The program for Israel's destruction is playing out not only on the battlefield of guns and rockets but on the battlefield of ideas. The goal is not just to defeat Israel militarily but to discredit Israel morally. This program relies on a strange but effective strategy: removing Israel's legitimacy by engaging in a reversal of values: reversing the meanings of good and evil. The extreme factions of the Muslim world do this by projecting their own offenses onto Israel, accusing Israel of precisely the crimes they themselves commit, including terrorism and genocide.
This battle began with the issue of the "refugees." It is true that many Palestinian Arabs were displaced from their homes in 1948 - after a war the Arab states began for the purpose of destroying Israel at its birth. There were also Jewish refugees - from Europe, which had become uninhabitable for Jews, and from Arab countries, from which many Jews were expelled. One hears nothing about these Jewish refugees because Israel welcomed them and made them citizens. In sharp contrast, Arab states refused to absorb the Arab refugees, instead maintaining them in squalid refugee camps as a festering sore keeping hatred of Israel alive. The so-called "right of return," a key Palestinian demand, is an attempt to make Israel responsible not only for all Jewish refugees but for Arab refugees as well. This defeats the entire purpose of partition, which is that there be one place for Jews and one for Palestinian Arabs.
The Palestinians scored their first public relations coup by co-opting the experience of the Jews and applying it to themselves. The Jews needed a "homeland" - well, so did the Palestinians. Palestinian violence was packaged as a struggle for a "homeland" just like the Jewish one.
What the Palestinians don't mention is that in 1948 Egypt and Jordan annexed the areas designated for the Palestinian homeland. Israel took control of those areas in 1967, in a war Egypt, Jordan, and Syria provoked. A lengthy and tortuous process of negotiation of "land for peace" resulted in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and culminated in the proposals of Camp David 2000. Israel accepted a deal brokered by the Clinton Administration that would have given the Palestinians 96% of the West Bank and Gaza plus shared control of Jerusalem. The Palestinians did not even offer a counter-proposal, but instead responded with a wave of protracted violence known as the "second intifada."
So what "homeland" could the Palestinians have been talking about? The Palestinian Charter spelled it out: the Palestinian "homeland" was to include all of Israel which, according to them, had no right to exist.
The Palestinian leadership actually made this explicit in its 1974 Phased Plan Resolution. Anything the Palestinians might gain through negotiation or violence was to be considered just a stage in the process of getting the whole thing, namely all of Israel.
The Phased Plan never died; it only took on new forms. Though written more than 30 years ago, its words especially today have an ominous prophetic ring:
The Palestinian national authority will strive to achieve a union of the confrontation countries, with the aim of completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory, and as a step along the road to comprehensive Arab unity.
Today we see this coming true in the convergence of Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran against Israel in escalating threats of violence.
The Palestinians and their allies are still hoping for their plan's fulfillment. When Israel withdrew from Gaza a year ago, the Palestinians did not greet it as a step toward peace but used the Israeli concession to begin a campaign to make southern Israel uninhabitable. Similarly, Hezbollah took advantage of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon to fortify themselves with sophisticated weapons, supplied by Iran and Syria, and nearly succeeded in making northern Israel uninhabitable. The hope was to squeeze Israel into a constantly shrinking middle until the country itself would become unviable.
We will return later to the Hezbollah war. For now, note that the language of victimization, "refugees," and "homeland" has gone a long way towards making Israel's destruction seem morally justifiable to many segments of the world. The clever manipulation of language has served the perversion of morality.
The Palestinians and their supporters try further to delegitimize Israel by calling it a "racist," "apartheid" state. Their first great success came in 1975 when, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. This resolution stood for 16 years and was only rescinded when Israel made that a condition for participating in the Madrid Peace Conference.
A favorite tactic of the anti-Israel left is to smear Israel with the label of "apartheid." This is yet another lie, considering that non-Jews in Israel have far more rights and privileges than non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Israel grants Arabs full citizenship and representation in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Palestinians may bring their grievances to Israeli courts, and many have won their cases. Those who accuse Israel of racism should remember that Jews have had scant access to justice throughout the Muslim world, have suffered much persecution and violence, and are barred from citizenship in many Muslim countries. That is where "apartheid" is truly practiced.
Yet in spite of the fact that Arabs are far better off in Israel than are Jews in Arab and Muslim lands, it is Israel that is called "racist" and "apartheid," contrary to fact and reason. Morality is once again reversed, and the crimes of the Muslim world once more projected onto Israel.
The language of moral equivalence is frequently used to discredit Israel's legitimate attempts to defend itself against terrorist attack. The general theme is that Israel is no better than the terrorists, since both engage in violent acts and are therefore morally equivalent.
The liberal Protestant Church has been especially adept at this, as well as tossing the charge of apartheid. Along with other anti-Israel groups it condemns "targeted assassinations" of terrorist leaders. It should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary sense of morality that targeting an innocent civilian and targeting the person who killed that civilian are not the same and are not morally equivalent. Yet when an Arab terrorist murders an Israeli family and Israel pursues the terrorist, it is called a "cycle of violence," as if both sides were equally to blame. The charge of "targeted assassination" is profoundly hypocritical. America practiced "targeted assassination" when it killed Saddam Hussein's two sons, when it killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and when it tried to kill Osama bin Laden. What "targeted assassination" really means is that unlike Arab terrorists, who try intentionally to kill innocent people, Israel wants only to eliminate the perpetrators, so that they cannot commit further acts of violence. The moral distinction should be obvious.
Yet I have read repeatedly in church publications, particularly those of the Presbyterian Church, that "apartheid" Israel practices "targeted assassination." These church leaders may think they are taking a moral stand, though clearly it is passion, not morality that motivates them. I wonder whether they realize that by continuing to promote these smears against Israel they are colluding with the effort to remove the moral basis for Israel's existence and set Israel up for destruction.
It cannot be repeated often enough that Israel does not intentionally target civilians. Sometimes civilians are hurt, a tragic inevitability given the fact that Arab terrorists use them as camouflage. A terrorist has as little regard for his own civilians as for those on the other side. Arab civilians placed in harm's way are martyrs to the cause, and the terrorist has no qualms about exposing them to danger. The terrorist is Israel's only target, but for the terrorist any Israeli, male or female, elder or child, is fair game.
Even Israel's nonviolent attempts to protect itself have been attacked. When Israel builds a fence around itself to keep out suicide bombers, it is called an "apartheid wall" and slammed as an act of "racism." Is there no racism in the terrorists who have made the fence necessary? Those who single out Jewish noncombatants in stabbings, shootings, and bombings? How can it be that the deep and obvious racism of the Arab terrorists completely escapes Israel's critics?
The language of morality has been turned inside out, and many hardly even seem to notice.
Peace with Realism