Monday, February 01, 2010

The Case for Israel

What you've heard about Israel and what you think you know about Israel may be all wrong.

I just finished reading an outstanding book that asks and answers 32 questions about Israel. For example:

Did European Jews replace Palestinians?

(Short answer: The Palestine to which the European Jews...immigrated was vastly underpopulated, and the land unto which the Jews moved was, in fact, bought primarily from absentee landlords and real estate speculators").

Have the Jews always rejected the two-sate solution?

(Short answer: "As soon as partition into two states or homelands was proposed, the Jews accepted it and the Arabs rejected it").

Have the Jews exploited the Holocaust "at he expense of the Palestinians who bear no responsibility for Hitler's genocide against the Jews?

(Short answer: "The Palestinian leadership with the acquiescence of most of the Palestinian Arabs actively supported and assisted the Holocaust and Nazi Germany...").

Were Jews a minority in what became Israel?

(Short answer: "The Jews were a substantial majority in those areas of Palestine partitioned by the United Nations for a Jewish state").

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

(Short Answer: Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist has long been the cause of the problem").

Did Israel create the Arab refugee problem?

(Short answer: "The problem was created by a war initiated by the Arabs").

Has Israel made serious efforts at peace?

(Short answer: "Israel has offered the Palestinians every reasonable opportunity to make peace but the Palestinians have rejected every such offer...").

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").

Is Israel a racist state?

(Short answer: Every other state in the area...has an officially established religion, Islam, and discriminates both in law and in fact against non-Muslims, especially Jews. Israel, in contrast, is a secular state that is religioiusly and racially pluralistic with freedom of religion for all").

Is the settlement in the West Bank and Gaza a major barrier to peace?

(Short answer: The Arabs and Palestinians refused to make peace before there was a single settlement, and the Palestinians refused to make peace when Ehud Barack offered to end the settlements").

Is there a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli responses?

(Short answer: "Ever reasonable school of philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and common sense distinguishes between deliberately targeting civilians and inadvertently killing civilians while targeting terrorists who hide among them").

These are just a few of the questions asked and answered in the book. In each case the short answer is followed by extended documented proof--not from Israeli apologists, but from neutral sources and often from sources ordinarily antagonistic to Israel.

Among other things, the book demonstrates the remarkable inconsistency and hypocrisy of those who continually attack Israel (the author is not hesitant to criticize Israel for its mistakes) while turning a blind eye to so many other nations which have been far, far worse than Israel.

The book is entitled, The Case for Israel by lawyer Alan Dershowitz. It is outstanding and should be at the top of everyone's reading list.


DanBlan said...

The whole time I was reading this I was thinking, "This is all so inaccurate and such a horrible representation of the truth. In fact, many of the answers barely seem to answer the question, let alone give in any way a comprehensive understanding of the facts." Then I saw why, the author is Alan Dershowitz. I have yet to hear anyone more Pro-Israel in all of the debate I've heard.

Dennis said...

Good point. I guess being "pro-Israel" disqualifies anyone from being in the debate :-(

Each of the short answers is backed up with extended documentation.

People may disagree with various points in Dershowitz' argument, but the overall case he makes is really beyond dispute for anyone who has an open mind--and he has even changed the minds of many who were not opened.

DanBlan said...

Whether he has persuaded people or not is irrelevant, and unsurprising considering he's a very successful lawyer, what he's saying is simply not true. to say that his argument is beyond dispute makes me wonder how much time you've invested into this debate.

Dennis said...


Have you read the book?

Would you seriously contend that Jews in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or Gaza have the same degree of freedom that Arabs do in Israel?

Why is Israel criticized more for torture than its Arab neighbors (at least in Israel torture is illegal and can be punished under law. That is not true of Israel's neighbors who use torture as a matter of accepted policy).

Do you honestly think there is any historical question about the fact that the Arabs sided with Hitler against the Jews?

Do you honestly think that if Israel gave back all occupied land that Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas would stop attacking Israel?

How do you think the world community would react if Israel's leaders threatened to wipe its neighbors off the map like Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas threaten to wipe Israel off the map?

This part is not in the book, but last year Hamas wasted millions of dollars that could have been spent improving the lives of the people in Gaza, but instead, used the money for hundreds of rockets that they continually (for months)fired into civilian targets in Israel all while the United Nations and the world community just turned a blind eye. You are not seriously defending this are you?

Do you honestly think that women or gays are treated better in Arab states than they are in Israel?

A big part of Dershowitz' plea is that the world community simply use the same standard on Israel's neighbors as they do against Israel. That there is a huge double standard is simply beyond dispute.

So again, have you read the book?

DanBlan said...

