Amb. Alan Baker | JCPA
Further to the recent publication of “Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel,” which addressed many of the widely-held and universally-disseminated false and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, a number of additional false assumptions – some even more willful and malicious – are addressed.
1. “Israel is committing genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian People” – a false and malicious blood-libel.
- This dangerous, cynical and dishonest allegation has become one of the “big lies” disseminated on campuses and within the international human rights community.Its proponents include individuals and organizations that purport to advocate constitutional and human rights, but in fact indulge in the most acute form of legal acrobatics and distortion of facts.They selectively and maliciously misinterpret and twist legal principles, statements, and writings in order to malign Israel and call into question its very legitimacy and basis for its existence.
- The proponents of this blood libel cynically manipulate and reverse historical fact by accusing Israel of entertaining an “incipiently genocidal mentality towards Arab society,”1 and of committing out of revenge, the very acts perpetrated against the Jewish people.
- The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 by the Jewish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, whose entire family was exterminated by the Nazis in Poland for being Jews.2
- Contrary to these false accusations:
- Israel has never advocated, devised or entertained any plan, design or campaign, systematic or otherwise, to undermine or destroy the Palestinian people, or to act out of revenge or despair.
- Israel, the Jewish people, and Zionist movement have never entertained and are prevented both constitutionally and morally from maintaining or implementing any military, political, religious, economic or cultural campaign, or policy intended to destroy the national, ethnical, racial, and religious structure of the Palestinian people.
- Israel has never sought to prejudice the essential foundations of life of the Palestinian people, or even to question its right to exist as a people.
- Israel has not indulged in mass-murder.
- Israel does not engage in ethnic cleansing, which runs solidly against the moral, religious, and ethical codes of the Jewish people.
- In its 1948, Declaration of Independence, Israel committed itself to ensuring “freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel and complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex.”3
- Israel undertook to guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture. It committed itself to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
- Despite the offer of peace, good neighborliness, cooperation, and mutual help in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East, the neighboring Arab states initiated a war in 1948, the declared aim of which was to annihilate the new state of Israel.
- It was not Israel that initiated this conflict, but Israel was obliged to defend its existence, its integrity and its population. Casualties and displacement of persons during the conflict, as regrettable as they were, were not part of any design or intent to destroy the Palestinian people, but the results of armed conflict.
- By the same token, the hostilities of 1967 were the specific result of attempts to strangle Israel militarily and economically. Israel’s resulting entry into the West Bank and Gaza areas was not motivated by any design to destroy or remove the Palestinian residents of the areas or to undermine their rights as a people.
- Attempts to justify a claim of genocide by accusing Israel of “repeated military assaults on Gaza,” as if Israel’s actions were gratuitous and contrived, are no less absurd. They deliberately and manipulatively ignore the thousands of rockets, attack-tunnels and other forms of terror emanating from Gaza and directed against Israel’s civilian population by an internationally acknowledged terror organization.
- It was not Israel but Hamas that murdered Palestinian children who were digging tunnels for Hamas in Gaza,4 and who executed Palestinian residents of Gaza for “morality crimes” and for “collaboration with Israel.”5
- Clearly, no serious, bona fide and self-respecting human rights expert or organization could interpret Israel’s acting in self-defense as an act of genocide aimed at destroying a people.
- In a similar context:
- It was not Israel that massacred 15,000 Palestinian residents living in refugee camps in Jordan during the nine-day “Black September” Civil War between Jordan and the PLO in 1970.6
- It was not Israel that expelled 400,000 Palestinians in 1991 from Kuwait in retaliation for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. 7
- It was not Israel that caused the displacement of 390,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.8
- It was not Israel that laid siege to the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus between 2013-2014 in which 18,000 civilians were trapped, with scarce food, water, and medical supplies, leading to instances in which Palestinian residents starved to death.9
- From the regional demographic standpoint, since Israel’s entry into the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and into Gaza in 1967, the Palestinian Arab population has increased from 954,898 to 4,654,421. This indicates an increase of 387 percent.10In this context, Palestinian life expectancy in the West Bank and Gaza has climbed from 68.5 in 1990 to 72.9 in 2014.One may ask how such statistics could serve as any logical basis, or be considered compatible with the patently false, flawed and manipulative allegation of a purported Israeli genocide of the Palestinian People.
2. “The Jews are not a people and have no rights in the Middle East” – False and Misguided
- This curious claim would appear to be in total denial of the history of civilization, from pre-Biblical and historic times and up to present day.
