Israel-Palestine Quiz

(More detailed version)
By Jeffrey Rudolph (June 2008; last update January 2021)

The Israel-Palestine conflict resonates deeply with many people. Opinions are sharply divided and generally unchangeable. However, as a member of a mainstream Israeli peace group, I often encounter opinionated people who are ignorant of many basic facts. Nevertheless, while some issues concerning the conflict remain disputed, there are many undisputed facts which must underlie any coherent opinion.

Therefore, in the spirit of the late Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York who used to remind people that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” I have prepared the below quiz which may lead some readers to reexamine their misconceived opinions. Indeed, I will deem the quiz a success if it merely reduces the number of times I hear the common refrains: “The land was empty before the Jews came” and “Barak made a generous offer at Camp David.”

While it is undoubtedly true that carefully selected facts alone do not constitute an informed opinion, answers to the following questions should not be ignored if one is to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict. And, while a strong commitment to a cause can blind some people to contrary facts, I appeal to such people through the words of the famous British economist, John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”


1. Who wrote the following in 1891? “We abroad are used to believing Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] is now almost totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed, and anyone who wishes to purchase land there may come and purchase as much as he desires. But in truth this is not the case. Throughout the country, it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains that are not fit to grow anything but fruit trees — and this only after hard labor and great expense of clearing and reclamation — only these are not cultivated.”

-Asher Ginsberg, one of the foremost pre-state Zionist thinkers, is generally known by the Hebrew pen name Ahad Ha’am. Ginsberg is remembered as the father of cultural Zionism. (Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, New York: 1997, 101. Hereinafter, “Khalidi 1997.”)

-Historians have documented that “before the arrival of the early Zionists, Palestine had a thriving society, mostly rural, but with a very vibrant urban center. It was a society like all the other Arab societies around it, held under Ottoman rule and part of the empire, but nonetheless one which witnessed the emergence of a nascent national movement. The movement would probably have turned Palestine into a nation-state, like Iraq or Syria, had Zionism not arrived on its shores.” (Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians, Haymarket Books: 2013, 6.)

-“The story of Zionism, and its conflict with the Arabs, actually began in 1882, with the arrival of the first Zionists in Palestine, or the Land of Israel, which Arabs subsequently termed the start of ‘the Zionist invasion.’ Inevitably, hesitantly, and haphazardly, the indigenous inhabitants resisted. In 1886, some 50 to 60 Arabs from the village of Yahudiya attacked the neighboring, new Jewish settlement…of Petach Tikvah because of a dispute over boundaries and trespassing, injuring four settlers…In 1908, in Jaffa—the port of entry for most of the early Zionist settlers—a group of Arabs attacked a Jewish couple strolling on a beach. Jews retaliated by attacking Arabs, and a mob of Arabs then stormed the Spector Hotel, a hostel that lodged recent immigrants, where 13 Jews were injured, some of them severely. The Jews called it a pogrom….Anti-Jewish violence became endemic, with Jewish settlement guards—who were seen as symbols of the Zionist enterprise—regularly dying at the hands of Arab ambushers between 1911 and 1913.”  (Spring 2020)

   As early as 1891, “Arabs urged an end to Jewish immigration and land purchases — demands that were to remain constant for the next half century. Yet Arab notables sold land to Jews…” (In 1891 Ahad Ha’am presciently wrote that, “if the time comes that our people’s life in Eretz Yisrael will develop to a point where we are taking [the Arab’s] place, either slightly or significantly, the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.”) (Ian Black, Enemies and Neighbors: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917-2017, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York: 2017, 25. Hereinafter, “Black 2017.”)

   Despite their efforts regarding immigration and land purchases, “the Palestinian political and religious elite were ineffective in quelling the influx of Jewish settlers. Their subservience toward their British patrons, their conviction that they could lobby the British peacefully, and their bitter factionalism prevented them from successfully promoting Palestinian nationalism.” (Tareq Baconi, Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, Stanford University Press, California: 2018, 5. Hereinafter, “Baconi 2018.”)

-When Ben-Gurion first arrived in Palestine in 1906 “he must have realized, had he not known so already, that there were hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the country. Some Christian Zionists liked to think then that Palestine was a land without a people meant for a people without a land. The same proposition was voiced by some Jews, Zionists included; Ben-Gurion called that position ‘naive Zionism.’ He believed that the Land of Israel belonged to the Jews and that they deserved to receive it despite the fact that it was populated by Arabs. Moshe Sharett [Israel’s second prime minister] later wrote: ‘We are not coming to a desolate land to inherit it; rather, we are coming to conquer the land from the nation that resides there.’” (“Most of the Jewish immigrants arrived with a clear sense of having come to a land that belonged to them, the land that God had promised to Abraham. The Jewish settlers of the Second Aliyah [1904-14], the vast majority of whom came from Eastern Europe, spoke of the Arabs as ‘foreigners’ and ‘aliens.’”) (Tom Segev, A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2019, 75-6, 78. Hereinafter, “Segev 2019.”)

-“Ahad Ha’am—perhaps the second most influential turn of the century Zionist thinker after Theodor Herzl—wasn’t focused on creating a Jewish state. What mattered to him was that Jews create a society in the land of Israel, a society that—because of the land’s unique religious and historical significance—enriched Jewish life around the world.”

   “Some of Ahad Ha’am’s mid-twentieth century successors — Judah Magnes, the founder of Hebrew University, Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah and the philosopher Martin Buber — opposed a Jewish state because they believed…it would come at the Palestinians’ expense. Instead, they wanted a binational state in which Jews and Palestinians lived as equals, each respecting each other’s cultural autonomy.”

   However, “binational states—from Belgium to Czechoslovakia—don’t have a great track record. It’s hard to run a democracy when people are more loyal to their national communities than to the state that supposedly supersedes them….It was the prospect of civil war that led the British to propose partition back in the 1930s, and the divisions and hatreds of that era have only grown in the decades since.”

   Furthermore, as the nations of the world permitted “the destruction of two-thirds of the Jews of Europe [during World War II, having] one nation on earth dedicated to ensuring that Hitler’s successors never completed his work” is morally just. (Even before the war, desperate Jews were abandoned. In July 1938, the Évian Conference was held to discuss “the plight of the increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution by Nazi Germany. It was convened at the initiative of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt who perhaps hoped to obtain commitments from some of the invited nations to accept more refugees…The conference was ultimately doomed, as aside from the Dominican Republic, delegations from the 32 participating nations failed to come to any agreement about accepting the Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich. The conference thus inadvertently proved to be a useful propaganda tool for the Nazis.”)

   “Casting the movement for Jewish self-determination as a racist, Western colonialist enterprise, rather than a liberation movement for a minority population subject to generations of pogroms, exile, discrimination and ultimately genocide, is [unacceptable] historical revisionism.” However, that “one nation” is legally and morally obligated to end its brutal occupation.  (26 Dec. 2018)
(The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 38)

-For a less detailed version of this quiz, and other quizzes, go to:

2. Who declared the following in 1930? “Land is the most necessary thing for our establishing roots in Palestine. Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands in Palestine, we are bound in each case of the purchase of land and its settlement to remove the peasants who cultivated the land so far, both owners of the land and tenants.”

-Dr. Arthur Ruppin: Head of the Zionists’ Land Settlement Department and the foremost land expert of the Jewish Agency. (The Jewish Agency was responsible for promoting Jewish settlement within Palestine and administering the funds needed by the Jewish community. When the state of Israel was created in May 1948, members of the Jewish Agency became an embryonic government.) (Khalidi 1997, 102)

   “[I]n Ottoman times, tenants had not been evicted when land ownership changed, but simply answered to a new landlord. [However, when land was purchased by Zionists, the Arab tenants] were evicted, and that…naturally fuelled fears about the future.” (Black 2017, 41)

-“[Removing Arabs in some manner] was at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its realization….With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability of forced transfer–or its morality….Beginning in the 1930s Zionist leaders made preparations for a population transfer, setting up a special committee for the task. Occasionally they recognized the suffering the Arabs would endure if they had to leave their homes. They also addressed the question of whether the transfer would be forced or voluntary.” (Eerily portending future events, Dr. Ruppin would write in 1938: “‘I do not believe in the transfer of an individual. I believe in the transfer of entire villages’…”) (Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, Metropolitan Books, New York: 2000, 405-6.)

   “[It] should be no surprise that Zionist leaders thought about transfer. Population transfer–less politely, the forced uprooting of men, women, and children in order to create ethnically homogeneous states–was part of the zeitgeist. The original [1937] British proposal for dividing Palestine…included the transfer of Arabs from the Jewish state, and cited the forced exchange of 1.3 million Greeks and 400,000 Turks in 1923 as a positive precedent. After World War II, that precedent became the brutal norm in Europe…: 160,000 Turks expelled from Bulgaria to Turkey; 120,000 Slovaks sent from Hungary to Slovakia in exchange for the same number of Hungarians going the opposite way…The full list is much longer.” (Gershom Gorenberg, The Unmaking Of Israel, Harper, New York: 2011, 46. Hereinafter, “Gorenberg 2011.”)

-“With Hitler’s rise, many more Jews sought to move to Palestine. The violence of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt, a nationalist uprising against the British Mandate and mass Jewish immigration, resulted in the deaths of five thousand Palestinians and several hundred Jews and shocked the local Jewish community. Opposition to Jewish immigration wasn’t new, but before this, riots and violence had been brief and sporadic. [For example, in late August 1929, violence linked to access to the Western Wall led to the deaths of 130 Jews and 100 Arabs.] Zionism’s utopian phase came to an abrupt end…to be replaced by the realization that ethnic conflict and population transfer were unavoidable [to achieve the Zionist goal of a Jewish state].” (Nathan Thrall, The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine, Metropolitan Books, New York: 2017, 78-9. Hereinafter, “Thrall 2017.”)

   “In October 1935, the threat of the Zionist forces in Palestine was confirmed. The discovery of a secret arms shipment in the Jaffa harbor affirmed to the Palestinians that the Jewish settlers in their midst were arming their militias for an eventual confrontation to take control of Palestine. As the influx of Jewish immigrants had expanded, the possibility of losing their homeland had become a distinct threat for Palestinians. Almost overnight, protests erupted throughout Palestine and swept other major Arab urban centers, including Amman, Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad.” (Baconi 2018, 6-7)

   “The early success of the revolt in Palestine compelled the British to bolster their military power to quash the uprising. By the end of the second year, with the deployment of one hundred thousand troops, the British military surge began showing signs of success and the rebellion was crushed in 1939, marking a historic milestone in the Palestinian struggle. The force that the British used against the Palestinians effectively decimated their fighting power and ensured their defeat in the confrontation with the Jewish paramilitary units a decade later.” (Baconi 2018, 8)

   “The Arab Revolt caused the Jewish Agency and the Mandate Administration to close ranks and to cooperate in suppressing the uprising. The British did so with a heavy hand, just as they did in some of their colonies; it included the wrecking of homes, the use of torture in interrogations, and targeted killings. Ben-Gurion viewed this cooperation as a cornerstone of the national home…” (Segev 2019, 257)

   The Zionist enterprise had advanced “quickly under the sponsorship and with the assistance of the British authorities. During the first decade of British rule in Palestine, about one hundred thousand Jews had settled there and dozens of new settlements had been established.” “The British did not only assist the ‘state-in-the-making’; as Arab terror increased [during the 1930s], they also lent a hand to the establishment of an ‘army-in-the-making.’ The words ‘Jewish army’ can be found in Ben-Gurion’s diary in 1936. Two years later, he told his party: ‘Over this period we have made gains in our defense system that it would have been hard to even dream of.’” (Segev 2019, 223, 257)

   However, in response to the Arab Revolt and “With war approaching, the view taking shape in London was that it was essential to hold Palestine and Egypt and maintain relations with Iraq. In wartime, it was supposed that the Jews would have no other option–they could only support Britain. The Arabs, however, could easily throw their support behind Germany. To ensure their support,” Britain issued MacDonald’s White Paper in May 1939. “It stated that an independent, binational state would be established in Palestine within ten years. In the meantime, restrictions would be placed on the transfer of Arab land to Jewish ownership. The number of Jews permitted to settle in Palestine in the five years to come would not exceed seventy-five thousand. The intention was that the Jews constitute a third of the population. Any further Jewish immigration beyond this number would require Arab consent. Ben-Gurion proclaimed that Britain had, essentially, revoked the Balfour Declaration.” (Segev 2019, 284, 285)

   However, it must be highlighted that by preventing the German army from invading Palestine, Britain saved Jews and Zionism. “[A]t the beginning of October 1942, the armies of Germany and Britain fought their third battle near the Egyptian town of El Alamein….On November 5, 1942, Davar’s banner headline read ‘Enemy Forces in Flight in the Western Desert.’ And so, thanks to the British army [under the leadership of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery], the Jews of Palestine [not to mention Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields] were saved from Nazi conquest.” (Segev 2019, 336-7)

   (“In the summer of 1942, the German tank corps of General Erwin Rommel…had bottled up the British Eighth Army in El Alamein, a seacoast town in northern Egypt. Many fervent Egyptian nationalists thrilled to the Nazi invasion and openly prayed for Britain’s defeat. ‘Germany is the enemy of our enemy, England,’ Sadat later explained. Sensing an opportunity to make history, [Sadat, at the time a mere captain,] took it on himself to send a letter to Rommel [that was never received], proposing that elements in the Egyptian Army would block British soldiers from leaving Cairo so that German forces could have a free hand; in return, Egypt would be granted her complete independence.” (Lawrence Wright, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David, Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 2014, 67. Hereinafter, “Wright 2014.”))

   “About nine million Jews lived in Europe on the eve of the war; approximately three million remained alive at its end. Most of them owed their lives to Germany’s defeat…Some of them were saved thanks to assistance they received from countries and organizations,…and thanks to several thousand good people, ‘righteous gentiles’ as they are now called…There were also a handful of dramatic rescue operations, such as smuggling Jews from France into Spain, and from Denmark to Sweden.” (Segev 2019, 361)

    “The shock, horror, and sense of guilt that afflicted the Christian world after the Holocaust produced profound sympathy for the Jewish people as a whole and the Zionist movement in particular. This helped further the movement’s diplomatic and public relations campaigns, despite the fact that, after three decades of Zionism in Palestine, it was still not clear when exactly the Jewish state would be born. But there was no longer any doubt that it would be–the social, cultural, political, economic, and military infrastructure of the state-to-be was already solid, and the Jewish population’s sense of national community was adamant. There is thus no basis for claiming that the state was founded as a result of the Holocaust; the British played a much larger role.” (Segev 2019, 392-3)

3. Who wrote the following in 1919? “In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country [i.e., we do not accept the principle of self-determination for the Arabs of Palestine]…The four great powers (Western allies) are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-old tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit the land.”

-Lord Balfour wrote the passage in a secret memorandum submitted to the British cabinet. As British Foreign Secretary, he was responsible for the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which promised Zionists a national home in Palestine. (While there are many kinds of Zionists, unless it is otherwise noted, a reader can take it to mean those who support a democratic state for the Jewish people. Accordingly, Zionism is the political self-determination of the Jewish people.)

-“In looking at the Balfour Declaration, [the historian Rashid] Khalidi tells us that ‘the British Empire was never motivated by altruism.’ Rather it issued from both a ‘romantic, religiously derived philo-Semitic desire to return the Hebrews to the land of the Bible, and an anti-Semitic wish to reduce Jewish immigration to Britain, linked to a conviction that world Jewry had the power to keep newly revolutionary Russia fighting in the [First World War] and bring the United States into it.’ In addition, he tells us, Britain sought to control Palestine for geostrategic reasons. [However, according to the historian Benny Morris, Khalidi] fails to tell his readers what Balfour himself explained several times after 1917: that he had been motivated by a desire to do something for the Jews, because they had suffered greatly at the hands of the Christian world during the previous 1,900 years and because of the values and norms, including monotheism and the notions of social justice, that they had bestowed on humankind through the Old Testament. Certainly, as with any complex act of statecraft involving many players, motives were mixed…” (Spring 2020)

   “After the British captured Jerusalem from the collapsing Ottoman Empire…, a headline in the New York Herald of December 11, 1917, declared that Jerusalem Has Been Rescued After 673 Years of Moslem Rule. That same year,…Balfour…promised the Jewish people a national homeland in the biblical land of Palestine but stated that it was ‘clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish Communities in Palestine.’ In 1921, the British High Commissioner reported that Jews were only 10 percent of the population of British Mandate Palestine–most of whom had arrived in the prior forty years, including from Russia where they had fled pogroms–though they were already a majority in Jerusalem.” (Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East, Henry Holt and Company, New York: 2020, 15.)

-In 1922, “Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann queried a British official why the British supported Zionism despite Arab opposition. Didn’t it make more sense for the British to keep the Palestine mandate but drop support for Zionism? ‘Although such an attitude may afford a temporary relief and may quiet Arabs for a short time,’ the official replied, ‘it will certainly not settle the question as the Arabs don’t want the British in Palestine, and after having their way with the Jews, they would attack the British position, as the Moslems are doing in Mesopotamia, Egypt and India.’” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 53. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2012.”)

-For “Winston Churchill, testifying before the [1936] Peel Commission, the indigenous [Arab] population had no more right to Palestine than a ‘dog in a manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time,’ and no ‘wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race…has come in and taken their place.’ The point is not so much that the British were racists but rather that they had no recourse except to racist justifications for denying the indigenous population its basic rights.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, 9-10. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2008.”)

   Churchill’s views were based in a long British tradition of racism. “In his book Exterminate All the Brutes, Sven Lindqvist shows how the ideology that led to Hitler’s war and the Holocaust was developed by the colonial powers. Imperialism required an exculpatory myth. It was supplied, primarily, by British theorists.” (As late as the 1950s, horrific British abuses—castrations with pliers, eyes gouged out, bodies set on fire—were committed against the “inferior” Kenyans.)

-“[As painful as it is for] Jews to admit that race hatred can take root among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it, the ground truth is this: occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it. It is very difficult to work day after day at a checkpoint, making miserable people bake in the sun, or to blow up a family’s house as they watch, or to cut off water to a village in the Jordan Valley because Palestinians are barred from living in most of that section of the West Bank, and still see the people you are dominating as fully human.” Jews and others should not hesitate to denounce such racist behavior as people should “distinguish between supporting the State of Israel and supporting whoever happens to be in the current, transitory government of Israel.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 24, 86. Hereinafter, “Beinart 2012.”)

   “[I]n order to uphold an occupation regime for any length of time, the occupier must believe in the superiority of his race and in the inferiority of his subjects, who are seen as primitive creatures. Otherwise, what gives him the right to subject another people? That is exactly what has happened to [most Jewish Israelis].”
(7 Apr. 2018)

   (Jewish Israelis are not unique. Frederick Douglass, as a slave in the 1830s, witnessed “how slaveholding could corrupt even well-meaning white Christians, blinding them to the hypocrisy of their mastery over fellow human beings.” Before he escaped slavery, to become a human rights leader in the anti-slavery movement, Douglass was treated “as a thing destitute of a moral or an intellectual character”. (D. H. Dilbeck, Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet, The University of North Carolina Press, 2018, 21.))

   Within days of the end of the 1967 war, Brigadier-General Rehavam “Zeevi warned that ‘protracted Israeli military rule will enhance the hatred and deepen the rift between the [Palestinian] inhabitants of the West Bank and Israel, because of the objective steps it will be essential to adopt in order to ensure order and security.’ … Another stark warning [this time from the Left of the political spectrum]…came from the tiny Marxist anti-Zionist group Matzpen [in a September 1967 newspaper ad]: ‘Our right to defend ourselves against destruction does not confer upon us the right to oppress others[:] Occupation brings foreign rule; foreign rule brings resistance; resistance brings repression; repression brings terror and counter-terror; the victims of terror are usually innocent people. The retention of the occupied territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims; let us leave the occupied territories immediately.’” Zeevi’s and Matzpen’s predictions were not long in coming. For example, by 1971, to counter resistance in Gaza, Israel “imposed 24-hour curfews, interrogated all adult males and instituted a shoot-to-kill policy. Battalion commanders were ordered to deploy bulldozers in search of underground bunkers hiding fighters and weapons. Wide roads were cleared through Gaza’s three biggest refugee camps: Jabaliya, Rafah and Shati. Roads were paved and street lighting introduced to allow easy access for the IDF and reduce the dangers from mines. An estimated 6,000 homes were destroyed.” (Black 2017, 202-5, 216)

   In January 1989, during the First Intifada, Prime Minister Shamir “met IDF paratroopers on reserve duty, who spoke bitterly of having to do the dirty work of crushing the uprising. ‘In order to enforce order in the [West Bank] we must be brutally violent against people who are innocent of any crime,’ one soldier said. ‘I violate army regulations every day–and this weakens me and strengthens them…” (Black 2017, 293)

   The bottom line: “Ending the Occupation is the necessary condition for Israel’s political-moral reclamation. However, it is doubtful that doing so will heal the furious divisions within either the Israeli or the Palestinian community. On the contrary: For each, war unites, peace plans divide. (‘In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the possibility of peace without agony was missed long ago’…) Nor will an end to the Occupation mean the end of the conflict: There will be no peace now. Yet it is the prerequisite for anything and everything else.” (Susie Linfield, The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, Yale University Press, 2019, 317. Hereinafter, “Linfield 2019.”)

-Israel’s 2018 sociopolitical reality of aggressive ethnic nationalism is a result of the country’s rightward shift, a shift engendered by the demands of being an occupying power. “When you have your jackboot on someone’s neck, it’s not good for your psyche.”

   “Israeli political analysts have been pointing out for a couple of years that Israel should be preparing itself for a period in which it loses the support of sectors of the world that have some concern for human rights and international law, and should be [forming] alliances with [illiberal] countries…” Countries such as India (which under its current government is very nationalist and anti-Islam like Israel); China; Singapore; Saudi Arabia; and the UAE.

   “Netanyahu needs new ways to pressure Europe because pro-Palestinian policies and attitudes are slowly but steadily entering mainstream politics, as grassroots groups are becoming increasingly outraged by Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Israel’s fear of Europe abandoning its Zionist cause could be seen in recent Israeli official reactions. On 12 July 2018, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the ‘immediate’ closure of his country’s embassy in Dublin, after the upper house of the Irish parliament voted in favour of a bill that could boycott Israeli products manufactured in illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” (Israel’s settlement activity in the OPT is a war crime under international law.)

   “[N]ot too long ago, Israel was the absolute darling of progressive, liberal America. That has changed. [Now], self-identified Democrats…have considerably more support for Palestinians than for Israel.” Fervent support for Israel in the US has shifted to rightwing Republicans, namely the ultranationalists and evangelicals.  (17 July 2018)

4. According to Mandatory Palestine’s first modern census, conducted in 1922, approximately what percentage of the total population were Jews?

-“Palestine’s 757,000 inhabitants consisted of an overwhelming majority of Arabs, with a Jewish minority of 83,000 or 11 percent of the population.” (Black 2017, 49)

5. Approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s inhabitants were Jews in 1947?

-37 percent. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 186. Hereinafter, “Morris 2001.”)

6. Approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was allocated for the Jewish state by the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan (which supported the division of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state)?

-56 percent.

-“Partition…has been ‘a standard solution’–though not necessarily a perfect or happy one–to resolve intractable national conflicts. Post-World War II partitions include India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, East Timor and Indonesia, Sudan, and–the mother of all partitions–the breakup of the Soviet Union. (Future possible partitions…include Spain-Catalonia, Iraq-Kurdistan, [Canada-Quebec,] and England-Scotland.) Some of these partitions were peaceful, others hideously violent. Some resulted in viable states, others in crippled ones; some led to democracies, others to dictatorships. But there have been no suggestions–other than in the case of Israel and Palestine–that the partition be un-done. [I]t is widely understood that [reversing a partition] would result in the crushing of extant institutions, the denial of long-sought independence, political chaos, massive population shifts, and ethnic violence.” (Linfield 2019, 306)

-“Israel emerged in the historical context of late colonial expansion into Africa and the Middle East. Most Jewish settlers did not come from the ranks of imperial powers, but their project became possible as a result of the plans and actions of those powers. From the perspective of local communities, which opposed the settlement process, the marginalized position of settlers in their places of origin granted no legitimacy to their disruptive and – eventually – destructive impact on indigenous society. In that sense the colonial nature of the Jewish-Zionist settlement project cannot be denied.”

   “At the same time, it must be acknowledged that settlers were motivated by religious, ethnic, and nationalist drives, generated by a history of oppression and dislocation, rather than by a quest for territorial acquisition or economic profit for their own sake, as was the case for most other colonial projects. The subjective intentions of settlers cannot mitigate their destructive impact on the indigenous people of the country, but grasping them is essential for understanding the support they have enjoyed internally — among Jews — and globally.” (Prof. Ran Greenstein, Facebook post, 22 Sept. 2020)

7. Approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was owned by Jews at the time of the 1947 UN Partition Plan?

-7 percent.  (Morris 2001, 186)

-“By 1948, the [Jewish National Fund] was the largest nongovernmental landowner in Palestine. In that year it held nearly 54 percent of all Jewish-owned land. In one sense, this was not much — roughly 3.5 percent of the mandate — but it frightened the Arabs, because unlike the case of private purchases, once the land was placed by the JNF in its land bank, it disappeared as far as Arabs were concerned.” (Donald Akenson, God’s Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel, and Ulster, Cornell University Press, Ithaca: 1992, 168.)

-Arab rejection of the Partition Plan is understandable when it is recognized that 37 percent of the population was given 56 percent of the land of which they owned only 7 percent. (The Palestinian Arab Higher Committee was supported in its rejection by the states of the Arab League.)

   The Zionist leadership did formally accept “the partition plan. Many Zionist leaders objected, but were persuaded by Ben-Gurion to agree to the official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings Ben-Gurion made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and must be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of these meetings are there for all to read.”

   “Some Jewish organizations also opposed the [partition plan]. Irgun leader Menachem Begin announced, ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature by institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for ever.’ These views were publicly rejected by the majority of the nascent Jewish state.”

-While Jews only owned 7 percent of the land at the time of the Partition Resolution, the following points should be noted: (1) 60 percent of the land designated for the Jewish state was the infertile Negev Desert. (2) “70 percent of the land in what would become Israel…belonged to the [British] Mandatory government.” (3) 21 percent of the land that became Israel was owned by Arabs. (Of that 21 percent, 18 percent was owned by Arabs who became refugees.) (4) Likudniks argue that “Nearly 80 percent of what was the historic land of Palestine…was severed by the British in 1921 and allocated to what became Transjordan. Jewish settlement there was barred. The UN [in 1947] partitioned the remaining 20-odd percent of Palestine into two states.”

-The area of Palestine designated for the Jewish state, according to UNSCOP’s figures, was to consist of “almost as many Arabs as Jews, about half a million, including some 90,000 Bedouin. In contrast, the proposed Arab state would have 735,000 inhabitants, of which only about 10,000 would be Jews.” “[A] Palestinian historian was later to write [that the Arabs at the time] ‘failed to see why it was not fair for the Jews to be a minority in a unitary Palestinian state, while it was fair for almost half of the Palestinian population–the indigenous majority on its own ancestral soil–to be converted overnight into a minority under alien rule.’” Arab leaders asserted that “any effort to implement the resolution would lead to war. Ben-Gurion knew that there would be war.” (Segev 2019, 406) (Morris 2001, 186)

   Ben-Gurion in the 1930s said that, “‘Never in history has there been, nor I think will there be in history, a case of a nation giving up its land of its own volition’… [T]his opposition between the two nations…would come to an end, he maintained [echoing Jabotinsky], when the Arabs ‘despaired’ of the possibility of getting rid of the Jews.” (Segev 2019, 256)  

   It should be noted that “The partition map was based not only on the 1947 population of Palestine. It assumed that the Jewish state would absorb up to half a million European Jewish refugees, who did not want to want to return to their pre-Holocaust homes and were not wanted there. In this sense, the argument that the Palestinians paid for Europe’s crimes is correct. Nor were the European refugees the only prospective immigrants; the founders of Israel hoped to ‘ingather’ Jews from around the world.” 

-“[D]ays after the announcement of the [November 1947] partition plan [by the UNGA], through May 1948, Palestine was in the throes of a civil war [and the UN plan was not implemented].” “The day after the UN decision…two buses, one from Netanya and one from Hadera, were making their way to Jerusalem. Arabs opened fire on them…Five passengers were killed…A report…said that the attack had been a robbery, ‘ostensibly in response to the UN decision.’”

   “The Arab Higher Committee, which represented the Arabs of Palestine, responded to the partition resolution by declaring a three-day protest strike. In the morning hours of…December 2, 1947, an Arab mob emerged from the Jaffa Gate…By evening, some forty Jewish stores had been looted, and some of them burned.”

   “Rendering the roads that connected Jewish settlements impassable was one of the principal goals of the Arab terror campaign…The Haganah [echoing Ben-Gurion’s Arab affairs advisers] proposed a punitive response, terror against terror. ‘If these things continue around Tel Aviv, we must make reprisals against the Arabs in such a way that will deal a heavy blow to a village such as Salamah and expel its inhabitants,’ declared Israel Galili, head of the organization’s National Command.” (“That same night, Haganah personnel set fire to fifteen automobiles in the Arab city of Ramla.” The Haganah, Etzel and Lehi went on to carry out many more violent attacks.) “Ben-Gurion had thought since the 1930s that Arab terror required ‘aggressive self-defense,’ but [now] was the first time that he numbered driving Arabs out among the goals of such actions. In the weeks that followed, Ben-Gurion reiterated this doctrine several times.”

   “On December 30, 1947, thirty-nine Jewish workers were killed at the Haifa oil refinery; some of their Arab fellow workers murdered them as a spontaneous retaliation for the slaying of six of their number in an Etzel operation. The Haganah staged a reprisal against Balad al-Sheikh, the village where many of the refinery workers lived. According to the Haganah History Book, six were killed, including women and children.” Ben-Gurion supported these brutal responses as necessary to the circumstances.

   “In January 1948 thirty-five Palmach and Field Corps troops were killed on their way to reinforce the besieged Jewish settlements of the Etzion Block, south of Jerusalem. A month later, a huge explosion shook Ben-Yehuda street in downtown Jerusalem, killing dozens….Less than three weeks later, a car bomb blew up in the Jewish agency compound; a senior official was among the nine people killed.”

   “In Washington, the Haganah did not look like a fighting force, certainly not one that could win a victory. The State Department feared that the US would have to rescue the Jewish state from defeat, because if the Arabs were to win the war, they would open the Middle East up to the Soviet Union. The US thus withdrew its support for partition and proposed to the UN Security Council that a temporary trusteeship be established in Palestine….A trusteeship instead of independence after the loss of close to a thousand Jewish lives could mean the end of [Ben-Gurion’s] leadership. He issued a press release rejecting the proposal…He had a good idea of what would happen–presidential elections were eight months away, so any such initiative would quickly be shelved.”

   “In March [1948] strongly armed and highly motivated Zionist forces began systematically invading Palestinian villages and towns and forcefully expelling their residents. By the spring…, before the British troops had departed, more than three hundred thousand Palestinian refugees had fled or been ousted from their homes.”

   Critical to the success of Zionist fighters was effective procurement of arms, ammunition, and aircraft. “Most of the money came from America. Golda Meir succeeded in raising an almost inconceivable sum…from America’s Jews–about $50 million, of which $30 million was designated for Palestine.” (In contrast, “The US [government] provided Israel with no weaponry (or money) during the 1948 war and did its best, in fact, to prevent clandestine arms from reaching the new state, even arresting American Zionist operatives.”)

   “On May 14, 1948, the British Mandate officially expired. Upon the withdrawal of the last British troops from Palestine, the Jewish community declared the establishment of the State of Israel. This prompted Arab countries around Palestine to intervene on the side of the Palestinians, effectively turning the civil war into an interstate conflagration.” (Baconi 2018, 9-10) (Segev 2019, 408-13, 422) (Spring 2020)

8. Which state, the Jewish State or the Arab State, was to include Jerusalem, according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan?

-Neither. An international trusteeship regime was to be established in Jerusalem, where the population was 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs. However, after the 1948-49 War, Jordan controlled the eastern half of the city and the western half became part of Israel.

