by Amanda Berman

I am so sick of reading and listening to the "opinions" of people who continue to spew totally uninformed, grossly biased, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist misinformation, claiming themselves as righteous humanitarians while trying to provoke a debate. As difficult as it has been for a Jewish lawyer/provocateur and fervent Israel-supporter like myself, I have been actively avoiding these people for over a month, while my friends and family push me to respond in defense of Israel. I keep asking, "Why bother try and debate using facts when the counter-argument is based on terrorist propaganda?" It's like debating evolution with creationists who find the Garden of Eden to be more plausible than science [while also supporting terrorism]. Too many people read a couple of articles, see a couple of photos, and conclude that they are well informed enough to argue on behalf of the struggling people of Gaza. And as passionately as I want to advocate for Israel in this exceptionally challenging time, engaging with these people is exhausting and seemingly hopeless. At some point, you have to save your breath when you are dealing with people who conflate facts with feelings and are simply looking for a fight.

But as the conflict rages on, with cease-fire after cease-fire being declared by Israel and rejected by Hamas, while the rockets continue to fly and the sirens continue to sound, and while my brave young friends continue to risk their lives to protect our shared home, the commentary from people I formerly respected has gotten more and more appalling. The distortions and fallacies have become too overwhelming and I have saved my breath for too long. People have seemingly forgotten that there are such things as facts, instead waging supposedly intellectual arguments based on terrorist-manufactured feelings. So, in response to all those wannabe debaters I have been so vigorously ignoring...

then your beliefs are not based in fact, and I can't take your arguments seriously.

Without appreciating the facts, you don't understand the context of the conflict or what's at stake. You don't understand the history or reality of the Jewish people or the State of Israel. You claim to value and defend human life while you embolden an organization committed to death and destruction. You frankly do not recognize good versus evil. And you may just be plain anti-Semitic, not because disagreement or dissent is tantamount to anti-Semitism, but because your arguments are so biased against Jews and the Jewish state that you lack all credibility in making them. You are only invested in this conflict because the Israelis decided to defend themselves against the publicly professed attempted extermination of our people both in Israel and around the globe. You may have formulated your prejudiced talking points from the pictures or accounts in the prejudiced media, but that is absolutely no excuse, just as being Jewish is no defense. Anti-Semitism does not have to be mindful or intentional to be anti-Semitism; willful blindness that materializes as hostility to, or prejudice against Jews is enough to label you. Worse, you are being used as a tool in a radical terrorist organization's propaganda war, the only war Hamas has any chance of winning. (And, assuming you are reading this from a Western country where free speech and internet access are almost equally valued, Hamas wants you dead as much as it wants Israel and its people destroyed. Especially if you're gay. Or female. Or Catholic. Or otherwise uncommitted to global jihad.)

Hamas has refused or flagrantly violated countless ceasefires[32] (seven? eight? I literally can't count anymore), opting instead to continue shooting rockets at Israeli civilians with full knowledge that Israel has invested in incredibly effective systems to protect its people. Seems futile, no? Although the Hamas leadership are nihilistic, homicidal and corrupt, they are not stupid. They choose this because as long as they shoot at Israelis, Israel will shoot back, and Hamas can guarantee that women and children continue to die while shielding these cowardly militants and their massive weapons arsenals from Israeli fire. While the IDF warns civilians before attacks so they can leave, Hamas physically (with clubs and guns) forces women and children to remain in the precise locations where they are certain to be maimed or killed. And all those devastating pictures of dead civilians are all that Hamas has to gain any legitimacy: Hamas is despised or ignored even by the Arab governments they used to call their friends, and they have nothing to offer the Palestinian people except world sympathy and international condemnation of Israel. They are counting on YOU to remain recklessly, indefensibly uninformed as to everything except these tragic, despicable, but avoidable deaths, and you have not let them down. As far as I'm concerned, that makes you complicit.

