Israel faces many accusations. Here are concise responses to 75
of them. We include links to separate
Briefings on our website (www.beyondimages.info) which provide in-depth
facts and analysis.
"Israel's treatment of black Africans entering the country shows that it's a racist state....."
"Israel supresses Christian life...."
"Israel has nuclear weapons. Why can't Iran have them, too.....?"
"Israel is an apartheid state ......"
"Israelis have a siege mentality and exaggerate the threats they face...."
“Israel’s settlements block peace....”
“The Palestine papers show Israeli intransigence and deep Palestinian concessions for peace.....”
“Israel destroys the economic prospects of Gaza....”
“The Palestinians are entitled to a state. Why not support a UN declaration of statehood....?”
“The international community must pressurise Israel more on settlements.....”
“Israel is becoming an authoritarian state....”
“Israelis are materialistic and cynical, and don’t care about peace.....”
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about territory. The solution is ‘land for peace’...”
“Israel’s interception of the Gaza flotilla violated international law.....”
“The Goldstone Report was even-handed. It criticises Hamas as well as Israel.....”
“The UN Human Rights Council is anti-Israel, but Goldstone secured a balanced mandate, and Israel should have cooperated with him.....”
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.....”
“Hamas has come round to the idea of Israel within the 1967 borders.....”
“Moderate Palestinian leaders believe in a two-state solution....”
“Israel ethnically cleansed the Arabs in 1948....”
“Israel is the ‘root cause’ of the problems of the Middle East.....”
“Western countries should engage with Hamas.....”
“The Palestinians are victims of Israel....”
1. “ Israel is a militaristic country which does not want peace”
2. “ Israel accuses critics of its policies of being anti-semitic
in order to silence them”
Sharon's visit to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in September 2000
caused the Palestinian intifada”
4. “ Israel has used excessive military force to crush the Palestinians”
5. “Israel's war against Hizbollah was disproportionate and Hizbollah won”
6. “ Israel and the Palestinians are involved in a tit-for-tat cycle
7. “The Palestinian intifada is an uprising against Israel's occupation of their land”
8. “Many more Palestinians than Israelis have died – the casualty
figures show that Israel is the aggressor and in the wrong….”
9. “ Israel denies the Palestinians statehood and national rights”
10. “If only Israel would end the occupation there would be peace…”
11. “Hamas were democratically elected by the Palestinians, and Israel must deal with them directly...”
12. “The solution to the conflict is the creation of a single, ‘binational'
state where Jews and Palestinians can live together in peace.”
13. “Palestinians have been forced to use violence to make Israel
14. “Palestinian terrorism is regrettable but the legitimate resistance
of a desperate people with their backs against the wall”
15. “The suicide bombers are driven by despair”
Palestinians want to make progress towards a solution”
17. “ Israel 's security fence is wrong and discriminatory, and
disrupts Palestinian daily life”
18. “Israel's plan to define its final borders is a land-grab and a recipe for war.”
19. “Israeli academics should be boycotted until it changes its
20. “ Israel has brought Palestinian society to its knees economically”
21. “Israeli settlements block peace”
22. “The Palestinians are in the right and Israel is in the wrong.
This is a struggle for Palestinian human rights”
23. “Hamas rejection of Israel is only rhetoric... ”
24. “The Palestinians are entitled to have a “right to return” to
their original homes”
25. “ Israel is an apartheid, racist state”
26. “ Israel never offered the Palestinians a viable state at Camp
David – this is Israeli propaganda”
27. “The Arab world offered Israel peace via the Saudi peace initiative
in 2002, which Israel rejected. This shows that Israel is not interested
28. “ Israel deliberately targets Palestinian civilians”
from all over the world can move to Israel . Palestinians are barred
from the country. This is racism”.
30. “ Spielberg's Munich shows how Israel took revenge for the Munich Olympics massacre, and how violence achieves nothing ”
31. “UN Security Council Resolution 242 requires Israel to end its
occupation of the West Bank immediately”
32. “Israel is a 'root cause' of Muslim hatred of the West”
33. “ Israel kills international peace activists who come to support
34. “ Israel disrupts Palestinian higher education and universities”
35. “ Israel cruelly destroys Palestinian farmers' olives trees
36. “ Israel massacred Palestinians in Jenin in 2002”
37. “ Israel violated the sanctity of the Church of Nativity in
38. “The Jews are taking over Jerusalem and squeezing out the Palestinians”
39. “The USA blindly supports Israel ”
40. “Israeli policies are incompatible with Jewish ideals”
“Palestinian violence succeeded in forcing Israel to disengage
“Israel’s disengagement plan is a betrayal of the Road
Map for peace…”
“Israel is obliged to withdraw from the entire West Bank….”
“Israel plans to hold on permanently to large chunks of West
Bank territory for settlements….”
“Israel has nuclear weapons, so Iran is entitled to have them too ”
“Israel’s policy of targeted killing of Palestinians
is illegal and wrong…”
“Sheikh Yassin was a wheelchair-bound spiritual leader of
the Palestinians and Israel was heartless to target him….”
“Israel’s military operation in the Gaza town of Rafah
was excessive, pointless and cruel….”
“The Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s
security fence proves that Israel is acting illegally….”
“Israel’s punishment of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai
Vanunu was excessive, cruel and counter-productive….”
|1. “ Israel is a militaristic country which does not want peace”
- The Israeli people yearn for peace, and for an end to war and
bloodshed. They have no wish to cause suffering to the Palestinian or Lebanese
people, but hope for the time when Israelis can lead normal and
- The Jewish people have endured thousands of years of exile, persecution and displacement. They long for their insecurity and suffering to end.
- Israel has never known genuine peace since it was founded in
1948. Over 24,000 Israelis have died as a result of wars and terror
- Every day in Israel , the debate about how to make peace continues,
passionately and freely.
- Israel has been forced time and again to use its armed forces to quell terrorism. It is the terrorists who oppose peace, not Israel.
- Government Ministers, opposition politicians, journalists,
religious leaders, strategic analysts, writers and artists, student
leaders, academics and retired army generals promote rival peace
plans. Many participants call for radical new approaches; others
argue that the Government's approach is correct. All have in common
a desire to end the violence and
- This debate is not the characteristic of a country that “does
not want peace”.
- In 2005, Israel uproots thousands of settlers from their homes in Gaza, and physically destroyed their communities, in the hope of building momentum for peace (see Briefing 127)
- Israel took significant risks and made tangible sacrifices
for the opportunity to make peace with Egypt in 1979.
- As part of the controversial Oslo negotiations in the 1990s, culminating in the Camp David and Taba talks in 2000-2001 (see Briefing 21) Israel worked
with the Palestinians in progressing towards self-rule. Israel
made peace with Jordan in 1994.
- Both public opinion polls, and Israel 's track record, show
that the Israeli public supports far-reaching sacrifices
- Israel has a tremendous amount to offer the Arab world and
the world at large (see Beyond Images - Making
The World A Better Place). Conflict, terrorism and Israel
's comparative isolation are tragically stifling Israel 's contribution.
For more see: Beyond Images Briefing 1;
Beyond Images Making The World A Better Place
|2. “ Israel accuses critics of its
policies of being anti-semitic in order to silence them”
Legitimate criticism of Israel abounds inside Israel
, from politicians, journalists, academics, and religious leaders.
Israel has independent media (unlike all the other states in the
region) and critics of the government are vocal. Israeli media is
So why the accusation of anti-semitism levelled at
certain critics? Israel clearly does not stifle criticism. The accusation
arises for three reasons:-
Double-standards - Israel
is accused by its critics of actions where most other governments
placed in a similar situation would act similarly (if not more severely).
Israelis feel that its critics are being unfair and applying a double-standard,
which leads to a suspicion of bias
Selective moral outrage
- Israelis cannot understand why Israel is the subject of such passionate
outrage from critics many of whom appear to turn a blind eye to
the many other serious conflict situations in the world. How can
the predominance of anti-Israel activity at the UN, or in the letter
columns of the newspapers, be explained? Why such a preoccupation?
The use of anti-Jewish imagery and stereotypes
- Over history, many images of the Jew were spread,
to incite hatred – the evil, cruel, conspiratorial Jew. Such images
and stereotypes are appearing again but this time applied to Israelis
. Such imagery has been prevalent in
the Arab media for decades, but is now filtering into US and European media
coverage of Israel . When such imagery is used, whether in cartoons,
photographs or text, it can arouse anti-semitic feelings, and incite
physical attacks. Use of such imagery is not a legitimate way of
expressing criticism of an Israeli action.
The accusation of anti-semitism is the inevitable consequence of the methods used by many of Israel's detractors. Blame for this lies with those detractors. Israel has no justification for objecting to fair, balanced and informed criticism.
Summary: Israelis are entitled to expect
that Israel's critics place Israel's actions in context, that they
do not lose perspective on all the other conflicts in the world,
and that they do not use imagery or stereotypes capable of inciting
hatred against Israelis or Jews collectively.
