(May 1, 2018 / Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) It is quite amazing how certain commentators with a political ax to grind will write anything to justify their pre-determined political viewpoint and, at the same time, get their material published.
It is all the more amazing how a commentator like Peter Beinart, in a recent article titled “American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza—and the Truth” (Forward April 26, 2018), manipulates and misrepresents what he claims—and has the gall to present—as “the truth.”
It is utterly sad that Beinart has chosen to vent his own, personal, seething hatred of Israel. The fact that the editors gave him license to vent this hatred through manipulation and inaccuracy represents a disservice to what Beinart describes as “well-meaning American Jews.”
Without seeking to analyze Beinart’s political motivations and the source of his pathological hostility, it is nevertheless necessary to correct some of his inaccurate and misguided rantings about what he claims to be “the truth” regarding the situation in Gaza.
The thousands of Palestinians who “risk their lives by running toward the Israeli snipers who guard the fence,” do so not because Gaza is becoming uninhabitable and Israel is responsible for its plight, as he claims, but because the “protesters” are driven and incited by those who send them in a futile and symbolic act to “drive the Jews out of Palestine.” Hamas mobilizes at the same time those, such as Peter Beinart, who are ready and waiting to soak up anything that might present Israel in an adverse light.
The real motivation to attack Israel
To claim, as he does, that Israel is “denying Gaza’s people the water, electricity, education and food they need to live decent lives,” is grossly inaccurate to the point of being a vicious lie.
Israel provides water and electricity to Gaza despite the objections of Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has adopted a concerted policy of attempting to starve the residents of Gaza who, through their governing body, the Hamas terror organization, refuse to acknowledge the leadership of Abbas and his corrupt Palestinian Authority.
As for education, the responsibility for education passed to the Palestinian Authority when the PLO entered into the Oslo Accords with Israel, and the sphere of education was transferred—lock, stock and barrel—to the Palestinian administration governing Gaza, including the freedom to incite and to sow hatred and anti-Semitism against Israel and the Jews. Moreover, hundreds of millions of dollars are collected by the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) to teach, feed and tend to Palestinian needs. All too often, UNRWA’s services are hijacked by Hamas.
As for food, Israel does not restrict the transfer of food into Gaza. In this context, Israel strictly abides by basic humanitarian norms preventing any action aimed at causing starvation. However, despite the more than 500 trucks that enter Gaza every day from Israel with flour, rice, other foodstuffs, and even cement, Israel limits only those products that could be used for the construction of offensive tunnels or the production of rockets and other weapons. This is Israel’s legal prerogative that has even been recognized by the United Nations.
Beinart’s claim that Israel has established buffer zones to “keep Palestinians away from the fence” misrepresents what was validly agreed between the Palestinian leadership and Israel, and set out in the 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo 2), according to which:
There will be a security perimeter along the Delimiting Line inside the Gaza Strip as delineated on attached map No. 2 by a broken green line (hereinafter “the Security Perimeter”).
The Palestinian Police will enforce special security measures aimed at preventing infiltrations across the Delimiting Line or the introduction into the Security Perimeter of any arms, ammunition or related equipment, except for the arms, ammunitions, or equipment of the Palestinian Police, authorized through the relevant DCO.
Clearly, since the incitement, organization and implementation of the marches, and attempted breaching and infiltration through the fence are by the same body that governs Gaza, the Palestinian police are in no position to act to prevent the violence. Thus, Israel has the responsibility to protect its border from those Palestinians who are sent to attach explosive devices to the fence, who lob grenades and explosives at Israel’s soldiers, who send burning kites to destroy Israeli wheat fields, and who consistently attempt to dismantle the fence and infiltrate into Israel.
The attackers are dispatched by the same Hamas organization that excavates attack tunnels 10 meters beneath the ground where the protests are staged. Their tactics are different, but their mission is the same.
In their zeal to trash Israel, Israel’s detractors rely on biased Palestinian sources to describe mundane issues such as exports of Gaza produce to Egypt and Israel, control of the airspace—agreed upon by the PLO and Israel in 1995—and the intricate details of population registry.
On the question of Palestinian-Israeli coordination on issues of population registry, Beinart’s “truth” is perhaps summarized by a pathetic outburst of falsity and supposition: If Israel doesn’t recognize your Palestinian ID card, it’s unlikely to allow you into, or out of, Gaza. And because Israel sees Palestinians as a demographic threat, it uses this power to keep the population in Gaza, and especially the West Bank, as low as possible.
The detailed arrangements for coordination of population registry were agreed upon after long and detailed negotiations between the PLO and Israel in the 1995 Interim Agreement, to ensure obvious and necessary coordination and updating of statistics regarding births and deaths, and in order to ensure efficient travel between the then two parts of the Palestinian Authority—the Gaza Strip and the West Bank—through Israel.
To present this as if Israel is trying “to keep the Palestinian population as low as possible” is malicious and pathetic, as well as entirely unrealistic and misleading.
Who abuses Gazan civilians?
In claiming that in three wars Israeli bombing damaged 240,000 Gazan homes, Beinart is cynically implying that Israel chose to willfully and arbitrarily bomb Gaza, for no reason. He overlooked the fact that the three wars were generated and initiated by the Hamas terror organization that governs Gaza, firing more than 40,000 rockets and missiles from Gazan homes, schools, mosques and hospitals; stockpiling weapons in private homes and schools; and turning clinics and hospitals into tactical control centers. Hamas used Palestinian residents of Gaza as human shields and even prohibited them from using the kilometers of underground attack tunnels as bomb shelters.
While admitting that Hamas is no “guardian angel,” Beinart subverts logic and presents an apologetic explanation for Hamas by blaming Israel for the Hamas terror: “Hamas did not force Israel to adopt the policies that have devastated Gaza. Those policies represent a choice—a choice that has not only failed to dislodge Hamas, but has also created the very conditions in which extremism thrives.”
In referring to the Israel’s naval blockade and prevention of the passage of dual-use products into Gaza, which Beinart claims is “a blockade that is not only cruel but in some ways absurd,” he failed to add that this blockade was justified by the United Nations in light of the inherent military threat posed by Hamas.
Beinart’s ultimate expression of moral bankruptcy, absurdity, and self-hatred is the concluding equation that he draws between the 2,000 years of yearning of the Jewish People to return to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinians’ “Great March of Return.”
Today, some call the broadcast of such canards “Fake News.”
Beinart’s non-truths reflect the wise saying (attributed to Swift, Twain, Jefferson, etc.): “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is lacing up its boots.”
The boots are laced.
Ambassador Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.