-“On December 9, 1949, the UN General Assembly decided that Jerusalem and its environs would become a corpus separatum, an entity under an international regime. In response, Ben-Gurion decided to move the Knesset and [most] ministries, which had operated in Tel Aviv thus far, to Jerusalem….His concern was that if the General Assembly’s decision was not met with such a response, it would reconfirm the partition decision of November 1947 and require Israel to withdraw from all the territories designated for the Arab state that the IDF had since captured.” (Segev 2019, 483)

-“[After] Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967, it expanded East Jerusalem’s borders more than tenfold, to seventy square kilometers. In the process, Israel incorporated twenty-eight Palestinian towns and villages that had never been considered part of Jerusalem before, some of which are actually closer to Bethlehem or Ramallah than to the Old City.” (Approximately half of the Israeli municipality of “Jerusalem” consists of land that was illegally annexed after 1967 in defiance of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.) (Beinart 2012, 60-1)

   “The first–and explicit–principle of an urban masterplan drawn up [in 1968] was ‘to ensure [Jerusalem’s] unification [by] build[ing] the city in a manner that would prevent the possibility of it being repartitioned’.” In fact, “a chain of new Jewish residential areas…were to change the topography and the demography of the city beyond recognition over the coming decades.” (Black 2017, 207)

-In December 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Trump directed the state department to start making arrangements to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a process that officials say will take at least three years [to complete].” (On 14 May 2018 the US embassy in Jerusalem was opened.) “Trump stressed that he was not stipulating how much of Jerusalem should be considered Israel’s capital. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their own future state, and Trump did not rule out a future division of the city.”

   “The president’s announcement provoked condemnation from US allies, and a furious reaction from Palestinian leaders and the Muslim world.” “[T]he move marks a break with years of US precedent – and with general global opinion, which sees the fate of Jerusalem as a matter for comprehensive ‘final status’ negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

   It is understood that Trump’s decision was driven by his need to solidify his electoral support from the Christian Right and financial support from Jewish Likudniks.

   “[I]srael is a voting priority for many evangelicals. A 2015 poll noted that 64 percent of evangelical Christian Republicans say that a candidate’s stance on Israel matters ‘a lot,’ compared with 33 percent of non-evangelical Republicans and 26 percent of all Americans. And evangelical Christian voters, unlike Jews, represent a significant percentage of Republican voters. Some 26 percent of the electorate identified in the 2016 elections as born-again or evangelical Christian, and 81 percent of [white evangelicals] voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Capturing evangelical support is essential for Republican candidates; as of 2014, evangelical and born-again voters represented the plurality (45 percent) of voters who are Republican or who lean Republican.” (“Many pro-Israel evangelicals believe that Israel is essential to the second coming of Jesus or that they are following a literal interpretation of a Biblical injunction that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.”)  (8 Dec. 2017)

   Three Jewish “Likudnik” donors, who promoted withdrawal from the JCPOA and the embassy move, are Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus and Paul Singer. “Adelson…was Trump and the GOP’s biggest campaign supporter [for the 2018 elections].” The three billionaires have provided tens of millions of funding to right-wing organizations such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” (“Adelson [publicly] advocated launching a nuclear weapon against Iran as a negotiating tactic and threatening to nuke Tehran, a city with a population of 8.8 million, if Iran does not completely abandon its nuclear program.”)  (8 May 2018)

   In a 2018 survey of American Jewish voters — “conducted after the US closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, moved the US Embassy…to Jerusalem, appointed [David Friedman] a fund-raiser for the settlements as US ambassador and cut humanitarian aid to Palestinians — roughly half of American Jews said they approved of President Trump’s handling of relations with Israel.” (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 36)

-Besides the US and Russia (which recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital), the rest of the world recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital and maintains diplomatic missions there.

   The wording of Russia’s recognition was far more sophisticated and legally grounded than Trump’s. In April 2017, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow stated: “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” (6 April 2017)

-“What the government of Israel calls its eternal, undivided capital is among the most precarious, divided cities in the world….[The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem] have separate buses, schools, health facilities, commercial centres, and speak a different language. In their neighbourhoods, Israeli settlers and border police are frequently pelted with stones… Balloons equipped with cameras hover above East Jerusalem, maintaining surveillance over the Palestinian population. Most Israelis have never visited and don’t even know the names of the Palestinian areas their government insists on calling its own. Municipal workers come to these neighbourhoods with police escorts.”

-In March 2018, “The Israeli parliament…passed a law that allows the Minister of the Interior to revoke the residency rights of any Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of ‘breach of loyalty’ to Israel….[Accordingly, the Minister] will be able to strip the residency documents of any Palestinian who he deems a threat.”

   “[P]alestinians who [were] born and live [in East Jerusalem] do not hold Israeli citizenship, unlike their Jewish counterparts. Palestinians in the city are given ‘permanent residency’ ID cards and temporary Jordanian passports that are only used for travel purposes. They are essentially stateless,…they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine.”

   “The new bill will only worsen the difficult conditions for the 420,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem… Any Palestinian who has lived outside of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the occupied West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of at least 14,000 Palestinians.” (8 March 2018)

   Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem do have “access to Israel’s systems of universal health care and social welfare. They [have been] allowed to apply for citizenship and vote in municipal elections. But nearly no one in East Jerusalem [has done] either of those things, seeing them as an unacceptable ‘normalization’ of Israeli control.” (“The Palestinian Authority, based in nearby Ramallah, sees participation in Jerusalem elections as a form of collaboration. [In July 2018] a council of Islamic clerics banned any involvement.”)

   Increasing numbers of East Jerusalem Palestinians work in West Jerusalem. “The trend is driven not by good will but by economic interests: by demand for labor in [West] Jerusalem and by a lack of better options for Palestinians.” (The New York Times, 12 Aug. 2018, SR 2)

-“The US and most of Europe draw a sharp distinction between Israel and the occupied territories, refusing to recognise Israeli sovereignty beyond the pre-1967 lines. [In pre-Trump days,] When the limousine of the US president travels from West to East Jerusalem, the Israeli flag comes down from the driver-side front corner. US officials must obtain special permission to meet Israelis at the IDF’s central command headquarters in the Jerusalem settlement of Neve Yaakov or at the Justice Ministry in the heart of downtown East Jerusalem. And US regulations, not consistently enforced, stipulate that products from the settlements should not bear a made-in-Israel label.”

   “Israel vehemently protests against this policy of so-called differentiation between Israel and the occupied territories, believing that it delegitimises the settlements and the state, and could lead to boycotts and sanctions of the country. But the policy does precisely the opposite: it acts not as a complement to punitive measures against Israel, but as an alternative to them.”

   “Differentiation creates an illusion of US castigation, but in reality it insulates Israel from answering for its actions in the occupied territories, by assuring that only settlements and not the government that creates them will suffer consequences for repeated violations of international law.”

   “Support for the policy of differentiation is widespread, from governments to numerous self-identified liberal Zionists, US advocacy groups such as J Street… Differentiation allows them to thread the needle of being both pro-Israel and anti-occupation…There are of course variations among these opponents of the settlements, but all agree that Israeli products that are created in the West Bank should be treated differently, whether through labelling or even some sort of boycott.”

   “What supporters of differentiation commonly reject, however, is no less important. Not one of these groups or governments calls for penalising the Israeli financial institutions, real estate businesses, construction companies, communications firms, and, above all, government ministries that profit from operations in the occupied territories but are not headquartered in them. Sanctions on those institutions could change Israeli policy overnight. But the possibility of imposing them has been delayed if not thwarted by the fact that critics of occupation have instead advocated for a reasonable-sounding yet ineffective alternative.”

   “Supporters of differentiation hold the view that while it may be justifiable to do more than label the products of West Bank settlements, it is inconceivable that sanctions might be imposed on the democratically elected government that established the settlements, legalised the outposts, confiscated Palestinian land, provided its citizens with financial incentives to move to the occupied territories, connected the illegally built houses to roads, water, electricity and sanitation, and provided settlers with heavy army protection.”

   “US policymakers debate how to influence Israel, but without using almost any of the power at their disposal, including placing aid under conditions of changes in Israeli behaviour, a standard tool of diplomacy that officials deem unthinkable in this case.”

   “Until the US and Europe formulate a strategy to make Israel’s circumstances less desirable than the concessions it would make in a peace agreement, they will shoulder responsibility for the oppressive military regime they continue to preserve and fund. When peaceful opposition to Israel’s policies is squelched and those with the capacity to dismantle the occupation don’t raise a finger against it, violence invariably becomes more attractive to those who have few other means of upsetting the status quo.”

9. During the 1948-49 War, approximately how many Arabs fled or were ejected from the areas that became the Jewish state?

-700,000. Only 150,000 Arabs remained in Israel at the war’s end. The Arab refugees (wrongly) believed that once the fighting stopped they’d be able to return to their homes and land.

   “In Israel’s first year about 120,000 new immigrants found homes in abandoned Arab accommodation.” (“By the end of 1950, Israel’s Jewish population had doubled; Ben-Gurion noted that the number of Jews who had arrived in the state’s first thirty months was equal to the number who had arrived in the thirty years of the British Mandate–about half a million.”) (Morris 2001, 252) (Black 2017, 140, 145) (Segev 2019, 461)

-“Recognizing the extent of the [refugee] problem, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 on December 11, 1948, stressing 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.’ This resolution firmly established the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Israel, however, promptly closed its borders and prevented any such return. Instead, it seized the lands and homes of the refugees and designated these as property to be used for Jewish-only settlement.” (Baconi 2018, 10)

   “While Israel signed armistice agreements with its Arab neighbors, it did not do so with the Palestinian people. Tens of thousands of them, uprooted during the war, were trying to return to their homes. Like after the partition decision of 1947, it was not always possible to distinguish between acts of theft, robbery, sabotage, and murder committed with criminal intent and the acts of national resistance. As the Haganah had done in the 1930s and 1940s, the IDF staged operations meant to punish, avenge, and deter.” (“[I]n the five years following the War of Independence, about twenty thousand Arabs managed to return to their homes.”) (Segev 2019, 507-8)

   “Israel’s refusal to take back Arab refugees was certainly supported by the country’s Jewish citizens. The overwhelming majority subscribed to the officially promoted belief that the Arabs were entirely responsible for the 1948 war; that the refugees had fled of their own accord or at the urging of the invading Arab armies in anticipation of victory; that the Arab countries were deliberately perpetuating the problem for political reasons by failing to integrate the refugees…; and that repatriation was simply not an option.” The 1956 Ratner Commission “opposed the return of refugees for security reasons and argued that since the refugees had left the country voluntarily, they had relinquished any claims to return.” (Black 2017, 164)

   “[In 2015,] a key deception was punctured: that Israel urged many of the war’s 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return. In a letter to Haifa’s leaders shortly after the city’s Palestinians were expelled, David Ben Gurion…demanded that any return be barred.” Indeed, abuses and massacres during the war were most likely “part of ‘a system of expulsion and destruction’, with a clear goal: ‘The fewer Arabs who remain, the better.’”

-In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in [the Palestinian villages of] Lydda and Ramleh: ‘Expel them!’ he told Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin — a section censored out of Rabin’s memoirs, but published thirty years later in the New York Times.”

   During the attack on Lydda, Israeli “Soldiers threw hand grenades into houses, fired an antitank shell at a crowded mosque, and sprayed the survivors with machine-gun fire. More than two hundred were killed. The prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, instructed Yigal Allon, the operation’s leader, to deport the surviving residents. Another commander, Yitzhak Rabin, issued the order: ‘The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly, without regard to age.’ [Such cleansing operations] were not an aberration…but an integral part of the Zionist mission to create a state with the largest possible Jewish majority.” (“Lydda was situated on land granted to the Arab state in the 1947 UN partition plan.”) (Thrall 2017, 79, 86)

   During the war “Zionist forces committed abuses so terrible that David Ben-Gurion…declared himself ‘shocked by the deeds that have reached my ears.’ In the town of Jish, in the Galilee, Israeli soldiers pillaged Arab houses, and when the residents protested, took them to a remote location and shot them dead.” According to the Israeli historian Benny Morris, “the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and PoWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948.” (Beinart 2012, 13)

-On May 1, 1948, Ben-Gurion toured “Haifa’s Arab neighborhoods. ‘A terrifying and fantastic sight,’ he later wrote in his diary. ‘A dead city…How could tens of thousands of people…leave their city, homes, and wealth in such a panic?’ … When he returned from his trip to Haifa, he laid the foundation for the perpetuation of the tragedy of Palestine’s Arabs. ‘It is not our job to see to the return of the Arabs,’ he declared. … The last of the Arab inhabitants of Haifa to leave had good reason to flee for their lives from their neighborhoods in the lower city–the Haganah was bombarding them from the upper slope of Mount Carmel with mortar fire. During the months that followed, he continually tracked the flight of the Arab population.” (Segev 2019, 416-7)

   “Like the expansion of the partition borders, Ben-Gurion viewed the depletion of the Arab population as a historical process that would take place gradually….In many cases there was no need to issue an explicit order to expel Arabs–the spirit of the message conveyed by the commander in chief was sufficient.” (“The ideological intent that had impelled him for many years had its roots in the struggle for Hebrew labor, which aimed to expel Arab workers from Jewish farming villages, and in his belief that there was no basis for peace with the Arabs.”) (Segev 2019, 418)

-“A formal written order to expel Arabs from entire villages seems to have first been given as part of Plan Dalet issued in March 1948; by then, tens of thousands of Arabs, perhaps more, were no longer in their places of residence….Its principal goal was to defend the partition boundaries against the invasion of Arab regular and semiregular forces, but it also spoke of the possibility of fighting outside those lines, in part in order to defend Jewish settlements that were meant to be included within the Arab state….The targets and operations for this purpose were primarily of two types: ‘The destruction of villages (burning, bombing, and mining the ruins), especially with regard to settlements that we are unable to maintain permanent control of.’ Nothing was said about what would happen to the inhabitants of these villages. Other villages were not slated, apparently, for ‘destruction’ but rather for ‘eradication and taking control,’ after being surrounded and searched. ‘In the case of resistance, the armed force is to be destroyed and the population expelled beyond the state’s borders,’ the plan said of these villages.” (Segev 2019, 419)

   “Plan Dalet charged local commanders with responsibility for the villages within their sectors. ‘The villages…are to be captured, cleaned out, or destroyed–decide for yourself, in consultation with your advisers on Arab affairs and the officers of the intelligence service,’ it stated. … News of Haganah actions against Arab villages spread rapidly… The attack on the village of Deir Yassin by Etzel and Lehi combatants on April 9, 1948, became a symbol of brutality, especially against women and children. Ben-Gurion approved a Jewish Agency condemnation of the attack…” (“During his [May] visit to Haifa, he was told that the panic in the wake of the attack on Deir Yassin had caused the Arab flight from the city.”) On April 13, a few days after the Deir Yassin massacre, “Arabs attacked a convoy on its way to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus. Most of the passengers were Jewish civilians…Seventy-eight were killed. It was another blow to the Haganah in Jerusalem. The conquest of Arab villages created a new and promising geopolitical situation, vital to the realization of the Zionist dream. Benny Morris, a historian of the War of Independence, has estimated that, during the six months that preceded the end of British rule, between three and four hundred thousand Arabs fled or were uprooted.” (Segev 2019, 419-21)

-There “is broad consensus among scholars that Palestinians suffered an ethnic cleansing in 1948, although debate continues on the secondary question of whether or not this ethnic cleansing was premeditated. Just how much narrower the controversy has become is vividly illustrated by the publication of former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami’s study Scars of War, Wounds of Peace. Ben-Ami, who is also a respected historian, provides this capsule summary of the ‘reality on the ground’ during the 1948 war: ‘an Arab community in a state of terror facing a ruthless Israeli army whose path to victory was paved not only by its exploits against the regular Arab armies, but also by the intimidation, and at times atrocities and massacres, it perpetrated against the civilian Arab community.’ Sifting the evidence, he concludes that in fact Israel premeditatedly expelled Palestinians in accordance with the Zionist ‘philosophy of transfer,’ which ‘had a long pedigree in Zionist thought,’ framed Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion’s ‘strategic-ideological’ vision, and ‘provided a legitimate environment for commanders in the field actively to encourage the eviction of the local population.’” (Finkelstein 2008, xii)

-In July 2019, Haaretz reported that Israel hides evidence of the 1948 expulsion of Arabs. “The piece uncovered a secret yet systematic operation by an Israeli Defense Ministry department [Department for Security of the Defense Establishment], causing critical Nakba archives [such as those concerning the Deir Yassin massacre] to disappear from the public eye – archives that had already been cited since the late 1980’s by historians…” It’s clear that “The Jewish State is actively trying to erase the Nakba and any critical discussion of it. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – but Nakba denial is not illegal in Israel, and it is thriving.”

   “Over 400 Palestinian villages were erased in or after the 1948 war, but Palestine’s urbanscape suffered more than its landscape. Before the exodus, a third of the Palestinian population lived in cities. Many a family built an architectural gem. Palestinian cinemas, theatre halls, and printing houses abounded. By the end of 1948, 90 percent stood vacant. Palestine’s cosmopolitan, educated middle class was broken.” (Nicolas Pelham, Holy Lands: Reviving Pluralism in the Middle East, Columbia Global Reports, New York: 2016, 54.)

-“Throughout, [the war] was a total ethnic struggle between two sides, each of which claimed the entire country as its exclusive homeland, denying the claims of the other side. Long before the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ was widely used, it was practiced throughout this war. Only [150,000] Arabs remained in the territory conquered by the Jews, no Jews at all remained in the few areas conquered by the Arabs (the Etzion Bloc, the Old City of Jerusalem).” (During the war, approximately 10,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes in Palestine or Israel.)

   “Ultimately, it would be superior organization and mobilization on the Israeli side that would decide the war. But on May 15, [1948,] Ben-Gurion could not have known for certain that the invading Arab armies would be poorly coordinated, suspicious of each other, and willing to commit only relatively small forces to ‘liberating’ Palestine. Despite initial advances by the Arab armies and the loss of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City, by the end of 1948 the tide had turned decisively in Israel’s favor. The new state’s borders greatly exceeded those marked on the map of UN Resolution 181 [to partition Palestine].” (Anshel Pfeffer, Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu, McClelland & Stewart, Canada: 2018, 44. Hereinafter, “Pfeffer 2018.”)

   “Israel’s fighting forces and those of the Arab states had an almost equal number of troops, as Ben-Gurion himself [recognized]. Both sides fielded about 100,000 soldiers; the IDF steadily grew stronger, thanks to equipment from overseas. But the Israeli version of the story, as a battle between an Israeli David and an Arab Goliath,…[was promoted by Ben-Gurion] for many years after the war.” (Segev 2019, 457)

   It’s important to note “that the Soviet Union had supported the establishment of the State of Israel, and had permitted Czechoslovakia to supply Israel with arms that had enabled it to win the War of Independence. The Soviets had also permitted several Communist countries to allow tens of thousands of their Jewish citizens to settle in Israel. But the difficulty of remaining truly nonaligned led [Ben-Gurion] as early as 1949 to assert that ‘in the ideological debate, Israel is democratic and anti-Communist.’ He referred to Stalin’s Soviet Union as a house of bondage…He was especially resentful that the approximately two million Jews living there were not allowed to come to Israel.” (Segev 2019, 494)

10. After the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli War, approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was part of the Jewish state?

-79 percent. “The war ended in March 1949…The Arab states were unable to conquer Israel, and in the months that followed, armistice agreements were signed and temporary borders established–the so-called Green Line….Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. The country’s territory was about 40 percent larger than that awarded to the Jewish state in the UN partition resolution, with the additions providing Israel with the territorial continuity it would have lacked under that plan.” (Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, W. W. Norton, New York: 2001, 47.) (Segev 2019, 458)

-“Toward the end of the Independence War, Ben-Gurion had decided not to pursue the IDF’s advantage and capture the West Bank. He believed Israel would be better off without its large Arab towns and hundreds of thousands of hostile citizens. In the armistice talks with Israel’s Arab neighbors in early 1949, he agreed on ‘ceasefire lines,’ not recognized international borders. He feared that pressure from the UN and the US and British governments could force Israel to retreat to the original lines of the partition plan, and he wanted to preserve the possibility of further enlarging Israel’s territory in the future.” (Pfeffer 2018, 51-2)

11. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was part of, or occupied by, Israel?

-100 percent. (Martin Gilbert, The Routledge Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 9th Edition, Routledge, New York: 2008, 68.)

-If the US provided significantly more financial and military support to Israel “after the June 1967 war, it was because of the shattering blow inflicted by the Israeli military on those ‘nationalist aspirations’ in the Arab world [– that the US National Security Council had warned about –] that had threatened the ‘ability of the West to maintain stability…by working through the ruling classes.’ The interests of Tel Aviv and Washington converged on toppling Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who galvanized the region’s hopes and dreams. A 6 June 1967 CIA assessment of Israel’s objectives concluded that its ‘immediate and primary…war aim is destruction of the center of power of the radical Arab Socialist movement, i.e., the Nasser regime.’”

   Nasser had to be brought down because, despite some western incentives, he would not change his “agenda which included driving the British out of the Arabian peninsula, the reduction of US influence in the area, [and] the elimination of the Jordanian and Saudi regimes.” “The mutual US-Israeli interest in preempting the emergence of autonomous regional powers in the Middle East…existed independently of the threat posed by Soviet expansionism, and the end of the Cold War has not diminished this joint interest”; consider the current policies toward Iran.

   Beyond the “military prowess that it displayed…in June 1967 Israel has offered other unique advantages to the US. It is the only stable and secure base of US power in the Middle East. The ‘moderate’ Arab regimes on which the US also relies might…fall out of Washington’s control tomorrow. Such a nightmare scenario played itself out in 1979 after immense American investment in the Shah of Iran, and might play itself out again in Egypt and the Gulf…” (Finkelstein 2012, 47-9, 52)

   An example of how Israeli power served larger American interests occurred in Jordan in 1970, at a time when the US was bogged down in Vietnam. “Since the end of the [1967] War, Jordan had become the main base for Palestinian attacks on Israel, but tension between the Hashemite Kingdom and the PLO, which had been accused of establishing ‘a state within a state,’ was growing. Hussein’s perceived impotence in his kingdom was too much and he declared martial law, sending troops into Palestinian bases and neighborhoods. Thousands were killed in the operation, which the Palestinians named ‘Black September.’ Syria threatened to invade Jordan in support of the Palestinians, and Hussein secretly appealed to Israel. The IDF mobilized troops near the Israel-Jordan-Syria border triangle, and its aircraft flew menacingly over the Syrian tanks. US Marines and airborne troops were also preparing to come to Jordan’s aid. The invasion was averted while Jordan’s army continued mowing down Palestinian fighters. By the end of October PLO leader Yasser Arafat was forced to sign an agreement dismantling his bases in Jordan.” (Pfeffer 2018, 93)

-Israel prepared for the 1967 War using vast amounts of intelligence, obtained by secretly recording a 1965 meeting of Arab leaders and military commanders in Casablanca, which was held to prepare for a possible conflict with Israel. (King Hassan II had good relations with Israel and allowed Mossad to bug meeting rooms and private suites.) As a result of the acquired intelligence, Israeli army “commanders were confident they could win.” According to Major General Shlomo Gazit, who was at the time the head of Military Intelligence’s Research Department, “Thanks to the recordings, alongside other sources, ‘we knew just how unprepared [the Arab states] were for war…We reached the conclusion that the Egyptian Armored Corps was in pitiful shape and not prepared for battle.’…The information in those recordings…established ‘our feeling, amongst the IDF’s top command, that we were going to win a war against Egypt. Prophecies of doom and the feeling of imminent defeat were prevalent among the majority in Israel and the officials outside the defense establishment, but we were confident in our strength.’”,7340,L-4866702,00.html (15 Oct. 2016)

   Gazit’s comments help explain why, despite Nasser’s attempt to “stave off disaster [by sending] a high-ranking emissary to Washington to plead for pressure to stop Israel[,]…the Israeli army attacked and smashed the Egyptian, the Jordanian and the Syrian forces within six days.” The IAF, for example, “destroyed over 450 of their aircraft in a matter of hours.”  (Yaakov Katz, Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power, St. Martin’s Press, New York: 2019, 240. Hereinafter, “Katz 2019.”)

   “American intelligence accurately predicted that Israel would defeat any possible Arab coalition within a few days, perhaps a week…” (Morris 2001, 310)

   Incidentally, “Israeli agents met with the Moroccan opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, who asked for help overthrowing [King Hassan II]; instead, the Israelis told Hassan of the plot.…Shortly after [the 1965] intelligence coup, at the request of Moroccan intelligence, Mossad located Ben Barka…and helped lure him to Paris. There, Moroccans and allied Frenchmen abducted him. He was tortured to death, and Mossad agents disposed of the body, which was never found. (King Hassan II “permitted mass emigration of Jews and allowed Mossad to establish a station in Morocco. Israel provided weapons and trained Moroccans in using them; it supplied surveillance technology and helped organize the Moroccan intelligence service; and the two shared information gathered by their spies — the start of decades of such cooperation.”)

-Estimates range from 150,000 to 250,000 “on the number of Palestinians who were displaced in 1967….Of these many were refugees for a second time, having first arrived in the West Bank after fleeing their original homes [during the 1948 war]. Israel actively encouraged them to move east, providing free transport out of the West Bank….Uri Avnery later described meeting soldiers who said their role was to expel Palestinians.” (Black 2017, 189)

-“The swift defeat of the Arab forces laid to rest Nasser’s vision of Arab unity. The small guerrilla factions that had commenced sporadic and ineffective operations against Israel before 1967 suddenly emerged as a powerful alternative to pan-Arabism. Fatah’s insurgency imbued the dispossessed and broken Palestinian refugees with agency, pride, and direction. As Fatah’s ranks swelled with fedayeen, Palestinians celebrated a growing number of military operations and upheld the self-sacrifice of fighters as the highest price to be paid in serving the struggle. Fatah rapidly became a revolutionary symbol, and in 1969 Yasser Arafat wrested the chairmanship of the PLO from the control of the Arab regimes. Under his leadership, Palestinians developed a national political identity and embarked on processes of state-building in exile through a revolution that was aimed at return to the homeland [through military means].” (Baconi 2018, 14-5)

Focus: Espionage
-“Israel’s private spyware firms like NSO [Group Technologies] are the informal arm of Netanyahu’s government that are employed ‘off the record’ to do the dirtiest work, such as espionage and interference in foreign countries. For instance, according to the 2020 report of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, an Israeli cyber intelligence firm, called Psy-Group, ran a $2 million voter suppression operation in support of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The operation was paid by George Nader, an advisor to UAE de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed. Similarly, NSO’s criminal and immoral operations have been an Israeli state-sanctioned bridge towards Israeli-Arab normalization with the UAE and Bahrain, two of the firm’s biggest clients. Recently, NSO helped the government of Morocco spy on a prominent Moroccan journalist a few months before official normalization between Israel and Morocco was announced. (20 Jan. 2021)

-“Highlighting how a country can both cooperate on surveillance and be a target at the same time, an NSA document recounting the history of Israel’s cooperation noted ‘trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] operations,’ and identified Israel as one of the most aggressive surveillance services acting against the United States…” (The Directorate of Military Intelligence, often abbreviated to Aman, is the central military intelligence body of the Israel Defense Forces. It operates spy satellites as well as Unit 8200, the country’s national SIGINT (signals intelligence) unit and Israel’s version of the NSA.) (Glenn Greenwald, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and The U.S. Surveillance State, Signal, Canada: 2014, 125.)

-In 1981, Rafi “Eitan was appointed head of LAKAM, a secretive…organization that operated under the Defense Ministry and was responsible for collecting–some might say stealing–scientific intelligence…At LAKAM, Eitan was responsible for recruiting and overseeing Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli spy within US Naval Intelligence, an affair that would strain Israeli-US ties for decades. In 1987, after taking responsibility for the Pollard affair, Eitan resigned and LAKAM was disbanded.” (Katz 2019, 104)
   “Jonathan Pollard betrayed the United States for cocaine money. He didn’t particularly care whether that money came from the Mossad or Pakistan’s ISI, to whom he also offered secrets.” (Abraham Silberstein, Facebook post, 30 Dec. 2020)

Background: 1967 War
-In May 1967, “Nasser sent a trusted general to Syria to” determine whether it was true, as the Soviets had reported, “that Israel had moved ten brigades to the Syrian border.” While Nasser was convinced it was not true, he “felt obliged to make a show of force by sending Egyptian troops into Sinai and demanding that some of the UN peacekeepers be removed from their posts. Despite the bellicose speeches that followed, Nasser seemed to be bluffing. He didn’t expect all of the UN troops to be withdrawn, although they were. A war with Israel couldn’t have come at a worse time for Egypt; the country was already tied down in a war in Yemen, where nearly half of the Egyptian Army was involved. In addition, a third of its planes were unfit for action…Then, tired of being heckled by other Arab leaders because of his weak responses toward Israel in the past, he closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping. The Israelis had long warned that this would be an act of war.” (Wright 2014, 145)

   “The exhilaration in Egypt was matched by a sense of mounting panic in Israel. War loomed on two horizons—in the east, with Syria and probably Jordan as well, and in the south, with Egypt….The Egyptian Air Force, fortified with new MiG fighters, dared to make a reconnaissance flight over the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona….Israel had one of the most potent militaries in the world, but the feeling of invulnerability alternated with a sense of weakness…” (Wright 2014, 146)

   “Dayan, who had demonstrated his military genius in the 1956 war, was made the minister of defense four days before the war was scheduled to commence. Dayan took immediate charge of the planning, deciding to concentrate his forces entirely on the Egyptian front before turning to other adversaries.” (Wright 2014, 147)

   “Within thirty minutes [of the start of the war], more than two hundred Egyptian planes had been destroyed. The outcome of the war was effectively decided.” (Wright 2014, 147)

   “From the Israeli perspective, the war really had no design beyond the elimination of the Egyptian threat, but it opened up opportunities. As Dayan sat in the operations room of military headquarters, a commander radioed that his forces had surrounded Jenin [in the West Bank]. Dayan turned to look at the other officers in the room, including Weizman. ‘I know exactly what you want,’ he said. ‘To take Jenin.’ ‘Correct!’ ‘So, take it!’ In that…almost thoughtless moment, the decision to seize the West Bank was made.” (Wright 2014, 149)

   When the war ended, Dayan “tore down all the barricades and anti-sniping walls that had divided Jerusalem, and instead of sealing off the Arab communities on the West Bank, he ordered free passage in either direction, without checkpoints or special permits….Even more dramatically, Dayan instituted an ‘open bridges’ policy, so that people in the West Bank could move freely across the Jordan River….Arabs were allowed to work in Israel, which created an economic boom in the West Bank and Gaza. But Dayan’s expectation that the free movement of people would lead to peaceful coexistence between the Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories proved to be illusory. The Arab countries did not reciprocate by allowing Israeli citizens to visit them, and the occupation only increased Palestinian radicalism, which led to acts of terror and harsh Israeli reprisals….[Dayan’s] policy of spreading Jewish settlements in the territories stood in the way of peace. Perhaps that was always his goal. In September 1967…he announced that one of his principal aims was to block the possibility of a future Arab majority in the occupied territories. This was at a time when not a single Jew lived there.” (Wright 2014, 180-1)

   Dayan’s heroic status was reversed by the 1973 War. Dayan was “minister of defense when Sadat sent the Egyptian Army across the Suez Canal in 1973, shattering the sense of invulnerability that Israel had cloaked itself in. It was Israel’s Pearl Harbor.” (Wright 2014, 210)

   After the 1967 War, “Egypt and Israel now faced each other across the Suez Canal in entrenched positions….[T]he constant artillery duels for two years after 1968…[led to approximately] 3,500 [Israeli and] 10,000 [Egyptian casualties]. Impatient with the state of affairs, the Israelis embarked in January 1970 on a series of deep-penetration bombing raids, aiming to bring the war home to the Egyptian people and cause them to rise up against Nasser—the same mistaken psychology employed by the French and British in 1956, with the same result: the Egyptians rallied behind their leader. Nasser then turned to the Soviets for help; they supplied him with weapons, troops, trainers, Soviet pilots, and an advanced missile system, setting the stage for the war to follow [in 1973]. The Nixon administration negotiated a nominal end to the hostilities…” (Wright 2014, 200)

-“After Israel threatened, and then laid plans, to attack Syria in May 1967, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser deployed Egyptian troops in the Sinai and announced that the Straits of Tiran would be closed to Israeli shipping. (Egypt had entered into a military pact with Syria a few months earlier.) Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban emotively declared that because of the blockade, Israel could only ‘breathe with a single lung.’ But except for the passage of oil, of which it then had ample stocks, Israel made practically no use of the straits. Besides, Nasser did not enforce the blockade: vessels were passing freely through the straits within days of his announcement.”

