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 - )

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES (2021-2024)
(2005-2016 | 2017-2020 Archives)

2024
2023
2022
2021

2024

Israel has prevented humanitarian aid from entering Gaza.
Israel closed the Rafah crossing to prevent Gazan civilians from escaping.
Israel’s ban on Al Jazeera's operations is an illegal infringement on free speech.
Israel targeted civilians when it bombed a UNRWA school in central Gaza.
The IDF’s use of 2,000-lb bombs is a violation of international law.
Israel bombed Rafah with no regard for civilian lives.
Israel is defying the ICJ’s order concerning Rafah.
Israeli leaders have committed war crimes in Gaza.
Hamas accepted Israel’s hostage proposal on May 6, 2024.
Hamas leaders are brave fighters prepared for martyrdom.
Journalists were not present during the October 7 massacre.
Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.
Israel intentionally targeted the World Central Kitchen aid workers.
Israeli soldiers raped a woman at the Shifa Hospital​​​​​.
Israel must pause its military campaign for Ramadan.
Israel is starving the people of Gaza.
The Biden administration’s position on settlements continues longstanding U.S. policy.
Israel must agree to a ceasefire to save Palestinian lives.
“Extremist settler” attacks against Palestinians have increased.
Benjamin Netanyahu strengthened Hamas to thwart the creation of a Palestinian state.
Hamas adopted a new charter repudiating its goal to destroy Israel.
Israel is targeting journalists in Gaza.
Israel is spreading infectious diseases to kill children in Gaza.
The Associated Press considers the murder of Israelis as terrorism.

MYTH

Israel has prevented humanitarian aid from entering Gaza.

FACT

Following the massacre perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist groups on October 7, the IDF has been actively working to dismantle their capabilities. Throughout this operation, the IDF maintains a clear distinction between terrorist organizations and the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Israel has also made sure that critical humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, fuel, water, and shelter, has been delivered through multiple entry points.

The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, responsible for implementing the government’s civilian policy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, established a coordination mechanism to work with the international community to coordinate and synchronize humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

Most aid is initially routed to Egypt and then forwarded for Israeli security screening at either the Nitzana or Kerem Shalom Crossings. From there, aid organizations are supposed to distribute it inside Gaza. The remaining aid is sent to Gaza via the Rafah crossing in Egypt. After the IDF began its operation in Rafah, Egypt blocked that entrance. Additional aid has been delivered through Jordan via air drops and the pier constructed by U.S. troops. The volume of aid is determined, among other factors, by the capacity of humanitarian organizations to warehouse and distribute it (“Swords of Iron Humanitarian Efforts,” COGAT). 

As of June 26, 2024, a total of 716,105 tons, equivalent to 38,212 trucks of humanitarian supplies, have been successfully delivered to Gaza since October 7:

  • 549,600 tons of food.
  • 40,035 tons of water. 
  • 24,835 tons of medical supplies. 
  • 68,830 tons of shelter equipment.
  • 652 tanks of cooking gas.
  • 387 tanks of fuel.

Notably, the U.S. military’s Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) capability facilitated the delivery of 166 trucks of supplies (“Update on the Construction of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Capability in Mediterranean Sea,” USCENTCOM, May 3, 2024).

Furthermore, the IDF has overseen 128 humanitarian airdrops, distributing a total of 9,756 packages. Various countries donated these packages, including Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, the Netherlands, the UK, UAE, and the USA.

A study by esteemed academics and health officials found that the food supply in Gaza from January to April 2024 was sufficient. The average daily energy availability was 3,163 kcal per person, exceeding the Sphere standard of 2,100 kcals. Moreover, the food supply during this period was significantly higher than before October 7 (Jeremy Sharon, “New study finds food supply to Gaza more than sufficient for population’s needs,” Times of Israel, May 24, 2024).

This study was further supported when the UN’s Famine Review Committee published a report on June 4, 2024. The report revealed a lack of “supporting evidence” to confirm a famine in the northern Gaza Strip definitively. The committee urged all involved parties to facilitate humanitarian access in northern Gaza. Following the report’s release, the IDF declared a daily “tactical pause of military activity,” enabling more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinian civilians (“United Nations committee says not enough evidence to declare famine in Gaza,” Ynet, June 17, 2024).

The same committee, connected to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, issued a second report on June 25 that came to a similar conclusion. It said previous projections regarding the amount of food entering Gaza were wrong and that the supply had increased rather than decreased. “In this context, the available evidence does not indicate that famine is currently occurring,” the report said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “[Israel] will continue to take unprecedented measures to move innocent civilians out of harm’s way and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need in Gaza.” (“Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Israel Prime Minister’s Office, May 20, 2024). 

A major obstacle to the provision of aid to those who need it has been Hamas, which has looted deliveries and warehouses. Disorganization among the aid agencies has also contributed to the failure to deliver all the supplies Israel has allowed to enter. Desperate Gazans have also mobbed delivery trucks and taken aid before it reaches its intended destination (Seth J. Frantzman, “How to ensure humanitarian aid gets to the right people in Gaza - analysis,” Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2024). 

MYTH

Israel closed the Rafah crossing to prevent Gazan civilians from escaping.

FACT

On June 15, 2024, the Washington Post reported that Israel closed the Rafah crossing upon initiating its military offensive in the area, “dashing any hope of escape for ill and injured Palestinian civilians” (Miriam Berger, Hajar Harb, “With Rafah crossing closed by Israel, Gazans have no way out,” Washington Post, June 15, 2024). Co-author Harb is a London-based reporter with a documented history of supporting Hamas and its October 7 massacre of Israelis. Given her convictions, it is unsurprising that the article is biased and inaccurate (Washington Post Contributor Celebrated Oct. 7 Massacre, CAMERA, April 1, 2024).

Egypt controls the Rafah passage from the Gaza Strip into its sovereign territory. Egypt informed Israel that it would not reopen the Rafah border crossing while Israeli troops remained on the Gazan side, despite significant pressure on Cairo to do so (Hamza Hendawi, “Egypt refuses to reopen Rafah crossing while Israel controls its Gaza side,” National, June 15, 2024; Natasha Preskey, “Israel and Egypt row over reopening Rafah border crossing,” BBC, May 15, 2024; Egypt rejects Israeli plans for Rafah crossing, sources say,” Reuters, May 16, 2024; “Egypt rejects Israel’s control of Rafah crossing on Gaza side, says it can’t reopen,” New Arab, June 3, 2024). This is not a new policy related to the Israeli operation. From the beginning of the war, Egypt has refused to allow Gazans to seek refuge there, including thousands of people who requested to leave Gaza for medical treatment abroad. Only Gazans who have paid bribes of as much as $15,000 (a fortune few Gazans can afford) have been given sanctuary (“How much do Palestinians pay to get out of Gaza?” The Economist, April 25, 2024).

The entire humanitarian crisis could have been avoided, and thousands of lives saved if Egypt had welcomed the Palestinians for the duration of the war.

MYTH

Israel’s ban on Al Jazeera’s operations is an illegal infringement on free speech.

FACT

On May 5, 2024, Israel’s cabinet unanimously voted to cease the operations of the Qatari news outlet, Al Jazeera, in Israel. This decision came nearly six months after initially declaring their intent to do so, citing security concerns related to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. This included shutting down Al Jazeera broadcasts in Arabic and English, closing Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel, seizing equipment used for its broadcasts, and limiting access to its websites. (Eliav Breuer, “Government votes to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel,” Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2024).

The decision requires recertification every 45 days and must be approved by the prime minister and the security cabinet on the recommendation of at least one security agency and reviewed by a district court judge.

In its decision, the cabinet explained that classified recommendations from the Shin Bet deemed Al Jazeera a national security threat. The IDF and Mossad also provided classified recommendations supporting limiting Al Jazeera’s broadcasts in Israel.

These recommendations were further validated when, on June 13, 2024, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa District Court approved the Israeli government’s request to renew the ban. The court found a direct and causal connection between individuals who carried out terror attacks inside Israel and the consumption of Al Jazeera content. Furthermore, it determined a close connection between Al Jazeera and Hamas, stating that some Al Jazeera reporters in Gaza had turned themselves into assistants and partners with Hamas and that some had carried out terror attacks. Other classified documents shown to the court established that Hamas sees Al Jazeera as its public diplomacy and intelligence arm (Jeremy Sharon, “Court approves extension of ban on Al Jazeera operations in Israel,” Times of Israel, June 13, 2024).

It was later reported that Abdallah Aljamal, a former columnist and contributor to Al Jazeera in Gaza, was holding three Israeli hostages kidnapped on October 7 in his home with his family before he was killed by Israeli commandos during a rescue operation on June 8, 2024. Notably, Aljamal also worked as a spokesman for the Hamas-run labor ministry. This exemplifies the direct and indirect connection of Al Jazeera-affiliated journalists to Hamas (Ronny Reyes, “Gaza journalist who wrote for Al Jazeera was holding 3 hostages in home with family, Israel says,” New York Post, June 9, 2024).

Al Jazeera was originally created and funded by the emir of Qatar in response to criticism from other media outlets. “He hoped to take away viewership from stations critical of him and of Qatar. There was another service that Al Jazeera provided to Qatari rulers: As a welcome voice viewed by Arabs as reflecting their own aspirations, Al Jazeera helped protect the Qataris from intense criticism for being a pro-American emirate that hosted a base for American airplanes attacking Iraq in the unpopular 2003 Iraq war,” according to University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami. He added that because Qatar’s rulers have poured billions of dollars into the network, it doesn't need to make a profit (Shibley Telhami, “Al Jazeera: The Most-Feared News Network,” Brookings, June 15, 2013).

Suzan Quitaz, who has worked on projects for Al Jazeera, quoted Iraqi journalist Sufian Al-Samarrai, Chairman of the Baghdad Post, who calls Al Jazeera “nothing more than a platform of armed political Islamist gangs, and their ferocity and terrorism are promoted as a legitimate resistance.” Its goal is “to overthrow the current secular-conservative Arab regimes…paving the way for political Islam, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over the region” (Suzan Quitaz, “Al Jazeera – Feeding the Muslim Brotherhood’s Political Agenda to the Arab World,” JCPA, (June 18, 2024).

While the rights to free speech, press freedom, and the public’s right to access diverse narratives are crucial for Israel, as they are for any democracy, they are not absolute and carry associated responsibilities. The evidence presented to the court by Israeli authorities showcased that the operations of Al Jazeera and its employees have long breached journalistic integrity and may have security implications. 

Israel is not the only country to ban the network. Quitaz noted that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco have also done so. The United States has not restricted Al Jazeera but has accused it of incitement.

MYTH

Israel targeted civilians when it bombed a UNRWA school in central Gaza.

FACT

The media widely reported that Israel conducted an airstrike on a school that killed 33 Palestinians on June 5, 2024. As in other such instances, the press parroted the claims of Hamas officials. The facts omitted by most journalists were that the IDF conducted a precision strike on the UNRWA ‘Asmaa’ school in Shati, Gaza, where a container room was used as a Hamas operations cell and meeting point. Those targeted were members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force and Palestine Islamic Jihad, who directed terror attacks from the school in yet another example of attempting to use a civilian location as a shield. The IDF reported that around 30 terrorists were in the three rooms targeted, some of whom had participated in the October 7 massacre. The IDF confirmed the deaths of nine terrorists in the strike (Emanuel Fabian, “‘Falling for Hamas tactics’: IDF names 9 terrorists killed in school strike, slams media,” Times of Israel, June 7, 2024).

MYTH

The IDF’s use of 2,000 lb bombs is a violation of international law.

FACT

The use of  2,000-pound bombs by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) does not automatically constitute a violation of the laws of war. Western militaries, including the United States, have employed these weapons in various theaters. John Spencer, West Point’s urban warfare expert, noted that during its 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. dropped more than 5,000 of these bombs on military targets, including those in metropolitan areas such as Baghdad, Nasiriyah, and Basra. For example, four of these bombs were dropped on a building in Baghdad based on “‘time-sensitive intelligence that some senior Iraqi officials, possibly including Saddam and his two sons, were there’” (John Spencer, @SpencerGuard, May 14, 2024).

Unlike those targets that were all above ground, Israel must use these bunker-busting munitions to penetrate miles of terror tunnels built by Hamas below civilian infrastructure. These tunnels serve as weapons caches, bunkers, command centers, and a transportation network for terrorists and weapons. Hence, the tunnels are legitimate military targets.

In violation of international law, Hamas deliberately constructed tunnels beneath densely populated areas to deter their targeting, knowing if they were struck, it would likely cause collateral damage. Hamas was unconcerned that this would include civilian casualties as that would contribute to its goal of damaging Israel’s international image (“Everything You Need to Know About Hamas’ Underground City of Terror,” Israel Defense Forces, July 31, 2014).

According to Spencer, most bunker-busting munitions penetrate no more than 30-100 feet or 12-20 inches of concrete, depending on the size of the round. A 2,000-lb bomb can penetrate 50 feet. It is well-documented that Hamas dug some very deep tunnels. One discovered by the IDF was 164 feet underground, making it extremely challenging to target even with heavy bombs (“IDF exposes the biggest Hamas tunnel found to date in Gaza,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 17, 2023).

Furthermore, contrary to some selective media reporting about the use of these bombs and claims that their blast radius ensured civilian casualties, their impact depends on a variety of factors, including “the angle and velocity of the bomb’s delivery, the timing of its fuse, the height above (or depth below) ground of the detonation, and the nature of the target,” according to David Adesnik, a senior fellow and director of research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery (Ret.). “In fact, the U.S. and Israeli air forces can drop 2,000-pound bombs close to their own troops in battle without hurting them” (David Adesnik and Mark Montgomery, “The Big Lies About Israel’s Big Bombs,” Commentary, April 2024).

Despite the challenges, the IDF remains committed to international law and takes all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm. The IDF strategically uses bombs and other weaponry best suited to the mission with the aim of avoiding non-combatant casualties to the greatest extent possible. This is in the face of Hamas’s deliberate strategy of embedding its tunnels, operatives, and weapons within densely populated neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and mosques. While the IDF carries the responsibility to minimize collateral damage, it is Hamas that knowingly places civilians in harm’s way and should be held accountable.

MYTH

Israel bombed Rafah with no regard for civilian lives. 

FACT

On May 26, 2024, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) executed a targeted operation against two senior Hamas terrorists at a compound in Rafah. These individuals were involved in planning and carrying out attacks against Israelis, making them legitimate targets under international law (“Full statement by IDF Spokesperson RAdm. Daniel Hagari regarding the recent strike that occurred in Rafah,” Israel Defense Forces, May 28, 2024; “Important details about the IDF's ongoing after action into the Rafah strike,” Israel Foreign Ministry, May 28, 2024). 

The operation did not occur within the humanitarian zone designated by the IDF and surveillance was used to determine no civilians were in the area. The precise strike utilized two small explosive munitions (37 lbs each), which are far smaller than what other Western militaries use in comparable situations. Nevertheless, the strikes ignited a fire in a nearby compound. The Hamas-run health ministry said 45 people were killed and dozens more wounded. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was a “tragic mistake,” and the government launched an investigation.

The IDF is exploring the possibility that nearby weapons and ammunition contributed to the fire. A rocket launcher used to fire rockets into Israel was located less than 150 feet from the targeted structure, suggesting that additional weapons were likely stored nearby. An intercepted call between two Gazans further suggests that secondary explosions from a Hamas ammunition warehouse, situated more than 300 feet away from the strike site, could have triggered the fire (“The IDF intercepted a call between two Gazans which suggests that secondary explosions from a Hamas ammunition warehouse near the civilian compound and over 100 meters away from the strike site may have caused yesterday’s fire in Rafah,” Israel Foreign Ministry, May 29, 2024). 

Despite the IDF’s best efforts to target only legitimate threats and minimize collateral damage, this operation failed to prevent civilian casualties. The IDF is investigating the incident to inform future operational decisions aimed at reducing collateral damage. However, it is important to note that Hamas bears the responsibility for embedding itself within the civilian population. It would have additional culpability if it is proven that, as in some past cases, the tragedy was due to Hamas storing weapons and ammunition in close proximity to civilians. Hamas has no regard for Palestinian lives, placing innocents in harm’s way, an ongoing violation of international law. Moreover, not a single Gazan would be in danger if Hamas surrendered and released the more than 100 Israeli hostages it holds.

MYTH

Israel is defying the ICJ’s order concerning Rafah.

FACT

On May 24, 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to cease any military operations against Hamas in Rafah “which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.” This order aligns with the court’s previous stance, urging Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention. In response, Israel’s National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly affirmed that Israel would not conduct actions in Rafah that could lead to the physical destruction of the Palestinian civilian population (“ICJ Order: Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel),” United Nations, May 24, 2024; Natasha Hausdorff, “No, the ICJ hasn’t ordered Israel to halt operations,” Telegraph, May 26, 2024; “Joint Statement by the Head of the National Security Council and the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Israel Foreign Ministry, May 24, 2024). 

The practical implications of the order remain unclear. The full decision did not specify whether Israel should halt its entire Rafah military operation or if it could continue provided it does not pose a genocidal risk. However, after the court published its two minority opinions and those of three majority judges, it became evident that four of the five judges who addressed this issue believe that Israel can continue its military action in Rafah, provided it does not put the Palestinian population at risk of annihilation (Yuval Yoaz, “Confused by the ICJ’s decision on Gaza? Blame the judges’ deliberate ambiguity,” Times of Israel, May 25, 2024).

Israeli ad-hoc judge Aharon Barak, in his minority opinion, stated that the measure preserves Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens and to prevent and repel threats and attacks by Hamas. German judge Georg Nolte, who joined the majority judges, wrote that the measure obliging Israel to halt the current military offensive in Rafah is conditioned by the need to prevent conditions that could bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinian group in Gaza. This position was supported by Romanian Judge Bogdan Aurescu and Judge Sebutinde.

South African ad-hoc judge, Dire Tladi, was the only judge who expressed a contrary position, stating that the order completely prohibits any offensive Israeli action in the Rafah area. However, he emphasized that the order forbids only “offensive” actions, and that Israel’s defensive actions, which come in response to Hamas’s attacks, are not prohibited. 

The other ten judges did not publish interpertations. 

Thus, it is evident from the majority of interpretations of the ICJ order that Israel can maintain its defensive military operation in Rafah against Hamas. This continuation is contingent upon Israel avoiding actions that could result in the annihilation of the Palestinian population, a commitment that Israel has consistently affirmed.

MYTH

Israeli leaders have committed war crimes in Gaza.

FACT


On May 20, 2024, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced his decision to issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in relation to hostilities between Israel and Hamas that began with a Hamas-initiated onslaught on October 7, 2023.

Khan alleges that Netanyahu and Gallant are suspected of crimes, including the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, murder, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, and extermination. Contrary to these accusations, military experts have indicated that Israel has gone to unprecedented lengths to ensure the safety and welfare of uninvolved civilians in enemy territory during a military campaign. This includes minimizing collateral damage and providing a steady supply of humanitarian aid to conflict-affected areas. 

Five prominent British lawyers said the warrant requests were “wrong in principle and not credible, for at least five reasons. First, because after October 7, Israel was entitled to seek to remove the ability of Hamas to murder, rape, and abduct more Israeli citizens (as it has promised to do). Second, because Hamas hides behind the civilian population in Gaza it is sadly inevitable that any attempt by Israel to defend its people will lead to civilian deaths, for which Hamas is responsible. Third, Israel continues to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, much of it stolen and used by Hamas. Fourth, the application for arrest warrants against Hamas leaders could and should have occurred months ago, and its occurrence now suggests, absurdly, some form of moral equivalence. And fifth, the ICC prosecutor usually declines to act where there is an independent and effective legal system in the state concerned able to address any legal charges. No one could seriously doubt that is so in Israel, which has one of the most independent judiciaries in the world and which has, in the past, sent a prime minister to prison for wrongdoing” (Morning Brief, BICOM, May 22, 2024). Furthermore, the ICC lacks jurisdiction in this case, as Israel is not a state party to its conventions, and the Palestinian Authority, not being a sovereign country, may not be a party to it either.

Drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country defending itself from terror and the leaders of a terror organization that initiated the October 7 massacre is a distortion of justice. This false moral equivalency blurs the lines between perpetrator and victim and may empower militant groups and terror worldwide.

British Prime Minister Sunak said, “There is no moral equivalence between a democratic state exercising its lawful right to self-defense and the terrorist group Hamas. It is wrong to conflate and equivocate between those two different entities.” President Joe Biden shared similar sentiments. “There is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas,” he said, adding that the decision by the prosecutor is “outrageous.” (Noah Keate, “UK’s Sunak slams ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu,” Politico, May 21, 2024; Michael Williams, “Biden denounces ICC for ‘outrageous’ implication of equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” CNN, May 20, 2024).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that ICC arrest decisions could jeopardize efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement, secure a hostage deal, and increase humanitarian aid in Gaza (“Blinken says ICC arrest warrants could jeopardize cease-fire, hostage release efforts,” Reuters, May 20, 2024). 

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the allegations by the chief prosecutor. He stated, “Israel is waging a just war against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization that has perpetrated the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Hamas has massacred 1200 Jews, raped Jewish women, burned Jewish babies, and taken hundreds hostage.” Netanyahu added, “Israel will continue to wage this war in full compliance with international law. We will continue to take unprecedented measures to move innocent civilians out of harm’s way and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need in Gaza.” (“Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Israel Prime Minister’s Office, May 20, 2024). 

In 2013, Khan himself authored an academic essay suggesting that the ICC is fundamentally flawed in its ability to provide due process to defendants. The essay critiques the court's practices and argues that these systemic issues could render efforts to arrest figures like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unjust. Therefore, Khan’s own work exposes the ICC’s incapability to deliver true justice, citing procedural biases and the influence of media and NGOs in shaping public perception against defendants (Benjamin Weinthal, “ICC prosecutor Khan co-authored essay saying defendants can’t get fair shake at world court: report,” Fox News, June 1, 2024).

In 2007, while representing former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was accused of war crimes in Sierra Leone, Khan was nearly held in contempt by the ICC. The presiding judge reprimanded Khan for attempting to override a court order and directed him to sit down. Instead, Khan walked out of the courtroom with his materials, leading the judge to allow the prosecution to continue. Taylor was ultimately convicted by the ICC in 2012. This incident brings into question Khan's own credibility in being able to ensure due process within the ICC.

 MYTH

Hamas accepted Israel’s hostage proposal on May 6, 2024.

​​​​​​FACT

On May 6, 2024, after months of negotiations during which it continued to attack Israel, Hamas announced that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal. The proposal was presented to Hamas by mediators from Egypt and Qatar. The terrorist group seemed to be reacting to the beginning of Israel’s long-planned offensive in Rafah to destroy the group’s remaining battalions and kill its leadership.

Israeli officials stated that the Hamas announcement caught the government off guard and that Israel didn't receive the text of the terror group’s response from the mediators until an hour after Hamas released its statement (Barak Ravid, “Israelis frustrated with U.S. handling of hostage talks,” Axios, May 6, 2024).

Upon reviewing Hamas’s response, it became evident to Israel that it contained new elements not present in the previous proposal that Israel had agreed upon. This previous proposal had been presented to Hamas by the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar ten days prior.

Referring to the original proposal, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken remarked that “Israel has made very important compromises...demonstrating its desire and willingness to reach this agreement,” and that “Hamas has to decide whether it will take the deal and actually advance the situation for the people that it purports to care about in Gaza” (Press Releases, “Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Press Availability, The White House, May 1, 2024).

Hamas did not simply “accept” a ceasefire deal; rather, it countered with an offer that Israel found unacceptable (Peter Baker, “Inside the White House Scramble to Broker a Deal in Gaza,” New York Times, May 6, 2024).

Reports suggested that Hamas’s counterproposal included only freeing 18 hostages unless Israel agreed to end the war. Moreover, Hamas refused to release only live hostages in the first phase of the deal, insisting that if 33 hostages were to be freed, they would include some who were dead. Hamas also insisted that Israel refrain from opposing the release of any prisoner from its jails (Einav Halabi, Lior Ben Ari, Itamar Eichner, “Hamas agrees to free just 18 hostages unless Israel ends the war, report,” Ynet, May 7, 2024).

Of the 132 hostages still held in Hamas captivity, the IDF confirmed the deaths of 36, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown (“Presumed hostage Lior Rudaeff confirmed killed on October 7; body was taken to Gaza,” Times of Israel, May 8, 2024).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected Hamas’s proposal, stating, “The Hamas proposal is very far from meeting Israel’s necessary requirements,” and that ”Israel cannot accept a proposal that endangers the security of our citizens and the future of our country.” Nevertheless, Israel agreed to remain engaged in the negotiations and sent a delegation to continue talks in Cairo (Tovah Lazaroff, “Hamas hostage deal ‘far from meeting our requirements’ - Netanyahu says,” Jerusalem Post, May 7, 2024).

MYTH

Hamas leaders are brave fighters prepared for martyrdom.

FACT

Islamists like to talk tough and extol the virtue of killing Jews to achieve martyrdom and entering paradise where they will find 70 virgins waiting for them. This vision does not entice the leaders; however, they are happy to send others to die.

If you look at the list of suicide bombers through the years, you will not find the names of any of the leaders of Hamas or Palestine Islamic Jihad. They are cowards who hide under hospitals and other civilian locations and use Palestinian civilians as shields. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is not taking on IDF troops. The only sign of him since the war in Gaza began was a video showing him scurrying through a tunnel with his family.

The same cowardice is true for Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who boasts that he is ready for war with Israel. Like Hamas’s chieftains, he has no interest in fighting and is believed to hide underground (Shachar Kleiman, “30 years of Nasrallah: Iran, internal strife, and Israel,” Israel Hayom, February 15, 2022). During the last Lebanon war, he reportedly hunkered down in the Iranian embassy in Beirut (“Hezbollah leader said to be hiding in Iranian Embassy,” Washington Times, July 28, 2006). His followers also embed themselves in the civilian population and have not been deterred from provoking a war by seeing the devastation Hamas brought to Gaza.

The leaders also don’t believe the cause and martyrdom are worth the lives of their children. For example, when the suicide bombing recruiter phoned the wife of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi to ask if her son was available for an operation, she turned him down (Israel Radio, August 1, 2002).

MYTH

Journalists were not present during the October 7 massacre.

FACT

The presence of journalists during the massacre on October 7, 2023, is well documented in photographs and videos. The pictures that appeared in most media outlets came from these individuals.

The only questions are whether they were tipped off that Hamas was going to attack, if their employers knew about the plan in advance, and why the photographers didn’t intervene to help the victims.

We don’t have a definitive answer to the first question, just the suspicion that it is otherwise hard to explain why several photographers happened to be at the border at 6:30 a.m. when the attack began and then accompanied the terrorists while they engaged in a massacre.


Hassan Eslaiah and Yahya Sinwar 
@HonestReporting (Nov. 8, 2023)

Media watchdog Honest Reporting found troubling evidence about several photographers, all freelancers rather than staff photographers. For example, a photo of Hassan Eslaiah, whose work was used by AP and CNN, showed him being kissed by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. On October 7, photos he took were published of a burning Israeli tank, Palestinian civilians with bicycles entering Kibbutz Kfar Azza, and a house on fire in the kibbutz. A photo was also taken that appeared to show Eslaiah on a motorcycle carrying a hand grenade. Without admitting any concerns, both AP and CNN cut ties with Eslaiah after Honest Reporting released its findings.

Ali Mahmud’s photo of “Palestinian militants” driving to Gaza with the body of an Israeli soldier was published by AP. Another AP photo taken by Hatem Ali showed another Israeli taken hostage. Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa provided Reuters with a picture of a Palestinian mob abusing the body of a soldier dragged from a tank (“Broken Borders: AP & Reuters Pictures of Hamas Atrocities Raise Ethical Questions,” Honest Reporting, November 8, 2023).

The Journalists Association in Jerusalem issued a statement, saying: “If indeed representatives of news agencies and major networks knew in advance about the planned massacre, this raises a prima facie concern of complicity in a crime or failure to prevent murder. The investigation raises serious ethical questions, not only about the conduct of field personnel, but also about the management of networks and news agencies, and the question is whether they knew about Hamas’s intention, and yet lent it a hand” (Editorial, “Journalists embedded with Hamas on Oct. 7 violated all media redlines,” Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2023).

News agencies denied having any advance knowledge of the Hamas plan. That did not answer the question of whether they gave any thought to using material from men who were not regular employees who happened upon a massacre. AP answered that “AP uses images taken by freelancers around the world, including in Gaza” (“Watchdog accepts news orgs weren’t tipped off about Oct. 7: We just ‘raised questions,’” Times of Israel, November 11, 2023).

As to what the photographers should have done, Likud MK Danny Danon wrote, “While Hamas savages murdered, raped, tortured and brutally abused our people, the vile photographers did not stop, turn away or leave the scene. Instead they filmed and participated in the crimes” (Times of Israel, November 11, 2023).

Photographers are often placed in difficult positions where they must decide whether to intervene to help or use their cameras to document what they see. Media researcher Roger Simpson observed, “There are times when journalists must engage with the stories they cover, for the good of their craft, themselves, and the subjects of their stories. But there are also times when they must step back, allow events to unfold, and do their jobs” (Patrick L. Plaisance, “When Should Journalists Put Down the Mic and Lend Aid?” Psychology Today, (September 7, 2017). War photographers typically choose the latter.

Simpson assumes that journalists are objective. If those who witnessed the attack on Israelis knew about the plan or were Hamas sympathizers, they were aiding and abetting the terrorists and contributing to their propaganda campaign.

MYTH

Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

FACT

The spiritual leader of the Palestinians during the mandate period, the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a Nazi collaborator who famously met with Adolf Hitler in hopes of convincing the Führer to direct his extermination campaign toward the Jews in Palestine. It is unsurprising that the Mufti’s political acolytes today would invert the Palestinians’ long history of seeking the Jews’ destruction, demonstrated most recently by the Hamas massacre on October 7, 2023, to blame Israelis for “genocide” in Gaza. To do so, detractors among college faculty and students, and politicians like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, have adopted Hitler’s use of the “big lie.”

Generally misattributed to Joseph Goebbels, the OSS psychological profile of Hitler described his use of the big lie: “never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Many of Israel’s critics have adopted Hitler’s playbook.

Detractors have turned the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was a reaction to the Nazi crimes against the Jews, on its head to blame the victims. The Convention defines genocide as an “intention to destroy, wholly or partially, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group per se.”

Israel has never had any interest in the destruction of the Palestinian people. If you have any doubts, 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 roughly 4.6 million (The World Factbook, CIA).

Then, of course, the accusers have the impossible task of explaining Israel’s genocidal intent, given that the population of Israeli Arabs has grown from 156,000 in 1948 to more than two million today – one-fifth of the population.

If Israel were engaged in genocide, it has been a dismal failure.

Furthermore, if Israelis wanted to eradicate the Palestinians, why did they agree to coexist beside a Palestinian entity on at least nine different occasions from 1937 until 2020? Opportunities the Palestinians rejected. Just look at any Palestinian map or the logos of the political organizations, and you can see that it is the Palestinians who wish to erase the Jews’ presence.

But what about Israel’s campaign in Gaza? Thousands of Palestinians have been killed. Isn’t that evidence of “genocide”?

Not at all.

If Hamas, whose charter calls for genocide of the Jews, had not committed a massacre on October 7, 2023, not a single noncombatant would have lost their life in the last six months. If Hamas surrendered and released all the hostages it is holding today, no more civilians would be in danger. It is the genocidaire who starts the war, not the victim, who is responsible for the casualties.

Today, Israel’s goal is to destroy Hamas, not to annihilate the Palestinian people. Palestinians are suffering as all civilians do during a war, including the tens of thousands of Israelis displaced from their homes and killed or wounded by the terror attacks from Gaza and Lebanon. Whether you believe Israel’s provision of aid to Gaza is sufficient or not, the fact that it is assisting at all while its citizens are denied any humanitarian aid (which doesn’t concern anti-Israel protestors) is further evidence Israel’s intent is not malevolent.

Do you want more evidence?

Consider that terrorists who survived the massacre they perpetrated were treated in Israeli hospitals alongside Israeli victims. In the past, Israel has provided life-saving care to the families of the same Hamas leaders whose minions are sexually abusing and torturing their Jewish captives. For example, Ismail Haniyeh, one of those responsible for the 10/7 massacre, 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).

Tragically, many innocent lives have been lost in Gaza because of Hamas’s intent to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. Those concerned with Israel’s behavior should check their facts and place their outrage where it belongs – on the jihadists who would pursue their genocidal agenda if given the chance against many of the people (e.g., Christians, Queers for Gaza, and peace advocates) now praising them.

MYTH

Israel intentionally targeted the World Central Kitchen aid workers​​​​.

FACT

Seven employees of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) were tragically killed on April 1, 2024, by an Israeli airstrike. WCK said its team was transferring food to Gazans in marked cars when it came under attack and that it had coordinated its movements with the IDF. President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the incident (Statement from President Joe Biden on the Death of World Central Kitchen Workers in Gaza, White House, April 2, 2024).

Israel immediately apologized and pledged to investigate. Its initial conclusions were:

After the vehicles left the warehouse where the aid had been unloaded, one of the commanders mistakenly assumed that the gunmen were located inside the accompanying vehicles and that these were Hamas terrorists. The forces did not identify the vehicles in question as being associated with WCK. Following a misidentification by the forces, the forces targeted the three WCK vehicles based on the misclassification of the event and misidentification of the vehicles as having Hamas operatives inside them.

Several officers found responsible were dismissed.

Unsatisfied by the report, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked how the IDF failed to correctly identify the vehicles with WCK markings on the roof and sides. Lt. Gen Mark Hertling (Ret.) told him, “You don’t pick up anything like that at nighttime with a surveillance drone or an aircraft…. It’s really even difficult to see those kinds of marking during the day by a jet or a drone” (CNN, April 5, 2024).

The president has been upset with the conditions in Gaza and the insufficiency of aid; however, his reaction to the WCK incident was knee-jerk and hypocritical. This was a tragedy, but Biden knows mistakes happen in war because they have happened on his watch as president and vice president.

For example, during the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on August 29, 2021, mistakenly killed an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, the youngest a 2-year-old girl. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, initially called it “a righteous strike” that killed at least one person from ISIS. The Pentagon later concluded that “military surveillance may have misinterpreted information” and “multiple issues, including confirmation bias and communication breakdowns, led to the mistaken drone strike.” While Israel apologized and admitted its error within days, it took nearly three weeks for Milley to acknowledge the mistake, which he said was “heart wrenching” and “a horrible tragedy of war” (Lara Seligman, “‘Tragic mistake’: U.S. determines Kabul drone strike killed innocent aid worker, nine family members,” Politico, September 17, 2021). More than a year after the attack, the family had not been compensated or helped to resettle in the U.S. as the Biden administration promised (Courtney Kube, “Family, colleagues of Afghan aid worker killed in U.S. strike one year ago not yet in U.S., lawyer says,” NBC News, September 6, 2022).

In October 2015, during President Barack Obama’s term, a U.S. gunship attacked a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, operated by Doctors Without Borders, in which 42 staff and patients were killed and many wounded. The aircrew mistook the hospital for a Taliban-controlled building, which the Pentagon attributed to “avoidable human error compounded by process and equipment failures” (Richard Kemp, “Civilian casualties occur in fog of war as in killing of WCK staff,” Ynet, April 3, 2024).

That was only one instance. Obama authorized 542 drone strikes that killed 324 civilians (Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Final Drone Strike Data,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 20, 2017).

Only the most rabid critic would believe that Israel intentionally targeted the convoy. What motive would Israel have? What would it achieve besides global anger? And of all the aid providers, why target the WCK, which is one of the few that has helped Israeli victims of Hamas?

MYTH

Israeli soldiers raped a woman at the Shifa Hospital​​​​​​.

FACT

The United Nations, no friend of Israel, issued a report on March 4, 2024, documenting the sexual abuse of Israelis by Hamas  terrorists. Without going into the horrific details here, let us quote the report’s finding that during the October 7, 2023, attack, Israelis were victims of sexual violence, “including rape and gang rape.”

Victims have understandably been reluctant to speak publicly about the abuse they suffered. One former hostage, Amit Soussana, came forward shortly after the UN released its report. She told the New York Times about being tortured and forced to have sex with her captor as he held a gun to her head (Patrick Kingsley and Ronen Bergman, “Israeli Hostage Says She Was Sexually Assaulted and Tortured in Gaza,” New York Times, March 26, 2024).

To distract the world and turn victims into perpetrators, Palestinians have fabricated reports about sexual abuse by Israelis. Not surprisingly, Al Jazeera, the mouthpiece of the Hamas-supporting Qatari government, aired an interview with a woman who claimed she witnessed Israeli forces raping a Palestinian woman during the raid on the Shifa Hospital. Like other spurious claims, this one quickly spread through social media to provoke rage against Israel and tar the moral image of its military.

The story was quickly discovered to be a lie, and the video was deleted. The network did not apologize or explain. The next day it posted a graphic on its Instagram account concerning the use of rape as a weapon of war. It cited alleged rapes by Israeli soldiers and by those of other countries but said nothing about the abuse of Israeli women (Nagham Zbeedat, “Al Jazeera Deletes Video Claiming Woman Was Raped by Israeli Forces in Gaza Al-Shifa Raid,” Haaretz, March 25, 2024).

When it comes to information from Gaza, whether it be accusations of Israeli misconduct or civilian casualties, consumers of news should remember the maxim attributed to Aeschylus, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

MYTH

Israel must pause its military campaign for Ramadan.

FACT

President Joe Biden hoped for and incorrectly predicted a deal for the release of Israeli hostages and a ceasefire before Ramadan (Alexandra Sharp, “Biden Predicts Israel-Hamas Truce as Early as Next Week,” Foreign Policy, February 27, 2024). His fear, and that of others, was that the continuation of fighting during the holy month would spark violence beyond Gaza. This concern morphed into the mistaken idea that Muslims do not believe war is allowed during religious holidays.

Muslims do not consider religious holidays, including Ramadan, sacrosanct. The Gaza war started with the Hamas massacre on Shabbat, which was also the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The 1973 War began with the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur. Arabs and Muslims call it the Ramadan War because it occurred during the holy month. Going back to early Muslim history, “some of the greatest victories in Islam occurred during Ramadan” (Adnan Khan, “Battle of Badr happened in Ramadan,” Arab News, July 18, 2014).

As the Washington Institute’s Patrick Clawson noted, ignorant Westerners believe Ramadan is a peaceful month. “Ramadan has been more a month of war than of peace,” he observed. “It is not one of the four months during which Islam forbids warfare.”

“Modern proposals for Ramadan ceasefires by secular governments,” Clawson added, “were uniformly rejected by the Islamist side, which usually intensified fighting during Ramadan” (Patrick Clawson, “A Ramadan Offensive in Iraq,” Washington Institute, October 4, 2004).

Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Institute, pointed out that:

For Hamas and their fellow travelers, waging war during Ramadan — including sacrificing fellow Muslims as pawns in the fight against Israel, inciting tensions at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque to trigger violence at that holy site and launching terrorist attacks against civilians — are all acceptable military tactics, as valid during Ramadan as they are the other months of the year (Robert Satloff, “There’s no such thing as a ‘Ramadan truce,’” The Hill, March 12, 2024).

Palestinian terrorists made no secret of their desire to use Ramadan as a pretext for setting the region on fire. Provoking a religious war was part of Hamas’s strategy from the outset. It called its massacre “Operation al-Aqsa Flood” and justified it as a defense of the mosque, which remained undisturbed 50 miles away.

For Hamas, Ramadan is a time for jihad, not peaceful introspection and worship.

“We call upon our people in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the interior, and the occupied lands to mobilize and confront the occupation’s schemes against the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas said in a statement. “Protecting Jerusalem is among the utmost duties, especially as we are in the month of jihad and victories” (Jared Malsin and Fatima AbdulKarim, “Crowds at Al Aqsa Mosque Pray in Peace Despite Hamas’s Rallying Cry,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2024).

Likewise, its terrorist twin, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, called for Ramadan to be a “month of terror” (Seth J. Frantzman, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad calls for Ramadan to be ‘month of terror,’” Jerusalem Post, March 3, 2024).

The good news is that Palestinians and other Muslims unallied with Iran ignored the calls for a holy war against the Jews. As in every past year, tens of thousands of Muslims prayed peacefully on the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif in Arabic), enjoying the freedom of religion offered by Israel to Muslims that is denied to other faiths throughout much of the Islamic world.

MYTH

Israel is starving the people of Gaza.

FACT

The plight of civilians in Gaza is unfortunate. Not a single Gazan would have died or suffered had Hamas not attacked Israel, massacred 1,200 people, and taken 240 hostage. No Palestinians would be suffering today if Egypt opened the gates of Rafah to allow them to leave and if the Biden administration did not force them to remain in Gaza. They could receive all the required humanitarian aid if allowed into Sinai, or if any government was willing to take them in. Alas, not a single country has offered them refuge despite the international expressions of sympathy.

No doubt, given the wartime conditions, many Gazans are suffering. Still, it is essential to recognize that much of the reporting about their plight comes from unreliable sources.

Information is supplied by the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which is a propaganda arm of Hamas and has yet to acknowledge that a single terrorist has been killed, telling the world and the gullible media that only civilians have died. The objective is to attract sympathy and create international pressure on Israel to end the war. Promoting the narrative of Gazans starving has a similar purpose, so Hamas has no interest in allowing aid to reach the people.

Reports also come from “journalists.” The major news companies do not have reporters inside Gaza. Instead, they are relying on Arab sources, many of which are associated with terrorist organizations or know that they will be expelled or killed by Hamas if they do not disseminate disinformation (David Collier, “Special Report: The ‘Journalists’ Of Gaza,” January 2024).

A third source is the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, which have two incentives to exaggerate or lie about conditions in Gaza. First, claiming the situation is dire justifies fundraising appeals. Second, Hamas will not allow them to report the truth, and none want to jeopardize access to the Strip by reporting anything that might offend the terrorists who can threaten their lives or prevent them from doing their jobs. In UNRWA’s case, telling horror stories is meant to justify its continued existence which is now under threat because members of its staff participated in the 10/7 massacre,  thousands of others are associated with Hamas, and its facilities were used to store weapons and conceal tunnels (See, for example, “Group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers celebrates Hamas massacre and rape,” UN Watch, January 10, 2024; The Editorial Board, “Hamas Was Right Under Unrwa’s Nose,” Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2024; Andrew Bernard, “Gallant: 30 UNRWA employees participated in Oct. 7 massacre,” JNS, February 16, 2024; “Eight UNRWA employees arrested by Israel over Hamas ties,” Maariv, February 22, 2024).

The media also quotes Gazans. Although some have become bolder as Hamas is weakened and spoken the truth, most still are fearful of retribution if they criticize the terrorists. They have instructions from the interior ministry for how to deal with the press that says, for example, “Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian” (“Hamas Interior Ministry to Social Media Activists: Always Call the Dead ‘Innocent Civilians’; Don’t Post Photos of Rockets Being Fired from Civilian Population Centers,” MEMRI, July 17, 2014).

So what are the facts?

According to data provided by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Office, which is responsible for inspecting and transferring aid, the following assistance has been delivered between October 7, 2023, and March 7, 2024:

  • 9,488 trucks transporting 198,300 tons of food.
  • 2,347 trucks transporting 33,820 tons of shelter.
  • 1,579 trucks transporting 18,740 tons of medical supplies.
  • 1,303 trucks transporting 25,980 tons of water.
  • 176 tanks of fuel and 326 of cooking gas.
  • 1,376 trucks transporting 20,200 tons of other aid (COGAT, March 8, 2024).

These statistics contradict the claim that Israel is impeding the supply of aid and causing a famine.  As aid arrives, Hamas stops convoys and steals the food, some to keep for themselves and some to sell on the black market. Gazans who can’t afford to buy food from Hamas may have to go without eating, though most are able to have at least one meal a day (Zvika Klein, “Editor’s Notes: ‘There is no famine in Gaza’ – comment,” Jerusalem Post, March 8, 2024).

Further evidence that Palestinians are not starving comes from celebrity chef José Andrés, whose World Central Kitchen has served more than 32 million meals in Gaza, about 350,000 daily. The organization has set up 65 kitchens in Gaza and plans to add at least 35 more with the hope of providing more than a million meals per day after the United States builds a floating pier to bring more aid into Gaza (Christina Morales and Monika Pronczuk, “Aid From José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen Could Depart for Gaza on Friday, Officials Say,” New York Times, March 7, 2024).

Meanwhile, many Israelis are understandably angry that aid is being provided to Gazans and Hamas, while the international community has shown no interest in pressuring Hamas to give aid to the 134 Israeli hostages. Hamas agreed as part of the last ceasefire deal to allow medical supplies to be delivered to them; however, not only is there no evidence any of it was given to the hostages, but Israel found unopened boxes of medical supplies with hostages’ names on them when it raided the Nasser Hospital (“Unopened medicine boxes bearing names of Israeli hostages found in hospital raid,” i24 News, February 18, 2024). Hostages released months ago revealed that they received little food, so it is more likely that the Israelis held captives for more than five months are the ones starving (Rachel Clarke, “Little food, a beating and lice: What freed Israeli hostages are saying about being held by Hamas,” CNN, December 20, 2023).

MYTH

The Biden administration’s position on settlements continues longstanding U.S. policy.

FACT

The recent statements by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House spokesman John Kirby regarding Israeli settlements have raised concerns about the Biden administration’s stance on this longstanding issue. Besides being wrong on the law, the administration’s position is at odds with historical precedent.

Blinken’s declaration that Israeli settlements are “inconsistent with international law” was not a statement by a legal authority. It was a politician having the equivalent of a diplomatic tantrum over Israel’s announced intention to build new homes in three settlements and a transparent effort to appease critics of President Joe Biden. The Biden campaign is worried that the president’s reelection is endangered by his support for Israel (Sabrina Siddiqui, Annie Linskey, and Vivian Salama, “Biden Aides Fret That Support for Israel Will Hurt Re-Election Prospects,” Wall Street Journal, January 26, 20244).

White House spokesman John Kirby elaborated on the new policy and claimed, “This is a position that has been consistent over a range of Republican and Democratic administrations” (John Hudson and Karen DeYoung, “White House reverses West Bank policy, calling Israeli settlements illegal,” Washington Post, February 24, 2024). However, the United States has historically not regarded Israeli settlements as illegal.

The oft-cited exception is the opinion of State Department legal adviser Herbert Hansell in the Carter administration. Hansell argued in a letter to two members of the House International Relations Committee in 1978 that establishing settlements in the “occupied territories,” which include the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights, is “inconsistent with international law.” This conformed to the views of President Jimmy Carter, who vehemently opposed Israeli settlement policy.

Legal scholars have critiqued Hansell’s interpretation of international law, highlighting its reliance on a flawed reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Eugene Kontorovich noted Hansell based his conclusion on the reference that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Hansell erroneously inferred that Jews moving to Judea and Samaria were “deported or transferred” there by the government. “Under international law, occupation occurs when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country. But the West Bank was never part of Jordan, which seized it in 1949,” Kontorovich explained. “Moreover, a country cannot occupy territory to which it has sovereign title, and Israel has the strongest claim to the land.” Furthermore, Hansell said the state of occupation would end if the war ended between Israel and its neighbors, which it did when Israel entered into a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994 (Eugene Kontorovich, “Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019).