Also, look up the word "genocide."[33] This is a particularly vile accusation by you manipulated "humanitarians," leveled against a country whose people have survived the most notorious genocide on modern record. In actuality, the Palestinian population has quintupled since the creation of the State of Israel[34] (and the simultaneous refusal of the Palestinians to have their own state and live side-by-side in peace with Israel).[35] That's a multiple of five, in 66 years. As scholar, author and Professor Dennis Prager said, if this is genocide, "it must surely rank as the least effective genocide in world history."[36] Maybe you should stop throwing that word around in such a patently inaccurate context — unless you're using it to describe the goal of Hamas vis-a-vis the Jews (and "every other civilization.")[37]

If you're not into these FACTS, you're not equipped to debate this issue.[38] That is absolutely not to say there is nothing to debate, and I recognize that there are a whole range of legitimate opinions on the use of force, proportionality, the occupation, history, politics and religion on both sides. But while opinions are debatable, facts are not. Any real discussion has to be based in reality, and there is no room for debate with unknowing terrorist defenders, unknowing anti-Semites, and unknowing perpetuators of this cycle of dangerous misinformation. Those are debates with no winners and terrifying consequences, for Jews, for Palestinians, and for humanity. You may want to consider your arguments and question whether they are advancing your professed goal of promoting life and freedom. Moving forward, here is one fact to remember: Legitimizing the tactics of Hamas and its abominably successful "dead baby strategy"[39] does nothing but guarantee the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people to Hamas's radical jihadist ambitions.

If you want an informed debate, first get informed, then we can talk. And if you don't want to get informed, that's ok too. Just do the world [and the Palestinian people] a favor and keep your mouth shut.


[1] Palestine has simply never been a state, nor has Palestinian ever been a nationality. In fact, Jordan is home to almost twice as many Palestinians as the Gaza Strip. Large Palestinian populations are also nationals of Lebanon and Syria. (read here.) One segment of the Palestinian population was Jewish prior to the creation of the state of Israel, after which point those Jews identified as Israeli. It is impossible to declare the borders of any ever-existing Palestinian state, its government, founding members, or state capital. Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, a Jewish and a Palestinian state were proposed, but the Arabs living in the region immediately rejected a Palestinian state that would live side by side with a Jewish state. (read here.) Although Palestinian Authority passports have been issued, "the Jordan Times reported that: "Palestinians claim that donor countries, including the United States, would accept the passport as a 'travel document and not as a nationality'" and "according to an official at the U.S. Department of State, the United States does not recognize Palestine as a country, and therefore the Palestinian Authority Passport/Travel Document does not confer citizenship." (read here.)

[2] Hamas was put on the United States State Department's Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations list on October 8, 1997 and on the European Union's blacklist on September 11, 2003. Hamas's military wing had already been listed in the European Union. (read here.; and here.)

[3] Hamas Charter, Part I Article 7: "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (read here.); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!" (read here.)

[4] Over 5 million Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks. (read here.) [5] Palestinians throughout the Gaza strip celebrated as Israel pulled 3,000 troops from the Gaza after removing the entire Jewish population (read here.) from the Strip, bulldozing their homes. (read here.)

[6] "The teens — Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Frankel, a 16-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen — disappeared late June 12 or early June 13 from the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion in the West Bank. (read here.)

[7] Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri: "The fact that people are willing to sacrifice themselves against Israeli warplanes in order to protect their homes, I believe this strategy is proving itself. And we, Hamas, call on our people to adopt this practice." (read here.); Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: "...the Palestinian people has developed its methods of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land... The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine...We desire death like you desire life." (read here.)

[8]July 17: "The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is investigating the discovery of 20 rockets hidden in one of its vacant schools in the Gaza Strip. The UNRWA condemned the incident as a "flagrant violation" of international law, adding that the rockets had been removed and that the relevant parties had been informed." (read here); July 17, 2014: Twenty Rockets Found in UNRWA School" (read here.); July 24, 2014: "UN Chief 'Outraged" Over Rockets Stored in UNRWA Schools" (read here.) July 29, 2014: "Third Rocket Arsenal Found At UN School in Gaza" (read here.)

[9] Watch as a Finnish correspondent reports live from Al Shifa hospital in Gaza, where Hamas militants are firing rockets and hoping for an Israeli retaliatory strike. (read here.); "The IDF's Twitter account has also tweeted an image that it says shows rockets were being fired from the vicinity of the hospital." (read here.)

[10] "The Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population...many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to avoid civilian casualties." (read here.)