For more: For a powerful appeal to the international
community to understand the context of Israel 's actions and to
judge the country fairly, see Beyond
Images Briefing 55 – “Can A Country Be Born In A Day?” – a speech
in April 2002 by Chief Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks.
|3. “Mr Sharon's visit to the Al Aqsa
mosque in Jerusalem in September 2000 caused the Palestinian
Mr Sharon's visit was coordinated in advance with
the Moslem authorities in charge of the Temple Mount area, and with
the Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub.
The visit passed off without major incident. The violence
started the next day (the eve of the Jewish New Year) when Arabs
protesting against Mr Sharon's visit hailed stones down from the
Temple Mount plaza onto Jewish worshippers praying at the Western
Wall (the holiest site in Judaism). That was the event that triggered
the escalation of violence (see Briefing 8).
A US Commission led by respected international mediator
George Mitchell investigated the causes of the Palestinian intifada
and reported in May 2001 that the Palestinians had been planning
violence for at least a year before September 2000. The Mitchell
Commission stated that Mr Sharon's visit was not the cause of the
The Palestinian Authority communications minister
has publicly admitted that the immediate trigger for the intifada
was Mr Arafat's rejection of Israel's proposals for Palestinian
statehood at the Camp David talks in Summer 2000 (see Briefing
Summary: Mr Sharon's visit to Al Aqsa was the
Palestinians' pretext for starting the intifada – not its underlying
|4. “ Israel has used excessive military force to crush the Palestinians”
Since September 2000 there have been over 24,000 acts
of Palestinian violence against Israel; 1100 Israelis have been killed,
and many thousands wounded and traumatised, with over 140 suicide
bombings and over 200 suicide bombings which were intercepted or
otherwise failed (See Beyond Images Briefings 8,
10, 12, 18
and 48 for detailed information on the wave
of terrorism and Briefings 88 and 144 on Foiled attacks).
The Palestinians have also attempted several so-called
“mega-terror” attacks against Israel capable of causing massive
numbers of Israeli casualties. These include an attack on Israel
's largest fuel depot (see Beyond Images Briefing
4 – Pi Glilot), plots to attack Tel-Aviv skyscrapers, and
the crowd at a Jerusalem sports stadium (see Briefing
3 – Mega-Terror, and rocket attacks on energy facilities in Ashqelon (see Briefing 171)
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it has been subjected to hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza (see Briefing 176) and threats of terrorism from Hamas leaders (see Briefings 154 and 166)
Who is to measure what constitutes an “over-reaction”
by Israel in light of these dangers?
Every accountable government has a duty to protect
its citizens. Israel 's policies are acts of self-defence which
are intended to quell the terrorism against its citizens (see Briefings
7 and 75).
Israeli society has internal checks and balances against
the excessive use of force by its army: an elected and accountable
government; free and critical newspapers and TV; many civil rights
groups, and pro-Palestinian parliamentary representatives; and strict
rules of military engagement. (See Briefings 92 and 98) These are all curbs against “excess”
and “over-reaction”. Some measures were strongly criticised in Israel
as being excessive, and Israeli policies changed as a result.
Summary: Critics who claim Israel 's policies
are an“over-reaction” should be reminded of the background to Israel
's actions. What would other governments do, faced with the intense
terrorism launched by Palestinian groups which reject Israel 's
right to exist and translate that rejection into daily violence?
For more: Briefing 64 –
Demonisation of Israel
|5. “Israel's war against Hizbollah was disproportionate and Hizbollah won”
Hizbollah's goal – the destruction of Israel
Hizbollah is a fundamentalist Islamic group which advocates the destruction of Israel
Hizbollah serves as an extension of Iranian foreign policy
Between May 2000 (when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon) and July 2006 Hizbollah built up a massive arsenal of missiles and other weapons right on Israel 's Northern border
This took place after Israel withdrew from all of Lebanese territory. The UN does not recognise Lebanon as having a legitimate claim over the Sheba'a Farms.
Hizbollah's existence since 2004 has defied the international community
In September 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed, requiring the disarmament of Hizbollah
Hizbollah ignored this Resolution. The Lebanese Government proclaimed itself too weak to enforce it
The international community failed to demand implementation of Resolution 1559
Hizbollah's continued operations flout the will of the international community. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (of August 2006) reiterates the need to implement UN Resolution 1559.
Hizbollah triggered the war, not Israel
Hizbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers on 12 July 2006 was an unprovoked attack on sovereign Israeli territory, across an internationally recognised border
If there had not been an attack, there would not have been a war
Israel responded strongly because if Hizbollah or other groups believe that they can use territory they control (and from which Israel has withdrawn) to attack Israel with impunity, there will never be peace
The logic behind Hizbollah tactics make a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and regional peace, impossible
Israel 's reaction was intended to restore deterrence of Iran and Hizbollah
Israel 's military response to Hizbollah was designed to signal to Iran that it cannot build up a proxy military presence on Israel 's border and then think it can engineer attacks on Israel in pursuit of Iran 's wider objectives
Hizbollah leader Nasrallah has now stated that if he had known the consequences of the war, he would not have ordered the kidnapping (See Beyond Images Briefings 182 and 183)
The kidnapping was the trigger for the war, not its underlying reason
Hizbollah's rocket assault on Northern Israel
During the 34 day war Hizbollah fired over 4000 rockets into Israel . The level of Israeli fatalities (43 civilians) was a miracle, not a result of Hizbollah restraint
As many as one million Israeli citizens took shelter in air-raid shelters
Urban and agricultural life were turned upside down, in Northern Israel . Israel 's tourist industry has been severely affected.
Hizbollah threatened the lives of many non-Israelis – students and tourists – in Israel
Israel 's experience on the receiving end of the rocket barrage has been under-reported internationally, which has contributed to the belief that Israel reacted “disproportionately”.
Israel 's response to Hizbollah was an act of self-defence, intended to secure the release of the kidnapped soldiers, and to drive Hizbollah back from Israel 's Northern border
In the context of Hizbollah's rocket assault on Israel , and the wider strategic situation, Israel 's counter-attack was not disproportionate
Civilian casualties in Lebanon as a result of Israel 's counter-attack
Israel took steps to minimise civilian casualties. It gave lengthy advance warning to civilians that it was going to attack targets such as weapons stores and rocket-launching sites positioned in civilian areas
Many accusations levelled against Israel of wanton destruction of civilian targets have been proven since the war to have been grossly exaggerated or downright false
Israel targeted Hizbollah rocket launching squads, command and control centres, weapons stocks, and also targeted roads, bridges and airport runways which could be used by Hizbollah to rearm themselves
Hizbollah sheltered among Lebanese civilians, using them as human shields against Israeli attack
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accused Hizbollah of “holding Lebanon hostage”. UN Humanitarian chief Jan Egeland accused Hizbollah of “cowardly blending” among women and children (see Beyond Images Briefing 180)
Lebanon 's civilian infrastructure was heavily attacked is because of the sustained abuse of that infrastructure by Hizbollah to sustain its illegal and dangerous military build-up
Lebanese civilian society is paying a tragic price for the brinkmanship of Hizbollah and its primary sponsor Iran (see Briefings 180, 182 and 183)
“Hizbollah won the war”….?
Hizbollah's arsenal of weapons has been drastically reduced
Hizbollah has been pushed away from the Northern border of Israel , with a strengthened UN buffer force and Lebanese army between Hizbollah and Northern Israel
The Hizbollah mini-state in Southern Lebanon has ceased to exist, as has its command and control systems and organisation in the south
Hizbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah has now admitted that he would not have started the war if he would have known how strongly Israel would react (see Briefings 182 and 183)
That is not the talk of a victorious leader, but of someone who has made a grave miscalculation, and has to restore his credibility in Lebanese society
Hizbollah claims of “victory” against Israel are a hollow attempt to cloak itself in glory (Briefing 182)
Hizbollah has achieved little but destruction and chaos for Lebanon – its short-term “popularity” is transient, and hyped by the Western media (see Briefing 182)
For more see: Briefings 179, 180, 181, 182, and 183
6. “ Israel and the Palestinians
are involved in a tit-for-tat cycle of violence”
For Israel , its use of force is a last resort – a
means to defend its citizens when all other options have been exhausted.
For the Palestinian terrorist groups, terror is a
strategy of first resort.
The Palestinian groups aim to maximise Israeli casualties
(see for example Briefings 3, 11
,68 , 160 and 169); Israel seeks to minimise Palestinian
casualties (see Briefings 7 and 175).
Israel did not initiate the violence in 2000, and
has repeatedly appealed to the Palestinians to halt the violence,
so that diplomacy can resume.
Israel 's tangible steps to meet legitimate Palestinian
needs have frequently been frustrated by Palestinian terror (for
illustrations see Briefings 49 and 176 ). This is not
a “cycle of violence” but a pattern of Palestinian sabotage.
Palestinian society has embraced a culture glorifying
terror and honouring suicide bombings (see Briefings 27
,41, 104, 150 and 166). There is no equivalent to this in
Summary: There is no moral equivalence between
Israel 's use of force on the one hand, and the terror carried out
by the Palestinian groups. The acts of each side are not in any
sense “tit-for-tat” actions. The motivations are different, the
underlying culture is different, the methods used are different,
and the political attitudes are different.
