I’ve been active on Twitter lately challenging apologists for Israel’s war crimes against the civilian population of Gaza. One of them, “Clay”, no doubt feeling Twitter’s 140-character limit too constrictive, sent me an email accusing me of “anti-Israel propaganda using fellow pro Hamas sources as the foundation or your pretty much worthless arguments.” Clay adds, “I have no doubt you are a smart guy and know the subject matter but unfortunately bro you aren’t as smart as me.” He then lists a number of what he calls “irrefutable facts”.
There’s no point replying to this guy privately. Waste of time trying to teach sight to the willfully blind. But others may benefit from the discourse, so here’s his “facts” and my replies.
How Was Israel Established?
1. As a consequence of Ottoman Turkey’s foolish decision to join the Central Powers in World War I the empire was dismembered and Palestine was made a British mandate. Turkey’s foolish decision also likely led to the Balfour declaration in which Britain promised the Jews a homeland in the Middle East. The UN split the British Palestine mandate into an Arab state, Jordan, and a Jewish state, Israel, circa 1949.
This is false; complete nonsense. The UN created Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza as Israeli territory, in 1949? Clay is delusional. No more need be said about it. But if you aren’t familiar with the history, here is a brief rundown:
The League of Nations following WWI established the Palestine Mandate with Great Britain as the Mandatory Power. This was essentially an official recognition of Britain as the Occupying Power. The territory of the Mandate included Palestine (which was the area today comprised of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip) and Transjordan (Jorday today).
The Balfour Declaration was a statement of Britain’s policy in Palestine. It was in the form of a private letter sent from Lord Arthur Balfour to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild. It stated that Britain supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” with the caveat that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
It goes without saying that the Occupying Power had no authority to take land by force from the Arabs and redistribute it to the Jews. Nor did Great Britain claim such authority with the Balfour Declaration.
When the League of Nations was dissolved, the UN took over some of its roles with regard to Mandated territory. One often hears that the UN “partitioned” Palestine with General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947), which was how Israel was established. This is false. I won’t go into it; you can read about it here.
Israel was established in 1948 by unilateral declaration by the Zionist leadership on May 14, as the British occupation officially expired with the end of the Mandate. By that time, 300,000 Arabs had already been ethnically cleansed from Palestine. By the end of the war that ensued, three-quarters of a million Palestinians had been displaced, never permitted to return, and their villages destroyed and replaced by Jewish municipalities.
The hostilities ceased in 1949 with a series of armistice agreements. These established the “Green Line”, so named for the color with which it was drawn on the map, and alternatively known as the 1949 armistice lines or the pre-June 1967 lines. In 1967, Israeli invaded and occupied the areas beyond those lines, known as the West Bank and Gaza. All of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are under international law “occupied Palestinian territory”. Most of the world’s countries recognize this territory as the independent state of Palestine. Since 2012, the UN has recognized the state of Palestine, as well.
For more on the historical roots of the conflict, including fuller discussion of the Balfour Declaration and other relevant documents, read my book The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. (If you have a Kindle, you can download it right now for less than three bucks.)
Do Civilized Human Beings Still Accept Racist Colonialism?
2. The King-Crane Commission report did rightly determine that the Jewish people were not a majority, nor were they a majority land owner. It also rightly assumed their presence in the region would not be welcome. But, with respect to the report, what was the world supposed to do with the Jewish people Jeremy? So yes, the traditional colonial powers jammed them into the area between the river and the sea. But that was about 100 years ago. Get over it Muslims.
There’s nothing of substance to address here. Clay is simply expressing his opinion that since the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine is a fact of history, the “Muslims” should forget about it, accept the injustice, and move on. One wonders if Clay would maintain this opinion of it was his family who was ethnically cleansed from their homeland and living under a brutal military occupation.
