Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Myths & Facts: Online Exclusives

by Mitchell G. Bard
(2021 - )

INDEX OF MYTHS:
(2005-2016 | 2017-2020 Archives)

2021

The Palestinian Authority doesn’t threaten Palestinian Americans.
The Palestinians need U.S. aid, which contributes to peace.
Israel’s chaotic elections prove it is not a democracy.
Upcoming elections will produce new pro-peace Palestinian leadership.
Women’s rights are protected by the Palestinian Authority.
Support for the Palestinians is growing as reflected by aid to the PA.
Palestinians are fairly distributing COVID vaccines.
Palestinians have the right to sell land to Jews.
Rejoining the Human Rights Council will allow the U.S. to reform the organization.
Israelis should be prosecuted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Israeli settler population surged during Trump era.
An Israeli human rights organization accurately compared Israel to South Africa.
Palestinian authorities do not demolish Palestinian homes.
Israel is denying COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.
The Trump peace plan does not offer the Palestinians a capital in Jerusalem.
America’s Arab allies support U.S. positions at the UN.

MYTH

The Palestinian Authority doesn’t threaten Palestinian Americans.

FACT

It is well-known that freedom of speech or the press does not exist in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and that Mahmoud Abbas, in the 16th year of his four-year term, brooks no dissent. Critics have been jailed and tortured (“Palestine: No Letup in Arbitrary Arrests, Torture,” Human Rights Watch, May 29, 2019). Now Abbas is targeting Fadi Elsalameen, a Palestinian living in the United States who has a Facebook page with around one million followers that has criticized corruption in the PA and freedom of speech violations against Palestinians.

Elsalameen was born in Hebron and now spends time in the PA and works in Washington, D.C. where he is a non-resident fellow the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Previously, he was involved with the American Task Force on Palestine, a moderate pro-Palestinian organization that supported a Palestinian state living in peace beside Israel and was critical of the PA leadership.

In March 2021, Elsalameen went to visit his family in Hebron. After he arrived, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade threatened to kill him. “My life is in danger and the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to condemn a death threat against a U.S. citizen is a green light to use violence against me,” he said (Axios, April 14, 2021).

Al-Aqsa has carried out shootings and suicide operations against Israeli civilians and military personnel and has killed Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. At least five U.S. citizens — four of them dual U.S.-Israeli citizens — were killed in al-Aqsa’s attacks. It is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States (since 2002), the EU and several other countries. The group is affiliated with Fatah, which is controlled by Abbas, and has received financial support from Iran through Hezbollah facilitators (Department of State).

Axios reported the State Department expressed concern to Palestinian officials about the threats. Nevertheless, Elsalameen said the PA refused to condemn the death threat or call it off.

Why is Abbas so upset he’s willing to threaten the life of an American citizen?

As early as 2011, Elsalameen called for his resignation (Natasha Mozgovaya, “Coming Home to Hebron, Looking Forward to Palestine,” Haaretz, May. 9, 2011). More recently, he has tweeted several critical remarks that must have upset Abbas. For example:

“Palestinians are exposing corrupt practices by senior PA officials distributing COVID-19 vaccines among themselves & their families. Ignoring at risk Palestinians altogether. Organized efforts r underway to expose these practices and inform donors like EU & US (@Elsalameen, March 1, 2021)

In a tweet approving the resumption of U.S. aid, he said, “@POTUS should ensure that transparency, anti corruption, elections, & human rights are at the top of the agenda with the PA” (@Elsalameen. April 7, 2021).

He also is critical of Hamas:

“The travel restrictions imposed by Hamas on Palestinian women out of Gaza is a human rights violation and should be revoked immediately. It contradicts Palestinian laws and values and has no place in our society. This is not the future Palestinians aspire to” (@Elsalameen, February 16, 2021).

So far, however, unlike Abbas, the leaders of Hamas have not threatened his life.

MYTH

The Palestinians need U.S. aid, which contributes to peace.

FACT

Fulfilling a campaign promise to restore aid to the Palestinians cut off by President Trump, President Biden announced plans to provide the Palestinians with $290 million in assistance. The State Department insisted the allocation was consistent with U.S. law though some members of Congress said it violated the Taylor Force Act which prohibits U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it ends its pay-to-slay policy of providing stipends to terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of suicide bombers (Matthew Lee, “US boosts aid to Palestinians as some in Congress cry foul,” AP, April 6, 2021).

In fact, the PA has more than enough money to cover the same programs the administration wants to fund if it stops payments to terrorists. In 2020, the PA spent nearly $181 million on pay-to-slay, which could instead replace the $15 million in coronavirus assistance, $75 million in assistance for infrastructure, health, and civil society groups, $40 million for law enforcement and security, and $10 million for peacebuilding programs the administration intends to dole out (Aaron Boxerman, “PLO says $15 million per month being paid in terror stipends,” Times of Israel, March 4, 2021; “The United States Restores Assistance for the Palestinians,” U.S. State Department, April 7, 2021)

The administration justified the aid as part of its commitment to “advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians in tangible ways in the immediate term, which is important in its own right, but also as a means to advance towards a negotiated two-state solution.”

Despite providing the Palestinians with more than $5 billion in aid since 1994, however, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept any of the repeated offers of a two-state solution (Jim Zanotti, “U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians,” Congressional Research Service, December 12, 2018). Moreover, since U.S. aid is fungible, the money can be used for various nefarious purposes and American taxpayers will once again be providing financial incentives for terrorism.

The administration also plans to resume contributions to UNRWA despite its failure to adopt reforms. In January 2021, the head of UNRWA admitted that educational material distributed to schools in the West Bank and Gaza contain “inappropriate” content glorifying Palestinian militants and encouraging violence (Melissa Weiss, “U.N. agency head admits printing ‘inappropriate’ content in Palestinian classroom materials,” JewishInsider, January 14, 2021).

The allocation of $150 million is in addition to the more than $6.2 billion the United States previously contributed to UNRWA. Those funds have exacerbated rather than solved the refugee problem, which is perpetuated by the Palestinians and Arab states that refuse to move refugees out of camps. It also allows UNRWA to add more “refugees” to its rolls rather than do anything to reduce the number or adopt an accurate count that would be under 40,000 rather than the 5.7 million it defines as refugees.

MYTH

Israel’s chaotic elections prove it is not a democracy.

FACT

Israel’s electoral process can indeed be chaotic, as evident by the fact that four elections were held in two years with the possibility of a fifth if the party leaders cannot agree to form a coalition following the inconclusive 2021 plebiscite. If anything, however, the tumult is a sign of a healthy democracy in which many voices are heard and can become part of the government.

