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Myths & Facts

By Mitchell G. Bard

(2005-2016 archives - CLICK HERE)


Israel is denying COVID-1.9 vaccines to Palestinians
There were no Jewish refugees from Palestine.
Palestinian refugees did not choose to be refugees.
Europe Opposes Illegal Palestinian Settlements.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian.
Palestinians fought the Nazis.
The Temple Mount is solely an Islamic holy site.
Palestinian maps reflect their goal of coexistence with Israel.
Palestinians believe in nonviolence and a two-state solution.
Palestinian leaders oppose normalization with Israel.
Palestinians do not spread conspiracy theories about Israel.
Iran is the only Middle East nation seeking to develop nuclear technology.
Palestinian “honor killings” are a thing of the past.
The UAE betrayed the Palestinians by establishing relations with Israel.
Lebanon poses no threat to Israel.
Israel destroyed a Palestinian COVID-19 testing center.
The British helped the Jews displace the native Arab population of Palestine.
Israel plans to create “Bantustans” for the Palestinians.
In “deadly exchanges” Israel trains U.S. police to mistreat minorities.
One million Palestinians were expelled by Israel from 1947-49.
Israelis should be prosecuted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Israelis overreact to harmless rock-throwing by Palestinians.
Palestinians care more about saving lives than boycotting Israel.
The Trump plan would create a Palestinian state surrounded by Israel.
The creation of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians caused by the Zionists.
The BDS movement convinced Microsoft to divest from the Israeli company AnyVision.
Israel closed mosques to exploit the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime Minister Netanyahu shut down Israeli courts to avoid prosecution.
Israel prevents Gazans from getting equipment and treatment to fight COVID-19.
U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from treating COVID-19.
Israel refuses to help Palestinians contain the coronavirus. 
The international definition of anti-Semitism stifles criticism of Israel.
Trump’s peace plan provoked upheaval in the Palestinian Authority and Arab world.
The UN blacklist of companies operating in the disputed territories will promote peace.
Israel opens dams to flood Palestinian territories.
Israeli settlers kidnapped and executed a Palestinian child in January 2020.
Jordan has not resisted a U.S. extradition request for a terrorist who killed Americans.
Israel was created to compensate the Jews for the Holocaust.
The Holocaust was not unique to Jews; Palestinians are also victims of genocide.
Jesus was a Palestinian.


Israel has no right to approve a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron.
Israeli Settlements are Illegal.
Labeling products from the West Bank as made in an “Israeli Settlement” will advance the cause of peace.
“Snapback” sanctions ensured Iran would adhere to the nuclear agreement.
Palestinian leaders care about Palestinian refugees.
Palestinian teachers are making a positive contribution to peacemaking.
Arabs boycott Israeli elections in solidarity with the Palestinians.
There are no Palestinian settlements.
Israel has no justification for applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Hebron was an act of “defilement” and of “war.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib is right to complain about Israel’s “dehumanizing checkpoints.”
Israel’s decision to ban two congresswomen proves Israel is undemocratic.
Jews will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state.
Opposition to the anti-Semitic BDS campaign divided Democrats.
If Israel ends the “occupation,” there will be peace.
Palestinian summer camps are meant for fun not indoctrination.
The West Bank economy is suffering because Israel is withholding Palestinian tax revenues.
Maintaining UNRWA is vital for the Palestinians’ future.
Designating Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is “Islamophobic.”
Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel.
Israeli forces killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 14-month old daughter.
Palestine was heavily populated with Arabs before the Zionists arrived.
The Palestinian Authority places the welfare of the public over paying terrorists.
U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights violates UN Resolution 242.
The United States should not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The “Great March of Return” has been successful.
U.S. sanctions are having no impact on Iran.
Palestine was always an Arab country.
Palestinians are indigenous to the area previously known as Palestine.
Israel denies Palestinians health care.
Expelling international monitors will lead to a massacre in Hebron.
A new segregated road proves Israel is like Afrikaner South Africa.


Palestinians have the right to sell land to Jews.
Airbnb’s decision to ban rentals in Jewish communities in the West Bank is not anti-Semitic.
The Palestinian public supports a two-state solution.
Threats of terrorism against Israel are restricted to Gaza.
Arab and Muslim states support the BDS campaign against normalizing relations with Israel. (November 1)
The Zionists were colonialist tools of Western imperialism. (October 24)
Israel has no right to detain BDS activists. (October 18)
The U.S. is punishing the Palestinians by cutting funds for East Jerusalem hospitals. (September 24)
The Trump administration closed the PLO office in Washington because it is pro-Israel. (September 17)
Netanyahu backtracked on Rabin’s positions regarding peace with the Palestinians. (September 6)
America's Arab allies routinely support U.S. positions at the U.N. (August 8)
The Nation State Law proves Israel is undemocratic and discriminates against Arabs. [Updated] 
Obama was rightly angered by the State Department map of the West Bank. (July 19)
Israel is creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  (July 13)
LGBT Palestinians enjoy the same rights as Israelis.  (June 28)
Gazan protestors should be entitled to return to their homes in "Palestine."  (June 21)
Israel shoots protestors rather than using non-lethal riot control methods. (June 14)
Israelis have plenty of time to prepare for rocket attacks. (May 11)
Palestinians in Syria are given as much attention as those in Gaza.  (May 3)
Israel occupies the West Bank.  (April 25)
Hamas is not anti-Semitic.  (April 13)
Israel's response to the Gaza protests is unreasonable.  (April 5)
The Palestinian Authority has stopped payments to terrorists.  (March 12)
All Israelis carry guns.  (March 5)
Palestinians refuse to cooperate with Israeli security forces.  (Februry 22)
Israel is attacking Syria without provocation. (February 16)
UNRWA has removed biased textbooks from its schools.  (February 8)
Israel is illegally deporting African asylum seekers.  (February 2)
Talking about Israel’s positive treatment of gays is pinkwashing. (January 18)
Israel is unreasonably barring BDS supporters from Israel. (January 10)


The United States should not have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (December 8)
Israel is mistreating Palestinian children by detaining them.  (December 1)
Hamas modified its position on Israel after reconciling with the Palestinian Authority. (October 26)
Palestinian reconciliation is a step toward peace. (October 19)
Israel denies health care and medical supplies to Gaza. (October 9)
Israel’s universities are complicit in the “occupation” and should be boycotted. (October 5)
Hamas Does not use Schools as Civilian Shields. (September 28)
The Iran Nuclear Agreement is Working.  (September 20)
The Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites.  (August 8)
Anti-boycott legislation violates the First Amendment. (August 1)
Israel is violating the status quo at the Temple Mount by installing metal detectors. (July 21)
Does Israel Need Checkpoints? (July 6)
The Palestinian Authority ceased payments to Terrorists. (June 21)
Hamas has a new charter repudiating its goal to destroy Israel. (May 11)
The Palestinian Authority does not pay terrorists. (May 4)
Marwan Barghouti is a man of peace who should be released from prison. (April 28)
Palestinians believe in a two-state solution. (February 24)
Palestinian groups actually care about Palestinians, and are not just anti-Semitic. (February 24)
A Palestinian state will be democratic. (January 11)


A Palestinian state will be democratic.


One of the assumptions of supporters of the two-state solution in the West is that a Palestinian state will be democratic. Given that no democratic Arab states exist in the Middle East; it is illogical to believe a Palestinian state would be any different. All evidence to this point suggests that a Palestinian state would be yet another autocratic one that denies its people human and civil rights Americans take for granted. Worse, it is likely a Palestinian state will become an autocratic theocracy similar to Saudi Arabia or another radical Islamic regime modeled after Iran.

One need only observe the authoritarian rule of the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas for a foreshadowing of things to come. Abbas was elected in 2005, but has repeatedly canceled elections, remaining in office more than a decade beyond the end of his term. Abbas does not allow freedom of speech, assembly, or religion. Critics of the regime are jailed or, in some cases, executed. Women’s rights are a slight improvement over those in Gaza, but honor killings and other abuses remain common and gays are persecuted based on Koranic prohibitions forbidding homosexuality.

Putting aside the threat of a radical Islamic state on Israel’s border, the threat to the liberties of Palestinians are also at stake if the Palestinians are allowed to create another Sharia-based state. Such an entity already exists in the Gaza Strip where Hamas rules according to its interpretation of Islam and already resembles Iran in its treatment of women and persecution of Christians.

Abbas is viewed as secular but has become radicalized over the years and openly parrots radical Islamists. In July 2014, for example, Abbas explicitly said the war with Israel is a “war for Allah,” a remark that set off renewed attacks by Palestinians against Jews in Jerusalem (Itamar Marcus, “Abbas Calls for ‘War for Allah,’” Palestinian Media Watch, July 27, 2014).

The world’s obsessive focus on Israeli settlements has allowed Abbas and the leaders of Hamas to oppress their people with impunity. Human rights organizations and Western governments have turned a blind eye to their abuses and, rather than hold them to account, they have been encouraged to continue their undemocratic behavior.

Those who believe in a two-state solution, and lament the possibility it has become less likely, should direct their criticism at the Palestinians’ growing radicalism, which threatens the well-being of their own people and the security of Israel.


Palestinian groups actually care about Palestinians, and are not just anti-Semitic.


People of good will on all sides of the political spectrum recognize the difficulties Palestinians experience living under Israeli rule, and many would like to see the establishment of a Palestinian state coexisting beside Israel.

Numerous proponents of Palestinian rights, however, are selective in their concern for the Palestinian people. The anti-Semitic BDS campaign advocates, along with many other sympathizers who cry crocodile tears for the Palestinians on campus and in the media, only care about Palestinian-Jewish interactions.

One longstanding example is the complete lack of interest in the treatment of Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab states. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have languished in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria for decades. They remain in camps for one reason: the Arab states refuse to resettle them or grant them citizenship.

Ironically, at a time when Arab refugees are being welcomed around the world (albeit sometimes reluctantly by Western societies), Palestinian refugees remain unwanted in lands where they share the same language, religion and culture.

Why have Palestinians been treated so callously by their fellow Arabs?

One historical reason is that the Arab states wanted to keep the refugee issue on the agenda to embarrass Israel and induce international pressure on Israel to allow them to immigrate. The Arab hope was to flood Israel with hostile Palestinians who could act as a fifth-column weakening Israel from within. As the refugee population swelled to a population now exceeding five million, thanks to the absurd criteria of the UN Refugee Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Arabs expected the Jewish population to be exceeded by that of the Palestinians, effectively changing Israel into a Palestinian state.

For decades, the Arab goal was to destroy Israel and the Palestinians were used as pawns. That motivation has subsided in recent years after Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel, and other Arab states began to recognize they share strategic interests with Israel.

Still, the Arab states would prefer to be rid of the Palestinians because they are held in low esteem (despised in some places), threaten local economies and are distrusted. You never hear advocates for the Palestinians complain, however, about the virtual incarceration of Palestinians in camps by Arab leaders.

Where are the campus protests over Lebanon’s treatment of Palestinians? According to UNRWA, they face a variety of employment restrictions, are denied social and civil rights, have no access to public social services and very limited access to public health or educational facilities.

Few of today’s students are old enough to remember when Kuwait expelled 300,000 Palestinians in retaliation for Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein’s aggression. Advocates for the Palestinians at the time were also silent.

Today, the situation for Palestinians may be worse than ever, not in the West Bank or Gaza, but in Syria. An estimated 560,000 Palestinians lived in Syria before the Syrian Civil War, accounting for roughly 3 percent of the population  (UNRWA: 560,000 Palestinian refugees affected in the Syria crises The Palestine Information Center, January 24, 2017). Over 337,000 live in refugee camps, the largest of which, Yarmouk, has been besieged by the forces of both ISIS and the Assad regime. Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria (Khaled Abu Toameh, “The Other Palestinians” Gatestone Institute, August 31, 2016).

Most the estimated 450,000 Palestinians living in Syria are internally displaced, lacking access to even basic services and food. More than 120,000 Palestinians have fled Syria; an estimated 31,000 now live in Lebanon, another 16,000 live in Jordan, and many more seek refuge in Europe (UNRWA).

Two West Bank parties – the PFLP and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – have both given their support to the Assad regime even as 450 Palestinians were tortured to death by the Assad regime and 1,100 more were imprisoned (Mehdi Hasan, “The Palestinians of Yarmouk and the shameful silence when Israel is not to blame” The Guardian, April 12, 2015).

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Palestinians from the territories work in Israel, where they enjoy equal workers’ rights with Israeli citizens. Thousands more work in the settlements that Palestinian advocates thousands of miles away revile. Palestinians in the West Bank enjoy a higher standard of living than most Arabs outside the oil-rich Gulf States, and all their brethren in the refugee camps. No Palestinians are being turned into refugees or killed as part of a deliberate campaign to eliminate them. In fact, in past peace talks, Israel expressed a willingness to accept as many as 100,000 refugees as part of a final settlement.

Israel alone is vilified for its treatment of the Palestinians. A global anti-Semitic BDS movement is intimidating artists who wish to visit and perform in Israel, seeking to deny Israelis or their supporters academic freedom and roiling campuses with disingenuous divestment resolutions. Activists engage in die-ins, build mock walls, and disrupt speakers who dare to speak positively about Israel.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians face deprivation, death and displacement in Syria and not a word of protest is heard from those who profess concern for the Palestinian people. No coalitions are mobilized, no demonstrations organized and no weeklong events scheduled to publicize the plight of the Palestinians in Syria.

Looking at the evidence, it appears that Palestinian lives are considered unimportant unless they are somehow intertwined with Jews. The selective outrage directed at Israel raises serious questions about the motives of many of the people who profess concern for the Palestinian people, and may explain why so many have joined the anti-Semitic campaign to delegitimize Israel.


Palestinians believe in a two-state solution.


One of the principal criticisms of Israel’s desire to apply sovereignty to some or all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) as allowed under the Trump peace plan is that it will make a two-state “solution” more difficult, if not impossible. Setting aside the demographic issue (more than 100,000 Jews would have to be forced from their homes), which makes the popular conception of a Palestinian state in more than 90% of the West Bank almost inconceivable, advocates ignore Palestinians’ objection to creating a state that would coexist beside Israel.

While Palestinian leaders sometimes give lip-service to the idea of a two-state solution, they convey a very different message in word and deed. They also communicate what many believe to be their true goal – a single state of Palestine replacing Israel – through imagery. Take this map that appeared on the Palestinian Authority web site, which really communicates better than any words the Palestinian objective.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is also head of its dominant faction, Fatah. The word “Fatah” is a reverse acronym of the Arabic Harekat at-Tahrir al-Wataniyyeh al-Falastiniyyeh, meaning “conquest by means of jihad [Islamic holy war].” The Fatah flag features a grenade with crossed rifles superimposed on the map of Israel. This emphasizes the dedication of Fatah, along with the other “liberation” groups, to the “armed struggle” against Israel, which is a euphemism for terrorism against civilians.

It should be noted that Fatah is often referred to as “secular;” however, Fatah’s devotion to jihad is similar to that of the radical Islamic Hamas terror organization. This is a reminder that the conflict with Israel is less about land and politics and more about the refusal of Muslim extremists to accept a Jewish state. Not surprisingly, the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or agree to a settlement that would result in a Palestinian state coexisting with the Jewish state of Israel.

Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO, which has its own unambiguous emblem:

To make sure that young Palestinians get the message, this is the emblem for the Fatah Youth Movement:

The Palestinian education system is committed to communicating to students of all ages that only one state should exist between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine.

PA Minister of Education poses with map of
Palestine replacing Israel (February 2, 2017)

Palestinian textbooks send a similar message to school children. Here are just two examples:

“Al-Tarbiyah al-Wataniyyah” (“National Education”)
3rd grade, page 49, academic year 2002-2003

“The Geography of Palestine”-

Public opposition to the principle of “two states for two peoples” has also been on the rise. Five years ago, 50% of Palestinians (only 44% of Gazans) were willing to accept the two-state solution; in 2020 the figure is 20% (David Pollock, “A Nation Divided,” Washington Institute, June 2020).

The two-state solution may provide the best opportunity for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but the evidence suggests the Palestinians have a different goal in mind (See, for example, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)Palestinian Media Watch).


Marwan Barghouti is a man of peace who should be released from prison.


The New York Times published an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti describing him as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” It was a description that provoked an uproar and was so misleading that the Times public editor apologized for the failure to fully identify the biography and credentials of the writer who she acknowledged “was given five consecutive life terms after being convicted in an Israeli criminal court of premeditated murder for his role in terrorist attacks that killed five people, along with other crimes” (Liz Spayd, “An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too,” New York Times, April 18, 2017).

Barghouti had been out of the news before his op-ed explaining his call for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to go on a hunger strike. Contrary to the Times’s characterization of Barghouti, his experience as a leader is limited to commanding a terrorist organization.

Barghouti was the commander of the Tanzim, a terrorist arm of the PLO directed by Yasser Arafat. He also coordinated the activities of these “nationalist forces” with those of the Islamist organizations. In 2004, an Israeli court found that he gave direct orders resulting in the deaths of five people:

Barghouti also asked Arafat to approve payments to terrorists (Yossi Kuperwasser, “Who is Marwan Barghouti?” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, April 19, 2017).

Though Palestinians often complain about Israeli military courts, suggesting they are unfair, Barghouti was convicted in a civilian court. He has served only 15 years of the five life sentences plus 40 years he was given by the court. He is not a political prisoner and has he been mistreated. One person who has seen his cell noted it is well lit and full of books, which helped him complete a Ph.D. in political science from prison (Reuven Ben-Shalom, “No Nelson Mandela,” Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2017).

During his incarceration, Barghouti has not been known for advocating prisoners’ rights; hence, the suspicion that his effort to mobilize a strike now has less to do with prison conditions and more to do with politics. Mahmoud Abbas is on his last legs and jockeying has begun to succeed him. Instead of appointing him to a senior post, Abbas has been taking steps to isolate Barghouti and his supporters within Fatah (Avi Issacharoff, “Marwan Barghouti’s great gamble,” Times of Israel, April 18, 2017).

Should the Palestinian Authority ever hold an election, something Abbas has put off for more than a decade to stay in power, it is conceivable that Barghouti could be elected president based on some polls, but the reliability of Palestinian polls is questionable given the lack of free speech in the PA. Moreover, his popularity is partly due to his status as a prisoner responsible for killing Jews, his immunity from charges of corruption because of his incarceration, and his inability to make any political decisions from jail that might upset voters. Though he has occasionally made statements suggesting he is interested in reaching a peace agreement with Israel, he has indicated no willingness to compromise on core issues such as refugees, settlements, borders or Jerusalem, making him no less intransigent than Abbas or his mentor Arafat.

The idea that Barghouti could become the unquestioned leader of the Palestinians and broker a peace treaty is merely hypothetical (fanciful may be a better word). Barghouti’s role in the murder of five Israelis and involvement in terrorism, however, is a fact. In the past, ignoring facts to engage in wishful thinking has not brought Israelis or Palestinians peace or security.


The Palestinian Authority does not pay terrorists.


Though the Palestinians have repeatedly pledged to end terrorism and incitement – Yasser Arafat’s renunciation of terror was a prerequisite to the Oslo negotiations – the Palestinian Authority  provides generous financial payments to terrorists and their families, creating incentives to attack Israelis.

According to laws passed in 2004 and amended in 2013, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who are convicted of terrorism are entitled to monthly stipends. Men who have served at least five years in Israeli jails, and women who served at least two, are entitled to these “salaries” for life. Those imprisoned for three to five years receive $570 per month. Someone sentenced to 30 years or more is entitled to $3,400 per month. The more heinous the crime, the more money a prisoner receives. The government also provides health insurance and tuition for prisoners as well as their spouses and children. Families of terrorists who have died or were wounded receive $1,560 plus monthly checks for at least $364. Members of PLO factions arrested outside of “Palestine” are also entitled to benefits. Israeli Arabs and Arab residents of Jerusalem receive bonuses.

Once released, prisoners are given priority for employment. Any male ex-prisoner incarcerated for 10 or more years, and female who served five years, is entitled to a position in the PA. All former prisoners’ social security and pension fees are paid according to the number of years they spent in jail. If their salary is lower than what they received in prison, the PA makes up the difference and, if a prisoner cannot be employed, they are still entitled to a monthly salary, disability payments and death benefits payable to their families (Douglas J. Feith & Sander Gerber, “The Department of Pay-for-Slay,” Commentary, March 15, 2017; Thane Rosenbaum, “Palestinians are rewarding terrorists. The U.S. should stop enabling them,” Washington Post, April 30, 2017).

The PA, which has been in dire financial straits, and is completely dependent on foreign aid for its survival, spends roughly $140 million for payments to terrorists who are in jail or have been released. In 2016, more than 32,500 martyrs’ families received payments of approximately $175 million. Thus, nearly 7 percent of the PA budget is dedicated to terrorism.

The United States and some European countries have realized they are underwriting this “pay-for-slay” policy and called on Mahmoud Abbas to cease these payments. Congress is considering legislation that would cut aid, now approximately $400 million annually, if the PA continues these payments. Abbas, however, not only refuses to halt the stipends to terrorists, he has increased the amount allotted to them and their families (Itamar Marcus, “PA defies US, will raise payments to Martyrs’ families,” Palestinian Media Watch, April 9, 2017; “Abbas will continue to pay Palestinian prisoners, PA minister says,” Times of Israel, April 29, 2017).

Peace and terrorism are incompatible. The incessant violence directed at Israeli citizens by Palestinians is the principal obstacle to ending the conflict. Israelis of all political stripes are unwilling to risk ceding territory to the Palestinians so long as they believe this will make them more insecure. They learned a painful lesson when all the Jews living in the Gaza Strip were evacuated and instead of peace they were bombarded with more than 10,000 rockets. So long as the Palestinian Authority continues to provide financial incentives for Palestinians to engage in terror, no one should expect Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. Some Palestinians may expect their brothers and sisters who have been imprisoned or died fighting to liberate “Palestine” to be compensated; however, they are only sabotaging their hopes for gaining independence.

By continuing to provide financial aid to the PA, Europe and the United States are subsidizing Palestinian terror and undermining their interest in ending the conflict.

An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace.

—David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) 10 January 2018


Hamas has a new charter repudiating its goal to destroy Israel.


Hamas announced on May 1, 2017, that it was adopting a new political policy document. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the group had to move beyond its original charter to achieve its goals. “The document gives us a chance to connect with the outside world,” he said. “To the world, our message is: Hamas is not radical. We are a pragmatic and civilized movement. We do not hate the Jews. We only fight who occupies our lands and kills our people” (Ian Fisher, “In Palestinian Power Struggle, Hamas Moderates Talk on Israel,” New York Times, May 1, 2017).

This new document, however, neither replaces the charter nor abrogates the group’s founding document calling for Israel's destruction, according senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar. This is clear from the supposedly significant reference to the idea of accepting the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Jerusalem based on the 1949 armistice line. The statement reiterates several times, however, that Hamas does not seek to liberate the West Bank, but all of Palestine from the river to the Sea (Points 2 and 20).

 “When people say that Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders, like others, it is an offense to us,” Zahar said. “We have reaffirmed the unchanging, constant principles that we do not recognize Israel; we do not recognize the land occupied in 1948 as belonging to Israel; and we do not recognize that the people who came here [Jews] own this land.” Zahar said the reference to the 1967 borders “is a tactical step that does not harm the right of the Palestinians to all of the land of Palestine” (“Official Denies Hamas Has Softened Stance Toward Israel,” Reuters, May 10, 2017; Amad, March 28, 2017, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, April 21, 2017).

The statement also rejects any peace agreement with Israel and calls for ceasing the beneficial cooperative activities between Israelis and Palestinians made possible by the Oslo Accords (Point 21).

The document also repeatedly claims that “Palestine,” which includes Israel, has a special status as “an Arab Islamic land.” “Palestine,” however, has no special status in Islam or connection to Arabs living outside the area (Points 3, 7 and 10).

Though acknowledging the area as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the statement makes no mention anywhere of a Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Hamas also claims Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine.” A state of Palestine has never existed and Jerusalem has never been the capital of any state other than Israel or the ancient Jewish kingdoms. The city has no special status for the Arabs and only the religious shrines are of significance to Muslims (Point 7).

The demand that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to land that is now Israel is a nonstarter for negotiations. Even Palestinian negotiators have acknowledged this is an unreasonable demand (Points 12, 13, and 20).

In a clear effort to avoid being accused of anti-Semitism, the statement replaces many of the blatantly anti-Semitic references in the charter with euphemistic references to “Zionists” and specifically says it has no conflict with Jews. Hamas is aware, however, that most Zionists are Jews. Hamas also insists that only Palestinians have a right to self-determination. Denying the same right to the Jewish people is anti-Semitic (Points 14, 16 and 18).

The “moderation” of the new statement does not include a repudiation; on the contrary, Hamas doubles down by suggesting it has a divine right to engage in terrorism and that the entire Arab/Islamic world has an obligation to engage in a jihad against Israel (Points 15, 23, 25 and 26).

The statement’s references to tolerance and upholding human rights are laughable given the group’s persecution of Christians, gays and other Palestinians who do not accept its radical Islamic ideology (Points 8 and 17).

Hamas also rewrites history throughout the document as when it suggests anti-Semitism was purely a European phenomenon (Point 17). While their experience in Europe was different, and in many cases more severe, Jews in Arab and Muslim lands was frequently persecuted. Muslims created a special category of second-class treatment for Jews and Christians known as dhimmitude.

The notion that Hamas is moderating its positions is belied by the recent appointment of Yahya Sinwar, who “represents the most radical and extreme line of Hamas,” according to Kobi Michael, a former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs (Isabel Kershner, “Hamas Appoints Hard-Line Militant as Gaza Leader,” New York Times, February 13, 2017).

Sinwar favors improving ties between Hamas and Iran and, while the statement talks about an interest in unifying the Palestinian people, Hamas has been arresting Fatah members in the Gaza Strip in its ongoing campaign to weaken Mahmoud Abbas and undermine the Palestinian Authority. The organization also remains active in the West Bank where its operatives seek to overthrow Abbas (“Fatah claims that Hamas arrested its members in Gaza,” Middle East Monitor, January 16, 2017; “Fatah-Hamas relations,” Palestinian Media Watch, Undated).

Even Fatah dismissed the new charter as “nothing new” (“Hamas’ political document has nothing new, says Fatah,” WAFA, May 2, 2017) and Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired Israeli brigadier general who led the army’s research arm, said, “Not even one mind” will be changed in Israel (“Nobody will be affected by this” (Ian Fisher, “In Palestinian Power Struggle, Hamas Moderates Talk on Israel,” New York Times, May 1, 2017).

The international community, apparently, the target of the new statement, should not change its policy of excluding Hamas from negotiations since the group deliberately reiterated positions that conflict with the conditions set for ending its pariah status: ceasing terror, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and abiding by past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.


The Palestinian Authority Ceased Payments to Terrorists.


During their meeting in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017, President Donald Trump angrily accused Mahmoud Abbas of lying to him at their May 3 meeting in Washington, D.C., when the Palestinian Authority president insisted that the PA did not engage in incitement against Israelis and Jews. Trump was also furious about the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy of providing salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons and reiterated the demand he had made at the White House for Abbas to end the practice (Nathan Guttman, “How Payments To Terrorists Became An Issue At The Trump-Abbas Meeting,” Forward, May 4, 2017;Jack Moore, “Trump Raged At Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas In Bethlehem Meeting: ‘You Lied To Me,’” Newsweek,  May 29, 2017).

On June 13, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told senators that pressure from the president led the PA to change its policy. Palestinian officials, however, quickly denied Tillerson’s claim. “There is no end to the payments” of Palestinian prisoners, declared Issa Karake, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. “We reject ending the subsidies to the prisoners and families of martyrs. We will not apologize for it” (Dov Lieber, “Defying US, Palestinian official vows payments to terrorists will continue,” Times of Israel, June 14, 2017).

According to Karake, Abbas told Trump he would not “stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).”  Other Palestinian officials made similar comments (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Did the PA lie to the US Secretary of State?” Palestinian Media Watch, June 14, 2017).

Following the Palestinian statements, Tillerson modified his testimony before a House committee on June 14, 2017, saying the United States was engaged in an “active discussion” on the payments and that “we’ve taken the position to the Palestinian Authority in a very unequivocal way.” Tillerson said he told the Palestinians, “You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you” (Eric Cortellessa, “Tillerson waters down statement that Palestinians ‘changed policy’ of terror payments,” Times of Israel, June 14, 2017).

In a meeting with Palestinian officials on June 20, 2017, Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt reiterated the demand that the Palestinians cease payments to the so-called Martyr’s Fund. A Palestinian official said the meeting did not go well and the request was rejected (Kushner kicks off Mideast peace push with first solo visit, Associated Press, June 21, 2017).

Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation, the Taylor Force Act, which would cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to provide monetary support to the families of those who commit acts of terror against Israelis and others.


Does Israel Need Checkpoints?


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 to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they save lives.

For example, on July 4, 2017, border police foiled a terror attack thanks to a checkpoint near East Jerusalem. A car was stopped after security forces noticed its front and rear license plates did not match. Six Palestinians lacking entry permits were detained after the vehicle was searched and a bag of knives, stun grenades and Molotov cocktail materials were found (Jacob Magid, Border police say Jerusalem terror attack foiled at West Bank checkpoint Times of Israel, July 4, 2017).

The following are just a few other examples of how checkpoints prevent terrorism:

¦ On October 23, 2012, a nineteen-year-old Palestinian was caught at the Kalandiya check point with eight pipe bombs he was trying to bring into Jerusalem.

¦ On July 27, 2014, police stopped a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint near Beitar Illit and discovered a large explosive device attached to gas cylinders inside the car.

¦ On June 29, 2015, a female soldier was stabbed at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

¦ On May 10, 2016, an Israeli officer was seriously wounded by an explosive device at the Hizme checkpoint near Jerusalem. Five other explosives were found at the scene.

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

Still, Israel has dismantled most of its unmanned checkpoints, reduced the number of manned checkpoints, and streamlined the entry process.


Israel is violating the status quo at the Temple Mount by installing metal detectors.


Since 1967, the Temple Mount has often been a flashpoint for violence. On July 14, 2017, two Israeli policemen were murdered by Israeli Arab terrorists at the entrance to the Temple Mount (Nir Hasson, Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, “Two Israeli Police Officers Killed in Temple Mount Shooting, Another Wounded,” Haaretz, July 14, 2017). In response, Israel installed metal detectors. Subsequently, Muslim protestors attacked Israeli police trying to maintain order and to ensure the safety of all worshippers.

Critics of Israel’s actions apparently are unconcerned that the third holiest place in Islam, the al-Aqsa Mosque, is used as an arsenal for provocateurs. Most recently, the men who murdered the two Israeli police officers had an accomplice who brought their guns in a backpack onto the Temple Mount and left them in the al-Aqsa Mosque (Alexander Fulbright, “Police video shows how Friday’s terrorists got their guns onto Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, July 20, 2017).

Rather than see the metal detectors as a way of protecting Muslims and other visitors to the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Muslim leaders condemned Israel. The Jerusalem Wakf Islamic trust called on worshipers to refrain from entering the compound until the detectors are removed, and Abbas’s Fatah declared a “Day of Rage,” which was followed by clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces (Amos Harel, Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid, “Israeli Army, Shin Bet Urging Netanyahu to Relent on Temple Mount Metal Detectors,” Haaretz, July 19, 2017).

A similar uproar occurred when Israel and Jordan mutually agreed that video cameras should be installed on the Temple Mount in 2016 following several weeks of rioting prompted by Palestinian propaganda accusing Israel of endangering the al-Aqsa Mosque (Shlomo Cesana, “Surveillance cameras to be installed on Temple Mount,” Israel Hayom, March 6, 2016). Under pressure from the Palestinians, and threats to prevent their installation, Jordan reversed its position (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Jordan Abandons Plan To Install Cameras On Temple Mount,” Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2016).

The need for such measures has been proven by the frequent outbursts of violence, and the use of the Temple Mount as an arsenal.

Greater security is also an answer to the “al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger” libel Abbas periodically resurrects to provoke violence as it will prevent any extremists from threatening the area’s sanctity.

At a time when terrorism has made it commonplace for security checks at not only airports, but government buildings, shopping malls, stadiums and tourist attractions, it is difficult to fathom the logic behind opposing similar measures at the Temple Mount. Other holy sites, including the Vatican in Rome, the Buddhist pilgrimage site Bodh Gaya in India, and the Sikh Golden Temple in India, have security checks and cameras. Jews and other visitors to the Western Wall must go through scanners as well (Seth J. Frantzman, “From Mecca To Rome, How Do Other Countries Protect Their Holy Sites?” Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2017).

Metal detectors are inconveniences, especially in places where large crowds congregate such as the Temple Mount. Mecca has far more visitors, however, and that has not stopped the Saudis from installing surveillance cameras and issuing pilgrims electronic bracelets (“How Saudi Hajj pilgrim ‘e-bracelets’ work,” BBC, September 9, 2016). Metal detectors also screen visitors before they get to Mecca.

Israel may yet decide the threat of violence from protests outweighs the value of security measures, as it did when it went along with Jordan’s decision not to install security cameras on the Temple Mount. Such a decision would not change the legitimacy of taking the same type of steps to protect visitors and worshippers that are used at other holy sites around the world. Alas, this is the price terrorists have forced all of us to pay.


Anti-boycott legislation violates the First Amendment.


In response to the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand the existing anti-boycott law on the books since 1977. The ACLU and others have falsely claimed the new legislation is a violation of the First Amendment that will criminalize criticism of Israel. As legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich has noted, “the ACLU’s position would make many U.S. sanctions against foreign countries (Iran, Russia, Cuba, etc.) unconstitutional” (Eugene Kontorovich, “Israel anti-boycott bill does not violate free speech,” Washington Post, July 27, 2017).

The Export Administration Act (EEA) was adopted during the Carter administration after the scope of the Arab boycott became clear to members of Congress. Hundreds of U.S. companies were being blacklisted for associations with Israel, and those wishing to do business with Arab countries were being asked to certify that they had no connections to Israel. The law prevents companies from cooperating with the boycott by refusing to do business with Israel or furnishing information about their relations with Israel. The Arab League boycott remains in place and the Office of Antiboycott Compliance continues to enforce the law and impose fines and other penalties when companies are found to have violated the law.

The EEA applies only to the Arab League boycott. The proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act simply enhances this existing legislation by applying it to boycotts against Israel by any foreign government or international governmental organization. It also specifically opposes the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution of March 24, 2016, which urges countries to pressure companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel.

The legislation would also amend the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 to include efforts to penalize or limit commercial relations with Israel as a reason for the bank to deny credit applications for the export of goods and services between the United States and foreign countries.

Nothing in the law prevents expressions of support for boycotts. Even the anti-Semitic divestment campaigns mounted on many college campuses would remain protected.


The Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites.


Palestinian claims to be related to the Canaanites are a recent phenomenon and contrary to historical evidence. The Canaanites disappeared three millennia ago and, over the last two thousand years, there have been massive invasions (e.g., the Crusades), migrations, the plague, and other manmade or natural disasters that killed off most of the local people. The entire local population has been replaced many times over. During the British Mandate alone, more than 100,000 Arabs emigrated from neighboring countries and are today considered Palestinians.

Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia, said the Palestinians’ ancestors had only been in the area for one thousand years (Al-Qibla, March 23, 1918, quoted in Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, NY: Bantam Books, 1977, p. 126). Even the Palestinians themselves have acknowledged their association with the region came long after the Jews. In testimony before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, for example, they claimed a connection to Palestine of more than one thousand years, dating back no further than the conquest of Muhammad’s followers in the seventh century (British Government, “Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, 1946, Part VI,” April 20, 1946).

In 2017, scientists examining DNA samples of the region's ancient and modern inhabitants found evidence that Lebanese Arabs, not Palestinians, are the most likely descendants of the Canaanites (Chris Graham, “Study shows ancient Canaanites survived divine call in Bible for them to be wiped out,” Telegraph, July 28, 2017).

Meanwhile, no serious historian questions the more than three-thousand-year-old Jewish connection to the land of Israel, or the modern Jewish people’s relation to the ancient Hebrews.

We know that some of those who live in our villages are Jews who converted to Islam after the Muslim conquests beginning in the 7th century, and most of us are the descendants of foreign workers who came to British Mandate of Palestine from the various Arab countries in the wake of the Zionist enterprise. By trying to trace our “ancestry” to the Canaanites, we lie to ourselves and demonstrate our silliness and self-deception to the world. And when we try to claim that Jesus was a Palestinian, we make ourselves an international laughing stock.

—Bassam Tawil, “Muslim Blood and Al-Aqsa,” Gatestone Institute, (October 31, 2015)


The Iran Nuclear Agreement is Working.


We definitely know that some aspects of the nuclear agreement have not worked. More ominous are the things that we do not know because of the failure of the supposedly “unprecedented” verification regime.

Critics warned that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was flawed; nevertheless, it was agreed to by the United States and its international partners. The most immediate sign of its failure was the increased bellicosity of Iran and the intensification of its efforts to destabilize its neighbors and establish a hegemonic Shiite sphere of influence that threatens Israel and our Arab allies. “The list of Iranian transgressions has increased dramatically since the date that the [nuclear deal] was signed,” said CIA director Mike Pompeo (Jenna Lifhits, “Cotton on Iran Nuclear Deal: ‘I Simply Do Not See How We Can Certify,’” Weekly Standard, September 18, 2017).

David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, testified in Congress:

Those who argued that a key benefit of the nuclear deal would be a moderation of Iran’s behavior in the region have been sadly disappointed. Armed with substantial funds and a growing economy, Iran is challenging the United States in the region and appears as committed to maintaining the capability to pursue a nuclear weapons path as before, just a longer path (David Albright, “House Subcommittee Testimony of David Albright on Assessing Iran Nuclear Deal,” Institute for Science and International Security, April 5, 2017).

On September 14, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Iran is clearly in default of these expectations of the JCPOA,” adding that Iran’s actions are “threatening the security of those in the region as well as the United States itself” (Nick Wadhams, “Tillerson Says Iran ‘Clearly in Default’ of Nuclear Deal’s Terms,” Bloomberg, September 14, 2017).

Besides contravening the spirit, Iran has also violated the letter of the agreement. Supporters of the deal say the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified Iran’s compliance to prove that it is working. They neglect to mention, however, that the IAEA has found that Iran has committed several violations and only complied when caught. According to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, “the IAEA has identified, and we’ve identified some of these breaches that Iran has then corrected. But what does that tell you about Iranian behavior? They’re not just walking up to the line on the agreement. They’re crossing the line at times” (“General H.R. McMaster on global threats,” Fox News, September 17, 2017).

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano revealed in September 2017 that Russia is opposing the agency’s enforcement of one part of the JCPOA – Section T – which bans “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” such as using computer models that simulate a nuclear bomb, or designing multi-point, explosive detonation systems. The U.S. believes the IAEA is responsible for monitoring these activities and the failure to do so is a flaw in the agreement that inhibits the IAEA’s ability to verify Iran is not engaged in nuclear weapons research and development (Francois Murphy, “IAEA chief calls for clarity on disputed section of Iran nuclear deal,” Reuters, (September 26, 2017).

Albright notes that it is difficult to assess Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA because of “the excessive secrecy surrounding the implementation of the deal and its associated parallel arrangements” (David Albright, “House Subcommittee Testimony of David Albright on Assessing Iran Nuclear Deal,” Institute for Science and International Security, April 5, 2017). Nevertheless, his institute found several Iranian violations of the agreement, as well as cases where Tehran exploited loopholes in the deal to weaken its effectiveness. For example:

  • Iran has twice had more than its heavy water limit of 130 metric tons inside Iran.
  • Iran is likely operating advanced IR-6 centrifuges in excess of the limit allowed.   
  • The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has sought sensitive nuclear-related materials and facilities beyond what it needs or should get.
  • Iran is seeking to exploit a loophole in reactor restrictions, including work on naval propulsion reactors. 

German intelligence has caught Iran seeking “products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well [as] missile technology” (Benjamin Weinthal, “Iran Still on the Hunt for Nuclear Weapons Technology Across Germany,” Weekly Standard, July 7, 2017). Additional intelligence reports from Germany indicated Iran attempted to buy nuclear technology illegally 32 times that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs (Benjamin Weinthal, “Iran attempted to buy nuclear technology illegally 32 times, German agency says,” Fox News, October 9, 2017).

Iran has also violated agreements related to the deal, notably, by its noncompliance with UNSC resolution 2231’s prohibition on conventional weapons sales and transfers and its prohibition on ballistic missile testing.   

More important, negotiators accepted Iranian demands to cease investigation of its prior weapons research and, according to Iran, barred monitors from military sites despite the fact the JCPOA was described as giving the IAEA the right to visit any site in Iran, whether military or civilian (David Albright and Olli Heinonen, “Verifying Section T of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Iranian Military Site Access Essential to JCPOA Section T Verification,” Institute for Science and International Security, August 31, 2017). According to Israeli sources, within a few months of signing the JCPOA, the IAEA was given information regarding sites Iran had not reported as part of its nuclear program and where it was believed forbidden nuclear military research and development activity was being conducted. Few of the suspected sites were inspected because of Iran’s refusal to allow access and the IAEA’s unwillingness to confront Iran on the issue (Barak Ravid, “Israel: IAEA Received Info About Suspected Iranian Nuclear Sites but Didn't Inspect Many of Them,” Haaretz, September 17, 2017).

This is quite different from Obama’s promise of “unprecedented” inspections (Glenn Kessler, “President Obama’s claim of ‘unprecedented inspections’ in Iran,” Washington Post, February 6, 2014). Since the IAEA does not visit the sites where Iran is most likely engaged in prohibited activities, there is no way to know whether Iran is engaged in prohibited activities at those locations.

Setting aside the military installations that Iran has vowed never to permit IAEA inspectors to visit, the Iranians themselves have hinted at suspicious activities. The head of Iran’s nuclear program, for example, has said Iran has the capability to build advanced centrifuges on short notice. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is fully prepared to return to the pre-JCPOA situation or even [to conditions] more robust than that if the U.S. reneges on its promises. Zarif added that Iranian scientists had been continuing work with advanced centrifuges (PressTV, March 21, 2017).

According to the Institute for Science and International Security, “The mass production of these centrifuges (or their components) would greatly expand Iran’s ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability, or surge the size of its centrifuge program if the deal fails, or after key nuclear limitations end. If Salehi’s statement is true, Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges” (David Albright and Olli Heinonen, “Is Iran Mass Producing Advanced Gas Centrifuge Components? Can we even know with the way the Iran deal has been structured and implemented so far?” Institute for Science and International Security, May 30, 2017).

The failure of the agreement to include Iranian sponsorship of terror, ballistic missile research and development, or aggression against its neighbors, combined with the release of billions of dollars in previously frozen funds, has allowed Iran to accelerate each of these activities. In September, for example, it was disclosed that Iran increased its support for the Hezbollah to $800 million a year and resumed payments of $60-70 million to Hamas (Anna Ahronheim, “Iran Pays $830 Million To Hezbollah,” Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2017).

Director of U.S. National Intelligence Daniel Coats testified during a U.S. Senate briefing on May 15, 2017, that despite the nuclear agreement Iran has been hard at work developing Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology. Coats stressed that the range and accuracy of Iranian missiles has steadily improved over time, and stated that the ICBMs would be Iran's “preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them.” The National Intelligence Director also suggested that “progress on Iran's space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies” (Amanda Ulrich, “Iran ‘is still developing ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads in violation of UN resolution,’” Daily Mail, May 12, 2017).

Obama acknowledged that Iran would have no prohibition on getting a weapon capabaility after the deal’s expiration while claiming only the deal “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to the bomb” in the meantime (Roll Call, July 14, 2015). Even with all pathways cut off, he admitted “in year 13, 14, 15 [of the proposed deal], they [Iran] have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero (emphasis added)” (“Transcript: President Obama's Full NPR Interview On Iran Nuclear Deal,” NPR, April 7, 2015).

Iran says it can act much more quickly than Obama forecast. Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in July 2017 that Iran could reactivate the reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb and ramp up enrichment of uranium to the pre-agreement level of 20% within five days (“Iran: Five days needed to ramp up uranium enrichment,” Al Jazeera, August 22, 2017; “Iranian Statements Underscore Weaknesses of Nuclear Deal,” The Tower, September 12, 2017).

Given the loopholes in the nuclear agreement, and the failure of the IAEA to inspect Iran’s military facilities, the organization cannot assure the world that Iran is not continuing its effort to build a nuclear bomb. We do know; however, Iran is violating the letter and spirit of the deal and has become a greater threat to the region and the world since the agreement was signed.


Hamas Does not use Schools as Civilian Shields.


During the war with the Palestinians (the “Al-Aqsa Intifada,”), and operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge, Hamas’s use of civilians as shields was well documented. Hamas, like its radical terrorist Hezbollah cousins in Lebanon, believe that civilians have a dual use in warfare with Israel: they discourage Israeli attacks and create an international public relations disaster for Israel if they are inadvertently killed. Men, women and children are considered expendable.

The most recent example of the strategy of using children as shields was revealed in June 2017 when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) discovered a terror tunnel under two of its schools in the Gaza Strip (Ariane Mandell, “UNRWA discovers Hamas tunnel under Gaza schools,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2017). The report came as no surprise to Israeli officials who recalled finding weapons stored in UNRWA schools during the fighting in 2014 (“Weapons found in UNRWA school for third time in two weeks,” Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2014).

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said, “This tunnel verifies what we have always known, that the cruelty of Hamas knows no bounds as they use the children of Gaza as human shields. Instead of UN schools serving as centers of learning and education, Hamas has turned them into terror bases for attacks on Israel” (Ariane Mandell, “UNRWA discovers Hamas tunnel under Gaza schools,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2017).

Even a Saudi Arabian columnist lambasted Hamas for leading Gaza into a humanitarian disaster and threatening the lives of Palestinians “as it digs tunnels beneath schools, houses and hospitals” to take advantage of residents as “human shields” (Yasser Okbi and Maariv Hashavua, “Saudi newspaper: Hamas digging tunnels and endangering Gaza citizens,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2017).

A spokesperson for UNRWA said, “UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way.” Two months later, the agency announced the tunnel had been sealed (Tovah Lazaroff, “UNRWA closes Hamas tunnel detected under two of its Gaza schools,” Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2017).


Israel’s universities are complicit in the “occupation” and should be boycotted.


Israeli universities generally do not take positions on political issues related to the Palestinian issue, except for encouraging freedom of expression and promoting academic exchanges with universities in the territories. Individual faculty have their own personal opinions. All Israelis seek peace, but you can also find faculty with views associated with the extreme right and left and everything in between. Some are critics of various government policies and advocates for Palestinian rights and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The anti-Semitic nature of the advocates of an academic boycott is exposed by their exclusive focus on Israeli universities. In many other countries, an argument can be made that universities support government policies that may be objectionable, through their research, acceptance of funding from the military and intelligence agencies, and silence in political controversies. Israeli institutions, however, are the only ones subject to an international boycott.

Ultimately, proponents of an academic boycott have no impact on Israeli government policy. They do potentially harm Israeli faculty who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause by cutting them off from colleagues and inhibiting their research. The boycott also precludes dialogue, impedes interactions between Palestinian and Israeli scholars, fosters intolerance and interferes with positive relations between Israeli and Palestinian universities.

Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh has opposed the campaign to boycott Israeli universities: “If we are to look at Israeli society,” he said, “it is within the academic community that we’ve had the most progressive pro-peace views and views that have come out in favor of seeing us as equals....If you want to punish any sector, this is the last one to approach” (Associated Press, June 18, 2006).

Earlier Al-Quds University and Hebrew University issued the following joint statement opposing the BDS campaign:

Our position is based upon the belief that it is through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than through boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved. Bridging political gulfs—rather than widening them further apart—between nations and individuals thus becomes an educational duty as well as a functional necessity, requiring exchange and dialogue rather than confrontation and antagonism. Our disaffection with, and condemnation of acts of academic boycotts and discrimination against scholars and institutions, is predicated on the principles of academic freedom, human rights, and equality between nations and among individuals (Statement on Academic Cooperation, signed in London, May 22, 2005).


Israel denies health care and medical supplies to Gaza.


Despite Gaza being ruled by an organization, Hamas, dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and the threat of terrorist infiltration, about 20,000 Gazans enter Israel each month, mainly for medical treatment. One of those offered medical care was the daughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. In addition, Israel trains hundreds of Palestinian doctors from Gaza (Nidal al-Mughrabi, “With healthcare faltering in Gaza, care in Israel is sought after,” Reuters, April 6, 2017; Marissa Newman, “Hamas leader’s daughter receives medical care in Israel,” Times of Israel, October 19, 2014).

In July 2017, however, the Gaza Strip’s Ministry of Health warned the lives of some 2,500 Palestinian patients were “in danger” because the Palestinian Authority (PA) stopped the transfer of patients from Gaza for treatment abroad. The ministry said the PA also halted the supply of medicine and medical equipment to the hospitals in Gaza (“Gaza: 2,500 patients ‘in danger’ with no access to medical care,” Middle East Monitor, July 5, 2017; Adam Rasgon, “PA has not sent medical shipments to Gaza for over three months,” Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2017; “Palestinian Authority slashes permits for sick Gazans: WHO,” AFP, August 9, 2017).

While Israel is often falsely accused of “collective punishment,” it is the PA that is using this practice against its own people. Palestinians in Gaza are being made to suffer as part of a power play by PA President Mahmoud Abbas who imposed several restrictions on Gaza, including asking Israel to reduce the supply of electricity, in an effort to force Hamas to give up power.


Palestinian reconciliation is a step toward peace.


The announcement that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority has signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas to bring the Gaza Strip under the PA’s control is more likely to hamper efforts to achieve peace than to enhance them. Based on history, it is also uncertain whether the reconciliation will last as prior deals collapsed before they were implemented.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has wanted to resume responsibility for Gaza ever since Hamas seized power in what amounted to a coup in 2007. He did not have the power to do so, but a variety of factors made it possible for him to reach a deal with the help of the mediation of the Egyptian government.

Perhaps the most important variable has been the erosion of Hamas’s position in Gaza. Rather than hurt Israel, the group’s terror campaign only led to the worsening of the plight of Gazans. Israel’s military operations caused some suffering, but the inability of Hamas to govern and provide basic services has been more devastating to the public. Hamas won the last election because of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the group’s reputation for attending to the social welfare of the people. Ten years later, it has become apparent that Hamas is also corrupt – it siphons aid and resources for its fighters at the expense of the people – and unable to meet the basic needs of the people as unemployment has reached epidemic proportions and they literally cannot keep the lights on.

Besides alienating the public, Hamas has seen some of its overseas financial support dry up, though Iran continues to provide millions of dollars to prop it up. Egypt also has maintained a blockade on Gaza and taken measures to stop smuggling, which has been critical to Hamas’s ability to obtain supplies.

While its apparent weakness has been a motivating factor for Hamas to cede power, its long-term strategy should not be ignored. By giving up control over the administration of Gaza, Hamas turns that headache over to Abbas. It can now concentrate on its interest in taking control of the West Bank and its core mission of confronting Israel. Furthermore, according to the deal, the PA will send about 3,000 police to Gaza, but Hamas retains a force estimated at roughly 10 times that number, so it can reassert control at any time.

Egypt had its own reasons for pushing the parties to make a deal. The government is engaged in a daily battle with terrorists in Sinai and the Egyptians will expect Hamas to aid in the fight against them. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also wants to reassert Egypt’s role as the leader of the Arab world, a position it held for decades before losing influence following its peace agreement with Israel (Avi Isacharoff, Fatah-Hamas unity: Rub your eyes in disbelief, Times of Israel, October 12, 2017; Moshe Arens. Reconciliation in Gaza Provides Israel With an Opportunity, Haaretz, October 16, 2017).

