Israel: What to Say Now

by Rabbi Danny Schiff

Four Challenges to the Notion That Israel is “Colonialist”

  1. Colonialism occurs when one country (often distant) invades and takes control of another country, claiming the land as its own. The Jewish people first established its national home in the land of Israel three thousand years ago. It is the only people to have ever established a nation in the land of Israel, and to have its capital city there.
  2. The only reason why there has not been a Jewish nation in the land of Israel through every century is because time and again Jews were exiled from the land, and entry was often barred to Jews. Nevertheless, there was always a remnant of the Jewish people in Israel, and Jews never stopped praying, yearning, and working to return to the one place on the planet to which Jews have a claim.
  3. The Jewish people is not some “foreign power” that could simply withdraw to where it came from. Most Jews in the land of Israel fled persecution in many different places and have nowhere else to go. They live in the one Jewish state in the world – a state that was established by a legal enactment of the international community.
  4. The land of Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish nation for three millennia. If Jews can be called “colonists” in their own land (a land which Jews have always shared with others), then virtually every other modern nation is similarly colonialist.

Four Replies to the Claim That Israel is an “Apartheid State”

  1. Apartheid occurs when “inhumane acts” are “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another racial group … with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Jews are not a singular racial group, and Israel comprises many diverse racial groups. So “apartheid” is clearly inapplicable.
  2. Jews in Israel do not have the slightest intention of “dominating” anyone. That is why almost one quarter of Israelis are Arabs with full citizenship rights, who are free to practice their culture, work in any profession, and partake fully in society. Like everywhere, there is racism in Israel (from both Jews and Arabs) that Israel works hard to address.
  3. If Israel truly sought to “dominate” the Palestinians who live in the disputed territories, Israel would have annexed those areas long ago. Had Israel truly wanted to subjugate the Palestinians, it would not have made serious offers for the creation of a Palestinian state, as it has three times.
  4. When you Google “apartheid,” only Israel and South Africa come up. Is it credible that in all the world there is no hint of apartheid anywhere else? Why, then, is the false charge of apartheid made uniquely against the world’s only Jewish state?

Four Refutations of the Allegation That Israel is Committing Genocide

  1. Genocide is defined as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” by murdering them or causing them serious bodily or mental harm. The term became a part of international law in the wake of the Holocaust. Israel plainly has no intent to destroy the Palestinians. That is made obvious by the fact that the Palestinian population has risen considerably in every single decade since 1948.
  2. The Hamas charter explicitly calls for jihad against Jews in the land of Israel. That is why many experts on the laws of genocide agree that October 7th represented an operation with genocidal goals. Israel, conversely, has repeatedly expressed its desire to live in peace with the Palestinians.
  3. Israel has considerable military capacity. Through the years, the IDF has employed sophisticated strategies to preserve innocent civilian lives that exceed those of any other army. Had the IDF been focused on genocide, it would never have taken such steps.
  4. The Jewish people suffered the worst genocide in history when one third of the world’s Jews were deliberately murdered in the Holocaust. To accuse the Jewish state of genocide when it seeks to defend itself against those who want to repeat that history is a plain inversion of reality.

Four Reasons Why Innocent Civilians are Dying in Distressingly High Numbers in Gaza

  1. Hamas has spent sixteen years and billions of dollars constructing hundreds of miles of tunnels to shelter its fighters and its war machine against Israel but has provided zero protection for Palestinian civilians.
  2. Hamas launched an attack of massive proportions on Israel on October 7th. It absolutely knew that the response would be overwhelming and would inevitably lead to the deaths of many innocent civilians; it went ahead anyway.
  3. Hamas installed virtually all their military infrastructure in sensitive civilian locations: hospitals, schools, and residential blocks, (a war crime) thereby ensuring that civilians would always die in significant numbers every time a military installation is targeted. Hamas has thereby made most Gazans into human shields.
  4. Hamas does all it can to prevent civilians from leaving areas of greater danger to ensure that the death count among Palestinian civilians will be as high as possible.

Four Questions for Those Calling for an Immediate Long-Term Ceasefire in the War Against Hamas

  1. If Israel stops the war, how will it be able to guarantee the return of the remaining hostages hailing from many countries? Given that Hamas has shown that it only responds to pressure, why isn’t the continuation of the military campaign justified to get the hostages released? How else could they be released within days or weeks?
  2. If Israel stops the war, how will it be able to ensure that genocidal extremists will not, in short order, reconstitute their forces and launch more devastating attacks upon Israel? Does Israel not have the right to live without jihadi fighters on its borders? Does not the Israeli government, like every government, have a primary duty to ensure the security of its citizens from attack?
  3. If Israel stops the war, will it have dealt a sufficient blow to Hamas that will send a powerful message of deterrence to the other malevolent actors (Hezbollah, Iran, West Bank terrorists, and assorted militias now gathering in Syria) on Israel’s borders and beyond?
  4. If you truly believe in the two-state solution, and a bright future for Palestinians in their own state, do you really think that can be achieved by leaving in place those (Hamas) who educate towards hatred of Jews, who have no interest in any negotiations whatsoever, who rob Palestinians of their international aid, and whose only goal is to build a war machine?

Four Telling Asymmetries Between Israel and Hamas

  1. Israel, steeped in Jewish values, seeks to preserve all life to the greatest extent possible. Hamas glorifies death and advocates martyrdom.
  2. Israel mourns every innocent Palestinian death. Hamas celebrates the death of innocent Israelis. Israelis believe that there are millions of innocent Palestinians. Hamas does not believe that there are any innocent Israelis.
  3. Hamas educates their children to hate Jews and to wipe out Israel. Israel educates its children to embrace all who renounce evil and to look forward to a time when all the peoples of the region will live together in peace.
  4. When forced, involuntarily, to go to war, Israel, to the greatest extent possible, abides by the international laws of war. Hamas goes to war voluntarily, paying no heed to the laws of war whatsoever.

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