Myths & Facts Online

Online Exclusives

By Mitchell G. Bard


This section contains new myths and facts that have been added since the publication of the paperback edition of Myths and Facts. The information will also be cross-referenced in the appropriate chapters of the online M&F.


“Mohammad Atta, the terrorist who flew into the World Trade Center, blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. At that time Israel arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed Atta, but was persuaded by the United States to release him as part of the Oslo peace accord.”
“Israel closed three colleges in the Palestinian Authority in January 2003 to punish and humiliate the Palestinians.”
“Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and humiliate them.”
“The PA was prevented from holding elections by Israel.”
“Most Palestinians do not support terror, but are helpless to stop the militants.”
“The Palestinian Authority is bankrupt and the people are starving because the world does not care about the plight of the Palestinians.”
“Israel’s policies in the territories have caused a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians.”
“Israel’s complaints about Palestinian terrorists hiding among civilians are just an effort to justify their murder of innocent people.”
“Palestinian women are joining the ranks of suicide bombers only because of their commitment to 'liberate' Palestine.
“Palestinian terrorist groups agreed to a cease-fire until Israel launched attacks against them.”
“Palestinians have no need for propaganda because the truth about Israeli behavior makes clear their barbarity.”
“The media carefully investigates Palestinian claims before publicizing them.”
“American Jews goaded the United States to go to war against Iraq in 2003 to help Israel.”
“Israel and the Palestinians were on the verge of reaching a peace deal during negotiations at Taba in 2001, but Ariel Sharon’s election torpedoed the agreement.”
“Israel’s assassination attempt on a leader of Hamas was aimed at derailing the peace process laid out in the road map.”
“Rachel Corrie was murdered by Israel while she was peacefully protesting against the illegal demolition of a Palestinian home.”
“The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a non-violent human rights organization that opposes terrorism and supports a two-state solution.”
“Israel is required to release Palestinians in Israeli prisons as a condition of the road map.”
“Palestinian terrorist groups agreed to a cease-fire to advance the peace process envisioned by the road map for peace.”
“The Palestinians are being asked to accept only 22% of Palestine for their state while Israel keeps 78%.”
“Palestinians interested in peace and preventing terror are respected and allowed freedom of speech by the Palestinian Authority.”
“Israel's so-called security fence is just like the Berlin Wall.”
“Israel demolishes homes in the Rafah refugee camp as part of its campaign to oppress the Palestinians.”
“The Palestinian Authority is helpless to dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad because the terrorist groups are too powerful and popular.”
“Israel’s policy of assassinating terrorists is illegal and rejected even by Israelis, as evidenced by the refusal of Air Force pilots to carry out the policy.”
“Releasing Palestinian prisoners is a good way to build confidence for the peace process without endangering Israeli security.”
“Yasser Arafat is directing the Palestinian Authority’s resources to the health and welfare of the Palestinian people.”
“Periods of quiet are results of the Palestinian Authority’s crackdown on terrorists and would continue if not for Israeli military actions.”
“The Palestinian Authority is cooperating in the investigation of the terrorist ambush that killed three Americans in Gaza.”
“The media treats terrorist attacks against Israel the same way as it does attacks on other nations.”
“Israel should be replaced by a binational state where Jews and Palestinians live together.”
“Israel is a theocracy and should not be a Jewish State.”
“The United Nations has demonstrated equal concern for the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Israeli policies cause anti-Semitism.”
“The International Court of Justice should decide whether Israel is justified in building a security fence.”
“There is a distinction between the political and terror wings of Hamas.”
“Egypt is no longer a military threat since signing a peace treaty with Israel.”
“Palestinians do not encourage children to engage in terror.”
“Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is blocking reform in the Middle East.”
“Israel created Hamas.”
“The Arab world's commitment to peace is reflected by its abandonment of the boycott against Israel.”
“Israel is illegally, and without justification, destroying Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.”
“Israeli textbooks are just as bad as those in the Palestinian Authority, filled with stereotypes, historical inaccuracies, and a failure to acknowledge alternative political views.”
“Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the security fence is illegal and a land grab by the Sharon government.”
“Arab-Americans are a powerful voting bloc that U.S. presidential candidates must pander to for votes.”
“The ‘al-Aksa intifada’ has helped win support for the Palestinians and forced Israel to capitulate to their demands.”
“Yasser Arafat will be succeeded by a democratically elected leader who is interested in peace with Israel.”
“Iran has no ambition to become a nuclear power and poses no threat to Israel or the United States.”
“The United States must be ‘engaged’ to advance the peace process.”
“Israel must help Mahmoud Abbas improve his standing among Palestinians to facilitate the peace process.”
“The Palestinian Authority held a free, democratic election in 2005.”
“Israel is building the security fence as part of a land grab to control the West Bank and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
“The demographic threat to Israel posed by Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza is overrated and therefore Israel need not make territorial compromises.”
“Israel’s plan to link Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim is meant to sabotage the peace process.”
“Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat.”
“The disengagement plan is a trick to end the peace process and allow Israel to hold onto the West Bank.”
“Israel is persecuting Christians.”
“Israel is killing Palestinians with radiation spy machines.”
“Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel.”
“Supporters of Israel only criticize Arabs and never Israelis.”
“Israel is persecuting Christians.”
“Palestinians living under ‘occupation’ have the lowest standard of living in the Middle East.”
“Israeli checkpoints are unnecessarily preventing Palestinians from receiving medical attention.”
“Unlike other Arab women, Palestinian women are not killed for dishonoring their families.”
“Israel has moved the border so it will not withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip.”
“Israel evacuated Gaza, but turned it into a prison by preventing the movement of people or goods.”
The Palestinian Authority protects Jewish holy sites.”
“Hamas should be permitted to participate in Palestinian Authority elections.”
“Israel must dismantle all the settlements in the West Bank or peace is impossible.”
“Israel's disengagement from Gaza was a victory for terror.”
“Israel is obstructing Palestinian elections.”
“Academic freedom means any criticism of Israel is permissible in a university.”
“The Palestinian Authority held a democratic election and Israel and the rest of the world must accept that Hamas was the victor.”
“Israel is digging under the Al-Aksa mosque and intends to destroy it.”
“Israel is responsible for disparaging cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.”
“The Palestinians have maintained a truce and ceased terror operations against Israel.”
“The PA is entitled to international aid because Hamas was democratically elected and the Palestinian people should not be made to suffer because Israel doesn’t like the election outcome.”
“Saudi Arabia has ended its boycott of Israel.”


MYTH

“Mohammad Atta, the terrorist that flew into the World Trade Center, blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. At that time Israel arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed Atta, but was persuaded by the United States to release him as part of the Oslo peace accord.”

FACT

The Internet is a wonderful innovation, but one of its problematic characteristics is that it allows false rumors to be quickly spread around the world. The story that Atta, reputedly one of the masterminds behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S., had been released from an Israeli jail in response to American pressure and then rewarded the U.S. by flying a plane into the World Trade Center is one of these erroneous rumors that took on a life of its own. It is not clear where it originated and the response was slow in coming, but we now know the story apparently stems from confusion over someone with a similar name.

In 1990, the United States extradited a Palestinian named Mahmoud Abed Atta to stand trial for an April 1986 machine-gun attack on an Israeli bus in Samaria that killed the driver. Abed Atta was linked with the Abu Nidal terrorist group and fled to Venezuela after the murder, but he was deported to the United States. He also held US citizenship and fought a three-year court battle to avoid extradition. He lost and was deported to Israel on November 2, 1990. Abed Atta was eventually freed after the Supreme Court ruled there were faults in the extradition process. His whereabouts today are unknown.

The terrorist suspected of the September 11 attack, Muhammad Atta, was an Egyptian and no relation to Abed Atta.1

MYTH

“Israel closed three colleges in the Palestinian Authority in January 2003 to punish and humiliate the Palestinians.”

FACT

Despite more than two years of violence and provocation, some of which emanated from West Bank colleges, Israel did not interfere with classes. The hope was that Palestinians would focus their attention on their studies rather than poitical activities. Unfortunately, these schools increasingly directed their energies to promoting violence rather than education. Israel only acted against the colleges after it became clear that they had become centers of incitement and indoctrination rather than education.

When Israeli forces entered the schools they found banners, posters, flags, tapes and children's notebooks adorned with the pictures of suicide bombers. Classrooms were filled with posters praising terrorism and glorifying suicide bombers. Cassettes calling for the destruction of Israel made by different terroist organizations were found in other classrooms. These were not just materials brought into the schools by students, some were distributed by the colleges.

The situation on the Palestinian campuses illustrates the difficulty of persuing a peace process while young Palestinians are being taught in their schools to pursue terror and the destruction of its neighbor. The materials being distributed, and that are part of the curriculum, also violate the peace agreements the Palestinians signed forswearing such incitement.

Israel took these measures to protect its citizens, not to punish or humiliate the Palestinians. Incidentally, the Palestinian Authority has also closed colleges in the territories on occasion when officials believed students were behaving in ways that threatened their authority.

MYTH

“Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and humiliate them.”

FACT

It is not unusual for nations to guard their borders and to establish checkpoints to prevent people from illegally entering their countries. The United States has checkpoints at its borders and airports and, as Americans saw on September 11, these are necessary but not foolproof security precautions.

In the case of Israel, the necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they do in fact prevent terror and save lives.

For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber. Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun.2

On December 29, 2005, an army jeep stopped a Palestinian taxi at a temporary checkpoint. Troops were acting on an intelligence tip about terrorists planning an attack in Israel during Chanukah. Lt. Uri Binamo, 21, told the occupants to get out of the vehicle. The three Palestinian men inside complied with the order, but once out of the taxi, one of them lifted his shirt to reveal a suicide belt. He then detonated the belt, killing himself, the two Palestinians and Binamo. The three soldiers covering the officer were wounded and an innocent Palestinian bystander was killed.2a

These are just two of many examples of how checkpoints have prevented terrorists from infiltrating Israel.

Hyperbolic media reports and anti-Israel propaganda have suggested Israel is harrassing Palestinian women at checkpoints. It is unfortunate that women cannot be ignored as potential security threats. Border policemen at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, for example, arrested a Palestinian woman pushing a baby stroller that concealed a pistol, two ammunition clips, and a knife.2b

Commercial goods, food, medicine, ambulances, and medical crews continue to circulate freely, hampered only by continuing attacks. Palestinian workers going to jobs in Israel also may pass through the checkpoints with the proper identification; restrictions are only imposed when necessitated by the security situation.

Barriers are not set up to humiliate Palestinians, but to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, every time Israel has relaxed its policy and withdrawn checkpoints, Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on innocent Israelis.

 

Case Study

Picture a 19-year-old soldier commanding a checkpoint. An ambulance arrives, and inside is a woman who is seemingly pregnant. The woman appears to be in pain and her husband is also highly anxious. But the soldier has been warned about an ambulance bearing a pregnant woman who is not really pregnant. The intelligence said that underneath the stretcher in the ambulance a wanted terrorist is hiding with an explosive belt for a suicide attack. It is a hot day and there is a long line of cars. His commanders are yelling at him on the two-way radio, "Do not let ambulances go through because there is a terrorist in an ambulance!" To complicate the picture, a news video crew is present.

The soldier has to make an incredible number of decisions in a very short time. He is only 19 and has no medical training. He knows that if he lets the ambulance go through and it contains a terrorist, then innocent people will die and he will have failed in his mission. On the other hand, if there is not a terrorist in this particular ambulance, and he delays a truly pregnant woman from reaching a hospital, the lives of the mother and baby could be endangered.

What would you do?

MYTH

“The PA was prevented from holding elections by Israel.”

FACT

One of the key reforms called for by the United States and others in the international community was the democratic election of a new Palestinian leadership in the hope that Yasser Arafat would be replaced by someone prepared to negotiate peace with Israel. It was only in response to this pressure that Arafat agreed during the summer of 2002 to hold elections in January 2003. The election, due to be held on January 20, 2003, was cancelled by Arafat.

Arafat, who became president of the Palestinian Authority after a sham election in 1996, was only supposed to serve three years before elections were to be held again. He prevented any balloting, however, until President Bush’s June 2002 call for a new leader to be democratically elected. Afterward, Arafat announced the intention to hold elections, but he immediately began to make excuses for why they could not be held. For months, he consistently tried to deflect criticism of his autocratic rule, and his efforts to undermine the election, to Israel. Arafat claimed that Israel’s military operations prevented the holding of elections; however, Israeli action was necessitated by his failure to stop terror, as he had promised to do in the Oslo agreements. Still, Israel made no effort to prevent the Palestinians from holding an election and enthusiastically supports a democratic process that will bring truly representative and accountable leadership to the PA.

One suggested reform of the PA was to make the position of President more ceremonial, as it is in Israel, and create a position of prime minister to be the nominal head of the government. When PLO executive committee member Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) tried to muster support for this proposal, under which he was the likely choice to assume most of Arafat’s powers, he was forced to flee to Jordan after receiving death threats.3 The idea of having a prime minister was subsequently dropped.

In the months that preceded the planned January election, there was no campaign or candidates for office. Only one Palestinian had the courage to publicly announce plans to run for President against Arafat, an obscure professor named Abdel Sattar Kassem. Just before the vote was scheduled, Kassem complained that he was being harassed by Palestinian security forces and that a campaign of intimidation was being waged against the local media to prevent the publication of interviews with him.4

So long as Arafat persists in his despotic rule, prevents any reform of the governmental structure of the PA, and obstructs democratic campaigns and elections, it is difficult to see how a representative leader can emerge to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

MYTH

“Most Palestinians do not support terror, but are helpless to stop the militants.”

FACT

Public opinion polls taken by Palestinian researchers in the Palestinian Authority have consistently shown broad support for violence against Israelis. In December 2002, for example, 63 percent of Palestinians said they supported suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. More than 80 percent favored continuing the uprising, and a plurality (47 percent) said the goal was to liberate all of historic Palestine.5

Despite the suffering caused by the failure of their leaders, and Israel’s necessary response to the terrorist atrocities against its citizens, the general Palestinian public has not called for an end to the violence. No equivalent to Israel’s Peace Now movement has emerged.

Still, on an individual basis, it is possible for Palestinians to say no to terror. When the suicide bombing recruiter phoned the wife of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi to ask if her son was available for an operation, she turned him down.6

In other countries, including Israel (where they helped prompt a withdrawal from Lebanon), mothers have often helped stimulate positive change. When enough Palestinian mothers stand up to the terror recruiters, and to their political leaders, and say that they will no longer allow their children to be used as bombs and cannon fodder, the prospects for peace will improve. So long as they prefer their children to be martyrs rather than doctors, bombers rather than scholars, and murderers rather than lawyers, the violence will continue and young Palestinians will continue to die needlessly.

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority is bankrupt and the people are starving because the world does not care about the plight of the Palestinians.”

FACT

Just as Palestinian refugees have been international wards for decades, and received disproportionate amounts of assistance from around the world, the Palestinians living inside the Palestinian Authority have also been given far greater international financial support than most other suffering peoples. By the end of 2001, the Palestinians had received $4 billion (the figure is now closer to $5.5 billion) since Oslo. This is the equivalent of $1,330 per Palestinian. By comparison, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II provided $272 per European (in today's dollars).7

The violent uprising and terrorism have led to an increase in support for the Palestinians. In 1999, international donors provided $482 million, but that figure jumped to $929 million in 2001.

These figures do not include the billions of dollars in assets the Palestine Liberation Organization is believed to have accumulated over the years through drug trafficking, illegal arms dealing, money laundering, fraud, extortion, and legal investments.

No one debates that the economic situation in the PA is difficult, but the Palestinians are hardly the only people suffering in the world. In fact, people in many countries are much poorer than the Palestinians. Ethiopia, for example, receives about the same amount of aid as the PA, but has a population 20 times larger. Even other Arabs are in worse shape than the Palestinians, and yet they receive little or no foreign aid. In 2000, per capita income of a West Bank Palestinian was actually higher than that of Arabs in middle-income countries such as Algeria or Egypt, and much higher than that in Morocco or Syria. In 2000, per capita aid to the Palestinian was $214, by far the highest in the world, with Bosnia a distant second at $185. Even after taking into account the decline in Palestinian incomes in the last two years, they would still be considered lower middle class among the Arabs.8

The problem for the Palestinian Authority is not a lack of funds, but a lack of accountability. Instead of going to feed, house, and employ Palestinians, significant amounts of aid have been siphoned off by Yasser Arafat and other PA officials. One need only ask why refugee camps continue to exist within the PA. With $4 billion, shouldn’t the PA have been able to build at least one house for a refugee family?

In 1996, $326 million disappeared from the PA and the Palestinian Legislative Council established a commission to investigate the loss. The subsequent report concluded that nearly 40 percent of the PA’s $800 million budget had been lost through corruption and mismanagement. The PA’s comptroller wrote: “The overall picture is one of a Mafia-style government, where the main point of being in public office is to get rich quick.”9

In 2000, Arab countries pledged $1 billion to help the PA, but stipulated that “Chairman Arafat show complete transparency in the funds.” Arafat refused, and the Arab leaders withheld the funding “for fear that the money will end up in the wrong pockets.” And for good reason. On June 5, 2002, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan published documents showing that Arafat had deposited $5.1 million from Arab aid funds into his personal account to support his wife and daughter who live in Paris and Switzerland.10

Despite their concerns, since April 2001 Arab governments have transferred $45 million each month to the PA, and the European Union has contributed another $10 million monthly. Overall, however, donor aid, which comes primarily from these two sources has dropped by around half in 2003 from 2001 and 2002.10a

The problems facing the Palestinian people and the PA economy are not due to a lack of funding or international concern, they are a direct result of the corruption and the lack of accountability of the PA, and the use of donated funds for terrorism and other purposes not intended by the donors.

MYTH

“Israel’s policies in the territories have caused a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians.”

FACT

It is important to remember that Israel offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza, and it is the rejection of that proposal, coupled with incessant Palestinian terrorism, that has forced Israeli troops to carry out operations in the territories. Though these actions have caused hardship for the Palestinian population, the IDF has continued to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to Palestinians in need. For example, during just one 48-hour period (January 5-6, 2003), the IDF:

  • Coordinated the movement of Palestinians seeking medical care, assisting 40 to go to hospitals, including four patients from Gaza who were transferred to Israel for medical treatment.
  • Coordinated the movement of 284 Palestinians in the West Bank who were transferred by ambulance.
  • Coordinated the passage of building materials for the construction of a hospital in Kalkilya.
  • Coordinated the passage of humanitarian goods to Bethlehem.
  • Coordinated entry of ration cards sent by an international aid organization to the residents of Azoun.
  • Enabled the distribution of ration cards by the Red Cross in Salfit.
  • Coordinated the passage of agricultural produce and food between Muassi and Khan Yunis.
  • Coordinated the passage of an UNRWA team in Gaza to aid in the disposal of rubbish.
  • Arranged entry into Kalkilya for an Israeli Arab family from East Jerusalem to attend their son’s wedding.

Even at the height of military action, such as the operation to clean out the terrorist nest in the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces have gone out of their way to assist Palestinian non-combatants. In the case of the Jenin operation, for example, the hospital there was kept running with a generator delivered under fire by an Israeli officer.11

The best way to improve the situation for the Palestinians in the territories is for the Palestinian Authority to take the steps laid out by the Bush Administration — end the violence, reform its institutions, and elect new leaders — so that peace talks may resume and a settlement can be negotiated.

MYTH

“Israel’s complaints about Palestinian terrorists hiding among civilians are just an effort to justify their murder of innocent people.”

FACT

Israel never intentionally targets civilians. Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists have purposely tried to hide among the civilian population in an effort to use the Israeli army's morality against it. The terrorists themselves do not care about the lives of innocent Palestinians, which is why they are not hesitant to use them as shields. This behavior is a violation of international law. Article 51 of the 1977 amendment to the 1949 Geneva Conventions specifically prohibts the use of human shields:

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular attempts to shield military objects from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations.12

Thus, the Palestinian terrorists are ultimately responsible for noncombatants who are inadvertently killed or wounded as a result of the terrorists' practice of hiding among civilians to use them as shields.

MYTH

“Palestinian women are joining the ranks of suicide bombers only because of their commitment to 'liberate' Palestine.”

FACT

It may be that some Palestinian women share the sick ideology of the terrorists who believe that blowing up innocent men, women, and children will achieve their political objective, but many others are being blackmailed into carrying out suicide attacks by sadistic and manipulative Palestinian men.

More than 20 Palestinian women have engaged in suicide attacks and the terrorist organizations that recruit them do so in part because they believe women will generate less suspicion and that Israeli soldiers will be more reticent to search them.

Some of the women have been convinced to engage in terrorist attacks to rehabilitate their reputations in their community if they have acquired a bad name or done something to bring shame upon their family. Shame is a powerful force in Arab society, and women who are promiscuous, engage in adultery, become pregnant out of wedlock, or behave in other ways deemed improper may be ostracized or severely punished (e.g., husbands may kill wives who shamed them in so-called “honor crimes”).

Terrorist organizations have used emotional blackmail against these often vulnerable women to convince them that by carrying out a suicide attack against Jews, they may restore their honor or that of their family. Israeli intelligence declassified a report that said Fatah operatives went so far as to seduce women and then, after they became pregnant, used their condition to blackmail them into committing heinous crimes. The report cited two specific cases, one involved a 21-year-old from Bethlehem who blew herself up in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, killing six and wounding more than 60, and the other was an 18-year-old from the Dehaishe refugee camp who blew up a Jerusalem supermarket and killed two people and wounded 22 others.13

These examples show the merciless way Palestinian terrorists treat not only their victims, but their own people.

MYTH

“Palestinian terrorist groups agreed to a cease-fire until Israel launched attacks against them.”

FACT

Israel would have no reason to engage in any military operations in Palestinian controlled areas if the Palestinian Authority met its obligation to prevent terror attacks against Israelis. If the terrorists were to agree to a cease-fire and stop all their attacks, the prospect for renewed negotiations would be improved and the necessity of Israeli counter terrorism measures would be reduced.

Unfortunately, the terrorists have never agreed to any cease-fire. On the contrary, every time groups allegedly discussed terminating their activities, the suggestion was rejected. In fact, the terrorists usually deny they even contemplated the idea. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for example, rejected a proposal made under Egyptian auspices in January 2003. "Our position is clear: there can be no cese-fire with Israel," a top Hamas official told the Jerusalem Post. A few weeks later, when a Palestinian official said the leadership accepted a one-year truce, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Hamas all announced that they had no intention of ending the violence, and planned to intensify their attacks.14

And even the Palestinian Authority claim that it backed a cease-fire was undermined by Yasser Arafat's second-in-command, Abu Mazen, who said the agreement to freeze military operations was contingent on Israel ending its operations, withdrawing to their positions of September 2000, and ceasing their arrests of terrorists. "We did not say, however, that we are giving up the armed struggle," Abu Mazen said in an interview. "It is our right to oppose. The Intifada must continue. The Palestinian people have a right to oppose using all means at their disposal to protect their existence."15

Terrorists cannot be persuaded to end their violent campaign through negotiations. They will only stop when the Palestinian Authority arrests the members of the terrorist groups, disarms them, and prevents them from attacking Israelis. So long as the PA refuses to fulfill the duty it committed to in the Oslo agreements, it will be necessary for Israel to take steps to protect its citizens.

MYTH

“Palestinians have no need for propaganda because the truth about Israeli behavior makes clear their barbarity.”

FACT

Palestinian and other Arab leaders routinely use their media outlets to spread outrageous libels against Israel and the Jews to inflame their populations. Palestinians have become masters of the technique perfected by Adolf Hitler known as the “big lie.” As Hitler explained in Mein Kampf:

The size of a lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.