Regarding the peace process, the Trump administration apparently supported the Egyptian mediation because it recognized that it could not formulate a peace plan that would exclude Gaza. Negotiations Abbas pursued in the past were also hindered by the fact that he represented only part of the Palestinian people [Amir Tibon.Trump Administration Expresses Support for Historic Step in Palestinian Reconciliation, Haaretz, (October 2, 2017)].

The paradox of this agreement is that the Palestinians could never reach a peace deal while they were divided because Abbas was unable and unwilling to do so. By bringing Hamas into the government, Abbas has guaranteed he will not have to make the compromises necessary to achieve a two-state solution.

Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel and the agreement does not require the group to meet any of the conditions set by the United States and other Western nations for entering discussions with the organization. Hamas is expected to recognize Israel’s right to exist, cease terrorism and agree to abide by past agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians. Worse, from a security standpoint, Hamas is not required to disarm, so it can continue to build up its arsenal of rockets, construct tunnels and engage in terror (Mohamed Nabil Helmy, “Fatah Commits to Resistance Arms, Says Use Exclusive to National Decision,” Asharq al-Awsat, October 12, 2017).

Israel has set a number of conditions for dealing with a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas:

  • Hamas must recognize Israel and desist from terrorism, as per the Quartet conditions;
  • Hamas must be disarmed;
  • The two IDF soldiers’ bodies, and two Israeli civilians held hostage by Hamas, must be returned;
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) must prevent smuggling and exercise full security control in Gaza;
  • The PA must continue to dismantle Hamas terror infrastructures in Judea and Samaria;
  • Hamas must sever ties with Iran; and
  • All funds and humanitarian equipment must flow through the PA to Gaza [Security Cabinet Decision, (October 17, 2017)]

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar immediately rejected these demands, stating “no one in the world can disarm us” “Hamas rejects US demands to disarm and recognize Israel,” Middle East Eye, October 19, 2017).

The reconciliation agreement calls for elections, but Abbas has repeatedly cancelled them for a decade because he knew that he would lose. If he believes this remains true, it is unlikely that elections will be held and the deal will collapse. If elections are held and Hamas wins again, the chance for peace will be reduced to zero.


Hamas modified its position on Israel after reconciling with the Palestinian Authority.


Almost immediately after agreeing to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas made clear its positions toward Israel have not changed. In a speech in Gaza, Yayha Sinwar, the leader of Hamas said, “Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel” (Elior Levy, “Hamas leader Sinwar: Hamas will never recognize Israel,” Ynet, October 19, 2017).

Hamas Deputy Political Chief Saleh el-Arouri traveled to Iran, and declared that Hamas will never agree to lay down arms, recognize the Zionist regime of Israel or sever its ties with the Islamic Republic (“Hamas Never to Recognize Israel: Official,” Tasnim News Agency, October 24, 2017).

The meeting with Iranian leaders was significant because it was an indication that Hamas and Iran also have reconciled after a period of estrangement. Iran, which also regularly threatens to destroy Israel, is now one of the principal financial backers of the terrorist organization. By going to Iran shortly after the Trump administration’s renewed efforts to isolate Tehran, Hamas also exhibited its disdain for American interests.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, made clear the administration position on peace negotiations including Hamas:

The United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties—including to disarm terrorists—and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements (Elior Levy, “Hamas leader Sinwar: Hamas will never recognize Israel,” Ynet, October 19, 2017).


Israel is mistreating Palestinian children by detaining them.


In November 2017, ten Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation calling on the State Department to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military's ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children” (Resources on H.R. 4391, Congresswoman Betty McCollum). The legislation was apparently prompted because of lobbying by anti-Israel organizations disseminating misinformation produced in part by the Palestinian non-governmental organization Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). That bill never came to a vote but was reintroduced in 2019 (“US bill would withhold military aid to Israel over detention of Palestinian kids,” JTA, May 3, 2019).

It is true that Israel detains Palestinians who are under the age of 18. It is also true that these “children” are often involved in violent crimes and are recruited to engage in terrorism by their elders. As famed lawyer and human rights activist Alan Dershowitz noted, “children as young as 13 have stabbed Israelis with scissors, screwdrivers and knives with the aim of inflicting maximum harm” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists,” Gatestone Institute, November 23, 2017). In fact, shortly after the legislation was first introduced a 16-year-old Palestinian hiding a gun was arrested at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Elisha Ben Kimon, “16-year-old Palestinian arrested at Cave of Patriarchs for hiding gun on his person,” Ynetnews, November 27, 2017).

Palestinian minors are most often arrested for stone throwing, which is sometimes treated by the press and Israel’s detractors as inconsequential. In many instances, however, stone throwing, especially directed at moving vehicles, has resulted in serious injuries and some fatalities (The Deadly Reality of Palestinian Rock Throwing, IDF Blog, February 24, 2014). There are also numerous examples of Palestinian teens committing heinous crimes. For example:

  • In July 2017, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed a father and two of his children to death, and seriously injured his wife, while they were eating their Shabbat dinner ( Gili Cohen/Yotam Berger/Jack Khoury, Palestinian Stabs Three Israelis to Death During Family Meal in Settlement Home, Haaretz, July 22, 2017).
  • On March 11, 2011, two Palestinian cousins, ages 18 and 17, murdered five Israelis from the Fogel family in their beds, including children ages 11, 4 and three-months (Yair Altman.  Itamar massacre: Fogel family butchered while sleeping, YNet News, March 13, 2011).

According to the proposed legislation, Israel would be penalized for incarcerating these killers.

As is so often the case, a double standard is applied to Israel. There is no outcry over the Palestinian Authority’s jailing of children or the absence of the type of protections that Israeli law provides its prisoners. None of the members of Congress co-sponsoring the anti-Israel legislation expressed concern, for example, that one of the Palestinians who murdered the Fogels had served a five-year prison sentence while a teen for murdering a female cousin and burning her body. Nor is there any condemnation of the glorification of such killers as occurred on Palestinian television when the relatives of the Fogel family murderers praised the two cousins as “heroes” (Avi Issacharoff, Palestinian TV Airs Show Praising Fogel Family Murderer, Haaretz, January 29, 2012). It is this reverence for the murder of Jews that encourages young Palestinians to engage in violence.

When Member of Knesset Anat Berko introduced legislation allowing imprisonment of terrorists as young as 12, she noted that there have been cases of suicide bombers who were even younger, and that “to those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists,” Gatestone Institute,” November 23, 2017).

In an extensive rebuttal to charges made by DCI-P, the nonprofit watchdog NGO-Monitor noted many problems with their allegations regarding Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors (“Evaluation of the ‘Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’ (HR 2407),” NGO Monitor, May 2, 2019). For example, DCI-P claims that Palestinian minors’ confessions are coerced through torture, but their lawyers can introduce evidence to that effect, if they have any, to have the cases dismissed. Israel’s use of military courts to try juveniles is criticized, but they are the venue required by international law. DCI-P also condemns Israel for arresting some minors at night, but there is no prohibition on such actions, which are usually taken to minimize the possibility of violence. Moreover, “parents of a minor arrested at home are given a form that includes the nature of the suspicion for which the minor is being arrested, the intended place of interrogation, and contact numbers.” Children, like adults, are entitled to consult with counsel before being interrogated and the International Committee of the Red Cross facilitates family visits for Palestinian minors (No Way to Represent a Child: Defense for Children International Palestine's Distortions of the Israeli Justice System, NGO Monitor, October 19, 2017).

It is also misleading to cite the number of juveniles in detention to suggest that Israel is engaged in violating human rights. The number is dependent on the crimes committed. During upsurges of violence, the number of Palestinians arrested rises. The figures also need to be placed in context. According to NGO-Monitor:

IDF statistics show that, since 2013, between 800-1,000 Palestinian minors are arrested annually in areas under Israeli control. Of those arrested, only 450-505 Palestinian minors are prosecuted. In other words, on average, out of a population of one million minors (according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics), less than 85 Palestinian minors are arrested each month, and less than half of them are actually prosecuted. In comparison, nearly 90,000 minors aged 10-17 were arrested in England and Wales between April 2015-March 2016, an average of approximately 7,500 each month. Adjusted for population, the rate of arrests of minors in England and Wales is 5.5 times higher than the West Bank even though it is not in an armed conflict situation (No Way to Represent a Child: Defense for Children International Palestine's Distortions of the Israeli Justice System, NGO Monitor, October 19, 2017).

The United States does not ban the imprisonment of minors for crimes, so why should Israel? Moreover, wouldn’t it provide an incentive for terrorists to recruit more children to engage in violence if they knew minors were immune from justice?


The United States should not have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


“International law makes states the sole determinants of their own capital” (Avi Bell, “Flaw in U.S. Policy: Even PLO Recognizes Israel’s Right to West Jerusalem,” New York Jewish Week, June 17, 2015). Nevertheless, of the 190 nations with which America has diplomatic relations, Israel was the only one whose capital was not recognized by the U.S. government prior to President Donald Trump’s announcement on December 6, 2017. The president’s recognition of Jerusalem was a long overdue step, which actually came months after Russia announced its recognition of Israel’s capital (Raphael Ahren, “In curious first, Russia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Times of Israel, April 6, 2017).

President Trump also pledged to relocate the American embassy and will hopefully encourage other nations to follow suit. Today, the embassy, like all others, is in Tel Aviv, forty miles from Jerusalem. The United States does maintain a consulate in Jerusalem, however, that deals with Israeli Jews in Jerusalem and Palestinians in the territories. The office works independent of the embassy, reporting directly to Washington, and the consul general is not accredited to Israel. His residence is in West Jerusalem. A whole set of rules (e.g., marking the birthplace of Americans born in Jerusalem as Jerusalem rather than Israel) were established to do everything possible to avoid the appearance of U.S. legitimation of Israel’s capital. The United States not only refused to locate its embassy in Jerusalem, but also pressured others not to do so.1

The president’s actions were also consistent with the will of Congress, which passed a resolution in 1990 declaring that “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel” and “must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.” Trump also was following the law known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which required the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, but had been ignored by successive presidents who used a waiver in the legislation allowing them to postpone the move if they deemed it to be in the best interest of the United States.

Critics of the legislation and the president’s action made dire predictions of the Middle East going up in flames because outraged Muslims would violently protest the decision. They also insisted all hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be dashed. The doomsayers are wrong.

It is true that much of the Muslim world was unhappy with the U.S. decision, but it did not erupt in violence. The Palestinians declared three “days of rage” and some violent protests, many staged for the benefit of journalists (Bassam Tawil, “The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech,” Gatestone Institute, December 7, 2017), did occur; however, the reaction in the rest of the Middle East was muted. This was in part because most Arab leaders have reconciled themselves to the reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. They also have no interest in upheaval in their countries, especially given their existing domestic problems and external threats from Iran and radical Islamists.

The recognition of Jerusalem did not harm the peace process because there was no process at the time of the announcement. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to enter negotiations with Israel for the last eight years. If anything, Trump’s decision may have enhanced the prospects for peace by making clear the United States believes that Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty and that Palestinian demands to have a capital in the heart of the city are unrealistic.

As the president said, U.S. recognition does not preclude the parties coming to an agreement on future borders, and Israel has proposed compromises in the past that would allow the Palestinians a capital in, for example, the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis where the Palestinians have already constructed a parliament building.

I would be blind to disclaim the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
—Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University (Etgar Lefkovits, “Nusseibeh: Jews Have Bond with Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Post (November 12, 2001)


Israel is unreasonably barring BDS supporters from Israel.


Several organizations are upset that they were placed on a list of 20 groups that will be barred entry from Israel because of their involvement in the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The government action is portrayed by critics as somehow anti-Democratic and an effort to silence Israel’s critics.

The Interior Ministry has stated, however, that “the fact that an organization is anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian or has a critical agenda toward Israeli government policy, does not, in itself, constitute a reason to deny entry to Israel.” Groups that have been “blacklisted” are those the ministry says support “boycotts and their promotion, actively, continuously and continually.”

More specifically, “denial of entry for activists will be enforced whether they belong to one of the organizations or not, according to the following criteria: 1. Individuals with senior positions or significant roles in the organization, such as board chairman or board members. The definition of the offices in question will vary according to the character of each organization; 2. Key activists who take a consistent and continuous role to promote boycotts within the framework of prominent delegitimization organizations or independently; 3. Institutional officials, such as mayors, who promote such activities in an active and ongoing way; 4. People who arrive in Israel as ‘representatives of one of the prominent delegitimizing organizations. For example, an activist who arrives as a participant in a delegation from a prominent delegitimization organization.’” The ministry also says exceptions may be made for a variety of reasons, including humanitarian considerations (Noa Landau, “Israel’s BDS Blacklist, the Fine Print: Who Will Actually Be Denied Entry to Israel,” Haaretz, January 8, 2018).

Because it is Israel, the new visa regulations have attracted the media’s attention; however, every country has its own restrictions and bars entry to individuals who the government finds objectionable on political, criminal or security grounds.

Applicants for visas to the United States are asked several questions about their political views and activities. These include:

  • Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
  • Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?
  • Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
  • Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
  • Have you ever committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in torture?
  • Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?
  • Have you, while serving as a government official, been responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom?

The USA Patriot Act allows the Secretary of State to bar admission to the United States to “any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.” []

The U.S. government has banned both individuals and members of groups who were convicted of crimes or were viewed as potential security threats. The list of people barred or excluded from the United States includes Irish politician Gerry Adams, British singers Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Boy George, Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, and Austrian diplomat Kurt Waldheim.

Given that the 20 groups on the Israeli “blacklist” are involved in an international campaign to delegitimize Israel with the goal of isolating, if not destroying Israel, is it unreasonable for Israel to deny their leaders entry? Using America’s criteria, doesn’t the Israeli government have grounds to believe their proposed activities would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences?


Talking about Israel’s positive treatment of gays is pinkwashing.


Israel is one of the most progressive countries in the world in terms of recognizing differences based on sexual orientation. Israeli law forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In 2006, Israel hosted “Love Without Borders: WorldPride,” a weeklong event organized by LGBT activists from around the world. In 2012, Tel Aviv was named the World’s Best Gay City by participants in an international competition. The Israeli city garnered 43 percent of votes in the online survey, ranking it far above other, more famous places such as New York City, Sydney and San Francisco (Tel Aviv named world's best gay city, YNet News, November 1, 2012).

By contrast, homosexuals are not protected in Arab and Muslim states, and they are often imprisoned and sometimes executed. In March 2016, for example, a top Hamas commander may have been executed because he was gay [Stuart Weiner.  Executed Hamas commander may have been accused of gay sex, Times of Israel, (March 2, 2016)]. In the Palestinian Authority, sodomy carries a jail term of three to 10 years and gay Palestinians have been known to flee to Israel for safety. In one case, a gay Palestinian seeking asylum in Israel told an Israeli court Palestinian police had arrested, tortured and beaten him because he is openly gay, that most of his family had disowned him, and that he had been warned never to return home (Philip Podoksly, Gay Palestinian to court: Deport me and I’ll be killed, Times of Israel, May 25, 2012).

When supporters of Israel point out these facts, critics sometimes accuse them of “pinkwashing”; that is, ignoring Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians by talking about its good treatment of gays. These issues are entirely separate, however, and no one who discusses gay rights does so to distract from the controversial matters related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

In 2016, the Italian gay rights organization Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti condemned the delegitimization of Israel by LGBT rights groups that use the term “pinkwashing.” The group said, “The alarming increase in political calls by LGBTI groups to boycott Israel diverts from the real battle these group should hold, i.e. the advocacy for the promotion of LGBTI rights among the Palestinian people.” The organization praised Israel for being the only state in the Middle East which protects LGBTI rights and condemned the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for not recognizing the rights of the LGTBI community (Italian gay rights group rejects anti-Israel ‘pinkwashing’ accusation, Times of Israel, November 22, 2016).

Alan Dershowitz has noted this line of attack is a form of bigotry by people who “hate Israel more than they care about gay rights.” Anti-Semites, he says, believe “there must be something sinister at work if Jews do anything positive. The same is now true for the unthinking anti-Israel bigot.” He notes that Israelis who are most supportive of gay rights are typically also advocates of Palestinian rights. “Pinkwashing,” he concludes, “is an anti-Semitic canard” (Alan Dershowitz. Berkeley's student newspaper refuses to publish my response to an anti-Semitic op-ed, so here it is, Washington Examiner, November 7, 2017).


Israel is illegally deporting African asylum seekers.


The United States and many European countries are struggling with the issue of immigration. Millions of people have fled areas of conflict, as well as poor countries, either in search of asylum or economic opportunities. Israel has confronted similar problems; however, a major difference is that it is a much smaller country with less capacity to absorb thousands of penniless refugees who entered the country illegally.

The largescale influx began in 2005 when thousands of refugees fleeing genocide in Darfur, war in southern Sudan, and deprivations in Eritrea began to sneak across the border in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel subsequently upgraded its border security, including a wall in 2017, while other routes for refugees to reach Europe became available, ending the migration.

The number of illegal immigrants in Israel today is estimated at 40,000 (Emanuel Navon, Israel is not Deporting Refugees, Times of Israel, February 1, 2018). The Israeli government considers most of them economic refugees who are seeking jobs; otherwise, they might have stayed in Egypt rather than cross the border. “The state of Israel is too small and has its own problems,” according to Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. “It cannot be used as the employment office of the African continent” (Emma Green, African Deportations Are Creating a Religious Controversy in Israel, The Atlantic, January 30, 2018).

Israel has an obligation to protect people who flee “genocide, war, persecution, and slavery to dictatorial regimes.” Most Africans in Israel, however, do not meet these criteria. Israel does consider the Sudanese from Darfur a special case and have granted temporary resident status to 500 Darfur refugees and is processing others (Emanuel Navon, Israel is not Deporting Refugees, Times of Israel, February 1, 2018).

After years of essentially looking the other way, the government has now decided it is time to act. “Last year, we deported approximately 4,000 and the major effort is to deport most of those who remain, who have infiltrated and are present in Israel illegally,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The government is not planning to send the deportees to countries they fled or where they may be in danger. Reportedly, Israel reached a deal with an African country, believed to be Rwanda, to accept the returning migrants.

In a statement to the cabinet, Netanyahu explained:

First of all, we added approximately 45 positions in order to expedite asylum requests. Genuine refugees and their families will remain in Israel. We have no obligation to allow illegal labor migrants who are not refugees to remain here. They will be sent to another country. Second, international law and the decision of the High Court of Justice here in Israel, allow us to send illegal labor migrants beyond the borders of the state. Third, the designated country to which they are being sent has already absorbed 180,000 refugees under the aegis and supervision of the UN, because the UN considers it to be one of the safest countries in Africa (PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting, Prime Minister's Office, January 28, 2018).

Furthermore, according to Dr. Emmanuel Navon, “Israel is only expelling illegal immigrants who are single, and it has made clear that it will not expel families.” He also noted that other countries routinely expel illegal immigrants. In 2017, Germany expelled 80,000 (Emanuel Navon, Israel is not Deporting Refugees, Times of Israel, February 1, 2018). Unlike Germany, Israel is a small country that does not have the same capacity to absorb large numbers of refugees.

No one should question Israel’s commitment to protecting people fleeing persecution. It was Israel, for example, which accepted Vietnamese boat people at a time when most other countries denied them refuge. Israel is also not acting against the Africans because they are black. Israel has proved through its rescue and absorption of Ethiopian Jews and other people of color that its immigration policy is color blind. Moreover, the Africans are not the only illegal immigrants who are deported; people from Europe, for example, are also sent back to their homes.

Still, the decision to deport the illegals is controversial. Given Jewish history, particularly the refusal of most countries to open their doors to Jews fleeing the Nazis, some Israelis believe the government should provide a haven for the Africans. Israel is acting in accordance with the law, but some argue the government has a moral obligation to show leniency and allow them to stay.


UNRWA has removed biased textbooks from its schools.


On January 16, 2018, the State Department notified the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that the U.S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment. The letter said that additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA (Matthew Lee.  The U.S. Has Cut Half of Its Aid to Palestinian Refugees Pending U.N. Reform, Time, January 17, 2018).

Critics have identified many problems associated with UNRWA, starting with its very existence as a separate entity from the UN agency responsible for assisting all other refugee populations. One frequently cited concern is UNRWA’s use of textbooks in its schools produced by the Palestinian Authority that indoctrinate students using material that is hostile to Israel, ahistorical and anti-Semitic.

In April 2017, UNRWA pledged to modify the curricula in its schools and remove materials that compromised the organization’s required political neutrality. For example, UNRWA said it would remove maps of Palestine from the river to the sea, a reference saying “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine,” and the terms “the occupation,” “occupation soldiers,” “the prisoners” and “the separation fence” from math or Arabic exercises.

Image from Palestinian website
reproduced by MEMRI

The UNRWA decision came shortly after UN Watch released a study examining more than 40 Facebook pages operated by school teachers, principals, and other employees of UNRWA. “The examples of incitement in this report include UNRWA teachers and staffers celebrating the terrorist kidnapping of Israeli teenagers, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centers, endorsing various forms of violence, erasing Israel from the map, praising Hitler and posting his photo, and posting overtly anti-Semitic videos, caricatures, and statements” (UNRWA school teachers post Holocaust-denying videos, celebrate Hitler, UN Watch, February 2, 2017).

The proposed changes in the UNRWA curricula were met with a storm of protest from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, some UNRWA employees and Arab members of the Knesset. The PA Education Minister Sabri Saidam declared that Palestinians want “education that will create liberation” from the “occupation.” Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi said “it is the right of Palestinians under occupation to incite against it,” and Knesset member Hanin Al-Zo'abi insisted that “inciting against the occupation and its crimes is not just a right, but a human obligation.” Hamas’s Refugee Affairs division director, Dr. ‘Issam ‘Adwan, called the curriculum changes “a political crime” (C. Jacob.  UNRWA Working To Amend Curricula In Its West Bank And Gaza Schools; PA, Hamas Oppose This, MEMRI, April 6, 2017).

UNRWA appears to have caved into the demands of those defending the curricula. A few months after the UNRWA announcement, Aaron Groiss and Ronni Shaked examined 201 textbooks used in grades one to 12, 77 of which were published in 2016 and 2017 by the PA, and found them rife with extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments (Aaron Groiss and Ronni Shaked, “School books of the Palestinian Authority (PA): The Attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to Peace,” Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Middle East Forum, September 2017). Groiss and Shaked concluded that PA textbook attitudes toward Jews were “based on three fundamentals: “De-legtimization, demonization and indoctrination to violent struggle instead of peace.”

Groiss and Shaked found that textbooks suggest Jewish holy places in “Palestine,” such as the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are actually “Muslim holy places usurped by Jews.” The word “Israel” is almost completely absent, replaced by pejorative terms such as “Zionist occupation.” The Arab-Israeli conflict is referred to as “the Arab-Zionist conflict,” which the report says “signals an intensification of the nonrecognition attitude regarding Israel on the part of the Palestinian educators.”

One example of the demonization of Jews is found in a textbook description of the early Zionist pioneers. “The arrival of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then replacing the original inhabitants after their expulsion or extermination.”

While Palestinian officials often deny they engage in incitement, PA textbooks promote violence to liberate the disputed territories from the “occupation.” In addition to the West Bank, books also discuss liberating areas inside pre-1967 Israel, such as Haifa, Acre and Jaffa. One 2017 text describes a Molotov- cocktail attack on an Israeli civilian bus as a “barbecue party.” Another book glorifies the female terrorist who killed more than 30 civilians in an attack on another Israeli bus.

In a February 2018 update to the earlier study, Groiss reported that books used by UNRWA published by the PA since 2016, “are generally more radical than their predecessors.” The new books, for example, “omit the few references that existed in the older ones to the Jewish presence in the country in antiquity.”

The newer books also find ways to demonize Israel and Jews in subjects unrelated to the conflict, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and vocational education. Thus, for example, a physics discussion of sound waves states that “the Zionist occupation forces prohibit the call for prayer from the minarets of Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The importance of the human spine is demonstrated in biology with “the case of a boy who was severely injured by an object left in the field following ‘the Zionist aggression against Gaza’” (Arnon Grioss, Israel, Jews and Peace in the New PA Textbooks Used in UNRWA Schools Today – Final Study,, February 2018).

The furor over changing the textbooks was understandable given the Palestinian leadership’s desire to infuse future generations with a hatred of Israel and a revisionist history of the region. UNRWA, however, has a legal and moral obligation to purge its schools of textbooks that promote the Palestinian political agenda and to instead provide students with accurate information that is devoid of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias.


Israel is attacking Syria without provocation.


On Saturday, February 10, 2018, Iran launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Syria, which violated Israeli sovereign airspace. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) dispatched an Apache attack helicopter to intercept the UAV and destroyed it.

“What we've known for a long time is now clear to everyone: Iran wants to establish a front in Syria that is aimed at harming Israel. We are not looking to escalate the situation, but we have abilities that we are not afraid to use,” said Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, Head of the Northern Command (“Air Force strikes Iranian targets in Syria,” IDF, February 11, 2018).

The IAF subsequently destroyed the vehicle controlling the UAV located at the Syrian T-4 Airbase near Tadmor. “We carried out a wide-scale attack on the aerial defense system - radars, rockets, batteries, posts, and we performed a substantial strike, which as can be seen - they are trying to hide” said Brig. Gen. Amnon Ein Dar, Head of the Air Group in the IAF. The Israeli counterattack reportedly destroyed a significant portion of Assad’s long range SA-5 integrated air defense network outside Damascus (“‘More Israeli strikes against Iranian positions likely as Tehran seeks to destabilize region,’ says analyst,” Arab News, February 11, 2018).

During the attack, a Syrian surface-to-air missile shot down an F-16 fighter jet. The two pilots ejected and parachuted to safety in Israeli territory. One pilot was seriously injured, the other was lightly wounded.

Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research at Military Intelligence, suggested Iran was testing Israel: “Iran is frustrated that Israel is preventing it from achieving the three goals it has set for itself: to transfer weapons of equal brevity to Hezbollah, to establish a wide array of military bases in Syria and to create a prolonged confrontation with Israel on the Golan Heights. In the first and second missions, they succeed far less than their expectations, and on the third mission they fail miserably” (Gilad Zwick, “Yossi Kuperwasser on the events in the north: ‘Israeli success, Tehran frustrated,” Meta, February 10, 2018).

As to suggestions Israel’s response was disproportionate, Reuven Ben-Shalom noted the action was “totally consistent with Israeli doctrine – if you target Israel you will be targeted back.” He added that Israel sent the Syrians and Iranians a message by its attack, that it had the ability to detect and intercept the UAV, that it had the intelligence to identify where it came from and who was controlling it, and that it had the capability to strike deep inside Syria (Reuven Ben-Shalom, “Questions Following A ‘Day Of Battle,’” Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2018).

In a statement, the IDF said it “will continue to operate against attempts to infiltrate Israeli airspace and will act with determination to prevent any violations of Israel’s sovereignty” (“White House: Israel Has Right to Defend Itself,” VOA News, February 11, 2018).

A White House statement said, “Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria” (“White House: Israel Has Right to Defend Itself,” VOA News, February 11, 2018). This position was reinforced by a Pentagon statement, “We share the concerns of many throughout the region over Iran’s destabilizing activities that threaten international peace and security, and we seek greater international resolve in countering Iran’s malign activities” (“‘More Israeli strikes against Iranian positions likely as Tehran seeks to destabilize region,’ says analyst,” Arab News, February 11, 2018).

Rather than escalate hostilities, both sides seemed determined not to do so. Israel, however, reiterated its concern that Iran is trying to establish air and naval bases inside Syria to provide arms to Hezbollah and to enhance its capability to launch attacks on Israel.

“This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100 percent correct” (Judah Ari Gross, “IDF accuses Iran of setting up air base outside Syrian city of Palmyra,” Times of Israel, February 10, 2018).


Palestinians refuse to cooperate with Israeli security forces.


The leadership of the Palestinian Authority routinely criticizes Israel and has refused to engage in peace negotiations for nearly a decade. Nevertheless, quietly, behind the scenes, PA security forces cooperate with Israeli forces to maintain order and to prevent the escalation of violence.

On February 12, 2018, for example, two Israeli soldiers inadvertently drove into Jenin, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, and were surrounded by angry Palestinians who attacked their jeep with rocks and chairs. The windshield was shattered, and the female Israeli soldier’s hair was pulled, and her face was bloodied as the mob tried to get her weapon. PA Security forces came to their rescue and escorted them to safety (Anna Ahronheim and Adam Rasgon, “Liberman Praises Security Coordination With Palestinians,” Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2018).

More than 500 Israelis strayed into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank in 2017 and were returned to Israel unharmed (Neri Zilber And Ghaith Al-Omari, “The Hush-Hush Deal That Keeps the Middle East From Exploding,” Daily Beast, February 12, 2018).

Following the safe return of the soldiers, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the Palestinian security officials. “The Palestinian officers and the security coordination deserve a good word,” he said. “The Palestinians also understand that the security coordination is a mutual interest, which is why we work to preserve it” (Anna Ahronheim and Adam Rasgon, “Liberman Praises Security Coordination With Palestinians,” Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2018).

According to Zilber and Al-Omari, Israeli-Palestinian security coordination includes “dialogue and intelligence sharing; counterterrorism; deconfliction during Israeli military raids into PA-controlled areas of the West Bank; and riot control.”

Security cooperation is mutually beneficial because it helps Israel protect its citizens and reduces threats to the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. Both sides, for example, have an interest in preventing Hamas from establishing a foothold that would allow it to launch terror attacks against Israel and menace its rivals in the ruling Fatah party.

Israel acts on its own when security forces believe it is necessary, but often coordinate their actions with the PA to ensure no misunderstandings occur. This has led some Palestinians to complain that the PA is “collaborating” with Israel.

The United States recognizes the value of Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation and has provided financial and logistical support for the Palestinians. “For over a decade a small mission led by a U.S. three-star general has been working out of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to help train, equip, and otherwise support Palestinian Authority forces,” according to Zilber and Al-Omari. In addition, they note, the CIA has run a separate program mentoring the PA’s intelligence services.

The PA, however, plays a double game, supporting the “armed struggle” while moderating the level of violence directed at Israelis to discourage any large-scale response. After the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, for instance, the PA ensured that protests did not get out of hand, but, simultaneously, the PA incites violence through its media, the glorification of terrorists and its “pay-for-slay” policy of providing salaries to Palestinians in Israeli jails and the families of “martyrs.”


All Israelis carry guns.


The percentage of Israelis who own guns is very small and the restrictions on acquiring firearms strict. A total of 135,000 Israeli citizens are licensed to own guns, and more than one-quarter of those are employed in security-related jobs (Isabel Kershner, “Is Israel a model when it comes to guns, as Mike Huckabee says?” New York Times, February 20, 2018). The United States has one firearm per capita, the highest in the world; Israel is ranked 81st with .073 firearms per capita (Janet Rosenbaum, Israel's gun laws can make the U.S. Safer too, New York Post, February 12, 2018).

Most Israeli men and women serve in the military, so they have been trained in the proper use of firearms. Still, they cannot get permits for their own weapons until they are 21. Those without military training must wait until they are 27. In addition to reaching a certain age, applicants for licenses must typically work in security-related fields or live in a dangerous area. Some farmers, tour guides and hunters are also eligible to own firearms. Applicants must go through a security check, take a course in shooting and gun safety and get a doctor to certify that they do not suffer from a mental illness and are not taking any medication that could impair alertness. Forty percent of all applications are rejected by the government (Janet Rosenbaum, Israel's gun laws can make the U.S. Safer too, New York Post, February 12, 2018).

Once you receive a license, it is necessary to be certified by an instructor at a shooting range once a year and the permit must be renewed every three years. Permit holders are allowed to own only one handgun and limited to the purchase of 50 rounds of ammunition. Rifles and a larger number of bullets are only licensed to people, mostly in security-related jobs, who can prove a need for them. Gun owners are responsible for their weapons and can be prosecuted if it is lost or stolen, unless it can be proven the gun was taken from a locked safe (Yael Shahar, Why school shootings don't happen in Israel, Haaretz, October 7, 2015).  


The Palestinian Authority has stopped payments to terrorists.


During their meeting in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017, President Donald Trump told Mahmoud Abbas to end the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy of providing salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, reiterating the demand he had made in their May 3 meeting at the White House (Nathan Guttman, “How Payments To Terrorists Became An Issue At The Trump-Abbas Meeting,” Forward, May 4, 2017;Jack Moore, “Trump Raged At Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas In Bethlehem Meeting: ‘You Lied To Me,’” Newsweek, May 29, 2017).

According to Issa Karake, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Abbas told Trump he would not “stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).” Other Palestinian officials made similar comments (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Did the PA lie to the US Secretary of State?” Palestinian Media Watch, June 14, 2017).

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson subsequently told the Palestinians, “You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you” (Eric Cortellessa, “Tillerson waters down statement that Palestinians ‘changed policy’ of terror payments,” Times of Israel, June 14, 2017). The message was reinforced by Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt in a meeting with Palestinian officials on June 20, 2017 (Kushner kicks off Mideast peace push with first solo visit, Associated Press, June 21, 2017).

Instead of ending the payments, however, the PA reportedly increased them in 2018 by nearly $56 million after distributing $347 million in 2017 (Lahav Harkov, “Palestinians Increase Payments To Terrorists To $403 Million,” Jerusalem Post, (March 6, 2018). Approximately 7 percent of the PA budget is dedicated to terrorism.

Angered by the Palestinians’ use of American tax dollars to fund terror attacks that have killed Americans as well as Israelis, Congress is considering legislation to cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues the “pay-for-slay” policy. The Taylor Force Act, is named for Taylor Force an American Army veteran who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa. The bill was passed by the House in December 2017 and has bipartisan support in the Senate.


Israel's response to the Gaza protests is unreasonable.


In 2005, Israel withdrew every civilian and soldier from the Gaza Strip. From that point on, the Palestinians had the opportunity to build the infrastructure for a state. Instead, Hamas staged a coup, took over the area and devoted much of the available resources to building terror tunnels, rockets and other weapons at the expense of caring for the people.

In yet another example of neglecting the needs of the people, Hamas chose to once again use men, women and children as human shields for their violent activities. Thousands of people were bused by Hamas to the border fence with Israel to riot.

Israel was put in a no-win situation. If troops did nothing, terrorists could attack soldiers and place bombs along the fence, and the mob could cross into Israel and threaten the population. If Israel took measures to stop them, any injuries could be exploited for propaganda purposes. The Palestinians have learned over the years they may lose battles but can often win public sympathy by orchestrating photo ops and making up casualty statistics the media will unquestioningly repeat to tar Israel’s image and prompt Western nations to criticize Israel’s actions.

Hamas is pursuing this strategy again with its “Great March of Return.” The premise of what amounts to a mass effort to overrun Israel’s sovereign border is that the Jewish state has no right to exist and must be replaced by an Islamic state.

The Palestinians publicized the march as a peaceful protest, but it was not. According to Israeli defense officials Hamas fighters practiced breaching the fence, rushing IDF posts and abducting Israeli soldiers and civilians (“As IDF gears for protests near Gaza border, Hamas drills abduction scenarios,” Israel Hayom, April 11, 2018). As soon as the first demonstrations began, marchers threw rocks, Molotov cocktails, burning tires and other projectiles at Israeli soldiers. Mixed among the marchers were terrorists with more lethal weapons. In addition, while marchers tried to distract Israeli forces, other Hamas terrorists sought to infiltrate Israel and place bombs along the fence (Judah Ari Gross, 15 Gazans said killed, 1,100 hurt in clashes at massive border protest, Times of Israel, March 30, 2018). On May 14 alone, here is a sample of the threats Israeli forces had to neutralize (“IDF prepares to face more Palestinian rioting on Nakba Day,” Ynet, May 15, 2018):

  • 12:58 p.m. - Bomb explodes.
  • 1:15 p.m. - A terror cell sought to plant explosives by the border fence and opened fire at IDF forces.
  • 1:30 p.m. - Fire opened at IDF forces.
  • 1:45 p.m. - Fire opened at IDF forces by eight terrorists.
  • 2:09pm - Three bombs explode.
  • 2:53 p.m. - Five pipe bombs exploded.
  • 3:10pm - Bomb explodes.
  • 7:02 p.m. - Terrorists opened fire at IDF troops.
  • 17 kites carrying flammable materials were flown from Gaza into Israel, causing fires in 23 locations.

No country would allow a mob of civilians backed by terrorists to storm its border. Israel responded with a combination of riot control measures aimed at minimizing civilian injuries and eliminating threats from Hamas fighters armed with knives, guns, bombs and other weapons. The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman posted a photo a Palestinian protester who was shot at the Gaza border while holding a weapon. “Didn’t you say the march today was going to be non-violent and without weapons? Who are you trying to fool?” IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee wrote on his Arabic Twitter page (@AvichayAdraee; Hagay HaCohen, IDF Releases Images of Weapons Found After Friday Terrorist Attempt, Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2018).

Hamas claims to follow Islamic law but has no qualms about ignoring the tradition of keeping young children from a battlefield. A dignitary from the Al-Sawarka tribe in Gaza declared:

The Palestinian people shall liberate its land with blood, with martyrs, with women, and with children. We shall never relinquish our land, the land of our fathers and of our forefathers. We shall return with all our might. We shall return as liberators, with our heads held high, and carrying the banner of “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger” (Gaza Tribal Dignitary on Hamas TV: We Shall Liberate Our Land with Martyrs, Women and Children, Take Down the Border with the Fingernails of Our Children, MEMRI, March 29, 2018).

One of the human shields was a seven-year-old girl who was returned to her family by IDF soldiers (Elior Levy, IDF posts photo of Palestinian protester with weapon, YNet News, March 31, 2018).

Sadly, when people violently attack troops, injuries are inevitable. According to various reports, as many as 32 people were killed during the two days of rioting. At least 26 were terrorist operatives or identified with terrorist organizations. All but two were men between the ages of 19 and 45. The others were minors with estimated ages between 14 and 16 (Oded Granot, Civilians as a human shield, Israel Hayom, April 1, 2018; Ben Caspit, Israel's Gaza Nightmare, al-Monitor, April 2, 2018; Yonah Jeremy Bob, “Report: 80% Of Palestinians Killed In Gaza Border Crisis Were ‘Terrorists,’” Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2018). Hamas subsequently disclosed it paid $200-$500 to Palestinians who were wounded and $3,000 to the families of those killed (Adam Rasgon, “Ahead Of Fresh Standoff, Hamas Reveals Payouts To Injured Protesters,” Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2018). 

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Islamic Affairs and Supreme Sharia Judge, accused Hamas of deliberately encouraging civilians to endanger themselves: “You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we’ll go to the TV and media with strong declarations” (Itamar Marcus, “Hamas is sending civilians in Gaza to die for media coverage, says Abbas’ advisor,” Palestinian Media Watch, April 8, 2018). In another sermon, he said, “'The leadership in Gaza is having a good time…They gamble on the life of the young, when they have many agendas and wish to revive themselves with the blood of our people” (Yasser Okbi, “Abbas advisor: Return Marches gamble with the lives of women and children,” Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2018).

In addition to putting innocents directly in harm’s way, Hamas appears determined to damage the local environment and risk people’s lives in the process. Inciting the public to set tires on fire to create a smokescreen to allow terrorists to infiltrate Israel and attack soldiers is doubly dangerous. First, the fires create a false sense of security that protestors can riot with impunity and, second, they are extremely dangerous. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “tire fires often become major hazardous incidents affecting entire communities—frequently requiring neighborhood evacuations and long, drawn-out fire extinguishing operations.” In addition to releasing toxic air pollutants, the oil from burnt tires seeps into the ground and harms the soil and pollutes the water (“Tire Fires,” EPA).

Protestors again approached the Gaza border on April 13. This time the turnout was considerably smaller, estimated at 10,000, and fewer rioted. One Palestinian was reported killed (Seth J. Frantzman, “Three weeks: How Gaza’s mass protests are failing to make an impact,” Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2018). Two days later, Palestinians flew a kite carrying a fire bomb over the border from Gaza into Israel, where it caused a small fire in an agricultural field outside Kibbutz Kissufim, a Jewish community near the Gaza Strip. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, preventing major damage. No injuries were reported.

On April 20, protestors returned for a fourth riot, but the number was again considerably smaller, estimated at 3,000. The IDF dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to stay away from the border fence, but many tried to breach the fence anyway. Others burned tires and again attempted to fly kites with incendiary devices over the border. Israeli forces responded with the usual riot control measures. Four Palestinians were killed, including a 15-year-old boy. The circumstances related to the boy’s death were being investigated (“IDF probing report, video of 15-year-old said killed in Gaza clashes,” Times of Israel, April 21, 2018).

Protests directed at the fence continued April 27. According to the New York Times, “Those assaulting it threw firebombs and rolled burning tires at the fence to try to melt it; at least some carried pistols, according to both the Israeli military and Palestinian witnesses” (Iyad Abuheweila and David M. Halbfinger, “Plan to Storm Fence Gets Bloody Preview in Gaza,” New York Times, April 27, 2018).

The sixth week of protests on May 4 were again marked by efforts by Palestinians to damage the border fence and cross into Israel. The IDF also reported that Palestinians crossed the border fence at one location and placed firebombs before returning to Gaza. Dozens of Palestinians also broke into the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for merchandise entering Gaza, and set fire to the gas pipeline that supplies fuel to the Strip. They did not get through to the Israeli side. The protestors caused millions of dollars in damage to the pipeline, which will worsen the economic plight of the people in Gaza. No fatalities were reported.

Protestors returned on May 11. Once again, some attempted to fly kites with incendiary devices into Israel to set fire to agricultural fields. To prevent these attacks, Israel began deploying drones to cut the strings of the kites. Amateur drone racers were also used to fly through the kites to shred them or down them with the help of fishhooks.

The Israel Air Force dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip warning Palestinians not to approach the Israeli border on May 14, 2018, or take part in any violent activity aimed at damaging the border fence or harming the soldiers deployed along it.

To the rioters, you are taking part in violent riots which jeopardize your lives. Hamas is taking advantage of you in order to hide its failures and is threatening you and your family members.’ well-being. Do not let Hamas cynically use you as its puppet. Stay away from the security fence, from terror instigators and the violent rioters! Save yourselves and prioritize building your future!

A second leaflet accused the Islamist group of prioritizing the protests over the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s citizens:

Hamas promised to improve the Gaza Strip's infrastructure – have they? Hamas promised to establish new medical and educational centers – have they? Hamas promised to tend to civilians' needs – have they? Hamas promised that participating in their riots would improve your lives – Do you think that'll happen?

Hamas planned to mobilize 100,000 people to attempt to break down the fence and attack Israeli communities. The group fell far short of its goal. An estimated 40,000 demonstrators threw stones at soldiers and burned tires on May 14 as the United States formally opened its embassy in Jerusalem. The IDF killed three terrorists who tried to plant an explosive device in the Rafah and the IAF launched multiple airstrikes at Hamas targets inside Gaza.

“I saw with my own eyes Hamas activists pushing people [including] women and children to the fence,” one soldier told the Jerusalem Post. Another said he saw one man pushed to the border in a wheelchair before he stood up and ran away (Anna Ahronheim, “Gaza Border Residents Speak To The ‘Post’ About The Tension In Air,” Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018). An IDF official said, “Hamas placed many women at the front in an effort to make it difficult for us to deal with terror targets.” Hamas was also encouraging children and teenagers to cross the fence to steal IDF equipment.

Reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob described what he saw on May 14: “While there were nonviolent Palestinians demonstrating, thousands of Palestinians were also involved in more aggressive or hostile actions, and the numbers were so large that it was hard to imagine that most of them were not pawns” (Yonah Jeremy Bob, “To The Gaza Front And Back: Smoke, Fire, Tragedy And Calm,” Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018).

During the protests Israeli forces captured several Palestinians attempting to cross the border from Gaza and learned details of Hamas tactics. For example, the Shin Bet discovered Hamas offers Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip $100 if all family members participate in the protests. All schools and higher education institutions in Gaza were closed and Hamas forced merchants to declare a general strike so Palestinians would not have other activities on the days of protests. Hamas provides transportation, tires to burn, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites. Hamas terrorists are forbidden to approach the fence so they will not be shot or apprehended by the security forces. They are only to advance if the fence is breached, in which case their assignment is to carry out terror attacks.

Apparently, Hamas was so confident they would succeed in breaching the fence on May 14, 2018, they sent messages via social media informing Palestinians their leaders would be giving victory speeches from Israeli communities – Ismail Haniyeh from Nahal Oz, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Khalil al-Hayya in Kfar Aza and Nafed Azzam in Be’eri (“Israel TV: Confident Hamas planned victory rallies for its leaders inside Israel,” Times of Israel, May 19, 2018).

According to the  Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, 124 Palestinians have died in all the riots, including 62 on May 14, the highest one day toll (“Uneasy Calm Falls Over Gaza After Israel Kills Scores at Protests,” New York Times, May 15, 2018; Declan Walsh and Isabel Kershner, “After Deadly Protests, Gazans Ask: What Was Accomplished?” New York Times, May 18, 2018). More than 3,500 have been wounded. A Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, said in an interview that 50 of the Gazans killed on May 14 were members of the terror group  as were at least 50 percent of those who died before (Joshua Davidovich, “Hamas: 50 Gazans killed Monday were members of group,” Times of Israel, May 16, 2018). The Meir Amit center identified 32 of the 40 who died in the first four riots with terrorist organizations (“Analysis of the Identities of Gazans Killed During the ‘Great Return March,’” Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, April 25, 2018).

On May 24, 2018, Israel’s High Court of Justice declared the IDF’s rules of engagement were legal. The Jerusalem Post noted that “due to the high esteem in which the High Court is held overseas, the decision will make it more difficult for the International Criminal Court to declare the IDF’s conduct a violation of international law” (Yonah Jeremy Bob, “High Court Declares Idf Conduct On Gaza Border Legal,” Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2018).

Predictably, in an effort to win sympathy the Palestinians and their supporters claim Israel is engaged in a “massacre.” The number of casualties is not what defines a massacre, however, as Ron Ben-Yishai observed: “A massacre is a situation in which the helpless victims are completely under the mercy of the stronger side, as it kills them while they are unable to change their fate. But [the Gazans] had a choice – they could’ve not tried to breach the border fence, and then they wouldn’t have been killed.” He added, the people who were killed “were not defending their homes from an Israeli invasion, they were trying to invade Israel” (Ron Ben-Yishai, “Hamas’s march of folly,” Ynet, May 14, 2018).

A senior officer told Haaretz that snipers are only permitted to shoot at the legs of people approaching the border unless they have weapons and threaten Israelis’ lives. The officer said some of the deaths of Palestinians were unintentional, the result of a protester bending down, a sniper missing his target or a bullet ricocheting (Amos Harel, “Most Killings of Palestinians During Gaza Protests Unintentional, Senior Israeli Officer Says,” Haaretz, April 29, 2018).

The Egyptians were furious with the protests and blamed Hamas for the bloodshed. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was summoned urgently to Egyptian intelligence service headquarters in Cairo on May 14, 2018, where General Intelligence Service head Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel told him “in no uncertain terms, that the blood of the dead was on his and Sinwar’s hands. They even showed him images of Hamas operatives paying teenagers to go die near the fence.”

The Egyptians “made it clear to him [Haniyeh] that the Hamas leadership will be held responsible for any more deaths in border riots. They told him history won’t forgive the Hamas leadership for such senseless deaths.” Kamel then demanded that Haniyeh “order his people to cease the border riot campaign immediately” (Daniel Siryoti, “Egypt rebukes Hamas leader over deaths in Gaza border ‎riots,” Israel Hayom, May 16, 2018).

Israel also continued to do what it could to ameliorate suffering in Gaza. Despite Palestinian protestors setting fires and damaging the Kerem Shalom Crossing, Israel sent trucks loaded with medical supplies, food and diapers to Gaza on May 15. Palestinian officials allowed the delivery of medical supplies but sent back 14 trucks full of food and diapers (Judah Ari Gross, “Israel reopens Gaza crossing, but Palestinians turn back some trucks,” Times of Israel, May 15, 2018).

The Israeli public supported the actions of the military to defend the border. Despite the number of casualties, 71% of Israelis agreed the IDF’s open-fire policy during the clashes at the border is justified (Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann, “The Peace Index: April  2018,” Israel Democracy Institute and Evans Program at the University of Tel-Aviv, May 2, 2018).

Palestinians, however, started to question the strategy of their leaders. “Nothing achieved,” Mohammed Haider told the New York TImes. “People are dead. They deceived us that we would breach the fence. But that didn’t happen” (Declan Walsh and Isabel Kershner, “After Deadly Protests, Gazans Ask: What Was Accomplished?” New York Times, May 18, 2018). “And Hamas is no closer to improving the lives of increasingly restless Gazans. The group lacks money to even pay public employees’ salaries or other expenses of governing” the Times journalists added.

As expected, the Palestinians and their supporters demanded that the UN scrutinize Israel’s actions and ignore the provocations by Hamas. The United States knew this would lead to a one-sided attack on Israel and blocked a draft UN Security Council statement calling for an investigation of the border clashes (US blocks UN Security Council statement on Gaza violence, AFP, April 1, 2018). Another effort to to condemn Israel on and deploy an international security force in Gaza was mounted by the Palestinians with the help of Kuwait at the Security Council on May 20, 2018, which was also opposed by the United States and Israel.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council censured Israel for “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force” and called for an independent investigation into the killing of rioters in the Gaza border clashes ( Itamar Eichner, “Israel, US attempt to block Security Council resolution on Gaza international force,” Ynet, May 20, 2018). The United States criticized the HRC resolution as did Israel. The Foreign Ministry said the HRC “once again has proven itself to be a body made up of a built-in anti-Israel majority, guided by hypocrisy and absurdity.” Israel said it would not cooperate with the inquiry that is not interested in the truth, “but rather to impair Israel’s right to self-defense, and to demonize the Jewish state” (“MFA response to the UNHRC resolution,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 18, 2018) ).

The march was also designed to send a message to the Palestinian Authority, which we learned from the Palestinian Papers was prepared to compromise on the demand that five million Palestinian refugees be given the opportunity to return to “their homes.” Palestinian negotiators know that Israel will never agree to allow millions of Palestinians who claim to be refugees to flood Israel. Hamas, however, insists the refugee issue is non-negotiable. “The [Palestinian] right of return is a national interest and no one in a position of authority will forgo it,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Daniel Siryoti, Hamas says disappointed by low turnout for Gaza border protest, Israel Hayom, April 1, 2018).

To further emphasize the uncompromising goal of Hamas, senior military leader Yahya Sinwar declared, “The March of Return will continue… until we remove this transient border.” The protests “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and ‘return’… Our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine” (David Horowitz, Just in case anybody forgot what Hamas’s ‘March of Return’ is really all about, Times of Israel, March 31, 2018).

Yossi Kuperwasser observed that “those people who claim they want to ‘return’ are not refugees. They are Palestinians living in Palestinian territory under a Palestinian government that denies them the ability to have a better life and better housing because of its commitment to the struggle against Zionism. Their grandparents left their homes 70 years ago in the context of a war, in which Arab armies expected to destroy the nascent Jewish State and bring the residents back to reap the spoils left behind by the Jews” (Yossi Kuperwasser, “The Conflict in Gaza: Three Ways to View It,” JCPA, May 14, 2018).