- The very existence of the Jews as an indigenous people, as well as its roots, whether in their historic homeland in the “Holy Land” or throughout the various Jewish diasporas and exiles, are borne out in pre-Bible historic narratives as well as in Biblical scriptures including the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Gospels and the Muslim Koran. This is all backed-up by readily available and duly documented and exhibited archeological proof in museums throughout the world.
- Judaism, the Hebrew language, and the Jewish People originated some 3,000 years ago in the area of the “Holy Land.” Christianity grew out of Judaism, and the early Christian existence there was an integral part of the Jewish settlement there. The presence of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, and their destruction (in 587 BCE and 70 CE), were acknowledged by Greek, Persian and Roman pagan and Christian authors, travelers and historians, as well as in Koranic references.
- The right to reestablish a national home for the Jewish People was acknowledged in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It was given international legal recognition in the 1920 San Remo Declaration by the Supreme Council of Principle Allied Powers. It was subsequently reaffirmed by the League of Nations in 1922 as part of the British Mandate for Palestine, the opening paragraphs of which gave recognition to “the historical connection of the Jewish people within Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”11
- In addition to their historic and legal rights, the Jews, as one of the oldest indigenous and aboriginal peoples still in existence, have indigenous rights that are recognized by the international community.
3. “The establishment of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians” – False
- The perception of the creation of the State of Israel as a “catastrophe’ (Nakba) reflects a constant and on-going Palestinian narrative rejecting the creation of a national state for the Jewish people in any part of Mandatory Palestine.This absolutist narrative sees uncompromising struggle against Israel as the common national aim of the Palestinians, the very heart of the dispute.
- However, despite this, the establishment of the state of Israel was nevertheless effected following a recommendation of the international community in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition resolution, to establish two independent states in Mandatory Palestine – a Jewish and an Arab one. This reflected the acceptance by international community of the fundamental rights of the Jewish and Arab populations to govern themselves in their own independent sovereign entities.
- The State of Israel was not established in place of, nor as an alternative entity to a Palestinian state. It was not established in denial of the existence of the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine. It was intended to exist together with an Arab state in the area of Mandatory Palestine.
- Rather than accepting this plan and thereby giving up their absolutist aim to create one Arab state in all the territory of Mandatory Palestine, the Arabs of Palestine, together with neighboring Arab states members of the Arab League, at the violent urgings of the Mufti of Jerusalem and Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the partition plan and went to war against the Jewish state. This despite some elements within the Palestinian Arab community who were prepared to live in peace with the Jews.
- Despite the fact that the partition plan did not fully realize the hopes of the Jewish population of Mandatory Palestine, they nevertheless chose to accept it in the hope that is would indeed serve as a basis for peaceful coexistence between the Arab and Jewish communities in Mandatory Palestine.
- It is widely acknowledged that the refusal by the Arab community and the neighboring Arab states, to accept the partition plan, and their subsequent failure to forcibly eliminate the Jewish state, and the sad consequences of such failure including the emergence of the refugee problem, were entirely their own doing. It was not the result of any action, inaction or injustice by Israel. It was the result of short-sighted and unfortunate misjudgment and a lack of clear, rational leadership among the Arab communities.
- The creation and subsequent acceptance of Israel by the international community were considered by them to be a disastrous blow and a severe mistake. Hence the use of the term “catastrophe” (Nakba) to symbolize the Palestinian refugee issue.Nakba day has become an annual day of mourning, violent demonstrations and virulent incitement and propaganda in the attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Israel.
- Presenting Israel’s creation as a “catastrophe,” rather than the misjudgment, misguided policies, and decisions by the Arab leaders, represents Israel’s detractors’ attempt to falsify and overturn the historic narrative from one of inherent denial of the right of existence of a Jewish state through aggression and rejectionism, to one of victimhood and denial of rights.
- It is also indicative of the fact that the Arabs’ original 1948 rejection and denial of the right of existence of the state of Israel has not changed and remains the central aim of their narrative.Through well-orchestrated international brain-washing and incitement, the Palestinian leadership seeks to further this false and fictitious narrative, which is perceived by many to replace the true facts of the events of 1948.
- This attempt to undermine the very legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state is particularly evident in recent calls by Palestinian leaders for the revocation of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and their manipulation of international organizations.