One example of the Palestinian big lie came on March 11, 1997, when the Palestinian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission claimed the Israeli government had injected 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus.16

More recently, Palestinians claimed in 2002 that Israel was dropping poisoned candies from helicopters in front of schools to poison children. That lie was updated in 2003 with the fabrication that Israel is making “bombs and mines designed as toys” and dropping them into the Palestinian territories from airplanes so children will play with them and be blown up.17

The Palestinians also regularly try to inflame the Muslim world by falsely claiming the Jews are going to blow up the Temple Mount or the al-Aksa Mosque. For example, on September 29, 2000, the Voice of Palestine, the PA's official radio station sent out calls "to all Palestinians to come and defend the al-Aksa mosque." This was the day after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, and the subsequent riots marked the unofficial beginning of the latest uprising.

More recently, the Palestinian Authority TV “Message to the World” broadcast announced: “The Zionist criminals are planning to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque on the ground that they they are searching for the Holy Temple, which they falsely claim is under the mosque.”18

One of the most outrageous lies circulated throughout the Middle East was that 4,000 Israelis did not report to work on September 11, or "called in sick" that morning because they knew an attack was coming. Israel and the Mossad are also said to be responsible for the atrocities. Of course, this was also a lie, but it is the type of conspiracy theory that is widely believed by Arabs who maintain the forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is factual.

MYTH

“The media carefully investigates Palestinian claims before publicizing them.”

FACT

Palestinians have learned that they can disseminate almost any information to the media and it will be published or broadcast somewhere. Once it is picked up by one media outlet, it is inevitably repeated by others. Quickly, misinformation can take on the appearance of fact, and while Israel can present evidence to correct the inaccuracies being reported, the damage is usually already done. Once an image or impression is in someone's mind, it is often difficult, if not impossible to erase it.

It is said that there are three types of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. One staple of Palestinian propaganda has been to distribute false statistics in an effort to make Israeli actions look monstrous. For example, if an incident involves some death or destruction, they can grossly exaggerate the figures and a gullible media will repeat the fabricated data until they become widely accepted as accurate. This occurred, for example, during the Lebanon War when Yasser Arafat’s brother claimed that Israel’s operations had left 600,000 Lebanese homeless. He made the number up, but it was repeated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and publicized in the media. By the time the ICRC repudiated the figure, it was too late to change the impression that Israel's military operation to defend itself from terrorist attacks on its northern border had created an unconscionable refugee problem.19

This happened again after Israel’s operation in Jenin in April 2002 when Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat told CNN on April 17 that at least 500 people were massacred and 1,600 people, including women and children, were missing. Erekat could produce no evidence for his claim and, in fact, the Palestinians’ own review committee reported a death toll of 56, of whom 34 were combatants. No women or children were reported missing.20

What is perhaps more outrageous than the repetition of Erekat’s lie is that media outlets continue to treat him as a legitimate spokesperson, giving him access that allows him to regularly disseminate misinformation. If an American official was ever found to have lied to the press, they would lose all credibility and would have little or no chance of being given a forum to express their views.

MYTH

“American Jews goaded the United States to go to war against Iraq in 2003 to help Israel.”

FACT

One of the most absurd arguments made by opponents of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003 was that American Jews somehow were responsible for persuading President George W. Bush to launch the military campaign on Israel’s behalf. The truth is that President Bush decided that Iraq posed a threat to the United States because it possessed weapons of mass destruction and was pursuing a nuclear capability that could have been used directly against Americans or could have been transferred to terrorists who would use them against U.S. targets. The removal of Saddam Hussein was also designed to eliminate one of the principal sponsors of terrorism.

The war in Iraq liberated the Iraqi people from one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. Even in the Arab world, where many people objected to the U.S. action, no Arab leader rose to Saddam Hussein’s defense.

It is true that Israel will benefit from the elimination of a regime that launched 39 missiles against it in 1991, paid Palestinians to encourage them to attack Israelis, and led a coalition of Arab states committed to Israel’s destruction. It is also true, however, that many Arab states benefitted from the removal of Saddam Hussein, in particular, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This is why these nations allowed Allied forces to use their countries as bases for operations.

As for the role of American Jews, it is important to remember that Jews comprise less than 3 percent of the U.S. population and were hardly the most vocal advocates of the war. On the contrary, the Jewish community had divisions similar to those in the country as a whole and most major Jewish organizations purposely avoided taking any position on the war. Meanwhile, public opinion polls showed that a significant majority of all Americans supported the President’s policy toward Iraq.

Some critics have suggested that prominent Jewish officials in the Bush Administration pushed for the war. In fact, only a handful of officials in the Administration is Jewish, and not one of the President’s top advisers — the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Vice President, or National Security Adviser — is Jewish.

The suggestion that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States, or that they have undue influence on U.S. Middle East policy, is an example of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, some critics of the war on Iraq chose the age-old approach of blaming the Jews for a policy they disagreed with rather than addressing the substantive arguments in the debate.

MYTH

“Israel and the Palestinians were on the verge of reaching a peace deal during negotiations at Taba in 2001, but Ariel Sharon’s election torpedoed the agreement.”

FACT

Even after Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offer to create a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank, members of the Israeli government still hoped a peace agreement was possible with the Palestinians. In hopes of a breakthrough before the scheduled Israeli election, and the end of President Clinton’s term, Israel sent a delegation of some of its most dovish officials, all of whom favored a two-state solution, to the Egyptian port city of Taba in January 2001. The Israelis believed that even though Arafat would not even offer a counterproposal to Barak, they might induce a Palestinian delegation without the PLO chairman to make sufficient compromises to at least narrow the gap between the Barak proposal and Arafat’s maximalist demands.

The Israelis discovered, however, that the Palestinians were not willing to negotiate on the basis of what Barak had proposed. Instead, they withdrew many of the concessions they had offered. For example, at Camp David, the Palestinians agreed that Israel could retain two settlement blocs that would incorporate most of the Jews into Israel and allow them to be contiguous. At Taba, the Palestinians called for the evacuation of 130 out of 146 settlements and refused to accept the creation of settlement blocs. In fact, while the Palestinians now falsely claim that Barak offered them only cantons at Camp David, instead of a contiguous state, it is actually the Palestinians at Taba who sought to create isolated Jewish Bantustans that would be dependent on strings of access roads.

Besides other disagreements over settlements, many of which represented backsliding from earlier Palestinian positions, the parties remained deeply divided over the status of Jerusalem. Barak had offered to allow the Palestinians to make their capital in the predominantly Arab parts of East Jerusalem, and to share sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat had insisted on complete Palestinian control over the holy site, and denied Jews had any connection to it. At Taba, the Palestinians also refused to recognize the area was holy to the Jews and insisted on controlling most, if not all, of the Western Wall.

On the third key final status issue, refugees, no agreement was reached. The Palestinians did not accept Israeli proposals on the number of refugees that would be allowed into Israel or the amount of compensation that should be paid to the rest. “The discussions in Taba revolved principally around the ‘narrative,’ regarding the history of the creation of the refugee problem and the number of refugees that Israel will agree to absorb,” according to Yossi Beilin. “We did not reach any agreements....Regarding the number of refugees, an anticipated disagreement erupted, but once the discussion turned to quotas, we were no longer talking about a ‘right.’ The numbers that we agreed to were symbolic and took humanitarian problems and family reunification issues into account. The numbers proposed by the Palestinians were far higher.” Beilin said the Palestinians should tell the refugees that once peace is achieved, and their state is established, “they will be allowed to immigrate to [the Palestinians state] and live in it in dignity. Not in Haifa.”20a

Despite a positive joint statement issued at the end of the negotiations, the truth is that no agreement was reached at Taba and, according to the Palestinians themselves, the parties left the talks farther apart on the issues than they had been at Camp David. Abu Alaa, one of the lead Palestinian negotiators told Al-Ayyam after the talks that “there has never before been a clearer gap in the positions of the two sides.”21

MYTH

“Israel’s assassination attempt on a leader of Hamas was aimed at derailing the peace process laid out in the road map.”

FACT

In just the first week after accepting the road map, Israel began to implement 75 percent of its obligations called for in the plan’s first phase. Prime Minister Sharon made clear he was committed to implementing the agreement and matched his words with deeds by allowing Palestinian workers from the territories to enter Israel, withdrawing from cities in the Palestinian Authority where Palestinian security forces exert control, dismantling unauthorized outposts, releasing prisoners, lifting the general closure on the territories, and increasing the transfer of goods.

The most important obligation for the Palestinians in the first phase is to end violence, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, and disarm the militants. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas not only has made no effort to fulfill this prerequisite for peace, he explicitly said he would not take action against Hamas, which rejected the road map and said it would join with other Palestinian terrorist groups to continue their campaign to destroy Israel.22

Hamas is the Palestinian equivalent of al-Qaida. Its covenant makes clear it will never accept the existence of a Jewish state in what it considers the Muslim heartland. The man Israel tried to kill, Abd al-Aziz Rantissi, is a senior leader of Hamas, someone who proudly claims “credit” for 72 suicide bombings that have killed 227 Israelis and wounded 1,393 just since September 2000.

Rather than ask why Israel attempted to kill an avowed terrorist, the pertinent question is: Why wasn’t Rantissi in jail? Yasser Arafat pledged in the Oslo agreements to fight terror and yet he failed to take any steps against Hamas. Abbas promised a renewed commitment to stop violence, but he has done no more than Arafat, and has unsuccessfully tried to coopt Hamas rather than dismantle it.

The United States understands that Israel’s fight against Hamas is part of the broader war on terror; after all, Hamas is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations and has called for attacks on Americans. While U.S. officials may be upset by the timing of Israel’s actions, they cannot object to the principle of targeting terrorist leaders, since they have pursued the same policy and, just a few months earlier, assassinated a group of al-Qaida operatives by firing a missile at their vehicle.

The road map offers a route to peace for Israel and the Palestinians, but Israel cannot be expected to give up its right to defend itself, and it certainly cannot stop its counterterror measures so long as the Palestinians fail to comply with their road map obligation to stop terror.

MYTH

“Rachel Corrie was murdered by Israel while she was peacefully protesting against the illegal demolition of a Palestinian home.”

FACT

American Rachel Corrie was killed in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, when she entered an area where Israeli forces were carrying out a military operation. The incident occurred while IDF forces were removing shrubbery along the security road near the border between Israel and Egypt at Rafah to uncover explosive devices, and destroying tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists to illegally smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza. Corrie was not demonstrating for peace or trying to shield innocent civilians, she was interfering with a military operation to legally demolish an empty house used to conceal one of these tunnels.

A misleading photo published by the Associated Press gave the impression that Corrie was standing in front of the bulldozer and shouting at the driver with a megaphone, trying to prevent the driver from tearing down a building in the refugee camp. This photo, which was taken by a member of Corrie’s organization, was not shot at the time of her death, however, but hours earlier. The photographer said that Corrie was actually sitting and waving her arms when she was struck.23

Israel’s Judge Advocate’s Office investigated the incident and concluded that the driver of the bulldozer never saw or heard Corrie because she was standing behind debris that obstructed the view of the driver whose field of view was limited by the small armored windows of his cab. An autopsy found that the cause of Corrie’s death was falling debris.24

The State Department warned Americans not to travel to Gaza, and Israel made clear that civilians who enter areas where troops are engaged in counter-terror operations put themselves unnecessarily at risk.

This was not the first time protestors have tried to obstruct Israeli operations, and the IDF has made every effort to avoid harming them. This case received worldwide publicity in large measure because it was the first such incident where a protestor was killed. In fact, the army had told Corrie and other demonstrators from the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to move out of the way. “It’s possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked,” admitted Thom Saffold, a founder and organizer of ISM.25

The death of an innocent civilian is always tragic, and the best way to avoid such tragedies in the future is, first and foremost, by the Palestinian Authority putting an end to violence, and stopping the smuggling operations that have brought huge quantities of illegal weapons into the Gaza Strip. Activists interested in peace should be protesting the Palestinian actions. Activists also have every right to express their views about Israel’s policies, but they should take care to avoid the appearance of siding with the terrorists or placing themselves in positions where they could be inadvertently caught in the crossfire of a counter-terror operation or otherwise endangered by entering an area where military operations are being conducted.

“No matter how you turn the question, Rachel Corrie's death Sunday is a tragedy....But Corrie's death is no more tragic than the deaths of other young people — some of them young Americans who had traveled to Israel — who died in bombings committed by Palestinian terrorists. They're also worth remembering this day. However you feel about Corrie's actions, whether she was a martyr or misguided, she at least made her choice. Palestinian terrorists didn't give the young people killed in their bombings any choice in their deaths. That, it seems to us, is another kind of tragedy for these young Americans and their families.” 

— OregonLive.com25a

MYTH

“The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a non-violent human rights organization that opposes terrorism and supports a two-state solution.”

FACT

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) has harbored known terrorists and openly advocated violence and the destruction of Israel. ISM spokesman Raphael Cohen was asked at a May 2003 press conference to define “occupation.” His response: “The Zionist presence in Palestine.”26 When asked to express his view of peace, he answered, “a one state solution,” by which he meant the creation of a Palestinian state in place of Israel.

On ISM's web site, the Internet directory is called “traveltopalestine.” Their site also located Ben Gurion Airport in “Palestine.” It includes an information packet for volunteers that features a country guide to “Palestine.” The guide lists the landmass of “Palestine” as “26,323 km2 = 10,162 miles2” – the size of the entire State of Israel, plus the West Bank and Gaza. The country guide describes the geographic boundaries of “Palestine” as extending from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, and from Lebanon to Aqaba; that is, again incorporating all of Israel.27

The ISM does not hide its incitement to violence. Its web site states that it recognizes “the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.” Cohen admits that, on April 25, 2003, he hosted a group of 15 people at his apartment. Included in that group were Asif Mohammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, British nationals. They subsequently participated in various activities planned by the ISM. Five days later, the two carried out a suicide bombing in a popular pub next to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that is frequented by Embassy personnel. Hanif and Sharif entered Israel under the guise of “peace activists” and “alternative tourism” – perhaps a reference to the ISM-precursor “Alternative Tourist Group.”28 ISM denies responsibility for the actions of the British bombers

On March 27, 2003, ISM was caught harboring Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya. He was arrested by the IDF in ISM's office, where a handgun was also found, after two foreign ISM activists helped Sukiya hide. These foreign activists tried to bar IDF soldiers from entering ISM offices, knowing that Sukia was there.29

In addition, ISM activist Rachel Corrie protected a house utilized for arms smuggling for terror groups. Group members are also reported to provide information on Israeli troop movements to armed Palestinian factions. ISM's web site also links to several web sites devoted to freeing Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti. Its web site also has displayed pictures of Palestinian children throwing stones at an IDF vehicle.

The ISM web site instructs its volunteers on how to avoid Israeli security checks. For example, its members are told to lie about their affiliation with ISM and their intention to visit the territories. ISM also acknowledges its members stay in contact with local activists, which includes leaders of terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, which it considers “resistance groups.”

While the International Solidarity Movement claims to be a humanitarian organization dedicated to the principles of nonviolent resistance, it has demonstrated no interest in peace for Israelis. At a minimum, ISM has acted as an apologist for terrorism and, at times, actively abetted militants. ISM is a pro-Palestinian organization, set up by Palestinians, funded by Palestinians, and opposed to the two-state solution envisioned by the parties truly interested in peace.

MYTH

“Israel is required to release Palestinians in Israeli prisons as a condition of the road map.”

FACT

There is not a single word in the text of the road map referring to the release of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas and Islamic Jihad made the demand for Israel to release prisoners in their hudna agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) . Israel was not a party to this agreement. The first sentence in the road map outline of Phase I does say: “In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence” (emphasis added).

Despite the fact that Israel is under no legal obligation to release Palestinian prisoners, the government has released a number of prisoners, and agreed to release several hundred more, many of whom are closely connected to terror organizations or have committed terror attacks against Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners as a confidence-building measure, and as a means of strengthening the position of Mahmoud Abbas in the eyes of the Palestinians. The Palestinians may not be satisfied with the number of prisoners allowed to go free, or the specific individuals released, but these are decisions the Israeli government must make according to its own security, as well as political requirements, and there is no reason to expect prisoners who have been found guilty of crimes to automatically be eligible for freedom simply because the Palestinians demand it. It is especially understandable if Israel refuses to release prisoners with "blood on their hands" from having killed or injured Israelis.

Even a limited prisoner release represents a risk that Israel is taking in the interest of peace. In the past, released prisoners have returned to terrorism and committed new crimes against Israelis. It will be a major test of the PA's commitment to peace, and its authority, to insure that people freed by Israel do not resort to more violence.

MYTH

“Palestinian terrorist groups agreed to a cease-fire to advance the peace process envisioned by the road map for peace.”

FACT

In June 2003, Islamic Jihad and Hamas agreed to a hudna in response to demands from then Palestinian Authority prime minister Mahmoud Abbas to stop their attacks on Israel so he could fulfill his obligations under the Middle East road map. The agreement was interpreted in the Western media as the declaration of a cease-fire, which was hailed as a step forward in the peace process. Violence continued after the supposed cease-fire, however, and Israeli intelligence found evidence the Palestinians exploited the situation to reorganize their forces. They recruited suicide bombers, increased the rate of production of Qassam rockets, and sought to extend their range.

Now that he is president of the PA, Abbas is again negotiating with the terrorists to accept a cease-fire. While any cessation of violence against Israeli civilians is to be welcomed, it is important to understand the cease-fire the radical Islamic groups are contemplating in the Muslim context.

The media and some political leaders portray a hudna as a truce or a cease-fire designed to bring peace. Though the term hudna does refer to a temporary cession of hostilities, it has historically been used as a tactic aimed at allowing the party declaring the hudna to regroup while tricking an enemy into lowering its guard. When the hudna expires, the party that declared it is stronger and the enemy weaker. The term comes from the story of the Muslim conquest of Mecca. Instead of a rapid victory, Muhammad made a ten-year treaty with the Kuraysh tribe. In 628 AD, after only two years of the ten-year treaty, Muhammad and his forces concluded that the Kuraysh were too weak to resist. The Muslims broke the treaty and took over all of Mecca without opposition.30

A modern-day hudna is not a form of compromise, rather it is a tactical tool to gain a military advantage. Hamas has used it no fewer than 10 times in 10 years.31

The hudna declared by Islamic terrorist organizations in 2003 was no different. The Hamas charter openly rejects the notion of a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the group did not change its views. On the contrary, Hamas spokesmen said they would not give up their weapons, that they would continue to resist “illegal occupation,” and that they believed the “violent awakenening from a few weeks or months of quiet” will “reaffirm Palestinians' belief in the intifada as the only option for them.”32 Even the hudna declaration asserted “the legitimate right to resist the occupation as a strategic option until the end of the Zionist occupation of our homeland and until we achieve all our national rights.” Hamas contends that all of Israel is occupied territory.33 This is why Secretary of State Colin Powell called Hamas an “enemy of peace” just before the hudna was declared, and said “the entire international community must speak out strongly against the activities of Hamas.”34

Israel understandably fears a repeat of the earlier experience. The commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Nablus said, “we won't halt the resistance as long as the occupation continues.”34a A spokesman for Hamas said after Abbas and Sharon declared an end to hostilities that the decision was “not binding on the resistance.”34b Meanwhile, Israel's military intelligence chief reported “there is quite a lot of organizing going on in the territories to prepare attacks, including big attacks,” and that the terror organizations were expanding their organizational infrastructure.34c

Whether the Palestinian terrorist groups are sincere in their declaration of a cease-fire is irrelevant to the fulfillment of the Palestinians' road map obligations. The road map explicitly calls on Abbas to do more than just achieve a cessation of hostilities; he is obligated to disarm the terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.

MYTH

“The Palestinians are being asked to accept only 22% of Palestine for their state while Israel keeps 78%.”

FACT

The government of Israel has agreed to a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. Once Israel agreed to give the Palestinians the independence they say they want, they shifted their complaint to the size of the state they were being offered. Many "moderates," such as Hanan Ashrawi, who say they can coexist with Israel, have adopted the refrain that Israel is doing the Palestinians no favors by offering them a state in the disputed territories because it is asking them to accept a state in only 22% of Palestine while Israel keeps 78%. This is a very convincing point to show the unfairness of the Palestinians' plight and to suggest Israel's peace overtures are niggardly; that is, unless you know the history of Palestine and recognize that the truth is exactly the reverse.

Historic Palestine included not only Israel and the West Bank, but also all of modern Jordan. It is Israel, including the disputed territories, that is only 22% of Palestine. If Israel were to withdraw completely from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it would possess only about 18%. And from Israel's perspective, it is the Zionists who have made the real sacrifice by giving up 82% of the Land of Israel. In fact, by accepting the UN's partition resolution, they were prepared to accept only about 12% of historic Israel before the Arab states attacked and tried to destroy the nascent state of Israel.

Meanwhile, of the approximately 9 million Palestinians worldwide, three-fourths live in historic Palestine.

MYTH

“Palestinians interested in peace and preventing terror are respected and allowed freedom of speech by the Palestinian Authority.”

FACT

One of the principal deterrents to speaking out against Palestinian irredentism and terror in the Palestinian Authority is the threat of being murdered. By the end of the first intifada in the early 1990s, more Palestinians were killed by their fellow Palestinians than died in clashes with Israeli security forces. Since the uprising began in September 1990, Palestinians have again used intimidation and murder to try to prevent dissent. Usually those seeking peace or an end to terror are labeled "collaborators" and, if they are lucky, arrested by the Palestinian Authority. The unlucky ones are murdered, often in grisly and public ways, such as stringing them up from lamp posts in public squares, aimed at sending the message that a similar fate awaits anyone who dares cross those seeking Israel's destruction.

There are no exact figures for the number of Palestinians killed in the internecine war, but the State Department human rights report said that 250 alleged collaborators had been arrested, and civilians had killed at least 35 in 2002 alone. The Israeli human rights group B'tselem recorded 142 Palestinian deaths between September 2000 and August 26, 2003, while a Palestinian human rights group said 76 were executed and another 22 murdered between September 2000 and October 2002. The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism recorded 303 Palestinians killed by their own side. In its 2003 report on the PA, Amnesty Internation said "scores of Palestinians" had been unlawfully killed and that the PA "consistently failed to investigate these killings and none of the perpetrators was brought to justice.35

A Palestinian need not be interested in peace to become a target of violence; one need only express opposition or offer a challenge to Yasser Arafat and his Fatah party. For example, after student elections at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah resulted in the Islamic Bloc of Hamas and Islamic Jihad receiving more votes than Fatah, Palestinian security forces and members of Fatah attacked members of the Islamic groups and their supporters. Security forces opened fire on the crowd and wounded more than 100 students.35a

Palestinian journalists are particular targets of the PA, which demands that all journalists refrain from criticism of the PA or its officials. In January 2004, for example, journalists working for Arab satellite TV stations were told to refer to all Palestinians killed by the IDF as shaheeds (martyrs). Numerous incidents have also been reported of physical attacks on journalists who offended PA officials. A reporter for a Saudi-owned news channel was wounded by gunfire when he was driving through the Gaza Strip. He was then dragged from his car and beaten because his station had allowed criticism of Yasser Arafat and other officials. A week later, 100 Palestinian journalists went to Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah to pledge allegiance to him. Of course, most already were in his pocket, since all of the Palestinian newspapers receive money from Arafat.35b

MYTH

“Israel's so-called security fence is just like the Berlin Wall.”

