Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"The Case for Israel" by Alan Dershowitz

1.) Is Israel a colonial, imperialist state?

Israel is a state comprising primarily refugees and their desendants exercising their right to self determination. Begining in the 1880s, the Jews who moved to what is now Israel were refugees escaping the oppressive anti-semitism of colonial Europe and the Muslim states of the Middle East and North Africa. Unlike colonial settlers serving the expansionist commercial and military goals of imperial nations such as Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Spain, the Jewish refugees were escaping from the countries that oppressed them for centuries. These Jewish refugees were far more comparable to the American colonists who left England because of religious oppression (or the Europeans who later immigrated to America) than they were to eighteenth - and nineteeth - century English imperialists who colonised India, the French settlers who colonised North Africa, and the Dutch expansionists who colonised Indonesia.

2.) Did European Jews displace Palestinians?

The Palestine to which the European Jews of the First Aliyah immigrated was vastly under-populated, and the land onto which the Jews moved was, in fact, bought primarily from absentee landlords and real estate speculators. In addition to Palestine being an appropriate place for Jewish refugees because of its close connection to their history and ideology, it was also seen as appropriate because of the demographics of the land to which they were moving, or, in their word, returning.

3.) Was the Zionist movement a plot to colonize all of Palestine?

The Second Aliyah (1904-1914), although largely inspired by Zionist ideology, was also an immigration from persecution, and it contemplated cooperation with local Muslims to create better lives for all residents of Palestine.

4. ) Was the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (which called for the establishment of a "Jewish home in Palestine) binding international law?

A de facto Jewish homeland already existed in parts of Palestine, and its recognition by the Balfour Declaration became a matter of binding international law when the League of Nations made it part of its mandate

5.) Were the Jews unwilling to share Palestine?

The goal of the Arab leadership was not only to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine but to transfer the Jews of Palestine out of their historic home and to make all of Palestine empty of Jews. Jewish leaders, on the other hand, were willing to make painful compromises as long as they could have a Jewish homeland in those areas of Palestine in which they were a majority.

6.) Have the Jews always rejected the two-state solution?

As soon as partition into two states or homelands was proposed, the Jews have accepted it and the Arabs have rejected it. This has happened four times already: in 1917 (separation of British mandate of Palestine); 1937 (The Peel Commission); 1948 (UN Partition plan) and 2000 (Clinton-Barak-Araft deal)

7.) Have the Jews exploited the Holocaust?

The Palestinian leadership with the acquiescence of most of the Palestinian Arabs actively supported and assisted the Holocaust and Nazi Germany and bears considerable moral, political, and even legal culpability for the murder of many Jews. For example - The official leader of the Palestinians [at the time], Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, formed an alliance with the Nazis and eventually spent the war years in Berlin with Hitler, serving as a consultant on the Jewish question, and was taken on a tour of Auschwitz by Himmler and expressed support for the mass murder of European Jews.

8.) Was the UN Partition Plan unfair to Palestinians?

The UN plan was fair to both sides and was a reflection of mutual self-determination both for Arabs and for Jews and is now the consensus of world opinion.

9.) Were Jews a minority in what became Israel?

The Jews were a substantial majority in those areas of Palestine partitioned by the United Nations for a Jewish State.

10.) Has Israel's victimization of the Palestinians been the primary cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist has long been the cause of the problem

11.) Was the Israeli War of Independence Expansionist Aggression?

Israel defended itself against a genocidal war of extermination.

12.) Did Israel create the Arab refugee problem?

The problem was created by a war intitiated by the Arabs.

13.) Did Israel start the Six-Day war?

Although Israel fired the first shot against Egypt - although not against Jordan - the war was begun by Egypt's decision to close the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping and to order the removal of UN troops from the Sinai.

14.) Was the Israeli occupation without justification?

Israel was willing to trade land captured in a defensive war for peace, as it eventually did with the Egyptians and Jordanians, but neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians have been willing to offer peace in exchange for land, as required by Security Council Resolution 242.

15.) Was the Yom Kippur War Israel's fault?

The unprovoked attack on Israel was unjustified and in violation of the UN charter.

16.) Has Israel made serious efforts at peace?

Israel has offered the Palestinians every reasonable opportunity to make peace, but the Palestinians have rejected every such offer, most recently at Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001.

