Despite Jews being indigenous to the Middle East with communities living in the region for millenia there are many myths that persist about the existance of Israel. Israel’s opponents work hard to frame Israel’s creation as an injustice committed against Palestinians and her conduct as aggressive and repressive. Let’s look at some of the myths propagated by Israel’s opponents and some responses to them.

Myth

Israel’s creation was illegal

Reality

Untrue. The need for a Jewish state was recognised by both the League of Nations in 1920, and at the United Nations in 1947 member states voted in favour of Resolution 181 which partitioned Mandate Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. So the nation of Israel was legally formed under the authority of the international bodies of the day.

Myth

Israel stole land from the Palestinians

Reality

Untrue. There was never an autonomous Palestinian state on this land. Israeli leaders agreed to abide by the 1947 UN Partition Plan prior to the failed Arab invasion. Israel has control of land beyond these borders only because of Arab aggression. Any border between Israel and a Palestinian state would need to guarantee Israel’s security, which at present Palestinian leaders could not guarantee even if they were prepared to negotiate with Israel.

Myth

Israel forced 750,000 Palestinians from their homes

Reality

Untrue. Some Palestinians were made to leave their homes in 1948-9, as were some Jews. But many others left because Arab leaders advised or made them to do so. Israeli historian Benny Morris explains ‘… in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948.’ Haifa is just one place where Jewish leaders begged Arabs to remain. Those who did were granted Israeli citizenship.

Myth

Israel doesn’t want peace

Reality

Untrue. Israel has ceded land for peace more than once, with mixed results. There is an uneasy peace with Egypt and Jordan following land deals. But Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza has been a disaster, as it has become a Hamas terror state. (Gaza also has an Egyptian border, quite as securely closed as Israel’s.) Palestinian leaders thwarted opportunities to have their state from 1939 - 2008 mostly because Palestinian leaders insist they must control the Old City of Jerusalem. Israel will not agree to this, remembering how Jewish holy sites were desecrated and barred to Jews from 1948-67 by Jordanian occupying forces.

Myth

Israel carries out ethnic cleansing/genocide against Palestinians

Reality

Untrue. Israel was always a multi-ethnic, multi-faith state. 147,000 Arabs who remained during the War of Independence became Israeli citizens, still forming 20% of the popula- tion. The Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza is burgeoning.

Myth

Israel is an apartheid state

Reality

Any comparison with apartheid South Africa is spurious. Israel’s Arab Muslim, Christian and Druze population have the same citizenship rights as Israeli Jews and are represented at every level of Israeli society including the military, diplomatic services and judiciary. There is no segregation on the ground of race at Universities and public facilities such as beaches, parks, hospitals or any other publicly owned land or building in Israel.