Question: Where can I find a concise, objective account of the history of the Middle East conflict?
Answer: Such sources are not easy to find. Usually one must piece together information from many sources, keeping the particular bias of each one in mind. Nevertheless, an excellent, objective, and comprehensive historical summary may be found at A Brief History of Israel and Palestine and the Conflict and also at Palestine Facts.
A more concise introduction may be found on the following page:
The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Brief Guide for the Perplexed
For a much more detailed treatment see Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
Question: How would you answer this kind of statement: "The Jews during the British Mandate were no different from the Palestinians. Both groups struggled for freedom and both groups bombed and shot the ruling force. So what's the difference between those groups and also between Begin, Shamir, Arafat, and Barghouti"?
Answer: The main difference is that while the Jewish groups tried hard to avoid civilian casualties, the Arab groups tried and still try their best to harm and kill as many civilians as they can.
Let's begin with the British Mandate. Menachem Begin was the leader of the Irgun, which has sometimes been called a Jewish terrorist group. However, a good working definition of terrorism is "violence directed intentionally and specifically at civilians to intimidate a community and to achieve political ends." Let us see how the groups compare.
The most infamous incident in the history of the Irgun is the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946. It was chosen as a military, not a civilian target, because it was the headquarters of the British military command. The decision came after British troops invaded the Jewish Agency and also placed thousands of Jews under arrest from all over Palestine. It was also a protest against British restrictions on Jewish immigration that left Jews stranded in Europe where many were dying in anti-Jewish riots.
To avoid civilian casualties the Irgun placed telephone calls to the hotel and to the news media warning of the attack. The British ignored the phone calls.
Even though the Irgun tried to avoid civilian deaths, its tactics were denounced by the Yishuv, the mainstream Jewish community. The Jewish National Council specifically condemned the King David Hotel bombing.(1)
In contrast, not only do Arab terrorists target civilians intentionally, they are praised as heroes and martyrs in their communities for doing so.
Marwan Barghouti was leader of the Fatah Tanzim organization and founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. These groups carried out dozens of terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, and shooting attacks in residential neighborhoods, including a birthday party for a twelve-year-old girl in which six people were killed and several more wounded. Barghouti was arrested in April, 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield and is standing trial in Israel.(2)
Yasser Arafat has been involved in terrorist activity against Israeli civilians since before the 1967 war. Although he promised to crack down on terrorism as part of the Oslo agreement, documents that Israel captured during Operation Defensive Shield prove that Arafat has continued his direct involvement in the planning and financing of terrorist acts.(3)(4)
Neither Yitzhak Shamir nor Ariel Sharon has ever launched an attack whose purpose was to harm civilians. Sharon has taken strong measures to crack down on terrorism, and the result has been a drop in the rate of suicide bombings. None of these measures would be necessary were it not for the persistence of Arab attacks against Jewish civilians. No society can allow the indiscriminate and wholesale murder of its civilian population. All that is necessary to end Sharon's preventive measures is that Arab terrorism cease.
Finally, there is a flaw in the question's phrasing. It says that "both groups struggled for freedom." Under the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Arabs were granted autonomy as a step towards eventually setting up their own state. They have used their autonomy to set up terror operations against Israel. If they were truly interested in ending the Israeli presence in that area, they would have taken seriously the peace offer of Camp David 2000, which would have given them their state.
Instead of peaceful negotiation the Arabs have chosen violence. The implication is clear: they are not fighting for freedom, but for the destruction of Israel itself. Once the violence stops, Israel will no longer need to defend against it.
The Jews under the British Mandate were not given the option of peaceful negotiation. They also tried to avoid civilian targets. The Arabs were offered peace and rejected it. Instead, they direct their violence specifically toward civilians.
Now that terrorism is spreading across the globe, it is more important than ever that the nations of the world understand the difference between singling out civilians for attack and protecting oneself against such violence. Upon this understanding rests the future of civilization. The conscience of every nation is now being put to the test.
Question: Didn't Jewish immigration to Palestine cause the Arab peasant population to leave the land, and wasn't this the reason for the 1948 war and the refugee problem?
Answer: The Jews are an indigenous population in the country the Romans renamed Palestine. "Three thousand years ago it was known to the Jews as Eretz Israel, the 'land of Israel,' a term they have retained to refer to the region down to the present day."(1)
It is a misconceception that Jews ever completely left the land and only returned to it in the late 1800s after a two-thousand-year absence. The Jewish presence in Palestine was continuous throughout the time of the Babylonian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Arab conquest, Crusader rule, the Ottoman Empire, and the British Mandate.