As for his question about what the world “supposed to do with the Jewish people”, he asks as though there was no other option but to send them all to colonize Palestine. This just begs the question of why the nations of the West didn’t help the Jews by opening their own borders to the Jewish refugees. Why were the Palestinians instead made to pay the cost for the Holocaust, for crimes against European Jews by a European state, by having a grave injustice perpetrated against them by the Zionists and their Western benefactors? Why should any self-respecting Palestinian simply accept this and “Get over it”?
(If you want to learn more, the King-Crane Commission report is among the documents I discuss in The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination.)
Were the Palestinians Responsible for the Holocaust?
3. Middle Eastern Muslims supported Nazi Germany – no more so than the Palestinian Arab leader the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in fact – making loss of the permanent territories that are now Israel a just punishment. So Israel has just as much right to the land that it occupies as its Arab neighbors.
Clay’s argument here is that since Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, sought an alliance with Nazi Germany in exchange for Germany’s support for Palestine’s independence, therefore the colonization and ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs who had nothing to do with the Mufti, much less with Nazi Germany or the Holocaust, was “a just punishment”. When he speaks of Israel’s “right to the land”, what he means is that might makes right. It’s the law of the jungle. This goes hand in hand with his “Get over it” remark. Again, one wonders whether he’d apply the same standard if it was his family expelled from their homeland on account of being the wrong ethnicity.
Do Today’s Jews Have a 2,000-Year-Old Birthright to Palestine?
4. Muslims should be smart enough to recognize that Israel was there before they were there. It is referenced as much in their own book of worship. And, BTW, Muslims also hold the Bible in high regard which clearly details a long and dynamic Israeli presence in that area of the world.
Clay refers to the Kindgom of Israel of Biblical times. He doesn’t actually make a point here, but it is clear enough in the context that what he means is that since there was once a place populated by Hebrews called “Israel” there thousands of years ago, therefore the land still belonged to the people of the Hebraic tribe of Judah circ 1948, hence the “Muslims” ought to just “Get over it” and accept that their expulsion from their homes and the land their families had lived in and worked for generations was somehow okay.
He earlier mentioned the US King-Crane Commission, which addressed that talking point of the Zionists, so let’s refer to it. In the Commission’s discussions with the Zionist leadership, “the fact came out repeatedly . . . that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase.”
President Wilson had expressed a policy of support for people’s right to self-determination, expressing that support for this right was one of the war aims of the Allied Powers. With regard to this right, the Commission stated, “If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine—nearly nine tenths of the whole—are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. . . . [T]here was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were [sic] more agreed than upon this. To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the people’s rights, though it kept within the forms of law.”
Coming back to Clay’s point, the Commission stated that the claim of the Zionists “that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine, based on an occupation of 2,000 years ago, can hardly be seriously considered.”
Indeed, it cannot.
Is Israel Really David Against an Arab Goliath?
5. Israel has not once “started” a conflict with its neighbors. This is likely a statement you will disagree with because your writings suggest Israel’s mere presence in the region is enough of an affront to the Muslim population that the nearly constant state of war that is going on is Israel’s fault. That is a ridiculous assumption but one that Hamas and the other Arab nations have relied on historically to continue the onslaught and aid to those continuing the conflict.
Let’s look at 1948 some more. The Zionist narrative is that the Arab states launched a war of aggression on the state of Israel upon its founding in May 1948. But as already noted, by the time the neighboring Arab states were able to muster some kind of military response, more than a quarter million Arabs had already been ethnically cleansed from Palestine.
Or take 1956, when Israel conspire with Britain and France to invade Egypt. The European powers’ interest was in teaching Egypt a lesson for nationalizing the Suez Canal. Israel sought conquest of the Sinai. Israel started that war that October 29.
Or take the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the so-called “Six Day War”. It began on the morning of June 5, 1967 with a surprise Israeli attack on Egypt that obliterated its air force while most of its planes were still on the ground. The Zionist narrative is that this was a “preemptive” attack, but the CIA had assessed that Egypt’s military forces in the Sinai had taken up defensive positions and Israel’s own intelligence assessed that Nasser had no interest in bloodshed and was not insane, as he would have to be to make the decision to launch a first-strike on Israel, which had a vastly superior military.
