For anyone who is interested in the facts about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, here is a very summarized version, including some clarification about some of the most common propaganda:
Jews have been living in the land of Israel since Biblical times, but Israel as a modern governmental entity was established in 1948, with the cooperation of the legal authorities of the region and the approval of international policy at that time.
Palestine had never been an actual country. It was the name given to the geographic region after the Jews were expelled from there, from Israel, there by the Romans.
This area was inhabited by very small groups of both Muslims and Jews. By the end of the 1800s and early 1900s it was governed by the Ottoman Empire and subsequently by the British Mandate. It was a lot of desert and malaria-filled swampland then, and not considered agriculturally useful.
Towards the end of the 19th century, more Jews began fleeing persecution, violence, and pogroms in Russia, Romania, and Easter Europe, and emigrating to join their coreligionists in this land. They initially lived peacefully with the Arabs there. Until the Jewish immigrants and natives began researching ways to make the land grow.
They raised funds from Jewish philanthropist and organizations, and began draining swamps and set up experimental agricultural sites. Some of the local Arabs began to antagonize these Jews, who were investing time, blood, sweat, and tears to try and cultivate this land and build a better life there. That’s where the tension began: traumatized refugee Jews connecting with their indigenous Israeli brethren, seeking to heal, survive, and rebuild, being attacked by a small number of jealous local Arabs.
As anti-Semitic violence and oppression increased in Europe before and during the World Wars, more and more Jews sought refuge in this region. They brought with them education and philanthropy- building universities, hospitals, farms, orchards, and orphanages, offering jobs and prosperity to both Jews and Muslims in the region.
Again, some of the Arabs turned against their Jewish neighbors, presumably feeling threatened by the changes that were accompanying them. The Jews quickly realized their lives were in danger here too- that while Muslims inhabited and controlled huge swaths of the Middle East, in fact had multiple, large countries to call home, the Jews had none- not in Europe, the Americas, nor anywhere else. This was incredibly dangerous, because historically, Jews have generally been murdered or driven out of almost every country where we lived, just as it was happening in Europe. It became imperative to find a safe space for Jewish security and survival.
There was a brief discussion among these early advocates about procuring land in Uganda for this purpose. But ultimately, it was recognized that the land of Israel would be a preferable destination, as there were already Jews there, and because of the historical and theological connections to the land. This is what contemporary Zionism means: not Jewish supremacy; Zionism just means that Israel should be a homeland for Jews, because we are indigenous to the land and need a safe place to be.
So they appealed to the powers that were at that time, the Turkish Sultan, the British Empire, and the precursor to the League of Nations, requesting autonomy in their homeland. Not on the basis of Biblical history, but the fact that they had been living there, investing in the land, cultivating it, and seeking asylum from aggressors across the globe. It took a tremendous amount of dedication, work, and political advocacy, overcoming obstacles and adversity, but they were committed to establishing themselves legally and legitimately, which they did.
They were immediately attacked by their Arab neighboring countries. For existing. Repeatedly.
Israel’s military action has always been of a defensive nature. The Israelis have one agenda: to survive and thrive. To that end, they’ve repeatedly offered land, compromises, peace treaties, two state solutions- olive branches of all sizes and colors to this group of people who call themselves the Palestinians. (Technically, Israeli Jews would also be called Palestinians, since they too were from the geographic region of Palestine.)
But no matter how much they try, you can’t make peace with a group whose governing bodies simply want you dead. They are governed by terrorist organizations, who are willing to invest in only weapons and indoctrination practices to curry hate and violence. They oppress their own people and then teach them that Israel is the reason they suffer.
They’ve launched a spectacularly successful campaign of lies across the Western left-biased media- painting Israel as the aggressors. They use their own civilians- including children, as pawns and grenades in this evil scheme. They’ve repeatedly staged manipulative and dishonest videos and photos to portray fictional examples of Israeli cruelty. They openly talk about the joy of death – of killing Jews and gloriously martyring their own lives for the noble cause of another Jewish genocide.
Groups like Hamas strategically launch missiles from schools and other civilian buildings, using them as human shields, so that Israel either can’t retaliate, or if they do, they risk harming the innocent. Israel, on the other hand protects civilians- both its own and Palestinian, by sending many warnings about where they intend to aim to destroy artillery, so there’s time to evacuate humans.
Hamas (and Fatah and the PLO and PIJ and whatever other Jew-hating terrorist groups have hijacked power over the years in the region) usurp billions of dollars sent for the purpose of humanitarian aid, and instead of using it to build their economy and educate their citizens, (like Israel does) they use it to build terror tunnels and offensive artillery. Because, by their own admission, they value death, not life.
They coopt incendiary language and shamelessly rewrite both history and current events to vilify Israel.
By contrast, from Israel, this little country the size of New Jersey come forth medical breakthroughs and technological contributions enjoyed across the world. Because they invest in education, medicine, farming, tech, and improving quality of life. They have a strong militia, because otherwise they’d be dead. They offer peace, prosperity and freedom, to people of faiths and races who live there and arrive at their shores, assuming they come in peace.
Now that we’ve gone through the basic history of why the Jews have a legal and legitimate claim to the land of Israel, and how to this day, they are trying to arrange peaceful coexistence with a group who just wants to eradicate them, I’ll go through and disabuse some of the more popular propaganda:
“Israel is an apartheid state.” False. Apartheid is a misappropriated term taken from South Africa, and means the segregation of people by color. Israel is probably the most diverse country in the Middle East, and certainly more diverse than regions controlled by the Palestinian Authorities, where nonMuslims are regularly lynched, if they take a wrong turn and dare to enter. Just walk through the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or any other busy city, to hear many languages and see all kinds and cultures, thriving mostly in unity.