- Those subscribing to this false narrative, rather than relying on true historical fact, are in fact being manipulated into becoming party to this deception.
4. “Israel prevents the supply of water to the Palestinian population” – False
- The false allegation by Palestinian leaders that Israel is waging a water war in order to starve the Palestinian population, to prevent them from leading a dignified life as a form of collective punishment, has been willingly taken-up and amplified by international media.
- Additional false allegations include leaving thousands of Palestinians without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, which can take place in the summer, at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C. However, the opposite is the case. In order to accommodate Palestinian daytime fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the water supply was increased during night-time.
- These accusations were recently repeated in a report issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) claiming:
Palestinians are prohibited from maintaining or digging water wells, while Israel has been extracting much more water than the level stipulated by the 1993 Oslo Accords and confiscating 82 per cent of Palestinian groundwater. The Palestinians are left with no choice but to import their own water from Israel to cover 50 per cent of their consumption.”12
- The very opposite is in fact the case.Israel undertook in the Oslo Accords to increase the water supply to the Palestinians population in Judea and Samaria by 20 percent. In practice, over the last 15 years, the water supply increased by about 50 percent, most of which was designated for domestic consumption.13
- World-wide global trends for water consumption indicate a general decrease in per-capita consumption over time due to population growth and deterioration of water resources. The opposite is the case with the Palestinian water usage, as a result of their increased access to water since 1967. In 1967, only 10 percent of Palestinian households were connected to water infrastructure, today, this figure has risen to 95 percent.In fact, access by Palestinians to running water is better than by residents of Amman and Damascus.14
- The net per-capita domestic water consumption of the Palestinians is higher than the ‘minimum human need estimate’ given by the World Health Organization – 100 liters per day per capita. This quantity is much above the 50 liters per day per capita minimum to sustain life.
- In contravention of their commitments in the Oslo Accords, and ignoring the resultant dangers of deterioration and salinization of the water quality, the Palestinians unlawfully extract water by drilling and operating unauthorized private wells. These are connected by the Palestinian Authority to the electrical network. In addition, water-theft occurs through unlicensed connections by Palestinian villages to Israel’s water system in order to irrigate fields.
- Due to mismanagement, faulty maintenance, the Palestinians have not succeeded in independently increasing their water supply.
- Since hardly any Palestinian farmers install water meters on their wells and about half of the houses in the Palestinian towns and villages have no meters, their governing authorities cannot monitor usage. Thus most Palestinians do not pay for their water consumption and there is no monetary incentive to conserve water.15
5. “Israel violates its obligations in the Oslo Accords” – False
- Israel considers the Oslo Accords16 to be the major component in maintaining peaceful relations with the Palestinians. To this end Israel has implemented its obligations pursuant to the accords in good faith, irrespective of continuing obstructionism on the part of the Palestinian leadership:
- Israel redeployed its forces from areas A and B as required in the security annex to the Interim Agreement, and transferred powers and responsibilities in over 40 spheres of civil administration to the PA, as set out in the civilian affairs annex to the Interim Agreement.
- Despite ongoing threats by the Palestinian leadership to suspend the security cooperation and coordination in mutual security matters agreed to in the security annex, Israel has consistently maintained close security cooperation with the security authorities of the Palestinian Authority, including the provision of weapons for the use of the Palestinian police.
- Israel regularly transfers funds, taxes and import duties to the Palestinian Authority in the context of its obligations pursuant to the annex on economic relations, irrespective of the huge debts owed by the Palestinian Authority to Israeli bodies for provision by Israel of electricity and to Israeli hospitals for medical treatment.
- While Israel has attempted to maintain and conduct ongoing daily relations, at the professional level, with the various Palestinian administrative authorities, in order to enable continued implementation of various provisions of the agreements that require reciprocal coordination and cooperation, the Palestinian leadership has refused to permit such cooperation and has obstructed any such ongoing relations.
- Regrettably the Palestinians refuse to implement the annex on Israeli-Palestinian cooperation programs, including the “People-to-People” Program, initiated by Norway as a program to enhance dialogue and relations at the grass-roots levels.
- The long list of fundamental breaches by the Palestinians of some of their most central and basic obligations have frustrated and continue to jeopardize any further implementation of the Oslo Accords, or return to negotiations.