[11] Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer: "In the last week, we had 2 different UNRWA schools where we had rockets in the schools and handed over to Hamas...A statement made by...the UN Secretary General, yesterday, "The Secretary General is alarmed to hear that rockets were placed in an UNRWA school in Gaza and that subsequently these have gone missing. He expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school." (read here.)

[12] After two years of controversy regarding the findings of the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report, Judge Goldstone wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report." He stated that "[o]ur report found evidence of potential war crimes and "possibly crimes against humanity" by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets...[T]he investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee's report...indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy." (read here.)

[13] Col Richard Kemp: "The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets and making over a hundred thousand phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to avoid civilian casualties." (read here.)

[14] As of July 30, 2014, "nearly 300 rockets fired by Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies landed in the Gaza Strip." (read here.); "Israel says its forces did not kill Palestinians sheltering at a UN school" (read here.)

[15] "Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed approximately $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world's largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid." (read here.)

[16] "Hamas backers spend fortunes on rockets and tunnels while Gazans live in misery" (read here.)

[17] The Kerem Shalom crossing remains open and humanitarian goods continue to cross into Gaza from Israel while barrages of rockets strike the crossing itself and threaten the Israeli soldiers bringing food and medical supplies to the Gazan population. (read here.); In the previous conflict between Israel and Hamas, Col. Kemp said, "to deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands, is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks." The same is true now. (read here.)

[18] Population density maps show that although Gaza has several densely populated areas, most notably Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, the rest of the strip is sparsely populated. The reason the war is being waged from these areas is because Hamas is hiding behind its civilians. If militants were to "use sparsely populated areas from which to launch rockets and build tunnels...Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically." (read here.)

[19] "Overall, the number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel's independence (read here.) was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine...Most of the Jewish refugees traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language and lived with a vastly different culture. Most Palestinian refugees traveled but a few miles to the other side of the 1949 armistice lines while remaining inside a linguistically, culturally and ethnically similar society...Moreover, the value of Jewish property left behind and confiscated by the Arab governments is estimated to be at least 50 percent higher than the total value of assets lost by the Palestinian refugees...To date, more than 100 UN resolutions have been passed referring explicitly to the fate of the Palestinian refugees. Not one has specifically addressed Jewish refugees." (read here.)

[20] In rejoining to create the "Unity Government" in 2014, Abbas responded to Israel's concerns regarding Hamas's refusal to recognize its right to exist. Abbas said: "The negotiations are a PLO matter because it represents all Palestinians...At the same time, I recognize Israel and it will recognize Israel. I reject violence and it will reject violence. I recognize the legitimacy of international agreements and it will recognize them. No one can call this a terrorist government." However, "Abbas's statements came as a surprise to Hamas, whose leaders rushed to deny any intention to renounce terrorism or recognize Israel's right to exist." (read here.); Members of both parties indicate a refusal to consider reconciliation, saying "I want them to be killed," "I want their children to suffer the same way we suffered," and "my brother's blood is priceless." (read here.)

[21] "Even human rights group antagonistic to Israel acknowledge, according to a New York Times report, that Hamas probably counts among the "civilians killed by Israel" the following groups: Palestinians killed by Hamas as collaborators; Palestinians killed through domestic violence; Palestinians killed by errant Hamas rockets or mortars; and Palestinians who died naturally during the conflict. I wonder if Hamas also included the reported 162 children who died while performing child slave labor in building their terror tunnels. Hamas also defines combatants to include only armed fighters who were killed while fighting Israelis. They exclude Hamas supporters who build tunnels, who allow their homes to be used to store and fire rockets, Hamas policemen, members of the Hamas political wing and others who work hand in hand with the armed terrorists." (read here.)

[22] "Militants from ISIS have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority ... the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves." (read here.) As many as 200,000 were forced to flee their homes, many taking refuge on top of Mount Sinjar with no food or water. (read here.)

[23] More than 700 people were killed in clashes over two days between pro-government forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (read here.) militants in Syria...the deaths represented the bloodiest fighting since the civil war began in 2011...By Thursday 270 have been killed in clashes while the death toll for the day's combined unrest was 396. Friday's death toll reached 314 while 90 more people are still unaccounted for. (read here.)