For more see: Beyond Images Briefings
7,11, 14, 41
|7. “The Palestinian intifada
is an uprising against Israel's occupation of their land ”
Israel was winding down the occupation when the Palestinian
intifada started (see Briefing 15).
Israel withdrew from main Palestinian population centres
such as Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin between 1995 and 1997, years
before the intifada began.
In 2000 the Palestinians rejected Israel 's offer to end the
occupation virtually completely (for more see
The current Palestinian leadership does not claim
that ending the West Bank occupation is the limit of their ambition.
Hamas and the other rejectionist groups challenge the legitimacy
of Israel , claim sole sovereignty over Jerusalem , and they and
the Palestinian Authority continue to demand an unconditional ‘right
of return' into Israel for refugees (see Briefing
165 and 166 ).
None of these claims would be satisfied by Israel
's complete withdrawal from the West Bank .
Israel's complete withdrawel from Gaza in 2005 has led not to peaceful state-building, but to rocket attacks and a Palestinian military build-up. (see Briefings 150. 171 and 176)
Summary: Israel does not want to dominate the lives of the Palestinians. But its steps to end the 'occupation' have resulted in the escalation of violence, not the opposite.
|8. “Many more Palestinians
than Israelis have died – the casualty figures show that Israel
is the aggressor and in the wrong….”
Most Palestinian casualties have been young men who
have been involved in violent attacks against Israelis at the time
Most Israeli casualties are civilian men, women, children,
teenagers and the elderly going about their daily lives who are
deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorist groups
Most Palestinian attacks against Israel are foiled
or fail (see for example the Pi Glilot attack (Briefing
4) and Mega-Terror (Briefing 3).
If such attacks had succeeded, the Israeli casualty figure would
be much higher than the Palestinian casualty figure.
Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza have struck Israeli energy facilities (see Briefing 171)
The intention behind Palestinian attacks is to maximise
Israeli civilian casualties; the intention behind Israeli operations
is to minimise Palestinian civilian casualties.
The method of operation of the Palestinian groups
exploits Palestinian civilians, uses them as “cover” to avoid Israeli
retaliation, but makes it inevitable that they will suffer greatly.
Summary: The high Palestinian casualty figure
is the tragic result of Israel being forced to respond to the intense
wave of terrorism originating from the Palestinian areas, and the
disregard for human life which the terrorists demonstrate.
For more: see Beyond Images Briefing
11 and 18
|9. “ Israel denies the Palestinians
statehood and national rights”
Over the last 50 years, the Arabs and Palestinians
have rejected several opportunities to progress towards Palestinian
statehood (see Briefing 45 which describes
these rejected opportunities).
In 1947 the future leaders of Israel agreed to the
UN partition plan creating a Palestinian state. That state did not
come into being because Arab leaders refused to agree to the other
part of the partition plan – the creation of a Jewish state.
Israel has repeatedly declared that it wishes to achieve long-term peace which recognises the legitimate rights of the Palestinians
(see Briefing 32).
Mr Arafat was offered self-determination 2000-1, but
rejected it. The Palestinians opposed the creation of a West Bank
state then, not Israel (see Briefing 21).
The Palestinians continue to demand their rights not
side-by-side with Israel but at the expense of Israel (see Briefing
6, Briefing 39 , 74, 165 and 177).
Summary: It is not Israel which denies Palestinian national rights, but the Palestinians who deny Israeli national rights.
|10. “If only Israel
would end the occupation there would be peace…”
Arab hostility to Israel , wars against the country
and Palestinian terror each predate Israel 's control over the territories.
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian leadership does not accept a two-state
solution and peace with Israel within the pre-1967 borders (see
Briefing 6 , 154, 165, 166 and 177 ).
To them Israel 's “occupation” includes Tel Aviv and Haifa .
The Palestinian demand for a right of return into
Israel would not be fulfilled by Israel 's withdrawal to the pre-1967
ceasefire line (see Briefing 34 and 142).
Summary: The future of the territories and the
settlements can only be finally resolved if the Palestinians accept Israel's legitimate rights. The Palestinian culture of terror and of rejectionism
is the main obstacle to winding down the occupation.
For more: see Briefing 17
|11. “ Hamas were democratically elected by the Palestinians, and Israel should stop trying to isolate them…. ”
Hamas rejection of Israel is not rhetoric but core ideology
Hamas rejects Israel 's right to exist - this is not rhetoric, but core ideology. Their leaders repeatedly restate this position, and their refusal to change. See Briefings 154, 165 and 166.
This alone makes it impossible for Israel to deal with them directly, and transfer funds to a Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority
The US and the EU have each suspended funding to the Palestinian Authority, while maintaining support for Palestinian humanitarian relief.
The Palestinian Prisoners' Letter of Summer 2006 does not “implicitly recognise” Israel . In fact it reiterates rejectionist Hamas positions (see Briefing 177)
Hamas has a long record of terrorist violence and they demand the right to conduct future terrorism
Hamas has a long record of violence against Israeli civilians: over 50 suicide bombings in the last ten years (see Briefing 169) and a total of over 500 civilian victims of these bombings, as well as drive-by shootings and other attacks. The current leaders of Hamas supported and in many cases inspired and planned those killings.
Hamas permit Islamic Jihad and other groups to continue attacks despite the so-called ‘lull' in Hamas violence. And there are plenty of foiled attacks from all Palestinian groups – including Hamas itself.
The Hamas ‘military wing' kidnapped Israeli corporate Gilad Shalit in June 2006, and triggered another crisis in Gaza
The Hamas ‘calm' is a tactical ploy, designed to enable Hamas to increase its power in Palestinian society.
Democracy brings responsibilities as well as rights
Hamas were democratically elected. Israel is not ignoring that fact by refusing to negotiate with the elected leaders, but respecting the fact that Hamas were elected
The Palestinians cannot demand statehood, international recognition, and large amounts of foreign aid from the West, while avoid taking responsibility when their leaders call for the destruction of a sovereign country, and member of the United Nations
Soundbite: Hamas are trying to act in a tactically pragmatic way. But they are strategically fanatical and extreme
Soundbite: Israel is reluctantly forced into conflict, but its goal is long-term coexistence. Hamas is trying to give an impression of ‘calm', but its goal is long-term conflict.
Soundbite: It is not Israel which is avoiding coming to terms with the consequences of Palestinian election results, but the Palestinian people
Further Beyond Images resources: Briefings 74, 88, 154, 165, 166, 169 and 177.
|12. “The solution to the conflict
is the creation of a single, ‘binational' state where the Jews
and Palestinians can live together in peace.”
The Jews created Israel to be a Jewish state, giving
democratic rights to all citizens, Jewish or non-Jewish (see Beyond
Images Briefing 1 – Israel and the Jews).
The Palestinians demand a Palestinian state in which
the Palestinian people can achieve self-determination.
The concept of a bi-national state would annul the
idea of a Jewish state or a Palestinian state. It would put in its
place the concept of a state with equal rights for Jews and for
Palestinians. This would defeat the goals of both
national movements, and completely undermine the rationale for Israel
and for a future State of Palestine.
The call for a binational state is also driven by a mistaken
reading of the situation on the ground, namely that a “two-state
solution” is already no longer possible. The majority of experts
in Israel disagree with this, though there is a limited amount of
time within which such a solution can be practically achieved.
It is also driven by a supposedly 'liberal' approach to resolving the conflict. In fact the binational state formula is discriminatory and intolerant (see Briefing 158 and 167)
Jewish and Moslem national life cannot simply be merged
together into one: there is no precedent for this anywhere in the
Moslem world, or in Islamic history.
Summary: The call for a “binational state” is
a defeatist formula which presents itself as a forward-thinking
and liberal idea. It should not be used as a distraction from the
difficult challenges of negotiating a viable two-state solution.
|13. “Palestinians have been forced
to use violence to make Israel compromise”
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the Al Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigade are driven by an ideology of rejection (see Briefings 6
and 74). They don't claim that their violence
is to “make Israel compromise”, but to bring Israel to an end.
Their acts of violence have repeatedly sabotaged Israeli
For more: see Briefing 49, 142, 150, 165, 166 and 176
|14. “Palestinian terrorism is regrettable
but the legitimate resistance of a desperate people with their
backs against the wall”
The terrorism is ultimately driven not by grievance
but ideological fanaticism. The grievance is not with what Israel
does, but the fact that Israel exists at all.
Terrorism against innocent civilians can never be
justified or explained away, no matter how severe the grievance.
Atrocities against civilians is not a legitimate expression of a
sense of injustice.
Otherwise, every group with a grievance could use
mass suicide bombings as a justifiable response – which thankfully
they do not do (See Briefing 41 by Professor
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have
each described deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians as “war crimes”.
Where is the Palestinian non-violent protest movement?
In many parts of the world, it is non-violence which has achieved
the most radical change in recent decades. And with the Palestinians
they of course also have the diplomatic route, which the Israelis
are constantly offering them, provided the violence can be curbed
(see Briefing 133, 161 and 170).
Summary: Palestinian violence is not a response to their having
their “backs against the wall” but the reason why their “backs are
against the wall”. It is the primary cause of the grim condition of Palestinian society
|15. “The suicide bombers are driven
The motives and ideology of Islamic Jihad and Hamas
are not based on despair, but on calculated rejection of Israel
. Their attacks on Israel are intended to escalate the conflict,
even if it means that Palestinian despair intensify.