The Romans ravaged the country in response to two Jewish revolts in 66 and 132 C.E. They expelled much of the population and renamed the region "Syria Palestina"(2) as an insult to their stubborn subjects. The word Palestine comes from "Philistines," the ancient enemies of the Jews.
When in 1881 Jews started returning in numbers to their ancient homeland, ruled at the time by the Ottoman Turks, they painstakingly purchased all the land they cultivated from local Arabs and, more often, from wealthy Arab absentee landlords. They continued this practice under the British Mandate.
The response of the Arab population was hostile from the outset. The Jews did not seek out and attack their Arab neighbours, but that is exactly what the Arabs did to the Jews in Palestine. From early sporadic attacks on Jewish farms to the full-scale Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, the Arab response was always violence.
The Jewish population defended itself under the Haganah (the Hebrew word for "self-defense"). The Yishuv (Jewish community) sought to implement the promise of the 1917 British Balfour Declaration by peaceful means. The Arabs refused to accept the possibility of a Jewish entity in their midst and refused all attempts at political compromise, including the 1937 Peel Commission, which would have given only 20% of Palestine to the Jews (Galilee and the Coastal Plain to Tel Aviv). The remaining 80% of the territory would have become an Arab state. The Jews reluctantly accepted, but the Arabs rejected the plan.(3)
It must be strongly emphasized that the creation of the State of Israel was entirely legal. Jews built up a territorial base for the state through the purchase of land, much of it from absentee Arab landowners. Israel itself came into being through a United Nations resolution declaring a partition between Jewish and Palestinian states. No Palestinians living in Israel's territory were forcibly expelled until the war of 1948, which the Arabs began. Reputable historical studies bear witness to these facts, even though the Palestinians are trying to rewrite history to suggest that the creation of Israel itself was a violent act of aggression against them.
The Jews did not want violence, and the war of 1948 was a defensive war. To this day Israel has many Arab citizens who have the right to vote and are represented in the government. This is in sharp contrast to the Arab countries, whose Jewish residents were either driven out or fled to escape persecution. The handfuls of Jews remaining in Arab lands have inferior status and limited freedom.
When the United Nations narrow vote for Partition in November 1947 led to the legitimate creation of the State of Israel, the Arabs responded with a simultaneous invasion by five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq), seeking to destroy the Jewish state at birth.
Hostilities ended but there was no peace. Palestine was divided on the 1949 Armistice lines rather than along the UN-suggested Partition boundaries. The Jews created a viable nation state in Israel.
Jordan's Arab Legion controlled the West Bank while Egypt held Gaza. Neither country took the opportunity to establish an independent state for the Arabs of the British Mandate of Palestine, as envisioned by the United Nations. Instead, Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt turned Gaza into a large refugee camp.
As a result of the war, Jews were expelled from Arab countries. These Jewish refugees exceeded the number of Arabs who fled from the conflict in Palestine. Israel incorporated these Jews as productive citizens. In stark contrast, the Palestinian Arabs were kept in refugee camps (run and paid for by the United Nations) because their Arab brethren found them a useful tool in their continuing war with Israel.
Throughout the period of the British Mandate, the Arabs of Palestine turned down every offer of independence because of their refusal to compromise with the Jewish population.
This "all or nothing" approach continues to dominate the Arab agenda. Only Egypt and Jordan have made a "cold peace" with Israel out of enlightened self-interest. The rest of the Arab world remains in a de facto state of war with Israel.
1. Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 4th ed. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), 1.
2. Ibid., 4.
3. Ibid., 139-140.
Question: Wasn't the Clinton/Barak plan of Camp David 2000, which the Palestinians rejected, unacceptable because it would have created a patchwork Palestinian state of disconnected cantons?
Answer: This is the line that Palestinian spokespeople are often taking. However, the truth is more complex and leads to an entirely different conclusion.
Dennis Ross, who was present as chief negotiator for the U.S., tells the complete story.
The Camp David Summit took place during July, 2000. The principal participants were President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. No comprehensive offer was made. Israel did propose a number of ideas, including a Palestinian state with four disconnected cantons, which Arafat immediately rejected. However, Arafat made no counter-offer. The summit ended in failure.
In December of that year Clinton, Barak, and Arafat met once more, this time at the White House. At that time the United States put forth a proposal that Barak endorsed. It would have given the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank, a continuous state with no cantons, and full control of the Gaza Strip. There would also be a passage linking the two. To make this possible Israel would withdraw from 63 settlements. The missing 3 per cent would be compensated by some extra land added to Gaza. Arab East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new Palestinian State, and the Palestinians would have sovereignty over their holy places.