FACT

Although critics have sought to portray the security fence as a kind of "Berlin Wall," it is nothing of the sort. First, unlike the Berlin Wall, the fence does not separate one people, Germans from Germans, and deny freedom to those on one side. Israel's security fence separates two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and offers freedom and security for both. Second, while Israelis are fully prepared to live with Palestinians, and 20 percent of the Israeli population is already Arab, it is the Palestinians who say they do not want to live with any Jews and call for the West Bank to be judenrein. Third, the fence is not being constructed to prevent the citizens of one state from escaping; it is designed solely to keep terrorists out of Israel. Finally, of the 458 miles scheduled to be constructed, only a tiny fraction of that (less than 3% or about 15 miles) is actually a 30 foot high concrete wall, and that is being built in three areas where it will prevent Palestinian snipers from around the terrorist hotbeds of Kalkilya and Tul Karm from shooting at cars as they have done for the last three years along the Trans-Israel Highway, one of the country's main roads. The wall also takes up less space than the other barriers, only about seven feet, so it did not have a great impact on the area where it was built.

Most of the barrier will be a chain-link type fence similar to those used all over the United States combined with underground and long-range sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, trenches, landmines and guard paths. Manned checkpoints will constitute the only way to travel back and forth through the fence. The barrier is altogether about 160 feet wide in most places.

Israel did not want to build a fence, and resisted doing so for more than 35 years. If anyone is to blame for the construction, it is Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other Palestinian terrorists. Perhaps the construction of the security fence may help stimulate the Palestinians to take action against the terrorists because the barrier has shown them there is a price to pay for sponsoring terrorism.

MYTH

“Israel demolishes homes in the Rafah refugee camp as part of its campaign to oppress the Palestinians.”

FACT

Israel has engaged in military operations, including the demolition of homes, in the Rafah refugee camp, in an effort to curtail Palestinian smuggling operations. Rafah is a city in the Gaza Strip that is divided by the border with Egypt. Palestinians began building tunnels in the area in 1982 to smuggle various items under the Israel-Egypt border fence. Since 1994, when Israel turned the area over to its control, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been responsible for security in the area. While the PA initially worked to stop the construction of tunnels, it now actively supports the smugglers.

To avoid detection of the tunnels, the Palestinians build them in civilian homes. In 2002, the IDF discovered 33 tunnels and, through mid-October 2003, another 36 were found.

The smugglers bring goods such as cigarettes, automobile parts, clothing, drugs, electronics, and foreign currency purchased or stolen in Egypt for resale in the Gaza Strip. Of even greater concern to Israel is the smuggling of terrorists and weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, rifles, explosives, and ammunition, which often make their way to the West Bank.

Large-scale Israeli operations against the tunnels coincided with intelligence reports that the Palestinians were attempting to smuggle more sophisticated weapons such as Katyusha rockets, which could hit Israeli cities, and Stinger missiles, which could shoot down Israeli civilian and military aircraft. These weapons are being brought in to support the terrorist operations of groups such as Hamas and the PFLP (with the help of Iran), as well as to arm PA security services.

Smuggling operations have intensified in the last three years as Israel has blocked other smuggling routes, and as the Palestinians have escalated their violent campaign against Israel. The reason that the homes of Palestinians are demolished by Israel is that they are used to conceal the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt. Many Palestinians in Rafah are impoverished and find involvement in the smuggling operations an opportunity to improve their economic situation because they are paid well to excavate the tunnels, transfer goods, and allow their homes to be used to hide the tunnels.

The PA has given Palestinians an even greater incentive to participate in smuggling by offering them alternative housing in the nearby town of Tel-Sultan if Israel demolishes their homes. Some Palestinians have even lied about constructing tunnels in the hope that the IDF will demolish their homes and they can get nicer ones from the PA.

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority is helpless to dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad because the terrorist groups are too powerful and popular.”

FACT

The media has helped create the misperception that the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot dismantle the terrorist network in its midst because of the strength and popularity of the radical Islamic Palestinian terrorist groups.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not huge armed forces. Together, the armed wings of both organizations total fewer than 1,000 men. By contrast, the PA has 35,000 people in a variety of police, intelligence, and security forces.36 Not only does the PA have overwhelming superiority of manpower and firepower, it also has the intelligence assets to find most, if not all of the terrorists.

It is true these Islamic groups have achieved some popularity, but polls show that together they still are only supported by about one-fourth of the Palestinian population. The PA is not a democracy, so its leaders do not base their decisions on public opinion, but the data shows that it is not hindered from acting by any overwhelming sympathy for the radical factions.

The PA could follow the example of the Jordanian government which has not allowed Hamas to establish a foothold in the kingdom. King Abdullah closed their offices in Amman, as well as their newspaper, and has arrested and deported numerous members of the organization.37

The Palestinians made the commitment to stop terrorism in 1993, and have repeatedly promised to do so since then, including their 2003 assent to the road map. They still have not lived up to this fundamental requirement for peace. No progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made until the violence stops, and the PA cannot use the excuse that it lacks the means to put an end to the violent activities of a tiny minority of the Palestinian people.

MYTH

“Israel’s policy of assassinating terrorists is illegal and rejected even by Israelis, as evidenced by the refusal of Air Force pilots to carry out the policy.”

FACT

As noted elsewhere, Israel faces a difficult quandary in deciding how best to protect its citizens from the attacks of terrorists whose principal aim is to murder innocent people. The Israeli government believes that one way to reduce the danger is to target the Palestinians responsible for these war crimes. The IDF never targets innocent Palestinians and numerous examples can be cited of cases where pilots have returned to base without firing because civilians were in danger of being harmed. Still, tragedies have occurred in which innocent Palestinians have been casualties of the war against terror.

It is especially because of the concern for the innocent, and the difficulty of targeting terrorists who intentionally choose to hide among civilians, that Israelis debate whether targeted attacks are the best policy. The public overwhelmingly supports the policy to date,38 and only 27 pilots – 18 who are retired – signed a letter saying they wouldn’t carry out missions in the territories. As in an earlier case where a group of reserve soldiers said they wouldn’t serve either, the decision is a political act that has no place in any military, and did not receive popular suppor either from their fellow soldiers or the general public.

The pilots are entitled to their opinion, and to express it through Israel’s vibrant democratic process, but, like other soldiers, their duty while in uniform is to implement policies made by elected civilian leaders so long as their orders are recognized by Israel’s courts as legal. Both Israel’s courts and international law allow for the current Israeli policy.

Meanwhile, the political debate as to the wisdom and effectiveness of the policy will undoubtedly continue.

MYTH

“Releasing Palestinian prisoners is a good way to build confidence for the peace process without endangering Israeli security.”

FACT

Israel has released Palestinian prisoners from its jails on a number of occasions because the Palestinians have made this a major issue and said that it would build confidence in the peace process. To date, however, it is difficult to find evidence that these prisoner releases have done anything to improve the prospects for peace. The Israeli concession has not moderated Palestinian behavior or prompted the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its road map obligations to dismantle terrorist networks and confiscate illegal weapons.

Israel has naturally been reluctant to release prisoners because these individuals are in jail for a good reason, they committed crimes, often violent ones. Moreover, when Israel has made these political and humanitarian gestures, the criminals have often resumed their terrorist activities. In the summer of 2003, for example, Ariel Sharon responded to the entreaties of the Palestinians, and the international community, to release prisoners as a way to help bolster the stature of then Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Even though the road map says nothing about the subject, Sharon released 350 Palestinians. Not long after, two of the former prisoners, under the command of a third, carried out suicide bombings at Café Hillel in Jerusalem and the Tzrifin army base, killing 15 civilians and soldiers, and wounding more than 80.39 Releasing prisoners is another example of one of the great risks that Israel has often taken for peace.

MYTH

“Yasser Arafat is directing the Palestinian Authority’s resources to the health and welfare of the Palestinian people.”

FACT

One of the principal reasons for the suffering of the Palestinian people is the failure of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to allocate the billions of dollars in international aid it has received for the health and welfare of the population. The corruption in the PA has been extensively documented by both Palestinians and external reviewers such as the International Monetary Fund, but even setting this important problem aside, an examination of PA spending shows that a disproportionate share of the budget is being spent on the president rather than the public.

In fact, there have been months in which President Yasser Arafat’s office received nearly as much money as the departments of health and social services combined.40 In the first half of 2003, Arafat’s office was allocated 137 million shekels while the total budget for social affairs was 95 million shekels and for health 185 million shekels.

All parties recognize that a key to peace is fostering prosperity in the PA and improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people. Israel has an important role to play in both areas, but the welfare of the majority of Palestinians is in the hands of the PA, and their present living conditions, as well as their future in an independent state, depend on the commitment of their leaders to improve their society rather than simply enrich themselves.

MYTH

“Periods of quiet are results of the Palestinian Authority’s crackdown on terrorists and would continue if not for Israeli military actions.”

FACT

Any period of quiet is welcomed by the citizens of Israel, and by most Palestinians, however, it is a sign of how badly the situation has deteriorated that any respite from terror attacks is considered noteworthy. The norm should be peace.

Unfortunately, the fact that a major terrorist attack does not occur does not mean that violence has ceased or that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is preventing attacks against Israelis. The main reason for periods of relative calm is the vigilance of Israel’s security forces. If Israel ceased its counter terror measures, the result would not be to prolong peace, but to allow terrorists to rebuild their infrastructure and to mount operations that otherwise might be foiled.

In the six-week period from October to mid-November 2003, for example, no “major” terrorist attacks occurred. In that same period, however, 14 Israelis were killed by terrorists, 14 suicide bombing attempts were foiled, and the number of terror alerts increased from 30 per day to 50 per day.41

Israel must continue to take military measures to insure its security. When the PA takes the steps it promised in accepting the road map, and dismantles the terrorist infrastructure and disarms the terrorists, the threat of violence will decrease and the need for Israeli military action will be reduced.

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority is cooperating in the investigation of the terrorist ambush that killed three Americans in Gaza.”

FACT

On October 15, 2003, a powerful roadside bomb ripped apart an armored vehicle in a U.S. diplomatic convoy traveling through the Gaza Strip, killing three Americans and wounding one. After the attack, Palestinians streamed to the site and “picked through the twisted metal with visible delight” and then threw stones at American investigators who arrived at the scene, forcing them to leave.42

In a scene right out of Casablanca, Palestinian authorities then rounded up the usual suspects, detaining seven men from a rogue group that included former members of the Palestinian security forces. American officials, however, did not believe these were the perpetrators, and the FBI team probing the terrorist attack returned to the United States after expressing dismay over the lack of cooperation it received from the Palestinian security services. Predictably, the Palestinians who were arrested were released several months later.42a

U.S. officials said the Palestinian Authority failed to provide FBI investigators with sufficient access to the bombing site and allowed pedestrians to enter the scene of the attack and destroy evidence. The Bush Administration subsequently banned visits by U.S. officials to the Gaza Strip because of the lack of cooperation with the investigation.43

After three months of obstruction, U.S. officials informed the Palestinian Authority in December 2003 that special road map envoy John Wolf would not return to the region until progress was made in the investigation. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns and other officials also delivered a series of sharp messages to PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and other Palestinian officials over the lack of progress in the probe.44

In early January 2004, it was reported that the Palestinian security services were refusing to arrest or question new suspects. U.S. government sources suggested that Fatah might have been behind the attack and that Arafat was blocking progress in the investigation for fear that the Americans would discover that he was connected to the attack. Arafat adviser Jibril Rajoub later accused the U.S. of "blackmailing" the Palestinians by threatening to disengage from peace-making and stop U.S. aid unless they find those behind the bombing, a charge the State Department labeled “ridiculous.”45 Nevertheless, in May 2004, the U.S. suspended two water development projects in the Gaza Strip over the failure of the Palestinian police to arrest those responsible for the ambush.45a

In September 2004, Gen. Musa Arafat, the overall commander of the Palestinian Authority's National Security Forces in the Gaza Strip, said the PA security forces knew the identities of the perpetrators of the attack on the U.S. convoy; but he said the PA security forces couldn't act against the suspects while fighting with Israel continues. “We find Musa Arafat's statement, if he is correctly quoted by Reuters, to be totally unacceptable and outrageous,” a State Department spokesman said in response. “The US has consistently demanded that the PA take action to locate, apprehend, and bring to justice the killers of our three colleagues....The PA performance on this issue has been unacceptable to us. We have not seen the PA demonstrate the will, much less the capacity, to investigate this case seriously. If it is true that the PA knows the identities of the murderers, we expect immediate action to be taken to arrest, prosecute and convict them.”45b

The U.S. is now offering up to $5 million to anyone who provides information that leads to the "conviction or arrest" of those responsible for the attack.

MYTH

“The media treats terrorist attacks against Israel the same way as it does attacks on other nations.”

FACT

Terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens are often treated by the media in an entirely different way than similar atrocities committed against other nationalities. Many press outlets are reluctant to call attacks against Jews terrorism and frequently attach more benign labels to the murderers such as “gunmen” or “militants.” For example, when a Palestinian woman walked into a crowded beach restaurant in Haifa and detonated a bomb that killed 21 people, including four children on October 4, 2003, the Reuters account said she had waged an “attack” in retaliation for previous Israeli army actions and that the bombing showed that Palestinian officials had failed to “rein in the militants.”46

One of the best examples of how the press sometimes distinguishes terrorist attacks against other nations was a list of “recent terror attacks around the world” disseminated in November 2003 by the Associated Press, probably the most influential news service in the world. The list cited 15 terrorist incidents during the five-year period between August 1998 and August 2003. During that period, more than 800 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks, but not one of the incidents in Israel made the list.47

Similarly, when AP released its Year in Photos 2003, six of the 130 photos chosen related to human suffering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All six were of Palestinians.

“By any logic, militants engaged in warfare don't blow up little babies.”

— Tom Fiedler, Executive Editor, Miami Herald48

MYTH

“Israel should be replaced by a binational state where Jews and Palestinians live together.”

FACT

The idea of a binational state is not new; it was first proposed by prominent Jews such as Judah Magnes in the 1920s. As is the case today, however, the suggestion enjoyed no popular support.

The utopian view of the advocates of binationalism was that the Jews and Arabs both had legitimate claims to the land and should live in peace together in one state. This idea negated the Jewish right to its historic homeland and also assumed the Arabs were prepared to coexist peacefully with the Jews within the same state. This was proven wrong through two decades of violence by Arabs against Jews in Palestine, and by the Arab rejection of the British White Paper of 1939, which offered them just such an arrangement.

As early as 1937, it had become clear that the two peoples could not live together and needed to have states of their own. As a result, the Peel Commission proposed a partition in that year and the UN approved the same approach a decade later. Nothing has changed since that time to suggest any other solution can end the conflict.

Since Palestinian Arabs already constitute almost 45 percent of the population living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and their birth rate is double that of Israeli Jews, they would soon become the majority of the population in a binational state. The Jewish character of the nation would then erode and disappear, and Israeli Jews would lose political control over the one safe haven for Jews.

Given the historical mistreatment of minorities, especially Jews, in Arab lands, this idea would be a recipe for the persecution of Jews (and Christians).One proponent of the idea of a binational state suggested that an international force would protect the Jews, but no leader would entrust the fate of the Jewish people to such an unreliable guarantor. More important, if advocates of binationalism acknowledge that Jews would need protection in such a state, what is the basis for believing this is a solution to the conflict?

MYTH

“Israel is a theocracy and should not be a Jewish State.”

FACT

It often makes people uncomfortable to refer to Israel as “the Jewish State” because it suggests a theocracy and, therefore, the demise of Israel as a Jewish state is viewed by some people (even in Israel) as a positive development. Israel is not a theocracy; however, it is governed by the rule of law as drafted by a democratically elected parliament. It is informed by Jewish values and adheres to many Jewish religious customs (such as holidays), but this is similar to the United States and other nations that are shaped by the Judeo-Christian heritage and also have expressly religious elements (e.g., church-state separation in the U.S. does not preclude the recognition of Christmas as a holiday).

Israel has no state religion, and all faiths enjoy freedom of worship, yet it is attacked for its Jewish character, whereas the Arab states that all have Islam as their official religion are regarded as legitimate.

The Jewish people are a nation with a shared origin, religion, culture, language, and history. And why shouldn’t the Jewish people have a state? No one suggests that Arabs are not entitled to a nation (and they have not one, but twenty-one) of their own or Swedes or Germans, or that Catholics are not entitled to a state (Vatican City) headed by a theocrat (the Pope). To suggest that Zionism, the nationalist movement of the Jewish people, is the only form of nationalism that is illegitimate is pure bigotry. It is especially ironic that the Jewish nation should be challenged given that Jewish statehood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.

It is also not unusual that one community should be the majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status. In fact, this is true in nearly every country in the world. Moreover, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. India and Pakistan were established at the same time as Israel through a violent partition, but no one believes these nations are illegitimate because one is predominantly Hindu and the other has a Muslim majority, or that these nations shouldn’t be influenced by those communities (e.g., that cows in India should not be treated as sacred).

In the United States, a vigorous debate persists over the boundaries between church and state. Similar discussions regarding “synagogue and state” are ongoing in Israel, with philosophical disagreements over whether Israel can be a Jewish and a democratic state, and practical arguments over Sabbath observance, marriage and divorce laws, and budgets for religious institutions. Nevertheless, most Jews take for granted that Israel is, and must remain, a Jewish state. Arab citizens also understand that Israel is a Jewish state and, while they might prefer that it was not, they have still chosen to live there (nothing prevents Arabs from moving to any of the 180-odd non-Jewish states in the world). Both Jews and Arabs realize that if Jews cease to be a majority in Israel, Israel will no longer have a Jewish character or serve as a haven for persecuted Jews, and that is one of the elements underlying peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

MYTH

“The United Nations has demonstrated equal concern for the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”

FACT

While the UN routinely adopts resolutions critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, it has never adopted a single resolution unequivocally condemning violence against Israeli citizens. One of the most dramatic examples of the institution’s double-standard came in 2003 when Israel offered a draft resolution in the General Assembly for the first time in 27 years.

The resolution called for the protection of Israeli children from terrorism, but it did not receive enough support from the members of the General Assembly to even come to a vote. Israel had introduced the resolution in response to the murder of dozens of Israeli children in terrorist attacks, and after a similar resolution had been adopted by a UN committee (later adopted by the full Assembly) calling for the protection of Palestinian children from “Israeli aggression.” Israel's ambassador withdrew the proposed draft after it became clear that members of the nonaligned movement were determined to revise it in such a way that it would have ultimately been critical of Israel.49

MYTH

“Israeli policies cause anti-Semitism.”

FACT

Anti-Semitism has existed for centuries, well before the rise of the modern State of Israel. Rather than Israel being the cause of anti-Semitism, it is more likely that the distorted media coverage of Israeli policies is reinforcing latent anti-Semitic views.

As writer Leon Wieseltier observed, “the notion that all Jews are responsible for whatever any Jews do is not a Zionist notion. It is an anti-Semitic notion.” Wieseltier adds that attacks on Jews in Europe have nothing whatsoever to do with Israel. To blame Jews for anti-Semitism is similar to saying blacks are responsible for racism.

Many Jews may disagree with policies of a particular Israeli government, but this does not mean that Israel is bad for the Jews. As Wieseltier noted, “Israel is not bad for the Jews of Russia, who may need a haven; or for the Jews of Argentina, who may need a haven; or for any Jews who may need a haven.”50

As noted in the fact about criticism of Israel, taking issue with Israeli policies is acceptable if you do so because you believe that a) Israel has the right to exist, and b) that changes will make Israel a better place. In fact, such criticism, by Israelis, can be found in the Israeli media every day. Criticism crosses the line, however, when it delegitimizes Israel and is intended to weaken rather than strengthen its institutions.

MYTH

“The International Court of Justice should decide whether Israel is justified in building a security fence.”

FACT

The most important issue at stake in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is how to bring about a two-state solution that offers peace and security to both parties. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has nothing to contribute to resolving this issue and actually subverts the prospects for peace by undermining direct negotiations, diverting attention from the Palestinians’ failure to fulfill their road map obligation to stop the violence, and singling Israel out for opprobrium while ignoring the Palestinian terrorism that necessitated the construction of the security fence.

Counting the countries that did not vote, as well as those that voted against the Arab proposal, 101 member-states — a majority of UN members — did not support referring the fence issue to the court, and at least 30 countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and 15 members of the European Union submitting affidavits to the ICJ saying that the issue does not belong in the Court.

The UN General Assembly has already adopted a position on the matter and prejudged it. Moreover, the decision to submit the issue of the fence to the court ignores Article 36 of the Court’s Statute which stipulates that contentious issues can only be brought before the Court with the consent of all sides. In this case, the issue is clearly contentious, Israel did not consent to arbitration before the court, and the parties already have mechanisms in place for resolving such issues.

The question put to the Court misleadingly refers to the barrier as a “wall” when, in fact, less than 3% of the anti-terrorist barrier is concrete and more than 97% consists of a chain-link system.

Israel only built this fence to defend its citizens after three years of unrelenting Palestinian violence that has taken the lives of nearly 1,000 Israelis. No outside court or international organization has the authority to determine how Israel should protect its citizens.

The United States shares this view and that is why it objects to the Court’s involvement. After all, if the Court can tell Israel that it can’t build a fence to defend itself from terrorists, why can’t the justices tell the United States that it is illegal to build a barrier to keep Mexicans from entering the United States, or that its war in Iraq was not justified?

What is the basis for challenging the fence in the first place? Contrary to the language of the General Assembly resolution, the fence does not stand on “occupied Palestinian” land. The fence does not affect the final status of the territories. Israel has not annexed any territory around the fence; the land itself is a matter of dispute and, should a peace settlement be reached, the fence can be moved or torn down. Israel has already said it would reroute the fence to minimize the impact on the Palestinians.

And why should the Court single out Israel’s actions? Has it ever ruled on the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir or the conflict between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus (in both cases similar fences have been built), or any of the dozens of other international border disputes?

The court may issue an advisory opinion on “the legal implications of building a wall,” but its decisions do not have the force of law. The court is a political body and Israel has no representation on the court. The 15 judge panel does, however, include a Palestinian from Jordan and an Egyptian.

The politicization of the proceedings is clear from the Court’s decision to allow 56 countries from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, along with the 22 members of the Arab League, to testify against Israel. While Palestinians may legitimately criticize the fence, none of these other parties are in any way affected by Israel’s efforts to defend itself. Is it any wonder that Israelis expect the trial to resemble the Israeli-bashing forum that occurred in Durban and the one-sided debates in the General Assembly?

Israel is in a no-win situation. By virtue of being “taken to court,” Israel is automatically put on the defensive. If Israel puts its case before the Court, it would legitimate the tribunal’s authority; however, if it ignores the proceedings, Israel increases the probability that the testimony will be one-sided and that the Court will ultimately censure Israel.

Israel ultimately decided it would not participate in the trial and was joined in this decision by the United States, Russia, and the EU. This left the hearings to Israel's critics who, predictably, used them as a propaganda forum to castigate Israel.

MYTH

“There is a distinction between the political and terror wings of Hamas.”