Consider that the United States has only two major political parties which have won every election since 1848. They represent a bare majority of the eligible voters and even smaller proportion of the overall population. Since 1980, average turnout was just 54% (62% in 2020 was the highest). Donald Trump was elected in 2016 with just 46% of the popular vote, almost 3 million fewer than Hillary Clinton.

Historically, the members of the Knesset, as a whole, have represented nearly three-quarters of the voters. Since 1980, turnout has averaged 72%, nearly 20 points higher than the United States.

Israel has a proportional representation system, which means parties are allotted seats in the Knesset based on the percentage of the total votes cast they receive. For example, a party receiving 10% of the vote would win 12 of the 120 seats.

Israel’s electoral process was dominated by the Labor Party from 1948 until 1977, but each government had multiple parties in the coalition. In 2021, 26 parties ran for the Knesset and 13 won seats. If a coalition is formed, it will likely have representatives from 6-8 parties with a wide variety of positions on major issues. Unlike the United States, religious voters have their own parties to press their agenda, which is often opposed by secular parties.

Critics often make specious claims about Israel’s treatment of Arabs. All citizens in Israel have the right to vote, including Arab citizens, who make up 21% of the population. Many are represented by four Arab parties – Ra’am, Balad, Hadash, and Ta’al. When they ran as a joint list in the March 2020 election, they won 15 seats, the third highest total. In 2021, Ra’am ran alone, and won 4 seats; the rest of the Joint List won 6 seats. Some Arabs vote for the other parties and are represented on Zionist party lists.

Imagine how different American elections would be if there were individual parties advocating the interests of, for example, Evangelical, Hispanic, Black, and LBGTQ voters? If they had roles in the executive branch, would the U.S. be more or less democratic?

Many Israelis still call for electoral reforms. Israel experimented with the direct election of the prime minister in the 1996, 1999, and 2001 elections, but it was considered a failure. Israel did raise the threshold needed to win a seat in the Knesset to keep marginal parties with little support from being part of the government, but it remains low enough (3.25%) that smaller parties can win seats.

Coalition governments are unwieldy and unstable, unlike the U.S. system where the president is guaranteed at least one four-year term. The prime minister has great power but ultimately can only remain in office if the parliament supports their policy.

Israel is not the only democracy that has these issues. Italy routinely has coalition governments that rise and fall and the originator of modern parliamentary democracy, Great Britain, is historically more stable but no-confidence votes in parliament have brought down many prime ministers.

Does Israel have a perfect system of democratic government?

Hardly.

But, as Winston Churchill famously said, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” (International Churchill Society).

MYTH

Upcoming elections will produce new pro-peace Palestinian leadership.

FACT

“There’s no sugarcoating this,” Dr Natan Sachs, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institute told VICE, “the Palestinian leadership has been nothing short of abysmal, and the people who pay the price are, of course, the Palestinian people.” (Barnaby Papadopulos, “‘Most Important Ballot of My Lifetime’: Palestinians on First Vote in Fifteen Years” VICE, (February 3, 2021).

The upcoming elections are unlikely to change the “abysmal” leadership.

Mahmoud Abbas wants to curry favor with the Biden administration and the West by looking like a man who believes in democracy – but only if he is assured of victory. “Abbas is very careful to ensure that he does not lose what he possesses, and I therefore doubt that elections will go ahead,” observed Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the founders of the security coordination between the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority (Yaakov Lappin, “Hamas Going Through Elections Motions as it Awaits Possible West Bank Chaos,” IPT News, March 8, 2021).

Bishara A. Bahbah, a founder of the Palestine Center in Washington, agrees, “If, near to election day, Abbas feels he could lose his tripartite control of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, he could rescind his recent commitment to elections to hold on to power without a mandate” (Bishara A. Bahbah, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Must Resign – or Be Deposed,” Haaretz, March 17, 2021).

Abbas, now in the 16th year of his four-year term, is doing everything possible to hold onto power even as polls show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians want him to resign (“Public Opinion Poll No. 78,” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, December 27, 2020). Abdel Fatah Hamayel, a former governor of Bethlehem, wrote on his Facebook page that the Fatah revolutionary council issued an order “to kill everyone who intends to run outside the official list of the Fatah movement” (Abdel Fatah Hamayel, Facebook, January 30, 2021).

Bahbah noted that when Nasser al-Kidwa, Yasser Arafat’s nephew, a former Palestinian foreign minister, PLO representative to the UN, and member of Fatah’s Central Committee announced plans to support Marwan Barghouti for president, the Central Committee expelled him.

Abbas also sidelined rival Mohammad Dahlan who lives in exile in the UAE after he was expelled from Fatah and convicted on trumped up charges of corruption. That conviction is now the justification used to disqualify him from running in the election.

Since announcing parliamentary elections would be held on May 22, 2021, and presidential elections on July 31, Abbas has ordered the arrest of men with suspected ties to Hamas in addition to other political rivals and critics in the West Bank. Similarly, Hamas is targeting Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip (Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA arrests Hamas supporters ahead of elections,” Jerusalem Post, January 31, 2021).

Though Israeli officials do not believe Abbas has the will or the ability to make peace, they know Hamas is worse and fear the West Bank being taken over and becoming Hamastan. Consequently, Israel has, for its own interests, helped Abbas prevent Hamas from threatening his control in the West Bank.

One group that was welcomed to the campaign was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which expressed “its firm opposition to recognizing the racist Zionist entity, and its determination to continue with all forms of the struggle, and foremost among them armed resistance, in order to liberate every grain of the soil of Palestine.” The group also demands the annulment of “the humiliating and catastrophic Oslo Accords.”

Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub said that “Fatah greatly appreciate the decision” of the PFLP to run in the elections (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Fatah embraces terror organizations that openly reject Israel’s right to exist; suggests “all factions” run on joint list,” PMW, March 12, 2021).

According to polls, Abbas may lose to Hamas or to Marwan Barghouti. If those are the possible outcomes, the prospects for peace with Israel are not good.

Consider Abbas turned down the offer of statehood in more than 90% of the West Bank offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 and has refused to engage in negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu since then. During that time, the situation on the ground has changed and, following the Trump peace plan, the Palestinians cannot expect an offer that good ever again. Meanwhile, Abbas continues to incite violence and indoctrinate the next generation of Palestinians with his irredentist views.