I haven't read the book, I've heard Dershowitz speak enough times to know that the information he provides isn't accurate. I'm in no way defending Hamas. I think Hamas has done horrible things. However I think Israel has to be held to a higher standard then that of both Hamas and the surround countries. Groups like Hamas and Hezbollah were formed because of the actions of the Israeli government, not that this in anyway defends what they've done. both Hamas and neighboring countries are willing to accept Israel, they've said that Israel has a right to exist. 10 years ago this wasn't the case, but these groups are wanting peace. Israel will not allow that peace. I'm not asking Israel to lay down it's weapons. But do you really think Israel is contributing to the peace? Do you really think it's pursuing peace when it continues to build illegal settlements on occupied territories? its actions like this that cause people in Gaza and the West Bank to feel like they have no option. They have no voice and no one is standing up for them, so what choice do they have but to fight? The international community does nothing. The UN tries every year to push a 2 state settlement and every year the US and Israel block it. How is this pursuing peace?

Dennis said...

Bingo! I think you just hit the nail on the head. This idea that Israel should somehow be held to a higher standard than Hamas, Hezbollah or the surrounding nations is a BIG part of the problem!

This thinking is no less evil than thinking that it was acceptable to treat blacks differently in American pre-civil rights days or in South African apartheid days.

The "Israel should be held to a higher standard" thinking has allowed the international community--over and over and over again--to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Muslim fanatics against Israeli civilians, while endlessly condemning Israel for such perceived "horrible" offenses as building houses in wide open spaces (have you ever been to the West Bank?) or building a fence to protect itself from suicide bombers!

You may disagree with the settlements but please don't suggest that this is in any way morally equivalent to sending suicide bombers to blow up innocent civilians!

If Hamas and Hezbollah (read Iran) really wanted peace, all they have to do is officially and publicly declare Israel's right to exist and then take aggressive action to stop all terrorist activities against Israel.

That's is. Peace would follow as surely as darkness follows sunset.

Israel desperately wants peace. Their whole existence depends on it. It is the Radical Islamists --who have hated Jews since the days Muhammad slaughtered 600 of them and sold their wives and children into slavery--who do not want peace with the Jews!

DanBlan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DanBlan said...

So you don't think first world countries with working democracies should be held to a higher standard then terrorist organizations? To say that thats the same thing as what occurred in the US with blacks is simply unbelievable. If you want to talk about apartheid lets look at how the Palestinians are treated in Israel. If you think there's in any way a similarity, go to the West Bank or Gaza and talk to one. By the way I was not, in any way, suggesting that there is an equivalence between blowing people up and building settlements, what I was saying is that the suicide bombings are a result of Israeli policy like the settlement buildings. For the record the buildings don't just take place on empty land. All of the land is stolen from Palestinians. They either kick them out of their houses and then demolish them or they build on the land that the Palestinians use to farm. You said in your first entry of this that Dershowitz's argument is beyond dispute for anyone open minded. Have you kept an open mind and looked at this from a Palestinian stand point?

Dennis said...

DanBlan wrote:

"So you don't think first world countries with working democracies should be held to a higher standard then terrorist organizations?"

No, absolutely not. Why on earth should say it is OK to target innocent civilians since you belong to a terrorist organization?

Why should it be OK for Hamas to launch thousands of rockets into civilian villages? They did this for months. Where was the international outcry? But when Israel finally responds, the whole world self-righteously condemns Israel!

This is absolutely not right and may even be racist or anti-Semitic!

When you talk about the way Palestinians are treated in Gaza, what are you talking about? Israel gave up their claim to Gaza. They pulled out. They sent Israeli solders to forcibly remove Jews from Gaza. Don't you remember the news stories of crying Jews being forcibly removed from their Gaza homes by Israeli soldiers all so Palestinians could have Gaza alone?

The Palestinians finally had their chance for self-rule. So what did they do? They elected a terrorist organization to run things!

Then, rather than seeking peace with Israel and trying to make the lives of Palestinians better, this organization--Hamas--spent their money importing weapons from Iran through Egypt and began firing their rockets--thousands of them-- at innocent Israeli civilians!

This went on for months with barely a peep from the international community. Yet when Israel finally had enough (after FAR more patience than I would have had) and responded in an attempt to shut down the violence, the international community-predictably--responded with condemnation of Israel!

The Islamists know they can slaughter Israelis at will and the international community will turn a blind eye because everyone holds Israel to a higher standard--which, in practice, means that Muslims can slaughter Jews but Jews better not lift a finger to stop it!

Dennis said...

The more I think about it the more intrigued I am by this notion that we should hold Israel to a higher standard than the surrounding nations.

Why should we hold them to a higher standard? Is it because the Arabs are ignorant or stupid? Are they morally inferior to Jews? Are they somehow like children who are just not capable of understanding?

It seems to me that the idea that the surrounding Arab nations must be held to a lower standard than Israel is very demeaning and condescending to Arabs.