FACT

Apologists for Palestinian terror, especially in the media, sometimes argue that Hamas shouldn’t be labeled a terrorist organization because only some members engage in murder while others perform charitable activity. The ombudsman for the Washington Post, for example, argued that , since Hamas is a “nationalist movement” engaged in “some social work,” the perpetrators of Palestinian suicide and other attacks should be described in the press as “militants” or “gunmen.”51

A false distinction is made between the “political” and “military” wings of Hamas. All of the activities of Hamas are intertwined, and serve the organization’s primary objective laid out in its covenant, namely, to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”

Hamas’s leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, denies that Hamas has uncoordinated wings: “We cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”52 And the “political” leaders of Hamas freely admit their relationship to the murderers. “The political leadership,” Hamas spokesman, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ar-Rantisi said, “has freed the hand of the [‘Izz ad-Din al-Qassam] brigades to do whatever they want against the brothers of monkeys and pigs [i.e., Jews].”53

While Hamas does engage in social work, this is closely connected to the “armed struggle.” Various charitable activities are used to recruit young Palestinians for terrorist operations. Hospitals, mosques, sport clubs, libraries, and schools serve not only their expected roles but also act as covers for hiding weapons, obtaining supplies, and indoctrinating future suicide bombers.

The education system is used to incite young Palestinians to become martyrs.“The children of the kindergarten are the shaheeds [martyrs] of tomorrow,” read signs in a Hamas-run school, while placards in classrooms at al-Najah University in the West Bank and at Gaza’s Islamic University declare that “Israel has nuclear bombs; we have human bombs.”54

Hamas operatives use Islamic charities and social welfare programs to skim and launder funds, and to earn money to live on while they engage in terrorism. Recipients of Hamas charity also understand there is a quid pro quo. If they are asked to provide assistance, whether it be to hide weapons, provide a safe house for a fugitive, or act as a courier, few are likely to refuse.55

The United States government recognizes the connection between the charitable activities of Hamas and its terrorist campaign, which is why the Treasury Department designated six senior Hamas political leaders and five charities as terrorist entities. According to Treasury, “the political leadership of Hamas directs its terrorist networks just as they oversee their other activities.”

MYTH

“Egypt is no longer a military threat since signing a peace treaty with Israel.”

FACT

While Egypt remains formally at peace with Israel and honors its Camp David commitments, Cairo has nevertheless amassed a substantial offensive military capability in recent years. Prudent Israeli military planners have no choice but to carefully monitor Egypt’s buildup in case regional events take a dramatic turn for the worse. If the present regime in Cairo were overthrown, for example, the prospect for continued stable relations with Israel would diminish substantially.

Despite its status as a U.S. ally, Egypt has purchased Scud missiles from North Korea and is believed to possess chemical weapons.56 Its army, air force and navy now field a wide range of the most sophisticated Western arms, many identical to Israel’s own weapons. In 2003, for example, Egypt requested F15 jets armed with JDAM (joint direct attack munition) “smart” bombs. These sophisticated weapons were used by U.S. forces in the 2003 war with Iraq.

Such sales are a matter of concern for Israel because the principal threats faced by Egypt today are internal ones. No nation poses any danger to Egypt. So why has Egypt been spending billions of dollars to amass an arsenal that includes 3,000 tanks and more than 500 aircraft, especially when it has serious economic problems caused in large measure by an exponentially growing population that does not have enough food, shelter, or employment?

If Egypt's military simulations are any indication of the regime's thinking, Israel has good reason to worry. Egyptian forces have staged large-scale military training exercises that included simulated operations crossing into the Sinai against an unnamed adversary to the east (i.e., Israel). In fact, Israel is the “enemy” in all of Egypt’s war games.

In December 2003, Israel protested Egypt’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, to spy on Israeli military facilities. Israel reportedly threatened to shoot down the drones whose flights violate the peace treaty and prompted increased concern over Egypt’s military buildup.57

Israel is also worried about the looming succession crisis in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak is 75 and has been the Nation’s ruler since Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981. No one knows who will follow Mubarak. Given the strong Muslim fundamentalist movement in the country, and the antipathy of the military toward Israel, it is by no means certain that Mubarak’s successor will maintain the “cold peace” that has prevailed now for nearly 30 years.

MYTH

“Palestinians do not encourage children to engage in terror.”

FACT

Most Palestinians who adopt terror in the hope of either “ending the occupation” or destroying Israel do so because they freely choose murder over any other option. Palestinian terrorists also use children, however, to do their dirty work. On March 15, 2004, for example, Israeli security forces caught an 11-year-old boy attempting to smuggle a bomb through a roadblock. The boy was promised a money by Tanzim activists in Nablus if he delivered a bag containing a bomb stuffed with bolts to a woman on the other side of the checkpoint. If the boy was stopped and searched, the terrorists who sent him planned to use a cell phone to immediately detonate the 15 to 22 pounds of explosives he was carrying, murdering nearby soldiers as well as the boy. The plan was foiled by an alert Israeli soldier, and the bomb apparently malfunctioned when the terrorists tried to remotely detonate it. A week later, on March 24, 2004, a 14-year-old Palestinian child was found to be carrying explosives when attempting to pass through the Israeli army checkpoint at Hawara, at the entrance of the town of Nablus.58 Just over a year later, on May 22, 2005, a 14-year-old boy was again arrested at the Hawara checkpoint with two pipe bombs strapped to a belt he was wearing. A few days later, a 15-year-old tried to get through the checkpoint with two more pipe bombs. Yet another teen, a 16-year-old, was caught on July 4, 2005, attempting to smuggle a bomb and homemade handgun.58a

These were just the latest examples of the cynical use of children by Palestinians waging war on Israel. Young Palestinians are routinely indoctrinated and coerced into the cult of martyrdom.

“Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices.”

— Amnesty International59

 

Despite occasional claims that terror is only promoted by “extremists,” the truth is the Palestinian Authority (PA) has consistently incited its youth to violence. Children are taught that the greatest glory is to die for Allah in battle as a Shahada. The PA regularly broadcasts television shows that encourage children to embrace this concept. One film uses the death of Muhammad Al-Dura, the child killed in the crossfire of a shootout between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces, to show that life after death is paradise. An actor playing Al-Dura is shown in an amusement park, playing on the beach, and flying a kite. The Al-Dura in the film invites viewers to follow him. Similar messages extolling the virtue of the Shahid can be found in school textbooks and sermons by Muslim clergy.60

The indoctrination is having an impact. According to one Palestinian newspaper, 79-80% of children told pollsters they were willing to be Shahids.61

Palestinian children now play death games, competing to see who will be the Shahid. They also collect “terrorist cards” the way American kids collect baseball cards. The maker of the Palestinian cards sold 6 million in just over two years. “I take hundreds of these pictures from children every day and burn them,” said Saher Hindi, a teacher at a Nablus elementary school. “They turn children into extremists.”62

Many Palestinian youngsters have gone from pretending to carrying out actual terrorist attacks. More than two dozen suicide bombers have been under the age of 18. Since 2001, more than 40 other minors involved in planning suicide bombings were arrested. In the last three years, 22 shootings and bombings have been carried out by minors. For example, teens ages 11-14 attempted to smuggle munitions from Egypt into the Gaza Strip; three teenagers, ages 13-15, were arrested on their way to carry out a shooting attack in Afula; and a 17-year-old blew himself up in an attempted suicide attack.63

Amnesty International noted that "Palestinian children have been used by Palestinian armed groups to carry out or attempt to carry out suicide bombings or other attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers...and that Palestinian armed groups have pressured families of those who have been killed while carrying out attacks, including children, not to condemn but to welcome and endorse their relatives' actions."

The situation has finally gotten so out of hand that Palestinian families are starting to protest. The mother of one of the three teenagers sent to carry out the Afula attack said of the letter he had left behind, “My son doesn’t know how to write a letter like that and has never belonged to one of the organizations. Some grownup wrote the letter for him.” The boy’s father added, “Nobody can accept to send his children to be slaughtered. I am sure that whoever recruits children in this kind of unlawful activity will not recruit his own children.”64

MYTH

“Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is blocking reform in the Middle East.”

FACT

The old saw that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the source of all evil in the Middle East is being trotted out again to justify the failure of the Arab states to embrace President Bush’s democracy initiative or to reform their authoritarian societies. If the conflict was resolved tomorrow, or if Israel ceased to exist, however, the Arab world’s despots would be no more interested in reform than they are today.

The divisions among the Arabs were on display again in March 2004 when Tunisia abruptly cancelled a planned Arab League summit. While some of the Arab officials suggested that Israel was to blame, the Tunisians themselves made clear the problem was the unwillingness of the Arab states to agree on any reforms, or even to endorse the principal of democracy and reject extremism and terrorism. Tunisia’s official news agency noted that unspecified countries refused to support calls for “tolerance” and “understanding,” and would not allow the word “democracy” to appear in the final draft of a position paper to be approved by heads of state.65

At least seven Arab leaders had bowed out of the meeting and several countries, led by Syria, made clear their disinterest in committing the Arabs to institutional reform. And no Arab nation would support Libya’s suggestion that other governments follow its example and give up programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.66

Of course the summit host, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is no democrat. He seized power in a 1987 palace coup and has ruled the country ever since. And he’s one of the newer Arab autocrats. Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt since Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi has been in power since 1969, and the Saud and Hashemite dynasties have maintained monarchies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan for decades. And even they are newcomers compared to the family that has ruled in Oman for 250 years. Lebanon is a puppet state under Syrian occupation, and Syria has been a dictatorship run by the Assad family since 1970. Yasser Arafat has dominated Palestinian politics for decades and has ruled the Palestinian Authority with an iron hand since its establishment in 1993.

None of these tyrants have any interest in implementing reforms that would permit the people to choose their leaders in a democratic way because they know they would be swept from power. They will therefore continue to use Israel’s existence as an excuse for avoiding any meaningful changes to their totalitarian societies.

MYTH

“Israel created Hamas.”

FACT

Israel had nothing to do with the creation of Hamas. The The organization grew out of the ideology and practice of the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement that arose in Egypt in the 1920s.

Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 as an Islamic Association by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Initially, the organization engaged primarily in social welfare activities and soon developed a reputation for improving the lives of Palestinians, particularly the refugees in the Gaza Strip.

Though Hamas was committed from the outset to destroying Israel, it took the position that this was a goal for the future, and that the more immediate focus should be on winning the hearts and minds of the people through its charitable and educational activities. Its funding came primarily from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The PLO was convinced that Israel was helping Hamas in the hope of triggering a civil war. Since Hamas did not engage in terror at first, Israel did not see it as a serious short-term threat, and some Israelis believed the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza would have the beneficial impact of weakening the PLO, and this is what ultimately happened.

Hamas certainly didn’t believe it was being supported by Israel. As early as February 1988, the group put out a primer on how its members should behave if confronted by the Shin Bet. Several more instructional documents were distributed by Hamas to teach followers how to confront the Israelis and maintain secrecy.

Israel’s assistance was more passive than active, that is, it did not interfere with Hamas activities or prevent funds from flowing into the organization from abroad. Israel also may have provided some funding to allow its security forces to infiltrate the organization.67 Meanwhile, Jordan was actively helping Hamas, with the aim of undermining the PLO and strengthening Jordanian influence in the territories.

Though some Israelis were very concerned about Hamas before rioting began in December 1987, Israel was reluctant to interfere with an Islamic organization, fearing that it might trigger charges of violating the Palestinians’ freedom of religion. It was not until early in the intifada, when Hamas became actively involved in the violence, that the group began to be viewed as a potentially greater threat than the PLO. The turning point occurred in the summer of 1988 when Israel learned that Hamas was stockpiling arms to build an underground force and Hamas issued its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. At this point it became clear that Hamas was not going to put off its jihad to liberate Palestine and was shifting its emphasis from charitable and educational activity to terrorism. Israel then began to crack down on Hamas and wiped out its entire command structure. Hamas has been waging a terror war against Israel ever since.68

MYTH

“The Arab world's commitment to peace is reflected by its abandonment of the boycott against Israel.”

FACT

The Arab League declared a boycott against the Jews before Israel was established, and most of its members have pursued a diplomatic and economic embargo against the Jewish State since its establishment. The boycott's influence waned after Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, the Palestinians became engaged in peace negotiations, and several Gulf states started ignoring the blacklist, but it was never abandoned, and several nations, most notably Saudi Arabia, have energetically enforced it for decades.

To give an indication of how entrenched the boycott is within the Arab world, the Bureau for Boycotting Israel held its 72nd conference in April 2004. Representatives from 19 Arab countries met in Syria to discuss tightening the boycott, and blacklisting new companies that do business with the Jewish state.69

To their credit, Mauritania, Egypt and Jordan, which have diplomatic ties with Israel, stayed away from the meeting. The Palestinians, however, did participate, and the head of their delegation, Ali Abo al-Hawa, asked the conference to respond to the Arab public's call for boycotting Israel, particularly in commercial relations. This was a violation of the PLO promise to oppose the boycott made in the September 28, 1995, Joint Declaration of the Washington Summit. It also contradicts the commitment made by Ahmed Korei (now the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister) in an October 17, 1996, letter to then U.S. Trade. Representative Mickey Kantor: “The PLO and the Palestinian Authority and its successors will support all efforts to end the boycott of Israel and will not enforce any elements of the boycott within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Delegates to the conference also wanted to take measures to prevent Israeli companies from trying to penetrate the Iraqi market, but removed the issue from the agenda after the Iraqi delegate, Sabah al-Imam, assured the group, "there is no Israeli activity in Iraq" approved by Iraqi authorities.

Syria subsequently banned a Greek, a Danish and two Maltese ships from its ports because they'd made stops in Israeli ports, and has placed nine Israeli companies on a black list. And Libya, which had pledged to provide entry visas to all qualified participants, announced that it would not allow any Israelis to participate in the World Chess Championships scheduled for Tripoli in June 2004.70

The continued effort by most of the Arab world to isolate Israel economically and diplomatically demonstrates that most Arab states are still unwilling to recognize Israel. Until the boycott is terminated, and the Arab League members accept the existence of Israel, the prospects for regional peace will remain dim.

MYTH

“Israel is illegally, and without justification, destroying Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.”

FACT

The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly made commitments to stop terror against Israel. In the most recent agreement, the road map, the PA agreed to “declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.” To date, the PA has not fulfilled this commitment and, as recently as May 15, 2004, Yasser Arafat called on Palestinians to “find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of God.”71

In Gaza, terrorists have acted with impunity since the PA was created. They intentionally hide in refugee camps and elsewhere among the civilian population. They do so knowing that Israel will make every effort to avoid attacking them out of concern for innocent lives. The civilian population puts itself at risk, however, by allowing the terrorists to use them as shields.

When it comes to homes that Israeli security forces have demolished, they are not chosen at random. These dwellings are used by terrorists as hideouts, bomb factories, and sniper and ambush sites. Buildings near the Egyptian border are used by terrorists to conceal tunnels that allow them to smuggle arms, explosives and other terrorists into Gaza for the express purpose of killing Israelis. The government of Egypt, which could stop the smuggling and provocation immediately, refuses to do so.

As is the case in fighting terrorism generally, the question that must be asked about Israel's decision to demolish homes is: What alternatives are open to Israel? If the Palestinian authorities were doing their jobs, and fulfilling their promises, the terrorists would be in jail, the bomb factories, closed, and the tunnels filled in. Since they are not, Israel must find a way to protect its citizens, and security forces have concluded that demolitions are the most effective tool.

Unlike the PA, Israel is governed by the rule of law, and even the decision to demolish homes is subject to review by its judiciary. When terrorists fire at Israeli soldiers or civilians from residential buildings or activate roadside charges from orchards and fields, military necessity dictates the demolition of these locations and international law recognizes them as legitimate targets. Israel’s Supreme Court, the most independent judicial body in the Middle East, has ruled the army’s actions are legal.

Innocent lives have been lost during Israeli operations. As the United States has discovered in fighting an urban war against anti-American insurgents in Iraq, it is virtually impossible to engage gunmen in populated areas and avoid civilian casualties. Like the U.S. army in Iraq, Israeli forces are defending themselves and seeking to minimize collateral damage.

Reports about Palestinians being hurt describe them being in the midst of gun battles.72 If Palestinians are shooting at Israeli soldiers, then clearly the Israelis are not attacking innocent civilians. And the media never bothers to ask a more fundamental question; that is, why do any of the Palestinians in Gaza have guns to shoot at the Israelis in the first place? Again, according to agreements the Palestinians signed, the only people entitled to have weapons are the police, and the PA is obligated to confiscate all illegal weapons.

In the course of Israel’s operations, it is tragic that civilians sometimes suffer. Rather than blame Israel, however, the Palestinians should demand the democratic election of new leaders who will dismantle the terrorist networks so that Israel has no need to take defensive measures.

MYTH

“Israeli textbooks are just as bad as those in the Palestinian Authority, filled with stereotypes, historical inaccuracies, and a failure to acknowledge alternative political views.”

FACT

More than 20 years ago, it was true that some Israeli textbooks used stereotyped images of Arabs; however, the books in use in public schools today are very different.73

Israeli texts go out of their way to avoid prejudices and to guard against generalizations. In one seventh grade lesson, students are given the following problem:

"Many people think: The dove is a bird that pursues peace. This belief is incorrect; it is a prejudice: people believe it without checking it. There are a lot of prejudices. For example:

1.The Jews control the world and exploit all those who live in it.
2.The blacks are inferior; they are incapable of being scientists.
3.The Arabs only understand the language of force...

Be ready to explain orally why these are prejudices." (I Understand, 1993, p.259)

In an elementary textbook on reading comprehension, students read how a Jewish girl was saved by an Arab woman. The book notes, “The Arabs are like the Jews. … There are nasty people among them and there are decent people and … they should not be labeled” (What is the Interpretation? Comprehension B, pp. 184-188).

Contrary to suggestions that Israelis do not accept the idea that Palestinians are a people, Israeli textbooks explain the origins of Palestinian nationalism. For example, a 9th grade text observes that “during the 1930's, Arab nationalist movements evolved all over the Middle East. Many of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael also began formulating a national consciousness — in other words, the perception that they are not just part of the larger Arab nation, but are also Palestinians” (The Twentieth Century - On the Threshold of Tomorrow, Grade 9, 1999, p.44).

While Palestinian texts omit references to Jewish contributions to the world, the Israeli books recognize the achievements of Arabs and Muslims. One text highlights the Arab role as creators of culture: “...they were the first to discover the existence of infectious diseases. They were also the first to build public hospitals. Because of their considerable contribution to various scientific fields, there are disciplines that to this day are called by their Arabic names, such as algebra.” Islam’s contributions are also acknowledged in the same passage: “The Islamic religion also influenced the development of culture. The obligation to pray in the direction of Mecca led to the development of astronomy, which helped identify the direction according to the heavenly bodies. The duty to make a pilgrimage developed geography and gave a push to the writing of travel books. These books, and the Arabs' high capability in map drawing, helped develop trade. To this day, merchants use Arabic words, such as bazaar, check and tariff” (From Generation to Generation, Vol. b, 1994, p. 220)

Palestinian textbooks also negate the Jewish connection to the Holy Land while Israeli texts show respect for the Arab/Muslim attachment to the land. “The Land of Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, have been sanctified more and more in Islamic thought — as Islam has developed and spread, both religiously and geographically. As Islam absorbed more and more of the world conquered by it, so it adapted and Islamized the values that it absorbed, including the holiness of the Land of Israel, its flora and its water, living in it, the sanctity of being buried in it and the like. All these became from that time onwards part of orthodox Islam” (H. Peleg, G. Zohar, This is the Land - Introduction to Land of Israel Studies for the Upper Grades, 2000, pp. 161-162.)

Israeli textbooks contain a plurality of views, including those that conflict with conventional research and are critical of Israeli policies. Controversial topics, such as the disputed territories, the refugee issue, and the status of Israeli Arabs are covered from multiple viewpoints. For example, one book quotes historian Benny Morris’s unconventional position attributing the flight of Palestinians in 1947-1948 more to the actions of Jewish forces than the instructions of the leaders of Arab countries (From Exile to Independence - The History of the Jewish People in Recent Generations, vol. 2, 1990, p. 312).

The Arab point of view is also represented. For example, a history text notes how Israel’s government treated Anwar Sadat’s 1971 peace proposal “with scorn out of the feeling of power and superiority that had taken hold of Israeli society following the Six Day War. After his proposal had been rejected and the political stalemate continued, Sadat decided to go to war” (K. Tabibian, Journey to the Past - The Twentieth Century, By Dint of Freedom, 1999, p. 313).

Israeli texts also use simulation games to help students understand different perspectives on an issue. In one, students are told to divide into groups representing Jewish and Palestinian journalists and prepare a report on the discussion in the United Nations leading to the partition resolution. Students are then asked to discuss the differences between the reports of the Jewish and Palestinian journalists (K. Tabibian, Journey To The Past - The Twentieth Century, By Dint of Freedom, 1999, p. 294).

Israel is not perfect and exceptions do exist. Some generalizations and patronizing terminology are found in textbooks used in the ultra-Orthodox schools. These schools comprise less than 10 percent of the Israeli educational system, and the same Israeli watchdog organizations that have pointed out problems in Palestinian textbooks have also publicized the need to remove the handful of inappropriate references from school books in this system.74

MYTH

“Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the security fence is illegal and a land grab by the Sharon government.”

FACT

In 1989, Alan Dershowitz observed, “For the first time in Mideast history, there is an independent judiciary willing to listen to grievances of Arabs — that judiciary is called the Israeli Supreme Court.75 That court took up the grievances of Palestinians who claimed the Israeli security fence causes hardships for them, is illegal according to Israeli and international law, and is meant to disguise the Israeli objective of annexing additional territory to Israel.

The Court ruled that a small segment of the fence – an 18 mile stretch near Jerusalem (out of the 125 miles built at that time) – needed to be rerouted because of the hardships caused to the Palestinians in the area who were cut off from their farms, schools, and villages.

The Court also said, however, that it could not accept the argument that the fence’s route was determined by politics rather than security. The Justices specifically rejected the idea that the fence should be constructed on the “green line,” noting that “it is the security perspective — and not the political one — which must examine a route based on its security merits alone, without regard for the location of the ‘green line.’”

The Justices also concluded “it is permitted, by the international law applicable to an area under belligerent occupation to take possession of an individual’s land in order to erect a separation fence upon it, on the condition that this is necessitated by military needs. To the extent that construction of the Fence is a military necessity, it is permitted, therefore, by international law. Indeed, the obstacle is intended to take the place of combat military operations, by physically blocking terrorist infiltration into Israeli population centers.”

The fundamental question for the Court was how to satisfy Israel’s security concerns without causing disproportionate injury to the residents affected by the fence. The Justices ruled that international humanitarian law and Israeli administrative law “require making every possible effort to ensure that injury will be proportionate. Where construction of the Separation Fence demands that inhabitants be separated from their lands, access to these lands must be ensured, in order to minimize the damage to the extent possible.”

The Justices acknowledged that the ruling would have an impact on the fight against terrorism. “We are aware this decision does not make it easier to deal with that reality. This is the destiny of a democracy: She does not see all means as acceptable, and the ways of her enemies are not always open before her. A democracy must sometimes fight with one arm tied behind her back. Even so, a democracy has the upper hand. The rule of law and individual liberties constitute an important aspect of her security stance. At the end of the day, they strengthen her spirit and this strength allows her to overcome her difficulties.”

“In the length of the fence involved, in the number of villages and people affected, the decision is hardly momentous. But as a statement of principle, it is head and shoulders above anything any other Middle East government would permit — never mind implement.”

— Richard Cohen76

 

The Supreme Court once again demonstrated that in Israel the rule of law and judicial review is applied even to matters of national security and that it can balance the State’s need to protect its citizens with humanitarian matters.

Though the Court’s decision made the government’s job of securing the population from terrorist threats more difficult, costly, and time-consuming, the Prime Minister immediately accepted the decision and began to reroute the section of the fence near Jerusalem. In addition, the Court’s ruling is also being factored into the planning of the rest of the barrier.