Hamas won the last election and is likely to win again given its unity and superior organization compared to the fragmented and less competent PLO. Hamas has no intention of disarming or giving up its control of Gaza and, even if it falls short of victory, Hamas will still have the second largest representation in the government. Given that its raison d'être is the destruction of Israel, any government including Hamas would be a pariah and undercut any chance of peace talks or an improvement in U.S.-Palestinian relations.

Barghouti is in jail serving multiple life terms for murder. As in the case of Hamas, electing a terrorist would reinforce the Israeli belief the Palestinians are only interested in a state replacing Israel. His supporters hope his election would lead to international pressure on Israel to release him, but that is not going to happen. Abbas, moreover, is doing everything possible to undermine his candidacy.

There is good reason for pessimism about the outcome of a Palestinian election. “Along with so many fellow Palestinians,” Bahbah wrote, “I am sick of being led and represented by a dictator. We are a smart people diminished in stature by self-appointed, ignorant, self-serving, unelected so-called leaders. And there are too many ambitious idiots hoping to succeed Abbas.”

MYTH

Women’s rights are protected by the Palestinian Authority.

FACT

Not surprisingly, Israel’s demonizers used International Women’s Day as an opportunity to attack Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. It was equally unremarkable that none of the groups that claim to be concerned with Palestinian welfare would say a word about the appalling treatment of women by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian society more broadly.

Similarly, for Women’s History Month, a U.S-based group of Palestinian Arab women calling themselves the “Palestinian Feminist Collective” published a statement endorsed by 83 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, attacking the “Zionist settler colonial project” (they apparently don’t recognize the existence of the state they are condemning), which says nothing about the treatment of Palestinian women in the PA (“Pledge that Palestine is a Feminist Issue,” Palestinian Feminist Collective, March 2021).

The Palestinian feminists and other supporters of the Palestinian cause apparently have no problem with the treatment of women in the PA reported by the UN (“Palestine Gender Justice & The Law,” United Nations Development Programme, 2018):

  • “Palestine” has no domestic violence legislation.
  • Marital rape is not criminalized.
  • Sexual harassment is not criminalized.
  • “Palestine” does not have comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.
  • Homosexual conduct between consenting adults is criminalized in Gaza, with a penalty of up to ten years of imprisonment.
  • There is no legal prohibition on female genital mutilation.
  • Abortion for rape survivors is prohibited.
  • Muslim women require consent of a male guardian to marry.
  • After divorce a mother automatically loses custody of her children if she remarries.

Here are some of the finding of the State Department human rights report on the treatment of women in the PA:

  • Pressure to conform to Hamas’s interpretation of Islamic norms generally restricted movement by women.
  • There were some reports unmarried women faced restrictions on travel out of Gaza.
  • Legally women can vote and participate in political life, although women faced significant social and cultural barriers in both the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Rape is illegal under PA law, but the legal definition does not address spousal rape.
  • In previous years there were reports police treated rape as a social and not a criminal matter, and authorities released some accused rapists after they apologized to their victims.
  • PA law does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence.
  • One in five Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza reported at least one incident of physical abuse from their husbands. Women in Gaza were twice as likely to be a victim of spousal abuse as women in the West Bank.
  • Women were frequently unwilling to report cases of violence or abuse to the PA or de facto Hamas authorities due to fear of retribution or little expectation of assistance.
  • Some women claimed that when they reported harassment, authorities held them responsible for provoking men’s harassing behavior.
  • Women have a right to inheritance but, in practice, generally received less than men. In some cases, women have been attacked by male family members for asserting their right to an inheritance.
  • Men may marry more than one wife.
  • Women working as domestic workers were vulnerable to forced labor conditions in both the West Bank and Gaza
  • Women endured prejudice and, in some cases, repressive conditions at work.
  • Reports of gender-based employment discrimination in Gaza against women are common, and factories often do not hire pregnant or newly married women to avoid the need to approve maternity leave.

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).

ASWAT, an organization of Palestinian gay women, 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).

Women are used by Hamas as human shields. During the “Great March of Return,” an IDF official observed, “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). An Israeli soldier told the Jerusalem Post: “I saw with my own eyes Hamas activists pushing people [including] women and children to the fence” (Anna Ahronheim, “Gaza Border Residents Speak To The ‘Post’ About The Tension In Air,” Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018).

The PA signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) but ignores its provisions. The Supreme Fatwa Council, which is part of the Palestinian government and has no female members, ruled the agreement violates Sharia law (“The Supreme Fatwa Council does not accept anything that contradicts Sharia in CEDAW and elsewhere,” State of Palestine House of Iftah [Arabic], December 12, 2019). Similarly, the Supreme Commission for Tribal Affairs said provisions of the CEDAW related to inheritance, adultery, homosexuals, and Muslim women who marry non-Muslims “contradict the Palestinian national identity, our Islamic religion, customs and traditions, and we are not obligated to apply them in our society” (“Clans: Any agreement that violates the law of God will not be accepted by our society,” Alresala Net [Arabic], December 24, 2019).

The editor-in-chief of the Ma’an media network, Dr. Nasser Al-Lahham, admitted the PA was not interested in women’s rights when it signed the CEDAW, but wanted recognition as a state so it could appeal to the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel:

The government cannot implement CEDAW in its entirety in light of the existence of a societal system, and that the signing of the agreement is political and was not intended to undermine the Sharia, and had it not been for the signing of CEDAW and many other agreements, the International Criminal Court would not have accepted us (“Al-Lahham talks about CEDAW, declining election chances and 2020 plans,” Ma’an News Agency [Arabic], December 28, 2019).

MYTH

Support for the Palestinians is growing as reflected by aid to the PA.

FACT

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has relied on aid from Arab states to cover much of its budget. The Gulf states, however, have become increasingly frustrated by Palestinian resistance to negotiations and compromise with Israel. The Abraham Accords signaled a major change in their position after years of insisting Israel permit the establishment of a Palestinian state before any Gulf state would normalize relations with Israel. Palestinian condemnation of the agreements by Bahrain and the UAE further aggravated the people and leaders of the region.

The shift in policy is also reflected in the reduction of aid to the PA. According to the Anadolu Agency, funding from Arab countries dramatically decreased from $265.5 million in 2019 to $40 million in 2020. The biggest reduction was from Saudi Arabia, which reduced its assistance more than 80 percent from $174.7 million to $32.5 (Mohammad Farid Mahmoud Abdullah and Zeynep Tufekci Gulay, “Palestinian funding from Arab states down 85% in 2020,” Anadolu Agency, March 3, 2021).

Worldwide financial aid to Palestine declined from $538.3 million in 2019 to $369.7 million in 2020.

MYTH

Palestinians are fairly distributing COVID vaccines.