On April 27, Al-Aqsa TV aired footage of the “Fence Cutters’ Unit” in Gaza chanting: “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad has begun to return.” One of the members declared: “Today is the day of the march toward our occupied and robbed Palestinian lands. Today, we cut the Zionist enemy’s main barbed-wire fence on the Gaza border….today we shall enter our occupied lands, and ignite a revolution against the Zionist enemy, in order to proclaim, loud and clear, that this enemy is destined for perdition….We are about to liberate our blessed Palestinian land.” He then warned Jews living near the border, “Leave immediately, before it is too late! The Palestinian revolution will not cease until victory or martyrdom!” (“Members of Gaza ‘Fence Cutters' Unit" Proclaims: Victory or Martyrdom! - Scenes from Gaza ‘Return March,’” MEMRI, April 27, 2018).

As journalist Yossi Klein Halevi noted:

The March of Return is an explicit negation of a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza coexisting beside Israel. If Palestinians living in Gaza—a part of Palestine, under Hamas rule—still see themselves as refugees intent on “returning” to the Jewish state, then the only concession that can satisfy their aspirations is Israel’s national suicide. The real message of the protests is that the conflict is not about undoing the consequences of 1967, when the West Bank and Gaza came under Israeli rule in the Six-Day War, but about overturning 1948—when Israel was born….the goal is the creation of a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, erasing Israel (Yossi Klein Halevi, “Israelis, Palestinians and the Necessary Injustice of Partition,” Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2018).

While Hamas says that its goal is to erase the border as part of its effort to destroy Israel, Israeli officials see protecting the border as essential to peace. “What we’re doing there in Gaza is something we have to do,” according to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. “Especially those who believe in having separation from the Palestinians, getting into a peace agreement, having borders – you have to make clear that borders are respected” (Michael Arnold and Saud Abu Ramadan, “In Gaza Camps, Palestinian Dream of Return Still Burns Bright,” Bloomberg, May‎ ‎14‎, ‎2018‎).

And for anyone who doubts Hamas is motivated by Jew-hatred, Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV broadcast a sermon delivered in East Jabalya, Gaza, on March 30, 2018, in which the preacher said that the “blessed land” was being “trampled by the accursed descendants of apes and pigs, the remnants of the brutal, savage, and barbaric colonialism” (Friday Sermon at Gaza "Return March": Our Blessed Land Is Being Trampled by the Accursed Descendants of Apes and Pigs, MEMRI, March 30, 2018).

In March 2018 alone, at least 23 Palestinians were killed in Syria, and 3,685 have died in the civil war; however, the media has never been interested in Arabs killing Palestinians (@KhaledAbuToameh). Instead, the media was drawn to the Palestinian narrative about the fighting in Gaza. Predictably, the press repeated Hamas claims about casualties and printed headlines which scrubbed Hamas from the conflict and created the impression the Israeli military was shooting peaceful protestors rather than rioters and terrorists. For example, a New York Times headline read, “Israeli military kills 15 Palestinians in Confrontations at Gaza Border.” Reuters went with “Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in Gaza border protests: Gaza medics.” The Los Angeles Times reported: “15 Palestinians reported killed by Israeli fire as Gaza border protest builds.” CNN ran with “Gaza protests: 17 Palestinians killed in confrontations with Israeli forces” (Erielle Davidson, Western Media Scrub Mention Of Hamas From Headlines On Israeli Clash, The Federalist, April 3, 2018). These reports also fail to mention that the IDF is protecting approximately 4,000 Israelis living in communities in close proximity to the Gaza fence.

One other propaganda victory for Hamas was to put out a report that Israeli soldiers had killed an eight-month-old baby during the May 14 protests, which media around the world repeated. While it begged the question of what kind of parent would bring an infant to a riot, the publicity provoked a storm of criticism of the IDF. Ten days later, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry removed the baby from the list of people it claimed were killed by Israeli troops. The ministry had claimed the baby died from teargas inhalation, but a doctor was later anonymously cited by the Associated Press as saying the infant had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe teargas caused her death (Hazem Balousha in Gaza and Oliver Holmes, “Gaza ministry removes baby from list of people killed by Israeli army,” The Guardian, May 24, 2018).

The Palestinians also have become masters at staging photos. A blogger found an AFP photo, for example, which was published around the world showing four young men with a distressed looking Palestinian woman just in front of them. The caption attached to it in the Japan Times read: “Palestinian protesters hold hands to protect a girl from shots as they run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday” (Israel says it only shot at protesters charging Gaza border, Japan Times, April 1, 2018). The photographer posted a wider shot of the same scene on his website that raised questions about the veracity of the description. First, the Palestinians seem to be running in a nearly vacant area where 30,000 people were supposed to be protesting. Second, Israeli troops were nowhere to be seen. Third, it makes no sense that people allegedly running for their lives would hold hands. Fourth, one of the men appears to have a big smile on his face. And, finally, a small group of people are standing by calmly watching the five others seeking cover (Aussie Dave, Pallywood of the Day: Damsel in Distress Edition, Israellycool, April 2, 2018).

The Palestinians have learned that truth does not matter. If they can get their version of a story out to the media first, the press will report it uncritically. In the unlikely event their lies are discovered, it will be too late because the story will already have been circulated. In this case, Hamas succeeded in creating the impression that Israeli soldiers were shooting at the backs of innocent Palestinians, and that image will remain imprinted on the minds of many readers.

According to the  United Nations Human Rights office, which gets its information from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, 124 Palestinians have died in all the riots, including 62 on May 14, the highest one-day toll. More than 3,500 Palestinians have been wounded. A Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, said in an interview that 50 of the Gazans killed on May 14 were members of the terror group as were at least 50 percent of those who died before. The Meir Amit Intelligence the Terrorism Information Center identified at least 93 Palestinians who died in the riots as affiliated with terrorist organizations. That means at least two-thirds of those killed were known terrorists.  Most of these fatalities were individuals associated with Hamas, highlighting the terrorist organization's crucial role in these protests (Findings of the ITIC’s examination of the identity of Palestinians killed in the events of the “Great Return March,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 28, 2018).


Hamas is not anti-Semitic.


In 2017, Hamas issued a declaration of principles that said, “Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion.” The Hamas Covenant, as well as statements by the group’s leaders and preachers, however, makes clear the group’s animus toward the Jewish people and commitment to their destruction.

The introduction to the Hamas Covenant says:

Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished, and Allah's victory is realized.

Article 7 says “the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take.” What is the promise?

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews. When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say, “O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Article 15 calls for a holy war against the Jews:

The day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.

Article 32 says that Hamas is the “spearhead of the circle of struggle” with Islamic groups all over the Arab world preparing to fight “the warmongering Jews.”

Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV broadcast a sermon delivered in East Jabalya, Gaza, on March 30, 2018, in which the preacher said that the “blessed land” was being “trampled by the accursed descendants of apes and pigs, the remnants of the brutal, savage, and barbaric colonialism” ("Friday Sermon at Gaza "Return March": Our Blessed Land Is Being Trampled by the Accursed Descendants of Apes and Pigs," MEMRI, March 30, 2018).

The same station broadcast the following message from Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar in 2010:

We are no weaker or less honorable than the peoples that expelled and annihilated the Jews. The day we expel them is drawing near. The nation that opens up its doors, its hearts, and its homes to the [Jews] who were expelled from all corners of the earth was the Islamic nation. We extended our hands to feed these hungry dogs and wild beasts, and they devoured our fingers. We have learned the lesson – there is no place for you among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed to annihilation (Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar Justifies Persecution of Jews in History and Declares That Jews "Are Headed to Annihilation" Al-Aqsa TV, November 5, 2010).

In 2017, Zahar said, “Removing the Jews from the land they occupied in 1948 is an immutable principle because it appears in the Book of Allah” (Senior Hamas leader: Quran tells us to drive Jews out of Palestine’s entirety, Times of Israel, March 16, 2017).

Another Hamas official, Ahmad Bahr, appeared on the official Hamas television station in 2012 and said:

If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out [on Jihad] without her husband’s permission, and a servant without his master’s permission. Why? In order to annihilate those Jews. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one (Hamas Official Ahmad Bahr Preaches for the Annihilation of Jews and Americans, Al-Aqsa TV, August 10, 2012).

This is the group behind the Gaza protests, not non-violent peace activists. Hamas is not interested in Palestinians “returning to their homes” or the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel; the radical Islamists are committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people.


Israel occupies the West Bank.


In politics, words matter, and, unfortunately, the misuse of words applying to the Arab-Israeli conflict has shaped perceptions to Israel’s disadvantage. As in the case of the term “West Bank,” the word “occupation” has been hijacked by those who wish to paint Israel in the harshest possible light. It also gives apologists an excuse to describe terrorism as “resistance to occupation,” as if the women and children killed by suicide bombers in buses, pizzerias, and shopping malls were responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.

Given the negative connotation of an “occupier,” it is not surprising that Israel’s detractors use the word, or some variation, as many times as possible in their propaganda and when interviewed by the press. The more accurate description of the territories in Judea and Samaria, however, is “disputed” territories.

The hypocrisy of critics of Israel’s administration of the West Bank is compounded by the fact that other disputed territories around the world are not referred to as being occupied by the party that controls them. This is true, for example, of the hotly contested regions of Kashmir, Cyprus, and Tibet. Yet rarely does the international community make a fuss over these territories (Douglas Murray, “‘Occupied Territories’: What about Cyprus, Kashmir, Tibet?” Gatestone Institute, July 23, 2013).

Since at least the Carter administration, the United States bought into Palestinian propaganda labeling the territories as “occupied.” This was most egregiously applied to the State Department’s annual human rights report, which at one time was divided into separate documents on “Israel” and “Occupied Territories.” In 2000, State began publishing one report for “Israel and the occupied territories.” In 2018, the State Department finally corrected the error and the 2017 report was titled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.” State Department officials also said reports issued by other parts of the government no longer refer to the West Bank and Gaza as the “Occupied Territories” (Carol Morello, “State Department strikes reproductive rights, ‘Occupied Territories’ from human rights report,” Washington Post, April 20, 2018).

Occupation typically refers to foreign control of an area that was under the previous sovereignty of another state. In the case of the West Bank, there was no legitimate sovereign because the territory had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Only two countries—Britain and Pakistan—recognized Jordan’s action. The Palestinians never demanded an end to Jordanian occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.

It is also necessary to distinguish the acquisition of territory in a war of conquest as opposed to a war of self-defense. A nation that attacks another and then retains the territory it conquers is an occupier. One that gains territory in the course of defending itself is not in the same category. This is the situation with Israel, which specifically told King Hussein that if Jordan stayed out of the 1967 War, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel. While fending off the assault, and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank.

By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, UN Security Council Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.

Since Oslo, the case for tagging Israel as an occupying power has been further weakened by the fact that Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, and 100 percent in Gaza, came under the PA’s authority. Israel has also withdrawn from approximately 40 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza.

The extent to which Israel has been forced to maintain a military presence in the territories has been governed by the Palestinians’ unwillingness to end violence against Israel. The only way to resolve the dispute over the territories is for the Palestinians to negotiate a final settlement. Until now, the intransigence of the Palestinian Authority’s leadership has prevented the resumption of peace talks, which offer the only route to an agreement that will lead to a sustainable future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.


Palestinians in Syria are given as much attention as those in Gaza.


While the plight of Palestinians in the disputed territories regularly attracts media scrutiny, the press has shown little interest in the crisis for Palestinians in Syria. Similarly, organizations that feign interest in Palestinian welfare, including those on college campuses, focus their ire on Israel. It has become almost axiomatic that the misfortune of a Palestinian only merits attention if Israel can be blamed.

One media outlet that has given some attention to Syria’s treatment of Palestinians is Al Jazeera (see, for example, “UNRWA: 3,500 Palestinian refugees flee Syria’s Yarmouk camp,” Al Jazeera, April 28, 2018). The network reported that during the same time the world press was focused on Palestinian protests in Gaza, an estimated 3,500 Palestinians fled the Yarmouk refugee camp to escape attacks by Syrian forces and their allies. Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for UNRWA, said, “Many are sleeping in the streets and begging for medicine. There is almost no water or electricity. Their suffering is unimaginable.”

After four weeks of riots along the Gaza border, 124 Palestinians were killed, prompting frontpage headlines. The same news outlets had nothing to say, however, about the 31 Palestinians killed in one week during the same month in Syria.

On April 24, four days after Palestinians rioted for the fourth time at the Gaza border and the international media focused on the death of four Palestinians, Syrian and Russian warplanes dropped 55 barrels of dynamite during 220 airstrikes on the Yarmouk camp. This atrocity was committed without provoking a reaction from the international community, pro-Palestinian activists or even Palestinians themselves in the disputed territories (Khaled Abu Toameh, “220 Airstrikes on Palestinians; World Yawns,” Gatestone Institute, April 26, 2018).

Yarmouk was not the first Palestinian refugee camp attacked by Syria and its allies. For example, on June 30, 2016, Khan Eshieh in the Damascus area was bombarded and at least six residents, including a seven-year-old child, were killed when warplanes dropped bombs on civilian homes in the camp. Gunness said at least nine Palestinian refugees were killed in the area during fighting in June 2016. The camp’s population dropped from 20,000 to 14,000 and the remaining refugees faced a humanitarian crisis as the Assad regime was preventing medicine from entering the camp (Patrick Strickland & Dylan Collins, “Palestinian refugees killed in Syria's Khan Eshieh camp,” Al Jazeera, July 2, 2016).

The death toll during the entire civil war is at least 3,729 (including at least 465 women), with another 1,674 held by the Syrians and more than 300 missing.

Before the civil war began in March 2011, about 560,000 Palestinians were living in Syria. Of those, approximately 120,000 have fled to Europe; 31,000 to Lebanon, 17,000 to Jordan, 6,000 to Egypt, 8,000 to Turkey and 1,000 to the Gaza Strip.

We hear a lot about Palestinian children in the context of the conflict with Israel, but how many reports have you seen about the 13 Palestinian children killed in bombings near a government-run school in Sayyida Zainab on February 21, 2016 (“Q&A: Beyond Yarmouk, Palestinians in Syria need aid,” Al Jazeera, February 25, 2016)? Do you recall any outcry from pro-Palestinian activists?

The media has an obligation to shine a light on what is happening in Syria, as do supporters of the Palestinians if they are indeed concerned with their welfare. Instead of fighting each other and stoking violence against Israelis who want nothing more than to live in peace with them, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas should be demanding action to protect Palestinians in Syria.

The situation for Palestinians in Syria is extremely grave, which is one of many reasons why it is necessary for the international community to put an end to the slaughter of innocents by Bashar Assad’s regime and his Hezbollah, Iranian and Russian allies.


Israelis have plenty of time to prepare for rocket attacks.


Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and continues to build up its arsenal. Hezbollah is believed to have more than 100,000 rockets pointed at Israel from various sites in Lebanon. In addition, Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces have rockets that can target Israel from bases inside Syria. On May 10, 2018, Iran fired 20 rockets at Israel. Four were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system and the others reportedly fell inside Syria. Israel has developed a sophisticated warning system to advise the population of a rocket attack; however, given the speed of missiles and Israel’s small size, the public has very little time to seek shelter.

This map, which is posted inside Israeli government buildings, indicates the estimated time after a code red alarm before a rocket lands in different locations in Israel. Dark green is 3 minutes, yellow 45 seconds, light red 15 seconds, dark red immediate.


Israel shoots protestors rather than using non-lethal riot control methods.


Israel faces a serious threat from thousands of Palestinians rioting along its border and threatening to overrun the fence surrounding Gaza to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. No government would allow a mob to storm its border and threaten its citizens.

In response to these violent demonstrations, Israel is using a variety of riot control measures, but they all have limited effectiveness and do not allow soldiers to remain a safe distance from the rioters. For example, tear gas and rubber bullets have a range of less than 350 feet. Water cannons, “Skunk” water and sonic blasters (Adam Rawnsley, “‘The Scream’: Israel Blasts Protesters With Sonic Gun,” Wired, September 23, 2011) have a range of less than 200 feet (“What non-lethal anti-riot means does Israel have available for Gaza? Not much,” Elder of Zion, May 04, 2018).

If the Palestinians were peacefully protesting a short distance from the fence, not a single person would be injured. Sadly, that has not been the case in the last several weeks of violent demonstrations. Hamas seeks to kill or kidnap Israeli soldiers and attack civilians in nearby communities. Terrorists have tried to cut through the border fence, shot at Israeli soldiers, planted bombs, carried knives and axes, and flown kites and balloons with incendiary devices across the border.

Israel has repeatedly dropped leaflets and issued warnings making clear that anyone coming within roughly 1,000 feet of the fence would be viewed as a threat. Many protestors have ignored these warnings. Still, Israeli snipers are only permitted to shoot at the legs of people approaching the border unless they have weapons and threaten Israelis’ lives (Amos Harel, “Most Killings of Palestinians During Gaza Protests Unintentional, Senior Israeli Officer Says,” Haaretz, April 29, 2018).


Gazan protestors should be entitled to return to their homes in "Palestine."


According to the UN, more than 5.4 million Palestinians are refugees. Does Israel have any obligation to take in some or all of those people?

The current Israeli population is approximately 8.8 million, of which 6.6 million are Jews and 1.9 million are Arabs. If every Palestinian refugee were allowed to move to Israel, the population would exceed fourteen million, and the Jewish proportion would shrink from 75 percent to 47 percent. The Jews would be a minority in their own country, the very situation they fought to avoid in 1948, and which the UN expressly ruled out in deciding to partition Palestine.

The demand that the refugees be returned to Israeli territory must be rejected, because if that were to happen, there would be two Palestinian states and no state at all for the Jewish people.

—Amos Oz (Amos Oz, “Israel Partly at Fault,” Ynet News, March 29, 2007)

It is often forgotten that most Palestinians now live in historic Palestine, which is an area including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. When Palestinians demand to return to “Palestine” they are referring not just to the area, but to the houses they lived in prior to 1948. These homes are either gone or inhabited now. Moreover, few of the people considered refugees by the UN lived in what is now Israel in 1948.

Even respected Palestinian leaders acknowledge that it is a mistake to insist that millions of refugees return to Israel. Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh, for example, said the refugees should be resettled in a future Palestinian state, “not in a way that would undermine the existence of the State of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. Otherwise, what does a two-state solution mean?” (Sol Stern, “Mr. Abbas, Tear Down This Wall!” Jewish Ideas Daily, September 28, 2010) In leaked cables from the Palestinian negotiating team, PA president Mahmoud Abbas admitted this as well. “On numbers of refugees,” he said, “it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million—that would mean the end of Israel.” (Meeting Minutes: President Abbas Meeting with the Negotiations Support Unit” March 24, 2009)

This is exactly the point of the “Great March of Return” – to accomplish Hamas’s goal of destroying Israel.

In the context of a peace settlement, Israel has offered to accept some refugees, as David Ben-Gurion said he would do more than sixty years ago. In fact, there would be no refugee problem had the Arabs accepted his 1949 offer to allow 100,000 refugees to return in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement (Terence Prittie, "Middle East Refugees," in Michael Curtis, et al., The Palestinians, NJ: Transaction Books, 1975, pp. 66-67). At that time, the number of refugees was about one-tenth the number the UN claims exist now. Like the Palestinian leadership today; however, the Arab leaders believed Israel would eventually be destroyed and the refugees could then have their old homes and those of the Jews.

If and when a Palestinian state is created, the refugees should be allowed to move there. Publicly, however, Abbas and Hamas demand that all refugees return to “Palestine,” which they consider all of Israel. Rather than absorb their own people, who even now they keep confined to refugee camps, the Palestinian leadership believes it can weaken, if not destroy Israel, by overwhelming the country with refugees.


LGBT Palestinians enjoy the same rights as Israelis. 


On June 8, 2018, an estimated 250,000 people from around the world attended the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were harassing Palestinians associated with a television comedy about gay people in the Gaza Strip. Though the Gaza comedian responsible for the show, “Out of Focus,” apologized, the controversy has not gone away and some people want to punish those associated with the program for “insulting Arab and Islamic values” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians: No Place for Gays,” Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2018).

This is just the latest example of the contrast in the treatment of gays in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Legally, gays are treated differently in the West Bank and Gaza; however, it is socially taboo to be openly gay in either place. In the West Bank, the Jordanian Penal Code has been in force since 1951, which does not outlaw homosexuality. Gaza, however operates under the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance of 1936, which criminalizes sexual acts “against the order of nature” and stipulates penalties of up to 10 years. It does allow, however, for “consensual sex between female same-sex couples.” In addition, “laws against ‘indecency’ are sometimes used, on an irregular and unpredictable basis, to criminalize same-sex acts” (“LGBT Rights in Palestine,” Equaldex, accessed June 27, 2018).

Dr. Nessia Shemer from Bar-Ilan University’s Middle Eastern history department noted that historically “Islamic jurists disagreed about the punishment homosexuals deserve. Some of them claim it must be the death penalty, while others say that’s not the case, and that one should distinguish between different circumstances.” Today, however, the most influential Islamic Sunni jurist, Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, maintains that the punishment for homosexuality should be death (Liza Rozovsky, “What It’s Like to Be Gay in Gaza: Meeting Israelis on Dating Apps, Evading Hamas and Plotting Escape,” Haaretz, (February 21, 2018).

M., a Palestinian psychologist living and working in Germany, told Haaretz Palestinian society’s negative attitude toward homosexuality is a product of the culture and ideas about masculinity. “Islam obviously plays a role,” says M., “but even people who are totally secular reject homosexuality” (Rozovsky). This point is reflected in a survey by Pew asking people in 39 different countries whether “society should accept homosexuality,” 93 percent of Palestinians said “no,” which ranked 31st, only slightly better than the 98 percent of Nigerians at the bottom of the rankings (“The Global Divide on Homosexuality,” Pew Research Center, June 4, 2013).

Some gay Palestinians have been killed by the authorities or by family members. In 2016, for example, Hamas commander Mahmoud Ishtiwi was tortured and killed after being accused, among other things, of being gay (Jack Moore, “Hamas Executes Prominent Commander After Accusations Of Gay Sex,” Newsweek, March 2, 2016).

Majd, a gay Palestinian man, from a village near Jenin admitted that coming out would be dangerous. “If my male relations knew, they would come and beat me or kill me,” he says. “My father couldn’t stand that his son is gay. My parents are religious and see homosexuality as a disease” (Nigel O’Connor, “Gay Palestinians Are Being Blackmailed Into Working As Informants,” Vice, February 19, 2013).

The PA offers no legal protection for LGBT people from discrimination or harassment. In fact, Palestinian authorities often do the harassing, including blackmailing gay men by threatening to reveal their secrets. Saif, a 20-year-old student living near Ramallah, for example, said that if it became known that he was gay, he could be murdered. The police keep files on him and other homosexuals to blackmail them into working as spies and informants. Saif said he heard “of guys being called at random and told to come into police stations, with threats their families would be told about their sexuality if they didn’t show up” (O’Connor).

In Gaza, Jamil, a 21-year-old student says, “Hamas is always on the lookout for gays and it monitors the social media.” Gay men do sometimes meet in public, “but they try not to be seen together at the same place more than once.” If they want to meet privately, they need to be sure no family members are around. He added that he doesn’t know any lesbians and suggests that it would be much harder for women in the Strip to engage in a same-sex relationship. “There are too many restrictions on girls, things that are controlling them,” he says. “Women don’t dare to talk about those things, even among themselves” (Rozovsky).

This is backed up by ASWAT, an organization of Palestinian gay women, which says Palestinian society “has no mercy for sexual diversity and/or any expression of ‘otherness’ away from the societal norms and the assigned roles that were formed for women. ... The Palestinian woman has no right to choose an identity other than the one enforced on her by the male figures in her family and surroundings” (“ASWAT – Palestinian Gay Women,” Mediterranean Women, (August 15, 2006).

Journalist Yossi Klein Halevi documented a number of particularly horrific cases of gays being mistreated during the rule of Yasser Arafat. One gay Palestinian was confined by police to a pit without food or water until he died. Another was imprisoned and “interrogators cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds.”

In another example, an American who moved to live with his Palestinian lover in the West Bank found a letter under their door from the Islamic court. It listed “the five forms of death prescribed by Islam for homosexuality, including stoning and burning.” They fled to Israel the same day and went into hiding because the Palestinian’s brothers threatened to kill him.”

Halevi learned the PA police forced a gay man “to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects.” During one interrogation police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle. He fled to Israel after he was released, fearing the police would kill him if he returned (Yossi Klein Halevi, “Refugee Status,” New Republic, August 19, 2002).

Gay Palestinians often seek refuge in Israel. Many say they would rather live under house arrest in Israel than at home (“Palestinian gays flee to Israel,” BBC, October 22, 2003). A gay Palestinian named Ali said he felt he had already been subject to discrimination as a Christian. He said that in Israel individuals have the “freedom to express [their] sex and take pride in it” (Alex Tehranian, “Gay Man Criticizes Palestinian Society,” The Hoya, October 22, 2004).

According to lawyer Shaul Gannon, from the Israeli LGBT organization Aguda, approximately “2,000 Palestinian homosexuals live in Tel Aviv at any one time” (Nigel O’Connor, “Gay Palestinians Are Being Blackmailed Into Working As Informants,” Vice, (February 19, 2013).

Palestinian political organizations do not advocate for LGBT rights; however, some organizations based in Israel attempt to aid LGBT Arabs and Palestinians. These include Jerusalem Open House, Black Laundry, and Aswat for women (“Palestine,”, accessed June 27, 2018). Organizations outside the Middle East that campaign for Palestinian rights are also silent when it comes to the persecution of gays, preferring to accuse Israel of “pinkwashing.”

“Pinkwashing,” Alan Dershowitz has said, “is an anti-Semitic canard” (Alan Dershowitz, “Berkeley’s student newspaper refuses to publish my response to an anti-Semitic op-ed, so here it is,” Washington Examiner, November 7, 2017) and, in 2016, the Italian gay rights organization Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti condemned the delegitimization of Israel by LGBT rights groups that use the term “pinkwashing.” The group said, “The alarming increase in political calls by LGBTI groups to boycott Israel diverts from the real battle these group should hold, i.e., the advocacy for the promotion of LGBTI rights among the Palestinian people.” The organization praised Israel for being the only state in the Middle East which protects LGBTI rights and condemned the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for not recognizing the rights of the LGTBI community (“Italian gay rights group rejects anti-Israel ‘pinkwashing’ accusation,” Times of Israel, November 22, 2016).

Christopher Scott McCannell, a member of the advisory board of A Wider Bridge, a group that promotes connections between LGBT Americans and Israelis admitted, “Israel is not perfect, and Israel has much further to go to provide equality for all, but to say that Israel’s acceptance, recognition and freedom of LGBT citizens is somehow “pinkwashing” is trying to divert attention from the poor record for LGBT Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza” (Christopher Scott McCannell, “West Bank, Gaza no haven for LGBT Palestinians,” Washington Blade, July 9, 2015).

Israel’s treatment of gays is unique in the Middle East and a model for much of the world. Unlike the PA, workplace discrimination against gay people is outlawed; the Knesset has openly gay members; the Israel Defense Force has openly gay soldiers and officers; and the Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples are eligible for spousal and widower benefits. Israel has also signed the United Nations’ Gay Rights Protection Resolution (2011) and recognizes a domestic partnership of same-sex couples and foreign gay marriages. Surrogacy is legal and in vitro fertilization is paid for gay couples (Alina Dain Sharon, “Israel and Arab Countries Are Miles Apart on LGBT Rights,” Outward Magazine, accessed June 27, 2018; Myriam Miedzian, “Never mind the pinkwashing charge, and celebrate Israel,” Daily News, June 2, 2018).

Gay Palestinians are not the only ones who appreciate Israel’s tolerant attitude. The country’s reputation has made it a major destination for gay tourists. In fact, Tel Aviv was named the World’s Best Gay City in an online survey in 2012, finishing far ahead of more famous places such as New York City, Sydney and San Francisco (“Tel Aviv named world’s best gay city,” Ynet, November 1, 2012).


Israel is creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 


When Israel evacuated all Jewish citizens and removed all of its troops from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it was with the expectation that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would provide effective governance in the territory and that progress toward peace would follow. Moreover, Israel has always understood that Palestinian prosperity was important for creating incentives for ending the conflict. This is why, for example, Israel left behind greenhouses in Gaza that would have provided the Palestinians with a ready-made multi-million dollar export industry had they chosen not to destroy most of them and convert others to terrorist training bases.

Much of the suffering in Gaza today is caused by sanctions imposed by the PA. These include cutting the salaries and benefits of Gaza-based PA employees, resuming the collection of taxes, suspending social welfare assistance to thousands of families and forcing thousands of civil servants to retire. The PA also stopped paying Israel for electricity and fuel supplies resulting in rolling blackouts (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas calls on PA government to lift sanctions or disband,” Times of Israel, February 13, 2018). Deputy Hamas leader in Gaza Khalil Al-Hayya said that sanctions imposed by the PA “represent a humanitarian and national crime” (“Hamas: Reconciliation starts with lifting PA sanctions on Gaza,” Middle East Monitor, July 3, 2018).

Abbas hopes the conditions will deteriorate to the point where the people will blame Hamas for their plight and revolt, allowing the PA to retake control of Gaza.

Despite continuing Qassam rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza following the disengagement, Israel has provided food, fuel, electricity, furniture, medical equipment and medicines, electronic appliances, building materials and other supplies to Gaza. Israel has also assisted the local economy by allowing goods produced inside Gaza, such as agricultural produce, textiles, and iron to be exported. Due to the ongoing protests that began with the “Great March of Return” and have escalated to rocket attacks and setting fires, Israel has temporarily closed the crossing to all goods but necessities.

Israel remains concerned that if conditions in Gaza do not improve, the prospect of a conflagration increase. Consequently, Israel and the United States have proposed a variety of approaches to help Gaza.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, for example, proposed the construction of a special pier in Cyprus for cargo ships carrying goods destined for Gaza. Cyprus agreed provided all parties involved in the issue consent (“Cyprus to consent to port for Gaza on condition of agreement by all parties,” Xinhua, June 6, 2018).

In addition, Trump adviser Jared Kushner and envoy Jason Greenblatt have suggested initiatives that included “the provision of necessities such as electricity, desalination of drinking water, employment opportunities and revival of the industrial zone in the enclave” (“Qatari Envoy Says Hamas Indirect Contact With Israel to End Gaza Siege,” albawaba News, July 2, 2018).

The PA has rejected offers of help for Gaza, accusing Israel and the United States of engaging in a conspiracy aimed at “undermining the Palestinian national project, including the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian Authority Rejects Israeli, U.S. Ideas To Help Gaza,” Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2018).

Mahmoud Al-Aloul, the person mentioned as a possible successor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said, “We don't want your flour and wheat; we don't want your humanitarian aid,” and later added, “We are prepared to starve, but we can’t, in return for resolving our humanitarian issues, give up Jerusalem and our basic rights” (Bassam Tawil, “Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People?” Gatestone Institute, July 12, 2018).

Fatah, led by Abbas, warned Hamas that discussing the Israeli and American proposals was tantamount to “betraying the cause, the land, Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa [Mosque].” Abbas has also reportedly protested Egypt’s decision to open the Rafah terminal allowing goods and people to flow between Gaza and Egypt (Abu Toameh).

Middle East scholar Bassam Tawil cites three reasons why Abbas opposes helping Palestinians in Gaza. First, prolonging the suffering of the Gazans creates a public relations nightmare for Israel, which is blamed for conditions in the Strip. Second, the PA is afraid Hamas will be strengthened because aid will give it more resources to build tunnels and rockets and acquire other weapons to attack Israel. Third, the money allows Hamas to circumvent the sanctions imposed by the PA and thereby frustrate Abbas’s desire to foment a revolt (Tawil).

Tawil concludes the PA’s position is clear: “You can give us as much money as you want, we will not change our stance toward Israel and we will not give up any of our demands.” Tawil says this sums up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “The Palestinians’ number one priority – the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general – is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel” (Tawil).


Obama was rightly angered by the State Department map of the West Bank.


In the July 9, 2018, issue of The New Yorker, Adam Entous argued that President Barack Obama decided to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlements after seeing a State Department map showing that most of the West Bank was off limits to Palestinian development and filled with Jewish settlements and outposts (“The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama”). This appears to be an example of how State Department Arabists sought to manipulate the president, as the map simply reflected the agreements reached by Israelis and Palestinians in the Oslo Accords that have been common knowledge for the last 23 years.

Obama WB Map

According to Entous, a senior State Department official named Frank Lowenstein discovered a map he had never seen before, which was surprising given that similar maps have been published for years. It was even more bizarre to read that “Lowenstein’s team” had to “do the math” to figure out that Israel controlled 60 percent of the West Bank when this was precisely the area agreed to in the Oslo negotiations referred to as Area C. This territory consists mainly of uninhabited desert, scattered Israeli settlements and a handful of settlement blocs. The other areas on the map Lowenstein found so scandalous were areas A and B. Israel withdrew completely from area A and ceded complete control over all civilian administration to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B encompasses Arab towns and villages where the PA has full civilian authority but shares security responsibility with Israel.

The State Department apparently added the notation regarding non-Jews outnumbering Jews between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is unclear where the data comes from, but it is most likely from the PA whose numbers are known to be exaggerated. There has not been an impartial census conducted in the West Bank or Gaza, but Israel’s leading demographer, Sergio DellaPergola, has more recent data which estimates that roughly 6.9 million Jews live in Israel and the disputed territories compared to 6.5 million Arabs (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian census: 4.7 million in West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Times of Israel, March 28, 2018).

Interestingly, while the State Department was apparently alarmed that 385,900 settlers were living in Area C and Palestinian development there was limited (according to its “Territory Breakdown” map), there is no mention of the Palestinian population. If you believe the latest Palestinian data, Obama might have been shocked to learn the number of Palestinians (393,163) exceeds the Jewish population (Abu Toameh).

By distorting the data in a variety of maps, State Department officials convinced Obama that Israel was greatly expanding settlements to foreclose a two-state solution. Michael Koplow noted, however, that “the settlement growth taking place is overwhelmingly west of the security barrier and in the blocs that will be retained by Israel in a final agreement….In other words, the acceleration of the settler population is happening, but it is happening in the places that present the smallest problem for a two-state solution” (Michael J. Koplow, “About Those State Department Maps,” Israel Policy Forum, July 12, 2018).


The Nation State Law proves Israel is undemocratic and discriminates against Arabs.


On July 19, 2018, Israel adopted a new Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People. The law provoked controversy inside and outside of Israel. After the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and in the history of the State of Israel. Today, 122 years after [Theodor] Herzl shared his vision, we have established into law the basic principles of our existence. “Israel” is the nation-state of the Jewish people. A nation state that respects the individual rights of all its citizens and, in the Middle East, only Israel respects these rights. This is our state, the state of the Jews. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to cast doubt on this, and so to undercut the foundations of our existence and our rights. Today we etched in the stone of law: This is our state, this is our language, this is our anthem, and this is our flag (extracted from multiple news sources with slightly different translations).

As Netanyahu said, this law codifies Israel’s status as the “national home of the Jewish people.” The law also declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, sets the Hebrew calendar as the state’s official calendar and confirms Shabbat and Jewish holidays as official days of rest while allowing non-Jews to determine their own rest days and holidays. It recognizes the current national flag as the official one, the menorah as the state’s symbol and Hatikvah as the national anthem. It also states that Israel will endeavor to ensure the safety of all Jews and “preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora.”

Some critics have suggested, the law should have included the word “equality.” For example, Amir Fuchs, Head of the Defending Democratic Values Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, said “it is difficult to understand why the authors of this bill insist not to include this important value” (Amir Fuchs, “The Nation State Bill Bias,” Israel Democracy Institute, July 10, 2018). Supporters of the law counter the existing Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty defines Israel’s democratic character, but the new law was needed because Israel’s Jewish character was not embedded in constitutional law. Moreover, Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University notes that this law is only one part of a broad and detailed democratic map. Does every U.S. law or constitutional amendment include the word democratic? (personal communication).

The law also enshrines the Zionist idea upon which the nation was founded, namely that Israel is a country established to fulfill the Jewish people’s “right to national self-determination.” Legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich notes that seven European states have similar “nationhood” constitutional provisions (Eugene Kontorovich, “Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2018). Furthermore, no nation grants a right to self-determination to a minority within its borders; otherwise the Basques in Spain and Kurds in Turkey or Iraq would have their own states. This clause is also a response to Israel’s detractors, such as advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, who assert this right belongs to the Palestinians and not the Jewish people.

Much of the criticism of the law focused on the establishment of Hebrew as Israel’s sole official language. Formerly Arabic was also an official state language (as was English). Any alteration of a long-established status quo is jarring; however, the recognition of Hebrew is consistent with the policies of other countries which give official status only to the majority language. The previous recognition of Arabic was a remnant of the British Mandatory period and does not reflect today’s reality in which 80% of Israelis, including most Arabs, speak Hebrew. The law specifically states that it “does not change the status given to the Arabic language before the basic law was created” in any other way. Hence, Arabic speakers are no more discriminated against than minorities in more than 100 countries that have a single national language. Incidentally, the de facto official language of the Palestinian Authority is Arabic.

Another clause that sparked controversy states that Israel will “encourage and promote” Jewish settlement around the country. The language was deliberately altered so as not to suggest this would lead to the creation of Jewish-only towns, however, some critics, feared it would be interpreted as if that was the intention. Indeed, Israel’s enemies interpreted it that way, arguing the law promotes segregation.

David Hazony, executive director of the Israel Innovation Fund, noted that some critics have interpreted this clause as promoting Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. While that may be the political goal of some of its supporters, Hazony said the “word being translated as ‘settlement’ is hityashvut, which to any Israeli ear refers more to the Galilee and the Negev and the history of building new Jewish communities a century ago across the country than it does to the West Bank” (David Hazony, “Everything You’ve Heard About Israel’s Nation State Bill Is Wrong,” Forward, July 23, 2018).

Kontorovich adds that this clause is consistent with the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which sought to “encourage . . . close settlement by Jews.” More important, he says it does not “prescribe or authorize any particular policies” unlike, for example, the state constitution of Hawaii, which Kontorovich notes “authorizes land policies to promote homesteading by ethnic Hawaiians, and provides preferential land policies for them.” Kontorovich adds that Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Arabs have a right to create residential communities in Israel that exclude Jews but Jews do not have the same right to exclude Arabs.

One indication of the double standard applied to Israel is that no international uproar followed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration that not “a single Israeli” would be permitted to live in a Palestinian state (Noah Browning, “Abbas wants ‘not a single Israeli’ in future Palestinian state,” Reuters, July 29, 2013).).

The law did provoke negative reactions around the world and angered many non-Jews in Israel. This does not make it either undemocratic or discriminatory. Kontorovich explained:

In reality, Israel’s Basic Law would not be out of place among the liberal democratic constitutions of Europe — which include similar provisions that have not aroused controversy. The law does not infringe on the individual rights of any Israeli citizen, including Arabs; nor does it create individual privileges. The illiberalism here lies with the law’s critics, who would deny the Jewish state the freedom to legislate like a normal country.

In the case of the Nation State Law, members of Knesset voted by a 62-55 majority to approve the legislation. This is democracy in action. Still, like Americans, Israelis can challenge laws in court, and three Knesset members have already done so, one sign of the health of Israel’s democracy (Jonathan Lis and Noa Landau, “Israeli Minister Admits Nation-state Law Marginalizes ‘Druze Brothers,’” Haaretz, July 25, 2018). Another indication is the ability of Israelis to vote for new representatives who could revoke or alter the law if they can convince a majority of all Knesset members a change is warranted.

Even a critic of the law, IDI President Yohanan Plesner admitted the practical impact of the bill was currently merely “symbolic and educational.” He said it “won’t have immediate concrete implications.” IDI vice president Yuval Shani added, “It is not a game changer and has very little problematic implications….It won’t change how the country is run” (Gil Hoffman, “Israel Democracy Institute: Jewish Nation-State Law ‘not a game changer,’” Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2018).

The Israeli Supreme Court rejected a number of petitions challenging the law in July 2021. By a vote of 10-1 the court ruled “it does not negate Israel’s character as a democratic state.” Haaretz reported that the court decided “the provision dealing with the right to national self-determination should be interpreted in a way that does not take away individual or cultural rights at the non-national level” and that “the section that makes Hebrew the country's only official language does not discriminate against Arabic.” The court further specified that “the provision on Israel's commitment to Jewish settlement does not allow for the discrimination and exclusion of non-Jews from state-owned land” (Netael Bandel, “Israel’s top court rules the nation-state law is constitutional, denies petitions against it,” Haaretz, July 8, 2021).


America’s Arab allies routinely support U.S. positions at the U.N.


In 2017, 93 resolutions passed with a vote in the UN General Assembly, 19 of which were characterized as anti-Israel by the United States. Among the Arab states, Qatar and Saudi Arabia voted with the United States most often, just 25 percent of the time. As a group, the Arab states voted against the United States on 78 percent of the resolutions. Not surprisingly, Syria was at the bottom of the list, opposing the United States 85 percent of the time. More shocking, perhaps, was that Lebanon was nearly as bad (82 percent) despite the fact the United States continues to provide military aid to the country. Every Arab state, with the exception of Syria, voted less frequently with the U.S. in 2017 than they did in 2013.

By contrast, Israel has consistently been at or near the top of the list of America’s top UN allies. In 2017, Israel was far ahead of the pack, voting with the United States 94 percent of the time, followed by Micronesia with a coincidence rate of 72 percent. Major U.S. allies such as Canada (69 percent), Great Britain (60 percent), Australia (60 percent) and France (58 percent) lagged far behind (United States Department of State).


Netanyahu backtracked on Rabin’s positions regarding peace with the Palestinians.


On November 4, 2017, Israelis and all those who long for peace will mourn the twenty-second anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The role Rabin played in the defense of his country as a soldier, diplomat, and politician should never be forgotten. In 1993, he took the courageous step of recognizing the PLO and negotiating a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat that for a brief period offered hope for an end to the conflict. Alas, by reneging on the commitment to end terror and, instead, intensifying the murderous attacks on Israeli civilians, the Palestinians squandered yet another chance for achieving their stated goal of independence.

In fact, before his death, Rabin indicated he had lost faith in the peace process and was considering putting an end to Israeli concessions. According to his daughter Dalia, “Many people who were close to father told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets and that Arafat wasn’t delivering the goods. Father, after all, wasn’t a blind man running forward without thought?.?.?.?After all he was someone for whom the security of the state was sacrosanct” (“Dalia Rabin: My Father Might Have Stopped Oslo,” IMRA, October 20, 2010).

Rabin was not naive and did not let his desire for peace blind him to the risks. Rabin’s clear-eyed realism has been forgotten, however, by many people who have mythologized Rabin’s role in the Oslo process, presenting him as so determined that it was only his death that prevented the implementation of a two-state solution to the conflict. By contrast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is internationally vilified as someone who is uncompromising and uninterested in peace. Ironically, a closer examination reveals that their views were remarkably similar—with one notable exception—unlike Rabin, Netanyahu has accepted the eventual creation of a Palestinian state (Raphael Ahren, “While refusing to endorse two-state solution, Netanyahu says Israel won’t annex West Bank,” New York Times, February 16, 2017).

Netanyahu did continue the Oslo process until his defeat in the 1999 election. He agreed to the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the withdrawal from an additional 13 percent of the West Bank.

The best evidence of Rabin’s thinking at the time of his death was his final speech to the Knesset on October 5, 1995, just a month before he was murdered. Compare Rabin’s views with those of Netanyahu:

On a Palestinian State

Rabin: We view the permanent solution in the framework of [the] State of Israel, which will include most of the area of the land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”

Netanyahu: “We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all?.?.?.?I don’t support a one-state solution; I don’t believe that’s a solution at all; I support the vision of two states for two peoples” (Allyn Fisher-Ilan, “Netanyahu Renews Support for Two-State Solution with Palestinians,” Reuters, May 20, 2015).

The 1967 Lines

Rabin: “The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”

Netanyahu: “For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities—the first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible” (“Netanyahu Rejects Obama’s 1967 Border Proposal,” Fox News, May 20, 2011).

Control of the Jordan Valley

Rabin:The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”

Netanyahu: “Our strength is the guarantee for our existence and peace. We do not want an Iranian offshoot in Judea and Samaria. This requires a security border in the Jordan Valley, as Rabin said in his last speech” (Lahav Harkov, “Netanyahu: Border Must Remain in Jordan Valley – Like Rabin Said,” Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2013).


Rabin: “I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.

Netanyahu: “I have no intention of evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israelis” (Tovah Lazaroff, “Netanyahu: I won’t Evacuate Settlements,” Jerusalem Post, January 26, 2014).


Rabin: “United Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev” as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

Netanyahu: “We will keep Jerusalem united under Israeli authority” (Oren Lieberman, “Benjamin Netanyahu: Jerusalem Will Remain United City,” CNN, May 17, 2015); “Yitzhak Rabin Was Not the Blind Peace-Maker That Bubba Clinton Claims He Was,” The Lid, November 2, 2015).

Rabin took the peace process as far as he could under the circumstances he faced. Had he lived, he may have seen the process through to a successful conclusion, but his daughter’s remarks suggest that he did not believe peace could be achieved because of the unceasing Palestinian terrorism.

Netanyahu now faces more grave dangers and yet has been willing to go even further than Rabin in accepting Palestinian independence. That is a significant concession that the Palestinians have ignored. Worse, as they did during the Oslo period, they seem determined to prove through acts of violence that they are not interested in ending the conflict.


The Trump administration closed the PLO office in Washington because it is pro-Israel.


The PLO mission in Washington was a source of controversy since it opened in 1994 during the period of exhilaration that followed the signing of the Oslo agreement. While the justification for allowing the PLO an office was to facilitate the continuation of peace talks, many people questioned the wisdom of having a diplomatic outpost for a terrorist organization in America’s capital. Those questions grew louder in recent years as the Palestinians thumbed their noses at successive U.S. presidents, became increasingly recalcitrant, culminating in their refusal to communicate with the Trump administration, and consciously violating the will of Congress.

Therefore, when the administration announced on September 10, 2018, plans to close the PLO office, it should have come as no surprise to the Palestinians. In 2015, during the Obama administration, Congress required the Secretary of State to certify that the PLO wasn’t trying to use the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel. The Palestinians ignored the implicit warning, joined the court and filed several complaints against Israel and Israeli official without suffering any negative consequences from the United States (see for example, Marlise Simons, “Palestinians deliver accusations of Israeli war crimes to International Criminal Court,” Orange County Register, June 25, 2015; “French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC,” France24, July 25, 2014; John Reed, “Palestinians join ICC in politically charged move,” Financial Times, April 1, 2015).

In announcing the shutdown, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said:

We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017. However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting Congressional concerns, the Administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point. This decision is also consistent with Administration and Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court (Heather Nauert, “Closure of the PLO Office in Washington,” Press Statement, State Department, September 10, 2018).

The Wall Street Journal editors wrote, “Long-term indulgence of the PLO’s recalcitrance has had the effect of allowing a toxic and reflexive anti-Israel sentiment to build in international institutions, not least among academics and students on U.S. campuses.”

While the Palestinians have tried to portray the decision as an effort to blackmail them into giving up their demands, the Journal noted, “The point of all this isn’t to be vindictive but to show Mr. Abbas and the PLO that they can't continue to underwrite anti-Semitic textbooks and anti-Israel terrorism without consequences. If the Palestinians want to be treated with the respect of a peace partner, they have to first show a desire for peace” (Editorial Board, “Shutting Down the PLO,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2018).

Michael Oren, a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and former ambassador to the United States, applauded the administration for enforcing the law. “In contrast to previous administrations that would reward the Palestinians for abandoning the negotiations with Israel,” he said, “President Trump is forcing the Palestinians to pay a price. As we have seen in the past – giving gifts to the Palestinians only keeps them away from the peace talks, and now the Americans are punishing them in order to make them return to the table” (Gil Hoffman, “Michael Oren: Trump Decision Advances Peace,” Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2018).


The U.S. is punishing the Palestinians by cutting funds for East Jerusalem hospitals.


The United States is a generous country, and has been especially big-hearted when it comes to lavishing financial aid on the Palestinians. Money has been provided for humanitarian reasons and also to encourage the Palestinians to make peace with Israel.

While the funds have served the first goal, it has failed entirely in the second. Worse, the Palestinians have thumbed their noses at the United States by consistently taking actions opposed by not just this administration but past ones as well. They have also undermined American policy in the region and promoted terrorism that has led to the murder of American citizens.

The United States is not obligated to financially support the Palestinians and the Trump administration has decided American taxpayers should no longer be expected to underwrite Palestinian intransigence and misbehavior. It is in this context that the administration cutoff funds for hospitals in East Jerusalem.

In response to criticism, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert noted the Palestinian Authority is responsible for paying the hospital bills of Palestinians receiving treatment in those hospitals. The PA refused to pay and the U.S. helped cover their debts. Now, she said, the PA could pay them without U.S. assistance if they shifted their priorities and used money now going to pay terrorists in Israeli jails and families of “martyrs” for hospital expenses.

She also pointed out that while the Palestinians were complaining about the U.S. decision, the PA and Hamas were also praising the killer of an American citizen (State Department, September 20, 2018). U.S. Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt called it “outrageous” that the family of Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, the terrorist who murdered 45-year-old Ari Fuld on September 16, 2018, would receive a monthly stipend of about $400 for the next three years as a result of the PAs “pay-for-slay” policy (Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2018).


Israel has no right to detain BDS activists.


The detention at Ben-Gurion Airport of an American student over her alleged support for anti-Israel boycott efforts attracted widespread media attention and criticism. The case of Lara Alqasem involves questions of both law and wisdom.

When it comes to the law, Israel’s position is on solid ground and consistent with the behavior of other countries, including the United States, which place restrictions on who may cross their borders. Applicants for visas to the United States are asked several questions about their political views and activities. These include:

  • Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
  • Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?
  • Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
  • Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
  • Have you ever committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in torture?
  • Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?
  • Have you, while serving as a government official, been responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom?

The USA Patriot Act allows the Secretary of State to bar admission to the United States to “any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.”

The U.S. government has banned both individuals and members of groups who were convicted of crimes or were viewed as potential security threats. The list of people barred or excluded from the United States includes Irish politician Gerry Adams, British singers Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Boy George, Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, and Austrian diplomat Kurt Waldheim.

Israel’s Interior Ministry explained at the time the policy was implemented that denial of entry would be based on several criteria: 1. Individuals with senior positions or significant roles in organizations calling for a boycott of Israel, such as board chairman or board members; 2. Key activists who take a consistent and continuous role to promote boycotts within the framework of prominent delegitimization organizations or independently; 3. Institutional officials, such as mayors, who promote such activities in an active and ongoing way; 4. People who arrive in Israel as ‘representatives of one of the prominent delegitimizing organizations. For example, an activist who arrives as a participant in a delegation from a prominent delegitimization organization’”(Haaretz, January 8, 2018).

Alqasem, a 22-year-old American, who has Palestinian grandparents, was given a visa to study at Hebrew University in Israel before it became known that she had been involved with Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization that promotes the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on American college campuses. After learning of the connection, she was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport and the government planned to deport her. She appealed the deportation order to the Tel Aviv District Court.

The judge, Erez Yekuel, found that there was “no disputing” that from 2014-17 Alqasem was a member of an organization that called to boycott Israel, and for two years was the president of its Florida campus chapter, and that the organization allegedly urged the “boycott of Israeli society” and expressed support for those who carried out activities to harm Israel. He found contradictions in her testimony and evidence she tried to hide her activities by erasing her social media history.

In rejecting her appeal, Yekuel said that the government’s entry ban was in accordance with the law and that “any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott… as well as any attacks on its image” (Times of Israel, October 12, 2018).

Meanwhile, critics doubted the wisdom of deporting Alqasem. Hebrew University, for example, came to her defense:

The student decided to come to study and live in Israel despite the principles of the boycott and even declared her opposition to a boycott of Israel. We believe that the decision of the ministers, the strategic affairs minister and the interior minister, to deport her from Israel is wrong and does not advance the struggle against BDS. On the contrary, it undermines the efforts of Israeli academy to attract foreign students and researchers to international programs (Haaretz, October 12, 2018).

