Most Asked Questions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
By Becky Johnson & Lee Kaplan
August 12, 2002
found at: http://www.masada2000.org/questions.html
Didn't Israel drive out 600,000 Palestinians at gunpoint in 1948 and take their land?
Most Arabs who left Israel did so under the orders of the Arab leader, the Grand Mufti, to withdraw and let the Arab armies "drive the Jews into the sea," which they attempted in 1948. However Israel won that war. Not all of the Arabs left, and Israel is now 18% Arab. These Arabs have full citizenship rights, can own property, vote, and have 14 representatives in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.
I've heard that some Israelis say there is no such thing as Palestinians. How can they say that?
Up until the 1967 war, the Arabs living in Israel did not even call themselves Palestinians -- twenty years after the founding of the modern state of Israel. The name Palestine came from the Romans who destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. To humiliate the Jews, the Romans renamed the land Palestine after their mortal enemies, the Philistines. The modern land of Palestine was given that name by the British when they took control over from the crumbling Ottoman Empire. In British Palestine, both Jews and Arabs were Palestinians.
(See "What is a Palestinian?" at Masada 2000)
Why doesn't Israel just give back the West Bank to the Palestinians? Then there will be peace.
In 1948, Israel's Arab neighbors tried to destroy the State of Israel. They rejected a Palestinian State, which the UN offered them at the same time as when Israel was founded. Prior to 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan. Currently Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel. The West Bank, which Jews call Judea and Samaria, is part of the ancient kingdom of Israel, and has been home to Arabs and Jews for thousands of years. Arafat himself said he will take back Israel in its entirety, if he has to do it all at once or piece by piece.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is looking for any excuse to invade and shoot Palestinians. Why did the Israeli people even elect him?
The directives given the IDF are strictly against the taking of innocent civilian life. Sharon withdrew ELEVEN times from the West Bank to effect a cease-fire. Each time Israel was attacked by suicide bombers. The Palestinian Authority failed to arrest them And instead paid their families awards. They even named streets after them as "martyrs". How can anyone take an enemy seriously that encourages the terror attacks? In 2000, President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak tried to offer the Palestinians a state, which included 95% of the West Bank. Arafat rejected the offer and launched the latest intifada or uprising. The sniper killings and suicide bombings are the method used to attack Israeli citizens. The Israeli people, who were angered when Arafat rejected Barak's offer, elected the hard-liner Sharon by a la! ndslide. Sharon has prevented more terror attacks than he has instigated. To blame him for the terror attacks is like blaming a woman for being raped.
Why are there so many more dead Palestinians than dead Israelis? Doesn't this prove that Israel is the aggressor here?
Several reasons combine to explain the differential death toll. First, the numbers are skewed. The Palestinians count the suicide bombers as "civilian casualties". They also count terrorists killed in shootouts with the police or IDF. Fact is, if civilians were only counted, Israeli casualties would be higher. Snipers who open fire on civilians are immediately hunted down and arrested, but many fight until they are shot. A big factor appears to be Palestinian gunmen who hide themselves in populated areas, which causes a high civilian death toll when the IDF tries to shoot back at them. The IDF has a policy of a measured response to a terrorist attack. These reprisals rarely involve death or injury. Also, given the P.A.'s problems with math, such as claiming 1,500 killed in Jenin when it was 52, their calculations are highly suspect. Israel has 10,000 people who are invalids, in comas or scarred in other ways for life.
Wait a minute! Israel has a heavily armed state-of-the-art military and the Palestinians only have rocks and a few old guns. Shouldn't our sympathies be with the Palestinians who only want their freedom from oppression and the opportunity for self-rule?
The Palestinians are using more than rocks, although stonings can be very violent too, causing death and serious injury. They have Qasem rockets. They have grenades. They have M-16's and Kalashnikovs [Ed.: Russian made assault rifles]. Arafat demanded weapons claiming he needed an armed police force to keep order. Those guns, provided by none other than Israel, have been linked with numerous terrorist attacks. Many weapons have been smuggled in from Egypt as well. The Palestinian police ARE the terrorists such as Fatah and Al Aksa. Currently the Palestinians, have self-rule under the Oslo accords yet persist in attacking Israel.
Don't the Israelis build roads and freeways that bypass Palestinian villages and they aren't allowed to use them?
They do bypass them. They were built because when Israelis drive by them they are shot at or have rocks thrown at them. Boulders dropped from heights above the roads have killed some. If the Israelis built freeways on Arab land, they'd complain the Israelis were taking Arab land or that they were damaging the environment.
Every time a Palestinian wants to go somewhere they have to go thru an Israeli checkpoint. Isn't this humiliating for the Palestinian people?
Humiliating? US citizens have to wait two hours at checkpoints at the airport. It's called security against terrorism. Suicide bombers kill Arabs too.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) regularly prevents ambulances from picking up sick and wounded people. Isn't this a crime against humanity?
They don't prevent medical care. However, time and time again the Arabs have transported bombs and terrorists in ambulances so now they must be thoroughly checked. Israel gives free medical care to many Palestinians. In Jenin last April, the IDF supplied blood to the hospital for wounded Palestinians. But the blood was rejected because the Palestinians would not use Jewish blood. So the IDF using military transports brought in blood from Jordan.