The carrying out of suicide bombing requires careful
planning, recruitment, indoctrination, training, logistical support
and targetting (see Briefing 27). These can't
be carried out merely on impulse by “desperate” individuals.
Many suicide bombers have been educated, relatively
wealthy Palestinians. Their motivation is not so much desperation
as a religious ideology of ‘martyrdom' that has embedded itself
in Palestinian society (see Briefing 104 and 108)
Summary: The suicide bombing and other terrorism
is the result not of despair but of the manipulation of despair
by fanatics pursuing extreme political ends. To claim that “desperation”
is the cause of the suicide bombings ignores the stated goals and
method of operation of the groups which plan them.
For more: on desperation and suicide bombers
see Briefing 27; for the reaction of an outraged
Israeli dove and medic, see Briefing
|16. “The Palestinians want to make
progress towards a solution”
The Palestinian people are being let down by their Hamas-dominated leadership,
and by a culture of “victimhood” in which everyone is blamed for
the Palestinians' plight apart from their own leaders. Palestinian
leaders and spokespeople:-
demonise and vilify Israel at every opportunity in
every international forum
spread wild exaggerations and downright lies about
Israel in the media
incite hatred towards Israelis
cultivate honour and respect for ‘martyrdom operations'
– ie suicide bombers
always blame Israel for over-reacting while justifying
or excusing Palestinian excesses
never speak up for the right of the Jews to live in
deny Jewish history and the Jewish connection to the
Land of Israel
constantly complain that Israel is not fulfilling
its international obligations, while avoiding the question of whether
the Palestinians comply with theirs'
find every excuse for not tackling the sources of
terrorism in Palestinian society
and, above all, do nothing to prepare the Palestinian people for
peace and coexistence with Israel in an atmosphere of mutual respect
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (founder and religious mentor of Hamas): “The
Jews could set up a state in Europe ….” (December 2003 – see Briefing
Yasser Arafat (former Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, and of Fatah):
“Suicide bombers improve the land with their blood….” (see Briefing
Summary: Ordinary Palestinian people may desire a peaceful life: but the ideology and methods of their leaders
are obstacles to progress.
|17. “ Israel 's security fence is
wrong and discriminatory, and disrupts Palestinian daily life”
The fence is a last-resort measure which Israel has
reluctantly been forced to build to protect its citizens against
the sustained Palestinian terror.
If the terror stopped, support in Israel for the fence
would quickly reduce (see Briefing 123).
Palestinian humanitarian concerns are taken into account
in the building of the fence, and it has been rerouted many times (see Briefing 138 and 156).
The fence around Jerusalem has been bought about by an intensive suicide bombing wave in the capital (see Briefing 160).
Israel has replanted 68,000 fruit and olive trees
uprooted because of the fence, in locations chosen by Palestinian
farmers (see Briefing 76).
The fence has no ideological or territorial rationale.
The governing Kadima party wishes to withdraw from territory, not annex it (see Briefing 161).
Many Israeli Jews are outside the fence, and the fence
protects Arabs in Israel . The fence has nothing to do with racial
discrimination or apartheid.
Victims of terror attacks have included citizens of 19 other countries who were residing in Israel (see Briefing 79).
As part of a peace agreement, the fence could be dismantled.
For more: on the Security Fence in-depth see
Beyond Images Briefings 73 and 76;
see also Briefing 5.
|18. “ Israel 's plan to define its ‘final borders' is a recipe for war, and a land-grab…..”
Israel entered the West Bank in 1967 in response to Arab attack (see Briefing 103)
Since 1967 Israel has declared its wish to negotiate the final status of the West Bank territories, with its neighbours
The Israeli people wish to withdraw from West Bank territory, avoid involvement in the lives of the Palestinians and coexist side-by-side with them.
This was a clear outcome of the 2006 Israeli General Election
Ironically, at precisely this moment the Palestinians have elected Hamas leaders, whose platform calls for the destruction of Israel .
Accordingly Israel 's leaders and the majority of its people reached the conclusion that the country had no partner with whom to negotiate a new arrangement.
The Palestinian leadership refuse to recognise Israel , and renounce terrorism
Israel was forced to prepare what it calls a territorial “consolidation” unilaterally – even though it realised this was not the preferred formula, and will be perceived as “controversial”. (see Briefing 170).
This is what Israel meant by “defining its final borders”
Israel is not obliged to withdraw from the entire West Bank – historically, morally, or under international law. Its plan to create “final borders” is consistent with its international obligations.
As part of its plan, the Kadima party of Ehud Olmert (founded by Ariel Sharon) announced that it wished to retain three major Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank (in which live about 150,000 people). This would involve retaining 8-10% of the territory of the West Bank
Israel would evacuate other Jewish settlements in the West Bank – currently housing about 80,000 Israelis
The 2006 war with Hizbollah was launched by Hizbollah from territory from which Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2000
The continued attacks on Israel by Gaza Palestinians emanate from territory from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005
As a result of this, the Israeli Government's plan for unilateral withdrawal from large parts of the West Bank , and for the “creation of its final borders”, have been suspended
Israel 's citizens are too distrustful of their neighbours to risk being attacked from further territory from which they unilaterally withdraw
Soundbite: The Palestinians and Hizbollah have sabotaged Israeli plans to withdraw from further territory.
Soundbite: Israel 's government and society wishes to reduce its West Bank presence; but Palestinian policy has the effect of perpetuating it.
And see: Beyond Images Briefing 170.
|19. “Israeli academics should be
boycotted until it changes its policies”
The call for an academic boycott arises from a one-sided
view of the conflict.
Israel 's academic community is independent of the
Israeli government, and very diverse. They should not be isolated.
The boycott abuses academic freedom.
Israeli academics are at the forefront of many humanitarian
projects (see for instance Making The World A Better Place), and
these would be stifled by a boycott.
The boycott idea pushes Israeli public opinion to
The proper target for protest should be Arab universities
not Israeli ones.
Israeli university students have been blown up including
at the Hebrew University cafeteria, and on a bus to Haifa University
(see Briefing 57). Jewish students on campuses
outside Israel have been physically attacked. Such attacks should
be the focus of concern.
Summary: The world of academia offers opportunities
to break down barriers, and to educate towards peace and coexistence.
Academia should not be used as a forum for demonising Israel and
for creating obstacles to dialogue.
For more see : Beyond Images
Briefing 30 , 140 and 141
|20. “ Israel has brought Palestinian
society to its knees economically”
Israel has a vested interest in a stable and prosperous
During the Oslo era Israel supported investment in
the Palestinian areas, and encouraged international financial support
from other countries for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza
Palestinian terrorism is the root cause of the Palestinians'
economic woes. It has brought about the slowdown in inward investment,
and caused a massive increase in unemployment in the territories.
Thousands of Palestinians who previously worked in Israel have been
unable to retain their work.
Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat presided over massive corruption (see Briefing 115).
Israel has a vested interest in seeing Gaza becoming stable and prosperous.
In conditions of peace and stability Israel would
wish to share its technological expertise and would have every reason
to do so with the Palestinian people.
|21. “ Israel 's settlements block
The conflict started 100 years ago, before Israel
occupied the West Bank or built any settlements
On several occasions Israel has offered to freeze
In 2005, Israel destroyed all its settlements in the Gaza Strip, but this did not end the Palestinian violence (see Brieifing 153).
At Camp David in 2000 Israel proposed withdrawal of
most West Bank settlements as part of a peace deal. This was rejected by the
Between 1993-2000 (according to a comprehensive recent
study by left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz), Israel only built one
new permanent settlement.
The increase in settler population in the last ten
years has been due to the expansion of population in existing settlements.
Despite the absence of diplomatic progress, Israel
has on several occasions removed unauthorised settlements unilaterally,
although this was strongly opposed by the settlers' representatives.
The Jewish connection with Hebron is even older than
the Jewish connection with Jerusalem , and goes back over 3,500
years. The Jewish community of Hebron were massacred by Arabs in
1929. Any peace agreement must recognise the depth of the Jewish
religious connection to Hebron .
To the rejectionist Palestinian groups, Tel-Aviv and
Haifa are settlements – part of the “Zionist occupation”. They are
not demanding the removal of post-1967 settlements, but all Jewish
It is this attitude, not the Jewish settlements, which
is the real “block” to peace.
For more see: Briefing 25
‘Why settlements: Israeli Arguments For and Against'
|22. “The Palestinians are in the
right and Israel is in the wrong. This is a struggle for Palestinian
The Israelis and Palestinians each have legitimate
rights – it is a question of achieving a solution under which these
rights can coexist side by side.
The stated goal of Hamas is
not justice for the Palestinians but elimination of Israel. That attitude makes peace and a
two-state solution impossible to achieve.
Of course Israeli security measures diminish individual
human freedoms on a day-to-day basis, but the underlying cause of
this is the Palestinian rejectionism and terror which prompted Israel
's measures in the first place.
The Palestinians do not have a monopoly on concern
over human rights.
The right of the Jewish people to live in peace in
Israel free from the constant threat of being killed is also a human
right, and is being violated daily by the Palestinians.