Others argued that Aqasem posed no threat to Israel and that the way she was being treated undermined Israel’s image as a tolerant society (See, for example, Zev Chafets, Bloomberg, October 10, 2018).

After appealing to the Supreme Court, Alqasem was allowed to remain in Israel until the justices ruled on her case. On October 18, 2018, the court ruled she could stay. Judge Neal Hendel said that her determination to stay and study in Israel was not consistent “with the charge that the plaintiff is a covert boycott activist who is likely to take advantage of her stay in Israel to advance the BDS movement.” The court’s ruling did not challenge the legality of the law, only its application in the Alqasem case. The government also has the option of appealing the ruling and asking for it to be heard by an expanded panel of judges (JTA, October 18, 2018).

While critics pointed to Alqasem’s detention as evidence Israel is not a democracy, the process proved just the opposite. As Jerusalem Post news editor Lahav Harkov observed, “Instead of being thrown right back onto a plane, Alqasem was able to appeal her way up to the High Court and have her case be heard.” Moreover, she noted, “The court disregarded constitutional arguments against the BDS ban, upholding the law but saying the government was exercising it in the wrong way.” This, she concluded, “is exactly the role of judicial oversight in a democracy: to make sure that those with the power to implement and enforce the law do so, without crossing into authoritarianism. Israeli democracy passed that test” (Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2018).


The Zionists were colonialist tools of Western imperialism.


The Palestinians and some of their supporters portray the conflict with Israel and Zionism as an anti-colonialist struggle rather than a clash of rival nationalistic movements. “According to the rules of postcolonial discourse,” historian Alexander Yakobson notes, “the Palestinians are in the right by definition and are never responsible for anything.” Moreover, he observes, the “anti-colonialist blindness” created an imprudent expectation that Israel would “crumble from within” since “this wasn’t a real people and a real nation-state, but some ‘invented’ artificial entity” (Alexander Yakobson, “If Zionism Were Colonial It Would Have Ended Long Ago,” Haaretz, October 20, 2018).

Characterizing Israel and Zionism in this way reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of colonialism, which means living by exploiting others. “But what could be further from colonialism,” Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi has written, “than the idealism of city-dwelling Jews who strive to become farmers and laborers and to live by their own work?” (Yehoshafat Harkabi, Palestinians and Israel, Jerusalem: Keter, 1974, p. 6).

Moreover, as British historian Paul Johnson noted, Zionists were hardly tools of imperialists given the powers’ general opposition to their cause. “Everywhere in the West, the foreign offices, defense ministries and big business were against the Zionists” (Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, NY: Harper & Row, 1983, p. 485).

Emir Faisal saw the Zionist movement as a companion to the Arab nationalist movement, fighting against imperialism, as he explained in a letter to Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on March 3, 1919, one day after Chaim Weizmann presented the Zionist case to the Paris conference. Faisal wrote:

The Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement?.?.?.?We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home?.?.?.?We are working together for a reformed and revised Near East and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is nationalist and not imperialist. And there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a real success without the other (Naomi Comay, Arabs Speak Frankly on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Printing Miracle Ltd., 2005, p. 8, emphasis added).

In the 1940s, the Jewish underground movements waged an anticolonial war against the British. The Arabs, meanwhile, were concerned primarily with fighting the Jews rather than expelling the British imperialists.

The view of Israel as colonialist predated the capture of the disputed territories in 1967; hence, the proponents of this idea fuel Israeli fears that “withdrawal from the territories will only result in a continuation of the anti-colonialist struggle to be waged mere kilometers from Ben-Gurion airport” (Yakobson).

The unwillingness to accept the validity of Zionism; that is, the Jewish people are a nation entitled to self-determination in their homeland, Israel, is the root of the conflict. The perpetuation of the colonialist myth ensures its continuation.


Arab and Muslim states support the BDS campaign against normalizing relations with Israel.


One strategy of the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is to reject “the treatment of Israel as a ‘normal’ state with which business as usual can be conducted.”


Because the “normalization of Israel – normalizing the abnormal – is a malicious and subversive process that works to cover up injustice and colonize the most intimate parts of the oppressed: their mind” (PACBI, October 31, 2011).

Though the boycotters claim the anti-normalization campaign has widespread support in the Middle East, the truth is their calls have been ignored and Arab and Muslim states are increasing their contacts with Israel. BDS proponents admitted, for example, that 20 percent of the Arab and Islamic countries have diplomatic relations with Israel. “Nine Arab countries possess full diplomatic ties…while six others who are experiencing lower-scale relations with Israel,” the BDS global campaign admitted in a report entitled “The reality of normalisation in the Arab and Islamic world” (Middle East Monitor, October 30, 2018).

When Turkey approved an agreement to normalize relations with Israel in 2016, for example, BDS proponents complained and were ignored (BNC, August 31, 2016). Even though relations have become strained since then, Turkey does not support their campaign.

Even more dramatic has been the improvement in ties between Israel and the Gulf states. Israeli officials have met openly with Saudi officials in recent years and it is no secret the two countries have been working together against the regional threat posed by Iran. In October 2018, an Arab news site reported Israel sold sophisticated spy systems to Saudi Arabia and there were also reports the Saudis purchased Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to counter Houthi missile attacks from Yemen (Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2018).

On October 26, 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman at the invitation of the country’s leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said. A joint statement issued by Jerusalem and Muscat said the two leaders discussed “ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East” (Times of Israel, October 26, 2018). Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 2018 Manama Dialogue the following day, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said: “Let me tell you something I am saying for the first time. Israel is one of the countries in the region, and all of us understand and know this….history tells us that the Torah emerged in the Middle East, and that the prophets of the Israelites were from the Middle East. In Islamic history, there were Jews – even in Medina (MEMRI, October 27, 2018).

After Netanyahu’s visit to Oman, it was reported that Bahrain was secretly holding talks with Israel to establish open relations between the two countries in advance of a visit by the prime minister to Manama (Middle East Monitor, October 29, 2018). Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has expressed opposition to the Arab states’ boycott of Israel and allowed a delegation of Bahrainis to visit Jerusalem in 2017 bringing a message of peace from the king (Middle East Monitor, October 29, 2018).

Also in October, Miri Regev, Israel’s culture and sports minister paid the first state visit by an Israeli official to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Muslim world’s third largest house of worship, after mosques in Mecca and Medina. During her trip to the UAE, Regev also witnessed a milestone when Israel’s national anthem was played after Sagi Muki won a gold medal in the international judo tournament held in the capital. Coincidentally, an Israeli gymnastics delegation was in Qatar for the beginning of the world championships being held in Doha (Times of Israel, October 29, 2018). Shortly after Regevs visit, Israel’s communications minister, Ayoub Kara, visited Dubai for a telecommunications conference (AAJ News, October 31, 2018).

As one Arab journalist observed, “The nonchalant reactions of the Arab public and media over the Omani announcement that they received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat illustrates how much the region has changed from what it was in the past.” Abdulrahman al-Rashed added that “Israeli activity has exceeded political meetings and delved into other areas like economics and sports and is repeating this in a number of Arab countries.” He concluded Israeli-Arab ties will no longer be taboo. “The Arab culture of rejecting relations and normalization with Israel is deeply rooted and still alive,” he acknowledged, “but what’s new is that it is no longer the engine moving the policies of Arab governments” (Al Arabiya, October 28, 2018).


Threats of terrorism against Israel are restricted to Gaza.


One of the three prerequisites to Israel’s recognition of the PLO and subsequent peace negotiations was that the Palestinians cease all terrorism against Israel. Yet, almost from the day Yasser Arafat sent this promise to Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, assaults have continued. The heinous attacks conducted in the 1990s sabotaged the Oslo process and the second intifada, combined with the terror and rocket attacks following Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, convinced most Israelis further territorial concessions would endanger their security.

Since the first Oslo agreement in September 1993, more than 1,600 Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. While it is true that cooperation between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli security services has contributed to foiling many attacks, Israel maintains that it could not be as effective if it did not also have a presence in the West Bank, and freedom to act against terrorist groups in the PA.

This is apparent from statistics released by the Shin Bet in November 2018 (Times of Israel, November 6, 2018). In the last year, Israeli intelligence thwarted 480 Palestinian terror attacks as well as 590 potential “lone wolf” assaults. Officials warned that violence and attempted attacks have been increasing.

While attention is focused on the activities of Hamas in Gaza, the organization is also active in the West Bank where the Shin Bet arrested 219 Hamas cells. The group plans attacks against Israel and seeks to seize control of the PA from Fatah. It is the threat to Mahmoud Abbas posed by Hamas, not concern for Israeli security, that is the principal motivation for Palestinians to engage in counterterrorism work with Israel.


The Palestinian public supports a two-state solution.


Though the international community continues to insist that a two-state solution is the only way to end the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the Palestinian public has a different opinion. This is one reason why Mahmoud Abbas has felt no urgency to negotiate with Israel and why Israelis do not believe they have a peace partner.

According to a poll taken October 13-15, 2018, by An-Najah National University, nearly 60 percent of Palestinians reject “the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian cause.” This option, pursued by Abbas at the UN, is a non-starter with Israel.

The formulation that Israelis have accepted in past negotiations is the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state (Yitzhak Rabin said “entity” rather than state) based on the 1967 borders with some land swaps. If Palestinians don’t like the idea of a state in the entire area of the disputed territories, it is not surprising that nearly three-quarters are unwilling to accept less territory with some land exchange.

Some Palestinians, including leaders of the BDS movement, have advocated a one-state solution. The public, however, overwhelmingly (79 percent) objects to the creation of “a binational state for both Arabs and Jews.”

In addition to rejecting peace options, nearly four out of ten Palestinians support “an armed intifada” in what the question called the “Palestinian territories.” Given that Palestinians consider all of Israel part of those territories, the response could be an ominous portent of future terror attacks.

The bottom line is that most Palestinians have no interest in reaching a peace agreement. They are not even satisfied with the maximalist demands of the current leadership for a state based on the 1967 borders (more accurately the 1949 armistice lines). These attitudes are stoked by incessant Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel, the publication of maps that replace Israel with Palestine and the indoctrination of Palestinians from an early age that the Jews stole their land and they will one day get it all back.


Airbnb’s decision to ban rentals in Jewish communities in the West Bank is not anti-Semitic.


On November 19, 2018, Airbnb announced that it intends to remove approximately 200 rental properties located in the West Bank from its listings. Airbnb’s decision is blatantly anti-Semitic.

First, it singles out Jewish homeowners as the only people who are denied the opportunity to list their homes in the disputed territories.

“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” Airbnb said. “Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow” (“Countering Airbnb,” Jerusalem Post, (November 22, 2018).

The premise is false and based on the specious Palestinian narrative that Jews living in the West Bank are the “core of the dispute,” thereby ignoring the religious, historical, political, and psychological factors that preceded the building of the first settlement and continue to impact the conflict. Moreover, if Airbnb was really concerned with the “core” issue, it is Palestinian homeowners who would be banned because of Palestinian rejectionism.

Second, the company is applying a double-standard in the way it treats Jews that is not used in any other region of the world. Airbnb lists homes in other disputed territories and areas of political conflict. These include the Western Sahara, northern Cypress, Tibet, and Kashmir. According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is anti-Semitic.

Third, the company ignores the reality on the ground. As Professor Eugene Kontorovich noted, “Israeli cities in the West Bank are open to any lawful resident of Israel, including Arabs. By contrast, any Jew who enters the West Bank’s Palestinian towns risks his life” (Eugene Kontorovich, “Airbnb’s Anti-Israel Hypocrisy, Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2018).

Fourth, this is an example of blaming the innocent. If Airbnb objects to Israel’s policy toward the disputed territories, it should address its concerns to the government and not punish Jews who are legally living in those areas and providing a service that supports the local economy.

While the owners of Airbnb may not be anti-Semites, they have chosen to side with the advocates of the anti-Semitic boycott campaign aimed at destroying the state of Israel. They should be aware that this is the BDS goal, not peace, not a two-state solution, and not any resolution to the conflict that envisions the continuing existence of Israel.


Palestinians have the right to sell land to Jews.


In 1996, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mufti, Ikremah Sabri, issued a fatwa (religious decree), banning the sale of Arab and Muslim property to Jews. Anyone who violated the order was to be killed. At least seven land dealers were killed that year. Six years later, the head of the PA’s General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, General Tawfik Tirawi, admitted his men were responsible for the murders (Jerusalem Post, August 19, 2002).

On May 5, 1997, Palestinian Authority Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein announced that the death penalty would be imposed on anyone convicted of ceding “one inch” to Israel. Later that month, two Arab land dealers were killed. PA officials denied any involvement in the killings. A year later, another Palestinian suspected of selling land to Jews was murdered. The PA has also arrested suspected land dealers for violating the Jordanian law (in force in the West Bank), which prohibits the sale of land to foreigners (State Department. Human Rights Report for the Occupied Territories, 1997, 1998).

During the Palestinian War, few, if any Palestinians tried to sell land to Jews, but the prohibition remained in effect. After the war, the persecutions began again. In April 2006, Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was tortured and murdered for allegedly selling an apartment building in Jerusalem to Jews. Since the Mufti forbade Muslims accused of selling land to Jews from being buried in a Muslim cemetery, al-Hawa was laid to rest in a makeshift cemetery on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho (Caroline Glick, "Why is Muhammad Abu al-Hawa dead?" Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2006).

In April 2009, the Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, issued another warning against selling homes or properties to Jews.  Sheikh Tamimi reiterated that those who violated the ban, including those who rented to Jews and real estate agents and middlemen facilitating transactions, would be accused of high treason and face the death penalty. Later that month, a Palestinian Authority military court found a Palestinian man guilty of selling land to Jews and sentenced him to death by hanging (Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA: Death penalty for those who sell land to Jews,” Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2009).

In 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas “instituted life imprisonment with forced labor for the clandestine transfer, leasing or selling of lands to a hostile country or its citizens (Official PA TV, October 21, 2014, translated by Palestine Media Watch). A few years later, the PA Mufti called the selling of land to non-Muslims “heresy” and “a traitor against Allah” who must be “excommunicated” (Donia Al-Watan, July 10, 2018, translated by Palestine Media Watch).

In 2018, Ahmed Salame was killed, authorities believe, because he sold land in the West Bank to Jews (Jack Khoury, “Police Suspect Palestinian Murdered in Israeli Arab Town for Selling Land to Settlers,” Haaretz, (December 8, 2018). The same year, a Palestinian holding U.S. citizenship was arrested by the PA for allegedly selling real estate in East Jerusalem to Jews. He was sentenced to life in prison and forced labor. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Isaam Akel’s “suspected ‘crime’ is selling land to a Jew….Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release” (“U.S. demands Palestinians release citizen held for selling land to settlers,” Axios, November 28, 2018). The PA ultimately gave in to U.S. pressure and released Akel in January 2019 (Nir Hasson and Jack Khoury, “Palestinian-American Sentenced to Life for Selling Land to Jews Released,” Haaretz, January 18, 2019).


A new segregated road proves Israel is like Afrikaner South Africa.


Many of Israel’s detractors look for any opportunity to compare Israel’s government to the Afrikaner regime that once ruled South Africa. Thus, it is not surprising that many of them jumped on reports of a “segregated highway” opening in the West Bank, which, in their minds justified linking the two countries (Ilan Ben Zion, “Israel opens West Bank highway with segregated lanes for Israelis, Palestinians, AP, January 10, 2019). As with other such efforts, however, the comparison is flawed.

Critics ignore that South Africa practiced segregation based on race: whites sought to dominate the nonwhite population, especially the indigenous black population, and discriminated against people of color in the political, legal, and economic sectors.

The Palestinian people do not constitute a race nor are they discriminated against within Israel. In the disputed territories, nearly all Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which determine most of their rights. The restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement are based on security not racial grounds. This is the case with Route 4370 that is the subject of the current accusations.

All of the major arteries, including the main north-south highway extending from northern Samaria to southern Judea, are open to both Israeli and Palestinian motorists. It is true that a physical barrier divides the new road along a three-mile stretch east of Jerusalem, but this is purely for security reasons and does not prevent Palestinians from using the highway.

What is the security justification for this division?

As with the security fence, checkpoints and other security measures, Palestinian terror has forced Israel to adopt policies to protect its citizens. On shared roads, Israelis have been shot at and stoned. Some victims have died of their injuries. Coincidentally, shortly after the road opened, several Palestinian youths were arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at a main road in East Jerusalem (“Palestinian youths throw firebombs in East Jerusalem; 1 shot by police,” Times of Israel, (January 24, 2019).

In perhaps the worst case, a suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into a public bus traveling to a resort in the Gaza Strip in 1995. Seven Israeli soldiers were killed along with Alisa Flatow, a 20-year-old American college student who was on her way to beach (James Dao, “Judgment for Terrorism Is $248 Million,” New York Times, March 12, 1998).

Only Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel are restricted to one side of the road; Israeli Arabs use the same lanes as all non-Arab citizens. There is no differentiation based on race, religion or ethnicity. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are a race and skin color does not determine who drives on either side of the road. The same is true for religion – Muslims and Christians are permitted on both sides. Similarly, Israelis and Palestinians from different ethnic backgrounds are not barred from the road (Stephen M. Flatow, “The ‘apartheid’ wall that isn’t,” JNS, January 14, 2019).

It is not unusual for countries to treat citizens and non-citizens differently, especially when it comes to travel. At many ports of entry, for example, lines are divided between passport holders who are citizens and those who are visitors.

This distinction has no resemblance to the racist policies in South Africa.

Moreover, the new road benefits Palestinians who are not citizens by reducing the travel time between Bethlehem and Ramallah. Josh Hasten notes that it also “allows them to travel from north of Jerusalem towards Palestinian towns to the east and south of the city without having to stop at any Israeli checkpoints” (Josh Hasten, “Israeli and Palestinian drivers celebrate new road, as critics accuse Israel of ‘apartheid,’” JNS, January 18, 2019).


Expelling international monitors will lead to a massacre in Hebron.


In an article entitled, “Palestinians in Hebron Could Now Face Another Massacre,” Muhammad Shehada criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to renew the mandate for the observers of the Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (TIPH) and suggested Palestinians living in Hebron would now be in danger (Muhammad Shehada, “Palestinians in Hebron Could Now Face Another Massacre, Haaretz, February 7, 2019). This is a hysterical reaction to the legitimate action taken by the Israeli government.

The creation of the TIPH followed the killing of 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque/ Cave of Machpelah by Baruch Goldstein in 1994. Israel and the PLO signed an agreement a few weeks later to create the TIPH to promote stability in Hebron. The observer force was never supposed to be permanent, hence the name, and Israel was given the option of renewing its mandate every six months. Israel was under no obligation to allow the observers to remain in Hebron indefinitely and Netanyahu’s action was backed by the United States, which blocked a proposed UN Security Council statement criticizing his decision (“U.S. Blocks UN Resolution Denouncing Israeli Expulsion of Hebron Monitoring Group,” Reuters, February 7, 2019).

A spokesman for the State Department noted: “The 1997 agreement on the temporary international presence in the city of Hebron clearly states that the consent of both the Israelis and the Palestinians is required in order to extend the mandate and presence of the TIPH. Furthermore, Oslo II and Hebron Protocol of 1997 also stated that the agreement from both sides was necessary for that to continue” (State Department, February 7, 2019).

TIPH was long opposed by settler leaders and right-wing lawmakers who believed the observers had a pro-Palestinian bias and interfered with the lives of Jewish residents. The TIPH provoked criticism in Israel during the summer of 2018 when a video showed a member of the TIPH slapping a Jewish boy across the face and a security camera caught another observer slashing the tires of an Israeli settler (“US blocks UN move to condemn Israel’s decision to shut Hebron monitor mission,” Times of Israel, February 7, 2019).

Fewer than 1,000 Jews live in the city compared to 200,000 Palestinians. The relationship between Jews and Palestinians in the city is often tense, but rarely violent. The massacre perpetrated by Goldstein was an aberration and condemned by the government. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared: “We say to this horrible man and those like him: you are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism” (Matt Plen, “Baruch Goldstein, “The perpetrator of the Hebron massacre is both vilified and celebrated,” My Jewish Learning).

The government paid compensation to Goldstein’s victims and enacted a number of measures to combat extremism, including arresting followers of Meir Kahane, criminalizing the Kach movement (to which Goldstein belonged), forbidding certain Israeli settlers from entering Palestinian towns, and demanding that those settlers turn in their army-issued rifles (Clyde Haberman, “West Bank Massacre; Israel Eases Curfew In Territories; Ensuing Riots Deepen Pessimism,” New York Times, March 3, 1994).

Nothing like Goldstein’s atrocity has happened in Israel before or since. By contrast, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas incite, sponsor and often direct terror against Israelis. The murderers are glorified by having schools, sporting events and streets named for them. Those in jail receive salaries to reward them for their atrocities.

It also worth recalling that Jews were forced out of Hebron, a city that had a Jewish presence dating to biblical times, by an Arab massacre in 1929 in which 67 Jews were killed. Following the 1948 War, Jews were prevented from returning during the Jordanian occupation; they were allowed to return after Israel took control of the city in the 1967 War.

Palestinians in Hebron are in no added danger without the TIPH. As in other cities under Israeli control in the West Bank, the IDF is responsible for security and will do everything possible to prevent violence.


Israel denies Palestinians health care.


Israel routinely allows thousands of Palestinians to enter Israel for its world-class health care despite frequent efforts by terrorists to exploit Israel’s goodwill.

In 2005, for example, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received in 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 (Uri Dan, “Undie-Cover Bomber – Woman Thwarted Near Israeli Hosp,” New York Post, June 21, 2005).

During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas set up a hospital for the exclusive use of its fighters, and supplied the facility by stealing medical supplies entering Gaza from aid organizations (Yaakov Katz, “Hamas Opens Hospital For Gunmen,” Jerusalem Post, January 6, 2009). Israel set up a medical facility just outside the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, and allowed many Palestinians to receive urgent care they could not have found in Gaza or other parts of the Arab world. This was just another way that Israel made every effort to protect the Palestinian civilian population without getting any international recognition for its efforts. During that conflagration Hamas built its military command center underneath Shifa Hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population) so it could be used as a shield against Israeli attacks.

In 2018, more than 20,000 permits were granted to Palestinians living in West Bank to enter Israel and receive treatment or support a patient who was receiving treatment. This was an increase of 3,000 over the previous year.

Of the 6,000 Palestinian cancer patients from Judea and Samaria, 1,200 were treated in a hospital in Israel. More than 200 Palestinians – including 112 children – received bone marrow transplants (Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, “Palestinians Get More Medical Treatment Permits In Israel In 2018 – Report,” Jerusalem Post, February 12, 2019).

The Palestinians also benefit from the opportunity to train with Israeli physicians. Palestinian doctors, for example,  are paired with professionals from Hadassah University Medical Center.

Israel’s health care is so good that even Israel’s most uncompromising enemies set aside their animus for the sake of getting family members the help they need. Shockingly, leaders of Hamas, who spend their time devising terror attacks against Israel and are committed to its destruction, look to Israel when their families are sick. For example, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh‘s brother-in-law was treated for a cardiac problem, his mother-in-law went to Jerusalem for treatment and one of his daughters was admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. The previous year, one of Haniyeh‘s granddaughters was treated in Israel (Hamas leader's daughter received medical treatment in Israel: sources,” Reuters, October 19, 2014). The sister of another senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, was also treated in Israel for cancer (Nati Gabbay, “Senior Hamas official Marzouk's sister hospitalized in Israel,” Jerusalem Post, November 3, 2014).

More regular access to advanced medical care is only one of many benefits the Palestinians could derive from peace with Israel.


Palestinians are indigenous to the area previously known as Palestine.


In an effort to prove they are indigenous, and were in the land before the Jews, Palestinians often speciously claim to be related to the Canaanites. There is no evidence for this claim. The Arabs are not native to “Palestine”; they are aboriginal to Arabia.

In testimony before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, the Palestinian Arab delegation claimed a connection to Palestine of more than one thousand years, dating back no further than the conquest of Muhammad’s followers in the seventh century. Most of the people who now call themselves Palestinians are descendants of Arabs who came to Palestine much more recently because of World War I, famine, disease, expulsion by the Turks and the attraction of the social and economic conditions created by the Jewish community.

In July 1921, Hasan Shukri, the mayor of Haifa and president of the Muslim National Associations, sent a telegram to the British government in response to a delegation of Palestinians that went to London to prevent the implementation of the Balfour Declaration. Shukri wrote:

We are certain that without Jewish immigration and financial assistance there will be no future development of our country as may be judged from the fact that the towns inhabited in part by Jews such as Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, and Tiberias are making steady progress while Nablus, Acre, and Nazareth where no Jews reside are steadily declining (Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, p. 15).

In 1915, approximately 590,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs lived in Palestine. According to the 1922 census, that number increased to 643,000. During the British mandate, Jewish immigration was restricted by quotas while Arabs faced no impediments. Hence, the Jewish population increased by 470,000 between World War I and World War II, while the non-Jewish population rose by 588,000 – 120 percent (Dov Friedlander and Calvin Goldscheider, The Population of Israel, NY: Columbia Press, 1979, p. 30; Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, (Tel Aviv: Hidekel Press, 1984, p. 254).

This rapid growth of the Arab population was a result of several factors. One was immigration from neighboring states — constituting 37 percent of the total immigration to pre-state Israel — by Arabs who wanted to take advantage of the higher standard of living the Jews had made possible (Moshe Aumann, “Land Ownership in Palestine 1880–1948,” in Michael Curtis, et al., The Palestinians, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1975, p. 38).

The Arab population also grew because of the improved living conditions created by the Jews as they drained malarial swamps and brought improved sanitation and health care to the region. Thus, for example, the Muslim infant mortality rate fell from 201 per thousand in 1925 to 94 per thousand in 1945, and life expectancy rose from 37 years in 1926 to 49 in 1943 (Avneri, p. 264; Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World, NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1970, p. 60).

The Arab population increased the most in cities where large Jewish populations had created new economic opportunities. From 1922– 1947, the non- Jewish population increased 290 percent in Haifa, 131 percent in Jerusalem, and 158 percent in Jaffa. The growth in Arab towns was more modest: 42 percent in Nablus, 78 percent in Jenin, and 37 percent in Bethlehem (Avneri, pp. 254–55).

The Palestinians can indeed claim a connection to the area of Palestine, but they are not indigenous, and their presence does not predate that of the Jewish people who can trace their history in the land back more than 3,000 years.

We know that some of those who live in our villages are Jews who converted to Islam after the Muslim conquests beginning in the 7th century, and most of us are the descendants of foreign workers who came to British Mandate of Palestine from the various Arab countries in the wake of the Zionist enterprise. By trying to trace our “ancestry” to the Canaanites, we lie to ourselves and demonstrate our silliness and self- deception to the world. And when we try to claim that Jesus was a Palestinian, we make ourselves an international laughing stock. — Bassam Tawil, “Muslim Blood and Al- Aqsa,” Gatestone Institute, October 31, 2015)


Palestine was always an Arab country.


The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the twelfth century BCE, settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain — now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century CE, after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now commonly called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the Land of Israel. The Arabic word Filastin is derived from this Latin name (Yehoshua Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, 1918–1929, London: Frank Cass, 1974, p. 4).

The Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 BCE, living under a tribal confederation until being united under the first monarch, King Saul. The second king, David, established Jerusalem as the capital around 1000 BCE. David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple soon thereafter and consolidated the military, administrative, and religious functions of the kingdom. The nation was divided under Solomon’s son, with the northern kingdom (Israel) lasting until 722 BCE, when the Assyrians destroyed it, and the southern kingdom (Judah) surviving until the Babylonian conquest in 586 BCE. The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward until most Jews were finally driven from their homeland in 135 CE.

Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than four hundred years. This is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States (Max Dimont, Jews, God, and History, NY: Signet, 1962, pp. 49–53). In fact, if not for foreign conquerors, Israel would be more than three thousand years old today.

The boundaries of Palestine changed over the centuries. While a Roman province, it was attached to Syria. In the medieval period, Filastin was a subdistrict of Syria (the land of Sham in Arabic). The Crusaders established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which ultimately extended from north of Beirut to the Sinai Desert, and along both sides of the Jordan River. The area was then referred to as the Holy Land.

According to the eminent historian Bernard Lewis, Jews never used the name Filastin or Palestine, referring to the area from the time of the Exodus as Eretz Israel. Muslims stopped using either name after reconquering the land from the Crusaders. Saladin, the Mamluks and the Ottomans subsequently divided the area into subdistricts.

Lewis observed that the name Palestine became popular in the Christian world around the time of the Renaissance. After becoming the common designation in Europe, the name spread to Arabic-speaking Christians. In 1911, an Arab Christian edited a newspaper in Palestine called Filastin.

“Palestine became the official name of a definite territory for the first time since the early Middle Ages,” according to Lewis, only after the creation of the British mandate (Bernard Lewis, “On the History and Geography of a Name,” The International History Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1980, pp. 1-12).

Following the defeat of the Turks in World War I, France and Britain carved up the Ottoman Empire and set the boundaries for Palestine. For example, Palestine initially included both sides of the Jordan River until Churchill arbitrarily severed more than three-fourths of the area to create Transjordan. In addition, part of the Golan Heights was transferred from Palestine to Syria.

Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most of the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab- American historian, Princeton University professor Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said, “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not” (Moshe Kohn, “The Arabs’ ‘Lie’ of the Land,” Jerusalem Post, October 18, 1991).

Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. They usually identified themselves by their clans and villages. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, they adopted the following resolution:

We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic, and geographical bonds (Randall Price, Fast Facts on the Middle East Conflict, Harvest House Publishers: 2003, p. 25).

Similarly, the King-Crane Commission found that Christian and Muslim Arabs opposed any plan to create a country called “Palestine,” because it was viewed as recognition of Zionist claims (Allen Z. Hertz, “Aboriginal Rights of the Jewish People,” American Thinker, October 30, 2011).

In 1937, a local Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul Hadi, told the Peel Commission, which ultimately suggested the partition of Palestine: “There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria” (Kohn).

The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations echoed this view in a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947, which said Palestine was part of the Province of Syria and the Arabs of Palestine did not comprise a separate political entity. A few years later, Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, told the Security Council: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria” (Avner Yaniv, PLO, (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Study Group of Middle Eastern Affairs, August 1974, p. 5).

Palestinian Arab nationalism is largely a post–World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the Six- Day War. For the duration of the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and Egyptian control of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian nationalists were silent about their desire for an independent state. In fact, the PLO was created by the Arab League to advance the interests of Arab governments interested in driving the Jews into the sea, not to create a Palestinian state.

Today, the Palestinian people have international recognition and claim the right to self- determination; however, their definition of Palestine does not comport with the historical borders. Rhetorically, at least, their current leaders no longer claim that Palestine is part of Syria or demand the territory now under Jordanian rule. They are now only interested in areas claimed by the Jewish people, stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing what is now Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. In the short-run, they have demanded the creation of a state based on the 1949 Armistice Lines with East Jerusalem as its capital as the first stage toward the liberation of all of “Palestine.”


U.S. sanctions are having no impact on Iran.


Prior to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), critics argued that U.S. sanctions against Iran would not be effective unless the other signatories to the agreement went along. Doomsayers said unilateral sanctions would not hurt Iran because other countries would work around them. While the critics were correct in predicting no other country would join the U.S. in reimposing sanctions (ignoring punitive measures EU countries took following attempted Iranian terror attacks on their soil), they were wrong about the impact of American sanctions.

The United States has imposed sanctions on multiple Iranian companies and individuals and made clear to other countries that their companies would be subject to sanctions if they do not comply with U.S. rules prohibiting trade with Iran. Though European countries supporting the JCPOA have sought ways around the sanctions, companies fearing being cut off from the U.S. banking system and markets have complied. The following is just a sample of the impact of the U.S. policy:

  • The top two shipping container carriers, 2M partners MSC and Maersk Line, announced they are reviewing their plans in Iran due to the changing situation (The Maritime Executive, May 14, 2018). French shipping group CMA CGM later announced it was pulling out of Iran (Reuters, July 7, 2018).
  • Hyundai and Mazda cancelled their contracts with an Iranian automaker (BBC Persian, June 11, 2018).
  • Airbus reportedly cancelled its deal to provide aircraft to Iran (AFP, June 16, 2018).
  • Korean contractor Daelim has cancelled a $2 billion contract to modernize a refinery in the Iranian city of Esfahan (Global Construction Review, June 4, 2018).
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipyard was supposed to deliver container ships to an Iranian shipping company starting in April 2018, but has yet to deliver a single vessel (Korea Times, June 13, 2018).
  • PSA, owner of the French carmaker Peugeot, said it had begun to suspend its joint ventures in Iran (Financial Times-UK, June 4, 2018).
  • South Korea, one of Iran’s main customers in Asia, will not load any Iranian crude and condensate in July, halting all shipments for the first time in six years (Reuters, July 5, 2018).
  • British renewable energy investor Quercus said it will halt the construction of a nearly $600 million solar power plant in Iran due to recently imposed U.S. sanctions on Tehran (Reuters, August 14, 2018).
  • Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn, two state-owned German companies, along with car manufacturer Daimler and mechanical engineering company Herrenknecht, announced their withdrawal from Iran because of U.S. sanctions (PressTV, August 16, 2018).
  • The Dutch airline KLM said it was cancelling flights to Iran after September 22, 2018. Subsequently, British Airways and Air France said they would suspend service to Iran (New York Times, August 23, 2018).
  • Volkswagen AG agreed to comply with sanctions on Iran and end almost all of its business in the country. Other German companies, Adidas AG, and Daimler AG, have also said they will scale back or abandon their activities in Iran (Bloomberg, September 19, 2018).

Even before U.S. sanctions went into full effect, they were having an impact on Iran’s economy. Iran’s currency, the rial, has been in a freefall compared with the dollar, making imports more expensive and forcing Iran’s manufacturers and exporters to cut production and cancel contracts. In 2013, it cost 30,000 rials to buy $1; in September 2018, a dollar cost 150,000 (New York Times, September 5, 2018).

In another sign that sanctions are having a devastating impact on the Iranian economy, the Islamic Republic News Agency admitted that 70% of factories, workshops and mines in the country have shut down or gone bankrupt (Middle East Monitor, October 25, 2018). Unemployment is running at 12.1%, with three million Iranians unable to find jobs. The International Monetary Fund has forecast that Iran’s economy will contract by 1.5% this year and by 3.6% in 2019 due to dwindling oil revenues and a September report from the Iranian parliament warned that rising unemployment could threaten the nation’s stability (Reuters, November 24, 2018). A World bank forecast was even gloomier, predicting minus 3.7% economic growth and a 31.2% inflation rate (Radio Farda, January 9, 2019).

On the 40th anniversary of its revolution, Gallup reported that “for the first time in a decade, a majority of Iranians (57%) say economic conditions in their communities are getting worse and a record 34% rate their lives poorly enough to be considered ‘suffering’” (Gallup, February 12, 2019).

One of the major concerns of critics of the withdrawal from the JCPOA was that oil prices would skyrocket if Iranian oil was taken off the market due to U.S. sanctions. Instead, in the first week following the imposition of sanctions, the price declined. Brent crude prices fell more than 20 percent from their four-year peak of $86.74 in early October 2018 to a three-year low of $55.69 on November 13 (Wall Street Journal, November 13, and 14, 2018). In March 2019, it had risen to around $65 (Nasdaq, March 8, 2019), still well below its earlier high. One reason for the moderate changes is that OPEC and Russian crude production has been increasing, more than offsetting losses from Iran.

Iran complained in February 2019 that European nations have not responded to its offers to sell them crude oil despite having U.S. waivers. “We have called them many times, but they do not return our calls,” said Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, apparently referring to Greece and Italy, which were among eight nations granted waivers to import Iranian oil. (AP, February 5, 2019). He also disclosed that Russia had purchased shares of an Indian oil refinery, but, New Delhi, despite being exempted by Washington, does not allow the Russians to buy Iranian oil for the refinery. Taiwan is also on the list of the exempted countries, but it has stopped buying Iranian oil (Radio Farda, February 7, 2019).

Iran’s oil supply will be further restricted after May when the U.S. removes exemptions given to eight countries. U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said, “The November [2018] waivers were designed to prevent a spike in oil prices, and it appears that there will be enough oil supply to satisfy demand this year.” He added the U.S. would not offer exemptions for “oil or anything else,” adding that the U.S. aims to “get to zero imports to Iranian crude as quickly as possible” (Radio Farda, February 7, 2019).


The “Great March of Return” has been successful.


It has now been more than a year since Palestinians began the “Great March of Return” protests. They were originally planned as a six-week non-violent campaign by Palestinians demonstrating at the Gaza border fence with Israel to express their desire to return to the lands they claimed their ancestors had lost or been driven from. Gaza journalist and activist Ahmed Abu Ratima first thought of the idea, wondering “what would happen if 200,000 peaceful protesters broke through the barbed wire...raised the Palestinian flag and pitched tents a few kilometers into our own occupied territory” (Enas Fares Ghannam, “Despite Israel’s threats of violence, Gaza protesters have peaceful dream,” Mondoweiss, March 29, 2018).

The protest was planned for Fridays beginning on “Land Day” on March 30, 2018, and ending on May 15, when Palestinians commemorate what they refer to as the Nakba, the “catastrophe” of Israel becoming an independent state. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine endorsed the march and sought to co-opt the protests to serve their own interests.

Whatever Ratima’s initial intent, Hamas hijacked the protests and instigated violent confrontations with Israelis stationed at the border. The terrorists hoped to use the riots as cover to infiltrate Israel, kidnap soldiers and civilians, and murder Jews living in nearby communities.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar declared, “The March of Return will continue… until we remove this transient border.” The protests “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and ‘return’… Our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas head Sinwar says Gaza protests will continue until border is erased,” Times of Israel, March 30, 2018).

In July 2018, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Hamas politburo, praised the “peaceful protests,” while also making this statement:

O Muslims, wherever you find a Zionist Jew, you must kill him because that is an expression of your solidarity with the al-Aqsa Mosque and an expression of your solidarity with… your Jerusalem, your Palestine and… your people (Adam Rasgon, “Hamas official urges killing all Zionist Jews, praises ‘peaceful’ Gaza protests,” Times of Israel, July 26, 2018).

After a year of protests, the Palestinians failed to win support for their demand to be given the homes belonging to Israelis; they failed to infiltrate Israel and wreak havoc; they failed to win international sympathy and they failed to end the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

During the course of the year, this is what they did accomplish:

  • Launched 1,300 rockets and missiles on Friday or Saturday “immediately after mass violent riots.”
  • Threw stones, marbles, ball bearings, grenades and improvised explosive devices at soldiers.
  • Planted mines and booby-trapped explosive devices along the border fence.
  • Launched thousands of aerial incendiary devices that caused 2,000 separate fires, which burnt more than 8,500 acres of land, including approximately 3,200 acres of nature reserves and 2,700 acres of forest.
  • Burned tires.
  • Sabotaged security infrastructure of the border fence.
  • Briefly infiltrated southern Israel before being captured or killed.
  • Conducted military exercises, including training for infiltration and abduction scenarios, which would be executed if terrorists succeeded in getting past the security infrastructure and forces (Anna Ahronheim, “IDF Probe Of Gaza Riots Reveals Nearly 1,500 Rockets Fired Since March 30,” Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2019).

Rather than help the people of Gaza, who lack jobs and basic resources, Hamas diverted funds to building weapons and tunnels. The group exploits their people’s desperation by paying them to protest and busing them to the fence to serve as human shields (Adam Rasgon, “Ahead Of Fresh Standoff, Hamas Reveals Payouts To Injured Protesters,” Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2018).

“I saw with my own eyes Hamas activists pushing people [including] women and children to the fence,” one soldier told the Jerusalem Post. Another said he saw one man pushed to the border in a wheelchair before he stood up and ran away (Anna Ahronheim, “Gaza border residents speak to the ‘Post’ about the tension in air,” Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018). An IDF official said, “Hamas placed many women at the front in an effort to make it difficult for us to deal with terror targets” (Anna Ahronheim, “‘Unprecedented’ violence in Gaza leaves 58 Palestinians dead, thousands wounded,” Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2018). In one case, a seven-year-old girl was used as a shield, but was unharmed and returned to her family by IDF soldiers (Judah Ari Gross, “IDF: Hamas cynically sent 7-year-old girl to breach Gaza border,” Times of Israel, March 30, 2018).

Tragically, 187 Palestinians were killed over 42 weeks in these “peaceful” protests – 150 (80%) of them were affiliated with Hamas or with other terrorist organizations (The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, January 21, 2019). On the worst day of violence – May 14, 2018 – 62 Palestinians were killed. A Hamas official admitted that 50 were members of the terror group (Judah Ari Gross, “Hamas official: 50 of the 62 Gazans killed in border violence were our members,” Times of Israel, May 16, 2018).

Israel, nevertheless, is condemned for defending its border and its citizens. America’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, pointed out the hypocrisy of the criticism:

Think about it. If there were tens of thousands of people looking to attack your border fence, and you had a terrorist group providing guidance on how best to kill innocent civilians inside your country once the border fence was broken, what would you do? What would the United States do? What would any country do? (Ambassador Nikki Haley, “Remarks at the Christians United for Israel Annual Summit,” Washington, DC, July 23, 2018)

The biggest casualty of the protests is the prospect for peace. As journalist Yossi Klein Halevi noted:

The March of Return is an explicit negation of a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza coexisting beside Israel. If Palestinians living in Gaza—a part of Palestine, under Hamas rule—still see themselves as refugees intent on “returning” to the Jewish state, then the only concession that can satisfy their aspirations is Israel’s national suicide. The real message of the protests is that the conflict is not about undoing the consequences of 1967, when the West Bank and Gaza came under Israeli rule in the Six-Day War, but about overturning 1948—when Israel was born….the goal is the creation of a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, erasing Israel (Yossi Klein Halevi, “Israelis, Palestinians and the Necessary Injustice of Partition,” Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2018).

The riots have made the Israeli public more skeptical of peace talks. By their actions, the Palestinians have sent a message that Israel cannot expect peace in exchange for land. If unremitting violence is the consequence of evacuating every soldier and settler from Gaza, what incentive do Israelis have to withdraw from any additional territory, especially in the West Bank, where terrorists would be closer to the country’s industrial and population centers?


The United States should not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.


On March 21, 2019, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” (@realDonaldTrump). He made it official on March 25 following a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jordan Fabian, “Trump announces US recognition of Israeli claim on Golan Heights,” The Hill, March 25, 2019).

The area in question is a 500-square-mile territory wedged between northeast Israel and southwest Syria. The Golan – rising from four hundred to seventeen hundred feet in the western section bordering on pre-1967 Israel – overlooks the Hula Valley, Israel’s richest agricultural area. From the western Golan it is only about 60 miles – without major terrain obstacles – to Haifa, Acre, and Israel’s industrial heartland.

Israeli Settlements in the Golan Heights (February 1992)

What all the media and experts have ignored in the discussion of the Golan is the fact that the modern nation of Syria was only sovereign over the area from the end of the French mandate in 1946 until Israel captured the Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War. Do the math: Syria held the Golan for 21 years compared to the 52 years it has been under Israel’s control (38 since it annex the territory in 1981). In that time, the Jewish population has grown to exceed that of the Arabs and the area has become a tourist, recreation and agricultural center.

Israel negotiated with the Syrians, most recently in 2011, in hope of reaching an agreement to permanently secure the peace. The Syrians demanded that Israel completely withdraw from the entire Golan Heights before even discussing what Syria might do in return. President Hafez Assad and his son Bashar never expressed any willingness to make peace even if Israel met this demand. Israel was equally adamant that it would not give up any territory without knowing what Syria was prepared to concede, and insisted that Assad provide security guarantees and agree to normalize relations.

Most Israelis have consistently opposed giving up the Golan. In 2009, for example, after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert engaged in unsuccessful talks, 63 percent of Israelis opposed returning the Golan in exchange for peace (Ben Sales, “The Golan Heights, explained,” JTA, March 21, 2019). Due to the widespread opposition, Israel’s leaders adopted a law in 1999 requiring a national referendum to approve any agreement.

Before the civil war, Syria supported and provided a haven for numerous terrorist groups that attacked Israel from Lebanon and other countries. These include the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP); the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). The Syrian government was careful, however, not to launch attacks from its own territory. Assad was deterred by an IDF presence within artillery range of Damascus, which kept the Golan quiet since 1974, with the exception of a few cross-border attacks that spilled over during the Syrian civil war. The internecine war forced Assad to focus on survival and retaking most of his country from ISIS and the rebels rather than on the long-lost Golan.

Israel’s unwillingness to give up the Golan looks even more prescient today as fighters from Iran, Hezbollah, and ISIS have fought a war that is so destructive Syria may never be reconstituted as a single nation with its previous borders. Each of those parties pose a risk to Israel, especially Iran, which seeks to build bases in Syria from which it could launch attacks against Israel. Hezbollah has also attempted to establish a beachhead near the Golan to add to the threat they already present from Lebanon. Syria under Assad or a future leader will also be a threat in the absence of a peace agreement.

Trump’s announcement was welcomed by Israelis across the political spectrum and the Wall Street Journal noted, “Recognizing the Golan sends a message to Russia, Syria’s patron, that the U.S. recognizes that the civil war has changed Syrian reality. There is no returning to a nonexistent status quo ante” (The Editorial Board, “Israel’s Golan Heights,” Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2019).

Not surprisingly, the usual Arabists and anti-Israel commentators are predicting a cataclysm, just as they did following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocation of the embassy (Mark Landler and Edward Wong, “In Golan Heights, Trump Bolsters Israel’s Netanyahu but Risks Roiling Middle East,” New York Times, March 21, 2019). Rather than rise up in anger, however, the Arab and Muslim world reacted mostly with resignation, given that the city has been Israel’s capital since 1948. Similarly, the response to the Golan announcement was a collective shrug

Of course Syria and its Iranian and Russian defenders condemned the decision. The head of the Arab League made a perfunctory statement criticizing the United States and the European Union, predictably, said it would not change its position (Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Trump’s Golan Heights Endorsement Draws Ire From Friends and Foes,” Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2019).

There was no immediate explosion in response to the U.S. decision. Most of the Arab world is prepared to accept the obvious – Israel has controlled the area for decades and has no intention of withdrawing for the foreseeable future, if ever. Several Arab states are more interested in allying with Israel against Iran than condemning it over the Golan. They also have no interest in helping Bashar Assad, whose rule they sought to undermine for the last eight years (Ben Hubbard, “The Golan Heights Was Once an Arab Rallying Cry. Not Anymore,” New York Times, March 22, 2019).


U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights violates UN Resolution 242.


Opponents of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights have argued it violates UN Resolution 242 (E.g., “Indyk: ‘Like it or not, Golan Heights are Syrian,’” Arutz Sheva, March 25, 2019). That resolution long ago lost its relevance and it is only trotted out when convenient to criticize Israel. Having already annexed the Golan, the issue was already moot.

Still, for argument’s sake, let’s look at what 242 says.

The first point addressed by the resolution is the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” Some people read 242 as though it ends here and the case for requiring a total Israeli withdrawal from the territories is proven. On the contrary, the reference clearly applies only to an offensive war. If not, the resolution would provide an incentive for aggression. If one country attacks another, and the defender repels the attack and acquires territory in the process, the former interpretation would require the defender to return the land it captured. Thus, aggressors would have little to lose because they would be insured against the main consequence of defeat. As legal scholar Alan Dershowitz observed, “No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “Trump Is Right about the Golan Heights,” Gatestone Institute, March 30, 2019).

Resolution 242 calls for the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Note the authors deliberately rejected the Arabs’ call for the resolution to require Israel to evacuate “all” the territories. The British ambassador who drafted the resolution, Lord Caradon, explained the rationale, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial” (Beirut Daily Star, June 12, 1974).

Moreover, since Israel withdrew from 94% of the territories when it gave up the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and portions of the West Bank, it has already partially, if not wholly, fulfilled its obligation under 242.

The resolution’s reference to withdrawal from territory is linked to the second unambiguous clause calling for “termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and the recognition that “every State in the area” has the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” Israel has no obligation to withdraw from any part of the Golan in the absence of a peace accord with Syria.

Nevertheless, Israel repeatedly attempted to negotiate a peace agreement, which included offers to withdraw from parts of the Golan after annexing the territory. The leaders of Syria, however, refused to normalize relations under any circumstances. Israel’s annexation, and U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty, does not preclude a territorial compromise from being reached if a future Syrian leader agrees to end all belligerency and the Israeli people are convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.

The bottom line is that Resolution 242 does not preclude Israel from annexing the Golan Heights. U.S. recognition acknowledges this fact.


The Palestinian Authority places the welfare of the public over paying terrorists.


The Palestinian Authority (PA) regularly complains about its budget woes, which are due to its nearly total reliance on foreign assistance, rampant corruption and misguided expenditures. Financial concerns do not affect its determination to pay salaries and stipends to terrorists and their families, however, despite the adverse impact on the lives of Palestinians who are not terrorists.

Since April 2017, the PA has drastically reduced civil servants’ salaries, cut electricity to residents, and limited medical services and funds in Gaza (Hind Khoudary, “Gaza’s breadwinners defiant in the face of Palestinian Authority salary cuts,” Middle East Eye, February 20, 2019). On February 21, 2019, salaries of civil servant in the West Bank were also cut. The PA announced the measures would not apply to salaries “paid to pensioners and families of martyrs” (“Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze,” France24, February 21, 2019),

In addition to decimating the wages of Palestinians, the PA has decided to punish the people further by denying them medical treatment in Israel. The excuse is that Israel has refused to turn over tax revenues the PA is owed and, therefore, by some odd logic the PA decided not to pay for thousands of Palestinians to receive world-class health care from Israeli doctors (Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus, “PA prioritizes salaries to terrorists over medical care for Palestinians,” Palestinian Media Watch, March 31, 2019).

The money is being withheld because Israeli law stipulates it must deduct the amount the PA spends on terrorist salaries – $138 million – from the Palestinian tax revenues it collects. The U.S. has also stopped funding the PA because of its “pay-to-slay” program. Payments from both Israel and the United States would resume if the PA stopped providing its scarce funds to encourage terrorism.

Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said; however, he has no intention of eliminating the incentives to violence (e.g., “Abbas Keeps on Defying U.S., Says PA Will Fund “Pay to Slay” Program Until Last Penny,” The Tower, July 25, 2018) even at the expense of the health and welfare of Palestinians who prefer to live normal lives rather than kill Jews.


Palestine was heavily populated with Arabs before the Zionists arrived.


For many centuries, Palestine was a sparsely populated, poorly cultivated, and widely neglected expanse of eroded hills, sandy deserts, and malarial marshes. This was Mark Twain’s description when he visited in 1867:

A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse?.?.?.?A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action?.?.?.?We never saw a human being on the whole route?.?.?.?There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (London, 1881).

As late as 1880, the American consul in Jerusalem reported the area was continuing its historic decline. “The population and wealth of Palestine has not increased during the last forty years,” he said (Melvin Urofsky, American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust (Bison Books: 1995), p. 29).

Take a look at some of the photos from the late 19th and early 20th century to see the desolation Twain talked about (click on photos to enlarge):


(c. 1867-1914)


(c. 1874)

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate
(c. 1867-1914)


(c. 1867-1914)



(c. 1867-1914)


Ancient Walls of Tiberius


(c. 1867-1914)


(c. 1867-1914)

Deir Yassin Road

Deir Yassin and the road
between Jerusalem and Jaffa (c 1917)

Deir Yassin Road

Dung Gate Old City Jerusalem
(Late 19th Century)


Mishkenot Shaananim
(Mendel Diness 1859)



Photo Sources: The British Library Endangered Archives Collection; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Lenny Ben-David

The Palestine Royal Commission report quotes an account of the Maritime Plain in 1913:

The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts?.?.?.?no orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached [the Jewish village of] Yabna [Yavne?.?.?.?Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen?.?.?.?The ploughs used were of wood?.?.?.?The yields were very poor?.?.?.?The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist?.?.?.?The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert?.?.?.?The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants (Palestine Royal Commission Report, p. 233).