MYTH

“Arab-Americans are a powerful voting bloc that U.S. presidential candidates must pander to for votes.”

FACT

Arab-Americans represent a tiny fraction (less than one-half of one percent) of the U.S. population. Unlike American Jews, who are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, Arab-Americans are not a monolithic group. There are approximately 1.2 million Arabs in the United States, and they tend to reflect the general discord of the Arab world, which has twenty-one states with competing interests.

While the Palestinian cause receives most of the media's attention, because of the salience of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the omnipresence of a handful of activists and vocal Palestinian spokespersons, the reality is that only about 70,000 Palestinians (6 percent of all Arab-Americans) live in the United States. Roughly 38 percent of Arab-Americans are Lebanese, primarily Christians. In fact, while attention has focused on the allegedly growing political strength of Muslims in the United States, fewer than one-fourth of all Arab-Americans are Muslims.77 Christian Arabs, especially those from Lebanon, do not typically support the Palestinians' anti-Israel agenda, largely because of their history of mistreatment by Palestinians and Muslims.

Consequently, Arab-American voters do not pursue a positive agenda of strengthening U.S.-Arab ties; instead, they focus on weakening U.S.-Israel relations. Presidential candidates, however, and most Americans, historically view Israel as an ally that supports American interests, and are unwilling to support a reversal of this longstanding policy.

The divisions were apparent in 2000 when George W. Bush was viewed with suspicion by most Jewish voters and considered likely to be more sympathetic to the Arab cause by Arab-Americans. In that election, 45 percent of Arab-Americans nationwide voted for George. Bush, 38 percent for Al Gore, and 13 percent for Ralph Nader (who, incidentally, is of Lebanese descent).78

Even if Arab-Americans vote as a bloc, their influence is marginal, and restricted to a handful of states. About half of the Arab population is concentrated in five states — California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York — that are all key to the electoral college. Still, the Arab population is dwarfed by that of the Jews in every one of these states except Michigan.

Jewish and Arab Populations in Key States79

State
Arab Population
Arabs as % of
Total State Population
Jewish Population
Jews as % of
Total State Population
CA
142,805
.48
999,000
2.9
FL
49,206
.38
628,000
3.9
MI
76,504
.82
110,000
1.1
NJ
46,381
.60
485,000
5.7
NY
94,319
.52
1,657,000
8.7

MYTH

“The ‘al-Aksa intifada’ has helped win support for the Palestinians and forced Israel to capitulate to their demands.”

FACT

The Palestinian uprising has brought nothing but sorrow to the Palestinians and Israelis. After four years of violence, 1,017 Israelis were killed, 70 percent of whom were civilians. Nearly 5,600 Israelis were injured, 82 percent of them civilians. During this period, Palestinian terrorists perpetrated 13,730 shooting attacks and 138 suicide bombings.80

The uprising has been even more costly to the Palestinians. More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with security forces defending Israel’s citizens from the terror onslaught. Tragically, this figure also includes many civilians. The difference, however, is that Palestinian terrorists deliberately target the innocent while Israeli forces seek to avoid civilian casualties.

The uprising began because many Palestinians thought they could replicate the success of Hizballah, which they believe drove Israel out of Lebanon with terror. The Palestinians miscalculated, however, failing to understand that Israel had no claim to territory in Lebanon, and that unilaterally withdrawing from the security zone there ultimately saved Israeli lives without compromising Israel’s security or political position.

“The intifada is in its death throes. These are the final stages....Not only was the intifada a failure, but we are a total failure. We achieved nothing in 50 years of struggle; we've achieved only our survival.”

Zakariya Zubeidi, leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank.81

Because Israel has claims to the West Bank, and a large population of citizens live in areas that most Israelis believe should eventually be part of Israel, there was never any chance that terror would drive Israel out of Judea and Samaria. The situation in Gaza is slightly different, because few Israelis believe that this area should be part of Israel, and most have long been prepared to withdraw. If the Palestinians had lived up to their obligations in the Oslo agreements and the road map to stop the violence, Israel would have long ago pulled out of Gaza. Israel has subsequently decided it is in its own security interests to disengage from Gaza, which the Palestinians should encourage by suppressing the terrorists, but, instead, they bombard Israel with rockets that kill more innocent people and stimulate opposition within Israel to Prime Minister Sharon’s plan.

The intifada has also been devastating to the Palestinian economy. Thousands of Palestinians made their living by working in Israel, but the violence made it impossible for Israel to allow them into Israel because too many engaged in terrorism. Ongoing fighting between Palestinians and Israelis has made commerce in the Palestinian Authority (PA) difficult and, sometimes, impossible. The Palestinian unemployment rate has skyrocketed.

Prior to the uprising, the PA was responsible for 98 percent of the Palestinians in the territories. It controlled the major Arab cities and had the chance to develop democratic institutions that could be the foundation for statehood. By instigating violence, rather than dismantling the terrorist infrastructure – as they promised by accepting the road map – the PA forced Israel to engage in military operations in areas the PA should have been policing. And rather than adopting the reforms suggested by President Bush, and codified in the road map, the PA has remained an Arafat-run dictatorship recognized both by Palestinians and the international community as corrupt.

The uprising’s negative impact was exemplified when a senior Palestinian official contacted different governments to complain about Israeli “massacres” in Gaza and was shocked to discover the Palestinians’ usual allies sympathized with Israel’s motives for mounting an operation, which began after two infants were killed by Kassam rockets in the Israeli town of Sderot. One senior European diplomat said, “Before you call us to complain about Israeli atrocities, why don’t you tell Yasser Arafat and Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israeli cities.”82

Palestinians now admit they made a serious mistake. Former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, for example said, “I think now that the intifada in its entirety was a mistake and it should not have continued....”83

Israel and the rest of the world is waiting for the Palestinians to correct this mistake by stopping the violence and fulfilling their other treaty commitments.

MYTH

“Yasser Arafat will be succeeded by a democratically elected leader who is interested in peace with Israel.”

FACT

In the best-case scenario, a free election will be held on January 9, 2005, in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and a candidate committed to reform the PA, end the incitement and violence, and negotiate with Israel will emerge with a clear majority and the power to implement his vision. After demonstrating his ability to fulfill these commitments, Israel would enter negotiations with the new Palestinian leader and hope for peace would be restored.

Unfortunately, the realities on the ground make this outcome unlikely. When the Palestinian Authority was established, the hope was that it would adopt democratic principles. This was not the case; however, as Yasser Arafat returned from Tunisia and imposed a dictatorial regime that did not recognize freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, or women’s rights. Furthermore, the education system and the media were used as tools to delegitimize Israel and to teach young Palestinians to hate their Jewish neighbors.

The PA held an election was held in 1996, but it was a sham in which no real opposition candidate came forward and voters were free to choose Yasser Arafat. Not surprisingly, he received more than 90 percent of the vote and then never held another election, though his term was to last only three years. During his rule, Arafat subverted democratic processes and used the coercive power of his seven security services to exercise his authority.

Given the absence of democratic values, it is questionable whether an elected leader would be viewed as legitimate by the Palestinian people. Terrorist groups such as the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades have already said they will not recognize anyone who does not accept their demands, namely, “a state on pre-1967 lines, its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees, and the release of prisoners.” Al-Aksa’s Nasser Juma’a openly warned that his group would kill anyone who compromised with Israel on these points.84 The principal target of the warning, Abu Mazen, has already been the target of an assassination attempt.

Similarly, there is no reason to believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are both committed to Israel’s destruction, will cooperate with any elected government that does not support its objective. The two groups have refused to end their terrorist attacks against Israel prior to the election, and may deliberately try to provoke Israel to disrupt the election.85

For its part, Israel has reduced its military activities to a minimum, but the terrorist threats will make it difficult for Israel to allow the Palestinians the complete freedom of movement they would like for the election.

To have any chance of success, an elected leader would have to control the security forces. Arafat bought loyalty with money stolen from the Palestinian people. The IMF, for example, found that he siphoned off $900 million of international aid, and much of that money was used to pay the various militias. These groups have no loyalty to an institution, such as an elected government, so the next Palestinian leader will also have to buy their loyalty.

To move the peace process forward, the new Palestinian leader will have to implement the Oslo and road map requirement that the Palestinian Authority dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and put an end to violence. If the violence continues, no matter who wins an election, negotiations cannot resume.

The Palestinians do have potential candidates who could negotiate with Israel. In the past, these individuals were undercut by Arafat; now, they have a chance to assert themselves. Frequently mentioned candidates to lead the PA, such as Abu Mazen and Abu Alaa, are acceptable to Israel, but do not enjoy popular support or the loyalty of the armed factions.

It is also conceivable that an election could bring to power a radical Islamic fundamentalist or someone else committed to Arafat’s irredentist policy. If that were to happen, the peace process would remain frozen, and no one should expect Israel to treat a new “Arafat” any differently than the old one.

Since Arafat was the Palestinian leader by virtue of having the most bullets, it is possible the next leader will be the person who has the second most bullets. This is why every list of likely successors always included the heads of the security and intelligence services rather than the Palestinian moderates and intellectuals who were popular among Western journalists.

While democratic procedures are preferable, a Palestinian civil war might increase the probability of advancing the peace process, provided that the winner of a power struggle was someone interested in peace with Israel. After all, Israel made peace with two other dictators, Anwar Sadat and King Hussein, once they decided their countries were better off coexisting with Israel.

MYTH

“Iran has no ambition to become a nuclear power and poses no threat to Israel or the United States.”

FACT

Iran has made no secret of its antipathy for Israel and the United States and has become one of the most serious threats to stability in the Middle East. American and Israeli intelligence assessments agree that the Islamic regime in Iran will be able to complete a nuclear weapon within five years — sooner if a device or substantial technical assistance is acquired abroad. Iranian opposition figures have said the regime is intensifying its efforts to complete a weapon with the hope of building a device within the next two years.

In 1990, China signed a 10-year nuclear cooperation agreement that allowed Iranian nuclear engineers to obtain training in China. In addition, China has already built a nuclear research reactor in Iran that became operational in 1994. In 2002, Iran revealed that it had purchased special gas from China that could be used to enrich uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.

Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows the peaceful pursuit of nuclear technology, including uranium mining and enrichment, under oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The gas purchase was supposed to be reported to the IAEA, but it was concealed instead. Chinese experts have also been involved in the supervision of the installation of centrifuge equipment that can be used to enrich uranium.

According to the CIA, “Iran continues to use its civilian nuclear energy program to justify its efforts to establish domestically or otherwise acquire the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Iran claims that this fuel cycle would be used to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors, such as the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor that Russia is continuing to build at the southern port city of Bushehr. However, Iran does not need to produce its own fuel for this reactor because Russia has pledged to provide the fuel throughout the operating lifetime of the reactor and is negotiating with Iran to take back the irradiated spent fuel.”86

In 2002, two previously unknown nuclear facilities were discovered in Iran. One in Arak produces heavy water, which could be used to produce weapons. The other is in Natanz. An Iranian opposition group claimed that Iranian officials removed sensitive equipment installed at Natanz to hide it from IAEA inspectors who were scheduled to visit the plant.

In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami announced the discovery of urnaium reserves near the central city of Yazd and said Iran was setting up production facilities “to make use of advanced nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”87 This was an alarming development because it suggested Iran was attempting to obtain the means to produce and process fuel itself, despite the agreement to receive all the uranium it would need for civilian purposes from Russia.

Further evidence of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons was revealed in late 2003 and early 2004 when Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted he provided nuclear weapons expertise and equipment to Iran, as well as North Korea and Libya. The Iranian government, confronted in February 2004 with new evidence obtained from the secret network of nuclear suppliers surrounding Khan, acknowledged it had a design for a far more advanced high-speed centrifuge to enrich uranium than it previously revealed to the IAEA. This type of centrifuge would allow Iran to produce nuclear fuel far more quickly than the equipment that it reluctantly revealed to the agency in 2003. This revelation proved that Iran lied when it claimed to have turned over all the documents relating to their enrichment program.

“Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi 88

After pledging to suspend its nuclear program, the IAEA reported in June 2004 that Iran was continuing to make parts and materials that could be used in the manufacture of nuclear arms. The report also cited continuing evidence that Iran misled inspectors with many of its early claims, especially on questions about where it obtained critical components. For example, Iranian officials admitted that some of those parts were purchased abroad, after initially insisting that Iran had made them itself.89

In July 2004, the Telegraph (July 27) reported Iran had broken the seals on nuclear equipment monitored by UN inspectors and was again building and testing machines that could make fissile material for nuclear weapons. Teheran's move violated an agreement with European countries under which Iran suspended “all uranium enrichment activity.” Defying a key demand set by 35 nations, Iran announced September 21, 2004, that it had started converting raw uranium into the gas needed for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons. A couple of weeks later, Iran announced it had processed several tons of raw “yellowcake” uranium to prepare it for enrichment — a key step in developing atomic weapons.90

Iran agreed in a meeting in Tehran with French, German, and British ambassadors on November 14, 2004, to immediately suspend its nuclear programs in exchange for European guarantees that it will not face the prospect of UN Security Council sanctions as long as their agreement holds. The European deal will require months, and possibly years, of further negotiations before Iran agrees to permanently end its nuclear work and falls far short of the strategic decision the Bush administration said Tehran needs to make to convince the world it is not a danger.91 In addition, Bushehr is not covered under the EU-Iranian deal.

Shortly after the Iranian-European agreement, the National Council of Resistance, an Iranian opposition group said Iran had bought blueprints for a nuclear bomb and obtained weapons-grade uranium on the black market. The group also charged that Iran was still secretly enriching uranium at an undisclosed Defense Ministry site in Tehran.92

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States has intelligence indicating Iran is trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons, which he initmated would only make sense if Iran was also developing or planning to develop a nuclear capability. “There is no doubt in my mind — and it's fairly straightforward from what we've been saying for years — that they have been interested in a nuclear weapon that has utility, meaning that it is something they would be able to deliver, not just something that sits there,” Powell said.93 A few days later, the Central Intelligence Agency issued a report that says the arms trafficking network led by Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan provided Iran’s nuclear program with “significant assistance,” including the designs for “advanced and efficient” weapons components.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani claimed a “great victory” over the U.S. in November 2004 after the UN said it would not punish Iran's nuclear activities with sanctions. Rohani said Iran would never give up its right to nuclear power and stressed during talks with European countries that Iran’s freeze on uranium enrichment was only temporary.94 In response, President Bush said, “The Iranians agreed to suspend but not terminate their nuclear weapons program. Our position is that they ought to terminate their nuclear weapons program.”95

Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, the head of Israel Military Intelligence's research department, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran is expected to have full nuclear ability by early 2007.96

Masud Yazaiari, spokesperson of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, warned that Iran would respond to any Israeli efforts to stop their nuclear program. “Their threats to attack our nuclear facilities will not succeed,” Yazaiari said. “They are aware that Tehran's response would be overwhelming and would wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”97

MYTH

“The United States must be ‘engaged’ to advance the peace process.”

FACT

The European Union, Russia, and the UN all have pursued largely one-sided policies in the Middle East detrimental to Israel, which has disqualified them as honest brokers. The United States is the only country that has the trust of both the Israelis and the Arabs and is therefore the only third party that can play a constructive role in the peace process. This has led many people to call for greater involvement by the Bush Administration in negotiations. While the United States can play a valuable role as a mediator; however, history shows that American peace initiatives have never succeeded, and that it is the parties themselves who must resolve their differences.

The Eisenhower Administration tried to ease tensions by proposing the joint Arab-Israeli use of the Jordan River. The plan would have helped the Arab refugees by producing more irrigated land and would have reduced Israel’s need for more water resources. Israel cautiously accepted the plan, the Arab League rejected it.

President Johnson outlined five principles for peace. “The first and greatest principle,” Johnson said, “is that every nation in the area has a fundamental right to live and to have this right respected by its neighbors.” The Arab response came a few weeks later: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it....”

President Nixon’s Secretary of State, William Rogers, offered a plan that sought to “balance” U.S. policy, but leaned on the Israelis to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, to accept many Palestinian refugees, and to allow Jordan a role in Jerusalem. The plan was totally unacceptable to Israel and, even though it tilted toward the Arab position, was rejected by the Arabs as well.

President Ford’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had a little more success in his shuttle diplomacy, arranging the disengagement of forces after the 1973 war, but he never put forward a peace plan, and failed to move the parties beyond the cessation of hostilities to the formalization of peace.

Jimmy Carter was the model for presidential engagement in the conflict. He wanted an international conference at Geneva to produce a comprehensive peace. While Carter spun his wheels trying to organize a conference, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat decided to bypass the Americans and go directly to the Israeli people and address the Knesset.

Despite revisionist history by Carter’s former advisers, the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was negotiated largely despite Carter. Menachem Begin and Sadat had carried on secret contacts long before Camp David and had reached the basis for an agreement before Carter’s intervention. Carter’s mediation helped seal the treaty, but Sadat’s decision to go to Jerusalem was stimulated largely by his conviction that Carter’s policies were misguided.

In 1982, President Reagan announced a surprise peace initiative that called for allowing the Palestinians self-rule in the territories in association with Jordan. The plan rejected both Israeli annexation and the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel denounced the plan as endangering Israeli security. The plan had been formulated largely to pacify the Arab states, which had been angered by the expulsion of the PLO from Beirut, but they also rejected the Reagan Plan.

George Bush’s Administration succeeded in convening a historic regional conference in Madrid in 1991, but it ended without any agreements and the multilateral tracks that were supposed to resolve some of the more contentious issues rarely met and failed to resolve anything.

President Clinton barely had time to get his vision of peace together when he discovered the Israelis had secretly negotiated an agreement with the Palestinians in Oslo. The United States had nothing to do with the breakthrough at Oslo and very little influence on the immediate aftermath. In fact, the peace process became increasingly muddled as the United States got more involved.

Peace with Jordan also required no real American involvement. The Israelis and Jordanians already were agreed on the main terms of peace, and the main obstacle had been King Hussein’s unwillingness to sign a treaty before Israel had reached an agreement with the Palestinians. After Oslo, he felt safe to move forward and no American plan was needed.

In a last ditch effort to save his presidential legacy, Clinton put forward a peace plan to establish a Palestinian state. Again, it was Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s willingness to offer dramatic concessions that raised the prospects for an agreement rather than the President’s initiative. Even after Clinton was prepared to give the Palestinians a state in virtually all the West Bank and Gaza, and to make east Jerusalem their capital, the Palestinians rejected the deal.

President George W. Bush also offered a plan, but it was undercut by Yasser Arafat, who obstructed the required reforms of the Palestinian Authority, and refused to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and stop the violence. Bush’s plan morphed into the road map, which has failed for the same reason.

The peace process only began to move again when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made his disengagement proposal, a unilateral approach the State Department has long opposed.

The death of Arafat and the planned elections in the Palestinian Authority present new opportunities to advance the peace process. Israel is moving toward a possible coalition government that may allow for historic compromises with a visionary Palestinian leader. In addition, Egypt has been suddenly helping to build support in the Arab world for a settlement.

History has shown that Middle East peace is not made in America. Only the parties can decide to end the conflict, and the terms that will be acceptable. No American plan has ever succeeded, and it is unlikely any will ever bring peace. The end to the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be achieved through American initiatives or intense involvement; it will be possible only when Arab leaders have the courage to follow the examples of Sadat and Hussein and resolve to live in peace with Israel.

MYTH

“Israel must help Mahmoud Abbas improve his standing among Palestinians to facilitate the peace process.”

FACT

The death of Yasser Arafat, who remained unwilling to make peace with Israel until the end of his life, has stimulated hope that a new Palestinian leader will emerge with the courage and vision of Anwar Sadat and King Hussein, who is prepared to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state that will live in peace beside Israel.

The Palestinians have chosen Mahmoud Abbas to lead them, and now the Israelis are waiting to see if he is prepared to take the necessary steps to advance the peace process. Abbas is someone who is well-known to the Israelis, because he was involved in past negotiations. They have welcomed his election and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon immediately announced his desire to meet with Abbas.

No one should have any illusions about Abbas. He was the number two person in the PLO and a founder of the Fatah terrorist organization. It is possible to find many irredentist statements made in the past by the new President, some of which were uttered during his recent campaign. His uncompromising position on the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, for example, bodes ill for negotiations. On the other hand, he also demonstrated the courage to publicly criticize the intifada, has said that violence has not helped the Palestinian cause, and declared a readiness to make peace with Israel.

Some suggestions are being made that Israel must make gestures to Abbas to help him consolidate his power; however, Israel owes him nothing. It is Abbas who must show that he has both the will and ability to reform the Palestinian Authority (PA), to dismantle the terrorist networks, and to end the violence. Words are insufficient; he must take action. The agreements signed by the Palestinians are unequivocal about what is required of them; they cannot evade their responsibilities with conciliatory statements to the press in English or cease-fires with groups such as Hamas that remain committed to Israel’s destruction.

The terrorists’ identities and locations are known. The PA has an estimated 40,000 policemen and multiple security services. Abbas must use the resources at his command to disarm and arrest anyone who illegally possesses weapons and threatens or engages in violence.

Though it has no obligation to do so, Israel has taken steps to show its goodwill, including facilitating the Palestinian elections (which international observers reported were unfettered by Israel98), releasing prisoners, and withdrawing troops from parts of the territories. Israel has also said it is prepared to negotiate the disengagement rather than act unilaterally. A unity government was formed in January 2005 that now includes the Labor Party, which increases the flexibility Sharon will have to negotiate in the future.

The immediate hope for a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians now rests on the shoulders of Abbas. The first days of his regime were not encouraging, as mortars continued to be fired into Israel, and two terrorist attacks were perpetrated (one of which killed six Israeli civilians, two of whom were Arabs). These acts either were direct challenges to his leadership or an indication that Abbas has not abandoned the two-track policy of Arafat, namely, to talk about peace with the Western media while orchestrating a terror campaign against Israel.

Abbas has subsequently taken more aggressive steps to consolidate his power. He has been negotiating with Hamas to achieve a cease-fire. He ordered Palestinian security forces to stop attacks by Palestinian militants on Israelis and he sent a police contingent to the Gaza Strip to impose order. He also declared that only policemen and security personnel will be allowed to carry weapons.

Coexistence is impossible unless Palestinian violence stops. There can be no attacks on Jews anywhere, no mortars or rockets fired into Israel, and no incitement to violence. This is not a case of giving extremists a veto over negotiations; Israel has not said that Abbas must stop 100 percent of the incidents before it will talk, but Israel does insist that he demonstrate a 100 percent effort to stop them.

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority held a free, democratic election in 2005.”

FACT

Elections are not synonymous with democracy. Several Arab countries hold elections, including Egypt and Syria, but they have only one candidate, and there is no doubt about the outcome. The dictators are always reelected with nearly 100 percent of the vote. In those nations, no one seriously claims the elections are democratic.

In the case of the Palestinian Authority (PA) elections held in January 2005, the standards were higher. These were advertised as an example of democracy and, compared to other Arab states, the voting was a considerable advancement toward free elections.

Still, the election could hardly be called competitive as the outcome was never in doubt. Seven candidates ran for president, but the only question was the size of Mahmoud Abbas’ margin of victory. He won with 62.3 percent of the vote. His nearest challenger was Mustafa Barghouti with 19.8 percent.99

The election had a much lower turnout than expected (62 percent), and supporters of the Islamic terrorist organizations largely boycotted the vote, as did Arabs living in east Jerusalem. Thus, Abbas was conservatively estimated by al-Jazeera to have received the support of only about one-third of the eligible voters.100

The election process went smoothly and, despite Palestinian predictions of Israeli interference, international observers reported that Palestinians were not obstructed by Israel from participating in the election. In fact, Palestinian and Israeli officials were said to have worked well together to facilitate voting.101

“Free elections can only take place in societies in which people are free to express their opinions without fear.”