The Israeli people have suffered a massive injustice
and denial of human rights since independence: having been deprived
of a homeland for thousands of years, the Jews now find themselves
at war, suffering unending violence, carried out by a Palestinian
people who have repeatedly rejected the opportunity to attain what
they claim to seek (see Briefing 45).
Summary: Israel is forced to take security measures which diminish Palestinian human rights. But Palestinian violence and rejection destroy Israel human rights.
|23. “ Hamas rejection of Israel is only rhetoric….”
Hamas policy is enshrined in the Hamas Charter (see Briefing 165). It refused to revoke it
Hamas has presided over a huge weapons build-up in Gaza since 2005, culminating in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006. This is not rhetoric
Hamas statements rejecting Israel are reflected in its policies and deeds on the ground. Those deeds reinforce the Hamas Charter, rather than contradicting it
Hamas has carried out a 12 year suicide bombing campaign against civilians throughout Israel . Over 400 people have been murdered. This campaign is not rhetoric (see Briefing 169)
Hamas promotes “martyrdom”, and an ideology which rejects Israel , from mosque sermons to lessons and summer camps for Palestinian schoolchildren. This is not rhetoric
The “political wing” of Hamas gives freedom of operation to Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsas Martyrs Brigade and other Palestinian groups which aim to destroy Israel . This policy is not rhetoric
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal proudly aligns himself with the current Iranian leadership which also calls for the destruction of Israel
For more see: All Briefings on Hamas
|24. “The Palestinians are entitled
to have a ‘right to return' to their original homes”
Arab rejectionism, not Israeli aggression, caused
the war in 1948 which led to the refugee problem
The policies of the Arab states have magnified the
refugee problem for over 50 years.
Israel is under no legal obligation under UN Resolution
194 to grant a general “right of return” to the Palestinians.
The right of return would risk destroying the Jewish
character of the State of Israel.
The right of return undermines the principle of a
The Jews expelled from Arab countries after 1948 have
never been compensated but have resettled and built new lives. The
Palestinians should rebuild rather than recriminate about the past.
Summary: presented as a formula for achieving
“absolute justice” the Palestinian right of return is in fact a
formula for absolute stalemate, and guarantees perpetual conflict.
For more : see Briefing 34 and 142
|25. “ Israel is an apartheid, racist
The concept of Israel as a Jewish state is legitimate
and no different from any other country wishing to define its national
Israel is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society, in
which the Arabs have full democratic rights and are represented
in Israel 's Parliament.
Arab claims have been vigorously upheld in the Israeli
Courts (for a dramatic example see Briefing 53).
Israel 's Law of Return is a legitimate immigration
law, which the Palestinians would one day seek to emulate if and
when they attain statehood of their own (see Briefing 2).
Arabs in Israeli society have opportunities in all
spheres of life – education, healthcare, government and public service,
sports, media and entertainment.
For more see: Briefings 82, 109, 136 and 172
|26. “ Israel never offered the Palestinians
a viable state at Camp David – this is Israeli propaganda”
Israel offered the Palestinians a viable state at
Camp David and in the negotiations leading to the Taba summit in
The pragmatic redivision of Jerusalem was also tabled
at the initiative of the USA .
The Palestinians rejected the opportunities of the
Camp David-Taba process because it would have meant surrendering
the unconditional right of return, which they were not prepared
to do. And it would have meant making an “end-of-conflict” statement
which Mr Arafat was also unwilling to do.
Since the end of the talks, the Palestinians have
downplayed what they were offered, and sought to place the blame
on Israel for the failure of diplomacy. But this is a way of diverting
attention from their own historic errors.
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who
took part in the negotiations, stated in February 2001 that Israel
had offered the Palestinians 97% of West Bank territory, and territorial
“contiguity” (ie not just disconnected chunks of land).
For more see: See “ Camp David and Taba – What
Did Israel Offer?” - Beyond Images Briefing 21
|27. “The Arab world offered Israel
peace via the Saudi peace initiative in 2002, which Israel rejected.
This proves that Israel is not interested in peace”
In March 2002 the Saudis proposed that the Arab world
recognise Israel , and that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 borders
The proposal was formulated vaguely, and publicised
in part by an American journalist. Many commentators at the time
suggested that Saudi Arabia 's motivation was to improve relations
with the USA after the September 11 attacks six months earlier in
which Saudi nationals had been heavily involved.
The Saudi peace initiative had at least two fatal
It did not demand an end to Palestinian violence and
indeed was proposed during the most violent month of the intifada,
It did not require the Palestinians to surrender their
claimed ‘right of return' into Israel .
It is meaningless to talk about Arab “recognition”
of Israel if terror continues, and if the Arabs maintain their demand
that all refugees can relocate as of right into pre-1967 Israel
Israel 's rejection of the Saudi proposals of 2002
does not indicate Israel is “not interested in peace”. But it shows
that peace cannot be achieved without an end to terror, and without
the Palestinians conceding ground on the ‘right of return'.
The Saudis refused to address either issue.
|28. “ Israel deliberately targets
Israel flatly denies that it deliberately targets
Its soldiers operate under strict rules of engagement
which prohibit this (see Briefing 92 and 98).
There have been many Palestinian civilian casualties,
but these are the tragic side-effect of the war of terror perpetuated
by the Palestinian groups.
In the 2006 war against Hebollah, Hezbollah fired rockets intensively at Israel, while hiding behind Lebanese civilians. Israel did not wish to harm civilians in the course of its fighting against Hezbollah (see Briefings 179, 180 and 181).
On occasions, Israel has held back from military operations,
even when it knew that massive attacks were being planned on its
own territory, because of its concern not to harm Palestinian non-combatants
(for an example read about the delays in the airstrike on Hamas
leader Saleh Shehadeh – see Briefing 9).
Israel is in an impossible dilemma in trying to combat
terrorism of a sort no other society has ever had to combat, while
maintaining its respect for human life.
Specific allegations of attacks are investigated.
Israel is an open society where the army is publicly accountable
for its actions, and subject to critical scrutiny from the press
It is this system of accountability which helps to
ensure that its rules of engagement are not just theory, but adhered
to in practice.
For more: see Beyond Images Briefing
7 , 11 and 175
|29. “Jews from all over the world
can move to Israel . Palestinians are barred from the country.
This is racism”.
Israel has its basic immigration law – the Law of
Return. This law gives Jews the right to become citizens of the
Jewish state, no matter where they currently live. This is no different
in principle from the citizenship rules of any other country.
To have such a law is not racist. Indeed, it has enabled
Israel to offer refuge to millions of Jews fleeing racial persecution
in Europe , the Arab world, and elsewhere.
The reason why Palestinians cannot migrate to the
territory over which they want to have self-rule is that the Arab-Israeli
conflict has not been resolved.
Under a “two-state solution”, Palestinians would inevitably
have their own right to take up residence in the State of Palestine.
To achieve this, they would need the Palestinian equivalent
of Israel 's law of return. No-one would think to call such a law
discriminatory for giving priority rights of residence to Palestinians
from outside the territory of the State of Palestine.
It is counter-productive for Israel 's critics to
condemn Israel 's immigration laws when one day the Palestinians
will need to emulate them.
For more: see ‘The
Law of Return: Fulfilling A Humanitarian Mission' Briefing 2.
|30.“ Spielberg's ‘ Munich ' shows how Israel took revenge for the Munich Olympic massacre, and how violence achieves nothing…..”
The makers of Munich admit that the film is not true. Screenwriter Tony Kushner has called it “historical fiction”. Steven Spielberg's spokesman has commented that the film “takes a degree of cinematic licence”
The film's main source of information is a 1984 book by George Jonas called ‘Vengeance'. That book was based on testimony by a supposed former Mossad agent, called Yuval Aviv. The Jonas book has been discredited by scholars, and Aviv has been condemned as a phoney, who “never set foot in the Mossad”
Everyone involved on Israel 's part confirms that Israel was not motivated by a desire for “revenge”. Rather, Israel 's goal was to prevent future atrocities by Palestinian Black September, the group which was responsible for the massacre of Israeli sportsmen at Munich
Following Israel 's strikes against Black September and related Palestinian groups in 1973-4, Palestinian terror in Europe declined
For more see: Briefing 168
|31. “UN Resolution 242 requires
Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank immediately”
Israel entered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and reconquered East Jerusalem in a war of self-defence (see Briefing 103).
UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 obliges
Israel to withdraw from territories seized in the 1967 war but within
the context of a negotiated peace agreement with the Arabs
and the Palestinians.
It does not oblige Israel to withdraw from the West
Bank unilaterally, and in a vacuum, without an agreement in place.
Furthermore, the Resolution applies to “territories”,
not “all” the territories. Even in the context of negotiations, Israel is not obliged to withdraw from "all" the territories captured in 1967. This choice of language was deliberate.
UN Resolution 242 places obligations on the Arab states
to recognise Israel , and commit themselves to live in peace with
Israel 's peace agreements since 1967 fulfil the letter
and spirit of UN Resolution 242 – the peace treaty with Egypt involving
Israel 's withdrawal from Sinai, and the peace with Jordan .
