In May 2015, Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon announced at a Shurat HaDin conference in Jerusalem that Israel’s enemies “can’t wipe it out by conventional warfare.” He went on to say that that those enemies had “moved on to terror, trying to develop weapons of mass destruction and other tools: delegitimization, BDS and lawfare,” which would “keep challenging us.”
The war on the battlefield is every bit as much today being fought on college campuses and on social media through the spreading of lies and anti-Israel propaganda.
The overarching tactic has been to impose a false narrative of the history of the conflict onto the discourse, presenting what is in reality a rejectionist anti-Peace agenda in the language of human rights and perpetuating libels about Israel and Zionism under the guise of “legitimate criticism” of Israeli policy. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti is open about the fact that his campaign is not about ending the occupation but aims for the destruction of Israel.
David and Goliath
Human nature has a tendency to support whoever is perceived to be the underdog. That being the case, there is no good reason for one to assume that the weaker power is deserving of support or holds the moral high-ground. Nazi Germany was the underdog up against the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and their allies. No sane person would suggest that had Britain declared war on Hitler and successfully occupied Nazi Germany before Hitler had the opportunity to invade Poland or Czechoslovakia that Britain would be the immoral aggressor and Germany the powerless, innocent victim.
This is not to say that the stronger power cannot be the guilty party but it is a fallacious illogical argument to accuse the stronger party of being guilty by virtue of its position of power or wealth. This line of thought has become very widespread throughout the west, particularly amongst many on the far left.
It is a worldview that defines right and wrong by powerful and powerless, rich or poor. With such an outlook common cause is made with Islamist fundamentalists with anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist views that are contrary to everything that the Liberal democratic west stands for, but they are ignored because they are from the Third world and explained away as rhetoric, where the real cause is economic inequality, poverty and lack of social justice.
This tendency, as faulty as it is, has been exploited by Palestinian extremists who have made common cause with the far left. They have won their sympathy by portraying themselves as David fighting Goliath, Israel.
The Arab-Israeli conflict
The Arab-Israeli conflict transformed into the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard the term Arab-Israeli conflict and it comes as no surprise.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is the correct term. Israel’s history cannot be isolated from its broader context, of its rejection by the Arab League and subsequent failed attempts by these then Soviet backed states to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973. As well as endless terror attacks which began before 1948 or 1967, from the Arab riots in the 1920s and 1930s, cross border terror attacks in the 1950s. PLO and Black September airplane hijackings taking Israelis hostage, such as in Entebbe, or the Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team in the 1970s. From suicide bombings of Israeli buses, cafes and nightclubs during the second Intifada to the rockets fired from Gaza and the current wave of stabbing attacks butchering Jews.
In spite of Israel succeeding in achieving peace with Egypt and Jordan, these agreements are threatened by the rise and fall of new regimes who may not honor those agreements. The danger of these states falling to barbaric forces like ISIS, Hezbullah, Hamas, Al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood all have to be considered when looking at the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israel still faces existential threats from Iran and its nuclear ambitions which make Israel very hesitant with taking risks with its security in light of the above.
Prior to 1967, Israel was clearly not only the underdog and gained much western sympathy, it was also a poor, Socialist state. Contrary to the lies spread on university campuses of Israel as a western backed colonial outpost, the United States imposed an arms embargo on Israel in 1948 as did many of Israel’s supposed western colonial allies. The one country that sold Israel arms to defend herself against the invading British armed and trained Arab state armies was Czechoslovakia!
Israel was also willing at every opportunity to accept partition proposals to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, but was rejected every time by the Palestinian leadership and for many years no Arab state would agree to negotiate or recognize Israel’s right to exist in exchange for peace. Not much has changed other than the perception that it has.
The demonization of Israel and incitement in the Arab media and school text books has not only not changed it has extended to make use of classical anti-Semitic blood libels originating in Medieval European Christian theology. This includes Jews poisoning wells and murder of Christian children to make Matzah for Passover are now repackaged for western consumption as Israel stealing water from the Palestinians and harvesting their organs are exported to university campuses throughout America and Europe.
All of this is completely whitewashed from the narrative of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The “Israeli-Palestinian Narrative”
The narrative of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” simply zooms in on the map. Blotting out the Arab states, Iran and what was discussed above from the entire equation. Israel is now no longer a small country with fragile, indefensible borders surrounded by millions of Arabs bent on her destruction. As we can see from the above map, it is now portrayed as ever expanding and gaining more and more land. This then enables propagandists to falsely present British Mandate Palestine as a pre-existing, independent state that was unlawfully given to the Zionists by colonial powers due to Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust, who are now “ethnically cleansing” the land of the Palestinians who understandably object to “foreign invaders” stealing their country.
There is good reason for some to be critical of Israeli policies, particularly settlements as being unhelpful towards the goal of a two-state solution. However, of those who push this agenda many have swallowed lies and propaganda and fail to acknowledge historical facts that are inconvenient. Unwilling to recognize thousands of years of Jewish history and the intrinsic, historical and religious connection of Judaism and the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and its legal right to exist.
Failure to be assertive and recognize these facts is what has de facto granted credibility to lies and undermined Israel’s right to statehood which has come under increasing attack. Israel and its supporters must both stand firm in calling out the lies and libels that are masquerading as simply being “Pro-Palestinian” and at the same time continue in the footsteps of the true legacy of Zionism, extend a hand of peace to those who are willing to recognize that Israel is here by right and engage in constructive dialogue over the issues, seeking peaceful resolutions to the conflict.
Unlike its enemies, Israel does not need to produce propaganda to make its case, it has facts and history on its side. Nor did Israel become Goliath in 1967, or undergo a nasty transformation from innocent victim to guilty aggressor. The conflict has in truth always been complex and not a zero sum game.