Zionists and official Israel combined forces when Israel was created to frame the Middle East debate on their terms through lies, distortions, and attacks. These maneuvers are designed to win sympathy and support—especially in the United States—and to marginalize the Palestinians and their claims to their own state.
Here are some of their main ploys:
1. The accusation of anti-Semitism. Whoever criticizes the policies and actions of the Israeli government is promptly accused of anti-Semitism—never mind that neither Israel nor Zionism is synonymous with Judaism. What other country is immune from criticism because it played the guilt card?
2. Invoking the Holocaust as justification for what they do, and for the original establishment of Israel. Never mind that the Palestinians, who have been systematically pushed off of their land, had nothing to do with the European Holocaust.
3. Labeling any defensive action that the Palestinians take as ‘terrorist’ activities, even though the majority of Palestinian actions are directed at military targets—an acceptable act of resistance for an occupied territory, under international law. Attacks against civilians, like many of the suicide bombings, are in violation of international law. Most of Israel’s actions are directed at the general Palestinian population and are designed to punish the Palestinian people as a whole; both are clear violations.
4. Constantly claiming that Israel doesn’t have a partner in peace—that Palestinians don’t want peace and therefore reject any attempts at a resolution. In fact, the Palestinian leadership and the Arab League (surrounding Arab countries) have both accepted peace proposals that Israel then delays. Jimmy Carter says, “In order to achieve its goals, Israel has decided to avoid any peace negotiations and to escape even the mild restraints of the United States by taking unilateral action, called ‘convergence’ or ‘realignment,’ to carve out for itself the choice portions of the West Bank.” [Jimmy Carter, ‘Palestine Peace Not Apartheid’, p. 210]
In addition, Israel makes a resolution impossible by a) refusing to discuss where Israel’s permanent borders are going to be, b) refusing to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in spite of the international law called ‘Right of Return’, and c) demanding that before an agreement can be enacted, there must be no single hostile action taken against Israel by any Palestinian anywhere—something that would be impossible for anyone to guarantee. Plus, it ignores the daily siege by the Israeli military of the Palestinian people living in the Gaza Strip.
5. Unilaterally declaring Jerusalem as unified in 1967, proclaiming it as the Israeli capital, in spite of the fact that, when Israel was created by the United Nations, Jerusalem was set aside as an international city due to its importance to all the Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Tel Aviv is the internationally recognized capital; no country recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
6. Europeanizing Israel through immigrants, architecture, and vegetation, so that the U.S. can easily identify with the country rather than with the Arab Palestinians, who are automatically identified as ‘the other’ through appearance and customs. These efforts have also wiped out the Arab nature of the cities and the landscape, with places being renamed in Hebrew, and native crops, like olive trees (as well as emptied Palestinian villages) being plowed under and replaced by more European-looking forests. [Ilan Pappe, ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’, pp.216-227]
7. Claiming divine right to historical Palestine as having been given to them by God—never mind that many Jews do not agree with that religious interpretation. The claim itself is undermined by the fact that a number of locations—including Uganda, Turkey, and Argentina [Phyllis Bennis, ‘Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’, pg. 175]—were originally considered as possible locations for the Jewish homeland. Palestine was selected because the Zionists thought a strong emotional attachment to the land would motivate Jews to immigrate there.
8. Portraying themselves as victims when, in reality, the balance of power is in their favor to an extraordinary degree. [Pappe, p. 245] Israel vastly overshadows the Palestinians in military and economic might, mostly due to the financial and technological support of the United States—to say nothing of the massive public relations campaign of Israel and the American Jewish organizations such as AIPAC that relentlessly support whatever Israel does. They have used that might to dispossess and marginalize the virtually powerless Palestinians.
9. Claiming and popularizing the statement that historical Palestine after World War II was ‘a land without people, for a people without a land’—totally ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who already lived there.
10. Describing Israel as a democracy, although the country has two tiers of citizenship. Israeli ‘Nationals’ have full rights. Nationals (Jewish Israelis) are Nationals because they serve in the military, but Arab Israelis are not allowed in the military because they ‘can’t be trusted’. [Tom Wallace, International Solidarity Movement]. Arab Israeli citizens have limited voting rights and no real power.
Fortunately, these ploys mostly work just in the United States—and even here, their effect is beginning to weaken. Rabbi Tamara Kolton of Michigan says, “Most Jews have mixed feelings about Israel. They support Israel, but it’s complicated. Until now, you never heard from those people.” [N.Y. Times, 5/6/10, pg. A14] And Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of the liberal Jewish lobby, J Street, says, “People are tired of being told that you are either with us or against us. The majority of American Jews…support the two-state solution and do not feel that they have been well represented by organizations that demand obedience to every wish of the Israeli government.” [N.Y. Times, 5/6/10, pg. A18]
Elsewhere in the world, including within Israel, there is much discussion about and disagreement with Israel’s tactics. Up until now, the United States has given unqualified financial support and the latest updated military technology to Israel, as well as vetoing any attempt in the United Nations to censure Israel for its constant, decades-long violations of international law.