The Incontrovertible Inconvenient Truth about Israel

Islamist groups are holding victory parties in Egypt, Syria's Bashar Assad is killing scores of his own people each week, Iran is producing more weapons-grade uranium than ever, Jordan's king announces that "Israel has an expiration date," and  the U.S. launches four attacks -- against Israel.  Whatever the reason for the misdirected attacks, they rewrite history and deny reality.

1. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lashes out at Israel, blaming Israel for its growing isolation and demanding that Israel "just get to the damn table" to negotiate with the Palestinians and "mend fences" with Turkey, Egypt, and other Islamist regimes by "performing more gestures" (code word for concessions).

His Conclusion: Israel is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East.  It refuses to negotiate with the Palestinians and creates hostile relationships with its other neighbors.

Fact-Check: The Palestinian Authority, not Israel, walked away from the peace talks.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated publicly and repeatedly that Israel will sit down at the table any time there is a Palestinian on the other side ready and able to make peace. Israel has engaged in countless "gestures," such as last year's ten-month freeze on construction in disputed areas in order to entice Palestinians back to the negotiating table.  Instead, the PA continued its refusal to negotiate and went to the United Nations in an effort to abrogate all previous agreements with Israel.

The new governments in Turkey and Egypt are heavily influenced by radical Islamist parties, whose foreign policies are increasing hostile to the Jewish State.  Prime Minister Erdoğan's threats to step up naval surveillance patrols of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, freezing of defense trade with Israel, and support of illegal flotillas belie a deep, longstanding hatred for the Jewish State.  Some of the first outcomes of Egypt's "Arab Spring" were an attack on the Israeli Embassy, more violence in the Sinai, repeated blowing up of the oil supply to Israel and Jordan, opening up the border to permit Hamas easier access to weapons, and threats to revoke the peace treaty for which Israel gave up the entire Sinai.  The message continues to be that Israel as a Jewish state cannot be tolerated.

2. Howard Gutman, U.S. ambassador in Belgium, blames Israel for anti-Semitism.  He "distinguishes" Muslim anti-Semitism from more traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned.

His Conclusion: It's Israel's fault that its neighbors have waged a relentless war against it for 63 years.  Thus, a Palestinian-Israel peace agreement will reduce anti-Semitism.

Fact-Check: First, there is a logical fallacy of cause and effect.  Israel-hatred exists not because there is tension between Israel and the Palestinians.  Tension exists because Israel is the one issue which Arab leaders use to unify many Arab and Muslim countries as a scapegoat for hatred which distracts their people.  In addition, several generations of Palestinians have been nurtured in a culture which denies Israel's legitimacy and blames Israel for all Palestinian grievances.  The pathological hatred of Jews is the cause of the conflict, not the result.

Historically Arab anti-Semitism predates the establishment of the modern state of Israel by centuries.  The first Arab-sponsored attack upon Jews in the 20th century in what is now modern-day Israel occurred in 1920, long before the establishment of Israel and long before there were any so-called Palestinians or references to any Palestinian culture or history.  In 1929, Arab mobs massacred over a hundred Jews, 67 of them in the massacre in Hebron, an ancient community where Jews had lived among Arabs peacefully for centuries. 

The Mufti of Jerusalem encouraged his ally Hitler to wipe out European Jews during World War II (again before modern-day Israel) while the Mufti promised to do the same for Jews in the Middle East.  The Arab attacks on Jews and against Zionism took place decades before the founding of modern-day Israel, years before the large aliya of Jews fleeing Europe and many Arab countries, and even many more years before the administration of Judea-Samaria/the West Bank became an international cause célèbre.

The issue is summed up by Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.): "Anti-Semitism is inexcusable under any circumstances. Those who use the existence of the Jewish State of Israel or the ongoing deadlock in Israeli-Palestinians peace negotiations as an excuse to hate Jews are nothing more than anti-Semitic bigots."

3. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laments limits of Israel's democracy and unfair treatment of women.  Clinton said that some of these phenomena remind her of Iran.

Her Conclusion: Israel apparently does not share values for human rights and liberty with the U.S.  If Israel is not a beacon of democracy in an autocratic Middle East, it apparently is closer to Iran, which is a member of the axis of evil and one of the most reviled governments in the world.

Fact-Check: The comparison of women's rights in Iran to women's rights in Israel is so outrageous that it does not even deserve a response.  Yet since the link was made by the most powerful woman in the United States, a fact-check is in order.

As some examples: if women in Iran are found guilty of "bad hijab" -- exposure of any part of the body other than hands and face -- they are subject to punishment of up to seventy lashes or sixty days' imprisonment.  The legal age of marriage (arranged, of course) for a girl is thirteen, and these "married" girls are barred from attending regular schools.  The Islamic Republic is committed to inequality for women in inheritance and other areas of the civil code.  Segregation of sexes is the law in all public places.  Females caught by revolutionary officials in a mixed-sex situation can be subject to virginity tests.  The Iranian judiciary implements the Islamic penal code, which includes stoning, amputations, and flogging, all considered torture under international law.

In Israel, a woman's life is her choice.  Some may observe the Orthodox code of modest dress.  For the others, just stop by any beach in Tel Aviv and find out how freedom reigns.  In civil rights, marriage decisions, military ranks, and employment opportunities, women in Israel are better-compared with women in the United States.  Israel has had a female prime minister and almost had another in the last election.  Even the most indoctrinated and ignorant know that equating the situations for women in Israel and Iran is ludicrous.

4. U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro warns Israel over a bill to limit funding of NGOs which are violating regulations and working towards de-legitimizing Israel.

His Conclusion: Israel wants to limit the rights of those who disagree with the government.  Israel must be lectured about being a democracy.

Fact-Check: The proposed legislation on foreign government funding for highly political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is undergoing a massive debate in Israel because Israel is a vibrant democracy.

NGO Monitor, in researching these issues since 2002, has found that the NGOs in question have violated regulations requiring them to be non-governmental, autonomous, non-profit, politically unaffiliated groups.  Instead, Israel is being told to fund 23 NGOs which receive more than 70% of their budget from governments, mostly European, and which actively oppose the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel.  American taxpayers would definitely look askance at contributing to foreign-funded organizations operating in the U.S. for the purpose of undermining the U.S. government.  I can imagine the outcry if a representative of a foreign government were to demand that we do so and question our democracy if we required some transparency from these NGOs.

Truthful Conclusion: Israel's democracy, friendship, humanitarian record, and peace efforts appear to be inconvenient truths at 2201 C Street in Washington, D.C. (the U.S. Department of State).

Winston Churchill once said, "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."  Some attack these truths out of malice and others out of ignorance, but in the end, defending these incontrovertible truths is the only road to peace.

Peggy Shapiro is the Chicago community coordinator for StandWithUs.

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