Arafat rejected this offer, and instead of responding with an offer of his own he responded with the Second Intifada, whose violence has been steadily increasing over the past three years.
Documentation may be found in the following sources:
Shyovitz, David. "Camp David 2000." Copyright 2003, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
Interview with Dennis Ross. Fox News Sunday, April 21, 2002.
Ross, Dennis B. "Think Again: Yasir Arafat." Foreign Policy, July-August, 2002.
Question: Did Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000 cause the Palestinian uprising (intifada) that followed, as the Palestinians claim?
Answer: The Temple Mount, or as Muslims call it, the Haram al-Sharif ("Noble Sanctuary"), is the holiest place in Jewish tradition. According to tradition it is the site of Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham bound Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22). Solomon built his Temple on that site, and the Second Temple also occupied the site until Roman times. The actual place where Abraham was believed to have carried out the binding became the location of the Holy of Holies, the holiest place in the Temple itself, which housed the Ark of the Covenant in the First Temple while the former was still in Israelite possession.
When the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 C.E. the site lay in ruins until the seventh century, when the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock to sanctify the site. The "Rock" refers to the exposed portion of rock at the center of the structure, believed to be the rock upon which Isaac was bound.
On September 28, 2000, just before the Jewish New Year, Ariel Sharon, then a member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), visited the Temple Mount. The visit was followed by violent demonstrations as Palestinians threw stones at Israeli police and later at Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall. Over the ensuing weeks, months, and years, the violence escalated and so did the Palestinians' choice of weapons, from rocks to firearms to bombs and now to missiles.
Palestinian officials blamed the Sharon visit for being the match that lit the spark touching off this war between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Many of Israel's opponents repeat this line uncritically, to the point where it has become one of the many things about the Middle East that everyone seems to know but that just aren't so.
The violence that began about the time of Sharon's visit and that continues to this day was actually the Palestinians' response to a peace proposal they did not wish to accept. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) for March 3, 2001 reported the following:
Palestinian cabinet minister Imad al-Falouji told a rally in Lebanon on Friday [March 2, 2001] that the uprising did not erupt only because of Mr. Sharon's visit "but was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions."
Mr. Falouji was referring to failed peace talks in the United States between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He made his remarks in a speech at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon.
Imad Al-Falouji, the Palestinian Minister of Communication, was speaking to his own people in Arabic, for internal consumption only. The Palestinian semi-official daily Al Ayyam for December 6, 2000 reported his admission that the violence had been planned before Sharon's visit. In a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on December 18 of that year, the invited representative of Israel quoted the original Arabic text:
"Imad Al Falouji, the Telecommunications Minister, stressed that the Palestinian Authority began preparations for the outbreak of the current intifada after returning from the Camp David negotiations, on the order of President Yasser Arafat, who anticipated the outbreak of the intifada as the culminating stage of Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations and not merely as a protest against Sharon's visit to Haram al-Sharif."
The Mitchell Fact-Finding Committee also discredited efforts to blame Sharon's visit for the violence. It states: "The Sharon visit did not cause the 'Al-Aqsa Intifada.'"
Nevertheless, even today (present writing: August 2003) one often hears the charge that Sharon started the latest intifada by visiting the Temple Mount. The duration and organization of the violence should be sufficient proof that much independent planning preceded it. The durability of the Sharon myth is perhaps even greater evidence of the strength of the Palestinian public relations deception campaign.
For a more thorough treatment of Sharon's visit and the infifada see under Palestinian Disinformation Campaign.
Question: Did a massacre occur at Jenin in April 2002, as the Palestinians have claimed?
Answer: By the spring of 2002, deadly suicide bombings within Israel had become an almost daily occurrence. These attacks culminated with the "Passover Massacre" of March 27. A terrorist walked into the dining room of the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya and set off a bomb, killing twenty-nine people and injuring 140 others, just as they were preparing to begin their Passover celebration.(1)
Unable to tolerate the daily murder of its civilians, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield (March 29 - April 21). The purpose of the operation was to enter those Palestinian towns that had become centers of terrorism and do whatever was possible to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.