Natan Sharansky102

Immediately after the election, however, 46 officials from the PA Central Election Committee resigned, confirming suspicions of voting irregularities and fraud. The Committee had come under pressure from Abbas’ staff to extend the vote by an additional two hours and to allow non-registered voters to cast ballots to guarantee a larger turnout and improve Abbas’ chance of a “landslide” victory.

The day of the election, gunmen stormed the Committee offices to demand that Palestinians who were not registered be allowed to vote. The deputy chairman of the Committee, Ammar Dwaik, said he “was personally threatened and pressured” and confirmed that some voters were able to remove from their thumbs the ink that was supposed to prevent double voting.103

While Abbas is now seen as a legitimately elected leader by most Palestinians and the international community, the PA has no history of democratic institutions, so it remains in doubt whether the various terrorist groups will also accept his leadership, and whether the security services will enforce the president’s will.

Natan Sharansky observed that “It is important that these elections took place, because it important that the new leadership comes, or will come, not through violence. That can be the beginning of the process of democracy.”104 To move closer to true democracy, Abbas will also have to remove his predecessor’s restrictions on the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and the press. Then perhaps the next election will be truly free and democratic.

MYTH

“Israel is building the security fence as part of a land grab to control the West Bank and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

FACT

The purpose of the security fence is the prevention of terror. Its route has been carefully plotted to maximize the security it provides to the citizens of Israel and minimize the inconvenience and harm to Palestinians. The route of the fence must take into account topography, population density, and threat assessment of each area. To be effective in protecting the maximum number of Israelis, it also must incorporate the largest communities in the West Bank.

After the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the government had to more carefully balance security concerns and harm to the Palestinians, the route of the fence was adjusted to run closer to the “Green Line.” When completed, the fence will now incorporate just 7 percent of the West Bank — less than 160 square miles — on its “Israeli side,” while 2,100 square miles will be on the “Palestinian side.”

If and when the Palestinians decide to negotiate an end to the conflict, the fence may be torn down or moved. Even without any change, a Palestinian state could now theoretically be created in 93 percent of the West Bank (and the PA will control 100 percent of the Gaza Strip after the disengagement is complete). This is very close to the 97 percent Israel offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, which means that while other difficult issues remain to be resolved, the territorial aspect of the dispute will be reduced to a negotiation over roughly 90 square miles.

MYTH

“The demographic threat to Israel posed by Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza is overrated and therefore Israel need not make territorial compromises.”

FACT

A study was recently published that suggested the assumption that Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza pose a demographic threat to Israel has been exaggerated because the actual population in the territories is significantly lower than what is reported by Palestinian Authority (PA) officials. According to a study by a team of independent researchers, the 2004 Palestinian-Arab population was closer to 2.4 million than to the 3.8 million cited by the PA.105

The independent study comes up with its figures largely by deconstructing PA statistics, but Israel's leading demographer, Professor Sergio DellaPergola of Hebrew University, has challenged the result, saying his estimate of 3.4 million Palestinians is based on Israeli data (the CIA estimates the population for the West Bank and Gaza at 3.6 million). According to DellaPergola, 4.7 million Arabs now live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River out of a total of 10,263,000. The Jewish proportion of this total is 51 percent. DellaPergola argues that because of the higher rate of birth in the Arab community, they have the demographic momentum, and that by 2020, the proportion of Jews is likely to drop to 47 percent and could fall to 37 percent by 2050.106

Even if the new study is more accurate, it only has a minimal impact on the demographic reality. According to Israeli census figures, the population of Israel today is approximately 6.8 million. If we add the 2.4 million Arabs the new study says live in the territories, the total population from the river to the sea would be 9.2 million (including about 1.3 million Israeli Arabs). The Jewish population is roughly 5.2 million or 57 percent, slightly better than DellaPergola’s estimate of 51 percent.

These overall statistics also distort the debate over the disengagement from Gaza where the demographic picture is crystal clear. According to the new study, the Arab population there is more than 1.07. The Jewish population, according to the State Department, is 7,500, which means the the percentage of Jews in Gaza is a fraction of 1 percent.

The independent study focuses solely on discrediting the PA statistics and does not address the crucial issue of future trends, which DellaPergola shows are clearly in the Arabs’ favor. The new report argues that the growth rates in Israel and the territories have been lower than previously forecast (though they use figures for only the last four years), but even the new figures show that the growth rate for the Arabs remains higher than that of the Jews, so the proportion of Jews should continue to decline.

Recent data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics suggests the situation may be even worse. The Bureau said that the proportion of Jews within the current borders of Israel is expected to decline from the present figure of 78 percent to 70 percent in 2025 because of the higher birth rate among Israeli Arabs.107

Many proponents of territorial compromise argue that these demographic trends make it impossible for Israel to remain both a Jewish and democratic state if it holds onto the West Bank and Gaza. If a majority of the population of Israel, or even a significant minority, were non-Jews, then the Jewish character of the state would likely change. In fact, the new report states that “As in 1967, Israel faces a very real issue on the status of a large minority population in the West Bank and Gaza” (emphasis in the original). Extremists have suggested that non-Jews could be prohibited from voting, but this would make the state undemocratic. Since no Israeli leader – even those labeled as right-wing fanatics who dream of “Greater Israel” – have found a way to square this circle, Israel has never annexed the West Bank and Gaza. And now one of those “hardliners,” Ariel Sharon, was moved by the demographic reality to initiate the disengagement plan.

Many people argue that it is impossible to predict the future, and that most past projections were proven inaccurate. Earlier doomsday predictions were upset by large influxes of immigrants, and many Israelis still believe this will be their demographic salvation. After more than one million Jews from the former Soviet Union arrived in the 1990s, this view was temporarily vindicated, however, there only about 8 million Jews in the entire world outside Israel, and a large number would have to decide to move to Israel to offset the demographic trend. This is especially unlikely given that roughly 75 percent of the Jews outside Israel live in the United States from which very few emigrate.

The demographic issue is still only one variable in the Israeli political calculus related to territorial compromise. The other principal concerns are whether Israel can have greater peace and security without controlling some or all of the territories. That is a matter of great debate within Israel. For now, the majority of Israelis have come to the conclusion that withdrawal from Gaza and part of Samaria is in Israel’s best interest.

MYTH

“Israel’s plan to link Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim is meant to sabotage the peace process.”

FACT

In March 2005, Israel announced the intention to build 3,500 homes on a strip of territory that has been declared state land between the community of Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.108 The decision immediately caused an uproar as Palestinian officials claimed it was “a kind of terror against the peace process and against the Palestinian people” and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said it was at odds with U.S. policy.109

This is a good example of where it is important to understand not only the politics of the issue, but the geography.

Ma'aleh Adumim is a settlement in the West Bank. It is also a suburb of Israel's capital, barely three miles outside the city limits, a ten-minute drive away. Ma'aleh Adumim is not a recently constructed outpost on a hilltop; it is a 23-year-old community that is popular because it is clean, safe, and close to where many residents work. It is also the largest Jewish settlement in the territories, with a population of 32,000.

Because of its size and location, it is understood by both Israelis and Palestinians that Ma'aleh Adumim will not be dismantled or evacuated; it will be part of Israel after a peace agreement is reached. That is why the recently announced housing plan was conceived during Prime Minister Rabin's term. The development was part of his plan to link all of the large settlement blocs just outside Jerusalem's city limits.

To understand why the plan has the support of Israel's major parties, just look at a map. If Ma'aleh Adumim is not linked to Jerusalem, the city would be an island. We hear a lot about Palestinian concerns about the contiguity of a future Palestinian state, but the same principal applies to the future boundaries of Israel.

Rendering of Clinton proposal showing Ma'aleh Adumim incorporated
in Israel without affecting the contiguity of a Palestinian state (dark shading)*

Why should it be a problem for Israel to fill in the empty gap between the city and this bedroom community? The corridor is approximately 3,250 acres and does not have any inhabitants, so no Palestinians will be displaced. And why shouldn't Israel be able to build in and around the city that the U.S. Congress said “should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel” and “should remain an undivided city”?

In his April 14, 2004, letter to Prime Minister Sharon, President Bush acknowledged that Israel would incorporate some settlements inside its borders:

In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.

Given that Ma'aleh Adumim is the largest of these population centers, the decision to develop around the town seems consistent with the policy expressed in Bush's letter. It is also consistent, incidentally, with the Clinton plan.

Would the completion of the building project known as E-1 prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state? Again, a look at the map shows that it would not. The security fence is being built roughly along the Green Line, and around the major settlement blocs, such as Ma'aleh Adumim, which are expected to be within the final negotiated borders of the state. The area of the West Bank beyond the fence is contiguous.

MYTH

“Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat.”

FACT

Farouk Kaddoumi claimed that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat because it wants Palestinian leaders who obey it and agree with its policies.110 This was just the most recent of a number of such allegations that have persisted since Arafat’s death.

We don’t know for sure what killed Arafat because none of his medical records have been publicly released, but even then Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath ruled out poisoning.111 At the time of his death, the French government, constrained by privacy laws, discounted the possibility of foul play when it announced, “If the doctors had had the slightest doubt, they would have referred it to the police.”112 Moreover, members of Arafat’s family, including ones who have made the poisoning charge, have had access to the records and produced nothing to substantiate the rumors. Arafat’s wife, Suha, could have released the findings of French physicians, and you can be sure she would have done so if they would have implicated Israel in her husband’s death.

It was well-known that Arafat suffered from a number of ailments. At the time of his medical evacuation to Paris, his aides revealed that he was suffering from a low platelet count and had undergone a platelet transfusion. Reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal noted that “since platelets are involved in blood clotting, patients with low platelet counts are predisposed to brain hemorrhages, and this may have contributed to Arafat’s death.” Rosenthal added that “low platelet counts in the blood are a common finding in a wide range of illnesses, including severe infections, liver disease, end-stage cancer, and even AIDS.”113

Why has the cause of Arafat’s death remained secret? Rosenthal suggests a few possible explanations. “Perhaps he suffered from a disease that they considered embarrassing. Or perhaps the doctors who treated him during the early phases of his illness in Ramallah missed a treatable medical condition, letting him deteriorate to the point it was too late to cure him once he was moved to Paris.”

The first explanation may be the most likely, as it is widely believed that Arafat died of AIDS. Suggestions that Arafat engaged in homosexual activity date to at least 1987, when Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania’s intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, published his book Red Horizons, revealing evidence of Arafat’s proclivities.

If Arafat died of AIDS, it is unlikely Arafat’s records will ever be released, which will allow conspiracy theorists to continue to blame Israel.

MYTH

“The disengagement plan is a trick to end the peace process and allow Israel to hold onto the West Bank.”

FACT

Prime Minister Sharon, as well as President Bush, have made it clear that the disengagement plan is consistent with the road map. Sharon has also repeatedly stated his acceptance of the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which would require the evacuation of additional communities in the West Bank.

Sharon's motives are being questioned despite the political risks he took in pursuing his plan. After all, few people inside or outside of Israel, would have predicted as recently as the year 2000 that the man considered the father of the settlement movement would defy much of his own party and evacuate Jews from their homes in the territories.

Moreover, the disengagement plan is not restricted to Gaza; it also involves the dismantling of four Jewish communities in Samaria (Ganim, Kadim, Homesh, Sa Nur) with a population of approximately 550. While the number of Jews being evacuated is small, the area that Israel will evacuate is actually larger than the entire Gaza Strip.114

The Jews who live in the West Bank certainly do not believe the evacuation of Gaza is meant to solidify their position. On the contrary, the reason so many Jews in Judea and Samaria have been so virulently defending the rights of the 7,500-8,500 Jews living in Gaza is precisely because they see their removal as a precedent that will eventually be followed in the West Bank Sharon has only expressed commitments to retain the large settlement blocs that the overwhelming majority of Israelis agree should be incorporated into Israel, and many of the Jews living in smaller, isolated communities see the disengagement as the first step toward their eventual evacuation.

MYTH

“Israel is persecuting Christians.”

FACT

While Christians are unwelcome in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, and most have been driven out of their longtime homes in Lebanon, Christians continue to be welcome in Israel. Christians have always been a minority in Israel, but it is the only Middle East nation where the Christian population has grown in the last half century (from 34,000 in 1948 to 140,000 today), in large measure because of the freedom to practice their religion.

By their own volition, the Christian communities have remained the most autonomous of the various religious communities in Israel, though they have increasingly chosen to integrate their social welfare, medical and educational institutions into state structures. The ecclesiastical courts of the Christian communities maintain jurisdiction in matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. The Ministry of Religious Affairs deliberately refrains from interfering in their religious life, but maintains a Department for Christian Communities to address problems and requests that may arise.

In Jerusalem, the rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places were established during the Ottoman Empire. Known as the “status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem,” these rights remain in force today in Israel.

It was during Jordan's control of the Old City from 1948 until 1967 that Christian rights were infringed and Israeli Christians were barred from their holy places. The Christian population declined by nearly half, from 25,000 to 12,646. Since then, the population has slowly been growing.

Some Christians have been among those inconvenienced by Israel's construction of the security fence, but they have not been harmed because of their religious beliefs. They simply live in areas where the fence is being built. Like others who can show they have suffered some damage, Christians are entitled to compensation. And the fence does not have any impact on Christian holy places or their freedom of access to them.

Suggestions that Israel is persecuting Christians were publicized by columnist Bob Novak, who has a long history of vitriolic attacks on Israel. Novak actually presented no specific evidence that any Christians have been harmed or their religious freedom infringed.115 He cited a single source, whose bias was obvious, to support the charge that the fence is hurting Christians in East Jerusalem, but failed to mention that the fence is helping to save Christian lives that might otherwise be lost in the indiscriminate attacks of Palestinian terrorists.

The hypocrisy of Novak's latest critique is clear from his failure to raise the very real concerns about the fate of Christians under Arab rule, especially under the Palestinian Authority, where a rapidly declining population of 27,000 Christians live among 3 million Muslims. The proportion of Christians in the Palestinian territories has dropped from 15 percent of the Arab population in 1950 to less than 1 percent today. Three-fourths of all Bethlehem Christians now live abroad, and the majority of the city’s population is Muslim. The Christian population declined 29 percent in the West Bank and 20 percent in the Gaza Strip from 1997 to 2002. By contrast, in the period 1995–2003, Israel’s Arab Christian population grew 14.1 percent.116

Jonathan Adelman and Agota Kuperman noted that Yasser Arafat “tried to erase the historic Jesus by depicting him as the first radical Palestinian armed fedayeen (guerrilla). Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has adopted Islam as its official religion, used shari’a Islamic codes, and allowed even officially appointed clerics to brand Christians (and Jews) as infidels in their mosques.” The authors add that the “militantly Islamic rhetoric and terrorist acts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah...offer little comfort to Christians.”

David Raab observed that “Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims — as were Lebanon's Christians — as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the recent violence in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza.” Raab also wrote that “anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: ‘First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians),’” and that “Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents.”

When Arafat died, Vatican Radio correspondent Graziano Motta said, “The death of the president of the Palestinian National Authority has come at a time when the political, administrative and police structures often discriminate against [Christians].” Motta added that Christians “have been continually exposed to pressures by Muslim activists, and have been forced to profess fidelity to the intifada.”

While Novak suggests Israel is bulldozing Christian houses, without any evidence to support the charge, he ignores reports by journalists such as Motta who reported, “Frequently, there are cases in which the Muslims expropriate houses and lands belonging to Catholics, and often the intervention of the authorities has been lacking in addressing acts of violence against young women, or offenses against the Christian faith.”117

It certainly wouldn’t be difficult for Novak to find evidence of mistreatment of Christians in the PA if he were interested, but unlike Christians who enjoy freedom of speech as well as religion in Israel, beleaguered Palestinian Christians are afraid to speak out. “Out of fear for their safety, Christian spokesmen aren’t happy to be identified by name when they complain about the Muslims’ treatment of them...off the record they talk of harassment and terror tactics, mainly from the gangs of thugs who looted and plundered Christians and their property, under the protection of Palestinian security personnel.”118

MYTH

“Israel is killing Palestinians with radiation spy machines.”

FACT

Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was the master of the “big lie” tactic in which a lie, no matter how outrageous, is repeated often enough that it will eventually be accepted as truth. It is a propaganda tool the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to use to tar Israel. Past examples have included specious claims that Israel “massacred” 500 people at Jenin,119 infects Palestinians with the AIDS virus,120 and drops poison candy for children in Gaza from airplanes.121

The latest calumny from the Palestinians is the claim that Israel is using a “radial spy machine” at checkpoints, and that the device killed a 55-year-old Palestinian woman.122 The charge is apparently related to the Palestinian Authority’s decision to close a checkpoint on their side of the border in Gaza to protest Israel’s use of advanced radio-wave machines for searching Palestinian travelers.123

The device is the SafeView Millimeter Wave Radar, an American-made portal system that uses millimeter a safe wave holographic technology to screen travelers from Egypt for weapons and explosives. Unlike metal detectors, this system is capable of detecting virtually any man-made object, regardless of the type of material, by transmitting ultra-high frequency, low-powered radio frequency waves as people pass through the portal. The waves penetrate clothing and reflect off of the person’s skin and any items being carried. A sensor array captures the reflected waves and uses a desktop computer to analyze the information and produce a high-resolution, 3-D image from the signals.124

Since the allegation is coming from the official Palestinian media, it represents a violation of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to end incitement against Israel.

MYTH

“Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel.”

FACT

One of the primary Palestinian obligations under the road map for peace is to affirm Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. How then does one interpret Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s description of the decision to create a Jewish state in 1948 as a crime?125

While Israelis were still celebrating the 57th anniversary of their independence, Abbas and other Palestinians were mourning the establishment of Israel on what they call Nakba Day. Had the Palestinians and the Arab states accepted the partition resolution in 1947, the State of Palestine would have also been celebrating its birthday, and Palestinians would not be lamenting Al Nakba (“The Catastrophe”).

Palestinians are understandably bitter about their history over these last six decades, but we are often told that what they object to today is the “occupation” of the territories Israel captured in 1967. If that is true, then why isn’t their Nakba Day celebrated each June on the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War?

The reason is that the Palestinians consider the creation of Israel the original sin, and their focus on that event is indicative of a refusal, even today, to reconcile themselves with the Jewish State. Abbas’s comments on the occasion, along with those by PA Prime Minister Ahmed Korei, who said “our wound is still bleeding 57 years later,” hardly inspires confidence in their willingness to end the conflict with Israel.126

And Hamas, which has never left any doubt about its refusal to accept Israel’s existence, said that Israel is a “cancer” and promised to continue fighting “until the liberation of the last inch of our land and the last refugee heads back to his home.”127 This is the organization that could win upcoming elections in the PA and would then presumably have a greater say in policy toward Israel.

Another disturbing aspect of Nakba Day was that traffic stopped and people stood straight and silent as sirens of mourning sounded, intentionally mimicking the Israeli practice on Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was an insidious way to make the odious comparison between the Holocaust and the creation of Israel.

It may be that the current leadership does not truly represent the feelings of the Palestinian people. A May 2005 poll, for example, found that 54 percent of Palestinians are prepared to accept a two-state solution.128 This is a hopeful sign, however, as long as the Palestinian Authority treats Israel’s creation as a catastrophe on a par with the Holocaust, the prospects for coexistence will remain bleak.

MYTH

“Supporters of Israel only criticize Arabs and never Israelis.”

FACT

Israel is not perfect. Even the most committed friends of Israel acknowledge that the government sometimes makes mistakes, and that it has not solved all the problems in its society. Supporters of Israel may not emphasize these faults, however, because there is no shortage of groups and individuals who are willing to do nothing but focus on Israel’s imperfections. The public usually has much less access to Israel’s side of the story of its conflict with the Arabs, or the positive aspects of its society.

Israelis themselves are their own harshest critics. If you want to read criticism of Israeli behavior, you do not need to seek out anti-Israel sources, you can pick up any Israeli newspaper and find no shortage of news and commentary critical of government policy. The rest of the world’s media provides constant attention to Israel and the coverage is far more likely to be unfavorable than complimentary.

Myths and Facts also pulls no punches when it comes to addressing Israel’s responsibilities for events and policies that tarnish its image, including Israel’s role in the Palestinian refugee problem, the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, and social and economic inequalities between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel’s supporters believe Israel has a right to exist and that close relations between Israel and other nations in the world is in everyone’s best interest. When friends criticize Israel, it is because they want the country to be better. Israel’s detractors do not have that goal; they are more interested in delegitimizing the country, placing a wedge between Israel and its allies, and working toward its destruction.

Friends of Israel do not try to whitewash the truth, but they do try to put events in proper context. That is also our goal.

MYTH

“Palestinians living under ‘occupation’ have the lowest standard of living in the Middle East.”

FACT

When Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, officials took measures to improve the conditions that Palestinians had lived under during Jordan’s 19-year occupation of the West Bank, and Egypt’s occupation of Gaza. Universities were opened, Israeli agricultural innovations were shared, modern conveniences were introduced, and health care was significantly upgraded. More than 100,000 Palestinians were employed in Israel, and were paid the same wages as Israeli workers, which stimulated economic growth.

The rise in violence during the 1990s, and then the war instigated by Palestinian terrorists beginning in 2000, has taken a heavy toll on the Palestinian economy. To protect its citizens from suicide bombers and other terrorists, Israel was forced to take measures that had a deleterious impact on the economy in the Palestinian Authority. The most serious step was to limit the number of Palestinian workers entering Israel to reduce the risk of terrorists pretending to be workers slipping into the country. This raised the level of unemployment, which, in turn, had a negative spillover effect on the rest of the Palestinian economy.

Despite the collapse of the PA economy from the last five years of war, Palestinian Arabs are still better off than many of their neighbors. The most recent Human Development Report from the United Nations ranks the PA 102nd in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income out of the 177 countries and territories in the world, placing it in the “medium human development” category along with most of the other Middle Eastern states (only the Gulf sheikdoms are ranked “high”). The PA is ranked just 12 places below Jordan and one behind Iran; it is rated ahead of Syria (#105), Algeria (#108), Egypt (#120), and Morocco (#125).129

Few Palestinians would trade places with Arabs in neighboring countries. Well, perhaps, with one exception. They might aspire to the standard of living in the country ranked 22nd by the UN – Israel.

MYTH

“Israeli checkpoints are unnecessarily preventing Palestinians from receiving medical attention.”

FACT

Israel has instituted checkpoints for one reason – to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel. If the Palestinian Authority was fulfilling its road map obligations to dismantle the terrorist networks and disarm the terrorists, and its security forces were taking adequate measures to prevent Palestinians from planning and launching attacks, the checkpoints would be unnecessary.

Israel tries to balance its security concerns with the welfare of the Palestinians, and is especially sensitive to the medical needs of Palestinians. Thus, many Palestinians are allowed to enter Israel to receive treatment from some of the finest medical facilities in the world.

Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists have tried to take advantage of Israel’s goodwill. In December 2004, for example, a Hamas agent with forged documents claiming that he was a cancer patient in need of medical treatment from an Israeli hospital was arrested by security forces. Hamed A-Karim Hamed Abu Lihiya was to meet up with another terrorist, obtain weapons from allies inside Israel, and carry out an attack. That same month, a man recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to plant a bomb on the railway tracks near Netanya tried to use false papers indicating he needed hospital treatment to enter Israel. Another Hamas terrorist planning a suicide bombing was arrested in March 2005 after pretending to be a kidney donor.130

On June 20, 2005, 21-year-old Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas aroused the suspicion of soldiers at the checkpoint when a biometric scanner revealed she was hiding explosives. When she realized they had discovered the explosive belt, she attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it.131

Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received as a result of a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack. In an interview shown on Israeli television, Bas said her “dream was to be a martyr” and that her intent was to kill 40 or 50 people – as many young people as possible.