- Such fundamental breaches include:
- Active support, encouragement and financing of terror and violence against Israel and its population, and the maintenance of terror infrastructure despite obligations to dismantle it;17
- Wholesale acquisition, manufacture and provision of illegal weaponry for purposes of terror;18
- Daily hate indoctrination and incitement to violence and terror, from the highest levels of Palestinian leadership and governance, through the Palestinian media and education system and down to elementary schools and kindergartens. This is in clear violation of the Palestinian obligation to foster mutual understanding and tolerance.19
- Attempts to unilaterally alter the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip outside the negotiating process, through unilateral initiatives in the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies and other international bodies, including the false representation of the Palestinian Authority as a state, accession to international conventions and conduct of foreign relations in clear contravention of the accords;20
- Initiation, organization and support, internally and internationally, of economic and cultural boycotts and sanctions against Israel.21
- Israel has consistently expressed its readiness to resume and complete negotiations in accordance with the Oslo Accords, without any preconditions, on those core issues agreed-upon by both parties to be permanent status negotiating issues. These include borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security arrangements, relations and cooperation with other neighbors and other issues of common interest.
- Regrettably the Palestinian leadership has imposed preconditions to any return to negotiations. Such preconditions, pertaining to the very issues on the negotiating table, in effect obviate any possibility of genuine and bona fide negotiation.
- This calls into question their bona fides as a viable and serious partner for negotiation.
6. “Israel is denying the ‘right of return’ to millions of Palestinian refugees” – False.
- There exists no “right of return” for refugees in international law or practice, and no international treaty or binding resolution by any international body imposes any such obligation on Israel.
- Similarly, none of the agreements and documents agreed upon between Israel and Egypt, the Palestinians and Jordan grants the refugees a right of return.
- The only specific, non-binding reference to “return” of Palestinian refugees appears in article 11 of UN General Assembly resolution 194(III) of December 11, 1948 where the UN recommended that refugees “wishing to return to their homes and to live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earlies practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.” 22This resolution, which was rejected by the Arab states, established no right and no obligation.
- Security Council Resolution 237 of 4 June 1967 regarding “facilitation of the return of those inhabitants who have fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities,”23 does not speak of a “right” of return and, like most Security Council resolutions, it is in the nature of a recommendation.
- Throughout the peace process, Israel has acknowledged the need to solve the refugee issue through negotiation. In this context:
- Israel accepted the UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967) which “affirmed the necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem,”
- In the 1978 Egypt-Israel Camp David Agreement (Framework for Peace in the Middle East) Israel and Egypt agreed to establish “procedures for a prompt, just and permanent implementation of the resolution of the refugee problem.” They also established a “continuing committee” of representatives of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians to agree on the modalities of admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
- Israel actively participated in the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees established by the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and headed by Canada.
- Israel and the Palestinians agreed in the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993 (Oslo I) that the modalities of admission of displaced persons should be decided by agreement in a “continuing committee,” and the issue of refugees should be one of the major negotiating issues on the permanent status negotiating table.
- Similar provisions were agreed in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
- Jordan and Israel agreed, in the 1994 peace treaty between them, on the need to solve the refugee problem both in the framework of the multilateral working group established after the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, and in conjunction with the permanent status negotiations. The Treaty also refers to UN and other agreed international economic programs concerning refugees and displaced persons.
- In the same context, Israel has consistently maintained that the issue of Jewish refugees and displaced persons from Arab states constitutes an inherent component of any negotiation on refugees.
7. “BDS is a progressive, non-violent movement in the best tradition of peaceful activism” – False and Deceptive
- The publicly stated goal of the BDS campaign is to delegitimize and isolate Israel internationally. Its tactic is to portray Israel as the new illegitimate apartheid South Africa, with the strategic objective of causing Israel’s destruction through comprehensive political and economic warfare.
- BDS leaders and activists characterize their activities as a complementary strategy to the policy of terror and political violence that Hamas, other Palestinian groups, and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations have long embraced as part of their avowed effort to dismantle Israel as a sovereign state.
