Every once in a while it’s necessary to argue against some of the myths that have become current. Here are three such myths:
Myth no. 1: The Israel-Palestinian conflict is between Israel and the Palestinians.
Actually, the conflict pits Israel against the Arab world, and against the forces of Sunni and Shiite Islamism. All of the above have never accepted the idea of a Jewish state in the Mideast and wish to eliminate it. The US supports Israel where it sees a congruence of national interests; there is by no means unqualified support, and at this moment these interests are perceived by many in the US administration to be growing farther apart.
Among those who wish to destroy Israel are Iran and Saudi Arabia. These nations have invested a lot of oil money in terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah which are doing their best to destabilize the region (e.g., in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority) and to kill Israelis. They also fund massive media and propaganda campaigns around the world, carry on diplomatic offensives against Israel, and support jihadist groups in various places, which — while they may not directly target Israel — use terrorism to try to influence Western nations’ policy toward her.
It’s also appropriate to mention Syria and Egypt, which are presently stockpiling large quantities of weapons, including sophisticated weapons whose only use would be against Israel, and — especially in the case of Syria — have large stocks of chemical and biological weapons.
The role of the Palestinians — and we must also include a large proportion of the so-called “Israeli Arabs” who today see themselves as Palestinians first — is as a growth medium for the terrorist militias. For this reason, their general condition is kept as miserable as possible and their sense of victimization nurtured, both in terms of their historical grievances and their present treatment by Israel. As I’ve said before, the Palestinians’ function is to be the point of the spear to be driven into Israel.
Myth no. 2: Israel is much more powerful than the Palestinians
An understanding of Myth no. 1 above shows that this is more irrelevant than false. The IDF is more than a match for the terrorist militias — although Hamas and Hezbollah are presently developing professional, well-trained and well-equipped armies that are a far cry from Arafat’s guerrillas. But much of the danger comes from the connections of the terrorist militias to their patrons — as demonstrated by the second Lebanon war — and from the potential of these patrons’ direct involvement. Iran’s soon-to-be nuclear capability and Syria’s chemical rockets stand behind this threat.
Continuing terrorism against Israel, while it may not be as dramatic as the invasions of 1973, can have the effect of harming Israel’s economy and morale, weakening her and reducing ability to fight a major war when it comes.
The small physical size of Israel has made her civilian population vulnerable to short-range rocket attacks from outside her borders which are very difficult to prevent, and which — because the terrorists are non-state proxies — can continue without international pressure to stop them even though they are war crimes under international law. Israel, on the other hand, is highly limited in how it can respond, especially by the US. This tips the balance of power against Israel.
Myth no. 3: Israel uses its power to oppress the Palestinians
One of the strategies used by Israel’s enemies is to create and capitalize upon as much ‘oppression’ as possible. So Israel is forced to establish roadblocks in the West Bank to prevent suicide bombers from crossing into Israel proper, and then the Palestinians relate stories of pregnant women giving birth there, etc.
Another example is the regular protests against the security fence by Palestinians and their ‘international’ supporters, designed to both draw attention to Israel’s security measures, to present them as oppression, and to provoke Israel into responding as violently as possible to create more incidents. If there are not enough real incidents, they exaggerate and sometimes entirely fake them.
On a much larger scale, Hamas provoked Israel into the partial blockade of the Gaza strip by firing thousands of rockets into Sderot and environs. Hamas then exaggerated the privations of the Gaza residents and quite successfully presented this to the international media. The recent ‘blackout’, in which Hamas pretended that a cutoff of diesel fuel caused a major power outage, while the strip still was receiving 75% of normal electricity supply from Israel and Egypt, was a major propaganda triumph.
The Left in Israel and progressives around the world call for an ‘end to the occupation’ because they think that a solution to the conflict will be more likely if the Palestinians are freed from ‘oppression’. But they do not understand that the ‘oppression’ is actually desired and indeed often created by the anti-Israel forces as a tool to get the West to force Israel to make concessions. Once the concessions are made — this is what the progressives don’t understand — the ‘oppression’ always appears somewhere else or in another form, requiring more concessions.
So, for example, when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon and went to great lengths to get the UN to certify the border, Hezbollah discovered the Shebaa Farms as a pretext to claim that Israel still occupies Lebanon.
And when Israel withdrew from 100% of Gaza but found it necessary to control the borders to prevent terrorism, the Palestinians complained that they were in a “huge open-air prison”. Hamas also fired mortars at the crossing points in order to force their closure, so they could blame Israel for more ‘oppression’. Finally they fired rockets at Sderot until Israel, prevented by the human-shield tactic from massive retaliation, responded with the blockade (which of course was not complete for humanitarian reasons anyway).
If Israel were to completely withdraw to the 1967 lines, there is no doubt that the internal ‘oppression’ of the “Palestinian citizens of Israel” would then come to the fore (not that this is being ignored today).
This also explains why no matter how much aid is given to the Palestinians, their condition never seems to improve.