FACT

For weeks, leaders of the Palestinians and their supporters have complained, with help from gullible and sympathetic journalists, that they are being denied medical equipment and vaccines to fight the pandemic by the heartless Israelis. The truth is that Israel has no obligation to provide them medical supplies under the Oslo Accords because the Palestinians wanted to be responsible for health care in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Nevertheless, Israel has provided testing, PPE, and vaccines. Palestinian authorities sometimes denied they accepted anything from Israel and turned down access to life-saving resources (e.g., “Palestinian Authority rejects UAE aid sent via Israeli airport,” Al Jazeera, May 21, 2020). PA President Mahmoud Abbas  went so far as to bar sick Palestinians (except VIPs like Saeb Erekat) from going to Israel’s world-class hospitals (Daniel Estrin and Scott Neuman,” Top Palestinian Official Receiving COVID-19 Treatment In Israeli Hospital,” NPR, October 19, 2020).

Even as Israel began to vaccinate more than 100,000 Palestinian workers, it continued to be criticized for having the chutzpah to put its own citizens’ health ahead of people who wish they were dead. Doesn’t anyone see the irony in Palestinians demanding help from a country their maps say does not exist?

Why would Palestinians want vaccines from people they frequently accuse of poisoning them? The latest version of this “big lie” is that Israel is using the coronavirus to kill terrorists in Israeli jails (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Libel: Israel's newest “war crime” is “killing” Palestinian prisoners with the ‎Coronavirus – official PA daily op-ed,” Palestine Media Watch, (February 28, 2021).

The truth?

By the end of January 2021, Israel had begun vaccinating Palestinian prisoners while millions of Israeli citizens were still waiting for their shots (Maurice Hirsch, “Israel vaccinates imprisoned terrorists against the Coronavirus and the PA ‎spreads libels,” Palestine Media Watch, (January 28, 2021).

It’s like expecting a Black American progressive supporter of the Palestinians to say to their grandparents, “Sorry, grandma and grandpa. You’ll have to wait for your vaccine. We need to make sure the white supremacists get their vaccines first because, after all, they’re people too, America has a responsibility to take care of them, and the virus knows no difference between the vulnerable elderly and racists.”

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Does anyone believe the Palestinians would be giving Israelis vaccinations at all, let alone before their own people?

Never mind Israelis, just look at how the Palestinians treat their own people. The PA has begun receiving more vaccines and it is clear where the priorities lie. The PA’s corrupt leaders are secretly diverting the first doses for themselves, their cronies, sympathetic members of the Palestinian media, and members of  the national soccer team (Adam Rasgon and Patrick Kingsley, “As Palestinians Clamor for Vaccine, Their Leaders Divert Doses to Favored Few,” New York Times, March 3, 2021).

What about the elderly? The people with preexisting conditions? Refugees in crowded camps?

They’re not essential for the autocrats and kleptocrats in Ramallah and Gaza. They are even less of a priority for the BDS advocates, the Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others who hate Israel more than they care for the Palestinians. As with the persistent human rights abuses by Palestinians, they are disinterested.

The truly helpless Palestinians are those living under PA and Hamas exploitation. Unlike their supposed champions abroad, they have no illusions about their leaders who they recognize as corrupt, immoral, abusive, and self-interested. This is why polls show, for example, that 86% believe PA institutions are corrupt and the overwheming majority (66%) of Palestinians want Abbas to resign (“Public Opinion Poll No (78),” PCPSR, December 15, 2020).

Meanwhile, a Palestinian civil society organization has demanded an investigation into “the process of vaccine distribution, to hold to account those who violated the distribution principles, and to publish Covid19 vaccination plan” (Aman, March 2, 2021).

Imagine how life would change if instead of appeasing Palestinian leaders, the UN, EU, and United States focused their pressure on reforming Palestinian government and society. No one can talk seriously about a peace process before a new generation of leaders emerge who believe in democracy, the rule of law, coexistence with Israel – and taking care of the health of their people.

MYTH

Palestinians have the right to sell land to Jews.

FACT

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 (Storer H. Rowley, “Land Sales Becoming A Weapon In Battle For Jerusalem,” Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1997). At least three 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 (Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA Security Official Admits Responsibility for Murder of Palestinians,” Jerusalem Post, August 19, 2002).

On May 5, 1997, PA 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 (“The Occupied Territories: Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997,” State Department, January 30, 1998).

During the Palestinian War, few, if any Palestinians tried to sell land to Jews, but the prohibition remained in effect. Now that the war is over, the persecutions have begun again. In April 2006, Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was tortured and murdered because allegedly sold an apartment building in Israel’s capital city 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, “Our World: 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 (Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA: Death penalty for those who sell land to Jews,” Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2009). 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 court: Death to man who sold land to Jews,” Jerusalem Post, April 29, 2009).

In 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced a decree that any Palestinian who sells land “to a hostile country or its citizens” would be punished with “life imprisonment with forced labor.” The Supreme Fatwa Council, chaired by the PA Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, said  that “anyone selling Palestinian real estate to the enemy a traitor to Allah and His Messenger, as well as to his religion and homeland, and [decreed that] he is to be shunned by all Muslims” (Official PA TV, October 21, 23, 2014, Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Abbas Decrees Life Imprisonment for Selling Land to Israelis,” Palestinian Media Watch, January 6, 2015).

In January 2016, an Israeli news program aired secretly recorded footage showing a prominent Israeli activist, Ezra Nawi, saying that he had turned in Palestinians who wanted to sell West Bank land to Jews to the Palestinian security services, who then killed them (“Israeli Leftist Taped Trying to Set Up Palestinians Who Seek to Sell Land to Jews,” Haaretz, January 8, 2016).

In 2018, an American-Palestinian, Isaam Akel, was convicted of selling land in East Jerusalem to Jews and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. At the time, 88% of Palestinians said Palestinians who sell land to Jews were “traitors” and 64% believed they should receive a death sentence (Maurice Hirsch, “The PA’s Apartheid land laws,” Palestinian Media Watch, December 31, 2018).

The PA continues to prosecute its own citizens for contributing to the “Judaization of the Palestinian lands.” On January 27, 2021, for example, a court in Bethlehem sentenced a man to 15 years hard labor for selling land to Jews (Quds Net News Agency, January 27, 2021).

The silence over this policy discriminating against Jews is yet another example of how human rights crusaders, especially those critical of Israel, turn a blind eye to Palestinian abuses. Where else in the world is it a crime to sell land to Jews?

MYTH

Rejoining the Human Rights Council will allow the U.S. to reform the organization.