- This is readily evident in the statements of the BDS leadership, including:
- BDS leader Omar Barghouti “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”24
- Ahmed Moor, BDS student leader and activist, “BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is the final showdown.”25
- As’ad Abu Khalil, BDS activist, California State University “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”26
- The common chant used by BDS supporters, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” belies any claim that BDS is limited to a political and economic agenda as a means of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the territories.To the contrary, it reveals BDS true intentions to “liberate” both the disputed territories and pre-‘67 Israel from the Jews. This parallels the stated goal of Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood), Hizbullah, Fatah, PLO groups, other radical Arab and Islamic organizations, which is to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people.This has been described by Michael Gove, former British Minister of Justice and Education as a “resurgent, mutating, lethal virus of anti-Semitism” reminiscent of Nazi boycotts of Jews on the eve of the Holocaust.27
- A basic aim of the BDS campaign is to advocate internationally the delegitimization of Israel and to promote persistent struggle against the existence of a nation-state for the Jewish people in Israel. This is based on a Palestinian narrative that denies both the existence of the Jewish people as a sovereign nation, as well as the historic relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Israel/Palestine.28 This narrative presents the Palestinians as innocent victims of vicious Western and Israeli colonialism.
- The BDS movement has exercised tactical sophistication in camouflaging its radical linkages and extremist ends in a language of peace, justice, and human rights that appeal to well-meaning Western progressive organizations, groups and individuals who generally support human-rights agendas.In this manner the BDS movement is manipulating and abusing the bona-fides of peace-loving and concerned people by misleading them into believing that it is a genuine social movement propelled by non-violent resistance and economic boycott, seeking to advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- While economic boycott of Israel is not a new phenomenon and has been used by the Arab League since the establishment of Israel in 1948, its reincarnation in the form of the BDS campaign is significant. In addition to the Muslim terror groups sponsoring and supporting it, it includes new but equally radical actors, including far-left Christian, and even Jewish and Israeli groups and individuals.As part of its effort towards globalization and mainstreaming, it has also penetrated Western mainstream professional groups, trade unions, leading academic institutions, and even the world of cultural and entertainment icons.
- Rather than advancing prospects for peace and normal relations between the Palestinians and Israel, the BDS campaign is inciting towards, and advancing a policy of total boycott of and anti-normalization with Israel. This serves to enhance polarization and hostility to Israel both in the Gaza and West Bank, as well as in the international sphere.
- This is clearly the antithesis of any positive and constructive movement towards a peaceful solution and bon-voisinage (good neighborly relations) between the peoples of the area. In fact, it prejudices prospects for any future Palestinian political and economic independence and positive trade and security relationship with Israel. Its consequences include:
- Encouraging radicalization of the Palestinian public discourse, particularly among Palestinian youth, and undermining agreed-upon areas of security and other forms of cooperation.
- Distancing and alienating the Israeli public from considering further concessions to reach a peace agreement.
- Harming the employment security and social benefits to families, and even causing the termination of more than 1000 Palestinian employees and managers, and their families, working in Israeli companies operating in those West Bank Industrial zones agreed upon and established pursuant to the Oslo Accords.
- Distancing Israeli and foreign investors from investing in the West Bank and Gaza.
- The BDS campaign has had little effect on Israel’s GDP, and in fact, several countries have taken steps to outlaw the BDS tactics, acknowledging that the path to peace and reconciliation is paved through mutual political social, economic and cultural engagement and normalization. In this context, Palestinian workers and managers, who have lost their employment because of BDS pressure, have begun to publicly oppose the BDS campaign.At the same time, South African black intellectuals who suffered under the apartheid regime have similarly emerged as opponents of the global BDS campaign.
- A similar sentiment has recently been enunciated by Jordanian Parliament member Abed Almaala:29
BDS is a reckless act of hatred that threatens the security and stability of not only Israel, but also my country, Jordan, and the entire Middle East.
BDS is a threat to us all – a threat to America as much as it is a threat to Israel, Jordan and our Palestinian brothers.
BDS is not only hateful and shameful, but also strengthens Arab dictators who hypocritically criticize Israel for alleged human rights violations when they, themselves, are the world’s top human rights violators.
8. “Israel is undermining the ‘two state solution’”- False and Misleading.
- Successive Israeli leaders have reiterated Israel’s principled support for the vision of “two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security,” as the outcome of the negotiation process. This vision, initially foreseen by former Israel Prime Minister Barak in 2000, was enunciated by President George W. Bush in 2002 and is almost universally acknowledged by the international community.To accuse Israel of undermining or torpedoing the two-state solution would appear to be ingenuous, unrealistic and even gratuitous.
- Logically, a two-state vision cannot be imposed by one-sided and politically generated UN resolutions, by an international conference or any other form of third-party intervention.It can only be realized through active and bona-fide negotiation and agreement between the parties on such basic, reciprocal issues as bilateral borders, mutual recognition, essential security issues and bilateral economic, commercial and political relationships between them.
