Monday, January 8, 2007

You Can Speak Up!

The Beast wants us to believe the worst about ourselves. It hopes to sap our energy and resolve by weakening our self esteem and confidence. Israel is the frontline of the clash and the breath of the beast is felt there the most immediately. As a result the calumny and pressure that falls on Israel every day is unremitting. The lies and condemnations are insidious. They range from the ancient blood libels to the most recent accusations of war crimes.

I am contemplating producing a series of posts designed to share some of our best ways of answering the most common accusations and distortions that we hear about Israel. Whether they come from a well-intentioned but uninformed person or from a malicious toady of The Beast, it is helpful for us to have a solid, truthful and informed answer ready. Each post in this series would present a common misconception about Israel and one or more alternative answers to it.

I will start with the one below because it is a very basic one that appeals not only to the inherent sense of fairness of many, especially those on the political left but also conjures up echoes of the dispossession of the Native Americans and the Colonial past of Europe.

Please let me know if you find these helpful. As always suggestions and corrections are welcome!

Accusation: The Jews colonized the land and stole it from the indigenous population.

Answer 1) To say that 'the Jews colonized the land' is incorrect. In fact the only time when the land of Israel has not been a colony has been when the Jews have had sovereignty. This self-determination paved the way for unprecedented economic growth, agricultural development and modern resources. The economic opportunity and higher standard of living attracted and continues to attract mass immigration by Jews and Non-Jews alike turning a barren desert into a land of milk and honey offering a high standard of living for all up to this day.

Answer 2) This is a misconception: Jews were the only people who did not colonize the land. The Jewish people have been a continuous presence in the area for thousands of years, and those who did immigrate purchased land legally. The Jews who returned in the early years of the twentieth century were not just Zionists; most of them were fleeing from persecution and intolerance. They invested in infrastructure and changed the barren landscape, attracting mass Arab migration to the region. Most modern day Palestinians are immigrants to the region who were attracted by and benefited from those economic and agricultural improvements.

Answer 3) There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the land from biblical times. Escaping from persecution in Europe and throughout the Islamic world, Jews began to return to a barren and sparsely populated area that could only loosely be termed “Palestine”, as it was never an independent country. The arriving Jews purchased and cultivated land, attracted mass Arab immigration, and improved the living conditions of Jews and Arabs.

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