Contrary to the claim that both parties have shared Biden’s position, President Ronald Reagan explicitly rejected Hansell’s opinion. 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).

When Secretary of State James Baker was asked if the George H.W. Bush administration regarded the settlements as illegal, 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.

George W. Bush implicitly acknowledged the legality of settlements in his 2004 letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While he welcomed the plan to evacuate some settlements as part of the disengagement plan, he also recognized others would remain part of Israel. “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers,” Bush wrote, “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion

President Bill Clinton’s support for the Oslo Accords acknowledged the legitimacy of certain Israeli settlements pending final status negotiations (Liel Leibovitz, “Forty Years?” Tablet, November 21, 2019). Furthermore, Secretary of State John Kerry, under another Democratic President, Barack Obama, refrained from labeling settlements as illegal, instead using the term “illegitimate” (“Kerry: Israeli settlements are illegitimate,” Al Jazeera, November 6, 2013). His only statement regarding “illegality” was a reference in his final speech to “settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws.”

In addition, Obama abstained rather than veto the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 labeling settlements illegal. Nevertheless, the decision was interpreted as an endorsement of that position but did not change U.S. policy (Somini Sengupta and Rick Gladstone, “Rebuffing Israel, U.S. Allows Censure Over Settlements,” New York Times, December 23, 2016).

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.” The media inaccurately referred to this as a reversal of longstanding American policy (See, for example, Jennifer Hansler, Nicole Gaouette, and Jeremy Diamond, “Pompeo announces reversal of longstanding US policy on Israeli settlements,” CNN, November 18, 2019).

So, it is Biden who has deviated from U.S. policy.

The administration’s position is ironic, given its insistence on promoting a two-state solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Blinken knows that past proposals recognized that the large settlement blocs would be annexed to Israel. The Israeli announcement that provoked Blinken’s reaction did not refer to the creation of any new settlements; it applied only to the construction of houses (which will take months or years) in Ma’aleh Adumim (2,350), Keidar (300), and Efrat (694), all communities in the “consensus” blocs (Hagar Shezaf and Ben Samuels, “Israel Planning 3,000 New Settlement Homes in Response to Fatal Terror Attack,” Haaretz, February 23, 2024).

Rather than aligning with longstanding U.S. policy, the administration’s position represents a departure from past precedents and a divergence from the nuanced approach adopted by previous Republican and Democratic administrations.

MYTH

Israel must agree to a ceasefire to save Palestinian lives.

FACT

Outside the Middle East, memories are short. Israelis, however, remember that a ceasefire existed on October 6, 2023, and not a single civilian in Gaza was in any danger. It was Hamas that provoked a war by sending some 3,000 terrorists to massacre 1,200 Israelis and take 240 hostages the next day. From that point on, Hamas was responsible for the death and destruction in Gaza that followed.

Hamas’s leaders knew what the response of Israel would be and yet did nothing to warn or prepare the civilian population. They stole millions of dollars in foreign aid earmarked for public welfare to build their network of tunnels to provide the means to murder Israelis and escape from retribution. Not a dime was spent to build shelters for civilians.

Hamas purposely stashed weapons, built tunnel entrances, and fired rockets from apartments, hospitals, mosques, refugee camps, and schools, unconcerned that by doing so, they made each a legitimate military target. Furthermore, they did everything possible to prevent civilians from leaving. They knew Israel was put in an impossible position: if the military did not attack those positions, the terrorists would be safe and could continue their attacks, and if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acted, the civilians they used as shields would die, and the press and the international community would pillory Israel. From Hamas’s perspective, it is a win-win scenario.

The urgent calls for a ceasefire have intensified following Israel’s preparations to launch an offensive in Rafah, the last stronghold of the terrorists. With more than one million civilians seeking refuge in the area, there are grim predictions of potential casualties. In one apocalyptic report, the New York Times said 85,000 Palestinians could die from injuries and disease over the next six months (Stephanie Nolen, “War and Illness Could Kill 85,000 Gazans in 6 Months,” New York Times, February 21, 2024).

A ceasefire could potentially save lives, not only of civilians but also of the terrorists responsible for the violence. It would enable them to utilize their tunnels for escaping, regrouping, fortifying defenses, and planning future attacks. Hamas’s leaders have made no secret of their intentions if they survive. Ghazi Hamad, for example, said, “Israel is a country that has no place on our land….We must remove that country.” If that wasn’t clear enough, he added, “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again. The Al-Aqsa Flood [the name Hamas gave to its massacre plan] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. Because we have the determination...to fight.”

But what about the civilians in Gaza?

Hamad said, “We are called a nation of martyrs and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs” (“‘We will repeat October 7 again and again’ - Hamas official,” Jerusalem Post, November 1, 2023).

Leaders like Hamad like to extol martyrdom – for others. He is not fighting the IDF. The leader of Hamas in Gaza and planner of the 10/7 massacre, Yahya Sinwar, was seen in a video fleeing with his family in a tunnel. Other Hamas cowards are living in luxury in Qatar and elsewhere, having accumulated fortunes, while Gazans live in misery.

Another reason Israel has resisted the unilateral ceasefire that critics demand is that it nothing is required of Hamas. It still holds 136 hostages; as many as 50 may be dead, and the only way to secure their release is for Israel to keep up the pressure by killing as many terrorists as possible and destroying their weapons and infrastructure (Summer Said, Nancy A. Youssef, and Jared Malsin, “Israel Privately Estimates as Many as 50 Hostages Could Be Dead,” Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2024). If Israel were to stop its campaign without a deal to free the hostages, Hamas would have the opportunity to kill or move them to new locations.

So, how can the civilians in Rafah be protected?

For years, anti-Israel propagandists have called Gaza an “open-air prison.” That was not true before, but it is today. The jailers are U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, not Israel. Early in the war, long before the situation in Gaza became the crisis it is today, Biden and El-Sisi agreed to ensure that “Palestinians in Gaza are not displaced to Egypt or any other nation” (@POTUS, October 29, 2023).

They needn’t have worried since not a single nation, including their Arab and Muslim brethren, has offered to accept any Gazans. This is perhaps the best indication of how much the world cares about the Palestinians.

Instead of placing the responsibility on Israel to alleviate the crisis by allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza, much of which is stolen by Hamas and, increasingly, desperate civilians, the Palestinians could move temporarily into the Sinai, where they could receive all the humanitarian aid they need with no interference from Israel (Patrick Kingsley, “Amid Food Shortages, People in Gaza Are Ambushing Aid Convoys,” New York Times, February 21, 2024). None would be in danger.

The Egyptians control the Rafah crossing and have prevented most Gazans from leaving, except those willing to pay thousands of dollars in bribes (Ali Younes, “Palestinians paying thousands of dollars in bribes to leave Gaza,” Al Jazeera, (December 23, 2023). To ensure they don’t try to escape from the anticipated Israeli offensive, Egypt is building a wall with a miles-wide buffer zone to prevent anyone from leaving Rafah (Paul P. Murphy, “Egypt is building a new walled buffer zone more than 2 miles wide on Gaza border, satellite images show,” CNN, February 15, 2024). The administration has not protested Egypt’s actions to protect it from refugees but has objected to Israel’s intention to create a buffer zone after the war to protect it from a repeat of 10/7 (“U.S. would object to ‘buffer zone’ inside Gaza strip, State Department says,” Reuters, December 6, 2023).

The Egyptian position is understandable given their contempt for the Palestinians and fear of infiltration by Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorist organization that has sought to overthrow the government in Cairo for nearly a century.

The policy of the Biden administration is more difficult to justify. Unlike elsewhere, it demands that individuals caught amidst conflict remain in harm’s way. Ukrainians are not instructed to stay in the path of Russian attacks, nor is Poland prevented from offering them refuge. Similarly, Palestinians and Syrians are not expected to endure violence from Bashar Assad’s regime, and Jordan faces no pressure to block those refugees from seeking safety within its borders.

The main excuse offered by the administration and the Palestinians is the fear that those who leave will not be allowed to return. Since Egypt controls the border crossing and would want to expel the Palestinians as soon as possible, and the Israeli government has not said it would interfere with their reentry, the argument is spurious.

The best way to ensure the safety of Gazans is for Hamas to surrender and release all the hostages.

MYTH

“Extremist settler” attacks against Palestinians have increased.

FACT

On February 11, 2024, President Joe Biden issued an executive order allowing him to sanction “extremist” settlers who engage in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. The order says the “forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels.”

Some settlers indeed engage in illegal, violent activities against Palestinians. But the data indicate the number fell in the month following the October 7, 2023, Hamas massacre from 184 offenses in the same period in 2022 to 97. Those characterized as “serious” dropped from three to zero (Ariel Kahana, “Violence against Judea and Samaria Arabs drops significantly,” JNS, November 12, 2023).

An even better indication of the scale of the problem is provided by the Biden administration’s decision to apply sanctions to just four people (Simon Lewis, Susan Heavey, and Daphne Psaledakis, “Biden imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers accused of West Bank violence,” Reuters, February 1, 2024). That represents only .001% of the 500,000 Jews living in the West Bank, which gives a better indication than media reports of the true extent of the problem. More names may be added, but they will still represent a tiny fraction of the people his administration has demonized.

Settlers who do engage in violence have not always been caught and punished. After the United States announced on December 5, 2023, that it would ban violent settlers from obtaining visas (Simon Lewis and Daphne Psaledakis, “US announces visa bans after warning Israel over West Bank violence,” Reuters, December 5, 2023), Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed an order the next day to detain without trial for four months any Israeli settler suspected of attacking Palestinians. “In a state of law, and Israel is a state of law,” he said, “the right to use violence belongs only to those who are certified to do so by the government” (Mike Brest, “Israeli leaders split over settler violence in West Bank,” Washington Examiner, December 6, 2023).

Even before the visa ban, Gallant had begun to crack down on settlers. Six months earlier, he had ordered administrative detention for several extremists who had engaged in violent acts (Carrie Keller-Lynn, “Gallant orders four Israelis to be held without charge over West Bank riots,” Times of Israel, June 28, 2023). Similar orders were issued in subsequent months.

MYTH

Benjamin Netanyahu strengthened Hamas to thwart the creation of a Palestinian state.

FACT

This has become a popular theme of critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who blame him for the Hamas massacre of October 7, 2023. As the country’s leader, Netanyahu must accept responsibility for Israel being surprised on that day; however, it is a misrepresentation of the facts to suggest he had a grander strategy to support Hamas to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has made no secret of his opposition to a Palestinian state today (Lazar Berman, “Netanyahu: No full Palestinian state, no ‘surrender’ in exchange for Gaza hostages,” Times of Israel, January 21, 2024). Still, he said he would accept one with conditions in 2009 and again as recently as 2015 (Isabel Kershner, “Netanyahu Backs Palestinian State, With Caveats,” New York Times, June 14, 2009; “PM Netanyahu addresses the Herzliya Conference,” Embassy of Israel in Sweden, June 9, 2015). He does indeed see Palestinian division as an impediment to their independence, but he is not responsible for their schism and took steps to bolster the Palestinian Authority (PA) even while allowing funding to flow to Hamas.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds for decades. In 2006, Hamas won the legislative election for the PA. President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold another vote for fear of another defeat, and his four-year term has now lasted 18 years.

The following year, without any help from Israel, Hamas overthrew the Fatah-run government, arresting, expelling, and executing its officials. Fatah has murdered its share of Hamas members since then. Periodically, reconciliation talks are held but have never succeeded in reaching a lasting agreement. Hence, Netanyahu did not have to do anything to create or sustain the disagreements among Palestinians.

Moreover, Netanyahu certainly was not strengthening Hamas when he ordered operations Pillar of DefenseProtective Edge, and Guardian of the Walls to prevent the group from terrorizing Israelis.

In hindsight, Netanyahu’s willingness to allow Qatar to provide Hamas with tens of millions of dollars may be seen as a catastrophic error that allowed the terrorists to grow stronger and prepare for the attack on Israel. Netanyahu mistakenly believed that allowing money into Gaza and Gazans to work in Israel would improve the economy and create an incentive for Hamas to keep the peace so as not to risk the welfare of the public. October 7 proved Hamas has no concern for the people of Gaza.

Simultaneously, Netanyahu pursued a similar approach in the PA with greater success as violence from the West Bank has been more limited. More than 100,000 West Bankers received permits to work in Israel. It is the Hamas massacre that threatened their livelihoods. In addition to promoting economic development, Netanyahu strengthened the PA, albeit out of concern for Israel’s security, by doing everything possible to prevent Hamas from undermining its stability.

The Palestinians don’t have a state for one simple reason: they have rejected every opportunity to have one because they insist on replacing Israel. Hamas wants to destroy Israel, not live beside it, and Fatah wants to “liberate” Palestine in stages.

MYTH

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

FACT

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 replaced the charter nor abrogated the group’s founding document calling for Israel’s destruction, according to 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  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 the 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).

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 must engage in a jihad against Israel (Points 15, 23, 25 and 26).

The statement’s references to tolerance and upholding human rights are risable, 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 were frequently persecuted. Muslims created a special category of second-class treatment for Jews and Christians known as dhimmitude.

The notion that Hamas moderated its positions was belied by the appointment of Yahya Sinwar as its leader. Long before the October 7, 2023, Hamas massacre of Israelis, Kobi Michael, a former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said he “represents the most radical and extreme line of Hamas” (Isabel Kershner, “Hamas Appoints Hard-Line Militant as Gaza Leader,” New York Times, February 13, 2017).

Even Fatah dismissed the new charter as “nothing new” (“Hamas’ political document has nothing new, says Fatah,” WAFA, May 2, 2017).

Presaging the 10/7 massacre, Hamas Deputy Political Chief Saleh el-Arouri traveled to Iran after the charter was “revised” and declared that Hamas would never agree to lay down arms, recognize the Zionist regime of Israel, or sever its ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Hamas Never to Recognize Israel: Official,” Tasnim News Agency, October 24, 2017). This was also when Iran reconciled with Hamas after a period of estrangement and became the group’s principal financial backer.

If it was unclear to anyone that Hamas had not changed its agenda with the new charter, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal left no doubt in January 2024 when he said:

In order to establish a common ground and a joint Palestinian plan with the other Palestinian with the other Palestinian forces, and in line with the other Arab position. Hamas agreed to a completely independent [Palestinian] state, with the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, with the right of Return included – without recognizing the legitimacy of the Zionist entity.
This position was meant to facilitate Palestinian and Arab agreement at this stage, but without relinquishing any of our rights or any part of our land and without recognizing Israel. Our vision remains unchanged.
I believe that October 7 has enhanced this conviction, has narrowed the disagreements, and has turned the idea of liberating Palestine from the River to the Sea into a realistic idea that has already begun. It is not something [merely] to be expected or hoped for. It is part of the plan, part of the agenda, and we are standing on its threshold, Allah willing (“Hamas Leader Abroad Khaled Mashal: ‘We Reject The Two-State Solution; October 7 Proved That Liberating Palestine From The River To The Sea Is Realistic And Has Already Begun,’” MEMRI, January 22, 2024).

MYTH

Israel is targeting journalists in Gaza​​​​.

FACT

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 79 journalists and media workers have been killed since Israel’s war with Hamas began on October 7, 2023. Reports by CPJ and others have suggested Israel is targeting journalists (“Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war,” Committee to Protect Journalists, January 11, 2024). This is not true. Israel does not target journalists. Furthermore, less than half a dozen were killed while covering the story; most were killed inadvertently in their homes by airstrikes targeting terrorists, and many of the people listed as “journalists” were associated with terrorist propaganda outlets.

International news organizations have little access to Gaza and have relied primarily on Arabs associated with Middle Eastern media outlets whose objectivity is dubious given their employers and Hamas’s influence over what information may be disseminated. 

So, who are the “journalists” who have been killed?

Four were Israelis murdered by Hamas on 10/7. Two (Ayelet Arnin and Shai Regev) were killed at the Nova music festival; Yaniv Zohar was working when he was killed (his wife and two daughters were also slain), and Roee Idan was with his family, a wife and two daughters, who were all murdered at Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

More than half – at least 47 – were killed not because they were journalists but because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, most dying in Israeli airstrikes targeting terrorists. Two were killed in a car with a terrorist operating a drone (Emanuel Fabian, “IDF: Al Jazeera journalists were killed in car with drone-operating terror operative,” Times of Israel, January 8, 2024).

According to the CPJ data, at least 14 were terrorists affiliated with Hamas television or radio stations. Three others were affiliated with Hezbollah.

David Collier took a closer look at the CPJ list, including their social media accounts (David Collier, “Special Report: The ‘Journalists’ Of Gaza,” January 2024). Some 19 people of the first 70 journalists CPJ reported dead, Collier says, were not journalists. Of the 47 accounts he could access, he documented that 31 belonged to “journalists” who “promoted and celebrated terrorism and the death of innocent civilians.”

He found that half of those on the list worked for Hamas or Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) channels, thereby violating its guidelines to exclude people employed by terrorist groups. Most were not working at the time of their deaths: 45 of the 70 died at home, as did 30 of the 35 “journalists” who worked for terrorist media. In one case, an employee of a PIJ outlet was killed when he was at the home of his father, who was targeted because he was a PIJ commander.

“There is no way CPJ can say journalism had anything to do with their death,” Collier concluded.

MYTH

Israel is spreading infectious diseases to kill children in Gaza.

FACT

Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was the master of the “big lie” tactic in which a lie, no matter how outrageous, is repeated often enough that it will eventually be accepted as truth. It is a propaganda tool the Palestinians have repeatedly used to tar Israel. Past examples have included specious claims that Israel “massacred” 500 people at Jenin (“Israeli minister denies Palestinian massacre,” CNN, April 17, 2002), infected Palestinians with the AIDS virus (“Israel Blasts Palestinian Charge That It Infected Children with HIV,” JTA, March 19, 1997), dropped poison candy for children in Gaza from airplanes (“Official Palestine News Agency: Israel poisons Palestinian candies,” Center for Near East Policy Research, May 24, 2001), made bombs and mines designed as toys for Palestinian children to play with, (PA TV, March 3, 2003, translated by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA mayor: Israeli army shapes explosives like toys to target Palestinian children,” Palestinian Media Watch, January 8, 2013), and spread drugs among young Palestinians to distract them from fighting Israel (PA TV, March 8, 2014, translated by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA official repeats libel: ‘Zionist policy’ is to cause drug addiction among Palestinian youth,” Palestinian Media Watch, October 15, 2014).

The latest calumny from the Palestinians is that “Israel is using a new silent weapon, through a systematic and deliberate policy of creating a hothouse for the spread of lethal epidemics and infectious diseases among children in the centers of uprooted people in the Gaza Strip, in order to kill as many civilians as possible, and particularly children” (Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 29, 2023, translated by Nan Jacques Zilberdik. “PA lies and libels: “Israel deliberately… spread(s) lethal epidemics and infectious diseases among children in Gaza,” Palestinian Media Watch, January 4, 2024).

Since the allegation is coming from the official Palestinian media, it represents yet another violation of the PA’s commitment to end incitement against Israel. It is a reminder of the anti-Semitism and hostility of the people some would like to put in charge of Gaza after the war with Hamas.

MYTH

The Associated Press considers the murder of Israelis as terrorism.

FACT

An Associated Press (AP) story (Julia Frankel, “Israel’s military campaign in Gaza seen as among the most destructive in recent history, experts say,” AP, December 22, 2023) recognized that the war in Gaza began with a Hamas attack on October 7, 2023. It describes the event as a “cross-border rampage” rather than a massacre and says it was perpetrated by a “militant group,” not terrorists.

How the AP covers the news has great influence as its stories are reprinted in publications worldwide. The organization has a checkered history, having collaborated with the Nazis (Philip Oltermann, “Revealed: how Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis,” The Guardian, March 30, 2016) and repeatedly published biased and inaccurate stories regarding Israel (see, for example, Matti Friedman, “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth,” Tablet, August 26, 2014 and Michael J. Jordan, “Photo caption reinforces belief in anti-Israel bias,” JTA, October 5, 2000).

The AP admits the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and other Western countries consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Still, in its latest Stylebook, AP says it will not use the term “terrorist” or “terrorism” to describe Hamas (or Hezbollah). It chooses to use the term “militant(s)” (also acceptable: “fighters,” “attackers,” or “combatants”) based on the Webster definition: “aggressively active (as in a cause)” (“Israel-Hamas Topical Guide,” AP Stylebook). This makes Hamas sound little different than a hyperactive child who wants a toy.

The AP acknowledges that Hamas “has carried out suicide bombings” and “fired tens of thousands of increasingly powerful rockets from Gaza into Israel,” and used “other violence against ordinary citizens.” Nevertheless, it selectively chose what to use from Webster, refusing to use its definition of “terrorism” – “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” – and “terror,” which is “violent or destructive acts (such as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands” (“terrorism” and “terror,” Merriam-Webster).

The AP has its own definition of “terrorism”: “the calculated use of violence, especially against civilians, to create terror to disrupt and demoralize societies for political ends” but subjectively decided the term does not apply to Hamas because “the terms terrorism and terrorist have become politicized, and often are applied inconsistently” and “because they can be used to label such a wide range of actions and events, and because the debate around them is so intense” (emphasis in the original).

This is nonsense since the AP has no trouble using the words in the context of attacks against Americans.

Why is a plane hitting the World Trade Center an act of terrorism, but rockets hitting Israeli cities are not? Why is the organization that attacked the United States on 9/11 a terrorist group, but those who butchered Israelis on 10/7 are not?

Consistency is not required for AP journalists, at least not when it comes to the murder of Israelis.

2023

The New York Times accepted evidence from its own reporters that Hamas used Shifa Hospital as a base.
Israel is illegally using white phosphorus munitions.
Israel is not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties.
Causing civilian casualties fighting Hamas will create more terrorists.
No Israelis were massacred on October 7, 2023, and if any were killed, Israel was responsible.
By attacking Gaza hospitals Israel is committing a war crime.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is not a call for the destruction of Israel.
Palestinians do not support Hamas or its goals.
The massacre by Hamas can’t be blamed on Palestinian society.
Israel is engaged in an illegal siege of Gaza.
The Gaza War is just a continuation of the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
Israelis are murdered by “militants.”
The media accurately reports casualties in Gaza.
Israel is using disproportionate force in Gaza.
Gaza civilians have nowhere to go to avoid airstrikes.
Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth.
Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
The “right-wing” Israeli government allows illegal outposts to be built on Palestinian land.
Palestinian summer camps are meant for fun, not indoctrination.
Gazans support Hamas’s rule.
Palestinians protect holy sites.
Ben & Jerry’s was justified in launching a boycott of Jews in “occupied Palestinian territory.”
Israel should be barred from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
Jordan agreed to extradite a terrorist who murdered Americans.
Israel targeted children in Jenin.
Installing an elevator for the disabled at the Cave of the Patriarchs is a “war crime.” [Updated]
The Palestinian Authority has stopped payments to terrorists.
Israel held a cabinet meeting in a tunnel dug under the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel assassinated a Palestinian hunger striker.
Israel is responsible for the “Nakba.”
Israel’s use of facial recognition technology is “racist.”
Iran does not fund Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israel prevented Christians from attending their Holy Fire Festival.
Israel stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque to prevent Muslim prayers during Ramadan.

MYTH

The New York Times accepted evidence from its own reporters that Hamas used Shifa Hospital as a base.

FACT

On November 15, 2023, the New York Times reported that Israel “stormed” Shifa Hospital, which the staff and Hamas insisted was just a medical center. When presented with evidence of weapons, uniforms, and other military equipment inside the hospital, the Times refused to believe the corroboration, saying it “was unable to verify the provenance of the weapons and equipment in the images or assess the claim of the command center’s existence” implying that the IDF placed them there to mislead the journalists (Patrick Kingsley and Iyad Abuheweila, “Israel Seizes Gaza Hospital That Became Symbol of the War Itself,” New York Times, November 15, 2023). However, in the following sentence, the authors acknowledged a gunfight took place outside the hospital. If there were no terrorists at the hospital, who was shooting at the IDF?

And why wasn’t the Times impressed when the bodies of two hostages were found near the hospital? Did they crawl there from their homes in Israel? (Aaron Boxerman, “2 Israeli Hostages’ Bodies Were Recovered Near Al-Shifa Hospital, Army Says,” New York Times, (November 16, 2023). Note the headline’s language, which also typifies how the Times casts doubt on information from Israel. Instead of simply reporting bodies were found, the Times makes it sound like it’s a dubious claim from the IDF.

Similarly, the release of a hospital surveillance video showing two hostages being manhandled by terrorists in the hospital did not impress the paper, which raised doubts about their authenticity. “The Times verified the location of the footage as Al-Shifa, but not the identities of those shown or the time stamps on the videos,” it said (“Israel’s military releases video it says shows a Hamas tunnel at Al-Shifa Hospital,” New York Times, (November 19, 2023).

On the 21st, a Times reporter accompanied the IDF to see inside the hospital. Unlike reports from Hamas and its supporters, which do not include any caveats, Patrick Kingsley made clear “we were only going to be able to see the places that they wanted us to see (Hamas does not allow any reporting that does not conform to its narrative) and we weren’t going to be able to talk to any Palestinians.” When he was told about a car found with weapons and explosives, Kingsley reported this is what “they said,” consistent with the paper’s habit of questioning everything coming from Israeli sources.

When he was shown a staircase leading into a tunnel shaft, Kingsley said, “It’s interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything, doesn’t prove that there is a command center.” When they showed him weapons in the hospital, his response was, “Naturally, anyone can put a bunch of weapons on a shelf, and so this in itself is not proof. Even if they really were taken from other locations in the hospital, it’s not something that we as an international newspaper can accept as proof” (“A Reporter’s Journey Into Gaza,” New York Times, November 21, 2023).

On the 22nd, Israel released videos of the tunnel infrastructure beneath the hospital. Again, the NYT insisted they were not “conclusive evidence of a vast network of tunnels” (Nadav Gavrielov, “Israel Releases Videos It Says Show Hamas Tunnels Under Al-Shifa Hospital,” New York Times, (November 22, 2023).

What makes these analyses even more startling is that one of their reporters (along with many other outlets) documented that Hamas used Shifa before the stories above appeared. David Leonhardt reported extensively on Shifa’s use by Hamas. He acknowledged U.S. intelligence agreed with Israel that Hamas used the hospital as a command-and-control center (“U.S. officials insist Hamas was operating under Al-Shifa Hospital, despite a lack of public documentation,” New York Times, November 17, 2023). He said a NYT journalist “watched armed Hamas militants walking around Al-Shifa Hospital in civilian clothes and witnessed Hamas execute a Palestinian man accused of collaborating with Israel” in 2008.

Leonhardt also noted the Gaza Health Ministry’s credibility problem (without mentioning Hamas ran it) after falsely blaming Israel for the bombing of the Al Ahi Hospital. He concluded, “The Israeli claims have much more evidence behind them than Hamas’s claims,” yet the Times continued to suggest Israel was concocting the story.

He also referenced an Amnesty International report in 2014 concluding the hospital was used by Hamas to “to detain, interrogate, torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects, even as other parts of the hospital continued to function as a medical center.”

Israel released an audio recording of terrorists “that purport” to discuss the tunnels under Shifa, and he said Times reporters were shown photographs that “appear” to show secret entrances to the tunnels located inside the hospital.

Leonhardt cited the Times’ Steven Erlanger, who acknowledged Hamas had a history of using civilian areas, including hospitals, intending to force Israel to risk killing civilians and tarnishing its reputation to get to the terrorists. “I’ve seen these things for myself,” he said (David Leonhardt, “The Debate Over Al-Shifa,” New York Times, November 14, 2023).

Speaking to the Times in January 2024, a senior U.S. intelligence official reiterated the earlier conclusion that Hamas used the hospital as a command and control center. The official said it had been used to store weapons and hold “at least a few hostages.” Hamas was able to evacuate the complex and destroy documents and electronics before the IDF assault. Still, the Times felt obligated to cast doubt on this report as well, saying “the spy agencies provided no visual evidence” (Julian E. Barnes, “Hamas Used Gaza Hospital as a Command Center, U.S. Intelligence Says,” New York Times, January 2, 2023).

MYTH

Israel is illegally using white phosphorus munitions.

FACT

We use “evergreen” to describe myths propagandists repeat through the years. The media inevitably gives them new life, as was the case when the Washington Post repeated the most recent version of “Israel has committed a war crime by using U.S.-supplied white phosphorous munitions” in response to Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon (William Christou, Alex Horton, and Meg Kelly, “Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in Lebanon attack,” Washington Post, December 11, 2023).

Breathlessly reported as a scoop to tarnish Israel’s reputation and raise questions about whether Israel was violating the terms for the use of American weapons, it is a nonstory, as it has been when the allegations were introduced in the past. Munitions containing white phosphorous are used by militaries worldwide, including the United States, to create smoke or illuminate a target. Their use is not regulated or prohibited by international law.

As General Peter Pace explained after the U.S. was criticized for using white phosphorous in Iraq, “It is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary. And it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they’re being used, for marking and for screening.” They are a “legitimate tool of the military” (“US general defends phosphorus use,” BBC, November 30, 2005).

According to the Post, the town that was allegedly hit with white phosphorous shells, Dheira, “has been used as a staging ground for Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel.” Thus, though the Post would not say so, it was a legitimate military target and an example of a war crime – using civilians as shields – committed by Hezbollah,

When asked about the Post story, National Security Advisor John Kirby said the use of white phosphorous was not a violation of international accords if they did not target noncombatant civilians (Ron Ben Yishai, “How IDF uses white phosphorus to reveal Hezbollah's secret bases,” Ynet, December 12, 2023). Hezbollah forces are combatants.

Since the Gaza war began, Israel has been under daily attack from Lebanon. Ron Ben Yishai explained that Hezbollah uses unpopulated areas as bases for its elite Radwan force. Mortar and anti-tank missile launchers that pose a threat to Israel are “covered by thick vegetation that prevents intelligence surveillance from the air.” He said, “By bombing the bases with phosphorus bombs, the IDF hopes to ignite the vegetation covering the bases and create a smoke screen” to allow it to target them.

An IDF report on a prior operation in Gaza noted the munitions are not “designed or intended to be lethal or destructive, and as a result they are not used for targeting purposes. Rather, they are intended to disorient and neutralize the enemy by creating obscuration of the enemy‘s field of view.” They do, however, “have significant battlefield advantages such as the speed of deployment and the effectiveness of blocking observation and targeting systems.” It noted that their careful use “may not have eliminated the risk of civilian casualties, but the Law of Armed Conflict does not require such a result. It only requires parties to minimize the risk to civilians to the extent possible, subject to the legitimate military necessities.”

MYTH

Israel is not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties.

FACT

Even as Israel continues to be attacked by rockets and missiles from Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen, the focus has turned away from Israel’s need and right to defend its citizens to the civilian casualties among Palestinians used as shields by Hamas.

The United States and others hector Israel to conduct a war like no other in history. The Israel Defense Forces are expected to warn civilians to leave the frontlines, arrange a route for them to evacuate, provide them with humanitarian aid, and fight with unprecedented precision to avoid hurting any noncombatants in the combat zone.

John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, explained why the expectations placed on Israel are unrealistic:

All war is hell. All war is killing and destruction, and historically civilians are inordinately the innocent victims of wars. Urban warfare is a unique type of hell not just for soldiers, who face assaults from a million windows or deep tunnels below them, but especially for civilians. Noncombatants have accounted for 90% of casualties per international humanitarian experts in the modern wars that have occurred in populated urban areas such as Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa, even when a Western power like the United States is leading or supporting the campaign (John Spencer, “Opinion: I’m an expert in urban warfare. Israel is upholding the laws of war,” CNN, November 7, 2023).

From the outset of the war, Israel has taken extraordinary measures to protect civilians in Gaza. As Yaakov Lappin reported, the IDF has a sophisticated control center to monitor and evaluate the situation in Gaza in real time so its forces are aware of the location of civilians (Yaakov Lappin, “How the IDF is reducing civilian casualties in Gaza,” JNS, December 5, 2023). The IDF has created evacuation maps, dropped more than one million leaflets, made more than 40,000 personal phone calls, and sent approximately 15 million text messages and12 million recorded cell phone messages warning people to move to a safe area (Kat Lonsdorf, Daniel Estrin, Anas Baba, and Abu Bakr Bashir, “Israel’s map and evacuation messages for Gaza are adding to the chaos,” NPR, December 7, 2023). Though it has caused great hardship, evacuating nearly two million people has saved countless lives.

Commentators have frequently compared Israel’s ground campaign in Gaza to the battle of Mosul fought by U.S. troops, during which between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were estimated to have been killed (Yaroslav Trofimov, “Taking Gaza Would Be Possible, Sieges From Mosul to Mariupol Show—but at a Steep Cost,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2023). The U.S. Army’s Mosul Study Group noted that the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) “recognizes the reality that incidental harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects is a tragic but inevitable consequence of warfare, especially when operating in dense urban terrain” (“Mosul Study Group,” U.S. Army, September 2017).

ISIS took advantage of American sensitivity to civilian casualties and used civilians as shields. “ISIS created a situation in which the coalition was forced to either slow operations, thus giving ISIS the advantage, or run the risk of causing a CIVCAS [civilian casualty] incident, which ISIS could then use to delegitimize coalition efforts.”

ISIS propaganda also resembled that of Hamas. The study group noted, “ISIS proactively used social media and other messaging platforms to attack and undermine the coalition. They would do this by using CIVCAS allegations, whether substantiated or not, to portray the coalition as either purposefully or recklessly killing civilians. Additionally, news media and other organizations, including some NGOs, often reported incidents in a manner that equated any civilian death or injury with a violation of the LOAC or a war crime.”

The U.S. had a similar experience to what happened when Israel was falsely accused of bombing the Al-Ahli Hospital that was hit by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. In Mosul, air support was called to kill two ISIS snipers on the roof of a building. It was later reported that hundreds of civilians inside the structure were injured. As the study group related:

Media outlets, both U.S. and international, reported that the coalition had caused an excessive amount of civilian casualties and accused the coalition of committing LOAC violations or war crimes. Furthermore, an Amnesty International report stated, “the high civilian toll suggests that coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

As in the Israeli case, coalition forces needed time to investigate the incident. “Ultimately, the investigation showed that ISIS had purposefully trapped civilians in the building, placed explosives in the building’s lower levels, and then established a firing position on the second floor with the intent of drawing coalition fire, thereby triggering the explosives.”

The damage was done, however, by the time the truth came out. “Given the widespread nature of reporting on this strike and on the operation in Mosul as a whole,” the study group concluded, “commanders saw a growing need to counter the false reporting and negative publicity.”

Israel faces the same challenges in Gaza.

MYTH

Causing civilian casualties fighting Hamas will create more terrorists.

FACT

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Charles Brown warned Israel that prolonging the war in Gaza will drive more civilians to terrorism (Jacob Magid, “New top American general says Israeli goal of toppling Hamas ‘a pretty large order,’” Times of Israel, November 10, 2023).

Sadly, civilians are “collateral damage” in wars. Neither Israel nor any other army can base its operations on how they will react. The Allies did not concern themselves with whether more German civilians would be motivated to become Nazis after the firebombing of Dresden. The war on terror waged by the United States since 9/11 has resulted in many civilian casualties. Still, war planners have not been deterred by the possibility that more people will join ISIS or al-Qaeda. President Barack Obama didn’t halt drone strikes against terrorists because hundreds of civilians were mistakenly killed.

Israel takes measures no other army does to protect civilians while Hamas uses them as shields. For most of the world, it is a tragedy that thousands have died (the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry figures cannot be trusted as they do not identify Hamas terrorists among the casualties and exaggerate fatalities). However, Hamas uses people as cannon fodder and their deaths as propaganda instruments. Gaza families should blame the terrorists who built tunnels for themselves instead of shelters, but some may seek revenge against Israel. Does that mean Israel shouldn’t destroy Hamas to protect its citizens?

Brown and many other Western officials don’t acknowledge that Israel is part of the Middle East, not the Middle West. Israelis know Hamas is just one enemy. Iran and its proxies want to kill Jews and will not be satisfied until Israel is destroyed. That will be true no matter how many Gazans die.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others think the “moderate” Palestinians in the West Bank have a different agenda because they refuse to believe that Palestinians mean what they say and teach. When they chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,” it is a call for genocide. When their textbook maps show all of Israel as Palestine, they want their children to believe Israel does not and should not exist. When Mahmoud Abbas calls on Palestinians to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque against fictitious Jewish raiders, he is perpetuating the Islamist lie that it is in danger. When Blinken naively talks about a two-state solution, he ignores the Palestinians’ repeated rejection of the idea before a single Gazan died.

The Palestinians trace their grievance to the 1917 Balfour Declaration and engaged in terrorism for three decades before the partition resolution. They consider the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948 the Nakba (“catastrophe”), not the capture of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Palestinian fedayeen began attacking Israel from Gaza in the 1950s when Egypt occupied it. The PLO was created in 1964, three years before the Israeli “occupation” of the disputed territories. Hamas began bombarding Israel with rockets after every Israeli left Gaza, squandering the opportunity to build the infrastructure for a state.

Hamas must be eliminated as a threat. Whether more Palestinians decide to become terrorists is out of Israel’s control. They will be a danger for Israel but would only compound the tragedy for the Palestinians by ensuring no Israeli government will agree to another Hamastan on its border.

MYTH

No Israelis were massacred on October 7, 2023, and if any were killed, Israel was responsible.

FACT

Holocaust denial is one of the great absurdities and calumnies of our time. Some anti-Semites continue to claim Jews were not exterminated, that many just disappeared, were deserving of execution, and that the assertion six million Jews were murdered is a hoax.

Now, we have a new version of this anti-Semitic trope: denial that Hamas massacred Israelis and accusations that it was Israel that killed its citizens on October 7, 2023.

It should not be surprising that one of the proponents of “massacre denial” is a Holocaust denier – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The PA Foreign Ministry, under his direction, issued this statement, “The Israel Police’s preliminary investigation proved that Israeli helicopters bombed Israeli citizens who participated in the music festival on October 7, meaning that Israeli fighter jets caused extensive destruction in the area.”

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Today, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said something utterly preposterous. It denied that it was Hamas that carried out the horrible massacre at the nature festival near Gaza. It actually accused Israel of carrying out that massacre. This is a complete reversal of truth” (Einav Halabi, Liron Levi, and Itamar Eichner, “Palestinian Authority denies Hamas music festival massacre,” Ynet, November 19, 2023).

“Journalist” Max Blumenthal’s X account echoed Abbas: “A wave of new eyewitness testimonies indicate Israel killed many of its citizens on 10/7 with tanks and hellfire missiles, then exhibited their bodies as proof of Hamas’ savagery” (@MaxBlumenthal, October 28, 2023).

Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd band member known for anti-Semitic statements and gestures, questioned whether Hamas committed a massacre, “The thing was blown all out of proportion by Israelis making up stories about beheading babies,” Waters stated. “We don’t know what they did do,” but conceded: “Maybe there were some individual cases of civilians getting killed.” Regardless, the victims deserved it, he intimated, because the Palestinians are “absolutely legally and morally bound to resist the occupation” (“Roger Waters says Israel ‘making up stories’ about October 7 massacre,” Ynet, November 7, 2023).

Another appalling example of the response to the massacre has been the reaction to the evidence that Hamas raped and tortured women. Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In.org, wrote, “Numerous witnesses have testified that sexual violence was widespread on that day, according to reports by Israeli investigators. An eyewitness has recounted the horror of watching a fellow concert-goer being gang-raped and murdered. Rescue workers have reported recovering lifeless bodies, naked with their legs spread. Yet some are flat-out denying that these atrocities occurred. Even worse, some might actually believe that these women — mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives — ‘deserved it’” (Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In.org, (Sheryl Sandberg: “Something we can all agree on,” CNN, November 20, 2023).

“We have come so far in believing survivors of rape and assault in so many situations,” she added, “yet this time, many are ignoring the stories that these bodies tell us about how these women spent the last moments of their lives.”

Nevertheless, the UN and women’s organizations have mostly been mute. When Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, was asked why the organization had stayed silent, she said the evidence was “not solid” enough to merit a statement. Israeli feminists have responded by creating the hashtag “#MeToo_Unless_Ur_A_Jew,” (Nicole Lampert, “MeToo unless you’re a Jew,” UnHerd, November 21, 2023).

This is not a case of P.T. Barnum’s aphorism that “there’s a sucker born every minute.” It is deliberately malevolent, seeking to turn the Jewish (and they weren’t all Jewish) victims into the perpetrators and to create distrust for everything the Israeli government says.

The story of the massacre, however, was told not just by Israelis but by the killers themselves. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted, Hamas “proudly documented their barbarism,” videotaping themselves committing mass murder. “The willful infliction of torture on civilians and children and women and the elderly, the willful infliction of sexual violence in front of other people, the willful infliction of murder of parents in front of children and murder of children in front of parents, no, I’ve never seen or heard anything like it,” Tapper said (Aaron Troodler, “Jake Tapper: Anchor, Author and Proud Jew, Washington Jewish Week, (November 15, 2023).

“What disturbs me,” said Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, “is this willingness to say, ‘Oh, those are Jewish claims,’ to dismiss those” (“Deborah Lipstadt struck by ‘speed and intensity’ of Hamas atrocity denial.” Arno Rosenfeld, Forward, November 20, 2023).

MYTH

By attacking Gaza hospitals Israel is committing a war crime.

FACT

The media has focused attention on Israel’s assault on hospitals in Gaza. Critics reflexively accused the government of war crimes, which many journalists then repeat uncritically. Normally, medical facilities are considered sacrosanct in wartime; however, international law is clear that even hospitals become legitimate military targets when used by combatants.

Article 19 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions states, “The responsible authorities shall ensure that the said medical establishments and units are, as far as possible, situated in such a manner that attacks against military objectives cannot imperil their safety.”

Article 21 says, “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy” (International Humanitarian Law Databases).

The 1977 Additional Protocol I states: “Under no circumstances shall medical units be used in an attempt to shield military objectives from attack. Whenever possible, the Parties to the conflict shall ensure that medical units are so sited that attacks against military objectives do not imperil their safety” (International Humanitarian Law Databases).

The United States has used international law to justify attacking a hospital. As the Wall Street Journal noted, in 2016, the United States conducted strikes on a hospital in Mosul because the Islamic State “‘was using the hospital as a base of operations and command and control headquarters’” (The Editorial Board, “The Battle of Al Shifa Hospital,” Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2023).

Reporters have taken everything they hear from Gaza at face value, even when they admit they cannot verify it. Information provided by Israel, however, is constantly questioned, and when reporters say they cannot prove it, they cast aspersions on its veracity.

This was the case when Israel said that hospitals, and in particular the Shifa Hospital, were being used by Hamas terrorists. Israel said a command-and-control center was located beneath Shifa, and journalists repeatedly expressed skepticism. When the IDF showed videos from inside the Rantisi and Shifa hospitals documenting terrorists had used them, many were unconvinced and continued to cite Hamas denials even after National Security Council spokesman John Kirby cited U.S. intelligence that found “Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and support their military operations, and to hold hostages.” He said, “Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command-and-control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City. They’ve stored weapons there, and they are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility” (“Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” CNN, November 14, 2023).

A minute’s worth of research would have led journalists to documentation by their colleagues of Shifa’s use by Hamas.

A PBS documentary filmed in 2006 showed Hamas militants roaming the hallways and offices of the hospital (“Gaza E.R.,” Wide Angle, January 6, 2009). Despite this, the PBS News Hour website said on November 13, 2023, “Israel claims a Hamas military command center is located beneath Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital (emphasis added). The transcript of the report quotes an Israeli spokesman reiterating the hospital is used by Hamas, and reporter Nick Schifrin says, “That’s an allegation that Hamas quickly denied” (“Civilians in crossfire as Israeli forces and Hamas battle around Gaza’s main hospital,” PBS News Hour, November 13, 2023).

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the Washington Post reported Shifa Hospital “has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices” (William Booth, “While Israel held its fire, the militant group Hamas did not,” Washington Post, July 15, 2014).

Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Casey tweeted a picture of Hamas leaders using Shifa Hospital as a place to meet the media. “You have to wonder w the shelling how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.” Casey deleted the tweet the next day (Lahav Harkov, “Gaza reporters’ tweets: Hamas using human shields,” Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2010).

After Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported he saw “two rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital,” he was threatened. One Twitter user wrote, “We’ll hold you responsible if Israel uses your tweet to bomb the hospital & then justify it” (Harkov).

A Finnish correspondent reported, “Right in the back parking lot of Al Shifa Hospital, a rocket was launched, two o’clock in the morning.” (Joshua Levitt, “Finnish TV Reporter at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital: ‘It’s True That Rockets Are Launched Here From the Gazan Side Into Israel,’” Algemeiner, August 1, 2014).

The media continued to question whether Shifa was used by Hamas even as correspondents reported gunfights between terrorists and the IDF at the hospital, weapons were discovered inside the hospital along with laptops containing photos and videos of captives, the entrance of a tunnel was located, and the bodies of two Israeli hostages were found on the grounds. This was before the IDF completed its investigation of the hospital complex (Emanuel Fabian, “IDF reveals entrance to Hamas tunnel, weapons cache found in Shifa Hospital complex,” Times of Israel, and Fabian, “Military recovers bodies of two Israeli hostages in area of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital,” Times of Israel, November 16, 2023).

Journalists based some of their distrust of the IDF on the statements of hospital staff who claim they never saw any terrorists in the hospitals or were unaware of tunnels underneath the facilities. Some may genuinely be unaware, but what all but a few reporters don’t say is that Hamas controls the information coming from Gaza. Anyone who might tell the truth about what goes on in the hospitals would do so at the risk of their lives and their families.

MYTH

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is not a call for the destruction of Israel.

FACT

The meaning of this phrase is unambiguous: it proposes that the region spanning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing Israel, should be named “Palestine” and devoid of a Jewish population. The goal is reflected in Palestinian Authority maps that show all of Israel as Palestine.

It also suggests there was a time when Palestine was free before Israel came along. Historically, no Palestinian state ever existed.

Notably, the call for a “free Palestine” wasn’t vocalized during the 19 years when Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza. This raises the question: why was there no concern, even among Palestinians, about their lack of freedom during that time?

Also, is it a coincidence that the phrase relates only to the part of “Palestine” where Jews live? Before Winston Churchill cleaved most of the promised Jewish home “with a stroke of a pen” to create Transjordan, “Palestine” extended to the East Bank. If the chant is not a call for the elimination of Israel, why doesn’t it say, “from the sea to both sides of the river”?

The intent is apparent when the phrase is chanted to celebrate the massacre of 1,400 Israelis by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. It is an indication of the approval of the Hamas goal proclaimed in its Covenant of murdering all Jews and liberating “Palestine.” The call is also made by supporters of the supposedly “secular, moderate” PLO, which runs the Palestinian Authority and whose Charter says its objective is the elimination of Zionism [i.e., Jews] in Palestine.

The House of Representatives censured, and the White House condemned Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for embracing the phrase. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said, “‘When it comes to the phrase that was used, ‘from the river to the sea,’ it is divisive, it is hurtful, many find it hurtful and many find it anti-Semitic.’” She added, “We categorically reject applying that term to the [Gaza] conflict” (Lisa Friedman, “The White House condemns Rashida Tlaib’s embrace of the phrase ‘river to the sea,’” New York Times, November 8, 2023).