At the time Twain visited, the population of Palestine was less than 300,000. By 1918, it doubled to 660,000 but the percentage of Jews, about 8 percent, stayed the same (Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics, and Foreign Relations, Pre-1948 to the Present, Ed. by Itamar Rabinovich and Jehuda Reinharz, Brandeis University Press, Waltham, Mass., 2008, pp. 571-572). The British would later say during the Mandate period, when the population was just over one million (it reached about 1.8 million by the end), that the land was reaching its absorptive capacity and; therefore, Jewish immigration should be restricted. Consider that “Palestine” – which included what is now Israel, the West Bank and Jordan – has a population today of more than 20 million.


Israeli forces killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 14-month old daughter.


It has become an all too often occurrence; Palestinians accuse Israel of an atrocity and the media unquestioningly accepts their account and parrots it with banner headlines. The latest example occurred while Israel was responding to the nearly 700 rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists during the weekend of May 4-6, 2019. The Palestinians falsely claimed a pregnant woman and her 14-month old daughter were killed in the Israeli bombardment.

The report came from the Gaza Health Ministry, an arm of Hamas, which disseminates casualty reports to the media that are often found to be misleading or inaccurate. Typically, journalists make no effort to confirm the information and often discount or ignore Israel’s side of the story. In this latest example, Israel was blamed in many headlines for the deaths:

Sky News: “Pregnant Palestinian woman and baby killed in Gaza violence” (Sky News, May 6, 2019)

Independent: “Mother and baby killed as Israel hits Gaza with airstrikes” (Zamira Rahim, Independent, May 5, 2019)

Chicago Tribune (story from AP): “Under heavy rocket fire from Gaza, Israeli reprisals kill 6, including pregnant mother and her baby” (Fares Akram, Chicago Tribune, (May 4, 2019)

“250 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel; 1-year-old child among those killed in retaliatory airstrikes,” (CNN, May 4, 2019)

AP sent out photos of the dead child with captions that said, “Gaza’s Health Ministry says a Palestinian infant was killed when Israeli aircraft hit near their house. Abu Arar, 14-month-old, died immediately and her pregnant relative died later, the ministry added” (“AP Amends Captions: Israel Denied Responsibility For Baby, Woman’s Deaths,” CAMERA, May 5, 2019).

Other outlets included the specious claim in their news reports. For example, the New York Times reported, “Four Palestinians — including one militant, another man, a pregnant woman and her young daughter — were killed in Israeli strikes on Saturday, according to Gaza Health Ministry officials” (Isabel Kershner, “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds With Airstrikes,” New York Times, (May 4, 2019). Kershner apparently did not ask for the IDF’s response but quoted its denial on Twitter. Notice also the Times insists on referring to terrorists who attack Israel as “militants.”

After reporting on May 4 the Hamas version, CNN acknowledged a day later, “There is a dispute over the cause of the deaths of one of the infants and one of the pregnant women – Gaza health officials say both died in an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military says they were killed when a militant rocket misfired on launch” (Andrew Carey,” More than 20 reported dead in Gaza, 4 in Israel after hail of rockets and airstrikes,” CNN, May 5, 2019) This story did not correct the inaccuracy or undo the damage of the original story, which was also reported on air.

Much of the media paid little attention to Israel’s side of the story or corrected their reporting after the IDF stated: “Today we can say with certainty, after looking into the event, that they were killed as a result of an explosion of combustible materials during the activation of a Hamas explosive device” (“Israeli Army: Pregnant Gazan and Infant Were Killed by Hamas Explosives,” Haaretz, May 5, 2019).

One of the groups responsible for the bombardment of Israel, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), later admitted the baby died when a “rocket of the resistance exploded inside the family’s home due to a technical failure, and prematurely exploded….There is no doubt that the baby’s death has nothing to do with the enemy’s  planes.” The message posted on social media was later deleted. PIJ also reportedly offered to recognize the baby as a “martyr” and pay the family of the victims to keep quiet about the circumstances surrounding their deaths (“Palestinian Islamic Jihad Admits Pregnant Woman, Baby Killed in Friendly Fire,” The Tower, May 7, 2019).


Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel.


To achieve peace, the Palestinians must affirm Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. How, then, does one interpret Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s description of the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and his vow to never accept it? (Efraim Karsh, The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, London: Bloomsbury, 2015, p. 151).

While Israelis just celebrated their independence, Abbas and other Palestinians mourned Israel’s creation on what they call “Nakba Day.”

The word “nakba” was coined by Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq to describe the consequences of the 1948 War. Writing in his 1948 book, The Meaning of the Disaster, Zureiq said, “The defeat of the Arabs in Palestine is not a small downfall – naksa … It is a catastrophe – nakba – in every sense of the word.”

Zureiq also wrote, “Seven Arab countries declare war on Zionism in Palestine….Seven countries go to war to abolish the partition and to defeat Zionism, and quickly leave the battle after losing much of the land of Palestine – and even the part that was given to the Arabs in the Partition Plan.”

“When the battle broke out,” Zureiq wrote, “our public diplomacy began to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily – until the nakba happened.”

He also distinguished between the Zionists and the Arabs to explain the war’s outcome. “Zionism is deeply implanted in Western life, while we are far from it…They live in the present and look to the future, while we are drugged-up dreaming of a magnificent past.”

He concluded, “We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” (Salman Masalha, “The 1948 war through Arab eyes,” Haaretz, March 10, 2017).

Their responsibility began with the refusal to accept the partition resolution in 1947 (not to mention their rejection of the 1937 Peel Plan that would have given them a much larger state). Had they done so, the State of Palestine would celebrate its 72nd birthday in November.

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 Zahar
(Joe Kaufman, “Calls for Palestinian Uprising from?.?.?.?Miami,”

The Gatestone Institute, (May 19, 2011).

Palestinians are understandably bitter about their history over these last seven decades, but we are constantly told that what they object to 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 their refusal to reconcile themselves with the Jewish State.

As long as the Palestinians treat Israel’s creation as a catastrophe on a par with the Holocaust, the prospects for coexistence will remain bleak.


Designating Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is “Islamophobic.”


The Trump administration is reportedly considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group allowing it to impose economic and travel sanctions on companies and individuals who interact with the group (John Rossomando, “Brotherhood Designation Requires a Chapter-Based Approach,” IPT News, May 30, 2019).

The decision has nothing to do with an irrational fear of Muslims as some critics suggest (see, for example, Christopher Mathias and Akbar Shahid Ahmed, “Trump Wants To Hurt The Muslim Brotherhood. American Muslims Could Pay The Price,” HuffPost, May 1, 2019). It is based on the violent activities of extremists who threaten the interests of the United States and some of its allies. By designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization it would be joining Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, all Islamic countries, which have already done so (Bradley Martin, “CAIR Report Conflates Anti-Muslim Bigotry with Opposition to Islamism,” The Daily Wire, May 22, 2019).

Trump’s decision also reportedly is in response to a request from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The Brotherhood was founded by Hassan al Banna in Egypt in 1928 and seeks to rule the country (and briefly did after it won the 2012 election) according to Sharia law. More broadly al Banna “called for the religious reformation of individual Muslims, the progressive moral purification of Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a Caliphate under sharia law” (“Muslim Brotherhood Review: Main Findings,” Ordered by the House of Commons, December 17, 2015).

Sir John Jenkins noted in the House of Commons report on the Brotherhood that al Banna “accepted the political utility of violence, and the Brotherhood conducted attacks, including political assassinations and attempted assassinations against Egyptian state targets and both British and Jewish interests during his lifetime.”

Later, the Brotherhood’s leading ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, advocated “the use of extreme violence in the pursuit of the perfect Islamic society.” He believed “jihad was neither solely spiritual nor defensive” and viewed Muslims who did not share his beliefs infidels or apostates. Jenkins wrote, “Many contemporary Islamic states were regarded as ‘UnIslamic’; confrontation with their ‘unjust’ rulers was legitimate and inevitable.”

Today, Brotherhood militias fight side-by-side with Al-Qaeda forces in Syria, Libya and Yemen (Bradley Martin). Hamas is considered a branch of the Brotherhood and receives funding from the group, which also defends Hamas attacks against Israel. Jenkins also noted that “senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood routinely use virulent, anti-Semitic language.”

Contrary to claims that the Brotherhood has eschewed violence and seeks only peaceful change, Jenkins concluded:

…for the most part, the Muslim Brotherhood have preferred non-violent incremental change on the grounds of expediency, often on the basis that political opposition will disappear when the process of Islamization is complete. But they are prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective. They have deliberately, wittingly and openly incubated and sustained an organization – Hamas – whose military wing has been proscribed in the UK as a terrorist organization (and which has been proscribed in its entirety by other countries). The writings of the leading Muslim Brotherhood ideologue have been used to legitimize AQ-related [Al Qaida] terror. Some leading Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters have endorsed attacks on western forces.

Critics of designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization argue that it has non-violent elements and political parties that are recognized in the Arab/Muslim world. Some also warn that our relations with some of those countries may suffer. Opponents also suggest designating the movement could lead to making similar determinations for political reasons.

A number of steps have to be taken before making the decision:

The administration must show that the Muslim Brotherhood engages in terrorist activity that threatens the United States or its interests. After counterterrorism agencies prepare written evidence, the secretary of state must consult with the attorney general and the treasury secretary before making a designation. Congress would have seven days to block it, and then the Muslim Brotherhood would have 30 days to appeal to a federal court in Washington (David D. Kirkpatrick, “Is the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group?” New York Times, April 30, 2019).

The decision will not be made to target American Muslims or “demonize Islam,” as claimed by former Council on American-Islamic Relations legal director Arsalan Iftikhar (Arsalan Iftikhar, “Calling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group would make all Muslims scapegoats,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019). “Whether the United States designates the Brotherhood as a whole, or limits actions to target its violent branches, criminal law and the threshold for prosecution won't change,” noted John Rossomando. “Random American Muslims – and even Muslims who support the Brotherhood’s ideals – cannot be targeted with criminal violations. The line is material support – aid in the form of money, supplies or services – provided to the designated entity.”


Maintaining UNRWA is vital for the Palestinians’ future.


A great international hue and cry followed the Trump administration’s announcement the U.S. would no longer fund the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) because it is an “irredeemably flawed operation.” Historically, the United States was the organization’s biggest funder – in 2017, the U.S. covered nearly one-third of the agency’s budget of $1.1 billion. Angered by the Palestinians’ refusal to restart peace talks with Israel, however, the administration cut its contribution in early 2018 from $364 million to $60 million before ceasing payments altogether (F. Brinley Bruton and Dan De Luce, “Trump administration eliminates funding to United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency,” NBC News, (August 31, 2018).

Over its nearly 70-year history, the agency has perpetuated Palestinian misery, its camps have served as incubators for terrorism, and its welfare program has reinforced the delusion that more than five million refugees from UNRWA phony list will return to “their homes.”

This was never UNRWA’s purpose.

UNRWA was set up to serve Palestinians who fled or, in rare cases, were forced from their homes after the creation of Israel in 1948. No one expected the refugee problem to persist after the 1948 War. John Blandford Jr., the director of UNRWA, wrote in his report on November 29, 1951, that he expected the Arab governments to assume responsibility for relief by July 1952. He also stressed the need to end relief operations: “Sustained relief operations inevitably contain the germ of human deterioration” (Joseph Schechtman, The Refugee in the World, NY: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1963, p. 184).

In 1952, UNRWA set up a fund of $200 million to provide homes and jobs for the refugees, but it went untouched. UNWRA’s supporters envisioned that direct relief would be almost completely replaced by public works, with the remaining assistance provided by the Arab governments. By the mid-1950s, it was evident neither the refugees nor the Arab states were prepared to cooperate on the large-scale development projects originally foreseen by the Agency as a means of alleviating the Palestinians’ situation. The Arab governments, and some of the refugees themselves, were unwilling to contribute to any plan that could be interpreted as fostering resettlement.

Although demographic figures indicated ample room for settlement existed in Syria, Damascus refused to accept any refugees, except those who might refuse repatriation. Syria also declined to resettle eighty-five thousand refugees in 1952–54, though it had been offered international funds to pay for the project. Iraq was also expected to accept many refugees but proved unwilling. Likewise, Lebanon insisted it had no room for the Palestinians.

Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and its more than two hundred thousand inhabitants, but refused to allow the Palestinians into Egypt or permit them to move elsewhere. Saudi Arabian radio compared Egypt’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza to Hitler’s rule in occupied Europe (Isi Leibler, The Case for Israel, Australia: The Globe Press, 1972, p. 48).

Meanwhile, Jordan was the only Arab country to welcome the Palestinians and grant some citizenship (Gazans were excluded). King Abdullah considered the Palestinian Arabs and Jordanians one people. By 1950, he annexed the West Bank and forbade the use of the term Palestine in official documents (“Speech to Parliament—April 24, 1950,” Abdallah, 16–17; Aaron Miller, The Arab States and the Palestine Question, Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1986, p. 29). In 2004, however, Jordan began revoking the citizenship of Palestinians who do not have the Israeli permits that are necessary to reside in the West Bank (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Amman Revoking Palestinians Citizenship,” Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2009).

In succeeding years Arab governments frequently offered jobs, housing, land, and other benefits to Arabs and non-Arabs, excluding Palestinians. For example, Saudi Arabia chose not to use unemployed Palestinian refugees to alleviate its labor shortage in the late 1970s and early 1980s; instead, thousands of South Koreans and other Asians were recruited to fill jobs.

The situation grew even worse in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Kuwait, which employed large numbers of Palestinians but denied them citizenship, expelled more than 300,000 Palestinians. “If people pose a security threat, as a sovereign country we have the right to exclude anyone we don’t want,” said Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States Saud Nasir al-Sabah (Jerusalem Report, June 27, 1991). This expulsion drew no media attention, provoked no UN resolutions condemning Kuwait, and was ignored by pro-Palestinian activists.

The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.
—Sir Alexander Galloway,
former head of UNRWA in Jordan – April 1952
(Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky, “A Tale of Two Galloways: Notes on the Early History of UNRWA and Zionist Historiography,”
Middle Eastern Studies, September 2010)

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not have social and civil rights, are prevented from owning property, and have very limited access to public health or educational facilities. The majority relies entirely on UNRWA for education, health, and social services. Considered foreigners, Palestinian refugees are prohibited by law from working in more than seventy trades and professions. Most are restricted to manual and clerical work and have sometimes been the target of violence by Lebanese Christian militias and Hezbollah (UNRWA Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, January 1–31, 2007).

The Palestinian refugees held the UN responsible for ameliorating their condition; nevertheless, many Palestinians were unhappy with the treatment they were receiving from their Arab brethren. Some, like Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami were incredulous: “It is shameful that the Arab governments should prevent the Arab refugees from working in their countries and shut the doors in their faces and imprison them in camps” (Musa Alami, "The Lesson of Palestine," Middle East Journal, October 1949, p. 386.). Most refugees, however, focused their discontentment on “the Zionists,” whom they blamed for their predicament rather than the vanquished Arab armies.

Meanwhile, it is important to understand what Palestinians mean when they demand to return to “their homes.”

First, a tiny fraction of today’s refugees lived in what is now Israel and their homes were either destroyed or taken over by Jews or Arabs who chose to stay and live in a Jewish state rather than flee in anticipation that state would be destroyed.

Second, most Palestinians are already home; they live in the area that constituted Palestine prior to the partition and creation of Transjordan.

Third, Palestinians believe the refugees are a weapon to destroy Israel. They believe there are more than five million refugees and, combined with the nearly two million Palestinians already living in Israel, what once was Israel would become a Palestinian state with an Arab majority.

Fourth, the Palestinians are so confident of this outcome, they have given little thought, and made no effort, to welcoming refugees into a future state in the West Bank and Gaza. They prefer a two Palestinian state solution in which one state used to be Israel and the other is in West Bank and Gaza.

I briefly visited the Balata refugee camp with its 20,000 residents. The camp is inside the West Bank city of Nablus—that is, within the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA)….?Balata’s children, like the children in similar camps in Gaza and neighboring Arab countries, are nurtured on the myth that someday soon they will return in triumph to their ancestors’ homes by the Mediterranean Sea. While awaiting redemption, Balata’s residents are prohibited, by the Palestinian Authority, from building homes outside the camp’s official boundaries.
—Sol Stern, “Mr. Abbas, Tear Down This Wall!” Jewish Ideas Daily,
 (September 28, 2010)

Perhaps the international community is beginning to recognize the error of propping up UNRWA. Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis argued in 2018 that the agency is an obstacle to peace and has interfered with the integration of Palestinians in Jordanian and Lebanese societies. He argued that those remaining wards of UNRWA continue to believe in a fantasy that they can one day return home.

“It is unrealistic that all of them can fulfil this dream. Yet the UNRWA keeps this dream alive,” Cassis said. “It supplies the ammunition to continue the conflict. By supporting the UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic.”

Harkening back to the original postwar vision of the UN, Cassis argued the refugees should be integrated among their fellow Arabs in the countries where they now live. Instead of UNRWA schools and hospitals, he suggested that Switzerland support facilities to promote the Palestinians’ absorption (“Minister: ‘UN aid agency is part of the problem in the Middle East,’” SWI, May 17, 2018).


The West Bank economy is suffering because Israel is withholding Palestinian tax revenues.


Israeli law stipulates it must deduct the amount the Palestinian Authority spends on terrorist salaries through its “pay-to-slay” program from the Palestinian tax revenues it collects. The total, $138 million, does have a negative impact on the Palestinian economy, but the fault ultimately lies with the Palestinian leadership. If the PA stopped paying terrorists, it would have $138 million from its existing budget to devote to the economy in addition to the amount Israel would release. That’s $276 million to help the cash-strapped economy.

The West Bank economy suffers from more endemic problems, especially corruption. In June 2019, for example, it was disclosed that while salaries of other workers were being cut, the Palestinian Cabinet secretly gave itself a 67 percent pay increase in 2017. “Coming during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of high expenses for struggling families, the report renewed outrage among Palestinians who have long seen their leadership as out of touch and rife with corruption,” according to Mohammed Daraghmeh (Mohammed Daraghmeh, “A secret pay raise by Cabinet angers Palestinian public, AP, June 4, 2019).

The monthly salaries for Cabinet ministers, which were made retroactive to 2014, increased from $3,000 to $5,000, and the prime minister’s salary was raised to $6,000. By comparison, most Palestinians who are fortunate enough to have a job earn $700-$1,000 a month.

Daraghmeh reported that ministers who live outside the PA’s headquarters in Ramallah were given $10,000 a year to rent a house there. Those already living in the city were given a similar amount. They receive other perks such as compensation for personal drivers and international travel expenses.

Public outrage prompted Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh to suspend the pay raises.

These revelations were new, but more than 80 percent of Palestinians already believed their leaders were corrupt according to polls. Distrust dates to the days of Yasser Arafat when, for example, he diverted approximately $900 million of international aid into his own personal bank accounts.

Still, more questions have been raised about what else the leadership is hiding. “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption in the Palestinian Authority, considering that we couldn’t have access to more important information,” Majdi Abu Zeid, a researcher at the anti-corruption watchdog group Aman, told Daraghmeh.


Palestinian summer camps are meant for fun not indoctrination.


For decades one of the thin threads of hope Israelis have held onto for reaching an accommodation with their Palestinian neighbors is that a new generation would come to power prepared to recognize and coexist with the Jewish state, to end incitement and terrorism, to stop promoting the fantasy that Palestine will be “liberated” and to tell the people the truth that they will not return to their nonexistent homes in what is now Israel.

The prospects for a positive change in leadership has grown increasingly grim as the Palestinian Authority institutionalizes hatred for Jews, the glorification of martyrdom and the rejection of peace in its educational system. The world has little interest in activities in the disputed territories unless Israelis can be accused of some transgression, but Israelis are very attentive to what goes on just a few miles from their homes, and what they see the next generation learning all but extinguishes the glimmer of hope for a peaceful future.

We have documented the propaganda in the schools run by Hamas and the PA, but the child abuse does not end with the school term. It continues throughout the summer.

While kids elsewhere in the world play sports, work on art projects and sing around campfires, Palestinian camps are used to indoctrinate roughly 100,000 youngsters with hatred for Israelis. Counselors freely admit they seek to train the next generation of extremists to fight the Zionists until Palestine is liberated. We’ve documented this phenomenon in the past and sadly, see it again in the summer of 2019.

In Gaza, for example, Islamic Jihad runs camps where Palestinians as young as twelve participate in military drills and target practice. Campers learn how to use machine guns and raid a military outpost to capture Israeli soldiers. At graduation, they pose with wooden AK-47 rifles. They are also indoctrinated in the group’s Islamist philosophy, which calls for the destruction of Israel (Chris Pleasance, “Islamic Jihad summer camp: Young Palestinian men graduate from military-style training school in Gaza,” Daily Mail, July 5, 2019).

The PLO also organizes camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Approximately 40,000 young Palestinians participated in more than 600 camps using the slogan “This Is Our Home and Jerusalem Is Ours.” These camps also brainwash children with the fantasy of refugees taking the homes from the Jews in Israel and the rapture of martyrdom. In at least one camp, children were encouraged to burn American flags and pictures of President Donald Trump.

The chairman of the Higher Council for Youth and Sports, Jibril Rajoub, said the camps were “a basic component in shaping the campers’ awareness of two main issues: that Palestine is our home and nothing can replace it, and the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa mosque.” He also admitted the goal is to raise “an educated and aware generation, according to our national principles” (“Palestinian Authority 2019 Summer Camps: Children Tear Up, Burn U.S. Flags, Pictures Of Trump,” MEMRI, July 4, 2019).

Camps and campers are also given names that evoke the PLO’s goals. One camp is called “Palestine Is Not for Sale,” another is “We Will Return, 1948,” and a third is “[Palestine] From the River to the Sea.” Children in one camp were divided into groups named after cities in Israel such as Haifa, Jaffa, and Acre.

Fatah’s Shabiba youth movement produced a video at one camp to show “how Fatah teaches its children loyalty to the Martyrs’ blood.” In the video, children sing a song honoring terrorists and ask for God to “have mercy” on them.

Who are campers taught to worship?

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and his deputy Abu Jihad, Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, and Abu Iyad, head of the Black September terror organization that carried out the Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik,” Fatah and PLO summer camp teaches children to honor arch-terrorists who murdered hundreds,” PMW, July 9, 2019)

If you were an Israeli reading about how Palestinian children spend their summer, would you be optimistic about a future in which graduates of these camps are the leaders of the PA or a Palestinian state?


If Israel ends the "occupation," there will be peace.


The mantra of the Palestinians and their supporters since 1967 has been, “End the occupation.” The assumption underlying this slogan is that peace will follow the end of Israel’s “occupation.” The equally popular slogan among critics of Israeli policy has been that it should “trade land for peace.” Again, the premise being that it is simply Israel’s presence on land claimed by the Palestinians that is the impediment to peace.

The experience in Gaza offered a stark case study of the disingenuousness of these slogans. If the Palestinians’ fervent desire were really to end Israeli control over their lives, they would have cheered Israel’s plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip and done everything possible to make it a success. Instead, they denounced disengagement. Israel still withdrew from every inch of Gaza—not a single Israeli soldier or civilian remains—at great emotional and financial cost.

And what has the end of “the occupation” brought Israel? Has Israel received peace in exchange for the land?


To the contrary, the Palestinian answer to meeting their demands has been years of rocket fire, terrorist attacks and, since March 2018, a weekly demonstration of violence that has included the destruction of 8,000 acres of nature reserves, ‎forest ‎‎and ‎‎‎agricultural land. Terror and incitement have also continued unabated from the West Bank preempting any possibility that Israelis would support additional territorial concessions. Rather than “end the occupation,” Palestinian actions have forced Israel to maintain a presence to ensure the safety of its citizens.

Slogans are good for bumper stickers, but they are irrelevant to the future of Israel and its neighbors. Israelis have repeatedly shown a desire for peace, and a willingness to make painful sacrifices, but nothing they do will end the conflict. Peace will be possible only when the Palestinians demonstrate through their actions a willingness to coexist in a state beside Israel. Since 2008, their leaders have not even agreed to face-to-face talks with Israel’s prime minister.

The responsibility for this escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rests with the Palestinians who have yet again turned their backs on peace. Rather than take the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza as an opportunity to build a future for their children, they instead refused to relinquish their embrace of a culture of hate and death.

—Editorial, Chicago Sun Times, (June 27, 2006)


The events following the disengagement caused Israelis to lose faith that any conceivable compromise would end the conflict with the Palestinians. Consequently, most Israelis are in no hurry to offer new concessions; they now will demand more stringent safeguards before agreeing to any additional withdrawals.


Opposition to the anti-Semitic BDS campaign divided Democrats.


Supporters of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, are waging a political, economic, cultural, and ideological campaign to delegitimize Israel. They blame Israel alone for conflict in the region and demand self-determination for the Palestinians but deny the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their homeland, Israel. Their leaders have made clear their goal is the destruction of Israel. As As’ad AbuKhalil explained:

The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel…. That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel (As’ad AbuKhalil, “A Critique of Norman Finkelstein on BDS,” Al-Akhbar, (February 17, 2012).

In July 2019, the House of Representatives was considering a resolution opposing BDS because it:

“Undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure;”
“Targets not only the Israeli government but also Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions, religions, and ethnicities, and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel;”
“Does not recognize, and many of its supporters explicitly deny, the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination;”
“Promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace and a two-state solution;
“Violate the core goals of the university and global cultural development, which thrive on free and open exchange and debate, and in some cases, leads to the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students and others who support Israel.”

According to some news reports, the discussion of the BDS issue was causing a rift in the Democratic Party. One such story in The Hill, carried the headline, “Israel vote will expose Democratic divisions” (The Hill, July 23, 2019).

On July 23, 2019, the House voted 398-17 to approve the resolution. A total of 209 Democrats voted for the resolution, only 16 opposed it, 4 voted present and 5 did not vote, though Seth Moulton said he would have voted in favor if not for a scheduling conflict (JewishInsider, July 24, 2019). That means less than 7 percent of Democrats disagreed with the majority; nevertheless, some of the media continued to erroneously claim the issue created fissures in the Democratic Party. For example, The Hill ran a headline similar to the one before the vote, “House passes bill opposing BDS, exposing divide among Democrats,” (The Hill, July 23, 2019). Similarly, CNN’s headline was, “House approves resolution opposing Israel boycott movement in divisive vote” (CNN, July 23, 2019).

Contrary to some of the press coverage and commentary, the vote demonstrated overwhelming Democratic unity in support of Israel and against BDS.


Jews will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state.


It is taken for granted that Arabs should be allowed to live in Israel – the Israelis would be rightly pilloried for bigotry if they were not – yet proponents of a two-state solution do not criticize the Palestinians for pledging to make their state judenrein as Mahmoud Abbas did when he said, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands” (Noah Browning, “Abbas wants ‘not a single Israeli’ in future Palestinian state,” (Reuters, July 29, 2013).

Many settlement critics share Abbas’ sentiment. They also call for the removal of all Jews from the West Bank on the pretext that it is a prerequisite for peace.

Why is every Jew expected to be evacuated from the West Bank rather than being given the option of staying? Why should “Palestine” be one of the only countries in the world where Jews are not allowed to live?

This idea would be called anti-Semitic if Jews were barred from living in New York, Paris or London; preventing them from living in the West Bank, the cradle of Jewish civilization, should be no less objectionable.


Israel’s decision to ban two congresswomen proves Israel is undemocratic.


The decision by Israel’s government to bar Reps. Rashid Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country was greeted with widespread condemnation, including from American pro-Israel organizations and other members of Congress. The government action is portrayed by critics as somehow anti-Democratic and an effort to silence Israel’s critics. While it is reasonable to question whether the decision was wise, there is no doubt that it was legal – and democratic.

One may debate whether such a law should have been adopted, but Israel’s democratically elected government did pass a law that allows the Ministry of Interior to deny entry to people who promote the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Both Omar and Tlaib support BDS and no one, including members of Congress are above the law.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained, “We respect all members of Congress. Our directive is to facilitate, on a regular and automatic basis, the entry of all members of Congress, Democratic and Republican. Just one week ago, I met with dozens of Democratic members of Congress…. There is only one exception and it is the BDS law that obligates us to evaluate the entry of people who support BDS” (Raphael Ahren, “Netanyahu on Tlaib, Omar ban: Israel respects Congress, but won’t tolerate BDS,” Times of Israel, August 18, 2019).

Some critics have made the legitimate argument that the best way to change the views of detractors is to let them see Israel for themselves. The problem in the case of Omar and Tlaib is that they had no interest in fact-finding otherwise they would have joined their 41 House colleagues who visited Israel a few days before. They did not even say they were going to Israel; their itinerary was titled “U.S. Congressional Delegation to Palestine.” This alone was problematic as it echoes the Palestinian view that all of Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza are part of “Palestine.” Thus, in their view, when they planned to visit the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel’s capital, they were going to “Palestine.” If they had said they were going to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, they would not have telegraphed their intention to delegitimize Israel.

It was not only the title of their itinerary that was problematic, however, the content made clear they were only interested in hearing from detractors of Israel. Omar said, “the goal of our trip was to witness firsthand what is happening on the ground in Palestine” (Ben Sales, “Here’s what Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were going to do on their trip to Israel and the West Bank,” JTA, August 16, 2019). As Professor Gerald Steinberg, a critic of the decision to ban Omar and Tlaib noted, “Israeli leaders were right to be concerned that a visit to the Jerusalem holy sites, including Al Aqsa and the Temple Mount, or to Hebron, for tours led by NGOs known for confrontation, could trigger violence” (Gerald Steinberg, “Nuanced realism: Israel and the Tlaib/Omar visit,” Times of Israel, August 16, 2019).

After learning she would be banned, Tlaib sent a letter to Israel’s interior minister asking to be allowed to visit her grandmother because “this might be my last opportunity to see her.” The ministry can grant exceptions to the law for humanitarian reasons and Minister Aryeh Deri approved her request with the stipulation that she refrain from engaging in promoting BDS while in Israel. Tlaib subsequently turned down the invitation because of the “oppressive conditions.” Deri responded, “I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel. Apparently her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother” (Ruth Eglash, James McAuley and John Wagner, “Rep. Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after the country initially rejected her request for a visit, then reversed course,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019).

Omar accused Netanyahu of instituting a “Muslim ban” (Alex Pappas By Alex Pappas, “Ilhan Omar accuses Netanyahu of imposing ‘Muslim ban’ as Dems decry decision to block Israel visit,” Fox News, August 16, 2019). Omar and Tlaib, however, were not the first people, or even the first parliamentarians to be barred from entering the country. The government, for example, also barred members of the European Parliament who were supporters of BDS (Cnaan Liphshiz, “Israel has been barring lawmakers of friendly nations for years (just not from the US),” JTA, August 15, 2019).

To suggest that Israel would ban Muslims from the country is evidence of Omar’s ignorance, which could have been corrected if she had gone to Israel with her colleagues. Then she would have learned that more than one million Muslims enjoy equal rights as citizens of Israel, vote in the country’s elections and serve in the Knesset. If she would have visited Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, she would have learned that Muslims (and Christians) there are the ones deprived of their civil rights.

While Israel was condemned for barring Omar and Tlaib, every country has its own restrictions and bar entry to individuals who the government finds objectionable on political, criminal or security grounds. Applicants for visas to the United States, for example, are asked several questions about their political views and activities and the Immigration and Nationality Act (U.S.C. 1182) allows the Secretary of State to bar admission to the United States to “any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.”

The list of people barred or excluded from the United States includes future South African President Nelson Mandela, Irish politician Gerry Adams, British singers Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Amy Winehouse and Boy George, Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, and former UN Secretary-General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim (“List of people barred or excluded from the United States,” Wikipedia). For nearly a decade before his election as prime minister of India, the world’s largest democracy, the United States banned Narendra Modi (James Mann, “Why Narendra Modi Was Banned From the U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2014).

In 2012, the Obama administration banned a member of Israel’s Congress – the Knesset – from coming to the United States, prompting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to protest that the banned member belonged to “a completely legitimate faction of the Israeli parliament” (“Israel, Omar, and Tlaib: No One Is Above the Law,” editorial, New York Sun, August 15, 2019).


Rep. Rashida Tlaib is right to complain about Israel’s “dehumanizing checkpoints.”


After Rep. Rashida Tlaib (R-MN) refused the visa she was offered to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, she continued her campaign to delegitimize Israel by using her family as a propaganda tool. At a press conference discussing her decision, Tlaib talked about a prior visit and burst into tears as she described seeing her mother going through “dehumanizing checkpoints” (Elad Benari, “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu hide the occupation,” Arutz Sheva, August 19, 2019).

Substituting emotion for facts is a tried and true Palestinian propaganda technique, but while we can feel sympathy for her mother and other Palestinians who complain about the checkpoints, we cannot ignore the reason why they exist.

There is nothing unusual about nations establishing checkpoints to guard their borders to prevent people, especially terrorists, from illegally entering their countries. We are all familiar with the security measures at airports today that some people no doubt also consider humiliating albeit necessary. I doubt Rep. Tlaib weeps every time she sees mothers and grandmothers having to pass through metal detectors and sometimes being patted down.

American checkpoints are in the news because of the immigrants attempting to enter the United States from Mexico. Some of the policies are controversial, but no one is calling for the checkpoints to be removed.

Guess who else has checkpoint?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.

The PA arrests hundreds of Palestinians every week at the checkpoint it maintains to control movement across the Allenby Bridge to and from Jordan (“Palestinian police arrest hundreds of people a week - at checkpoints,” Elder of Zion, April 9, 2019). What is the basis for detaining them? Do they pose any threat? How are those detained treated? Why don’t you hear complaints about the checkpoint from human rights activists and supporters of the Palestinian cause? Perhaps a constituent or journalist can put these questions to Tlaib.

In Gaza, Hamas also maintains checkpoints. On August 27, 2019, two people blew themselves up at two police checkpoints, killing three officers and wounding several other Palestinians (Iyad Abuheweila and David M. Halbfinger, “Hamas Arrests 10 Suspects in Gaza Suicide Bombings,” New York Times, August 29, 2019.).

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 to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they save Israeli lives.

In 2018, the Shin Bet thwarted 500 terror attacks (“Shin Bet thwarted 500 terror attacks in 2018, Netanyahu says,” Times of Israel, December 5, 2018). Attempts to infiltrate Israel continue unabated. In August 2019, for example, security forces uncovered a Hamas cell in the West Bank that planned to kidnap Israelis, engage in shooting and stabbing attacks, purchase weapons and recruit other terrorists (Anna Ahronheim, “Shin Bet Foils Hamas Terror Plot Against Israel And Palestinians,” Jerusalem Post, August 7, 2019).

The following are just a few other examples of how checkpoints prevent terrorism:

On January 30, 2019, a 16-year-old woman, a student from Ramallah, attempted to stab the guards at the Az-Zaayyem checkpoint (“Attempted terror attack thwarted at Jerusalem checkpoint,” TV7 Israel News, January 30, 2019).
On July 4, 2017, border police foiled a terror attack thanks to a checkpoint near East Jerusalem. A car was stopped after security forces noticed its front and rear license plates did not match. Six Palestinians lacking entry permits were detained after the vehicle was searched and a bag of knives, stun grenades and Molotov cocktail materials were found (Jacob Magid, Border police say Jerusalem terror attack foiled at West Bank checkpoint, Times of Israel, July 4, 2017).
On May 10, 2016, an Israeli officer was seriously wounded by an explosive device at the Hizme checkpoint near Jerusalem. Five other explosives were found at the scene.
On June 29, 2015, a female soldier was stabbed at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
On July 27, 2014, police stopped a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint near Beitar Illit and discovered a large explosive device attached to gas cylinders inside the car.
On October 23, 2012, a 19-year-old Palestinian was caught at the Qalandiya check point with eight pipe bombs he was trying to bring into Jerusalem.

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

Still, Israel has dismantled most of its unmanned checkpoints, reduced the number of manned checkpoints, and streamlined the entry process at others. In 2005, new terminals were opened near Tul Kerem and Ramallah (“Israel: New terminals at checkpoints in West Bank,” Government of Israel, July 6, 2005). In February 2019, Israel opened a new, modernized checkpoint at Qalandiya in northern Jerusalem. The original checkpoint was built in response to the second intifada and the infiltration of suicide bombers and other terrorists. Now, approximately 4,000 Palestinians entering Israel for work every morning pass through metal detectors and automatic gates that verify their entry permits. The process, which used to take as much as an hour at the old checkpoint now takes five to ten minutes (Adam Rasgon, “Israel opens new Qalandiya checkpoint, phasing out inadequate crossing,” Times of Israel, April 25, 2019).

Inconvenient? Yes.

Humiliating? No more so than any other security check.

Necessary? Absolutely.


Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Hebron was an act of “defilement” and of “war.”


On September 4, 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the city of Hebron to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the massacre of Jews by Palestinians that occurred on August 23, 1929. “While we are not coming to banish anyone,” Netanyahu said, “neither will anyone banish us. To cite the late Menachem Begin and the late Yigal Allon: ‘Hebron will not be devoid of Jews.’ It will not be Judenrein. And I say on the 90th anniversary of the disturbances – we are not foreigners in Hebron, we will stay here forever” (Prime Minister’s Office, September 4, 2019).

In response, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religious Affairs said the visit constituted the “defilement of Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque [the Cave of the Patriarchs]” and “is nothing but obvious war, in which he has declared his blatant hatred towards the Palestinian presence in Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is a purely Islamic mosque” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, September 5, 2019, translated by Palestine Media Watch).

Hebron, located in the Judean hills south of Jerusalem, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, dating back to Biblical times. The city is mentioned 87 times in the Bible. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. This was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their Promised Land. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all buried in the Tomb.

King David was anointed King of Israel in Hebron. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods and it was only in 1929 that the city became temporarily “free” of Jews as a result of the pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder forced to flee.

The Palestinians made no claim to the city (or any other part of the West Bank) during the Jordanian occupation following the 1948 War. During that time, which lasted until the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor – despite the Armistice Agreement – to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city. Additionally, the Jordanian authorities and local residents undertook a systematic campaign to eliminate any evidence of the Jewish presence in the city. They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue.

Jews returned to the city after the war, re-establishing their centuries-old connection. In 1997, however, Netanyahu agreed to withdraw from 80 percent of the Hebron municipal territory in the hope of achieving peace with the Palestinians. The Hebron Protocol divided the city into two areas – “H1” and “H2.” The former is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Israel is responsible for the remaining 20 percent of the city considered H2. The Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah is part of the area under Israeli control.

Netanyahu had every right to visit the section of Hebron controlled by Israel according to the agreement signed by the Palestinians. Moreover, there was no reason why he should be reticent about going to a city where Jews have lived for centuries and where one of the holiest places in Judaism is located.


Israel has no justification for applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on September 10, 2019: “Today I’m announcing my intention, with the establishment of the next government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. This is our essential safety belt in the east” (Ben Sales, “Netanyahu’s push to annex the Jordan Valley, explained,” JTA, September 10, 2019).

Netanyahu’s statement was widely misreported as calling for the annexation of the territory, but he chose his words carefully. He said “applying sovereignty,” which, Erielle Davidson notes, has a different meaning: “A nation cannot annex land over which it already has sovereign claims” (Erielle Davidson, “Israel’s Sovereignty Claims Over The Jordan Valley Are Legitimate,” The Federalist, September 11, 2019).

That decision was never implemented because of his failure to form a government; however, sometime after July 1, 2020, the newly formed government is expected to vote on whether to move ahead. This has again sparked widespread concern and criticism, even among Israelis and the pro-Israel community.

As with other issues related to the status of the disputed territories, the wisdom of such a move may be debated; however, to do so it is important to know some facts about the Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley is a segment of the larger Jordan Rift Valley which runs along the entirety of Israel’s eastern border. The Jordan River flows south from the Sea of Galilee through the Valley for about 185 miles and feeds into the Dead Sea. It separates Jordan, to the east, from Israel and the West Bank.

Jordan River water resources and development of the Valley were a concern to Israel and the United States going back to 1953 when President Eisenhower announced the appointment of Eric Johnston to undertake discussions with Israel and the Arab States on a comprehensive plan for the development of the Jordan Valley.

Following Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the Jordan Valley was controlled by Jordan and Jews were forbidden to live in the region. The Valley came under Israeli control following the Six-Day War in 1967.

Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley followed three stages: from 1967 to 1970, six villages were established along the main highway; from 1971 to 1974, five were built along the Valley’s western border; and, from 1975 to 1990, 17 more were spread across the region. Since 1990, development slowed due to political concerns, though the population has continued to grow. Today, the 27 Jewish settlements in the “Jordan Valley bloc” have more than 9,000 residents (Yaakov Katz, “West Bank Jewish Population Stats,” Updated to January 1, 2019). The new status will apparently be applied to 31 settlements, including an illegal outpost with about 30 families – Mevo’ot Yericho – which Netanyahu pledged to legalize if he is reelected (Tovah Lazaroff, “Netanyahu pledges sovereignty as cabinet approves new West Bank settlement,” Jerusalem Post, September 15, 2019).

Palestinians live in 10 cities and villages, including Jericho, which have a population of approximately 50,000. The number living in the area where Netanyahu said Israeli sovereignty would apply is much smaller, however, about 9,000 (Jacob Magid, “PM’s Jordan Valley map was error-strewn, but is his vow worth taking seriously?” Times of Israel, September 12, 2019).

The 1995 Oslo II Accords divided the West Bank into areas A, B and C. Roughly 90% of the Jordan Valley, constituting approximately 30% of the West Bank, is in Area C and under Israel’s control. The city of Jericho and its surrounding villages are part of Area A, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority; Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter or build in this area. Netanyahu’s plan would apply sovereignty to roughly 22% of the West Bank (Magid, September 12, 2019).

While some critics argued that Netanyahu’s position was driven by the need to attract right-wing voters, the idea that Israel should retain control over the Jordan Valley did not originate with him. Shortly after the Six-Day War, Israeli Labor Minister Yigal Allon drafted a proposal – the Allon Plan – which envisioned annexing the Jordan Valley. He believed the area was vital to Israel’s security because it provided a buffer zone between Israel and its enemies to the east.

In 1979, just after signing the peace treaty with Egypt, Moshe Dayan said, “it is necessary to establish settlements along the whole length of the Jordan Valley. There is no hindrance to this, since the Camp David Accord provides not only that the Israel Army will be the only armed force in Judea and Samaria, but also that the Israel Army will remain permanently along the Jordan.”

This remains the consensus view in Israel but there are doubters who question its importance in the age of ballistic missiles. Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, for example, has said “the Jordan Valley is not vital to Israel’s security” (Maayana Miskin, “Former Mossad Head: Jordan Valley not Critical,” Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2014).

Yitzhak Rabin, a former chief of staff, shared Allon’s perspective. In his last speech before being assassinated, Yitzhak Rabin flatly stated his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and said that as part of a permanent solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, “The security border, for the defense of the State of Israel, will be in the Jordan Valley – broadly defined.”

In 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly agreed to allowing an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for ten years following the signing of a peace accord during which time PA security forces would be trained to assume control over the region. PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan (Khaled Abu Tomeh, “Report: Kerry Offers Ten-Year Israeli Presence In Jordan Valley,” Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2013).

In the past, Netanyahu considered various compromises on the status of the Valley. He said, for example, “the Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley could be reassessed over time and could be altered according to Palestinian security performance” (Herb Keinon, “IDF will remain along Jordan River, PM insists,” Jerusalem Post, March 8, 2011). His envoy to peace talks that took place in Jordan in 2012, Isaac Molho, said that Netanyahu spoke of a “military presence along the Jordan River,” but did not demand that Israel maintain sovereignty over the valley (Barak Ravid, “Netanyahu's Border Proposal: Israel to Annex Settlement Blocs, but Not Jordan Valley,” Haaretz, February 19, 2012). His former Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, said that Netanyahu had agreed to give up control over the Jordan Valley as part of a peace deal during negotiations with the Palestinians in 2014, a claim the Likud Party denied (Ilan Ben Zion, “Ya’alon: Netanyahu was prepared to cede Jordan Valley,” Times of Israel, (July 27, 2016).

One explanation for the timing of Netanyahu’s announcement in 2019 was the desire to attract right-wing voters he needed to be reelected. Another is his apparent belief that President Trump would endorse, or at least not object to the application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley given his support for Israel and recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (Robert Mackey, “Netanyahu Hints Trump Peace Plan Will Allow Israel to Annex Key West Bank Territory,” The Intercept, September 11 2019). Immediately after his declaration, the administration officially said only that it had not changed its policy, but, according to one source, the White House does “not think it precludes the possibility of a political settlement in the future” (Eric Cortellessa, “US says peace deal still possible if Israel annexes settlements, Jordan Valley,” Times of Israel, September 10, 2019).

While the timing, coming just before the election, was controversial, the idea of applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley was not. Netanyahu’s main opposition, the Blue and White Party, said it was pleased to see he was “adopting Blue and White’s plan for recognizing the Jordan Valley” (Gil Hoffman, Khaled Abu Toameh and Omri Nahmias, “Netanyahu vows to annex all settlements, starting with Jordan Valley,” Jerusalem Post, September 11, 2019). Moreover, the idea is now supported by the coalition that formed the government after the April 2020 election, which includes the left-leaning Labor Party and the Blue and White Party. Together the parties in the government represent 60 percent of the Knesset, with the proviso that an agreement is reached with the United States on the application of sovereignty.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has said that when the process of mapping the area is completed, when the government agrees to halt construction in the part of Area C allotted to the Palestinians, and when Netanyahu agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump administration’s peace plan (which he has done), the U.S. will recognize Israel’s sovereignty in the agreed to areas (Ariel Kahana, “‘Applying Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is Israel’s decision,’” Israel Hayom, May 6, 2020).

The Israeli public also believes the Jordan Valley is important for security. In one poll, for example, almost 80 percent preferred keeping strategic territory such as the Jordan Valley in any peace agreement. In an April 20, 2020, poll that asked about annexing all of Area C, not just the Jordan Valley – if the Trump administration supports it – found that 52% of Israeli Jews would support annexation and 28% would not (Tamar Hermann and Or Anabi, “Over Half of Jewish Israelis Support Annexation,” IDI, May 10, 2020).

As Eugene Kontorovich, director of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, noted, Netanyahu is “translating long-standing Israeli consensus into action” (Davidson, September 11, 2019).

Typically, diplomats and commentators predict an eruption in the Arab world if Israel takes unilateral steps and, while Netanyahu’s original announcement provoked widespread criticism, it evoked little outrage from Arab leaders. The one exception is Jordan which is understandably more sensitive given that it once occupied the Jordan Valley and has to worry about Palestinian anger given that they make up most of the kingdom’s population (Ben Hubbard, “Little Outrage in Arab World Over Netanyahu’s Vow to Annex West Bank,” New York Times, September 10, 2019). If Netanyahu goes through with his vow, the situation might change, but, for now, it does not appear to threaten the peace treaty with Jordan or Israel’s improving relations with the Gulf States.

Critics of Netanyahu claimed fulfilling his pledge would kill the peace process and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to all agreements and understandings with Israel on May 18, 2020 (“Palestinian leader Abbas declares end to agreements with Israel and U.S.,” Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2020). Before the announcement, however, the peace process was moribund. Moreover, the Palestinians have not accepted any offer for independence in all the years Israel has refrained from changing the status of the Jordan Valley. Abbas has also threatened many times to take drastic measures only to back down because he knows his own power depends on the continued existence of the PA and security cooperation with Israel.

Applying Israeli sovereignty to the valley would not preclude negotiations or the possibility of a two-state solution. One reason Israel wishes to control the valley is to reduce the size of any future Palestinian entity and surround most of its frontier. In addition, an Israeli military presence in the region is meant to enforce the demilitarization of a future Palestinian state by stopping arms smuggling across the Jordan River. It would also provide Israelis with safe and secure access to the Dead Sea, Jordan River and Sea of Galilee.


There are no Palestinian settlements.


An international furor erupted when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if he won the election he would assert Israeli sovereignty over parts of Area C where the Oslo Accords already grants Israel full administrative control. This hysteria was magnified by the usual assertions that Jewish settlements in that and other areas of the West Bank are illegal.

Meanwhile, the world was silent when the Palestinian Authority announced it planned to unilaterally violate the Accords by cancelling the division of the West Bank into Area A, B and C and treating the entire area as sovereign Palestinian territory (Jack Khoury, “Palestinian Authority Decides to End Division of West Bank Into Areas Set by Oslo Accords,” Haaretz, August 31, 2019). Even before that announcement, the Palestinians were building their own settlements in Area C where any construction must be approved by Israel according to the agreements they signed.

New towns established by the Palestinians in the West Bank should be referred to as “settlements” and condemned with the same ferocity of critics of Israeli construction for creating “facts on the ground.” The West Bank is disputed territory; the Palestinians have no sovereign rights there today nor have they had any in the past which justifies the expansion of their communities. Those who constantly bemoan the disappearing two-state solution and unilateral actions should be outraged by the brazen Palestinian efforts to predetermine the border of any possible state by their own illegal building in areas that Israelis have equal right to claim as their own.

The Palestinian campaign of creeping annexation has continued unabated for decades with little media attention and no international condemnation. Take, for example, the roughly 4.6 square mile area referred to as E-1, which Israel has long-planned to annex. Originally formulated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just months before his assassination, the plan is to populate the valley between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, which Palestinians agree will be part of Israel in any future agreement. This “settlement” of more than 40,000 people is essentially a suburb just three miles outside the capital. Critics claim the E-1 project would cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and doom a two-state solution (Adam Chandler, “On The Reactions To Israel’s E-1 Plan,” Tablet, December 3, 2012).

Every few years, the Israeli prime minister announces his intention to complete the plan. Usually, within days, he backtracks under pressure from the United States (see, for example, Akiva Novick, “Netanyahu delays E1 construction plans,” Ynet, January 4, 2013). The plan remains on the drawing board, and much of the infrastructure is already in place, but the project remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have been furiously building without opposition from abroad to prevent E-1 from being completed. The EU illegally finances hundreds of structures in the Adumim area (“Illegal EU Building In Adumim Region,” Regavim, February 6, 2015).

In one controversial case, Italy began to openly support the illegal Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, including by moving the residents from tents to new structures, and building a school for all the Bedouins in the vicinity. The site is located near E-1 expressly to block Israel’s plans for the area. Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolition of the illegal structures and the relocation of the Bedouins; however, international protests and the Israeli elections in 2019 have delayed carrying out the decision.

This is just one area where the Palestinians are trying to predetermine the borders of any future Palestinian state. During the last five years, illegal settlements and infrastructure have spread across 250 Area C locations occupying more than 2,000 acres. While the international community and media criticize Israel’s actions in the territories, and the UN is called to condemn Israel for approving even a handful of new units in existing communities, no one complains about the roughly 10,000 illegal Palestinian construction projects.

Investigative journalist Edwin Black has documented how the European Union is collaborating with the Palestinian Authority to establish these facts on the ground. “European countries, individually, and through the EU,” Black says, “have pumped hundreds of millions of euros annually into scores of illegal state-building and related projects – called Area C ‘interventions’” (Edwin Black, Who’s Funding Illegal Palestinian Settlements in Area C – Nearly 10,000 Cases,” Jewish News Service, August 15, 2019).