- The Palestinian imposition of preconditions to any return to negotiations, prejudging the substantive issues to be negotiated, and their maintenance of an “all or nothing” negotiating strategy are incompatible with any logical, bona-fide negotiating process. Such strategy has consistently undermined efforts to resume negotiations.
- The Palestinian Authority’s support for and open incitement and encouragement of acts of terror against Israel, their attempts to undermine the very legitimacy of Israel and to initiate judicial proceedings against Israel’s leadership, all demonstrate a clear determination against achieving a negotiated two-state solution or any form of peaceful, neighborly relationship.
- A viable two-state solution envisages a unified Palestinian leadership. Regrettably this has not materialized. Rather than utilizing Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to advance the two-state solution, the Palestinian leadership quickly lost power and control to the Hamas terror organization which established its own independent terror regime in Gaza.
- This Hamas regime, identified with the Moslem Brotherhood and in ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Authority, rejects any possibility of political dialogue with Israel, and has launched three major terror campaigns against Israel, in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
- Failure of the Palestinian Authority to secure a viable governing administration in Gaza, together with the designs of Hamas to extend its control of other Palestinian cities of the West Bank, does not inspire confidence that the Palestinian leadership would be capable of honoring and maintaining security or other agreements with Israel.
- The lack of a unified and agreed-upon Palestinian governance structure, massive, widely-acknowledged corruption, internal violence, and intense radicalization in schools, mosques and media in the West Bank and Gaza, further prejudice chances of progressing toward a two state solution.
- Acceptance by the Palestinian leadership of concessions by Israel, while at the same time consistently refusing offers to reach an agreed-upon “end to the conflict” and to negotiate a final status, do not advance the chances of a two state solution.
- Rejection and prevention by the Palestinian leadership, of viable neighborly relationships at the people-to-people level, and support of boycotts and divestment initiatives all run against any concept of bon-voisinage (good neighborly relations) between the two peoples.
9. “Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal” – False.
- It is widely acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority’s control in Gaza was usurped by the Hamas, an internationally regarded terror organization, sponsored and supplied with arms by Iran. Hamas and other terror groups such as the Islamic Jihad have turned the area into a base for mounting terror attacks against Israel.To this end Hamas produces, smuggles into the area and stockpiles missiles, guns, and ammunition for use against Israel and its civilian population. It periodically directs such missiles randomly at Israeli civilian targets, in violation of all accepted norms of international humanitarian law.
- In light of this acknowledged situation of armed conflict, Israel has the prerogative to institute a naval and land blockade with a view to prevent the introduction of weapons and materials that could serve the belligerent purposes of Hamas. The institution of such a blockade is well established in international law and practice.
- A naval blockade in such a situation once instituted and maintained in accordance with the rules of international law with the appropriate public notification as to the area of sea that it covers effective enforcement, impartiality and consideration of humanitarian needs of the population, is fully in accordance with accepted international law and practice.
- In accordance with the findings of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 2010 Flotilla Incident:
The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”30
- Despite the ongoing, declared hostile intentions of the Hamas administration in Gaza, and its renewed construction of tunnels and manufacture of rockets for use against Israel, Israel maintains an ongoing civilian policy enabling the transfer of commodities via the different overland crossings, civilian entry to and from the Gaza Strip with emphasis on the evacuation of Palestinian patients for medical treatment in Israel, the promotion of projects by international community, and coordination of operations and aid in agriculture, transportation, trade and industry. Pursuant to the recent agreement between Israel and Turkey, increased amounts of aid from Turkey are passing into the Gaza Strip.
10. Israel is conducting extrajudicial murders and is randomly and cold-bloodedly executing Palestinians – False and Malicious
- In light of the clear video footage showing random knife attacks against Israelis by incited Palestinians passing through check-points and in other locations, it is incredulous to see how the Palestinian and Arab League leaders and spokesmen have the gall to manufacture a blatantly false narrative, boldly and openly accusing Israel of randomly executing these people in cold-blood.
- It is no less incredulous to see the extent to which these lies are so readily accepted by the international media, by leading Western and Arab political personalities and even by various foreign and Israeli academics, who rush to accuse Israel’s police who are defending themselves against these knifings, of carrying out “indiscriminate,” “barbaric” or “extrajudicial” executions.