Or take 1983, when Israel launched a devastating war on Lebanon.
Or take December 27, 2008, when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a full-scale military assault on the civilian population of Gaza after having broken a ceasefire with Hamas. It employed what it dubbed the “Dahiya Doctrine”, referring to its flattening of the Dahiya district of Lebanon in 2006, a policy of deliberate use of disproportionate force.
Or take November 14, 2012, when Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense a day after Egypt had brokered a ceasefire agreement with Hamas that Hamas had honored, but which Israel used as a ruse to lull Hamas into a false sense of security to draw out a Hamas official that it then assassinated in an airstrike upon the launch of its operation.
One could go on, but this is sufficient to illustrate Clay’s delusion that Israel has not once started a conflict with its neighbors.
Is Israel’s Massacre of Civilians Justified?
6. Hamas is using schools and hospitals to hide its weapons and draw Israeli fire to areas populated by civilians. The UN has said as much. I’m sure you think the U.N. is not telling the truth but there is actually video that was released a week ago of a Finnish reporter detailing rocket fire from behind a hospital and there are UN leaders on the record stating that weapons have been found in UN schools so go ahead and doubt that but it pretty much makes you look stupid.
The claim that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields” is a constant one made by Israel. It made the same claim to justify its killing of civilians during Operation Cast Lead. Numerous investigations by UN bodies and human rights organizations uncovered no evidence to support this claim.
It is true that on three occasions during Israel’s most recent operation against Gaza, vacant UN schools were found to have arms stored inside by Palestinian militants. However, Israel has several times bombed UN schools where civilians were sheltering. No arms were being stored in these schools. Nor is there any evidence that Hamas was firing from the immediate vicinity of these schools. In fact, when Israel bombed the UN school in Jabaliya, it killed children sleeping inside. When it bombed the UN school in Rafah, it killed civilians in the street just outside the gates who were shopping at local market stands.
It is often said by Israel’s defenders that Hamas deliberately targets civilians while Israel does its best to avoid them. It is striking, then, that 96% of Israeli casualties in this latest round of violence were soldiers while most of the Palestinians killed by Israel — at least 68% — have been civilians, including 377 children and 196 women (as of August 4). The ratio is also nearly 26 Palestinians killed for every one Israeli, with Palestinian deaths surpassing 1,700 — more than were killed during Operation Cast Lead.
What Does Religion Have to Do With It?
7. If the Arab nations would stop attacking Israel this whole thing would be over but they won’t do that because the Koran mandates that they must continue to try to destroy Jews…and Christians by the way. I’ve read the Koran Jeremy. It’s in there so please don’t try and argue that it is not. As a postscript to this bullet point, I’d like to point out that Islam was founded on a book written by a single man who claimed to have written it after chilling in a cave, talking to God. The book is supposed to be the incontrovertible words of God himself but throughout the years had to be edited for grammar and spelling. The religion also had to be furthered pretty much with threats and violence and continues to be furthered in that fashion today…see Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, et, al.
His first point goes back to his delusion that it has always been the Arabs who have started each round of violence, that Israel has not once started a conflict with its neighbors.
Against his wishes, I am going to have to go ahead and point out that the Koran does not mandate that Muslims must try to destroy Jews and Christians. On the contrary, it describes Jews and Christians as being “People of the Scripture” who are included with Muslims as those who “believeth in Allah and the Last Day” (i.e., Judgement Day), who “doeth right” and whose “reward is with their Lord”.
It describes Jews as the “Children of Israel” and recognizes the covenant between the God of Abraham and his descendants.