The city of Jenin had become a major terrorist center and the origin of dozens of suicide bombings. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are all very active in Jenin and have carried out numerous shooting and bombing attacks. Jenin had become a terrorist headquarters complete with bomb factories; in a captured Fatah report addressed to Marwan Barghouti the Palestinians themselves call Jenin "the suiciders' capital."(2) Defending against future attacks required Israel to move into Jenin to arrest those involved in terrorism and to confiscate their weapons.(3)
After the operation in Jenin Palestinians claimed that a "massacre" had taken place and that the Israelis had killed more than five hundred people. These claims sparked international outrage and led to demands for a U.N. investigation. But eventually those claims were exposed as false, and even the Palestinians retracted them. Kadoura Mousa Kadoura, director of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement for the northern West Bank, reported the number of Palestinian dead at fifty-six (according to another estimate it was fifty-two), which was proportional to corresponding Israeli losses (thirty-three dead). Most of the Palestinians who died were gunmen who had booby-trapped the area to inflict Israeli casualties.(4)
Israel did in fact take measures to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. They warned all non-combatants to leave the areas of action (which, by the way, took place within only ten percent of Jenin proper, and not the entire town as many misleading reports and photos seemed to imply(5)). Also, instead of employing massive artillery barrages or bombing from the air as America did in Afghanistan, they sent ground troops searching house-to-house, which resulted in the loss of several Israeli lives.(6) An article that appeared in the Canadian Globe and Mail on April 27, 2002 entitled "What really happened? The Myth of Jenin Grows" by Marcus Gee reports the following:
Only after those deaths [of over a dozen Israelis who fell victim to an ambush] did the army send in bulldozers to knock down the booby-trapped buildings where terrorists were hiding, and even then it made frequent announcements by loud-hailer that civilians would be allowed to leave, as some did.
That is considerably more than Hamas does when it dispatches killers to blow themselves up in Israeli buses, banquet halls and cafes. Yet militant leaders have the gall to blame Israel for attacking non-combatants.(7)
The Palestinians have told many lies about Jenin in order to sway public opinion. One of their most celebrated lies involved staging a phony funeral of a "victim" of the so-called Jenin "massacre," in order to create an exaggerated impression of the number of Palestinian casualties. A film of the event shows a funeral procession carrying a body draped in a green sheet. The people carrying the body accidentally dropped it, and the figure in the sheet got up and ran away.(8)(9)
Creating and spreading falsehoods to manipulate the news is an all-too-common tactic in the continuing Arab war against Israel.
But there are even greater ironies surrounding the episode of Jenin. The following account comes from Dr. David Zangen, chief medical officer of the Israeli paratroop unit that fought in Jenin, as reported by Dan Gordon in the LA Jewish Journal of May 29, 2002:(10)
Not only did the Israelis not conduct a massacre, they worked to keep the hospital in Jenin open. They even offered blood to the wounded Palestinians.
The Palestinians refused the blood because it was Jewish.
In response, the Israelis flew in two thousand units of blood from Jordan by helicopter. They also made sure that additional units of blood reached hospitals in Ramallah and Tulkarem, and they facilitated the delivery of 1,800 units of anti-coagulants brought in from Morocco.
In the Middle East it is common to stand language on its head and call it the truth. The Palestinians do their best to slaughter Israeli civilians, they accuse the Israelis of perpetrating a massacre that never happened, and they even refuse to accept Jewish blood to treat their wounded. Meanwhile the Palestinians are calling the Israelis Nazis, and the world turns its back, blaming Israel for the impasse and wondering why the Jews cannot make peace.
Question: Did the Palestinians revoke the clauses in their Charter calling for Israel's destruction, as they promised to do under the Oslo I, Oslo II, and Hebron Accords?
Answer: The Palestinian National Covenant as adopted in 1964 and revised in 1968 contains the following clauses:(1)
Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. (Article 9)
Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory. (Article 10)
The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. (Article 15)
The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland. (Article 19)
The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong. (Article 20)
The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine. (Article 21)
...the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence... (Article 23)
The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations. (Article 23)
This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose. (Article 33)
The Palestinians have promised many times, including under the Oslo Accord of 1993, Oslo II of 1995, the Hebron Accord of 1997, and the Wye Memorandum of 1998, to revoke those clauses calling for Israel's destruction.(2) The need to repeat this promise so many times is just one sign of the Palestinians' reluctance to carry it out.
So did the Palestinians keep their promise?
In April of 1996 the Palestinian National Council convened to consider the matter. It adopted the following resolution:(3)
A. To abrogate the provisions of the Palestine National Charter that contradict the letters exchanged between Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of September 9 & 10 1993.