People who ordinarily would be concerned about water and other environmental issues have turned a blind eye to the Palestinian building projects, which Black notes, “are not natural Arab urban growth or urban sprawl.” He says they are intentionally meant to “carve up Area C, sometimes surround Jewish villages, and sometimes push onto Israeli nature or military reserves.”

The PA is now offering incentives, such as tax exemptions, discounts for vehicle registration, and jobs for those who settle in Area C (Yaakov Eliraz, “Israel needs to wake up: The PA is taking over Area C,” Jewish News Service, July 28, 2019). While Israel is pilloried anytime it suggests moving Bedouin from their encampments to another location or permanent housing, nothing is said about the PA’s efforts to do the same.

Palestinians have complained about the slow process of obtaining building permits from the Civil Administration and the high rate of rejection. Black notes, however, “that the number of applications has dropped significantly because the Palestinians now “deny Israel’s right to issue them” and “just start building.”

Israel’s efforts to stop the illegal construction are also hamstrung by the courts. Many people are unaware that despite lacking citizenship, Palestinians can petition to Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, and do so with the help of well-funded NGOs. A military spokesman told Black, “It can take years to decide, and without a court ruling, we cannot get close…. Meanwhile, they are still building. We can’t do anything about it.” If the court ultimately rules in Israel’s favor, the government is denounced by critics for demolishing the illegal structures.

One other troubling aspect of the Europeans’ funding is their reluctance to look carefully at the organizations they are funding to build up Area C, which often support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and have connections to terror organizations. Black reports, for example, that European governments have funded the Union of Agricultural Work Committees which is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation Palestine (Edwin Black, “Who’s funding illegal Palestinian settlements in Area C? Links to terrorists,” JNS, August 21, 2019).

Consider the impact on the peace process of the European-backed activities by the PA. By building settlements, the Palestinians are trying to prevent Israel from creating a contiguous area for its future borders, exactly what Israel’s critics accuse it of doing. The Palestinians often complain that a future state would look like Swiss cheese because of the geographic distribution of Jewish communities, but they are creating the holes themselves by establishing isolated settlements separated from the main population centers and nearer Jewish towns. Furthermore, by claiming sovereignty in Area C, the Palestinians have violated the Oslo Accords, further undermining Israeli confidence they can be trusted to honor the terms of any future agreement.


Arabs boycott Israeli elections in solidarity with the Palestinians.


Arab citizens of Israel have sympathy for the Palestinians living in the disputed territories, but no desire to be a part of a future Palestinian entity. A survey in March 2019, found that citizens who considered themselves “Arab-Israeli” outnumbered those who preferred to identify themselves as “Palestinian” or “Palestinian-Israeli” (“Israel’s Arab citizens could hold the key to political change,” Economist, September 5, 2019). A more recent survey by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) found that 38% identified as Arab, only 13% as Palestinian and 10% as Israeli. Still, 65% of Arab citizens said they were proud to be Israelis (Judy Maltz, “Israel Election Results: Seventy-six Percent of Israeli Arabs Support Joining Ruling Coalition, Poll Shows,” Haaretz, September 23, 2019).

As much as they may complain about various aspects of Israeli society (something Israeli Jews do as well), they recognize the rights they enjoy as citizens, the economic opportunities open to them and their overall lifestyle is better than conditions faced by Palestinians anywhere else in the region, including the Palestinian Authority. Most also prefer to work within Israel’s democratic system to improve their lives; hence, 87% of Israeli Arabs in that March poll favored an Arab party joining the ruling coalition.

This is one reason 60% turned out to vote in Israel’s September 2019 election. The United Arab List, comprised of four different parties, won 13 seats and 80% of the Arab vote, making it the third largest faction in the Knesset after Kahol Lavan (33) and Likud (32). Israeli Arabs have larger representation than the Labor Party that dominated Israeli politics for three decades, more than any of the religious parties and more than the “kingmaker” Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. It is noteworthy that 20% of the Arab vote went to Jewish parties and the number voting for Kahol Lavan was sufficient to add one seat to the party’s total which was the difference in the election (Arik Rudnitzky, “Arab Votes September 2019 – Analysis,” IDI, September 23, 2019).

According to the IDI survey, 76% of Israeli Arabs favored the Arab parties joining the ruling coalition and their members serving as ministers in the government. Following the election, for the first time since 1992, Arab politicians accepted an invitation to meet with the president and offer a recommendation for who they preferred to form a government. Three of the four Arab parties endorsed Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz. The fourth, Balad, withheld its support, which gave the right-wing parties aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a 55-54 advantage (Lahav Harkov, “Balad votes won’t count for Gantz, putting Netanyahu in lead,” Jerusalem Post, September 24, 2019).

Typically, the president gives the person with the best chance to form a coalition the first opportunity to line up at least 61 votes. Rivlin chose Netanyahu, who made clear during his campaign he would not invite any Arab parties to join his government. Despite accusations by Netanyahu, Gantz denied he would form a coalition with the United Arab List. The issue is likely moot since President Reuven Rivlin indicated a preference for a unity government comprised of the largest parties (David Horovitz, “7 things to know as Rivlin tries to impose unity coalition on Netanyahu, Gantz,” Times of Israel, September 23, 2019).

Regardless of the government that emerges, Israel’s Arabs will have 15 (two from Jewish parties) voices in the Knesset.

In addition to the large turnout of Arab voters demonstrating their interest in participating in the democratic political process in Israel, Mark Horowitz observed that Palestinian Israelis humiliated the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “Ayman Odeh made the historic announcement that he, as the leader of the Arab bloc in the Knesset, would recommend Benny Gantz as Prime Minister. It was a stunning development, after decades of Arab parties boycotting the recommendation process.”

Odeh and the Arab voters violated the BDS rule against normalizing relations with Israel and groups such as IfNotNow, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace were notably silent. “A Palestinian politician decides to lend support to a Zionist party led by a former IDF general, and not a peep about it from the anti-Zionist left,” Horowitz noted. “Then again, can you blame them? Ayman Odeh just poked all of them in the eye” (Mark Horowitz, “How Palestinian Israelis Humiliated The BDS Movement,” Forward, September 26, 2019).

Israel’s election was also a reminder of how the Palestinians’ leaders deny them the same freedoms they enjoy in Israel and explains their disinterest in ever moving to a future Palestinian state. It was only after the Israeli election that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 14th year of his four-year term, promised to schedule elections, something he has promised and failed to deliver on in the past (Jack Khoury, “Abbas Says He Will Announce First Palestinian Elections Since 2006,” Haaretz, September 26, 2019).


Palestinian teachers are making a positive contribution to peacemaking.


One reason Israelis have little confidence in the prospect of peace with the Palestinians is that they see how the young generation of students is being indoctrinated in Palestinian Authority schools. Textbooks erase Israel’s existence, provide misinformation about the Jewish people and Israel, promote violence and martyrdom and demonize Israelis. The texts are only one part of the story; however, another is the reference materials used by the teachers to formulate their lessons. Those teacher guides are equally problematic.

According to a study by Dr. Arnon Groiss, of 89 teachers’ guides published in 2016-2018, the most problematic guides are for grades 7-10 in the subject of Arabic language. Some of the same issues also arise in other courses, but not to the same degree.

One recurring theme is the delegitimization of Israel and the Jewish connection to the land of Israel. Teachers are supposed to teach that the Palestinians have a right to all of “Palestine” and Jews have no claim to the land. The myth that the Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites is also perpetuated. As in textbooks, the guides feature maps that replace Israel with Palestine and label cities with Arabic names. Jews are considered colonialist settlers and Jewish history in the area is denied.

One of the many examples in the study examines the history of the Nakba. A guide for a 10th grade Arabic Language text refers to “the motives for the Zionist gangs’ activity of collective extermination and forced emigration of our people in 1948,” which include “Ethnic cleansing of the country, terrorizing the civilians and obliging them by the force of arms to leave their villages and homes.”

Jews and Israel are also to be demonized. “Both are depicted as aggressive, barbarous, full of hate and bent on extermination, thus forming an existential threat to the Palestinians” according to Groiss. The Palestinians are victims of the evil Jews who have always been enemies of Islam.

One 9th grade Arabic language text says of the Jews: “These gangs spread destruction and ruin in the city and dug their fangs of hostility in its pure body. They perpetrated there the ugliest extermination campaigns, until none of its Arab inhabitants were left [alive], except for few.”

Rather than a peace curriculum, Groiss says teachers are instructed to encourage “a violent liberation struggle” because “peace and coexistence with Israel are not an option.” The Palestinian refugees are expected to “return to their former residential places in liberated Palestine, not to the State of Israel.” Cities in Israel such as Haifa and Acre are said to be “waiting for liberation.”

The Islamization of the conflict is evident in the stress placed on defending and liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque, jihad and martyrdom. Students are to be encouraged, according to a 10th grade Arabic Language text, to conduct research “to become familiar with the martyr’s status and his exclusiveness given to him by God out of respect to him and to his family.”

This is the message for young Palestinian women presented in a 10th grade Arabic language book:

The Palestinian woman enjoys an important status in [her] family, society and the [Palestinian] cause. She is the children’s educator, mother and wife of the martyrs and the prisoners-of-war. She is the one who strives to provide for the family, and she is the one who fights the occupation. We cannot ignore the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi, the martyr Muntaha al-Hawrani, the fighter Leila Khaled, and many others…

Al-Mughrabi participated in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were murdered. Al-Hawrani was a young girl from Jenin who was killed by Israeli troops during a violent demonstration. Khaled hijacked a TWA plane from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969 and was prevented from hijacking an El Al flight from Amsterdam to New York the following year by Israeli sky marshals.

Groiss observes that “everything is tied to a fixed idea that the ‘other’ is the source of their misfortune and, thus, that ‘other’ should be eliminated.” He concludes that “Palestinian educators are imposing on their students a bleak future of hatred and misery, with no hope other than becoming a martyr in an endless struggle that is bound to bring pain and distress for years to come.”

Does this indoctrination matter?

Consider the results of a 2019 survey of Palestinians in which only 36% of 18-30-year-olds believed a two-state solution should be “the end of the conflict with Israel.” Based on the findings of the entire survey, David Pollock observed, “in the longer term, majority popular opposition to permanent peace with Israel, even among younger respondents, suggests that real reconciliation remains a distant dream….the evidence indicates that a compromise deal based mostly on goodwill is not a realistic option anytime soon, for either the United States or any of its regional partners” (David Pollock, “Younger Palestinians More Moderate on Tactical Issues, But Not on Long-Term Peace with Israel,” Washington Institute, September 6, 2019).


Palestinian leaders care about Palestinian refugees.


Palestinian leaders like to express their profound concern for Palestinian refugees. Let’s ignore the fact that Palestinians and their supporters are silent when it comes to those refugees living in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and focus on those who reside in the Palestinian Authority.

Have you seen any articles or statements questioning why refugee camps exist in the PA? 

How many people are even aware of the refugee camps in the disputed territories?

Today, the Gaza Strip has eight refugee camps with a population of 526,500. Another 19 camps in the West Bank house 775,000 refugees. That is a total of 1.3 million “refugees,” which, based on CIA population figures, would be nearly 30% of the Palestinian population in the disputed territories. I put the word refugees in quotation marks because the UN reported that in September 1948 only 360,000 Palestinians had become refugees and yet that number has ballooned to more than 5 million using UNRWA’s definition of who qualifies as a refugee and the organization’s notoriously inaccurate counting methods (James G. Lindsay, “Fixing UNRWA Repairing the UN’s Troubled System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees,” Washington Institute, January 2009).

This raises two questions: why does the PA keep these camps intact and why don’t any of the organizations that profess their concern for the Palestinians care?

Today, the Palestinians have total control over these camps and yet they have done nothing since the formation of the PA to dismantle them, move the “refugees” into permanent housing, or take steps to improve their welfare. The PA has received billions of dollars in international aid and yet no effort has been made to demolish the camps. In 1998, journalist Netty Gross visited Gaza and asked an official why the camps there hadn't been dismantled. She was told the Palestinian Authority had made a “political decision” not to do anything for the nearly 500,000 Palestinians living in the camps at that time until the final-status talks with Israel took place (Jerusalem Report, July 6, 1998).

During the years that Israel controlled the Gaza Strip, a consistent effort was made to get the Palestinians into permanent housing; however, the Arab states routinely pushed for the adoption of UN resolutions demanding that Israel desist from the removal of Palestinian refugees from camps in Gaza and the West Bank. They preferred to keep the Palestinians as symbols of Israeli “oppression” (Mitchell Bard, “Homeless in Gaza,” Policy Review, January 1989).

The Palestinians oppose the idea of demolishing the camps because they serve two important purposes. The first is the camps provide a breeding ground for terrorists where frustrated and angry refugees are convinced to blame Israel for their plight. The second is that the camps remind the world that Palestinians remain refugees, deserve sympathy because of the squalid conditions they live in and should be allowed to return to their homes in what is now Israel. Like refugees who buy the propaganda that turns them to terrorism, the international community and supporters of the Palestinians accept their assignment of blame for the refugees’ plight on Israel.


“Snapback” sanctions ensured Iran would adhere to the nuclear agreement.


“If Iran violates the [nuclear] agreement over the next decade,” President Obama assured everyone “all of the sanctions can snap back into place.” The foreign ministers of the six countries that signed the Iran nuclear deal agreed and UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear agreement and ended United Nations sanctions against Iran, calls for the reinstatement of sanctions if Iran violates the terms of the JCPOA.

This was one of the major selling points for the JCPOA. Richard Nephew, one of the defenders of the deal stated, “‘Snapback’ is a critically important tool in the JCPOA” (Richard Nephew, “Countering misconceptions about sanctions ‘snapback,’” Brookings, August 5, 2015).

Given the confidence in the deal Obama and other signatories expressed, however, why was it necessary to raise the specter of renewing the sanctions before they had even been lifted?

The answer was simple. According to the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based research organization, it was a result of their “deep distrust” of the deal (Somini Sengupta, “‘Snapback’ Is an Easy Way to Reimpose Iran Penalties,” New York Times, July 16, 2015).

At the time, the Wall Street Journal called the idea that sanctions would be snapped back “another Administration fantasy” (“Obama’s Snap-Back Fantasy,” Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2015). The Journal’s editorial was prescient.

President Trump withdrew from the deal and then imposed new, stricter sanctions. The remaining signatories to the agreement; however, stood by as Iran violated the JCPOA from day one. Instead of reimposing sanctions, the Europeans have been doing everything they can to placate the Iranians, begging them to stay in the deal.

While most of the breaches in the agreement were covert, starting in June 2019 Iran began to openly flout the terms of the JCPOA:

  • In June, Iran exceeded the 300 kg limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (BBC, July 2, 2019).
  • In July, Iran breached the limits on uranium enrichment levels by increasing enrichment levels to 5 percent purity (Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2019).
  • In July, Iran also announced plans to resume activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor (Reuters, July 29, 2019).
  • In September, President Hassan Rouhani announced, “The atomic energy organization is ordered to immediately start whatever is needed in the field of research and development, and abandon all the commitments that were in place regarding research and development” under the JCPOA. He specifically mentioned “expansions in the field of research and development, centrifuges, different types of new centrifuges, and whatever we need for enrichment” (AFP, September 4, 2019).
  • Iran subsequently announced it had begun injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges (Times of Israel, September 7, 2019).
  • The IAEA reported in September that Iran was installing more advanced centrifuges that were removed under the JCPOA with the intention of using them for enrichment (Reuters, September 26, 2019).
  • In October, Iran announced it would “probably impose limits on inspections, which means the International Atomic Energy Agency’s surveillance on Iran’s nuclear activities will be reduced” (Guardian, October 16, 2019).
  • Iran announced it would resume uranium enrichment at its Fordow plant starting November 6, injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges in violation of the JCPOA (Al Arabiya, November 5, 2019).

The Trump administration has continued to impose new sanctions on Iran while the rest of the signatories have done nothing. Seeing that the entire nuclear deal was built on a “fantasy,” and that threats of snapback sanctions were hollow, Iran has openly resumed its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.


Labeling products from the West Bank as made in an “Israeli Settlement” will advance the cause of peace.


On November 12, 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that products coming from Jewish localities in the West Bank could not carry the label “Made in Israel” and must be labeled as a product originating from an “Israeli Settlement.” This decision reflects an all-too-familiar double-standard applied to Israel that bolsters the anti-Semitic BDS movement and undermines the prospects for peace. The timing of the ruling was also galling given that Israel was under bombardment from hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza by Palestine Islamic Jihad.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry noted that “there are over 200 ongoing territorial disputes across the world, yet the ECJ has not rendered a single ruling related to the labeling of products originating from these territories. Yesterday's ruling is both political and discriminating against Israel.” The statement continued, “This ruling only diminishes the chances of reaching peace and contradicts the positions of the European Union on the conflict. It plays into the hands of the Palestinian Authority, which continues to refuse to engage in direct negotiations with Israel, and emboldens radical anti-Israel groups that call for boycotts against Israel and deny its right to exist” (“Israel strongly rejects recent ECJ ruling,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 12, 2019).

The United States also criticized the decision in a statement from the State Department:

The circumstances surrounding the labeling requirement in the specific facts presented to the Court are suggestive of anti-Israel bias.  This requirement serves only to encourage, facilitate, and promote boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The United States unequivocally opposes any effort to engage in BDS, or to otherwise economically pressure, isolate, or otherwise delegitimize Israel. The path toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations. America stands with Israel against efforts to economically pressure, isolate, or delegitimize it (“Decision by EU Court of Justice on Psagot Case,” U.S. State Department, November 13, 2019).

If EU nations follow through and implement the court’s decision, they may violate U.S. anti-boycott laws and run afoul of World Trade Organization rules (Adam Kredo, “Trump Admin Will Fight European Mandate that Jewish-Made Goods Carry ‘Warning Labels,’” Washington Free Beacon, November 13, 2019).).

Alan Baker observed that “The EU labeling policy is based on a unilateral EU premise that Israel’s settlements are contrary to international law.” By taking this position, he added, “the EU has taken sides and has prejudged one of the central negotiating issues – that of settlements – which is still an open issue on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating table” (Alan Baker, “The European Union Labels Itself Biased,” JCPA, November 13, 2019).

The policy of labeling only Israeli goods is yet another example of the one-sided position of the Europeans, who maintain that settlements are the obstacle to peace and that Israelis must be coerced to dismantle them. The Europeans rarely behave by word or deed as though they recognize the Palestinians are a party to the conflict and their unwillingness to negotiate or to coexist with the Jewish state are the real impediments to peace.

The EU does not impose any sanctions on the Palestinians to change their behavior and continues to lavish money on the PA, even as it uses those funds to pay jailed terrorists and families of martyrs (“EU pledges €42.5 million in aid to Palestinians,” DW, January 31, 2018). Individual governments also support anti-Semitic organizations promoting the boycott of Israel (“European Union,” NGO Monitor, May 27, 2019) . Hypocritically, while criticizing Israeli settlements, the EU has funded illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank (Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff, “Report: EU building hundreds of illegal structures for Palestinians in Area C of West Bank,” Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2015).

The Europeans frequently express frustration at being excluded from the peace process, however, by repeatedly siding with the extreme positions of the Palestinians they have made themselves irrelevant.


Israeli Settlements are Illegal.


On November 18, 2019, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo expressed the Trump administration’s position that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.” This was inaccurately described in the media as a reversal of longstanding American policy. In truth, the record is more complicated.

Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—since ancient times. The only period when were prohibited from living in the territories was during Jordan’s occupation from 1948 to 1967. Jews began to settle in the area again after it was captured by Israeli forces in the defensive war fought in 1967.

The idea that these Jewish communities are illegal derives primarily from UN resolutions and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is an arm of the UN. The UN does not make legal determinations, only political ones tainted by the overwhelming anti-Israel majority. The ICJ “does not have jurisdiction over all disputes between UN member-states,” according to the Congressional Research Service. In fact, “with the exception of ‘advisory opinions,’ which are non-binding, the ICJ may only resolve legal disputes between nations that voluntarily agreed to its jurisdiction” (Stephen P. Mulligan, “The United States and the ‘World Court,’” Congressional Research Service, October 17, 2018).

Opinions of the ICJ are routinely ignored by countries they are directed at, and the Europeans would never accept the idea that they trump the decisions of their own judiciaries. Likewise, the United States has explicitly rejected the court’s jurisdiction and National Security Adviser John Bolton called the ICJ “politicized and ineffective” (Lawfare, October 5, 2018).

Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction on the settlement issue. Like other democracies, Israel has an independent judiciary and, as Pompeo noted, its Supreme Court has “confirmed the legality of certain settlement activities and has concluded that others cannot be legally sustained.”

The ICJ opinion that the settlements violate international law is disputed by legal scholars. Stephen Schwebel, formerly president of the ICJ, notes that a country acting in self-defense may seize and occupy territory when necessary to protect itself. Schwebel also observes that a state may require, as a condition for its withdrawal, security measures designed to ensure its citizens are not menaced again from that territory (Stephen M. Schwebel, “What Weight to Conquest?” American Journal of International Law, April 1970, pp. 345–46).

The ICJ opinion was largely based on a fallacious interpretation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

The ICJ presupposes that Israel is now occupying the land of a sovereign country; however, as Dore Gold notes, “there was no recognized sovereign over the West Bank prior to Israel’s entry into the area.” The area had previously been occupied by Jordan (Dore Gold, “A long awaited correction,” Israel Hayom, November 18, 2019).

A country cannot occupy territory to which it has sovereign title; hence, the correct term for the area is “disputed territory,” which does not confer greater rights to either Israel or the Palestinians. The Palestinians never had sovereignty in the West Bank whereas the Jews did for hundreds of years; therefore, “Israel has the strongest claim to the land,” according to legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich. “International law holds that a new country inherits the borders of the prior geopolitical unit in that territory. Israel was preceded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine; whose borders included the West Bank” (Eugene Kontorovich, “Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019).

Gold also notes the Convention was never meant to apply to a case like the settlements. Morris Abram, one of its drafters “wrote that its authors had in mind heinous crimes committed by Nazi Germany that were raised during the Nuremberg trials. These included forcible evictions of Jewish populations for purposes of mass extermination in death camps in places like Poland.” Israel is not forcibly transferring its population; Jews moving to the West Bank do so voluntarily.

Adam Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  adds that the “Oslo Accords instituted an agreed legal regime that overrides any other legal framework, including the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention” (Alan Baker, “The Legality of Israel’s Settlements: Flaws in the Carter-Era Hansell Memorandum,” JCPA, November 21, 2019).

Furthermore, UN Security Council Resolution 242 gives Israel a legal right to be in the West Bank. According to Eugene Rostow, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Johnson administration, “Israel is entitled to administer the territories” it acquired in 1967 until “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved (Eugene Rostow, “Bricks and Stones: Settling for Leverage,” New Republic, April 23,1990).

United States policy has been inconsistent. A State Department legal adviser in the Carter administration, Herbert Hansell, is believed to be the first U.S. official to argue the establishment of settlements in the “occupied territories,” which then included the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, is “inconsistent with international law.” This was consistent with the views of President Carter at the time who was critical of Israeli settlement policy. Kontorovich has noted that Hansell said the state of occupation would end if Israel entered into a peace treaty with Jordan, which it did in 1994. Nevertheless, the State Department never updated the memo.

Ronald Reagan rejected Hansell’s opinion of settlements. On February 3, 1981, he said, “I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal, they're not illegal” (“Excerpts From Interview With President Reagan Conducted By Five Reporters,” New York Times, February 3, 1981).

On July 20, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker was asked if the Bush administration regarded the settlements as illegal and his answer was, “this is not our policy” (Paul Claussen and Evan M. Duncan, Eds., American Foreign Policy Current Documents, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2008, p. 570).

The Obama policy has also been mischaracterized. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama were very critical of Israel’s settlement policy, but Kerry did not call them “illegal,” he said they were “illegitimate” (“Kerry: Israeli settlements are illegitimate,” Al Jazeera, November 6, 2013). His only statement regarding their “illegality” was when he mentioned “settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws.” Obama abstained rather than veto the UN Security Council resolution labeling settlements illegal, which was generally interpreted as an endorsement of that view; however, it had no effect on U.S. policy since he left office shortly thereafter.

In response to criticism that the decision would harm the peace process, which at the time was moribund, Pompeo said the Carter formulation “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.” He added, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict “that can only be solved by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The decision was praised by Israeli leaders but, predictably, condemned by the Palestinians. By making clear the settlements are not illegal, the United States is sending a message to the Palestinians and their supporters that international law cannot be used to coerce Israel to capitulate to their demands.

The claim that settlements are “illegal” has not had any impact on Israeli policy. A future government may decide to change the current policy if that is the will of the Israeli people and advances the peace process irrespective of the views of the international community.

It is also possible the U.S. will change its position again. Several Democrats running for president in 2020 criticized the Trump administration’s decision, and two, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, expressed their view that the settlements are illegal (“Leading Democratic presidential candidates denounce US settlement decision,” Times of Israel, November 19, 2019).


Israel has no right to approve a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron.


On December 1, 2019, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced the approval for establishing a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron (Michael Bachner, “Defense minister green-lights new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron,” Times of Israel, December 1, 2019). As with all decisions related to the disputed territories, this provoked criticism. The Oslo Accords, however, do not prohibit Israel from establishing new communities in the territories and it was given control over about 20 percent of Hebron – referred to as H2 – in the 1997 Hebron Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The new construction is in H2 where approximately 33,000 of the 215,000 city’s Palestinians live.

Hebron is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, dating to Biblical times. It is also one of the holiest cities in Judaism, the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Jews lived in the city for centuries and only left it in 1929 after a massacre perpetrated by Palestinians incited by the Mufti of Jerusalem. The market area where construction is planned has been owned by Jews since the early 19th century.

Even if Israel has the right to build in Hebron, some critics still question the wisdom of expanding the Jewish presence in the largest Palestinian city and are concerned about its potential impact on a resolution to the competing claims over the land (Hagar Shezaf, ‘Israel Plans to 'Double' Jewish Settlement in Battleground City of Hebron,” Haaretz, December 1, 2019).


Jesus was a Palestinian.


Certain myths are recycled year after year. One such myth propagated by Palestinians is that Jesus was a Palestinian. To give just one of many examples published in anticipation of Christmas 2019, Laila Ghannam, District Governor of Ramallah, said, “The entire Palestinian people celebrates Christmas because we are proud of Jesus being Palestinian” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 24, 2019, translated by Palestinian Media Watch).

Here is how Emily Devereaux concocts this myth:

Although Jesus did not discuss Palestinian heritage or Arab heritage, we still know that Jesus spoke Aramaic, which is a language sharing roots with Arabic. Additionally, we know for sure that Nazareth, where Jesus’ human familial line is from and where he lived, is in Galilee which was recognized as an Arab Palestinian town.  Since the land was formerly part of Palestine, it is more likely that Jesus was a descendant from the Palestinian heritage (Emily Devereaux, “Is Jesus Christ a Palestinian Superstar?” Arab America, December 25, 2019).

Devereaux offers several other far-fetched arguments to suggest Jesus was a Palestinian. For example, she says Jesus shared several attributes with Palestinians – “strong family values,”  “hospitality” and a code of honor.

Historically, the land in which Jesus lived was not Palestine. The area was not given that name until a century after the death of Jesus. Moreover, Nazareth could not be an “Arab Palestinian town” since the people known today as Palestinian Arabs did not arrive in the region until after the Muslim invasion in the seventh century.

Jesus, like other Jews, spoke Aramaic, but this is not evidence of him being a Palestinian. Arabic did not originate from Aramaic.

To the extent that Palestinians share any values with Jesus, it is most likely a result of the influence of Christianity on the region. Palestinian Authority Mufti Muhammad Hussein also explained, “We respect Jesus, we believe in him [as a Muslim prophet], just as we believe in the prophet Muhammad” (Itamar Marcus, “Jesus was not only ‘first Palestinian’– he was ‘first Islamic Martyr,’” Palestinian Media Watch, December 29, 2019).


The Holocaust was not unique to Jews; Palestinians are also victims of genocide.


Palestinian propagandists sometimes accuse Israel of committing genocide and compare what has and is  happening to the Palestinians to the Holocaust.

The British Labour Party’s John McDonnell, for example, accused Israel in 2012 of “an attempt at genocide against the Palestinians” (Harry Yorke, “John McDonnell condemned for claiming Israel was attempting to carry out ‘genocide’ against Palestinians,” The Telegraph, (August 8, 2018). Similarly, Haidar Eid called Israel’s policies in Gaza “genocidal” (Mondoweiss, August 3, 2018). Michael Hoffman and Moshe Lieberman authored a book, The Israeli Holocaust Against the Palestinians, which purports to document “the horrendous atrocities which the Israelis visit upon the Palestinians.”

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as engaging in any of the following “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Israel has never engaged in any campaign to bring about the destruction of the Palestinian people. If you have any doubt consider that during the British Mandate, there were 1.3 million Arabs. According to CIA estimates, the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza today is nearly 5 million (The World Factbook, CIA). If Israel were engaged in genocide, it has been a dismal failure.

Israel welcomed all Palestinians who remained in the country after it declared independence as equal citizens. Since then, Israel has repeatedly made peace offers to the Palestinians in the disputed territories in hope of coexisting with them. 

The Palestinians may suffer certain deprivations as a result of the conflict with Israel, and some have been killed, but there is no evidence Israel has engaged in any mass killing of Palestinians or has ever demonstrated any intent to “destroy” the Palestinians.

The treatment of the Palestinians, harsh as it may sometimes be, is nothing like what the Nazis did to the Jews. It is true that genocide has occurred in places such as Turkey, Cambodia and Rwanda; nevertheless, the Holocaust was unique. The eminent Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim explained what made it distinctive:

  • The “Final Solution” was designed to exterminate every single Jewish man, woman and child. The only Jews who would have conceivably survived had Hitler been victorious were those who somehow escaped discovery by the Nazis.
  • Jewish birth (actually mere evidence of “Jewish blood”) was sufficient to warrant the punishment of death. With the possible exception of Roma, Jews were the only people killed for the “crime” of existing.
  • The extermination of the Jews had no political or economic justification. It was not a means to any end; it was an end in itself. 
  • The people who carried out the “Final Solution” were primarily average citizens (Emil Fackenheim, To Mend the World, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994).


Israel was created to compensate the Jews for the Holocaust.


The Jewish claim to statehood in their homeland dates to ancient times when the Israelite and Hasmonean kingdoms ruled for more than 400 years in the region that later came to be known as Palestine. The Jewish people never left the area but were forced to live under the rule of a succession of conquerors. In the late 19th century, the Zionist political movement was founded with the aim of reestablishing Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

In 1917, the Balfour Declaration endorsed the creation of a Jewish home in Palestine and garnered the support of the United States and other nations before being incorporated in the League of Nations mandate. During the British Mandate, before Germany invaded Poland, more than 350,000 Jews came to Palestine. Meanwhile, in the interwar period, the Jewish community created the infrastructure for a future state. Professor Dov Waxman noted:

The chronological proximity of the Holocaust and Israel’s establishment has led many people to assume that the two events are causally connected and that Israel was created because of the Holocaust. Contrary to this popular belief, however, a Jewish state would probably have emerged in Palestine, sooner or later, with or without the Holocaust (Dov Waxman, “Was Israel created because of the Holocaust?” Oxford Academic, May 18, 2019).

The Holocaust demonstrated the need for a haven where Jews would control their own fate and not be dependent on the goodwill of others. It also gave the quest for statehood greater urgency and generated sympathy for the survivors in the American Jewish community and the general public. This created a certain amount of pressure on the Truman administration to support partition. Truman explained his position in his memoirs, “My purpose was then and later to help bring about the redemption of the pledge of the Balfour Declaration and the rescue of at least some of the victims of Nazism.” He said his policy was neither pro-Arab nor pro-Zionist, it was American because “it aimed at the peaceful solution of a world trouble spot” and “was based on the desire to see promises kept and human misery relieved” (Harry S. Truman, Years of Trial and Hope, vol. 2, NY: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1956, p. 157).

In May 1947, Soviet delegate Andrei Gromyko said:

The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defense of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration (“Discussion of the report of the First Committee on the establishment of a special committee on Palestine,” United Nations documents A/307 and A/307/Corr. 1).

This statement was disingenuous; the Soviet Union’s support for the creation of a Jewish state had nothing to do with the Holocaust or compassion for the Jews. The Soviets were primarily interested in seeing the British leave Palestine.

The British were clearly unmoved by the Holocaust; they prevented Jews from going to Palestine to escape the Nazis and opposed Jewish statehood.

“It is not the case that if there had been no Holocaust there would not have been a State of Israel,” Irwin Cotler observed. “It is the other way around, and we should never forget it: that if there had been a State of Israel – the indigenous homeland for an indigenous Jewish people, there would not have been a Holocaust or the many horrors of Jewish and human history” (Irwin Cotler, “Auschwitz 75 years later: Universal lessons,” Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2020).


Jordan has not resisted a U.S. extradition request for a terrorist who killed Americans.


The United States wants Jordan to extradite Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi to stand trial for her role in the 2001 suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem that killed 15 people and injured 130. Four Americans were injured and 15-year-old Malki Roth and Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, who was five months pregnant, were among the dead.

Two years after the attack, Tamimi pled guilty for her role and received 16 life sentences and an

additional 250 years. In In 2011, however, Tamimi was released as part of the prisoner swap with Hamas to obtain the freedom of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas in 2006.

Tamimi is wanted by the FBI for “conspiring to use and using a weapon of mass destruction against a United States national outside the United States resulting in death and aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done.”

The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information that leads to her arrest or conviction, but there is no need for an informant because Hollie McKay reported, “Tamimi has been hiding in plain sight for years” in Jordan (Hollie McKay, “Most wanted female terrorist lives in freedom in Jordan despite extradition request for bombing that killed Americans, Fox News, January 30, 2020). The Jordanians, however, have refused to extradite her.


Israeli settlers kidnapped and executed a Palestinian child in January 2020.


PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi retweeted a “a modern-day blood libel” accusing Israeli settlers of kidnapping and executing a Palestinian boy, which was then retweeted by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and others. The lie subsequently spread across the globe and incited violence against Israelis in East Jerusalem (Seth J. Frantzman, “Rashida Tlaib retweets unverified claim Israelis killed Palestinian boy,” Jerusalem Post, January 25, 2020).

The original tweet was posted on January 25, 2020, by “Real Seif Bitar” along with a video of the body being removed by emergency services. The tweet said:

7 year old #Palestinian child Qusai was kidnapped by a Herd of violent #Israeli settlers, assaulted & thrown in a water well was found this morning frozen to death in Beit Hanina, #Jerusalem after #Israeli forces assaulted search teams (@BitarReal, January 25, 2020)

As of February 11, 2020, the video had been viewed more than 277,000 times.

The truth was the boy had disappeared and was found by Israeli emergency services in a rainwater-filled pit in the neighborhood where he accidentally drowned.

Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, reacted to Tlaib’s tweet: “I am always extremely cautious in criticizing US elected officials. However when an American elected official retweets an unfounded blood libel against Jewish Israelis, I cannot remain silent. Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib just did” (@AmbDaniDayan, January 25, 2020).

Ashrawi subsequently apologized but left open the possibility it was true. “My apologizes for re-tweeting something that’s not fully verified. It seems that the news of his being kidnapped is not certain” (emphasis added, @DrHananAshrawi, January 25, 2020). She never admitted the story was a lie.

Tlaib retweeted Ashrawi’s apology but did not offer one of her own or acknowledge the facts. She said only, “I will also strive to hold myself to the highest standards for what I share. Know that I always seek truth as we uplift the oppressed and fight for equality, justice, and freedom” (@RashidaTlaib, January 28, 2020).

As is usually the case, the damage was done by spreading the myth before the truth was exposed.


Israel opens dams to flood Palestinian territories.


A myth that apparently first emerged in 2015 was resurrected in 2020. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, which is run by Hamas, “The Israeli occupation authorities have opened water dams and channeled wastewater toward Palestinian farmlands on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip.” Adham al-Basyouni, the ministry’s spokesman claimed opening the dams damaged crops, destroyed apiaries, caused the death of cows and sheep, and led to soil erosion. He said Israel opens water dams and channels to flood agricultural lands in Gaza every year (Palestinian Information Center, January 5, 2020).

As David Lang noted (“Al Jazeera Disseminates The Very Flood Libel It Had Already Admitted Was Nonsense,” Israellycool, January 20, 2020), Al Jazeera retweeted this story even though it published a retraction when a similar story was found to be untrue in 2015: “An earlier version of this page hosted an article which stated that Israel had, without warning, opened a number of dams, which had resulted in a part of Gaza being flooded. This was false. In southern Israel, there are no dams of the type which can be opened. We apologize for this error” (Al Jazeera, February 25, 2015).

Israel sometimes experiences heavy rains, which cause flooding in Israel and the disputed territories. Israel does nothing to intentionally flood Gaza or the West Bank and, as Al Jazeera acknowledged, there are no dams in southern Israel.


The UN blacklist of companies operating in the disputed territories will promote peace.


Acceding to pressure from BDS-supporting organizations, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) published a database of 112 companies operating in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem on February 12, 2020. The intention was to create a blacklist that would identify companies that Israel’s detractors could target for boycotting because their business raises “particular human rights concerns” like facilitating the construction, expansion or maintenance of Israeli settlements or the demolition of Palestinian housing and property. No such list has been produced for companies operating in any other disputed territories around the world.

The lofty idea of monitoring and promoting human rights around the world was long ago subverted by the HRC, which has become a forum for some of the world’s worst human rights abusers to escape scrutiny and direct their opprobrium almost exclusively toward one state – Israel, the only country in the Middle East that respects human rights. In fact, the HRC has “condemned Israel more than all other nations of the world combined” without ever censuring countries such as China, Russia, Cuba and Zimbabwe” (Clifford D. May, “United Nations Human Rights Council delegitimizes Israel,” Washington Times, February 18, 2020). While Israel is routinely criticized for its behavior in the “occupied territories,” the only references by the HRC to terrorism are applied to “extremist Israelis” (Lahav Harkov, “UNHRC’s game is rigged, so Israel isn’t playing – Analysis,” Jerusalem Post, February 12, 2020).

Outraged by the bias of the council, the Trump administration withdrew its membership in 2018. U.S ambassador Nikki Haley called the HRC a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” adding the U.S. did not want to “remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights” so as not to “provide it with any credibility” (Conor Finnegan, “US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council,” ABCNews, June 19, 2018; Lauren Wolfe, “Trump’s Insidious Reason for Leaving the UN Human Rights Council,” The Atlantic, June 20, 2018).

Some have argued the United States withdrawal erased its opportunity to influence the HRC’s work, but, lacking a veto, the human rights abusers easily marshal the votes necessary to single out Israel for criticism. The decision to compile the blacklist was typical. The 32-0-15 vote on March 25, 2016, received support from Kuwait on behalf of the 22-member Arab Group, Pakistan on behalf of the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Sudan, Venezuela, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Chad, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, and Libya. Not surprisingly, it was democracies such as the United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom that opposed the blacklist (“The U.N.’s Anti-Israel Blacklist: Myths & Facts on the ‘Settlements Database,’” UN Watch, December 24, 2017).

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: “Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights” (Anne Gearan, “U.S. pushing to quash U.N. ‘blacklist’ of firms doing business in Israeli settlements,” Washington Post, August 21, 2017).

After political pressure succeeded in delaying the publication for three years, the list was released without any warning or consultation with Israel. Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz said, publication of the “blacklist” “represents the ultimate surrender to pressure exerted by countries and organizations interested in harming Israel” and that the “Commissioner has become a partner and tool of the boycott movement” (Israel strongly condemns UNHRC Commissioner’s announcement,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 12, 2020)

Palestinians praised the UN and pledged to take legal action against companies on the blacklist. The Palestine National Council, called on all governments associated with the companies to “assume their legal and moral responsibilities by closing the businesses located in settlements” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians applaud UN blacklist of businesses operating in ‘settlements,’” Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2020).

Of the 112 companies on the blacklist, 94 of them are Israeli and the other 18 from six other countries, including six from the United States (Booking Holdings, Motorola Solutions, General Mills, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Expedia). Stephen Daisley noted the HRC was acting as a tool of the BDS movement by “tacitly legitimizing its agenda and even doing the research for it” (Stephen Daisley, “The UN should be ashamed of its anti-Israel boycott list,” The Spectator, February 17, 2020).

“I am outraged,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the document’s release. “We call upon all UN member states to join us in rejecting this effort, which facilitates the discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaign and delegitimizes Israel. Attempts to isolate Israel run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace” (Press Statement, Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary Of State, February 13, 2020).

Lahav Harkov criticized the methodology used by the HRC to create the blacklist:

The compilation process was lacking in transparency and has no consistent legal standards. The council did a slapdash job, apparently mixing lists from organizations critical of Israel and not consulting any of the companies or Israeli officials. There is no explanation of why some companies active in the West Bank in the categories they mention are on the list of 112 while others aren’t….and yet it is only a blacklist of businesses working with the Jews in the West Bank and not the Arabs (Harkov, Jerusalem Post, February 12, 2020).

The blacklist has such nefarious companies as supermarket chains; food and clothing manufacturers; fuel, transportation and phone companies; banks and a water company, which all provide goods and services to both Israelis and Palestinians (Evelyn Gordon, “Turning human rights into a bad joke,” JNS, February 19, 2020).

Orde Kittrie noted it is not illegal for companies to operate in disputed territories and the blacklist is “inconsistent with U.S. law and policy.” Congress, he said, “opposes politically motivated actions that penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, such as boycotts of, divestment from, or sanctions against Israel.” Furthermore, he added, it is inconsistent with anti-boycott laws at the Federal and state level (Orde Kittrie, “The UN Blacklist, U.S. Laws, and U.S. Policy,” FDD, February 13, 2020).

While Palestinians and other BDS advocates cheered the UN action, they will be disappointed by the results. The attempt to promote a boycott of Israeli and other companies with the imprimatur of the UN discredits the international agency, further exposes its anti-Israel bias and disqualifies it from playing any role in efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ben Dror Yemini observed, “When international organizations interject themselves into the legitimate, internal discourse in Israel, they help those on the extreme right who advocate an expansion of settlements” (Ben Dror Yemini, “BDS wins but the Palestinians lose,” Ynet, February 13, 2020). The UN also puts its thumb on the negotiating scale as final status issues, including the fate of the settlements, are to be determined in face-to-face negotiations, and outside agencies are not supposed to coerce one side to capitulate to the other’s demands.

Moreover, any harm done to the companies is likely to hurt Palestinians who benefit from employment in Israeli businesses. Roughly 20,000 work in industrial areas of the West Bank and an estimated 10,000 work in Jewish settlements. They do so because they enjoy the same wages and working conditions as their Israeli coworkers, which far exceed those available in most Palestinian-run businesses. Efforts by the Palestinian Authority to discourage these workers have failed because the average Palestinian is more interested in providing for their family than ideology or helping the PA score propaganda points. Many Palestinians remember how boycotters helped force SodaStream, the largest employer of Palestinians in the territories at the time, to close its Ma’ale Adumim factory, which  resulted in nearly 600 workers losing their jobs.

The Arab League imposed a boycott on Jews in 1945. For decades, many international firms avoided doing business in Israel out of fear of Arab retribution. Instead of six U.S. companies, the Arabs blacklisted hundreds. Saudi Arabia alone had a blacklist of 1,500 U.S. companies. Nevertheless, that boycott had minimal economic impact over the last 62 years during which Israel has grown and thrived. Following the signing of the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace treaties, the boycott crumbled. The Gulf States, which used oil as a cudgel to intimidate companies, now openly violate the boycott through engagement with Israel.

If the Arab states could not bring Israel to its knees, the Palestinians will have no better success. It is unlikely a new boycott of those blacklisted by the UN will be enforced, especially given Western opposition. It will provide fodder for the BDS movement to promote divestment resolutions on college campuses and elsewhere, but those have failed to be adopted by universities and have no impact on U.S. policy or Israeli policy. The blacklist will fail to produce the intended effects of isolating Israel, provoking serious boycotts, divestment or sanctions, ending settlement expansion or destroying Israel.

Paradoxically, the blacklist might help Israel. It has allowed watchdogs to highlight the terrorist ties of the BDS organizations behind the pressure campaign at the HRC (“The UN BDS Blacklist,” NGO-Monitor, February 2020), it has created a list of companies that Israel and its friends can support, and it may stimulate new measures by the U.S. government to counter any negative effects of the blacklist. Brett Schaefer suggested, for example, that the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation could “offer financing, insurance, and other support for businesses engaged in the Israeli settlements” (Brett D. Schaefer, “How the U.S. Should Respond to UN’s Latest Anti-Israel Action,” Heritage Foundation, February 16,  2020).


Trump’s peace plan provoked upheaval in the Palestinian Authority and Arab world.


Frequently, when the United States government discusses taking action that may benefit Israel, which Palestinians and other Arabs object to, we hear dire predictions from Arabists and pundits that the “Arab street” will erupt, the reign of Arab leaders who are American allies will be threatened and U.S. interests will be put at risk. These warnings, meant to dissuade policymakers from acting, inevitably prove unfounded.

The Arabist fears date to the 1930s. From that point on, these government officials predicted U.S. access to oil and relations with the Arab states would be jeopardized by support for the creation of a Jewish state and, later, strengthening ties with Israel. Instead, as U.S.-Israel relations grew stronger, so did U.S.-Arab relations.

When President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved America’s embassy from Tel Aviv, the usual suspects warned that Muslims around the world would erupt in anger, the Palestinians would riot, and Arab leaders would turn on the United States. It didn’t happen. We heard perfunctory condemnation from some Arab leaders and there were a handful of protests, but life went on in Jerusalem and American interests remained unaffected.

Following the announcement of Trump’s peace plan, we again heard prophecies of doom. What happened?

Unlike most other U.S. peace plans, the Trump plan won rhetorical support from most of America’s Arab allies – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt – despite condemnation by the Arab League. In fact, the ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the UAE attended the White House launch of the plan (Simon Henderson, “Trump peace plan attracts some Gulf states, but not consensus backing,” The Hill, January 29, 2020). The mythical “Arab street” did not revolt against the leaders of those countries and the Palestinian leadership was unable to manufacture popular outrage.

Immediately after the announcement of the peace plan, Mahmoud Abbas denounced it, threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, vowed to end cooperation with Israel’s security forces and called for mass demonstrations. The first pledge was phony and the second a failure.

Abbas has routinely talked about dismantling the PA, but that would mean he would lose his power and his reign of terror over Palestinians would end. It’s an idle threat. Similarly, Abbas continues to work with Israel to stay in power. Without Israel’s security forces operating in the disputed territories, Abbas fears Hamas would oust him from power as it did in Gaza. Fortunately for him, Israel shares that fear and works with Palestinian security agencies to prevent Hamas from taking over the PA.

Most Palestinians may not have liked the terms of the peace plan, but they were not so angry they were motivated to protest. In fact, to mobilize a demonstration, the PA closed all the government offices and schools and bused people to Ramallah (Ma’an, February 11, 2020). Contrary to Ma’an’s claim that “hundreds of thousands of citizens marched,” the truth was that besides small sporadic protests, that one staged rally in Ramallah with a tiny fraction of a hundred thousand demonstrators was all the outrage they could muster. Palestinians told Al Jazeera they could not get too excited over the plan because nothing had changed. “It’s already our reality,” one said (Arwa Ibrahim, “Anger in Palestine over Trump plan, but protests see low turnout,” Al Jazeera, January 29, 2020).

Mariam Barghouti had a different explanation for the failure of Abbas to mobilize the masses. She blamed it on the PA’s “repression of the Palestinian people” for the last 20 years. “Its attitude, rhetoric, and policies in the past and in the present have always been directed not at protecting the rights and wellbeing of the Palestinian people, but at maintaining power at any cost.” Many Palestinians, she said, “stopped seeing a reason to take to the streets because their protest would either be brutally cracked down on or co-opted by political forces they see as illegitimate” (Mariam Barghouti, “Why is the Palestinian Authority unable to mobilise its people?” Al Jazeera, February 4, 2020).


The international definition of anti-Semitism stifles criticism of Israel.


Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) accused Israel of “coordinating a global campaign” that was “designed to frame activism for Palestine as something hostile, something extremist, as something anti-Semitic” and insisted the internationally-recognized definition of anti-Jewish racism written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “drains anti-Semitism of any meaning” (Lee Harpin, “Palestine Solidarity Campaign director says IHRA definition ‘drains antisemitism of any meaning,’” The JC, March 3, 2020).

This is just one example of the increasingly common tendency for non-Jews to tell Jews what constitutes anti-Semitism.

Imagine if African Americans protested statements they considered racist and the people who made the remarks said they were just expressing legitimate criticism and African Americans had no right to tell them what is and is not racist. No one would accept this argument. The same test could be applied to sexist or homophobic comments.

Criticism of Jews is the only exception. Inexplicably, people making anti-Semitic statements tell Jews they are not permitted to define anti-Semitism. In the case of the IHRA, it is not only Jews who agreed on the definition; however, it has been adopted or endorsed by 19 nations.

Jamal said it was necessary to “oppose the conflation of anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of Israel that is contained within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.”

There is a clear distinction, however, between criticism of the policies of Israel’s government, which you can read in any Israeli newspaper, and anti-Semitism. The IHRA definition specifically states: “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.” It also gives examples of criticism that is anti-Semitic:

  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

When the Trump administration announced the IHRA definition could be used to determine discriminatory intent in violation of the Civil Rights Act, critics echoed Jamal’s comments. Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, for example, said, “This executive order is a clear instrument of oppression, targeting activism for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people on campuses and it is just disguised as anti-discrimination policy” (Jihan Abdalla, “Rights groups slam Trump's anti-Semitism executive order,” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2019).

According to Alyza Lewin, president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, “there is nothing in either the IHRA Definition or the Executive Order that precludes anyone from criticizing the policies of the government of Israel.” In fact, she says, “It is not unlawful in the United States to make racist or anti-Jewish comments. In America, the First Amendment protects your right to express yourself as a bigot.” However, she adds, “the First Amendment does not insulate and prevent those who make racist or anti-Semitic comments from being labeled as racists and anti-Semites” (Alyza Lewin, “The executive order that defines and combats anti-Semitism without stifling speech,” JNS, December 18, 2019).

In an effort to mask their anti-Semitism, some people claim they hate Zionists, not Jews. According to Peter Beinart, “Anti-Zionism is not inherently anti-Semitic” (Peter Beinart, “Debunking the myth that anti-Zionism is antisemitic,” The Guardian, March 7, 2019).

“Not all Jews are Zionists, just as not all Jews observe the Sabbath or adhere to kosher dietary rules,” Lewin counters. “However, just as it is anti-Semitic to attack, harass or discriminate against Jews on the basis of their Sabbath or kashrut observance, so, too, is it anti-Semitic to attack, harass or marginalize Jews who advocate, express or support the Zionist part of their Jewish identity.”


Israel refuses to help Palestinians contain the coronavirus.


One of the many ironies of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is that its proponents routinely use Israeli products, innovations and medical treatments. Now they face another challenge: should they risk dying from the coronavirus rather than accept help from Israel?

Just as most Palestinians in the disputed territories have ignored the BDS campaign mounted by people who don’t live with the consequences of their anti-Semitic movement, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, the public, and even Hamas are welcoming Israeli help in fighting the coronavirus.

Of course, some people would like to blame Israel for the virus. The “Students for Justice in Palestine” chapter at the University of Maryland, for example, planned a conference on March 10, 2020, suggesting Israel is at least to blame for exacerbating the problem in the territories (“Perverted Israel-haters claim Israel trying to sicken Palestinians with Covid-19,” Elder of Zion¸ March 10, 2020).

