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 d