In her defense, Tlaib claimed that the phrase is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate” (Joey Cappelletti, “Rashida Tlaib defends pro-Palestinian video as rift among Michigan Democrats widens over war,” AP, (November 6, 2023).

Brad Schneider (D-IL) told Jewish Insider the slogan, also popularly chanted on college campuses, was used by “so many people who seek the destruction of the state of Israel.” He added, “They know exactly what it means and any effort to try to persuade or gaslight folks that it means something else needs to be called out” (Marc Rod, “House censures Tlaib for anti-Israel comments, with support from 22 Democrats,” Jewish Insider, November 8, 2023).

Unlike apologists for Palestinian calls for genocide, the Germans do not doubt what the phrase means. Hence, the prosecutor’s office for the German city-state of Berlin declared that the slogan is a form of incitement to hate that negates Israel’s existence; anyone who uses it may be subject to criminal penalties (Benjamin Weinthal, “Berlin criminalizes slogan ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,’” i24 News, November 9, 2023).

MYTH

Palestinians do not support Hamas or its goals.

FACT

Many Palestinians oppose Hamas and violence. Sadly, however, most do not.

A survey by the Arab World for Research & Development found that 75% of Palestinians (83% of West Bankers) supported the massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023. A further 76% of Palestinians (88% in the WB, 60% in Gaza) have a positive view of Hamas. When asked about their preferred solution to the conflict with Israel, 75% chose establishing a Palestinian state from the river to the sea, i.e., destroying Israel. (AWRAD, “Gaza Survey 7th October,”  November 14, 2023).

Hamas won the most votes and seats in the parliament in the last election held by the Palestinian Authority, and surveys consistently have shown that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is more popular than PA President Mahmoud Abbas – by 64% to 33% among Gazans (Public Opinion Poll No 89, PSR, September 13, 2023).


25th Anniversary of Hamas Celebration (Credit: Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Nur Ibrahim argues, “Hamas did not win the 2006 election solely due to its anti-Semitic views. Rather, its success stemmed from campaign promises of ‘change and reform’” (Nur Ibrahim, “People Claim a Majority of Palestinians in Gaza Elected Hamas — Here’s Why It Isn’t That Simple,” Snopes, November 1, 2023). He is acknowledging Hamas won partly due to its anti-Semitic views.

Indeed, Palestinian attitudes are also shaped by their disdain for Abbas and his corrupt regime. More than three-fourths of the public now want Abbas to resign, and 87% believe the PA is corrupt (72% say the same about Hamas).

Still, is there any doubt that Gazans know who and what they are voting for? They can read the Hamas Charter, which contains a passage that is often found in textbooks and sermons: 

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing 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.”

The overwhelming majority of Gazans reject the idea of a two-state solution, 56% support abandoning the Oslo Accords, and 51% of Gazans support the “armed struggle” against Israel.

Given the dictatorial rule of Hamas, which quashes dissent, it is difficult to know how many Palestinians oppose their rule. We know that when there are rare protests, as in July 2023, they are not over Hamas terrorism but economic conditions (“Thousands take to streets in Gaza in rare public display of discontent with Hamas,” AP, July 30, 2023). 

In the 16 years Hamas has been in power and terrorized Israel, Gazans never protested its launching of thousands of rockets, some of which misfire and kill Palestinians. They have not expelled Hamas from residential areas, schools, mosques, and hospitals, allowing the terrorists to turn those sites into legitimate military targets. They did not protest the massacre on October 7, 2023, which included women, the elderly, and infants, some of whom were Arabs and others who were not Jews or Israeli. Worse, we know now that many civilians participated in the slaughter.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Saleh al-Arouri had the chutzpah to deny Hamas committed the atrocities and attributed them to other Gazans. “When the Gaza Division fell apart,” he said, “people from the Strip went in and clashed with the settlers. As a result, people were killed” (Nadav Shragai, “The involvement of the ‘uninvolved’: Gaza’s population actively abetted Hamas in plotting against Israel,” Israel Hayom, October 24, 2023). Ordinary Palestinians did join in the pogrom. “The second wave of Arabs who came into the country were just as cruel as the terrorists of the first wave,” Gadi Yarkoni, the mayor of the Eshkol Regional Council, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We saw that it was not only Hamas who came to slaughter us. It was all the residents of Gaza, including people who worked in our kibbutzim” (Andrew Tobin, “‘Just as Cruel as the Terrorists’: Many Ordinary Palestinians Joined in Hamas’s Atrocities Against Israel,” Washington Free Beacon, October 24, 2023).

Gazans celebrating the October 7 massacre

Why do Gazans support Hamas, knowing that the terrorists’ actions will provoke Israeli counterterror operations and that civilians will bear the brunt of the consequences while Hamas leaders live in luxury in Qatar and other safe havens.

Perhaps attitudes will change due to the war. In the AWRAD survey, only 8% of Gazans wanted a return to Hamas rule after the war. The overwhelming majority wants a unified government, which in the past has meant one including Hamas.

MYTH

The massacre by Hamas can’t be blamed on Palestinian society.

FACT

 

All the Hamas murderers were children once. How did they turn into monsters? Could it be from the steady diet of anti-Semitic indoctrination they have received from their parents, Imams, teachers and textbooks at UNRWA schools, and summer camps and festivals?

Parents express pride in children who are killers. After Hamas terrorist Hassan Qatanani murdered Lucy Dee and her two daughters, his mother said, “He loved martyrdom. He would say to me, day and night, ‘Mom, I want to be martyred.’ He would kiss my hand and say: ‘Pray to Allah that I will be martyred’... Praise be to Allah for granting him what he wanted... [We] cannot accept what the Jews did to us. We should fight them with our children, with our money, with our families, with our fingernails. We should devour the Jews with our teeth... The Jews are our enemy from beginning to end” (“Mother Of Hamas Terrorist Who Murdered British-Israeli Mother And Her Daughters: The Jews Are Our Enemies, We Should Fight Them, Devour Them With Our Teeth,” MEMRI, May 8, 2023).

This is a typical declaration by a Hamas-affiliated Imam: “Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries” (“Hamas Sermon from the Gaza Strip: Our Doctrine Entails Exterminating the Jews,” MEMRI, July 25, 2014).

UNRWA schools “regularly call for the murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis, and incite antisemitism,” according to the latest report by UN Watch and IMPACT-se (“UNRWA Education: Reform Or Regression?” UN Watch and IMPACT-SE, March 2023).

Hamas Political Bureau member Fathi Hammad said, “We will teach our kids in the kindergartens, the elementary schools, and the middle schools how to move forward and liberate their land, with the help of Allah alone. Our achievement today is that out of the two million people [of Gaza], one million children have enrolled into a national, Islamic, Jihadi, religious course. They all excelled and got first place in fence-breaking and confrontation” (“Hamas Political Bureau Member Fathi Hammad: Kindergartens, Elementary Schools, Middle Schools Will Teach Gaza’s Children How to Liberate Palestine; Our Youth Should Join Al-Aqsa and Al-Qassam Brigades,” MEMRI, February 19, 2019).

Gaza parents send their children to summer camps where this summer’s theme was “Jerusalem Shield.” Palestinian scholar Bassam Tawil reported that campers in Gaza are given military training, “such as practice with knives and firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and marching and foot drills. The children also stage plays and enact scenes of fighting and capturing Israeli soldiers or firing rockets at Israel.” They learn to assemble and disassemble weapons, tromp on Israeli flags, and see pictures of terrorists who murdered Israelis as examples to look up to (Bassam Tawil, “Palestinians’ summer camps to kill Jews,” JNS, July 20, 2023).

A video from a children’s festival showed play-acting Palestinian kids urging each other to “die as martyrs” and “blow up their enemies,” pretending to capture Israeli soldiers, and running through a tunnel (“In new Gaza clip, kids urge ‘martyrdom, blowing up enemies,’” Times of Israel, May 12, 2016).

Given this upbringing, is it surprising that members of Hamas would slaughter Jews?

MYTH

Israel is engaged in an illegal siege of Gaza.

FACT

A siege is “an essential aspect of modern military operations,” noted West Point law professor Sean Watts. The main reason for using the tactic is “to avoid slow, costly, and bloody urban ground assaults” (Sean Watts, “Siege Law,” Articles of War, March 4, 2022).

Israel is interested in isolating Hamas and avoiding casualties of civilians and its soldiers. However, it has only imposed a partial siege directed at the northern part of Gaza, where Hamas is entrenched.

To lay siege to all of Gaza, Israel would have to surround the Strip and prevent all people and goods from entering or exiting the area. To accomplish this, Israel would have to get either the cooperation of Egypt, which controls the southern border of Gaza, to keep the Rafah crossing closed or go to war with Egypt to take control of that entry point.

Israel has no intention of fighting Egypt for control of Rafah and, rather than seek its closure, supported the decision to open the crossing to allow civilians to leave and humanitarian goods to enter.

Critics allege that Israel is violating international law by cutting off electricity and water and preventing fuel from being allowed in from Egypt. Israel is at war, and the laws of war do not require a combatant to provide supplies to the enemy. Legal scholar Avi Bell noted that Security Council Resolution 1373 makes it illegal to provide direct or indirect support that could help terrorists like Hamas (Avi Bell, “Legal Issues Regarding a Siege on the Gaza Strip During War,” KPF, October 16, 2023). The resolution states explicitly that all states must:

Prohibit their nationals or any persons and entities within their territories from making any funds, financial assets or economic resources or financial or other related services available, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of persons who commit or attempt to commit or facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts, of entities owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such persons and of persons and entities acting on behalf of or at the direction of such persons.
Refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts.
Deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens.
Prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for those purposes against other States or their citizens.

Furthermore, Bell notes that warring parties are not required to provide humanitarian supplies; that responsibility has historically fallen on third parties.

The one requirement of even a partial siege is to allow aid to prevent the civilian population from starving (“Are Israel’s military tactics abiding by the laws of war?” PBS, October 23, 2023). Since Israel does not control Rafah, it cannot prevent the entry of food and has no interest in doing so. Detractors have argued that Israel cutting off water could lead to starvation; however, most of Gaza’s water supply comes from the Strip. The United Nations: Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported that “water wells in Jabalia, Khan Younis and Rafah are functional....desalination plants continue to operate in the shelters for provision of drinkable water” and “water trucking operations to the shelters in Rafah and Khan Younis areas also continue.” It does say the water is insufficient to meet the needs of all the UNRWA shelters but acknowledged that 20 trucks carrying food, water, and medical supplies arrived on October 21 after the Rafah crossing opened (“UNRWA Situation Report #11 on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” UNRWA, October 22 and 27, 2023). Additional truckloads of water, food, and medical supplies have continued to flow into Gaza without interference from Israel.

Israel is being accused of denying hospitals and other Gaza facilities the fuel they need to operate; however, it is not required by international law to do so. As Israeli officials have made clear, there is no way to prevent the fuel from being diverted to Hamas so long as the terrorists remain in control of Gaza.

UNRWA acknowledged that Hamas had stolen fuel and medical supplies, then denied it (“UNRWA indicates Hamas stole supplies from its Gaza premises, then walks back claim,” Times of Israel, October 16, 2023). The organization no doubt came under pressure from Hamas to delete its tweet, like the UNRWA official who was forced to recant during Operation Guardian of the Walls after he said that Israeli airstrikes were precise and directed at military targets (Amira Hass, “Following Backlash, UNRWA Director Apologizes for Saying Israeli Army Rarely Attacked Civilians,” Haaretz, May 26, 2021). 

Hamas knew its massacre of Israeli civilians would provoke a response and has undoubtedly stockpiled provisions hoping to withstand a sustained counterterror campaign by Israel. However, no one complaining about a lack of supplies has demanded that Hamas make whatever resources it has available to the citizens of Gaza. It is one more example of the callous treatment of Palestinian civilians by the terrorists.

Sieges create suffering. That is their nature, but that does not make them any less lawful or necessary to defeat the enemy.

Israel is at a disadvantage because fighting terrorists is asymmetrical. The IDF is expected to abide by rules that Hamas violates with impunity. Still, Israel makes every effort to comply with international law. 

The blame for Palestinians suffering in Gaza is on Hamas, which started and continues the war, and has done everything possible to deny civilians the opportunity to escape or obtain humanitarian aid (“Hamas blocks road to Gazans fleeing- ‘They're shooting at people,’” Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2023).

MYTH

The Gaza War is just a continuation of the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

FACT

The heinous attack on October 7, 2023, in which Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, massacred more than 1,000 people, and kidnapped 199, has the media again discussing the “cycle of violence” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The argument is that hostility is perpetuated and escalated by actions on both sides and that it cannot be stopped until the “occupation” ends and a Palestinian state is created. The title of this article is typical, “The cycle of violence starts with the Israeli occupation” (Abdallah Fayyad, Boston Globe, October 11, 2023). Similarly, almost exactly eight years ago, after seven Israelis were murdered and 20 Palestinians were killed, several during attacks on Jews, the New York Times editorialized that “breaking these cycles of violence will require more than self-defense. It will require creating an independent Palestinian state alongside an Israel” (The Editorial Board, “The Cycle of Violence in Israel,” New York Times, October 15, 2015).

The media often is just reporting what officials say. For example, Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the phrase “cycle of violence” five times in remarks he made in Jerusalem in January 2023 (“Secretary Antony J. Blinken At a Press Availability,” U.S. Embassy in Israel, January 31, 2023). He used the same phrase when tensions rose in April 2022 (“Blinken urges Israelis and Palestinians to ‘end cycle of violence,’” The National, April 20, 2022) and in October 2023 after Hamas terrorists slaughtered hundreds of Israeli men, women, and children (Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor, “Blinken Calls For Protection of Civilians as Israel Prepares For Assault on Gaza,” Time, October 14, 2023).

Suggesting that Palestinian terrorism is just part of a cycle of violence for which Israel also bears responsibility is akin to equating arsonists, in this case, terrorists, with Israeli firefighters. You would not accuse firefighters of perpetuating arson by putting out fires or trying to prevent them from being set. If terror stopped, Israel would not need to engage in countermeasures.

The press never suggests that a U.S. drone strike killing a terrorist (never a “militant”) perpetuates a cycle of violence. The idea also implies there was no first shot that required a response. Journalists who believe history begins with their arrival on assignment don’t know the murder of Jews in Israel did not begin with the Israeli “occupation”; it can be traced to the religiously inspired murders instigated by the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s.

Another distinction lost on the perpetuators of the cycle of violence myth is that one side celebrates violence the other abhors it. Only the Palestinians hold rallies, build monuments, and pay rewards to glorify terrorists.

It is Israel’s existence, not its actions, that provoke Palestinian violence. The Hamas Covenant puts it plainly: “There is no solution for the Palestine question except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. Palestine is an Islamic land.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organization that controls the West Bank shares the same goal but plans to achieve it in stages by seizing “whatever territory Israel is prepared or compelled to cede to them and use it as a springboard for further territorial gains until achieving the ‘complete liberation of Palestine.’”

Blinken has been lecturing the Israelis for months, confident he knows what is best for Israel’s security: the two-state solution, which most Israelis and Palestinians oppose. Is there nothing that can convince the State Department that Palestinians are interested in the destruction of Israel, not a state coexisting with the Jewish state?

In his seminal work, To End a War, that followed years of diplomacy in the Balkans, U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke dismissed the idea that “ancient hatreds” had fueled that regional war and instead focused on the endemic spread of incitement through the media that had “aroused an entire generation of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims to hate their neighbors” (Richard C. Holbrooke, To End a War, NY: Random House Publishers, 1999).  Similarly, despite repeatedly agreeing to cease such provocations (see the 1993 Oslo Accords, 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 2003 Road Map), the Palestinian Authority and Hamas tolerate and instigate incitement in the media, mosques, and schools. As in the Balkans, this policy has aroused a generation of Palestinians to hate Israel and Jews.

There is no equating Palestinians trying to destroy Israel and Israelis defending themselves.

MYTH

Israelis are murdered by “militants.”

FACT

With few exceptions, journalists had no trouble calling the 9/11 perpetrators terrorists, but when Jews are murdered, they suddenly resort to euphemisms like “militants,” fighters,” or “gunmen.” 

The press has been demonstrating its double standard toward Jews for decades and is doing so again with its coverage of the massacre of Israelis by Hamas terrorists from Gaza on October 7, 2023. The Associated Press, for example, hit the trifecta: “Israeli forces were still battling with militants….The Israeli military estimated 1,000 Hamas fighters took part….The gunmen rampaged for hours, gunning down civilians” (emphasis added - Tia Goldenberg and Wafaa Shurafa, “Israel declares war, bombards Gaza and battles to dislodge Hamas fighters after surprise attack,” AP, October 8, 2023). 

Here are a few other examples:

“The surprise attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7 has brought the militant group back into the spotlight” (Scott Neuman and Jawad Rizkallah, “What did Hamas aim to gain by its brazen attack on Israel? Here’s what to know,” NPR, (October 12, 2023).

“Militants from Gaza fired thousands of rockets towards Israeli towns on October 7….Hamas gunmen killed more than 1,400 people, including civilians and soldiers, and took 199 hostages” (Abbas Al Lawati, Eoin McSweeney, and Nadeen Ebrahim, “Israel is at war with Hamas. Here’s what to know,” CNN, October 16, 2023).

“Hamas militants poured across the border and fired thousands of rockets,” (“Here’s Where Things Stand,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2023).

“Hamas is a Palestinian militant group which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007,” (“What is Hamas, and what’s happening in Israel and Gaza? A really simple guide,” BBC, (October 16, 2023).

The BBC’s World Affairs editor John Simpson offered this rationalization: “Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.”

Simpson acknowledged that what was done to Israelis could be characterized as “atrocities,” but insisted the BBC must be “objective” (John Simpson, “Why BBC doesn’t call Hamas militants’ terrorists,’” BBC, October 15, 2023). 

This idea essentially strips the word of any meaning. Should it be removed from the dictionary? If the person who decapitated a baby cannot be called a “terrorist,” who can be? Then again, the BBC has shown some consistency since it referred to the 9/11 terrorists as “suicide attackers” (Patrick Jackson, “September 11 attacks: What happened on 9/11?” BBC, August 3, 2021). However, this “objectivity” did not stop the BBC’s Arabic department from comparing “Jewish fanatics” from the Roman period to the 9/11 terrorists who the BBC called “Al-Qaeda members” (Paz Grace, “BBC in hot water over comparison of ‘fanatical Jews’ with 9/11 terrorists,” i24 News, September 14, 2023).

On the day of the massacre, Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner wrote in the New York Times that “Palestinian militants” had attacked Israel (“‘We are at war,’ Netanyahu Says After Hamas Attacks Israel” New York Times, October 7, 2023). Netanyahu says after Hamas attacks Israel.). In another story, the word “terrorist” is only mentioned when used by an Israeli. Otherwise, the killers were “militants,” “gunmen,” and “assailants” (Patrick Kingsley, Aaron Boxerman, and Gabby Sobelman, “‘There Were Terrorists Inside’: How Hamas’s Attack on Israel Unfolded,” New York Times, October 8, 2023). In the story “Hamas Leaves Trail of Terror in Israel,” the subhead refers to Hamas as “terrorists,” but the story calls them “gunmen,” “members,” and “armed men” (New York Times, October 10, 2023).

The Times has ignored former Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet, who wrote a memo to the paper’s foreign desk in 2006, criticizing its reluctance to use the word “terrorism.” He said, “The calculated bombing of students in a university cafeteria, or of families gathered in an ice cream parlor, cries out to be called what it is....I wanted to avoid the political meaning that comes with ‘terrorism,’ but I couldn’t pretend that the word had no usage at all in plain English” (Daniel Okrent, “The War of the Words: A Dispatch from the Front Lines,” New York Times, March 6, 2005).

MYTH

The media accurately reports casualties in Gaza.

FACT

Because the journalistic credo is “if it bleeds, it leads,” the media emphasizes civilian casualties, which turns war into a sport with a scoreboard. In this macabre competition, the “winner” is the party that suffers the most casualties, and the competitor that protects its citizens is the “loser.” If there is a large disparity in the score, the loser is judged guilty of using disproportionate force. By the rules of this game, Israel should not defend its citizens, so the body count is more even. Otherwise, Israel is pilloried for responding to the massacre of its citizens with superior firepower that causes collateral damage.

The scorekeepers also skew the issue of proportionality. The media gets its information from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry, which has a history of providing misinformation. Palestinian casualties are frequently a result of the hundreds of Hamas rockets that land inside Gaza but are blamed on Israel. In addition, the Ministry does not admit that any dead or injured are terrorists, yet the press simply parrots the statistics. Journalists report as though the Israel Defense Forces are the most incompetent military in history, bombing hundreds of targets without killing a single enemy.

Luke Baker, who was in charge of coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for Reuters from 2014 until 2017, said Hamas “has squeezed the life out of honesty and probity. Any health official stepping out of line and not giving the death tolls that Hamas wants reported to journalists risks serious consequences.” He added, “Hamas has a clear propaganda incentive to inflate civilian casualties as much as possible” (Joe Barnes, “Death tolls from Hamas-run Health Ministry are not trustworthy, former Reuters chief warns,” The Telegraph, October 24, 2023).

President Biden also said that he has “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using” and “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed” (“Biden says he has ‘no confidence’ in Palestinian death count,” Reuters, October 25, 2023). He later backtracked after criticism from Arab Americans.

The president had good reason for his skepticism.

Statistical analysis indicates that “the total civilian casualty count is likely to be extremely overstated,” according to Abraham Wyner, Professor of Statistics and Data Science at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Most likely, the Hamas Ministry settled on a daily total arbitrarily. We know this because the daily totals increase too consistently to be real. Then they assigned about 70% of the total to be women and children, splitting that amount randomly from day to day. Then they in-filled the number of men as set by the predetermined total” (Abraham Wyner, “How the Gaza Ministry of Health Fakes Casualty Numbers,” Tablet, March 6, 2024).

A study by Gabriel Epstein of the Washington Institute found that some calculations came from “media reports” and others from the Hamas-run Government Media Office (GMO), which the UN acknowledged was using an unknown methodology. He admitted obtaining accurate information during a war was difficult and that “the actual toll is often only known well after hostilities end or else remains permanently unclear” (Gabriel Epstein, “How Hamas Manipulates  Gaza Fatality Numbers,” Washington Institute, January 2024).

What can be said for certain, Epstein said, is that “Hamas-produced statistics are inconsistent, imprecise, and appear to have been systematically manipulated to downplay the number of militants killed and to exaggerate the proportion of noncombatants confirmed as dead.”

On April 6, the Health Ministry released a report that acknowledged “incomplete data” for 11,371 of the 33,091 Palestinian fatalities it claimed to have documented. It also admitted that more than 15,000 records came from unidentified “reliable media sources.” By its admission, then, the number of casualties is significantly lower than the figure it publishes, which means a far higher percentage are combatants and a much smaller percentage are women and children.

“For months, U.S. media have taken for granted that the Ministry’s top-line figure for casualties was reliable enough to include in daily updates on the war. Now we’re seeing that a third or more of the Ministry’s data may be incomplete at best—and fictional at worst,” said David Adesnik, director of research at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (Etgar Lefkovits, “Hamas admits one-third of its data on Gazan deaths is ‘incomplete,’” JNS, April 15, 2024).

Without acknowledging the Ministry’s error, the UN and the media continued to report the higher casualty figure. The UN did, however, revise the number of women and children killed in Gaza. On May 6, it was reporting 9,500 women and more than 14,500 children had died. Two days later, those numbers were reduced to 4,959 women and 7,797 children out of a total of 34,844 dead. (“Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel - reported impact | Day 213 and Day 215,” OCHA, May 6 and 8, 2024). Based on this data, the number of males killed would be 22,088.  

Hamas admitted in February that 6,000 of its fighters were dead (Samia Nakhoul, Jonathan Saul, and Humeyra Pamuk, “Rafah attack: How Israel plans to hit Hamas and scale back war,” Reuters, February 19, 2024). Israel estimates that some 14,000 fighters have been killed (“Israel releases new Gaza death toll, claims historically low civilian deaths,” JNS, May 16, 2024). If accurate, the total number of male noncombatants would be 8,088, and the overall number of civilians would be 20,844. If you subtract the approximate number of Palestinians who would have died of natural causes over six months (2,900), the number of civilian deaths would be even lower.

“If that number proves to be even reasonably accurate,” Wyner said, “then the ratio of noncombatant casualties to combatants is remarkably low: at most 1.4 to 1 and perhaps as low as 1 to 1. By historical standards of urban warfare, where combatants are embedded above and below into civilian population centers, this is a remarkable and successful effort to prevent unnecessary loss of life while fighting an implacable enemy that protects itself with civilians.”

In past conflicts, the number of terrorists killed turned out to be the majority. In Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Israel said it killed 709 terrorists. Hamas initially claimed only 49 of its men had been killed. Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad later said the number was 600-700 and admitted that most of the people killed in the fighting were terrorists and that Hamas had indeed used civilians as shields (“Hamas Admits 600-700 of Its Men Were Killed in Cast Lead,” Haaretz, November 9, 2010; “Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields,” Al-Aqsa TV, cited in Dispatch #1710, MEMRI February 29, 2008).

Contrary to accusations that Israel is engaged in indiscriminate bombing and genocide, the data reinforces the case that Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Nevertheless, the UN and the media continue to report the same total number of casualties without distinction.

“It’s been maddening from my angle that anyone could think there could be a number for the dead in a war anytime in human history down to a single digit on a daily basis—it fails common sense—and be run by mass media of the world as fact,” observed John Spencer, West Point’s urban warfare expert (Peter Savodnik, “Truth Should Not Be A Casualty of War,” The Free Press, May 14, 2024).

Even the lower casualty numbers are tragic. Yet, not a single Gazan would have died if Hamas had not broken the two-year ceasefire on October 7. The loss and anguish endured by many could have been, and still can be, prevented if Egypt permitted the Palestinians to temporarily relocate to Sinai. There, they would be removed from the battleground, ensuring unhindered access to vital humanitarian aid.

MYTH

Israel is using disproportionate force in Gaza.

FACT

This has become a cliché with Israel’s detractors. You never hear them explain what would be a “proportionate” response to the unprovoked massacre of 900 civilians and the taking of 150 men, women, and children as hostages by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. More Israelis were killed in one day than at any time since the Holocaust, and many were slaughtered in ways reminiscent of ISIS and the Nazis. Do critics believe Israel should decapitate Palestinian babies or kidnap old women and infants?

Not a single Palestinian in Gaza would be in danger if Hamas had not launched rockets and invaded Israel. The attack came shortly after Israel had opened its border to allow thousands of Gazans into Israel for jobs to help feed their families. Hamas made sure their families and everyone else in Gaza would suffer.

After past attacks, Israel settled for relatively short military operations to stop rocket bombardments. After the heinous crimes against humanity committed by the terrorists on this occasion, the Israeli public and government decided it could never allow Hamas to threaten its citizens again. Radical Muslims backed by Iran started the war, and the consequences will be tragic.

The IDF Ethics Code mandates that, whenever possible, soldiers must warn noncombatants that they are in an area where it is dangerous to stay. During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF employed a variety of unprecedented efforts to minimize injury to noncombatants, including warning leaflets, phone calls, and non-lethal warning fire. They used similar methods in Operation Guardian of the Walls and are doing so again in Operation Iron Sword. As Asa Kasher noted, no army would endanger its soldiers to avoid hitting neighbors of an enemy who received warnings to leave the area.

Is there another army in the world that warns people to leave an area they intend to attack even though it gives up the element of surprise and allows the terrorists to escape with the civilians? How many other militaries order their pilots to abort bombing missions if civilians are detected in the area?

Unlike Hamas, Israel does not target civilians. Hamas knew, however, that attacking Israel would provoke a response that would allow them to use civilians as shields, guaranteeing casualties that would inflame public opinion against Israel. They have not even disguised their intention. After Israel dropped fliers telling Gazans to move to the southern part of the Strip to avoid harm, Hamas ordered them to stay in their homes (Abeer Salman and Lucas Lilieholm, “Hamas tells Gaza residents not to leave their homes after IDF warns civilians to evacuate,” CNN, October 13, 2023).

Proportionality is not simply a numerical comparison. Israel is not obligated to allow more of its citizens to be killed to make the casualty statistics more even. In addition, as Kasher explains, “the number of Israeli casualties is not a reliable measure of the threat posed by enemy rockets. A Grad rocket hit a Beersheba classroom on December 31, 2008; had the missile hit the school when classes were in session, dozens of schoolchildren would have been killed. Luck does not diminish the threat posed by an attack.”

After October 7, not all Israelis were lucky under the bombardment of more than 6,000 rockets.

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves the right to self-defense against armed attacks to every nation. “The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality – by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets – is absurd,” according to legal scholar Alan Dershowitz. “First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killing of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent killing even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “Israel’s Policy Is Perfectly ‘Proportionate,’” Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2009).

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs adds:

Under the Geneva Conventions, as well as customary international law, if a military objective, such as a missile launcher or weapons stockpile, is placed in the heart of a civilian area, it does not cease being a lawful military objective. The primary responsibility for civilian causalities arising from the “shielding” lies with the party that deliberately placed civilians at risk.

Furthermore, as Kasher points out, the laws of warfare “were intended to guide a military conflict between armies with clear chains of command in which all the troops wear uniforms, bear arms openly, and are responsible to the civil government of a certain state.” None of these characteristics apply to Hamas.

Responding to criticism of  Israeli airstrikes on high-rise buildings, hospitals, and mosques, legal expert Maurice Hirsch noted that international law does not prevent Israel from destroying the entire building if it is the operational headquarters of Hamas. Similarly, medical and religious facilities become legitimate targets if they are used as command centers or weapons arsenals. Hirsch also explains that Israel has no obligation to provide electricity that aids Hamas. Finally, in regard to the tragedy of innocents, including children, being hurt or killed, Hirsch said, “In as much as Israeli forces do not knowingly and intentionally target a child who was not participating in the hostilities, the incidental death of a child during the fighting would certainly not constitute a crime of any nature” (Maurice Hirsch, “Frequently Asked Questions about the 2023 War with Hamas,” JCPA, October 12, 2023).

Critics refuse to acknowledge the nearly impossible position Israelis are put in by terrorists. Author and peace activist Amos Oz asked during the 2014 Gaza war:

What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?
What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family? (“Oz: ‘Lose-lose situation for Israel,’” Deutsche Welle, July 30, 2014).

Critics never answer those questions or these:

What would you expect your government to do if your house was being bombarded with rockets?
What would you consider a proportionate response to those attacks?
Since the stated objective of these terror groups is the destruction of Israel, isn’t the proportional response their destruction? 
Wouldn’t random missile strikes on Palestinian neighborhoods be proportionate to indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli neighborhoods?

Can you imagine any of Israel’s critics accepting those responses? Of course not. No one in Israel believes these would be legitimate uses of force either, and, therefore, Israel is left with the need to take measured action against specific targets to protect its citizens and deter future attacks.

It is easy to condemn Israel from afar, but imagine if terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, or any other city in the West (or East, for that matter). What would the governments do? Would the targets of those rockets demand their governments respond – but only if they can do so without killing any civilians?

It’s not just hypothetical. In reaction to an attempt to assassinate President Bush in 1993, the U.S. launched 23 cruise missiles at Iraq’s intelligence headquarters and hit a civilian neighborhood. Colin Powell later said this was an “appropriate, proportional” response (John Lancaster and Barton Gellman, “U.S. Calls Baghdad Raid A Qualified Success,” Washington Post, June 28, 1993).

After 9/11, the United States used overwhelming force in the war in Iraq, and though civilians were not targeted, thousands were killed (“Iraq War,” Encyclopedia Britannica, March 2, 2021). There was no discussion of the need for proportionality.

No nation, including the United States, has the right to lecture Israel about adhering to the laws of war and protecting civilians. President Obama authorized 542 drone strikes that killed 324 civilians (Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Final Drone Strike Data,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 20, 2017).

The United States uses overwhelming force against its enemies, even though the threats are distant and pose no danger to the nation’s existence or its citizens’ immediate security. By contrast, the threat Israel faces is immediate in time and physical proximity and poses a direct danger to Israeli citizens.

The citizens of Israel who live within range of the rockets – which now extend to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – go about their lives in a perpetual state of trauma and fear. Ordinary tasks like driving to work, walking to the bank, or taking children to the park cannot be completed without risking their lives.

When the red alert indicates an incoming rocket, Israelis near the border have 15 seconds to find shelter. What if you are not near one? How do you get an elderly parent or disabled child to safety in that time?

Imagine how it must be to live under those conditions. What is a proportional response to being forced to live this way?

In addition, no innocent Palestinian would be in the line of fire if terrorists did not deliberately hide among them and Gazans did not allow themselves to be used as shields. The people know Hamas is building tunnels under their houses and storing weapons in residential neighborhoods, mosques, and schools. They understand rockets are launched from populated areas. Why don’t they object, and why doesn’t the international community intervene before a war begins to prevent tragedies from occurring?

Have Gazans demonstrated against using their children as cannon fodder or condemned Hamas for attacking Israeli civilians and putting Palestinians at risk?

It is a tragedy whenever innocent lives are lost, and Israelis have consistently expressed their regret over Arab casualties. By contrast, when innocent Israelis are murdered, the terrorists and their supporters celebrate and honor the killers (“Anti-Israel Activists Celebrate Hamas Attacks that Have Killed Hundreds of Israelis,” ADL, October 9, 2023).

Israel’s army is not infallible. As a democracy, when Israeli soldiers make mistakes in battle, they are called to account for those errors. On those occasions when noncombatants are injured or killed, investigations are launched, the Israeli public debates the military’s actions, and punishments are imposed if courts find soldiers guilty of a crime.

MYTH

Gaza civilians have nowhere to go to avoid airstrikes.

FACT

Hamas gave no thought to the safety of civilians when it invaded Israel on October 7, 2023, and massacred hundreds of Israeli civilians. Knowing Israel would retaliate, the terrorists moved Israeli hostages to serve as shields. Palestinians were put in the fire as Hamas terrorists also used them for protection, firing rockets from civilian areas and hiding among them. 

The media repeatedly claims that Gazans have nowhere to escape. It is untrue. Most need to travel less than five miles to reach the area Israel has said it will not attack.

As Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, warnings were issued for Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas. Despite the risk of giving terrorists the chance to flee, forewarning is also given before bombing buildings where noncombatants live. Palestinians also receive phone messages. The IDF’s Arab-language channels shared videos on social media providing Gazans instructions on where to go to be safe (Gianluca Pacchiani, “IDF instructs Gazans on evacuation routes, while many find shelter in UNRWA schools,” Times of Israel, October 9, 2023).

Within the first few days of the war, nearly 200,000 Gazans had fled. (Miranda Nazzaro, “Number of displaced in Gaza surpasses 187,000 as dozens of towns evacuate, U.N. office says,” The Hill, (October 9, 2023). As in the past, many civilians found shelter in UNRWA schools.

Israel dropped leaflets on October 13, telling all civilians to move south, but Hamas told them to stay in their homes (Abeer Salman and Lucas Lilieholm, “Hamas tells Gaza residents not to leave their homes after IDF warns civilians to evacuate,” CNN, October 13, 2023).

Hamas should be asked why, in the two years of planning for the attack on Israel, no effort was made to arrange for civilians to be taken out of the line of fire. The answer, of course, is that Hamas has no interest in the lives of other Gazans and sees them as pawns and shields.

Why is Egypt refusing to open its border to allow Gazans to flee there? The answer is that Egypt has no love for the Palestinians, especially Hamas, given its relation to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the greatest threat to the country’s stability. Egypt also does not want to be responsible for hundreds of thousands on its territory. 

The UN is complaining about Israel, but it is culpable as it has allowed Hamas to use its facilities as shields, and its schools have taught generations of Palestinians to hate Israel and condone terror. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said, “The United Nations has turned a blind eye to Hamas' arming and its use of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip as a hiding place for its weapons and murder, and now, instead of standing by Israel, whose citizens were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists and which tries to minimize harm to those not involved, it is preaching to Israel” (Itamar Eichner and Daniel Edelson, “Erdan: UN criticism of IDF north Gaza evacuation order is ‘disgrace,’” Ynet, October 13, 2023).

Another question is why countries that say they are concerned about the Palestinians are unwilling to ask Israel and Egypt to facilitate their evacuation to their shores.

Meanwhile, who is demanding that a humanitarian corridor be established to allow the hostages taken by Hamas to be returned to their homes?

MYTH

Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth.

FACT

Reports on the war with Hamas repeatedly say the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on earth, suggesting that Israeli airstrikes will inevitably kill large numbers of civilians.

According to the CIA, Gaza has a population of 2,098,389 in an area of 139 square miles (slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.), which would be a density of 15,096 people per square mile (Gaza Strip,” CIA World Factbook, September 25, 2023), which is less than the density of the city of Tel Aviv (21,793/sq. mi.). If you compare Gaza to a country, then it is not even close to the top two ­­– Macau (55,433) ­and Monaco (47,005) (“Countries by Density 2023,” World Population Review).

Gaza City is the world’s 63rd most densely populated urban area at 42,059 per square mile. This is far below Bnei Brak in Israel (76,000 per square mile). A more apt comparison is Manhattan, which is 23 square miles compared to Gaza City’s 17. Its population density is more than 70,000 per square mile (“Manhattan,” Wikipedia).

The density of the population does make striking Hamas targets very challenging, especially since the terrorists use civilians as shields. Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, including issuing warnings and aborting missions if bystanders are seen in the area. Following the Hamas invasion of Israel on October 7, 2023, the Israeli government advised Gazans to evacuate areas near the border.

MYTH

Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

FACT

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), more than 5.9 million Palestinians are refugees. The Palestinian Authority (PA) claims that “nearly 7 million Palestinian refugees scattered worldwide believe in inevitable return” (PA TV, May 14, 2023, translated by Palestinian Media Watch).

Is Israel obligated to take in some or all of those people?

Palestinians and their supporters often cite UN Resolution 194, which says “that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so” (emphasis added). It also called for efforts to facilitate their repatriation and resettlement.

The emphasized words demonstrate that the UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands. Furthermore, the resolution uses the word “should” instead of “shall,” which, in legal terms, is not mandatory language.

Allowing all the refugees to live in Israel would be suicidal.

The Israeli population is approximately 9.8 million, of which 7.2 million are Jews. If every Palestinian refugee in the UNRWA system were allowed to move to Israel, the population would be nearly 16 million, and the Jewish proportion would shrink from 73% to 46%. Using the PA numbers, Jews would comprise only about 43% of the Jewish State. The Jews would be a minority in their own country, the 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, “No right of return, but Israel must offer a solution,” The Globe and Mail, (May 12, 2007).

It is often forgotten that most Palestinians now live in historic Palestine, an area including the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. When Palestinians demand to return to “Palestine,” they refer to the area and the houses they lived in before 1948. Those homes are either gone or inhabited now, and most of the Palestinians who left them are no longer alive.

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?” (Associated Press, October 22, 2001).

In leaked cables from the Palestinian negotiating team, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also admitted this. “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).

Israel has offered to accept some refugees in the context of a peace settlement, as David Ben-Gurion said he would do decades ago. If a Palestinian state is created, the refugees should be allowed to move there; however, the Palestinian leadership has shown little interest in absorbing its people and still believes it can weaken, if not destroy, Israel by overwhelming the country with refugees.

MYTH

The “right-wing” Israeli government allows illegal outposts to be built on Palestinian land.

FACT

The press routinely refers to the current government as “the most right-wing in in Israel’s history.” It does lean to the right, reflecting the views of more than half the population that voted in the last election, and includes staunch advocates for settlements. Nevertheless, this government has evacuated and demolished four illegal settlements.

On September 27, 2023, Sde Givat Yonatan was razed and four settlers were arrested. The order for demolishing the settlement was reportedly because the buildings were on private Palestinian land.

In August, the A’ira Shahar outpost was also evacuated (“Residents shocked: Forces destroy Jewish houses in A’ira Shahar,” Arutz Sheva, August 14, 2023).

In between, the 50 families living in Migron were forced to leave their homes after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled it was built without official permits on land privately owned by Palestinians. The houses were then demolished (Tovah Lazaroff, “Police complete largely peaceful Migron evacuation,” Jerusalem Post, September 2, 2023).

“We are committed to the rule of law,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The actions were carried out with the approval of one of the settlement advocates in the government, Bezalel Smotrich.

In January, before Smotrich was given responsibility for the settlements, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered the evacuation of the Or Chaim outpost (Michael Horovitz, “4 arrested during razing of illegal Israeli West Bank outpost, drawing settler outcry,” Times of Israel, September 27, 2023).

MYTH

Palestinian summer camps are meant for fun, not indoctrination.

FACT

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 have grown increasingly grim as the Palestinian Authority (PA) institutionalizes hatred for Jews, glorifying martyrdom and rejecting 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 Hamas and the PA run, but the child abuse does not end with the school term. It continues throughout the summer.

While kids elsewhere play sports, work on art projects, and sing around campfires, some 650 Palestinian camps 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, saw it again in the summer of 2023.

The theme of the Gaza camps is Jerusalem Shield. The head of Hamas’s Higher Committee for Summer Camps, Khaled Abu Askar, said the goal is “to instill the value of Jerusalem in the hearts of young people and the right of Palestinians to the Holy City, in addition to advancing the national role of the liberation generation and raising their resolve (“In pictures, Hamas launches its summer camps in Gaza, “Jerusalem Shield” translated from Arabic, Palestine Online, July 2023).

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanou said its goal is “an affirmation of the centrality of the Jerusalem issue,” to be sure it is in the minds of the next generation as “preparations are being made to liberate it from the desecration of the usurping, occupying people” (“Al-Qanou: The summer camps launched by Hamas in Gaza represent an important step in building the generation,” translated from Arabic, Palestinian Khabar Press Agency, July 12, 2023).

Palestinian scholar Bassam Tawil notes that campers in Gaza are given military training, “such as practice with knives and firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and marching and foot drills. The children also stage plays and enact scenes of fighting and capturing Israeli soldiers or firing rockets at Israel.” They learn to assemble and disassemble weapons, tromp on Israeli flags, and see pictures of terrorists who murdered Israelis as examples to look up to (Bassam Tawil, “Palestinians’ summer camps to kill Jews,” JNS, July 20, 2023).

Some of the terrorists campers learn about include Nasser Abu Hmeid, who was convicted of murdering seven Israelis and attempting to kill 12 others; Khairi Alqam, who killed six Israelis and a Ukrainian; Muhannad Al-Halabi, who stabbed two Israelis to death; Hassan Salameh who was convicted for his role in planning suicide attacks, Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for planning terrorist attacks; and Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who carried out the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, in which 35 Israeli civilians, many of them children, were killed and 71 were wounded (“PLO Summer Camps – Part I: Praise And Glorification Of Terrorists,” MEMRI, (August 3, 2023).

Fatah-run camps offer similar training. At the closing ceremony at the Salfit camp, graduates received copies of the Koran (from the supposedly secular PA) and demonstrated “the skills they had learned in handling firearms, clearing away injured fighters during simulated clashes, and seizing weapons from opponents” (“At Fatah Youth Summer Camp in Salfit, Held In Coordination With Palestinian Authority Security Forces, Children Receive Firearms Training, Visit Graves of Terrorists,” MEMRI, August 16, 2023).

The Fatah camp theme was “Moons and Not Numbers.” The reference is to terrorists considered martyrs – “moons” – buried in numbered caskets in Israel’s Cemeteries for Enemy Casualties. As in Gaza, campers learn about Palestinian murderers who are glorified and meant to serve as their role models (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “2023 PLO summer camps will highlight dead terrorists as ‘Moons’ in the skies of ‘Palestine,’” Palestinian Media Watch, March 28, 2023).

MEMRI translated a pledge made by teens at a camp in Hebron (“Palestinian Teens Undergo Military Training At Fatah Summer Camp In Hebron,” translated by MEMRI from Al-Awda TV, August 7, 2023):

I swear by God Almighty!
I swear by my honor and my beliefs.
To be loyal to Palestine.
And to work to liberate it.
I will do everything I can.
I swear that I will not reveal the secrets of the Fatah movement.
And what I know about it.
I make this pledge freely.
Allah is witness to what I say.

Like the textbooks they are given in school, campers see and create maps of “Palestine” that replace Israel, often with the colors of the PLO flag. Israeli cities are referred to as Palestinian.

A long-time staple of Palestinian propaganda is the key. Palestinians sometimes wear keys they say are to the homes taken from them by the Jews in 1948 and represent their “right” to return to them. At camp, children are given projects to make large keys to reinforce the message (Itamar Marcus, “PA summer camps teach of a world in which Israel no longer exists,” Palestinian Media Watch, July 26, 2023).

Suppose 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 a Palestinian state?

MYTH

Gazans support Hamas’s rule.

FACT

It is difficult to gauge how much opposition there is among Palestinians in Gaza because of the iron rule of Hamas that prevents and punishes dissent. Though part of the Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo Accords, Hamas has exercised dictatorial power in Gaza since driving out supporters of the equally autocratic rulers in the West Bank.

In the summer of 2023, Gazans defied their overlords and held rallies throughout the area. Some chanted, “Where is the electricity and where is the gas?” and burned Hamas flags. Some protestors evaded the police, others did not and were arrested. Those trying to take pictures had their phones taken and destroyed.

Demonstrators wanted to know why the media, especially Al Jazeera, were not covering their rallies and concerns. One reason is that journalists trying to report on events were detained.

Gazans have multiple grievances. They object to the undemocratic rule of Hamas, which many view as corrupt. Hamas is blamed for the deteriorating economy and poor living conditions, including limitations on the availability of electricity. Instead of using funds it receives from Qatar and Iran to improve their lives, the money is squandered on terror attacks and buying, manufacturing, and smuggling weapons. Money that could be used to take refugees out of UNRWA camps and for infrastructure projects is directed toward building terror tunnels. Hamas also deducts roughly 15% from Qatari money earmarked for the poor. Gazans also resent that while many of them live in squalor, Hamas leaders like Ismail Haniyeh live comfortably abroad (“Thousands Take to Streets in Gaza in Rare Public Display of Discontent With Hamas,” AP, July 30, 2023).

While Israel draws condemnation for demolishing illegal structures constructed by Palestinians, nothing is heard when Palestinians raze buildings belonging to their fellow Palestinians. In a rare media reference, Patrick Kingsley noted that one catalyst for the demonstrations against Hamas was its decision to flatten an unauthorized addition to a building, killing the owner inside (Patrick Kingsley, “Gaza Protests Struggle to Gain Traction as Police Crack Down,” New York Times, August 7, 2023).

As in the West Bank, the media, human rights crusaders, advocates for the Palestinians abroad, and others have little interest in how Palestinians treat each other in Gaza and how civil rights are almost non-existent. Palestinian lives don’t matter – unless their plight can be somehow blamed on Israel.

MYTH

Palestinians protect holy sites.

FACT

The media frequently repeats false accusations about Israel limiting access to Muslim holy places and routinely blames Jews for violence erupting on the Temple Mount when Palestinians use the al-Aqsa Mosque as an arsenal, riot, or attack Jewish worshipers. By contrast, far less attention is paid to the desecration of holy sites under Palestinian control or attacks on Jews praying at them.

In the latest example, Palestinian rioters threw rocks, glass bottles, and Molotov cocktails at Jews praying at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem on August 10, 2023 (“Palestinians hurl rocks, Molotov cocktails at Rachel’s Tomb in West Bank,” Jerusalem Post, August 11, 2023).