[24] "Boko Haram's brutal campaign includes a suicide attack on a United Nations building in Abuja in 2011, repeated attacks that have killed dozens of students, burning of villages, ties to regional terror groups, and the abduction of more than two hundred girls in 2014." (read here.)

[25] "Iran is ranked number one, surpassing China, in leading the world in executions per capita. Executed people in 2014 included women, human rights activists, political activists, and religious ethnic minorities...According to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, at least 176 people had been put to death in January, February, and early March of 2014. Several were executed in public. At least 500 people were executed in 2013, with 57 publicly." (read here.); (and here.)

[26] "The United Nations recorded a 23 percent rise in civilian casualties for the first six months of 2013 compared to 2012, most caused by insurgents, with the Taliban explicitly targeting civilians they see as supporting the government...There was continued instability and declining respect for human rights in the country over the past year. This was reflected in attacks on women's rights, growing internal displacement and migration, and weakened efficacy of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (read here.). Impunity for abuses was the norm for government security forces and other armed groups." (read here.)

[27] "Officials said 17 people, including five children, were killed in fighting on Monday evening in the town of Horlivka, one of several spots that have seen fierce battles between the rival forces in the last few days...The UN says more than 100,000 people have already fled Ukraine's tumultuous east." (read here.); "The Ukrainian military's advances to reclaim territory from rebel control have come at a steep human cost. According to a United Nations count released on Monday, 799 civilians have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine began to battle insurgents here, and at least 2,155 have been wounded." (read here.)

[28] "The United Nations says it's struggling to cope with a mounting humanitarian crisis in Pakistan as thousands continue to flee a military offensive in the country's north. The major operation has seen the restive North Waziristan tribal area hit by more than a week of shelling and air raids. About 500,000 people have fled their homes ahead of an impending ground assault, with many going to the nearby town of Bannu." (read here.)

[29]HonestReporting was formed in 2000 to respond to unfair coverage against Israel in the wake of the second Intifada. Since then, it's prompted hundreds of corrections and retractions in the media. (read here.)

[30] The UN Human Rights "council has criticized Israel on 27 separate occasions, in resolutions that grant effective impunity to Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsors...The Council in its first year failed to condemn human rights violations occurring in any of the world's 191 other countries. In its second year, the Council finally criticized one other country when it "deplored" the situation in Burma...It even praised Sudan for its "cooperation." In its third year, the Council's fixation with Israel is not limited to resolutions. Israel is the only country listed on the Council's permanent agenda. Moreover, Israel is the only country subjected to an investigatory mandate that examines the actions of only one side, presumes those actions to be violations, and which is not subject to regular review." (read here.); Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm's way, including by dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages." (read here.)

[31] A series of Hamas leaders proclaim "Yes, we are a people that yearns for death just as our enemies yearn for life"; "First and foremost, armed resistance, Jihad for the sake of Allah, this is the one and only path"; "Blow up and harvest the heads of the Zionists"; "Out of the ruins we shall rock Tel Aviv"; "Oh Zionists get out before we expel you"; "Through blood, through body parts and through martyrs." (read here.)

[32] July 16, 2014: Hamas Tells Egypt It Rejects Gaza Ceasefire (read here.); July 26, 2014: Israel Extends Gaza Ceasefire for 24 Hours; Hamas Rejects Terms (read here.); August 5, 2014: Israel and Hamas Start 72-Hour Ceasefire in Gaza "...But the ceasefire...remained fragile. The IDF said a barrage of 20 rockets was fired into Israel around the deadline. (read here.); August 7, 2014: Hamas Bombards Israel, Rejects Ceasefire (read here.); August 8, 2014: Gaza Ceasefire Ends and Israel Reports Rocket Fire (read here.); August 10, 2014: Agreeing to More Talks in Egypt, Israelis and Palestinians Begin Latest Ceasefire (read here.); A Timeline of Gaza's Failed, Forgotten Ceasefires (read here.)

[33] Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Article 2: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (read here.)

[34] While the statistics are calculated differently by different groups, and all groups tend to agree that the numbers are grossly inflated, the correlation of the lowest estimates and the highest estimates all indicate a five-fold increase in the population of Palestinian refugees since 1948. (read here.)

