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Israeli Myths

July 2, 2012

Tuesday, November 11. 2008

Israeli Myths

Israel is a state with an expansionist ideology. It has never defined its own borders and refuses to do so. As a result, it is the Palestinians who face annihilation as none of their historic homeland is safe from Israeli occupation and annexation.

Israel is guilty of creating facts on the ground in order to deeply entrench its occupation of the West Bank. It is also guilty of narrating ‘alternative’ chains of events in its history through its school textbooks and other mediums. Many myths have materialised in this way and are recounted and used by Israel’s apologists in order to justify the actions of the state of Israel. It is important to highlight these misconceptions which are damaging to Palestinians and their cause.

Some myths are listed below, followed by the real facts

Myth 1

Palestine was empty land before 1948 – “A land without a people for a people without a land” – Israel Zangwill

The Fact is ……

This phrase became the potent rallying call for Zionist settlement in Palestine. It was not until 1904 that Zangwill realised there was a fundamental problem with the Zionist programme. In a speech given in New York he explained:

“There is… a difficulty from which the Zionist dare not avert his eyes… Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The pashalik of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having 52 souls to every square mile, and not 25 percent of them Jews” – Israel Zangwill

Myth 2

Zionists have historical/religious rights to the Holy Land

The Fact is ….

Religious Jews believe that the Torah only allows return to Palestine by divine intervention. Human attempts to re-establish Israel are considered heretical and many orthodox rabbis openly condemned Theodore Herzl and the entire concept of Zionism.

Myth 3

Zionism and Judaism are the same

The Fact is….

Theodore Herzl (the founder of Zionism) was not a religious person, and Zionism is a nationalistic doctrine completely separate from religion. Some quotes from his diaries include the following:

‘… I do not obey a religious impulse…’ (Theodor Herzl: Diaries, Victor Gollanz, 1958)

‘… I am agnostic…’ (p54 Theodor Herzl Diaries, passim)

‘… For me, the Jewish question is neither a social nor a religious one… it is a national question… Palestine is our unforgettable historical homeland… the very name would be a powerful rallying cry for our people.’

[Herzl, L’Etat Juif, p. 209]


The Israelis claim that in 1948 the Palestinians left their homes of their own accord and that the Arab leaders promoted this via radio broadcasts.

The Fact is …..

An Irish journalist investigating this myth found that not a single appeal or order was broadcast on radio from Arab leaders during that time. However, evidence was found that Zionist stations broadcasted in Arabic urging Palestinians to leave their homes. [The spectator, 12th May 1961]

Zionist gangs were responsible for numerous massacres and atrocities which were used to frighten other Palestinians into fleeing their homes. The massacre at the Deir Yassin village on April 9 and 10, 1948, was the best documented. This was the bloody and violent killing of 250 people; men, women and children. News of the Massacre was circulated far and wide to terrify other Palestinians who dared remain in their homes. The Zionist trickery worked and thousands of Palestinians began to flee for their lives, leaving their homes and belongings behind – never to return.

Myth 5

Israel is occupied by Palestinians

The Fact is ……

The deliberate use of terminology such as ‘terrorists’ and ‘militants’ when referring to the Palestinians, and ‘authorities’ and ‘army’ when referring to the Israelis has created confusion in the minds of many people about the nature of the conflict.

In 2004, a study at Glasgow University revealed that many Brits believed, based on the way the news is reported, that it was the Palestinians who were occupying Israel. In 2006, one newspaper even reported that Israel was being occupied by Palestinians, revealing new depths in the level of the unawareness.

There is obviously no doubt that Israel is occupying Palestinian land. The United Nations Security Council in Resolutions 446, 465 and 484, among others, resolved that the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply. In addition, the International Court of Justice in its decision on the separation barrier, ruled that the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are occupied

Myth 6

The Arabs started the 1967 war

The Fact is …….

“The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him”.
– Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister, June 1967

“We would send a tractor to plough some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarised area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot, if they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was”
– Moshe Dayan, Israeli Defence Minister during the 1967 war
– The New York Times, May 11th, 1997

Myth 7

Criticism of Israel/Zionism is anti-Semitism

The Fact is ….

Anti-Zionism is often equated with anti-Semitism by Israeli supporters who wish to silence all criticism of Israel, regardless of how legitimate it may be. Thus, many who criticize Israeli actions and highlight Israel’s gross human rights abuses are unjustly and wrongly accused of being anti-Semitic.

In reality, Anti-Zionism is the opposition to Zionism as an international political movement for the creation of an exclusively Jewish state in the land of Palestine. By its very nature, such a state is discriminatory and racist towards all non-Jews, especially the native Palestinians. Many anti-Zionists support a one-state solution where the land will be inhabited by all the people there, both Israeli and Palestinian without discrimination.

Anti-Semitism is defined in the New Oxford Dictionary of English as follows:

Semite: member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs.

Origin from modern Latin Semita via late Latin from Greek Shem, son of Noah (as) in the Bible, from whom these people were traditionally believed to be descended from.

Semitic: 1. Relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phonecian and Akkadian, constituting the main subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family.

Semitic: 2. Of or relating to the peoples who speak these languages, especially Hebrew and Arabic.

It is clear that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are very different to each other. While anti-Semitism is condemned with no exception, anti-Zionism on the other hand is a legitimate position.


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