FACT

The worst example of how the UN is used by the anti-Semites rather than standing against them, is the Human Rights Council. The HRC was established in 2006 to replace the former Commission on Human Rights, which had become a travesty after allowing some of the worst human rights violators to participate in deliberations and to adopt a steady stream of one-sided condemnations of Israel. The General Assembly created a new body ostensibly to erase the stain on the UN created by the original organization. Within a few months, however, the new Council proved to be worse than the original.

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).

Outraged by the bias of the council, the Trump administration withdrew its membership and funding 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,” ABC News, June 19, 2018; Lauren Wolfe, “Trump’s Insidious Reason for Leaving the UN Human Rights Council,” The Atlantic, June 20, 2018).

The Biden administration, however, is returning to the HRC, initially as an observer, but eventually plans to become a full member. “We know that the Council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world,” a U.S. State Department official said. “By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential” (“US President Joe Biden seeks to rejoin UN Human Rights Council,” DW, February 8, 2021). As an observer, however, the United States has no vote or influence and as a member it lacks a veto.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken acknowledged that the HRC “is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel.” By returning to the Counil, he argued, the U.S. will be able to exert a positive influence. “The best way to improve the Council, so it can achieve its potential, is through robust and principled US leadership,” he said. (@SecBlinken, February 8, 2021).

In the past, U.S. membership failed to produce needed reforms or end the demonization of Israel. During the Obama administration that Blinken served in, for example, the HRC voted to compile a blacklist of companies to aid the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement campaign to ostracize Israel. The vote was 32-0-15, receiving support from many of the world’s worst human rights abusers. Kuwait voted 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. The United States opposed creating a blacklist but abstained rather than vote against it (“The U.N.’s Anti-Israel Blacklist: Myths & Facts on the ‘Settlements Database,’” UN Watch, December 24, 2017; Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, “UN Human Rights Council Votes to Form ‘Blacklist’ of Companies Operating in Israeli Settlements,” Haaretz, March 24, 2018).

The most egregious example of anti-Israel bias at the HRC is the yearly discussion of agenda item 7. In June 2007, the Council included the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” as a permanent part of the Council’s agenda. The United States strongly objected to the Council focusing primarily on human rights violations by Israel but could not prevent it from doing so. Obama’s ambassador to the HRC, Keith Harper, also futilely stated in 2015, “The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of agenda item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it” (Tovah Lazaroff, “US affirms it stands with Israel at UNHRC, continues Agenda Item 7 boycott,” Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2015).

A related problem is the “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” The title says all you need to know about this position created in 1993 “to investigate Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law… in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.” Note the area is described as Palestinian territory, ignoring the Jewish history and claim to what is not occupied but disputed territory. As Professor Gerald Steinberg noted, “The individuals appointed to this position are well-known anti-Israel activists” (Gerald Steinberg, “Castles in the Air? The American Return to the UN Human Rights Council,” Fathom, February 2021).

One other example of the Council’s bias is that 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).

It is understandable that President Biden would like to rejoin the HRC as part of his broader agenda to restore U.S. leadership in foreign affairs; however, history suggests America will be an impotent bystander lending credibility to an organization that shields human rights abusers and demonizes Israel.

MYTH

Israelis should be prosecuted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

FACT

The Palestinians have for years tried to convince the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge Israeli soldiers and politicians with war crimes. The approach to the ICC is part of the desperate effort by Palestinians to find some international body that will force Israel to capitulate to their demands. Nothing the ICC can do, however, will bring the Palestinians one iota closer to statehood. Nevertheless, they cheered the court’s decision on February 5, 2021, claiming jurisdiction in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza (Isabel Kershner, “I.C.C. Rules It Has Jurisdiction to Examine Possible Israel War Crimes,” New York Times, February 5, 2021).

Seven states were invited to submit opinions to the court. All seven asserted the “State of Palestine” does not presently satisfy the conditions to be considered a state because the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not control the territories.

The ICC judges voted 2-1 to accept the premise that since the PA joined the Rome Statute, it should be treated as a state. In dissent, Justice Péter Kovács, of Hungary rejected this argument and said the majority’s opinion has “no legal basis in the Rome Statute, and even less so, in public international law” (“The International Criminal Court and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” BICOM, (February 10, 2021).

When the decision was announced, the State Department issued a statement:

As we made clear when the Palestinians purported to join the Rome Statute in 2015, we do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership as a state, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC.

We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The United States has always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it, or that are referred by the UN Security Council.

Similarly, Israel rejected the decision because no sovereign Palestinian state exists. Other countries, including Germany, Hungary, Australia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Brazil, Uganda and Canada also expressed opposition to an ICC probe of Israel (Lahav Harkov, “Germany, Hungary join states opposing ICC probe of Israel,” Jerusalem Post, February 9, 2021). Israel has no right of appeal because it is not a member of the court.

The United States and Israel have consistently said they will not recognize the jurisdiction of the court over their citizens. In 2002, Israel and the United States signed an agreement which said that they would not extradite, transfer or surrender any citizens of the other state to the Court, or to a third country which may surrender them to the Court.

In June 2020, the Trump administration announced sanctions against the ICC and reiterated longstanding policy that Americans are not subject to its jurisdiction. The principal motivation for the decision was anger over the court’s investigation of alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan; however, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly conferred in advance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel’s concerns about the ICC during a trip to Jerusalem (Barak Ravid, “Trump administration coordinated ICC sanctions with Israel,” Axios, June 12, 2020).

In announcing the sanctions Pompeo said the United States is “also gravely concerned about the threat the court poses to Israel. The ICC is already threatening Israel with an investigation of so-called war crimes committed by its forces and personnel in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Given Israel’s robust civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes. It’s a mockery of justice” (“Secretary Michael R. Pompeo At a Press Availability with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien,” U.S. Department of State, June 11, 2020).

Pompeo acknowledged receiving letters from a bipartisan group of 69 senators and 262 House members urging him to call on the ICC to halt its “politically motivated” investigations of Israel and the United States. “That’s what the U.S. is dead set on doing, and with good reason,” Pompeo declared. “They’re a trusted and wonderful partner and a buttress of American security. If a rogue court can intimidate our friend or any other ally into abrogating its right to self-defense, that puts Americans at risk as well.”

Netanyahu applauded the U.S. decision, calling the ICC “corrupt,” “biased” and “politicized.” He accused the court of fabricating “outlandish charges,” such as that “Jews living in their historic homeland constitutes a war crime” (Noa Landau, “U.S. Decision to Sanction International Crime Court Was Coordinated With Israel, Source Says,” Haaretz, June 12, 2020).

