(November 30, 2021 / JNS) Though Palestinian leaders are sworn enemies of Israel—and have vowed to destroy the Jewish state—they still have many supporters among radicals on the far left in the United States and Europe.
Much of this support comes not from a factual analysis of the issues surrounding this hundred-year conflict, but rather from sympathy for the perceived “underdog.” In many cases, Israel’s enemies are misinformed; others cynically support the Palestinians by telling lies about Israel’s “apartheid,” “genocide” or “occupation of Palestinian territory.”
While the Palestinians are certainly weaker militarily compared to Israel, it’s useful to look closely at what the Palestinians stand for—what they say they want, and what they do.
On Nov. 21, Palestinian preacher and Hamas member Fadi Abu Shkhaydam pulled out a submachine gun near Jerusalem’s Western Wall and killed 26-year-old South African immigrant Eli Kay, who had been praying at the Wall. He also wounded four others before Israeli security forces killed him minutes later.
Shkhaydam had preached in Jerusalem mosques, railing against “Jewish and Christian masters of heresy” and anyone who opposed Islamic sharia law. He also wrote, “From when I first walked, and I drank of the Qu’ran … I dreamed of meeting God as a martyr … We must steer the ship with our blood, and serve as the practical example of the way of jihad.”
This murder of an innocent Jew by a Palestinian terrorist is one answer to the question of who the Palestinians are and what they want.
No matter when we discuss the Arabs living in Palestine over the last 100 years, many have violently opposed Israel’s existence for both religious and political reasons. Since the early 1900s, Palestinian Arabs mounted numerous attacks against Palestinian Jews.
Arabs rejected the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, which called for sharing the Holy Land with the Jews. The Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the Partition Plan, but both Arab governments and local Palestinian Arab leaders spurned it.
Despite wars mounted against Israel by Arab armies in 1967 and 1973—and defeating all those invaders—the Jewish state has made numerous offers of land for peace with the Palestinians. Notably, in 2000, 2001 and 2008—under U.S. auspices—Israel offered the Palestinians most of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and a capital in Jerusalem.
To the chagrin of the United States and Israel itself, the Palestinians refused to recognize the Jewish state and rejected every peace offer.
The Palestinians have been the recipients of an estimated $40 billion in foreign aid since 1994—some of the largest per capita support of any group globally. Yet the economies in both Gaza and the West Bank are in shambles—effectively bankrupt—due largely to rampant corruption and the costs of fighting Israel rather than developing their economic foundations.
Both major Palestinian political groups—Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank—are ruled by dictatorships that have not permitted general elections since 2005. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas is in the 17th year of a four-year term.
Both groups—Hamas and the P.A.—refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, both oppose the existence of Israel and both teach their schoolchildren that Israel needs to be destroyed.
Hamas’s charter calls for destruction of the Jewish state and the killing of Jews. Abbas has stated numerous times that “in a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli—civilian or soldier—on our lands.” (That’s called apartheid.)
Neither Palestinian government observes democratic rule of law. No civil liberties are guaranteed—no freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. Women are second-class citizens, and homosexuality is persecuted, especially in Hamas-ruled Gaza, where Islamic sharia law is observed.
These conditions seem not to faze radical opponents of Israel, who would otherwise readily condemn such violations of social justice.
Even more disturbing for Jews, research shows that Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic of any group globally. According to the ADL/Global 100 study of anti-Semitism, fully 93 percent of adult Palestinians harbor “strong” anti-Semitic attitudes.
Would ultra-leftists support any group whose overwhelming majority holds hateful attitudes about black Americans, or Muslims? Apparently hate against Jews gets a pass.
Despite unrelenting rejection of peace by Palestinian leaders, despite egregious injustice in Palestinian society and despite the regressive values of many Palestinians, Israel’s ultra-left enemies argue it doesn’t matter: “Israel still ‘occupies’ Palestinian territory and oppresses the Palestinian people.”
A few indisputable facts quickly expose these excuses as falsehoods.
First, Israel does not in any factual or legal sense occupy Palestinian territory. The Palestinian people have never in their history controlled any territory anywhere. They have never controlled the territory in what is now Israel, nor the territory in Judea or Samaria. This latter territory, by international law, is disputed.
Second, as for oppressing the Palestinian people: Israel has attempted to make peace ever since its founding 73 years ago—including many generous offers to share the Holy Land, with a capital in Jerusalem. The Palestinians responded with two bloody intifadas, at least four wars, and a string of murderous terrorist attacks that continue to this day.
Israel’s presence in the West Bank and bombing of Gaza are not because Israel wants to rule—let alone “oppress”—Palestinians. Rather, Israel responds—strictly defensively—when Palestinians act violently on their commitment to destroy the Jewish state and kill Jews.
Why, then, do radicals still support Palestinians in their effort to destroy Israel and kill innocent Jews?
In short, these radicals are hypocrites. They believe in the righteousness of the bloody Palestinian cause despite Palestinian rejection, for 73 years, of the Jewish state and every offer of peace. They support Palestinian leaders who make a mockery of civil rights and justice, despite their solemn claims to revere social equity.
We can only conclude that this favoring of Palestinian leadership by radicals stems not from the worthiness of the Palestinian cause, not because of its inspiring struggle, but rather from an irrational opposition to the self-determination of the Jewish people.
Indeed, if radical activists oppose the aspiration of indigenous Jews to independence in their ancient homeland, we can only conclude that this is compelled by hate. This hate has a name: Anti-Semitism. It’s morally despicable.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
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