“Israel colonized and occupies Palestine.” Colonizing means sending representatives from another country to control, govern, and exploit the inhabitants of an area. Jews have always lived in Israel; we don’t even have another country- so the idea that we can “colonize” Israel is impossible. Likewise with occupying: Occupying means taking up space, often by force, in a place that belongs to others. Israeli Jews have lived there for centuries. It’s always been our home. The land they grew into over time was mostly uninhabitable marshland, which they painstakingly cultivated and always intended to share peacefully with others and they do- to this day. But if or when others endanger their safety. Then they call in security and create borders like every other country in the world does. Israelis don’t colonize or occupy Israel- they live there. Using that sort of language is inaccurate, intentional, and dangerous.
“Israel is guilty of genocide, murdering, terrorizing, and torturing innocent Palestinian civilians and children.” These accusations are brilliant boomerang descriptives- these atrocities are EXACTLY what Jihadi leaders profess and preach to their constituents to do unto Jews. This is gaslighting at its finest. Genocide means the intentional mass murder of whole groups of people. This is literally called for in the Hamas charter. There are so many videos and documents of radical Islamist leaders calling for the destruction of Jews and all infidels- the extremists want to impose Shariah law on everyone.
Jews by contrast, have no desire to kill Palestinians or anyone else for that matter; we desire to not be killed.
Likewise: terrorism has never been a Jewish activity. Sometimes in the course of defensive war, civilians are killed on both sides and that’s one of the many reasons that moral countries like Israel try to avoid war at all costs. This is what Israel strives to do. But while Israel goes to great lengths to negotiate agreements rather than fight, and to protect civilians of both sides, Hamas does the opposite- reject peaceful solutions, and celebrating death – again- of both sides. They celebrate and reward the deaths of Jews because of their hatred for us, and deaths of their own because they believe it’s holy to die killing Jews.
At this point, I think it’s important to distinguish between people and their governments: Not all Israelis (or Jews) agree with or support the Israeli government. And not all Palestinians (or Muslims) agree with or support Hamas. But both groups and religions are affected by the actions of both governments. And even the most casual glance at the way the Israeli government operates as compared to Hamas will reveal which one values human life, morality, and peace, and which one does not.
“Well, there may have been Jews in the land from before, but there were more Muslims, so they should have sovereignty.” That could sound logical on the surface, but there’s context here. There are ALWAYS more Muslims than Jews, everywhere; that’s literally what it means to be a minority. And the danger of being a minority, is being oppressed or eradicated by the majority. The Middle East is by far a Muslim majority region. All the surrounding countries, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, which are geographically and economically many, many times more than Israel, are Muslim majority. They are unsafe and unwelcoming for Jews- as was most of Europe in 1948. That is exactly why Jews applied for the legal establishment of our own state. So that when history repeats itself, in the form of host countries oppressing, murdering, or expelling Jews, there would be somewhere for us to be.
Has everything the Israeli government and army done always been perfect? Of course not- no country in the world has that record. But have they pursued peace consistently, tried to negotiate above the belt, and to this day, strive to reduce casualty and death on all sides as much as possible, while defending their safety- just as any other responsible, free country would do? 100%.
Now we come to the next phase of this anti-zionism wave. Many sincere liberals are confused as to why conflict in the middle east somehow resulted in a 400% increase in hate crimes against Jews all over the world- many who have not even expressed any connection or support of Israel. This is because while not all Jews are Zionists, that doesn’t actually matter in the eyes of anti-Semites. Anti-zionism is just gateway drug, or a more politically correct sanctioning of anti-semitism. Leftist humanism was never really designed to include the well being or even tolerance of Jews.
It’s genuinely terrifying to see the dangerous distortions of Israeli history and current events viraling across the internet, especially on popular media outlets and being amplified by voices of people who have never even set foot in Israel. It’s a devastating déjà vu of how the more you repeat a lie, the more often the masses believe it, sanctimoniously and hatefully. Because there are so few Jews in the world, and even fewer Zionists, many voices of truth feel like they’re trying to drain a polluted ocean with a straw. It feels useless, hopeless, yelling into the abyss.
When I was kid, growing up, my cohort was educated by second and third generation Holocaust survivors, teaching about the horrors they knew and begging the world: Never Again. I used to a imagine, fantasize: what if the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and the millions more who were tortured, had managed to emigrate to America before the war? And I wondered, if G-d forbid, the US ever turns on us, the way so many countries have before, where would we try to find safety? I always thought it would be our beloved land of Israel. But if you want to destroy her, “from the river to the sea” where exactly do they want us to be? Yeah. That’s right. They don’t.
They don’t want us to be anywhere.
And you can’t reason with people who just want to see you die or disappear.
So what do we do? Here’s what we don’t do: We don’t riot or pillage, we don’t strap dynamite to our bodies and kill the innocent. And we don’t despair.
Instead: We speak up. We write. We advocate. We continue to make contributions to medicine, research, technology, psychology, economics, and the arts. We pray. We look out for ourselves, and G-d looks out for us. We express thanks to the faithful, noble allies of the world, our friends, who stand up for truth and goodness in a world gone mad with violence and falsehood. And we press onward. This is our story. Throughout our history, we’ve been framed and pursued and beaten, but by the grace of G-d, we keep going we keep giving. We just try our best to do our best, to fight evil with goodness, and to keep the faith through the dark, and to be the light.