   “The real predicament facing Israel was the growing perception in the Arab world, spurred by Nasser’s radical nationalism and climaxing in his defiant gestures in May 1967, that it no longer needed to fear the Jewish state. … In effect, deterrence capacity denoted, not warding off an imminent existential threat, but putting rivals on notice that any future challenge to Israeli power would be met with decisive force. [Thus the] ‘key question was how to restore the credibility of Israeli deterrence.’” (Finkelstein 2018, 18-19))

-“When, in May 1967, Egypt announced that it was blocking the Straits of Tiran to Israeli traffic, Ben-Gurion [then the leader of the Rafi party] was not alarmed. ‘In my opinion, Nasser won’t do anything, because he’s satisfied with having closed the Straits. That will enhance his stature,’ he wrote. He proposed a limited operation to open shipping to Eilat. Neither did he think that such an operation was urgent….[In fact,] contrary to the opinion of the IDF’s generals, and most politicians and pundits, and in particular unlike the frightened public, Ben-Gurion opposed an Israeli first strike. He feared that war against Egypt and Syria would lead to the conquest of the West Bank from Jordan–and with it the acquisition of more Arabs. Neither did he see any immediate need to conquer Sinai or the Gaza Strip, nor did he think it would be worthwhile to capture East Jerusalem.” (Segev 2019, 654)

   “Most Israelis had no clue that this was Ben-Gurion’s opinion, as he did not state it publicly. They believed that the war was being delayed because [Prime Minister] Eshkol was waffling and weak. Ben-Gurion offered the prime minister no backing, and did nothing to cool down the bellicose atmosphere.” (Segev 2019, 655)

   According to historian Tom Segev, “The Six-Day War broke out as a result of repeated Palestinian attacks on Israel, and Israel’s reprisals against Syria and Jordan. Nasser ostensibly acted in their support by mobilizing the Egyptian army. Israel’s attack on Egypt on June 5, 1967, reflected the army’s pressure on the Eshkol government to act, as well as widespread panic created by Nasser’s threats to eliminate Israel.” (Segev 2019, 656)

12. Which future prime minister of Israel wrote the following in October 1937? “My assumption is that…a partial Jewish state is not an end but a beginning…and it will serve as a powerful lever in our historical efforts to redeem the whole of the country.”

-Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, wrote the above in a letter to his son, Amos. And, “In June 1938, Ben-Gurion explained to the Jewish Agency Executive that he had agreed to the partition plan [of the 1936 Peel Commission] ‘not because I will make do with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we constitute a strong force after the establishment of the state we will annul the partition and expand through the whole Land of Israel.’” (Benny Morris editor, Making Israel, University of Michigan Press: 2007, 16.)

   “The royal commission headed by Lord Peel reached the conclusion that there was no possibility of Jewish-Arab coexistence, and it thus recommended partitioning Palestine into two independent states. During each of the following five years, only twelve thousand Jews would be permitted to settle in the country.” (“As a longtime supporter of separation between Jews and Arabs, [Ben-Gurion] had submitted a partition proposal of his own to his party and believed that the state’s borders were less important than its actual establishment. Over time, he maintained, it could enlarge its territory.” “‘No one should ask me about borders,’ he told his colleagues in 1939. ‘It depends on our strength.’”) (Segev 2019, 263-4, 310)

-“In spring 1936, the Arabs rebelled against British rule. Six months later, they suspended the rebellion, and the British set up a commission of inquiry, the Peel Commission, to look at their grievances. In July 1937, the commission proposed a ‘solution’ based on ending the mandate and partitioning the country into two independent states. This was the first international proposal for a two-state settlement. The Jews were to be given 17 percent of Palestine, the Arabs about 75 percent. ‘[U]nder this scheme,’ the 75 percent ‘was to remain under British control or be…’ united with the neighboring Emirate of Transjordan, which was then ruled by Prince Abdullah, a British ward. (In the Peel scheme, the British, in a new mandate, were to retain some 8 percent of the country, consisting of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, with their holy sites, and a corridor from these towns to the Mediterranean.)”

   “The Palestine Arabs and the surrounding Arab states—though not Abdullah—flatly rejected the Peel proposals and, in October [1937], renewed the rebellion, which was to last until spring 1939, when it was finally crushed by the British, with a little help from the Zionists. The Arabs had managed to kill some 500 Jews and about 150 British soldiers; they had suffered 2,000–5,000 dead.” To subdue the rebellion, British forces in Palestine in 1936–1939 approximated 40,000. (Spring 2020)

-“The Zionist denial of Palestinians’ rights, culminating in their expulsion [during the 1948-49 War], hardly sprang from an unavoidable accident. It resulted from the systematic…implementation, over many decades and despite vehement, often violent, popular opposition, of a political ideology the goal of which was to create a demographically Jewish state in Palestine….The expulsion of Palestinians did not come about on account of some…objective force compelling Palestinians to leave and Jews to replace them. Were this the case, why did the Zionists conscript, often heavy-handedly, the Jewish refugees after World War II to come to Palestine and oppose their resettlement elsewhere? Why did they stimulate, perhaps even with violent methods, the exodus of Jews from the Arab world to Palestine? Why did they call, often in…disappointment, for the in-gathering of world Jewry after Israel’s establishment? If Zionist leaders didn’t make the obvious amends after the war of allowing Palestinians to return to their homes and sought instead to fill the emptied spaces with Jews, it’s not because they behaved irrationally, but rather, given their political aim, with complete rationality.” (Finkelstein 2008, 10-11)

-Dispossession is a regular occurrence for Palestinians. For example, “The residents of Khan al-Ahmar, who are Bedouin Palestinians, hail originally from the Negev, inside Israel proper. But the Israeli military expelled them from there in the 1950s. So they moved to a part of the West Bank called E1, which is near Jerusalem and the settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. Unfortunately for them, the Israeli government doesn’t want them, either. It wants to give their land to settlers.” For more detail, go to:  (5 July 2018)

13. From Israel’s victory in the 1967 War to the Likud’s electoral victory in 1977, approximately how many Jewish settlers migrated to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem)?

-37,300. “By 1977 eight settlements around Jerusalem housed 33,000 people, though there were only 4,300 settlers elsewhere in the West Bank. These included Kfar Etzion and Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron, as well as several outposts in the Jordan Valley.” (“There were twenty-seven [settlements] in the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. On the north coast of Sinai, construction was under way for a city called Yamit.”) (Black 2017, 236) (A higher estimate of 50,000 settlers is provided in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 7, No. 1, Autumn 1977, 28).)

-“Within days of the [1967] war’s end newspapers were carrying large advertisements demanding the annexation of the conquered territories. Many supporters came from the right-wing of Israeli politics. The Herut party, led by…Begin, still clung officially to the view that Jordan (which, as Transjordan, had been severed from the rest of Mandatory Palestine in 1921) should have been part of the promised land, as well as the rump of Palestine….But there were annexationist voices on the left as well. The Ahdut haAvoda wing of Mapai, the ruling Labour party, hankered after those lost landscapes. Yigal Allon, the…minister of labour…, was a leading figure in that camp…Religious belief played a significant role, drawing on the teachings of the influential rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, who had famously described the establishment of the state of Israel as ‘the beginning of redemption’.” (Black 2017, 201)

   “By January 1969 there were already ten settlements on the Golan, two in Sinai and five in the West Bank. Several more were approved the same month.” (Black 2017, 210)

   The settlement process combined “dubious legality, sympathetic nodding” by high officials, and ideological commitment. “And subterfuge became official policy. In July 1970 Dayan and other officials discussed how land would be confiscated ostensibly for security purposes, and decided that buildings on it would be falsely presented as being for military use…The pattern was to be repeated again and again in years to come.” (Black 2017, 209-210)

-“During the ten-year phase of Labor’s settlement building after the 1967 War (1967-1977), government coalitions had established thirty-eight settlements in the West Bank and four in the Gaza Strip. On the grounds that a Jewish communal presence existed in parts of the West Bank before 1948, the Etzion Bloc and Kiryat Arba (Hebron) were included as areas marked for settlement growth. But the government had opposed settlements in areas of ‘dense Arab population,’ which Labor politicians argued would be returned to Arab Sovereignty under a final peace deal. The [1977] Likud victory had changed the calculus for Israel. As [Richard] Viets [a political officer at the US Embassy] explained, Begin and his ministers saw the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip ‘as a fulfillment of Israel’s historic destiny.’ Undeterred by the heavy Arab presence in the West Bank highlands, the Likud sought to solidify the territorial gains even further. In its first nine months in office, the government set up fourteen new settlements in the West Bank, mostly in the ‘Heart of Samaria,’ which had hitherto been off limits, and two in Gaza.” (Anziska 2018, 140-1)

14. At the time of the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles in September 1993, approximately how many Jewish settlers lived in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem)?


-From the Likud victory in 1977 to Begin’s narrowly won second election in June 1981, “the settler population outside of the Jerusalem area had quadrupled from about 5,000 to 20,000, and in the Gaza Strip the number of settlements had doubled. In the summer months of 1981 alone, 7,000 settlers had moved into the West Bank.” (Seth Anziska, Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo, Princeton University Press, New Jersey: 2018, 181. Hereinafter, “Anziska 2018.”)

   “In February 1982, [President] Reagan’s ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis cabled an urgent memo about these developments to Washington…In a sober…style, Lewis recounted the method of land appropriation that had taken over nearly a third of the West Bank, describing the process by which Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries were being extended southward over the Green Line toward Gush Etzion, now one of the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank. He also outlined the manner in which Israel’s Ministry of Defense ‘pre-settlements’ were transformed into permanent civilian settlements, a process that bypassed any earlier pledge of a slowdown by Begin. Lewis reported on plans by the World Zionist Organization to increase the Israeli settler population to 130,000 within five years by expanding existing settlements rather than building new ones from scratch. He highlighted how such an increase was being organized in a cost-effective manner to create urban communities where settlers would work in Israeli cities and live in cheap spacious homes over the Green Line. Lewis also pointed to an important demographic transformation taking place, with the newest settlers moving for economic rather than ideological reasons.” (Anziska 2018, 181-2)

   “The most glaring section of the cable was the American ambassador’s insights into the act of territorial acquisition itself, explaining how thousands of acres were being declared state-owned or Jewish-owned private land and ‘taken over de facto for settlement purposes.’ Encouraged by the exorbitant demands of settlers who had recently been evacuated from the Yamit region settlements in the Sinai as part of the [1979] Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, West Bank settlers were caught in a ‘land rush,’ often resorting to questionable methods in order to purchase land parcels. Few officials in Israel really knew the exact area under Israeli control, although the government had built a ‘massive infrastructure’ of roads, power lines, military installations, and power systems ‘thoroughly locked into Israeli grids’ that was intended to create a system of dependence on Israel proper.”(Anziska 2018, 182)

   “Lewis captured the ultimate aim of this entire settlement endeavor in his cable. ‘The goal has been to create a matrix of Israeli control in the West Bank so deeply rooted that no subsequent Israeli government would be able to relinquish substantial chunks of that territory, even in exchange for peace,’…Lewis decried the lack of [Israeli] protest…[He] explained how the presence of a large number of Israeli settlers undermines the possibility of a ‘self-governing authority developing into an embryo government of an independent PLO-state-in-the-making.’” (Anziska 2018, 182-3)

   “Reagan himself was personally aware of the consequences of this expansion. In his diary entry on February 14, 1983, the president wrote: ‘…There can be no question but that Israel has a well thought out plan to take over the W.B. [West Bank].’ In his memoirs, Reagan later wrote that settlements were a ‘continued violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242.’ This was contrary to his statements during the campaign and at odds with his actions while in office.” (Anziska 2018, 183)

   “Between 1985 and 1990, fourteen new settlements were built in the West Bank, and the number of total settlers [grew] from 46,000 to 81,600.” (Anziska 2018, 250)

-“Highly significant changes were to take place under Begin’s rule [1977-83], both domestically and vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but above all in the expansion of settlements. The settlement enterprise in the occupied territories had gathered momentum in the preceding years. In 1974 a new movement called Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful), energized by the [1973 war], burst on to the scene.” (Rabin “would later call Gush Emunim a ‘cancer in the body of Israeli democracy’.”) (Black 2017, 235)

   Significant settlement expansion “required more than small numbers of Gush Emunim activists equipped with religious fervour and a few caravans. It needed ordinary Israelis taking a practical view of how to improve their standard of living, given the opportunity of moving into a house rather than a cramped apartment, benefitting from tax exemptions, cheap mortgages and other incentives. Families could move to the West Bank and enhance their quality of life and still be in short commuting distance from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem…” (Black 2017, 238)

   “Numbers of West Bank [excluding East Jerusalem] settlers rose steadily, to 12,500 by 1980….The government’s intention was that the West Bank be carved up ‘by a grid of roads, settlements and strongholds into a score of little Bantustans so that [the Palestinians] shall never coalesce again into a contiguous area that can support autonomous, let alone independent, existence’, commented one Israeli analyst. At the same time the West Bank became Israel’s most important trading partner.” (Black 2017, 239)

   By 1984, “the overall tally of the Likud’s seven-year rule was a source of pride for the party: seventy-nine new settlements were established… Detailed monitoring of the West Bank led to a stark conclusion by the researcher [and former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor] Meron Benvenisti that the situation was now irreversible.” (Black 2017, 262-3)

15. When the Camp David Summit began in July 2000, approximately how many Jewish settlers lived in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem)?


-“Oslo II did not include an explicit commitment on settlements, stipulating only that ‘neither side shall take initiates or any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations’. But [Israel’s] violation of that spirit of the agreement was unmistakable.” (Black 2017, 342)

   For example, soon after Rabin, Arafat and Peres received the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, Israel unveiled plans “to construct 6,500 units at…Har Homa…south of Jerusalem. … ‘Only someone completely cut off from reality can believe it is possible to build a giant project like this without fatally damaging the peace process’, Peace Now protested.” (Black 2017, 341)

   “Israel’s settlement project was by its nature slow-moving, a process rather than single events, and was obscured by complexity, bureaucracy and subterfuge. Palestinians were, however, intensely aware of it. Arabic media monitored the construction of roads, land seizures and the number of homes being built — issues that were largely taken for granted in Israel.” (Black 2017, 353)

-“[A] close look shows that the peace process had…worsened the conditions under which [Palestinians] lived. When the Oslo process was launched in 1993, the Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip numbered 3,000, and in the West Bank [excluding East Jerusalem] 117,000; while on the eve of Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem, in [September] 2000, there were 6,700 settlers in Gaza and 200,000 in the West Bank [excluding East Jerusalem]. This was a substantial increase and deeply upsetting for the Palestinians; after all, if the Oslo process was all about Israel relinquishing land for peace, then one would expect it to stop settling even more Jews and erecting new settlements on this land. The construction of new settlements also led to more inconveniences in the daily lives of Palestinians, as security measures were put in place to protect the settlers, and they exploited more resources, notably water, to serve their needs. These frustrations among the Palestinians all added up to create a powder keg, waiting for just such a spark as Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount to set it off…” (Ahron Bregman, Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories, Allen Lane, London: 2014, 248-9. Hereinafter, “Bregman 2014.”)

   Sharon, who was focused on the upcoming February 2001 elections, which would result in him easily beating Barak and becoming prime minister, visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) “as a challenge to the Barak government, but it sparked off a wave of Palestinian riots. The rioting quickly spread throughout the West Bank and Gaza as well as to some Palestinian-Israeli communities within the Green Line (the pre-1967 border).” It was the start of a long and bloody conflict that became known as the Second (al-Aqsa) Intifada. (It’s important to note that the 2001 Mitchell Report, led by former US Senator George Mitchell, found that there was no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the Palestinian Authority to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity.) (Pfeffer 2018, 285)

   “Over the following few days [after Sharon’s “visit”] thirteen Israeli-Arab citizens, mostly youngsters, were killed by police when protests spread across the Green Line [i.e., the 1949 Armistice line]. These incidents were especially shocking because they showed how, despite cautious hope of improvement in the 1990s, the Israeli authorities appeared to view the country’s Palestinian minority not as citizens to be protected, but as an enemy population to be suppressed. It was the highest death toll since the Kafr Qassem massacre in 1956…” “The Or Commission, which investigated the events [concerning Israeli-Arabs], identified a pattern of official ‘prejudice and neglect’ towards the minority and blamed anti-Arab discrimination [regarding housing, budgets, etc.,] for the ‘combustible atmosphere’ that led to the riots. No one, however faced prosecution.” (Black 2017, 372)

-Background: The Mitchell Report: On 21 May 2001 the report, “commissioned to investigate the causes of the uprising and suggest recommendations for preventing escalation and resuming negotiations”, was released. It “called for the immediate halting of violence, a comprehensive effort by the PA to prevent terrorism, and an end to settlement activity by Israel. Central to the report’s findings was that both parties needed to take measures in parallel to return to diplomatic engagement.  Sharon rejected the premise of parallelism. Comforted by an American administration under George W. Bush that was unwilling to step into Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy after Clinton’s debacle, Sharon effectively brushed the report aside and maintained his military response to the uprising. Arafat, in contrast, accepted the report. Although the PA’s ability to decisively control the violence was by that point questionable, the report nonetheless presented an opportunity for Arafat to reap diplomatic gains from the uprising….Hamas insisted that to end violence, the occupation itself had to be dismantled. Its own attacks were portrayed as self-defense against the inherently violent nature of the occupation.” (Baconi 2018, 43)

-By 2010, the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was approximately 512,000.

-By 2015, the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) exceeded 600,000. “A recent report…showed that [Israeli] government-issued bids for building…have grown steadily since 2009 to reach 4,485 units last year. Two-thirds of new construction over the last two years…was on the Palestinian side of a line drawn by the Geneva Initiative, an international working group that produced a model agreement in 2003.” “Most of the growth has been in three settlement blocks near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv slated for land swaps with the Palestinians in a future peace deal. But while Palestinian leaders have accepted the concept of swaps, neither they nor the United States have ever agreed on a delineation of such blocks.”

   “In 2015, construction for 1,800 new housing units began in the settlements. Over 40% (746 houisng units) [are] east of the separation barrier. [And,] 79% of the construction starts took place in settlements east of the Geneva Initiative potential border, in settlements that Israel will probably need to evacuate under a permanent status agreement.”

-By 2017, the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was approximately 750,000. “This number includes the residents of 131 official, state-sanctioned settlements and the twelve Jewish neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem (this is how settlements there are referred to) as well as 97 smaller outposts in the West Bank and the thirteen Jewish outposts inside Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem. While official settlements have expanded in terms of the extent of their built-up area and number of residents, the number of official settlements has not changed much. At the start of the Oslo process in the early 1990s there were already 120 settlements in place. It is the rogue outposts that have grown in numbers and expanded as their settlers torch fields and homes, harass and shoot Palestinians to take over their agricultural lands. The official settlements simply expand while relying on the military and the courts to do the same.”

-According to a July 2019 Peace Now report, “Since 2012, 32 new outposts have been established, the majority of which after President Trump was elected. All of the new outposts (except one) are located deep inside the West Bank, in areas that Israel will likely have to evacuate within the framework of a permanent agreement. [Hence, the new outposts are likely intended to frustrate a possible two-state settlement.] 21 of the outposts are agricultural farms, which take over large areas for pasturing and cultivation, while their settlers work to remove Palestinian shepherds and farmers from the vicinity. Around some of the new outposts there is an increase in violence and attacks against Palestinians. The outposts are established in an organized fashion with the involvement of the local settlement authorities, Amana and the Settlement Division.
At the same time, the government is working to retroactively legalize existing outposts. To date, 15 outposts have been legalized (‘regularized’) as independent settlements or ‘neighborhoods’ in existing settlements. At least 35 additional outposts are undergoing the legalization process. One of the outposts established in 2012, Kerem Re’im, has already been legalized, thus becoming an official settlement with nearly 70 families living in dozens of permanent homes.”

-When Likudnik commentators “blame the Palestinians for Israel’s occupation, they ignore one gaping fact: whatever the Palestinians’ sins, they are not the ones paying Jews to move to the West Bank. That must be laid at the feet of successive Israeli governments, who by designating many settlements Preferred Development Areas, eligible for a host of subsidies, have made it cheaper to live beyond the Green Line than within it. Even if you believe that the Palestinians have proved themselves unready to accept a two-state solution right now, that still doesn’t exonerate Israel from swallowing up more and more of the West Bank [– which often involves the theft of land that individual Palestinians own –] thus eventually foreclosing a two-state solution ever.” (Beinart 2012, 65)

   “In 2017, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the settler population grew at close to double the rate of the Israeli population as a whole. That’s partly because the Israeli government essentially pays Jews to move into the West Bank by allocating far more government money to settlements than to cities and towns inside Israel proper.” (20 May 2019)

-Despite relentless settlement growth, it is important to realize that the two-state solution is still a realistic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to Shaul Arieli, one of Israel’s leading experts on the demarcation of the future Israeli-Palestinian border, “It is true that over the years the settlements have driven a network of wedges between the clusters of Palestinian villages. But these wedges [have not created] a Jewish dominance that would make unilateral annexation [by Israel] possible….Some 85 percent of the settlers live in the settlement blocs that cover less than six percent of the area of the West Bank. In the rest of the area, there is a clear Palestinian dominance. The number of Israelis living outside the blocs is only 2.6 percent of the population, while inside the blocs, it soars to 95 percent. The built-up area of the Israeli settlements outside the blocs covers less than 0.4 percent of the area of the West Bank…With regard to the use by Israelis of transportation infrastructures in the West Bank, those who do not live there drive only on 293 kilometers (which are 10 percent) of the roads outside the settlement blocs…and the settlers drive on another 19 percent. The other 71 percent of the roads are used exclusively by Palestinians. On the other hand, inside the settlement blocs, 83 percent of the roads are used by the Israelis. This is a reality of de facto separation.”

   “[M]ost of the settlers who work are working inside Israel and therefore will not have to change jobs when a final status agreement is signed. Moreover, the number of households that will have to be absorbed in Israel, according to the Israeli or Palestinian proposals at the [2007] Annapolis peace talks, will not be greater than 30,000, while the reservoir of housing units planned in Israel…stands at more than ten times that number.”

   “[T]he devotees of the Greater Land of Israel are…making…efforts to hide” this reality of separation on the West Bank. They “aspire to banish to the eastern side of the Jordan” the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank.  (The article’s main points continue to be endorsed by Arieli, as confirmed in a private communication on 22 Feb. 2016)

   “In [2017], Israelis and Palestinians are now farther from a single state than they have been at any time since the occupation began in 1967. Walls and fences separate Israel from Gaza and more than 90% of the West Bank. Palestinians have a quasi-state in the occupied territories, with its own parliament, courts, intelligence services and foreign ministry. Israelis no longer shop in Nablus and Gaza the way they did before the Oslo accords. Palestinians no longer travel freely to Tel Aviv. And the supposed reason that partition is often claimed to be impossible – the difficulty of a probable relocation of more than 150,000 settlers – is grossly overstated: in the 1990s, Israel absorbed several times as many Russian immigrants, many of them far more difficult to integrate than settlers, who already have Israeli jobs, fully formed networks of family support and a command of Hebrew.”

   Essentially, the settlement enterprise, which really began with the Likud victory in 1977, and which “aimed to create a Jewish majority in the West Bank [so as] to allow Israel to annex the Occupied Territories while remaining majority-Jewish”, has been a failure. “Only in what is known as the Jerusalem Envelope has the demographic balance been fundamentally altered, with Palestinians now constituting only 46.5 percent. Overall, though, the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, stood at 82 percent… Palestinians also continued to own the overwhelming amount of land in the territories–though they are not always allowed onto it.” (Linfield 2019, 307)

-“Israel’s top security officials consider the two-state solution safer than permanent occupation. In 2015, one former head of the Mossad, Israel’s external security agency, Meir Dagan, warned that Netanyahu’s policies toward the Palestinians were ‘leading to either a binational state or an apartheid state.’ In 2017, another former Mossad head, Tamir Pardo, called the death of the two-state solution an ‘existential threat’ to Israel. Such views are widespread. In 2016, Major General Gadi Shamni, former head of Israel’s Central Command, which encompasses the West Bank, noted that, ‘The overwhelming majority of the senior ranks of the defense establishment think we are moving in very problematic directions in regard to the Palestinians. For every 50 people who think as I do, you’ll find [only] one or two who espouse a different view.’” (20 May 2019)

   Experts know that occupation of the West Bank does not enhance Israel’s security. (“Between them, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have missiles that can hit every inch of Israel.”) This is why “five of the six living former chiefs of staff of the Israel Defense Forces support the creation of a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines. So do all of the former heads of the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service) and the Mossad (Israel’s external security service) who have taken a public position.” (Beinart 2012, 62, 64)

   (According to minutes from meetings of the inner Israeli cabinet within six months of the end of the June 1967 War, “[Education Minister Zalman] Aranne objected to the argument, put forth by Dayan and others, that Israel must retain the territories for security reasons. ‘Suddenly, after all these victories, there’s no survival without these territories?’”

   “How could Israelis, who prize security, elect leaders who are entrenching an occupation that so many Israeli security professionals consider dangerous? But it’s not that strange: Ideologues overrule security professionals in [the US] political system too. The Pentagon considers climate change a grave threat to national security; Donald Trump considers it a Chinese hoax. The police condemn laws that make it easier to own a gun. Police-loving Republicans pass them anyway.” (Also, in Israel, as in other countries, there is an ugly cultural war going on, and the senior security professionals are considered part of the hated elites. How many devoted Trump voters would care if, say, retired General John Kelly derided Trump’s foreign policy?) (20 May 2019)

   Also, Israel’s occupation has largely been “cost-free: Europe subsidizes the occupation, the Palestinian Authority polices the occupation, while the US protects Israel from any diplomatic fallout. [As a result, there is] no incentive for Israel to end the occupation. What needs to change is the balance of power, which [has been] overwhelmingly favorable to Israel.”

16. Approximately how many Jewish settlers and how many Palestinians live in Hebron?

-Approximately 700 Jewish settlers and 200,000 Palestinians live in the city of Hebron. “Shuhada Street is the main street connecting the southern and the northern parts of the City of Hebron. [Since Baruch Goldstein’s act of terrorism in 1994,] this street has been closed to Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles. Israel has also forced the closure of Palestinian shops and sealed shut the entrances to Palestinian homes along the street. [The] Israeli settlers, supported by a large number of Israeli [soldiers], now inhabit and control the heart of the Old City. The Israeli military severely restrict the movement of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents. However, the settlers have total freedom of movement, despite their presence being illegal under international law.”

   “Soldiers, police officers, and settlers commit acts of violence against Palestinians nearly every day, with near-total impunity. Soldiers subject Palestinians to humiliating searches, raid their homes in the middle of the night, and carry out false arrests. These are all common aspects of the occupation as a whole, but in Hebron they are far more intense.”

   “In 2007, Hagai Alon, then aide to former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, said that the goal of these policies was ‘to empty Hebron of Arabs’ — in other words, to evict the civilian population by force. Under international humanitarian law, the forcible transfer of a civilian population is a war crime.”

   “The Hebron model is not unique. The occupying forces use the same tactics all over the West Bank, in different measures but with the same goal — the increasingly violent dispossession of Palestinians from their homes and lands. Settlements, checkpoints, and walls are closing in on the major Palestinian urban centers, as they are on villages like Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar. Residents in these two particular villages are also facing the threat of expulsion in an effort to force them into larger enclaves. The same thing is happening in the Shiloh Valley, the Talmonim settlement bloc, throughout the Jordan Valley where outposts have been springing up, in East Jerusalem, around Bethlehem, and in the southern West Bank. In other words, it’s happening everywhere.”   (29 Sept. 2019)

17. Approximately what percentage of West Bank land is consumed by Israeli settlements and related infrastructure, such as a separate road network for Israeli settlers and the Wall?

-“Approximately 40 percent of the West Bank is consumed by Israeli settlements and related infrastructure, including inter alia a separate road network for Israeli settler use and the Wall. The effect of this infrastructure, along with the system of control over Palestinian movement within the West Bank, fragments and separates Palestinian communities from each other, dissects the West Bank into dozens of enclaves and denies the emergence of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state.” (While cars with Palestinian license plates are permitted on West Bank highways, due to a Supreme Court ruling, such cars are banned from the settlements’ private side roads.)
(Stephanie Koury, Settlements and the Wall, Palestine Center Information Brief No. 156, 19 Nov. 2007.)

-“Palestinians are [one of] the largest stateless group[s] in the world, lacking basic human rights and lacking rights of citizenship. Their private property is…brazenly stolen from them by Jewish squatters coming over into Palestine from Israel proper….The only resolution of the conflict is for Palestinians to attain the rights of citizenship in a state and the right firmly to own property and to control their land, air and water.”

-By entrenching the occupation Israel “will gradually bring what American Jewish leaders most fear: the delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state. The less democratic Zionism becomes in practice, the more people across the world will question the legitimacy of Zionism itself.” (Beinart 2012, 52)

Palestinians as Native Americans
-“The issue that came ashore with the French and the English and the Spanish, the issue that has made its way from coast to coast to coast and is with us today,…is the issue of land. The issue has always been land. It will always be land, until there isn’t a square foot of land left in North America that is controlled by Native people.”

   “At the Lake Mohonk conference in October of 1886, one of the participants, Charles Cornelius Coffin Painter, who served as a lobbyist for the Indian Rights Association, pointed out the obvious, that the treaties made with Native people had been little more than expediencies. In his talk, Painter quoted General William Tecumseh Sherman, who had said that treaties ‘were never made to be kept, but to…settle a present difficulty in the easiest manner possible, to acquire a desired good with the least possible compensation, and then to be disregarded as soon as this purpose was tainted and we were strong enough to enforce a new and more profitable arrangement.’”

   “Painter didn’t necessarily agree with Sherman, but he understood that the overall goal of removals, allotments, treaties, reservations and reserves, terminations, and relocations, was not simply to limit and control the movement of Native peoples, but more importantly to relieve them of their land base.”

   “Land has always been a defining element of Aboriginal culture. Land contains the languages, the stories, and the histories of a people. It provides water, air, shelter, and food. Land participates in the ceremonies and the songs.” (Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Anchor Canada, 2012, 217-8. Hereinafter, “King 2012.”)

-A not untypical example: “In 1868 the Lakota and the US government signed a peace treaty at Fort Laramie which guaranteed that the Black Hills would remain with the Lakota Nation, and that the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming would be closed to White settlement. However, just six years later, in 1874, an army expedition led by, of all people, George Armstrong Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills at French Creek, and [very soon after], White miners swarmed into the Black Hills and began digging mines, sluicing rivers, blasting away the sides of mountains with hydraulic cannons, and clear-cutting the forests in the Hills for the timber.”

   While the Lakota wanted Whites off their land, the President Grant “administration told the Lakota that a new treaty was needed, one in which the Lakota would have to give up all claim to the Black Hills for the princely sum of $25,000, and that the tribe would have to move to Indian Territory. The Lakota refused to sign a new treaty. You can keep your money, they told Grant.”

   “The Fort Laramie Treaty still stands as a valid agreement, and the Lakota…have [not] stopped fighting for the land’s return. So [one] can only imagine how they felt as they watched [from 1927 to 1941 their sacred] Six Grandfathers being turned into a national tourist attraction. Six Grandfathers is the mountain in the Hills that became Mount Rushmore…”

   “[I]n 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills had been illegally taken. The solution, however, wasn’t to return the Hills to the Lakota. Instead the court instructed that the original purchase price of $25,000 plus interest be paid to the tribe. [T]he total came to over $106 million. [But] as they had done in 1875, the Lakota refused the settlement. Money was never the issue. They wanted the Hills back.” (King 2012, 220-2)

18. Approximately how many Lebanese civilians were killed by Israel during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon?

-“[A]ccording to Lebanese sources, between 15,000–20,000 people were killed, mostly civilians. According to American military analyst Richard Gabriel, between 5,000–8,000 civilians were killed.”

-“In early September 1982, the independent Beirut newspaper An Nahar published an estimate of deaths from hospital and police records covering the period from 6 June to 31 August 1982. It claimed that 17,285 people were killed: 5,515 people, both military and civilian, in the Beirut area; and 2,513 civilians, as well as 9,797 military forces, including PLO and Syrians, outside of the Beirut area.” “Between 6 June 1982 and June 1985, the Israel Defense Forces suffered 657 dead…”

19. Approximately how many cluster bomblets were dropped by Israel on Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War?