Rachel's Tomb
Credit: © Jack Hazut

This was not the first time the shrine was attacked. For example, during the intifada in 2000, Jews could not visit the site because it was repeatedly under gunfire (Nadav Shragai, “The Palestinian Authority and the Jewish Holy Sites in the West Bank: Rachel’s Tomb as a Test Case, JCPA, December 2, 2007). Palestinians threw rocks, at least 18 firebombs, and nine pipe bombs at Israeli troops guarding the tomb in 2013 (Marcy Oster, “Palestinians riot near Rachel’s Tomb,” JTA, January 16, 2013). Pipe bombs were thrown at the shrine in 2016 and 2017 (Yotam Berger, “Israel Arrests Seven Palestinian Teens Over Pipe-bomb Attack on Rachel’s Tomb,” Haaretz, October 6, 2016; “None hurt as bomb thrown at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem,” Times of Israel, February 7, 2017). On two occasions in 2019, explosive devices were thrown at the tomb (“2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Israel, West Bank and Gaza,” U.S. State Department, June 10, 2020).

An even more frequent target is Joseph’s Tomb, located in the heart of Nablus. In 2000, the Palestinian police stood by as a mob ransacked the place, burned books, and destroyed reading stands (Joel Greenburg, “Palestinians destroy the Israeli site that was the scene of many clashes,” New York Times, October 8, 2000).


Credit: Tom Miller, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In 2014, Palestinians tried to burn down the tomb during a protest (“Palestinians try to burn Joseph’s Tomb as protests reignite,” Times of Israel, July 7, 2014).

Violence surrounding access to the Temple Mount stoked by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) sparked attacks on Joseph’s Tomb in October 2015. A crowd of 100 Palestinians descended on the Tomb, throwing Molotov cocktails and setting the area ablaze (Ari Rabinovitch, “Palestinians set fire to Jewish shrine; Israeli soldier stabbed,” Reuters, October 16, 2015).

On April 10, 2022, Palestinian rioters stormed the site, shattered the tombstone, and set it on fire (Elisha Ben Kimon, “Palestinians vandalize Joseph’s Tomb amid security tensions,” Ynet, April 10, 2022). Palestinians opened fire at Jewish worshipers and Israeli forces at the tomb in June, July, and August (Tovah Lazaroff, “Palestinians open fire at Israelis visiting Joseph’s Tomb, two injured,” Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2022).

There were multiple incidents in 2023. In July, for example, armed Palestinians opened fire, hurled explosive devices, and blocked roads with burning tires as Jewish worshipers approached the tomb (Emanuel Fabian, “Palestinian teen killed in clashes with IDF during pilgrimage to Joseph’s Tomb,” Times of Israel, July 20, 2023).

According to the Oslo agreements signed by the Palestinians, the PA is responsible for the security of these sites and for allowing Jewish worshipers unhindered access to them. The PA, however, has failed to meet its obligation. This is just one of the many violations of the terms of the deal that has created obstacles to peace and convinced Israelis the Palestinians cannot be trusted. Moreover, their unwillingness to protect holy sites is one reason why they can never be allowed control over any part of the Old City of Jerusalem.

MYTH

Ben & Jerry’s was justified in launching a boycott of Jews in “occupied Palestinian territory.”

FACT

In 2022, Ben & Jerry’s attracted worldwide attention and opprobrium after declaring that “it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (“Ben & Jerry’s Will End Sales of Our Ice Cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s, 2022).

Trying to explain why the decision was not anti-Semitic, cofounders Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield offered a rationalization that proved it was an act of Jew-hatred. They claimed the action was justified because Israel’s “illegal occupation…is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people” (Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, “We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle,” New York Times, July 28, 2021).

To be consistent and not anti-Semitic, they would refuse to sell ice cream to Palestinians because their acts of terror are a barrier to peace, and the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority violate Palestinian rights. But, like most defenders of anti-Semitic behavior, B&J can only blame the Jews for the plight of the Palestinians and the absence of peace.

They also have their facts wrong, as Israel does not illegally occupy Judea and Samaria. These are lands where Jewish history dates back millennia, long before Arabs came to the area. It is the Jews, not the Palestinians, who are the indigenous people. The only illegal occupation of the West Bank occurred during the 19 years Jordan controlled it.

Israeli students and academics pointed out the company’s hypocrisy a few months later. “We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is illegal, and we believe it is wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain,” they said in a letter to Ben & Jerry’s chairperson (Ash Obel, “Israeli students accuse Ben & Jerry’s of illegally occupying Native American lands,” Times of Israel, August 10, 2022).

The revelation that the company headquarters are on Native American land was ignored by the major media, no doubt because it came from Israelis. That changed after the company tweeted on the eve of the July 4, 2023, celebrations, “The United States was founded on stolen indigenous land. This Fourth of July, let’s commit to returning it.”

Don Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan Band of The Coosuk Abenaki Nation, subsequently told Newsweek it was “always interested in reclaiming the stewardship of our lands” (Aleks Phillips, “Indigenous Chief Wants To Take Back Ben & Jerry’s HQ Built on ‘Stolen’ Land,” Newsweek, July 7, 2023).

Alas, the company that insisted Israel give up lands that it has a legitimate claim to isn’t willing to live up to its stated values and return the land stolen from Native Americans that it occupies. Also, in contrast to Ben & Jerry’s, despite having no obligation to do so, Israel has already withdrawn from more than 90% of the territory it captured in 1967 and offered to cede more in the interest of peace.

Rather than change Israeli policy, advance peace, or help the Palestinians, all Ben & Jerry’s has succeeded in doing is costing its parent company money. After the boycott announcement, several states divested hundreds of millions of dollars from Unilever because it violated their anti-boycott laws. Within about a month of the tweet calling on the United States to give back land, the company lost nearly $2 billion in value and prompted calls for it to be boycotted (Ben & Jerry’s sees boycott call after July 4 appeal to return ‘stolen indigenous land,’” Times of Israel, July 8, 2023).

MYTH

Israel should be barred from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

FACT

For some time, Israel has wanted to be approved to participate in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows individuals from participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The obstacle has been that Israel did not treat all Americans entering Israel equally, particularly Palestinians with U.S. citizenship. This applies to those traveling from the U.S. and from the disputed territories.

The principal issue from Israel’s perspective is security. Some visitors are scrutinized more carefully than others, which has long been an impediment to Israel joining the VWP but has drawn particular attention from the Biden administration. A source told Haaretz, “The Biden administration has been consistent in its demands from Israel the entire way….Reciprocity means fair and equal treatment of Americans entering Israel, without any discrimination, as Israel expects its own citizens will be treated” (Yaniv Kubovich, “Israeli Security Officials Warn U.S. Visa Deal May Harm Country’s Security,” Haaretz, July 10, 2023).

Despite the reservations of the security services, the government has made meeting U.S. requirements a priority and instructed them to make the necessary changes. On July 29, 2023, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides signed a memorandum of understanding in which Israel agreed to allow all American citizens, including Palestinian Americans who live in the West Bank and Gaza, to travel through Israeli ports of entry (“In bid for visa-free entry to U.S., Israel eases travel for Palestinian Americans,” Huffington Post, July 20, 2023).

The Department of Homeland Security said, “DHS welcomes these steps by Israel toward meeting the Visa Waiver Program requirements. The United States will engage with the Government of Israel on its implementation of its new travel policies. For entry into the Visa Waiver Program, all of the Program’s mandatory requirements must be satisfied. The Department is working closely with the Government of Israel in its efforts to meet those requirements, in furtherance of our shared goal that Israel join the Visa Waiver Program” (“DHS Statement on Israel’s Announcement Regarding Reciprocal Visa Acceptance for U.S. Citizens,” Department of Homeland Security, July 19, 2023).

Israel subsequently began to remove barriers to entry, hoping to satisfy the United States before a September 30, 2023, deadline. Under a six-week pilot program, U.S. citizens on the Palestinian Authority’s population registry were permitted to travel to and through Israel — including via Ben-Gurion International Airport – for up to 90 days (Jacob Magid, “Israel launches pilot for U.S. visa waiver, easing travel for Palestinian-Americans,” Times of Israel, July 20, 2023).

American officials began monitoring how U.S. citizens were treated at checkpoints and the airport. Two confirmed to Reuters that the trial was “going smoothly” (Dan Williams, “Exclusive: U.S. quietly inspects Israeli crossings for its Palestinian dual-nationals,” Reuters, August 1, 2023).

The Shin Bet has remained involved in trying to persuade the United States to consider its security concerns. The agency is particularly concerned about the possible entry of hostile Palestinians, especially from the Gaza Strip. Under the pilot program, Palestinian Americans from Gaza must enter Israel from Jordan through the Allenby crossing. The Palestinian Authority will provide a shuttle between Gaza and Jordan (Barak Ravid, “U.S. and Israel agree on conditions that could see Israelis join visa waiver program,” Axios, July 19, 2023).

Even as Israel responded to U.S. demands concerning the entry requirements, the Biden administration was reportedly using the visa issue to pressure the government to improve the lives of Palestinians, prevent settler violence against them, and refrain from expanding settlements. The State Department was also demanding a more thorough investigation of the death of a Palestinian with U.S. citizenship who died while in IDF custody (Amos Harel, “U.S. Officials: Israel’s West Bank Policy Could Scuttle Visa Waiver Program Admittance, Haaretz, July 2, 2023).

A bipartisan letter signed by 65 senators called on the administration to prioritize admitting Israel to the VWP. The letter notes, “Approximately 450,000 Israelis travel annually to the U.S., and that number has been increasing each year. With 93 weekly direct flights from Israel to U.S. airports, there is already significant demand for travel. As such, Israel’s participation in VWP would significantly increase the potential for both tourism and business travel.”

Lead sponsors Rick Scott (R-FL) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) said in a statement, “We look forward to that day and the increased travel and tourism it will bring between the United States and Israel which will serve to strengthen the bond between our great nations and people” (“Rosen, Scott Lead 65 Senators In Bipartisan Letter Urging Administration To Include Israel In Visa Waiver Program,” Jacky Rosen U.S. Senator for Nevada, June 21, 2023).

If Israel is admitted to the VWP, it must fulfill its commitments or lose the privilege.

MYTH

Jordan agreed to extradite a terrorist who murdered Americans.

FACT

The 2017 State Department report on international terror references a criminal complaint unsealed in March (she was indicted in 2013) charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national, “with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the United States resulting in death.” She was involved in the August 9, 2001, suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 16 people, including three U.S. nationals. Malki Roth, 15, and Shoshana Greenbaum, 31, who was five months pregnant, died on the spot. Chana Nachenberg was critically wounded and died on May 30, 2023, after more than two decades in a coma. Three other Americans were among the approximately 122 wounded.

Israel arrested Tamimi, and she was convicted in 2003 of escorting the suicide bomber to the restaurant and sentenced to life in prison. In 2011, however, Israel exchanged her and more than other 1,000 prisoners to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held hostage by Hamas. After her release, she moved to Jordan.

Jordan has repeatedly refused the U.S. request for her extradition, citing a court ruling that its constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals. The United States, however, maintains it has a valid extradition treaty with Jordan.

The terrorism reports mentioned the case again in 2018 and 2019 but left it out of the two most recent reports.

In 2020, seven Republican members of Congress threatened to impose sanctions on Jordan if it didn’t extradite Tamimi (Ron Kampeas, “7 congressional Republicans threaten Jordan with sanctions for not extraditing terrorist in ’01 Jerusalem pizzeria bombing,” JTA, May 8, 2020). The Trump administration reportedly threatened to withhold or cut aid but didn’t follow through (Amir Tibon, “Trump Administration Weighs Cutting Aid to Pressure Jordan to Extradite Convicted Terrorist,” Haaretz, June 16, 2020). Legislation was introduced in 2022 to limit aid to Jordan until it extradited the terrorist, but it did not pass (Israel Kasnett, “Proposed US legislation holds Jordan accountable for failure to extradite Hamas terrorist,” JNS, May 12, 2022).

In 2022, the U.S. and Jordan signed a seven-year Memorandum of Understanding committing the Administration to seek $1.45 billion in annual economic and military aid for Jordan. In 2023, $1.65 billion was appropriated (Jeremy M. Sharp, “Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, June 23, 2023).

According to Yonah Jeremy Bob, neither Israel nor the U.S. has pressured Jordan out of concern for the country’s stability. Bob quoted a State Department who said, “while [King] Abdullah has no love for Tamimi, giving her up to America would put the king in a very difficult position with his own people” (Yonah Jeremy Bob, “Will Ahlam Tamimi be extradited from Jordan for the murder of Malki Roth?” Jerusalem Post, (April 30, 2021).

In July 2022, the U.S. National Security Council said that the “U.S. government continues to seek her extradition and the Government of Jordan’s assistance in bringing her to justice for her role in the heinous attack” (“US seeks extradition of Palestinian attacker in Jordan,” Associated Press, July 11, 2022).

During her confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador-designate to Jordan, Yael Lempert, remarked that “if confirmed, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Ahlam al Tamimi faces justice in the United States for her horrific crimes” (Ben Samuels, “Israel Tensions in Spotlight at U.S. Envoy to Jordan’s Senate Confirmation Hearing,” Haaretz, May 4, 2023).

She was confirmed, and now her pledge will be tested.

Meanwhile, the lack of action prompted the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Ted Deutch, to send a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland in July 2023 urging him to pressure Jordan to extradite the “unrepentant” terrorist who has “enjoyed celebrity status since returning to Jordan, glorifying and inciting terrorism and for five years hosting a program on the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV, beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world” (Melissa Weiss, “AJC calls on Justice Department to pursue Ahlam Tamimi extradition,” JewishInsider, July 13, 2023).

MYTH

Israel targeted children in Jenin.

FACT

In the long history of anti-Israel media bias in general, and the BBC in particular, the blood libel uttered by news anchor Anjana Gadgil may rank as the most outrageous example. During an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Gadgil said, “Israeli forces are happy to kill children”’ (Catherine Lough, “BBC News anchor says ‘Israeli forces happy to kill children,’” The Telegraph, July 5, 2023).

Unsurprisingly, the comment, made in response to Israel’s counterterror operation in Jenin, was based on no evidence whatsoever. Operation Home and Garden lasted from July 3-5, 2023, and was launched only after 50 terror attacks had originated from the city. Despite the extreme riskiness of engaging the enemy in a hostile urban environment, only 12 Palestinians were killed, all members of terrorist groups – seven from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, three from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, one from Hamas, and one from Fatah (Avi Mayer, “In Jenin, the facts don’t matter,” Jerusalem Post, July 6, 2023).

Gadgil said four of the casualties were “children.” At least three were teenagers associated with terrorist groups. Majdi Ar’arawi, 16, was a member of Islamic Jihad. Ali Al-Ghoul, 17, was a member of Hamas. Nur Al-Din Marshud, 17, was a member of Fatah. Palestinian Media Watch published photos of each of them posing with weapons (Itamar Marcus, “‘Children’ or ‘Terrorists’? PMW rejects BBC’s apology,” PMW, July 6, 2023).

When Bennett asked Gadgil how she would describe a 17-year-old Palestinian shooting at her family, she had no answer.

Israel’s critics never have an answer when faced with similar questions about how they would respond to threats against their families, such as rocket attacks, stabbings, suicide bombers, and car rammings. They only know whatever Israel does to protect its citizens is unacceptable.

Gadgil and others who reported on Israel’s operation, did not ask such basic questions as: Why is there a refugee camp in Jenin, and Why isn’t the Palestinian Authority, which under the Oslo Accords is obligated to prevent terror attacks, using its forces to keep the peace so Israel doesn’t have to?

The English reporting is likely influenced by that of the BBC’s  Arabic channel, which has issued more than 130 corrections following complaints of bias and inaccuracy in reports about Israel and Jewish affairs since the beginning of 2021 (David Rose, “BBC Arabic issues more than 100 corrections following complaints of anti-Israel bias,” The Jewish Chronicle, July 6, 2023).

Gadgil’s libel was even more outrageous given that on July 4, in the middle of the fighting in Jenin, Hadassah Hospital revealed its doctors had successfully performed a rare and exceptionally dangerous surgery on a Palestinian boy from the West Bank whose head was “almost completely detached from the base of the neck,” after his bicycle was hit by a car.

The boy was released from the hospital, and his father told his care team, “I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son. Bless you all, thanks to you, he regained his life even when the odds were low, and the danger was obvious” (“Israeli surgeons reattach Palestinian child’s near complete decapitated head,” i24 News, July 6, 2023).

Palestinian children (including family members of terrorist leaders) are treated in Israeli hospitals where doctors are happy to save children.

MYTH

The Palestinian Authority has stopped payments to terrorists.

FACT

During their meeting in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017, President Donald Trump told Mahmoud Abbas to end the Palestinian Authority’spay-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).

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).

Instead of ending the payments, the PA 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).

Angered by the Palestinians’ use of American tax dollars to fund terror attacks that have killed Americans as well as Israelis, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which bars U.S. funding to the PA if it continues to pay terrorists and their families. Despite the prohibition, the Biden administration resumed funding to the Palestinians and claims it does not violate the law because it is not being paid directly to the PA (Andrew Bernard, “‘They Are Paying for Terrorists to Murder’: State Department Confirms Palestinians Continue ‘Pay-to-Slay’ Terrorist Payments,” Algemeiner, May 31, 2023).

Abbas has reiterated his commitment to continue the “Pay-for-Slay” payments, which, in 2021, amounted to $193 million for prisoners and released terrorists and another $78 million for wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists (Khaled Abu Toameh, “On ‘Nakba,’ Abbas vows to continue payments to prisoners and ‘martyrs,’” Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2022).

The PA continues the payments, which represent approximately 7% of the PA budget, despite a projected budget deficit of $610 million in 2023 (Maurice Hirsch, “PA defies the world to continue terror reward payments,” Palestinian Media Watch, April 30, 2023).

MYTH

Israel held a cabinet meeting in a tunnel dug under the al-Aqsa Mosque.

FACT

In the latest iteration of the “al-Aqsa is in danger” myth perpetuated by Palestinians and Muslims suggesting that Israel wants to destroy the mosque, Ibrahim Melhem, the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, claimed the Israeli cabinet met in a tunnel built under the mosque and asked UNESCO to send experts to examine the dangers threatening the mosque (Mohammed Najib, “Palestinians outraged as Israel holds Cabinet meeting in tunnels dug under Al-Aqsa,” Arab News, May 23, 2023).

Palestinians insist that tunnels dug to uncover remnants of ancient Jerusalem threaten the mosque. This is the type of rhetoric Palestinians know can incite violence and international condemnation. The tactic goes back to the 1920s when the Mufti of Jerusalem accused Jews of wanting to destroy the mosque to provoke riots.

Melhem’s charge is a fabrication. The cabinet could not hold such a meeting because no tunnels have been dug beneath the mosque. Excavations have been conducted along the length of the Western Wall north from the open-air prayer site under the Muslim Quarter but in the opposite direction from the mosque. Palestinians sometimes refer to the entire Temple Mount as the “al-Aqsa mosque complex” but tunnels are only adjacent not under the “complex.” No matter, Palestinians have even protested when Israel is engaged in activities outside the Old City. For example, an Islamic group protested Jewish actions in the nearby village of Silwan because it is “the gateway to al-Aqsa Mosque” (Shaul Bartal, “The Battle over Silwan,” Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2012).

Palestinian excavation is the real threat the mosque. While Israel is constantly hectored by the State Department and the international community about “altering the status quo” of Jerusalem, it was Islamic clerics who violated it with impunity in 1996 when they converted two ancient underground Second Temple period structures referred to as Solomon’s Stables into a mosque, the largest in Israel at the time. Excavations continued over the next several years to enlarge the gate at the mosque and build another one, causing damage to the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The projects required the removal of 13,000 tons of dirt containing artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods, which were disposed of in garbage dumps.

Israel’s state controller reported in 2011 that Waqf excavations “were carried out without any coordination with the authorities that deal with legal enforcement in the Temple Mount, and without the required permits and licenses. The use of mechanical tools during some of the works regretfully damaged some of the archaeological evidence” (Nir Hasson, “‘Waqf Temple Mount Excavation Damaged Archaeological Relics,’” Haaretz, May 17, 2011).

“The intention,” Mark Ami-El noted, “is to turn the entire 36-acre Temple Mount compound into an exclusively Muslim site by erasing every sign, remnant, and memory of its Jewish past, including the destruction of archeological findings that are proof of this past” (Mark Ami-El, “The Destruction Of The Temple Mount Antiquities,” JCPA, August 1, 2002).

The Palestinians destroy relics and then insist Israel’s tunnel projects have unearthed no evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, said the main objective of these excavations “is to search for antiquities belonging to the Jews, but they have not yet found any antiquities or stones related to ancient Jewish history” (Najib).

This is untrue. To cite just two examples, the remains of a mikveh from Herodian times and ancient jar handles with Hebrew inscriptions were discovered (Alan Rosenbaum, “Recent archeological discoveries at the Western Wall – What lurks beneath the surface,” Jerusalem Post, December 13, 2022). The underground portions of the Western Wall and the paths believed to have led to the ancient temple are also evidence of the city’s Jewish history.

MYTH

Israel assassinated a Palestinian hunger striker.

FACT

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of the “deliberate assassination” of Khader Adnan “by rejecting his request for his release, neglecting him medically, and keeping him in his cell despite the seriousness of his health condition” (WAFA, May 2, 2023).

Adnan was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist who died in an Israeli jail on May 2, 2023, after an 86-day hunger strike. He was not murdered; he committed suicide.

Adnan was accused of incitement and membership in a terrorist organization. On prior occasions, he had been held in administrative detention without a charge and went on hunger strikes to protest. Authorities chose to release him. This was a different situation as he was due to stand trial for criminal behavior. Rather than face a judge, Adnan decided to refuse treatment and die as a martyr.

Other than offering food and medical care, which Adnan refused, Israel could do nothing to keep him alive.

Some may ask why Israel did not force-feed him. Doing so may have saved his life but would not have satisfied Israel’s detractors who would have accused the prison authorities of torture as the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and the right to health have said, “Even if it is intended for the benefit of the detainees, feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints are tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” (“Force-feeding is cruel and inhuman – UN experts urge Israel not to make it legal,” United Nations, June 25, 2014).

As in so many cases involving Palestinian terrorists, Israel has to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

MYTH

Israel is responsible for the “Nakba.”

FACT

While Israelis celebrate their independence, Palestinians mourn the establishment of Israel on what they call “Nakba Day.” Had the Palestinians and the Arab states accepted the partition resolution in 1947, the State of Palestine would also celebrate its birthday each year, and Palestinians would not be lamenting “The Catastrophe.”

The word “nakba” was coined by Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq. In his 1948 book, The Meaning of the Disaster, Zureiq wrote, “The defeat of the Arabs in Palestine is not a small downfall – naksa … It is a catastrophe – nakba – in every sense of the word” (Salman Masalha, “The 1948 war through Arab eyes,” Haaretz, March 10, 2017).

In May 2023, Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced a resolution to recognize the Palestinian Nakba as the “root cause” of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, telling attendees of an event she organized, “The Nakba happened in 1948 and it never ended” (Ali Harb, “Rashida Tlaib pushes for Palestinian Nakba recognition in US,” Al Jazeera, May 11, 2023).

Palestinians are understandably bitter about their history, but their anger should be directed against their leaders and those of the Arab states who rejected the partition resolution that called for the creation of an Arab state. As Zureiq recorded, “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 continued, “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.”

We are repeatedly told that what Palestinians object to is the “occupation” of the territories Israel acquired in 1967. If that is true, why isn’t Nakba Day 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 indicates a refusal to reconcile themselves to the existence of a Jewish State. The Hamas Covenant, for example, explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel, while the PLO plans to “liberate” Palestine in stages (Efraim Karsh, “Arafat’s Grand Strategy,” Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2004).

Detractors of Israel like Tlaib are selective interpreters of the past. They should listen to Zureiq, who wrote, “We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.”

Blaming Israel is self-defeating and historically inaccurate. When the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948, it was not to create a Palestinian state but to divide it among themselves. Egypt subsequently occupied Gaza and Jordan, the West Bank. Neither withdrew their forces to give the Palestinians independence. Moreover, during their 19-year occupation of “Palestine,” the Palestinians never claimed the right to self-determination and statehood, and yet, magically, it became recognized as an entitlement after Israel captured the territories.

Tlaib’s resolution insists “A just and lasting peace cannot be established without addressing the Nakba.” On the contrary, as long as the Palestinians treat Israel’s creation as a “catastrophe,” the prospects for coexistence will remain bleak.

MYTH

Israel’s use of facial recognition technology is “racist.”

FACT

Amnesty International has been consumed with creating reports that use specious reasoning to tar Israeli policies as akin to Afrikaner South Africa. The U.S., the UN, the EU, and, most recently France, are among the many countries and institutions that have rejected this calumny (Lahav Harkov, “French parliament declares Israel not an apartheid state,” Jerusalem Post, May 4, 2023; “‘Absurd’: US rejects Amnesty accusation of Israeli apartheid against Palestinians,” Times of Israel, February 1, 2022; “Rick Gladstone, “Tempest at U.N. Over Report Saying Israel Practices Apartheid,” New York Times, March 15, 2017; Jonathan Lis, “EU Foreign Minister Says the Term ‘Apartheid’ Is Inappropriate to Describe Israel,” Haaretz, January 16, 2023). Sadly, the media routinely parrots Amnesty press releases without verifying the organization’s claims.

The latest example is Amnesty’s accusation that Israel’s use of facial recognition technology (FRT) at security checkpoints and in Hebron and Jerusalem is illegal and meant to “consolidate existing practices of discriminatory policing, segregation, and curbing freedom of movement” of Palestinians (“Automated Apartheid,” Amnesty International, May 2, 2023).

Not surprisingly, the New York Times trumpeted Amnesty’s claims with a headline using the organization’s incendiary language (Adam Satariano and Paul Mozur, “Facial Recognition Powers ‘Automated Apartheid’ in Israel, Report Says,” New York Times, May 1, 2023).

Amnesty’s analysis is faulty on two grounds: Palestinians are not a race, and the purpose of facial recognition software is not to segregate them. Like the security fence, checkpoints, and inspections, the sole reason for adopting FRT is to protect the citizens of Israel. It would be unnecessary if Palestinians were not engaged in terror daily. Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar noted in April 2023, “only three months have passed, and this year more than 200 significant attacks have been thwarted, including about 150 shooting attacks, 20 bomb attacks, rammings, kidnappings and others” (“Shin Bet chief: Over 200 ‘significant’ terror attacks foiled so far this year,” Times of Israel, April 5, 2023).

FRT is controversial beyond Israel; nevertheless, it is now commonplace among police and security forces worldwide (see, for example, Riccardo Coluccini, “Italian police has acquired a facial recognition system,” Medium, November 7, 2017; Damien Gayle, “Met police deploy live facial recognition technology,” Guardian, February 11, 2020; Janosch Delcker, “Big Brother in Berlin,” Politico, September 13, 2018). If you ever watch television dramas about crime, you have probably seen how valuable this software is for identifying suspects.

The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that 20 federal law enforcement agencies reported owning FRT or using systems owned by others. For example, six reported using the technology to help identify people suspected of violating the law during the civil unrest, riots, or protests following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, and three acknowledged using it on images of the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021 (“Facial Recognition Technology: Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Should Better Assess Privacy and Other Risks,” GAO, June 3, 2021).

FRT is used in airports and border crossings worldwide, and many systems were installed long before Israel introduced it in the West Bank. It is also used in many parts of Israel, including the Western Wall, Ashdod Port, and Ben-Gurion Airport, so it is not uniquely directed at Palestinians in the disputed territories (“Amnesty’s War on Israel Joins Its War on Technology,” NGO Monitor, May 2, 2023).

Airports in the United States, India, Spain, the UK, France, Germany, and the UAE use FRT (Ashwani Mishra, “Your face is the only travel document you will need,” Insights, December 5, 2022; Javier Fernandez Magarino, “Aena and Iberia implement facial recognition for boarding in Barajas,” El Pais, November 21, 2019; Helen Coffey, “Face-scanning technology to replace passports at Frankfurt airport,” Independent, February 10, 2023). Spain also uses FRT at the Ceuta border with Morocco. As in the case of the Israeli crossings, the objective is to shorten border control times and increase security (Augustin Rivera, “Ceuta border with Morocco: cameras, facial recognition and without concertinas,” El Confidencial, June 9, 2019). Facial biometrics are also used by the United States at 36 seaports and at the Southwest and Northern Border ports of entry. More than 200 million travelers have been processed using biometric facial comparison technology and more than 1,600 impostors were prevented from entering the U.S. (“Say hello to the new face of speed, security and safety,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection). TSA announced in April 2023 that it was introducing new scanners that use facial recognition to verify passengers’ identities (Jessica Puckett, “TSA Is Using Facial Recognition to Make Checkpoints Faster This Summer,” Conde Nast Traveler, April 26, 2023)..

Israel is making use of a valuable technology employed globally for security, not for the “domination and oppression of Palestinians.”

MYTH

Iran does not fund Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

FACT

Iranian support for Hamas began in 1992 when a conference was held in Tehran as part of an effort to undermine U.S. peace efforts initiated at the Madrid Conference in 1990. Iran pledged to provide Hamas $30 million annually and provide military training (Daniel Levin, “Iran, Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Wilson Center, May 21, 2021). After 418 of its members were deported to Lebanon the same year, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah taught them how to build and use suicide bombs. Then, when the deportees were allowed to return to Gaza, Iran began providing the organization $50 million annually (Ido Levy, “How Iran Fuels Hamas Terrorism,” Washington Institute, June 1, 2021).

Meanwhile, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) developed its own relationship with Iran when it had fighters in Lebanon and developed a partnership with Hezbollah that led to it receiving arms and training. In 2000, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei met with PIJ’s general secretary Ramadan Shallah and offered to increase PIJ funds by 70% to cover the cost of recruiting Palestinians for suicide missions. Iran also paid PIJ cash bonuses for successful attacks and the IRGC created training camps for Hamas, PIJ, and other terrorists to learn how to use missiles and antiaircraft rockets (Matthew Levitt, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Getting By with a Little Help from Its Friends,” Washington Institute, September 3, 2002).

During the second intifada, Iran used Hezbollah to smuggle weapons to Hamas. Hezbollah later armed and trained Hamas fighters in Lebanon. Some were also trained in Iran. After the uprising ended, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran in December 2006 and met with the Supreme Leader and president. He left with a promise of $250 million in aid (“Iranian Support of Hamas,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, January 12, 2008).

During Operation Cast Lead, Iran increased aid, including supplying more advanced rockets. “The victory of the people of Gaza was a miracle of God, and the Islamic Republic definitely has a share in this victory,” said Khaled Mashal (Charlie Szrom, “Iran-Hamas Relationship in 2008,” Critical Threats, February 18, 2009; “Hamas leader praises Iran’s help in Gaza ‘victory,’” CNN, February 1, 2009).

Weapons and rocket manufacturing materials were smuggled into Gaza by sea and through tunnels dug into Egypt. Hamas possessed mostly crude, inaccurate, short-range weapons until Iran provided more sophisticated long-range rockets, including the Fajr-5 in 2012, which could hit Tel Aviv. Iran denied it supplied the rockets, but Shallah said, “Iran has given us all the support. The weapons used by the resistance – the whole world knows that they come mostly from Iran or purchased with Iranian funding” (“Iran denies supplying Fajr-5 rockets to Gaza militants: report,” Reuters, November 18, 2012; “Operation Pillar of Defense – Update No. 6,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, November 21, 2012).

Relations between Iran and Hamas deteriorated, and the flow of arms and money – $23 million a year at that point –stopped when Hamas expressed support for the Syrian opposition in 2011 and backed the Saudis in their war against the Houthis in Yemen. Iran supported the Assad regime and the Houthis in their civil wars. PIJ also lost its support over the war in Yemen. Both organizations faced financial crises as a result (Hazem Balousha, “Palestinian factions suffering financial crises amid decline in Iranian funding,” Arab News, December 12, 2022).

A PIJ delegation traveled to Iran in May 2016, the first such visit in two years, and left with a promise that it would receive $70 million annually (“Iran resumes funding for Palestinian Islamic Jihad: report,” i24 News, May 25, 2016).

By 2017, it was clear that Bashar Assad would prevail in the civil war and Iran facilitated a renewal of ties between Hamas and the Syrian dictator. Hamas head, Yahya Sinwar subsequently declared that Iran was its “largest backer financially and militarily” and that “the relationship today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days” (Levy and Levin).

By the following year, Iran had begun to provide Hamas with $70 million and PIJ with $30 million (“U.S. Claims Iran Is Spending $1 Billion A Year Backing Hizballah, Other Allies,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 15, 2018). At the time there was an internal struggle between leaders of Hamas who favored reconciling with Fatah and those who preferred a closer relationship with Iran, which opposed the talks with Fatah (Elior Levy, “Iran’s $100 million aid to Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Ynet, August 3, 2018). A year later, Iran reportedly offered Hamas $30 million per month in exchange for intelligence on the location of Israel’s missile stockpiles (Michael Bachner, “Iran said increasing Hamas funding to $30m per month, wants intel on Israel,” Times of Israel, August 5, 2019).

In 2020, Haniyeh delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC commander killed by the U.S. He said that the assistance Soleimani provided “brought them to the position they are in today in terms of power and steadfastness” (Levin).

In January 2021, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated, “All the missiles you might see in Gaza and Lebanon were created with Iran’s support. When Hamas and PIJ bombarded Israel with rockets in May, Haniyeh said Iran “did not hold back with money, weapons, and technical support” (Levy). PIJ official Ramez Al-Halabi confirmed that Iran was supporting the group “with weapons, money, and food” (Al-Ahd TV [Iraq], May 7, 2021, translated by MEMRI, May 12, 2021).

In January 2022, Haniyeh denied that Hamas was fighting a proxy war for Iran, saying they were confronting a common enemy. He acknowledged that Hamas received $70 million to help it develop missiles and defense systems (“Iran Funded Hamas Missiles With $70 Million, Haniyeh Say,” Iran International, January 3, 2022).

A few months later PIJ leader Ziyad Nakhalah claimed Hamas had received $150 million yearly for the past 30 years from Iran. He also said, “if Israel demolishes a house in the West Bank today — it is Iran that pays [to rebuild it]. Also, the weapons that the Palestinians use for fighting come from Iran — the Iranians either pay for these weapons or provide them. This has been going on for thirty years” (Alghadeer TV [Iraq], April 17, 2023, translated by MEMRI, April 19, 2023).

MYTH

Israel prevented Christians from attending their Holy Fire Festival.

FACT

Israel was falsely accused by the Greek Orthodox Church of infringing on Christians’ freedom of worship by limiting participation in the Holy Fire Festival at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem (“Church: Israel infringing on freedoms by limiting attendance at ‘Holy Fire’ event,” Times of Israel, April 12, 2023). Not surprisingly, the media highlighted the criticism (see, for example, Yolande Knell, “Churches criticise Israeli curbs on Orthodox Easter event in Jerusalem,” BBC, April 12, 2023).

Israel did indeed limit access to the Church and the area immediately around it, but this was out of safety concerns, and at the Church’s suggestion, not an effort to prevent the observance.

Nir Hasson explained the Holy Fire ritual:

Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that on the Saturday before Easter, a miraculous flame appears inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Greek patriarch enters the Holy Edicule, a chamber built on the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb and emerges with two lit candles. He passes the flame among thousands of people holding candles, gradually illuminating the walls of the darkened basilica. The flame is then transferred to Orthodox communities in other countries on special flights (Nir Hasson, “Israeli Police Violently Beat Several Holy Fire Worshipers Trying to Defy Capacity Limits,” Haaretz, April 15, 2023).

Israeli police were concerned about the safety of worshipers, given the relatively tight space within the Church and the fact that there are only two exits. They also wanted to avoid any chance of a tragedy such as the one that occurred when 45 people were killed in a stampede at an overcrowded Jewish holy place in 2021.

They imposed limits on attendance after receiving a letter from the Church architect, Teo Metropoulos, which said the maximum number of visitors for the ceremony should be 1,800 inside the building and 200 more in the courtyard (Lazar Berman, “Holy Sepulchre letter undermines church allegations on Israeli worship limits,” Times of Israel, April 15, 2023).

The police ultimately agreed to exceed his suggested ceiling and allow 2,200 people inside the Church and another 1,000 to stand outside in the churchyard and on the roof. According to Hasson, a livestream area was also set up for the overflow.

Still, some worshipers tried to enter the area and push through the police barriers, which led to a scuffle between them and officers.

The police said, “In order to keep the public peace and safety, we had to perform crowd control in the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the nearby areas in the Old City.” This was done “in accordance with the size of the crowd and the masses of people and in accordance with the maximum capacity of the church, as determined by an external engineer working on the church’s behalf.”

Al Jazeera reported, “After the Holy Light flooded the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, its flames were sent to the city of Ramallah and many other Palestinian towns, as well as to several neighboring Arab countries and other European countries (Maram Humaid, “Despite Israeli restrictions, Christians celebrate Holy Flame,” Al Jazeera, April 16, 2023).

MYTH

Israel stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque to prevent Muslim prayers during Ramadan.

FACT

If you paid attention to the media, you would have been convinced that Israeli police “stormed” the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for no other reason than to prevent Muslims from praying during Ramadan (see, for example, Abeer Salman, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jennifer Hauser, “Israeli police storm al-Aqsa mosque for the second time on Wednesday,” CNN, April 6, 2023). This was a distortion of events.

During the first two weeks of Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims from Israel and the West Bank attended prayers at the mosque. Then on April 5-6 and again on April 8 and April 15, hundreds of Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the mosque and planned to stay overnight despite an agreement between Israel and the Jordanian Waqf that no one would be allowed to do so (The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, March 21, 2023). The aim of those who defied the order was to prepare for an attack on Jews who were expected to visit the Temple Mount – not the mosque – the next morning. The men inside the mosque were not worshipers but hooligans who desecrated the holy place by smuggling in fireworks, clubs, and stones. When Israeli police moved in to clear the mosque, the Palestinians attacked them with fireworks and threw rocks at them and at the Western Wall (Nir Hasson and Deiaa Haj Yahia, “Hundreds of Worshipers Barricade Themselves in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli Police Brace to Clear Them,” Haaretz, April 8, 2023; Bassam Tawil, “What Is Really Happening at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites?” Gatestone Institute, April 13, 2023, Emanuel Fabian, Aaron Boxerman, “Over 150 injured, 400 arrested as Palestinians clash with cops on Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, April 15, 2022).

If the Palestinians were interested in prayer, why did they stockpile weapons and barricade the doors to prevent other Muslims from entering?

The Jordanian government should have intervened. For months, King Abdullah asserted the kingdom’s claim to authority over the Muslim holy places and called for Israel to reduce its presence on the Temple Mount. Jordan employs the Islamic Waqf trust that manages the mosque, but these authorities did nothing to protect the sanctity of the site or ensure that worshipers were not prevented from praying (Dana Ben-Shimon and Israel Kasnett, “Jordan demands total control, reduced Jewish presence on Temple Mount,” Israel Hayom, (May 1, 2022).

“Israel is committed to maintaining freedom of worship, freedom of access to all religions and the status quo and will not allow violent extremists to change that,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the first incident.

Expressing once again its evenhanded approach that does not differentiate between law enforcers and lawbreakers, the White House press secretary said, “We urge all sides to avoid further escalation” (“Israeli forces attack worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque raid,” Al Jazeera, April 5, 2023).

Some blamed Israel for allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount during Ramadan, but there is no law prohibiting them from doing so and no justification for Palestinians to riot over their presence. Nevertheless, to ensure no further confrontations would be blamed on them, the Israeli government banned Jews from the area for the last two weeks of the holiday.

It was also no excuse to say Jewish extremists planned to slaughter goats at the mosque since the Israeli government repeatedly has made clear no such demonstrations would be allowed and arrested anyone they found trying to bring goats or lambs to the Temple Mount (“Police detain several people seeking to carry out animal sacrifice at Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, April 5, 2023).

It is even less justifiable for the press to portray the actions of the police doing their duty to ensure worshipers can safely enter and pray at the mosque as precipitating rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon. By what logic does it follow that civilians in Israel should be targeted in northern and southern Israel because of what happened in Jerusalem?

The news that did not make headlines was that more than 100,000 Muslims peacefully prayed when the rioters were cleared from the area and that police did not take the bait when Palestinians tried to lure them into a confrontation after the initial raids. Israel went to even more extraordinary lengths to ensure Muslims had the opportunity to observe Ramadan by arranging for hundreds of buses to provide free transportation to Jerusalem for Muslims from all over Israel. The Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA) reported that an estimated 200,000 Muslims performed the Isha (night prayer) and Taraweeh prayers at the mosque on the last Friday of Ramadan (“Around 200,000 Muslims attend night, Taraweeh prayers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque on last Friday of Ramadan,” WAFA, April 14, 2023).

2022

Israel is devastating Gaza’s fishing industry.
The Palestinian issue must be solved before addressing climate change.
Israel’s “occupation” should be treated like Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.
Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas are freedom fighters.
Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
Palestinians are never told to lie to journalists.
Moving the UK embassy to Jerusalem would undermine peace, provoke violence, and damage relations with the Muslim world.
Israel was praised for allowing Palestinians to fly abroad from Eilat.
Gazans did not know or care that PIJ rockets killed Palestinians.
The only alternative to the nuclear deal was war. [Updated]
The U.S. always supports Israel. [Updated]
The U.S. supported creating a Jewish state because of the “Jewish lobby.”
Israel denies health care and medical supplies to Gaza.
Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment. [Updated]
Israel intentionally kills journalists. [Updated]
Palestinians do not violate the human rights of their people.
The Jews are responsible for the “Nakba” and “Nakba Day” is unrelated to peace.
As “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians are protected under Islamic law.
Israel persecutes Christians.
Israel is desecrating the al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Ramadan prayers.
Israel expelled one million Palestinians. [Updated]
The United States has always supported Israel at the UN. [Updated]
Israel should be sanctioned like Russia.
Israel created Hamas. [Updated]
Only Israel opposes a U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal.
Terrorism directed at Israel is motivated by politics, not religion.
The Palestinian Authority prevents and condemns terrorism.
Palestinians oppose terrorism.
Israel created Hamas.
Israel is responsible for blockading Gaza.
Israel “occupies” the West Bank.
Israel illegally demolished the home of a family in Sheikh Jarrah.
Iran does not believe that it can win a nuclear war.

MYTH

Israel is devastating Gaza’s fishing industry.

FACT

The New York Times is the most influential media purveyor of misinformation and lies about Israel. This is common on the editorial pages and in reporting what should be objective news. What makes the Times so nefarious is that it is considered the “paper of record,” and its articles are reprinted and quoted worldwide as if they are the gospel. Often reporters repurpose critiques by Israelis, which can always be found in Haaretz, but they often manage to get it wrong on their own. Raja Abdulrahim did both with the story “Amid Israeli Blockade on Gaza, a Fishing Fleet Limps Along” (Raja Abdulrahim, New York Times, November 27, 2022), which appeared after two earlier articles in Haaretz about Gaza’s fishing industry (Jack Khoury, “Israel Bans Gazan Fish Exports to West Bank; Exporters Cry Foul,” November 9) and “By Air, Land and Sea,” November 10, 2022, Haaretz).

To her credit, unlike most journalists, Raja Abdulrahim at least acknowledged that the blockade of Gaza is “aided by Egypt.” Still, this is misleading because it suggests Egypt is acting on Israel’s behalf instead of acting in its interests. After granting Egypt’s role, she still blames Israel for the blockade’s impact on the fishing industry as if needed parts for boats could not be delivered from Egypt.

Abdulrahim writes that the blockade is for Israel’s security, but she only mentions the need to prevent Hamas and other “militant” groups (the Times does not use “terrorist” even when Hamas commits heinous atrocities) from importing “dual use” items, which not only can (as she says) but have been used for “military purposes” – another Times euphemism for terrorism.

She omits that Hamas seeks Israel’s destruction and that it and other “militant” groups have launched more than 17,000 rockets targeting Israeli civilians since 2007.

Abdulrahim quotes several fishermen about their hardships, which are an unfortunate byproduct of their leaders’ actions. No one in the story dares to criticize Hamas for being the cause of the blockade, and the reporter apparently didn’t ask them why they only blamed Israel.

This story is an example of the worst of the Times -- misleading and inaccurate reporting combined with a failure to check the facts adequately. 

After receiving numerous complaints about the article’s inaccuracy, the Times did not delete it or issue a correction. Instead, an “Editor’s Note” was tacked on the end of the story admitting it “omitted important context” and had been updated “to note that while the blockade has led to a shortage of parts needed to keep some fishing boats operational, the annual catch has varied from year to year. The current catch is higher than that in the early years of blockade.”

The additional information contradicted the headline. Rather than the industry “limping along,” the updated version reports that the total catch increased from 2,322.9 metric tons in 2006 to 3,943.4 in 2019.

Abdulrahim says Israel expanded that zone from six to 15 nautical miles but notes that it is short of the 20 nautical miles agreed upon under the Oslo Accords. This implies the Palestinians comply with the Accords, which they have not by the continuation of terror. That violence affects the fishing industry. When Israel is bombarded by rockets, it reduces the area, and when it is not under attack, it is extended.

The Times also ignored information from the Israel Defense Forces that terrorist organizations use fishermen to smuggle weapons into Gaza. In a tweet, the IDF noted it does not interfere with fishermen who “do not violate the maritime security restrictions.” While the story said fishermen who “get too close to the boundaries of the permitted fishing areas” have been detained or injured, it did not disclose the numerous instances where fishermen in distress were rescued (@IDF, November 28, 2022).

MYTH

The Palestinian issue must be solved before addressing climate change.

FACT

In November 2022, the UN Conference on Climate Change took place in Egypt. Israel promoted the country’s role in tackling climate change, the view that the Abraham Accords provided a critical path towards climate justice, and opportunities to collaborate with its neighbors, including signing a declaration of intent with Jordan to conserve and protect the Jordan River. The Palestinian response was to accuse Israel of “greenwashing” its “violations of Palestinian rights.”

While Yael Ravia-Zadok of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted how the Abraham Accords have created a “great opportunity” to collaborate to address climate change and to “enhance regional stability,” the Al-Haq organization (one of the groups Israel designated as a terror organization) called the Accords “a shameful, dangerous acceptance and endorsement” of Israel’s regime (“COP27: Cooperation with Israel on Climate without Palestinian Self-determination Entrenches Colonial Climate Vulnerability of Palestinians,” Al-Haq, November 20, 2022).

Al-Haq also criticized Israel’s reference to the EuroAsia Interconnector as an example of “energy diplomacy.” This project to help relieve the energy crisis in Europe was attacked for contributing to the crimes the group attributes to Israel. Ravia-Zadok was also condemned for discussing multilateral cooperation to achieve the “‘sustainable, efficient, and environmentally conscious use of natural gas resources.’” This, al-Haq said, was “a smokescreen which enables Israel to perpetrate the exploitation and pillage of Palestinian gas resources.” The organization made similar attacks on Israel’s plan to provide Jordan with desalinated water and its agreement to help Bahrain manage its water supply.

The organization represents the common view of many Palestinians and their supporters, who insist that nearly everything, even climate change, is related to satisfying their demands. Al-Haq concluded that recognizing “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” must be a “prerequisite” to cooperating with Israel “under the rubric of fostering stability, peace, and climate justice.”

