June 14, 2019
For the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, May 23, 2019, Toronto, Ontario
We are pleased to share the lessons learned, and the language to use in addressing many myths and lies about Israel. This information comes from a workshop organized by the CAEF Event Committee with Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arabic and Middle East specialist from Bar Ilan University, Israel. The 30 participants in the training, now have greater confidence to respond to challenging questions, often posed by friends, family members or colleagues in dialogue about Israel. We offer this Q & A to all readers.
Dr. Kedar stressed that the facts are always available, and people do need to read and educate themselves, to step up to excessive and unwarranted criticism of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and North Africa; the only multi-faith, multi-ethnic, human rights-supporting country in a sea of undemocratic, intolerant Islamic countries. Dr. Kedar modeled answering questions with a question, challenging others with facts, and comparing the situation in Canada.
Q. If it’s a colonial project, does Israel have the right to exist?
What is a colonial project? What is Canada if not a colonial project?
The Jews were in Israel, for 3000 years, no other ethnic/religious group is still there from Biblical times.
If I return, when will you return to your homeland?
Jews did not exterminate people who were already there.
Jerusalem is the oldest capital in the world, the Jewish capital, and has never been the capital of any other nation.
Q. How can you defend the occupation and settlements?
What other country has given land back after a defensive war?
No other lands of a winning nation have ever been returned. e.g. Should Texas go back to Mexico? Do you support the occupation of Western Sahara, Tibet, Crimea, and if not, what are you doing about it?
In order to be given sovereignty, land has to be taken from a sovereign entity. Judea and Samaria were not sovereign. There are many areas of border disputes, eg. Kashmir. Are you lobbying for its return or conflict resolution?
In all other areas of dispute, countries maintain relations.
“Occupation” is a claim which is a pretext for lack of peace. If Arab Palestinians believe they are rightly living on their own land, how can they claim an occupation? What of the lands illegally settled by Arabs in Judea and Samaria, in some cases creating towns with no residents?
Note the illegal “occupation” of Judea and Samaria by Jordan took place from 1948-67, when it was then liberated in defensive war after the massacre of Jews.
Q. Shouldn’t Arabs have a Free Palestine?
Yes, free from the “Arab occupation, Hamas and Palestinian Authority” which deny them basic human rights.
Q. How can you say there is no Palestinian people?
Are you referring to the Philistines? The Arabs living in Israel are not those people.
Are you referring to the various tribes? The people from other countries eg. Egypt, Iraq?
Are you referring to Arabs in Jordan or those Jordan expelled?
What is the Palestinian culture, language?
There is no ‘P’ in Arabic – so they could never have been called ‘Palestinian’.
There are numerous tribes, not a nation and these tribes are not cooperating with one another, and they are not likely to become a nation.
Nov 29, 1947, General Assembly voted on a Jewish State and an Arabic State, not a Palestine state. Both peoples lived in the Mandate for Palestine, formally called Syria Palestina by the Romans. There are 2 Palestinian people – Israelis + Jordanians, though the latter are ruled by the Hashemite tribe.
Consider this: If it had been an Arab country, would Arabs give up the right of return after 50 years, 100 years, 1000, 2000? If not, you now understand the Jewish position as Israel was historically a Jewish country. It was however, never an Arab country, even pre-WWI, the interwar years or WWII.
Q. Why do you say there is no peace partner?
Can you identify even one Arab country or political movement that hasn’t wanted to destroy Israel, and has recognized Israel’s right to exist, other than Morocco? Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements with Israel?
State the truth about Islamic responses to peace negotiations; the resolution since 1967 being “No Peace with Israel, No Negotiations with Israel, No recognition of Israel.” Several countries have sought peace and several emirates are now considering it, but that is not the case with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.
Israel will join peace in the Middle East when there is peace in the Middle East. Reference to “the Middle East Conflict” rarely references all the wars in which Arabs are killing Arabs, but focuses on the conflict between Israel and residents of Gaza, Judea and Samaria, but that is minor in comparison. The conflicts in the Arab Muslim world have been that way for centuries!