-“Cluster bombs scatter hundreds of small ‘bomblets’, many of which fail to explode, over a wide area. Inquisitive children may later pick these up, or civilians could step on them. Israeli forces dropped an estimated 1m [one million] cluster bomblets in southern Lebanon [during the war], 90% of which were dropped the last three days of the conflict…In 1982, the Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on cluster bombs sales to Israel after a congressional investigation found Israel had used the weapons in civilian areas during its invasion of Lebanon that year [which likely violated America’s Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with Israel]. The UN and human rights groups strongly criticised Israel’s use of cluster bombs at the end of the 2006 Lebanon conflict. ‘What is shocking and completely immoral is 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution,’ the UN humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, said soon after the war ended….According to the UN mine action coordination centre for South Lebanon, by December 19, 18 people had been killed and 145 injured since the August ceasefire.”

20. Who said the following in 1998? “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.”

-Ehud Barak: Prime minister of Israel, 1999 – 2001. This was Barak’s response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha’aretz, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.

-In Palestine during the 1930s, “Arab terror swelled and waned and became a part of life. Some of the attacks were directed against Jewish farmers, some of whom worked land that had previously been tilled by Arab tenant farmers. … The fact that most Arab attacks in the 1930s were directed against the British bolstered [Ben-Gurion’s] view that the Arab Revolt [1936-39] was the product of an organized and disciplined national public acting with political maturity, dedication, idealism, and death-defying bravery. They were, he argued, ‘national liberation fighters facing off against a foreign government.’ This was tantamount to almost entirely abandoning the theory that the Jewish-Arab conflict grew out of the economic disparities between the two peoples. He also ceased to ascribe Arab terror to the inborn homicidal nature of its perpetrators. Were he a politically and nationally aware Arab, he would also enlist in the fight, he said.” (Segev 2019, 254-5)

   By the outbreak of the Arab Revolt “it was no longer possible for the Arabs to obliterate the national infrastructure that the Zionist movement had put into place; in the five preceding years, some two hundred thousand Jews had settled in Palestine. They doubled the number of Jews, making them 30 percent of the country’s population. For the Arabs, the revolt came too late, Ben-Gurion said. But, for the Jews, he continued, it came too early–they were still a minority in the country and not strong enough to defend themselves on their own.” (Segev 2019, 255)

-Walter Laqueur, who was a leading academic stalwart of Israel, “acknowledge[d] that Palestinians’ hostility to Israel and Jews has been an understandable response to the injustice inflicted on them and that, were a just settlement of the conflict reached, Palestinian, and more broadly Arab/Muslim, hostility would largely dissipate: ‘For the Palestinians, the existence of Israel is bound to remain a trauma for as far as one can think ahead, the loss of part of their homeland being the greatest injustice which can be put right only by violence. It is only natural that they will want this state to cease to exist. Once they have a state of their own, however, problems of daily life will loom large and much of their energy will have to be invested in making this state work. The great urge to reconquer what was lost will not disappear, but it will not be pursued as in the days when this was the only  issue.’” (Finkelstein 2008, xxxvii) (Walter Laqueur, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford University Press, New York: 2006, 19.) 

-The source of Palestinian anger has never been a mystery, and it is not rooted in unrelenting anti-Semitism. “In 1936 a British royal commission chaired by Lord Peel was charged with ascertaining the causes of the Palestinian conflict and the means for resolving it. Regarding the aspirations of Palestinian Arabs, its final report stated that ‘[t]he overriding desire of the Arab leaders…was…national independence’ and that ‘[i]t was only to be expected that Palestinian Arabs should…envy and seek to emulate their successful fellow-nationalists in those countries just across their northern and southern borders.’ The British attributed Arab anti-Jewish animus to the fact that the Jewish claim over Palestine would deny Arabs an independent Arab state, and to Arab fear of being subjugated in an eventual Jewish state. It concluded that there was ‘no doubt’ the ‘underlying causes’ of Arab-Jewish hostilities were ‘first the desire of the Arabs for national independence; secondly their antagonism to the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, quickened by their fear of Jewish domination.’”

   The report also pointed out that “‘There was little or no friction…between Arab and Jew in the rest of the Arab world until the strife in Palestine engendered it. And there has been precisely the same political trouble in Iraq, Syria and Egypt–agitation, rebellion and bloodshed–where there are no [Jewish] ‘National Homes.’ Quite obviously, then, the problem of Palestine is political. It is, as elsewhere, the problem of insurgent nationalism. The only difference is that in Palestine Arab nationalism is inextricably interwoven with antagonism to the Jews.’” (Finkelstein 2008, 7-8)

   The 1936 Peel Commission was a louder echo of the 1929 Shaw Commission. “In his official report to the British Parliament on the [August] 1929 ‘disturbances [i.e., violent rioting],’ Sir Walter Shaw acknowledged that ‘there had been no recorded attacks of Jews by Arabs’ in the previous eight decades and ‘representatives of all parties’ had concurred ‘that before the [First World] War the Jews and Arabs lived side by side if not in amity, at least with tolerance.’ The aggravating factor, Shaw was forced to admit, was the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised British support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, such that ‘the Arabs have come to see in the Jewish immigrant not only a menace to their livelihood but a possible overlord of the future.’” (Thrall 2017, 276)

-It is only reasonable to “conclude that if, as all studies agree, [rising] resentment against Jews has coincided with Israel’s brutal repression of the Palestinians, then the prudent, not to mention moral, thing to do is end the occupation.” (Finkelstein 2008, 16)

-In the 2012 documentary The Gatekeepers, six former heads of Israel’s domestic security service (Shin Bet) – Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin – “speak publicly for the first time about their work combating violence from both Palestinians and Israelis….Interestingly enough, these six men…share a belief that a Palestinian state should have been a priority [and show] disdain for Israeli politicians for not doing more to make it happen.” According to Peri, “When you retire, you become a bit of a leftist.” “Not all terrorists, the gatekeepers take pains to point out, are Palestinian.” (They also call Israel’s occupation “brutal,” “colonial,” and “unbearable.”),0,7530779,full.story

-In 2013, the late Yuval Diskin, chief of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency from 2005 to 2011, “said Netanyahu squandered the gains made by Israel’s security forces by not using a period of relative quiet over the past few years to move toward peace with the Palestinians….Diskin criticized Netanyahu’s lack of movement on peace talks…’ The role of the security forces is to create conditions so the political echelon will know what to do with them, and the quiet which was achieved in the last few years is an opportunity that the political echelon should not have missed,’ Diskin said.”

-In fall 2014, “In what appears to be the largest-ever joint protest by senior Israeli security personnel, a group of 106 retired generals, Mossad directors and national police commissioners has signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to ‘initiate a diplomatic process’ based on a regional framework for peace with the Palestinians. Several of the signers [stated] in interviews that Israel had the strength and the means to reach a two-state solution that ‘doesn’t entail a security risk,’ but hadn’t managed to reach an agreement because of ‘weak leadership.’ ‘We’re on a steep slope toward an increasingly polarized society and moral decline, due to the need to keep millions of people under occupation on claims that are presented as security-related,’ reserve Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven [said]. ‘I have no doubt that the prime minister seeks Israel’s welfare, but I think he suffers from some sort of political blindness that drives him to scare himself and us.’”

   “The letter was initiated by a former Armored Corps commander, reserve Major General Amnon Reshef. He [stated] that he was ‘tired of a reality of rounds of fighting every few years instead of a genuine effort to adopt the Saudi initiative.’ He was referring to the Saudi-backed peace proposal that was adopted unanimously by the Arab League in 2002…and later endorsed 56-0 by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, with Iran abstaining. It has since been repeatedly reaffirmed and its terms softened. As currently framed, it offers full peace, diplomatic recognition and ‘normal relations’ between the Arab states and Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal to borders based on the pre-1967 armistice lines, with negotiated land swaps, and a ‘just’ and mutually ‘agreed’ compromise solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.”  (2 Nov. 2014)

-In October 2015, amidst Palestinian-Israeli violence, “voices have been raised in a most unlikely corner to insist that Palestinian hostility to Israel — including Palestinian terrorist violence — is at least partly a response to Israeli actions and policies, and not simply a deep-seated hatred of Jews [as Netanyahu, in particular, claims]. That corner is the Israel Defense Forces.”

   “[T]wo active-duty IDF generals who are among the army’s top experts on Palestinian affairs spoke out publicly to state that Palestinian violence is driven to a considerable degree by anger at Israeli actions. One of the two went a step further, warning that only a serious Israeli diplomatic re-engagement with the Palestinians will help to quell such violence over the long term.”

   Israeli security professionals “know that the Palestinian security services, from the leadership on down, cooperate with Israeli security in the hope and expectation that it will lead to Palestinian independence. And the removal of that hope — as Netanyahu seemed to do when he told a Knesset committee on October 26 that Israel needs to maintain full control of the territory ‘for the foreseeable future’ — will lead to a breakdown of cooperation and threaten Israeli security.”  (3 Nov. 2015)

-In May 2016, “A group of more than 200 [former] military and intelligence officials criticized the government for a lack of action in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…and issued a detailed plan they say can end the impasse.”

   “With peace talks in a deep freeze the plan…called to ‘preserve conditions’ for negotiations with the Palestinians. It urges a combination of political and security initiatives together with delivering economic benefits to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem simultaneously.”

   “It calls for a freeze on settlement building, the acceptance in principle of the Arab Peace Initiative and the recognition that East Jerusalem should be part of a future Palestinian state…The plan also calls on authorities to complete construction of the security fence in such a way that does not undermine the two-state solution. In particular, it urges authorities to complete construction around Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim, and the southern West Bank.”

   “The group’s chairman, [former IDF general] Amnon Reshef,…warned ‘the current status quo is an illusion’ that endangers a two-state solution…‘In our experience we know that you cannot defeat terror only by military means, you have to improve the Palestinians quality of life,’ he said.”,7340,L-4808802,00.html  (28 May 2016)

-“A [2016] US State Department report says a myriad of Israeli policies — such as continued settlement building and aggressive military operations in the West Bank — are [partly responsible for] Palestinian terrorism [as they create a ‘lack of hope’], while the Palestinian Authority is making substantial efforts to halt such violence.”  (21 July 2017)

-In May 2019, the Israel Policy Forum’s strategic partner in Israel, Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “warning him to stop the march toward West Bank annexation. CIS is a movement of over 290 high-ranking generals from the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet, and Israel Police who have concluded, based on their security expertise and experience, that West Bank annexation is deeply harmful to Israel’s interests. Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed their letter.”

   The following is an excerpt from the letter. “As past high level commanders from the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the police, experienced in fighting against our enemies in the struggle against terror and against all other security challenges, and after dozens of years of service by many of us in the West Bank, we all share the view that the application of the Israeli law in the West Bank – in whole or in part – outside of an agreement, will trigger a chain reaction, which will seriously harm Israel’s economy, its regional and international standing, and especially its security. We warn that what will start out as applying sovereignty (annexation) over a limited area will ultimately produce a situation where we are forced to take full control over Judea and Samaria, with its millions of Palestinian residents.”

-In June 2019, “The former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, has said that Israel does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have made peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA) long ago. Shavit gave his remarks to Israeli daily Maariv, reiterating that if Israel wanted peace it would have discussed it in economic and infrastructure terms that serve the interests of both parties… However, Shavit said that…Netanyahu does not see the PA as a negotiating partner and therefore refuses to develop relations with the authority. ‘Do you know any other head of an Israeli government who did not talk with the Palestinians?’ he asked.”

-Israel’s security officials understand — as former Prime Minister Barak said in August 2019 at a forum on national security — that “‘Israel is facing no external existential threat.’ After-all, Israel has the 4th or 5th strongest army in the world, backed by an estimated 80 to 200 nuclear weapons…[;] it has a peace treaty with Egypt, its major adversary in three wars, and Jordan[;] the Syrian and Iraqi armies have fallen apart[;] so what’s left, Iran? As former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott said,…‘for the past 1,400 years, the Iranians have never attacked another country.’ The Iranians have been attacked many times, most recently by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq [in 1980], and what they are primarily interested in is defending their regime.”  (17 Aug. 2019)

21. Who wrote the following 18 September 1967 Top Secret memo to Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary of the Prime Minister of Israel, concerning Settlement in the Occupied Territories? “As per your request…I hereby provide you a copy of my memorandum of September 14, 1967, which I presented to the Foreign Minister. My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories [Israel’s term for the occupied territories] contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

-Theodor Meron: One of the world’s most eminent international jurists; and in 1967 he was a legal adviser at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Meron’s clear recommendation was that the prohibition was “categorical and aimed at preventing colonisation of conquered territory by citizens of the conquering state.” (Note that countries are allowed to occupy enemy territory in war time. However, the decades of occupation, coupled with breaches of international law, have now put Israeli actions beyond the pale of law.) (Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977, Henry Holt: 2006, 99.)

   To stay within the letter of the law, Meron “advised that ‘If it is decided to go ahead with Jewish settlement in the administered territories, it seems to me vital…that settlement is carried out by military and not civilian entities. It is also important…that such settlement is in the framework of camps and is, on the face of it, of a temporary rather than permanent nature.’ Meron’s advice was followed. Settlement has often been disguised by the subterfuge suggested, the ‘temporary military entities’ turning out later to be civilian settlements. The device of military settlement also has the advantage of providing a means to expel Palestinians from their lands on the pretext that a military zone is being established.”

   “Deceit was scrupulously planned, beginning as soon as Meron’s authoritative report was delivered to the government. [I]n September 1967, on the day a second civilian settlement came into being in the West Bank, the government decided that ‘as a cover for the purpose of [Israel’s] diplomatic campaign,’ the new settlements should be presented as army settlements and the settlers should be given the necessary instructions in case they were asked about the nature of their settlement. The Foreign Ministry directed Israel’s diplomatic missions to present the settlements in the occupied territories as military strongpoints and to emphasize their alleged security importance.”  (6 Jan. 2017)

-On 18 November 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that “‘the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law’.” Pompeo essentially said that “international law does not matter” and the US was merely recognizing the reality on the ground.

   “Pompeo’s logic collapses under the weight of evidence supplied by the Israeli government itself. [In 2009], retired General Baruch Spiegel finally revealed data he had collected when tasked by the Israeli government to negotiate limits on settlement activity with the US. In 2004-2005 I [Daniel Kurtzer] was his interlocutor while serving as the US ambassador to Israel. At the time, Spiegel allowed the exercise to peter out, alleging that he was having trouble assembling the data. Only later did Spiegel reveal to me the real reason why he could not present the data: It would have been embarrassing to the Israeli government in 2004 to admit that settlement activity — widely considered illegal under international law — was being conducted illegally under Israeli law. Most damning was the fact that so many settlements, including some of the most prominent, were built on private Palestinian land, despite assertions to the contrary by some Israeli officials. [In fact,] According to a Jan. 1, 2009, report in Haaretz newspaper: ‘[I]n the vast majority of the settlements — about 75% — construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.’”

   “This is the ‘reality on the ground’ that Pompeo seems to think is just fine. In this ‘reality,’ since 1967 successive Israeli governments have ignored or actively flouted international law and its own domestic law to satisfy the demands of a small but extremely active minority that seeks to make it impossible to achieve a peace settlement with the Palestinians.”

   “[P]ompeo’s announcement…confirms, through legal acrobatics, the de facto approach of US administrations over the course of four decades to acquiesce to, even enable, the Israeli settlement enterprise; to be silent on the issue of legality or illegality; and to fail to impose a penalty that could limit or discourage Israel’s settlement policies. We [Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator, and Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel] watched this happen, up close, during our more than 50 combined years of service in US diplomacy under both Republican and Democratic administrations.”

   “The US has known for decades how damaging settlement activity is in the search for peace – Palestinians cannot trade land for it if they don’t possess the land – but with one major exception during the George H.W. Bush administration (when Washington refused for a year to extend $10 billion in housing loan guarantees for absorption of Soviet Jews because of Israeli settlement expansion), we have essentially turned a blind eye.”

   Consider the following examples: (1) “At the first Camp David summit, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter tried to extract a commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to freeze settlement activity during the negotiations over peace with Egypt, but the terms of that freeze were interpreted differently by both men and never agreed upon. Carter did not insist on a freeze as part of the subsequent negotiations, understanding that the prospect of an Israeli-Egyptian treaty outweighed settlement considerations.” (2) “President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 ‘fresh start’ peace initiative demanded a settlement freeze even though Reagan had, in 1981, described the settlements as ‘not illegal,’ distancing himself from the 1978 State Department determination that settlements contravened international law. Still, the Reagan administration did nothing to push the freeze on Israel’s government.” (3) “Throughout the 1990s, as settlement activity continued and expanded, even after the Madrid Peace Conference and the Oslo accords, Washington confined itself to rhetorical objections.” (4) The US “failed to act on the findings of the Mitchell report in 2001, which covered the causes of the second Palestinian uprising and recommended that Israel freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements. In a 2002 Rose Garden speech, President George W. Bush echoed the Mitchell recommendations, saying, ‘Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.’ But his administration did nothing to curb that activity.” (5) “The Obama administration, too, called for a freeze but settled for a 10-month moratorium on new housing starts, after which settlement activity resumed.”

-“Israel began construction in 2002 of a physical barrier that encroached deeply into the West Bank and took a sinuous path incorporating the large settlement blocs. The UN General Assembly requested that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) clarify the ‘legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel.’ In 2004, the Court rendered its landmark advisory opinion. In the process of ruling that the wall was illegal, the ICJ also reiterated key elements of the juridical framework for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.” (Finkelstein 2018, 29) 

   Accordingly, the Court “found that, based on Article 2 of the United Nations Charter and numerous UN resolutions barring the acquisition of territory by force, Israel had no title to any of the territories it captured during the June 1967 war.” As well, “the Court cited UN Security Council resolutions that, based on Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israeli settlements ‘have no legal validity’ and constitute a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law…Indeed, even the one judge voting against the fourteen-person majority condemning the wall, Thomas Buergenthal from the US, was at pains to stress that there was ‘much’ in the advisory opinion ‘with which I agree’; for example, on the crucial question of settlements he concurred with the majority that they violated the Fourth Geneva convention and accordingly were in breach of international humanitarian law.” (Finkelstein 2008, xxi-xxii)

   “The BDS call was made on the one-year anniversary of [the ICJ’s] historic advisory opinion…The court ruled that Israel’s separation barrier was illegal, that Israel had to dismantle it ‘forthwith’ and offer reparations to those it had harmed, and that every signatory to the fourth Geneva convention – meaning nearly every state in the world – was under an obligation to ensure Israel complied with international humanitarian law. But Israel ignored the ruling, and neither the PLO nor the international community made a real attempt to enforce the court’s findings. ‘If there had been action on the part of the international community to implement the ICJ ruling,’ Ingrid Jaradat, a founding member of the BDS campaign, [says that], ‘there wouldn’t have been a BDS call.’”

   In 2004, after the ICJ “condemned the barrier, 361 members of the US House [of Representatives] backed a resolution supporting [the barrier].” When President Bush saw a map of the Wall, he said to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, “With a wall like this, with a map like this, we can never have a viable Palestinian state.” Nevertheless, Bush did nothing to alter the Wall’s route. (Beinart 2012, 90) (Bregman 2014, 284)

-On 8 June 2020, “Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a [2017] law…that had retroactively legalised about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. A nine-judge panel voted to repeal the [Regularization of Settlement law], under which settlers could remain on land if they built there without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership, or if homes were built at the state’s direction. Eight voted in favour and one against.”

   “The 50 settler outposts to be covered by the law encompass about 4,000 homes. The high justices’ decision does not affect the vast majority of West Bank settlements, which were constructed with full government approval on land deemed owned by the state.” (CFPN Newletter, 10 June 2020)

-“[C]ritics who condemn the Trump administration for disregarding international law are missing the deeper point[:] Fundamentally, the problem with settlements is neither legal nor geopolitical. It is moral. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are institutionalized expressions of bigotry. The American and Israeli politicians who legitimize them are the moral equivalent of those politicians who legitimized Jim Crow.” 

   “[S]ome settlement defenders argue: Lots of people live on stolen land. If a community built on land seized by force is morally illegitimate, then the New Yorkers who live on territory once owned by Native Americans have no more right to be there than the Jewish settlers in Beit El. But there’s a difference: New York is now open to people of any religion or race. Native Americans, as citizens of the US, can live there. Palestinians can’t live in Beit El. Jewish settlements are Jewish-only settlements. The West Bank isn’t like New York in 2019. It’s like Mississippi in 1959. It is a territory segregated by law, separate and hideously unequal.”

   Therefore, “morally, the issue is not whether Jews have the right to live in the West Bank. It’s whether Jews have the right to live there under a different law than their Palestinian neighbors. Do they have the right to bar Palestinians from their communities? Do they have the right to expand those communities onto land the Israeli government keeps expropriating from Palestinian owners? Do they have the right to operate swimming pools and complex irrigation systems while their Palestinian neighbors suffer from [constant water shortages]?…If giving some people liberty while denying it to others because of their race, ethnicity or religion was wrong in the segregated South, why isn’t it wrong in the West Bank?”  (19 Nov. 2019)

-The BDS statement of principles was “Signed by more than 170 Palestinian organizations from around the world [and makes] three demands of Israel, one for each of the three major Palestinian constituencies. For residents of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem: an end to the military occupation that began in 1967. For Palestinian refugees: the right to return to their homes and property, in keeping with UNGA Resolution 194, which was adopted near the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when 83 percent of the Palestinians in the territory that became Israel fled or were forced to flee. And for Palestinian citizens of Israel: full equality with Jews. Instead of tying itself to a specific outcome, the BDS movement insisted on these three principles, which could be fulfilled any number of ways: two states, one state with equal individual rights, a confederation with equal collective rights. The BDS movement[’s] tactics–aimed at isolating Israel culturally, diplomatically and economically–…have not put much of a dent in Israel’s economy, but to the Israeli government, they were never as important as the message…Since 2016…the Israelis have allocated more than $100 million to combating BDS, for fear that it represents the beginning of a fundamental shift.” (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 36)

-On 26 October 2017, “A United Nations official called…for heavy sanctions to be imposed on Israel to ‘bring a complete end to the 50 years of occupation of the Palestinian territories…’ In a scathing report authored for the UN Security Council by the Canadian law professor Michael Lynk, who serves as the ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967,’ the international community is urged to take harsh measures against Israel.”

   “[Lynk] urged the international community to push forward with boycotts and ostracize the country. ‘Only when the Israelis need visas to travel abroad and don’t receive them, only when the EU trade with Israel is limited and only when cooperation in academic, military and economic fields with Israel comes to an end—only then will [the] occupation…come to an end [particularly because Israel is very dependent upon trade]’…Taking his recommendations further to force Israel’s hand, Lynk called for filing criminal charges against the country in the international courts.”

   Furthermore, “Lynk described [BDS] as ‘a non-violent movement’ which operates within the confines of free speech against all states or companies that it believes harms others.”,7340,L-5034692,00.html  (27 Oct. 2017)

-“The interference by Israel in the American political system is amply documented, including in the Al-Jazeera four-part series ‘The Lobby,’ which Israel and its supporters managed to block from being broadcast. In the film, a pirated copy of which can be watched on the website Electronic Intifada, the leaders of the Israel lobby are repeatedly captured on a reporter’s hidden camera explaining how they, backed by the intelligence services within Israel, attack and silence American critics and use huge cash donations to control the American electoral process and political system. The Israel lobby, lacking any plausible deniability, has remained stunningly silent about the film. The corporate press, in the face of pressure by the lobby, has ignored the documentary.”

   “‘If you wander off the reservation and become critical of Israel, you not only will not get money, AIPAC will go to great lengths to find someone who will run against you,’ John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,’ says in the documentary. ‘And they support that person very generously. The end result is you’re likely to lose your seat in Congress.’”

  “AIPAC, while it presents itself as an impartial supporter of Israel, has long been an arm of the Israeli right. It vehemently opposed the Oslo Accord and the peace process with the Palestinians engineered by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It poured money and resources into the 1992 Israeli election campaign to back Rabin’s political opponents in the Likud party. Rabin did not invite the leaders of the Israel lobby to his inauguration and, according to an aide in his office, referred to the leaders of the Israel lobby as ‘scumbags.’ He repeatedly denounced the lobby as an impediment to Israel’s security and democracy.”  (10 March 2019)

   “In 1995, two Republicans from New York…put through legislation banning direct US assistance to the Palestinians. The funding was intended to provide support for Arafat’s newly founded Palestinian Authority. It was the first time the Israeli government had been outflanked from the right by Israel’s ostensible supporters on Capitol Hill. The legislation was a breach of the unwritten rules that internal Israeli politics should not be fought in Washington. Netanyahu and the settlers had no compunction in splitting the Jewish and pro-Israel consensus. The majority of American Jews were fully in support of Rabin’s policies, but the right-wing minority in control of AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations were not keen on Oslo, and in the Republicans controlling Congress they had willing allies.” (Pfeffer 2018, 206)

-The power of the Israel lobby “arose to protect Israel from criticism from Washington, but the unintended consequence was that it ‘radically shift[ed] Israeli democracy to the right,’… The lobby helped to ‘destroy’ the careers of moderate Israeli politicians who might have come to power if the US had played a ‘realistic,’ ‘national interest’ role and told Israel to stop the settlements.” In effect, US economic and political support “systematically disadvantaged positions, arguments and programs of people like Yossi Sarid, Yossi Beilin, Shulamit Aloni, Yigal Allon, [and] even Moshe Dayan [while] systematically support[ing] those who were willing to indulge in messianic expansionist dreams [such as] Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu. [Such Likudniks could] say we can have the whole land and American support…”

   “[P]residents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush [were advised] to take a strong stand on settlements so as to drive a wedge inside Israeli politics and build a constituency for a two-state solution. Bush’s opposition to loan guarantees in 1991 actually did lead to the Oslo process… But in 2009, Rahm Emanuel gave the same advice to Barack Obama — oppose settlements and you will build that party in Israel — and the stance was an utter failure, and Obama backed away from it. ‘The difference is that when Rahm Emanuel gave that advice to Obama, not only was the lobby much stronger, but there was…no government capable of winning an election on that issue.’ So Netanyahu could just play America, as he did throughout the Obama administration till the end.”

-“AIPAC is still easily the biggest and wealthiest group in the [Israel] lobby, with over 100,000 dues-paying members, hundreds of staff working in seventeen regional offices across the United States, and a large pool of wealthy donors, many of them also major contributors in US election campaigns….Its annual conference in Washington, DC, has become a dazzling showcase of its popularity and power. Fourteen thousand people from across the country attended its 2014 conference…, and more than two-thirds of Congress showed up for the gala dinner, making it the year’s second-largest gathering of legislators (surpassed only by the president’s State of the Union address)…” (Dov Waxman, Trouble In The Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict Over Israel, Princeton University Press, Princeton: 2016, 166-7. Hereinafter, “Waxman 2016.”)

   On 27 April 2017, a “strongly worded letter” signed by all 100 US senators was delivered to “United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres…demanding an end to the ‘unacceptable’ anti-Israel bias in the international body….The letter urged several concrete steps to improve Israel’s treatment by the organization, singling out for criticism UNRWA, which deals with Palestinian refugees; the UN Human Rights Council for its singular focus on the Jewish state; and UNESCO, for denying Jewish ties to holy sites in Jerusalem.”  (28 April 2017)

   “The clearest illustration of the [Israel] lobby’s enduring power [was] the Obama administration’s failure to make any progress on settling the Israel-Palestinian conflict. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were strong supporters of Israel, and both believe a two-state solution is, as Obama put it, ‘in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest and the world’s interest.’ But even with backing from pro-peace, pro-Israel organizations such as J Street, their efforts to achieve ‘two states for two peoples’ were rebuffed by Israel, working hand in hand with AIPAC and other hard-line groups. So instead of seriously pursuing peace, Israel expanded its settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, making it more difficult than ever to create a viable Palestinian state.” (“Like their predecessors, [Obama and Kerry] could not put pressure on Israel to compromise by threatening to reduce US support significantly. As a result, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had little incentive to make a deal. The result is that the two-state solution, which the United States has long sought and Netanyahu has long opposed, is now further away than ever.”) (2 Oct. 2017)

   As of August 2018, “In 24 US states, bills and orders that stifle free speech by discouraging, penalising or restricting support for boycotts of Israel or of settlements have been passed, and have been challenged in two states so far by the ACLU. Following Hurricane Harvey, [in] summer [2017], the city of Dickinson, Texas required residents who wanted relief to certify that they do not and will not boycott Israel, a demand the ACLU’s Texas legal director called ‘an egregious violation of the first amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths’. A federal anti-boycott bill supported by Aipac has also met with opposition by the ACLU, which argues that ‘political boycotts are fully protected by the first amendment’, regardless of whether the boycott is of Israel or the settlements.”

   “[On February 5, 2019,] the Senate by a vote of 77-23 passed S.1, which contains the Combating BDS Act, encouraging states to pass laws that authorize economic punishments [such as denying government contracts] against those [such as business entities] who support boycott of Israel. Faiz Shakir, national political director of the ACLU, says: ‘The Senate just passed a bill that tramples on the 1st Amendment rights of Americans. The House should refuse to take it up.’ The ACLU led opposition to the bill [is] already moving on to the House. It reports: ‘Should the House take up similar legislation, we urge members to remove the Combating BDS Act from the package of bills due to the threat it poses to all Americans’ First Amendment right to boycott…” (It’s telling that all serious 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, despite Aipac lobbying, voted against the bill. In fact, it should be routine for a liberal not to support an illiberal bill designed to protect Israel, or any country, from legitimate sanction.)

   In June 2020, “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled unanimously…that the French highest court’s 2015 criminal conviction of activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocating nonviolent boycotts of Israeli goods violated article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. … It confirms a 2016 European Union position defending the right to call for BDS against Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law. … In 2009 and 2010, eleven activists in France had participated in peaceful protests inside supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. They were convicted by French courts of ‘incitement to discrimination.’”

-In his 2020 autobiography, A Promised Land, Barack Obama writes that “‘Members of both parties worried about crossing AIPAC…Those who criticized Israeli policy too loudly risked being tagged as anti-Israel (and possibly anti-Semitic) and confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election.’ When Obama [asked Netanyahu, in 2009, to freeze settlement growth], ‘[t]he White House phones started ringing off the hook, as members of [his] national security team fielded calls from reporters, leaders of American Jewish organizations, prominent supporters, and members of Congress, all wondering why [they] were picking on Israel…this sort of pressure continued for much of 2009.’ Obama admits that the pressure took a toll. He writes that the ‘noise orchestrated by Netanyahu had the intended effect of gobbling up our time, putting us on the defensive.’ Picking a fight with Israel, he declares, ‘exacted a domestic political cost that simply didn’t exist when I dealt with the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, or any of our other closest allies.”

   Obama, therefore, “doesn’t just describe the pro-Israel infrastructure as powerful. He says that, because of the Israel lobby, it was harder to align US policy toward Israel with the US national interest than it was in the case of any other ally. In describing AIPAC as using its financial muscle to intimidate politicians, he is repeating a charge that helped earn [the scholars] Walt and Mearsheimer (and more recently, Ilhan Omar) the label of antisemites.”

   “If Obama had deployed the full weight of American power, he could likely have…transformed Israeli behavior. But he chose not to because the domestic political costs were too high. And the domestic political costs were too high…because of the Israel lobby.” Obama, therefore, seems to be saying “That [a president won’t] change US policy until Americans—through their activism—eliminate the political obstacles that constrain US presidents….[In fact, this is] how American politics actually works. Changing government policy toward Israel/Palestine—like changing government policy on climate change or policing—requires grassroots mobilization powerful enough to overcome entrenched interests.”  (25 Nov. 2020)

-The bulk of Democratic politicians publicly endorse Israel’s policies, in part, “because of the influence of megadonors: Of the dozens of personal checks greater than $500,000 made out to the largest PAC for Democrats in 2018, the Senate Majority PAC, around three-fourths were written by Jewish donors….Though the number of Jewish donors known to prioritize pro-Israel policies above all other issues is small, there are few if any pushing in the opposite direction.” And these large donors are far more right-wing than the majority of American Jews. Accordingly, “What worries establishment Democrats…is that the partisan divide over Israel [within the Jewish community] will concretize–with Republicans defined as pro-Israel, Democrats defined as anti-Israel–and that the party coffers will empty.”