Israel 's proposals and positions in the Oslo process
fulfilled its part of UN Resolution 242, as does Israel 's commitment
to the Road Map.
Palestinian pursuit of an unconditional right of return
into Israel is completely inconsistent with UN Resolution 242.
The major block to implementation of UN Resolution
242 remains Arab rejectionism and violence.
|32. “ Israel is a ‘root cause' of Muslim hatred of the West….”
Israel is an object of hatred, state-sponsored incitement and demonisation in virtually the entire Arab and Muslim world
It is viewed as a foreign colonial implant, with conspiratorial designs to dominate the region, and without any humane, redeeming features.
Israel is portrayed in demonic terms on Al Jazeera, and on cable and satellite TV throughout the Islamic world. It is never portrayed as democratic or having any redeeming features
No Arab viewer would ever know that Israel Arabs have democratic rights, that Palestinians are treated in Israeli hospitals, or that Israeli leaders repeatedly offer the Palestinians opportunities for statehood and coexistence
Thus, it is not Israel , but the deep-rooted misrepresentation of Israel , which causes hatred of Israel and, by extension, the West
Hatred of Israel distracts attention from problems within Arab societies, and helps Arab leaders to avoid calls for greater democracy, human rights, equality for women, due process of law, an end to corruption, economic reform, freedom of speech and other much needed developments
Israeli policy is to seek to work with Palestinian and Arab leaders who renounce violence and recognise Israel , to build Palestinian statehood.
Blind hatred of Israel hinders this process, rather than helping it, and therefore harms the legitimate rights of Palestinians
Israel is a world leader in many areas of science, medicine and agricultural and environmental technology. It is also a melting pot of ethnic groups from Europe, the Middle East and Africa
In conditions of peace, Israel could serve as a unique cultural and technological bridge between the West and the Muslim world.
Soundbite: It is not the reality of Israel , but the demonisation of Israel , which is a root cause of Muslim hatred of the West
Soundbite: Hatred of Israel is a product of Arab political culture, not a product of Israel 's actions
For more see: Beyond Images Briefings 64 and 145
|33. “ Israel
kills international peace activists who come to support the
Thousands of Israelis and non-Israelis demonstrate
inside Israel for their particular peace proposals , without fear and free of
International 'peace activists' from the ISM (International
Solidarity Movement) have placed themselves in the middle of what
the Palestinians admit is effectively a war zone, ignoring appeals
by Israeli authorities for them not to enter for their own protection.
The Israeli authorities have investigated the deaths
of ISM members and these have been found to be non-deliberate.
These deaths are tragic side-effects of heavily armed conflict in
a war zone.
In the case of British ISM member Tom Hurndall, who
died in January 2004 nine months after being shot, an Israeli soldier
was convicted of killing him and imprisoned. This is consistent with
the Israeli position that if any civilian is found to have been
deliberately killed, this would require criminal prosecution of
The best way for third parties to protect Palestinian
women and children in the territories is to call upon the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas leaders to stop the terrorism.
|34. “ Israel disrupts Palestinian
higher education and universities”
Thousands of Arabs study freely and productively
in Israeli higher educational establishments, such as Haifa's Technion, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Ariel College.
Palestinian universities have grown dramatically in
size and numbers since 1967, but several have become conspicuous
hotbeds for anti-Israel incitement, and have hosted graphic demonstrations
in support of terrorism.
For instance, the temporary erection of a bombed life
size model of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizza house (19 Israelis killed)
in the middle of one of the universities in 2002, was hardly likely
to prompt Israeli moderation.
Israel 's temporary closures of these institutions
is a last-resort response to this anti-Israel agitation.
With an end to terrorism, Palestinian academic life
could flourish further, and academic bridges could again be built.
|35. “ Israel cruelly destroys Palestinian
farmers' olive trees and livelihoods”
Many attacks on Israeli armed forces and civilians
have been launched from under the cover of olive groves. In certain
situations the army has felt compelled to remove, or reduce the
size of, those holdings (for more see Briefing
64 – section on Olive Groves).
Israel has uprooted thousands of Palestinian-owned
olive and fruit trees in the course of building the security fence.
But the Defence Ministry has ordered that these trees (68,000 so
far) should be replanted in locations which the owners have a right
to choose, and at Israel 's expense. Building contractors do not
get paid until they replant (see Briefing 76).
It is not only Palestinian livelihoods which have
been harmed in the recent years. Thousands of Israeli livelihoods
have been ruined by the terror. This warrants recognition too.
Hezbullah rocket attacks from Lebanon and Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza have set fire to huge numbers of Israeli crops and resulted in major agricultural loss to Israel.
Israeli agricultural expertise is world-leading. In
conditions of peace, Israel could share this expertise with the
Palestinian agricultural community, for the benefit of all.
In Summer 2005, Israel handed over some of the worlds sophisticated greenhouses in Gaza. The Palestinians destroyed them.
|36. “ Israel massacred Palestinians
in Jenin in 2002 ”
A small section of the Jenin refugee camp was a nerve centre for extremely
fanatical groups, and used as a base to launch suicide attacks against
In the months before Israel moved against the Jenin
camp, 23 suicide bombings were carried out from there, and Palestinian
leaders promised to carry out more.
The Palestinian Authority stood by, passively.
The UN, formally responsible for the camp, also did
nothing to curb this activity.
Israel only moved against the Jenin camp in April 2002 after specific
advance warnings, and after first demanding that the Palestinians
The Palestinian centre of operations was a heavily
fortified cluster of houses – and the Israeli operation was confined
to those, and was not against the Jenin refugee camp as a whole
(as was conclusively proved by means of aerial photos taken at the
The Palestinian groups booby-trapped dozens of houses,
endangering Palestinian civilians. “We cut off lengths of mains
water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed
them about four meters apart throughout the houses – in cupboards,
under sinks, in sofas” (Hamas member Omar, quoted in Egyptian newspaper
The UN later concluded that the Palestinian military
base set up in this densely populated civilian centre was a breach
of international humanitarian law.
Israeli forces moved house-by-house and through walls
against heavily armed terrorists in order to minimise innocent Palestinian
civilian casualties. They did not bombard from the air.
Israel lost 23 soldiers in its Jenin operations; the
Palestinians lost 52, mainly heavily armed fighters.
The UN investigation concluded in August 2002 that
there had been no “massacre” by Israel in Jenin. Reports at the
time which came from Palestinian spokesmen and which were repeated at face value by many media outlets and which suggested there had been a massacre, were shown to be completely
For more: see (Briefing
64 and 97)
|37. “ Israel violated the sanctity
of the Church Of The Nativity in Bethlehem ”
Thousands of Christians freely visit Bethlehem , Nazareth
and other holy sites in Israel , each year.
This contrasts with the situation in many Muslim countries
where Christian minorities face serious and routine persecution.
In their effort to escape approaching Israeli forces,
Palestinian gunmen broke into the Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem
in April 2002, in flagrant violation of the sanctity of the church.
This triggered a 6 week siege.
The ringleaders were hardened terrorists with proven
involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians. Many priests were among
those caught up in the siege.
During the siege, Israel sought to maintain the sanctity
of the church, even when fired upon from inside the Church precincts.
Israeli offers to bring in food and drink were repeatedly refused
by the Palestinians inside.
Israel negotiated a peaceful end to the siege.
Christians in Bethlehem are intimidated by Islamic extremists (See Briefing 163)
Summary: It was not Israel which violated the
sanctity of the Church during this episode but the Palestinian gunmen.
They showed a disregard for Christian rights and sensitivities.
|38. “The Jews are taking over Jerusalem
and squeezing out the Palestinians”
Jerusalem 's Arab population is increasing numerically
more quickly than its Jewish population – hardly a sign of being
Terrorist attacks are targeted at Jerusalem 's Jews
by Arabs, not the other way round. Hundreds of Jewish residents
of Jerusalem have been murdered in recent years (See Briefings 160).
Palestinian leaders and intellectuals continue to
deny the Jews' religious connection to Jerusalem , despite it being
over 3,000 years old (see Briefing 1 – The Unbreakable
Bond and Briefing 145).
For more: see Briefing 54.
|39. “The USA blindly supports Israel
The USA is constantly pressing Israel to adapt its
Many policies adopted by Israel in favour of Palestinian
rights have come about in light of American pressure: Israeli recognition
of the Palestinian right of self-determination (going back 15 years); the pragmatic redivision of Jerusalem (an initiative
tabled by President Clinton in December 2000); disengagement from Gaza, and frequent rerouting of the security fence.
For the first 25 years of Israel 's existence, Israel
did not critically rely on the USA for military or even diplomatic
US military support for Israel today offsets its support
for Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia , and gives Israel the
reassurance necessary to make concessions and take long-term risks
American policies are not anti-Muslim but have repeatedly
backed Muslim causes (see Briefing 20 and 152).
Arab regimes use Israel , and American support for
Israel , as an excuse for domestic political and social oppression
and for economic stagnation.
The focus on hating the US-Israel connection diverts
attention from the need for democracy, human rights, higher living
standards and other badly needed changes in the Arab world (See Briefing 173).
America opposes blind anti-Israel bias at the UN,
and demands fairness and balance in the treatment of Israel .