Consider this—there is no peace among the Arab tribes that currently reside in Judea and Samaria—here is a solution for peace: http://www.palestinianemirates.com
End the Palestinian Authority and deal with 8 tribal groups as a solution to the conflict.
Q. I disagree with Israel’s policies, so don’t I have the right to boycott Israel?
Would you give up your cellphone, medicines or other products invented or produced by Israel? See the hypocrisy if you won’t.
Do you agree with all Canadian government policies?
Do you boycott other countries which ignore human rights such as China, Cuba, Russia, Uganda (where it’s illegal to be LGBTQ), to name a few?
There is no apartheid in Israel and there is equality for women, minorities and LGBTQ folks in Israel so rather than support the annual Anti-Israel Apartheid Week which perpetuates lies, isn’t it time to create Arab Apartheid Month at universities?
To combat the profs who support BDS and spread lies and antisemitism, organize seniors to register and audit classes, then publish names of profs and courses that do spread lies.
What about the jobs created by Israeli companies that employ Arabs and do you realize that boycotts kill Arab jobs?
Q. How can you claim Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism when Israel has policies we don’t support
Does Canada have policies we don’t support? Does Canada have the right to exist? (Or any other country?)
Israelis have many disputes with the government so isn’t the matter their national concern and not ours?
To say Jews can’t defend themselves is antisemitism.
There is a Double standard, one should compare Israel to other democracies, and note it often fares better.
One should also hold the Arabs accountable, rather than having such low expectations of Muslim countries.
Neo/New antisemitism is anti-Zionist, blaming the only Jewish state for matters outside of its control, hate-mongering, character assassinating, demonizing and stereotyping.
Let’s “Take back Zionism” which is the positive view of Jewish nationalism in the Jewish homeland.
Read The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray.
Multiculturalism should not be cultural relativism as not all cultures are equal.
Q. Isn’t Israel a racist – apartheid state given the Nation State Law?
No, the Nation State Law does not infringe on the civil and human rights of minorities.
Define apartheid which existed under state legislation in South Africa, denying rights to a majority of the citizens, whereas in Israel all residents are equal before the law and share in human rights under the law.
Name an Arab or Muslim state in which there is equality for all of its citizens?
The Nation State Law is not the only Basic Law; other Basic Laws protect the rights of all people in Israel.
Q. Why is Israel attacking civilians in Gaza?
How many missiles would you allow on your city or town before reacting? Would any Country choose not to defend its own citizens when attacked? Are you aware that Hamas pays people to participate in their rallies and attacks and punishes those who don’t?
Q. How can Israel deny the Right of Return to Arabs who fled in 1948?
I support the right of Arabs to return to the Arab countries from which they came in the late 1800s and early 1900s when Jews began to settle in Palestine and created more opportunity and improved standard of living. Most came from neighboring lands that were designated countries after Partition, just as Israel was.
If the Palestinian Arabs deserved a state, why didn’t Jordan give them one during its 19 years of occupation of Judea and Samaria, which they renamed the West Bank. The Jordanians did not recognize the Arab inhabitants as a separate people during its 7000 days of occupation.
Jerusalem was never the capital of any state but the Jewish state, and it was never important to the Arabs until after the 1967 war, at which time the concept of a “Palestinian people” emerged.
According to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), one can only be a refugee for a maximum of 10 years, but under UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) there is no end to the time an Arab can claim refugee status and it’s an inherited status, thus after 70 years, even Arab Palestinians settled abroad are consider refugees.
Why have Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt denied citizenship, permanent residency status and access to jobs, education and services to Arabs who fled Israel 70+ years ago?
Why have over 889,000 Jews who were forcibly expelled from 8 Arab countries never been recognized as refugees or received any funds from the UN or its agencies?
Questions from either the Left or Right are often intended to undermine Israel’s right to exist or to defend herself, and they are often couched in bias, in ignorance or in oft repeated lies. We encourage people to read and practice responding. You will no longer feel impotent in defending Israel, the only Nation State of the Jewish People.