The Israelis have stopped the Palestinians from normal commerce, from employment, and now they are suffering from food shortages. How can they justify this?
Commerce and employment were higher when Israel controlled the area. In nine years with billions of dollars in aid the PA has failed even to feed its people. PA warlords under Arafat control UN food allotments and even sell it on the black market. It has been the terrorist attacks that have made business as usual impossible and have hurt the Palestinian economy.
When the Israelis say that the Arabs only wish to drive them into the sea, aren't they just being paranoid and using this excuse to justify their aggressions against the Palestinians?
5.5 million Jews. 250 million Arabs. Missiles with germ and radiological warheads on Israel's northern frontier controlled by Hizbollah. 21 terrorist attacks a day against common Israelis. The Arabs said "into the sea" in 1948 and even after Oslo. This is paranoid???
Didn't the International Conference in Durban, South Africa condemn Israel as a racist state?
The conference was made up of Arab dictatorships pushing their own agenda. The US and most of Europe boycotted the vote.
The Palestinians and the Jews have been fighting for thousands of years. Aren't they equally responsible for the violence?
They have not been fighting for thousands of years. The Arabs persecuted Jews. The difference is the Arabs won't tolerate a Jewish presence in the Muslim Middle East -- period. The Jews offer to negotiate peace but the Arabs are really just negotiating the end of Israel.
The suicide bombings are terrible, but aren't they done by a small handful of extremists? Isn't it wrong to condemn all the Palestinian people for the acts of a few?
Evidence shows that as many as twelve extremist groups conduct terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas, Hezbollah, The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Fatah are a few of them. In many cases, the same individuals who are security for the Palestinian Authority conduct the terrorist attacks. Opinion polls among the Palestinian population reveal 90% approve of the suicide bombings. Thousands dance in the streets when a lethal suicide bombing is executed. The few who would work for peace run the risk of being arrested or lynched for being a collaborator with Israel. Historically, the Arabs persecuted Jews. The idea of wearing a yellow star as the mark of Jew was begun by the Arabs and copied by the Nazis. Just a note..the Arabs even have suicide bomber trading cards now like we have baseball! cards.
Why does Israel practice collective punishment against the Palestinian people?
Israel does not practice collective punishment. The security checkpoints are there solely to prevent more suicide bombings and attacks. During a reprisal, such as the bombing of a house from which sniper shots have been fired, a warning is given and THAT HOUSE is destroyed. Likewise, wanted criminals are found and executed since it is impossible to hold them accountable in a court of law under Arafat's regime. Often it is easy to determine the culprit. The Palestinians carry them on their shoulders in the street, put up posters praising them, and name streets after them. Contrast this with the almost daily attacks on Israeli civilians making all citizens fearful of going shopping for groceries, riding a bus, or stopping in for a piece of pizza.
I know that the Israelis don't want to deal with Prime Minister Yassir Arafat, but didn't the majority of the Palestinian people elect him?
Arafat ran the same type of Arab election as Saddam Hussein or Bashir Assad. He ran against one candidate, an 85 year-old woman who told everyone to vote for Arafat. When he first took control of the territories he murdered all the Arabs who administered the territories under Israel as "collaborators" in a sports stadium. Even Hitler and Stalin could claim to be democratically elected leaders the same as Arafat. But were they? The PA suspended all elections until President Bush said a "reformed" leadership was needed. Arafat's "reform" does not include his stepping down. He has postponed elections twice and now says not for a year until he can once again control the outcome.
Aren't the Jewish settlers on the West Bank just an excuse for Sharon to invade the Palestinian areas? And given how much opposition the Palestinians have to building homes on the West Bank, isn't Sharon just encouraging more suicide bombings?
Many Jews, especially the Orthodox Jews, believe the land of Judea and Samaria to be divinely given to the Jewish people. However, the Jewish settlements are on 1.7% of the West Bank. While home-building by Jews is often given as a reason for conducting more suicide bombing attacks (sadly documented in video tapes made by the teenage bombers shortly before they conducted an attack), does this sound even slightly reasonable? To commit suicide and mass murder to protest the building of homes by people of another religion? The settlements have residents who own homes and businesses as well. Why can't they stay as part of a state of Palestine and be Palestinian citizens as part of a peace settlement? The reason is the Ar! abs who accuse democratic Israel of racism repeatedly say NO JEWS may live anywhere in Palestine.
The conflict between the Muslims and the Jews is religous at its core. Isn't it really an insoluble issue marked by religious intolerance on both sides?
While there are sects of Islam which use passages in the Koran to justify the killing of infidels, there are also passages in the Koran which forbid suicide. Other passages teach that lands given by the Lord to other peoples are given for a reason known only to God. Likewise, religious Jews, who remain fixed on prophesies of the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, the return of the Jewish people to the State of Israel, and the coming of the messiah are not likely to give in to Arab pressure to leave their holy sites. For the Arabs it is a tribal affair of honor and vengeance. Racism is at its core. Racism is a sickness and sicknesses can be cured. Israel seriously wants peace with the Arabs, but not at the expense of her existence being whittled away bit by bit through terrorism until she is destroyed. The healing will come when the world focuses its energies on helping the Arab world to come out of generations of tribal warfare, the subjugation of women, illiteracy and feudal kingdoms. These are the conditions, which spawn hatred of the Jews, which is only slightly more vehement than their hatred of the Christians.