The “Palestinian issue” remains unresolved and, given the Palestinian leadership’s lack of interest in negotiating, and Hamas’s commitment to the destruction of Israel, may never be settled. The dispute has nothing to do with addressing climate change and no country should allow the Palestinians to have a veto over cooperation with Israel to deal with the immediate threats to the planet’s wellbeing.

MYTH

Israel’s “occupation” should be treated like Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.

FACT

In the unceasing effort to demonize Israel by linking it to unpopular causes and activities, detractors have latched on to the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory to deflect attention from Putin’s aggression to the Palestinian issue. Typical is Motasem Dalloul, who asked, “Why is Israel allowed to annex occupied land, but Russia isn’t?" (Motasem Dalloul, “Why is Israel allowed to annex occupied land, but Russia isn’t? Middle East Monitor, (October 4, 2022)

“We categorically reject the blanket comparison between the actions of the Kremlin – Russia in this case – that has launched and waged a brutal war of aggression against another sovereign state, a sovereign state that posed and poses no threat whatsoever to the Kremlin,” said Ned Price, the State Department spokesman (“Department Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, October 20, 2022).

One need not support Israeli policy in the territories to reject the assessment. “There is no truth in describing Israel as a country that decided (and ‘more than once!’), one fine morning, to go and conquer a peaceful neighboring country – without the slightest provocation or justification – just to expand and seize control over its surroundings,” noted Itai Rom (Itai Rom, “Ukraine War: Israel Is Like Russia? Seriously?” Haaretz, March 7, 2022).

Rom added, “You needn’t be a professor of political science to understand that the conflict in the Middle East is far more complex, that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Chief Yahya Sinwar are not exactly Zelenskyy and that given the Palestinians’ demands, even a government headed by Meretz’s Mossi Raz would find it difficult to end the occupation.”

Furthermore, unlike Russia, Israel truly is threatened by its neighbors. “Russia could pull out of Ukraine this minute without worrying about being on the receiving end of any violence,” Ram noted, “while deadly violence would inevitably ensue if there were a unilateral Israeli exit from the territories.”

Alan Baker related that, unlike Russia, Israel faces ongoing terror attacks, including massive rocket bombardments. When it acts in self-defense, Israel does not indiscriminately bomb civilian population centers, hospitals, railway stations, religious and cultural centers, and power plants. Russia has targeted all of these “in violation of the basic and widely accepted norms and principles of international humanitarian law” (Alan Baker, “How the Russia-Ukraine War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Differ,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, April 13, 2022).

Also, even under “occupation,” the Palestinian population has grown exponentially; by contrast, the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory have led to the mass evacuation of the civilian population.

No one should be fooled by the transparent campaign to make Palestinians the victims while the Ukrainians are under attack. This is just one more example of intersectionality whereby critics of Israel seek to link the Palestinian issue to a cause with widespread popular support.

MYTH

Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas are freedom fighters.

FACT

When the United States declared a war on terrorists and the nations that harbor them after September 11, 2001, Arab states and their sympathizers argued that many of the organizations that engage in violent actions against Americans and Israelis should not be targets of the new American war because they are “freedom fighters” rather than terrorists. This has been the mantra of the terrorists themselves, who claim that their actions are legitimate forms of resistance against the “Israeli occupation.”

This argument is deeply flawed.

First, the enemies of Israel rationalize any attacks as legitimate because of real and imagined sins committed by Jews since the beginning of the twentieth century. Consequently, the Arab bloc and its supporters at the United Nations have succeeded in preventing the condemnation of any terrorist attack against Israel. Instead, they routinely sponsor resolutions criticizing Israel when it acts in self-defense.

Second, “freedom fighters” do not seek the destruction of a state or extermination of a people as are the stated goals of groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas

You can’t say there are good terrorists and there are bad terrorists.

—U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
“The World at War,” The Telegraph, (March 14, 2004).

Third, nowhere else in the world is the murder of innocent men, women, and children considered a “legitimate form of resistance.” The long list of heinous crimes includes snipers shooting infants, suicide bombers blowing up pizzerias and discos, hijackers taking and killing hostages, and infiltrators murdering Olympic athletes.

Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and a number of other groups have engaged in these activities for decades and rarely been condemned or their members brought to justice. All of them qualify as terrorist groups according to the U.S. government definition: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Consequently, they should be targets of U.S. efforts to cut off their funding, to arrest their leaders, and to bring them to justice (“Terrorism 2002–2005,” (Washington, DC: FBI, Undated).

MYTH

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

FACT

To mask their anti-Semitism, many people claim they only hate “Zionists,” “Israelis,” “colonists,” or “settlers,” not Jews, but these are only euphemisms. Opposition to the Jewish state has become a socially acceptable way to express anti-Jewish attitudes. As British author Howard Jacobson observed, “Israel has become the pretext [for anti-Semitism]...All the unsayable things, all the things they know they can’t say about Jews in a post-Holocaust liberal society, they can say again now. Israel has desacralized the subject. It’s a space in which everything is allowed again” (Ben Judah And Josh Glancy, “The Jewish Jane Austen, or England’s Jeremiah?” Tablet, February 25, 2015).

The European Union issued a statement in 2022 that said, “Anti-Semitic hatred has no place in our world, and it makes no difference if it is disguised as anti-Zionism or whether it comes from far-right or far-left extremists or from Islamist and other religious fundamentalists. We Europeans cannot – and will not stay indifferent in the face of increasing anti-Semitism (Ariel Kahana, “EU condemns antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism,” Israel Hayom, April 27, 2022).

When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.

—Martin Luther King in Seymour Martin Lipset,
“The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews, and Israel,”
Encounter, (December 1969)

“Not all Jews are Zionists, just as not all Jews observe the Sabbath or adhere to kosher dietary rules,” explains Alyza Lewin, president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. “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” (Alyza Lewin, “The executive order that defines and combats anti-Semitism without stifling speech,” JNS, December 18, 2019).

MYTH

Palestinians are never told to lie to journalists.

FACT

Hamas spokespeople are articulate and well-prepared to present their case to the media. They have also prepped the civilian population for responding to media inquiries. The interior ministry published guidelines instructing the civilian population on how to contribute to the Hamas propaganda campaign. For example:

Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add “innocent civilian” or “innocent citizen” in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase “In response to the cruel Israeli attack,” and conclude with the phrase, “This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.” Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of “the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.”
Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers. This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.
When speaking to the West, you must use political, rational, and persuasive discourse, and avoid emotional discourse aimed at begging for sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world; you must maintain contact with them and activate them for the benefit of Palestine. Their role is to shame the occupation and expose its violations.
Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Do not publish photos of military commanders. Do not mention their names in public, and do not praise their achievements in conversations with foreign friends! (“Hamas Interior Ministry to Social Media Activists: Always Call the Dead ‘Innocent Civilians’; Don’t Post Photos of Rockets Being Fired from Civilian Population Centers,” MEMRI, July 17, 2014).

Thanks to such instructions, journalists cannot trust interviews with civilians they meet on the street, though many report what they are told anyway. Polish reporter Wojciech said after covering fighting in Gaza, “I couldn’t meet anyone who spoke something other than official propaganda. But some Palestinians, when they were sure my microphone was turned off, told me that they have had enough, but they are afraid. No one would dare to say publicly that Hamas is creating a hell inside Gaza” (Wojciech Cegielski, “I Saw Hamas’ Cruel and Selfish Game in Gaza,” Haaretz, August 25, 2015).

MYTH

Moving the UK embassy to Jerusalem would undermine peace, provoke violence, and damage relations with the Muslim world.

FACT

The Guardian painted an apocalyptic picture of the future if British Prime Minister Liz Truss decides to relocate the British embassy to Jerusalem. “Moving the embassy would tear up the commitment to any meaningful two-state solution. It would tacitly condone the march of illegal settlements. Palestinian doors would slam in the faces of diplomats, the British Council, and others….Relations with other Middle East nations would suffer. All this for minimal, if any, benefit” (“The Guardian view on moving the British embassy to Jerusalem: don’t do it,” The Guardian, September 27, 2022).

The same dire warnings were heard when President Donald Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The hysteria proved unwarranted. The same will be true if the UK takes the logical step of locating its embassy in Israel’s capital, just like in every other country.

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) did occur; however, the reaction in the rest of the Middle East was muted (Bassam Tawil, “The Real Palestinian Response to Trump’s Jerusalem Speech,” Gatestone Institute, December 7, 2017). This was partly 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.

Trump is gone, but the U.S. embassy is still in Jerusalem. It is accepted and has had no impact on America’s relations with the Palestinians or the Muslim world. It also did not prevent the conclusion of the Abraham Accords.

Conditions have not significantly changed since the U.S. embassy opened in 2018, and there is no reason to believe there will be any upheaval or that doors will be closed to British diplomats if Jerusalem becomes home to their embassy. This is outdated British Foreign Office thinking that strengthening relations with Israel would harm relations with the Arab world. This was proven to be nonsense over the years as the Palestinians and leaders in the region need the UK more than the UK needs them.

The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem did not harm the peace process because there were no negotiations. That is still true today. If anything, Trump’s decision may have enhanced the prospects for peace by making clear that the United States believes Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty and that Palestinian demands to have a capital in the city’s heart are unrealistic. That message would be hammered home by British recognition.

Moving the British embassy has nothing to do with settlements. It does not preclude the parties from agreeing on future borders that may create a Palestinian state. Past talks have suggested that a Palestinian capital could be in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, where the Palestinians have already constructed a parliament building.

MYTH

Israel was praised for allowing Palestinians to fly abroad from Eilat.

FACT


(Credit: Roman Toldy, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Until August 2022, Palestinians wishing to fly abroad were required to travel first to Jordan or to secure a hard-to-come-by entry permit into Israel to depart from Ben-Gurion Airport. Israel announced that month that Palestinians can leave from the Ramon Airport in Eilat. The first flight, carrying 43 Palestinian residents of HebronBethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and Nablus, landed in Cyprus on August 22. Turkish airlines were also expected to begin twice-weekly flights to Istanbul (Tobias Siegal, “In shift, Israel to allow Palestinians to fly from Eilat’s Ramon Airport,” Times of Israel, August 9, 2022; Jean Lim, “First Palestinians to fly from Israel’s Eilat-Ramon Airport arrive in Cyprus,” AeroTime Hub, August 23, 2022).

One reason for making the concession to the Palestinians was to alleviate crowding at the only crossing with Jordan. The decision was also in response to U.S. pressure to ease travel for Palestinians.

“We welcome efforts to facilitate travel for the Palestinian people,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said (“Flights for West Bank Palestinians to Turkey to start at the end of August,” Reuters, August 9, 2022).

The Palestinian and Jordanian response was very different. Instead of praising Israel for giving Palestinian an alternative route abroad, the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation threatened to take punitive measures against Palestinians who use Ramon Airport, such as preventing them from renewing their passports. The ministry also warned travel companies to deny requests to travel through the airport (Ahmad Abu Amer, “PA deters Palestinians from using Israel’s Ramon Airport,” Al-Monitor, August 23, 2022).

Jordan reacted angrily because of the decision’s likely impact on its economy if fewer people use its airport. The Palestinian-Jordanian Business Forum called on Palestinians to boycott Ramon Airport (Tobias Siegal, “Jordan chafes at Israel’s move to let Palestinians fly via Eilat’s Ramon Airport,” Times of Israel, August 9, 2022; “Palestinians Urged to Boycott Ramon Airport,” Jordan Times, August 30, 2022).

According to Al-Monitor, an increasing number of Palestinians want to travel through Ramon Airport. One reason is that it would save them the time and the annoyance of having to pass through Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian checkpoints at the Al-Karama crossing. Travelers have to pay a tax at each stop in addition to one at the Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan. Taking the route through Eilat they only have to pass through one Israeli checkpoint and pay tax at the airport.

MYTH

Gazans did not know or care that PIJ rockets killed Palestinians.

FACT

During Operation Breaking Dawn, the Israeli military operation to kill the commanders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and destroy the group’s terrorist infrastructure, some 1,100 rockets were fired at Israel; at least 200 malfunctioned and exploded within the Gaza Strip.

At least 11 civilians died from errant rockets. The first hit a group of civilians in the Jabalia refugee camp, killing seven, including four children. The second killed a Hamas policeman and his three children.

As in the past, Israel was immediately blamed for the civilian casualties. Israeli officials, however, presented evidence that no IDF action had been conducted in the vicinity and released a video showing a PIJ rocket had landed there.

One Gazan told the Gaza correspondent of Al-Monitor that “everyone knows the missile...was a local missile, but no one dares talk about it, especially to the media and the press.” A Gaza journalist confirmed the account of what happened in Jabalia to the reporter: “I saw with my own eyes a local missile strike” (“Gazans call for probe into Islamic Jihad missiles that killed civilians,” Al-Monitor, August 24, 2022).

Israel has repeatedly proved that many civilian casualties are caused by terrorist rockets. Palestinians deny the truth, and the Western media typically fail to report the facts.

The first Gazan acknowledged the Jabalia incident was “not the first time that the rockets have fallen on civilians. During the four previous wars, a lot of rockets fell on fields and rooftops, even on people, killing them or seriously injuring them. In 2008, I lost my best friend in one of the explosions caused by resistance rockets, and in 2014 one of them fell on my aunt’s house and left her child totally disabled.”

He added, “We are well aware of our struggle with Israel, and we are all for the Palestinian resistance, but we must stand up to this crime and demand an investigation.”

Gazans want those responsible for the carnage held accountable, but it is unlikely to happen because the people are intimidated and coerced into silence.

“We only want the truth and a clear investigation into the matter,” the journalist said. “They want us not to talk about this matter because if we talk, they describe us as collaborators with the occupation.”

Perhaps this fear explains why Al-Monitor did not publish the name of the journalist who did the interviews.

MYTH

The only alternative to the nuclear deal was war.

FACT

The Obama administration cynically used this straw man to suggest that anyone who opposed their policy wanted a war with Iran because that was the only other option. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other opponents of the deal were subsequently painted as warmongers; however, Netanyahu repeatedly said the alternative to a bad deal was not war but a better deal. That would only be possible if Iran’s leaders feared the consequences of continuing their pursuit of a bomb. They did not believe Obama was willing to use military force, weakening his bargaining position and guaranteeing that an agreement would not meet all his demands to prevent Iran from violating the agreement.

When President Joe Biden met Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in August 2021, he assured him the United States would not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. “We’re putting diplomacy first and see where that takes us,” he said. “But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options” (“Iran nuclear: Other options if diplomacy fails, says Biden,” BBC, August 27, 2021).

When he later visited Israel, Biden said he would authorize using force as a “last resort.” Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the president, “The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force” (Patrick Kingsley, Isabel Kershner, and Peter Baker, “Israel urges the U.S. to put pressure on Iran,” New York Times, July 14, 2022).

MYTH

The U.S. always supports Israel.

FACT

America has been Israel’s closest ally; nevertheless, the United States has repeatedly acted against the Jewish State’s wishes.

The U.S. effort to balance support for Israel with placating Arab leaders began in 1948 when President Truman wavered on partition. After the Arab states invaded Israel, the United States instituted an arms embargo that severely restricted the Jews’ ability to defend themselves.

In October 1953, the United States halted economic aid to Israel for three weeks to protest an Israeli project on the Jordan River in the demilitarized zone.

The United States has been unwilling to insist on projects to resettle Arab refugees. It has also been reluctant to challenge Arab violations of the UN Charter and resolutions. The United States also opposes Israel at the UN more often than not and did not use its Security Council veto to block an anti-Israel resolution until 1972.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of American policy diverging from Israel’s occurred when President Eisenhower opposed the Suez War and pressured Israel to withdraw from the territory it captured.

American presidents have sometimes punished Israel. For example, Ronald Reagan suspended a strategic cooperation agreement after Israel annexed the Golan Heights and held up delivery of fighter planes because of unhappiness over an Israeli raid in Lebanon.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush delayed approving Israel’s request for loan guarantees to help absorb Soviet and Ethiopian Jews because he disagreed with Israel’s settlement policy.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were considered pro-Israel but criticized Israel numerous times. During the first year of the al-Aqsa intifada, while Bush was president, the United States imposed an arms embargo on spare parts for helicopters because of anger over using U.S.-made helicopters in targeted killings. The Bush administration also punished Israel for agreeing to sell military equipment to China in 2005 (Nathan Guttman, “U.S. Stopped Parts Sales during Intifada,” Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2005; Ze’ev Schiff, “U.S. Sanctions Still in Place, Despite Deal over Security Exports,” Haaretz, August 28, 2005).

Barack Obama was very critical of Israeli policy and publicly demanded a freeze on settlement construction. Several other confrontations occurred publicly and privately, along with threats of punitive measures if Israel did not accede to the president’s ultimatums. The two countries also bitterly disagreed on how to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Because of his approach to Israel and broader Middle East policy, polls in Israel found unprecedented distrust of the president’s commitment to Israel. In one 2016 poll, 63 percent of Israelis rated Obama the worst president for Israel in the last thirty years; Jimmy Carter was a distant second at 16 percent (Shmuel Rosner, “How Bad Do Israelis Think Obama Is? As Bad as a U.S. President Can Get,” Jewish Journal, April 28, 2015).

Donald Trump did not criticize Israel publicly, but disputes arose over Israeli commercial contracts with China (which were also a cause of tension with his predecessors).

At the outset of his administration, Joe Biden refrained from public criticism of Israel but was at odds with Israel over several issues, including settlement construction, reopening the Jerusalem consulate, and his desire to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

MYTH

The U.S. favored Israel over the Arabs in 1948 because of the “Jewish lobby.”

FACT

President Harry Truman supported the Zionist movement because he believed the international community was obligated to fulfill the promise of the Balfour Declaration and that alleviating the plight of the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust was the humanitarian thing to do. A sense of his attitude can be gleaned from a remark he made regarding negotiations over the boundaries of a Jewish state:

The whole region waits to be developed, and if it were handled the way we developed the Tennessee River basin, it could support from 20 to 30 million people more. To open the door to this kind of future would indeed be the constructive and humanitarian thing to do, and it would also redeem the pledges that were given at the time of World War I (Harry Truman, Years of Trial and Hope, Vol. 2, NY: Doubleday, 1956, p. 156).

The American public supported the president’s policy. According to public opinion polls, 65% of Americans supported the creation of a Jewish state (John Snetsinger, Truman, the Jewish Vote, and the Creation of Israel, Palo Alto, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1974, pp. 9–10; David Schoenbaum, “The United States and the Birth of Israel,” Wiener Library Bulletin, 1978, p. 144n). This public support was reflected in Congress, where a resolution approving the Balfour Declaration was adopted in 1922. In 1944, both national parties called for the Jewish Commonwealth’s restoration; in 1945, a similar resolution was adopted by Congress.

Rather than caving to pressure, Truman reacted negatively to the “Jewish lobby.” He repeatedly complained about being lobbied and talked about putting propaganda from the Jews in a pile and striking a match to it. In a letter to Rep. Claude Pepper, Truman wrote, “Had it not been for the unwarranted interference of the Zionists; we would have had the matter settled a year and a half ago” (Michael Cohen, Truman and Israel, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990, p. 157).

This was hardly the attitude of a politician concerned with Jewish voters.

MYTH

Israel denies health care and medical supplies to Gaza.

FACT

The health of Palestinians has improved by every measure and is comparable if not better than in other Middle Eastern and North African countries. One reason is that Israel provides medical care to tens of thousands of Palestinians each year. Israel also trains hundreds of Palestinian doctors from Gaza.

Despite Gaza being ruled by an organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction and the threat of terrorist infiltration, about 20,000 Gazans enter Israel each month, mainly for medical treatment. This includes family members of terrorists, such as the daughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. His 17-year-old niece was treated at Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv after a bone marrow transplant even as his organization was firing rockets at the city (Nidal al-Mughrabi, “With healthcare faltering in Gaza, care in Israel is sought after,” Reuters, (April 6, 2017); Ido Efrati, “Hamas Leader’s Daughter Received Medical Treatment in Israel,” Haaretz, (October 19, 2014); Marissa Newman, “Hamas leader’s daughter receives medical care in Israel,” Times of Israel, (October 19, 2014); “Hamas chief’s niece has been hospitalized in Israel for over a month — report,” Times of Israel, May 27, 2021). The sister of another senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, was treated in Israel for cancer (Nati Gabbay, “Senior Hamas official Marzouk’s sister hospitalized in Israel,” Jerusalem Post, November 3, 2014).

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 while Hamas was using the Shifa Hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population) as its military command center to shield against Israeli attacks.

Amid protests in May 2018, Israel sent trucks loaded with medical supplies, food and diapers to Gaza. 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).

Fewer Gazans were allowed into Israel during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Even then, however, tens of thousands of Palestinians were admitted to Israel for medical treatment. Israel provided therapeutics, such as medications for cancer and renal insufficiency (“Despite the coronavirus: Patients arrive through the Erez Crossing for life-saving treatments,” Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, September 30, 2020). In the first quarter of 2022, Israel approved more than 6,000 patient permit applications, nearly one-third were for children under 18 (“Health Access,” Monthly Report, World Health Organization, January 2022).

Israel allows Palestinians to enter for medical treatment at the risk of admitting terrorists. 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 (Uri Dan, “Undie-Cover Bomber – Woman Thwarted Near Israeli Hosp,” New York Post, June 21, 2005).

Meanwhile, Gazans are suffering because of a power play by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who imposed restrictions on Gaza, including halting the supply of medicine and medical equipment to hospitals. In July 2017, for example, the Gaza Strip’s Ministry of Health warned the lives of some 2,500 Palestinian patients were “in danger” because the PA stopped the transfer of patients from Gaza for treatment abroad (“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). In 2019, the PA halted medical referrals for Palestinians to Israeli hospitals and objected to an American plan to build a hospital in northern Gaza. The PA said project was 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. (“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” (Bassam Tawil, “Coronavirus: Why Palestinian Leaders Are Not Helping Gaza to Combat It,” Gatestone Institute, (April 1, 2020); Baruch Yedid, “US-Backed Hospital in Gaza is a Plot Against the Palestinian Authority,” Jewish Press, (December 2, 2019)

MYTH

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment.

FACT

Critics of Israel’s blockade of Gaza sometimes refer to it as “collective punishment;” however, the term refers to the “imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt.” Israel has done no such thing.

Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile territory. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy. It has never been regarded as “collective punishment” (Abraham Bell, “International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel’s Right to Self-Defense,” JCPA, January 28, 2008; “Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?” JCPA, February 28, 2008).

In 2011, the UN Palmer Committee concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is consistent with customary international law, is legitimate due to the security threat posed by Hamas, and does not constitute collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.

International law requires that Israel permit the passage of food, clothing, and medicines for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases. If Israel believes Hamas will intercept these goods and the enemy will benefit, even these provisions may be prohibited. Israel also need not provide these supplies; it is obligated only to allow others to transfer provisions.

Furthermore, the law does not prohibit Israel from cutting off fuel supplies and electricity to Gaza, withholding commercial items, or sealing its border. Israel is also not obligated to provide minimum supplies to prevent a “humanitarian crisis.”

MYTH

Israel intentionally kills journalists.

FACT

The Palestinian Authority and some other critics of Israel accuse the government of intentionally targeting journalists. One such specious claim was made after the IDF bombed a building in Gaza that housed the headquarters of the Associated Press and other news organizations during Operation Guardian of the Walls. The journalists knew the risks of operating in a war zone and would have had to be blind not to know of the Hamas presence in the building, which was targeted because it contained Hamas intelligence assets. No harm came to any journalists because Israel warned them of the attack – not something the IDF would do if it wanted to kill them – and they were all safely evacuated.

The latest allegation followed the shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American correspondent for Al Jazeera. Before the cause of her death was investigated, Israel was immediately accused of killing her.

Following a series of attacks by residents of Jenin and its surrounding villages that killed 11 people, Israel launched an operation in the city, a well-known nest of terrorists, to prevent further attacks. Though Palestinian security forces are responsible for keeping the peace in the area, none were on the scene to prevent an outbreak of violence. Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian journalist for Al Jazeera, chose to report from a conflict area, voluntarily putting herself in danger. Initial evidence indicated the reporter was shot and killed during an exchange of fire between soldiers and terrorists.

Despite knowing that terrorists were in the area where Abu Akleh was shot, CNN and others convicted Israel without a murder weapon, an autopsy, or the bullet that killed her (Zeena Saifi, Eliza Mackintosh, Celine Alkhaldi, Kareem Khadder, Katie Polglase, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Abeer Salman, “‘They were shooting directly at the journalists’: New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces,” CNN, May 26, 2022).

The Palestinians refused to allow an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Ignoring American entreaties, they denied Israeli requests to turn over any bullet that killed her to allow for ballistic tests to determine which gun was used. Since both the IDF and the terrorists use M16s, that information could be determinative (“Investigation of Journalist’s Killing May Hinge on Bullet,” New York Times, May 12, 2022). The IDF planned to investigate; however, without any of this information, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find the truth (Jacob Magid, “US won’t run own probe of Abu Akleh killing, hopes PA will share bullet with Israel,” Times of Israel, May 27, 2022).

“Palestinian gunmen indiscriminately fired hundreds of rounds at troops, turning the Jenin camp into an active warzone,” the IDF said. “Without a serious and professional investigation, it is impossible to conclude where the fire originated and such a probe must be done meticulously and based on evidence” (Itamar Eichner, “Israel rejects CNN claim journalist shot deliberately by troops,” Ynet, May 25, 2022).

After resisting American requests for the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to determine the gun that fired it, the Palestinian Authority finally turned it over to American officials who ran ballistic tests. Critics raised questions about the chain of custody and the possibility the bullet was not the one that killed Abu Akleh. The U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC) said it could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet. Nevertheless, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh but found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Following these findings, the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi, ordered that the Israeli investigation continue. The Palestinians refused to cooperate.

The results were announced on September 5, 2022, concluding that it was “not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.” The report acknowledged that “there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire.” 

The IDF’s Military Advocate General’s Office said it did not intend to pursue criminal charges against any soldiers after the review found “no suspicion that a bullet was fired deliberately at anyone identified as a civilian and in particular at anyone identified as a journalist” (Hadas Gold and Abeer Salman, “Israeli military admits Shireen Abu Akleh likely killed by Israeli fire????, but won’t charge soldiers,” CNN, September 6, 2022).

Kohavi called her death a “devastating incident” that “took place during operational activity intended to prevent Palestinian terrorism, which calls for the harming of Israeli civilians” (Anna Ahronheim, Tovah Lazaroff, and Lahav Harkov, “Shireen Abu Akleh likely killed by IDF gunfire in Jenin, Israel admits,” Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2022).

Palestinians and other detractors were not satisfied as the only possible conclusion in their minds was the one they had preconceived. 

Responding to the original accusation that Israel had intentionally killed the journalist, then Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Abu Akleh worked in the region for more than 20 years without being harmed. The same is true for the other foreign journalists in Israel. He also noted her employer, “Al Jazeera, a network run by an Islamist state that is openly hostile to Israel, has permanent staff in Israel who are protected by the state the network slanders on a regular basis” (Yair Lapid, “Israel Never Targets Journalists,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2022).

Israel has one of the highest numbers of foreign journalists per capita in the world. Many are critical, some outwardly hostile toward Israel; nevertheless, they are not banned from covering the news in Israel or the disputed territories. If Israel wanted to kill reporters who write negative things about the country, dozens would be dead. The idea that the government would intentionally target journalists is preposterous. It is contrary to military doctrine and morality and would expose Israel to more international condemnation than it receives from false accusations.

MYTH

Palestinians do not violate the human rights of their people.

FACT

A steady drumbeat of criticism of Israel for both real and imagined abuses of Palestinians in the disputed territories appears constantly in the media, reports from human rights organizations, and by students and faculty on college campuses. While Israel may be legitimately criticized when abuses are documented, what is shocking is the utter hypocrisy of the critics who proclaim concern for Palestinian welfare but express it only if Israel can be blamed. This raises the question as to whether their interest in the Palestinians is genuine or simply a propaganda tool by which to tarnish Israel’s image.

It is a legitimate question given the near total silence of these critics regarding the treatment and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in the Arab world. Palestinians have lived as second or third-class citizens in Arab countries for decades, but since the Arab Spring, thousands have been tortured, murdered, and expelled by their fellow Muslims for alleged involvement in terrorism, for being Sunnis in areas of Shiite control, or for being deemed disloyal.

According to journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, the plight of the Palestinians in Arab countries became increasingly tenuous long before the Arab Spring (Khaled Abu Toameh, “The Secret Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians,” Gatestone Institute, August 10, 2015). Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Palestinians cheered Saddam Hussein. Fearing their disloyalty, Kuwait expelled more than 200,000 Palestinians living and working there. When Hussein was finally driven from power in the second Gulf War, Iraqi Shiites began to take revenge and drove most Palestinians from the country.

Palestinian refugees are not welcome anywhere in the region. And the number has swelled due to the Syrian civil war where thousands of Palestinians have been killed, imprisoned, and displaced. The lucky ones who escaped to Lebanon or Jordan are unwelcome and confined to refugee camps. In both countries, Palestinians are prohibited from certain professions. In Iraq, a directive was issued preventing the return of any Palestinian who spends more than three months outside Iraq unless they are granted a visa (Khaled Abu Toameh, “How Arabs Discriminate Against Palestinians,” Gatestone Institute, March 19, 2021); Abu Toameh, “Palestinian Victims of an Arab Country,” Gatestone Institute, January 21, 2021).

Roughly 98% of Palestinians live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. They deny them basic human rights – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, women’s rights, and gay rights. No presidential election has been held since 2005 and critics of the government are harassed, arrested, tortured, and sometimes murdered as was Nizar Banat who was beaten and killed by security forces for his criticism of the corruption of PA officials (Bethan McKernan, and Quique Kierszenbaum, “Nizar Banat’s death highlights the brutality of Palestinian Authority,” The Guardian, August 31, 2021).

A report by Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism found that 250 out of more than 2,600 arbitrary arrests made by PA security forces between 2015 and mid-2021 were for either political activity, criticism of the Abbas regime, or participation in protests. Of these, 61% were tortured. The report noted, “Detainees are not the only people impacted by torture; their families are affected as well because they live the details of the harsh experiences for years to come” (“Torture Continues in the Prisons of the Palestinian Authority: Arrests Violate Domestic Laws and International Conventions,” Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, December 2021).

One Palestinian who escaped Gaza said, “Hamas doesn’t make do with thwarting demonstrations. They shut down parties and performances. They don’t allow concerts, and they spread the notion that artists are heretics….The problems also relate to private life. Women have to wear a head covering when they go outside….Of course, the sale of alcohol is forbidden, even to Christians who need it for religious rituals.”

Another Gazan said of Hamas, “They don’t leave citizens any other option; either join them or stay poor. When there is no work and no food, the only option for a better life – if you can call it that – is to join Hamas.”

A third said, “The Hamas government talks about rehabilitation projects, and they get money for it, but the destruction remains. That’s of course not the situation with Hamas’s leaders, who always end up with renovated homes and new cars” (Ofir Berman, “Life in Gaza Was Hell. They Managed to Escape. These Are Their Stories,” Haaretz, June 10, 2021).

The lives of Hamas residents were also made more hellish by PA President Mahmoud Abbas after he imposed financial sanctions on the Gaza Strip. Salaries were suspended for civil servants who were deemed disloyal, aid to needy families was also cutoff as were payments to transfer sick Gazans to West Bank hospitals and keep the electricity on (Khaled Abu Toameh, “How Palestinian Leaders Inflict Pain on Their People; EU Shrugs,” Gatestone Institute, November 10, 2021).

Advocates for Palestinian rights are silent about the cruelties Palestinians suffer unless an excuse can be manufactured to blame Israel.

MYTH

The Jews are responsible for the “Nakba” and “Nakba Day” is unrelated to peace.

FACT

While Israelis celebrate their independence, Palestinians mourn 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 75th 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 Nakba Day commemorated each June on the anniversary of Israel’s capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip 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, they see the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vow never to accept it (Efraim Karsh, The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, London: Bloomsbury, 2015, p. 151).

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).

MYTH

As “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians are protected under Islamic law.

FACT

This argument is rooted in the traditional concept of the “dhimma” (“writ of protection”), which was extended by Muslim conquerors to Christians and Jews in exchange for their subordination to the Muslims. Yet, as French authority Jacques Ellul has observed, “One must ask: ‘protected against whom?’ When this ‘stranger’ lives in Islamic countries, the answer can only be: against the Muslims themselves” (Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985, p. 30).

Peoples subjected to Muslim rule often faced a choice between death and conversion, but Jews and Christians, who adhered to the Scriptures, were usually allowed, as dhimmis (protected persons), to practice their faith. This “protection” did little, however, to ensure that Jews and Christians were treated well by the Muslims. On the contrary, an integral aspect of the dhimma was that, being an infidel, they had to acknowledge openly the superiority of the true believer—the Muslim.

In the early years of the Islamic conquest, the “tribute” (or jizya), paid as a yearly poll tax, symbolized the subordination of the dhimmi (Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, p. 14). Later, the inferior status of Jews and Christians was reinforced through a series of regulations that governed the behavior of the dhimmi. For example, dhimmis, on pain of death, were forbidden to mock or criticize the Koran, Islam, or Muhammad, to proselytize among Muslims, or to touch a Muslim woman (though a Muslim man could take a non-Muslim as a wife). Dhimmis were excluded from public office and armed service, and were forbidden to bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, construct houses higher than those of Muslims, or to drink wine in public. They were forced to wear distinctive clothing and were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices—as that might offend the Muslims.

The dhimmi also had to show public deference toward Muslims; for example, always yielding them the center of the road. The dhimmi was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court. To defend himself, the dhimmi would have to purchase Muslim witnesses at great expense. This left the dhimmi with little legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim (Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, pp. 56–57).

By the twentieth century, the status of the dhimmi in Muslim lands had not significantly improved. H. E. W. Young, the British vice consul in Mosul, wrote in 1909:

The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed (Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002, p. 107).

MYTH

Israel persecutes Christians.

FACT

While Christians are unwelcome in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, and most have been driven out of their longtime homes in Lebanon, Christians have always been welcomed in Israel and treated as equal citizens. Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation where the Christian population has grown (from 34,000 in 1948 to 182,000 today).

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

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

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 84% of Christians say they are satisfied with life in Israel (“Israel’s Christian community is growing, 84% satisfied with life here – report,” Times of Israel, December 22, 2021).

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

Israel’s detractors also ignore the precarious plight of Christians under Arab rule, especially under the Palestinian Authority, where approximately 50,000 Christians live among 4.9 million Muslims. The total number of Christians in the Palestinian territories has remained stable since 1967; however, the proportion has dropped from nearly 10% in 1922 to 6% in 1967, to just 1% of the population today. Three-fourths of all Bethlehem Christians now live abroad, and most of the city’s population is Muslim (Alex Safian, “New York Times Omits Major Reason Christians Are Leaving Bethlehem,” CAMERA, December 24, 2004; “The Palestinian Christian Population,” JCPA Background Paper, 2011; Matt Hadro, “Why are Christians leaving Palestinian territories?” Catholic News Agency, June 19, 2020).

Jonathan Adelman and Agota Kuperman noted that Yasser Arafat “tried to erase the historic Jesus by depicting him as the first radical Palestinian armed fedayeen (guerrilla). Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has adopted Islam as its official religion, applied strict Islamic codes, and allowed even officially appointed clerics to brand Christians (and Jews) as infidels in their   that “Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims—as were Lebanon’s Christians—as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the second intifada in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza.” Raab also wrote that “anti-Christian graffiti is common in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: ‘First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians),’” and that “Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents (David Raab, “The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas,” JCPA, January 15, 2003).

Today, approximately 1,300 Christians live among nearly two million Muslims in Gaza. The U.S. State Department said, “According to media accounts, Hamas continued neither to investigate nor prosecute Gaza-based cases of religious discrimination, including reported anti-Christian bias in private sector hiring and in police investigations of anti-Christian harassment” (“2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Israel, West Bank and Gaza,” U.S. Department of State, June 10, 2020).

“As Christians in this very difficult fundamentalist society, they face all kinds of social and political persecution,” said Robert Nicholson, president and founder of the Philos Project (Courtney Mares, “Gaza Exodus: Helping Christians caught in a crisis,” Catholic News Agency, January 14, 2020).

A survey of Palestinian Christians by the Philos Project found that Palestinian Christians are twice as likely as Muslims to emigrate for both economic and security reasons, including attacks by their neighbors. While critical of Israel, 77% said they were worried about radical Salafist groups, 43% believed that most Muslims do not want them in Palestine, and 44% said they were discriminated against when applying for jobs (Hadro).

Unlike Christians who enjoy freedom of speech and religion in Israel, beleaguered Palestinian Christians rarely speak out. “Out of fear for their safety, Christian spokesmen aren’t happy to be identified by name when they complain about the Muslims’ treatment of them?.?.?.?[O]ff the record they talk of harassment and terror tactics, mainly from the gangs of thugs who looted and plundered Christians and their property, under the protection of Palestinian security personnel” (Raab).

MYTH

Israel is desecrating the al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Ramadan prayers.

FACT

From the media you probably would be unaware that as many as 150,000 Muslims peacefully prayed during Ramadan on the Temple Mount or that the Jewish state does not allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism. The mere presence of Jews as visitors, however, is enough to prompt officials from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to speciously claim the al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger.

This libel, which dates at least to the 1920s when the mufti of Jerusalem used the lie to incite the masses, is viewed by Palestinian provocateurs as a rallying cry to distract people from the corruption of their leaders and their denial of Palestinians’ human rights. As the mufti attempted nearly a century earlier, Palestinian Islamic extremists, as well as “secular moderates” such as Mahmoud Abbas, continue to stoke the religious war between Muslims and Jews. They hope to incite a new Palestinian uprising and, ideally, to inspire Arab and Islamic armies to go to war to prevent the Jews from destroying the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. They also seek to prompt negative media coverage of Israel, inspire condemnation from the UN and politicians, and tar Israel’s image.


News report August 30, 1922

Abbas’s Adviser on Jerusalem Affairs Ahmed al-Ruweidi, for example, warned on April 3, 2022, that a “massacre” of worshipers at the mosque would be conducted “by the occupation and its settlers.” Abbas’s Fatah Party said that continued visits of Jews to the Temple Mount would “turn into an open religious war” and that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had promised to allow “Jewish extremists to break into the al-Aqsa Mosque” (Maurice Hirsch, “The PA and Fatah are behind the current terror,” JNS, April 11, 2022).

While some Palestinians and their supporters were accusing Israel of desecrating the mosque, photographs and video revealed that it was Palestinians who displayed disrespect for the holy place. Palestinians, for example, stockpiled stones inside the mosque to throw at Jewish tourists and worshipers praying at the Western Wall as they have in the past. Some were seen wearing shoes, which is not permitted in the mosque, and a video showed people playing soccer.

 


Screenshot from @FahmiLwa April 16, 2022

The need to prevent violence prompted Israeli police to enter the mosque – after prayers were finished – and make arrests, which looked provocative if you ignored the context. Palestinians threw rocks at the police and dozens of people were injured.

“Midday worshipers had genuinely gathered to say their prayers on the second Friday of Ramadan, and that’s what they did,” noted Times of Israel editor David Horovitz. “The young Palestinians who rioted hours earlier, by contrast, had come to fight” (David Horovitz, “Just look at their feet: The ‘defenders’ of Al-Aqsa are desecrating it,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2022).

The Palestinians, predictably, used the police action as a pretext to condemn Israel even though the police left the site and, a few hours later, thousands of Muslims assembled in the same area for prayers (“Israel cannot allow rioters to desecrate Temple Mount,” Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2022).

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland backed Israel’s version of events, telling the Security Council, “On 15 April, during the early morning hours, a large number of Palestinians gathered at the al-Aqsa compound. Some Palestinians threw stones, fireworks, and other heavy objects toward Israeli Security Forces, and ISF used stun grenades, sponge-tipped bullets and batons, including against some bystanders....several dozen Palestinians entered a mosque in the compound, with some continuing to throw stones and fireworks toward ISF. Following a standoff with those inside, Israeli police entered the mosque and arrested those barricaded inside. During the clashes, some damage was caused to the structure of the mosque” (Jacob Magid, “UN envoy cites Israeli account of how Temple Mount clashes began,” Times of Israel, April 25, 2022).

Just before the end of Ramadan, masked men tried to raise Hamas flags, and Muslim worshipers asked Israeli security sources to intervene and remove the Hamas supporters from the mosque compound. “You are ruining the prayer,” the worshipers said. “Your actions are only hurting and will ignite violence. Many will be hurt because of you” (Gilad Cohen and Elior Levy, “Hamas supporters sing its praise during prayers on Temple Mount,” Ynet, May 2, 2022).

It was also notable that despite Palestinian claims that Israel was restricting their movements, access to the Temple Mount, and threatening the mosque, more than 200,000 worshipers performed the Eid al-Fitr prayer without incident on the Temple Mount to mark the end of Ramadan according to the Islamic Waqf (Aaron Boxerman, “200,000 Muslims attend Eid prayers at Al-Aqsa compound — Waqf,” Times of Israel, May 2, 2022).

It was also reported that during the rioting Palestinians destroyed Temple Mount antiquities and used pieces of smashed artifacts as weapons (Itsik Saban, “Palestinians mark Ramadan by destroying Temple Mount antiquities” Israel Hayom, April 29, 2022).

The Palestinians also tried to rile up Muslims by saying the Jews were planning to destroy the mosque to rebuild the Temple. It is true that a small fringe group of Jews has this objective, and some were planning to sacrifice goats on the Temple Mount, but the authorities are aware of the people involved and made sure they were not allowed near the area. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, even spoke out that it was forbidden to perform animal sacrifices. The Palestinians know as well that Israel has no intention of allowing anyone to threaten the holy places of any religion. Muslim officials were, in fact, notified that no Jewish provocateurs would be allowed on the Temple Mount. Even Hamas admitted that it received such assurances (Bassam Tawil, “How Palestinians Desecrate Everyone’s Holy Sites, Including Their Own,” Gatestone Institute, April 19, 2022).

The al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah.

—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (PA TV September 16, 2015, translated by MEMRI)

At almost the same time PA officials were suggesting al-Aqsa was in danger, Palestinians were vandalizing a Jewish holy place – Joseph’s tomb (Alan Baker, “Yet again: Vandalizing and desecrating Joseph’s Tomb,” Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2022). According to the Oslo agreements, the PA is responsible for ensuring the security of Jewish holy places within its jurisdiction and allowing Jews freedom to worship at them. Nevertheless, the PA has repeatedly failed to protect the tomb or Jews making a pilgrimage there.

It is the Jews who are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount after the Israeli government voluntarily imposed the rule after the 1967 War to appease the Muslim world. Even those allowed to visit do not set foot in the mosque. As evident from the frequency of the “al-Aqsa is in danger” libel, however, it is clear the Palestinians are not satisfied.

As the mufti attempted a century earlier, Palestinian Islamic extremists, as well as “secular moderates” such as Mahmoud Abbas, continue to stoke the religious war waged by radical Muslims against the Jews that has replaced the Arab-Israeli conflict. The repetition of the “al-Aqsa is in danger” libel is meant to incite a new Palestinian uprising and, ideally, to provoke Muslims around the world to come to the mosque’s defense or demand that their government’s do so.

MYTH

Israel expelled one million Palestinians.

FACT

Israel is often accused of expelling as many as one million Palestinians from 1947 to 1949. The last census taken by the British in 1945 found approximately 1.2 million permanent Arab residents in all of Palestine. A 1949 census conducted by the government of Israel counted 160,000 Arabs living in the new state after the war. In 1947, a total of 809,100 Arabs lived in the same area. This means no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. Historian Efraim Karsh analyzed rural and urban population statistics and concluded the total number of refugees was 583,000–609,000. A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine arrived at an even lower figure—360,000 (as of September 1948) and the CIA estimate a month earlier was 330,000 (Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1984), p. 272; Benjamin Kedar, 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. Efraim Karsh, “How Many Palestinian Refugees Were There?” Israel Affairs, (April 2011).

The Palestinians left their homes 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 war.

MYTH

The United States has always supported Israel at the UN.

FACT

Many people believe the United States can always be relied upon to support Israel with its veto in the UN Security Council. The historical record, however, shows that the U.S. has often opposed Israel in the Council.

From 1967 to 1972, the U.S. supported the Council’s criticism of Israel by its vote of support, or by abstaining on 24 resolutions. From 1973–2020, it did the same on roughly one-fifth of the 200 resolutions adopted during that period.

American officials sometimes convince sponsors to change the language of a resolution to allow them to either vote for, or abstain from a resolution. These resolutions are still critical of Israel, but may not be so one-sided that the United States feels obligated to cast a veto. In 2011, for example, the Palestinians called on the Security Council to label Israeli settlements illegal and to call for a construction freeze. The U.S. ambassador to the UN tried to convince the Palestinians to change the wording, but they refused. The U.S. vetoed the resolution, but Ambassador Susan Rice still criticized Israeli policy (Richard Grenell, “Susan Rice Fails to Convince the Palestinians, and Offers a Rebuke to Israel,” Huffington Post, February 17, 2011; “United States vetoes Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements,” UN News Centre, February 18, 2011).

The U.S. did not cast its first veto until 1972, on a Syrian-Lebanese complaint against Israel. The U.S. has vetoed a total of 44 resolutions—none since 2018 (U.S. State Department).

Israel’s critics can circumvent the threat of an American veto by taking issues to the General Assembly, where nonbinding resolutions pass by majority vote and support for almost any anti-Israel resolution is assured. From 2015 to April 2022, 125 such resolutions were adopted compared to 15 for Russia, 9 for Syria, 7 for North Korea, 6 for Iran, and zero for countries such as China, Cuba, and Libya (“UN resolutions disproportionately condemn Israel,” UN Watch).

MYTH

Israel should be sanctioned like Russia.

FACT

In their desperation to attract followers, anti-Semites and others advocating a boycott of Israel glom onto any cause that becomes popular and speciously make analogies to Israel. The latest example is the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine in an act of blatant aggression against a neighbor. During the fighting, Russian troops indiscriminately attacked “apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded” (Antony J. Blinken, “War Crimes by Russia’s Forces in Ukraine,” Press Release, U.S. Department of State, March 23, 2022).

Boycott advocates are now attempting to make the case that if  sanctions are applied to Russia they should be applied in the same way to Israel for its “crimes.” For example, Sarah Leah Whitson, the former director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, said, “We see that not just the U.S. government, but U.S. companies are falling over themselves to sanction and boycott anything that has an association with the Russian government,” but are doing “the exact opposite when it comes to sanctioning Israel for its violations of international law.”

The cases, however, are completely different, and it is absurd to suggest that Israel be treated the same way as Russia.

“To compare Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine to bring Kyiv under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s heel to Israel’s incursions into Gaza or southern Lebanon to stop Hamas or Hezbollah from randomly shelling civilian populations is to willfully distort reality,” the Jerusalem Post wrote in an editorial. It pointed out “the Ukrainians never tried to throw the Russians into the Black Sea, nor does the Ukrainian constitution include a clause stating that Russia has no right to exist.” It added, “the Ukrainians did not arm their people with explosive vests and encourage them to ride buses in Moscow and blow themselves up along with as many innocent passengers as possible.” Ukrainians also “have not been firing rockets for nearly two decades at apartment blocks” across the border (“The Palestinians are not like the Ukrainians,” Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2022).