BDS advocate, Cal State Stanislaus Professor Asad Abukhalil, tweeted, “Israel will—I am sure—have different medical procedures for Jews and non-Jews. Non-Jews will be put in mass prisons” (@asadabukhalil, March 8, 2020).

In fact, Israel is doing a great deal to help the Palestinians contain a coronavirus outbreak that apparently began when 19 people in Bethlehem tested positive for the disease. Israel quickly provided 250 coronavirus test kits to the Palestinian Authority and began joint training sessions for Israeli and Palestinian medical personnel to study the virus, the protection of medical personnel, and the testing of patients suspected of being virus carriers. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is also providing Israeli health ministry guidelines on prevention and protection from the virus on its website and Arabic language social media pages.

“We will continue working to help the Palestinian authorities curb the spread of the virus, both as an Israeli interest and for humanitarian reasons,” said Israeli Civil Administration Health Coordinator Dalia Basa. “We will expand medical training to Palestinian personnel as much as possible, as well as the transfer of medical equipment to the Palestinian healthcare system” (“Joint Israeli & Palestinian medical teams work to prevent further spread of Coronavirus,” COGAT, March 5, 2020).

In a tweet, COGAT said on March 7, 2020: “Public health in Israel and the Palestinian territories is always our top priority and particularly at this time. We are making every effort, in collaboration with all the relevant parties, to protect the health and wellbeing of the region’s residents” (@cogatonline, March 7, 2020).

This applies to Gaza as well where the Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the receipt of test kits and medical equipment from Israel requested by medical personnel in Gaza. “Handling the coronavirus outbreak takes precedence over any political consideration, and without help from Israel, Gaza would be in a very difficult situation in the case of an outbreak,” said a ministry official (Daniel Siryoti, “Why is the Gaza Strip calm these days? Hamas knows the answer,” Israel Hayom, (March 10, 2020).

In the last week of February alone, Israel permitted more than 100,000 Palestinians to enter Israel for medical treatment. Nearly 70,000 more were admitted the first week of March. On March 10, COGAT “coordinated the transfer of 20 tons of disinfectant material from Israeli plants to Palestinian plants. The materials included chlorine and hydrogen peroxide, used for disinfection, preservation of hygiene and sanitation” (@cogatonline, March 1 and 10, 2020).

In addition, in Mid-April, Israel provided a loan to the Palestinian Authority to help avert an economic and humanitarian crisis (Tovah Lazaroff, “Israel loans PA money, FM warns against Palestinian COVID-19 crisis,” Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2020).

As of April 17, 2020, 278 Palestinians in the West Bank, and 13 in Gaza, were diagnosed with the virus. The Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency and, in cooperation with Israeli authorities, closed the city of Bethlehem. The PA also shut schools, tourist sites, churches and mosques (Jack Khoury, “Bethlehem Becomes a Ghost Town After Coronavirus Closure,” Haaretz, March 8, 2020).

Meanwhile, COVID-19 tests from Palestinians were sent to laboratories at Israel’s Sheba Hospital.

Such cooperation is counter to the anti-normalization campaign of the BDS movement; however, An-Najah University epidemiologist Zaher Nazzal said, “Whenever there’s a crisis that affects the people’s health, collaboration should be possible” (Joshua Mitnick, “‘Something human:’ Mideast fight against virus elicits rare unity,” Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 2020).

The Palestinians’ lack of involvement in joint health activities in recent years may now be coming back to haunt them. A Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance was set up by the Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian governments 15 years earlier to promote research collaboration and provide joint epidemiological training for doctors and nurses. In recent years, however, the Palestinians stopped participating.

Even sadder, as Israel is working with Palestinian officials to address the virus outbreak, incitement against Israel continues, including the propagation of blood libels, such as the claim “Jewish settlers have been releasing wild boars in parts of the West Bank to destroy Palestinian crops and intimidate Palestinian villagers and farmers” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians Revive Blood Libels as Israel Saves Their Lives,” Gatestone Institute, March 9, 2020). 

The fact that Israel is providing life-saving medical care to Palestinians, a practice that preceded the virus pandemic, will probably also make little difference to propagandists who make the specious claim Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing.


U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from treating COVID-19.


U.S. sanctions exempt humanitarian supplies and, while it is more complicated to obtain them, they have never stopped flowing into Iran since the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal and began its “maximum pressure” campaign.

Like the United States and other countries, Iran needs face masks, ventilators, test kits, and other supplies, none of which are subject to sanctions. In 2019, the administration set up a channel via Switzerland making it easier for Iran to import food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. Recognizing this is necessary but insufficient to meet Iran’s needs since the outbreak of the virus, the United States has offered to provide aid to help Iran fight the virus even as Iranian proxies are launching rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, refused American help while perpetuating the conspiracy theory that the virus could have been made by the United States.

“I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?” Khamenei said. “Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more.” He went so far as to claim the virus “is specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians which they have obtained through different means” (“Iran leader refuses U.S. help, citing virus conspiracy theory,” AP, March 22, 2020).

Some people are nevertheless claiming U.S. sanctions are costing Iranian lives and should be lifted. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani complained, “The sanctions have drastically undermined the ability of the Iranian people to fight the coronavirus and some among them are losing their lives as a result” (“US sanctions crippling fight against Covid-19, Iranian president says,” La Prensa Latina, March 21, 2020).

“Even if the oil sanctions were lifted tomorrow, the price of oil has plummeted,” noted Eli Lake. “The country’s main export will not yield very much revenue to help fight the pandemic. Even if it did, an infusion of cash would not fix the public health crisis for which Iran’s leaders were not prepared” (Eli Lake, “The Coronavirus Is Not a Reason to Lift Sanctions on Iran,” Bloomberg News, March 22, 2020).

The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued it is the regime’s actions, not sanctions, that are responsible for Iran’s failure to contain the virus. They noted, for example, that the government did not discourage Iranians from voting in parliamentary elections in February and allowed its airline to make 55 flights from China to Iran between February 4 and 23. When the regime finally imposed restrictions to protect the populace, sanctions posed no obstacle (“No Time to End Iran Sanctions, Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2020).

Officials are also concerned about corruption in Iran preventing money from being used to treat the virus. The Journal’s editors noted that in 2019, “Rouhani’s s chief of staff admitted that more than $1 billion earmarked for importing medicine had simply disappeared. Around the same time a $170 million subsidy for medical supplies was used to import tobacco.”

The administration is also concerned that any funds meant for health care will be diverted to Iran’s nuclear research, missile development, and Hezbollah rather than be spent on saving lives (Spencer Ackerman, “Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Is Helping COVID-19 Ravage Iran,” Daily Beast, March 19, 2020).

The Journal concluded, “Easing sanctions would shore up the regime’s shaky position without providing relief to the Iranian people. Tehran has money for medicine if it cuts spending on missiles, nuclear-weapons development and military adventurism. Diverting billions from the mullahs’ violent imperial project is the best way to relieve suffering in Iran and the broader Middle East.”


Israel prevents Gazans from getting equipment and treatment to fight COVID-19.


As in the specious claim that Israel is refusing to help Palestinians in the West Bank contain the coronavirus, similar lies are being disseminated about Israel’s treatment of those in Gaza. The Guardian reported, for example, “An Israeli blockade, in place since 2007 although eased in recent years, has limited the import of medicines and other essential items” (Harriet Sherwood, “Gaza confirms first coronavirus cases as West Bank shuts down,” The Guardian, March 22, 2020).

In fact, medicine and surgical equipment has been flowing into Gaza. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) reported that in 2019, “800 trucks providing medicine and medical equipment had entered the Gaza Strip…an increase of more than 60 trucks compared to the year of 2018” (Adam Levick, “COGAT contradicts Guardian claim on Gaza medicine ‘restrictions,’” UK Media Watch, March 24, 2020).

Between March 15 and March 21, 2020, a total of 2,547 truckloads of goods entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel. This included 116 tanker trucks of fuel, 206 tons of medical supplies, 393 tons of agriculture products, 11,457 tons of food, and 48,667 tons of building materials (@cogatonline, March 22, 2020).

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the receipt of test kits and medical equipment from Israel requested by medical personnel in Gaza. “Handling the coronavirus outbreak takes precedence over any political consideration, and without help from Israel, Gaza would be in a very difficult situation in the case of an outbreak,” said a ministry official (Daniel Siryoti, “Why is the Gaza Strip calm these days? Hamas knows the answer,” Israel Hayom, (March 10, 2020).

Nevertheless, the radical fringe organization, IfNotNow is circulating a petition demanding Israel end the blockade aimed at protecting Israeli citizens from terrorists, and provide medical supplies such as “Coronavirus test kits, ventilation devices, and medical masks” or the blame for deaths will “lay squarely with the Israeli government” (IfNotNow, March 26, 2020).

Like most critics of Israel’s blockade, IfNotNow ignores the fact that one border is controlled by Egypt, which has its own security concerns. In January, Egypt began to build a wall above and below ground on the border; nevertheless, nothing should prevent medical supplies from being transferred to Gaza from Egypt. None are being sent. Actually, Hamas created an obstacle when it announced on March 14, 2020, it was shutting down the Rafah pedestrian crossing into Egypt (Adam Rasgon, Hamas-run Gaza government shuts Egypt crossing to travelers amid virus crisis,” Times of Israel, March 15, 2020). 

As the Palestinian Health Ministry attested, COGAT has been providing Gazans with life-saving medical supplies to fight COVID-19. For example, hundreds of coronavirus test kits have been delivered to Gaza, as well as 20 tons of disinfectants. On March 20, 2020, alone, Israel delivered hundreds more test kits and 1,000 protective medical gear kits to Gaza.

Five days later, more than 3,000 test kits and 50,000 masks from the World Health Organization were delivered to the Palestinian Authority with COGAT’s cooperation. These were likely to be used only in the West Bank since the PA does not control the health system in Gaza (“COGAT delivers 3,000 coronavirus test kits, 50,000 masks to PA,” Jerusalem Post March 25, 2020).

“COGAT and the PA are cooperating closely and effectively to manage the outbreak of the virus,” said Col. Sharon Biton. “All this is part of a continuing series of efforts that COGAT has been advancing together with the Health Ministry in order to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, and to eradicate the outbreak in the West Bank area” COGAT announced (Celia Jean, “COGAT coordinates the delivery of more coronavirus equipment into Gaza,” Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2020).

Khaled Abu Toameh reported that Israeli and Palestinian health and security officials meet several times a day and created a joint “operations room” to manage efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. Part of that coordination includes training sessions organized by Israel for Palestinian and Israeli medical professionals (Khaled Abu Toameh, “How are Palestinians coping with coronavirus?” Jerusalem Post, March 26, 2020).

In addition to supplies, doctors, nurses and medical personnel are communicated via conference calls. A training session was also conducted for around 20 medical staff from Gaza at the Erez Border Crossing by a team from the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. Another group received training at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon (“Amid coronavirus pandemic, Gaza medics trained by Israeli teams — report,” Times of Israel, April 11, 2020).

Even prior to the crisis, Israel was training Palestinian medical workers. In January 2020, five nurses from the Gaza Strip and 11 from the West Bank were invited to Israel for four days of medical training conducted by Israeli physicians. “I am very happy for the chance to attend this advanced trauma course. In Gaza, we have a lot of problems, and Israel can teach us,” Akram Abu Salah, a nurse from the Gaza Strip told the Jerusalem Post. “It’s different than I thought. The people are very nice. You have Jews and Palestinians working together. It minimizes the gaps between us” (Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, “Gaza nurses train in Israel: ‘We speak of health, not politics,’” Jerusalem Post, January 3, 2020).

This was the first time nurses participated in the training program which, in the past, involved Palestinian doctors and ambulance drivers. Prof. Raphi Walden, president of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, arranges missions of Israeli doctors to Gaza nearly every month to perform advanced surgery and provide training to Gaza physicians.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Gaza and the West Bank has been exacerbated by decisions made by Palestinian officials. Both the PA and Hamas have squandered billions of dollars over the years, preferring to spend their money on terrorism rather than public welfare. The PA spends approximately $14 million a month on salaries for terrorists in Israeli prisons and families of martyrs. Maurice Hirsch estimated that money could buy 387,143 coronavirus test kits or 465 low-cost MIT ventilators (Maurice Hirsch, “Coronavirus and PA financial priorities,” Palestinian Media Watch, March 30, 2020). 

Gaza also has financial resources to meet the health crisis. UNRWA expected to spend more than $1 billion in Gaza between 2016-2019, with about $33 million allotted for health care in 2019 (UNRWA, Programme Budget 2018-2019, August 2017, Table 2). In 2017-2018, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) budgeted nearly $16 million, including $6.4 million for health services in Gaza (OCHA). Meanwhile, Hamas has an annual budget of roughly $700 million (Itay, Zehorai, “The Richest Terror Organizations: #3 – Hamas,” Forbes, January 1, 2018), but spends $100 million of that to construct terror tunnels, rockets and mortars (Avi Issacharoff, “Hamas spends $100 million a year on military infrastructure,” Times of Israel, September 8, 2016).

Meanwhile, the PA has not lifted economic sanctions Mahmoud Abbas imposed on the residents of Gaza. “This farce must end immediately,” said Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “The sanctions imposed by President Abbas since 2017 have exacerbated the suffering of the people. Abbas has not even issued any order to assist the Gaza Strip. Funds and medical assistance must be provided urgently to the Gaza Strip to prevent the spread of the coronavirus” (Bassam Tawil, “Coronavirus: Why Palestinian Leaders Are Not Helping Gaza to Combat It,” Gatestone Institute, April 1, 2020).

Nevertheless, while the U.S. economy is in tatters and millions of Americans are suffering, groups like J Street want American taxpayers to provide funding to the Palestinians (“Important congressional letters urge trump admin to provide necessary humanitarian assistance to Palestinians battling COVID-19 outbreak,” J Street, March 27, 2020).

A case study of Palestinian gratitude is the objection to an American plan to build a hospital in northern Gaza in December 2019. The PA attacked the project as an Israeli plot to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and exacerbate friction with Hamas. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed the new hospital was “an Israeli intelligence base” (Baruch Yedid, “US-Backed Hospital in Gaza is a Plot Against the Palestinian Authority” Jewish Press, December 2, 2019). Earlier in the year, the PA halted medical referrals for Palestinians to Israeli hospitals, depriving Palestinians of world-class health care (“Ministry of Health stops transfers to Israel: We will undertake to find alternatives,” WAFA, March 26, 2019).

According to Bassam Tawil, “Abbas, like the rest of the Arab leaders, wants the Gaza Strip to be Israel’s problem alone. Abbas is undoubtedly looking forward to a day when he can hold Israel fully responsible for the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.” Tawil added, “He is also likely waiting for the UN and many in the international community to join him in blaming Israel and Jews for the spread of the pandemic among his people while ignoring his own responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip” (Tawil, April 1, 2020).

Despite some obstacles, the COVID-19 crisis has forced most Israelis and Palestinians to put aside politics because they know disease knows no borders and it is in their mutual interest to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the disease and minimize the death toll.


Prime Minister Netanyahu shut down Israeli courts to avoid prosecution.


The Jerusalem District Court announced that the opening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases was being postponed until May 2020 due to restrictions on Israel’s courts as part of the new measures to combat the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness (Raphael Ahren, “Not because of Netanyahu: More and more countries are limiting court activities,” Times of Israel, March 15, 2020).

Israel’s detractors and journalists around the world jumped on the decision as an opportunity to tar Netanyahu and Israel. Writing in the Washington Post, for example, Joshua Kurlantzick compared him to authoritarian leaders around the world, “Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to utilize the virus for political reasons as well. Facing criminal charges that had already been filed against him, he cited the pandemic as a reason to close the courts” (“Dictators are using the coronavirus to strengthen their grip on power,” Washington Post, April 5, 2020).

Kurlantzick is identified as a senior fellow for Southeast Asia so he might be excused for not knowing what he is talking about, but the New York Times correspondents know better. Nevertheless, continuing the paper’s tradition of never missing an opportunity to criticize Israel, David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner wrote, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to be facing trial this week on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. Instead, he was shutting down the courts” (David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, “Netanyahu’s Bold Moves: Fighting a Virus or Risking Democracy?” New York Times, March 18, 2020).

These writers should have known the facts were published three days earlier in Haaretz. Netanyahu has not shut down the courts; it was Justice Minister Amir Ohana who announced emergency procedures to freeze court activities except urgent hearings. He also said the postponement of Netanyahu’s trial was made by the judges due to hear the trial “without any involvement” by politicians (Netael Bandel, “Netanyahu Trial Postponed as Justice Minister Freezes Courts Over Coronavirus Emergency,” Haaretz, March 15, 2020).

In response to the misinformation spread by the Times and others, the Israeli Supreme Court took the unusual step of publishing a refutation. “In light of recent publications,” the statement said, “President of the Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayes wants to make it clear that the courts and tribunals continue to operate throughout the country” (“Notice of Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayot,” Press Release, March 21, 2020).

Israel is also not unique in adapting to the COVID-19 threat. Democracies around the world have shut or modified the shedules of their courts without their leaders being accused of abusing their power.

For example, on March 15, about the same time Netanyahu’s trial was postponed, France announced that “all French courts will be closed except for essential litigation.” Austria said it would ask court employees to work from home, the public was discouraged from filing new cases, and parties to ongoing urgent cases could request a postponement. Italy does not allow any public activity, including court sessions. The European Union’s Court of Justice announced, “Until further notice, only those cases that are particularly urgent (such as urgent proceedings, expedited proceedings and interim proceedings) will be dealt with by the Court” (Ahrens, Times of Israel, March 15, 2020).

Meanwhile, Israel’s Supreme Court is still operating, issuing an order for example on March 23, 2020, for the Knesset speaker to hold an election for his successor (Ilan Ben Zion, “Israeli high court orders parliament vote on new speaker,” AP, March 23, 2020). By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court announced in March it was delaying oral arguments, including a controversial one regarding the release of President Trump’s tax returns (Pete Williams, “Supreme Court delays oral arguments, Trump tax case was set for this month,” NBC News, March 16, 2020) and subsequently cancelled April arguments due to the virus “and left in doubt how the justices will finish their term” (Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court cancels April arguments, unclear how it will finish term,” Washington Post, April 3, 2020). Other U.S. courts have also cancelled non-essential proceedings.


Israel closed mosques to exploit the COVID-19 outbreak.


The lead article on the front page of the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on March 21, 2020, condemned Israel for fining the chairman of the Wakf, Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, for allowing hundreds of worshipers to gather at the al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of the Health Ministry guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. In the article, Salhab was quoted as saying Israel was exploiting the virus outbreak to harm Muslims and he vowed to keep the mosque open.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s Religious Affairs Ministry was recommending that Palestinians avoid mosques and criticized Hamas for refusing to close mosques in the Gaza Strip. Muwaffaq Matar, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said, “We think that this is part of [Hamas's] satanic plot, so that afterwards they will be able to depict themselves as those who insist on performing their worship and religious ceremonies, and as those who are persecuted and oppressed for this – as if they do not know that what they are doing is a criminal act, more severe than the crimes of the terror groups and organizations that kill with weapons, gunfire, and explosions, while they – by transgressing the law and the new decisions – become part of the tools and weapons of the enemy [the coronavirus]” (“PA daily slams Israel for closing mosques, Hamas for not closing mosques,” Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2020).

On March 15, 2020, the PA also ordered the closure of mosques and churches (“Mosques, Churches Shut down in Palestine as Precaution against Coronavirus,” The Palestine Chronicle, March 15, 2020). Nearly two weeks later, Israel ordered the closure of all houses of worship (“Holy Land churches, mosques, synagogues close for coronavirus,” Religion News Service, March 26, 2020).

A day after the article attacking Israel appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Wakf also decided to suspend prayers at the mosque (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound suspended due to coronavirus,” Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2020).


The BDS movement convinced Microsoft to divest from the Israeli company AnyVision.


Jewish Voice for Peace and other advocates of the anti-Semitic BDS movement launched a campaign to convince Microsoft to divest from its stake in the Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision because they claimed Israel used the technology to spy on Palestinians in the West Bank. After Microsoft announced in March 2020 it was selling its minority stake in AnyVision, BDS advocates crowed that they had achieved a “huge and timely victory” (Michael Arria, “‘A huge and timely BDS victory’: Microsoft divests from Israeli tech firm AnyVision,” Mondoweiss, March 30, 2020).

Like many other claims of victory by BDS advocates, however, this was a case of a company making an investment decision unrelated to calls for boycotting Israel.

In October 2019, Microsoft hired former United States Attorney General Eric Holder and his team at the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct an audit of AnyVision to investigate the claims made by BDS advocates following a series of news reports accusing the company of surveilling Palestinians. On March 27, 2020, the firm announced its findings: “Based on the evidence reviewed, Covington confirmed that AnyVision technology is used in border crossing checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank, as acknowledged by any vision in response to media inquiries and confirmed to Microsoft….The available evidence however demonstrates that any visions technology has not previously and does not currently power a mass surveillance program in the West bank that has been alleged in media reports as such, Covington could not substantiate a breach of the Microsoft global finance portfolio company pledge on facial recognition” (“Joint Statement by Microsoft & AnyVision – AnyVision Audit,” M12, March 27, 2020).

The company nevertheless issued a statement that Microsoft and AnyVision agreed “that it is in the best interest of both enterprises for Microsoft to divest its shareholding in AnyVision.” The company added, “For Microsoft, the audit process reinforced the challenges of being a minority investor in a company that sells sensitive technology, since such investments do not generally allow for the level of oversight or control that Microsoft exercises over the use of its own technology.” The decision was part of a global change to its investment policy to ensure it would have “greater oversight and control over the use of sensitive technologies” (Olivia Solon, “Microsoft sells stake in Israeli facial recognition company,” NBC News, March 27, 2020).

Meanwhile, Microsoft maintains a “deep engagement with the Israeli tech ecosystem – it operates a business branch, an R&D Center, a Venture Capital Fund and Microsoft for Startups programs” (“Microsoft to launch new cloud datacenter region in Israel,” Microsoft, January 2020). The first local Microsoft branch opened in 1989.Two years later, Microsoft estbalished its first R&D center outside the United States whose mission is “to lead strategic products and services that realize Microsoft’s vision, by tapping into Israel's unique technological & entrepreneurial assets.” Its 23 product development teams work in a variety of areas including cyber security, business analytics, and artificial intelligence (Microsoft Israel R&D Center).

The company plans to open a cloud data center, which will provide services starting in 2021. The company is also launching a new Microsoft Israel campus in Herzliya in 2020 (Microsoft, January 2020).


The creation of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians caused by the Zionists.


While Israelis are celebrating their independence, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians are mourning Israel’s creation on what they call “Nakba Day.”

The word “nakba” was coined by Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq to describe the consequences of the 1948 War. Writing in his 1948 book, The Meaning of the Disaster, Zureiq said, “The defeat of the Arabs in Palestine is not a small downfall – naksa … It is a catastrophe – nakba – in every sense of the word.”

Zureiq also wrote, “Seven Arab countries declare war on Zionism in Palestine….Seven countries go to war to abolish the partition and to defeat Zionism, and quickly leave the battle after losing much of the land of Palestine – and even the part that was given to the Arabs in the Partition Plan.”

“When the battle broke out,” Zureiq wrote, “our public diplomacy began to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily – until the nakba happened.”

He also distinguished between the Zionists and the Arabs to explain the war’s outcome. “Zionism is deeply implanted in Western life, while we are far from it…They live in the present and look to the future, while we are drugged-up dreaming of a magnificent past.”

He concluded, “We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot” (Salman Masalha, “The 1948 war through Arab eyes,” Haaretz, March 10, 2017).

Sadly, Palestinians still refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for the disaster that befell them, preferring instead to perpetuate their claim of victimhood.

The Arabs’ responsibility for the catastrophe began with their rejection of the 1937 Peel Plan, which would have given the Palestinians a much larger state than they were offered by the UN. As historian Benny Morris observed, the Palestinian and Jewish national movements claimed the same territory. “The international community proposed a compromise between the two movements, giving to each part of the territory, so they would each have a small state. The Palestinians said no and went to war.” Had they accepted the partition resolution in 1947, the State of Palestine would celebrate its 73rd birthday in November.

Palestinians are understandably bitter about their history over these last seven decades, but we are constantly told that what they object to 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 their refusal to reconcile themselves with the Jewish State.

To achieve peace, the Palestinians must affirm Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. Instead, Abbas describes of the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vows never to accept it (Efraim Karsh, The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, London: Bloomsbury, 2015, p. 151). Abbas is supposed to be a “moderate” who can be a partner for negotiations, but how does his position differ from that of Hamas, which repeatedly declares that all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, belongs to the Palestinians?


The Trump plan would create a Palestinian state surrounded by Israel.


Many critics of Israel suffer from geography impairment and claim that Israel is solely responsible for the blockade of Gaza. Critics with the same deficiency are now suggesting the Trump peace plan will create a Palestinian state surrounded by Israel (e.g., “The Trump Plan - A Plan for Annexation, Not for Peace,” Peace Now, January 2020).

Based on the map, which lacks a great deal of detail, it appears the area proposed for Palestine in the West Bank would fall within the boundaries of Israel. If Palestine only included this area, this would not be unprecedented. Today, three nations are surrounded by the territory of another state: Vatican City and San Marino are enclaves within Italy, and Lesotho is encircled by South Africa. Palestine would not be surrounded by Israel, however, because Gaza is bounded not only by Israel but the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt.

Critics are correct when they say that Palestine would not be a contiguous area under the Trump plan; however, no plan could make such a state contiguous since the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are, at its narrowest point, 25 miles apart (Jon Donnison, “Palestinian unity undermined by geographic divide,” BBC News, February 24, 2012). Furthermore, the Trump plan would also result in Israel lacking a contiguous area. It calls for approximately 19 settlements with a population of roughly 20,000 to become enclaves surrounded by Palestine. In addition, the proposed route connecting Gaza and the West Bank would separate the areas of Israel north and south of that passageway.


Palestinians care more about saving lives than boycotting Israel.


Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir is reputed to have said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Since her time, the truthfulness of those words has been demonstrated repeatedly. and it was again last month when the Palestinian Authority said it would refuse to accept 14 tons of medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic because it was delivered by the United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways through Israel (Dion Nissenbaum, U.A.E. Flies Coronavirus Aid for Palestinians in First Known Commercial Flight to Israel,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2020).

Palestinian health minister Mai Kaila said the PA refused the shipment because the UAE failed to coordinate with them. Other sources said the Palestinians objected because the direct flight to Israel “constitutes a cover for normalization" (“Palestinian Authority rejects UAE aid sent via Israeli airport,” Al Jazeera, May 21, 2020).

The decision did not hurt Israel or deter the UAE from improving ties with Israel. It did, however, increase the risk to Palestinians of becoming infected and possibly dying of the coronavirus, and angered many people in the UAE. Prof. Abdul Khaleq Abdullah said the PA acted “out of spite” and “reflects political stupidity from a flabby leadership.” UAE political analyst Majed al-Raeesi tweeted: “Aid in the form of tons of medical supplies is not important. If the assistance was in the form of money/dollars, it wouldn’t have been rejected. May God help ordinary Palestinians against the thieves of the Palestinian Authority” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “UAE activists rail against Palestinians for rejecting medical supplies,” Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2020).

Meanwhile, despite expecting others to boycott Israel, the Palestinians have accepted aid directly from Israel to fight the pandemic. They also accepted supplies from Turkey that came through Israel.

That cooperation may cease, however, because of another self-defeating decision by the Palestinians. To show their displeasure with Israel’s consideration of applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to withdraw from all agreements with Israel. One of those agreements involves coordination with Israel to allow Palestinians to seek medical care in Israel’s world-class hospitals. Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Palestinians will now have to seek care in the PA or, if they live in Gaza, coordinate treatment with Egypt or the UN (Jack Khoury, “Palestinian PM: PA Will Prevent Chaos After Ending Security Coordination With Israel,” Haaretz, May 26, 2020).

Yet again, Palestinian leaders are demonstrating that rhetoric and empty gestures are more important than peace and the lives of their people.


Israelis overreact to harmless rock-throwing by Palestinians.


Of the many “David versus Goliath” images that are portrayed in the media to dramatize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most common may be that of the seemingly helpless Palestinian throwing rocks at heavily armed Israeli soldiers. These images are powerful but also frequently misleading, failing to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim.

While the media is often drawn to rock-throwing riots against IDF troops (often staged by Palestinian instigators), many attacks occur beyond the glare of media lights and are directed not only at soldiers, but Jewish men, women and children, often innocently driving along a roadway.

The media typically ignores these terror attacks against Jews, or significantly downplays their lethality. Ben Ehrenreich, for example, wrote in the New York Times about the “nonviolent resistance” of the Palestinians and then described the “asymmetric combat” in which masked shebab “armed with slings and stones” tried to “flank and surprise” Israeli soldiers. One Palestinian compared stones to Gandhi’s loincloth as a symbol of resistance (Ben Ehrenreich, “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?” New York Times Magazine, March 15, 2013).

The Times’ Tom Friedman applauded “nonviolent resistance by Palestinians,” which he said consisted of boycotts, hunger strikes and rock-throwing (Thomas Friedman, “A Middle East Twofer,” New York Times, April 3, 2012). Non-violent resistance should not result in death. Palestinian rock throwers, however, have killed many Israelis.

For example, three days before Ehrenreich’s article appeared, 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal was killed on May 12, 2020, when a rock thrown off a rooftop struck him in the head. He died even though he was wearing a helmet (David M. Halbfinger, “Israeli Soldier Is Killed in West Bank as Tensions Rise Over Annexation Push,” New York Times, May 12, 2020).

Following Ben-Yigal’s murder, the Palestinians launched a campaign on social media with the theme, “If you don’t have a gun, kill an IDF soldier with a rock.” This is one of the cartoons published for the occasion (Edy Cohen, “Palestinians Ramp Up Incitement to Murder Jews,” BESA, June 7, 2020):

The incidents of March 14, 2013, further dispel the false notion that rock-throwing is nonviolent or harmless. That day, a woman was driving with her three young daughters past the city of Ariel when a group of Palestinians threw rocks at a truck coming in the other direction. The truck swerved and collided with the family’s car, injuring the mother and the two older daughters. The youngest, a three-year-old child, was critically injured and died in 2015 (Marissa Newman, “Hundreds attend funeral for toddler hurt in 2013 attack,” Times of Israel, February 18, 2015). Later that same night, on the same highway, a 10-month-old baby was injured when rocks thrown at his parents’ car shattered the windshield (“Stone-throwing ‘terror attack’ causes crash, toddler critically hurt,” Times of Israel, March 14, 2013).

Other examples of the harmlessness of rocks include:

May 2020: A 21-year-old Israeli soldier was killed when he was struck in the head by a heavy rock (David M. Halbfinger, “Israeli Soldier Is Killed in West Bank as Tensions Rise Over Annexation Push,” New York Times, May 12, 2020).

December 2018: A pregnant woman was wounded in the face when her car was pelted by stones and, a few days later, a 9-month-old baby was injured when a rock shattered the window of the car she was riding in (Yotam Berger, “9-month-old Israeli Baby Lightly Wounded After Stones Hurled at His Family's Car in West Bank,” Haaretz, December 18, 2018).

September 2015: Alexander Levlovich was killed by thrown rocks that caused his car to swerve out of control. Two of his daughters were badly injured (Diaa Hadid, “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem,” New York Times, September 14, 2015).

November 2012: Ziona Kalla, wife of Israeli singer Itzik Kalla, sustained serious injuries as a result of stones hurled at her car by Palestinians near Beitar Illit (Elad Benari, “Terror Victim Makes Miraculous Recovery,” Arutz Sheva, December 10, 2012).

September 2011: Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son were killed in a stone-throwing attack near Kiryat Arba. Two Palestinians from the nearby village of Halhul admitted to instigating the attack. Waal al-Araja – a member of the Palestinian security forces – was convicted of murder in the case in March 2013 (Tovah Lazaroff, “Palestinian convicted of killing Asher Palmer,” Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2013).

June 2001: Five-month-old Yehuda Haim Shoham’s family was returning from visiting relatives in Ra’anana when a Palestinian threw a rock at the front windshield that hit and killed baby Yehuda in the back seat (Cynthia Dettelbach, “Israeli couple copes with loss of a child,” Cleveland Jewish News, August 2, 2001).

May 2001: Koby Mandell (13) and Yosef Ishran (14) were beaten to death with rocks when they were hiking on the outskirts of Tekoa. Their bodies were found in a cave, covered with stones(Joel Greenberg, “2 Jewish Teenagers Are Beaten to Death in the West Bank,” New York Times, May 10, 2001).

October 2000: Bachor Jean (54) was killed by rocks thrown at his vehicle while he was travelling from Haifa to Rishon Lezion. The rocks shattered the windshield and struck his chest. The perpetrators were found to be from the nearby Arab village Jisar a-Zarka (“Rocks Can Kill,” ?Center for Near East Policy Research, July 15, 2013).

February 1993: Eleven year-old Chava Wechsberg, a U.S. citizen, was killed when the car in which she was riding was hit by rocks and crashed (Stephen M. Flatow, “Murder by stoning,” Jewish Standard, January 9, 2014).

February 1989: Stf. Sgt. Benny Meisner (25) was killed when he was struck in the head by a concrete block in Nablus (“Where’s the Coverage? Victims of Stone-Throwing Terrorists,” CAMERA, August 7, 2013).

January 1983: Esther Ohana (21) was killed by a rock thrown at her car that hit her in the head while driving near the Palestinian village Dahariya (Stephen M. Flatow, “Murder by stoning,” Jewish Standard, January 9, 2014).


One million Palestinians were expelled by Israel from 1947-49.


The negotiation affairs department of the PLO tweeted on May 15, 2020, “Every Nakba commemoration day, we mark the catastrophe that befell our people in 1948, when 957,000 Palestinians became refugees” (Palestine PLO-NAD, May 15, 2020). This is one of those perennial myths.

The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-49 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the crossfire of a battle.

Many Arabs claim that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1947-­49. The last census was taken in 1945. It found only 756,000 permanent Arab residents in Israel. On November 30, 1947, the date the UN voted for partition, the total was 809,100. A 1949 Government of Israel census counted 160,000 Arabs living in the country after the war. This meant no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees.2 A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine (as of September 1948) arrived at an even lower figure — 360,000 (The CIA estimate was 330,000).


In “deadly exchanges” Israel trains U.S. police to mistreat minorities.


Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other detractors of Israel have mounted a campaign to discourage American law enforcement and first responders from engaging with their Israeli colleagues. In what they refer to as “deadly exchange,” JVP asserts that the U.S. and Israeli government “exchange methods of state violence and control, including mass surveillance, racial profiling, and suppression of protest and dissent” (About Deadly Exchange, Jewish Voice for Peace, accessed June 22, 2020).

According to Al Jazeera, Durham, North Carolina became the first city to ban police training with foreign militaries, including Israel, in 2018. That same year, Vermont state police were pressured to cancel training in Israel (Mersiha Gadzo, “How the US and Israel exchange tactics in violence and control,” Al Jazeera, June 12, 2020).

The killing of George Floyd has given new impetus to the campaign as JVP and other proponents try to create a nonexistent link between training in Israel and the behavior of American police officers. The Palestinian BDS National Committee, for example, issued a statement that said, “The system of structural racism in the US is violently enforced by paramilitary police departments, many trained by Israel, including the Minnesota police. These police forces have been tasked with doing whatever it takes to protect this rotten system of white supremacy and Black, Latinx and Indigenous disenfranchisement” (“We can’t breathe until we’re free! Palestinians stand in solidarity with Black Americans,” BNC, May 30, 2020).

The month before George Floyd was killed, this photo appeared in the Palestinian press showing a Palestinian security officer on the neck of a suspect while a second watches (“The Police arrest a person who stabbed a citizen,” pn-news, April 13, 2020).

Even as JVP continues to advocate “deadly exchange,” the group essentially admitted it is anti-Semitic in a June 5, 2020, update:

Suggesting that Israel is the start or source of American police violence or racism shifts the blame from the United States to Israel. This obscures the fundamental responsibility and nature of the U.S., and harms Black people and Black-led struggle. It also furthers an anti-Semitic ideology. White supremacists look for any opportunity to glorify and advance American anti-Black racism, and any chance to frame Jews as secretly controlling and manipulating the world. Taking police exchanges out of context provides fodder for those racist and anti-Semitic tropes (“DX Campaign Update: The National Uprising Against Policing,” JVP, June 5, 2020.

It is true that white supremacists exploit the campaign, but so do leftists and other critics of Israel. JVP itself pursues the anti-Semitic BDS agenda while serving as what Lenin referred to as “useful idiots” by allowing extremists to claim they are not anti-Semitic because even Jews agree with them.

Whatever valuable ideas for law enforcement visitors may glean from their Israeli counterparts, the Americans determine their own standards and tactics, and are responsible for their actions. The officers involved in the alleged Floyd murder and other cases of police abuses were not trained in Israel. Had they been part of an exchange, no one in Israel would have instructed them to put their knee on the neck of suspects (Aaron Bandler, “Israeli Police Spokesman Says Israel Didn’t Teach U.S. Officers Knee-on-Neck Move,” Jewish Journal, June 9, 2020)) or to shoot someone trying to avoid arrest in the back.

The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) has taken more than 200 law enforcement officials to Israel since 2002 and introduced many more to Israeli experts during conferences in the United States. Steven Pomerantz, former Assistant Director of the FBI, and Director of JINSA’s Homeland Security Program, denied that Israeli police teach visitors abusive tactics. “Despite suggestions to the contrary,” he said, “there is no field training involved in either the conferences or trips, and no training on holds or arrest mechanics.” They do, however, “learn how Israeli law enforcement deters, disrupts, and responds to terrorist attacks….the ideology of suicide bombers and other attackers, ways to de-escalate an ongoing incident, and the intelligence-gathering and -sharing process” (Steven L. Pomerantz, “I am the architect of the U.S.-Israel police exchange. Don’t believe the lies,” Forward, June 19, 2020).

Nevertheless, this tactic of trying to tie Israel to American police killings is not new. For example, after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile died in police shootings in 2016, Students for Justice in Palestine at New York University declared, “We must remember that many of the same many US police departments train with the #IsraeliDefenseForces. The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians” (NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, Facebook, July 7, 2016).

The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program was established in 1992 to engage in international cooperation and executive development to improve law enforcement services. Officers from Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee have participated in recent GILEE programs in Israel.

Robbie Friedman, founding director of GILEE, said Israel “has a great deal to contribute to better policing” (Robbie Friedman, GILEE: Jews, Public Safety and the BDS Threat, Atlanta Jewish Times, September 13, 2017). He also noted that “being proactive through building partnerships also provides a moral compass that reinforces our wellbeing and sends a message to those who wish us harm that we are more than ready not to be taken for granted (Robbie Friedman, “Partnerships Teach Society Lessons,” Atlanta Jewish Times, September 11, 2015).

Following the killing of George Floyd, GILEE issued a statement that said, “GILEE is guided by the principles of community policing as defined in 1992. These principles emphasize a proactive approach to policing based on partnership-building and concern for civil rights and liberties. Those who receive GILEE training have embraced its emphasis on the rule of law, fairness, being service-focused and enhancing joint efforts to proactively lift up our communities.”

After 9/11, American law enforcement officials became especially interested in tapping into Israelis’ knowledge and experience in counterterrorism. In 2002, for example, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings. From lessons learned on his trip, Det. Morten prepared a new Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol and was better able to secure the Academy Awards presentation.

In January 2003, 33 senior U.S. law enforcement officials – from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, and Philadelphia – traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on “Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror.” The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

“I think it’s invaluable,” said Washington, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey about the instruction he received in Israel. “They have so much more experience in dealing with this than we do in the United States.”

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) about the special office (Hearing Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs on the Nomination of Hon. Gordon R. England to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Senate, January 24, 2003, p. 15).

A 2007 publication by the Police Executive Research Forum said, “We must embrace, in particular, our Israeli and British counterparts, to whom we can turn for lessons learned” (Lisa L. Spahr with Joshua Ederheime and David Bilson, “Patrol-Level Response to a Suicide Bomb Threat: Guidelines for Consideration,” Police Executive Research Forum, 2007).

In November 2011, a delegation of senior American law enforcement officials, including police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, went to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials to learn about border security, media response during crises, and strategies for treating mass casualties, performing rescue operations and establishing command and control at the scene of a terror attack.

Col. Robert Quinn, commander of the New Hampshire State Police, was part of the delegation. “It’s really been an eye-opener,” said Col. Quinn. “We attend various training in the states on terrorism and counter terrorism issues but never have I ever learned as much as I have just by looking and observing as I have been in [Israel]” (Arieh O’Sullivan, “US law enforcement chiefs learn counter-terrorism Israel,” Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2011).

In 2012, the New York Police Department opened a branch in Israel because the Israel Police is one of the key units with which it must maintain close and continuous working relationships on a daily basis (“NYPD opens branch in Kfar Saba,” Times of Israel, September 7, 2012).

In 2013, a special Southwest Border bomb squad from Arizona went to Israel to learn from their counterparts. Sgt. Chris Rogers said they were interested in learning from Israelis’ “firsthand training and experiences…dealing with cross border Improvised Explosive Devices.”

In 2015, officials from the U.S. Marshalls Service, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, Oakland, and Miami-Dade police departments met with their Israeli colleagues to learn lessons related to “tactics and strategies and the evolution of terrorism.”

In 2016, activists demanded that Atlanta stop allowing its police department to train in Israel. “I’m not going to do that,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “I happen to believe that the Israeli Police Department has some of the best counter-terrorism techniques in the world and it benefits our police department from that long-standing relationship” (Lea Speyer, “Atlanta Mayor Flatly Rejects Demand From Local ‘Black Lives Matter’ Group to Cut Ties With ‘Apartheid Israel,’” Algemeiner, July 19, 2016).

In 2017, Jason Armstrong, the Police Chief in Ferguson, MO, was part of a GILEE delegation. He wrote that he learned about counterterrorism, Emergency Management, and various public safety and Homeland Security strategies. “I was most impressed with about the program, he said, “was learning how the Israeli police force was trying new ways to bring diversity to their police force in their police leadership….We got to visit and meet with police academy recruits were taking advantage of a program to assist people from the Arab communities in Israel with passing the entrance test into the police Academy. We learned about leadership training program specifically for female officers so they could flourish as leaders in the organization.” He added, “Any law enforcement leader looking to expand their knowledge base and experience once in a lifetime memorable moments, this program is top notch.”

In 2018, 21 senior law-enforcement officials from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee participated in GILEE’s annual peer-to-peer training program. “The delegation studied Israel’s best practices and advances in community policing; recruitment and deployment; counterterrorism; emergency management; advanced technologies; homeland security policies; mounted police; use of K-9 services for drugs, explosives and missing persons; and crisis negotiations.” They were also briefed by Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakroosh – the first Muslim major general in the Israel Police and met with Arab cadets in the police academy (Eliana Rudee, “Senior police and public-safety officials boost their many skills in Israel,” JNS, July 5, 2018).

Friedmann said the sessions emphasized “a policy and a strategy aimed at achieving more effective and efficient crime control, reduced fear of crime, improved quality of life, improved police services and police legitimacy, through a proactive reliance on community resources that seek to change crime-causing conditions.” Friedmann noted the program “assumes a need for greater accountability of police, greater public share in decision-making, and greater concern for civil rights and liberties.”


Israel plans to create “Bantustans” for the Palestinians.


As Israel contemplates extending sovereignty to some or all the West Bank, some critics are trotting out the old chestnut that this will somehow make Israel like Afrikaner South Africa

Without reiterating all the arguments why Israel is nothing like South Africa, it is important to understand that the lives of most Palestinians will not change regardless of Israel’s decision. Roughly 98 percent of Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority. The civil rights they are deprived, such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press, are imposed by the PA.

Depending on what area(s) Israel applies its law to, the expectation is that at most 100,000 Palestinians will be within the same territory. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said, “We will not apply Israeli law in places in which there are many Palestinians or in cases where we would harm their mobility; if there'll be Palestinian citizens in regions where Israeli law is applied, they will have equal rights” (Chaim Levinson and Yaniv Kubovich, “Gantz on Annexation: Wherever We Apply Israeli Law, Palestinians Will Have Full Rights,” Haaretz, June 26, 2020). This is the case for Arabs who now live as citizens in Israel.

A new twist is the accusation that, like the Afrikaner regime, Israel plans to establish “Bantustans” for Palestinians. This is a reference to the enclaves that were created for black South Africans. Under the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970, the government stripped black South Africans of their citizenship, and their limited political and civil rights, and declared them to be citizens of these homelands.

Here are a few of the reasons why the comparisons with South Africa are baseless:

  1. Israel is not creating any homelands for the Palestinians.
  2. No Palestinians are being transferred from their homes, which contrasts with the wishes of two-state advocates who believe tens of thousands of Jews must be evacuated from their homes to make room for a Palestinian state.
  3. While the South African government sought to remove its entire black population, Israel will be adding more Palestinians to a population that is already 21 percent Arab.
  4. None of the Palestinians in these areas have Israeli citizenship and, therefore, will not be deprived of any rights they currently have.
  5. If the Palestinians meet the conditions of the Trump peace plan, they will have an independent state – for the first time in history – in 70 percent of the West Bank with whatever rights their government grants them.
  6. Unlike blacks who wanted to be equal citizens of South Africa, Palestinians in the West Bank have no desire to be citizens of Israel.
  7. Unlike blacks who wanted to change the system of their government, not destroy the country, the Palestinians want to replace Israel with their own state.
  8. Unlike black South Africans who were forced to provide cheap labor with few rights, Palestinians (approximately 150,000 today, including roughly 10,000 working in settlements) are expected to have the freedom to choose to work in Israel where they are accorded the same rights as Israeli workers.
  9. If Israel applied sovereignty to every settlement in the West Bank the Palestinian enclaves would not become Bantustans. No one objects to the fact that three nations – Vatican City, San Marino and Lesotho – are surrounded by the territory of another state. Moreover, Palestinians will not all be surrounded by Israel since Gaza borders the Mediterranean and Egypt.

The democratically elected government must decide whether the benefits of changing the status of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria outweigh the costs. That calculation, however, need not take into account specious arguments.


The British helped the Jews displace the native Arab population of Palestine.


Herbert Samuel, a British Jew who served as the first High Commissioner of Palestine, placed restrictions on Jewish immigration “in the ‘interests of the present population’ and the ‘absorptive capacity’ of the country” (Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World, (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1970), p. 172; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979),  p. 146). The influx of Jewish settlers was said to be forcing the Arab fellahin (native peasants) from their land. This was at a time when less than a million people lived in an area that now supports more than nine million.

The British actually limited the absorptive capacity of Palestine when, in 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill severed nearly four-fifths of Palestine – some thirty-five thousand square miles – to create a brand new Arab entity, Transjordan. As a consolation prize for the Hejaz and Arabia (which are both now Saudi Arabia) going to the Saud family, Churchill rewarded Sherif Hussein’s son Abdullah for his contribution to the war against Turkey by installing him as Transjordan’s emir.

The British went further and placed restrictions on Jewish land purchases in what remained of Palestine, contradicting the provision of the Mandate (Article 6) stating that “the Administration of Palestine . . . shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes.”

By 1949, the British had allotted 87,500 acres of the 187,500 acres of cultivable land to Arabs and only 4,250 acres (2 percent) to Jews (Moshe Aumann, “Land Ownership in Palestine 1880–1948,” in Michael Curtis, et al., The Palestinians (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1975), p. 25).

Ultimately, the British admitted that the argument about the absorptive capacity of the country was specious. The Peel Commission said, “The heavy immigration in the years 1933–36 would seem to show that the Jews have been able to enlarge the absorptive capacity of the country for Jews” (Palestine Royal Commission Report, (London: 1937), p. 300).


Israel destroyed a Palestinian COVID-19 testing center.


Sadly, Palestinian propagandists and their allies have looked for ways to exploit the tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic to promote their anti-Israel agenda. One example is the scurrilous claim that Israel destroyed a COVID-19 testing center near Hebron (Yumna Patel, “Landowner says Israeli authorities demolished COVID-19 testing site on donated plot,” Mondoweiss, July 23, 2020).

It is true that Israel destroyed a structure, one constructed without a building permit in Area C, which is exclusively under Israeli jurisdiction. It was never intended, however, as a testing center; it was going to be a private car dealership (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Israel demolished Hebron car dealership, not ‘COVID-19 center,’” Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2020).

Nevertheless, after learning of Israel’s intention to demolish the structure, the Mayor of Hebron, Tayseer Abu Sneina, said he had informed the property owner the Palestinian Authority planned to turn it into a testing center. The Israeli Civil Administration, the Palestinian Authority, and international organizations did not receive any request, however, to build a COVID-19 testing site at the location (Maurice Hirsch, “The birth and spread of a new anti-Israel libel: The claim that Israel destroyed a COVID-19 testing center in Hebron is false!” Palestinian Media Watch, July 23, 2020).

Meanwhile, as this lie circulated, Israel was taking steps to help Palestinians in Gaza. In late July 2020, Israel donated a water generator to address the chronic lack of drinking water caused in large measure by the Palestinians’ polluting of the aquifer in Gaza (“Waste Away: Living next to a dumpsite,” OCHA, July 20, 2020).

In 2019, the first generator was donated with the help of the Watergen Company and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. A second was sent to the Rantisi Medical Center in Gaza City in the Spring of 2020. The latest donation was made to the Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second largest hospital. Celia Jean reported that “the quality of the drinking water produced by these generators is the best Gaza has seen in years” (Celia Jean, “Joint Israeli-Palestinian effort donates water generator to Gaza hospital,” Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2020).

Even as Israel tries to help the Palestinians cope with the virus, the Palestinian Authority continues to obstruct that assistance to the detriment of the health of the public. In addition to its earlier refusal to accept supplies donated by the UAE because the planes carrying them landed in Israel (“Palestinian Authority rejects UAE aid sent via Israeli airport,” Al Jazeera, May 21, 2020), the PA’s unwillingness to coordinate with Israel has “significantly delayed the procurement of key medical equipment” (“COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 14,” OCHA, July 15-28, 2020). That lack of coordination has been deadly, for example, wo infants died after their exit arrangements for treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem were delayed (“Gaza Strip: Snapshot, OCHA, June 2020).

Despite, the lack of cooperation, 9,600 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Israel, 28% above the monthly average in the previous five months (OCHA, June 2020).


Lebanon poses no threat to Israel.


On August 11, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 in response to the Israel-Hezbollah war. The resolution called upon the Lebanese government “to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms and related materials.”

In May 2007, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon established the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT) to evaluate Lebanon’s compliance with Resolution 1701. The committee concluded that “the performance of the (Lebanese inspection) agencies in stopping ongoing arms smuggling, which is generally accepted as a fact, can only be described as not up to what can be expected” (“Independent Border Assessment Team Report,” Lebanon Wire, June 2007).

The committee discovered widespread corruption among Lebanese border police and described the ease by which missiles and militants moved across the Syrian-Lebanese border. The report illustrated the United Nations’ skepticism of Lebanese attempts to end the flow of illegal arms into Lebanon when it said “one would have expected that an occasional seizure of arms…would have taken place. If by nothing else, then by pure chance. This lack of performance is worrying.”