Dennis said...

A Friday sermon aired January 29 on Palestinian Authority TV said,

"Our mutual enmity with the Jews is a matter of faith more than an issue pertaining to occupation and land."

It concluded, "The Prophet Muhammad said: "You will fight the Jews, and you will kill them, until the trees and the stones speak, saying: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah..." The trees and the stones will not say: "Oh Arab," or "Where are the millions [of Arabs]," or "Where are all the Arab people"... They will say: "Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews." This land will only be liberated through Jihad."

DanBlan said...

I don't know why you continue to insist that I am supportive of Hamas. I'm not. I'm supportive of the people its attempting to protect, and I do think that that is their goal. No one says that what Hamas is doing is ok, but there are literally thousands of people in the US that think its ok for Israel to do what its doing. Both are in the wrong, but its the Palestinians who are suffering. You're right in pointing out that Israel left Gaza. This was marked as a great step in peace and an extremely generous act by Israel. I don't quite see what's generous about giving land back to people you stole it from. And if you believe that Israel has since left Gaza alone you couldn't be more wrong. Because of the blockade that Israel has on Gaza there is almost no economy and no way of importing or exporting anything, unless its done through tunnels going to Egypt. These of course are extremely expensive. Things of course got far worse last year during Israel's Cast Lead offensive. Massive war crimes, on both fronts, thousands of Palestinians killed. The city is in ruins and there is no way to rebuild because of the blockade. There's been almost no international relief because its next to impossible to import anything. Hundreds of children are dying. Again, I'm not in support of Hamas, but the people suffering.

The reason that I hold Israel to a higher standard is because the US does nothing to stop it, instead it provides all of the finances for its illegal settlements. It seems no one, I'm met one person who is critical of Israel, is critical of Israel. No one condones Hamas's rockets, I don't either. But it seems everyone condones Israel's actions. People need to know the truth.

Dennis said...

The people Hamas is attempting to protect? Surely you're kidding. Protect from whom? If the Palestinians needed protection from Israel, why did Israel bother to pull out?

Perhaps if Hamas had not been firing hundreds of rockets into Israeli villages, the thugs running Gaza wouldn't need protection.

Perhaps if the thugs running Gaza did not place their rocket launchers and military weaponry in the middle of civilian populations, civilians wouldn't be getting killed when Israel retaliates.

Israel has no desire to keep food, clothing, medical supplies, etc out of Gaza. They just want to keep the weapons out that are used against innocent Israelis.

I have no doubt the people of Gaza are suffering. But they are suffering because they elected Hamas which refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist and pursued a path of war with Israel rather than peace. Hamas is the oppressor of the Palestinians--not Israel.

You keep saying that Israel stole Palestinian land. That is simply not true. There were Jews living in Palestine along with Arabs long before the State of Israel existed.

But beside that, in World War II the Arab nations sided with Hitler. They advocated for genocide against the Jews. The Arabs aligned themselves with EVIL and they lost.

In my book, they are lucky they are not permanent colonies of England or America.

Instead, the United Nations partitioned what was at the time a pretty much worthless piece of land which very few people wanted until the Jews started irrigating and making it profitable!

The U.N partitioned the land and allowed Jews to move into the parts that were mostly populated by Jews anyway.

Arabs refused to live peacefully with their neighbors and have been trying to slaughter them ever since.

So much for peace.

DanBlan said...

"The people Hamas is attempting to protect? Surely you're kidding. Protect from whom? If the Palestinians needed protection from Israel, why did Israel bother to pull out?" The Palestinians need protection from Israel! How do you not see this? How do you turn a blind eye to the murders being committed by the IDF? You say Hamas was elected as if the election that was held is similar to the elections held in the US. Are you aware that Hams took power before the election concluded because the US and Israel were planning a coupe? It's absolutely ridiculous to claim that the land Israel took was unpopulated. How do you explain the 700,000+ displaced Palestinians? It was because of the massive swarm of refugees into places like Gaza and Southern Lebanon that led to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah forming in the first place. Tell me how there are hundreds of thousands of people that fled their homes? Is it because they couldn't stand the thought of living with Jews? Remember the Arabs and Jews lived relatively peacefully together before the massive influx of Jewish Zionists came to the land. How do you explain the numerous historical reports saying that Palestinians who had lived on the land for generations were approached by Jewish Zionists and told "leave or die"?
You still, by the way, haven't explained how Israel is pursuing peace with the Palestinians by taking land and building settlements. This happens to this day.
What really surprises me is that you, a Christian, have shown no sympathy for the Christians living in the region, suffering because of Israel's policies.

Dennis said...

First, are you seriously imagining Israel to be the aggressor in this conflict? It is the Palestinians who have sworn to eliminate Israel, not the other way around.

From the very beginning, it has been the Arab nations who have plotted to destroy Israel, not the other way around.