   “[W]hereas none of the most liberal Jewish donors have threatened to withdraw support because a candidate was too pro-Israel, pro-Israel donors and PACs have a history of financing opposition to candidates deemed unfriendly. Haim Saban, one of Hillary Clinton’s top five donors in 2016, has financed opponents of Democratic candidates critical of Israel; opposed the bid of Keith Ellison, the black Muslim congressman, for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2016…; briefly partnered with the top Republican donor and settlement supporter Sheldon Adelson on an initiative to combat BDS…; [and, sent a June 2018] email to Bernie Sanders and 12 other senators, upbraiding them for following Sanders’s ‘ill-advised…and ignorant lead’ by signing a letter calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” (“Sanders, who outraised Hillary Clinton early in the 2016 primaries by obtaining millions of small-donor contributions, was immune to pressure from donors like Saban.”) (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 39)

-In July 2019, a Canadian Federal Court judge “ruled that two wines made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank should not be labelled ‘Product of Israel,’ because the label is false and denies Canadians the right to exercise their conscience by boycotting the items. … [The judge] said she was not taking a position on the legal status of the settlements. But all the parties in the case and the two intervenor groups agreed that the settlements are not part of Israel, she wrote in her ruling.”  (29 July 2019)

-In May 2012, due to the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Denmark announced that it “will begin marking Israeli goods originating in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] with a special label…In an interview [the] Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal said, ‘This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of. It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not.’ Sovndal added that the measure was part of EU support for the Palestinians and the solution of two states for two peoples.” Likewise, “South Africa also announced that goods produced in Israeli settlements will carry special labels….[The] Minister of Trade and Industry…stated that the decision…was intended” to ensure that products originating from the OPT are not incorrectly labeled as “products of Israel….The Danish and South African moves come one month after The Co-operative Group, one of the UK’s major food retailers, announced a boycott against four Israeli companies – Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh Ltd. and Mehadrin Tnuport Export LP.”

   As the European Union does not consider the occupied territories as legally part of Israel, in November 2015, “The European Commission…issued new guidelines for the labelling of some products made in [the illegal] Israeli settlements…Agricultural produce and cosmetics sold in EU member states must now have clear labels showing their place of origin….Since 2004, produce from settlements have not benefited from trade preferences, and EU law already requires the places of origin of fruits, vegetables and honey to be labelled.”

   In November 2019, the European Court of Justice “ruled that goods produced in the West Bank by Israeli squatters on Palestinian land must be labelled as such, and cannot pretend to be from Israel proper. The move does not go as far as some EU members. Ireland’s parliament has banned the importation into that country of Israeli squatter-produced goods entirely.”

22. Who wrote the following in a 2002 article in a leading Israeli newspaper?
“The Six-Day War was forced upon us; however, the war’s seventh day, which began on June 12, 1967 and has continued to this day, is the product of our choice. We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one – progressive, liberal – in Israel; and the other – cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.”

-Michael Ben-Yair: Israel’s Attorney-General (1993-96)

-The “Apartheid analogy” has also been made by “the editorial board of Haaretz, which observed…[that] ‘millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation,’ as well as former Israeli Knesset member Shulamit Aloni, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel, South African Archbishop and Nobel Laureate for Peace Desmond Tutu, and ‘father’ of human rights law in South Africa John Dugard.” And the title of former US president Jimmy Carter’s 2006 book is worth noting: Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. (Finkelstein 2008, xxviii)

   “[M]aintaining separate legal systems for Jews and Palestinians — as Israel does in the West Bank — is racist. Allowing Jews, but not Palestinians, due process, free movement, citizenship and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives — these things are all racist.” (In fact, “Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have as much democratic legitimacy as Mississippi’s policies towards African Americans during Jim Crow.”)

   “[I]n an Orwellian irony, mainstream American political discourse describes as bigoted not Israel’s dual legal system in the West Bank—but opposition to it [by, say, BDS activists]. This irony falls particularly cruelly on Black politicians, who are particularly quick to notice the parallels with American segregation.” (Peter Beinart, Forward, 10 April 2019)

-In January 2021, B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, “has begun describing Israel as an ‘apartheid’ regime…[B]’Tselem said that while Palestinians live under different forms of Israeli control in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and within Israel itself, they have fewer rights than Jews in the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. ‘One of the key points in our analysis is that this is a single geopolitical area ruled by one government…This is not democracy plus occupation. This is apartheid between the river and the sea.’”

   “B’Tselem argues that by dividing up the territories and using different means of control, Israel masks the underlying reality — that roughly 7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians live under a single system with vastly unequal rights.…‘[T]here isn’t a single square inch between the river and the sea in which a Palestinian and a Jew are equal.’”

   “In recent years, as Israel has further entrenched its rule over the West Bank, Israeli writers, disillusioned former generals and politicians opposed to its right-wing government have increasingly adopted the term.”

   “Most Palestinians in the West Bank [for example] live in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, but those areas are surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and Israeli soldiers can enter at any time. Israel has full control over 60 percent of the West Bank.”

   Two developments altered B’Tselem’s thinking. “The first was a contentious law passed in 2018 that defines Israel as the ‘nation-state of the Jewish people.’…The second was [N]etanyahu’s plans to annex up to a third of the West Bank, including all of its Jewish settlements, which are home to nearly 500,000 Israelis. Those plans were frozen indefinitely as part a normalization agreement reached with the UAE [in 2020], but Netanyahu has insisted the pause is only temporary. [In fact,] the boundaries separating Israel and the West Bank vanished long ago — at least for Israeli settlers, who can freely travel back and forth, while their Palestinian neighbors require permits to enter Israel.” (13 Jan. 2021)

-“On September 15, [2020,] the Annual Congress of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) representing nearly 6 million members in the UK adopted a motion which reaffirmed its solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for the right to self-determination, condemning the occupation and expansionist policies of the Israeli government. … Demanding a cessation of the blockade of Gaza and support for ‘the right of Palestinian refugees to return [to their homeland]’, it committed the TUC to ‘communicate its position to all other national trade union centres in the International and European Trade Union Confederations and urge them to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid’.”

-“[A]partheid, although stemming as a term from the South African model, is an international crime against humanity that stands in its own right, and does not require precise mirroring of historical South African policies. It is defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as ‘inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime’.” (“The UN defines racial discrimination as directed at ‘race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin.’”) (Jonathan Ofir, Facebook post, 25 Apr. 2020) (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 35)

-“As long as the Palestinian government and the Oslo system are in place, the world’s nations will not demand that Israel grant citizenship to Palestinians. Indeed, Israel has had a non-Jewish majority in the territory it controls for several years. Yet even in their sternest warnings, western governments invariably refer to an undemocratic Israel as a mere hypothetical possibility. Most of the world’s nations will refuse to call Israel’s control of the West Bank a form of apartheid…so long as there is a chance, however slim, that Oslo remains a transitional phase to an independent Palestinian state.”

-“In March 2017, the UN agency ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), released a report by professors Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. The study concluded unequivocally that Israel practices Apartheid policy, and that it has been doing so since its inception. The document only saw official daylight for two days, as Israel and the US pressed to have it shelved, and it was taken down from the UN website.”

-While Israeli settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civilian rule, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. According to a 2011 expose by Haaretz, “Israeli military courts in the West Bank have a 99.74 percent conviction rate for Palestinians brought before them… Palestinians in the West Bank accused by Israel of criminal or security offenses are almost always tried before military tribunals, rarely appearing before Israeli civilian courts.” Furthermore, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, Palestinian “defendants are often held for months or even years before trial”.  (Beinart 2012, 18-19)

   “Since 1967 about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained [in Israeli prisons], so that nearly all families have experienced the imprisonment of at least one male relative.” (The 750,000 number includes 10,000 women.)  (Max Blumenthal, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Nation Books, New York: 2013, 151.)

-During the 1980s, practically every day, “courts sentenced Palestinian youths for stone-throwing, tire-burning, demonstrating and raising PLO flags. They spent weeks or months in custody before they were picked up again, often guilty of nothing more than being identified as a ‘troublemaker’.” As a result, the prisons “provided a natural pool for mobilization to nationalist bodies, trade and student unions and women’s organization.” (Black 2017, 263, 264)

   “According to a 2013 report by the UN children’s fund, Israel is the only country in the world where children were systematically tried in military courts, practicing ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.’ Over the past decade, UNICEF noted that Israel has detained ‘an average of two children each day.’” In the West Bank, the IDF “has detained children as young as 5.” In October 2018, “hundreds of minors were in Israeli jails, several held without trial or charge under an indefinitely renewable ‘administrative detention.’”
(The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 43)

   “Between 2012 and 2015, Defense of Children International-Palestine interviewed more than 400 Palestinian children — almost one-third of them under the age of 16 — that Israel had arrested in the West Bank. It found that many were arrested in the middle of the night. Most were blindfolded, strip-searched and had their hands bound. In the vast majority of cases, neither they nor their parents were told why they were being arrested. A majority reported being physically abused during their arrests and a quarter reported physical abuse while being interrogated in detention. While in detention — which can last from 24 to 96 hours, depending on a child’s age — almost all were interrogated in the absence of their parents or a lawyer. Which helps explain why the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that, ‘ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.’ [A] harrowing B’Tselem video, which shows soldiers in March [2019] arresting a nine-year old at school despite his teacher’s desperate pleas, shows what [these arrests] looks like up close.”

   “Representative Betty McCollum has introduced legislation to ensure that no American money funds the detention of Palestinian children. … Using American money to subsidize Iron Dome or David’s Sling, which shoot down Hamas or Hezbollah rockets, is morally defensible. Using American money to traumatize children by pulling them from their homes or schools, often binding, blindfolding, strip-searching and beating them in the process, and then interrogating them without a parent or a lawyer present, sometimes for days, is morally indefensible.”

   “The Palestinian children it detains are mostly accused of throwing stones at an occupying army. Israel can afford to offer them the same legal protections it affords Jewish children suspected of wrongdoing. And by foregoing ‘torture,’ which is how a 2013 report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child describes Israel’s treatment of many underage Palestinian suspects, Israel may also lead fewer of them to engage in violence as adults, which makes Israelis safer.” (20 May 2019)

   In January 2019, “Defense for Children International–Palestine submitted a joint report [with the Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic at the City University of New York] to United Nations investigators” detailing Israeli forces’ unlawful killing of Palestinian child protesters during protests in the Gaza Strip which amount to war crimes. “The report notes that of the 56 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the OPT during 2018, a total of 45 children were killed in the Gaza Strip since March 30… In the overwhelming majority of cases, DCIP was able to confirm children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces.”

   “As of September 2020, there are 157 Palestinian children detained as security detainees by Israeli authorities, of whom 95 have not been sentenced and two more held in administrative detention or arrest without charge. ‘Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system,’ reports Defense for Children International – Palestine….The organization estimates over the last 20 years around 10,000 Palestinian children from the West Bank have been detained by Israeli forces.”

-Prisoner Payments: In 2017, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act which restricts assistance to the PA until it stops its “system of monthly payments to families of prisoners held in Israel for political crimes, and to families of those killed in conflict, including those charged and convicted by Israel of terrorism…[However, focusing on the prisoner payments] distracts from the [conflict’s] central culprit: 53 years of an Israeli occupation that has stunted and broken hundreds of thousands of lives.”
   “The idea that payments to families are key drivers of violence doesn’t add up. Israeli collective punishment against the families of those accused of terrorism can be swift and severe. It can involve the demolition of the family home, sometimes rendering elderly parents, siblings, spouses, and children homeless — a practice that violates the Geneva Convention…”
   “The context for the broad support among Palestinians for those imprisoned by Israel is that they see most of those jailed as victims and resisters of an illegal occupation.…Unlike their settler neighbors who are tried for crimes under Israeli civil laws, Palestinians are tried in military courts — including those charged with nonviolent speech or protest activity — which have a near-100% conviction rate.”
   “Families of Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians certainly don’t suffer house demolitions, and in fact can find support: For example, the Israeli NGO Honenu (which receives tax-exempt contributions in the US and Israel) has provided family support aid to Israelis in the wake of crimes against Palestinians (and even to the assassin of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, and his wife).”

-In 2018, “On a party-line vote, Israel’s parliament passed Netanyahu’s flagship piece of legislation, the Nation State Law—which enshrines second-class status for the country’s Arab citizens as a constitutional principle….The new measure was enacted as a ‘basic law.’ That means it becomes part of Israel’s partially written constitution, the basis for interpreting or even overturning other laws.”

   “[The law] declares that Israel is the nation-state of the Jews—and that the Jewish people alone has the right to self-determination in Israel….The [law also] says that the state sees ‘Jewish settlement as a national value’ and will act to encourage it. [This wording] gives the government cover before the courts for preferring the Jewish majority in town planning, infrastructure, and more. Depending on the judges who hear particular suits, it could also protect building communities where only Jews can move in.” (The new law also rescinded Arabic’s status as an official state language.)

   “Why have Netanyahu and most of the political right been so eager to pass this law? Partly it’s a response to Supreme Court decisions that have struck down discriminatory laws and policies. The court has tried—on occasion, and not firmly enough—to uphold the promise of Israel’s declaration of independence that Arabs would have ‘full and equal citizenship.’ Netanyahu and his allies want to protect the old privileges of the majority against the threat from Israelis, Arab and Jewish, working for equality….At the same time, the daily media noise of the fight to pass the law served Netanyahu’s political needs. It told his supporters that their vague fear of the minority somehow taking the country away from them was realistic—but look! Netanyahu was making sure it wouldn’t happen.”

   “In the real world, Israel still has an overwhelming Jewish majority. Hebrew is the default language of public discourse. The country still offers a home to Jews who face persecution, or merely feel like strangers, elsewhere in the world. In practical terms, it’s a Jewish nation-state. The only actual threat to that reality is Netanyahu’s policy of permanent occupation of the West Bank, which could lead to a single bi-national state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.”  (19 July 2018)

   In March 2019 Netanyahu wrote that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People — and them alone.” (Haaretz, 10 March 2019)  (10 March 2019)

-In November 2020, an Israeli court designated Carmiel as a Jewish town and therefore it “has no obligation to provide schools for resident Arab kids or to fund their transport to schools elsewhere.” (Has the court legalized apartheid?”) (Prof. Ran Greenstein, Facebook post, 30 Nov. 2020)

   The Court rejected the petition regarding two Palestinian children “demanding return of travel expenses…to Palestinian schools in the area, since there are no Arabic-Palestinian institutions in the city. The judge opined that accepting the claim might ‘encourage Arabs’ to move to Carmiel, and that it is a ‘Jewish city’, citing the racist nation-state law.” (Ironically, Carmiel is “a ‘Jewish city’ built on expropriated Palestinian lands from the 1970’s, under the policy of ‘Judaising the Galillee’.”) (Jonathan Ofir, Facebook post, 30 Nov. 2020)

   “Although the [court] registrar provided seven reasons for dismissing the suit, the ruling is drawing criticism for citing the controversial nation-state law passed in 2018, which officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that ‘the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people.’ In addition, it stipulates that the Jewish people alone, as a people, have the right to self-determination in Israel. It also permits judges to give priority to Israel’s Jewish character in their rulings.”  (30 Nov. 2020)

-It’s important to note that “Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy individual rights like freedom of speech, assembly, and worship. They sit in Israel’s parliament…and on its Supreme Court. Arab Israelis also enjoy the kind of group rights for which many ethnic and religious minorities yearn. They maintain their own religious courts and their own, state-funded, Arabic-language schools and media.” However, “The Or Commission, tasked by the Israeli government with investigating conditions for Arab Israelis in 2003, found that ‘government handling of the Arab sector has been primarily neglectful and discriminatory.’ This is especially true when it comes to social services. In part because of historic restrictions on Arab access to Israeli public land, Arab citizens today own less than 4 percent of Israel’s land even though they constitute almost 20 percent of its population. A 2010 study by the [OECD] found that Israel spends one-third more per Jewish Israeli student than per Arab Israeli student.” (Beinart 2012, 14-16)

   The following are examples of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
i) “Tens of thousands of Palestinians reside in villages that predate the existence of Israel but are considered ‘unrecognized’ by the state, facing demolitions and forcible evictions while receiving few to no basic services, including water and electricity.”
ii) “With the state limiting the development and expansion of Arab towns, Palestinian citizens have been forced to bid on properties in Jewish communities. But they have been repeatedly blocked. Hundreds of Jewish-only communities in Israel have admissions committees that are legally permitted to reject applicants on the basis of ‘social suitability’, providing cover for excluding non-Jews.” (“It’s illegal for people to be excluded on the basis of race, religion or nationality, but the rubric of ‘social suitability’ permits the rejection of applicants who are not Zionist, haven’t served in the army or don’t intend to send their children to Hebrew-language schools. More than 900 towns in Israel contain no Arab families…”)
iii) “Palestinian schools can lose government funding if they commemorate the Nakba, the displacement of Palestinians in 1948.”
iv) “Israeli law forbids citizens to obtain citizenship or permanent residency for Palestinian spouses from the West Bank and Gaza.”
(The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 37-8)
v) “Raneen Lala from Jaffa is a young kindergarten caretaker. She tried to get a job, but received repeated negative replies. A change of name to a ‘Jewish’ one – ‘Rona Tal’, yielded positive responses from the same places. [In fact,] A plurality of Jewish Israeli parents (38%) say they would attempt to have a Palestinian caretaker replaced.”

   “It is officially illegal for education officials to discriminate on a racial basis – yet some do it explicitly, while many others do it more silently. This… ‘petty Apartheid’ [is illegal], but it’s very much a social norm.” (Jonathan Ofir, Facebook post, 14 July 2020)

-“‘Israel’s Arab community has been at 40,000 births a year for the past 20 years. Among Jews, the annual birthrate ranges from 100,000 to 120,000. Yet even today there are politicians who prefer to distort the picture, as if there were still a demographic threat from the Palestinians [to the ‘Jewish State’].’” (It should be noted that according to leading Israeli demographers, Israel’s population growth is unsustainable. In fact, Israel is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western world.) (, Netta Ahituv, 15 Apr. 2017)

-A fragile democracy like Israel cannot maintain an apartheid-like regime in the occupied territories without harming its democracy. “A border, especially one not even shown on maps, cannot seal off the rot. Nor can politicians’ declarations of reverence for liberal values. In recent years the corrosive effects of the occupation on Israel have been glaring, especially the vocal, shameless efforts of the political right to treat Israeli Arabs as enemies of the state rather than as fellow citizens.” Religious settlers “settling” in mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel, with the goal of Judaization, “is just one symptom of this illness. Unchecked, the offensive against democracy has grown wider. The political right uses charges of treason to attack critics of policy in the occupied territories, and seeks legislation to curb dissent and the rights of Arab citizens and to bypass the Supreme Court.” “One reason for reaching a two-state solution is to bring peace. Another…is to begin the work of repairing Israel itself.” (Gorenberg 2011, 204, 220)

   “To Israeli liberals, the gravest threat from BDS is that it has induced in their government a reaction so reckless and overreaching that it…also damages the rights of ordinary citizens and the organs of democracy. Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs has utilised the intelligence services to surveil and attack delegitimisers of Israel. It called to establish a blacklist of Israeli organisations and citizens who support the nonviolent boycott campaign, created a ‘tarnishing unit’ to besmirch the reputations of boycott supporters, and placed paid articles in the Israeli press. Leftwing Israeli Jews have been summoned for interrogation or stopped at the border by agents of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, who described themselves as officers working against delegitimisation. Israel has banned 20 organisations from entry for their political opinions, including the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that won a Nobel peace prize for helping Holocaust refugees and that now supports self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians while also endorsing BDS. [In 2017], the Israeli intelligence minister, Yisrael Katz, called publicly for ‘targeted civil assassinations’ of activists such as the BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel. Barghouti was also threatened by Israel’s minister of public security and strategic affairs: ‘Soon any activist who uses their influence to delegitimise the only Jewish state in the world will know they will pay a price for it…We will soon be hearing more of our friend Barghouti.’ Not long after, Barghouti was prevented from exiting the country, and last year Israeli authorities searched his home and arrested him for tax evasion.”

   Norway tops the Reporters Without Borders “2019 World Press Freedom Index.” The US is ranked as number 48, while Israel is placed in 88th place, lower than Tunisia and Albania. Turkmenistan ranks last as number 180.

   Essentially, ending the Occupation even without peace translates into significant benefits for Israel. Israel will safeguard its democracy and weaken the fascist and undemocratic tendencies in its society. As well, it will stop being the ruler of people who hate it, and will only need to focus on security on its border. Then, a genuine resolution to the conflict will need to be creatively addressed. (Linfield 2019, 317)

23. True or False: Israel has legalized torture.

-True. “In 1999 Israel’s HCJ [High Court of Justice] prohibited the use of torture, abuse, or degradation by the ISA [Israel Security Agency]. In the sixteen years since that ruling, thousands of Palestinians have been interrogated, many by those very methods prohibited.”

   Israel’s system of interrogation “is cruel, inhuman and degrading, an effect that is compounded when used in combination or for lengthy stretches at a time. In some cases, the use of these measures amounts to torture – in contravention of international law and in violation of HCJ rulings and Israeli law.”

   “In addition to directly employing cruel, inhuman and degrading means, Israeli interrogation authorities indirectly participate in torture by knowingly using information obtained through use of torture – usually severe – by Palestinian Authority interrogators against the self-same detainees.”

   “Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees is inherent to the ISA’s interrogation policy, which is dictated from above, not set by interrogators in the field….The senior Israeli officials who enable the existence of this abusive interrogation regime bear responsibility for the severe violations of interrogatees’ human rights and for inflicting mental and physical harm on these individuals.”  (Dec. 2015)

-According to a 2003 Amnesty International report, “From 1967 the Israeli security services have routinely tortured Palestinian political suspects in the Occupied Territories – and from 1987 the use of torture was effectively legal. The effective legalization was possible because the Israeli government and the judiciary, along with the majority of Israeli society, accepted that the methods of physical and psychological pressure used by the General Security Service (…also known as Shinbet or Shabak) were a legitimate means of combating ‘terrorism’.” (Combating torture – a manual for action, Amnesty International Publications 2003, ISBN: 0-86210-323-1, AI Index: ACT 40/001/2003)

-In the mid-1990s, Israel’s attorney general, Michael Ben-Yair, “refused the security service’s demand to be allowed to torture Palestinian terrorism suspects in the frantic attempt to prevent…suicide attacks.” (Pfeffer 2018, 211)

-“In June 1977 a detailed report on [Israel’s use of systematic torture and mistreatment of Palestinians] by the Sunday Times in London was dismissed as a ‘slur’ by the Israeli government. (Later revelations suggested that the allegations were broadly correct.) Palestinians were not surprised by the newspaper’s findings.” (Black 2017, 254)

-“Over the years, [Israeli] investigators routinely beat Palestinian detainees, occasionally to death. After two major Shabak scandals in the 1980s, a government commission banned some interrogation methods but allowed investigators to exert ‘modest physical pressure’ on suspects – including shaking them violently and keeping them tied up in stress positions for hours. To Israeli and international rights groups, these ‘special procedures’ still amounted to torture.” (Dan Ephron, Killing A King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, W. W. Norton, New York: 2015, 122. Hereinafter, “Ephron 2015.”)

-The following are the words of Israeli journalist Ari Shavit (who served at an Israeli prison during the First Intifada): “At the end of the watch…, you sometimes hear horrible screams…from the other side of the…fence of the interrogation section,…hair-raising human screams. Literally hair-raising….In Gaza our General Security Services…therefore amount to a Secret Police, our internment facilities are cleanly run Gulags. Our soldiers are jailers, our interrogators torturers. In Gaza it’s all straightforward and clear.” (The past is constructed from what we remember; what we remember is often our choice.) (Finkelstein 2012, 105) (The New York Review of Books, 18 July 1991, On Gaza Beach)

-“[Israelis must] not hide behind the idea that torture is a symptom of the occupation while telling [themselves] that the practice will disappear when the occupation ends. Torture is a worldview according to which human rights have no place or value. It existed well before the occupation and it will continue to exist if [citizens] do not change that worldview.”

   “Violent and cruel investigative practices [rarely] benefit national security even if they are committed on its behalf. Torture causes a spiraling destruction of our very social fabric. Not only do those who carry out this terrible kind of ‘work’ lose the values of morality, human dignity, and democracy, but also all those who remain silent, unwilling to know.”  (7 Oct. 2019)

-In Iraq, US interrogators used a torture device known as the Palestinian chair. “[I]sraelis taught [the interrogators] how to build it during a joint training exercise….It takes only a few minutes [for the Palestinian chair to have its desired effect].” “[R]aad Hussein is bound to the Palestinian chair. His hands are tied to his ankles. The chair forces him to lean forward in a crouch, forcing all of his weight onto his thighs….His head has collapsed into his chest. He wheezes and gasps for air. There is a pool of urine at his feet. He moans: too tired to cry, but in too much pain to remain silent.” The Palestinian chair causes “a violent and frightening pain. It’s torture.” (Eric Fair, Consequence: A Memoir, Henry Holt and Company: 2016, 112, 122, 124.)

-“Human Rights Watch on [23 October 2018] accused both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas of routinely engaging in ‘systematic’ unwarranted arrests and torture of critics, suspected dissidents and political opponents, and of developing ‘parallel police states’ in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.”

   “In a 149-page report based on interviews with 147 witnesses, Human Rights Watch detailed a common method of abuse and torture known as shabeh — used both by the PA and Hamas — in which detainees are placed in painful physical positions for lengthy periods of time. Such practices cause distress and trauma to detainees, while often leaving ‘little or no trace on the body,’ the report said.”  (23 Oct. 2018)

24. Who wrote the following passage in his 2005 book? “[I]srael’s absurdly proportional electoral system is no longer capable of producing workable majorities and efficient governments. It only mirrors the kaleidoscopic constitution of a fragmented society. The always arduous task of coalition building in such conditions almost invariably produces governments that are paralysed by internal political equilibriums.…Rather than serving as a vehicle for the resolution of the Palestinian conflict…the political system is so dysfunctional that it becomes the major obstacle to conflict resolution. The government is incapable of responding to the popular yearnings for peace. For, regardless of party loyalties and according to most studies, the overwhelming majority of Israelis would support a peace settlement that is based on the Clinton parameters–two states, withdrawal from territories, massive dismantling of settlements, two capitals in Jerusalem–but they trust neither their political system nor, of course, the Palestinian leadership to come to an accommodation on that basis. Which may explain the results of a poll conducted in 2002 by the Steinmetz Centre for Peace at Tel Aviv University indicating that, convinced of the incapacity of their political system to produce solutions, 67 per cent of Israeli Jews would support an American effort to recruit an international alliance that would coax the parties into endorsing such a settlement.”

-Shlomo Ben-Ami: Israel’s Minister of Public Security in 1999, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2001, and Israel’s top negotiator at Camp David and Taba negotiations. (Shlomo Ben-Ami, Scars of War Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London: 2005, 290.)

-The possibility of an early agreement with the PLO was largely frustrated by Israel’s drive for a Greater Israel. As early as 1971, Arafat told Soviet officials that “‘We need a change of tactics…We cannot affect the outcome of the political settlement unless we participate in it.’ He then drew a map outlining a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.” American leaders were aware of “the growing pragmatism within the PLO. Declassified White House papers show that, as early as 1970, State Department officials told Nixon that the Palestinians ‘cannot be ignored’ and argued that they could become ‘constructive partners in a peace settlement.’ American officials at the United Nations stressed that the Palestinians were ‘an essential element’ and urged Washington to bring them into the peace process quickly.”

   For “violent groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, which have unshakable commitments to destroying Israel or re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate, a forceful approach may be appropriate. But Washington shouldn’t rule out alternatives when dealing with groups that may have more limited long-term goals, like Hezbollah and Hamas. As Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams and Menachem Begin have shown, yesterday’s ‘terrorists’ have a tendency to turn into tomorrow’s peacemakers. We should be careful not to let our fears of terrorists continue to blind us to opportunities when diplomatic openings present themselves.”
(Paul Thomas Chamberlin, The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order, Oxford University Press, 2012, 137.)

-In early “2011, the World Bank had effectively ‘certified’ the [Palestinian Authority] as being ‘well positioned to establish a state at any time in the near future.’ Since then, the World Bank has continued to reaffirm that conclusion, while warning that ‘Israeli restrictions and controls…have a detrimental impact not only on economic growth but also constrain the PA’s ability to develop its institutions as well as limit politically its room for maneuver on tougher reforms.’”

25. Who stated the following in 2006? “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”

-Shlomo Ben-Ami: As Israel’s lead negotiator at Camp David, his opinion should carry considerable weight. What Shlomo Ben-Ami recognized was that Israel in fact offered the Palestinians an unviable Middle East Bantustan—several blocks of West Bank land with huge Jewish settlements in between.

   In the words of former Barak aide Tal Zilberstein, “[T]here are still people who say, ‘We gave them everything at Camp David and got nothing.’ This is a flagrant lie.” In fact, a detailed “and independent examination of the evidence found the Palestinian narrative of Camp David (and the subsequent Taba talks) to be ‘significantly more accurate than the Israeli narrative’.” (Beinart 2012, 72) (Black 2017, 369)

-Ehud Barak’s “final offer at Camp David…proposed that Israel annex the 9 percent of the West Bank that included the largest settlement ‘blocs’ while offering in return an area one-ninth as large inside the Green Line [i.e., the 1949 Armistice line]. Nine percent may not seem like much, but as some Israel officials have since conceded, annexing settlements like Ariel, which stretches thirteen miles beyond the Green Line, would have severely hindered Palestinian travel between the northern and southern halves of the West Bank. It also would have left Israel in control of much of the West Bank’s water supply. Moreover, Barak insisted on maintaining sovereignty for up to twelve years over part of the Jordan Valley, which comprises another 25 percent of the West Bank.” (Beinart 2012, 66-7)

   “[I]t is also important to note that Barak refrained from offering what for Arafat was the most important of all: sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount].” Without this, Arafat could not accept a deal, as this issue profoundly affected the broader Muslim community, not only the Palestinians. (Bregman 2014, 237)

  Barak accepted “Palestinian sovereignty over some parts of East Jerusalem, and Palestinian custodianship of the Haram al-Sharif with Palestinian security to protect it, though crucially it would still be under Israeli sovereignty. … Barak said [to Clinton]: ‘I don’t know a prime minister who would be willing to sign his name to the transfer of sovereignty over the First and Second Temple, which is the basis of Zionism.’” (Black 2017, 367)

   Regarding the question of Palestinian refugees, “Israel treated it as a humanitarian issue under which a token number would be allowed back under the rubric of family reunification. That was a far cry from the passionately held Palestinian demand for Israel’s recognition of its responsibility for creating the problem in 1948–the Nakba. Ben-Ami had told Arafat…: ‘I am not denying the morality of your demand for the right of return. However, we must together seek a formula whereby the right of return becomes symbolic.’ Palestinian leaders did in fact distinguish between Israel’s recognition of the right of return as a moral question and its implementation. But that did not mean it was easy to agree on practicalities, given Israel’s deep-seated fears about its Jewish character, demographics and security and being ‘swamped’ by Palestinians.” (Black 2017, 367-8)

-Negotiations soon after Camp David “also failed to achieve a breakthrough. In December 2000, President Clinton unfurled his ‘parameters’ for resolving the conflict; both sides accepted them with reservations. In January 2001, parleys resumed in Taba, Egypt. Although both parties affirmed that ‘significant progress had been made’ and they had ‘never been closer to agreement,’ Prime Minister Barak unilaterally ‘called a halt’ to these negotiations, and as a result ‘the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had ground to an indefinite halt.’” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, University of California Press, Oakland: 2018, 7-8. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2018.”)

