohibitions on the building or expansion of settlements. On the contrary, they specifically provide that the issue of settlements is reserved for permanent status negotiations, which are to take place in the concluding stage of the peace talks. The parties expressly agreed that the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction or control over settlements or Israelis, pending the conclusion of a permanent status agreement. The right of Jews to settle in all parts of the “Land of Israel” was first recognized by the international community in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. The purpose of the Mandate was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland. Indeed, Article 6 of the Mandate provided for “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use.” For more than a thousand years, the only time that Jewish settlement was prohibited in the West Bank was under the Jordanian occupation (1948-1967) that resulted from an armed invasion. During this period of Jordanian rule, which was not internationally recognized, Jordan eliminated the Jewish presence in the West Bank (as Egypt did in the Gaza Strip) and declared that the sale of land to Jews was a capital offense. It is untenable that this outrage could invalidate the right of Jews to establish homes in these areas, and accordingly, the legal titles to land that had already been acquired remain valid to this day. It must be noted that Israel forcibly removed Israeli settlers from their homes in Gaza and parts of the West Bank in 2005 with the hope of bringing about peace. These actions only led to more violence from the Palestinian community. (RELEVANT INFORMATION: Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a 10 month freeze on the building of new homes in settlements late last year. This freeze does not apply to the area of East Jerusalem.)
10. TRUTH: The world’s media and important organizations like the United Nations and are blatantly biased against Israel and foster global anti-Israel sentiment. The facts to back it up: to get a sense of the media bias against Israel, visit camera.org, honestreporting.org. or “Media Watch” at adl.org; UN Bias -
- From 2008-2009, the U.N. General Assembly (GA) continued to spend a disproportionate amount of time focusing on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, passing 20 resolutions which are one-sided or blatantly anti-Israel.
- Of 10 emergency special sessions called by the GA, six have been about Israel. No emergency sessions have been held on the Rwandan genocide, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, or the two decades of atrocities in Sudan.
- The U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), which replaced the Commission on Human Rights in March 2006, has been even more hopelessly ineffective than its predecessor, and is permanently engaged in criticism of Israel while ignoring pressing international human rights crises.
- For decades, Israel was the only member state consistently denied admission into a regional group. The Arab states continue to prevent Israeli membership in the Asian Regional Group, Israel’s natural geopolitical grouping. As a result, Israel sought entry into the Western and Others Group (WEOG) and in May 2000 was granted admission to that regional group in New York, but not in Geneva, the seat of several U.N. bodies and subsidiary organizations. Israel’s participation in the U.N., therefore, is still limited and it is restricted from participating in U.N. Geneva-based activities.
- The following nations, many of which play important roles in the UN, do not recognize the State of Israel: Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sahrawi Republic, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, China (recognizes, but does not formally conduct business), North Korea, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia