CAN YOU PASS THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE QUIZ?
By Jeffrey Rudolph (June 2008; last update March 2016)
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. And, while some issues concerning the conflict remain disputed, there are many important, 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 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 of “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?”
THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE QUIZ
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…”
-Ahad Ha’Am: Liberal Russian Jewish thinker and a leading Eastern European essayist. (Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, New York: 1997, 101.)
-Many historians have shown 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.)
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.) (Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, New York: 1997, 102.)
-Removing Arabs in some manner (land purchases, etc.) was at the heart of the Zionist project. Beginning in the 1930s Zionist leaders made preparations for a population transfer, setting up a special committee for the task. They addressed the question of whether the transfer would be forced or voluntary. In the words of Dr. Ruppin, “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.)
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  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.)
3. Who, in 1919, wrote the following in a secret memorandum submitted to the British cabinet? “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. As British Foreign Secretary he was responsible for the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which promised Zionists a national home in Palestine.
-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.)
-For “Winston Churchill, testifying before the  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.)
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.) http://www.monbiot.com/2012/10/08/the-empire-strikes-back/
-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 referred to as, Beinart.)
4. According to Mandatory Palestine’s first modern census, conducted in 1922, approximately what percentage of the total population were Jews?
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.)
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)?
7. Approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was owned by Jews at the time of the 1947 UN Partition Plan?
-7 percent. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 186.)
-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.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/06/28/sacred-mantras/
-In the area of Palestine designated for the Jewish state there was approximately 500,000 Jews and 400,000 Arabs. 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.” (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.) (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 186.)
8. Which state, the Jewish State or 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. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/key_documents/1681322.stm
-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.” (Beinart, 60-1)
-“The U.S. and most of the world have never recognized Jerusalem…as the Israeli capital; they continue to accord Tel Aviv that status and maintain their diplomatic missions there. But in deference to the powerful Israel Lobby…U.S. politicians routinely tow the Israeli line about [Jerusalem being] the ‘united, eternal capital [of Israel].'” http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/26/a-brief-history-of-jerusalem/
“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.” http://normanfinkelstein.com/2014/11/29/the-reality-in-jerusalem/
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. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 252.)
-In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in 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.” (Yitzhak Rabin was the prime minister of Israel from 1992-1995.) http://mondediplo.com/1997/12/palestine
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” (Beinart, 13). 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” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/may/31/history1).
“[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.'” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/24/a-history-of-silencing-israeli-army-whistleblowers-from-1948-until-today/
-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.'” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xii.)
-“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 a few 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).” http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2015/06/05/the-real-nakba/
10. After the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli War, approximately what percentage of Mandatory Palestine’s land was part of the Jewish state?
-79 percent. (Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, W. W. Norton, New York: 2001, 47.)
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 U.S. influence in the area, [and] the elimination of the Jordanian and Saudi regimes.” “The mutual U.S.-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 towards Iran.
Beyond the “military prowess that it displayed…in June 1967 Israel has offered other unique advantages to the United States. It is the only stable and secure base of U.S. power in the Middle East. The ‘moderate’ Arab regimes on which the U.S. 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…” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 47-9, 52.)
-“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…” (Glenn Greenwald, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and The U.S. Surveillance State, Signal, Canada: 2014, 125.)
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 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 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.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, 10-11.)
13. From Israel’s victory in the 1967 War to the Likud’s electoral victory in 1977, approximately how many Jewish settlers migrated to East Jerusalem and to the West Bank and Gaza Strip?
14. At the time of the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles in September 1993, approximately how many Jewish settlers lived in East Jerusalem and the West Bank?
15. When the Camp David Summit began in July 2000, approximately how many Jewish settlers lived in East Jerusalem and the West Bank?
-It should be noted that the Oslo 2 accords specified that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”
-“[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 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.)
-By 2010, the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) exceeded 500,000. For an excellent series of maps go to: http://www.fmep.org/resources/publications-1/FMEP%20map%20progression%20presentation.pdf
-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.” http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/12/world/middleeast/netanyahu-west-bank-settlements-israel-election.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
“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.” https://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/2015-in-settlements.pdf
-When pro-Israel commentators “blame the Palestinians for Israel’s occupation, they ignore one gaping fact: whatever the Palestinian’s 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, thus eventually foreclosing a two-state solution ever.” (Beinart, 65)
-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.”
Furthermore “most 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  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. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/the-lies-about-the-settlements.premium-1.467947 (The article’s main points continue to be endorsed by Arieli. (Private communication with Quiz preparer, 22 Feb. 2016))
-Israel’s 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, 62, 64)
16. Approximately how many Jewish settlers and how many Palestinians live in Hebron?
-600 and 200,000, respectively. “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 city of Hebron is home to approximately 200,000 Palestinians. 600 Israeli settlers, supported by a large number of Israeli Military, 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.”
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.” (Stephanie Koury, Settlements and the Wall, Palestine Center Information Brief No. 156, 19 November 2007.) http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/2237/pid/2254
-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, 52)
18. Approximately how many Lebanese civilians were killed by Israel during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon?
