The one elusive dream of a future where Israeli and Arab children can live without the threat of war and fear of terrorism unites all Israelis. Yet, it’s the long history of failed negotiations with the Palestinians that proves yearning for peace is not enough. To its credit, Israel has presented far-reaching peace proposals, made major concessions, relinquished key tracts of land, uprooted settlements, withdrawn forces, dismantled military bases and taken measures to help the Palestinians to transition to self-government. In return, Palestinians have given Israel a campaign of terror, suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and virulent incitement against Israelis and Jews; and have promoted an ongoing Boycott, Divest & Sanction (BDS) campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international arena and undermine the Jewish state’s economy.
Citing the 1967 armistice lines (which were military lines and NOT borders), completely disregards peace treaties signed between Israel and the Palestinians like Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords.
Real peace stemming from conflict resolution can only occur through earnest negotiations that resolve all issues. The one clause that sums it up best occurred during Oslo:
“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.”
Oslo Interim Agreement, September 28, 1995
Myth: Israel is not interested in peace and does not want Palestinians to achieve national aspirations of independence.
Fact: The Palestinians have had numerous opportunities to become an independent state including 1948 British Mandate, the 1978 -79 Camp David Accords, the 1989 Israeli Peace Initiative, the 1991 Madrid Conference, the 1993 Declarations of Principles, the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement, 2007 Roadmap (for a permanent two-state solution) along with an 2007 Annapolis conference, and the 2010 Mideast Peace Process led by Obama and the Quartet in 2010. Each time the Palestinians turned their backs on peace. Yet, Egypt and Jordan showed the Palestinians that peace with Israel was more than obtainable.
Myth: The first intifada was in response to Israel’s occupation.
Fact: Led by PLO President Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians launched a full-scale, pre-planned wave of violence known as the First Intifada. The result was tragic: Palestinians had the blood of 1,184 Israelis on their hands.
Myth: The West Bank has always been Palestinian territory, and belongs to the Palestinian people.
Fact: The West Bank, known as Judea and Samaria for thousands of years, is part of the ancient homeland of the Jewish people and of Judaism. Jordan renamed it the West Bank in 1950.
Myth: Palestinians started the Second Intifada because Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a reference suggesting the Temple Mount was Jewish only and will remain that way.
Fact: Tensions were high following the failed Camp David Summit, and the Palestinians resorted to yet another wave of violence with the Second Intifada.
Myth: Israel is “occupying” the West Bank and is committing human rights violations against its citizens with its oppressive blockade.
Fact: Historically, West Bank was part of Israel under the name Judea and Samaria. Once Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon and forced it into war in the 1967 Six Day war, Israel defeated its attackers and conquered the territory from Jordan. Even though it offered the land back in exchange for peace, the surrounding Arab nations gathered in Khartoum and infamously declared, “No recognition, no negotiations and no peace with Israel.”
Myth: Israel is an aggressive, pariah state that doesn’t want peace with Palestinians.
Fact: Israel has repeatedly made overtures of peace with the Palestinians, often with the help of the United States and our own Presidents. To date, seven Israeli Prime Ministers have done so to no avail. The minute Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat declared his willingness to make peace with Israel in 1976, Israel went all out. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave Egypt back the entire Sinai Peninsula (including its oil wells), dismantled Israeli communities relocating thousands of Israeli citizens, and demanded nothing in return except peace with its neighbor. Israel also made peace with the Kingdom of Jordan the minute Jordanians were willing to put down their arms.
Myth: Peace will only come when Israel leaves. The land (Israel proper) belongs to Palestinians.
Fact: Jews base their claim to Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.
Myth: Palestine was always an Arab land.
Fact: The term “Palestine” is derived from Philistines, an Aegean people who settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain (Israel and the Gaza Strip) in the 12th Century B.C.E. After defeating the last Jewish revolt in second century C.E., Romans named Judea (what is now referred to as the West Bank) “Palaestina” in an attempt to delegitimize Jews and minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. “Filastin” is the Arabic word derived from this Latin term.
