When it comes to Israel, tempers sometimes flare, and sometimes we don't even know how to respond. We might hear a new argument or a new perspective, and the limited knowledge we have proves to be insufficient. Especially in the age of sound-bites and knee-jerk politics, we need to have more facts at our fingertips, organize what we know, and be prepared to respond effectively.
Recognizing this, here is a "Four-Point" educational campaign produced by Hasbara Fellowships. Each of the following 10 topics has four bullet-points -- to help deepen our understanding of the major issues of the Mideast conflict.
1) Jews can live in Mexico City, Bangkok, St. Louis, and any city in the world (except in Saudi Arabia) -- but the PA wants to forbid Jews from living in the very cradle of Judaism.
2) The only period in the last 3,000 years without a continued Jewish presence in the West Bank was the 19 years between 1948-1967 when the Jordanian government banned Jews from living there.
3) In 1979, Ariel Sharon dismantled Yamit and other settlements in the Sinai when it was absolutely clear that compromise would bring a true peace.
4) Since the disputed territories were never part of a sovereign nation, and were acquired in a defensive war, international law permits the voluntary settlement of the land. Recognizing this, the Oslo agreements never addressed the issue of Jewish or Arab settlements.
1) There would be no refugee problem if seven Arab nations had not attacked Israel upon its inception in 1948.
2) Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have consciously chosen to isolate refugees as political pawns,rather than integrate them into a normalized life. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 reads that all governments involved must share responsibility.
3)800,000 Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab countries in 1948, but their descendents are normalized today because they were absorbed by Israel and other countries.
4) As opposed to refugees in Arab countries, Israel integrated Arabs within its borders as citizens, and 1.2 million Israeli Arabs now enjoy citizenship, benefits, and governmental representation in Israel.
Compromises for Peace
2) Israel gave the Palestinian Authority land, money, weapons, training, and intelligence, all in the hope that the PA would reciprocate with an end to terror and incitement.
3) The very formula "Land for Peace" indicates that Arabs compromise for what they want most -- land, while Israel compromises for what it wants most -- peace.
4) In 1917, 1937, 1947, 1956, 1979, and 1993 Israeli leaders established a pattern of accepting the handover of land in exchange for peace agreements with its Arab neighbors.
Waiting for a true Partner
1) The real PLO took the Israeli Olympic delegation hostage in the 1972 Munich Olympic games, and after failing to extort the release of Palestinian prisoners, killed 11 Israeli athletes.
2) The real PLO invented the idea of skyjackings in 1970, and instilled fear in travelers across the world.
3) The real PLO shot and killed the elderly, unarmed, wheelchair-bound, U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro cruise liner in 1985.
4) The real PLO continues to incite violence against Jews, promote the armed struggle to "liberate all of Palestine," and indoctrinate Palestinian children into a culture of hatred where death is the ultimate prize.
The 3,000-year Jewish connection
1) The only independent sovereign nations to ever exist in the Land of Israel were the two ancient Jewish commonwealths, the second of which was destroyed in 70 of the common era.
2) For 3,000 years, Jews have expressed the desire to return to their ancestral homeland: at the Passover Seder, the Yom Kippur service, in daily prayer, in the blessing after meals, under the wedding canopy, on the yearly day of national mourning Tisha B'Av, and by placing Israeli soil in the coffin of their deceased.
3) Even after exile, Jews managed to keep a continual presence of Jewish communities in such cities as Jerusalem, Tzfat, Tiberias, Shechem, and Hebron.
4) Centuries before the inception of Islam, Jews were yearning to return to Israel, and the Koran itself records this in many suras (chapters), such as 17:7, 17:104, and 5:21 that tells the Jews to "enter into the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you."
1) When Israel gained control and reunified Jerusalem in 1967, rather than forbid Muslim worship or close the mosques, it allowed the Muslim Waqf (religious authority) to administer and control the Temple Mount and maintain the Al-Aqsa mosque.
2) Under Jordanian rule, Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall; the Mount of Olives cemetery and 58 Jewish synagogues were destroyed. However, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sites are open to all worshippers under Israeli rule -- except for the site of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Temple Mount, where Jews are normally forbidden to pray.
3) When Israel transferred military control to the PA, angry mobs burned and destroyed Jewish holy sites and religious artifacts at Jericho, Hebron, and Joseph's tomb in Nablus.
4) In 2002, Palestinian terrorists took 30 monks hostage in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity because they knew Jewish soldiers would not shoot inside. After the hostages were freed, investigators found the Church profaned and desecrated.
1) Mecca and Medina are the holiest cities to Muslims; Vatican City is the seat of Catholicism. While Jerusalem has significance to many religions, Jerusalem is supreme and holiest only to the Jews. When it was conquered by Jordan in 1949, no Muslim dignitary or leader visited Jerusalem in any official, public, or religious capacity.
2) Jerusalem has been central to Judaism since biblical times, when it was made the eternal spiritual capital of the Jewish people.
3) Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since 1840, and there has been a continual Jewish presence in Jerusalem since the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 of the common era. (Paul Johnson, History of the Jews)
4) Jerusalem is for everyone only when it is in Israeli control.
The UN and International Law
1) The 1917 Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate, the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and Israel's 1949 admission into the UN reaffirmed Israel the international right to exist as the Jewish homeland.
2) UN Security Council Resolution 242 reads that Israel should relinquish land only if it is in the context of a "peaceful and accepted settlement."
3) UN Resolution 242 requires that all states in the area recognize Israel's "right to live in peace with secure and recognized borders free from threats or acts of force."
4) Until 2002, Israel was the only UN member state ineligible to sit on the Security Council, and today that right is still only limited and temporary. Since the 1970s, an Arab-Soviet-Third World Bloc reinforced Israel's outcast status by barring Israel from other key UN bodies and making Israel the object of more investigative committees and special representatives than any other state in the UN.
Israel's Excessive Restraint
1) Israel is facing a serious threat -- Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly fired at civilians and soldiers from hospitals, mosques and schools, using humans as shields and ambulances to transport weaponry.
2) Though the intifada has heaped violence upon Israel, there have been, on average, less than one person injured per Palestinian riot. Israel is currently training 26 other countries in technology it has created to minimize injury in crowd and riot control situations.
3) During "Black September" in Jordan in 1970, 2,500 Palestinian rioters were killed in 10 days by the Jordanian army. In 1993, UN Peacekeeping troops justified the killing of almost 100 Somalis by noting that, "Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm."
4) In April 2002, IDF ground forces went door-to-door to target known terrorists in Jenin, rather than use artillery or carpet bomb the city from above. Israel put its own troops at risk and lost 23 of its own soldiers because of this concern to not injure the innocent among its enemies.
1) Hudna: strategic ceasefire engineered to rearm for the next battle, in English it is referred to as a "peace agreement." In the West, we tend to think of a "ceasefire" leading to peace - a Hudna is designed to lead to war.
2) Fatwa: Religiously inspired death warrant on the head of an enemy, all Jews living in Israel have a fatwa issued by Hamas leadership.
3) Occupation: Term describing a Jewish presence in any of the Land of Israel, including Israeli cities such as Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Hadera; in Western media it is tailored to refer only to the West Bank and Gaza.
4) Jihad: The religious struggle to eradicate the Jews from Israel and establish an Islamic society in their stead.