-It “is estimated that around 17,825 Lebanese were killed during the first year of the war, with differing estimates of the proportion of civilians killed. Beirut newspaper An Nahar estimated that 5,515 people, both military and civilian, were killed in the Beirut area alone during the conflict…Approximately 675 Israeli soldiers were killed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Lebanon_War#Casualties
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. 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. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/yossi-sarid-if-you-or-i-were-palestinian-1.267316 http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0306/25/se.13.html
-Walter Laqueur, a leading academic stalwart of Israel, “acknowledges 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.'” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xxxvii.)
-The source of Palestinian anger has never been a mystery, and 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.”
The report lucidly 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.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, 7-8.) http://www.ampalestine.org/index.php/history/the-british-mandate/350-mandated-palestine-the-partition-plans
-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.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, 16.)
-In January 2013, 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 and said there is a chance another Palestinian uprising could break out. ‘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.” http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=17&sid=900901
-In the 2012 documentary, The Gatekeepers, six former heads of Israel’s domestic security service (Shin Bet) – Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Avalon, 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.” http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-gatekeepers-review20121126,0,7530779,full.story
-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.” blogs.forward.com/jj-goldberg/208359/-idf-ex-generals-spy-chiefs-urge-new-peace-bid/
-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.” http://forward.com/opinion/323817/idf-does-not-agree-with-netanyahu-on-roots-of-palestinian-violence/ (3 Nov. 2015)
21. Who wrote the following September 18, 1967 Top Secret memo, concerning Settlement in the Administered (or Occupied) Territories, to Mr. Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary of the Prime Minister of Israel? “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 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.” (Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977, Henry Holt: 2006, 99.)
-In July 2004, the World Court issued an advisory opinion that “found that, based on Article 2 of the United Nations Charter and numerous U.N. 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 U.N. 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 [Israel is building in the West Bank], Thomas Buergenthal from the United States, 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.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xxi – xxii.)
In 2004, after the Court “condemned the barrier, 361 members of the US House [of Representatives] backed a resolution supporting it [the barrier].” (Beinart, 90)
-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.” http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=270693
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.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34786607
22. Who wrote the following passage, in an article in one of Israel’s leading newspapers, in 2002? “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, 1993-1996.
-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.” We should also not forget the title of former US president Jimmy Carter’s 2006 book: Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xxviii.)
-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, Palestinian “defendants are often held for months or even years before trial” according to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=440537 (Beinart, 18-19)
“Since 1967, the State of Israel has detained at least 750,000 Palestinians in its prisons, including 10,000 women.” (Max Blumenthal, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Nation Books, New York: 2013, 151.)
“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.'” http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=744671
-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, 14-16)
-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.” (Gershom Gorenberg, The Unmaking Of Israel, Harper, New York: 2011, 204, 220.)
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.” http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201512_backed_by_the_system (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)
-“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.)
-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.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 105.)
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.)
-There is a clear split between the bulk of Jewish Americans, 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 U.S. pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians if it would help bring a peace deal. Those numbers have held steady in the years since.” 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” (Beinart, 43, 125). In 2012, Obama won approximately 70 percent of the Jewish vote (http://www.ijn.com/presidential-elections/2012-presidential-elections/3542-how-the-jewish-vote-went).
-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.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/opinion/when-it-pays-to-talk-to-terrorists.html?_r=1
-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.'” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/22/the-end-of-fayyadism-in-palestine.html
25. Who stated the following on a news program on February 14, 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.
-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. 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.”
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.” (Beinart, 66-7, 72)
-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.” http://normanfinkelstein.com/2013/01/11/norman-finkelstein-a-historic-moment-in-the-middle-east/
-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, 141-2, 145.)
-Israel has a long record of missing opportunities for peace. 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.”
Even “before the new  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…”
Due to Israel’s intransigence in 1973 “on October 6th Sadat’s troops struck across the 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.
Today Israel continues to ignore Palestinian peace offers as well as the “ten-year old 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’.)” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1348845384/
-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.” http://www.jeromeslater.com/2014/07/history-vs.html
-It may be arguable “that the Arab states only came around to acquiescing in Israel’s existence after they suffered a string of military defeats. However, Tel Aviv insists not only on its being accepted but also on regional supremacy.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 70.)
26. 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 many more wounded. In the riots that followed the massacre, another 9 Palestinians were killed. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06E3DA173DF93AA35750C0A962958260
The terrorist attack by “Goldstein, a member of the militant group Kach founded by the late Meir Kahane, helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in 1995…” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/25/AR2010082506591.html
However, Hamas “had launched several suicide bombers at Israeli targets over the preceding year [i.e., 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.” (Dan Ephron, Killing A King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, W. W. Norton, New York: 2015, 81. Hereinafter, “Ephron 2015.”)
“In mid-September , 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 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)
-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, 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.” (Rabbi Yosef died in October 2013.)
It is important to note that some rabbis would argue that to save a Jewish life it is permissible to give up some of the Land of Israel. (Beinart, 23, 165, 166, 167) http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/israels-secret-iran-meeting-between-security-officials-and-rabbi-who-wants-to-annihilate-arabs.html
-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 Montreal college professor, was the Quebec 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, and China. These quizzes are available at, https://detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com/
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