Eileen Babbitt, a professor of international conflict resolution at Tufts University distinguished between Israel’s “occupation” and the war in Ukraine, “I think there is something qualitatively different about amassing 150,000 or 200,000 troops on the border of a sovereign country and then crossing into that country with the intention of decapitating the government” (Joseph Gedeon, “‘Hypocrisy’: Lawmakers fighting Israel boycott now all-in for Russia sanctions,” Politico, March 7, 2022).

Israel did not invade its neighbor. It captured the West Bank in a defensive war after Jordan ignored warnings not to attack in 1967. Since then, Israel’s military engagements with the Palestinians have been to prevent or respond to terror attacks. When Israel does engage in military action, it has repeatedly proven that it takes extraordinary measures to avoid hitting civilian areas.

Furthermore, the sanctions aimed at Russia are designed to pressure Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from a neighboring sovereign nation that Russia invaded without provocation. The objective of the BDS movement is to destroy the neighboring sovereign nation of Israel. The sanctions against Russia are designed to bring about peace. By contrast, the sanctions against Israel are disincentives to resolving the dispute with the Palestinians.

“The anti-Semitic BDS movement’s goal is to eliminate any Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” a spokesperson for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said. “To compare that, in any way, to the actions taken by the international community against Putin is either naïve or willfully misleading” (Gedeon).

Similarly, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) told Politico, “There’s absolutely no equivalence at all between the United States and our allies around the world sanctioning an authoritarian nation that has illegitimately and illegally invaded its sovereign neighbor and launched attacks against innocent civilians and the anti-Semitic BDS movement” (Gedeon).

Sanctions against Russia target Vladimir Putin and his associates. The Arab League first directed its boycott toward Jews in 1945; that is, before Israel existed. The BDS movement calls for the total isolation of Israel and the cessation of any activities – diplomatic, military, cultural, academic – with Israeli Jews or institutions. There is little compliance with the boycotts and they have not changed Israeli policy, improved the lives of Palestinians, or brought about peace.

BDS advocates claim the U.S. is hypocritical for sanctioning Russia but not Israel; however, they are the true hypocrites as they do not object to the mistreatment of Palestinians, and abuses of human rights, committed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas which are responsible for the welfare of 98 percent of the Palestinians.

MYTH

Israel created Hamas.

FACT

Israel had nothing to do with the creation of Hamas. The organization’s leaders were inspired by the ideology and practice of the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

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

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

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

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

Israel’s assistance was more passive than active; that is, it did not interfere with Hamas’s activities or prevent funds from flowing into the organization from abroad. Israel also may have provided some funding to allow its security forces to infiltrate the organization (Richard Sale, “Hamas History Tied to Israel,” UPI, June 18, 2002). Meanwhile, Jordan was actively helping Hamas, with the aim of undermining the PLO and strengthening Jordanian influence in the territories.

Though some Israelis were very concerned about Hamas before rioting began in December 1987, Israel was reluctant to interfere with an Islamic organization, fearing that it might trigger charges of violating the Palestinians’ freedom of religion. It was not until early in the intifada, when Hamas became actively involved in the violence, that the group began to be viewed as a potentially greater threat than the PLO.

The turning point occurred in the summer of 1988 when Israel learned that Hamas was stockpiling arms to build an underground force and that Hamas had issued its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. At this point, it became clear that Hamas was not going to put off its jihad to liberate Palestine and was shifting its emphasis to “resistance.” Hamas has been waging a terror war against Israel ever since (Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising—Israel’s Third Front, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990, pp. 227–39).

MYTH

Only Israel opposes a U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal.

FACT

Israel is not alone in its concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In fact, the nations most worried about Iran are its immediate neighbors who have no doubts about the hegemonic ambitions of the radical Islamists in Tehran.

Former Bahraini army chief of staff Sheikh Maj.-Gen. Khalifa ibn Ahmad al-Khalifa said Iran stirs trouble in many Gulf nations: “[Iran] is like an octopus – it is rummaging around in IraqKuwait, LebanonGaza and Bahrain” (Al-Hayat (London), May 16, 2008; “Arab League slams Iran’s ‘provocation,’” Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2009). 

The Crown Prince of Bahrain was the first Gulf leader to explicitly accuse Iran of lying about its weapons program. “While they don’t have the bomb yet, they are developing it, or the capability for it,” Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said (Giles Whittell, “Bahrain accuses Iran of nuclear weapons lie,” The Times [UK], November 2, 2007).

The Arab states had no faith in the original agreement and no more confidence returning to the JCPOA will prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. Hence, since 2006, nearly every country in the region either announced plans to explore atomic energy or revived pre-existing nuclear programs in response to the threat from Iran.

In July 2020, the UAE, became the first Arab country to open a nuclear power plant (Vivian Yee, “U.A.E. Becomes First Arab Nation to Open a Nuclear Power Plant,” New York Times, August 1, 2020). Kuwait, Bahrain, LibyaAlgeriaMorocco, and Jordan announced plans to build nuclear plants as well. Even Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world announced plans to purchase a nuclear reactor.

Several Middle Eastern countries sought to strengthen their nuclear cooperation with the United StatesRussia and France. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example, signed nuclear cooperation accords with the United States, and Russia and Egypt discussed a tender for Egypt’s first civilian nuclear power station (Raphael Ofek, “Egypt’s Nuclear Deal with Russia,” BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 710, January 8, 2017).

Most of the world understands that a nuclear Iran poses a direct threat to countries inside and outside the Middle East, raises the specter of nuclear terrorism, increases the prospects for regional instability, and promotes proliferation.

Thus, as news reports suggest a new deal may be imminent, Arab countries have become increasingly vocal in their opposition. They worry about the nuclear dimension and the easing of sanctions and unfreezing of assets that will allow Iran to provide greater funding to its terrorist proxies – Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the Houthis – and the possibility of Iran transferring nuclear weapons to them.

They believe President Joe Biden has ignored their concerns.

One consequence, which critics of the deal have repeatedly highlighted, is that it will stimulate a regional nuclear arms race. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said in 2018, “We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same” (Nicole Gaouette, “Saudi Arabia set to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran restarts program,” CNN, May 9, 2018).

In an indication it may already be following through on that threat, the Wall Street Journal reported in August 2020 that China helped Saudi Arabia construct an undisclosed facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium (Warren P. Strobel, Michael R. Gordon and Felicia Schwartz, “Saudi Arabia, With China’s Help, Expands Its Nuclear Program,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2020).

Similarly, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on September 5, 2019, it was unacceptable for nuclear-armed states to forbid Ankara from obtaining its own nuclear weapons (“Erdogan says it’s unacceptable that Turkey can’t have nuclear weapons,” Reuters, September 4, 2019).

Like Israel, the Arab states are deeply concerned that the Biden administration has not negotiated the “longer and stronger” deal he promised and that returning to the old agreement will allow Iran to accelerate its sponsorship of terrorism and development of ballistic missiles.

The Arab Quartet Committee – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – issued a statement on March 9, 2022, expressing their concern about the missile program, terrorism, and Iran’s ongoing interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries (“The Arab Ministerial Quartet condemns the continued Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries,” Middle East News Agency March 9, 2022).

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were reportedly so angry with the Biden administration’s position in the talks with Iran that the leaders of both countries refused to take calls from the president who had hoped to convince them to pump more oil to bring down soaring gas prices that threaten his political future as well as that of the Democratic Party in the 2022 elections.

Iraqi political analyst Ali Al-Sarraf said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed still value their relationships with the United States but believe, “This president is deaf. He cannot be trusted” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “A Final Warning from Arabs to Biden,” Gatestone, March 16, 2022).

MYTH

Terrorism directed at Israel is motivated by politics, not religion.

FACT

For many years, terrorism against Jews in the Middle East was stimulated primarily by political concerns. The Arab states used terror as a tool of warfare against Israel, Arabs angry over Israeli policies were often moved to violence, terror attracted international attention to the Palestinian cause, and terror inflicted a human cost on Israelis for failing to capitulate to Palestinian demands.

At least since the days of the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s, however, religion has played a major role in the incitement of violence against Jews.

Most Arabs are Muslims, but not all Muslims are Arabs. Many Muslims inside and outside the Middle East have been persuaded by spiritual leaders such as the Mufti, as well as their own interpretation of the Koran, that Jews are infidels who must submit to the will of Allah. Israeli Jews, moreover, are seen by radical Muslims as the cells in the cancerous body of Israel that is infecting the heart of Islam.

While never disappearing, the political conflict took precedence over the religious one for roughly thirty years following the establishment of Israel. The situation began to dramatically change, however, following the 1979 Iranian revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors began to publicly call for the destruction of Israel on religious grounds (Reza Kahlili, “Ayatollah: Kill All Jews, Annihilate Israel,” WorldNetDaily, February 5, 2012). Iran’s establishment of Hezbollah in Lebanon led to another escalation in anti-Semitic rhetoric, with the leaders of Hezbollah routinely calling for Israel’s annihilation (Kali Robinson, “What Is Hezbollah?” Council on Foreign Relations, October 26, 2021).

The emergence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip represented yet another step toward the Islamization of the conflict. The Hamas covenant explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel—and Jews everywhere. For example, it states, “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. The Islamic Resistance Movement is but one squadron that should be supported . . . until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realized. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” (“The Covenant of the Hamas—Main Points,” Federation of American Scientists, [No date]).

Anti-Semitic sermons are commonplace in Palestinian mosques, courses in schools preach hatred of Jews based on Islamic teachings, and the media is filled with Islamic incitement. To cite just a few examples:

Sheikh Khaled al-Mugrahbi- delivered a sermon captured on video from a mosque on the Temple Mount in which he said, “We will go after the Jews everywhere. They won’t escape us. The Children of Israel will be wiped out” (“Imam Who Urged Extermination of Jews Indicted for Incitement,” Times of Israel, November 12, 2015).

Sheikh Omar Abu Sara offered a sermon at the al-Aqsa Mosque in which he called Jews “the most evil of Allah’s creations . . . the most evil creatures to have walked the earth.” He said that Allah turned Jews into “apes and pigs” and repeated the Hadith which says that a final battle with the Jews is approaching in which the trees will say: “Oh servant of Allah, oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.” To ensure that his call for genocide was understood, the sheikh added: “I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come.” And he beseeched Allah to “hasten the day of their slaughter” (Nir Hasson, “Jerusalem Muslim Cleric Who Called for Slaughter of Jews Convicted of Incitement,” Haaretz, March 28, 2016).

The Mufti of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Muhammad Hussein, said on official PA TV (September 18, 2020), “The texts clearly say that if an inch of ‎the Muslims’ lands is stolen, jihad ‎becomes a personal religious commandment for everyone who is ‎capable of it.” On another occasion, he declared, “The land of Palestine is waqf [inalienable ‎religious endowment in Islamic law]. It must not be relinquished nor ‎must any part of it be sold... It is the duty of the leaders of the [Islamic] ‎nation and its peoples to liberate Palestine and ‎Jerusalem, to prevent the Judaization in it” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 23, 2015). He also said, “Jerusalem will certainly be liberated and return to the embrace of Islam, noble and strong with its holy sites and its people, and the evil will pass, Almighty Allah willing” (Official PA TV, Fatwa, September 29 and October 1, 2021; “PA Mufti: Sharia’h obligates every Muslim to wage Jihad ‎against what the PA calls “the thieving Jews,” translated by Palestinian Media Watch; Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus, “Israel’s destruction is inevitable - a repeating PA promise,” Palestinian Media Watch, October 22, 2021).

Palestinian children are encouraged to repeat Koranic slurs against Jews. A young Palestinian appeared on Palestinian Authority TV, for example, and recited a poem: “You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship O Sons of Zion, O most evil among cr;eations, O barbaric apes, O wretched pigs” (“Islamic Hate Speech on PA TV: Jews Are ‘Most Evil among Creations,’ ‘Barbaric Apes, Wretched Pigs,’” Palestinian Media Watch video, November 16, 2014).

The popularity of Hamas also influenced a broader Islamization of the conflict among Palestinians. Hamas cast itself as the defender of Muslim land and the group that could liberate Palestine from the Zionist usurpers.

Not to be outdone, the supposedly secular PLO leaders began to use Islamic themes and rhetoric to inspire and incite the Palestinian population. Addressing Muslims at a mosque in South Africa, Yasser Arafat said, “You have to come and to fight a jihad to liberate Jerusalem, your precious shrine” (Clyde Haberman, “Rabin Says Arafat’s ‘Jihad’ Remark Set Back Peace Effort,” New York Times, May 20, 1994). In 1996, Arafat told a crowd in Bethlehem, “We know only one word: jihad, jihad, jihad….And we are now entering the phase of the great jihad prior to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem” (Yediot Ahronot, October 23, 1996). In 2002, Arafat declared: “Yes, brothers, with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine….This is a sacred bond. We are up to this duty. Allah is great! Glory to Allah and his prophet. Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad!” (“Arafat’s NY Times Op-Ed Dismissed As “Publicity Stunt,” Arutz Sheva, March 2, 2002).

PA president Mahmoud Abbas has adopted similar rhetoric, repeatedly trying to rally support, for example, by accusing Israel of endangering the al-Aqsa Mosque, a tactic used since the days of the Mufti designed to enrage Muslims around the world. “We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for al-Aqsa and for Jerusalem,” Abbas has said (“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Fatah Conference: We Are All Ready to Sacrifice Ourselves for Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem,” Middle East Media Research Institute, November 24, 2014). Following riots in Jerusalem in 2021, Abbas stated, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shaheed [martyr] will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward” (Tzipi Hotovely, “Abbas: ‘We Welcome Every Drop of Blood Spilled in Jerusalem,’” Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2015).

Not all Muslims hold such extreme views; however, enough believe a Jewish state cannot exist in the Muslim heartland, and that Jews should never rule over Muslims, to ensure that Islamists will remain a threat to Jews and Israel whether a peace agreement is signed or not. In fact, an agreement that ceded “waqf” land to Israel would give the radicals an excuse to continue their jihad.

MYTH

The Palestinian Authority prevents and condemns terrorism.

FACT

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.

In 2021, Palestinian terrorists carried out 54 significant terrorist attacks, the most since 2015. Three Israeli civilians were killed and 34 injured. In addition, there were about 1,700 incidents of rock-throwing and 350 involving Molotov cocktails (“Palestinian Terrorism, 2021: Summary, Types and Trends,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, (February 2, 2022). The Shin Bet also thwarts hundreds of terror attacks each year – more than 450 in 2019 (Judah Ari Gross, “Shin Bet thwarted over 450 terror attacks in 2019, chief says,” Times of Israel, November 7, 2019).

The Palestinian Authority lacks control over the Gaza Strip and the terrorists operating there but does not condemn their activities. During a meeting with members of Congress visiting the region in March 2022, for example, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh dismissed the more than 4,000 rocket attacks during the violence in May 2021 as “fireworks” (Marc Rod, “Lawmakers reflect on trips to Israel,” Jewish Insider, March 8, 2022).). Moreover, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly sought an alliance with Hamas, further eroding confidence in him as a “peace partner.”

The PA also glorifies and subsidizes violence against Israel. The PA incites violence through the media and indoctrinates students with a belief in martyrdom and a hatred of Israel. Hundreds of schools, institutions, streets, squares, summer camps, sporting events, and festivals have been named after terrorists. For example, Muhannad Halabi, a terrorist who stabbed two Israelis to death in the Old City of Jerusalem was called a “role model for generations of young” and honored with a memorial and a road named after him (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Fatah official: Murdering Israelis is Palestinian ‘right,’” Palestinian Media Watch, (November 18, 2015); Marcus and Zilberdik, “Fatah and PA municipality erect monument in honor of terrorist murderer,” Palestinian Media Watch, October 1, 2021).

The time has come for us to realize that using knives (shibrie) against the Jews will not yield us even a sliver of land (shiber), and we have to change our strategy. We need to talk to the Israelis and get our Palestinian state by peaceful means. They will give it to us: they have offered to do so many times already—otherwise we will not get it at all.

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

Rather than acting out of frustration, hatred of Israel, or a desire to “end the occupation,” many Palestinians are given a financial incentive to kill Jews. 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. Despite serious financial difficulties caused in part by a significant reduction in international aid, the PA still paid roughly $193 million to prisoners and released terrorists and another $78 million to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists in 2021 (Maurice Hirsch, “Three ways the PA tried to hide its terror reward payments in 2021,” Palestinian Media Watch, February 9, 2022).

This pay-to-slay policy has been widely condemned and, in 2018, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act to cut American funding to the PA if it does not stop paying terrorists. Australia adopted a similar policy the same year. Israel also deducts the amount of money that the PA pays to terrorists and their families from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the authority.

MYTH

Palestinians oppose terrorism.

FACT

Let us stipulate that Palestinians are unhappy living under Israeli rule and that they face many hardships. The question they face is how to improve their situation and, ideally, achieve independence.

To their misfortune, Palestinian leaders have eschewed the one way to reach their goals, namely negotiation. Instead, since well before Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967, Palestinians have chosen the path of violence in the misguided belief that they can either inflict enough pain on Israelis to force them to capitulate to their demands or draw enough sympathy to their plight that the international community will pressure Israel on their behalf. The failure of these strategies over nearly 80 years has not convinced them to eschew terror and embrace compromise.

Worse, Palestinian leaders have engaged in nonstop incitement through sermons, social and conventional media, education, and acculturation, which has inspired men, women, and even children to engage in terrorism. Palestinians have been encouraged to seek martyrdom rather become doctors, lawyers, and scientists. Rather than peaceful demonstrations, suicide bombing became a form of Palestinian “protest.”

Israel’s agreement to negotiate with the PLO was predicated on Yasser Arafat’s commitment to cease all violence. The promise of the Oslo agreements ultimately was sabotaged by Arafat’s refusal to fulfill this obligation and the terrorism that has continued unabated.

Israelis are also aware of the incitement by the Palestinian Authority and the widespread support for “resistance.” Support for a violent uprising reached as high as 54 percent in polls of Palestinians in 2021. Other polls found a third or more of Palestinians favoring armed struggle. Perhaps more alarming was a Pew survey, which found that 62 percent of Palestinian Muslims said that suicide bombing attacks are often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies. The results were nearly equal in Hamas-ruled Gaza (64 percent) and the Fatah-governed West Bank (60 percent) (“Muslim Publics Share Concerns about Extremist Groups,” Pew Research Center, September 10, 2013).

In an analysis of polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), Daniel Polisar found a consistent pattern of approval for generic terror attacks against Israelis. What was more disturbing, however, is that when Palestinians were asked their opinions about specific assaults that resulted in the death of Jews, their level of support increased dramatically (“Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #60,” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, (June 2016); Daniel Polisar, “Palestinian Public Opinion Is behind Tel Aviv Terror Attack,” Times of Israel, June 10, 2016).

In March 2016, for example, 60 percent of Palestinians supported “attacks against Israeli civilians within Israel.” In June, 65 percent said they approved a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus that wounded more than twenty Israelis.

Polisar concludes that “would-be terrorists contemplating an attack can be reasonably confident that if they succeed in killing or injuring Israeli civilians, their actions will earn support and praise in their society—for themselves, their families and the militant group to which they belong, whether or not they live to enjoy it personally. Indeed, they will be seen as heroes, not only in the communiques of Hamas, but in the minds of rank-and-file Palestinians.”

People looking for reasons why peace has not been achieved should recognize the role terrorism plays in reinforcing Israeli fears that no concessions will end violence against them.

In Gaza last week, crowds of children reveled and sang while adults showered them with candies. The cause for celebration: the cold-blooded murder of at least seven people—five of them Americans—and the maiming of 80 more by a terrorist bomb on the campus of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

—Historian Michael Oren (Michael Oren, “Palestinians Cheer Carnage,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2002).

MYTH

Israel created Hamas.

FACT

Israel had nothing to do with the creation of Hamas. The organization’s leaders were inspired by the ideology and practice of the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

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

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

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

Hamas certainly didn’t believe it was being supported by Israel. As early as February 1988, the group put out a primer on how its members should behave if confronted by the Jordan was actively helping Hamas, with the aim of undermining the PLO and strengthening Jordanian influence in the territories.

Though some Israelis were very concerned about Hamas before rioting began in December 1987, Israel was reluctant to interfere with an Islamic organization, fearing that it might trigger charges of violating the Palestinians’ freedom of religion. It was not until early in the intifada, when Hamas became actively involved in the violence, that the group began to be viewed as a potentially greater threat than the PLO.

The turning point occurred in the summer of 1988 when Israel learned that Hamas was stockpiling arms to build an underground force and that Hamas had issued its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. At this point, it became clear that Hamas was not going to put off its jihad to liberate Palestine and was shifting its emphasis to “resistance.” Hamas has been waging a terror war against Israel ever since (Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising—Israel’s Third Front, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990, pp. 227–39).

MYTH

Israel is responsible for blockading Gaza.

FACT

Israel cannot impose a blockade on its own. Egypt controls the southern border of the Gaza Strip and has maintained its own blockade to prevent Hamas from obtaining weapons from Iran and materials it can use to manufacture rockets to fire at Israeli cities. Egypt has demolished dozens of homes along its border with Gaza to create a buffer zone to stop smugglers and extremists from crossing in either direction, and a wall to prevent their use of tunnels under the border (“Egypt Demolishes Sinai Homes for Gaza Border Buffer,” BBC, October 29, 2014); “Egypt Demolishes 1,020 Rafah Homes for Gaza Buffer Zone,” Maan News Agency, March 19, 2015).

The Islamic Research Council of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the voice of Sunni Islam, has publicly supported Egypt’s attempts to destroy the smuggling tunnels that run between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. “It is one of Egypt’s legitimate rights to place a barrier that prevents the harm from the tunnels under Rafah, which are used to smuggle drugs and other (contraband) that threaten Egypt’s stability,” the Council said. “Those who oppose building this wall are violating the commands of Islamic Law” (“Leading Egypt Clerics Back Gaza Tunnel Barrier: Report,” Agence France Presse, January 1, 2010).

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his support of the blockade to U.S. President Barack Obama when they met at the White House on June 9, 2010. Abbas stated that lifting the blockade would give Hamas access to more weaponry (Barak Ravid, “Abbas to Obama: I’m Against Lifting The Gaza Naval Blockade,” Haaretz, June 13, 2010.

Meanwhile, people and goods can enter Egypt through Rafah and fuel and goods via the Salah Al-Din crossing point. At the border with Israel, the Erez crossing is used for people and the Kerem Shalom is used for transferring goods and fuel.

In 2021, the UN recorded 179,390 exits and 158,764 entries via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt and 90,421 exits and 87,015 entries via the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel. These figures refer only to the movement of people and are additional to the movement of goods and fuels.”

Source: OCHA

In addition, Israel has also complied with—and exceeded—international law by delivering humanitarian supplies it is not required to provide.

Nevertheless, Israel is sometimes accused of “collective punishment”; however, this refers to the “imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt.” Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile territory. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy and has never been regarded as “collective punishment”(Abraham  Bell,  “International  Law  and  Gaza:  The  Assault  on  Israel’s  Right  to  Self-Defense,” JCPA, January 28, 2008); “Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?” JCPA, February 28, 2008).

In 2011, the UN Palmer Committee concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is consistent with customary international law, is legitimate due to the security threat posed by Hamas, and does not constitute collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, “peace activists” seeking to break the blockade have not spoken out against Hamas terror or the denial of human rights to Palestinians by Hamas officials ruling the Gaza Strip. The international community, moreover, with the possible exception of Turkey, has not opposed the actions of Israel and Egypt because Hamas has refused to meet the conditions for ending the blockade: halting terror attacks, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and agreeing to abide by past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

MYTH

Israel “occupies” the West Bank.

FACT

In politics, language matters, and 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.

Israel’s international legal claim to the land goes back to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which recognized the Jewish right to a “national home” in Palestine. This position was reiterated in the San Remo Resolution (April 1920), Treaty of Sevres (Art. 95, Aug. 1920), Mandate for Palestine (Art. 6, July 1922), Anglo-American Treaty (Dec. 1925), and UN Charter (Art. 80, June 1945).

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, none of which attract the attention or opprobrium direct at Israel (Douglas Murray, “‘Occupied Territories’: What about Cyprus, Kashmir, Tibet?” Gatestone Institute, July 23, 2013).

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. They also never called for the end of the Egyptian occupation of the Gaza Strip.

For a Texan, a first visit to Israel is an eye-opener. At the narrowest point, it’s only 8 miles from the Mediterranean to the old Armistice line: That’s less than from the top to the bottom of Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. The whole of pre-1967 Israel is only about six times the size of the King Ranch near Corpus Christi. 

—President George W. Bush (Speech to the American Jewish Committee May 3, 2001).

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 while defending itself is not in the same category. This is the situation with Israel, which 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 the Oslo Accords, 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.

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 PA’s leadership has prevented the resumption of talks, which offer the only path to an agreement to ensure a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

MYTH

Israel illegally demolished the home of a family in Sheikh Jarrah.

FACT

As one Israeli diplomat put it, European diplomats have a “Pavlovian instinct to attack Israel without knowing the facts” (Lahav Harkov, “FM slams European diplomats’ ‘Pavlovian instinct to attack Israel’ over evictions,” Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2022). The remark was in response to criticism of Israel for demolishing the home of an Arab family that had been squatting in an illegally constructed building on public property in Sheikh Jarrah. The family also had erected a building for a business and two storage units without a permit, which were also demolished.

Israel’s actions complied with the law and was authorized by the Jerusalem District Court after years of unsuccessful negotiations with the family. The decision was made to clear the way for a long-planned educational complex for Arab residents of the capital that will include a school for special-needs children.

According to Avi Bell, a professor at Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law, “the European Union’s accusation that Israel is committing war crimes in Sheikh Jarrah by moving forward with plans to build an Arabic-language special-needs school for...residents of the neighborhood shows that European officials harbor equal contempt for common sense, international law and the Jewish state. There is no international law that forbids Israel taking control of public lands to build a special-needs school” or that “gives Palestinian trespassers the right to block construction of a special-needs school” (Israel Kasnett, “EU Tries to Twist International Law to Fight Eviction of Squatters in Jerusalem,” JNS, January 18, 2022).

Israel was criticized for evicting the family in the middle of the night, which sounds particularly insensitive; however, it was necessitated by the fact that when the police tried earlier in the day to execute the order they were threatened with violence. A daylight demolition would also have undoubtedly drawn protestors who have been trying to prevent the court-ordered eviction of several Arab families that have refused to pay rent to their landlords.

MYTH

Iran does not believe that it can win a nuclear war.

FACT

One of the reasons that deterrence worked during the Cold War is that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union believed it could win a nuclear war, or at least not achieve a victory without suffering unacceptably horrific losses. Some argue that Iran knows Israel would use its own nuclear weapons to retaliate if it were ever hit by Iranian nuclear missiles and therefore would never risk a first strike.

The problem with this analysis is that Iran’s leaders do believe they can win a nuclear war and Jews have learned from painful experience that when someone threatens to kill them, they should take it seriously.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has declared that Israel is a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut” (“Iran: We Will Help ‘Cut Out the Cancer of Israel,’” The Telegraph February 3, 2012). “Sometimes the leaders of the Zionist regime threaten us,” he said in a speech. “They should know that if they are attack us, we will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa into wastelands” (“Iran’s supreme leader threatens to raze Tel Aviv, Haifa,” Times of Israel, March 21, 2013).

Hashemi Rafsanjani, the President of Iran from 1989 until 1997, said that “Israel is much smaller than Iran in land mass, and therefore far more vulnerable to nuclear attack” (Jerusalem Report, March 11, 2002). In a 2001 speech, Rafsanjani said: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything … [and] only harm the Islamic world” (Hashemi Rafsanjani, “Qods Day Speech (Jerusalem Day),” GlobalSecurity.org, December 14, 2001).

Since Iran has 70 million people and Israel at the time had only seven million, Rafsanjani believed Iran could survive an exchange of nuclear strikes while Israel would be annihilated

He does have a point since just three bombs, one for Haifa, one for Tel Aviv and one for Jerusalem would wipe out most of Israel’s population and industry.

Would Iran launch a nuclear attack against Israel and take the risk of an Israeli counterstrike that might destroy the country? Perhaps, Middle East expert Bernard Lewis observed, because what matters to the Islamists in Iran is that infidels go to hell and believers go to heaven. As evidence, Lewis quotes Ayatollah Khomeini:

I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against the whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom, which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another’s hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours (Bernard Lewis, “Does Iran Have Something in Store?” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2006).

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believed the most important task of the Iranian Revolution was to prepare the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam, who disappeared in 874, bringing an end to Muhammad’s lineage. Shiites believe this imam, the Mahdi or “divinely guided one,” will return in an apocalyptic battle in which the forces of righteousness will defeat the forces of evil and bring about a new era in which Shi’a Islam becomes the world’s dominant religion. It is this apocalyptic worldview, Lewis notes, that distinguishes Iran from other governments with nuclear weapons.

Iran is also not deterred by the fact that innocent Muslims would be killed in a strike on Israel. Rafsanjani explicitly said he wasn’t concerned about fallout from an attack on Israel. “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession,” he said, “the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” As one Iranian commentator noted, Rafsanjani apparently wasn’t concerned that the destruction of the Jewish State would also result in the mass murder of Palestinians as well (Iran Press Service, December 14, 2001); see also “Former Iranian President Rafsanjani on Using a Nuclear Bomb against Israel,” MEMRI, January 3, 2002).

During negotiations with Iran, President Barack Obama repeated the falsehood that Iran’s Supreme Leader had issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons (Jed Babbin, “Obama’s Iran Speech Deceit,” Washington Times, August 6, 2015; “Iranian Regime Continues Its Lies and Fabrications about Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons,” MEMRI (April 6, 2015).). Besides minimizing the Iranian threat, the claim raised the question: Why is it necessary to sanction or negotiate with Iran if Obama believed they will not develop nuclear weapons because of this fatwa?

Iran does not have to use nuclear weapons to influence events in the region and have a devastating impact on Israel. By possessing a nuclear capability, the Iranians can deter Israel or any other nation from attacking Iran or its allies. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in 2006, for example, a nuclear Iran could have threatened retaliation against Tel Aviv if Israeli forces bombed Beirut. The mere threat of using nuclear weapons would be sufficient to drive Israelis into shelters which would afford little or no protection from the explosion and radiation.

How many Israelis would want to live in a country under constant nuclear threat? How many people would want to immigrate? Would tourists still visit Israel? Would foreign companies want to set up businesses in a country under a nuclear cloud?

If you were the prime minister of Israel, would you take seriously threats to destroy Israel by someone who might obtain the capability to carry them out? Could you afford to take the risk of allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons? How long would you wait for sanctions or other international measures to work before acting unilaterally to defend your country?

The danger is becoming increasingly acute as Iran progresses inexorably toward the completion of the nuclear fuel cycle and achieves the capability to build a weapon. While President Joe Biden and the other signatories to the original nuclear agreement desperately try to revive the deal and rollback the advances Iran has made toward building a bomb, the Iranians seem to be playing the same game they did during the original negotiations.

Hassan Rouhani, the man who headed talks with Britain, France and Germany until 2005, told a meeting of Islamic clerics and academics that Iran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear program was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002. He revealed that while talks were taking place in Tehran, Iran completed the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake at its Isfahan plant (Telegraph, March 5, 2006). Iran also stepped up the pace of its weapons program by secretly enlarging the uranium enrichment plant at the Natanz site. (Telegraph, January 22, 2006).

Since the start of negotiations in Vienna on April 6, 2021, Iran has taken several steps toward achieving a breakout capability. For example, Iran began to produce enriched uranium metal, increased its stockpile of enriched uranium, improved the purity level of its refined uranium to 60 percent, and blocked inspectors from getting access to surveillance from its nuclear facilities.

A nuclear Iran that is not afraid of the consequences of nuclear war cannot be deterred or contained. This is why Iran must not be allowed to develop the capability to build a nuclear bomb.

2021

The Abraham Accords were a betrayal of the Palestinians.
Israel was created to compensate the Jews for the Holocaust.
The UN recognizes Jerusalem’s Jewish history.
Installing an elevator for the disabled at the Cave of the Patriarchs is a “war crime.”
The Miss Universe pageant in Israel should be boycotted.
The Biden administration has endorsed the “right of return.”
Israel is trying to silence Palestinian human rights groups.
Israel’s announcement of new settlement construction threatens the two-state solution.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza boycott Israel.
Boycott advocates are consistent and helping Palestinians.
Building a permanent bridge to the Temple Mount is an act of religious war.
Palestinians and their supporters care about Palestinian refugees.
Israel makes no effort to avoid civilian casualties.
The Jews have no claim to the land they call Israel.
A Jewish terrorist tried to burn down the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jews have no right to pray on the Temple Mount.
Hamas does not store weapons in civilian areas.
The PA is punished for its human rights violations.
The United States should reopen a consulate in Jerusalem.
Most of the Palestinian casualties in Operation Guardian of the Walls were civilians.
Israel is trying to kill Palestinians with expired COVID vaccines.
Israel is engaged in the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.
Israel tried to silence journalists by bombing their headquarters in Gaza.
Israel intentionally killed 248 innocent Palestinians during Operation Guardian of the Wall.
The Palestinian Authority should get U.S. aid for Gaza because it promotes peace with Israel.
Israel used disproportionate force in Operation Guardian of the Wall.
Israel is illegally evicting Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
EU funding for Palestinians doesn’t support terrorists.
Human Rights Watch has proven Israel is an “apartheid” state.
Israel is preventing Palestinians from praying on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.
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 Abraham Accords were a betrayal of the Palestinians.

FACT

In a dramatic and unexpected joint announcement by the United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates on August 13, 2020, Israel and the UAE “agreed to the full normalization of relations.” The agreement followed years of quiet diplomacy and interaction between the two countries.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the agreement with the UAE as “a betrayal of Jerusalem” and an “aggression against the Palestinian people.” Hamas called it “cowardly” and “a blatant assault on our religious, national, and historical rights in Palestine, a treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their resistance forces, and a miserable attempt to influence their struggle and resistance path aimed defeating the occupation” (Steve Hendrix and Kareem Fahim, “Israel-UAE deal condemned by Palestinians, cheered by Egypt and Bahrain,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020).

On September 15, 2020, Bahrain joined the UAE in signing what became known as the Abraham Accords. Morocco and Sudan subsequently agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

For years, the Palestinians exercised a de facto veto over Arab states’ relations with Israel. U.S. officials accepted this and did not use American leverage to change their minds. John Kerry, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, expressed the conventional wisdom. “I’ve talked to the leaders of the Arab community,” he said in 2016. “There will be no advanced and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace” (Joseph Wulfsohn, “John Kerry mocked for 2016 claim that ‘there will be no separate peace’ between Israel-Arab nations without the Palestinians,” Fox News, September 16, 2020).

Obama’s policies inadvertently contributed to the Abraham Accords. America’s Gulf allies saw him reducing U.S. support for them while signing a nuclear deal with their enemy Iran. This encouraged them to seek help from Israel which shared their concern with Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

The Gulf states also saw the potential benefits of ties with Israel, such as trade and access to technology, and were fed up with the Palestinians’ unwillingness to make any compromises for peace with Israel. After the Palestinians refused to make a deal with the help of the sympathetic Obama administration, and then rejected the Trump peace plan in January 2020, the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain decided they would no longer sacrifice their national interests for the Palestinians.

Despite their opposition to the Abraham Accords, the Palestinians did gain one major concession from Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to unilaterally apply sovereignty to some or all the Jewish communities in the West Bank, but the UAE insisted that Israel suspend the decision before agreeing to normalize relations.

By removing the veto over their relations with Israel, the Arab states may have improved the prospects for peace by forcing the Palestinians to see that they have no leverage in negotiations and must compromise if they hope to achieve independence.

MYTH

Israel was created to compensate the Jews for the Holocaust.

FACT

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.

Meanwhile, 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,” former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General 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).

Furthermore, as 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).

MYTH

The UN recognizes Jerusalem’s Jewish history.

FACT

In December 2021, the UN adopted a resolution on Jerusalem that was consistent with the Palestinian effort to erase the Jewish history of the city. The resolution refers to the Temple Mount by its Arabic name, al-Haram al-Sharif, without mentioning its Hebrew name, Har Habayit, to insinuate it is significant only to Muslims. Equally disturbing was that 129 countries voted for the resolution, only 11 opposed it, including Israel and the United States, and 31 abstained. A similar resolution passed 148-11 in 2018.

The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest place, the site of the Temple built centuries before Islam existed or the al-Aqsa Mosque was built.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan denounced the vote. “A resolution about Jerusalem that does not refer to its ancient Jewish roots is not an ignorant mistake, but an attempt to distort and rewrite history!”

The United States said that the omission of inclusive terminology for the site sacred to three faiths was of “real and serious concern” (Tovah Lazaroff, “29 nations ignore Jewish ties to Temple Mount, call it solely Muslim,” Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2021).

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer noted the vote was not just an insult to Jews. “The UN shows contempt for both Judaism and Christianity by adopting a resolution that makes no mention of the name Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, and which is sacred to all who venerate the Bible, in which the ancient Temple was of central importance.” (“UN Condemns Israel in 3 Resolutions, Erases Jewish Connection to Judaism’s Holiest Site,” UN Watch, (December 1, 2021).

The Jewish connection to Jerusalem has also been undermined at UNESCO. In 1982, the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls were placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of claims they was threatened by Israeli actions. In 2015, the executive board issued a statement which did not mention the Jewish character of the city but did condemn the construction of a Jewish prayer platform, which it falsely claimed involved “the removal of the Islamic remains at the site.”

In 2016, the UNESCO board adopted another resolution that only referred to the Temple Mount as “al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif” and the wall as “al-Buraq Plaza ‘Western Wall Plaza’” – placing single quote marks only around “Western Wall,” suggesting the Jewish connection is secondary to that of the Muslims. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. (“Unesco passes contentious Jerusalem resolution,” BBC, (October 18, 2016).

MYTH

Installing an elevator for the disabled at the Cave of the Patriarchs is a “war crime.”

FACT

One of Judaism’s holiest sites is the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Machpelah) in Hebron, believed to be the final resting place of the Jewish patriarchs AbrahamIsaac, and Jacob, and matriarchs Leah, Sarah, and Rebecca (Rachel was buried near Bethlehem). While Jews from around the world come to visit, it is one of the few tourist sites that is not wheelchair accessible. Visitors have to climb about 30 steps between the street and the entrance to the tomb. After entering the building, another 60 steps lead to the prayer area.

Elimelech Karzen, one of the managers of the tomb said, “We have people who come in wheelchairs, people who can’t walk, pregnant women, old people that want to visit Ma’arat HaMachpelah.” He added, “Even regular people who are tired. They don’t want to climb 60 or 100 stairs. People need elevators. It’s 2023. Each time to go up and down, it’s very difficult” (Pesach Benson, “Israel to inaugurate elevator at Tomb of the Patriarchs,” JNS, June 1, 2023).

Israel wanted to correct this anomaly in 2020 by installing an elevator but the Palestinians opposed this basic step to protect the dignity and liberty of the disabled even though it would enable Palestinians in wheelchairs to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque (as Muslims refer to the Machpelah).


Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikimedia

The Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law was adopted in 2012. It states: “The rights of people with disabilities and the obligation of Israeli society toward these rights are founded upon recognition of the principle of equality, on man’s worth – created in God’s image – and on the principle of respect for all human beings.”

This law requires that all places for public use in Israel be made accessible. This includes museums, nature reserves, restaurants, and historic sites. The $1.6 million project in Hebron included an elevator, a path to reach the entrance from the parking area, and a bridge connecting the elevator to the entrance.


Credit: The Hebron Fund

Anyone who has been to the Machpelah or seen pictures can appreciate the need for an elevator to obviate the need for a wheelchair-bound person to be carried up and down the stairs. Even the Palestinians acknowledge the need to make the site accessible, but they refused to cooperate in discussions about how to accomplish the goal and turned this basic human rights issue into a political one by accusing Israel of trying to “Judaize” a site that has been holy to Jews for generations and appealing to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to intervene on the specious grounds that the site is solely an Islamic heritage site.

Going further Palestinian leaders called the project “tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world,” a “war crime,” and threatened a third intifada in response (Donna Rachel Edmunds, “Palestinian leaders: Disabled access to Tomb of Patriarchs is ‘war crime,’” Jerusalem Post, September 8, 2020).

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that said nothing about the elevator but falsely accused Israel of denying Muslims access to the mosque and engaging in “colonial attacks” (“The Ibrahimi Mosque must be saved before it is too late,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, August 11, 2021). This distorts the meaning of the word “colonial,” but the Palestinians now use it routinely (along with “racist”) to describe Israel in their propaganda in an effort to appeal to progressives.

To support the specious comparison to Afrikaner South Africa, another propaganda staple, The New Arab staff falsely claimed the elevator would be for Jews only and made “to facilitate settlers’ access to the Muslim house of worship” (emphasis added - “Israel builds Jewish-only elevator at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque,” The New Arab, March 5, 2021). Israel offered to build a second elevator on the Muslim side of the site where there are fewer stairs, but the Palestinians rejected the idea (Benson).

Though Palestinians are not citizens of Israel, they are allowed to petition to the High Court of Justice, which found their arguments that an elevator would damage the site’s archaeological and architectural significance, and that Israel illegally expropriated land, unconvincing. “We have not lost sight of the sensitivity along with the political and religious complexities associated with the Tomb of the Patriarchs complex,” the court said. “However, even the appellants acknowledged the need to make the site [wheelchair] accessible. Therefore, it is regrettable that this humanitarian issue has also become a political one and a source of controversy” (“High Court rejects Palestinian bid to thwart Tomb of Patriarchs elevator,” Times of Israel, November 4, 2021).

It took almost two more years before the elevator was finished. It opened to the public on June 1, 2023.

MYTH

The Miss Universe pageant in Israel should be boycotted.

FACT

On December 12, 2021, the Miss Universe contest will be held for the first time in Israel with Steve Harvey as host. Representatives from 90 countries are expected to participate in the pageant (only 74 sent representatives to Florida in 2020). In yet another example of the positive impact of the Abraham Accords, a contestant from the United Arab Emirates will compete for the first time, and one from Morocco will participate for the first time in years.

Held in the city of Eilat, the pageant will provide an opportunity to showcase Israel’s beauty to millions of people watching the event around the world. Miss Universe President Paula M. Sugart said, “I know that the city of Eilat will provide a great space for our contestants to study and grow together” (“Noa Kirel to perform at 2021 Miss Universe pageant in Eilat,” Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2021).

The current Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, arrived before the pageant to enjoy the sights and people of Israel.

“It’s the first time that I’ve been here in Israel, and I was so excited to see Jerusalem and to visit the Old City,” she said in an interview at the Tourism Ministry. “My family is Catholic, and for them and for me it’s important to get to know more about it.”

She was also traveling to Tel Aviv and the desert commenting, “I was very excited to come here and explore all that Israel has to offer, and to see it with my own eyes” (Hannah Brown, “Miss Universe talks about COVID-era reign on visit to Israel,” Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2021).

It is not surprising that the anti-Semitic BDS movement is apoplectic that the Miss Universe organization and 90 countries have ignored their calls to boycott Israel, just as contestants did when the Eurovision contest was held in Israel in 2019. These international events are among the most public and glaring examples of the movement’s inability to isolate Israel.

The BDSers’ failure is not for lack of trying. They remain focused on pressuring the contestant from South Africa – Lalela Mswane. She has bravely stood up to the harassment and said, “There is a stirring in my soul; a restless, a wild anticipation. I am staring out into the horizon as far as I can.”

Even as more than 150,000 Palestinians work in Israel and Jewish settlements in defiance of the BDS movement, Mswane has been bombarded with hostile messages with hashtags “NotMyMissSouthAfrica,” “freepalestine,” and “boycottisrael.” Worse, her own government has turned against her, announcing it was withdrawing its support because of “the atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians” (Shira Hanau, “South African government urges its own representative to boycott Miss Universe pageant in Israel,” JTA, November 15, 2021).

The Palestine Solidarity Alliance in South Africa came up with an even more bogus reason boycotting the pageant, tweeting that it was being held in “a city built on the ruins of displaced Palestinian villages” (@OnlinePalEng, November 14, 2021).

The Zochrot organization claims the village Umm al-Rashrash in what is now Eilat had a population of 50 when Israel captured the area in Operation Uvda. Only three mud huts used by the British police appear in the accompanying photo on the Zochrot site. There is no sign of a village that would have had 50 inhabitants (“Umm al-Rashrash,” Zochrot). “Village Statistics” published by the British in 1945 to document the towns and villages in the British Mandate does not have a listing for Umm Rashrash (Village Statistics, 1945).

Stephanie Weil, chief executive of the Miss South Africa organization, told The JC: “We were always going to take part in Miss Universe… Things have got to a point where it is quite literally harassment against Lalela. I think she’s incredibly scared of the threats that people are making against her, versus feeling supported, which at the end of the day she should feel” (Jenni Frazer, “Miss South Africa under fire for taking part in Miss Universe contest in ‘apartheid state’ Israel,” The JC, November 12, 2021).

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies stated the obvious: “Preventing our Miss South Africa from participating in Miss Universe will make zero contribution to attaining a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. All it will do is deny this young woman an opportunity of participation on the international stage.”

Meza also lamented the insinuation of politics into the pageant. “Miss Universe is not a political or religious movement. It’s more about the women that are participating in it and what they have to offer, and coming together. It’s 70, 80, 90 countries with different cultures, different beliefs, and they’re all together, experiencing and getting to know each other, learning from each other; and I think that’s the most important part” (Brown, Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2021).

Not surprisingly, the BDS movement, which has nothing to say about the mistreatment of women in the Palestinian Authority, wants to deny other women the opportunity to experience what the pageant and Israel have to offer.

Mswane hopes to follow in the footsteps of her countrywoman, Zozibini Tunzi, who was crowned Miss Universe in 2019. It would be a shame if her dream was killed for no practical purpose other than to satisfy a movement that has no interest in the welfare of the Palestinians or peace and seeks only the destruction of Israel.

MYTH

The Biden administration has endorsed the “right of return.”

FACT

In a reversal of the previous administration’s position, the United States abstained on a draft UN resolution in November 2021 regarding assistance to Palestinian refugees that supports the Palestinian demand that all 5.5 million “refugees” as defined by UNRWA be allowed to move to Israel. An abstention is not an endorsement of the resolution; nevertheless, the unwillingness to vote against the resolution is being interpreted as support for its provisions (Tovah Lazaroff, “US changes its UN vote from ‘no’ to ‘abstention’ on UNRWA affirmation,” Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2021).

The furor over the vote prompted the U.S. Mission to the UN to issue an explanation; however, it only justified the resumption of funding for UNRWA and said nothing about the content of the resolution that caused the uproar (“Explanation of Vote on Agenda Item 54: “UNRWA in the Near East” and Agenda Item 55: “Israeli Practices and Settlement Activities,” United States Mission to the United Nations, November 9, 2021).

While even creating the faintest impression of supporting the Palestinian demand is problematic, the truth is the Arab states and Palestinians have long claimed a “right of return” that does not exist.

The United Nations first took up the refugee issue and adopted Resolution 194 on December 11, 1948. This called upon the Arab states and Israel to resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations either directly, or with the help of the Palestine Conciliation Commission established by the resolution. Furthermore, Point 11 resolves that:

refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which under principles of international law or in equity should be made good by Governments or authorities responsible. Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation... (emphasis added).