   Before Camp David Clinton twice promised Arafat–who was very concerned about being blamed for failed talks–that if the summit failed “under no circumstances would he place the blame on Arafat…” Nevertheless, after Camp David in fact failed, Barak said Israel had no partner for peace and Clinton echoed Barak’s claim by publicly blaming Arafat. Barak and Clinton’s condemnations of Palestinian leadership soiled Arafat in the minds of most westerners and enabled Likudniks to dismiss calls for peace negotiations. (Bregman 2014, 221, 243-4)

   “Barak’s abbreviated term [as prime minister] wasn’t just the end of the Oslo process, it was the end of Labor’s image as Israel’s responsible party of government. For Labor, Barak’s defeat opened a prolonged period of constant infighting, low election results, and Likud dominance.” (For example, in the April 2019 elections, Labor won 6 seats, attracting just 4.4% of the vote.) (Pfeffer 2018, 287)

-In 2020, Shlomo Ben-Ami continues to argue that “Yasser Arafat, was right to reject the peace proposal made at Camp David…[However, Ben-Ami claims that] It was in rejecting the so-called Clinton Parameters…that [Arafat] made a grave mistake, effectively burying the prospect of Palestinian statehood.” Ben-Ami also makes the following points:
  –“Under the so-called Clinton Parameters, a large swath of Israeli settlements would be dismantled, in order to create a Palestinian state encompassing 100% of the Gaza Strip and 97% of the West Bank. Territories would be transferred from Israel, in exchange for the land the Palestinians conceded in the West Bank.”
  –“The Palestinian state would include the Arab sections of Jerusalem, which would serve as its capital, while the Jewish sections of the city would become Israel’s capital. This split would give the Palestinians sovereignty over al-Haram al-Sharif (which Jews call the Temple Mount), though Israelis would retain control over the Western Wall and its surrounding area.”
  –“A corridor would be created between Palestinian lands…making the new state contiguous.”
  –“[P]alestinian refugees would be able to choose to return without restrictions to the new state of Palestine, to return to the state of Israel with restrictions (as part of a family-reunification scheme), to resettle in a third country, and/or to receive financial compensation, funded by the international community.”
  –“Israeli negotiators wanted to translate the Parameters into an official settlement. That would have been a deal significantly better for the Palestinians than the one on offer at the Camp David summit. In fact, the improvement in terms vindicates Arafat’s decision to reject Barak’s proposals at Camp David.”
  –“[T]he Palestinians…resisted the Parameters, arguing that they should not be allowed to constrain future negotiations. During a last-ditch attempt to clinch an agreement in Taba, Egypt, Abu Ala, the chief Palestinian negotiator, admitted to us that Arafat was no longer interested in the offer.” (“In a 2002 letter, one of Arafat’s former ministers, Nabil Amr, condemned [Arafat’s] approach. ‘Because we have a just cause does not mean we are entitled to do what we want.’” “This compulsive indifference to the political and strategic context destroyed the Palestinians’ chances of securing a realistic, fair, and viable peace agreement…”)
  –“The Clinton administration did not fail to clinch peace 20 years ago only because of Arafat’s intransigence. The US negotiators viewed an agreement as a sentimental cause, rather than a security imperative.”

-In discussing the two-state solution, people often focus on the seemingly high percentage of West Bank land Israel is willing to “give” the Palestinians. However, focusing on percentages obscures essential details. For example, if Israel retains “the settlement blocs of Ariel, Karnei Shomron and Ma’ale Adumim [this] would trisect the West Bank, appropriate some of its most valuable land and resources and cut off East Jerusalem….[Furthermore,] East Jerusalem comprises just 1% of the West Bank, but a Palestinian state in its absence is unthinkable. Greater East Jerusalem—the triangle going from East Jerusalem to Ramallah to Bethlehem—accounts for 40% of the Palestinian economy.”

-“Even though most of the Arabs of the West Bank live under Palestinian Authority control, if they want to travel from one PA-controlled area to another they are almost invariably required to cross territory under Israel’s full control–Area C. In other words, while their place of residence is under their (relative) control, their movement is not. The Palestinians’ sense of occupation comes mostly from travel through Area C, where they have to pass checkpoints, are stopped by occasional patrols, and find themselves in daily friction with Israeli soldiers.”

   “Although most of the Palestinians in the West Bank reside in Areas A and B, tens if not hundreds of thousands live outside the areas of Palestinian self-rule. The Palestinians of Area C…enjoy neither Israeli citizenship like the Arabs who live in Israel nor self-rule like the Arabs living under the PA. They are governed directly by the Israeli military, their movement is restricted, and their rights are continuously violated.” (Micah Goodman, Catch-67: The Left, The Right, and The Legacy of The Six-Day War, Yale University Press: 2018, 158-9, 160. Hereinafter, “Goodman 2018.”)

-“When Obama pressured him in 2009, Netanyahu — a longstanding opponent of Palestinian statehood and champion of the settler movement — reversed course and endorsed a Palestinian state and instituted a partial settlement freeze. But when American pressure eased — largely because Congress would not sustain it — settlement growth returned and Netanyahu reasserted his opposition to a Palestinian state.” (Peter Beinart, Forward, 10 April 2019)

   In negotiations with the Palestinians in 2010, Netanyahu “refused to discuss the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, or the problem of refugees. Just about the only major issue he would discuss was the security arrangements that would accompany a peace deal.” By November 2010, “the negotiations were officially dead.” The US under Obama would not pressure Israel on the Occupation. The American political reality superseded the costs of Palestinian suffering. (Beinart 2012, 141-2, 145)

   In fact, “If there was a distinguishing feature of Obama’s [eight-year] record on Israel-Palestine, it was that, unlike his [five] recent predecessors, he had not a single achievement to his name. The presidents in the last three decades before him had all fallen far short of ending occupation or achieving peace, but each had at least inched the parties toward greater partition and Palestinian self-rule.” (In 2011, “Obama even ordered his UN ambassador to issue his sole veto of a UN Security Council resolution, one that called for a halt in settlement activity in words nearly identical to those already used by the administration. [And, despite the rantings of Fox News and Likudniks, Obama] provided more money and weapons than any of his predecessors to the Israeli government.”) (Thrall 2017, 212-3)

-In February 2016, “Israel’s prime minister turned down a regional peace initiative…that was brokered by then ­US Secretary of State John F. Kerry…in apparent contradiction to his stated goal of involving regional Arab powers in resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.”

   “Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a secret summit that Kerry organized in the southern Jordanian port city of Aqaba in February 2016 and included Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-­Sissi.”

   “[K]erry proposed regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — a key Netanyahu demand — alongside a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries. Netanyahu rejected the offer, which would have required a significant pullout from occupied land…”

   “The initiative also appeared to be the basis of short-­lived talks with moderate opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join the government, a plan that quickly unraveled when Netanyahu chose to bring in nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman instead… Herzog tweeted [on 19 Feb. 2017] that ‘history will definitely judge the magnitude of the opportunity as well as the magnitude of the missed opportunity.’”

   “[K]erry tried to sweeten the [2002] ‘Arab Peace Initiative,’ a Saudi-­led plan that offered Israel peace with dozens of Arab and Muslim nations in return for a pullout from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war to make way for an independent Palestinian state. Among the proposed changes were Arab recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians, and softened language on the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to lost properties in what is now Israel…”

   “[E]gyptian and Jordanian leaders reacted positively to the proposal, while Netanyahu refused to commit to anything beyond meetings with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.” (19 Feb. 2017)

-In July 2013, “After three years with no official negotiations, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to hold permanent status talks for nine months[, due to Secretary Kerry’s efforts]. During this period Israel committed to release 104 prisoners in four tranches, and the Palestinians suspended their requests to be accepted as an independent state by international organizations. Tzipi Livni was to represent Israel at the talks, but Yitzhak Molcho, who was there to report every detail back to Netanyahu–making sure maps never came up–gave Livni a limited mandate.” (Pfeffer 2018, 367)

   “By April 2014, the talks were bogged down. The Palestinians presented Livni with a list of demands, starting with a written commitment from Netanyahu on a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. When no answer was forthcoming, they renewed their application for full membership in the United Nations. In response, Israel announced that it would not release the last tranche of twenty-six prisoners and issued building permits for hundreds of new homes in East Jerusalem.” (Pfeffer 2018, 367-8)

   A few days later, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 8, Kerry stated, “‘The prisoners were not released by Israel on the day they were supposed to be released and then another day passed and another day, and then 700 units were approved in Jerusalem[’s Gilo neighborhood] and then poof–that was sort of the moment.’ Kerry sounded as if he was placing most of the blame on Israel, but no serious pressure came from the Obama administration to renew talks. Obama needed Kerry for the Iran negotiations, and with the administration hoping soon to sign the nuclear agreement, which Netanyahu would hate, it wasn’t the best of times to try and force anything on him.” (Pfeffer 2018, 368)

-Israel has a long record of missing opportunities for peace. “In December 1969, the US secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, William Rogers, presented a plan whereby Israel would retreat to its prewar borders, with a few modifications, and enter talks toward solving the Palestinian refugee problem. Israel had legitimate reservations about the plan, as it didn’t include any commitment by the Arab nations to recognize Israel or make peace with it. But instead of treating it as a starting point for negotiations, Meir attacked it publicly as ‘a disaster for Israel’ and launched a political campaign against it in Washington. This was the administration that was supplying fifty advanced F-4 Phantom fighter jets to Israel. Over the misgivings of her ‘dovish’ foreign minister, Abba Eban, Israel’s new ambassador to the US,…Rabin, promised Meir that Israel had sufficient support in Washington to call the administration’s bluff. Rabin also assured Meir that she could go ahead and approve the IDF’s plan to escalate the War of Attrition by launching a campaign of air strikes deep within Egypt against power plants, factories, and military bases. Not for the first time, Israel succeeded in influencing the US administration and Congress by playing one off against the other. … Soon Israeli and Soviet pilots were engaging in dogfights over Egypt.” (Pfeffer 2018, 85)

   “In June 1970,…Rogers proposed a new plan. This one called for a ceasefire and disengagement of forces between Israel and Egypt and an agreement from both countries along with Jordan, to enter UN-brokered negotiations based on Resolution 242. Meir initially rejected this ‘Rogers Plan’ as well, but after receiving a personal letter from Nixon promising that nothing would be imposed on Israel–including final borders and any solution to the Palestinian issue–and that the US would continue its military and financial assistance to Israel, she agreed. The administration also silently acquiesced to Israel’s nuclear ambitions.” (Pfeffer 2018, 85)

   “The ceasefire ending the War of Attrition…went into effect on August 7, 1970. Both sides immediately broke the agreement–Egypt by moving its antiaircraft missiles to the banks of the Suez Canal, and Israel by refusing to join negotiations. Nevertheless, a period of wary calm began…” (Pfeffer 2018, 86)

   Not one to give up easily, “In 1971, through UN and US intermediaries, Sadat passed on to the Israeli government proposals for entering a comprehensive peace process and an interim disengagement agreement between Israeli and Egyptian forces on the Suez Canal. Israel’s political and military leaderships were split over whether to take Sadat at face value. … Messages were relayed back and forth for months, but by early 1972, Sadat had seemed to lose interest.” (Pfeffer 2018, 95)

-In 2012, new information concerning the 1973 War was made public. It is now known that “eight months before the war, Anwar Sadat sent his trusted aide, Hafez Ismail, to the…US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. He offered the immediate start of peace negotiations with Israel. There was one condition and one date: all of Sinai, up to the international border, had to be returned to Egypt without any Israeli settlements, and the agreement had to be achieved by September, at the latest.”

   Kissinger “liked the proposal and transmitted it at once to the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin… Rabin, of course, immediately informed the Prime Minister, Golda Meir. She rejected the offer out of hand. There ensued a heated conversation between the ambassador and the Prime Minister. Rabin, who was very close to Kissinger, was in favor of accepting the offer. Golda treated the whole initiative as just another Arab trick to induce her to give up the Sinai Peninsula and remove the settlements built on Egyptian territory. After all, the real purpose of these settlements…was precisely to prevent the return of the entire peninsula to Egypt.” (Furthermore, at this time, Israel had extensive plans to settle the Egyptian Sinai, expel the Bedouins, and build kibbutzim and cities exclusively for Jews.)

   Even “before the new [2012] disclosures, the fact that Sadat had made several peace overtures was no secret. [For example,] Sadat had indicated his willingness to reach an agreement in his dealings with the UN mediator Dr. Gunnar Jarring…” In 1971, Sadat courageously offered Israel peace and recognition in return for the Sinai. However, Prime Minister Meir and her cabinet rejected him, thus missing an opportunity for peace.

   Due to Israel’s intransigence toward Sadat’s initiatives, on 6 October 1973 Egyptian “troops struck across the Suez Canal and achieved a world-shaking surprise success (as did the Syrians on the Golan Heights). As a direct result…2693 Israeli soldiers died, 7251 were wounded and 314 were taken prisoner (along with the tens of thousands of Egyptian and Syrian casualties)….Sadat had no illusions of victory [rather he] hoped that a war would compel the US and Israel to start negotiations for the return of Sinai.” And in fact postwar negotiations resulted in a peace treaty and Israel’s withdrawal from all of Sinai.

   Israel continues to ignore Palestinian peace offers as well as the 2002 “Arab Peace Initiative, supported by all the Arab and all the Muslim states.” And, again, “settlements are put up and expanded, in order to make the return of the occupied territories impossible. (Let’s remember all those who claimed, [prior to 1973,] that the occupation of Sinai was ‘irreversible’. [Yet, by 1982, Israel evacuated the whole of the Egyptian Sinai.])”

-“The [US] requirement to protect Israel’s ‘qualitative military edge’ is enshrined in 2008 naval vessel transfer legislation, although it had been implemented as a matter of policy between Washington and Jerusalem since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Important elements of the 2008 law are ‘the ability [for Israel] to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states…while sustaining minimal damage and causalities, through the use of superior military means.’”

-It is commonly debated whether “Arab hatred of Israel and the Jews is primarily responsible for the repeated failures to end the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. In fact, there should be no [debate] because the historical record is irrefutable: the Arab states, individually and collectively, have repeatedly sought to make peace with Israel….[T]hroughout the entire history of the conflict, all the relevant Arab states have repeatedly offered to settle their conflict with Israel, essentially in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from conquered and occupied Arab lands.” For example, “[A]t the 1949 Lausanne conference [convened by the UN to resolve disputes arising from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War] the main Arab states proposed a peace settlement to Israel, provided (1) that Israel agree to withdraw from the territories it conquered in the 1948 war and return to the borders established by the 1947 UN partition and (2) that it agree to the return of the Palestinian refugees who had fled the 1948 war or had been expelled by Israel. Israel turned down the Arab proposal.” Thus, in brief, “the evidence demonstrates that Israel could have reached a settlement with the main Arab states collectively in the summer of 1949, or bilaterally with Egypt in 1948 and again in the early 1970s (thus avoiding the 1973 Israeli-Egyptian War), with Syria in 1949 and again in the 1990s, with Saudi Arabia since 1981, and with Lebanon and Jordan since the onset of the conflict. Moreover, since 2002 the entire Arab League has formally, unanimously and on repeated occasions proposed an entirely fair overall peace agreement with Israel. And, above all, the evidence is overwhelming that since the 1980s at the latest, Yasser Arafat and the mainstream Palestinian leadership have wanted to reach a two-state settlement with Israel, based on the international consensus of what such a settlement would entail. Indeed, the weight of the evidence suggests that even Hamas would, however reluctantly, agree to accept or at least not disrupt a two-state settlement.”

   “Soon after the end of the War of Independence,” Ben-Gurion rhetorically asked his Cabinet, “‘On what basis do you propose that we conduct negotiations?…Should we bring back the refugees, the 1947 borders, should we give up Jerusalem, give up the Negev [to Egypt]?’ … A few months later, Ben-Gurion reiterated that he always favored peace, but that ‘there are limits to our desire for peace with the Arabs.’ He had used almost those same words more than thirty years previously. As in the past, he was piqued by claims that Israel was missing chances for peace.” (Segev 2019, 506, 507)

-It is very likely that the Palestinians and “the Arab states only came around to acquiescing in Israel’s existence after they suffered a string of military defeats [culminating in the 1967 War]. However, Tel Aviv insists not only on its being accepted but also on regional supremacy.” (Finkelstein 2012, 70)

-The many iterations of Israel-Palestine peace talks have failed primarily because it has been rational for Israel to frustrate them. It’s a simple fact that as the costs of an agreement far outweigh the benefits, Israel chooses the status quo.

   The costs “Israel would risk incurring through [a peace] accord are massive. They include perhaps the greatest political upheaval in the country’s history; enormous demonstrations against–if not majority rejection of–Palestinian sovereignty in [East Jerusalem[,] [including] the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary; and violent rebellion by some Jewish settlers and their supporters. There could also be bloodshed during forcible evacuations of West Bank settlements and rifts within the body implementing the evictions, the Israeli army, whose share of religious infantry officers now surpasses one third. Israel would lose military control over the West Bank, resulting in less intelligence-gathering, less room for manoeuvre in future wars, and less time to react to a surprise attack….The country would cease extraction of the West Bank’s natural resources, including water, [and] lose profits from managing Palestinian customs and trade…”

   “Only a fraction of these costs could be offset by a peace agreement’s benefits. But chief among [the benefits] would be the blow dealt to efforts to delegitimise Israel and the normalisation of relations with other nations of the region. Israeli businesses would be able to operate more openly in Arab states, and government cooperation with such countries as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would go from covert to overt.”

   “[However, with the status quo,] Israel continues to receive more US military aid per year than goes to all the world’s other nations combined, and presides over a growing economy, rising standards of living and a population that reports one of the world’s highest levels of subjective wellbeing. Israel will go on absorbing the annoying but so-far tolerable costs of complaints about settlement policies. And it will likely witness several more countries bestowing the State of Palestine with symbolic recognition, a few more negative votes in impotent university student councils, limited calls for boycotts of settlement goods, and occasional bursts of violence that the greatly overpowered Palestinians are too weak to sustain.”

   Furthermore, “history suggests that a strategy of waiting [to make a deal serves Israel] well: from the British government’s 1937 Peel Commission partition plan and the UN partition plan of 1947 to UN Security Council Resolution 242 [of November 1967] and the Oslo accords [of the 1990s], every formative initiative endorsed by the great powers has given more to the Jewish community in Palestine than the previous one.” And, “If and when Israel is confronted with the [ultimate political] threat of a single [Palestinian-majority] state [encompassing Israel and the occupied territories], it can enact a unilateral withdrawal and count on the support of the great powers in doing so.”

   “Only two things can [overcome Israel’s preference of the status quo over a fair agreement]: a more attractive agreement, or a less attractive [status quo]. The first of these options has been tried extensively, from offering Israel full normalisation with most Arab and Islamic states to promising upgraded relations with Europe, US security guarantees, and increased financial and military assistance. But for Israel these inducements pale in comparison to the perceived costs.”

   “The second option is to make the [status quo] worse. This is what President Eisenhower did following the 1956 Suez crisis when he threatened economic sanctions to get Israel to withdraw from Sinai and Gaza. This is what President Ford did in 1975 when he reassessed US relations with Israel, refusing to provide it with new [economic or] arms deals until it agreed to a second Sinai withdrawal. This is what President Carter did when he raised the spectre of terminating US military assistance if Israel did not immediately evacuate Lebanon in September 1977. And this is what Carter did when he made clear to both sides at Camp David [in 1978] that the United States would withhold aid and downgrade relations if they did not sign an agreement. This, likewise, is what the US secretary of state James Baker did in 1991, when he forced a reluctant Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend negotiations in Madrid by withholding a $10bn loan guarantee that Israel needed to absorb the immigration of Soviet Jews. That was the last time the United States applied pressure of this sort.” (These examples of US pressure during the Cold War worked: Eisenhower’s 1956 threat led to Israeli troops starting to leave Egypt within 36 hours; Ford’s 1975 threat led to Israel partially withdrawing from the Sinai in 1975; Carter’s 1977 threat led to Israel withdrawing from Lebanon in 1977; Carter’s 1978 threat led to Israel eventually withdrawing from the entire Sinai; and, Bush’s 1991 threat led to Israel participating in the 1991 Madrid Conference where it negotiated, for the first time, with a delegation of Palestinians. (20 May 2019))

   In fact, since Oslo, the US has not only abstained from applying pressure, it has facilitated “the low cost of Israel’s [status quo] option. Successive US administrations [with assistance from allies] have [spent billions financing] the Palestinian government, trained its resistance-crushing security forces, [created conditions of prosperity for Palestinian decision-makers in Ramallah,] pressured the PLO not to confront Israel in international institutions, vetoed UN Security Council resolutions that were not to Israel’s liking, shielded Israel’s arsenal from calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, ensured Israel’s military superiority over all of its neighbours, provided the country with more than $3bn in military aid each year [which approximates 20 percent of the Israeli defense budget]…”

   “The Palestinians…have endeavoured to make Israel’s [status quo] less attractive through two uprisings and other periodic bouts of violence. But the extraordinary price they paid proved unsustainable, and on the whole they have been too weak to worsen Israel’s [status quo] for very long. As a result, Palestinians have been unable to induce more from Israel than tactical concessions, steps meant to reduce friction between the populations in order not to end occupation but to mitigate it and restore its low cost.”

-Israel will not end the occupation “until subjugating millions of Palestinians becomes uncomfortable for Israeli Jews. [Accordingly], Palestinians must stop serving as agents of their own oppression. Right now, the Palestinian Authority serves as Israel’s subcontractor in the West Bank: It picks up the garbage; it runs the schools; it represses dissent against both itself and Israel. When that changes—when the Palestinian Authority disbands and stops doing Israel’s dirty work—Israeli Jews will grow uncomfortable. They’ll grow uncomfortable because they’ll be forced to choose between chaos in the West Bank, which could threaten Israeli security, and direct occupation of the West Bank, which would require Israeli 19-year-olds to patrol every Palestinian city and town.” (Peter Beinart, Forward, 10 April 2019)

Background: 1975 Disengagement
“In 1974, [US Secretary of State] Kissinger embarked on a series of ‘shuttle diplomacy’ missions between Jerusalem, Cairo, and Damascus to help broker disengagement agreements… The US was rattled by the Soviet intervention at the end of the [1973] War, when the Kremlin had threatened using its own military might, perhaps even nuclear weapons, if Israel continued to pursue its advantage against Syria and Egypt. For the first time US forces were placed on DEFCON 3, a defense readiness alert. The Arab oil boycott, in response to the [massive US] arms airlift [to replenish Israel], had damaged the US economy and was felt by ordinary citizens at the gas pump. Achieving a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace became a strategic interest of US foreign policy…” (Pfeffer 2018, 110)
   In March 1975, following Prime Minister “Rabin’s rejection of yet another disengagement plan, [President] Ford and Kissinger openly blamed Israel for the failure of the initiative. The president announced a ‘reassessment’ of US ties with Israel, including a freeze on arms sales. Rabin set out to overturn the president’s decision, mobilizing support in the Democratic Congress. On May 22, seventy-six senators…signed a letter condemning Ford’s decision. Ultimately, a compromise was reached. Israel agreed to sign a disengagement agreement with Egypt whereby its forces would retreat nearly forty kilometers in Sinai, leaving a buffer zone between the two armies. To compensate Israel, Rabin and Ford agreed on a secret deal that included the supply of advanced weaponry, including F-15 and F-16 fighter jets; an emergency plan for resupplying Israel in case of war; American guarantees for Israel’s oil supplies; and the assurance that the US would not recognize the PLO as long as the PLO refused to recognize Israel.” (Pfeffer 2018, 111)

Background: 1981 AWACS Deal and Golan Heights Law
President Ronald Reagan “decided to sell Saudi Arabia five Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. The administration insisted that selling AWACS…would bolster their ally as a bulwark against both Iranian and Soviet influence… Israel claimed that the advanced technology would render its air force transparent to the Arabs. [Prime Minister] Begin mobilized Israel’s supporters on Capitol Hill as well as American Jewish organizations. … In the run-up to the Senate vote, Reagan sternly warned, ‘It is not the business of other nations to make US foreign policy.’” All the AWACS were delivered by 1987. (The US, as a world power, has competing interests in many regions, including the Middle East. Tensions with some allies are therefore inevitable at times.) (Pfeffer 2018, 140)
   In December 1981 “the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli sovereignty to the territory captured from Syria in 1967 [i.e, implicit annexation]. The Reagan administration, infuriated by the unilateral move, suspended the strategic alliance [that was formalized in a November 1981 Memorandum of Understanding, and the millions in potential arms sales] in retribution.” An enraged Prime Minister Begin complained bitterly about the punishment. His reaction revealed the existence of some tension in the US-Israeli relationship. (Pfeffer 2018, 141) 

Background: 1991 Madrid Conference
“On the [First] Intifada’s third anniversary in December 1990, the outlook for the Palestinians was still uncertain.” Not for the first time, Palestinians would find themselves victims of larger geopolitical developments. “Operation Desert Storm began on 17 January 1991, when the UN deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expired, with a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq. Iraq immediately launched eight Scud missiles against Tel Aviv and Haifa… [Prime Minister] Shamir…was persuaded by the Americans to hold back from retaliation, because had Israel struck Iraq it would have triggered the departure of Egypt and Syria and perhaps Saudi Arabia from the anti-Saddam coalition.” (The Scuds damaged property, killed two people and made Tel Aviv at night resemble “a West Bank town under Israeli curfew.” Understandably, occupied Palestinians enjoyed seeing Israelis cower due to Arab missiles.)
   It was clear from “the start of the Kuwait crisis that Arafat’s support for Saddam had been a grave miscalculation.” (“Arafat had drawn closer to Saddam over the preceding year in part because of Iraq’s generous financial support for the Intifada, which far outstripped the contributions of other Arab states.”) “In the wake of the war some 300,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, destroying thriving immigrant communities and causing serious financial hardship in the occupied territories, and increasing dependence on Israel as a source of livelihood.”
   Immediately after “the Gulf war ended, a new phase of US diplomacy began. President George H. W. Bush, pursuing what he had grandiosely named a ‘New World Order’, renewed efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue…On 6 March 1991 Bush announced to Congress that he was seeking an Arab-Israeli peace treaty….[Secretary of state James] Baker was leading a new drive for progress on the basis of ‘the principle of territory for peace’–one that had never been accepted by the Likud…” Bush and Baker’s endeavor “was the…most ambitious drive in nearly two decades to secure an Arab-Israeli peace settlement–and, crucially, one that included the Palestinians for the first time.”
   On the eve of one of Baker’s eight trips to the region to prepare for the Madrid conference, Gush Emunim settlers, probably to send a message to Baker, established a West Bank outpost named Revava. The issue of the enhanced pace of settlement activity “was then raised in an unusually troubling way [for Israel] when the US demanded a delay in response to Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees to help the settlement of Soviet immigrants [who began arriving in significant numbers in late 1980s when Gorbachev allowed Jews to emigrate to Israel]. It was the first time since the Suez crisis in 1956 that a US administration had made financial aid conditional on a change in Israeli policy.” (Black 2017, 304, 307-12)
   Bush and Baker “shared the view that as the recipient of the largest annual sum of American foreign aid, Israel could stand to be lectured on its policies.” Accordingly, they used blunt language to encourage Israel to give up its unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel, and therefore stop expanding illegal settlements. In 1990, Baker even accused “Israel of lacking interest in the diplomatic process.” He told Israel to call the White House when it became serious about peace. (Pfeffer 2018, 172)
   In part due to the strained relations between Bush and Shamir, Rabin and Labor won the 1992 elections. “The results, however, concealed the fact that Rabin hadn’t stopped Israel’s shift to the right. … Rabin won the elections presenting a hawkish image. He…promis[ed] not to negotiate with the PLO, never to allow the creation of a Palestinian state… Many of the new citizens who had recently arrived from the Soviet Union held nationalist views but voted for the tough General Rabin over the tired…Shamir.” (“With Shamir gone, the Bush administration authorized the $10 billion in loan guarantees, though settlement-building continued under Labor. [As] emigration from the former Soviet Union had ebbed somewhat,…the government used only two-thirds of the loan.”) (Pfeffer 2018, 185, 192)

Background: First Oslo Agreement
“On August 27, [1993,] Israelis learned that for the past seven months, secret negotiations had been held between Israeli representatives and senior PLO members under the auspices of the Norwegian government in…Oslo. … By August, an agreement had been reached whereby the PLO would officially recognize Israel and commit to ending the violence [related to the Intifada]. Israel, in turn, would recognize the PLO as representing the Palestinian people and allow Arafat to establish, in the first stage, a Palestinian Authority in Gaza as well as in one West Bank city, Jericho. Following that, negotiations would take place regarding further Israeli pullbacks in the West Bank.” (Israel, however, made no formal indication with regard to Palestinian statehood.) (Pfeffer 2018, 198)
   Netanyahu “lost little time lambasting the Oslo Agreement. ‘…The government is allowing the PLO to carry out its plan to destroy Israel,’ he declared in the Knesset. But the leader of the opposition was, for now, an irrelevant figure…” (“In another Knesset speech, he likened the Rabin government to the British leadership that in 1938 had signed the Munich Agreement, ceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler’s Germany.”) However, “The world’s eyes were on Rabin on September 10 as he signed the letter recognizing the PLO. Three days later, the first Oslo Agreement was signed on the White House Lawn…” (Pfeffer 2018, 199)
   The real battle against Oslo was “taking place on the streets in violent protests in Jerusalem. The protesters weren’t Likudniks, but religious settlers who hadn’t forgiven Likud’s prime minister, Begin, for giving up Sinai to Egypt, or Shamir for going to the Madrid Conference.” (Pfeffer 2018, 199)
   Nevertheless, “The first months of the Oslo process were euphoric. On the way back from Washington, Rabin stopped over in Morocco for a first public meeting with King Hassan. A few weeks later, secret talks that would soon lead to a peace agreement began with Jordan. All of a sudden peace between Israel and the Arab world seemed tangible….Some polls had support for the Oslo Agreements at over 60 percent.” (Pfeffer 2018, 200)
   It wasn’t just widespread public support “for the Oslo process. The Labor government was also presiding over a period of unprecedented economic boom….Flush with funds from the American loan guarantees and the fruits of a privatization drive, the government invested in infrastructure building and the first Israeli venture capital funds that gave the tech sector the boost it needed to begin competing with the world. The uneven distribution of the fruits of this prosperity would ultimately have dire political results for Labor; but during the early Oslo period, as foreign investment…spiraled and the prospect of the Middle East opening up for business beckoned, peace and prosperity seemed unstoppable…” (Pfeffer 2018, 200)
   “Rabin, tellingly, had been especially keen to devolve security matters to Arafat: ‘The Palestinians will be better at it than we were’, he argued, ‘because they will allow no appeals to the supreme court…They will rule by their own methods, freeing, and this is most important, Israeli army soldiers from having to do what they will do.’” Furthermore, “Israel had sole control over external borders, the collection of import taxes and VAT, and was thus able–crucially–to withhold financial transfers as a means of pressure or punishment.” (Black 2017, 330, 332)
   Effective cooperation between the Shin Bet and Palestinian security forces “helped reduce anti-Israeli attacks…until [the start of the Second Intifada in] late 2000.” “By 1998 PA security forces numbered 35,000, making the 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip among the most highly policed people in the world.” (Black 2017, 354, 355)
   “[H]amas condemned the Oslo Accords, as it opposed the recognition of Israel on which they were premised. It joined forces with Marxist and other nationalist groups to form a rejectionist front that called for the continuation of jihad. As peace talks were launched, Hamas maintained military operations against the Israeli army and settlers, even though this put it at odds with public sentiment. But early hope regarding the peace process faded swiftly. Following Goldstein’s killing spree, Hamas expanded its attacks to target civilians in Israel…In response to Hamas’s bombings, thousands of Hamas members were arrested by the PA and Israel as security coordination mechanisms were initiated throughout the West Bank and Gaza.” (Baconi 2018, 32)

Background: Oslo II Accord
On 28 September 1995, “Israel and the PLO signed the ‘Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,’ more commonly known as the Oslo II Accord. Israeli forces were to pull out of all the Palestinian cities, as they had from Gaza and Jericho, and from 450 villages.” “[A] significant part was the territorial arrangements it laid down. The occupied territories were divided into three zones: Area A consisted of Palestinian towns and urban areas and comprised 2.8 percent of the territory; here the PA had full responsibility for law and order. Area B was made up of villages and sparsely populated areas, comprising 22.9 percent of the West Bank: there the PA looked after public order while the Israelis retained overall security control. By far the largest part, at 74.3 percent of the territory, was Area C, which comprised important agricultural areas and water sources and where Israel retained full responsibility for security and public order. [Area C included all Jewish settlements, the roads leading to them, and borders with Israel and Jordan.] That meant that the PA was responsible for managing all Palestinian residents but had full control of just 2.8 percent of the land. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were recognized as a single territorial unit, but with a highly significant and overarching reservation — ‘with the exception of issues that will be negotiated in Permanent Status negotiations’.” (Pfeffer 2018, 208-9) (Black 2017, 340)
   When Rabin presented Oslo II in the Knesset in early October 1995, he “said it would lead to ‘less than a state’ for the Palestinians. He promised that the settlements would not be moved, Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli sovereignty, and Israel would ‘not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.’” However, due to vehement settler opposition and the suicide bombings Israel experienced during 1995, “Oslo II barely scraped through in a 61-59 vote….The right wing blasted Rabin for passing the agreement ‘on the votes of Arabs…’ In and outside the Knesset, the Oslo II debate was the stormiest period of Rabin’s premiership.” (Pfeffer 2018, 209)
   The tragic result of this ugly debate — one that included Jewish extremists handing out photomontages of Rabin wearing an SS officer’s cap — is well told at the following site:
   The PLO and Israel’s Labor government (now with Peres as prime minister) “indicated a willingness to proceed with the peace process, even though talks were stalling. In response, Hamas strategically persisted in its suicide missions to derail the process, despite continued opposition from the Palestinian public. Hamas’s campaign of suicide bombing had a powerful impact on the Israeli electorate, which in 1996 voted to replace the Labor government with a more security-oriented and right-wing Likud government under…Netanyahu.” (“Aided by Israel, the PA sustained its crackdown on Hamas, causing severe damage to the movement. Hamas was further weakened when the US designated it a terrorist organization in 1997…”) (Baconi 2018, 33)
   In an unsuccessful attempt to gain the endorsement of influential rabbis before the 1996 election, Peres, with Arafat’s consent, rescheduled the pullback from Hebron, a special place in Jewish history, to June 15, two weeks after the election. Netanyahu, also courting the religious, “promised the settlers and the Chabad rabbis that he would stand by them, saying, ‘You can trust me on Hebron.’ The [June] date passed, and Netanyahu stonewalled…” (Pfeffer 2018, 244)
   “The PA functioned like most Arab states, buying loyalty by providing secure jobs for a grateful people. ‘The effect upon Palestinian society was catastrophic’, lamented Mustafa Barghouti, an opponent of Oslo from the start. ‘People began to compete with one another for jobs and money…because a lot of money was at stake, part outside funding, part tax revenues.’ The creation of competing security agencies, ministries and departments with overlapping responsibilities allowed Arafat to intervene personally to impose his own control.” “Arafat’s critics described ‘a ramshackle, nepotistic edifice of monopoly, racketeering and naked extortion which merely enriches…[the leadership] as it further impoverishes society at large’. … In late 1999 a score of prominent figures, including nine members of parliament, issued a statement accusing Arafat of tyranny, corruption and deceit. Eight of the signatories were arrested; the MPs, who enjoyed immunity, faced violent intimidation.” Meanwhile “For many Palestinians the economic situation worsened in the post-Oslo years”, as the economy was “ravaged by repeated Israeli closures.” (Black 2017, 344, 357)