America strongly advocates Palestinian statehood side-by-side with a secure Israel.
Summary: the US and Israel have strong natural
affiliations and similarities, but the US does not “blindly” support
Israel . Many of Israel 's most significant policy changes have
been influenced by American pressure.
Furthermore, it is senseless for the Arab world to vilify Israel
as “the 51 st state”: in conditions of peace Israel could serve
as a natural and strong bridge between the West and the Muslim world.
For more: see Briefing 20
“ America is anti-Muslim…”
|40. “Israeli policies are incompatible
with Jewish ideals”
Israel faces the daily challenge of how to combat
terrorism the like of which no other country has had to face.
The right to self-defence is moral, and consistent
with Jewish ideals, which do not advocate that Israel should allow
its citizens to be murdered.
Democratic rights of Arabs in Israel are upheld in
impressive fashion .
Suicide bombers (whose missions “fail”) are treated
in Israeli hospitals.
Israeli humanitarian efforts continue despite the
conflict, such as the heart treatment provided to over 150 Palestinian
Arab children in recent years in the Wolfson Medical Centre, near
Tel-Aviv (see Making the World A Better Place
Israel is constantly looking for ways to ease the
day-to-day burdens on the Palestinians, for humanitarian reasons
(see Briefings 13, 49
For more: see Briefing 16
– “Israeli policy is incompatible with Jewish ideals”
violence succeeded in forcing Israel to disengage from Gaza….”
- Israel withdrew its army from Gaza in 1994, under the Oslo
Agreements. Israeli settlements remained, with vulnerable access
routes out of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Authority took over.
- Palestinian violence, corruption and rejectionist ideology
since 1994 have wrecked efforts to build viable statehood for
- Israel's decision to withdraw from Gaza was taken for strategic reasons, not because of the Palestinian violence (see Briefing 127 and 133).
- The Palestinian groups who carry out the violence want to “prove”
that it is their attacks which are forcing Israel to withdraw,
as the Shiite Hezbollah movement supposedly did with its attacks
on the Israelis in Lebanon in the late 1990s.
- The motivation for the Palestinian violence is rooted in internal
Palestinian politics, not the day-to-day welfare of the Palestinian
people (see Briefing 150).
- Inside Israel, the most common argument against Israeli plans
to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza is that the area will become
even more of a hotbed of rejectionist fanaticism (see Briefing 153).
- By any rational calculation the Palestinian violence originating
from Gaza is completely counterproductive to Palestinian interests.
Summary: Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip
not because of the Palestinian violence, but despite that violence. Continued violence ruins the prospect of building up Palestinian society in Gaza.
Briefing 17 – “If only Israel
would end the occupation…”
Briefing 91 – “Is this a struggle
for freedom?” The murder of Tali Hatuel and her daughters
disengagement plan is a betrayal of the Road Map for peace…”
- In 2003 Israel and the Palestinians committed themselves to
pursuing the Road Map for peace – a process of negotiation
leading to a secure Israel co-existing with a viable Palestinian
- The first step in the Road Map was a requirement on the Palestinian
leadership to make every effort to halt the Palestinian violence.
- Not only have the Palestinians not fulfilled this commitment,
but they have on many occasions stated that they have no intention
of doing so.
- Hamas ideology and the Road Map are completely incompatible.
- It is against this background that Israel decided
that serious negotiations with the Palestinians
under the Road Map framework were currently impossible.
- Instead it formulated Israel’s disengagement plan –
a series of unilateral steps to be taken by Israel which do not
require negotiations with the Palestinians.
- Israeli spokesmen have stressed that Israel was reluctant to
act without a negotiated solution, but was forced to do so.
- Under its disengagement plan, Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005 and dismantled all Israeli settlements in Gaza and the Northern part of the West Bank.
- The measures of disengagement involve significant territorial
concessions by Israel. They do not preclude future negotiations
towards a two-state negotiation.
Summary: It is not Israel’s disengagement
that has “betrayed” the Road Map, but the Palestinian
failure to curb the violence.
See Briefing 127, 133 and 170
|43. “Israel is obliged
to withdraw from the entire West Bank….”
Summary: Israel is not obliged to withdraw from the
whole of the West Bank, legally, morally or politically. The major
settlement blocs are an inescapable political reality for Israeli
society. Permanent borders between Israel and a future Palestinian
state, possibly involving land-swaps, can only be determined by diplomatic
- The so-called ‘Green Line’ separating pre-1967 Israel
from the West Bank is an armistice line, not a permanent border.
- It was created as a ceasefire line following Israel’s
war of independence in 1948-9, and neither Israel, the Palestinians
nor the Arab world have ever recognised it as being a permanent
- Such borders can only be finalised as part of a comprehensive
- The West Bank was acquired by Israel in a war forced upon it
by its neighbours (see Briefing 103). UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed
after the war, requires Israel to withdraw from “territory”
in exchange for a secure peace – but it does not state “all
territory” (that wording was deliberate).
- It is open to Israel to propose absorbing certain West Bank
settlements within its borders, while recognising that the Palestinians
demand that Israel yield 100% of the West Bank.
- Palestinians may complain, fiercely, of their further “loss
of land”. But it can be argued that the Arab states and
the Palestinians have brought this on themselves. Israel would
probably not be in the West Bank were it not for the Arab refusal
for so many years before and after 1967 to accept a Jewish state
in any corner of historic Palestine (see Briefing
- Israel is considering a land-swap proposal to “compensate”
the Palestinians for their possible “loss” of some
West Bank territory to the settlement blocs.
Briefing 82 - Living in Israel or in a Palestinian
|44. “Israel plans
to hold on permanently to large chunks of West Bank territory
Summary: The key settlement blocs take up less physical
territory than is routinely suggested. Israel’s critics describe
Israel in expansionist terms, and refuse to acknowledge that Israel
is in the midst of major territorial concessions (see
- In April 2004 Israel obtained support from the US for its desire
to retain 5 major “settlement blocs” in the West Bank
– Maale Adumim, the Etzion Bloc, Ariel, Pisgat Ze’ev
(outer Jerusalem), and Kiryat Arba (next to Hebron).
- These areas contain the vast majority of Israel’s West
Bank settlers by number, but they only cover a small physical
area of West Bank territory.
- The area retained by Israel to include these five blocs would
be increased further because of the need to protect key roads
connecting these areas with pre-1967 Israel. But if the Palestinian
violence ceases then the need for this extra layer of protection
- Israel has dismantled unauthorised West Bank outposts,
withdrewn from four settlements in the
Northern part of the West Bank. These steps have been taken before
negotiations towards a two-state solution begin.
- Israel's government proposes to 'realign' its borders to aborb the settlement blocs. This would involve retaining 8-10% of the territory of the West Bank.
- These Israeli steps are bitterly controversial in Israel. But
they hardly indicate a country determined to hold on to “large
chunks” of West Bank territory.
- It remains logistically possible for Israel to retain the key
settlement blocs, and for the Palestinians to achieve a viable
|45. “Israel has nuclear weapons. So Iran is entitled to have them too….”
Who threatens to destroy whom?
Iran and Israel are not in equivalent situations
Israel does not challenge the right to exist of Iran , or any other country
By contrast, Iran denies the right to exist of Israel and its leaders openly call for Israel to be “wiped off the map”
Israel requires nuclear arms as a last-resort deterrent against Iran and others who proclaim their wish to destroy it and who acquire and use either massive conventional armouries or weapons of mass destruction
The ideology of their countries' leaders
Iran 's leaders make open genocidal statements advocating mass destruction
Israel 's leaders are silent about their nuclear capability. Leading Israeli advisers speak in cautious and low key terms about it
The position of the international community
The international community accepts Israel 's nuclear capability as a strategic reality
Iran 's nuclear ambitions are strongly opposed by the UN Security Council and by almost the entire international community
Nuclear weapons and national prestige
Iran claims the right to make nuclear weapons as a matter of national prestige and Muslim honour.
Israel makes no equivalent claim to this
policy of targeted killing of Palestinians is illegal and wrong…”
- Israel faces at least five groups of Palestinian terrorists
each of which regard Israeli men, women and children as legitimate
- In legal terms these groups are at war with Israel, and Israel
has a right to take measures of self-defence against them.
- These groups repeatedly declare their intention to continue
attacks against civilians. The burden of proof is not on Israel
to prove that their ring-leaders and operations chiefs represent
a danger to the country.
- The Israeli intelligence community acquires a large amount
of intelligence about Palestinian terrorists. When their location
is known, and it is seriously feared that they are planning attacks,
it would be negligence on the part of the Israeli government (or
for that matter any other national government placed in a similar situation)
not to act on that intelligence.
- The Palestinian Authority has done virtually nothing to curb
the activities of these groups (See Briefings 14
- Rather than targeting them from afar, Israel has often sent
elite commando units into West Bank towns and villages to arrest
bomb-makers and those who plan the attacks. But incursions are
not always possible, because of the serious risk of high civilian
casualties in built-up areas.
- Israel also erects checkpoints in order to foil Palestinian
attackers (see Briefing 5 and 164) and is now building
the security fence (see Briefing 73).