B. To mandate the legal committee of the PLO to present a new text of the Palestine National Charter.
While this resolution passed with the requisite majority, it did not fulfill the terms of the agreement. It did not specify which articles of the charter would be annulled, and more important, did not propose a new charter to replace the old. It only declared an intention to name a committee to accomplish that task. No such committee ever met. That is why the Palestinian charter once again became an issue almost a year later in the Hebron Accord and why it is still an issue today.
In January 1998 Yasser Arafat sent a letter to President Clinton reaffirming the 1996 resolution of the PNC. However, since that decision did not actually accomplish the task of changing the charter, the issue was raised once again during the Wye Accords of October 1998.
In December of that year Arafat met with members of the Palestinian leadership (not the PNC itself). He did not ask for a formal abrogation of the charter (which he couldn't have done, since such a decision would have required a two-thirds majority of the full PNC). He did ask them to confirm their support for his letter to President Clinton and for the earlier resolutions. While President Clinton appeared to have been satisfied(4), the abrogation of the old charter was in fact never accomplished and a new one was never proposed.(5)
Finally, in early October 2002 the Dubai newspaper Al Bayan quoted Arafat's Foreign Minister Farouk Kaddoumi as admitting that the PLO National Covenant has never been changed.(6)
In summary, although having declared an intention to revise the charter, the PNC never actually carried it out. And today the PLO continues with the old covenant in full force, spurning the negotiation table and pursuing its course of violence until the destruction of Israel is accomplished.
1. "Palestinian National Covenant," 1968.
2. Anti-Defamation League, "Palestinian Commitments to Revise the Palestinian National Covenant," December 11, 1998.
3. "Decisions and Actions Related to the Palestine National Charter," Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, April 16, 1996 - December 14, 1998.
4. White House Press Secretary, "Text: White House Statement: Amendment of Palestinian Covenant," April 24, 1996.
5. Emmanuel Navon, "Bin Laden Foreshadowed in Arafat ," World Net Daily, September 21, 2002.
6. World Net Daily Staff, "Still Calling for Israel's Destruction: Arafat Aide Admits PLO Covenant Never Altered After Oslo Accords ," World Net Daily, ctober 10, 2002.
Question: Isn't Israel practicing apartheid on the West Bank, just like the Afrikaners did in South Africa?
Answer: This is a charge Israel's critics level with increasing frequency. It is based on a number of superficial comparisons. One supporter of this charge has put it this way:
The comparison of Israeli policies within the Palestinian communities of the West Bank and Gaza with the South African apartheid system is not uncommon in the human-rights community and in fact reveals some startling insights by analogy. The analogy is made on two main bases:
- The similarity in methods of "policing" (through disappearances, torture, assassination and targeted killings, armed incursions, and reprisals against the family members of known or suspected terrorists) to control a restless and angry populace that contained extremist groups advocating and implementing armed resistance (including attacks against civilians); and
- The similarity in the systems of forced removals to segmented and non-viable lands and correlating settlements upon annexed properties by representatives of the ruling power in order to separate the groups, exercise more power over the land, and protect the interests of the ruling power.
First, Israel did not invade the Palestinian territories in order to colonize them. Israel did not have control of the territories prior to 1967, when it defended itself in a war planned and instigated by the Arab states. Most Israelis were not in favor of keeping the territories; however, the Arab states refused any offer to negotiate and Israel did not want to withdraw unilaterally without an agreement that would prevent another war. In contrast, the Palestinians still want all of Israel in addition to the West Bank. This is what Palestinian extremists are fighting for, which those who make the apartheid charge against Israel never mention.
Apartheid was a method of controlling a more populous group for the purpose of exploiting it. This is not the situation in the West Bank. Right after the 1967 war and the refusal of the Arab states to negotiate, Israel took measures to integrate the territories economically that were beneficial to both sides. In a tragic miscalculation Israel also started building settlements in the belief that they were needed for its security. However, the Palestinians rejected an offer for peace that would have required Israel to dismantle most of the settlements. They responded to that offer with an escalating wave of violence against civilians inside Israel. Therefore the present system of checkpoints is necessary to control the incidence of terrorism, and there is no doubt that they have decreased the number of attacks.