As International Law Professor Ruth Lapidoth explains, “the paragraph does not recognize any ‘right,’ but recommends that the refugees ‘should’ be ‘permitted’ to return.” The emphasized words demonstrate that the UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands. Furthermore, Prof Lapidoth pointed out, the resolution, like all General Assembly resolutions, was not binding.

The Arab states all voted against this resolution because they still expected to destroy Israel and only began to call for its implementation after they lost the war. Even then, they have read it selectively. “The provision concerning the refugees is but one element of the resolution that foresaw ‘a final settlement of all questions outstanding between’ the parties,” Lapidoth noted. “The Arab States have always insisted on its implementation (in accordance with the interpretation favorable to them) independently of all other matters.”

By contrast, Israeli President Chaim Weizmann said: “We are anxious to help such resettlement provided that real peace is established and the Arab states do their part of the job. The solution of the Arab problem can be achieved only through an all-around Middle East development scheme, toward which the United Nations, the Arab states and Israel will make their respective contributions” (“Weizmann Urges Homes For Arabs,” New York Times, July 17, 1949).

The demand for the refugees’ return has nothing to do with “justice” as there are fewer than 40,000 true refugees who lost their homes in the 1948 War and they could easily be settled (assuming these now elderly people would want to leave their longtime homes) as part of a peace agreement. The Palestinians want all 5.5 million “refugees” to return to Israel because it would lead to the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state.

Do the math.

Today, there are approximately seven million Jews and two million Arabs living in Israel. According to UNRWA, there are 5.5 million Palestinian refugees. If all the refugees returned, Palestinians would outnumber Jews. No Israeli government would agree to a “right of return” because it would be suicide. Two-state proponents who support the return of all the refugees are advocating two Palestinian states.

Israel has expressed a willingness to accept some refugees almost since the question arose and, over the years, admitted tens of thousands. Israel has always conditioned a final resolution of the issue on reaching a peace agreement with the understanding that most refugees would be settled in the countries where they now live and a future Palestinian entity. By failing to vote against resolutions that refer to refugees returning to their homes, the Biden administration feeds Palestinian fantasies and turns the issue into an obstacle to peace.

MYTH

Israel is trying to silence Palestinian human rights groups.

FACT

On October 22, 2021, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz designated six Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations. If Israel was interested in silencing Palestinian human rights groups, why choose just these six? According to the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO WARNING - Anti-Virus flagged link, viewed in isolation), there are more than 140 civil society institutions that are part of the overall network, 29 are members of PNGO.

The small number of organizations was targeted because of  their links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the EU, the United States, and other countries. It has engaged in high-profile terror attacks against Israel and Jews since 1968 when its hijacking of an El Al flight marked the beginning of the age of air piracy.

“The PFLP aims to mobilize and lead the struggle of the Palestinian masses for the return to Palestine, self-determination, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. These, in turn, are steps along the path of defeating the Zionist entity, liberating all of Palestine, and establishing a democratic Palestinian state where all citizens enjoy equal rights, free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or religious belief. Beyond this, the PFLP aims at the establishment of a democratic socialist society” (Democratic Palestine).

Some of its more prominent attacks include:

  • The hijacking of an El Al plane (July 23, 1968); 16 prisoners were released.
  • Hijacking of five commercial airliners belonging to Western countries in September 1970.
  • The assassination of Rehavam Ze’evi (October 17, 2001).
  • A suicide bombing attack at the West Bank village of Karnei Shomrom (February 16, 2002); three Israeli civilians murdered, 25 wounded.
  • A suicide bombing attack at a bus station at the Geha junction in Tel Aviv (December 25, 2003); three Israelis murdered.
  • The murder of Rina Shnerb while hiking with her father by a roadside bomb planted by the PFLP (August 23, 2019).

The six organizations designated as terrorist organizations are: the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Union of Palestine Women’s Committees (UPWC), Addameer, Al-Haq, and the Bisan Center for Research and Development. The Israeli government has not publicly released the classified intelligence used to make the designation; however, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a report in 2019 which found:

Hamas and PFLP operatives have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Moreover, it appears that terrorist organizations view NGOs in the West as a convenient means for raising funds which they could not otherwise obtain (“Terrorists in Suits,” Ministry of Strategic Affairs, February 2019).

Among the groups listed in that report as having ties to the PFLP were Addameer and Al-Haq. 

Some evidence against the organizations has come from statements by other NGO employees. One employee of the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC), for example, told police that “the PFLP-affiliated institutions are inter-connected and serve as the organization’s lifeline financially and organizationally, i.e., money laundering and financing PFLP activity.” According to Matthew Levitt, “In the arrangement, one NGO would learn how to conduct various types of fraud and money laundering, then pass this knowledge on to the others” (Matthew Levitt, “A Blurred Line Between Civil Society and Terrorism,” Policy Notes, No. 112, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 2021).

As Levitt noted, one way NGOs raise money for the PFLP is to forge documents and receipts they present to their donors with inflated costs. The difference between the amount they receive and the real cost is forwarded to the PFLP. Some employees spend some time working on human rights issues while also serving as operatives for the PFLP. The organizations also have been known to host the PFLP in their offices.

Open source information is widely available and has been collected by NGO Monitor (“Summary of the PFLP’s NGO Network,” NGO Monitor, October 20, 2021). Their report highlights connections between the PFLP and the organizations and specific staff members. The organizations have all receive funding from European governments and others including the U.S.-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund:

Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)

  • Identified by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP.
  • Abdul Razeq Farraj, former UAWC Finance and Administrative Director, was arrested in 2019 for recruiting members of the PFLP.
  • Samer Arbid, UAWC’s accountant, was arrested for commanding a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing that murdered an Israeli civilian.
  • Funding: France, Netherlands, Spain (AECID), Norwegian People’s Aid, Medico, Grassroots International, Oxfam Solidarité, and UN OCHA.

Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P)

  • Hashem Abu Maria, the former coordinator for DCI-P’s community mobilization unit, was hailed by the PFLP as a “leader.”
  • Nassar Ibrahim, former President of DCI-Ps General Assembly, was a former editor of El Hadaf, the PFLP’s weekly publication.
  • Mary Rock, a former DCI-P board member, was a PFLP candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
  • Funding: EU, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Broederlijk Delen, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Save the Children, and UNICEF.

Union of Palestine Women’s Committees (UPWC)

  • Suhair Khader, UPWC’s Vice President, is a member of the PFLP Central Committee.
  • Smira Abdel-Alin, UPWC head in the Rafah area, is a member of the PFLP Central Committee.
  • Ismat Shakhshir, head of UPWC operations in the Nabulus district, ran for the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the PFLP.
  • Funding: Basque Government, Norwegian People’s Aid, and AECID.

Addameer

  • Abdul-Latif Ghaith, Addameer’s founder and former chairperson, has been identified as a PFLP “activist.”
  • Khalida Jarrar, Addameer’s former Vice President, was sentenced to two years in prison in March 2021 for membership in the PFLP.
  • Bashir Al-Khairi, a member of Addameer’s Board of Directors, is a member of the PFLP’s National Council.
  • Funding: Ireland, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

Al Haq

  • Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director, was convicted in 1985 for recruiting and arranging training for PFLP members. In 2008, he was referred to by Israel’s Supreme Court as a “senior activist” in the PFLP.
  • Funding: European Union, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Italy, France, and Spain.

Bisan Center for Research and Development

  • Ubai Aboudi, Bisan’s Executive Director, was sentenced to 12 months in prison in 2020 for membership in the PFLP.
  • Itiraf Hajaj (Rimawi), former Executive Director of Bisan, was responsible for clandestine PFLP operations and was sentenced to 42 months in 2020.
  • Funding: European Union, European Commission, Belgium, Italy, and Spain.

Predictably, the organizations and supporters of the Palestinians condemned the decision. More surprising was the State Department’s request for clarification and claim the U.S. had not been informed in advance of the move (Rami Ayyub, “Israel designates Palestinian civil society groups as terrorists, U.N. ‘alarmed,’” Reuters, October 22, 2021). Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs at the Foreign Ministry Joshua Zarka said, however, he had briefed the State Department’s Acting Coordinator for Counter Terrorism John Godfrey before the announcement (Itamar Eichner, “Is the Bennett-Biden honeymoon over?” Ynet, (October 27, 2021). Nevertheless, Israel sent a delegation from the Shin Bet and the Foreign Ministry to Washington to present the evidence for the decision. The State Department has not commented since then.

As noted by Lea Bilke and Amb. Alan Baker, Israel’s action is consistent with international law norms and obligations (Lea Bilke and Amb. Alan Baker, “Israel’s Designation of Six Terrorism-Linked NGOs Was in Full Accordance with International Law,” JCPA, November 2, 2021). For example, they cite UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), which refers to the “need to combat by all means” threats to peace and security from terrorism and says that states “shall criminalize the willful provision or collection, by any means, directly or indirectly, of funds by their nationals or in their territories with the intention that the funds should be used … to carry out terrorist attacks.”

Similarly, Resolution 2642 (2019) states that acts of terrorism are criminal and calls upon states to “more effectively investigate and prosecute cases of terrorist financing and to apply appropriate, effective and proportionate and dissuasive criminal sanctions to individuals and entities convicted of terrorist financing activities.”

Bilke and Baker also note that the misuse of international funding to support terrorist activities is a breach of international law. According to the Terror Financing Convention, “any person commits an offense within the meaning of the Convention if that person … collects funds with the intention that they should be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out an act which constitutes an offense….”

The fact that the NGOs engage in human rights work does not absolve them of their complicity in supporting a terrorist organization. They are free to petition the Supreme Court to challenge the designation but the available evidence suggests they will be unsuccessful.

“At a minimum,” says Levitt, a former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department and counterterrorism intelligence analyst at the FBI, “governments, civil society organizations, and human rights groups need to address the evidence underlying the Israeli allegations to determine if the organizations with which they have been partnering to further human rights employ the same people who are criminally responsible for PFLP attacks. To date, they have not.”

One country that responded to the revelations was the Netherlands, which announced in January 2022 it would no longer fund the UAWC after its own investigation found that 34 employees were active in the PFLP. The government had previously suspended donations after two senior UAWC officials were indicted for taking part in a bombing that killed Israeli Rina Shnerb in August 2019 (Lahav Harkov, “Netherlands defunds Palestinian NGO Israel declared terror organization,” Jerusalem Post, January 5, 2022 ). Earlier, without any public announcement, the European Union suspended funding to al-Haq and instructed Oxfam to cut funding to the UAWC (“Parliamentary questions,” European Parliament, December 17, 2021).

Meanwhile, as Khaled Abu Toameh points out, no publicity or condemnation has been directed at the Palestinian Authority which “imposes severe restrictions on the activity and finances of Palestinian NGOs” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “The Palestinian Authority Campaign Against Palestinian NGOs,” Gatestone Institute, November 4, 2021).

MYTH

Israel’s announcement of new settlement construction threatens the two-state solution.

FACT

In October 2021, after Israel invited bids for the construction of 1,355 housing units in the West Bank, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which…damages the prospects for a two-state solution” (Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, October 26, 2021).

The statement makes two questionable assumptions. First, that the two-state solution is a viable option and, second, that adding additional homes to existing settlements would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

As to the viability of a two-state solution, the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated they are not interested in a state beside Israel; they want a state to replace Israel. This is evident in surveys published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and the Washington Institute (WINEP). It is displayed in Palestinian maps and the logos of their organizations. It is the meaning of Nakba Day, which represents their objection to the “occupation” of Palestine which began for them in 1948. It is also clear from the record of Palestinians rejecting no fewer than eight peace initiatives that would have given them the opportunity for independence from the 1937 Peel Plan to the Trump Plan.

The viability of a two-state solution is also dubious given the disunity of the Palestinians. The expectation is that a Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; however, Fatah, which governs the former, is at war with Hamas, which controls the latter. There can be no single Palestinian state without agreement among the Palestinians. If the terrorist group Hamas were to be part of the governing authority, however, Israel would never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

None of this has anything to do with settlements.

For argument’s sake, assume the Palestinians agreed to a two-state solution.

Today, more than 475,000 Jews live in West Bank communities. The Palestinians also consider 200,000 Jews living in Jerusalem as settlers. The addition of another thousand or so housing units is not going to dramatically change the demography. As it is, with the exception of the Trump Plan, which President Biden does not support, previous American peace initiatives envisioned Israel withdrawing from more than 90 percent of the West Bank. If the Palestinians agreed to the Israeli annexation of the “consensus” blocs of settlements, Israel would still be expected to force 90,000 to 140,000 Jews from their homes not counting those in Jerusalem. Is that a practical or politically viable option?

As it is, the issue is moot since the Palestinians reject any compromise or outcome that would result in a Palestinian state living peacefully beside Israel.

MYTH

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza boycott Israel.

FACT

Khaled Abu Toameh reported, “Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are excited. Israeli authorities have decided to allow thousands of them to work in Israel. The news about the Israeli decision spread like wildfire, prompting tens of thousands of Palestinians to converge on the offices of the chambers of commerce throughout the Gaza Strip in the hope of obtaining a permit to work in Israel” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Why Palestinians Prefer To Work In Israel,” Gatestone Institute, October 13, 2021).

Palestinians are voting with their feet. They don’t believe their leaders’ propaganda or that of Western liberals thousands of miles away pushing the anti-Semitic BDS campaign, the specious comparison to Afrikaner South Africa, and nonsense about “settler colonialism.”

Israel increased the number of work permits for Gazans to 10,000. This is expected to bring more than $25 million a month into the Gaza Strip. The average daily wage of a Gazan laborer in Israel is nearly $100, which would be $11.75 hour for an 8-hour day (Amos Harel, “New Gaza work permits intended to postpone next clash,” Haaretz, October 21 2021). Most work in in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

More than 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank already have permits to work in Israel – 15,000 were added in July 2021. About 30,000 work in Jewish settlements, another example of the absurdity of anti-Israel rhetoric about how these communities are the obstacles to peace (Tovah Lazaroff, “13% hike in work permits for Palestinians prior to PM-Biden parley,” Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2021).

In November, Israel approved an additional 8,600 work permits for West Bank Palestinians in Israel, as well as 3,600 permits for the Atarot Industrial Zone, north of Jerusalem.  In addition, a pilot project was approved for Israeli work permits for 500 Palestinian tech employees over three years. They will have an opportunity to work in better conditions for higher salaries than they would in the Palestinian Authority (Aaron Boxerman, “In first, government approves small quota of tech work permits for Palestinians,” Times of Israel, November 7, 2021).

As Khaled Abu Toameh noted, Palestinian workers are also reacting to the “failure of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to improve the living conditions of their people despite the massive sums of money they receive from various sources, including the United States, European Union and United Nations.” He added:

Instead of building schools and hospitals and industrial zones, Hamas has been investing millions of dollars in arming and training its military group, Izaddin al-Qassam. Hamas prefers to spend money on any Palestinian who is prepared to join the jihad (holy war) on Israel than on an unemployed university graduate in the Gaza Strip.

MYTH

Boycott advocates are consistent and helping Palestinians.

FACT

Since 1945, the Arab League has had a boycott against Jews and Israel. It was designed to prevent the establishment of Israel and, later, to bring about its destruction. It proved a failure and now is only half-heartedly employed by a few Arab countries. The anti-Semitic boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement began unofficially in 2001 with a similar goal of Israel’s destruction using the fig leaf of promoting Palestinian rights and self-determination. It, too, has been a complete failure.

Nevertheless, even as Palestinians reject the movement, many Western liberals have become BDS proponents, denying they are anti-Semitic even as they single out the only Jewish state for special treatment and destruction. Examples of BDS proponents who were caught unable to explain the hypocrisy of their positions were Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of ice cream fame, and Irish novelist Sally Rooney.

Setting aside the absurdity of these folks believing that denying Jews ice cream or literature will help the Palestinians or compel Israel to capitulate to their demands, consider only the hypocrisy.

In an interview, Cohen and Greenfield were asked why they weren’t boycotting other places that engage in policies at odds with their values, such as Texas following the adoption of its anti-abortion law and Georgia after passing legislation limiting voting rights. “‘I don’t know,’ he said with a laugh. ‘I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.’” When asked about states that are accusing Ben & Jerry and its parent company Unilever of violating their anti-boycott laws, their response was that the states were acting based on “misinformation” (“Scoop: Ben and Jerry stumped by Texas and Georgia,” Axios, October 10, 2021). Meanwhile, Unilever sells products in more than 190 countries including China, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe (David May, Richard Goldberg and Orde Kittrie, “Double Scoops and Double Standards Courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s,” Newsweek, July 22, 2021).

Rooney’s opposition to having her latest novel published in Hebrew is equally hypocritical as her work has been translated into 46 languages and published in the native languages of countries with abysmal human rights records such as China. Perhaps that is not surprising since that market is slightly larger than Israel. Nevertheless, as Shelley Goldman, a retired book and newspaper editor, told the Forward, “When your criticism is directed at only one country and not all the others, what else can we think? She’s a hypocrite and an anti-Semite” (Michele Chabin, “‘A hypocrite’: Israelis in publishing say Sally Rooney is turning her back on Hebrew readers,” Forward, October 13, 2021).

Rooney subsequently clarified that she was not against publishing in Hebrew only that she wanted a publisher “compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines,” which ban any activities related to Israel, not only those in the territories. Efrat Levy, foreign rights director at the Debra Harris literary agency in Jerusalem, noted the incongruity of Rooney’s insistence that she’d be “honored” to have her book translated given that “the only publishers in Hebrew are in Israel” (Chabin).

Rooney’s true feelings can be seen in her activism. For example, she signed a letter that condemned Israel for its “settler colonial rule” beginning in 1948; that is, before Israel controlled the West Bank. The letter also accused Israel of the “massacre of Palestinians” while defending itself against the Hamas rocket bombardment in May 2021 (Jonathan S. Tobin, “BDS proves once again that it’s all about the anti-Semitism,” JNS, October 12, 2021).

What makes the BDS movement so insidious is that many of its proponents claim to be human rights advocates and yet show no interest in human rights violations by anyone other than Jews they falsely accuse of mistreating Palestinians. Worse, their campaign undermines peace and hurts Palestinians.

MYTH

Building a permanent bridge to the Temple Mount is an act of religious war.

FACT

The Mughrabi Gate is the only access point for non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When the access ramp was damaged by an earthquake and collapsed in 2004, Israel decided to build a permanent access bridge, but the Muslim Religious Trust (Wakf) and the Jordanian government objected and, instead, a temporary bridge was constructed.

In 2011, the government temporarily closed the walkway because it had become unstable, a fire hazard, and prone to storm damage. Israel again wanted to build a safer, permanent structure, but was reluctant to do so because of the hysterical reaction of Arab officials that accompanied the brief closure of the existing bridge. Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian officials condemned the plan, calling it “illegal,” “unacceptable,” and “a declaration of religious war” (Malkah Fleisher, “Hamas: Temple Mount Gate Closure is ‘Declaration of War,’” The Jewish Press, December 13, 2011).

Jordan’s religious affairs minister Abdul-Salam Abbadi accused the Israelis of “further Judaizing Jerusalem and changing the Islamic and Christian character in the Old City using baseless excuses.” One Palestinian Authority official called the decision “illegal, unacceptable, and provocative [because] Israel has no right running these sites in the occupied part of east Jerusalem.” Hamas accused Israel of “provoking the feelings of all Islamic and Arab people” (Matti Friedman, “Citing public safety, Israel orders closure of controversial walkway in Jerusalem’s Old City,” Associated Press, December 12, 2011).

Additionally, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned “in the strongest terms the ongoing policies adopted by Israeli occupation authorities aimed at creating a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem, the latest of which has been closing the wooden bridge of Bab al-Maghariba” (“In the Context of Efforts to Create a Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem,” Palestinian Center for Human Rights, December 13, 2011).

A decade later, what was supposed to be a temporary bridge has again deteriorated and is in danger of collapsing. The government has ordered maintenance work to be done but remains fearful of Arab reaction and is not planning to replace the rickety structure with a permanent one.

The Jerusalem Post noted, “Jordan is sensitive to any changes to the status quo and previous attempts to alter the bridge have met with protests and also the spreading of conspiracies that al-Aqsa is in danger” (Seth J. Frantzman, “Temple Mount: Maintenance begins on Mughrabi bridge amid tensions,” Jerusalem Post, August 29, 2021).

Symbolism is more important to the Palestinians than the safety of non-Muslims. Outrage over Israel’s actions is less about the bridge than the underlying issue of who should have jurisdiction to control the gate to the Temple Mount. Palestinians insist this should be part of the capital of a future Palestinian state and Muslims argue they should control the area because it is the site of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, the site of the original holy Temple built by Solomon. Politically, it is also part of Israel’s capital and subject to the government’s authority.

The issue has nothing to do with freedom of religion or access to the Temple Mount. Muslims routinely enter the Temple Mount from one of several gates open only to Muslims.

Israel has demonstrated sensitivity to the issue by refraining from demolishing the bridge and building a more structurally sound walkway; however, public safety should take precedence over politics for the benefit of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

MYTH

Palestinians and their supporters care about Palestinian refugees.

FACT

Palestinians and their supporters like to express their concern for Palestinian refugees and yet are silent when it comes to the treatment of refugees living in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. They even ignore the welfare of refugees who are confined to camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Hamas and 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 or the fact that Israel has nothing to do with them?

Today, the Gaza Strip has eight refugee camps with a population of more than 592,160. Another 19 camps in the West Bank house nearly 166,468 refugees. That is a total of nearly 760,00 “refugees,” which, based on CIA population figures, would be more than 15% of the Palestinian population in the disputed territories. The word refugees is 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 5.7 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 their inhabitants 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. The international community and supporters of the Palestinians buy the propaganda and blame Israel for the refugees’ plight and make no effort to pressure Hamas and the PA to demolish the camps and build permanent housing. Continued funding for UNRWA helps further perpetuate their homelessness. After so many decades, isn’t it time to insist that aid to the PA be spent on housing for refugees?

MYTH

Israel makes no effort to avoid civilian casualties.

FACT

In the dramatic retelling of what the New York Times said was an assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, what was particularly noteworthy was the care Israel took to ensure that he was driving the car and not one of his children, his wife or a bodyguard. According to the Times, Fakhrizadeh was killed by a hail of bullets from a robotic machine gun in what sounded like the scene in The Godfather when Sonny Corleone is ambushed at a toll booth. Fakhrizade’s wife, however, was not struck by a single bullet (Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi, “The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine,” New York Times, September 18, 2021).

This was just the latest example of the lengths to which Israel goes to avoid killing innocent civilians. In other instances, Israel has aborted missions where civilians were present or warned them to leave an area that was to be targeted.

Contrast the story of Israel’s killing the man Israel believed was in charge of Iran’s program to build a nuclear bomb with the “horrible mistake” made when a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians, including 7 children when officials thought they were targeting a suspected terrorist (Alex Horton, Joyce Sohyun Lee, Elyse Samuels, and Karoun Demirjian, “U.S. military admits ‘horrible mistake’ in Kabul drone strike that killed 10 Afghans,” Washington Post, September 17, 2021). Unlike the care Israelis took to identify their target and ensure no innocents were hurt, the Pentagon relied on poor intelligence that was a result, in part, of failing to have agents on the ground.

The tragedy in Kabul was a reminder of the sad reality that mistakes are sometimes made while fighting wars, even by the best trained military, backed by the most sophisticated intelligence service in the world. Israel’s detractors should remember that the next time they criticize an Israeli military action.

MYTH

The Jews have no claim to the land they call Israel.

FACT

A common misconception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 CE, and then, 1,800 years later, the Jews suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back.

In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.

The Jewish people base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land, 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people, 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars, and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple, and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the eleventh century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa, and Caesarea.

The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the twelfth century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem, and elsewhere during the following three hundred years.

By the early nineteenth century— years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement— more than ten thousand Jews lived through-out what is today Israel (Dan Bahat, ed., Twenty Centuries of Jewish Life in the Holy Land, Jerusalem: The Israel Economist, 1976, pp. 61–63.)

The seventy-eight years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.

Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its “right to exist.” Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its “right to exist” a favor, or a negotiable concession.

— Abba Eban (Abba Eban, “The Saudi Text,” New York Times, November 18, 1981))

Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and — most of all — the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.        

MYTH

A Jewish terrorist tried to burn down the al-Aqsa Mosque.

FACT

Palestinian propaganda is not very original and easily disproven yet smears are repeated, like Hitler’s big lies, to incite the population against the Jews. The al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger libel is one of the most popular and persistent going back to the days of the Mufti of Jerusalem (Nadav Shragai, “The Al-Aqsa is in Danger Libel: The History of a Lie,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2012).

A version of the lie is repeated every year on the anniversary of the 1969 arson attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque. Nan Jacques Zilberdik reported, for example, that on Palestinian Authority television the incident was described this way: “A disaster happened when the Jews came to burn the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 (sic.). The spectacular pulpit was burned in the brutal fire of hatred… Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 and until now, [the Jews] have not stopped the attempts to Judaize the site, to take control of it in order to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple in its place” (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA TV libel: The Jews are still trying “to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple in its place” as they did in 1969 arson,” Palestinian Media Watch, September 1, 2021).

Similarly, Zilberdik notes the head of the PA presidential committee for church affairs and Director-General of the Palestine National Fund (PNF) Ramzi Khouri was quoted in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (August 21, 2021): “The extremist thinking and ideology that pushed this criminal to commit what he did still exist and feed the ultra-extremist Jews who are supported by an extremist right-wing government to carry out their goal to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the so-called alleged Temple in its place.”

Social media posts referred to the arsonist as a “Jewish terrorist,” “fanatical Christian zionist,” and Jewish “extremist.” The “National and Islamic forces in the Gaza Strip” commemorated the anniversary by rioting along the border fence with Israel (“Muslims Mark The Burning of Al Aqsa Mosque 52 Years Ago,” albawaba, August 22, 2021).

The truth is the fire was started by a deranged Australian Christian tourist named Dennis Michael Rohan. He was arrested the next day and, later, tried, found to be insane, and hospitalized in a mental institution. In 1974, he was deported to Australia for psychiatric treatment near his family.

Though little damage was done, the fire provoked widespread concern in the Muslim world over the safety of Muslim shrines in Jerusalem and “became emblematic of the struggle for control of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.” The incident led to the creation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (later the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), which was “originally formed around the idea of Muslim solidarity, particularly protecting the Islamic holy sites, assisting the Palestinian cause, eradicating racial discrimination, and improving economic cooperation” (Toni Johnson, “The Organization of the Islamic Conference,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 29, 2010).

MYTH

Jews have no right to pray on the Temple Mount.

FACT

Critics of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem inevitably raise the issue of freedom of worship. They are only interested, however, in the rights of Muslims and Christians, ignoring the fact that they are protected by Israeli law. It is hard to find non-Jews who defend the right of Jews to pray at their holiest site – the Temple Mount.

Israeli law does not preclude Jews from praying on the site, but for decades the government has prohibited Jews from doing so out of fear that it will provoke violence by Muslims who deny the holiness of the area to Jews, rewrite history to erase the existence of the first and second temples that stood on the Temple Mount, insist that Jews have no right to pray at an Islamic holy place, and refuse to accept Israeli or Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem or any other part of “Palestine.”

As the Times of Israel noted, “Palestinian media outlets, including those of the Hamas terror group, publish almost daily videos of ‘Jewish settlers storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque.’ Many Arab and Muslim leaders don’t acknowledge that the site is holy to Jews and refer to any Jew who enters it as an ‘extremist’” (“Waqf official decries ‘dangerous’ Jewish prayers held discreetly on Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, August 25, 2021).

The New York Times published a story about Jews who have begun to pray there and the objections of the Palestinians (Patrick Kingsley and Adam Rasgon, “In Shift, Israel Quietly Allows Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount,” New York Times, August 24, 2021). The paper ignored the fact that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest place and failed to distinguish between the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and the other 30 plus acres (excluding the Dome of the Rock) that have no special significance to Muslims.

The Palestinians want to redefine the entire Temple Mount as holy and to associate it with their identity. “Many Palestinians consider the Aqsa compound the embodiment of Palestinian identity, the animating force behind the aspiration for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem,” according to the Times. The Temple Mount has an association with Islam but has nothing to do with Palestinian identity, which is one reason why the Palestinians raised no objections to the Jordanian occupation of the area or its continuing administrative oversight.

“We face constant racist discrimination and infringement on our human rights,” Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of the al-Aqsa Mosque told the Times without explaining how a handful of Jews exercising their freedom of religion encroached on Muslims’ opportunity to do the same.

Azzam Khatib, the deputy chairman of the Waqf council complained, “Now they’re taking over the whole plaza, with the protection of the police.”

In fact, rather than “taking over the whole plaza,” the Times reported the Jews pray “in a secluded part of the eastern flank of the site.”

I also respect the fact that Israel allows for a multifaith climate in which every Friday a thousand Muslims pray openly on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When I saw that, I had to ask myself, where in the Islamic world can 1,000 Jews get together and pray in full public view?

— Muslim author Irshad Manji (Pearl Sheffy Gefen, “Irshad Manji, Muslim Refusenik,” Lifestyles Magazine, (Summer 2004), p. 29.

While tens of thousands of Muslims regularly pray on the Temple Mount, the Times felt it was newsworthy to publicize Palestinian complaints about Jews exercising their freedom of worship.

Why should anyone accept the notion that this is a provocation when it does not infringe on the rights of Muslims?

Why should Jews be denied freedom to worship at Judaism’s holiest place in the capital of Israel?

If Palestinians react with violence, as they have in the past, shouldn’t they be condemned rather than the Jews engaged in prayer?

And what does it say about the prospect for freedom of religion in a Palestinian state if Jews are told they are not permitted to worship at their holy places?

MYTH

Hamas does not store weapons in civilian areas.

FACT

On July 22, 2021, during the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, an explosion rocked the Al-Zawiya market in Gaza City killing a 69-year-old Palestinian man and injuring 14 others, including six children. Palestinians in Gaza said the explosion occurred in a house where Hamas stored weapons. The home was partially destroyed and neighboring ones damaged.


Screen shot of destruction from explosion in Al-Zawiya YouTube

Israel has repeatedly provided evidence that Hamas stores weapons in civilian areas. This time, it was not Israel who accused the Palestinians of using civilians as a shield, however, it was people living in Gaza who demanded an investigation.

In a statement, the Palestinian Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said it “views the explosion incident with grave seriousness, as there have been repeated incidents of internal explosions in houses in overcrowded residential neighborhoods for various reasons in the past, which resulted in the killing of a number of civilians and the destruction of homes and public and private properties.” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians accuse Hamas of storing weapons in residential areas,” Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2021).

Note the “human rights” group would not say Palestinians have been killed because terrorists are using them as shields. Palestinian writer Fadel Al-Manasfeh was less circumspect, however, and told Abu Toameh that Hamas chooses markets for ammunition warehouses because it is confident Israel will not target them.

As we saw during Operation Guardian of the Walls, the media usually downplays or ignores the fact that civilians are used as shields and are often the victims of “accidents.” Instead, the press parroted Hamas Health officials’ casualty figures without investigating how many were caused by the terrorists.

This is especially inexcusable given the many stories that have been published about Palestinians being killed by their own people in the past. For example:

  • In 2020 an explosion in a market in the Nussirat refugee camp killed more than 10 Palestinians and injured dozens more (Toameh, Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2021).
  • In 2014, five Hamas terrorists were killed “in what appeared to be an accident when an explosion ripped through a tunnel they had dug on the east side of Gaza City” (Fares Akram, “Gaza: Tunnel Blast Kills 5 Militants,” New York Times, June 19, 2014).
  • The following week, a 3-year-old Palestinian girl was killed, and three of her relatives were wounded when a rocket aimed at Israel fell short and instead hit the family’s home in the northern Gaza Strip (Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren, “Errant Rocket in Gaza Is Said to Kill Girl, 3,” New York Times, June 24, 2014).
  • In 2008, a senior Islamic Jihad military commander was killed along with at least five others when an explosion destroyed his house. Six nearby homes were damaged in the Al Bureij refugee camp and as many as 40 people were wounded (Steven Erlanger, “Blast kills Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza,” New York Times, February 15, 2008).
  • In 2005, four Palestinians were killed and more than a dozen wounded when explosives detonated accidentally inside the home of a family linked to Hamas (Greg Myre, “Blast Kills Four and Riots Continue in Gaza,” New York Times, September 5, 2005).
  • A few weeks later, a pickup truck carrying rockets exploded at a Hamas rally in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. At least 10 Palestinians were killed and dozens were hurt (Greg Myre, “Explosion at rally kills 10 in Gaza Strip,” New York Times, September 24, 2005).
  • At least eight people were killed and more than 30 wounded when a bomb blew up in a Gaza City neighborhood where a group from Izzedine al-Qassam brigades were reportedly preparing explosives (Youssef M. Ibrahim, “8 Are Killed in Gaza Explosion Seen as Hamas Bomb Accident,” New York Times, April 3, 1995).

Imagine the New York Times headline and story if this explosion could have been blamed on Israel. In this case, the Times did not even report on the incident. The Washington Post printed an Associated Press story that said nothing about the weapons depot in the heart of a civilian neighborhood. “It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion,” according to the report.

MYTH

The PA is punished for its human rights violations.

FACT

Supporters of the Palestinians typically claim to do so on human rights grounds, speciously accusing Israel of all manner of crimes. When it comes to the mistreatment of Palestinians by Palestinians, however, their interest in human rights proves to be a mirage. We hear nothing from Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and others who routinely lambaste Israel while Palestinian authorities jail, torture, and murder their fellow Palestinians, often for the “crime” of speaking out against the corruption and autocratic behavior of their leaders.

Likewise, the UN’s Human Rights Council is fixated on the Palestinians – if Israel can be blamed – and pays little or no attention to human rights abuses around the world, especially those committed by its members such as Syria, Iran, and North Korea. The Council’s Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Michael Lynk, has issued 75 press releases condemning Israel and not one addressing the abuses in the Palestinian Authority (Hillel Neuer, “Would Nizar Banat still be alive if the UN held the PA to account?” UN Watch, July 7, 2021).

A textbook example is the silence following the arrest and murder of Nizar Banat, a Palestinian whose home was raided on June 24, 2021, because of his criticism of President Mahmoud Abbas. Banat had called for Western countries to cut off aid to the PA – just as President Biden was restoring U.S. assistance – because of its authoritarianism and human rights violations.

Abbas, the man two-state advocates see as a peace partner and future leader of a Palestinian state, tolerates no dissent, however, and dispatched his thugs to silence Banat. Men broke into Banat’s home without identifying themselves. They beat Banat with batons in front of his family who was squirted with pepper spray. He was taken away and later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Palestinians, the majority of whom already wanted Abbas to resign, protested the murder and were attacked by PA security forces trained and equipped by the EU and the United States. Demonstrators were beaten and dispersed with tear gas and stun grenades. Journalists were targeted (Aaron Boxerman, Hundreds of protesters call for Abbas to resign over death of PA critic,” Times of Israel, July 4, 2021; Imad Isseid, “Palestinian forces disperse protest over activist’s death,” AP, June 26, 2021).

The Biden administration, which has made human rights a centerpiece of its foreign policy, issued a three-line statement:

We are deeply disturbed by the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat and the information that has been reported regarding the circumstances of his death. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and community. We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure full accountability in this case. We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations (Ned Price, “Death of Palestinian Activist Nizar Banat,” Press Statement, U.S. Department of State, June 24, 2021).

A few weeks earlier, however, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Abbas and has been working to support the autocrat in the interest of improving U.S. relations with the PA.

Before he was killed, Banat said, “The Europeans need to know that they are indirectly funding this organization….They fire their guns into the air at Fatah celebrations, they fire their guns in the air when Fatah leaders fight each other and they fire their guns at people who oppose Fatah” (Joseph Krauss, “Critic of Palestinian Authority dies after violent arrest,” AP, June 24, 2021). His comments also applied to U.S. support prior to being cut off by President Trump.

Some UN officials did break with precedent to express dismay over the events in the West Bank, but no resolutions or condemnation were introduced at the General Assembly or Security Council as would undoubtedly have occurred if Israel was somehow involved (Boxerman, Times of Israel, July 4, 2021).

This is just one example of the abuses committed by not only Abbas but leaders of Hamas. They have acted with impunity for decades because supporters of the Palestinians only take an interest in their human rights if they see an opportunity to accuse Israel of abuse.

MYTH

The United States should reopen a consulate in Jerusalem.

FACT

In 1950, Israel moved its seat of government to the capital in Jerusalem. The U.S. State Department, which had opposed the establishment and recognition of Israel, refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hence, the United States established its embassy in Tel Aviv. The consulate in Jerusalem, which had been established in 1844, remained open, but only to deal with the Arabs in Jerusalem.

A whole set of rules (e.g., not allowing official cars to fly the U.S. flag in the city and marking the birthplace of Americans born in Jerusalem as Jerusalem rather than Israel) were established by the State Department 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.

The Jerusalem consulate was a longtime bastion of anti-Semites and, later, critics of Israel. The ambassador to Israel was considered a spy when the chiefs of mission in the Middle East got together. Ambassador Alfred Atherton recalled, “Very often you wondered whether the war between the Arabs and the Israelis was any more intense than the war between embassies in Tel Aviv and Damascus, or Tel Aviv and Baghdad, or Tel Aviv and Amman” (Mitchell Bard, The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East, HarperCollins: 2010).

After 1967, the consulate expanded its mission to include the Palestinians in the West Bank. In 1980, Ambassador Samuel Lewis got into a confrontation with a consular official regarding U.S. policy toward settlements, and a member of Congress present at the incident subsequently threatened to cut off funding to the consulate. This prompted the State Department to agree to a series of steps to ensure the embassy and consulate articulated the same policy (Yael Guiladi, One Jerusalem, Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1983, p. 63). 

After the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by the Oslo Accords, the consulate became the address for diplomatic activities between the U.S. and PA, acting much like an embassy.

On May 14, 2018, the new Embassy of the United States opened in Jerusalem following the Trump administration’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. The consulate continued to operate as an independent mission from its historic Agron Road site.

On October 18, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the consulate would merge with the embassy. Pompeo said the U.S. would continue to conduct its reporting, outreach, and programs in the PA through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit. The consulate ceased operating on March 4, 2019.

On May 25, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Ramallah with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and announced the intention to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem (Jacob Magid And Aaron Boxerman, “In Ramallah, Blinken announces plans to reopen US consulate in Jerusalem,” Times of Israel, May 25, 2021).

The decision is in part meant to separate the Biden administration’s policies from its predecessor’s, and to signal, along with providing financial aid, a renewal of U.S.-Palestinian cooperation. Critics see the decision as unnecessary since the embassy can handle the responsibilities of a consulate. Furthermore, it can be viewed as a reward for continuing Palestinian intransigence.

To avoid any conflicts with the United States, Israel did not object to the existence of the consulate in the past; however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Blinken Israel opposed reopening the consulate in “sovereign Israel” despite the fact that other countries have consulates or embassies to the Palestinians in east Jerusalem (Lahav Harkov, “Netanyahu to Blinken: We oppose consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2021).

After Israel formed a new government in June 2021, the Foreign Ministry requested that the U.S. delay reopening the consulate to avoid potentially destabilizing the fragile coalition (Jacob Magid, “Israel urging US to delay plans to reopen consulate until new gov’t stabilizes,” Times of Israel, June 30, 2021).

According to the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, the United States must have Israel’s consent to establish a consular post on its territory (Alan Baker, “A U.S. Consulate for the Palestinians Should Be on Palestinian Territory – Not in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, July 15, 2021). Legal issues aside, it is not likely the Israeli government would risk angering President Biden by placing obstacles in the way of reopening the consulate.

A better option, legally, diplomatically, and rationally would be to establish the consulate in the Palestinian Authority, specifically in Ramallah, where the Palestinian leadership and institutions are located. This would also send an important message to the Palestinians that, like President Trump, President Biden will not support the Palestinian demand to make Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state. A member of the Biden team proposed this alternative in 2017. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Hady Amr suggested reopening a U.S. mission in the Palestinian territories to signal a commitment to the two-state solution (Joyce Karam, “‘The National’ obtains US official document for Palestinian ‘reset,’” The National, March 18, 2021).

MYTH

Most of the Palestinian casualties in Operation Guardian of the Walls were civilians.

FACT

Every death in war is a tragedy. It is particularly sad that innocent Palestinians die because their leaders treat them as expendable. Hamas and  Palestinian Islamic Jihad knew when they launched rockets at Jerusalem and thousands more at other civilian areas in Israel, the IDF would respond. The terrorists also knew they could maximize the number of civilian casualties for propaganda purposes by using them as shields.

When you consider the firepower Israel employed in Operation Guardian of the Walls, the number of airstrikes (roughly 1,500), the density of population in the Gaza Strip, and the civilians put in harm’s way by their leaders, it would have been reasonable to expect thousands of casualties. It is a testament to the IDF’s efforts to warn civilians before attacking, decisions to abort missions when civilians were in a target area, and the precision with which operations were conducted that the number of innocents who were killed was remarkably low.

How many civilians were killed by Israeli operations?

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, 248 Palestinians died in Gaza (Nidal Al-mughrabi, Jonathan Saul, and Rami Ayyub, “Israel and Hamas both claim victory as ceasefire holds,” Reuters, May 20, 2021). It does not distinguish, however, between those who were terrorists and those who were killed by the nearly 700 rockets that misfired and landed inside Gaza. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 256 Palestinians were killed, 128 civilians, but that figure also seems to include those killed when Hamas rockets misfired (“Response to the escalation in the oPt,” Situation Report No. 1, OCHA, May 21-27, 2021).

A few days after the ceasefire, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar admitted 80 of the dead were terrorists (Fares Akram, “Hamas leader says 80 fighters killed in war with Israel,” AP, May 26, 2021). Since Hamas has an interest in minimizing the number of casualties of its men, this is undoubtedly an underestimate; nevertheless, if we accept this figure, the number of civilians killed would be (using OHCHR figures) 176.

An analysis by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of the names of 234 Palestinians who died found that at least 112 belonged to terrorist organizations (“An analysis of the names of Gazans killed during Operation Guardian of the Walls indicates that about half of them were terrorist operatives,” Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 29, 2021). That would bring the number of civilian casualties to 144.

According to one postwar estimate, as many as 91 Palestinians were killed by Hamas rockets (Alex Safian, “Palestinians Were Killed by Hamas Rockets in May? An Estimate,” BESA, June 27, 2021). This would mean the number of civilians who were killed by Israel could be as low as 45. That figure might also be an underestimate given that 42 civilians were reported dead in the unexpected collapse of a building near a terror tunnel bombed by Israel.

Doing the math and using the OHCHR casualty total, the number of civilians who were killed is between 176 (Hamas figures) and 144 (Meir Amit). If we subtract the 91 who were estimated to have died because of rocket misfires, the number of civilian casualties would be between 85 and 53. Given that 42 died in one strike, that means no more than 43 were killed in the other (roughly) 1,499. Still tragic, but the account of the fighting would have been very different if the media reported that most of the casualties were either terrorists or killed by terrorists.

Could Israel have done more to avoid civilian casualties?

Perhaps, but their efforts to avoid them by issuing warnings, aborting missions, and precision targeting are extraordinary. It is not difficult to demonstrate that other armies have been far less concerned about civilian casualties and that their operations have been far more lethal.

As in past conflicts, Hamas has learned that by putting out phony casualty figures quickly, it can shape the narrative of the fighting because the media immediately reports what they are told as fact and Israel is cast as an aggressor using disproportionate force. The provocation and rationale for the Israeli response is sublimated to the casualty scoreboard created by the press to determine a winner of the conflict. In this Alice in Wonderland game Israel loses by not allowing more of its civilians to be killed.

It is only after the fighting is over that we learn the truth, but the damage is already done. Israel’s image was tarnished, it was pressured to stop fighting before its mission was completed, and it will now be subjected to investigations by those disinterested in the terrorists’ objective of destroying Israel.

MYTH

Israel is trying to kill Palestinians with expired COVID vaccines.

FACT

The leaders of the Democratic Reform Movement of Fatah led by Mohammed Dahlan accused Israel of the “largest attempted murder in Palestinian history.” They claimed that half a million Palestinian lives were endangered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) agreeing to accept vaccines from Israel that were going to expire in June. The group’s ire was directed at Mahmoud Abbas (who forced Dahlan into exile in the UAE), accusing the Palestinian president of committing a crime. The story was accompanied by the cartoon below showing a syringe with a bullet inside (“Fatah leaders demand the formation of an independent committee in the issue of vaccines, whose validity is nearing expiry,” Fatah Media – Palestine [Arabic], June 20, 2021).

After months of being condemned for not doing more to help Palestinians cope with the COVID pandemic, Israel agreed in June 2021 to send 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for receiving a similar number of doses from the PA in October. Shortly after the deal was announced, however, the PA cancelled it because the health minister said the vaccines were going to expire too soon for them to be administered (Ali Sawafta and Rami Ayyub, “Palestinians cancel deal for near-expired COVID vaccines from Israel,” Reuters, June 18, 2021). The PA had already received 100,000 doses but returned 90,000 to Israel (it was unclear what was being done with the other 10,000). PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila blamed Israel for delaying the shipment of the vaccines (Aaron Boxerman, “PA says it wants to renegotiate terms of vaccine deal with Israel, Pfizer,” Times of Israel, (June 20, 2021).

Fewer than one-fifth of West Bank Palestinians have been vaccinated. The expiration date of the vaccine gave the PA time to administer the doses but rather than act to save the lives of its people, the Health Ministry chose to scuttle the deal.

According to journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, the deal was hastily canceled soon after it was announced because of an uproar among Palestinians who suspected “that corrupt senior PA officials were in collusion with the Israeli authorities to provide out-of-date vaccines to the Palestinian public.” Abu Toameh noted that in March 2020, “a similar public outcry erupted after Palestinians learned that the PA had diverted some COVID-19 vaccines to senior Palestinian officials, journalists and personalities affiliated with the PA.”

Abu Toameh said the deal was supposed to help the PA leadership by helping Palestinians return to normal life, and improve “the standing of Abbas and the PA leadership in the eyes of the public.” Instead, it turned into “one of the worst PR disasters for the PA” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Why the PA scrapped the initial vaccine deal with Israel - analysis,” Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2021).

Meanwhile, three other countries expressed interest in obtaining the vaccines the Palestinians turned down (Aaron Boxerman, “Three countries said to ask Israel for vaccine doses Palestinians don’t want,” Times of Israel, June 20, 2021).

MYTH

Israel is engaged in the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.

FACT

One of the most popular canards and anti-Semitic libels hurled at Israel is that it is guilty of “ethnic cleansing.” In 2001, the UN conference of non-governmental organizations meeting in Durban, South Africa declared that Israel was guilty of “ethnic cleansing.” More recently, Rep. Ilhan Omar accused Israel of this atrocity in 2020 when Israel demolished the homes of Bedouins in the West Bank that were illegally constructed in an IDF live-fire range (@IlhanMN, November 5, 2020; Sarah Chemla, “Ilhan Omar: Defund Israel over illegal Bedouin homes that were demolished,” Jerusalem Post, November 11, 2020). She repeated the charge in 2021 when Israel’s Supreme Court was set to decide whether residents in Sheikh Jarrah should be evicted from their homes (@IlhanMN. May 9, 2021).

