In the next few weeks a smear campaign is going to take place. A campaign that will try twist what you know, through lies and distortions, to fit a particular political and sometimes even racist agenda. This campaign is called “Israel Apartheid Week”. This article is to clarify some facts about a conflict far more complicated than any single, hate-filled slogan thrown at you can represent.
A bit of history: The region so often spoken about is a tiny area at the junction of Europe, Africa and Asia. A region so filled with problems it amazes how only one aspect is always singled out, Israel. This area is the setting of most of our biblical stories (for Jews and Christians at least), it is where Abraham first purchased land in Hebron to bury Sarah (the first recorded land purchase in history) 4000 years ago, it is where the Jews, under Kings David and Solomon, had their first sovereign state/kingdom, it is where the First and Second Jewish temples stood, it is where Jesus was born and where he died. This is the area the Romans conquered, it is from where the Romans banished Jews and sent them on an exile to Europe, Asia and Africa where they would remain until modern times. The Romans renamed the area “Palestina” in 70CE to try destroy any remaining connection the Jews had to the Land.
This area was then conquered by invading Arabs in 635 CE. This brought Islam to the Land. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built, on the same spot as the Jewish “Holy of Holies” in 705 CE. Over the following centuries the Land remained largely unpopulated owing to the dry Negev in the South and in the North, Malaria infested swamps. Numerous travelers through the region commented on vast desolate areas without human habitation. It was in the middle and late 19th century that all this changed. Jewish settlers running from persecution in Europe and with a strong desire to return home, started redeveloping the Land. They drained the swamp fields and started to develop the desert. This lead to a massive population influx of both Arabs and Jews with both populations growing exponentially over the next 100 years.
This brief history will be distorted next week. You will hear about Palestinian Arabs living in the area for millennia, you will hear denials of Jewish connection to the Land, you will never hear about Arab immigration from 1840-1948, you will only hear about Jewish immigration. You will never hear how Jews legally bought land from absentee Ottoman (NOT Palestinian) landlords. These are just some of the many things you will NOT hear during next weeks smear campaign.
Israel, for all its challenges, is a true modern day miracle. It is one of the only countries in the world where the indigenous population so violently expelled, came back to rebuild a vibrant and free society. It has not happened in America, Australia or even here in South Africa. This is Zionism. Zionism is the desire of the Jews to settle in their ancient homeland, a homeland which historically (leaving the bible out of this) was theirs. Zionism is a movement dedicated to the self-determination of the Jewish people. Why should the Jews not have this right? Why should all other people BUT the Jews have this right? The word Zionism, has been dragged through the trash, by the same people who will feed you lies during the upcoming smear campaign. It is for all responsible, civil-rights and justice seeking people to defend the term and the people it represents.
Zionism is not about infringing on minority rights, it is about protecting them. Minorities in Israel are afforded equal opportunities. They serve in the army, attend universities and get world-class degrees. They are represented in all aspect of society be it media, legal, medical or governance. One cannot say the same about any of Israel’s neighboring countries. Of course there are challenges but I challenge anyone to name one developed country that does not have problems with integrating minorities. Israel should not be held to a higher standard than any developed country, doing so is called discrimination!
Now for some other distortions you will hear next week. Yes there is a barrier between Israel and Palestinian territories (90% is a fence), what you wont hear is why this barrier is there. During the second Intifada, Palestinian terrorists ruthlessly carried out suicide bombing and other attacks on Israel’s civilian population. This included bombing of buses with women and children on their way to school and work, full restaurants with people enjoying a lunch break, Passover festivities with people celebrating this ancient Jewish festival. After the barrier was built over a 90 percent decrease in attacks occurred. You will hear about Palestinian water shortages, but you wont hear how the Palestinian Authority has refused to drill into the aquifers set aside for their use according to Oslo agreements, you wont hear how money that was supposed to be used for upgrading sanitation facilities and building Salt water desalination plants was used instead to line the pockets of Arafat and Abbas with billions of dollars in overseas bank accounts. You will hear about different number plates on Israeli and Palestinian cars, but you wont hear that cars in the Palestinian territories receive licenses from their own government institutions, much like Mexico has different number plates to America. These are just a few of the MANY lies you will hear. In short you will only hear at best a half truth and at worst a full blown lie.
In the same region as we find Israel, we find Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Syria is currently in the middle of a devastating civil war, which has claimed almost 200000 lives and created a massive refugee crisis. Lebanon is also in the midst of a civil war with the Terrorist organization Hezbollah running rampant. Lebanon also has a terrible history with regards to human rights with Palestinian refugees who are granted no protection from the law, they are not allowed to attend University and are kept in abject poverty. Egypt, another country being affected by civil unrest and having to deal with terrorist organizations enjoying lawlessness in the Sinai desert (just last week a South Korean tour bus was bombed). All this without even touching the human rights abuses of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Yet next week you will not hear about any of this. The focus will not be about any of the real issues affecting the Middle East, it will be about the one and only Jewish State, Israel. This is hypocrisy!
It is time for truth seeking people to stand up, rethink and redefine their views on Israel and the Middle East. Anti-Israel activists want to paint this conflict in monochrome, it simply doesn’t do justice to a region with such a vast and influential history. It is disingenuous to criticize only on side. I urge you all to look beyond the lies and develop opinions that will lead to a lasting peace for both sides, not opinions based on hate and racism.