Background: Hebron Agreement
“On January 16, 1997, the Knesset passed the Hebron Agreement 87-17. Most of those voting against it were members of Netanyahu’s coalition. The Agreement included a redeployment of Israeli military forces that had already been agreed to in Oslo II, and it affected only a tiny portion of the West Bank. It was historic nonetheless. For the first time, a Likud prime minister had ordered Israeli troops to pull out from part of the historical Land of Israel and allowed the Palestinians to take control of a piece of the historical Jewish homeland.” (Pfeffer 2018, 246)
   However, “It was a miserable compromise. The 450 Jewish settlers in the heart of [Hebron] were not relocated. Hebron was split into two parts, with 80 percent of the city under Palestinian control and 20 percent under Israeli control, though the settlers constituted only 0.3 percent of its population. The deal meant that thousands of Palestinians, as well as the city’s old commercial center, would remain under Israeli military occupation. Even this compromise —  not moving one settler and keeping full Israeli control of the Tomb of the Patriarchs — was met with an outcry from the ideological right…” (Pfeffer 2018, 246)

Background: 1998 Wye River Memorandum
By early 1998, while Netanyahu repeated his excuses, Arafat had a growing list of valid complaints: “Israel had yet to allow the Palestinians to operate an airport in Gaza, would not release prisoners, would not arrest violent settlers, and would not stop building in the settlements, on top of not carrying out the further redeployments in the West Bank.” Accordingly, to push the parties to resume the implementation of the 1995 Oslo II Accord, the US brokered the Wye River summit. (Pfeffer 2018, 260-1)
   The main result, after some prodding of Netanyahu by President Clinton, was Israel agreeing “to a three-stage redeployment from 13 percent of the West Bank over a period of twelve weeks.” While the Wye agreement “had the support of more than three-quarters of Israelis”, Netanyahu “turned rightward, toward the 20 percent of the population that was against Wye — the hardcore Revisionists and settlers. They were his political tribe, and like them, Netanyahu hated the agreement he had just signed… He lost no time in trying to sabotage it.” (Pfeffer 2018, 266, 267)
   “The slow pace of implementation failed to assuage the hard right.” Shamir compared Netanyahu to Rabin for giving up parts of the West Bank. “Ariel Sharon backed Netanyahu in public, but privately he urged the settlers to take advantage of the weak prime minister quickly, by illegally occupying hilltops throughout the West Bank.” “Move, run and grab as many hilltops as you can to enlarge settlements”, Sharon urged, “because everything we take now will stay ours.” (Pfeffer 2018, 268) (Black 2017, 359)
  “On 18 December 1998, the Clinton administration and the EU declared their contentment about the implementation of the first phase of the Memorandum by both sides. Israel, however, had only implemented stage 1 of the further redeployment, meaning that it had withdrawn from 2% [mainly wasteland] of Area C instead of the required 13%. Both parties accused each other of not fulfilling its share of responsibilities under the Wye River Memorandum, and the further implementation of the agreement remained unfinished.”
   Clinton was resigned to the reality that Netanyahu was not going to do more. As the Knesset was set to vote for early elections, Clinton had reason to hope that a new government would energize the Oslo process. “On 17 May [1999], Ehud Barak was elected prime minister… [However,] Barak had to run as a hawkish and centrist general, which is what he was, to win.” (Pfeffer 2018, 268, 278)

Background: Clinton’s Parameters
“US diplomatic efforts intensified as the violence [of the Second Intifada] escalated….In November 2000 the Israelis began carrying out ‘targeted killlings’…using Apache helicopter gunships. … On 23 December, with just two weeks left in the White House, the president tried to [encourage a peace agreement] by issuing what he called ‘general parameters’ for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement…: a ‘fair and lasting agreement’, he believed, would require Israel to surrender 94-96 percent of the West Bank, with the Palestinians obtaining 1-3 percent compensation for areas that were annexed by Israel. Eighty percent of the settlers would be in blocs, with contiguity of territory for each side. Israel’s withdrawal would be carried out in phases over three years while an international force was deployed. There would be three Israeli early warning stations on the West Bank, and liaison arrangements with the Palestinians. Agreement would be needed on access for Israeli forces in an emergency and on Israeli flights through Palestinian air space. The Palestinian state would be ‘non-militarized’. In Jerusalem, sovereignty would be divided — though exactly how would need working out. Al-Quds [the Arabic word for Jerusalem] was to be the Palestinian capital; special arrangements would be made for the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Refugees would be able to return to the Palestinian state. Israel might accept some but would not be required to do so. It would be asked to recognize the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the 1948 war and assist international efforts to address the refugee problem.” Clinton added that if his parameters were not accepted now, “They go with me when I leave office.” (Black 2017, 373-5)
   “[A] final round of negotiations began in the Egyptian resort of Taba on 21 January 2001. President George W. Bush…had replaced Clinton…and new Israeli elections were looming in just two weeks. … Over six days the two sides returned to the final status issues as laid out by Clinton’s ‘parameters’, though both of them had reservations. The Palestinians rejected Israeli maps — and objected to their plans for annexation. The Israelis accused the other side of wanting Israel to make all the concessions.” (Black 2017, 375)

Background: Trump’s 2020 Plan
On January 28, 2020, the Trump administration unveiled its plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, titled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People.” Despite its title, the following elements of the plan show that it isn’t to be taken seriously. In fact, rather than peace, the plan’s goals seem to be to aid Netanyahu’s political standing, firm up Trump’s evangelical base, and ensure continued funding to Trump from wealthy Jewish donors.

-Unilateral: The plan was “drafted with no input from Palestinian leaders”, as “their negotiators cut off ties when Trump’s team decided to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” Accordingly, the plan was unveiled with Trump alongside Netanyahu “but with no Palestinian leadership present”. (It should be noted that the administration has also: failed to endorse the internationally backed two-state solution, thus reversing decades of policy; “cut millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians”; and, declared “it no longer views Israeli settlements in occupied territory as ‘inconsistent with international law’.”)

-1947, 1993, 2020: “Trump’s deal is…the third major framework–after the 1947 UN Partition Plan and the Oslo accords initiated in 1993–supposedly offering territorial partition between Israelis and Palestinians.” The pattern of each is “to offer the Palestinians even less of their homeland.” And when the framework fails—which is, of course, blamed on the Palestinians–the failure has been used by Israel “as a pretext to steal more territory.”

-Bantustans: The plan’s map proposes “a patchwork of Palestinian islands best viewed alongside the map of South Africa’s apartheid-era Bantustans.” (“The Trump administration provided two maps with its proposal, but did not demarcate the current Green Line [i.e., the 1949 Armistice line] on the maps, leaving some guesswork as to how the new lines compared to the existing ones.”)

   Due to the proposed partition, and the fact “Israel will control all security, territorial waters, airspace, and international crossings of this nonstate”, the following consequences result: (a) “Palestine would have no control over its borders, and therefore its foreign relations and trade.” (b) “It would be deprived of key resources, such as its offshore waters, which include large deposits of natural gas; its airspace; and its electromagnetic spectrum.” (c) “It would be deprived of its most fertile land, its quarries, its water sources, and access to the Dead Sea and its related mineral and cosmetics industries.” These consequences make it very likely that the Palestinian economy would continue to be largely aid dependent.

-Contiguous (or Not): “The White House has lauded its plan by saying it places some 97% of Israelis living in the West Bank within contiguous Israeli territory and some 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank within contiguous Palestinian territory. By ‘contiguous,’ Trump administration officials mean a series of ‘bridges and tunnels’ set down in the plan that would allow Palestinians and Israelis to travel over and under each other between areas belonging to their respective states without having to pass through Israeli checkpoints or drive around the other side’s enclaves…” However, it isn’t clear where specifically “those bridges and tunnels would be placed…With its thickly drawn lines, the map is as vague about Palestinian interconnectedness as it is about how Israelis will access 15 Israeli enclaves that require them to drive through Palestinian areas. As such, it’s not clear from the plan exactly how many passages would need to be built, how long each would stretch, and where these passages might create bottlenecks for the flow of people and goods inside a ‘contiguous’ Palestinian state.”

-Land Swap: “[An] area just below the West Bank includes semi-arid desert, and is today home to a sparse population of Bedouin and some military training areas. It marks a third significant chunk of what is Israeli territory intended for land swaps with the future Palestine, to compensate for the 30% of West Bank territory — notably including the Jordan Valley area and all the settlements — that is to be annexed by Israel with American backing. The two other chunks of Israeli territory to be swapped are both in the Negev, near the Israel-Egypt border.”

-Security and Control: “[T]he plan calls for a future state of Palestine to basically never be able to secure itself. ‘The State of Palestine will not have the right to forge military, intelligence or security agreements with any state or organization that adversely affects the State of Israel’s security, as determined by the State of Israel,’ the document reads. ‘The State of Palestine will not be able to develop military or paramilitary capabilities inside or outside of the State of Palestine.’ In other words, a future Palestinian state would not be able to create armed forces to protect itself [from Israel?] or fight others.”

   According to the plan, it’s apparent that “only Israelis are worthy of security, so only Israel needs to have security capacities and control….[In fact, according to the plan,] ‘The security portion of this vision was developed based on our best understanding of the security requirements of the State of Israel’…”

   “With Israel in control of the land, sea, air, and border crossings, more should not be necessary. But [just] in case…, the text stipulates that ‘solely as determined by the State of Israel, the State of Israel will rely on blimps, drones and similar aerial equipment for security purposes.’”

   To protect Israel in case it repeats past crimes, the plan holds that “Democratic Palestine…would not be eligible to partake of international justice. Should Israel commit atrocities against Palestinians, the PA would have to forgo any appeals to [international organizations or] the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which adjudicates on war crimes.”

-Jerusalem: “Israel gets the entirety of an undivided Jerusalem as its capital.” (Therefore, “Israel has absolute control of East Jerusalem, the planned capital of a Palestinian state.”) “A future state of Palestine would get a few neighborhoods in far eastern Jerusalem.” (While Israel calls Jerusalem its undivided capital, “few countries recognize it as such. UNSC Resolution 478 condemns Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem as a violation of international law and calls for a compromise solution.”)

-Temple Mount: “The US plan calls for maintaining the decades-old ‘status quo’ on the Temple Mount–according to which only Muslims may pray at the site, while Jews are permitted only restricted visits–but appears to contradict itself in stating: ‘People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.’”

-Refugees: “The text asserts that ‘there shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.’ Not only that, but Israel can decide how many and which Palestinian refugees could take up residence in the new nonstate of Palestine.” “The final insult is reserved for the compensation file. Compensation implies suffering….To remove any such impression, we are told that funds would be far better off ‘if used to implement the Trump economic plan.’”

-Remarcating Arab Israelis: “The plan envisages a possible ethnic division of the land–the core of international partition plans of the past, but an idea that has been called racist when applied by present-day Israel to its Arab minority. The plan suggests entire towns, including Umm al-Fahm, Ar’are and others in the so-called ‘Triangle’ area adjacent to the northern West Bank [–whose youth are fourth-generation Hebrew-speaking citizens–] could be handed over to the Palestinian state, but does not explicitly state whether those towns’ residents would see their Israeli citizenship revoked in favor of a Palestinian one.” (This aspect of the plan is “a blatant ploy to reduce Israel’s Arab population by three hundred thousand.”)

-Conditions: The plan sets “a series of conditions the Palestinians have to meet before receiving independence…”—and these preconditions “‘must be determined to have occurred by the State of Israel and the US jointly, acting in good faith, after consultation with the Palestinian Authority.’” (In other words, Israel gets veto power.) For example, “Before it can be recognised as a state, the PA is expected to enforce the disarmament of the Palestinian factions, including its militant rival Hamas.” The plan also requires the “Palestinian leadership to declare Israel the ‘nation state of the Jewish people,’ even though Israeli Arabs constitute a fifth of the population, and the phrase could suggest a rabbinic theocracy…”

-Israel’s Obligations: “Israel is only asked to not do or give up things it has already declared no interest in.” “Israel has defined all the land it wants; it can both continue building there without disturbance and extend Israeli sovereignty in all such areas, with American endorsement.”

   As the “army and settlers have cemented Israeli rule over 62 percent of the West Bank–territory Oslo declared as Area C–that includes its best agricultural land, water sources and mineral wealth[, the] only thing left for Israel to do now is formalise that control and ensure it is irreversible. That requires making permanent the current apartheid system in the West Bank, which enforces one set of laws for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians.” (In the West Bank, Israeli Jews live under Israeli civil law, which guarantees them citizenship, the right to vote for the government that controls their lives, due process, and free movement; their Palestinian neighbors, who live under military law, lack all of these rights.)

-Jordan: “[T]he Trump Administration’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace has already been so widely discredited for its one-sidedness and its political deviousness that there is a risk of ignoring its most immediate threat—which is not to the Palestinians but to Jordan. In Israel, the plan…has been received as an American warrant for the Israeli government to annex West Bank territory. This could precipitate a crisis in the Hashemite kingdom of Abdullah II, whose stability is critical to Israel’s security, and to that of America’s regional allies, particularly in any effort to thwart Iranian forces in Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf.”

-According to Joel Singer, the Israeli delegation’s legal adviser to the Oslo talks, “proceeding with annexation without an agreement with the Palestinians will guarantee that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be resolved, as it would turn the remaining 70% of the West Bank – the West Bank territory not annexed to Israel under the Trump plan’s proposed State of Palestine – into a series of non-contiguous enclaves, surrounded by the State of Israel on all sides, with no borders to the rest of the world, and subjected to Israeli military control. … [Accordingly,] if Israel proceeds with unilateral annexation, sooner or later the Palestinian Authority would weaken to the point of collapse. This would likely lead to Israeli entrance into what have long been Palestinian-controlled Areas A and B, taking full control of the West Bank and millions of Palestinians. As Israel will be unable, constitutionally or politically, to reverse the annexation, and the Trump Administration will be replaced by another US Administration significantly less sympathetic toward annexation, Israel will be doomed to remain stuck in this chaotic situation forever – eternally engaged in periodic clashes with Palestinian violence, left alone with no hope for a brighter future, and facing a dilemma of choosing between preserving its Jewish identity and its democratic nature, which – in these circumstances – would become mutually exclusive.” (Note that the Israeli Referendum Law would make an annexation practically irreversible. “[U]nder that law, reversing annexation requires the support of at least 80 members of the Israeli 120-member Knesset, or alternatively, holding a public referendum – a procedure that has never been attempted in Israel – with at least 50% of all Israelis supporting Israel’s ceding sovereign territory (a tall order).”)  (30 Jan. 2020)  (4 Feb. 2020)  (3 Feb. 2020)  (10 Feb. 2020)
(Current Affairs, 11 May 2020, Joel Singer)

Background: UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco Deals of 2020
-“The upgrade deals that the [Trump] administration has struck with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and…Morocco are not ‘peace’ agreements, much less the ‘breakthroughs’ that the administration likes to describe them as. None of these states was at war with Israel. Instead, they already had extensive cooperation with Israel, including on security and defense matters. Morocco even had previously exchanged diplomatic liaison offices with Israel following the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, although those offices were closed after a new Palestinian uprising in 2000. [The 2020] deal merely reopens those liaison offices.”

   “Netanyahu’s government strongly wants more extensive relations with Arab states…as a way of losing its pariah status while continuing its occupation of Palestinian territory. Far from advancing peace, this process sets back any prospects for peace. It reduces further any incentive for the Netanyahu government to make the sort of policy changes necessary for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.”

   “Meanwhile, the Trump administration has paid other peace-eroding prices in its campaign on behalf of the Israeli government. F-35 stealth jets and other advanced military hardware were part of the price paid to the UAE…The deal risks stoking an arms race in the Persian Gulf, and at a minimum intensifies the lines of conflict in that region. It also provides advanced weapons to a regime that has used the military aircraft it already has for such destabilizing activities as intervening in Libya’s civil war and adding significantly to the death and destruction there.”

   “The Trump administration’s motives in all this clearly have to do with catering to those domestic political elements, consisting mainly of the Christian evangelical part of Trump’s base, that see as good anything that conforms with the wishes of the Israeli government. More personal urges may be in play as well, especially for Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who reportedly was in the middle of the deal-making with Morocco.”

   “Transactional diplomacy in which prices are paid is not inherently bad. Countries do it all the time. But when the US pays such a price, it ought to be in return for something in US interests, or in the more general interest of peace. It ought not to serve instead the territorial ambitions of a foreign state. The transaction with Morocco [for example] has a perverse symmetry. A deal in which one side’s motivations involve sustaining occupation of a territory and subjugation of its people (the Palestinians) helps the other side sustain another occupation and subjugation of a people (the Sahrawis). The connection is not lost on foreign observers.”

-Sudan: As part of a 2020 deal to have its State Sponsor of Terrorism designation removed, Sudan’s new civilian-backed government agreed to: (1) “pay $335 million to compensate survivors and victims’ families from the twin 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, carried out when dictator Omar al-Bashir was welcoming Al-Qaeda, and a 2000 attack on the USS Cole off Yemen’s coast” and (2) recognize Israel. The Congress has the power to overturn a “President’s decision to remove the [terror-state] designation, but only if both the House and Senate pass veto-proof joint resolutions of disapproval within 45 days.” (This power was not employed regarding Sudan.) Sudan ha[d] been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993…As a result, [it] face[d] a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.”

26. Who said the following on 29 September 2008? “We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the [occupied] territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”

-Ehud Olmert: Israel’s Prime Minister, 2006-2009. Olmert, who had spoken out vehemently against the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, “had undergone a metamorphosis and became known as one of the more moderate members” of the right. “Olmert never fully explained what led to this transformation, but it seemed to be a sober realization that the revisionist ideologies he had been raised on could not ensure Israel’s long-term Jewish [and democratic] character.” He regularly quoted Ben-Gurion’s justification for why Israel didn’t conquer all of the West Bank in 1948-9: “[W]hen the question arose of the wholeness of the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without the wholeness of the land, we chose a Jewish state without the wholeness of the land.” (Katz 2019, 143-4)

-On 16 September 2008, then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert presented the details of his offer for a peace deal to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. The peace deal included the following elements: (1) Israel would “withdraw from Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and place the Old City — home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy sites — under international control [with representatives from Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the US and Israel].” (2) Israel would keep “the Ariel bloc, the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adumin bloc (including E1) and Gush Etzion, all together consisting of 6.3% of the West Bank. [I]srael offered in exchange for the settlement blocs the following [5.8% of Israeli territory]: [area] around Afula-Tirat Tzvi, the Lachish region, an area near Har Adar, and areas in the Judean desert and the Gaza envelope.” (3) There would be “a secure corridor between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by way of a tunnel…” (4) Israel would, over time, leave the Jordan valley. (5) Israel would absorb “around 5,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel, 1000 every year for five years.”

   At the 16 September meeting, “Olmert [showed Abbas] a large map upon which he outlined the borders of the future Palestinian state.…[However, Olmert] told [Abbas] that he would not give Abbas [a copy of] the map until the Palestinian leader was willing to ink his initials on it, or in other words, agree to the borders that Israel offered.” (“Olmert [later] confirmed that he pressed Abbas to initial the offer [on the same day he proposed it].”)

   “The two leaders met thirty six times…and reached a draft agreement that would clearly constitute the basis for any future peace deal between the parties. But in the end no peace deal was signed between Israel and the Palestinians…”

   “When asked why Abbas did not return to the negotiating table with him, Olmert says that the Palestinians took into account that former US president George W. Bush was at the end of his term and they were hoping for a more favorable leader in Washington and they also believed that Olmert himself was finished politically. But Olmert also lays the blame for the breakdown in negotiations at the feet of then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni and then-defense minister Ehud Barak. Olmert cites former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s book No Higher Honor in which she says that Livni came to her and Abbas separately asking them that they not ‘enshrine’ Olmert’s peace proposal. Olmert also said…that Barak sent representatives to Abbas to tell the Palestinian leader not to accept his proposal.” Rice and Barak have denied Olmert’s claims.

   “[Abbas has] cited [Olmert’s] legal troubles at the time as his primary reason [to not pursue the offer]. Olmert had [in fact] announced that he planned to resign in order to fight corruption allegations, and Abbas doubted [Olmert] had the political clout to see the deal through. Olmert [did in fact go to jail] on various corruption charges.”

   “A senior Palestinian official [said] that Abbas thought Olmert’s proposals for Jerusalem and the right of return were unacceptable….‘The natural thing for Abbas to do would be not to sign immediately and to act responsibly and return to consult with the Fatah leadership.’”

   “[Saeb Erekat, head of the Fatah negotiating team,] confirmed the details of Olmert’s proposal but said that Olmert’s memory with regard to the meeting with Abbas was [incomplete]. ‘We also presented a map to Olmert that would transfer 1.9% of West Bank territory to Israeli sovereignty. On December 18, 2008 we deposited our map and Olmert’s map as we remembered it with President Bush at the White House… Bush asked that we and Israel send representatives on January 3, 2009 to Washington, but then the [Israeli military] operation [Cast Lead] began in Gaza. When Erekat was asked about the three months between the meeting with Olmert in September [2008] and the Gaza operation in January [2009], he said that there were many intervening meetings between the Palestinians and…the Israeli side.”

   “Abbas [publicly stated in 2015] that he supported the idea of territorial swaps, but that Olmert pressed him into agreeing to the plan without allowing him to [take a copy and] study the proposed map.”

   “[B]oth Abbas and Olmert [later said] that with more time it would have been possible to reach an agreement. They both say they found a partner on the other side. Surprisingly they both concur that the main obstacle was not Jerusalem or refugees, but territory.”  (24 May 2013) (9 May 2017)

-“Already before Israelis went to the polls in [March 2006], Olmert revealed his flagship diplomatic plan — the ‘Convergence.’ The idea was similar to what Israel had done in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005 when it unilaterally removed its settlements and military bases. Olmert believed the same needed to happen in the West Bank…While prime ministers before him had tried to negotiate a deal with the Palestinians…, Olmert was disenchanted with bilateral negotiations…As a result, he pushed for the Convergence Plan, under which Israel would remove its settlements and simply leave the land for the Palestinians to control.” However, the 2006 war with Lebanon greatly weakened Olmert and his government. “[T]he settler camp…attacked Olmert, accusing him of sending soldiers to die in battle so he could then evict the settlers from their homes. Two weeks after the war ended, in mid-August, a poll showed that 63 percent of Israelis felt that Olmert had failed in managing the war and needed to resign.” (Katz 2019, 144-5, 150)

27. How many Israelis emigrated between 1990 and 2014?

-“[Israeli leaders] should wake up to the gloomy reality that nearly one million Israelis emigrated from Israel [in the 25 years from 1990 to 2014]. Many of them have left not only because they have become weary of endless violent conflict [and difficult economic circumstances], but also because they feel betrayed by self-indulgent political leaders. With only a few exceptions, Israel has been plagued with leaders who are no longer true to the vision behind the creation of Israel. As a result, many Jews have little hope that the political environment will change any time soon, unless new leaders emerge who are committed to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not surprisingly, many Israelis who emigrated see no reason why they should return, only to see their children be inducted to a military that has become the oppressor rather than the proud guardian of a free, independent, and prosperous country at peace with itself and with the people that co-inhabit the land.”

   Furthermore, while Israel tries to encourage Diaspora Jews to immigrate for, inter alia, greater safety, it is a sad reality that “Eighty times more Israelis were killed in Israel by violence with the Palestinians [from 1990 to 2014] than all the Jews killed in Europe by terrorists during the same period.” (25 Feb. 2015)

-“According to the Israeli-American Council, there are more than one million Israelis living in the United States.” And if Israel—home to 8.8 million people—doesn’t change course, many more may soon join them. (Tal Keinan, God Is in the Crowd: Twenty-First-Century Judaism, Signal, Canada: 2018, 57. Hereinafter, “Keinan 2018.”)

   Nevertheless, Israel is a major regional power. “Born in the mid-twentieth century, it won a string of military victories and soared in a short time from a third-world economy to an advanced and prosperous Western economy. [In 2017, its] gross domestic product per capita of $37,200 is larger than that of all its neighbors–Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon–combined. Israel has produced more start-ups per capita than any country in Europe[, and] is one of the few countries in the world with satellites in space and…nuclear capabilities.” (Goodman 2018, 173)

-A disturbing report released in 2019 by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research warns that “Israel is losing some of its…best minds as tech professionals, engineers and academics leave its shores, thus depriving the country of fuel for its economy…For every Israeli with an academic degree who returned to Israel in 2014, 2.6 Israeli academics emigrated. By 2017, this figure had risen to 4.5 emigrants per returnee. The number of Israeli physicians practicing in OECD countries other than Israel was 9.8% of all physicians in Israel in 2006. This share rose to 14% by 2016.”

   “Israel has a population of 9 million, but…an ‘exceptionally small’ number of people, fewer than 130,000, are instrumental in keeping its economy and healthcare system forging ahead, and the nation is thus dependent on them. These select few pay the most taxes and make up the staff of the hospitals and the workforce in the tech industry. Indeed, those in the top two income deciles accounted for 92% of revenue from income taxes. The tech sector accounts for 40% of the nation’s exports, yet it employs just 2.7% of its workforce.”

   “Israel basically has two economies, with one shouldering the burden of the other…Because this burden is becoming too heavy, higher-income, higher educated Israelis choose to leave…’There is the high-tech Israel, the university Israel, the medical sector Israel, the Startup Nation Israel…But there is another Israel, and that other Israel is receiving neither the tools [education, primarily] nor the conditions to work in a modern economy. And that other Israel is huge. Not only is it big, but its share of the total is growing — so it is a huge weight on the shoulders of those who are basically maintaining the entire country.’”

   “Not all the emigration is about wages and jobs (for doctors and academics) or about being closer to investors and end markets (for the tech executives)…The issues at hand are also ‘lifestyle issues.’ If the hospitals and roads are crowded, and ‘if the schools are crummy and you don’t see any kind of hope in sight, because one government after another for the past 40 years is basically not changing the national priorities of Israel, then many people reach their own conclusions [and emigrate]’…”

   One particular strain on the economy is the politically powerful, but poorly educated ultra-Orthodox. “The Haredim have long opposed providing their children with the core curriculum of studies, including math and English, preferring them to focus on religious texts. Israeli governments, much to the detriment of society, have pandered to their will…And while the Haredim make up only 7% of the country’s adults, they account for 19% of the children.”  (5 June 2019)

-“[Israel] has neglected the transportation, education and health-care systems that…are vital to its prosperity….[Accordingly,] Thousands of patients are dying from infections in [its] hospitals, the most overcrowded in the developed world. Billions of dollars in economic output…are going up in fumes as motorists sit in traffic, with no other way to get to work. And test scores show the schools are failing to prepare students [from non-rich homes] for a modern work force.” (Student scores on an international assessment test “were among the worst in the advanced world…A key reason is [that] Israel’s teachers [also] score near the bottom on international tests of literacy and numeracy.”)

   “[I]srael’s neglect of vital civilian spending [can be traced] to a belt-tightening that began in the early 2000s, after the dot-com bust….But investments in health, transportation and education had been declining since the 1970s, when…Israel began to prioritize tax cuts, welfare for ultra-Orthodox…, and expanding settlements in the West Bank.” (“Per capita economic growth also plummeted: After averaging more than 5 percent a year, it fell to about 1.8 percent in the 1970s, where it remains…”) (The New York Times International, 1 March 2020, 6)

-Ironically, some Israeli Jews, seeking a more hospitable cultural and economic environment, have moved to Berlin. “While no one knows for sure how many Israeli expats now call Berlin home—in part because descendants of German citizens persecuted by the Nazis are frequently eligible for German citizenship—the Israeli Embassy in Berlin puts the number at ten thousand to fifteen thousand, and growing. The Israelis who choose Berlin tend to be young, creative, highly educated, politically minded, and left-leaning; they form an intelligentsia that includes novelists, tech entrepreneurs, Grinberg body-work practitioners, and a world-renowned mandolin player.” (15 May 2014)

   In 2019, approximately 200,000 Jews live in Germany. “The vast majority of [them] has roots in the former Soviet Union” as they were admitted after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The bulk of Germany’s Jews are concerned about anti-Semitism which seems to have worsened since 2013. “Fears within the Jewish community of what some call…‘Muslim anti-Semitism’ brought into the country by immigrants from the Middle East and often entangled with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians emerged after 2000, when during the…Second Intifada, a wave of anti-Jewish attacks rippled across parts of Europe. The large-scale influx of refugees into Germany from countries such as Syria and Iraq that began in 2015 further fueled worries….[However,] Many see the greatest peril as coming from an emboldened extreme right that is hostile to both Muslims and Jews, as the recent shootings by white supremacists in synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., and mosques in…New Zealand horrifically illustrated.” (The New York Times Magazine, 26 May 2019, 35-9)

-[M]any [Israelis] who belonged to what’s termed the radical left in Israel have left the country [since the first decade of the 2000s]. Among them were those who devoted their life to activism, founded political movements and headed some of the country’s most important left-wing organizations: [Z]ochrot, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Coalition of Women for Peace, 21st Year, Matzpen and others. The individuals include senior academics – some of whom were forced out of their jobs because of their political beliefs and activities – and also cultural figures or members of the liberal professions, who felt they could no longer express their views in Israel without fear. Many came from the heart of the Zionist left and then moved farther left, or looked on as the state abandoned principles that were important to them, to a point where they felt they no longer had a place in the Israeli public discourse.” (“The word that recurs time and again when one speaks with these individuals is ‘despair.’ Percolating despair, continuing for years.”)  (21 May 2020)

28. True or False: Pressure by the Palestinians causes Israel to be more steadfast in holding occupied territory.

-False. Just as pressure from the US and Egypt caused Israel to withdraw from Egyptian land and pressure from Hezbollah caused Israel to withdraw from Lebanese land, “Palestinian pressure, too–including mass demonstrations and violence–precipitated every Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who agreed to the first Israeli pullouts from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, made proposals for Palestinian self-government in 1989 when he was the defense minister trying to quash the First Intifada. Even the hawkish prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, put forward his own autonomy plan for Palestinians later that year.”

   “As the intifada intensified in 1993 and Israel sealed off the occupied territories, its negotiators held secret meetings with Palestinians near Oslo. The Israelis asked for an end to the intifada and then agreed to evacuate the military government and establish Palestinian self-rule. In 1996, the clashes and riots known as the tunnel uprising led to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to negotiate a withdrawal from most of Hebron.”

   “During the Second Intifada, rocket attacks from Gaza increased sevenfold in the year before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced Israel would evacuate. Shortly after the [2005] Gaza disengagement and the close of the intifada, a plurality of Israelis voted for the Kadima Party, led by the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who ran on a platform of withdrawing from the roughly 91 percent of the West Bank that lies east of the separation barrier.”