Nevertheless, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, who has worked at the Soroka Hospital, wrote that he was “outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt.” Dr. Abuelaish said he does research at the hospital's Genetic Institute and has warm relations with his colleagues. “I make a point, whenever I'm at the hospital, of visiting Palestinian patients,” he said. “I also schedule appointments for other Gaza residents, and even bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip....On the very day that she planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent treatment at Soroka ”

Dr. Abuelaish added, “Wafa was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Bis feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment?”132

The Israeli checkpoint saved the lives not only of countless Israelis, but of the Palestinian would-be suicide bomber. By using this tactic, the Palestinians have reinforced the necessity of retaining the checkpoints and forced Israel to carry out more stringent inspections, yet another example of how terrorists are making life unnecessarily difficult for innocent Palestinians.

“Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada.”

Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish133

MYTH

“Unlike other Arab women, Palestinian women are not killed for dishonoring their families.”

FACT

Maher Shakirat learned that one of his sisters was thrown out of the house by her husband for an alleged affair. Shakirat strangled his sister, who was eight months pregnant, and forced two other sisters he accused of covering up the affair to drink bleach. One of those was badly injured but escaped, but the third sister was also strangled by her brother.

Palestinian women who bring dishonor to their families may be punished by male family members. The punishments may range from ostracism and abandonment to physical abuse to murder. “Honor killings” may be carried out for instances of rape, infidelity, flirting or any other action seen as disgracing the family. By killing the woman, the family’s name in the community is restored.

Women are usually not allowed to defend themselves; they are considered “minors” under the authority of male relatives, and may be killed based on a family member’s suspicions. An allegation of misbehavior is sufficient to defile a man’s or family’s honor and justify the killing of the woman. Men who carry out these murders in the Palestinian Authority typically go unpunished or receive a maximum of six months in prison.134

Because these crimes often go unreported, it is difficult to determine the actual number of victims in honor killings, but the Palestinian Authority’s women’s affairs ministry reported that 20 women were murdered in honor killings in 2005, 15 survived murder attempts, and approximately 50 committed suicide, often under coercion, for shaming the family.135

According to a June 2005 poll, 24% of Palestinians said that if a family discovered that one of its daughters was involved in a case of family disgrace (e.g., adultery), the family should kill the daughter to remove the disgrace.136

MYTH

“Israel has moved the border so it will not withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip.”

FACT

Mohammed Dahlan, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs, has claimed that Israel moved the northern border of the Gaza Strip about 1.2 miles, and that Israel's disengagement will not be complete unless it withdraws to the 1949 armistice lines.137 By suggesting that Israel is holding onto a piece of Gaza, the Palestinians are threatening to create a Shebaa Farms issue that could undercut the prospects for peace created by Israel's courageous decision to evacuate all its citizens and soldiers from the area.

Substantively, Dahlan’s claim is inaccurate. The border of Gaza was originally determined during the 1949 Rhodes Armistice negotiations with Egypt. A year later, Israel agreed to move the border southeast, creating a bulge in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. In exchange, Egypt redrew the border in the north, moving it more than a mile southwest. According to Israel's National Security Council chief, Giora Eiland, the border was reconfirmed in the Oslo accords.138 Today, Netiv Ha’asara, a community of 125 families, many of which were evacuated from settlements in the Sinai as part of the peace treaty with Egypt, is located in the area Dahlan wants included in Gaza.

In the case of Shebaa Farms, the Lebanese terrorist group, Hizballah, has speciously maintained that Israel did not fully withdraw from Lebanon, despite the UN's verification that it has, and used Israel’s presence in the Shebaa Farms area as the pretext for continuing its terror campaign against Israel. If the Palestinians adopt a similar policy toward the sliver of land they claim to be part of Gaza to perpetuate their image as victims, and to try to win propaganda points by claiming to still be under “occupation,” they will once again demonstrate that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

If the Palestinians continue terrorist attacks against Israel, and make claims to additional territory, rather than focusing on state-building within Gaza and meeting their road map obligations, Israel will have little interest in pursuing negotiations regarding the West Bank.

MYTH

“Israel evacuated Gaza, but turned it into a prison by preventing the movement of people or goods.”

FACT

Israel decided to completely evacuate its soldiers and civilians from Gaza to improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinian Authority (PA) now has full control over the population in Gaza. No one there is “under occupation.” When the disengagement is completed, Gaza Palestinians will be able to move freely, live and work where they choose, and pursue normal lives, subject only to the restrictions imposed by their leaders.

Prior to disengagement, Israel established an economic development team to improve the economic circumstances in Gaza. Israel is preparing to provide assistance in building desalination facilities, sewage systems, hospitals, and a power station. Another team was created to facilitate trade with the Palestinians.139 In addition, Israel has proposed building a railway linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, demonstrating Israel has no intention of isolating the two territories.140

Still, Israel is accused of imprisoning Gazans by refusing to allow the Palestinians use of a seaport or airport. Israel is prepared to allow the use of these facilities, but neither is ready for use now. Moreover, Palestinian businessmen and economists have said the construction of a seaport, which will take many months, is not a priority. If relations with Israel are good, Palestinians can use the Israeli port of Ashdod or Port Said in Egypt.141

The Palestinians were unwilling to negotiate a peace agreement in conjunction with Israel’s disengagement from Gaza; therefore, Israel has no assurance the area will not be used as a terrorist base. Hamas and other terrorist groups explicitly say they plan to continue their war to destroy Israel. The PA, meanwhile, refuses to honor its road map obligations to disarm the terrorists and dismantle the infrastructure. Given these conditions, and memories of the Karine-A the ship laden with Iranian weapons meant for the PA that Israel seized in in 2002 — Israel cannot put its population at risk by allowing Palestinians to bring material in by air and sea without any inspection, or to go to and from the West Bank without scrutiny. Israelis and Palestinians have been discussing how to provide Israel with the necessary security safeguards to allow for the quicker movement of goods and people over the border.142

“I thank Allah the exalted for His support in the Jihad of our people and for the liberation of the beloved Gaza Strip, and I ask him to help us to liberate Jerusalem and the West Bank, Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Safed, Nazareth, Ashkelon, and all of Palestine.”

— Muhammad Deif, Commander of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassem Brigades, the military wing of Hamas143

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority protects Jewish holy sites.”

FACT

Less than 24 hours after the last IDF soldier withdrew from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority (PA) bulldozers began to raze synagogues that were left behind by Jewish residents. Thousands of Palestinians also stormed the former Gaza settlements and set fire to several synagogues and yeshivot while PA security forces stood and watched. Several Palestinians belonging to terrorist groups climbed the roofs of synagogues and placed green flags on top while other members inside set fire to the buildings and looted items that the Jews left behind.144

The desecration of these Jewish holy places in Gaza came after Israel decided not dismantle the synagogues there. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated, “It would be a historic Jewish mistake to destroy the synagogues.”145

The decision to keep the 19 synagogues and yeshivot in Gaza and the evacuated northern Samaria settlements standing passed in the cabinet by a vote of 14-2. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was told by Israel that since the disengagement plan was implemented, the “PA now had the moral responsibility to protect the synagogues as places with religious significance.”146 Earlier in the week, Ministry of Defense workers placed signs that read “Holy Place” in Arabic and English on synagogue walls throughout Gaza so the Palestinians would know not to destroy them.147

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defended the razing of Gaza synagogues by claiming, “There are no synagogues here.” Abbas said the buildings that were formally synagogues were now emptied and in danger of collapsing, and must be demolished to build homes for thousands of Palestinians.148 The PA maintained that the synagogues were symbols of Israeli occupation, and boycotted the ceremony marking the handover of Gaza to the Palestinians in protest of Israel's decision to leave the synagogues intact.149

This was not the first instance when the PA has failed to protect Jewish holy places:

  • In Septemer 1996, Palestinian rioters destroyed a synagogue at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
  • Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem has been repeatedly attacked since 1996.
  • In October 2000, Joseph's Tomb was torched after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn. It was subsequently rebuilt as a mosque.
  • Also in October 2000, the ancient synagogue in Jericho was destroyed by arson and a second historic synagogue was damaged.

PA textbooks continue to teach young Palestinians that Jews have no connection to the Land of Israel and to disparage Judaism, so it should not be surprising that Jewish institutions are not shown respect. This is one reason why Israel is reluctant to make any compromises regarding Jerusalem that might allow Palestinians to threaten the sanctity of the shrines of any religion.

MYTH

“Hamas should be permitted to participate in Palestinian Authority elections.”

FACT

The second Oslo agreement (Oslo II) between Israel and the Palestinian Authority prohibits the “nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions” that “commit or advocate racism” or “pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non-democratic means” (Annex II, Article II).150 Under this agreement, Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians alike, cannot legally participate in Palestinian national elections. The Covenant of Hamas says nothing about democracy or elections. It does say that when “enemies (the Jews) usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has warned that Israel will not cooperate with the Palestinian Authority during elections if candidates from Hamas are allowed to participate. “An armed organization doesn't become democratic once they participate in the election,” Sharon said.151

Yossi Beilin, the leader of the Meretz-Yahad Party, and one of the architects of the Oslo accords, said that recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political entity “is a gross violation of the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement,” and that in the global struggle against terrorism, “it would be surprising indeed if Israel, paradoxically, were to acquiesce in the legitimization of a terrorist organization under its very nose.”152

The United States has left it up to the Palestinians to decide who can participate in the Palestinian Legislative Council; however, National Security Council spokesperson Frederick L. Jones II said the U.S. would never have diplomatic relations with candidates from a terrorist organization.“We do not believe that a democratic state can be built when parties or candidates seek power not through the ballot box but through terrorist activity,” Jones said.”153

MYTH

“Israel must dismantle all the settlements in the West Bank or peace is impossible.”

FACT

When serious negotiations begin over the final status of the West Bank, battle lines will be drawn over which settlements should be incorporated into Israel, and which must be evacuated. In August 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged that “not all the settlements that are today in Judea and Samaria will remain Israeli.”

In Gaza, Israel’s intent was always to withdraw completely, and no settlements were viewed as vital to Israel for economic, security, or demographic reasons. The situation in the West Bank is completely different because Jews have strong historic and religious connections to the area stretching back centuries. Moreover, the West Bank is an area with strategic significance because of its proximity to Israel’s heartland and the fact that roughly one-quarter of Israel’s water resources are located there.

The disengagement from Gaza involved only 21 settlements and approximately 8,000 Jews; more than 100 settlements with a population of roughly 250,000 are located in Judea and Samaria. Any new evacuation from the West Bank will involve another gut-wrenching decision that most settlers and their supporters will oppose with even greater ferocity than the Gaza disengagement. Most Israelis, however, favor withdrawing from small, isolated communities, and about half of the settlements have fewer than 500 residents.

Approximately two-thirds of the Jews in the West Bank live in five settlement “blocs” that are all near the 1967 border. Most Israelis believe these blocs should become part of Israel when final borders are drawn and Prime Minister Sharon has repeatedly said the large settlement blocs will “remain in our hands.” The table below lists the “consensus” settlements:

Bloc

No. of Communities

Population

Approximate. Area (sq. miles)

Ma’ale Adumim

6

33,000

28

Modiin Illit

4

31,205

2

Ariel

15

38,909

47

Gush Etzion

18

42,322

10

Givat Ze’ev

5

14,603

3

Total

45

160,039

90

As the table shows, these are large communities with thousands of residents. Evacuating them would be the equivalent of dismantling major American cities the size of Maryland’s capital, Annapolis, Juneau, Alaska, or Augusta, Georgia.

Ma’ale Adumim is a suburb of Israel’s capital, barely three miles outside Jerusalem’s city limits, a ten-minute drive away. Ma’ale Adumim is not a recently constructed outpost on a hilltop; it is a 30-year-old community that is popular because it is clean, safe, and close to where many residents work. It is also the largest Jewish city in the territories, with a population of 27,300. Approximately 6,000 people live in surrounding settlements that are included in the Ma’ale bloc. Israel has long planned to fill in the empty gap between Jerusalem and this bedroom community (referred to as the E1 project). The corridor is approximately 3,250 acres and does not have any inhabitants, so no Palestinians would be displaced. According to the Clinton plan, Ma’ale was to be part of Israel.

The Gush Etzion Bloc consists of 18 communities with a population of more than 42,000 just 10 minutes from Jerusalem. Jews lived in this area prior to 1948, but the Jordanian Legion destroyed the settlements and killed 240 women and children during Israel’s War of Independence. After Israel recaptured the area in 1967, descendants of those early settlers reestablished the community. The largest of the settlements is the city of Betar Illit with more than 24,000 residents.

The Givat Ze’ev bloc includes five communities just northwest of Jerusalem. Givat Ze’ev, with a population of nearly 11,000, is by far the largest.

Modiin Illit is a bloc with four communities. The city of Modiin Illit is by far the largest with more than 26,000 people situated just over the Green Line, about 23 miles northwest of Jerusalem and the same distance east of Tel Aviv.

Ariel is now the heart of the second most populous bloc of settlements. The city is located just 25 miles east of Tel Aviv and 31 miles north of Jerusalem. Ariel and the surrounding communities expand Israel’s narrow waist (which was just 9 miles wide prior to 1967) and ensure that Israel has a land route to the Jordan Valley in case Israel needs to fight a land war to the east.  It is more controversial than the other consensus settlements because it is the furthest from the 1949 Armistice Line, extending approximately 12 miles into the West Bank. Nevertheless, Barak’s proposal at Camp David included Ariel among the settlement blocs to be annexed to Israel; the Clinton plan also envisioned incorporating Ariel within the new borders of Israel.

Most peace plans assumed that Israel would annex sufficient territory to incorporate 75-80% of the Jews currently living in the West Bank. Using the figures in the table above, however, it appears that Israel would fall short of that demographic goal even if these six blocs were annexed. The total population of these communities is approximately 160,000, which is roughly 64% of the estimated 250,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The expectation, however, is that roughly one-third of the Jews living in other settlements will move into these blocs, which would bring the total close to 80%, but still require Israel to evacuate another 50,000 people.

In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Israel would keep the settlement blocs of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, and Gush Etzion. Prior to the 2000 Camp David Summit, even Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians could accept Israel holding onto Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Zeev.

At Camp David, Israel insisted that 80% of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria would be in settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty. President Clinton agreed and proposed that Israel annex 4-6 percent of the West Bank for three settlement blocs to accomplish this demographic objective and swap some territory within Israel in exchange.

Recognizing the demographics of the area, President Bush acknowledged the inevitability of some Israeli towns in the West Bank being annexed to Israel in his 2004 letter to Prime Minister Sharon. In his meeting a year later with Palestinian Authority President Abbas, however, he seemed to hedge his support by saying that any such decision would have to be mutually agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians. Nevertheless, the future border is likely to approximate the route of the security fence, given the Israeli prerequisite (with U.S. approval) of incorporating most settlers within Israel.

Would the incorporation of settlement blocs prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state? A look at a map shows that it would not. The total area of these communities is only about 1.5% of the West Bank. A kidney-shaped state linked to the Gaza Strip by a secure passage would be contiguous. Some argue that the E1 project linking Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem would cutoff east Jerusalem, but even that is not necessarily true as Israel has proposed constructing a four-lane underpass to guarantee free passage between the West Bank and the Arab sections of Jerusalem.

Ultimately, Israel may decide to unilaterally engage from the West Bank and determine which settlements it will incorporate within the borders it delineates. Israel would prefer, however, to negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians that would specify which Jewish communities will remain intact within the mutually agreed border of Israel, and which will need to be evacuated. Israel will undoubtedly insist that some or all of the “consensus” blocs become part of Israel.

MYTH

“Israel's disengagement from Gaza was a victory for terror.”

FACT

Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank was applauded by the international community as an important and painful step toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the United Nations, which rarely has anything positive to say about Israel, praised the “determination and political courage” shown by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon154 in implementing the disengagement plan peacefully and successfully.

In an effort to bolster their standing with the Palestinian public, groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim it was their terror campaign that forced Israel to withdraw.155 In fact, the terrorist groups did nothing but bring death and destruction to the people of Israel and their fellow Palestinians. Israel was not driven from the territories, it made a calculated decision to leave based on its own interests.

The 8,000 civilians who lived in Gaza were viewed by the terrorists as targets, and Israel had to devote a great deal of its human and material resources to protect these innocent people. In addition, Sharon agreed with those who concluded it would make no sense for Israel to hold on to an area with a Palestinian population exceeding one million. By withdrawing, Israel's security has been enhanced, and the Palestinians have been given the opportunity to govern themselves and demonstrate whether they are able and willing to create a democratic society that can coexist with Israel.

At the time of the disengagement, Israel had dramatically reduced the level of terror, and the security fence around Gaza had a nearly perfect record of preventing the infiltration of suicide bombers. Israeli forces had severely damaged the terrorist infrastructure and killed or jailed most of the leaders of the major terror groups. The disengagement took place after Israel won the Palestinian War the Palestinian Authority had instigated in 2000, and the withdrawal took place from a position of strength, not weakness.

Palestinian extremists can claim whatever they want, but even they know the truth. As Zakariya Zubeidi, the leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist group observed, “Not only was the intifada a failure, but we are a total failure. We achieved nothing in 50 years of struggle; we've achieved only our survival.”156

And the Palestinian people are not fooled by the rhetoric of the terrorists, as is evident by this comment by Mohammed Ahmed Moussa, a grocer in Jabaliya, who said, “Let's be frank. If Israel didn't want to leave Gaza, no one could have forced them out. Those who claim the rockets and attacks made them leave are kidding themselves.”157

MYTH

“Israel is obstructing Palestinian elections.”

FACT

Israel is a democracy and believes in free elections as the best means of insuring representative government. Consequently, Israel has been supportive of the idea of democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority. In the 2005 presidential election, international observers reported that Israel made no effort to impede the vote. To the contrary, it took a number of measures to facilitate the election.

Similarly, Israel has no intention of interfering in the upcoming legislative elections in the PA. While there is some dispute about whether and how Palestinians living in Jerusalem may participate, a similar issue was resolved before the last election.

The Jerusalem issue, however, is being used as a smokescreen by the Palestinians to obscure their internal divisions. Palestinian officials have been talking for months about delaying the elections scheduled for January 25 because of chaos and disorder throughout the PA, and because of fears that they will lose power and that Hamas will take seats from the dominant Fatah party.

Many Palestinians also legitimately fear the election will not be fair. With just three weeks to go before the election, the Palestinian election commission resigned because the commissioners said Prime Minister Ahmed Korei was interfering with their work. After the last election, 46 officials from the PA Central Election Committee resigned to protest voting irregularities and fraud.

The problem for the PA today is not any Israeli interference in their affairs, it is the Wild West climate that now dominates the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank. So long as the PA is unable to insure the safety of its residents, it will be unable to hold a free democratic election.

MYTH

“Academic freedom means any criticism of Israel is permissible in a university.”

FACT

The one place in America where anti-Semitism is still tolerated is in the university, where “academic freedom” is often used as a cover to sanction anti-Israel teachings and forums that are anti-Semitic.

In an address on the subject of academic freedom, Columbia President Lee Bollinger quoted from a report that described a professor as someone whom “‘no fair-minded person’ would even suspect of speaking other than as ‘shaped or restricted by the judgement . . . of professional scholars.’” He also spoke about the need for faculty to “resist the allure of certitude, the temptation to use the podium as an ideological platform, to indoctrinate a captive audience, to play favorites with the like-minded, and silence the others.”

Many faculty, however, do not resist temptation; rather, they embrace their position as an ideological platform. Those who abuse their rights, and insist they can say what they want, hypocritically denounce others who exercise their right to criticize them. To suggest that a professor’s views are inappropriate, or their scholarship is faulty, is to risk being tarred with the charge of McCarthyism.

Legality is not the issue in evaluating the anti-Israel, sometimes anti-Semitic speeches and teachings of faculty and speakers on campus. No one questions that freedom of speech allows individuals to express their views. The issue is whether this type of speech should be given the cover of “academic” freedom, and granted legitimacy by the university through funding, publicity or use of facilities.

For the last several years, for example, an anti-Semitic forum has been held at different universities by the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM). In 2004, the conference was held at Duke University. Organizers were asked to sign an innocuous statement before the event calling for a civil debate that would “condemn the murder of innocent civilians,” “support a two-state solution” and “recognize the difference between disagreement and hate speech,” but refused to do so. By hosting a group that could not bring itself to object to the murder of Jews, Duke gave their views legitimacy and tarnished the university’s academic reputation. The 2006 PSM conference is being held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

It is sometimes suggested critics seek to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel. There is a clear distinction, however, between criticism of Israeli policy, which you can read in any Israeli newspaper, and anti-Semitism, in which the attacks against Israel challenge its right to exist, or single Israel out among all other nations for special treatment, as in the case of the PSM’s call for the end to Israeli “occupation” in all of Palestine and divestment from Israel.

A related question is whether the presentations are in any way academic or scholarly. Few people would claim that a conference in which anti-black, anti-gay, or anti-woman sentiments were expressed would be protected by academic freedom, and yet that is the shield used to permit attacks on the Jewish people.

 

“Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch.”

— Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar158

MYTH

“The Palestinian Authority held a democratic election and Israel and the rest of the world must accept that Hamas was the victor.”

FACT

Winston Churchill said that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” It was a step forward, then, for the authoritarian Palestinian Authority to hold elections that by all accounts were conducted fairly. Nevertheless, so long as the Palestinian people continue to be denied by their leaders the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and the press, the election cannot be considered truly free and democratic.

While democratic outcomes are preferable to the alternatives, the rest of the world is not obligated to have a relationship with elected leaders whose policies and views are dangerous. Adolf Hitler was elected by the German people, but few people would suggest today that the rest of the world should have ignored his genocidal views and treated him as an equal just because he emerged from a democratic process. Similarly, the current Iranian president was elected and is still widely viewed as a pariah because of his threats to destroy Israel and to pursue nuclear weapons in defiance of the rest of the world.

The Palestinian people chose to elect members of an organization whose avowed purpose is the destruction of Israel by violent means. Hamas is recognized throughout the world as a terrorist organization. Since the election, Hamas leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the Hamas covenant calling for the liberation of all of Palestine and they have made clear it they have no intention of disarming.

Israel now has on its borders a quasi government run by people who oppose negotiations and compromise. Hamas can now take over all of the security services and weapons that have previously been given by Israel and others to the Palestinian Authority to keep the peace. The institutions that were bound by agreements to stop the violence, confiscate illegal weapons, end smuggling and cease incitement are now controlled by the very people most responsible for terror, gun running, and the use of the media and schools to demonize Israel and Jews.

Most of the world understands that Hamas is not a partner for peace and that it is a terrorist group that threatens the stability of the region. The United States and other countries rightly have said that it must recognize Israel and renounce terror before any diplomatic or economic support can be given to the PA. Of course, we went through a similar exercise in 1993 when similar demands were made of the PLO. Yasser Arafat made the necessary commitments in a letter to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, but he never matched the words with deeds. The world will be wise not to make the same mistake with Hamas.