It recognizes the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as “Scripture”, the God of Abraham (Yahweh to the Hebrews, Allah to the Mulsims) having “revealed the Torah and the Gospel”. It recognizes the prophets of the Bible, such as Moses, who received the Ten Commandments “that ye might be led aright.”
It states that those “who forsaketh the religion of Abraham” are those who “befooleth” themselves; where it criticizes Jews and Christians, it is on the grounds that they have strayed from observance of “the Torah and the Gospel” that was “revealed unto you from your Lord.”
Jesus, we may recall, made the same criticism of his people.
Where Muslims are commanded by Allah in the Koran to slay Jews or Christians, it is in the context of battle. When it says in Surah 9:5, for example, to “slay the idolaters wherever ye find them…”, it refers to a time when Muhammed and his followers had made a treaty with the tribes of non-believers who controlled Mecca, only to have that treaty broken when the opponents of Islam attacked and massacred a tribe allied with the Muslims. Verse 4 states explicitly that those who have kept their treaty are excepted from the command of violence. As for the call to arms, it is explicitly a call to self-defense, not aggression. As verse 13 reads, “Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first?”
For further examples, see here.
See, I’ve read the Koran, too. Only when I read it, I didn’t do so with a mind to cherry-pick verses out of context to support my preconceived notions of Islam as a manifestation of evil. Clay’s suggestion that the practices of al-Qaeda, etc. represent what is actually written in the Koran can’t be taken seriously — any more than the behavior of Christians during the Crusades or Inquisition can be said to reflect the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
It should also be pointed out that there is nothing comparable in the Koran to the commandment in the Bible for the Hebrews to commit genocide and to slay the defenseless women and children along with the men.
Should Palestinians Just Accept Their Ethnic Cleansing?
8. If Israel presence is so awful and unwelcome than shouldn’t that apply to all of us. Should white people vacate the U.S. and go back to Europe and give the lands back to the Native Americans? Should the Spanish and Portuguese go back home and leave South America? I suppose Australians should go back to Britain and let the Aboriginal peoples have it? That’s not how it works. For the most part, all those groups have decided to live and let live…why can’t the Muslims? And remember…the Jews were there first anyway…around 1100 B.C. most likely.
This is really remarkable. Clay obviously hasn’t thought through his logic here very thoroughly, as he contradicts himself. On one hand, he argues that the Palestinians should just accept having been ethnically cleansed from Palestine. It’s his “Get over it” attitude again. Why? Because throughout history, groups of people have been displaced by other groups of people, and we accept today that what’s done is done. So the Palestinians, by this logic, have no more claim to the land that they were ethnically cleansed from just a couple generations ago.
Yet he just got finished suggesting that the Jews had some kind of right to Palestine and were justified in using force to take it back based on a presence in the region over 2,000 years ago. He even alludes to this previous argument of his again with his “the Jews were there first anyway” remark. Not a very “live and let live” attitude.
Suffice to say this isn’t so much an argument as an illustration of Clay’s hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance.
It should also be noted that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine isn’t history. It is ongoing. 1948 was just the beginning. Further cleansing occurred in 1967. And a slow ethnic cleansing of Palestine has continued since then under Israel’s occupation regime, with its continuous demolitions of Palestinian homes and establishment in occupied Palestine of Jewish colonies in violation of international law. We are not talking here about some historical event and some injustice for which there ought to be a statute of limitations. Again, we are talking about a refugee crisis stemming from the initial crime of ethnic cleansing just a couple generations ago — there are Palestinians still alive today who went through it — as well as ongoing injustices.
Is Israel a Diamond in the Rough?
9. Last point… the Arab nations that don’t have ludicrous amounts of oil are a complete joke economically and politically Jeremy? Why is that? Maybe because they spend all of their time trying to figure out how to kill Jews and convert the populous instead of focusing on growing their respective economies and working with other nations – including Israel – to achieve said economic growth. Why is Israel so successful and the other nations are not? Maybe because they don’t spend all their time trying to blow up their neighbors.