- Waiting to intercept suicide bombers after they have entered
Israel is not possible: because at that stage they can inflict
- Against this background, Israel has been left with no choice
but to strike at the masterminds, ring-leaders, bomb-makers, and
incoming suicide bombers by means of pre-emptive attacks –
or “targeted killings”.
- Many of the leaders of Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the PFLP, the
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Fatah Tanzim have been targeted
this way in the last three years – including the former
Hamas chief bomb-maker Saleh Shehadeh (see Briefing
9), and Hamas chiefs Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi.
- Israeli and neutral military commentators agree that these
targeted killings have driven the terrorist groups’ leadership
largely underground, and significantly curbed their ability to
maintain attacks against Israeli targets.
- There have been civilian Palestinian casualties in these “targeted
killing” operations: but Israel is adamant that it tries
to minimise them.
- The Palestinians terrorists who are targeted
are ultimately responsible for bringing this suffering on their own civilian
- If the Palestinian violence were to stop, Israel would have
no reason or basis for targeted attacks.
Summary: Targeted killing of Palestinian leaders
who carry out or inspire terrorism is a last resort measure by Israel.
Rather than criticising Israel’s response to the violence
it faces, Israel’s critics should recognise the self-defeating
nature of the Palestinian violence itself.
Briefing 9 – Attacking Hamas’
military mastermind Saleh Shehadeh
Yassin was a wheelchair-bound spiritual leader of the Palestinians,
and Israel was heartless to target him….”
- Sheikh Yassin was founder and “religious” mentor
of Hamas, a group responsible for many acts of mass murder of
Israeli civilians (see Briefing 78).
- Israel’s strike against him in March 2004 has to be viewed
in the context of the acts and intentions of the movement he led.
- Sheikh Yassin rejected the existence of Israel inside any borders,
and regarded a two-state solution as an “interim solution”
(see Briefing 74).
- He gave ideological direction and support to suicide bombers,
and was ardent in advocating women as suicide bombers too.
- When asked whether there was a place for a Jewish state, he
stated that the Jews “could set up a state in Europe”
(see Briefing 74).
- Thousands of Israelis have been wounded, and many are now in
wheelchairs for life, thanks to suicide bomb and gun attacks inspired
by Sheikh Yassin.
- He never articulated a message of peace, coexistence or
respect for human dignity: core values for “spiritual leaders”.
Summary: Sheikh Yassin was the leader of a movement,
Hamas, with a rejectionist ideology and a record of mass murder.
His own physical condition never led him to show the slightest compassion
or humanity towards the hundreds of victims of Hamas violence.
Briefing 74: “The Jews could have a
state in Europe…”
Briefing 48: Palestinian suicide bombings
1994-2004: don’t let the world forget
The Hamas Charter: extracts
military operation in the Gaza town of Rafah was excessive,
pointless and cruel….”
- Israel entered the Palestinian town of Rafah in the southern
Gaza Strip in May 2004 to close down Palestinian weapons-smuggling
tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
- The rockets, missiles, heavy arms and explosives equipment
smuggled into Gaza in the past had fuelled acts of violence against
Israeli civilians both in Gaza and against nearby Israeli towns
- Rafah was also the hometown of the murderers of the Hatuel
family (see Briefing 91), and the location
of extremely brutal attacks on Israeli soldiers (see Briefing
- Since 2002 Israel has experienced hundreds of mortar and Qassam
missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip.
- Palestinian missile attacks into Israel are by definition indiscriminate
attacks on civilians.
- Although fatalities have been relatively low, these attacks
could kill many Israeli civilians. For instance, an anti-tank
missile fired in July 2004 landed on a community centre in Neve
Dekalim in the Gaza Strip, during a communal gathering. Scores
of people narrowly escaped being killed or injured.
- Furthermore, an Israeli Cabinet Minister claimed in May 2004
that the new generation of missiles being smuggled into Gaza could
be used to launch ground-to-air attacks on airplanes using Ben-Gurion
airport. No government could sit by passively in the face of such
- The Palestinian Authority did nothing to curb weapons-smuggling
- Egypt proved ineffective at curbing the smuggling of weapons
from its territory
- Israel only moved its soldiers into Rafah when all other options
to curb the smuggling were exhausted.
- Many Palestinian civilians were killed in the operation, which
was controversial inside Israel.
- Palestinians have admitted that the weapons smuggling has been
significantly curbed as a result of Israel’s operation (see
report by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz, 25 May 2004).
- The Palestinian civilians who died were not deliberately targeted,
but killed in the cross-fire, or as a result of being involved
in armed attacks against the Israeli forces (Palestinian spokespeople
claim that Israeli snipers deliberately targeted civilians).
- At a protest rally of Rafah Palestinians on 19 May a disastrous
error by an Israeli tank crew killed many civilians. They believed
Israeli soldiers were about to be surrounded by Palestinian demonstrators,
but their “warning” shell (targeted at an empty building)
detonated next to the crowd. Israel’s Defence Minister and
entire senior military leadership apologised.
- In the midst of the Rafah operation, the Israeli High Court
issued a legally binding ruling on the obligations of Israel’s
army to maintain Palestinian humanitarian rights (see
Summary: Israel’s operation in Rafah was
prompted by unconstrained weapons smuggling by Palestinians, with
dangerous implications for Israel. Its actions had harsh consequences
for the Palestinians of Rafah, but the responsibility for that outcome ultimately
lies with the weapons-smugglers themselves.
Accusation 32, above
Briefing 7: “Israel targets Palestinian
Briefing 98: The Israeli army and Palestinian
civilians: the court clarifies humanitarian rules
Briefing 92: Reducing Palestinian suffering:
Israeli soldiers pay the ultimate price
Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s
security fence proves that Israel is acting illegally….””
- Israel never accepted the authority of the International Court
of Justice (ICJ). It claimed that the request for an Advisory
Opinion was a politically motivated act in the first place which
was initiated by the UN General Assembly which has a built-in
majority hostile to Israel.
- The question on which an Opinion was sought was framed to prevent
the ICJ from looking at the reason why Israel was building the
fence in the first place – namely terrorism (see Briefings
3, 8, 12
and 78, for instance).
- The Advisory Opinion is legally non-binding.
- The British Judge on the ICJ (see Briefing
101) described the ICJ proceedings as being “hugely
- She also described the ICJ’s account of the history of
the conflict as “neither balanced nor satisfactory”.
- The ICJ held that Israel has no right of self-defence against
Palestinian terrorism under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The
British judge (and many commentators) have criticised this conclusion
as simply wrong.
- If the ICJ’s interpretation of the UN Charter were to
be correct, then no countries could lawfully take action against
non-state terrorists under Article 51. The world should be very
careful before welcoming such a conclusion.
- The ICJ Opinion failed to heed the decision of the Israeli
Supreme Court of June 30 2004 that the security fence is a legitimate
means of protection against terrorism, but that its route needs
to take account of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
Summary: The proceedings before the ICJ were politically
motivated. In the eyes of the British judge on the ICJ, its Opinion
is seriously flawed in its legal reasoning, fairness and historical
grasp. In all the circumstances the ICJ Opinion cannot be taken
as “proof” of the legal status of Israel’s security
The security fence: Israel's justice system upholds Palestinian rights
The location of the security fence: Palestinian villagers succeed in top Israeli court
Briefing 101 – Israel’s security
fence: criticisms of the ICJ by the British Judge
Briefing 99 – How the security fence
is bringing security and prosperity to Jenin
Briefing 76 – 68,000 olive and fruit
trees replanted by Israel
Briefing 73 – The case for Israel’s
punishment of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was excessive,
cruel and counter-productive….” .””
- Mordechai Vanunu was a government employee at Israel’s
Dimona nuclear reactor plant, and had agreed in writing to keep
his activities strictly confidential.
- His disclosure of detailed information about the Dimona programme
to the Sunday Times newspaper in the UK in 1986 was a serious
violation of Israeli national security, as well as being a blatant
breach of his legal responsibilities.
- His supporters claim that his actions were motivated by opposition
to Israeli nuclear weapons. There are campaigning groups in Israel
on this topic. His proper course of action was to resign his position
and join a campaign.
- His disclosure of secrets of such sensitivity was an act of
treason, not so-called “whistleblowing”. The government
of any other country would perceive such acts in the same way,
and the person revealing them would receive a very severe sentence.
- After 18 years in prison Mordechai Vanunu was freed in 2004, but
Israel placed conditions on his release, particularly that he
would not talk to foreign media about Israel’s nuclear programme.
- It is not unreasonable to require that a person who has committed
treachery should only be released if he agrees not to commit treachery
- Since his release Vanunu has been providing information to
foreign media from his home in Israel, fulfilling Israel’s
- He has spoken to two British-based papers, and a Saudi Arabian
newspaper. Besides providing more information about Israel’s
weapons programme he has accused Israel of being behind the assassination
of President Kennedy, and claimed that there is no need for a
state of Israel to exist (see Jerusalem Post 30 July 2004).
Summary: The world applies a double-standard in
its criticism of Israel over Mordechai Vanunu. How would any country
treat an individual who so blatantly betrays vital national secrets,
and then demonstrates his intention, once free, to continue to do