The definition of “ethnic cleansing” is “the expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity” (“ethnic cleansing,” Merriam Webster). The Holocaust was an example of ethnic cleansing, as was the Turkish massacre of Armenians and the forced displacement and mass killings in Rwanda.

Let’s look at some facts and do some simple math to determine whether Israel has engaged in similar behavior.

Following the 1948 War, roughly 150,000 Arabs were living in Israel. Rather than expel, imprison, or kill them, Israel granted them citizenship. Today, there are nearly two million Arab citizens of Israel, one-fifth of the total population. So, in the course of “ethnic cleansing” Palestinians inside Israel, the Arab population has increased by more than 1.8 million.

What about the West Bank and Gaza?

According to the Israeli 1967 census, the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was 661,700 and 354,000 respectively (Wael R. Ennab, “Population and Demographic Developments In The West Bank And Gaza Strip Until 1990,” United Nations Conference On Trade And Development, June 28, 1994). Today, the population for the West Bank and Gaza is 2,949,246 and 1,957,062 (“The World Factbook,” CIA, June 17, 2021)

Again, let’s do the math. The population of the West Bank under Israel’s alleged policy of ethnic cleansing has increased by nearly 2.3 million and by 1.6 million in Gaza.

Consider a few other statistics about the disputed territories that demonstrate the impact of Israel’s malevolent intentions (CIA and “World Population Prospects 2019,” UN):

  • In 1967, the life expectancy of Palestinians was 48.7 years; today it is 76 years. The average for 18 other Middle Eastern and North African countries (excluding Israel) is also 76 (CIA).
  • The death rate (per 1,000 population) in 1960-1965, before Israel caputred the terrritories, was 16.7; today it is 3. For the 18 countries, it is 4 (CIA).
  • The infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) in 1960-1965 was 117; today it is 16 compared to 15 for the 18 countries (CIA).

The health of Palestinians has improved by every measure and is comparable if not better than in other Middle Eastern and North African countries. One reason is that Israel provides medical care to thousands of Palestinians each year, including the daughter and niece of Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas (Ido Efrati, “Hamas Leader’s Daughter Received Medical Treatment in Israel,” Haaretz, October 19, 2014). In fact, his 17-year-old niece was being treated at Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv after a bone marrow transplant even as his organization was firing rockets at the city (“Hamas chief’s niece has been hospitalized in Israel for over a month — report,” Times of Israel, May 27, 2021).

Is this what you would expect from a country engaged in “ethnic cleansing”?

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism does not explicitly say that accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” is anti-Semitic, but it should. The charge does, however, fall under the definition’s example of comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

The real proponents of ethnic cleansing are the Palestinians and advocates of a two-state solution who call for the expulsion of more than 800,000 Jews so Palestinians can achieve ethnic homogeneity in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

MYTH

Israel tried to silence journalists by bombing their headquarters in Gaza.

FACT

During Operation Guardian of the Walls the IDF struck the al-Jalaa high-rise building in Gaza City on May 15, 2021, causing it to collapse. The attack provoked outrage among the media because the building housed offices of the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, and other news organizations. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt hyperbolically claimed the association “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.” In fact, no harm came to any journalists because Israel warned them in advance of the attack and they were all safely evacuated.

Pruitt, nevertheless, was enraged. “We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” he said. “They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there” (“Statement: AP ‘horrified’ by Israeli attack on its office,” AP, May 15, 2021).

Pruitt added, “AP’s bureau has been in this building for 15 years. We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building. This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

Israel said at the time the building contained Hamas intelligence assets, but Pruitt said he saw no evidence from Israeli officials, who had shared their information with U.S. intelligence. Strikingly, President Joe Biden did not condemn the attack, which he surely would have done if he did not believe the Israelis.

Israel later disclosed the site was used “for intelligence R&D and to carry out SIGINT (signals intelligence), ELINT (electronic signals intelligence), and EW (electronic warfare) operations, targeting both IDF operational activity and civilian systems in Israel. One of the main goals of these efforts was to develop a system that would disrupt the Iron Dome aerial defense system” (“Information Regarding the IDF Strike on the al-Jalaa Building,” IDF, May 15 2021).

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and UN, Gilad Erdan met with Pruitt and presented him with this information, which clearly indicated the building was a legitimate military target (Ron Kampeas, “Hamas was developing technology to jam Iron Dome system in bombed AP building, Israel says,” JTA, June 8, 2021).

This was just one of many examples where Hamas deliberately placed civilians in danger in hopes of shielding their activities. After the ceasefire, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Yahya Sinwar, openly admitted that Hamas locates its military headquarters in high-rise and residential buildings.

It is also worth noting the hypocrisy of the AP. First, it is a lie that the news service doesn’t put its reporters at risk or they wouldn’t be in Gaza or any other war zone. Second, reporters know they are not targeted by Israel and, unlike in Israel, there is no freedom of the press in the Palestinian Authority. Journalists know they can only report what the terrorists want them to say, and go only where they allow them to go. Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman wrote that in 2014, “I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger” (Matti Friedman, “What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel,” The Atlantic, November 30, 2014).

You don’t even have to be a journalist to understand what is required to operate in a terrorist entity. Consider the case of the director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza who acknowledged that Israel’s attacks were precise and directed at military targets. “They did not hit,” he said, “with some exceptions, civilian targets.” Even after an uproar forced him to revise his comments to fit the terrorists’ narrative, he was banished from Gaza (Amira Hass, “Following Backlash, UNRWA Director Apologizes for Saying Israeli Army Rarely Attacked Civilians,” Haaretz, May 26, 2021; “UNRWA Director Banned from Gaza Over Comments,” Hamodia, June 3, 2021).

Pruitt also overstated his case when he claimed, “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.” Not only did AP immediately report on the bombing of their building; the service did not miss a beat in filing stories on the fighting. The following day for example, AP reported on Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City (“The Latest: Israeli jets stage heavy airstrikes in Gaza City,” AP; Fares Akram And Ravi Nessman, “Israeli warplanes stage more heavy strikes across Gaza City,” AP, May 16, 2021). On May 17, AP again reported airstrikes from Gaza City (Fares Akram And Ravi Nessman, “Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive,” AP, May 16, 2021). Reports continue to be filed from Gaza City despite the loss of their headquarters.

The AP may have also lied about being unaware Hamas worked out of the building. Tommy Vietor, former spokesperson for the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, tweeted, “I talked to someone who *used* to work out of that building periodically who said he believed there may have been Hamas offices there” (@TVietor08, May 16, 2021).

The more salient question is: How is it possible that journalists who are trained to observe and interview relevant subjects could not be aware Hamas was operating out of the building?

This is not the only question:

Why didn’t AP report about the elaborate tunnel system in Gaza before Operation Guardian of the Walls?
Why didn’t AP report that tunnels were being built under residential areas, including a UNRWA school (“The Neutrality and Inviolability of UNRWA Installations Must be Respected at All Times,” UNRWA, June 4, 2021)?
Why didn’t AP report on where arsenals were located?
Why didn’t AP report on where Hamas and PIJ headquarters were located?
Why didn’t AP have photographs of rockets being launched from civilian areas?
Why didn’t AP verify casualty claims coming from the Hamas-run Health Ministry before printing them and why didn’t they document the number of “civilians” who were actually terrorists and the number of civilians killed by the hundreds of rockets that fell inside the densely populated areas of Gaza? It did have to acknowledge 80 “militants” (AP is unwilling to call people who fire rockets indiscriminately to kill civilians “terrorists”) were killed after Hamas admitted the fact, but that was included in a story focused on “Gaza’s bereaved citizens” (Karin Laub And Fares Akram, “Gaza’s bereaved civilians fear justice will never come,” AP, June 2, 2021).

How can AP call itself a serious news gathering organization with all that it missed?

Friedman has exposed AP’s perfidy in the past and explained why journalists allow themselves to be used to disseminate propaganda for terrorists. After Operation Protective Edge, he wrote in The Atlantic: “Hamas understood that reporters could be intimidated when necessary and that they would not report the intimidation... The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby – and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas” (Friedman, The Atlantic, November 30, 2014).

This intimidation, Friedman explained, was why “Hamas understood that journalists would not only accept as fact the Hamas-reported civilian death toll—relayed through the UN or through something called the ‘Gaza Health Ministry,’ an office controlled by Hamas—but would make those numbers the center of coverage.” Combined with the use of civilians as shields, this is part of a deliberate strategy to tar Israel’s image of fighting a necessary and moral war, and feeding a narrative willingly spread by advocates of the Palestinians, critics of Israel, and anti-Semites that Israel committed war crimes.

Now you know why media coverage originating from Gaza and the West Bank is typically biased against Israel and parrots Palestinian propaganda.

MYTH

Israel intentionally killed 248 innocent Palestinians during Operation Guardian of the Wall.

FACT

Palestinian propagandists learned a long time ago that they need only throw a casualty figure out to the media and it will be published around the world as fact. One of the first examples was during the first Lebanon War when the press repeated the lies disseminated by Yasser Arafat’s brother. It happened in the previous Gaza operations as well so it was not surprising that when the Hamas-run Health Ministry fabricated the number of civilian casualties during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel’s alleged murder of innocents made global headlines.

Before we get to the dissection of the casualty figures, it is important to remember that not a single Gazan would have been hurt if Hamas had not fired rockets at Jerusalem. In addition, few would be in danger if they were not being used as shields by terrorists.

According to Hamas, 248 civilians, including 66 children were killed by Israel. Casualties of war are unfortunate but inevitable. Israel does not intentionally target civilians and goes to extreme lengths to avoid harming innocent bystanders. Even the director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza, no shill for Israel, acknowledged that Israel’s attacks were precise and directed at military targets. “They did not hit,” he said, “with some exceptions, civilian targets” (Amira Hass, “Following Backlash, UNRWA Director Apologizes for Saying Israeli Army Rarely Attacked Civilians,” Haaretz, May 26, 2021). He was subsequently pilloried by Hamas, forced to recant, and withdrawn from Gaza in a case study of the consequences of telling the truth. Fear of similar treatment is one explanation for the bias of journalists reporting from Gaza.

Hamas has an incentive to falsify the casualty figures because it knows this will provoke outrage around the world and prompt accusations that Israel committed “war crimes.” This is precisely what happened. The numbers, however, are misleading because the Health Ministry does not identify any victims as terrorists and does not distinguish between civilians killed in Israeli airstrikes and those who died from rockets that misfired or landed inside Gaza.

Consider that Gaza is often said to be one of the most densely populated places in the world and it was hit by approximately 680 rockets fired by Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). How likely is it that a much higher number of casualties were self-inflicted (Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Saul, John Irish, and Parisa Hafezi, “Israel’s Gaza challenge: stopping metal tubes turning into rockets,” Reuters, May 23, 2021)?

Two sources unsympathetic to Israel presented evidence that undermines the Hamas figures. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said 128, not 248, civilians were killed (“Response to the escalation in the oPt,” Situation Report No. 1, OCHA, May 21-27, 2021) and Defense for Children International – Palestine reported one case where “a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children” (“Nine children killed in Gaza Strip as violence escalates,” Defense for Children International – Palestine – Palestine, May 11, 2021).

Hamas also counts adolescents as children, some of whom are terrorists. For example, after the New York Times published a page of photos of children supposedly killed by Israel, the Mujahideen Brigades, another terror group in Gaza, said one of those pictured, a 17-year-old, was a member of the group (Adam Rasgon and Iyad Abuheweila, “Gaza Militant Group Says 17-Year-Old Killed by Airstrike Was a Member,” New York Times, May 30, 2021).

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which meticulously examines the identities of the dead, checked 74 names of fatalities and found that 16 were killed by misfired rockets, and at least 42 were terrorist operatives. Instead of 74 dead civilians, the number was actually 16 (“An examination of the names of the fatalities in the IDF airstrikes during the first two days of Operation Guardian of the Walls reveals that most of them were terrorist operatives,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 1, 2021).

The IDF said it killed at least 160 terrorists (Anna Ahronheim, “Israel says 160 terrorists killed in Gaza since beginning of operation,” Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2021). The Meir Amit Center said, “An estimated 50 senior Hamas and PIJ terrorist operatives were killed including brigade commanders, and about 20 lower-ranking commanders and about 200 terrorist operatives” (“Escalation from the Gaza Strip – Operation Guardian of the Walls – Summary,” Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 24, 2021).

No one disputes that some civilians were killed. The highest death toll occurred when Israel bombed the tunnels in one neighborhood and surrounding buildings unexpectedly collapsed (Bill Bostock, “Israel said it didn’t mean to kill 42 civilians in Gaza on Sunday, saying it attacked a series of militant tunnels that caused people’s homes to collapse,” Business Insider, May 17, 2021; Paul Adams, “Gaza-Israel conflict: Israel defends strategy as death toll mounts,” BBC, May 18, 2021).

Based on the current evidence, it appears even the OSHA figure of 128 civilian casualties is high. Again, while tragic, the number of deaths is remarkably low considering that Israel struck more than 1,500 targets. By comparison, President Obama authorized 542 drone strikes that killed 324 civilians (Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Final Drone Strike Data,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 20, 2017).

Before rushing to publish casualty figures they know come from a biased and unreliable source, reporters have an obligation to investigate the claims made by Hamas, and editors should not allow unverified information to be published. Israel may deserve criticism for the death of innocents, but it should not be blamed for killing terrorists firing rockets at its civilians, or for Palestinians killed by their own rockets.

MYTH

The Palestinian Authority should get U.S. aid for Gaza because it promotes peace with Israel.

FACT

The Biden administration has said it will provide aid for Palestinians in Gaza through the Palestinian Authority (PA) rather than Hamas because the latter is a terrorist organization. The PA, however, was cheering on Hamas as it bombarded Israeli civilians with 4,350 rockets. This was just the latest example of the incessant incitement to violence that comes from the PA.

One justification for Hamas starting a war by rocketing Jerusalem was said to be violence provoked by Israel on the Temple Mount. Weeks before confrontations with the police began, however, the PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (February 1, 2021) was inciting the public with the claim, “The occupation authorities are striving to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and establish the so-called ‘Temple’ in its place” (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA libel: ‘Al-Aqsa in danger of being bombed,’” PMW, (February 23, 2021).

PA TV broadcast a video a few weeks later that said, “The occupation’s forces and its settlers invade the al-Aqsa Mosque,” defiling Jerusalem by their mere presence (Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA: Jews are ‘defiling Jerusalem,’ ‘invading the Al-Aqsa Mosque’ when they visit the Temple Mount,” PMW, (March 8, 2021).

These are just two examples of what journalist Nadav Shragai calls the “al-Aqsa is in danger libel,” first used by the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s. He used the lie that Jews were threatening Muslim holy places to inflame the masses (Nadav Shragai, “The ‘Al-Aksa Is in Danger’ Libel: The History of a Lie,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2012). This has been a recurrent theme of incitment by Palestinian officials that is indicative of the oft-neglected religious component of the conflict. 

Voice of Palestine, (December 19, 2018)

Just before Ramadan began, PA TV repeatedly broadcast a video with the following message:

I fired my shots, I threw my bomb. I detonated, detonated, detonated my [explosive] belts…   My brother, throw my blood on the enemy like bullets” (Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus, “The real source of the violence in Jerusalem PMW, April 27, 2021).

PA TV (April 2, 2021)

Once fighting began, the PA did not want to look weak and urged Palestinians to “stone your enemy with fire” (“‘Be sharp as a sword…stone your enemy with fire,’ PA TV calls for more terror” (PMW, May 18, 2021).

Official Palestinian Authority TV (May 18, 2021)

One of the objectives of Hamas was to convince Palestinians that it is the defender of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa. Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub, however, wanted to assure his public that they too were prepared to take up arms. “We own the armed struggle,” he told an interviewer. Accusing Israel of being a “fascist and Nazi state,” Rajoub said, “We are convinced that the conflict [with Israel] has reached the stage that either the world will give us a solution or we will continue the cycle of blood and killing” (“‘We will continue the cycle of blood and killing,’ threatens Fatah leader Rajoub – ‘We are not the only ones who will die,’” PMW, May 20, 2021). He was speaking as efforts to reach a ceasefire were about to succeed.

Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission‎, Facebook, (May 20, 2021)

After the ceasefire, Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, appeared on PA TV to tell his audience they would go to Paradise if they fight. “Everyone who fights you – you are required to fight him … You must respond to the aggression and be brave. This is what Islam wants of us” (“Islam wants you to ‘defend your homeland, your holy sites,’ if you die fighting, you go to ‘Paradise,’ your enemies go to ‘hell’ - top PA religious leader, PMW, May 26, 2021).

Official PA TV (May 26, 2021)

These are the people to whom the administration (and other nations) wants to give tens of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money.

For decades, only people who spoke Arabic and had access to Arab media knew what was being said about the Jews and Israel. Spokespeople would routinely use moderate language when speaking to English audiences that often contradicted what they told their own people. Now, thanks to organizations like Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) and MEMRI, we know what the Palestinians are saying to their own people, and it behooves policymakers to pay attention.

MYTH

Israel used disproportionate force in Operation Guardian of the Walls.

FACT

Not a single Palestinian in Gaza would have been killed or injured if Hamas had not launched rockets at Jerusalem on May 10, 2021. Unsurprisingly, Israel responded to the attack on its capital with airstrikes. The subsequent barrage of rocket fire by terrorists, followed by Israel bombing targets in Gaza, escalated to an 11-day war during which Israel was accused, as it is in every recent military campaign, of using “disproportionate” force.

Because the journalistic credo is “if it bleeds it leads,” the media emphasizes civilian casualties, which turns war into a kind of sport where a score is kept. In this macabre competition, the “winner” is the party that suffers the most casualties, and the competitor that protects its citizens is the “loser.” If there is a large disparity in the score, the loser is judged guilty of using disproportionate force. By the rules of this game, Israel should not defend its citizens so the body count is more even. If it does not, Israel is to be punished because it responds to terror attacks with superior firepower that causes collateral damage.

The issue of proportionality is also skewed by the scorekeepers. The media gets its information from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry which has a history of providing misinformation. Many Palestinian casualties, for example, are a result of the hundreds of rockets that landed inside Gaza but were blamed on Israel. For example, Defense for Children International – Palestine, an organization that is highly critical of Israel, reported that “a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children…. Another 34 Palestinian civilians were injured in the blast, including 10 children” (“Nine children killed in Gaza Strip as violence escalates,” Defense for Children International – Palestine, May 11, 2021).

In addition, the ministry does not admit that any of the dead or injured are terrorists. According to the IDF, at least 160 of the dead were terrorists, 20 of whom were in key leadership or technical positions (Anna Ahronheim, “Israel says 160 terrorists killed in Gaza since beginning of operation,” Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2021). That would account for two-thirds of the casualties.

Some may question the credibility of an Israeli government source, but their record is one of accuracy, and they typically have the names of each of the terrorists they kill. In Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Israel said it killed 709 terrorists. Hamas initially claimed only 49 of its men had been killed, but Interior Minister Fathi Hamad later said the number was 600-700 and admitted that most of the people killed in the fighting were terrorists, not bystanders and that Hamas had indeed used civilians as shields (“Hamas Admits 600-700 of Its Men Were Killed in Cast Lead,” Haaretz, November 9, 2010; “Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields,” Al-Aqsa TV, cited in Dispatch #1710, MEMRI February 29, 2008).

If Israel was not seeking to avoid civilian casualties or, as some charge, targeting them, the number of casualties would be in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands.

Consider this comparison. During Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel struck more than 1,500 targets. Hamas claimed there were 248 civilian casualties, but, if IDF reports on the number of terrorists killed is accurate, the number is probably closer to 80. President Obama authorized 542 drone strikes that killed 324 civilians (Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Final Drone Strike Data,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 20, 2017).

Meanwhile, Israel’s accusers never answer two fundamental questions:

What would you expect your government to do if your house and those of your neighbors were being bombarded with rockets?
What would you consider a proportionate response to those attacks?

Since the stated objective of these terror groups is the destruction of Israel, isn’t the proportional response their destruction? Wouldn’t random missile strikes on Palestinian neighborhoods be proportionate to indiscriminate Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rocket attacks on Israeli neighborhoods?

Can you imagine any of Israel’s critics accepting those responses? Of course not. No one in Israel believes these would be legitimate uses of force either and, therefore, Israel is left with the need to take measured action against specific targets to protect its citizens and deter future attacks.

It is easy to condemn Israel from afar but imagine if terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, or any other city in the West (or East, for that matter). What would the governments do? Would the targets of those rockets demand their governments respond – but only if they can do so without killing any civilians?

It’s not just a hypothetical. In reaction to an attempt to assassinate President Bush in 1993, the U.S. launched 23 cruise missiles at Iraq’s intelligence headquarters and hit a civilian neighborhood in the process. Colin Powell later said this was an “appropriate, proportional” response (John Lancaster and Barton Gellman, “U.S. Calls Baghdad Raid A Qualified Success,” Washington Post, June 28, 1993). After 9/11, the United States used overwhelming force in the war in Iraq, and, though civilians were not targeted, thousands were killed (“Iraq War,” Encyclopedia Britannica, March 2, 2021). There was no discussion of the need for proportionality.

The United States uses overwhelming force against its enemies, even though the threats are distant and pose no danger to the existence of the nation or the immediate security of its citizens. By contrast, the threat Israel faces is immediate in time and physical proximity and poses a direct danger to Israeli citizens.

Between May 10 and the ceasefire on May 21, 2021, Hamas and PIJ fired 4,193 rockets at Israel’s civilian population. The men, women and children who live within range of the rockets go about their lives in a perpetual state of trauma and fear. Ordinary tasks like driving to work, walking to the bank, or taking children to the park cannot be completed without putting their lives at risk.

When the red alert sounds indicating an incoming rocket, Israelis have 15 seconds to find shelter. What if you are not near one? How do you get an elderly parent or disabled child to safety in that amount of time?

Imagine how it must be to live under those conditions. What is a proportional response to being forced to live this way?

The IDF Ethics Code mandates that, whenever possible, soldiers must warn noncombatants that they are in an area where it is dangerous to stay. During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF employed a variety of unprecedented efforts to minimize injury to noncombatants, including warning leaflets, phone calls, and non-lethal warning fire. They used similar methods in Operation Guardian of the Walls. As Asa Kasher noted, no army would endanger its soldiers to avoid hitting neighbors of an enemy who received warnings to leave the area.

Is there another army in the world that warns people to leave an area they intend to attack even though it gives up the element of surprise and allows the terrorists to escape with the civilians? How many other militaries order their pilots to abort bombing missions if civilians are detected in the area?

Even the director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza acknowledged that Israel’s attacks in May 2021 were precise and directed at military targets. “They did not hit,” he said, “with some exceptions, civilian targets.” Under pressure from Hamas, with whom he must cooperate to do his job, he later revised his comments to fit the terrorists’ narrative (Amira Hass, “Following Backlash, UNRWA Director Apologizes for Saying Israeli Army Rarely Attacked Civilians,” Haaretz, May 26, 2021).

Proportionality is not simply a numerical comparison. Israel is under no obligation to allow more of its citizens to be killed to make the casualty statistics more even. In addition, as Kasher explains, “the number of Israeli casualties is not a reliable measure of the threat posed by enemy rockets. A Grad rocket hit a Beersheba classroom on December 31, 2008; had the missile hit the school when classes were in session, dozens of schoolchildren would have been killed. Luck does not diminish the threat posed by an attack.”

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs adds:

Under the Geneva Conventions, as well as customary international law, if a military objective, such as a missile launcher or weapons stockpile, is placed in the heart of a civilian area, it does not cease being a lawful military objective. The primary responsibility for civilian causalities arising from the “shielding” lies with the party that deliberately placed civilians at risk.

Furthermore, as Kasher points out, the laws of warfare “were intended to guide a military conflict between armies with clear chains of command in which all the troops wear uniforms, bear arms openly, and are responsible to the civil government of a certain state.” None of these characteristics apply to the terrorist organizations.

In addition, no innocent Palestinian would be in the line of fire if terrorists did not deliberately hide among them and if the Gazans did not allow themselves to be used as shields. The people know that Hamas is building tunnels under their houses, and storing weapons in residential neighborhoods, mosques, and schools. They know rockets are launched from populated areas. Why don’t they object, and why doesn’t the international community intervene before a war begins to prevent tragedies from occurring?

Click photos to enlarge

In all the protests during the war, did you hear any of the Palestinians’ supporters denounce Hamas for attacking Israeli civilians while putting their own at risk? Also, where were all the people who profess concern for Palestinians’ welfare when Bashar Assad was murdering thousands in Syria with no provocation whatsoever (Middle East Monitor, January 3, 2020)?

It is a tragedy whenever innocent lives are lost, and Israelis have consistently expressed their regret over Arab casualties. By contrast, when innocent Israelis are murdered, the terrorists celebrate and honor the killers.

Israel’s army is not infallible. As a democracy, when Israeli soldiers make mistakes in battle, they are called to account for those errors. On those occasions when noncombatants are injured or killed, investigations are launched, the Israeli public debates the military’s actions, and punishments are imposed if courts find soldiers guilty of a crime.

MYTH

Israel is illegally evicting Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

FACT

For several decades, an issue has festered between Jews and Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Demonstrations have been held for years to prevent Jews from reclaiming land they owned prior to the illegal annexation of the area by Jordan following the 1948 War. In 2021, peaceful protests turned violent over a court order to evict Palestinians whose leases expired or were squatters.

Nir Hasson explained that Jews believe the dispute is “a legal battle over real estate” while the Palestinian residents and their supporters maintain it is “a fight against Judaization and discrimination in the city” (Nir Hasson, “What’s Behind the Latest Flare-up in Jerusalem, and What Israel Can Do to Defuse Tensions,” Haaretz, May 7, 2021).

According to Jonathan Spyer, Rabah al-Husseini, from the Husseini clan, built one of the first dwellings (now the location of the American Colony Hotel) in an area east of Jerusalem in 1865. Others joined him to live near the grave of Hussam al-Din al-Jarrahi and the town became known as Sheikh Jarrah (Jonathan Spyer, “Sheikh Jarrah, Shimon Hatzadik: A tale of two gravesites in Jerusalem,Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2021).

In 1876, Jerusalem trusts run by the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities bought a plot of land and established a Jewish neighborhood near the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik, a Jewish high priest from ancient times. A second neighborhood, Nahalat Shimon, developed nearby.

During the 1948 War, thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem fled their homes, leaving behind property on the Israeli side of the armistice line. A much smaller number of Jews were forced to leave property on the Jordanian side. Among them were the Jews from Sheikh Jarrah, whose property was sequestered as “enemy property” by Jordan.

In 1956, the Jordanian government, which illegally occupied the area, and the United Nations built 28 homes in Sheikh Jarrah for Palestinian refugees. They leased the properties from the Jordanian government.

In 1967, Israel recaptured and annexed the area. Israeli law required the release of a portion of the properties sequestered by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property from 1948 to 1967 (the Jordanian Custodian sequestered almost exclusively Jewish property), and this was the basis for the restoration of some Jews’ claims of ownership during the 1970’s in Sheikh Jarrah. Media reports and critics incorrectly said the law was discriminatory because, they claimed, Palestinians did not have the same right to reclaim the properties they fled from in the same war. That is not true. The law says nothing about Jews, and anyone, including Palestinians, can make claims for property seized by the Jordanians.

In 1982, the Jewish owners wanted to evict 23 Arab families living in the Shimon Hatzadik area, but reached an agreement whereby the Palestinian residents accepted Jewish ownership of the land in exchange for being allowed to remain in their homes as protected tenants. The Palestinians later said they were tricked into signing the deal and began to claim they had proof of owning the land dating to the Ottoman era which was never accepted by the courts.

Professor Avi Bell explained that “the current dispute in Sheikh Jarrah involves several properties with tenants whose leases have expired, and in a few cases squatters with no tenancy rights at all, against owner-landlords who have successfully won court orders evicting the squatters and overstaying tenants.” He also noted that it was the critics who were demonstrating bias by “demanding that Israel discriminate against and disregard the property owners’ lawful property rights due to their Jewish ethnicity” (Avi Bell, “Understanding the Current Sheikh Jarrah (Jerusalem) Property Dispute,” Kohelet, May 9, 2021).

Bell said Jordan was partially to blame for the Palestinians’ plight. “The reason the holdover tenants in Sheikh Jarrah lack ownership today,” he said, “is not because the state of Israel has denied the Palestinian Arabs any rights they acquired, but, rather, because the government of Jordan declined to give the Palestinian Arabs title to the land Jordan had seized.”

Bell also points out that “Israel has been so respectful of the private property rights of Palestinian Arabs that it continues to uphold private Palestinian Arab property rights that are based on Jordanian discrimination against Jews.”

In 1993, the trusts said the tenants had failed to pay rent and asked that they be evicted. It was not until 2001, however, that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court agreed with them. More litigation further delayed the enforcement of the decision. In the interim, the trusts sold their properties to the Nahalat Shimon International organization.

In 2008, Nahalat Shimon planned an expansion of the neighborhood and resumed the effort to remove the unpaying tenants. During litigation, an Israeli court determined that the people currently living in the disputed homes had been illegally squatting for decades without paying rent or holding proof of ownership. Four families were later evicted, but 13 others continued to fight the order in court.

Protests over the expected evictions, which had gone on for years, turned violent in May 2021. Simultaneously, Palestinians and Israeli police were clashing on the Temple Mount during Ramadan. Jerusalem Day was also approaching with an annual parade celebrating the unification of Jerusalem by Israel that was expected to provoke further protests.

Amid the chaos and violence, the Supreme Court was scheduled to render a decision but decided to delay issuing a ruling to avoid potentially further inflaming the situation.

The issue in Sheikh Jarrah is about property law not ethnicity. The rightful owners simply want to recover their land, the fact that they are Jewish is irrelevant. Furthermore, this is not a decision determined by the Israeli government to advance a nefarious policy; whether the families will be evicted will be settled by Israel’s highest court, which is widely regarded as liberal.

Nevertheless, several Democrats asked the Biden administration to pressure Israel to halt the evictions. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, summed up their feelings, “we simply cannot sit by and watch this cruel, continued, illegal, forced displacement of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. The State Department must weigh in immediately with accountability” (Ben Samuels, “Democrats Urge U.S. to Act Against Israel’s ‘Abhorrent’ East Jerusalem Evictions,” Haaretz, May 8, 2021).

The State Department spokesman said a few days later, “We’ve been clear in urging the Israelis to act responsibly, to treat Palestinian residents with compassion and with humanity in this case” (State Department Press Briefing, May 10, 2021).

Some have argued Israel should find a way to stop the eviction for the sake of pacifying the Palestinians (e.g., Ghaith al-Omari, “Israel-Gaza Violence Means Biden Must Avoid Emboldening Hamas In Any Cease-Fire Deal,” NBC News, May 18, 2021). Ignoring the law and capitulating to mob rule, however, would be a recipe for continued unrest as Palestinians would see that violence pays and be motivated to contest the ownership of Jews throughout Jerusalem.

The Israeli Supreme Court suggested a compromise in October 2021 that would have allowed the Arabs to stay in their homes if they paid rent (about $62.50 per month), but they rejected the offer (Nir Hasson and Chen Maanit, “Israel’s Top Court Proposes Compromise to Prevent Sheikh Jarrah Eviction,” Haaretz, October 5, 2021; Aaron Boxerman, “Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah families reject proposed Supreme Court deal,” Times of Israel, November 2, 2021).

The Israeli Foreign Ministry accused the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terrorists of “presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties as a nationalistic cause in order to incite violence in Jerusalem” (@IsraelMFA, May 7, 2021).

Indeed, the dispute in Sheikh Jarrah, along with the incidents on the Temple Mount, were used to justify the launching of hundreds of rockets from Gaza by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas, which provoked Israel to mount Operation Guardian of the Walls.

MYTH

EU funding for Palestinians doesn’t support terrorists.

FACT

In 2017, the European Union decided taxpayer money should not support Palestinian terrorism and decreed that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving EU funding could not use the money to fund terror. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called on all Palestinian institutions to reject this condition. More than 100 NGOs publicly stated they would not accept the conditions and launched the “Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding” (Donna Rachel Edmunds, “PFLP to Palestinian NGOs: ‘Resist by all means’ EU’s anti-terror clauses,” Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2020). As it turned out, the terrorist group needn’t have worried; the EU has continued to indirectly provide money to the organization.

On April 30, 2020, the EU Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, sent a letter to the network of Palestinian NGOs saying those linked to terrorism could still receive EU subsidies and that “not a single Palestinian natural person has been debarred from receiving them” (European Parliament, May 7, 2020).

On May 6, 2021, the Shin Bet announced the arrests of four people working for the Health Work Committees (HWC), alleging they diverted millions of Euros donated by European governments to the PFLP. The HWC is one of at least seven EU-funded NGOs involved in helping the PFLP.

Following the arrests, the Israeli Foreign Ministry urged European powers to “immediately cease funding for Palestinian organizations that work of behalf of the PFLP terrorist group” (Dan Williams, “Israel says Palestinian NGOs funneled European donor cash to militants,” Reuters, May 6, 2021).

Lahav Harkov reported that “according to the Shin Bet, a network of PFLP-linked NGOs used fictitious projects, forged documents, and fake bank authorizations to dupe their European donors. Instead of humanitarian projects, the money paid for attacks, weapons and training, subsidies for families of PFLP terrorists, salaries for PFLP activists, and recruitment” (Lahav Harkov, “Four Palestinians to be charged with diverting European aid to terrorism,” Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2021).

The relationship between NGOs and the PFLP has been well documented. As far back as 2012, for example, Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) provided documentation that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which continues to receive EU funding, “was established by the PFLP; is controlled by senior PFLP operatives; makes its assets available to the PFLP; and acts in coordination with and to advance the interests of the PFLP (including active involvement in PFLP political activity)” (“Breach of anti-terror law by World Vision Australia,” Shurat Hadin, March 29, 2012).

The PFLP, which calls for the destruction of Israel, uses NGOs as part of an “international campaign to slander Israel and deny its legitimacy to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people” (Yosef Kuperwasser, “How Denmark, Sweden, the U.N., and the EU Got Suckered Into Funding a Terror Organization,” Tablet, September 21, 2020). These groups have received more than $240 million in funding between 2014 and 2021 from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, France, Austria, and Sweden despite those countries’ knowledge of the NGOs’ ties to the PFLP (NGO Monitor, “Special Update” via email, May 7, 2021).

MYTH

Human Rights Watch has proven Israel is an “apartheid” state.

FACT

In its longstanding campaign of demonization of Israel, Human Rights Watch (HRW) adopted a new tack in its latest report. Knowing the absurd and ineffective efforts of anti-Israel propagandists to compare Israel to Afrikaner South Africa, HRW decided to write a new definition of “apartheid” that could selectively apply to one state – the Jewish state.

HRW relies on definitions that apply to the systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group. Neither Jews nor Palestinians are racial groups so HRW expands the definition to include groups – actually only Palestinians – that share descent, national or ethnic origin.

As Professor Gerald Steinberg noted, “Beyond South Africa, no other regime or government has been deemed to meet the international definition of apartheid, not even murderous and oppressive regimes practicing separation based on race, religion, and gender such as Saudi Arabia and China” (Gerald Steinberg, “Human Rights Watch demonizes Israel via propaganda of apartheid,” Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2021).

“The report mocks the history of apartheid by using its hateful memory to describe a grab bag of policies that HRW happens to disagree with, and in many cases are not in effect, or were never in effect. Apartheid is not just a term for policies one dislikes,” the Kohelet Policy Forum wrote in its response to the report (“HRW Crosses the Threshold into Falsehoods and Anti-Semitic Propaganda,” KPF, April 26, 2021).

For its part, the Biden administration wasted no time rejecting HRW’s conclusion: “It is not the view of this administration that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid,” a State Department spokesperson said (“US disagrees that Israel carrying out ‘apartheid,’” France24, April 28, 2021).

Too often, however, truth does not matter. When a human rights organization, even one with a long history of anti-Israel bias, makes an inflammatory accusation, it is assured of attracting media coverage, as was the case with HRW’s report. Journalists rarely factcheck the material before quoting the report and its authors in stories with incendiary headlines. By the time the information is evaluated by third parties, it is too late because the original, unverified story has been transmitted around the world to become fodder for Israel’s detractors.


Graphic courtesy Elder of Zion

Thus, you are unlikely to see any quotes about the report from Judge Richard Goldstone, who was appointed to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by Nelson Mandela, played an important role in that country’s transition to democracy, and was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged crimes committed during Israel’s operation in Gaza in 2009. In a New York Times essay, “Israel and the Apartheid Slander,” Goldstone wrote, “In Israel there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute” used by HRW in an effort to get around the specious comparison to South Africa (New York Times, October 31, 2011).

In a rebuke to the equally fallacious claims made in the recent B’Tselem report, Goldstone noted, “there is no intent to maintain ‘an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.’ This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there. South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.”

Presciently anticipating the similarly misguided argument of John Brennan, Goldstone notes, “until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed.”

Speaking to those who demonize Israel while claiming to be interested in peace, Goldstone concluded, “The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony.”

Hirsh Goodman, another native South African, said HRW “is blind to fact and reality.” He called the report “a disgrace to the memory of the millions who suffered under that policy in South Africa” (Hirsh Goodman, “I left apartheid South Africa. Applying the term to Israel is disingenuous,” Forward, April 27, 2021).

Goodman noted that HRW is an advocate of discrimination against Jews, supporting the anti-Semitic BDS movement and that the report came out as an Israeli Arab, a member of an Arab party in the Knesset, and an Islamist no less, had the potential to determine who would be Israel’s next prime minister. In the previous election, a coalition of Arab parties was the third largest faction in the Knesset.

This is discrimination?

What about Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens?

They have the opportunity to vote for their leaders in Palestinian elections, which were last held in 2006 (the one scheduled for May was just canceled because the president, serving the 16th year of his four-year term, is afraid of losing). HRW apparently has no problem with the fact that a Jew cannot vote in a Palestinian election even though the outcome will affect Israel or that a Palestinian who has acquired Israeli citizenship also cannot vote in the Palestinian Authority (Elder of Ziyon, “Another Double Standard: Palestinian Law Excludes Israelis From Voting,” Algemeiner, March 26, 2021).

HRW condemns Israel for treating Palestinians in the disputed territories and Israeli citizens differently, but Israel has no obligation to treat them the same. In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed the Palestinians should be responsible for their own lives in virtually all areas except security; hence, about 98 percent of Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The fact that both deny their own people civil and human rights goes unmentioned by HRW.

HRW also ignores reality while applying a standard that would make nearly every country, including the United States, guilty of apartheid. Take, for example, the report’s criticism of the Law of Return. Yes, it grants automatic citizenship to Jews, but non-Jews are also eligible to become citizens under naturalization procedures similar to those in other countries. More than two million non-Jews are Israeli citizens and 21% of the population are Arabs who enjoy equal rights under the law with Jewish citizens.

Meanwhile, Ireland has a law allowing immigrants of “Irish descent or Irish associations” to be exempt from ordinary naturalization rules while Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, and a number of other democratic states also have policies similar to Israel’s Law of Return and yet are not labeled by HRW as apartheid.

HRW apparently has no problem with Arab nations that have laws that facilitate the naturalization of foreign Arabs, with the exception of Palestinians, or with Jordan’s “law of return that provides citizenship to all former residents of Palestine – except Jews.


Graphic courtesy Elder of Zion

For HRW, it is a crime for Israelis to want a Jewish majority in the Jewish state. Are Muslim states equally guilty for not accepting a non-Muslim majority?

The report castigates Israel for placing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, ignoring that checkpoints and the security fence were created to protect Israeli citizens – Jews and non-Jews from terrorists. It accuses Israel of “Judaization” of Jerusalem, the Galilee and the Negev, implying that Jews should not be allowed to live in parts of Israel where there are “significant Palestinian populations” (which is not the case in the Negev), including its capital.

Israel is also condemned for not agreeing to commit suicide by allowing the 5.7 million Palestinians UNRWA calls “refugees” to live in Israel. To refute the charge that Israel is therefore discriminating against Palestinians, simply refer to the thousands of Palestinians who left the country and were allowed to return and become citizens (“Israel Claims 184,000 Palestinian Refugees have Returned since 1948,” Al Bawaba, January 1, 2001). Israel has also repeatedly offered to accept a limited number of Palestinians as part of a peace agreement (Gene Currivan, “ISRAEL TO ACCEPT 100,000 REFUGEES; Offer, to Go Into Effect When Peace Comes, Is Delivered to Arabs at Lausanne,” New York Times, July 30, 1949).

Summarizing the absurdity of HRW’s argument, one writer tweeted: “Israel: The only country that’s shrinks when it colonizes, grows the population it’s genociding, fattens the people it starves and consistently increases quality of life and freedoms on every metric for the people it apartheids” (@TheMossadIL, April 29, 2021).

Contrast Israel’s behavior with that of the Arab states, which deny Palestinians living within their borders, sometimes for decades, the right to become citizens. The Lebanese government goes even further by denying Palestinians a host of rights and placing limits on where they can live and work (Lisa Khoury, “Palestinians in Lebanon: ‘It’s like living in a prison,’” Al Jazeera, December 16, 2017).

If you want to talk about discrimination, consider that it is a crime for a Palestinian to sell land to a Jew and a fatwa was issued by the preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri, saying it is permitted to kill the seller (“Khatib Al-Aqsa issues a Sharia fatwa regarding the diversion or sale of real estate to settlement associations,” Sama News Agency, April 8, 2021).

Ironically, the author of the HRW report, Omar Shakir, was happy to live in Israel (imagine a black person choosing to live under the Afrikaner regime) until the Supreme Court revoked his residency permit. He is an advocate of the BDS campaign, which raises the question of why HRW would choose someone who objects to Israel’s existence as the arbiter of its behavior (Ben-Dror Yemini, “A most dangerous and mendacious report,” Ynet, April 27, 2021)?

Highlighting HRW’s hypocrisy, the Jerusalem Post reported that one of the organization’s board members runs a venture-capital fund that invests in Israeli start-ups (Lahav Harkov, “Human Rights Watch chairman invests in Israel as he calls it ‘apartheid,’” Jerusalem Post, May 2, 2021).

It is also worth remembering that HRW uses its anti-Israel record as a fundraising tool, as we learned when Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, went to Saudi Arabia to raise money by highlighting the group’s demonization of Israel (David Bernstein, “Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia,” Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2009).

The founder of HRW, Robert Bernstein, said in 2009 that the organization had become devoted to “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” Contrasting Israel with the countries HRW once focused on, he noted it had “at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world.”

Writing in the context of a biased HRW investigation into Israeli actions in Gaza, Bernstein lamented that “Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism” (Robert L. Bernstein, “Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast,” New York Times, (October 19, 2009).

Israel’s government is not immune to criticism, and many of its policies are subject to vigorous debate and, in some cases, harsh condemnation by Israelis. What distinguishes Israel from the countries HRW should be investigating is the internal democratic processes that lead to self-examination, more enlightened policies, and, where legally warranted, punishment for criminal activity.

Nevertheless, Israel’s detractors and anti-Semites will use the report to reinforce their existing prejudices and try to convince the uninformed of HRW’s alternative reality. It also feeds into the BDS narrative by arguing it is not just the “occupation” that is bad; Israel itself “is intrinsically racist and evil” and therefore should be dismantled (Herb Keinon, “The HRW apartheid report: Does it matter?” Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2021).

MYTH

Israel is preventing Palestinians from praying on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

FACT

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Waqf Islamic affairs council, estimated that 70,000 worshipers came in from Jerusalem, the West Bank, and from Arab communities inside Israel to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount (“70,000 Muslim worshipers flock to Jerusalem for 1st Friday prayers of Ramadan,” Times of Israel, April 16, 2021). This huge gathering was permitted despite the coronavirus and restrictions on large gatherings of Israeli Jews.

The pandemic did prompt Israel to restrict the number of Palestinians allowed to enter from the West Bank. Officials are limiting the number to 10,000 vaccinated Palestinians because of the “high morbidity rates” from coronavirus in Palestinian Authority areas. “The measures are being taken to allow freedom of worship and religion on one hand, and on the other hand, prevent to the extent possible the spread of COVID-19 in the region,” said a statement from COGAT, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians (“Ramadan prayers held at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, with Israeli restrictions,” Reuters, April 16, 2021).

The Palestinians acknowledge the need to be careful. Omar Kiswani, the director of the al-Aqsa Mosque, said he was thrilled when an estimated 11,000 attended the taraweeh prayers on April 12, 2021, but said worshipers had to wear masks and keep two meters apart at the mosque, and that public areas would be sterilized daily. (Vivian Yee and Adam Rasgon, “A Ramadan Closer to Normal for 2021,” New York Times, April 13, 2021).

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 at 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 contained “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 evidenced 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 an even smaller proportion of the overall population. Since 1980, the average turnout has been 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).

In April 2021, a new fatwa was issued by the preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri, saying it is permitted to kill anyone who sells land to Jews (“Khatib Al-Aqsa issues a Sharia fatwa regarding the diversion or sale of real estate to settlement associations,” Sama News Agency, April 8, 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 and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (pp. 1256-57) 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 against 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 the 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 that 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 that B’Tselem’s report is not only false and defamatory, it is also 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.”

Similarly, Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner Dr. Felix Klein, said that applying the South African example to discuss Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “an anti-Semitic narrative” (Jonathan Shamir, “German Antisemitism Czar Says Calling Israel ‘Apartheid’ Is Antisemitic,” Haaretz, August 7, 2023).

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, (February 25, 2021).

On June 18, 2021, Israel agreed to send 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the PA in exchange for receiving a similar number of doses from the PA in October when it is expected to receive a shipment. Shortly after the deal was announced, however, the PA cancelled it because the health minister said the vaccines were going to expire too soon for them to be administered. The PA had already received 90,000 doses but returned them to Israel. The decision was particularly ironic given that Israel was condemned for a year for not doing more to help the Palestinians deal with the pandemic (Ali Sawafta and Rami Ayyub, “Palestinians cancel deal for near-expired COVID vaccines from Israel,” Reuters, June 18, 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. 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 2020, 100 resolutions passed with a vote in the General Assembly. Among the Arab states Somalia voted with the United States most often, but still just 42 percent of the time. As a group, the Arab states voted against the United States on 77 percent of the resolutions. Syria was at the bottom of the list, opposing the United States 85 percent of the time.

By comparison, Israel has consistently been at or near the top of the list of America’s top UN allies. In 2020, Israel was far ahead of the pack, voting with the United States 91 percent of the time, followed by Micronesia with a coincidence rate of 69 percent. Major U.S. allies such as Canada (64 percent), Australia (63 percent), Great Britain (61 percent), and France (58 percent) lagged far behind.

A total of 16 Israel-related resolutions were introduced, 15 of which came to a vote. 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 2020:

Of 193 UN members, 28 voted against any of the 15 anti-Israel resolutions at least once, one more than in 2019. Four countries (Austria, Liberia, Slovenia, and Switzerland) joined the list, while three (Kiribati, Romania, and the Solomon Islands) dropped off. In 2020, 15 percent of all roll-call votes were abstentions, compared to 12 percent in 2019; 101 countries abstained on anti-Israel resolutions at least once in 2020, compared to 97 countries in 2019.

The Arab states, including those that have established relations with Israel, voted for every anti-Israel resolution (Voting Practices at the United Nations - 2020,” U.S. State Department, October 26, 2021).

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.