[35] Palestinians consider May 15, 1948, the day after the Israeli declaration of independence, to be a tragic day; they commemorate it annually as "al nakba" or "the catastrophe". (read here.) The Arabs immediately rejected the UN resolution, and the day that the Jewish Agency accepted Israel's boundaries under the partition plan, the surrounding Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria declared war on Israel. (read here.) They have refused to accept the existence of the Jewish state since that day.

[36] Self explanatory. (read here.)

[37] Mousa Hassan Yousef, "Son of Hamas", whose father was a founding member of the movement: "Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, does not care about the lives of Israelis or Americans. They don't care about their own lives. They consider dying for the sake of their ideology a way of worship. How can you continue in that society?...Hamas is not seeking coexistence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And by the way, the destruction of the State of Israel is not Hamas's final destination. Hamas's final destination is...building an Islamic state on the rubble of every other civilization. These are the ultimate goals of Hamas." (read here.)

[38] "The people who are in the grip of this delusional perspective by which they view Israel and the Middle East are simply impervious to reason. They are impervious to evidence. They are impervious to facts. You bring along facts on the ground and they say, "no it's not true." You tell them the history of the Middle East, and they say "no it's not true...[And even the people who] are entirely rational...the discourse they hear, day after day, week after week, from the media, from the inteligencia, from politicians across the political spectrum...all tells one story. It's a story which turns truth and lies, justice and injustice, victim and victimizer in the Middle East, on their heads." (read here.)

[39] "The Hamas "dead baby" strategy (read here.) — to cause as many civilian casualties as possible by firing its deadly rockets from schools and densely populated areas — is producing understandable outrage around the world. What is not understandable is why the outrage is directed against Israel, which is a victim of this strategy, rather than against Hamas, which is its perpetrator." (read here.)


One comment typifies the comments of the ignorant indignant. This is it plus Berman's reply:

JoyAnn Ru

I lost you at "...or that "Palestinian" is, or has ever been, a nationality". When you say such demeaning and ethnocentric things to an entire population of people, the rest of your points sour, even if many were true. That's hate speech, not intellectual discourse.

Amanda Berman's reply:

The definition of "nationality" is "the status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization." There has never been, and is not currently, a Palestinian state - the directly preceding point above - therefore there cannot, by definition, be a Palestinian nationality.[emphasis added] Further, twice as many Palestinians are nationals of Jordan than of Gaza/the West Bank, with other large Palestinian populations nationalizing in Syria and Lebanon. These people may or may not identify as "Palestinian" in some ways, but it is not their nationality. This is one of the more simple facts mentioned in the article, and discussed in depth in the footnotes, which you obviously did not read. You should refrain from personally attacking the author of something you did not read with absurd and entirely unsupported accusations of hate speech.

Mz Ru retorted with this argument:

By your logic, the Jews aren't a nationality, which would make our Right of Return a moot point. Also, one of the primary arguments the Jewish Agency made in petitioning for a Jewish state was that we are a nation that was stateless. The number of Palestinians in the West Bank or Jordan is irrelevant; you can't deny the cultural, historical, and political bind Palestinians (perhaps even more so in eretz Israel than diaspora) have with each other. Finally, thanks for pulling up the dictionary. The second definition is, "an ethnic group forming a part of one or more political nations."

She forgot — or never knew — that the Jews have a well-documented history as a nation in Israel. She ended by demolishing her own argument by reminding us that most "Palestinians" arrived in Palestine in the 20th Century, coming from various parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled the Middle East for some 400 years, from the 16th Century on. The Ottoman Empire was certainly a political entity and it was Muslim but it was not Arab and certainly not Palestinian. Palestine was not a political entity. The term Palestine unofficially tagged a portion of the Ottoman's Syrian province. After the breakup of the Empire in World War 1, the international conference at San Remo in 1920 defined the borders of many of the current Arab countries. Palestine was designated as the Jewish homeland (Click here).

Amanda Berman is a lawyer who specializes in public policy and human rights. She has worked for organizations such as Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center; Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic; the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program; and the Anti-Defamation League. She is currently a securities attorney in New York City and a member of the Young Leadership board of Friends of the IDF. This article appeared August 12, 2014 in The Times of Israel and is archived at

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