16 Things That Give Israel a Bad Name But Aren’t Really True

1. "Jews in Israel are White European Colonialists"

The Jewish people are indigenous to Israel, the birthplace of their identity and unique culture, and have maintained a documented presence there for over 3,000 years. Half of modern Israel’s Jews returned home to Israel from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Jews who came from Europe were not colonialists. They did not represent a foreign power and rejected any identification with European nations. They were idealists who sought to restore and preserve their unique heritage and fought for the same rights that are granted to all peoples: self-determination and independence in their ancestral home. over 150 years ago, jews returned in ever-larger numbers, again became the majority in Jerusalem in the 1860s, and established Tel Aviv in 1909. In 1920 the international community officially recognized the indigenous rights of the Jewish people and endorsed the restoration of the Jewish Homeland.

2. "Zionism is Racism. Israel by Definition is Undemocratic."

Jews, both secular and religious, are a people who have the right to self-determination. What is racist is denying Jews a right granted to all other peoples bound together by shared identity and heritage. The Jewish people established a democratic government for their state in 1948. When the UN recommended establishing a Jewish state in 1947 and admitted Israel as a member in 1949, it saw no contradiction between Israel’s Jewish and Democratic identity. Israel grants people of jewish heritage a fast track to citizenship, just like Poland, Finland, Greece, and other nations grant citizenship based on ethnic ancestry. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is one of the world’s most diverse and progressive countries. Non-jewish Israelis, who make up 24 percent of the population, have equal rights under the law. Over 15 religions are officially recognized, women and the LGBT community are legally protected from discrimination, and affirmative action programs exist to help minorities overcome the disadvantages they face.

The fact is, the Jewish people are counting on Israel:

3. "Israel is an Apartheid State."

Israel is the opposite of an apartheid state. It is a multicultural democracy and the only free country in the Middle East. Labeling Israel as practicing “apartheid” justifiably offends Israelis and many victims of real apartheid regimes. Israeli law enshrines equal rights for all citizens, and minorities participate fully in public life. While Israel, like other multi-ethnic democracies, struggles with minority disadvantages, its laws try to eradicate inequality. Nor does Israel practice apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza. ‘Palestinians’ are not citizens of the jewish state, and the vast majority do not want to be. They are governed by their own leaders—Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

4. "If Israel Just left the West Bank There Would be Peace"

When Israel just left Lebanon was there peace? When Israel just left Gaza we there peace? Every piece of real estate Israel has withdrawn from has turned into an Islamist terror base bent on Israel’s destruction. Israel’s very existence would be at stake if it just picked up and left the heartland of its ancestral homeland.

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5. "The Establishment of Israel Was a grave Injustice to the Native People"

In an act of historical justice, the International Community recognized that after a millennia of persecution and expulsions, the Jewish people had a right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland, like all other unique national groups. The Jewish people accepted the fact that others now also lived in their land and supported the UN’s 1947 recommendation to partition the Jewish homeland so Palestinian arabs could establish history’s first Palestinian state, and Israel granted equal rights to all Arabs in its borders. Unfortunately, Arab leaders refused to accept a Jewish State, no matter how small, and dismissed any compromises that would allow both Jews and Arabs to fulfill their aspirations to self-determination. Instead, they launched an unsuccessful war to seize the whole territory, with disastrous consequences for the majority of Arabs. The violent rejectionism by Arab leaders was, and continues to be, an injustice to Jews and Arabs alike.

6. "Israel’s Presence in Judea and Samaria is Illegal"

Its presence is not illegal. Israel entered the so called West Bank only after being attacked by Jordan in 1967. Under customary law and the Hague Conventions, Israel was obligated to administer the area until peace was achieved. UN resolution 242 (1967) assumed Israel would administer the territories until Arab countries were willing to negotiate new, more secure borders, as Egypt did in 1979 and Jordan did in 1994. Unfortunately, Arab leaders have rejected every Israeli offer of peace and territorial compromise and have delayed continuing negotiations to determine borders. In the meantime, terrorists in the area continue to threaten Israeli civilians, forcing Israel to maintain its security activity throughout the area as agreed upon in the Oslo accords.

7. "Israel Steals Water from The ‘Palestinians'"

Israel is at the forefront of innovations in water sustainability and a leader in seeking comprehensive, regional solutions to managing this vital but scarce resource. Israel is sharing, not stealing, water. it is giving its own water to Arab Palestinians in significantly greater quantities than it agreed to under the Oslo accords (40 percent more each year between 2008 and 2012). Nor does Israel use West Bank water. iIt uses the same water sources today that it used prior to 1967, and settlements are supplied by Israel’s national water system. Furthermore, Israel helped Arab Palestinians modernize their water systems after 1967, increasing the available fresh water supply by 275 percent and expanding the number of Arab Palestinian towns connected to running water from four to 309. Some Arab communities do face water shortages today, but this is because Arab Palestinian leaders have failed to maintain their water infrastructure properly, not because of Israel.

8. "East Jerusalem Should be the Capital of ‘Palestine’ not Israel"

Why would you want to divide Jerusalem? The Jewish people have profound ties to the city, which has been their spiritual and physical capital for 3,000 years. It has never been the capital of any other people or nation. Furthermore, Jews again became the majority of the city’s population over 150 years ago and have lived in Eastern Jerusalem for centuries, except between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan illegally controlled the area, expelled all Jews, and desecrated Jewish holy sites. Only Israel has ensured freedom of worship and protection of holy sites for all religious groups. Finally, according to a 2011 poll, only 30 percent of Jerusalem’s Arab residents want to become citizens of if a future Palestinian State was ever created. A divided Jerusalem would be bad for just about everyone.