“Palestinians need to understand that the exercise of self-government carries consequences. For too long, the international community has failed to extract a price for the Palestinian recourse to terror. That failure has not brought peace, but far worse it has produced the "Palestine" we have now: destitute, savage against both Israelis and moderate Arabs, and, so far, incapable of managing its internal affairs peacefully and competently. By refusing to render Hamas respectable, the U.S. and Israel aren't punishing the Palestinians. They're educating them.”

Wall Street Journal 158a

MYTH

“Israel is digging under the Al-Aksa mosque and intends to destroy it.”

FACT

The Palestinians and other Muslims routinely accuse Israel of threatening their holy places in Jerusalem and have discovered that this is a good way to provoke local violence and international condemnation. The tactic goes back to the 1920s when the Mufti of Jerusalem made similar charges that provoked widespread rioting. The latest example of using this method of incitement (which violates the road map and Oslo agreements) came when Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the director of the Al-Aksa Foundation, accused Israel of excavating under the Temple Mount with the intention of destroying the Al-Aksa mosque.159

As in the past, the charge is a total fabrication. The most recent construction involved the development of a new visitors center built around new findings excavated near the Western Wall. Discoveries at the new site include a ritual bath from the period of the second Jewish Temple, destroyed in 70 C.E., and a wall archaeologists say dates to the first Jewish Temple, destroyed in 586 B.C.E.160 The work was done in the already tunnel area that has now been open to tourists for several years. It is not underneath the Temple Mount and nowhere near the Al-Aksa mosque. What really bothers the sheikh is that the center will “show a fabricated heritage that might help them to deceive foreign visitors into believing Jerusalem as a historical place of the Jews....” 161

Israel denied the accusations, but official government denials rarely satisfy those who are ready to believe any libel emanating from the Palestinian Authority. In this case, however, UPI reporter Joshua Brilliant attended the Foundation press conference during which a misleading film was shown purporting to prove the charges. Brilliant independently investigated the tunnel and found no evidence of any excavation in the direction of the mosque. A Hamas website nevertheless said that a synagogue was under the mosque and “We will spill blood and offer souls in defense of the mosque.”162

MYTH

“Israel is responsible for disparaging cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.”

FACT

Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that the cartoons first published in Denmark, which have sparked widespread Muslim protests, were part of a “conspiracy by Zionists who were angry because of the victory of Hamas.”163

Sometimes the myths propagated by Arabs and Muslims are so outrageous and ridiculous that it would seem to be a waste of time to respond. This is one of those instances. Unfortunately, history has proven that one cannot underestimate the capacity of people to believe even the most absurd charges when they are applied to Israel. After all, large numbers of Muslims still believe that Israel was responsible for the atrocities committed on 9/11.

The cartoons, of course, haven’t anything to do with Israel. They were solicited by a Danish publication, Jyllands-Posten, and have subsequently been reprinted widely. In fact, one blogger posted images from an Egyptian newspaper that published the cartoons.164 Khamenei’s conspiracy theory also has a minor flaw — the cartoons were published in September 2005, six months before the Palestinian election.

In a juvenile and bizarre effort to retaliate for what they consider an affront to Islam, Iran is now soliciting cartoons lampooning the Holocaust. This really is nothing new as Iran and other Muslim nations routinely publish vile anti-Semitic cartoons in their state-controlled media. Sensitivity and tolerance are a one-way street in those countries.

MYTH

“The Palestinians have maintained a truce and ceased terror operations against Israel.”

FACT

The number of successful Palestinian terrorist attacks has fallen dramatically in the last several months. This is not because of any actions on the part of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority continues to refuse to fulfill its road map obligation to stop violence, dismantle terrorist infrastructures, and confiscate illegal weapons. The decline in violence is due primarily to the efficiency of Israel’s security forces and the presence of the security fence. It has little to do with a supposed cease-fire during which there has been no lull in the effort to murder Israelis.

Prior to construction of the security fence, the Palestinians carried out 73 suicide bomb attacks that killed 293 Israelis. Even with the fence only about one-third completed, it has helped significantly reduce the carnage. Since construction began in July 2003, 11 suicide attacks have been launched that killed 54 people. In 2005, only seven suicide attacks were successful, which has taken terror against Israelis off the radar of the international media and given the perception that all is quiet. The reality is far different.

According to the Shin Bet, a total of 2,990 attacks were launched against Israel during 2005 following that January’s truce announcement by Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Fatah’s Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Each month, Israel has more than 70 terror alerts.165

To give just a few examples of the ongoing terror campaign:

• On February 2, 2006, soldiers prevented two Palestinian teenagers from smuggling 12 pipe bombs through a checkpoint. The next day two Palestinian teenagers were captured carrying explosive belts.166

• On February 19, 2006, border police arrested three Palestinians from Bethlehem on their way to carry out a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. That same morning, two Palestinians attempted to place a bomb near the southern Gaza security fence.167

• On February 20, 2006, the Shin Bet chief revealed that the IDF uncovered a launcher and eight mortar shells in Bethlehem, which were planned to be fired at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.168

• On February 21, 2006, an IDF force found a large bomb factory in Nablus.169

• Since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have continued to fire rockets into Israel on an almost daily basis (more than 450 have hit Israel in less than six months170), and increasingly threatened strategic targets, such as the power station in Ashkelon.

• Smuggling of weapons has accelerated in the Gaza Strip. The head of the Shin Bet reported that the number of rifles smuggled each month has increased from 200-300 to 3,000 since disengagement, and that the Palestinians have also smuggled in anti-aircraft missiles and tons of explosives.171

Israel may have won the Palestinian War started by the Palestinian Authority in September 2000, but that does not mean that it has ended all terror threats. Cease-fires and truces mean little when those who declare them continue to arm themselves for the next battle, and their comrades continue to wage war.

The situation is likely to grow more dangerous now that the security forces responsible for enforcing the law in the Palestinian Authority will be infiltrated and probably controlled by the terrorists from Hamas who have made no secret since the Palestinian election that they are committed to their covenant’s call for the destruction of Israel. Moreover, the Palestinian people continue to support terrorism according to the latest poll, which found that 56% of Palestinians support suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians.172

MYTH

“The PA is entitled to international aid because Hamas was democratically elected and the Palestinian people should not be made to suffer because Israel doesn’t like the election outcome.”

FACT

Billions of dollars of aid have flowed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the last 13 years despite the fact that most of it was siphoned off by corrupt officials and very little has actually reached the people. Now the PA is led by a party that pledged to fight corruption, but it also promises to continue to use terror as a means of achieving the objective of destroying Israel. Why does anyone believe the United States or any other country has an obligation to underwrite terrorism and programs for genocide?

The New York Times noted:

America cannot bankroll a Hamas government that preaches and practices terrorism, denies that Israel has any right to exist, and refuses to abide by peace agreements signed by previous Palestinian governments....the United States would make a resounding diplomatic and moral point by cutting off aid. It would demonstrate in the clearest possible terms that the American people are not prepared to support governments, elected or unelected, that proclaim the annihilation of other nations as their goal and embrace terrorism as an acceptable tactic for achieving it.173

It is true that the PA has financial problems, but that is not the rest of the world’s responsibility. Had the PA not misspent the billions it had received already from international donors, it would not be in this predicament. Moreover, as the Times editorialized, “Continuing United States subsidies while Hamas is in power will not move the region one step closer to a fair and sustainable peace.”

The Times and others are wrong in suggesting that Israel be pressured to pay tax and customs funds to the PA. These are funds that Israel agreed to pay as part of the Oslo agreements, which the PA has not fulfilled, and Hamas says it does not accept. Moreover, what government would give money to an authority that is calling for its destruction? Can you imagine the Israeli prime minister speaking to his Hamas counterpart: “We are very upset that you say that you are committed to destroying our nation, and we’re disturbed that you are launching terrorist attacks against us each day, but here’s the money we owe you. Don’t spend it all on one suicide bomb.”

The Palestinian people aren’t going to starve. Even if the United States, Israel, and other Western nations were threatening to withhold all aid until Hamas either is driven from power or completely reforms and renounces its covenant, Iran and other nations will provide the minimum required to sustain the Palestinians, a group which already receives substantially more aid than far needier populations around the globe. And the United States and others are not even talking about cutting off all aid; they all say they will continue to provide humanitarian funds.

The Palestinian people will blame the world for their predicament, as they have for the last 58 years, but perhaps a cutoff of some aid will be the consequence that finally teaches them the lesson that the path to statehood requires them to make a different choice – peace over violence.

MYTH

“Saudi Arabia has ended its boycott of Israel.”

FACT

In late 2005, Saudi Arabia was required to cease its boycott of Israel as a condition of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). After initially saying that it would do so, the government subsequently announced it would maintain its first-degree boycott of Israeli products. The government said it agreed to lift the second and third degree boycott in accordance with an earlier Gulf Cooperation Council decision decision rather than the demands of the WTO.174

Saudi Arabia continues, however, to prohibit entry to products made in Israel or to foreign-made goods containing Israeli components and plans to host a major international conference aimed at promoting the boycott. Liaison officers from regional offices responsible for coordinating the boycott are to meet in Jidda from March 13 to 15, 2006. The Organization for the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) Islamic Office for the Boycott of Israel is based in Jidda and the head of the office is a former Saudi diplomat.175

In hearings in February 2006 before the Senate Finance Committee, U.S. trade representative Rob Portman insisted that the Saudis “have a responsibility to treat Israel as any other member of the WTO” and added that the U.S. had received assurance “they will abide by their WTO commitments.”176

Notes

1Jerusalem Post, (November 8, 2001).
2Ha'aretz, (November 28, 2002).
2aJerusalem Post, (December 29, 2005).
2bMaariv, (October 14, 2003).
3Jerusalem Post, (September 26, 2002).
4Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (January 22, 2003).
5Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre.
6Israel Radio, (August 1, 2002).
7Jerusalem Post, (August 9, 2002).
8Jerusalem Post, (August 9, 2002).
9Rachel Ehrenfeld, "And a Thief, Too-Yasser Arafat takes what he likes," National Review, (July 29, 2002).
10Ehrenfeld.
10aReuters, (February 16, 2004).
11Jerusalem Report, (December 20, 2002).
12Washington Times, (February 20, 2003).
13"Blackmailing Young Women into Suicide Terrorism," Israeli Foreign Ministry, (February 12, 2003).
14Jerusalem Post, (January 19 and February 22, 2003).
15Alsharak Alawast, (March 3, 2003).
16Morris Abram, “Israel Under Attack: Anti-Semitism in the United Nations,” The Earth Times, (December 16-31, 1997).
17Palestinian Authority TV, (March 3, 2003).
18Palestinian Authority TV, (March 3, 2003).
19Washington Post, (June 25, 1982).
20New York Post, (May 3, 2002).
20aYedioth Ahronoth, (August 18, 2003).
21David Makovsky, "Taba Mythchief," The National Interest, (February 26, 2003).
22See, for example, CNN, (June 6-7, 2003).
23Christian Science Monitor, (April 02, 2003).
24Jerusalem Post, (June 26, 2003).
25Washington Post, (March 17, 2003).
25aOregonLive.com, (March 18, 2003).
26David Bedein. “Support unit for terror,” Jerusalem Post, (June 25, 2003).
27The International Solidarity Movement.
28Andrew Friedman, “The ‘Neutral’ Partisans,” The Review, (July 2003).
29Leslie Susser, “Israel: The IDF vs. the ISM,” The Jerusalem Report, (June 13, 2003); “Senior Islamic Jihad terrorist arrested while hiding in the offices of the International Solidarity Movement in Jenin,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (March 27, 2003).
30Palestine Chronicle, (July 6, 2003); Embassy of Israel (USA), (June 27, 2003).
31Washington Institute for Near East Policy, (June 2, 2003).
32Jerusalem Post, (July 17, 2003); Ha'aretz, (July 7 and 14, 2003); Israel Radio, (July 10, 2003).
33IMRA.
34The State Department, (June 20, 2003).
34aKhaled Abu Toameh, “Nablus Aksa commander: We'll fight until occupation ends,” Jerusalem Post, (February 13, 2005).
34bHaaretz, (February 8, 2005).
34cGideon Alon, “Ya'alon: Situation in PA is ‘fragile,’”Haaretz, (February 16, 2005).
35Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002, The State Department, March 31, 2003; B'tselem, Amnesty International, January-December 2002; Jerusalem Post, (August 25, 2002).
35aNewsFirstClass, (December 12, 2003).
35bJerusalem Post, (January 12, 14, 2004); Jay Bushinsky, "Arafat's rule a nightmare for Palestinian journalists," Chicago Sun-Times, (March 5, 2004).
36Anthony H. Cordesman, "Escalating to Nowhere: The Israeli-Palestinian War — The Actors in the Conflict: The Palestinian Factions That Challenge Peace and the Palestinian Authority," (DC: CSIS, September 12, 2003), p. 35.
37International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, "Jordan Closes Hamas Offices in Amman," (August 31, 1999); "Jordan Deports Hamas Leaders to Qatar," (November 22, 1999); "The Jordanian Move against Hamas," (August 31, 1999).
38In a September 2003 poll, 75% of Israelis supported targeted killings, Tami Steinmetz Research Institute for Peace at Tel Aviv University.
39Ze'ev Dasberg, "Society takes precedence over the individual," Haaretz, (November 2, 2003).
40See, for example, August 2003, Palestinian National Authority Ministry of Finance.
41Jerusalem Post, (November 24, 2003).
42Boston Globe, (October 16, 2003).
42aJerusalem Post, (March 14, 2004).
43Haaretz, (October 24, 2003); UPI, (October 21, 2003).
44Haaretz, (December 18, 2003).
45Ben Caspit, "Arafat Connected to Murder of Americans in Gaza," Maariv, (January 4, 2004); "U.S. offers $5M reward for information on Gaza attack," Associated Press, (February 5, 2004).
45a“U.S. calls off Gaza water projects over convoy bombing,” Associated Press, (May 7, 2004).
45b“US blasts PA on attack probe,” Jerusalem Post, (September 23, 2004).
46Tom Fiedler, "Handle with care: words like 'conflict,' 'terrorist,'" Miami Herald, (January 4, 2004).
47WorldnetDaily, (November 24, 2003).
48Tom Fiedler, "Handle with care: words like 'conflict,' 'terrorist,'" Miami Herald, (January 4, 2004).
49Jerusalem Post, (November 26, 2003).
50Leon Wieseltier, “Israel, Palestine, and the Return of the Binational Fantasy,” The New Republic, (October 24, 2003).
51Washington Post, (September 21, 2003).
52Reuters, (May 27, 1998).
53Reuters, (July 31, 2001).
54USA Today, (June 26, 2001).
55Matthew Levitt, "Hamas from Cradle to Grave," The Middle East Quarterly, (Winter 2004).
56Center for Strategic and International Studies, United Nations (UN) Institute for Disarmament Research.
57Jerusalem Post, (December 21, 2003).
58Associated Press; Jerusalem Post; New York Post, (March 16, 2004); CNN.com (March 25, 2004).
58aJerusalem Post, (May 25, July 5, 2005).
59Amnesty International, Press Release, (March 24, 2004).
60Itamar Marcus, “Ask for Death,” The Review, (March 2003).
61Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, (June 18, 2002).
62Jerusalem Post, (December 25, 2003).
63Jerusalem Post, (March 15, 2004).
64Associated Press, (March 1, 2004).
65Associated Press, (March 28, 2004).
66Washington Post, (March 29, 2004).
67Richard Sale, "Hamas history tied to Israel," UPI (June 18, 2002).
68Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising-- Israel's Third Front. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990, pp. 227-239.
69AP, SANA, (April 26, 2004).
70Jerusalem Post, (May 5, 2004); AP, (May 8, 2004).
71Voice of America, (May 15, 2004).
72See, for example, Washington Post, (May 19, 2004).
73See, for example, Center for Monitoring the Impact on Peace, Newsletter, (December 2003 and February 2004).
74Center for Monitoring the Impact on Peace, Newsletter, (February 2004).
75Speech to AIPAC Policy Conference, (May 23, 1989).
76Richard Cohen, “Israel's Day of Light,” Washington Post, (July 3, 2004).
77Alex Ionides, "Getting Their House Together," Egypt Today, (November 2003).
78“Poll: Bush losing Arab-American support,” Zogby International, (March 13, 2004).
79U.S. Census Bureau (2000).
80Maariv International, (September 28, 2004).
81Jerusalem Post, (August 4, 2004).
82Khaled Abu Toameh, "Bombings and Kassams hurt support for Palestinians," Access Middle East, (October 11, 2004).
83Al-Rai (Jordan), (September 27, 2004).
84Jerusalem Post, (November 17, 2004).
85Washington Post, (November 16, 2004).
86Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, Langley, VA: CIA, 2004).
87AP, (February 11, 2003).
88AP, (June 12, 2004).
89New York Times, (June 3, 2004).
90AP, (October 6, 2004).
91Washington Post, (November 15, 2004).
92New York Times, (November 18, 2004).
93Washington Post, (November 18, 2004).
94BBC News, (November 30, 2004).
95Reuters, (November 30, 2004).
96WorldNetDaily.com, (August 28, 2004).
97Maariv, (July 27, 2004).
98Herb Keinon, “Observer teams validate PA elections,” Jerusalem Post, (January 11, 2005).
99CNN.com, (January 10, 2005).
100Aljazeera.Net, (January 11, 2005).
101CNN.com (January 10, 2005); Herb Keinon, “Observer teams validate PA elections,” Jerusalem Post, (January 11, 2005).
102Herb Keinon, “Sharansky: PA election not ‘truly free,’” Jerusalem Post, (January 11, 2005).
103Aljazeera.Net, (January 15, 2005); Jerusalem Post, (January 16, 2005).
104Herb Keinon, “Sharansky: PA election not ‘truly free,’” Jerusalem Post, (January 11, 2005).
105WEST BANK/GAZA DEMOGRAPHY STUDY: THE 1.5 Million POPULATION GAP, American Research Initiative, (January 23, 2005)
106What is the True Demographic Picture in the West Bank and Gaza? - A Presentation and a Critique, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (March 10, 2005); Yair Ettinger, “Critics slam report debunking demographic threat,” Haaretz, (January 10, 2005).
107Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (April 5, 2005).
108“Mofaz okays 3,500 housing units in Ma'aleh Adumim,” Jerusalem Post, (March 20, 2005).
109Etgar Lefkovits, “Building controversy,” Jerusalem Post, (March 28, 2005).
110Khaled Abu Toameh, “Kaddoumi claims Israel poisoned Arafat,” Jerusalem Post, (March 30, 2005).
111Associated Press, (November 17, 2004).
112John Ward Anderson, “Conspiracy Theories Persist on Arafat's Death, ” Washington Post, (November 18, 2004), p. A36.
113Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Secrecy surrounds diagnosis,” International Herald Tribune, (November 12, 2004).
114Speech by Ambassador Dennis Ross, University of Michigan, (March 13, 2005).
115Bob Novak, “Hyde fights for overlooked Christians,” Chicago Sun-Times, (April 18, 2005).
116Alex Safian, “New York Times Omits Major Reason Christians are Leaving Bethlehem,” (December 24, 2004), CAMERA.
117“Christians in Palestine Concerned About their future Zenit,” Zenit News Agency, (November 14, 2004).
118Hanan Shlein, Ma'ariv, (December 24, 2001).
119CNN, (April 17, 2002).
120Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, (May 15, 1997).
121Jerusalem Post, (May 23, 2001).
122Palestine News Agency WAFA, (April 28, 2005).
123Al-Quds, (April 27, 2005).
124Endwave Corporation and SafeView, Inc.
125Jerusalem Post, (May 15, 2005).
126Jerusalem Post, (May 15, 2005).
127AP, (May 15, 2005).
128Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, (May 2-7, 2005).
129“Human Development Report 2004,” United Nations Development Programme, 2005.
130Jerusalem Post, (June 20, 2005).
131Jerusalem Post, (June 20, 2005); BBC, (June 21, 2005).
132Jerusalem Post, (June 24, 2005).
133Jerusalem Post, (June 24, 2005).
134Muslim Women’s League; About.com
135Chris McGreal, “Murdered in name of family honor,” Guardian, (June 23, 2005).
136Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, (June 14-19, 2005).
137Jerusalem Post, (July 4, 2005).
138Jerusalem Post, (July 4- 5, September 7, 2005); Ha'aretz, (September 6, 2005).
139Globes, (April 26, 2005).
140Ha'aretz, (June 7, 2005).
141James Bennet, “Palestinians’ Big Plans for Gaza, With a Bit of Doubt,” New York Times, (August 27, 2005).
142Herb Keinon, “PA to get Gush Katif hothouses,” Jerusalem Post, (August 12, 2005).
143Audiotape posted August 27, 2005 on the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades website, translated by MEMRI.
144“PA bulldozers begin razing remaining Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
145Herb Keinon, “Cabinet votes not to dismantle Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
146Herb Keinon, “Cabinet votes not to dismantle Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
147Yoav Stern, “PA to raze synagogues, spokesman says,” Ha’aretz, (September 12, 2005).
148Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA, Hamas defend synagogue razing,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
149“PA bulldozers begin razing remaining Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
150Akiva Eldar, “Oslo said it: Hamas and elections don't go together,” Ha'aretz, (July 19, 2005).
151Glenn Kessler, “If Hamas Participates, Sharon Says Israel Won't Aid Palestinian Elections,” Washington Post, ((September 17, 2005).
152Yossi Beilin, “Recognizing Hamas is irresponsible,” Bitterlemons.org, (September 26, 2005).
153Glenn Kessler, “If Hamas Participates, Sharon Says Israel Won't Aid Palestinian Elections,” Washington Post, ((September 17, 2005).
154Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations.
155Khaled Abu Toameh, "A Palestinian Verdict: Terror Worked: Fatah and Hamas both claim it was 'our' fighters who beat Israel," The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, (August 26, 2005).
156Jerusalem Post, (August 4, 2004).
157Daniel Pipes, “Palestinian Responses to an Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza,” Danielpipes.org, (September 6, 2005).
158Al-Manar TV, (January 25, 2006).
158aWall Street Journal editorial, (February 20, 2006).
159Palestinian National Authority, (December 13, 2005).
160Aaron Klein, “Israeli dig to spark Temple Mount violence?” WorldNetDaily.com, (October 24, 2005).
161Palestinian National Authority, (December 13, 2005).
162Joshua Brilliant, “ ‘Israel digging under Al-Aksa,’ or not,” UPI, (January 3, 2006).
163“Iran's Khameini says Israel behind Danish cartoons of Muhammad,” Al Bawaba, (February 7, 2006).
164Jyllands Posten Muhammed Cartoons.
165Jerusalem Post, (January 2, February 20, 2006).
166Jerusalem Post, (February 3, 2006).
167Jerusalem Post, (February 19, 2006).
168Ynet.com, (February 20, 2006).
169Haaretz, (February 21, 2006).
170Margot Dudkevitch, “Kassam-weary residents vow change,” Jerusalem Post, (February 24, 2006).
171Jerusalem Post, (January 10, 2006).
172Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, (February 2006).
173New York Times editorial, (March 4, 2006).
174Trade Information Center, International Trade Administration; Arab News, (December 31, 2005).
175John Zarocostas, “Saudi meeting eyed for WTO violation,” Washington Times, (March 9, 2006); Michael Freund, “S. Arabia to host Israel boycott event,” Jerusalem Post, (March 7, 2006).
176Michael Freund, “S. Arabia to host Israel boycott event,” Jerusalem Post, (March 7, 2006).

Tunnel Photos: IDF

*Map courtesy of Dennis Ross from his book, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.


See also: Israel
Negotiations with the Palestinians
Human Rights
Peace Process

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