   “As bloodshed diminished, though, Israel’s sense of urgency about the Palestinian problem dissipated. No serious proposals for unilateral withdrawal were made again until the level of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem escalated in late 2015.” (The New York Times, 4 June 2017, SR 4)

-Effective military force by Egypt in 1973 played an important role in Israel’s eventual withdrawal from the entire Sinai Peninsula. (The 1973 war led to more than 2,000 Israeli soldiers being killed and over 100 aircraft shot down; 53 pilots died and 44 more were captured.) Likewise, Hezbollah’s effective and relentless military resistance led to Israel’s complete withdrawal from South Lebanon. (Katz 2019, 80)

29. In 2008 and 2012, what percentage of American Jews voted for Barack Obama?

-In the 2008 presidential election, Obama “won 78 percent of the Jewish vote, a remarkable testament to the gulf between American Jewry and many of its communal leaders.” In 2012, Obama won approximately 70 percent of the Jewish vote. (Beinart 2012, 125)

   “While American Jews for nearly a century have overwhelmingly voted Democrat, [Ronald] Reagan came close in 1980 to beating [Jimmy] Carter among Jewish voters (39-45 percent). During his presidency, a growing number of Jews, including many who formed the backbone of the nascent neoconservative movement, began to gain influence in the Republican establishment.” (Pfeffer 2018, 148)

-In 2020, “Jewish voters favored Joe Biden over US President Donald Trump 77%-21%…The number of American Jews who list Israel as their top voting priority dropped from 9% in 2016 to 5% in 2020…The majority (54%) listed the coronavirus pandemic as their top priority, followed by climate change (26%), healthcare (25%) and the economy (23%).” (Despite Trump’s record of anti-Muslim statements and policies, a higher percentage of American Muslims voted for him than did American Jews.)

-There is a clear split between the bulk of American Jews, who are largely liberal-democrats, and the main lobbying arms of the Jewish community which promote neoconservative foreign policies. “In 2005, three-quarters of American Jews said they supported US pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians if it would help bring a peace deal. Those numbers have held steady in the years since.” (Beinart 2012, 43)

   “[The] growing divide within the American Jewish community over what is best for Israel…stem[s] from a core tension: The vast majority of American Jews remain deeply committed to liberal values, while Israel has been moving away from them for many years now. There is a certain tension between liberalism and Zionism, because liberalism assumes that all humans possess the same set of basic rights and it emphasizes mutual tolerance, while Zionism is a nationalist movement that in its current iteration privileges one people at the expense of another. Until 1967, however, that tension between liberal and Zionist values was muted because most Israelis were Jewish and the second-class status of Israel’s Arab minority did not receive much attention.”

   “When Israel gained control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the resulting subjugation of millions of Palestinians brought that tension to the fore….[Compounding the tension is the fact that] certain sections of Israel’s government are openly committed to retaining the West Bank in perpetuity and creating a ‘Greater Israel.’ This policy…involves denying the Palestinian subjects meaningful political rights…Furthermore, the steady rightward drift of Israeli politics — exemplified by the 2016 ‘transparency law’ marginalizing Israeli human rights organizations, as well as by Netanyahu’s decision to renege on a plan to allow non-Orthodox Jewish men and women to pray together at the Western Wall — also clashes with the political values of most American Jews.”

   “Even more disturbing [to liberals], the Israeli government has begun turning a blind eye to incidents of genuine anti-Semitism, when doing so is seen as safeguarding other priorities. Netanyahu was slow to condemn the anti-Jewish and neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August [2017, and he] remains on good terms with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban despite Orban’s anti-Semitic campaign against financier George Soros.”

   “These trends, however, have yet to affect Israel’s most ardent defenders…in the United States. If anything, their efforts to silence criticism of Israel have reached new heights. How else can one explain the AIPAC-sponsored Senate bill that would make it a crime in the United States to participate in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, legislation that the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and the Center for Constitutional Rights have rightly denounced as a direct threat to free speech?”

   “Even if they succeed in muzzling some criticism in the short term, over time these tactics will turn off many Americans, including large numbers of American Jews who prize freedom of speech, tolerance and human rights, and who understand how important those values are for preserving the security of minority populations everywhere.” Essentially, as American Jews have experienced considerable success from the opportunities and freedom liberalism promotes, it’s unsurprising that the bulk of them support liberal values and vote for Democrats. (2 Oct. 2017)

   “More than any other organization in Washington, AIPAC ensures that…institutionalized bigotry [against Palestinians] goes unchallenged. It forms alliances with US and world leaders who condone bigotry against Palestinians. And such people often excuse other forms of bigotry, too. Which explains why [AIPAC’s 2020] policy conference will offer a platform to a minister who accused Obama of being a Muslim, an apologist for Serbia’s genocide against Bosnians, and Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the members of Congress most hostile to LGBT rights.”  (26 Feb. 2020)

-In March 2017, Israel passed a law preventing those who publicly support boycotting Israel from entering the country; and in July it duly prevented five activists from an interfaith delegation from boarding a plane to Israel — including a rabbi, Alissa Wise, the deputy director of [the American Jewish organization, Jewish Voice for Peace].”

   In January 2018, an Israeli “government ministry confirmed…that [JVP] is among 20 organizations from around the world that have been placed on a [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] blacklist, which means its members will be barred from entering Israel.” (The BDS movement is nonviolent and, inter alia, encourages businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel because of its illegal occupation and policies toward Palestinians. One can disagree with, say, BDS’s call for an academic boycott of Israel but still oppose a travel ban designed to undermine a fundamental human right and the cornerstone of democracy: freedom of expression.

   “JVP is the only major Jewish organization in the US that openly advocates for and identifies with the [BDS] movement….The Israeli government is sending a clear message that being Jewish will not protect you from being denied entry into the Jewish State, which proclaims to be a safe haven for Jews. This, despite the fact that under Israel’s Law of Return, any Jew (a person with one Jewish grandparent) can move to Israel and become a citizen, and is offered a financial benefits package for doing so.” (“Since the 2014 Gaza War, JVP has been one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in America. [I]t has 15,000 dues-paying members, over 70 chapters, 250,000 supporters and over half a million social media followers.”)  (7 Jan. 2017)

   “American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group on the list, said it would continue to work for ‘peace and justice.’ ‘We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for [BDS] from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,’ said…an AFSC official…” (It isn’t “clear how the ban would be enforced, including for Israeli citizens who might be members of the [listed] groups.”) (Montreal Gazette, 8 Jan. 2018, NP4)

   According to economists, BDS “has had virtually no impact on the Israeli economy or society, and it won’t in the future. As a former EU Ambassador to Israel explained when asked why the EU and its member countries don’t do more to pressure Israel to end the occupation, his response was ‘it won’t happen.’ Why? Because Israel has too much to offer, including military intelligence and know-how, knowledge of how to deal with Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, hi-tech expertise, etc.”  (17 Aug. 2019)

-In a 2015 survey of 1,000 American Jewish adults “84 percent of respondents said they supported ‘the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict,’ and 69 percent said they would also support this ‘if it meant the United States exerting pressure on both the Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace.’” (Waxman 2016, 289)

-The American Jewish establishment “can no longer legitimately claim to express a communal consensus over Israel since that consensus is unraveling, and it can no longer speak plausibly on behalf of American Jews when so few of them are affiliated in any way with Jewish establishment organizations….The near-monopoly over organized Jewish life and politics that the American Jewish establishment once enjoyed has given way to a more ‘competitive and individualized marketplace.’…And in this increasingly competitive market, supporting Israel…is just not as popular as it was in the past.”

   The 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, which Israel was indirectly responsible for, “was a watershed in American Jewish attitudes to Israel, as it undermined their idealized image of the country, and their long-standing belief that Israel’s wars were always just and its wartime conduct morally pure….[As well,] the first Palestinian Intifada, which began in December 1987 and lasted until 1991, generated an unprecedented amount of American Jewish criticism of Israel, as well as international condemnation.” The Goldstone Report’s condemnation of Israel’s war crimes during the 2008-9 Gaza conflict further soiled Israel in the eyes of liberal Jews.

   “In 1990, about three-quarters of American Jews disagreed with Israeli policy at the time and wanted Israel to negotiate with the PLO.” “For the last quarter of a century, most American Jews have consistently supported the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (since it began with the US-sponsored Madrid peace conference in 1991), while remaining suspicious of Palestinian intentions.” “[A] solid majority of American Jewish respondents in…surveys consistently supports the dismantling and evacuation of some or all Israeli settlements, a significant minority—ranging from between 35 to 45 percent—opposes the dismantling of any settlements…”

   The 20 percent “of American Jews who are politically conservative are often highly vocal, especially when it comes to Israel. They are also disproportionately represented in the organized American Jewish community. Politically, conservative Jews tend to be more emotionally attached to Israel than liberal Jews, and much more hawkish in their views concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (Waxman 2016, 42, 125, 127, 132, 192)

-“Democrats and Republicans reported similar levels of sympathy for Israel from the late 1970s until the early 2000s. But [since 2008], a series of polls…show a yawning gap has opened between the parties, with nearly three times as many Republicans as Democrats expressing more sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians. These changes are driven, in part, by demographic trends. More than one-quarter of voters in the [2018] mid-term election were white evangelicals, who, together with Jews, are the most pro-Israel religious group in the country, and who since the [late] 1970s have largely supported the Republican Party. At the same time, some of the least pro-Israel groups–black people and Hispanics and the religiously unaffiliated…–have become a larger share of Democratic voters. Many blacks and Hispanics draw strong parallels between the discrimination they have suffered at home and the plight of Palestinians. As the Democratic Party is pulled toward a more progressive base and a future when a majority of the party will most likely be people of color, tensions over Israel have erupted.” (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 35)

   A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that “Among Democrats who self-identified as liberal, nearly twice as many said they sympathized more with the Palestinians than with Israel. In 2016, a University of Maryland poll found that 60 percent of Democrats supported economic sanctions or taking more serious action in response to new Israeli settlements. Yet year after year, Congress, citing ‘shared values’ and Israel’s strategic importance, among other things, votes to give military aid to Israel, which is currently $3.8 billion per year: $500 million in missile defense and $3.3 billion in foreign military financing, more military financing than the US provides to the rest of the world combined. And Aipac…remains the dominant force among Israel-Palestine advocacy groups within the Democratic Caucus.” (The New York Times Magazine, 31 March 2019, 35-6)

  “Gallup polling shows that in 1988, 47 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats took Israel’s side in the conflict with the Palestinians. As of March 2019, that figure is roughly similar for Democrats (43 percent) but dramatically higher for Republicans (76 percent). It is therefore in Trump’s political interest to keep siding with Netanyahu.”

Background: Jewish Left and Zionism
-“[F]or the Jewish left — the communist, socialist, Trotskyist, and Marxist left — their critique of Zionism came from two quarters: [First, they] understood Zionism as a right-wing nationalism and, in that sense, bourgeois. They saw it as in line with other forms of nationalism — an attempt to align the working class with the interests of the bourgeoisie [i.e., a force opposed to working-class internationalism].” Second, and more relevant to the Left today, they considered Zionism as “a form of imperialism. If you look at the pamphlets and magazines and speeches that are given on the Jewish left in the 1930s and ’40s, they saw that Zionists were aligning themselves with British imperialism. They also were very aware of the fact that the Middle East was colonized, first by the Ottomans and then by the British. They saw the Palestinian struggle for liberation as part of a global anti-imperialist movement.”
   “[T]he Jewish left in the 1930s and ’40s understood, critically, that the only way Zionism would be able to emerge in Palestine was through a colonial project and through the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians from the land.”
-“[J]ewish communists saw themselves not as citizens of a nation-state, but as part of the global proletariat: part of the global working class, part of the global revolution. And so for them to think about their homeland as this small strip of land in the Mediterranean — regardless of any cultural affinity to Jerusalem — would just be against everything they believe. As the Holocaust began in earnest in the 1940s, and Jews were fleeing Europe in any way they possibly could, some members of the Communist Party advocated that Jews should be allowed to go to Palestine if you’re fleeing annihilation and Palestine is the only place you can go…But that doesn’t mean you can create a nation-state there. You need to get along with the people who live there as best as you possibly can. There was a communist party of Palestine that did advocate for Jewish and Palestinian collaboration to oust the British and create a binational state — which, for a host of reasons, including the segregated nature of Jewish settlement, proved harder in practice than in theory.”
-“Ironically, perhaps, the Soviet Union did more than any other single force to change the minds of the Jewish Marxist left in the late 1940s about Israel. Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Union’s ambassador to the United Nations, came out in 1947 and backed partition in the United Nations after declaring the Western world did nothing to stop the Holocaust, and suddenly there’s this about-face. All these Jewish left-wing publications that were denouncing Zionism, literally the next day, were embracing partition and the formation of the nation-state of Israel.”
   “[F]or a lot of Jewish communists and even socialists, the Soviet Union was the promised land — not Zionism. This was the place where they had, according to the propaganda, eradicated antisemitism….The Russian Empire was the most antisemitic place throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, before the rise of Nazism. Many of the Jewish Communist Party members were from Eastern Europe, or their families were, and they had very vivid memories of Russia as the crucible of antisemitism. For them, the Russian Revolution was a rupture in history, a chance to start over. [Furthermore,] after World War II, when the Soviet Union had just defeated the Nazis”, the USSR was held in great esteem by Jewish Leftists.
   “For the Soviet Union to embrace Zionism really sent a shockwave through the left-wing Jewish world. The Soviet Union changed its policy a decade or so later, openly embracing anti-Zionism by the 1960s. But for this brief pivotal moment, the Soviet Union firmly came down in favor of partition, and that seems to be what really changed the Jewish left.”
-The erasure of the history of Jewish left anti-Zionism from American consciousness can be traced to the combined effects of the Soviet Union, Zionism and the Cold War. “[T]he Cold War destroyed the old Jewish left, and really drove it underground and shattered its organizations. [T]he turn toward Zionism was understood as something that would normalize Jews in a post-war era. With the execution of the Rosenbergs, the Red Scare of the late 1940s and ’50s, and the virtual banning of the Communist Party, which had been throughout the 1930s and ’40s half Jewish, for much of the Jewish establishment, aligning themselves with American imperialism was a way for Jews to normalize their presence in the United States. And hopefully that moment has to some degree passed….Why would someone…who [self-]describes…as liberal want to align…with the most reactionary forces in American life?”
   “It’s a bloody matrix of assimilation and whiteness that emerged out of the Cold War suburbanization of the 1950s. Israel was part of that devil’s bargain. Yes, you can become real Americans: You can go to good US universities, [live in] the suburbs, enter into the mainstream of American life, as long as you do this one little thing for us, which is back the American Empire….With the rise of Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Movement for Black Lives all taking a serious stance against US support for Zionism, the common sense in the Jewish community has begun to move in a different direction, particularly among the younger generation.”
-“[During] the 1950s and much of the 1960s, Israel–a state that had been created by refugees in defiance of colonial Britain, and with staunch socialist foundations that were expressed by the kibbutz movement–was widely seen by large sections of the American left as a progressive enterprise. This attitude was epitomized in Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarks in 1968: ‘I see Israel…as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. …’ But Dr. King’s opinion of the Jewish state would soon become a minority view on the ideological left as the works of radical thinkers, such as Frantz Fanon, who identified the Palestinian cause as an ‘anti-colonialist’ struggle, gained wider currency.”
   In addition, “the emergence of Israel as a military power [epitomized by the 1967 War], and worse, one aligned with the US, during a period of the Vietnam War in which many young Americans saw their own nation as being engaged in an unjust and bloody colonial war, swiftly pushed the Jewish state out of the progressive camp.” “Israel was almost instantly transformed into the colonialist-racist-imperialist-fascist-oppressor, while the Palestinians were anointed as revolutionary-socialist-Marxist-Leninist-anti-imperialist freedom fighters.”
   Many Leftists of the 1940s “represented the Left that emerged just after the end of the Russian Revolution and World War I; grew to maturity in the Weimar Republic and France’s Popular Front; fought fascism in Spain; and trekked through the rubble of a continent, and through the remnants of the death camps…For them, the creation of the State of Israel and the fight for its independence were a seamless continuation of their previous struggles; they compared the Haganah to the Loyalists in Spain….[However,] Starting in the second half of the twentieth century, the Left moved from defining itself as anti-fascist to defining itself as anti-imperialist, and to an identification of the formerly colonized peoples of the Third World as the main agents of social justice.” (Pfeffer 2018, 105-6) (Linfield 2019, 3-5)

30. True or False: Palestinians have not formally recognized Israel, but Israel has recognized Palestine.

-False. “[O]n three separate occasions [Palestinians have formally recognized Israel]: at the request of [then President] Reagan and his secretary of state, George Shultz, in 1988; in 1993, in the context of the Oslo Accords; and again in Gaza in 1998, with [then President] Bill Clinton in attendance. [However,] Netanyahu’s government has never recognised the Palestinian right to national self-determination and statehood in any part of Palestine, even though this right has been affirmed repeatedly by the UN Security Council (e.g. Resolution 242 in 1967 and Resolution 1515 in 2003) and by the International Court of Justice (in 2004).”

   “The Palestinians never withdrew their recognition of Israel, but they have refused to endorse Israel’s decision to define its national identity in religious and ethnic terms, a demand that no country has the right to impose on other countries. Israel would never agree to such a demand by Palestinians or for that matter by any Christian country.”

   “[It’s worth noting] that the Palestinians recognised Israel’s legitimacy not only within the borders assigned to it in 1947 by the UN Partition Plan but also including territory assigned to the Palestinians and confiscated by Israel following its War of Independence in 1948, in defiance of [UN] Resolution 242 prohibiting the acquisition of territory as a result of war. [Hence, in the context of the Oslo Accords, Arafat gave up] 22 per cent of Palestine, which is fully 50 per cent of the West Bank territory the UN Partition Plan recognised as the legitimate patrimony of the Palestinian people….[Nevertheless,] it is Palestinian leaders who are accused by Israel of refusing to make concessions for peace, a lie US administrations consistently repeat to imply a non-existent equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian resistance to a two-state agreement.”

   In early 2017, “Netanyahu announced his intention of treating 60 per cent of the West Bank – territory that the Oslo agreement designated as Area C, from which Israel was supposed to have withdrawn by 1998 – as a permanent part of Israel. So Palestinians would be left just 10 per cent of pre-partition Palestine.”  (30 March 2017)

-“Even before the new Israeli government was formed [following the October 1988 elections], the PLO marked a great leap forward, building on the gains and the sacrifices of the [first] intifada. It understood that it needed to fill the vacuum left by Jordan’s [recently announced] disengagement [from the West Bank] and pre-empt possible annexation by Israel–as well as signal a change to the US. On 15 November 1988 the Palestine National Council convened in Algiers [and] Arafat formally announced the creation of a state of Palestine…[T]he declaration referenced the UN partition resolution of November 1947. It did not explicitly recognize Israel, though an accompanying document made reference to UN Resolution 242, which had always been seen as implying recognition….The declaration referred too to Palestine as ‘the land of three monotheistic faiths’–a tolerant nod to religious pluralism rather than excoriating the ‘Zionist invasion’ in the uncompromising language of the Palestine National Covenant of 1968.” (Black 2017, 286-7)

-“[At] the Palestinian National Conference in November 1988 the PLO accepted the two-state solution as their strategic choice, reconciling themselves to the fact that Palestine would be established on only 22 percent of [Mandatory Palestine]. [And on] September 13, 1993 Yasser Arafat exchanged letters of mutual recognition with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Arafat stated: ‘The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.’ In return Rabin wrote to Arafat that ‘the government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process’ (hardly a balanced act of mutuality – [Israel] received recognition of [its] state and [the Palestinians] received recognition of their leadership).” (13 April 2010)

-“[T]he history of the Palestinian national movement is one long series of military defeats and ideological concessions. Each of those slowly moved the Palestine Liberation Organization from rejection of any Israeli presence to acceptance and recognition of Israel on the pre-1967 lines, comprising 78 percent of historic Palestine. For years, the international community bullied and cajoled the PLO to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the remaining 22 percent.”

   “When the PLO finally did so, in 1988, the rug was pulled out from under it. Palestinians woke up to find that 22 percent of the homeland had been redefined as their new maximalist demand. Shimon Peres was among the few Israeli leaders to recognize the magnitude of the Palestinians’ concession. He called it Israel’s ‘greatest achievement.’”

   “In the last quarter-century of intermittent American-led negotiations, the powerlessness of the Palestinians has led to still further concessions. The PLO has accepted that Israel would annex settlement blocs, consented to give up large parts of East Jerusalem, acknowledged that any agreement on the return of Palestinian refugees will satisfy Israel’s demographic concerns and agreed to various limitations on the military capabilities and sovereignty of a future state of Palestine.”

   “During that time, Palestinians were never presented with what Israel offered every neighboring country: full withdrawal from occupied territory. Egypt obtained sovereignty over all of Sinai [as a result of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty]. Jordan established peace [in the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty] based on the former international boundary, recovering 147 square miles. Syria received a 1998 proposal from Prime Minister Netanyahu (though he later backtracked) for a total evacuation from the Golan Heights. And [in 2000] Lebanon achieved a withdrawal to the United Nations-defined border without granting Israel recognition, peace or even a cease-fire agreement.”

   “The Palestinians, though, remain too weak, politically and militarily, to secure such an offer, and the United States and the international community won’t apply the pressure to force Israel to make one.” (The New York Times, 4 June 2017, SR 4)

   “One year before fully withdrawing from Lebanon, Ehud Barak explained the reason for prioritizing peace with the Syrians over the Palestinians and for the discrepancy in Israel’s approach to the two nations: ‘The Syrians have 700 war planes, 4,000 tanks, 2,500 artillery pieces, and surface-to-surface missiles that are neatly organized and can cover the country with nerve gas,’ he said. ‘The Palestinians are the source of legitimacy for the continuation of the conflict, but they are the weakest of all our adversaries. As a military threat they are ludicrous. They pose no military threat of any kind.’” (Thrall 2017, 62)

-“For most of the 20th century, Palestinians pursued a state of their own in the entirety of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But by the 1970s, Palestinian intellectuals began admitting publicly that this long struggle had failed. In a bitter concession to reality, they proposed that Palestinians instead pursue what they called a ‘mini-state’ in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. In 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized Israel, this became its official position. Even the Islamist movement Hamas—which has not recognized Israel—has repeatedly embraced the ‘mini-state’ as the basis for a long-term truce.”

   “From the beginning, however, Palestinians were clear about what they needed in return for this historic compromise. ‘The cornerstone’ of the concession, wrote the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi in his groundbreaking 1978 essay ‘Thinking the Unthinkable,’ ‘is the concept of Palestinian sovereignty. Not half-sovereignty, or quasi-sovereignty or ersatz sovereignty. But a sovereign, independent Palestinian state.’ (To this day, Palestinians overwhelmingly oppose restrictions on the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state.) A second requirement for accepting the ‘mini-state’ was that Palestinian territorial ambitions not be whittled down further: Having settled for a country in 22% of the land between the river and the sea, Palestinians felt they had already settled enough.”

   “[I]n the decades since Palestinians accepted a state based in the West Bank, Israel has made one impossible. Israel has redefined Palestinian ‘statehood’ to include ever-less territory and ever-less sovereignty, thus violating the two core requirements for a mini-state. In 1982, former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti warned that it was ‘five minutes to midnight’ for the two-state solution because 100,000 Jewish settlers would soon inhabit the West Bank and East Jerusalem—a number he considered incompatible with Palestinian statehood near the 1967 lines. But as more Jews have settled in the West Bank, Israel has demanded that a Palestinian state include larger and larger Israeli carve-outs. By 2000, when the settler population in East Jerusalem and the West Bank exceeded 365,000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak proposed that Israel annex 9% of the West Bank, and compensate Palestinians with one-ninth as much land inside Israel proper. By 2020, with the number of settlers approaching 650,000, Donald Trump—in consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—proposed that Israel annex up to 30% of the West Bank, and compensate Palestinians with roughly half as much land inside Israel proper, much of which is desert. At the same time, Israeli leaders have made it clear that a Palestinian state cannot possess anything resembling sovereign powers.”

   “Commentators sometimes attribute these hardening Israeli attitudes to the disillusioning effects of Palestinian violence. But over the last 15 years, largely because of Palestinian security cooperation with Israel, the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians has decreased dramatically: from more than 450 in 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada, to an average of less than 30 per year since the Second Intifada ended in 2005.”  (7 July 2020)

31. Who said the following? “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

-The quote was stated by Rabbi Yaacov Perrin at his eulogy of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the American Jewish settler who, on 25 February 1994, entered the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron and opened fire on Muslim worshippers. Twenty-nine Palestinians were killed and over a hundred were wounded before Goldstein was overpowered and beaten to death.

   “In addition to the slaughter at the [Hebron] shrine, Israeli troops had opened fire on protesters across the West Bank and Gaza, killing fourteen people…It was the worst single-day carnage in years. The army imposed its usual closure on the territories to prevent revenge attacks and also added a curfew to the mix…The victims of the massacre were now being punished for the massacre. The curfew did not apply to settlers in the territories, including Hebron, where Jews walked around the city center freely, armed with Uzis… Palestinians could only watch from their windows and seethe.” (Ephron 2015, 66-7)

   Rabin’s decision to not move the settlers out of Hebron was a victory for the settlers. “[While] the public had been outraged by Goldstein’s brutality…, [polls one month later] showed most Israelis opposed an evacuation.” Rabin reasoned that as “A full peace agreement with the Palestinians would require the evacuation of settlers in huge numbers…it would be better to wage one big battle than several small ones….[However,] it seemed clear that a lone gunman could bring the peace process to a crashing halt…There was a lesson here for opponents of the process on both sides.” (Ephron 2015, 78-9)

   The terrorist attack by Goldstein, which was likely carried out to set off a cycle of violence to sabotage the peace process, “helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in [1994 and] 1995…”

   “On 6 April [1994], after the forty days of [Muslim ritual] mourning for the twenty-nine Muslims who had been murdered in Hebron, Hamas launched its first revenge suicide attack against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian Islamist movement was opposed to Oslo, but it had mainly remained on the sidelines until the Hebron massacre. A Hamas operative detonated himself next to a bus collecting schoolchildren in Afula in northern Israel, killing eight and wounding fifty-five. A week later, another Hamas bomber blew himself up inside a bus in the coastal city of Hadera, killing five [Israelis]. The explosive devices had been built by…Yahya Ayyash, a master planner of suicide bombing attacks. Arafat refused to publicly condemn the attack.” (“Fatah, apparently alarmed by the growing appeal of its rival, began to emphasize Islamic terminology in announcements and slogans.”) (Pfeffer 2018, 203) (Black 2017, 331)

   On 19 October 1994, Israel suffered its worst suicide attack up to that point, when a bus was blown up on Dizengoff Street in the heart of Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour. The attack, which killed 22 and injured more than a hundred, shocked Israelis….The fact that an Israeli bus had been struck in the heart of an Israeli city, which hitherto had been considered safe, meant that the attack was particularly traumatic for Israel.” (Neill Lochery, The Resistible Rise of Benjamin Netanyahu, Bloomsbury, New York: 2016, 66. Hereinafter, “Lochery 2016.”)

   The 6 April 1994 terror attack was “the first suicide-bombing attack to be carried out by Palestinians against civilians in Israel.” Hamas “had launched several suicide bombers at Israeli targets [during the months before Goldstein’s massacre]. But while the group had confined itself mostly to assaults against soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza – attacks that usually left two or three people dead – from now on it would strike at the heart of Israel, aiming for as many civilian casualties as possible….Goldstein hadn’t spawned the suicide phenomenon in Hamas, but his massacre motivated the group to take it to new heights.” (Black 2017, 331) (Ephron 2015, 81)

   (“[H]amas extended religious legitimacy to its military [tactic of] suicide bombings… Rather than referring to these attacks as suicidal, which is sinful in Islam, Hamas called them martyrdom operations and celebrated them as heroic self-sacrifice. Hamas’s glorification of suicide bombing fostered an environment where they were highly regarded actions, ensuring both the supply of volunteers and the enhanced execution of operations. Before long, they were adopted by non-Islamic movements, including Fatah, the main party in the PLO which had ostensibly ‘renounced terrorism’ in 1988.” (Baconi 2018, 30))

   “In mid-September [1994], Rabin…reviewed the data on Palestinian attacks over the preceding twelve months. The first year of peacemaking had been more violent than any of the Intifada years. Sixty Israelis were killed, compared to forty-one in the preceding period. … Rabin could hardly blame Arafat. Most of the casualties preceded his [July 1994] arrival in Gaza. And even Israel’s pervasive and proficient security agencies had never been able to shut down the violence altogether….The attacks were turning Israelis against the peace process and vindicating the hardliners.” (Ephron 2015, 113-4)

   During 1995, suicide attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hamas in January, April, July, and August led to further dropping of support for Rabin and Oslo. And “Each bombing brought punitive Israeli counter-measures — mass arrests, curfews and, above all, prolonged crossing closures — that caused serious hardship to ordinary Palestinians and undermined the feeling that there was any benefit from the changes that had taken place.” (Pfeffer 2018, 207) (Black 2017, 339)

   By 2010, “The fact that life in Israel was good despite the absence of peace meant there was little incentive to revive the process.” “[T]he terrible violence…of the Second Intifada had left even the moderates among Israelis and Palestinians feeling alienated from each other and simply fed up.” “The Israeli settler movement, which had viewed Rabin’s Oslo Accord as an act of treachery, had more than doubled in size since his assassination and greatly expanded its political power. Its representatives in parliament would come to include Moshe Feiglin, who had been convicted of sedition for organizing rowdy protests during the Rabin era.” By 2013, it appeared that “the religious and right-wing parties opposed to ceding substantial portions of the West Bank [had] something akin to a permanent majority.” (Ephron 2015, 244-5)

-Dov Lior, “the head of the West Bank’s rabbinical council, has called Baruch Goldstein…, ‘holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.’ In the mid-1990s, Lior and other prominent…rabbis implied that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s willingness to cede land to the Palestinians made him a…moser (traitor), a transgression they claimed was punishable by death. Emboldened, one of their disciples, Yigal Amir, murdered Rabin…”

   Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the late Israeli chief rabbi, “likewise declared, ‘A thousand Arabs are not worth one yeshiva student.’ [He also had ruled] that since God gave Jews the entire land of Israel, settlers have the right to steal Palestinian crops.”

   Rabbi Yetzhak Shapira, the leader of Yitzhar’s yeshiva, “in a 2009 book widely discussed in the Israeli press, declared it religiously permissible to kill gentile children because of ‘the future danger that will arise if they are allowed to grow into evil people like their parents.’”

   In 2005, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel (who died in 2013), had this to say concerning Hurricane Katrina: “There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study…black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.” And, in 2010, Rabbi Yosef “provoked a firestorm of outrage and criticism, even from pillars of the American Zionist establishment…by comparing non-Jews to farm animals and saying they were only fit to serve Jews.”

   (One wonders how Rabbi Yosef would have responded to Ben-Gurion, who wrote “that, in Israel, ‘an ostensibly superior race, the Ashkenazi race [i.e., Jews from Central and Eastern Europe], stands out and in practice leads the nation, as opposed to an eastern race [i.e., Jews from Arab countries] of inferior level.’” However, Rabbi Yosef would’ve been somewhat pleased to know that Ben-Gurion also wrote: “‘[I] am not now prepared for my daughter to marry an Arab, and not for religious reasons. I am not religious. And not for racial reasons, but because as I see it an Arab is still not on the human level that I would want for a man who marries a Jewish woman.’”)

   It’s important to note that some rabbis argue that in order to save a Jewish life it is permissible to give up some of the Land of Israel. In fact, a minority of religious Zionists argue that the way to  messianic redemption involves territorial compromise and nonviolence. (Beinart 2012, 23, 165, 166, 167) (Segev 2019, 466, 667)

-At least “two major camps can be generally identified among religious Jews in Israel–the orthodox (typically national-religious) and the ultraorthodox or Haredim, each with its own subdivisions.” During the early 2000s, religious Jews “constituted about 17 to 20 percent of the Jewish population” of Israel.

   Jews who are not orthodox or ultraorthodox should ponder the implications of the words of “Rabbi Yeshaya Shteinberger, rabbi of the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem and head of Hakotel Yeshiva”: “[T]he principles of the Israelite Torah necessitate the annulment of secularism…many times the principles of democracy are incommensurable with those of the Jewish faith.” (Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Theocratic Democracy: The Social Construction of Religious and Secular Extremism, Oxford University Press, New York: 2010, 13, 21, 30.)

Jeffrey Rudolph, a college professor, was a regional representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and, has taught at McGill University. He has prepared widely distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia, US Inequality, the US Christian Right, Hezbollah, the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox, Qatar, China, and Egypt. These quizzes are available at,

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