Lebanon’s failure to implement Resolution 1701 poses a direct threat to Israel and to Lebanese stability. Since the war in 2006, large quantities of weapons (including rockets capable of striking as far south as Tel Aviv and southern Israel), have been smuggled into Lebanon from Syria and Iran.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has openly declared that “Israel is a cancer” and that the “ultimate goal should be to remove it” (Ariel Ben Solomon, “Nasrallah: Israel Is a Cancer and the Ultimate Goal Should Be to Remove It,” Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2014). He has pledged that Hezbollah will not disarm so long as Israel remains a threat.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military estimates at least one hundred thousand Hezbollah rockets are aimed at Israel (Yossi Melman, “Analysis: Hezbollah’s 100,000 Rockets and Israel’s New Missile Defense System,” Jerusalem Post, December 23, 2015). Israel has repeatedly struck targets in Syria to prevent the land transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, but Iran has reportedly increased its delivery of weapons by air via Damascus. According to former deputy Mossad chief Naftali Granot, Hezbollah has significantly upgraded its arsenal with the help of Iran. “It got antiaircraft missiles, antitank missiles, and recently received small numbers of GPS precision-guided systems which will help it convert some heavy rockets into accurate missiles,” he said in September 2018 (Yonah Jeremy Bob, “Ex-Deputy Mossad Chief: Idf Didn't Fully Stop New Hezbollah Rocket Tech,” Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2018).

During his September 27, 2018, address at the UN General Assembly Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed photos of what he said were three Hezbollah “secret sites”: a football stadium, a location near Beirut International Airport and a residential neighborhood 500 meters from the airport’s landing strip where the group is using Iranian technology to convert the group’s rockets into precision-guided missiles capable of threatening targets deep inside Israel. He accused Hezbollah of using civilian areas to shield them from Israeli airstrikes but threatened to attack them if they were not shut down (“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2018 UN General Assembly Speech, Haaretz, September 27, 2018).

Netanyahu said on December 19, 2018, that Hezbollah had shut down plants to develop precision-guided missiles after Israel exposed them (“Israel says Hezbollah closed precision missile plants, arsenal limited,” Reuters, December 19, 2018). Israeli intelligence, however, reportedly informed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March 2019 that Hezbollah has built a new missile factory in Beirut with the help of Iran. During a visit to Lebanon, Pompeo warned Prime Minister Saad Hariri that allowing the construction of facilities with the aim of manufacturing precision-guided missiles could provoke a response from Israel (Uri Bollag, “Hezbollah established new missile factory in Beirut- report,” Jerusalem Post, April 2, 2019).

Another threat was exposed when Israel discovered a series of tunnels constructed by Hezbollah that extended across the Lebanese border into Israel. On December 3, 2018, the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield to destroy them.

Israeli officials have concluded Hezbollah is now largely in control of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). This is particularly disturbing given that the LAF has received more than $1.5 billion in assistance from the United States over the past twelve years and that LAF commander Joseph Aoun has said his forces intend to participate in any future war against.

In the 2006 war, Israel distinguished between the two and restricted its operations to Hezbollah targets. “The distinction we made between Hezbollah and Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War was a mistake,” a senior officer in the Northern Command said. “In the next war we will not make this distinction. We will hit Lebanon and any infrastructure that would contribute to the fighting” Israel (Yaniv Kubovich, “Senior IDF Official: Hezbollah Controls Lebanon’s Army, We Won't Distinguish Between Them in Next War,” Haaretz, September 6, 2018).

The UN’s failure to ensure the implementation of its resolution increases the risk of renewed violence between Israel and Hezbollah. This risk has been heightened by Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war and the possibility of the group gaining a strategic foothold near the Golan Heights.


The UAE betrayed the Palestinians by establishing relations with Israel


“I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country,” Saeb Erekat complained after the UAE-Israel agreement was signed. “You are rewarding aggression. ... You have destroyed, with this move, any possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis” (“Palestinians Say UAE Deal Hinders Quest for Mideast Peace,” AP, August 14, 2020).

The Abraham Accords also represents the most crushing defeat yet for the BDS movement, which issued a statement that said, “Palestinian civil society stands with the silenced majority in the United Arab Emirates and the Arab world in strongly condemning the agreement reached between the despotic rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Israel, with support from the Trump White House.” It added, “This is the UAE regime’s gravest betrayal of the struggle for Palestinian liberation and self-determination” (“BDS slams Israeli-UAE deal,” WAFA, August 17, 2020).

These were common sentiments expressed by Palestinians following the announcement of the Abraham Accords. The cries of betrayal rang hollow throughout most of the leaders in the Arab world, however, who have grown tired of sacrificing their interests for an unnecessary and unrequited commitment to the Palestinians.

Arab leaders once thought that withholding relations would force Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands. Alas, that has not worked for the last five decades. Meanwhile Arab leaders have grown fed up with supporting the Palestinians when their own recalcitrance has prevented any progress toward peace. Gulf states have also tired of acting as the Palestinians’ piggybank, knowing most of the money they contribute is used for incentivizing terrorism and lining the pockets of Palestinian officials rather than improving the welfare of the public.

For so many years these leaders feared their people would violently protest and threaten their rule if they abandoned the Palestinian cause. The people in those countries, who have a low opinion of the Palestinians as a people to begin with, have become equally frustrated with their unwillingness to compromise after being offered a state by Israel in 2000 and 2008, and by Trump in 2020. They even refused to negotiate under the auspices of Barack Obama, who along with Jimmy Carter (under whom they rejected autonomy), was the most pro-Palestinian president in history.

Arab leaders, such as the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), have witnessed the lack of response from their people as Palestinians called for protests over Israeli actions and U.S. recognition of Jerusalem. This should put to rest the myth that the “Arab street” will erupt and threaten their regimes over abandoning the Palestinians or any actions taken by the United States or Israel. Most people in the region have reconciled themselves with Israel’s existence.

It was therefore not surprising that MBZ was so disinterested in Palestinian opinion that he didn’t give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas any advance notice of his plans (Anshel Pfeffer, “Don't Compare MBZ and Bibi to Sadat and Begin – the UAE-Israel Deal Is Much Bigger Than Peace,” Haaretz, August 17, 2020).

The truth is there has never been a reason for the UAE to let its interests be held hostage by the Palestinians. Their problem has nothing to do with the UAE or any other country except perhaps Jordan whose population is mostly Palestinian, and King Hussein still made peace with Israel. Anwar Sadat gave lip service to the Palestinian cause but put Egypt’s interests first when he signed its treaty with Israel.

The UAE shares no borders and has never gone to war with Israel. Emiratis have no reason for antagonism toward Israelis. They do, however, have overlapping interests in trade, technology, halting the spread of COVID-19 and, most important, preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon or becoming a regional hegemon. The same is true for the other Gulf states who now have no excuse not to follow the UAE’s example. If they do, perhaps the Palestinians will realize they are isolated and cannot expect anyone to save them from themselves.


Palestinian “honor killings” are a thing of the past.


Honor killings are perpetrated against a family member (almost always a woman) who is judged to have acted socially or culturally unacceptably and brought dishonor to the family.

According to the Palestinian Human Rights and Democracy Media Center, there were 20 honor killings in the West Bank and Gaza in the first 10 months of 2019. “The state of women’s rights in Palestine remains at a standstill, and women are still being murdered,” the organization said in a statement. “Women remain the most prominent victims of the male culture and of the violence that grows out of it, while this culture elevates men beyond the culture of shame, appoints them as masters and guardians of morality – even when they act immorally – and grants them complete immunity” (Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, “After alleged honor killing, Palestinians examine discriminatory culture,” Jerusalem Post, (September 6, 2019).

One of the “honor killings” was believed to be Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year-old makeup artist who reportedly posted a picture of herself on Instagram with a man who had proposed to her before they were formally engaged. Hasan Shaalan noted that, “Among very conservative Muslims, their going out together would be seen as inappropriate and potentially bringing shame to the whole family” (Hasan Shaalan, “Three family members charged in killing of Palestinian woman,” Ynet, September 12, 2019).

One story said her relatives beat her to death on August 22, 2019, but the family claimed she died of a heart attack (Haya A.Y. Abu Shukhaidem, “Palestinian teen’s suspected ‘honour killing’ provokes outrage in West Bank,” Middle East Eye, September 1, 2019). Another version said she was killed by her brother but the family said she jumped off a second-story balcony because she had been “possessed for some time” (Caterina Minthe, “A woman is not a man’s property” – Inside Israa Ghrayeb’s “Honor Killing” Murder,” Vogue, September 4, 2019).

Three of Ghrayeb’s relatives were charged with manslaughter, but the Palestinian Attorney General ruled out honor killing as a motive.

Ramallah-based journalist Dima Abumaria told Minthe, “Every year we have more cases of girls being murdered under the guise or ‘honor.’ Killing under the name of honor is being used as a tool to murder females for whatever reason that sick person or family has in mind.” According to Minthe, the government created a “safe house,” but most women “are caught, tortured, locked up, forced into marriage, or killed” before they can get there.

The killing of Ghrayeb provoked widespread protests and is likely the reason a poll of Palestinians shortly afterward included a question about “honor killing.” An overwhelming majority of 81% said it is a heinous crime that should be punished severely, 7% said it is a normal crime that should be punished like any other crime, and 10% said it is an understandable act that should be punished lightly (September 11-14, 2019, PSR).

Nevertheless, an op-ed in the official Palestinian Authority daily several years earlier observed, “There are some who even praise and glorify this [honor killings] as a manly, heroic act, turning it into an aspect of [our] culture that molds the character of Arab and Islamic societies. If we wish to free our society from this crime’s octopus grasp, we must first admit that without a cultural revolution that will cleanse our perceptions, our books, and our heritage from sanctifying murder performed in the name of Allah and honor... we will not be able to take a single step towards lessening this crime...” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 6, 2012, translated by PMW).

Honor killings are part of a more endemic problem related to the “domination of a male-patriarchal culture” that justifies violence against women, according to Birzeit University lecturer Bader Al-A’araj. He explained, for example, that the concept of “marital rape” is not part of Palestinians’ social consciousness. He said some of his students couldn’t understand how someone could rape his wife. “There are assumptions that the husband has sexual rights to the wife, and she does not know that there is a concept of ‘marital rape. Her body is a right permitted to the man or the husband” (PA TV, Gently, November 20, 2019, translated by PMW).

“Part of our identity is to kill women, to beat women,” explained Israeli Arab lecturer Yusuf Jabareen. “Palestinian identity has its charms, but there are things that we have adopted from Arab culture for centuries, which harm the individual and the woman” (PA TV, June 24, 2012, translated by PMW).

The Palestinian Authority has no law, according to the State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices, “that specifically relates to sexual harassment, which was a significant and widespread problem.” It does, however, have an “honor killing” law that removed protection and leniency for perpetrators of crimes in defense of family honor. Nevertheless, 13 women were reportedly killed in 2012, 28 in 2014, and 27 in 2018.


Iran is the only Middle East nation seeking to develop nuclear technology.


Those who argue the world can live with a nuclear-armed Iran ignore the likelihood that a nuclear arms race is likely to ensue in the Middle East that will exponentially increase the danger to the region and beyond. In fact, that race may already be underway due to the failure of the agreement negotiated by President Obama to stop Iran’s drive for a bomb.

At least 11 Middle Eastern nations – Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman (Yemen and Libya cancelled their programs and Syria’s was destroyed by Israel) – have either announced plans to explore atomic energy or signed nuclear cooperation agreements since the exposure of the Iranian program. Like Iran, they say they are interested in only “peaceful uses” of nuclear technology.

The Saudis have been explicit about the impact an Iranian bomb will have on their security. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon,” an official close to Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said in June 2011, “that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit” (Jason Burke, “Riyadh will build nuclear weapons if Iran gets them, Saudi prince warns,” The Guardian, June 29, 2011). In January 2012, Saudi King Abdullah signed an agreement with China for cooperation in the development and use of atomic energy for civilian purposes (Summer Said, “Saudi Arabia, China Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact,” Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2012).

The Saudis have plans to build at least two nuclear reactors and are seeking nuclear technology from the United States and China. The latter has no apparent restrictions whereas the former insists the Saudis agree to abstain from enriching uranium, a constraint they are lobbying the United States to lift. Meanwhile, suspicions about Saudi intentions have been heightened by the discovery of a facility built with Chinese assistance to extract yellowcake from uranium. Yellowcake can be used in the production of uranium for both civilian and military purposes (Yoel Guzansky, Ephraim Asculai, and Eyal Propper, “Another Step Forward in the Saudi Nuclear Program,” INSS, August 12, 2020).

In the past, the Saudis supported the development of an Islamic bomb in Pakistan. Now that Pakistan has a nuclear capability, it could share its knowledge with the Saudis, as the father of its nuclear program did with Iran.

In 2006, Egypt announced plans to construct its first nuclear power plant in the coast city of El-Dabaa (“Nuclear Power in Egypt,” World Nuclear Association, August 2020). It subsequently reached an agreement with Russia to build four nuclear reactors and develop uranium deposits. In 2020, Egypt received a $25 billion loan from Russia for the Dabaa plant (“First contracts awarded for Egypt’s $25bn Dabaa nuclear power station,” Global Construction Review, February 18, 2020).

In 2009, the United Arab Emirates accepted a $20 billion bid from a South Korean consortium to build four nuclear power reactors by 2020 (“South Korea awarded UAE nuclear power contract,” BBC, December 27, 2009). In August 2020, the UAE began operating the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world. The good news is, unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE has agreed to American conditions not to develop an independent nuclear fuel cycle (Chuck Freilich, “Can a Nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia Be Israel's Partner for Peace?” Haaretz, September 2, 2020).

Jordan has cooperation agreements related to building nuclear power infrastructure with South Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Argentina. The kingdom is also interested in an agreement with the United States, but the Trump administration wants Jordan to emulate the UAE and rule out uranium enrichment (“Nuclear Power in Jordan,” World Nuclear Association, June 2019).

The most dangerous country of all may be Turkey, which has two of four planned reactors under construction. Turkey has intimated that if Iran gets a bomb it would as well. In 2019, President Erdogan said, “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads” but the West insists “we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept” (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, “Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons,” New York Times, October 20, 2019).

Turkey is currently years away from having the ability to build a bomb; however, Sanger and Broad noted, “Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor to generate electricity with Russia’s help. That could pose a concern because Mr. Erdogan has not said how he would handle its nuclear waste, which could provide the fuel for a weapon.”

Turkey might be constrained as a member of NATO, but Erdogan ignored U.S. warnings not to purchase a Russian antiaircraft system (“Turkey defies US as Russian S-400 missile defence arrives,” BBC, July 12, 2019). Even more concerning is the fact that the U.S. has roughly 50 nuclear weapons at the Incirlik Air Base, which is owned by Turkey.

In addition, Erdogan has increasingly embraced radical Islamic thinking and behavior and appears to have delusions of recreating an Ottoman Empire (Alan Mikhail, “Why Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Love Affair with the Ottoman Empire Should Worry The World,” Time, September 3, 2020). He is already engaged in military intervention in 13 countries, including Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and becoming increasingly aggressive toward Cyprus and Greece in the contest for gas deposits in the Mediterranean (David Ignatius, “Why is the Trump administration enabling Erdogan’s Turkey?” Washington Post, September 4, 2020).

For now, however, Iran is the closest to achieving a nuclear capability, which would radically alter the balance of power in the region. President Obama understood the danger of a nuclear arms race should Iran get the bomb. “It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon,” he said. “Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe.” Obama added. “The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world” (Jeffrey Goldberg, “Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff,” The Atlantic, March 2, 2012).

The international community does not have a good record in preventing rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons, despite inspections, sanctions and other measures aimed at reassuring the public. All the countries mentioned above signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); nevertheless, it did not stop Libya, Iraq, Syria and Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iraq was developing a bomb until Israel destroyed its nuclear reactor in 1981. Similarly, Syria managed to build a secret nuclear facility under the nose of the international watchdogs and was stopped only by an Israeli military operation (Seymour M. Hersh, “A Strike in the Dark: Why did Israel bomb Syria?” The New Yorker, February 11, 2008.). Now, according to Chuck Freilich, “The U.S. is increasingly concerned that the Saudis may be hiding additional sites and that the nuclear program may not truly be a civil one, as claimed” (Freilich, Haaretz, September 2, 2020).

Unfortunately, the nuclear deal Obama negotiated was deeply flawed and failed to stop Tehran’s pursuit of a bomb. Now that Iran is openly violating the agreement and closer to achieving its goal, it is urgent that the international community impose tighter sanctions on Iran, insist on the “anytime anywhere” inspections Obama promised but never happened, and prepare for military action, if needed, to ensure Iran does not get a bomb and set off a regional nuclear arms race that will threaten regional and global peace and stability.


Palestinians do not spread conspiracy theories about Israel.


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 to eventually be accepted as truth. It is a propaganda tool the Palestinians have repeatedly used to demonize Israel, which raises the question, Why would anyone believe the propagators of such bile have any interest in peace?

The litany of big lies is long, but here are some examples:

  • Israel infects Palestinians with the AIDS virus (“Israel Blasts Palestinian Charge That It Infected Children with HIV,” JTA, March 19, 1997).
  • Israel “massacred” 500 people at Jenin (“What Really Happened in Jenin?” JCPA, May 2, 2002).
  • Israel drops poison candy for children in Gaza from airplanes (Wafa, May 21, 2001).
  • Israel is using a “radial spy machine” at checkpoints, which killed a 55-year-old Palestinian woman (Michael Widlanski, “Israeli Army Murders Old Arab Woman With ‘Radiation Machine’ at Checkpoint,” Israel Resource Review, April 29, 2005).
  • Israeli rabbis are plotting to poison Arab wells (Rafael Medoff, “‘Poisoning’ accusations are a Palestinian tradition, JNS, June 24, 2016).
  • Israel opens dams to flood Gaza (Lazar Berman, “False ‘Israel drowns Gaza’ claims sweep internet,” Times of Israel, February 25, 2015).
  • Settlers collect stray dogs and dump them in Palestinian areas (Davide Lerner, “The Latest Trend in Conflict Tourism: Airbnbs in Palestinian Refugee Camps in the West Bank,” Haaretz, November 27, 2019).
  • Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers have been releasing wild boars in parts of the West Bank to destroy Palestinian crops and intimidate Palestinian villagers and farmers (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians Revive Blood Libels as Israel Saves Their Lives,” Gatestone, March 9, 2020).
  • Israel supplies weapons to Palestinians to fight one another and illegal fireworks to cause injuries (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA libel: Israel supplies weapons to Palestinians to fight one another and illegal fireworks to cause injuries,” Palestine Media Watch, (August 18, 2020).
  • Settlers deliberately run over sheep (“Anti-Israel meme: ‘Settlers deliberately running over sheep,’” Elder of Zion, August 31, 2020)

Many of the lies are anti-Semitic, some blood libels, and are disseminated by Palestinian officials and media in violation of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to end incitement against Israel. As blogger Elder of Zion noted, “You might think if things were really as bad as they say, Palestinians wouldn’t have to make things up” (Elder of Zion, August 31, 2020).

You might also think the lies are so outrageous no one would believe them, but, if that were so, the Palestinians would stop telling them. “In fact, conspiracies have become a prevalent component of Arab culture and politics; elaborate theories circulate widely,” noted Hafed Al-Ghwell. He explains, “This vulnerability to conspiratorial thinking goes deeper, as most educational curriculums in the Arab world do not emphasize self-questioning, critical thinking, research, and preparing eager, young minds to be worldly wise” (Hafed Al-Ghwell, “How conspiracy theories hold the Arab world back,” Arab News, June 23, 2018).

Palestinian propaganda is not solely aimed at Arab audiences, it is spread abroad where it often finds a receptive audience. As Al-Ghwell noted, conspiracy theories are not unique to the Arab world; they also are found in the United States. Think, for example, about the many specious claims about the coronavirus, such as it was spread by wealthy elites to make profits (Tanya Lewis, “Nine COVID-19 Myths That Just Won’t Go Away,” Scientific American, August 18, 2020) or the various loony QAnon notions such as the existence of a global cabal involved in rituals of child sacrifice.

Since some ill-informed, gullible Americans are willing to believe the worst about Israel, the circulation of these conspiracy theories can erode Israel’s image.


Palestinian leaders oppose normalization with Israel.


It should come as no surprise that one of the Palestinian Authority’s most notorious liars would also be its biggest hypocrite.

Often feted as a “moderate” because he has been the PA’s chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the PLO, is among those most responsible for the Palestinians’ failure to achieve independence. When he is not disseminating “big lies” about Israel, he speaks the truth about his own views: “I will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state” (Transcript: Saeb Erekat,” Al Jazeera, (April 2, 2014).

His views should come as no surprise given his membership in the terrorist PLO and defense of the “pay-for-slay” policy of using American tax dollars (prior to implementation of the Taylor Force Act) to incentivize the murder of Israelis as “a social responsibility.”

Erekat’s opposition to peace was no more apparent than when he attacked the UAE and Bahrain for normalizing relations with Israel. He called it a betrayal (Oliver Holmes, Hazem Balousha, Michael Safi, and Bethan McKernan, “‘We feel betrayed’: Palestinians fear cost of Arab states’ deals with Israel,” The Guardian, September 22, 2020).

The Palestinians are perfectly happy to engage with Israel when it suits their needs, most notably in the case of security cooperation to protect Erekat and his cronies from Hamas seizing the West Bank as it did Gaza.

The PA’s exemplar of Palestinian democracy President Mahmoud Abbas – the person serving the 14th year of his four-year term – is willing to cooperate with Israel to save his own hide but not to preserve the lives of Palestinians living under his dictatorial rule. Instead, Abbas, Erekat and the rest of the corrupt potentates deny them their basic civil and human rights from freedom of speech to freedom of the press.

Their idea of punishing Israel is to prevent Palestinians from going to Israel, as they had done for years, to receive medical care from Israel’s world-class doctors. In May 2020, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Palestinians will now have to seek care in the PA or, if they live in Gaza, coordinate treatment with Egypt or the U.N. (Jack Khoury, “Palestinian PM: PA Will Prevent Chaos After Ending Security Coordination With Israel,” Haaretz, May 26, 2020). Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas also denies Gazans this opportunity. These draconian measures were imposed before the Palestinians felt the need to show their disdain for the Abraham Accords.

An unknown number of Palestinians have died because they have not had access to treatment, or only received poor care. As in so many instances in the past, Palestinian leaders are willing to sacrifice their people – who they see as pawns and cannon fodder – to maintain the fiction that they are acting in the interest of their cause. The limited PA budget, Abbas believes, is better spent on salaries for terrorists than health care (Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus, “PA prioritizes salaries to terrorists over medical care for Palestinians,” Palestinian Media Watch, March 31, 2019).

Palestinians are learning that viruses don’t care about political conflicts or recognize borders or green lines. Sadly, Erekat has contracted Covid.

Can you guess where he is being treated?

A hospital in Ramallah? In Amman? Riyadh? Beirut?

Showing no hesitation to violate the anti-normalization campaign for a VIP, the PA made an urgent request to Israel to allow Erekat into Israel for treatment. He was transferred in a Magen David Adom ambulance with an IDF escort to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem where his condition reportedly deteriorated and he was put on a ventilator (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Saeb Erekat’s COVID-19 symptoms worsen – en route to Hadassah,” Jerusalem Post (October 19, 2020).

Boycott, shmoycott. When the life of a Palestinian official, or one of their family members, is in danger, they call Israel knowing the “colonialists,” “occupiers,” and Afrikaner wannabes will try to save them.

Erekat has serious underlying conditions. He had a lung transplant three years ago and suffers now from a weakened immune system and a bacterial infection (Jack Khoury, “Senior Palestinian Official Saeb Erekat Transferred to Israeli Hospital for Treatment,” Haaretz, October 18, 2020). If it is possible to save Erekat, the Hadassah doctors and staff – Arabs and Jews – will do so knowing when healthy Erekat will be no less committed to Israel’s destruction.

Even the most vitriolic opponents of Israel, such as Haniyeh, approved of his daughter, granddaughters, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law receiving treatment in Israel (“Hamas leader’s daughter received medical treatment in Israel: sources,” Reuters, October 19, 2014; Nati Gabbay, “Senior Hamas official Marzouk’s sister hospitalized in Israel,” Jerusalem Post, November 3, 2014; Nidal al-Mughrabi, “With healthcare faltering in Gaza, care in Israel is sought after,” Reuters, April 6, 2017)

Unlike hospitals in Gaza, which Hamas used as a base to plot the murder of Jews, Israeli medical centers care only about healing the sick, whether they are political enemies with an illness or terrorists injured trying to murder innocent Jewish men, women and children.  

It is one of the most obvious differences between Israeli society, which values life and peace, and those elements of Palestinian society represented by the likes of Erekat, Abbas and Haniyeh who revere terror and martyrdom.


Palestinians believe in nonviolence and a two-state solution.


The obstacle to peace between Jews and Palestinians has been consistent for a century – the unwillingness of the Palestinians to accept the existence of a Jewish state. Hence, it is not surprising the Palestinians condemn Arab and Muslim states for establishing relations with Israel.

Their hostility is not just directed toward their neighbors; Palestinian leaders also object to their own people engaging with Israelis. A military court in the Gaza Strip, for example, convicted three Palestinian peace activists in 2020 of “weakening revolutionary spirit” because they organized a video call with Israelis (Adam Rasgon, “Gaza Court Convicts Peace Activists for Video Call With Israelis,” New York Times, October 26, 2020).

Supporters of the Palestinians in the United States and elsewhere, including elected officials and peace activists, who claim Palestinians believe in nonviolence and a two-state solution have always been out of touch with the views of the people they claim to represent. This is evident in surveys published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and the Washington Institute (WINEP).

In a clear rebuke to the two-state advocates, the September 2020 PSR poll found that by a 58%-39% margin Palestinians oppose a two-state solution and 62% do not believe it is viable today.

The WINEP poll conducted at the beginning of 2020 reported that most Palestinians (60%) believe their top national priority should be “regaining all of historical Palestine for the Palestinians, from the river to the sea.” Just three years ago, only 37% held this view. In 2017, 41% supported a two-state solution; today, only 25% of Palestinians do.

Unlike Israelis who have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate for peace, Palestinians only organize to protest and riot. They have never had anything analogous to the Israeli Peace Now movement. Their preference for violence is reflected in the PSR poll which reported that 41% of Palestinians believe “armed action” is “the best means of ending the occupation.” Only 24% preferred negotiations and 26% “peaceful popular resistance.”

Asked a different way about what to do about relations with Israel, 36% favored waging “an armed struggle against the Israeli occupation.” Only 27% preferred reaching a peace agreement with Israel; 18% said Palestinians should “wage an unarmed struggle against the Israeli occupation.” When asked by WINEP if they should oppose the annexation of any West Bank territory by force if necessary, 64% agreed.

Is it any wonder that Israelis believe they have no partner for peace?


Palestinian maps reflect their goal of coexistence with Israel.


One of the principal criticisms of Israel’s desire to apply sovereignty to some or all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) as allowed under the Trump peace plan is that it will make a two-state “solution” more difficult, if not impossible. Setting aside the demographic issue (more than 100,000 Jews would have to be forced from their homes), which makes the popular conception of a Palestinian state in more than 90% of the West Bank almost inconceivable, advocates ignore Palestinians’ objection to creating a state that would coexist beside Israel.

While Palestinian leaders sometimes give lip-service to the idea of a two-state solution, they convey a very different message in word and deed. They also communicate  their true goal – a single state of Palestine replacing Israel – through imagery. Take this map that appeared on the Palestinian Authority web site, which really communicates better than any words the Palestinian objective.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is also head of its dominant faction, Fatah. The word “Fatah” is a reverse acronym of the Arabic Harekat at-Tahrir al-Wataniyyeh al-Falastiniyyeh, meaning “conquest by means of jihad [Islamic holy war].” The Fatah flag features a grenade with crossed rifles superimposed on the map of Israel. This emphasizes the dedication of Fatah, along with the other “liberation” groups, to the “armed struggle” against Israel, which is a euphemism for terrorism against civilians.

It should be noted that Fatah is often referred to as “secular;” however, Fatah’s devotion to jihad is similar to that of the radical Islamic Hamas terror organization. This is a reminder that the conflict with Israel is less about land and politics and more about the refusal of Muslim extremists to accept a Jewish state. Not surprisingly, the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or agree to a settlement that would result in a Palestinian state coexisting with the Jewish state of Israel.

Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO, which has its own unambiguous emblem:

To make sure that young Palestinians get the message, this is the emblem for the Fatah Youth Movement:

The Palestinian education system is committed to communicating to students of all ages that only one state should exist between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine.

PA Minister of Education poses with map of
Palestine replacing Israel (February 2, 2017)

Palestinian textbooks send a similar message to school children. Here are just two examples:

“Al-Tarbiyah al-Wataniyyah” (“National Education”)
3rd grade, page 49, academic year 2002-2003

“The Geography of Palestine”

Nan Jacques Zilberdik reported, “As part of its protests against the normalization agreements between Israel and the UAEBahrain, and Sudan – and the fear that more Arab states will follow – Fatah posted the image below [on the Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, October 28, 2020] with four repetitions of the PA map of “Palestine” that includes all of Israel” (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “All of Israel is “Palestine” in Fatah message,” PMW, November 3, 2020).

Public opposition to the principle of “two states for two peoples” has also been on the rise. Five years ago, 50% of Palestinians (only 44% of Gazans) were willing to accept the two-state solution; in 2020 the figure is 20% (David Pollock, “A Nation Divided,” Washington Institute, June 2020).

The two-state solution may provide the best opportunity for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but the evidence suggests the Palestinians have a different goal in mind.


The Temple Mount is solely an Islamic holy site.


Orwell famously said, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” This is the goal of the tyrannical majority of the UN General Assembly and associated agencies such as UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. Acting more like the old Soviet Politburo than a world peace organization, the UN rewrites history to suit the political agendas of serial human rights abusers, anti-Semitic regimes, and authoritarians (a trifecta describing many UN members).

The latest example is a General Assembly resolution referring to the Temple Mount by its Muslim name – al-Haram al-Sharif – and rewriting history by turning Judaism’s holiest place into a uniquely Islamic holy site. To borrow a title from a story about Communist Chinese historiography, this latest assault on Jewish history should be headlined, “Rewriting history in the People’s Republic of Amnesia and beyond.” Like the Communists, the UN believes the global community must “have correct views on history,” which in the case of Middle East history requires minimizing or totally erasing the Jewish presence and influence on the region and implanting a fabricated record consistent with Palestinian and Islamic propaganda.

Israel is almost always the target of these Orwellian efforts, which succeed because of the fecklessness of many countries that fear angering the Muslim world and, in some cases, the extremists in their own countries. Even as the world is changing with the establishment of relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, the UN continues to treat Israel as a pariah and promote the Palestinians’ historical inventions out of unrequited loyalty to an intransigent people viewed as suffering the type of oppression many of the members did under colonialism. The association of these countries’ history with the Palestinians is itself an example of turning history on its head. It has been going on for so many decades most UN ambassadors robotically register yea votes for any condemnation of Israel.

Consider that the fabrication of history represented by the Temple Mount resolution was approved by 138 members of the General Assembly, one of seven pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel resolutions that the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee passed in a single week. Only nine countries, including Israel, voted against the resolution: Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States. Notice that all the Arab states that have signed peace agreements with Israel voted with the majority. Normalization has a long way to go.

Typical of the mealy-mouthed Europeans, a German explained that despite all but Hungary voting for the resolution, the EU believes “language on the holy sites of Jerusalem” should “reflect the importance and historic significance of the holy sites for the three monotheistic religions” (Tovah Lazaroff, “UN speaks of Temple Mount as solely Muslim site, ignores Jewish ties,” Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2020).

The historical record is clear, of course, that the Jewish people have an intimate historical connection to Har HaBayit. Many Jews and non-Jews mistakenly believe the Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, but it is not; the Temple Mount on which the Second Temple stood is the most revered site. The Western Wall is the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount. The Wall held no held no special significance, according to F.M. Loewenberg, until the 16th century when Sultan Suleyman I established the Ottoman Empire. Ironically, Loewenberg notes, “it was designated as a place of prayer less than five hundred years ago by a Muslim ruler.” The Wall acquired significance largely because Jews were given limited or no access to the Temple Mount and, as the next best option for getting close to the location of the Holy of Holies, the Western Wall became the second most sacred place (F.M. Loewenberg, “Is the Western Wall Judaism's Holiest Site?” Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017).

Paradoxically, it was an Israeli, then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who granted control of the Temple Mount to the Muslims in an ultimately naïve gesture to pacify them following Israel’s conquest of the Old City in the 1967 War. He gave the Muslim authorities responsibility for religious activities in the mosques on the Temple Mount. Jews were supposed to have free access but would not be allowed to pray there to avoid angering the Muslims. Thus, Dayan, with the approval of the government, ceded Judaism’s holiest place to Muslim control.

This political decision, however, did not erase the Temple Mount’s historical and religious significance to the Jewish people. It is the Palestinians who are attempting to rewrite the history of their own scholars.

In 1925, the Supreme Moslem Council published a “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” which says on page 4 the Temple Mount “is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.


Palestinians fought the Nazis.


Jews living in Palestine were desperate to join the fight against Hitler. It was not until 1944, however, that the British allowed the creation of the Jewish Brigade Group. Meanwhile, the Palestinians were not only unhelpful but their most prominent leader collaborated with the Nazis.

Major Lyall Wilkes of the House of Commons quoted the British officer who led the Arab Legion of Transjordan, General Glubb Pasha, as writing in 1944 that all the Arabs trained by the British deserted during World War II. Wilkes said the British recognized during the war that the Haganah was the only force the allies could rely on (“The British and Mr. Bevin,” CIA, May 25, 1948).

In 1941, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini fled to Germany and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders. He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.

In 1945, Yugoslavia sought to indict the Mufti as a war criminal for his role in recruiting 20,000 Muslim volunteers for the SS who participated in the killing of Jews in Croatia and Hungary. He escaped from French detention in 1946, however, and continued his fight against the Jews from Cairo and later Beirut.


The al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian.


The al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is not a Palestinian shrine. It is considered the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

After the Six-Day War, to avoid inflaming the Islamic world, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan agreed the Muslim authorities (the Waqf) would retain control over the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. Jews were to have free access to visit, but they were prohibited from praying there to avoid conflict with the Muslims.

Muslims have always been free to pray at the mosque – until now.

Palestinians are furious about the Abraham Accords and seek to punish visitors from the UAE or other countries that normalize ties with Israel. According to one Arab source, “the secretary of the Fatah movement in Jerusalem, Shadi Mutawour, said any delegation visiting Jerusalem through the gate of occupation is not welcome” and “emphasized that the sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy sites is Palestinian and only Palestinian” (“Fatah in Jerusalem: The visit of the Gulf delegation to a new storming of Al-Aqsa,” Sadaa News, October 16, 2020).

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, declared that praying at al-Aqsa is not allowed for anyone who normalizes relations with Israel. Muslims who wish to enter the mosque must come through Jordan or the Palestinian Authority (“The Mufti of Jerusalem forbids praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and visiting the holy sites through normalization with Israel,” France 24, August 19, 2020). This would effectively mean that no one could visit the Temple Mount since the city is under Israeli control.

Nevertheless, on October 18, 2020, three people from the UAE “stormed the al-Aqsa courtyards” under the protection of Israeli police and were intercepted and asked to leave. An accompanying video, however, shows men calmly walking on the Temple Mount and another caught them taking photos inside the mosque with no one around them until a man tells them to leave (Mohammed Mohsen, “An Emirati normalization delegation storms the Al-Aqsa, which is closed to the Palestinians under the protection of the occupation,” The New Arab, October 18, 2020).

A spokesman for Hamas called the visit “a stab in the back.” He added, “We must work to stop all forms of normalization with the Zionist occupation and to mobilize all the energies of the nation in order to support the justice of the Palestinian cause and stand by our people and their rights” (“Hamas: The visit of an Emirati delegation to Al-Aqsa is a stabbing for the peoples and a desperate attempt to beautify the black face of the occupation,” UAE71 News, October 20, 2020).

The Emiratis were not the first Arab peacemakers to visit al-Aqsa via Israel. Anwar Sadat prayed at the mosque when he came to Jerusalem in 1977.

Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted that Gulf Muslims are expressing their anger toward the Palestinians and saying al-Aqsa “belongs to all Muslims, and not only Palestinians.” Ahdeya al-Sayed, Chairwoman of the Bahraini Journalists Association, told the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian threats would not intimidate Gulf Arabs. “They won’t stop us from traveling to Israel and visiting any place we want. These empty threats are made only by cowards.” She added, “Al-Aqsa Mosque isn’t just a place belonging to the Palestinians, it’s for everyone to visit; it’s a holy site.”

Dr. Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa, Chairman of the Bahraini Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence, went further. After praying at the mosque without revealing his origin to avoid a confrontation, he said, “It is unacceptable to prevent anyone from any religion from praying. This is a new form of terror” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Bahraini Al-Aqsa prayer-goer: This is a new form of terror,” Jerusalem Post, November 29, 2020).

Abu Toameh also qotes a Saudi journalist who called for the liberation of the mosque from Palestinian “thugs.” Moreover, Abu Toameh observed, “some Muslims feel safer visiting a mosque under Israeli protection than without it. Israeli policemen have protected Muslims who were visiting a mosque from being attacked by other Muslims – for supposedly promoting normalization with Israel. No wonder, then, that Gulf Muslims are now demanding an end to the exclusive control Palestinians that wield over the third-holiest site in Islam” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Muslims: Al-Aqsa Mosque Does Not Belong to Palestinians,” Gatestone Institute, November 6, 2020).

Abu Toameh also reported on the reaction of Palestinians after the PA returned its ambassadors to Bahrain and the UAE after briefly recalling them to show their anger over the agreements with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas also resumed cooperation with Israel, which he had suspended for several months. Abu Toameh observes that it was the Palestinian people who suffered because of the PA's actions; many of their salaries were cut and sick people, with the exception of VIP Saeb Erekat, were denied access to Israeli health care.

Both the Gulf Arabs and Palestinians are accusing Abbas of hypocrisy. The former demand an apology for being attacked for normalization with Israel while the PA reengages with Israel. The latter accuse their leaders of stabbing them in the back and sarcastically demand “the PA withdraw its ambassador from Ramallah to protest its own decision to ‘normalize’ relations with Israel” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Why Palestinians Owe Arabs an Apology,” Gatestone Institute, November 26, 2020).

Meanwhile, Palestinians assert the al-Aksa Mosque is theirs and that they may deny access to anyone who normalizes relations with Israel who is not a Palestinian.


Europe Opposes Illegal Palestinian Settlements.


According to the Oslo Accords signed by the Palestinians, Area C in the West Bank is under the control of Israel. Therefore, any construction by Palestinians in the area without Israel’s permission is illegal. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has repeatedly attempted to establish settlements in Area C. When Israel demolishes the illegal structures, it attracts widespread condemnation, especially from Europe.

Europeans are quick to condemn any construction by Jews in the West Bank – even though it does not violate the Oslo agreements – but condone and help Palestinians build settlements. For example, on November 6, 2020, Belgium condemned Israel’s destruction of illegally constructed buildings funded by the government. “Belgium supports such infrastructure projects because they meet urgent humanitarian needs,” a statement said. “They are always carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law” (“Belgium condemns demolitions in the occupied Palestinian Territories,” Kingdom of Belgium, November 6, 2020). But they ignore Israeli law and the terms of the Oslo agreement, which undermines the accords and, thereby, the prospects for peace.

While Israel is often accused of creating facts on the ground to foreclose the possibility of creating a Palestinian state, the Palestinians are no less determined to lay down their own markers to define the boundaries of a state. In addition to expanding their presence in Area C, the objective is to isolate and surround Jewish settlements. The EU supports the Palestinian land grab rhetorically and financially.

The EU is coordinating its policy with the PA’s strategy for planning and development and treats “Palestine,” which it defines as one area encompassing East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip (“European Joint Strategy in Support of Palestine 2017-2020,” European Union, Undated). This prejudges the outcome of negotiations by endorsing Palestinian entitlement to these areas. The Europeans see financing building in Area C as a way to invalidate Israel’s legitimate claim to the area and to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state with or without negotiations.

In 2014, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) issued a paper that said, “The European Union and the PA are now actively participating in the planning and zoning of Area C which, if successful, could pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C” (“Humanitarian Implementation Plan (Hip) Palestine,” ECHO, September 15, 2014). Another ECHO document notes that the EU “considers Area C as the main land reserve for a future Palestinian state,” which is a justification given for its support for projects that violate Oslo and Israeli law (“Humanitarian Implementation Plan (Hip) Palestine,” ECHO, May 17, 2018).

According to a report by the NGO Regavim:

With the help of generous support provided by the European Union and its constituent states, as well as Arab states, the Palestinian Authority has advanced a series of national initiatives aimed at improving its position, like chess pieces on a board, through large-scale illegal construction, massive agricultural projects in strategic locations – which, when the time is right, will be used to claim de facto sovereignty on these crucial land parcels – the creation of an independent land registry, and “lawfare” activity which obstructs Israeli law enforcement against these illegal tactics (Avraham Binyamin, Yonah Admoni, and Yishai Hemo, “The War of Attrition, Regavim, December 2019).

Belgium and other members of the European Union have contributed millions of dollars for these projects directly and through UN institutions and NGOs. In 2016, for example, the EU funded at least 91 illegal structures and, in 2017, another 57 (ECHO, May 17, 2018). In July 2020, the EU, Denmark, and the PA signed a nearly $7 million agreement to build 16 infrastructure projects in Area C, which brought the total EU contribution to more than $18 million for 58 projects in 46 districts (“EU launches multi-million dollar Palestinian infrastructure project to counter Israeli annexation plan, The New Arab, July 15, 2020).

Yossi Kuperwasser explained the Palestinian construction poses a security threat to Israel because it is done near vital traffic arteries, Jewish communities, and areas needed by the IDF for strategic and training purposes. Politically, he said, the goal is “to illustrate that Area C is part and parcel of Palestine,” that Israel has “no connection to this area,” that the territory is not contested, and that it is “part of the Palestinian state” (Regavim, December 2019).


Palestinians did not choose to be refugees.


On December 7, 2020, UNRWA tweeted, “Palestine refugees did not choose to be refugees.” This assertion is illustrative of how UNRWA’s raison d’ê·tre and the refugee issue are based on lies.

Let’s briefly review the history.

Before the Arab states invaded Israel on May 14, 1948, approximately 30,000 middle class and wealthy Palestinians left their homes in anticipation of a war. During the war, according to the UN Mediator and the CIA, the number of Palestinians who became refugees was 330-360,000, far fewer than the 750,000-1,000,000 claimed by propagandists. Some fled because they were encouraged to do so by their leaders, but most wanted to avoid being caught in the crossfire of a war. They did not have to become refugees; most could have stayed in their homes and become Israeli citizens as did 160,000 Palestinian Arabs.

The only Palestinians who were forced to become refugees were those expelled by Israeli forces during the fighting. Having rejected the UN Partition Plan, these Palestinians were enemies who could justifiably be forced to leave; nevertheless, Israel did not plan their removal. Most Palestinians who were deported lived in the areas of Ramle and Lod. In July 1948, Israeli troops needed to protect their flanks and relieve pressure on besieged Jerusalem. “The two towns had served as bases for Arab irregular units, which had frequently attacked Jewish convoys and nearby settlements, effectively barring the main road to Jerusalem to Jewish traffic” (Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 592). Most of these Arabs moved to an area only a few miles away occupied by Transjordan’s Arab Legion.

Even someone like Steven Glazer, who has bought into the Palestinian narrative regarding the refugees, acknowledged this was the principal area of expulsions, but, as with the case for the refugees in general, inflated the number. He claimed 75-100,000 were expelled, more than double the total population of the area (Steven Glazer, “The Palestinian Exodus in 1948,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 9 1979/80). According to historian Efraim Karsh, the correct figure is 35,078. He also noted that not all the population was expelled; about 2,500 people remained (Efraim Karsh, “How many Palestinian Arab refugees were there?” Israel Affairs, 17: 2, 2011, pp. 224-246).

In 1952, the UN defined refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict” (UNRWA). Given that definition, and the UN mediator’s estimate, UNRWA should have been responsible for fewer than 400,000 refugees. Even if we accept higher estimates, such as Karsh’s calculation of roughly 600,000, that is a far cry from the 5.7 million Palestinians currently considered refugees by UNRWA.

Given the 1952 definition, how many Palestinians could still be refugees?

The war was 72 years ago. That means infants during the war would be in their 70s today. Anyone over 18 would be in their 90s. According to the CIA World Factbook, the life expectancy of Palestinians in the West Bank is 76 years. It would have been lower in 1948. Today, less than 4% of the population of the West Bank is over 65 (“West Bank,” CIA World Factbook, 2020). Given these statistics, the vast majority of refugees are probably deceased and UNRWA is no longer needed.

So how does UNWRA justify its existence?

The agency redefined “refugee” to include descendants. According to Jay Sekulow:

In 1965, UNRWA changed the eligibility requirements to be a Palestinian refugee to include third-generation descendants, and in 1982, it extended it again, to include all descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, regardless of whether they had been granted citizenship elsewhere. This classification process is inconsistent with how all other refugees in the world are classified, including the definition used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the laws concerning refugees in the United States (Jay Sekulow, “UNRWA Has Changed the Definition of Refugee,” Foreign Policy, August 17, 2018).

The UNRWA website falsely claims that its definition is the same as that of the UN agency responsible for all other refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). When columnist Melanie Phillips asked if the UNHCR automatically transferred refugee status to the descendants of refugees, she was told that was not true (Melanie Phillips, “As I See It: The ‘humanitarian’ weapon of war,” Jerusalem Post, December 11, 2014).

If we accept the UNRWA definition, each original refugee would have an average of 9.5 descendants. That has allowed UNRWA to claim the need to provide services to 5.7 million Palestinians.

Also, according to UNRWA’s expanded definition, “the children of refugees and their descendants are also considered refugees until a durable solution is found” (emphasis added). Solutions to the refugee problem have been found, however, the Arab states and the Palestinians have rejected them all.

Immediately after UNRWA’s creation, the refugees were expected to be settled in their countries of residence. Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Egypt all refused to grant the Palestinians citizenship. The attitude of the Arab world was reflected by this resolution at the 1957 Refugee Conference in Syria. “Any discussion aimed at a solution of the Palestine problem which will not be based on ensuring the refugees’ right to annihilate Israel will be regarded as a desecration of the Arab people and an act of treason” (Beirut al Massa, July 15, 1957).

After the war, Israel repeatedly offered to repatriate 100,000 Palestinians in the context of a peace agreement. The Arabs were not interested because they were preparing for another attempt to destroy Israel. Similar offers have been made to Palestinian leaders in various peace proposals, all of which they have spurned.

If the Palestinians object to every solution, is UNRWA obligated to continue to treat them as refugees forever? Shouldn’t UNRWA be disbanded since its original mandate to help the refugees of 1948 is no longer relevant since most are dead?


There were no Jewish refugees from Palestine.


For more than 70 years, we have heard about the Palestinian refugees. The reference is always to Palestinian Arab refugees and ignores the Jews who were displaced during the 1948 War. According to historian Nurit Cohen-Levinovsky, 97 Jewish villages were attacked and damaged, 11 of these were destroyed and 6 were conquered, resulting in at least 60,000 Jews becoming refugees. Another historian, Benny Morris, estimated the number at 70,000 (David Shayne, “The forgotten Palestinian refugees,” Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2018; Deborah Moon, “Israel 360 explores the first Arab-Israeli War,” Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, March 3, 2020).

While the Palestinian Arabs could move to another part of Palestine under Transjordan’s control, or a neighboring state, the Jews had nowhere to flee. They remained within the borders of Israel. Some lived in Israeli refugee camps ma’abarot – where new immigrants were housed.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is associated with providing assistance to Palestinian Arabs; however, its mandate is to support “Palestine Refugees,” not Palestinian Arab refugees. The Agency defined a refugee as “a needy person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home and his means of livelihood.” According to the UN:

In Israel, the Agency has provided relief to two types of refugees, Jews who fled inside the borders of Israel during the fighting, and Arabs in most instances displaced from one area in Palestine to another. Jewish refugees at first numbered 17,000 but, during the current summer, all but 3,000 of these have been absorbed into the economic life of the new State (“Assistance to Palestine Refugees,” United Nations, October 6, 1950).

Unlike the Arab states, which refused to solve the refugee issue by resettling the Palestinian Arabs, Israel willingly accepted refugees within its borders. In August 1950, the UN reported 27,000 people in Israel had claimed refugee status, but the Israeli government requested that relief distribution be discontinued because it was assuming responsibility for them.


Israel is denying COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.


In a report on the pandemic, AP’s Joseph Krauss implied Israel is denying vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank. “Israel’s vaccination campaign will include Jewish settlers living deep inside the West Bank, who are Israeli citizens,” he reported, “but not the territory’s 2.5 million Palestinians” (Joseph Krauss, “Palestinians left waiting as Israel is set to deploy vaccine,” AP, December 17, 2020).

A Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Health official told the Jerusalem Post, however, that the PA has not asked Israel to supply the Palestinians with the vaccine. “We are working on our own to obtain the vaccine from a number of sources,” the official said. “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.” Another official said the PA had obtained vaccines from other sources with the help of the World Health Organization (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians: We didn't ask Israel for COVID-19 vaccine,” Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2020).

Indeed, Article VI of the Oslo agreement transferred responsibility for health and social welfare in the disputed territories to the Palestinians. Israel has no obligation to provide vaccines to the PA, though it could decide to do so on a humanitarian basis after inoculating its own population. “Israel is willing to assist the Palestinians, but first it needs to create dialogue with them,” an Israeli Defense Ministry official told the Post. “Until now, unfortunately, this dialogue has not happened. We are still waiting for the Palestinian Authority to engage us on this matter” (Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2020).

For months, Israel has been offering and providing assistance to the PA to fight the pandemic, but it is the Palestinians who repeatedly rejected offers of aid and even blocked sick people from the territories from going to Israeli hospitals.

The Israeli government said it shipped 100 vaccine doses in response to a request from the Palestinians. Another shipment was also on the way (Netael Bandel, “After Denial, Israel Says It Provided COVID Vaccines to Palestinian Authority,” Haaretz, January 13, 2021).

The Palestinian Ministry of Health denied, however, that it had received any COVID-19 vaccinations from Israel. The ministry said it rejected an offer of vaccinations for experimentation from non-governmental Israeli companies. The ministry said vaccines would be available free of charge in February (“Ministry of Health dismisses reports about receiving vaccinations from Israel, WAFA, January 7, 2021).

Meanwhile, Palestinians are potentially spreading the virus inside Israel due to their failure to abide by health guidelines when visiting the Temple Mount. Thousands gather each week, especially on Friday, many without masks or making any effort to maintain the required social distance. They may infect each other as well as many others when they return to their neighborhoods.

“The Temple Mount has become a hotbed of COVID infection at a level that is hard to grasp,” notes Nadav Shragai. “When we add the crowded housing conditions in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, where people continue to gather and law enforcement is virtually nonexistent, we get a chain of infection that kills Jews and Arabs alike” (Nadav Shragai, “Temple Mount has turned into ‘Corona Mount,’” Israel Hayom, December 20, 2020).

1 In 1959, for example, Israel complained that two countries (Liberia was one) moved their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in response to US pressure. In 2002, Congress passed a law that said that American citizens who wished to do so could have “Israel” listed as their birthplace on US passports. The State Department, however, refused to do so. The parents of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem, sued the State Department to force the government to enforce the law. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which held that the president has an exclusive power of recognition, and, therefore, Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel. “Dismayed: U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce U.S. Law Granting Jerusalem-Born U.S. Citizens Right to Have ‘Israel’ Listed on Official Documents,” Zionist Organization of America (July 15, 2009); instruction from the Department of State to all diplomatic posts, February 20, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 147; memorandum of conversation, March 9, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 151–52; “Supreme Court Strikes Down ‘Born in Jerusalem’ Passport Law,” Associated Press (June 8, 2015).
2Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1984), p. 272; Kedar, Benjamin. The Changing Land Between the Jordan and the Sea. (Israel: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1999), p. 206; Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, (NY: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 529.