17.) Was Arafat right in Turning down the Barak-Clinton peace proposal?

Not only have Presidents Clinton and George W Bush placed all the blame on Arafat but so have many of Arafat's closest advisers. And now even Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who played a central behind-the-scenes role in the peace negotiations, has called Arafat's rejection of the Barak offer "a crime against the Palestinians - in fact against the entire region." Prince Bandar's assessment of Arafat's rejection of the peace proposal and of the resulting widespread support for the Palestinians provides a case study of how Arafat's use of terrorism is encouraged by the double standard under which Israel is blamed for offering peace and the Palestinians are rewarded for rejecting peace.

18.) Why have more Palestinians than Israelis been killed?

There are several important reasons why this comparison is misleading. These include the fact that Palestinians count the suicide bombers of themselves as victims and ignore the large number of foiled and prevented terrorist attacks against Israelis. Also, Israel's advanced heathcare means that many victims who sustained 'lethal' injuries can survive - whilst the Palestinian health system is very poor, with the opposite being true ('nonlethal' injuries are enough to kill). This is not helped by the repeated refusal by Palestinian authorities of Israeli offers for palesinian victims to be treated in Israeli hospitals.

19.) Does Israel Torture Palestinians?

Israel is the only country in the world whose judiciary has squarely faced the difficult issue of whether it is ever justified to engage in even a modified form of nonlethal torture - akin to the tactics currently being used by the United States on al-Qaeda prisoners - in order to obtain information deemed necessary to prevent a ticking bomb from killing dozens of civilians. On September 6 1999, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that not only is torture absolutely prohibited but even the types of physical pressure currently being used by the United States - sleep deprivation, forced uncomfortable positions, loud music, shaking, hoods over the head - are prohibited by Israeli law, even in cases in which the pressure is uesd not to elicit a confession but rather to elicit information that could prevent an imminent terrorist attack. Prior to this decision, the Israeli security services did sometimes employ physical measures similar to those now being used by US authorities against suspected terrorists.

20.) Has Israel engaged in genocide against Palestinian civilians?

All nations must be judged in comparison with other nations facing comparable threats. Context is essential to any evaluation of a nation's behaviour. Judged in this manner, Israel's action in its war against terrorism and external attack recieves relatively high grades. Indeed, no other nation faced with comparable threats, both external and internal, has ever been more protective of enemy civilians, more willing to take risks for peace, and more committed to the rule of law.

21.) Is Israel a racist state?

Every other state in the area, including the Palestinian Authority, has an officially established religion, Islam, and discriminates both in law and in fact against non-Muslims, especially Jews. Israel, in contrast, is in practice a secular state that is religiously and racially pluralistic with freedom of religion for all. Moreover, several other states and the Palestinian authority have laws of return, and Jordan has a law explicitly prohibiting Jews from becoming citizens, but only Israel - whose law grew out of a history of Jews being slaughtered because no other state, or Palestine under the British mandate, would accept Jewish refugees - is condemned for its law of return.

22.) Is the Israeli occupation the cause of all the problems?

Other occupations, such as the Chinese occupation of Tibet, have been longer and less justified, and Israel ended its occupation in 1995, only returning to some areas to prevent terrorism. It has again offered to end the occupation for the best efforts by Palestinian authorities to end the terrorism.

23.) Has Israel denied the Palestinians statehood?

The Palestinians never sought statehood when they were occupied by Jordan and Egypt. Historically they wanted to be part of Syria. The claim of Palestinian statehood began as a tactic to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel. Moreover, the Palestinian claim to statehood and independence is no stronger, and in some cases far weaker, than the claims of the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Basques, the Chechens, the Turkish Armenisans, and other stateless groups. Yet the Palestinian claim has been leapfrogged over other more compelling claims for one major reasons: the Palestinians have attracted world-wide attention by murdering thousands of innocent people, whereas the Tibetans have never resorted to terrorism, and other groups have employed only episodic local terrorism, which has not been rewarded by the international community in the way that Palestinian terrorism has been so richly rewarded. The Palestinian success in bringing their cause to the attention of the world has not, however, brought them a state, because neither Israel nor the United States has been willing to reward terrorism in the way that the United Nations, the European Community, the Vatican, and other have.

24.) Is Israel's policy of House Destruction collective punishment?