The court’s decision to claim jurisdiction does not automatically mean that Israelis will be investigated. The prosecutor may begin an investigation, however, the current one behind the push to go after Israel will be replace in June and her successor may choose not to pursue charges.

At worst, the ICC could charge and potentially convict some Israelis of war crimes. It will take some time to identify suspects, however, and the standard for such prosecutions is high. The ICC has only prosecuted 30 cases since the court was created in 2002, winning only nine convictions (International Criminal Court). It is unlikely the court would have better luck finding fault with the democratically elected leaders of Israel or the soldiers of the IDF. Israel would fight any prosecution vigorously and, like the United States, refuse to recognize the court’s jurisdiction over its citizens.

As with other bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, the focus on Israel, a democracy with an independent judiciary that investigates accusations of abuse, represents a double standard. The ICC is not investigating blatant crimes committed by serial human rights abusers such as Turkey, China, and Russia. It has not, for example, charged Syria’s Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons against his citizens.

Another implication of the decision is to potentially prevent the Biden administration from restoring aid to the Palestinians. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2015 says that no Economic Support Funds can be provided to the if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

The Palestinians should also be careful what they wish for because Israel could bring charges against the terrorists in “Palestine,” for whom the evidence of war crimes is overwhelming. Rather than standing at the head of an independent state, Mahmoud Abbas could find himself in the dock facing imprisonment as a war criminal for his responsibility in inciting violence.

MYTH

Israeli settler population surged during Trump era.

FACT

This was the headline of a story from the Associated Press which was published around the world (Joseph Krauss, “Israeli settler population surged during Trump era,” AP, January 27, 2021). The implication is that President Trump’s policy toward Israel was responsible for, or at least allowed, a dramatic growth in the number of Jews living in the West Bank. The headline was at best misleading.

The text of the story reports that the “settler population has grown at a far higher rate than the country as a whole over the last four years.” While Trump was more sympathetic than any past president, and his administration officially stated settlements are not illegal, the total number of settlers increased by fewer than 55,000, a smaller figure than during the administrations of three of his last four predecessors. This was an increase of only 13% from the end of the Obama administration. Despite his hostility to settlements, the population increased nearly 130,000 during Obama’s term. At the beginning of George H.W. Bush’s term, only 76,000 Jews lived in the territories. When he left office, the figure had increased 62% to 123,000. Today, more than 450,000 Jews live in the territories.

Israel’s settlement policy is sometimes associated with the policies of American administrations. President George H.W. Bush, for example, instituted a policy of deducting spending for settlements from loan guarantees provided to Israel. During Obama’s first year in office, he convinced Israel to freeze settlement construction for 10 months. By contrast, President Trump was more tolerant of Israeli settlement expansion.

Baruch Gordon, the director of West Bank Jewish Population Stats, told Krauss, “I don’t think any American president can influence that much, because growth on the ground is (dependent on) internal Israeli government decisions on how much construction to do and not to do.”

Moreover, as Krauss correctly noted, “Many settlers are religious Jews who tend to have larger families, driving population growth, and many Israelis are drawn to the settlements because they offer more affordable housing.”

MYTH

An Israeli human rights organization accurately compared Israel to South Africa.

FACT

B’Tselem calls itself an Israeli human rights organization, but it has become one of the go-to sources for reporters looking to demonize Israel (Seth J Frantzman, “B’Tselem’s Israel ‘apartheid’ accusation masks its own sinister agenda,” The JC January 14, 2021). It was, therefore, not surprising the group’s latest report accusing Israel of seeking to achieve Jewish supremacy by treating the Palestinians much like white South Africans once victimized blacks would get banner headlines and be reported uncritically. Typical was an article repeating the myth about Israel denying Palestinians COVID vaccines, which gave credence to another big lie by quoting from the report without any response from Israel (Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel’s vaccine success can’t hide a deeper divide,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021).

The inflammatory accusations basically come down to examples of how Palestinians in the disputed territories are treated differently than Israelis without providing any context for those distinctions. B’Tselem cannot say Israel is like white-ruled South Africa because a) the Palestinians are not a race and b) Israel does not discriminate them because they are Palestinian. Instead, the group claims Israeli bigotry is based on nationality and ethnicity even though people of the same ethnicity, Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, are treated equally under the laws of Israel. Nevertheless, In an interview, B’Tselem’s executive director Hagai El-Ad tried to compare Israel to South Africa while simultaneously making distinctions between them. He said, for example, the practice of designating beaches and benches for use only by whites were “petty aspects” of the Afrikaner regime and such signs are “rare” in Israel though he does not present any examples (Masha Gessen, “Why an Israeli Human-Rights Organization Decided to Call Israel an Apartheid Regime,” The New Yorker, January 27, 2021). 

The report asserts that Palestinians live “between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule.” This is false. More than 90 percent of Palestinians live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Like other groups that complain about the treatment of Palestinians, B’Tselem is uninterested in the freedoms denied to those Palestinians by their leaders. It also has nothing to say about Palestinian discrimination against Jews exemplified by the crime of selling land to Jews.

Many journalists are equally myopic. In an article about the report, for example, Masha Gessen says Palestinians are forbidden to protest in the territories without a permit as if this is discriminatory. In the United States, protestors usually need permits. In the PA, no protests are allowed unless they are organized or endorsed by the authorities to support their policies.

B’Tselem wants Israel to treat Palestinians in the territories the same way it treats Israeli citizens even though those Palestinians have no desire to be Israelis. B’Tselem may not like it, but to paraphrase an American Express commercial, citizenship has its privileges.

The report says Israel is “Judaizing” the area it controls “based on the mindset that land is a resource meant almost exclusively to benefit the Jewish public.” This is one of many contradictions in the report. If Israel controls the land from the river to the sea, where is the evidence it is “Judaizing” Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin or the other Palestinian towns? If Israel was committed to cement its supremacy over the Palestinians, why did it withdraw from the entire Gaza Strip? How have the towns in Israel populated by Druze, Bedouins, and other Arabs been “Judaized”?

As Seth Frantzman put it, “How can Jews be privileged in Gaza, which is Judenrein, and where an anti-Semitic terror group is in charge? Are Jews privileged in Ramallah, under a leadership that has pushed Holocaust revisionism and denied the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land of Israel?”

B’Tselem takes for granted that Israel has no claim to the disputed territories. How is it “Judaizing” territories that are historically Jewish?

As Frantzman also notes, rather than Judaization of the territories Israel has offered the Palestinians multiple opportunities for independence. If the Palestinians had not rejected every one, these issues would be moot.