9.  "Israel Evicts Arabs from their Homes in the Eastern part of Jerusalem"

In Israel, a country ruled by law, evictions occur only when tenants don’t pay rent or homes are built illegally, and the laws apply equally to Arabs and Jews. If evictions are issued unjustly, tenants can appeal to Israel’s court system, which is respected for its independence and willingness to challenge government policy. Eastern Jerusalem’s Arab residents can rent or buy homes throughout the city.

10. "Israel Keeps Palestinian Political Prisoners, including Children in Humiliating Conditions"

Democratic Israel does not take political prisoners. It imprisons only those who are involved in violence against Israelis after convicting them in a court of law. Unfortunately, terrorist groups recruit and pay Arab children to engage in violence, forcing Israel to detain minors in some cases. However, Israel does not imprison minors under the age of 14 and detains very few under the age of 16. Israeli prison conditions meet or surpass those of other liberal democracies according to numerous reports. During the July 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, Israel moved Arab prisoners away from a facility in the south to keep them safe from Hamas rocket fire.

11. "If Israel Can Have Nuclear Weapons, Iran Should be allowed to also"

Israel is the only country in the world that has been openly threatened with extinction by its neighbors since its rebirth in 1948. Discussion about Israel’s nuclear weapons should begin only when Israel’s existence is accepted in the region. Any nuclear weapons Israel may have would only be used as a last resort to defend against an imminent threat to its survival. In contrast, the regime in Iran has been publicly threatening to annihilate Israel for years and is promising to enrich enough uranium to do so. There is a difference. Israel is not threatening its neighbors with genocide. Iran is.

12. "Mahmoud Abbas is a Partner for Peace"

I mean seriously? This is the man who wrote his thesis denying the Holocaust. Literally. 

13. "Israel is Responsible for The Plight of the Arab Refugees"

The Arabs left their homes in 1947–49 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle. Many Arabs claim that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees in 1947–49. The last census taken by the British in 1945 found approximately 1.2 million permanent Arab residents in all of British Palestine. A 1949 census conducted by the government of Israel counted 160,000 Arabs living in the new state after the war. In 1947, a total of 809,100 Arabs lived in the same area. This meant no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine arrived at an even lower refugee figure—472,000.

Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. Their situation had long been precarious. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened them. For example, Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition.” The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving it. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. 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.  Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab reparations for Jewish refugees. 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. Through 2014, at least 173 of the almost 1,000 UN General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East conflict referred directly to Palestinian refugees. Even in 2014, the Jewish refugees from Arab countries have not been mentioned in any significant UN resolution. 

14. "Israel uses Disproportionate Force against Hamas"

The legal term “disproportionate force” does not refer to equivalence in casualties or weaponry but to military actions that cause more civilian harm than is warranted by the military gains. Knowing that civilians always suffer from wars, Israel has practiced restraint despite Hamas’ relentless attacks against Israeli citizens though most countries would not tolerate even one rocket attack. Israel has been widely praised for attempting to minimize harm to Gaza civilians during military operations by warning of impending attacks, aborting operations if civilians are in target zones, and ensuring delivery of humanitarian goods. Israel’s policies prompted British military expert Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp to testify that Israel does more “to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” conversely, Israel’s terrorist enemies use civilians as human shields, Fight from civilian centers, and target Israeli civilians, tragically increasing civilian casualties.

To Put Things in Perspective:

15. "Gaza is Still Illegally Occupied"

Israel has had no presence in Gaza since 2005. In 2005, Israel uprooted all the Jewish communities in the Gaza strip and withdrew its forces to the “1967 lines.” Gaza is ruled exclusively by Arabs and also shares borders with Egypt, where Israel has no control. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is in an ongoing state of war with Israel, constantly targeting innocent Israelis with rocket fire. Israel controls its own borders with Gaza, along with Gaza’s airspace and coastline, to protect civilians and stop Hamas and its affiliates from importing weapons for terrorism. If the government of Gaza would ever stop attacking Israel, these measures will become unnecessary, and the Gaza strip, which is located on the same beautiful Mediterranean coast as Tel Aviv, will be able to flourish.

16. "Israel is the Modern Day Goliath"

“Everything changed in that decisive war (6 Day war). Israel – in the eyes of much of the world – became a strong and assertive state, while in others’ eyes Israel became an imperialist and oppressor state. In that 1967 war, Israel justifiably went on the offensive, and the attacker usually gets bad press. Progressive and leftist public opinion – almost automatically – likes to identify with the side that is perceived as weak. Israel, in their eyes, was longer David, but Goliath. And since the main purpose of the news media is not to inform but to sell, it presents media consumers with simplistic portrayals of conflict; two sides, good and evil, strong and weak, oppressor and oppressed, David and Goliath. This model of reporting has transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a cheap Hollywood movie, in which there are no shades between black and white, between supreme evil and absolute good.”  – Read more here.

*Much of the information in this list was compiled with the help of incredible resources provided by StandWithUs, an organization leading the Pro-Israel information war on campus today.