If Clay is expecting me to defend the Arab states — including authoritarian regimes propped up by the US — he will be sorely disappointed. This is really just a repetition of his previously asserted delusion that Israel has never attacked its neighbors and that Muslims are inherently bigoted and violent.
Classic psychological projection.
As for his opinion that Israel is a “successful” nation, this is certainly arguable, dependent entirely upon what criteria one accepts for the “success” of a state. I personally would include criteria such as respect of the equal rights of all its citizens, upholding the rule of law, respecting the body of international conventions and treaties comprising international law to which it is party, respect for customary international law and civilized behavior, etc. I’m not sure what criteria Clay is using but he would obviously reject my own.
Is Criticism of Israel ‘Anti-Semitism’?
To wrap this up…my thoughts on your problem(s) with Israel is not that you care so much for Hamas but that you hate the Jews and you wish that the body count would be equal on both sides. Not going to happen bro because the U.S. government stands with Israel or at least it did at one time. You probably also think the Jews are to blame for 9-11 BTW. You probably also think if you went over to that region they’d love you because you are so pro Hamas. Your head would end up on a stick. They are killers.
Naturally, a weak mind such as Clay’s will resort to the old charge of “anti-Semitism” in response to any criticism of the actions of the government of Israel. In lieu of a valid argument, just launch the old standby accusation against the others’ character. Every critic of Israel is familiar with this charge.
Clay is right, though, that as long as the US government “stands with Israel” and supports its crimes against the Palestinians, the injustices will continue. This is the subject of my forthcoming book Obstacle to Peace. (Subscribe to my free newsletter below to keep updated.)
His 9/11 comment is humorous. I’ll have to disappoint him once again, though. As for his “pro Hamas” label, this is just the standard euphemism for “critical of Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinians”.
As for my head ending up on a stick, I’d be more than happy to test Clay’s hypothesis. He can back up his words by paying my travel expenses. I’d be happy to visit the West Bank and Gaza. I look forward to doing so one day when circumstances allow it.
Does Zionist Propaganda Still Work?
Violence and death sucks but one side picks the fight with Israel and then Israel responds and folks like you try and control the message. Your propaganda doesn’t work though. All it takes is someone smarter than you (me) and some time on the Interweb to gather resources to refute your ridiculous claims. And, BTW, should you want to settle this with a little action out by the bike racks come to Denver anytime and I’m quite sure I would beat your ass.
Clay is trapped in another age. Zionist myths and propaganda about the conflict have long dominated Western narratives. This includes the idea of Israel as the David against the Arab Goliath, the idea that Israel was somehow lawfully established by the international community, the claim that the Arabs left Palestine voluntarily, and so on. Standard debate tactics include dismissing critics of Israel’s crimes as anti-Semites in lieu of addressing the facts. (Never mind that Arabs are also Semites.) But the world has changed.
Contemporary scholarship continues to decimate the standard Zionist narratives of the conflict. What no longer works is Israel’s propaganda. A very significant example of this is the US response this time to Israel’s bombing of UN schools. Five years ago, when Israel bombed UN facilities during Operation Cast Lead, the US defended it. It knows it is just not politically feasible to do so anymore. The world is awakening to the realities of the conflict.
As a final note, since Clay is from Denver, by his own logic, he should have no problem being forced out of his home and having his land given back to native Americans. By his own logic, he could be expelled from the borders of Colorado, and he should be just fine with that. He should be perfectly content to “Get over it” were this to occur. It’s also instructive how he wails on and on about the violent nature of the “Muslims” while himself boasting how he could “beat” my “ass”.
I hate to disappoint him a final time, but moral and intellectual cowards like Clay just do not intimidate me. If he sends me his address and pays my travel expenses, I’ll be happy to hand deliver him a copy of my forthcoming book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict once its published.
This book completely demolishes the standard mainstream narratives of the conflict. I’ll just leave it at that.
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