Furthermore, while nearly two million Arabs live in Israel, the Palestinians say their state would, like Gaza, be Judenrein, which doesn’t seem to bother any of Israel’s critics (Noah Browning, “Abbas wants ‘not a single Israeli’ in future Palestinian state,” Reuters, July 29, 2013). Also, why isn’t the same concern raised about the “Palestinianization” of Judea and Samaria? And has B’tselem considered how Jews would be treated if the Palestinians achieved their objective of being the single ruler from the river to the sea?

B’Tselem admits that Israel allows Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to vote in municipal elections, but leaves out that most choose not to. They acknowledge Palestinian elections have not been held since 2006, but dismiss them as essentially meaningless because Israel “retains major governance” in the territories. That absence of democracy does not trouble B’Tselem. They also ignore the Oslo Accords the Palestinians signed which grant them control over most aspects of the lives of the people living in the Palestinian Authority.

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich also notes that Israelis are not allowed to vote in the Palestinian Authority “because it is a different and independent government – even though it passes laws that greatly affect Israelis, like the “pay for slay” rewards program for terrorists” (Eugene Kontorovich, “Refuting Btselem’s Israel-Apartheid Accusation,” Kohelet Policy Forum, January 13, 2021).

Especially glaring is the omission of any discussion of Israel’s security needs. In fact, the word “security” does not appear in the report. B’Tselem condemns Israel for restricting Palestinians’ movement and using checkpoints without acknowledging they are necessary because of past and ongoing attempts by terrorists to infiltrate Israel. The report gives examples of Israel limiting Palestinians’ movements in and out of the territories but doesn’t mention that prior to the pandemic more than 100,000 worked in Israel.

B’Tselem cites Israel’s Nation-State law as enshrining Jewish “supremacy” as a “binding constitutional principle.” The report repeats both legitimate and illegitimate criticism of the law. As Kontorovich notes, “While the wisdom of the Nation State law can be criticized,” it is nothing like the laws of South Africa “and instead closely resembles numerous European democratic constitutional provisions.”

“Israel’s military rule in the West Bank may be imperfect,” Frantzman acknowledges,  “but Israelis and Palestinians will link arms to resist an attempt to impose a single state upon them.”

Kontorovich concludes B’Tselem’s report is not only false and defamatory, it is anti-Semitic because “it accuses Jews, uniquely among the peoples of the world, of one of the most heinous crimes, while also judging the Jewish state by a metric not applied to any other country.” He adds, “the clear agenda is to entirely delegitimize Israel” and seek not reform but “the abolition of the regime itself and a total reshaping of the government.”

MYTH

Palestinian authorities do not demolish Palestinian homes.

FACT

Israel is pilloried when it demolishes Palestinian homes even though it is done legally. Most often the buildings are constructed without the required permits or in areas where they are not allowed. Nevertheless, the UN, the Europeans, pro-Palestinian organizations, and the media routinely condemn Israel.

Where are they when Palestinians commit human rights abuses toward their own people, as happens every day in Gaza and the West Bank?

It is unlikely you are aware, for example, that Hamas has forcibly expelled residents from their homes in Rafah. Replace the word “Hamas” with “Israel” and you can be sure the story would be subject to a report by Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch and prompt a banner headline in the New York Times. Since Israel is not involved, you must have access to the Arab media to learn that Hamas is expropriating land “leaving many citizens homeless and jobless” (Rasha Abou Jalal, “Hamas forcibly expels residents from their homes in Rafah,” Al-Monitor, January 8, 2021).

Rasha Abou Jalal reported that without warning Hamas uprooted trees and bulldozed the homes and farms of 23 families that have lived in the area for decades. The homes had to be cleared so Hamas could expand the Rafah land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for commercial purposes.

Hamas authorities insisted the government owned the land and the residents did not have deeds proving their ownership. While Israel allows Palestinians to challenge its actions in court, the Palestinians who lost their homes were not given the opportunity to contest the decision and present the evidence they possessed showing they owned their property. Instead, homeowners who protested were assaulted and nine were arrested.

This is just one more example of how Palestinian abuses toward their own people go unnoticed and uncriticized in the West. The “human rights” organizations are silent as are those advocating the Palestinian cause who see no evil unless it can be blamed on Israel. The same is true for the UN, which would never consider a resolution critical of the Palestinians, and the Europeans who have subsidized illegal construction by Palestinians in areas controlled by Israel.

MYTH

Israel is denying COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.

FACT

Major news outlets have been repeating this calumny even when they know it is false. Ishaan Tharoor, for example, wrote in the Washington Post that Israel is giving vaccines to Jewish settlers but not Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Israeli officials contend that these Palestinians don’t fall under their jurisdiction under the terms of the Oslo accords and that it is the job of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to procure and distribute vaccines in the occupied territories” (Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel’s vaccine success can’t hide a deeper divide,” Washington Post, January 12, 2021).

Typical of the anti-Israel bias that appears all too often in the press, Tharoor accepts Amnesty International’s assertion that “Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones” while devaluing the position of Israeli officials who contend they have no obligation to vaccinate the Palestinians. Tharoor need only read the Oslo accords to see it is a fact, not a point of debate.

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.

Tharoor’s story even acknowledges the Palestinians have not requested assistance from Israel, but quotes the Palestinian Foreign Ministry’s false claim that Israel is responsible for providing vaccines and is “committing racial discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians are not a race, of course, and the idea Israel is discriminating against Arabs is easily disproven by the fact that Israeli Arabs are receiving the vaccination.

Moreover, a PA Ministry of Health official told the Jerusalem Post, “We are working on our own to obtain the vaccine from a number of sources.” He added, “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).

For months, Israel has been offering and providing assistance to the PA to fight the pandemic, but the Palestinians repeatedly rejected offers of aid and even blocked sick people from going to Israeli hospitals. Exceptions are made for VIPs, however, and Saeb Erekat, who spent his career demonizing Israel, went to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after contracting COVID (Daniel Estrin and Scott Neuman,” Top Palestinian Official Receiving COVID-19 Treatment In Israeli Hospital,” NPR, October 19, 2020).

When the Palestinians did ask for vaccines in January 2021, the Israeli government shipped 100 doses to the PA. 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 and continued to insist it would take responsibility for inoculations (“Ministry of Health dismisses reports about receiving vaccinations from Israel, WAFA, January 7, 2021).

While the PA rejects Israeli help, a group of 10 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and “human rights” organizations called for Israel to provide vaccinations to the Palestinians (“Joint Statement: 10 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations: Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems,” Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, December 22, 2020). This is typical of the hypocrisy of such organizations, several of which support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and have campaigned against any contact with Israel because it would signify normalization with a nation they believe should not exist.

