Myth: “Zionism is racism and the Land of Israel was Stolen by the Jews.”

I. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, claiming that Jews, like any other nation, are entitled to a homeland. History has demonstrated the need to ensure Jewish security through a national homeland. Zionism recognizes that ‘Jewishness’ is defined by shared origin, religion, culture and history. 

Israel’s Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to Jews, but non-Jews are also eligible to become citizens under naturalization procedures similar to those in other countries. Israel’s policy is not unique; many other countries, including Germany, Greece, Ireland and Finland have special categories of people who are entitled to citizenship.

More than one million Muslim and Christian Arabs, Druze, Baha’is, Circassians and other ethnic groups also are represented in Israel’s population. The presence in Israel of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and India is the best refutation of the calumny against Zionism. In a series of historic airlifts, labeled Operations Moses (1984), Joshua (1985) and Solomon (1991), Israel rescued more than 20,000 members of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community.

Zionism does not discriminate against anyone. Israel’s open and democratic character, and its scrupulous protection of the religious and political rights of Christians and Muslims, rebut the charge of exclusivity. Moreover, anyone—Jew or non-Jew, Israeli, American, or Chinese, black, white, or purple—can be a Zionist.

II. Jews have had a presence in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years. Most Jews were exiled from the area due to wars, and were spread out across Europe and North Africa and the Middle East. Jews began immigrating in large numbers back to the land of Israel in the 1800s and 1900s, legally purchasing land building communities. Before WWI, this land was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. With the fall of the Ottomans, the “Mandate of Palestine,” which includes the land known by the Jewish people as the land of Israel was under the control of the British Empire. There was no Palestinian state, although there were Arabs who lived in the area at the same time. Both the British and the U.N. agreed that the Mandate of Palestine would be divided into two states, one Jewish state and one Arab state. The Jews accepted in 1948, while the Arabs rejected the offer of a state, and the state of Israel was born. Israel was not “stolen”; achieving statehood was a long process that required international approval and cooperation.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence

Myth: Israel Is Responsible for the Refugee Problem Created in 1948.

I. The Irish Times published this letter from the Israeli historian Benny Morris in response to the myth that “Israel ethnically cleansed the Arabs in 1948…” in February 21, 2008, an excerpt has been copied below:

“The Palestinian Arabs were not responsible “in some bizarre way” (David Norris, January 31st) for what befell them in 1948. Their responsibility was very direct and simple.

In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), they launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa’s Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.

Most of Palestine’s 700,000 “refugees” fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops.

The displacement of the 700,000 Arabs who became “refugees” – and I put the term in inverted commas, as two-thirds of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another and not from their country (which is the usual definition of a refugee) – was not a “racist crime” (David Landy, January 24th) but the result of a national conflict and a war, with religious overtones, from the Muslim perspective, launched by the Arabs themselves.

There was no Zionist “plan” or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of “ethnic cleansing”. Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah – the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) – to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. That’s what it explicitly states and that’s what it was. And the invasion of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq duly occurred, on May 15th.

It is true that Plan D gave the regional commanders carte blanche to occupy and garrison or expel and destroy the Arab villages along and behind the front lines and the anticipated Arab armies’ invasion routes. And it is also true that mid-way in the 1948 war the Israeli leaders decided to bar the return of the “refugees” (those “refugees” who had just assaulted the Jewish community), viewing them as a potential fifth column and threat to the Jewish state’s existence. I for one cannot fault their fears or logic.

The demonisation of Israel is largely based on lies – much as the demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on lies. And there is a connection between the two.”

II. Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states.

-The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine.

-Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions.

-To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay anything to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries.

Myth: “Israel is violating UN Resolution 242 by not unconditionally withdrawing from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

Fact: Israel has accepted Resolution 242. UN Resolution 242 calls for a peace agreement that ensures every state in the area can live in security. Only in this context, it requires that Israel withdraw from part of the territories. Resolution 242 was the base to the Peace agreement between Israel and Egypt at 1979. Only in 1993, the Palestinians accepted Resolutions 242 and 338 of the UN Security (Oslo accords): Israel recognized the PLO as the legal and legitimate-representative of the Palestinian people For the first time the Palestinians recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. Israel has offered land for peace in many agreements in the past. The issue of “Borders” is only one of five core issues currently negotiated:: Jerusalem, Water, Refugees, Security.

Myth: “Israel’s Security Fence a violation of international law.”

Fact: All countries have a right under international law to build fences on their borders and an obligation to protect their citizens. No one can deny that the security barrier saves lives; supreme courts in Israel are constantly reviewing the route to ease Palestinian hardship.

- The security barrier was created in response to ongoing suicide bombings, which killed over 1000 men, women, and children.
- 97% of the barrier is a fence; the barrier’s walls are in urban areas only to prevent sniper fire and save lives.
- The fence has reduced terrorist attacks by 90%.
- The UN has ruled that the barrier is 100% legal on the green line.

Myth: “The Gaza Blockade violates international law and is only meant to make Palestinians suffer.”

Fact: Blockades are legal under international law, and Israel has no responsibility for Gazans since it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip. Gaza is under rule by internationally renowned terrorist organization Hamas which is engaged in a genocidal war aganist Israel and the Jewish people. The blockade is meant to prevent war by keeping rockets out. The blockade is not illegal; it is legal to blockade a hostile entity. Israel has no troops in Gaza, nor does it control all of its borders.

Myth: Israel is unjustifiably demolishing homes

Fact: Israel does not have a policy of arbitrarily demolishing Palestinian houses and neighborhoods. Most structures that get demolished are not homes. Israel demolishes illegally built Palestinian and Israeli structures. Palestinian leaders have stated their policy to build homes and structures illegally. There is evidence that criminal organizations have engaged in illegal building as well. This has created a major problem: 27,000-30,000 illegal structures have been built in East Jerusalem alone. Palestinian terrorists have destroyed thousands of Israeli homes, schools, and other properties.