If the Palestinians would recognize Israel's right to exist and stop attacking Jews--there would be peace. Period.

Second, please re-read my last post. I never said the land was unpopulated. I said there were Jews living there before Israel became a nation. In fact, there were Jews living there even before the first Aliyah in the 1800’s.

I’m not saying the land was unpopulated. I’m saying that even back then there were Jews living there and there was more than enough room for everyone.

I’ve traveled from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, from the Lebanon and Syria border down to Egypt and trust me, there is still plenty of room even though millions of Jews and Palestinians now live there!

The issue is not just about land. The issue is that there is a very large number of racist, bigoted, hateful Muslims who are absolutely committed to the elimination of the Jewish State, if not to all Jews living there. Until that issue is dealt with, no amount of Israeli reforms or concessions will make any difference.

Third, estimates for the total number of refugees range from 472,000 to 700,000. Of these, as many as 200,000 to 300,000 left their villages because ARAB commanders ordered them to do so as part of their military campaign against the Jews! (This according to Benny Morris, an expert in the refugee problem who is critical of Israel).

During these battles, the Jewish policy was generally to allow Arab civilians to flee. The Arabs’ stated goal was the extermination against the Jews! (things haven’t changed much since then).

It is also important to note that the United Nations changed the definition of refugee in this situation to include those Arabs who had lived in Palestine for as little as two years!

In other words, Arabs who had moved to Palestine because the Jews had made it a better place to live than the cesspools (at that time) in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, etc. from which they came, were counted as refugees even if they had only lived in Israel for two years! They didn’t have as much claim to the land as many of the Jews who lived there. Yet they are counted as if they had lived there forever!

The bottom line is that much of the refugee problem began as a result of Arab attacks against the Jews!

I’m not trying to explain away or justify the whole refugee problem. I’m just pointing out that it is a whole lot more complicated and two-sided than Arab/Muslim apologists make it sound.

Fourth, you said “It was because of the massive swarm of refugees into places like Gaza and Southern Lebanon that led to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah forming in the first place.”

Really? The 700,000 refugees you mentioned happened in the 1940’s. Hamas and Hezbollah didn’t come about until the 1980’s. Sure took them a long time to respond—but the 1980’s most of the original refugees who could remember living in Palestine were dead!

To be continued (the post is too long for blogger to handle)

Dennis said...

Fifth, you asked how I “explain the numerous historical reports saying that Palestinians who had lived on the land for generations were approached by Jewish Zionists and told to ‘leave or die.”

Quite frankly, I suspect that many of the sources were just lying, but aside from that, no one is claiming that the Jews are entirely innocent in all this.

Even Dershowitz, whom you criticized without even reading, is very critical of many of Israel’s policies. I don’t doubt that some Jews threatened and coerced some Arabs, but there is another side to the story that no one ever tells (why is that?).

Sixth, reasonable people can disagree about the settlements. Even Jews disagree about the settlements. But Muslims use the settlements as an excuse for Muslim violence.

This is proven by the fact that when Israel pulled completely out of Gaza the Muslims in Gaza did not stop attacking Jews! Muslim leaders wasted their money on massive amounts of weapons to use Gaza as a launching place for rocket attacks!

If you were really interested in the welfare of the Palestinian people you would be campaigning against their radical Muslim leadership! Muslims have been the world’s worst oppressors of Muslims!

It doesn’t matter how many concessions the Jews make, it will never, ever, ever be enough because it does not solve the root of the whole problem which is a the vicious, violent, almost psychotic hatred by many Muslims against Jews—a hatred that goes back to Muhammad himself! Those who refuse to recognize this, just enable the Islamists.

Seventh, you said you were surprised at my lack of sympathy for Palestinian Christians. Why would you think I have no sympathy for Palestinian Christians? Once again, no one is saying that Israel is without fault.

You and I have fundamentally different approaches to the Arab/Israel conflict. Imagine a police officer who responds to a domestic dispute in which the husband is beating and threatening to kill his wife. He tells the police that she is to blame because she yells at him, and burns his supper, and doesn’t get his cloths clean, and spends too much time with her friends and once crashed his car etc. etc.

In this situation, the beating and death threats absolutely must be dealt with before anything else.
In fact, nothing else matters until those big issues are dealt with (i.e. Until Arab nations recognize Israel’s right to exist and work hard to stop the attacks against Israel—nothing else matters).

Your approach seems to be that we expect more from the woman than from the man so she should just put up with the beatings and threats to her life until she can stop yelling and cook better, and pay for the wrecked car and anything else her husband demands. It is insanity!

Well, I’ve devoted about as much time to this discussion as I’m going to give. If any readers have stuck with it this long, I would just encourage you to read “The Case for Israel” by Alan Dershowitz and decide for yourself.