The charge of "disappearances, torture, assassinations, and targeted killings, armed incursions" omits crucial contextual information about Israel. Innocent Palestinians don't just disappear. They are arrested when there is evidence that they have planned or committed acts of terror. (In contrast, Jews in Arab countries frequently disappeared simply because they were Jewish.) There have been some reports of "torture," but whether or not one agrees with the tactic, the purpose has been to make the terrorists reveal what they know of planned incidents against civilians before these acts can be carried out. As for "targeted killings," those who are targeted are terrorists whom the Palestinian Authority does not arrest and who are responsible for the planning and execution of attacks against civilians. The United States has used the very same tactic in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
The "reprisals against family members" are not violent and have usually consisted of demolishing the terrorist's house. This has served as a deterrent to future terrorists in some cases. While some have questioned the practice, Israel has made the decision that the lives of its civilians are worth more than Palestinian property. And while meant to send a strong message, it is certainly more humane than the ways Palestinians treat their own suspected collaborators.
Concerning "forced removals to segmented and non-viable lands": When Israel deports Palestinians to Gaza from the West Bank, its purpose is not "to separate the groups, exercise more power over the land, and protect the interests of the ruling power." Israel does this to break up criminal terror conspiracies that threaten its civilians.
There are no Palestinian voices calling for nonviolent change, as the South Africans had with the United Democratic Front and Desmond Tutu's calls for peace and reconciliation. Israel is confronted with an implacable campaign of terror and violence against its civilian population. No other nation would be required by world opinion simply to sit back and do nothing to protect its people.
Just as there is no comparison between Israel and the Afrikaners, there is no comparison between Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat, or between the South African liberation movement and Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Unlike the Palestinians, Mandela never rejected a true offer of peace in favor of the murder of civilians. He did not call for Jihad against white people, the establishment of a theocratic black state, and childhood education glorifying and encouraging martyrdom. To the best of this writer's knowledge he did not, like the Palestinians, advocate setting up a movement to train children in the use of guns, bombs, and suicide belts.
And when the Afrikaners finally allowed change to take place, Mandela's guerrillas did not stage bombings in order to sabotage the effort and prolong the violence.
Finally, one important purpose of apartheid was to keep the races separated, even using separate drinking and bathroom facilities and anti-miscegenation laws. Charging Israel with apartheid makes it sound like Israel is guilty of the same. Nothing could be more false. Arabs living in Israel have full citizenship including voting rights and governmental representation, fundamental rights enjoyed neither by black South Africans in the apartheid era nor by Jews in Arab lands. Israel's Arab citizens have members in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), where they exercise the right to criticize the government as freely as they wish. Jews cannot even become citizens of Egypt, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia, but only Israel is accused of racism and apartheid, clear evidence that such charges are not based on merit but are politically motivated.
In conclusion, the apartheid analogy between Africa and Israel is facile and flawed at its very core. It fails to distinguish between true colonialism and the protection of a civilian population from terrorist attacks that predated Israel's presence in the territories. Therefore those who make this analogy show an astonishing indifference to the lives of Jewish civilians.
South African apartheid was based on racism. Israel's policies are based on survival.
Question: I heard that Starbucks has left Israel. If so, why?
Answer: Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO, has made a number of public statements supporting Israel. A speech he gave in April 2002 warned about the rise in worldwide anti-Semitism and criticized the Palestinians for not cracking down on terrorism.(1) Because of these views Starbucks became a target of the Arab boycott.(2)
Starbucks did indeed terminate its operations in Israel.(3) Its six Tel Aviv stores closed in April 2003. However, the Arab boycott did not cause Starbucks to close. While it was suggested that Starbucks' decision was prompted by fears of terrorism,(4) all evidence shows that its action was due purely to business considerations.(5) Rumors floating around the Internet have accused Starbucks of complicity with the boycott;(6) however, these rumors are false and have unfairly hurt Starbucks' reputation.(7)(8)
1. "Starbucks Chairman Strongly Supports Israel," Bridges for Peace, July-August 2002.
2. "Boycott Israel Campaign: Starbucks," Innovative Minds, July-August 2002.
3. "Starbucks Dissolves Joint Venture with the Delek Group of Israel," Starbucks Press Release, March 31, 2003.
4. Associated Press Staff, "Coffee in a Time of Conflict: Starbucks' Growth Risks Backlash," cnn.com, April 17, 2003.
5. NewsMax.com Wires, "Starbucks Exits Israel," newsmax.com, April 2, 2003.
6. Sherri Day, "Counteracting the Internet Rumor: 'Starbucks vs. Israel'," New York Times, April 17, 2003, cited in Badgett's Coffee E-Journal, September 22, 2003.
7. Anti-Defamation League, "Starbucks Rumor False," April 7, 2003.
8. Associated Press Staff, "Urban Legends Reference: Starbucks," snopes.com, June 2, 2003.
Peace with Realism