The attacks on Israel continued, ignoring that the PA struck deals in January with four vaccine companies that would provide enough vaccines for 70 percent of the population with the WHO expected to provide doses for most of the rest. In early February, the PA received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The day before Israel delivered 2,000 vaccines to the West Bank.

The PA only shipped vaccines to Gaza (with Israeli permission) on February 17, 2021. Some Palestinians were concerned Hamas would use them for its leaders rather than those intended – dialysis patients and people undergoing transplants, followed by medical workers.

On February 19, 2021, officials from Israel’s Health Ministry met with their counterparts in Ramallah. “Understanding that Israel and the Palestinians live in one area and that an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Palestinian Authority may also affect the infection rate among Israeli residents, senior ministry officials visited with the PA Health Ministry and received a briefing on the coronavirus situation in the PA, morbidity data and the epidemiological investigations that are taking place,” the ministry said in a statement.

The PA Health Ministry subsequently announced it had reached an agreement with the Israeli Health Ministry to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel (Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman and Khaled Abu Toameh, “Coronavirus: Israel to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian workers,” Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2021). 

On February 22, 2021, Israel opened a center at the Qalandiyah checkpoint to enable East Jerusalem residents who cannot enter Israel to get vaccinated. Haaretz reported Magen David Adom (MDA) has initiated a  vaccination campaign in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem to address the high rate of infection there (Nir Hasson, “Israel Opens Vaccination Center at Checkpoint to Reach Palestinian East Jerusalem Residents,” Haaretz, February 23, 2021).

The prime minister’s office discloseed on February 23, 2021, that Israel provided vaccines for medical staff in the PA (Lahav Harkov, “Israel donates COVID vaccines to Palestinian Authority, other countries,” Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2021).

While Israel continues to be criticized for prioritizing vaccinating its citizens over the Palestinians, Italy blocked the export of vaccine doses to Australia in early March 2021 due to supply shortages in the EU, and France was considering taking similar action to ensure it has enough vaccines to meet domestic demands (Nicola Ruotolo, James Frater and Zamira Rahim, “Italy blocks eport of Covid-19 vaccine doses to Australia, using EU powers for the first time,” CNN, March 4, 2021; Barbara Wojazer, “France could follow Italy and block vaccine shipments, health minister says,” CNN, March 5, 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).

In February 2021, Israel wanted to open a coronavirus vaccination station in the Temple Mount area, but the request was rejected by Abbas who didn’t want to give Jews access to the area. Israel then suggested that the vaccinations be administered by Arab Israeli paramedics dressed in clothes that bear no markings of Israeli medical establishments. That offer was also turned down (“Abbas said to veto Israeli vaccination station on Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, (ebruary 25, 2021).

MYTH

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

FACT

The United States provides a security umbrella for its allies in the Arab world. It also has provided them with billions of dollars in weapons and frequently supports their political ambitions. In addition to arms sales, for example, the Trump administration also did little to discourage the Saudi-led embargo against Qatar even though Qatar is the site of a major U.S. military base. Trump defended rather than punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is accused of directing the assassination of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The administration also supported Saudi intervention in Yemen over congressional objections and sided with the Sunni states against Iran.

If those allies are grateful, it does not show at the UN where, year after year, they vote against the United States, and not just on resolutions related to Israel. In 2019, 100 resolutions passed with a vote in the UN General Assembly, 17 of which were characterized as anti-Israel by the United States. Among the Arab states, Sudan surprisingly voted with the United States most often, but still just 29 percent of the time. As a group, the Arab states voted against the United States on 78 percent of the resolutions. Somalia was at the bottom of the list, opposing the United States 91 percent of the time; Syria was next at 88 percent.

By comparison, Israel has consistently been at or near the top of the list of America’s top UN allies. In 2019, Israel was far ahead of the pack, voting with the United States 96 percent of the time, followed by Micronesia (73 percent). Major U.S. allies such as Canada (66  percent), Australia (66 percent), Great Britain (64 percent), and France (60 percent) lagged far behind.

An “Israel-related” matter is defined by the United States as “any resolution specifically mentioning the state or territory of Israel. The titles and context of these resolutions usually remain the same in the annual scapegoating with almost two-dozen one-sided resolutions against Israel (compared to less than a half-dozen country-specific resolutions on the rest of the world combined).”

The State Department reported in 2019:

Of 193 UN member states, 27 countries voted at least once against any of the 16 anti-Israel resolutions, seven more countries than last year’s 20. Eleven countries (Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Estonia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia) joined the list, while four (France, Togo, Moldova, and Japan) dropped off. Note that neither Jordan nor Egypt, which have peace agreements with Israel, voted with Israel and the United States even once (United States Department of State).

MYTH

The Trump peace plan does not offer the Palestinians a capital in Jerusalem.

FACT

Critics falsely argued the Trump peace plan is not consistent with a two-state solution. In fact, it specifically provides for a Palestinian state and goes into great detail about various elements of that state including its borders, treatment of refugees, and security obligations. It also meets the Palestinian demand that Jerusalem serve as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Palestinians object to where in Jerusalem the capital is to be established. They maintain the fantasy that they will control all East Jerusalem, including the Old City, and will fly their flag over Judaism’s holiest place – the Temple Mount. The Trump plan recognizes this is never going to happen. Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a state with a capital in Jerusalem and sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods and control of Muslim holy places. Ehud Olmert made a similar proposal to Mahmoud Abbas. Both Arafat and Abbas decided to prove Abba Eban’s observation that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

The Trump plan offered the Palestinians a third chance to establish a state with a capital in Jerusalem, this time based in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, which is part of the Jerusalem Governorate of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians reacted with outrage at the idea. “We will not accept Abu Dis or Al-Eizariya, as the capital of the Palestinian State,” Abbas declared after the plan was released (“Abbas: We will not accept Abu Dis or Al-Eizariya as capital of Palestinian State,” Middle East Monitor, February 8, 2020).

Abbas, however, accepted the idea 25-years earlier when he reached an agreement with Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin to establish the Palestinian capital in Abu Dis. That agreement was never officially signed by either side; nevertheless, the following year, the Palestinians constructed a parliament building in Abu Dis. The failure of the Oslo peace talks following an upsurge in Palestinian terror attacks erased the chance of creating a state based on the Oslo Accords.

The parliament building is still standing, albeit in disrepair, awaiting the arrival of a Palestinian legislature should the Palestinians ever agree to a peace agreement.