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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Israel 101

"It’s not about the Land …just think about it…you are landing from another planet, there is this tiny country, 9 miles wide in certain places…surrounded by ginormous Muslim lands…and it’s about land ???…it’s not !!!...."

Looking at this map, even with the greatest of what Sartre called "mauvaise volonté", you would have to agree with her:  these proportions show clearly who the David is and who the Goliath. The largely hostile Arab world, surrounding Israel is 800 times bigger than the embattled yet brave little state.

And here are a few more basic facts about Israel, taken from a little pamphlet produced by StandWithUs:

Israel is 14 km wide at its narrowest point and 466 km long.

Israel can fit into Australia 369 times.

Jews are indigenous to Israel and have maintained a continuous presence for over 3,000 years according to archaeological and historical evidence and Biblical text.

Zion is an age-old name for Jerusalem and the land of Israel. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people who sought to restore their freedom and independence in their ancestral homeland.

Religious Majorities in Countries around the World:

56 Islamic

49 Roman Catholic

20 Protestant

12 Eastern Orthodox

  4 Hindu

  1 Jewish

World Religions:


Christianity:      2  billion people

Islam:                1.3 billion people

Hinduism:            900 Million people

Buddhism:          360 million people

Judaism:             14 Million people


This was the name given to the region when the Romans conquered the over 1,000-year-old Jewish nation of Judea in the first century.

Restoring the Jewish Homeland:

In the mid 1800s, with help from philanthropists like Sir Moses Montefiore and donations from ordinary Jews around the world, Jews branched out from their cities and began purchasing land and building farms, villages, and schools. By 1854, Jews were the largest religious group in Jerusalem; by 1870, they were once again the majority of the city's population.

Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries:

After Israel's rebirth in 1948, over 850,000 Jews fled the rising persecution or were expelled from Arab and Muslim lands. They became homeless even though some of their communities were over 2,000 years old. Even though Israel was a fledgling country of approximately 650,000 inhabitants, Israel began absorbing not only survivors of the Holocaust but also Jews fleeing from Arab countries.

Declining Jewish Population in Middle Eastern Countries:

                                           1948                                 2004

Algeria                                140,000                            Less than 100
Egypt                                   75,000                             Less than 100
Iran                                     100,000                                       11,000
Iraq                                     150,000                            Less than    40
Lebanon                                20,000                            Less than  100
Libya                                     38,000                                                0
Morocco                              265,000                                         5,500
Syria                                       30,000                          Less than   100
Tunisia                                  105,000                                         1,500
Yemen                                   55,000                                             200

Palestinian-Arab Refugees from the Arab War against Israel in 1948:

In 1948, 160,000 Arabs who lived within Israel's borders accepted Israel's invitation to choose peace and become Israeli citizens. Between 472,000 and 750,000 Palestinian Arabs (the number is disputed by scholars) left what became Israel.

Unique Situation of Palestinian Refugees:

The tens of millions of refugees from other war torn areas in the world during this period resettled in other countries, but neighbouring Arab states, with the exception of Jordan, would  not resettle the Palestinian Arabs despite their shared history, language, and religion. Instead, Arab governments confined them in refugee neighbourhoods, refused them citizenship and then used their plight as a propaganda weapon against Israel. 

"Since 1948 Arab leaders....have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is...criminal" (King Hussein of Jordan, 1960).

The Security Fence:

  • There was no security fence along the West Bank prior to the violence of the second Intifada, during which suicide bombers walked into Israel from Palestinian communities.
  • The fence was built from 2002 to 2004. It is 97 per cent fence, and 3 per cent wall. 

Teaching Peace:

Unfortunately Palestinian children are still being taught hatred and violence in mosques and schools, on TV, and Jihad is still promoted: see  Palestinian Media Watch  and also MEMRI TV. For there to be peace in the Middle East, peace must be taught.

In the words of Golda Meir:
 "Peace will only come when they love their children more than they hate us."

The Hamas Charter is violent and racist:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." 
When Israel left Gaza, Hamas was elected the new governing party. The founding document of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. (The translation of the charter is available online).

Creating the First Arab Palestinian State in History:

Historically, there has never been an Arab Palestinian state or Arab Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank, Gaza or Israel.

Israel helped set up the first self-government for the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, in the 1993 Oslo Accords. Today the Palestinian Authority governs 98 % of the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

If Israel agrees to give up parts or most of the West Bank in peaceful negotiations with the Palestinians, it will not be "giving back" land since no sovereign Palestinian government ever existed here. Israel will be helping create, for the first time in history, a sovereign Palestinian nation by giving up possession of parts of the Jewish ancient homeland where Jews have had a continuous presence for three millennia.

West Bank Palestinian Communities:

98 per cent of the Palestinian population lives on 40 per cent of the land, leaving 60 per cent virtually unpopulated. Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, is surrounded by undeveloped land.

Israeli Communities beyond the Green Line

  • After Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and captured Gaza from Egypt in a defensive war in 1967, Arab states refused Israel's offer to exchange the captured land for peace.
  • Israel built settlements to ensure its security and Israelis resettled lands their families had owned in the West Bank, where Jews had lived for millennia until the 1948 war when they were expelled.
  • Built-up areas of Israeli settlements now cover less than 1.7 per cent of West Bank land.
  • Eighty percent of Israeli settlers live in communities located close to or adjacent to the Green Line. With peaceful negotiations, they can be incorporated into Israel with minor border modifications and do not impact Palestinian population centres. 

Human Rights in Israel:

  • Israel safeguards religious liberty for all faiths.
  • Gays are protected against discrimination and hate crimes.
  • Education is encouraged equally for both men and women
  • Israel treats honour killings as harshly as other murder crimes
  • 45 per cent of women are in the workforce, the same percentage as in the US
  • Israel is a democratic country that enjoys free speech and assembly and fair and open trials.

Arabs living in Israel:

  • In 1948, the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained within Israel's borders became citizens of Israel.
  • Three Israeli Arabs were elected to the first Knesset.
  • Today 1.3 million Arabs are Israeli citizens.
  • Arabic is an official language in Israel, on par with Hebrew and English.
  • Israel has enacted affirmative action policies to help its minority citizens achieve full social and economic equality.

That is how far I will quote from the "Israel Pocket Facts" booklet. There is more in it and you can access it online if you wish. I left out some of the poignant but, in my opinion unnecessary "justifications" like the important philantrophic work Jews do and always have done. I find it absolutely insulting that Israel should have to justify its existence vis à vis people and countries who, morally and ethically  would not reach the ankles of that embattled little state if they climbed up on ladders. 

Apart from the multiple and openly expressed  threats to its  very existence from  countries like Iran, Israel is being widely defamed and vilified  by some very  nasty and/or stupid people. (To my deep disgust, this includes an increasing number of  individuals identifying as  "Jews" who seem eager  and willing to reheat the ovens).   These nasties have even lost the last vestiges of shame and no longer  feel the necessity to declare  hypocritically: "we are not against the Jews, it's against the policies of Israel that we are protesting". They now more often than not take the  facile shortcut toward the jugular  without hiding what ails them really: sheer Judenhass, every bit as virulent as under Herr Schicklgruber. 

Well, I say to that little brave David: 

You Go Israel!

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