- By allowing themselves to be influenced by such false and manipulative lies and by accepting and propagating them, the international media and some leading western political personalities are in fact giving encouragement and license to the Palestinian leadership to continue its incitement to such violence by individuals. The Palestinian leadership instigating this incitement knows that it will be viewed sympathetically in the West and that Israel will be condemned for defending against such attacks.
- Claims by Palestinian leaders considered by the international community to be “moderate,” justifying such terrorist knifings and citing “lack of hope” or “desperation” by the perpetrators of such terror, cannot be considered acceptable by any moral standard.
- Even the UN General Assembly annually resolves, “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”31
11. “Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip including the indiscriminate murder of children” – False
- Almost inevitably, whenever Israel is obliged to defend its population and territorial integrity from unbridled and indiscriminate terror emanating from beyond its borders, whether from Hamas in the Gaza Strip or from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel is accused of exercising “disproportionate force” and of committing war crimes.
- Such accusations are gratuitous and inherently false. They ignore the unique and unprecedented nature of the terrorism unleashed against Israel, the tactics and strategy of which deliberately abuse and violate accepted civilized and humanitarian norms, and the realities of combat in the Gaza Strip.
- The allegations against Israel knowingly manipulate casualty statistics in order to establish false and disproportionate equivalences between Israel, a sovereign country bound by international humanitarian norms, and terror groups that knowingly and deliberately abuse such norms.
- They ignore the fact that the terror groups deliberately, as a matter of military tactic, take advantage of, and rely on the humanitarian limitations that Israel, as a member of the international community, imposes on its forces in seeking to avoid civilian casualties. Such tactics include:
- Cruelly forcing civilians, including children to serve as human shields and denying them access to shelter;
- the deliberate use of private homes, schools, medical facilities and religious locations for storage and operation of rockets and other ammunition, as access-points to operational tunnels and as headquarters for terror activity;
- willful and indiscriminate targeting of populated civilian centers, public facilities, schools and religious locations within Israel;
- a declared aim of kidnapping Israeli citizens for purposes of hostage-taking,
- The use of civilian facilities and the forced use of human shields are a deliberate tactic and widely used strategy in the arsenal of these terror groups. They rely on the likelihood that any military and defensive retaliation by Israel would likely endanger and harm those innocent civilians and thereby generate the accusations levelled against Israel.
- The Hamas terror organization has proudly admitted that its fighters are instructed to use human shields in order to purposely suffer civilian deaths and thereby increase international pressure and blame on Israel. 32Former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad boasted in 2008 that Hamas fighters “formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahedeen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.”33
- Such tactics and strategy are widely known and acknowledged throughout the international community. Leading political personalities in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the various international and local organizations and bodies purporting to uphold compliance with humanitarian norms are fully aware of the serious humanitarian dilemmas and challenges faced by Israel in attempting to defend itself against such terrorism, while at the same time minimizing civilian casualties.
- Leading military experts, after reviewing Israel’s military actions, have commented on the fact that “Israel had gone to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and prevent civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict.”34(Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff).Similarly, the British military expert Col. Richard Kemp has testified to the fact that Israel’s forces “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”35
- In the absence of clear and accepted international criteria for dealing with unbridled abuse of humanitarian norms by terror organizations, those making allegations against Israel choose rather to ignore and overlook the dilemmas and challenges faced by Israel in defending itself against such terror.
- Humanitarian norms are an inherent part of the legal obligations on Israel’s military. Israel’s judicial and military authorities are obligated to investigate accusations of abuse of humanitarian norms, and where relevant to taking the appropriate juridical measures.
Amb. Alan Baker is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. Twitter: @AmbAlanBaker
1 Center of Constitutional Rights, The Genocide of the Palestinian People: An International Law and Human Rights Perspective; Martin Shaw, Palestine In An International Historical Perspective On Genocide, 9 Holy Land Studies 1, 13 (2010)
2 Raphael Lemkin, Genocide- A Modern Crime, 4 Free World 39 (1945), http://www.preventgenocide.org/Lemkin/freeworld1945.htm
11 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp – The Palestine Mandate, Council of League of Nations
12 http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1317 – UNCTAD report
28 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/plocov.asp, PLO Charter
30 Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident, pg. 4, http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/middle_east/Gaza_Flotilla_Panel_Report.pdf
31 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55-158- Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism- 12 December 2000, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/MFADocuments/Yearbook13/Pages/221%20%20United%20Nations%20General%20Assembly%20Resolution%2055.aspx