Myth: If Israel will just stop “occupying” Palestinian land, there will be peace.
Fact: The reason there continues to be war between Israel and the Palestinians is as straightforward as this – no Palestinian leader has ever been willing to publicly state that Israel is a Jewish country. In May 1948, Arab countries declared war on the Jewish State, and declared they would drive it into the sea. Israel has been attacked and forced into war by Arab states in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and continuously by terrorists from across all its borders from before 1948 until today.
Myth: Israel isn’t interested in peace. It only cares about amassing its Zionist empire off stolen Arab lands.
Fact: Israel is one of the tiniest countries in the world, and has willingly traded land for peace. In fact, the 22 Arab states surrounding Israel are 640 times bigger than the Jewish state. Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered unprecedented concessions that included a neighboring Palestinian state in 97% of the West Bank with east Jerusalem as its capital, and to dismantle isolated settlements. Unfortunately, Arafat rejected “every single one of the ideas” according to US peace negotiator Dennis Ross.
Myth: Israel was forced to withdraw from Palestinian territory — West Bank and the Gaza Strip — and would have never left willingly.
Fact: Israel agreed to withdraw from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and arm a Palestinian police force — and did so — even though Arafat did not fulfill his promises to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terrorism, negotiate disputes, and confiscate illegal weapons.
Myth: If Israel would only withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank it would have peace with the future Palestinian State.
Fact: After Jordan attacked Israel, the Israeli military captured the West Bank in self-defense. Still, Israel offered to trade most of this land for peace. It took 25 years before the Palestinians said they would accept this offer, but after Israel withdrew from nearly all the Gaza Strip and virtually half the West Bank, the Palestinians have not given Israelis any peace, only terror.
Myth: Peace would stand a chance if Israel would dismantle their settlements.
Fact: Palestinian violence and terrorism escalated after dismantling settlements. Israel evicted all residents from the Gaza Strip by September 12, 2005, and evicted and dismantled four settlements in the northern West Bank. As an aside, much of the employment opportunity for Palestinians in the West Bank comes from Israeli construction projects.
Myth: Palestinians do not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in what they consider “Palestine.”
Fact: Even though the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, the Israelis accepted a compromise that left them with a less than 20 percent of the homeland the British originally promised them.
Myth: Israel caused the entire Palestinian refugee crisis and is responsible for returning refugees to the homeland.
Fact: Palestinians rejected the offer of an Arab state and joined Israel’s neighbors in a war to exterminate Jews. The five Arab armies (Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan (later Jordan) and Iraq) refused peace and attacked Israel instead, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Arab armies had encouraged Palestinians living in Israel to leave before the war started then ordered them to repatriate into Israel after the war was over. Israel then could not accept any Palestinian who left before the war as they were then an enemy of the Jewish state.
Myth: After 1948, Israel offered as many as 100,000 Palestinians to return in exchange for a peace agreement with the Arab states.
Fact: The Palestinians responded by attacking Israel along with five Arab armies.
Video credit: European Coalition for Israel
About the author
Jennifer Hanin must love Israel. She spends her days advocating for the Jewish State she has never stepped foot in. Besides her passion for Israel and its people, she is an award-winning writer, influential blogger, and critically acclaimed author of What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant: the Complete Guide to All the Technologies for Couples Facing Fertility Problems (Da Capo, 2005). Newsweek (July 4, 2005) recommended Jennifer’s book as one to buy when undergoing fertility treatments. Jennifer's most recent highly acclaimed book is Becoming Jewish: The Challenges, Rewards and Paths to Conversion (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2011). JTA ranked Jennifer @jennhanin as #38 on their 100 Most Influential Jewish Twitter Users for 2010, and #10 in the category of Politics and Policy. She also won Shorty Awards in the categories of Religion and Judaism in 2009. She has appeared on television and radio to discuss her book and blog, and her blog has generated interest from every continent except Antarctica. Editors have translated her work into Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, French and Arabic.