“Perception truly is now reality, and our enemies know it,” asserts Steve Fondacaro, an American military expert. Israel and the West are engaged in what is “fundamentally an information fight,” in which Palestinian Arabs have mastered the technique of controlling the propaganda narrative. Their success has been so pervasive in crafting the language we use in discussing the conflict, we often are not even aware of how inadvertently we advance their agenda.
Soviet ideology is responsible for helping shape Palestinian Arab strategy, notes historian Joel Fishman. Words are designed to elicit hatred, disgust and contempt. Terms like racist, fascist, oppressor, apartheid nation, occupier, usurpers of Arab lands, and Israel as the obstacle to peace are accepted by large segments in the West, particularly in Europe, as an accurate description of the Jewish state.
Israel’s legitimacy is further undermined by the process of “reversal of culpability,” which uses false indictments and historical analogies. Goliath becomes David, and David becomes Goliath. Israelis are accused of committing “genocide,” thus “Israel is doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews.”
This pernicious labeling is also used by “self-hating Jews,” and Jews highly critical of Israel. In this toxic environment, even staunch supporters of Israel err in the terms they use. Here are just a few examples:
West Bank: For thousands of years, the area was recognized as Judea and Samaria, part of the Jewish people’s ancestral heartland. On April 24, 1950, Jordan annexed its 2,270 square miles, and the West Bank became the name used to describe the territory. Only Great Britain and Pakistan recognized this changed status. During the Six Day War in 1967, Jordan lost control of Judea and Samaria.
Using the term West Bank instead of Judea and Samaria, obscures the ancient historical and religious connection of the Jews to this area, and implies that Jordan has the legitimate right to rule the region. Judea’s boundaries, which are defined in The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus, was part of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Samaria was part of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, the Northern Kingdom.
A review of Jewish religious and secular sources will provide a profound appreciation for the importance and centrality of Judea and Samaria to the Jewish people.
Legally, the territory remains disputed. When a peace agreement is reached notes Eugene Rostow, a legal scholar and former Dean of Yale Law School, Israel must withdraw her “armed forces ‘from territories’ she occupied during the Six-Day War—‘not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
This has not stopped resolutions calling for withdrawals from “all” the territories, which are defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Settlers and Settlements:
David Friedman, the American Ambassador to Israel, recently said, “They (Israelis) are only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank.”
If the Jews have returned to Judea and Samaria, how can they be called settlers and portrayed as occupiers? And why are their communities called settlements?
Identifying them as settlements instead of Jewish communities, reinforces the Arab position that they are temporary residences that are illegal and must be vacated before any peace agreement can be reached.
Author Hillel Halkin asks what if every Israel government since 1967 had prohibited Jews from living in Judea and Samaria until a peace agreement had been signed. In the interim, the land would have been held in escrow until the Palestinian Arabs ceased fighting, and then the Israelis would give them the land, which would which then be free of Jews.
Would this have accelerated peace negotiations or tempered the PLO’s determination to obliterate the Jewish state? This would simply have enabled the Palestinian Arabs to pursue their objective of destroying Israel. If they succeeded, they would say “all to the better.” If not, they would respond “what did we lose?” Furthermore, it is quite offensive to tell Jews they can live in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, New York, Moscow, Mexico City or Buenos Aires, yet are prohibited from living in Judea and Samaria — the areas in the land of Israel most linked to the Bible, Jewish memory and history.
The entire concept itself destroys the canard that the Jews are the new Nazis. It was the Nazis who birthed the modern notion of ethnic cleansing, first by driving populations from their homes and then, ultimately murdering as many millions as they could. Barring Jews from their ancestral homelands, driving them from their current homes in concert with the avowed Palestinian Arab objective of killing them wherever they are, is the actual resurrection of the Nazi program, albeit in a new set of hands. Those hands are most assuredly not Jewish.
Douglas Feith, an attorney who served as a Middle East Specialist on the National Security Council Staff during the Reagan Administration, asserts that the Jewish claims to exert sovereignty in any part the land of Israel is based on the Jewish presence on the land for millennia. Land claims founded on historical presence “are not only legally valid, they are the strongest claims, and one might argue, the only valid claims Jews have to exercise sovereignty” throughout Palestine.
For those eager to learn more about Israel’s legal rights, please read Kontorovich, Eugene, “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories” (September 7, 2016). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2835908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2835908. Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University is a leading scholar on the subject.
Give Them Back the Land: As If We Are Occupiers
Frequently one hears “if the Arabs agree to cease trying to destroy Israel, we will give back the land to them.” In other words, it is Arab land which does not belong to the Jews. This regretful and damaging mistake confirms Arab claims that they are the indigenous inhabitants of the land. But are they?
A study of Jewish, Arab and British policies conducted by the Esco Foundation for Palestine in 1947 concluded: “It is highly improbable that any but a small part of the present Arab population of Palestine is descended from the ancient inhabitants of the land.” Aside from those brought to Palestine through conquest, “Palestine, like Syria, has been from time immemorial been peopled by the drifting populations of Arabia, and to some extent by the backwash of its harbors.”
A Final Thought: Moshe Arens, who served as Israeli defense and foreign minister, said there are “So many reasons for abandoning Judea and Samaria, but If you believe in the justice of Israel’s cause, are concerned for the security of the State of Israel, and are convinced that Jews and Arabs can live together in a democratic society, you will dismiss them all.”
By Alex Grobman, PhD