Busting Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
MYTH: “Israel is acting in self-defense” . . .
Reality: Israel as an occupying power (1) in Palestine cannot claim self-defense anymore than an armed intruder can claim “self-defense” against the family that owns the home. The occupation, siege and settlement expansion constitute an offensive posture, not a defensive one. Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Palestinian territories is a constant aggression that is incompatible with self-defense.
MYTH: “Israel left Gaza and look what happened” . . .
Reality: Israel never ended the occupation of Gaza, it simply withdrew the settlers and placed the area under a blockade that caused dire humanitarian consequences for Gaza. During its worst days, the blockade punished the civilian population by denying the entrance of basic foods like cookies, potato chips and sodas (2). The blockade prevents air, land, or sea travel in and out of the strip, strangles Gaza’s economy by preventing people from trading with the outside world, and prevents the building of basic infrastructure that allows for a decent life. Today, 97% of Gaza’s drinking water is contaminated with sewage(3), making it unfit for human consumption. Israel also repeatedly carries out military operations in Gaza. In no sense is Gaza free from Israeli occupation, which is why the international community, including the UN (4) and credible human rights organizations, still refer to Gaza as occupied territory.
MYTH: “Palestinians have rejected peace offers and missed their chance for a state” . . .
Reality: Palestinians were never offered a viable Palestinian state. The Palestinians made an extraordinary compromise in 1988, recognizing Israel (5) on 78% of historic Palestine, and kicking off the “peace process” with the idea that Israel was going to withdraw from the remaining 22% of Palestinian, the occupied Palestinian territories, to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state. But instead of withdrawing, Israel did the exact opposite, expanding settlements (6) throughout the Palestinian territories, ultimately leading Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to declare that there will never be a Palestinian state. The so-called “generous offer” Ehud Barak made the Palestinians in 2000 fell so short of granting the Palestinians a viable state that Israel’s own Foreign Minister at the time, Shlomo Ben-Ami, said that had he been Palestinian, he would’ve rejected it. Israel could end the conflict tomorrow by withdrawing from the occupied territories. Their never-ceasing, ongoing expansion of settlements in those areas confirms they never intended to allow Palestinians a viable state.
MYTH: “Israel has the most moral army in the world” . . .
REALITY: As documented by both Israeli and international human rights organizations, the Israeli military regularly engages in atrocities, ranging from the unlawful killing of civilians, to the use of children as human shields (7), and the flattening of entire neighbourhoods (8). In South Lebanon in 2006, Israel dropped millions of cluster submunitions (9), prompting one Israeli commander to remark: “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs." (10) Human rights organizations have repeatedly called on Israel to stop shooting civilians (11), and Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem went as far as to call on Israeli soldiers to refuse such orders (12). Check out [this video] exploring and documenting the Israeli military’s human rights record.