Whether it is wise or unwise, the Israeli policy of demolishing houses that were used to facilitate terrorism or owned by people who assisted terrorists is an economic penalty for complicity with murder. It is not particulary effective, since the houses are rebuilt with money provided by sympathizers, but so long as it is limited to houses that are owned by accessories to terrorism is not collective punishment. Moreover, the concept of collective accountability for terrorism that is widely supported by the vast majority of Palestinians and their leadership is entirely consistent with law and morality.

25.) Is targeted Assassination of terrorist leaders unlawful?

Targeting the military leaders of an enemy during hostilities is perfectly proper under the laws of war, which is what Israel - as well as the United States and other democracies - has done.

26.) Is Settlement in the West Bank and Gaza a major barrier to peace?

The Arabs and Palestinians refused to make peace before there was a single settlement, and the Palestinians refused to make peace when Ehud Barak offered to end the settlements. Moreover, when Egypt offered to make peace, the Sinai settlements were not a barrier; they were immediately uprooted....The real barrier has been the unwillingness of many palestinians, and many Palestinian terrorist groups and nations, to accept the existence of any Jewish state in any part of Palestine.

27.) Is Terrorism merely part of a cycle of violence?

While reasonable people might disagree about the effectiveness of aspects of Israeli counterterrorism tactics, the history of Palestinian terrorism clearly shows that terrorism increases whenever Israel offers peace or is involved in an election in which a dovish candidate is running. Terrorism has been used as a deliberate tactic to derail any movement toward peace and a two-state solution....There is nothing Israel can do to stop terrorism other than taking actions to prevent determined terrorists from succeeding. A cycle of violence presupposes that one side can voluntarily stop the cycle if it simply does not respond to the other sides violence. Experience shows that when Israel did not respond firmly to Palestinian terrorism, more terrorism followed, and when Israel took appropriate military steps, the number and severity of terrorist attack were reduced.

28.) Is Israel the prime human rights violator in the world?

Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that operates under the rule of law. Its record on human rights compares favorably to that of any country in the world that has faced comparable dangers. Its Supreme Court is among the best in the world, and it has repeatedly overruled the army and the government and made them operate under the rule of law. Israel has among the best records in the world with regard to the rights of women, gays, the physically and mentally challenged, and so on. It also has freedom of speech, press, dissent, association, and religion. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, shows no respect for human rights. It tortures and kills alleged collaborators without even a semblance of due process. It tolerates little dissent and is intolerant of alternative lifestyles. Palestinian propagandists invoke "human rights" merely as a tactic against Israel.

29.) Is there a moral equivalance between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli responses?

Every reasonable school of philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and common sense distinguishes between deliberately targeting civilians and inadvertently killing civilans while targeting terrorists who hide among them.

30.) Should Universities divest from Israel and Boycott Israeli Scholars?

These campaigns to single out Israel for demonization are immoral, bigoted, and based on misinformation.

31.) Are critics of Israel Anti-Semitic?

I have never heard a mere critic of Israel called anti-semitic. Rather, the double-standard applied to the Jewish state is anti-semitic. As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote: "Criticizing Israel is not anti-semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction - out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East - is anti-semitic, and not saying so is dishonest"

32.) Why do so many Jews and even Israelis side with the Palestinians?

The reality is that complete freedom of information and freedom of speech among Israelis and Jews allows for the widest array of views to be presented, whereas virtually total control over information to most residents of Arab and Muslim states, coupled with extreme sanctions for expressing dissenting views, makes any realistic comparison impossible.

Other quotes

"No other nation in history faced with comparable challenges has ever adhered to a higher standard of human rights, been more sensitive to the safety of innocent civilians, tried harder to operate under the rule of law, or been wiling to take more risk for peace"

"The Palestinians have mastered a harsh arithmetic of pain... Palestinian casualties play in their favor, and Israeli casualties play in their favor"

"Why then are decent people today afraid to call evil by its name? Why do so many insist on finding moral equivalence? And why do so many people describe the worst of evils - the deliberate targetting of children - with positive sounding terms like 'freedom fighing', while describing reasonale efforts to prevent these Nazi-like evils as Nazism itself?"

"In the interests of fairness and peace, the world must come to see Israel in a realistic way.It must stop looking only for imperfections, and then magnifying them out of all proportion both to Israels own positive accompishments and to the imperfections of other nations"


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