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by Yoram Shifftan


The National Brands Index (NBI) used the internet to poll people from 35 countries asking them to rank these 35 countries in "national competence" in six areas: Investment and Immigration, Exports, Culture and Heritage, People, Governance and Tourism. Israel ranked lowest. Israel has the worst public image of any country in the world. Only two of these countries, Turkey and Egypt, are Muslim, so presumably the Muslims weren't loading the deck. The results aren't in line with the fact that Israel has a very large number of foreign investments and high tourism. But who wants to be least liked in any index?[1] The general feeling here in Israel -- my own private poll -- is one of helplessness.

This comes at a time that Israel is steadily being forced to do something about Iran. Caroline Glick wrote this Friday in the Jerusalem Post that Israel should point out that Iran is preparing many bombs, not just the one for Israel.[2] Israel could also point out that the radioactivity of even a single bomb knows no boundaries. Nevertheless, Israel needs much sympathy if she is to persuade others to join in strong action against Iran.

So let us in this essay examine one aspect of why Israel's image keeps deteriorating: what keeps Israel from conducting effective PR?

If we try to extract the essence of the many situations in which Israel is criticized, including the famous letter to the Guardian in April 2002 that started the academic boycotts[3], the recent call in September 2006 by 61 Irish academics for a boycott[4] -- one reader sarcastically commented that 61 meant the boycotters had signed up every academic in Eire -- the various anti-Israel trade unions, some Protestant churches in England and America (which very obviously allowed themselves to be manipulated by lying Arab clerics)[5], public meeting, newspaper, radio and TV events that criticize Israel or call for academic, cultural and commercial boycotts against it, we note that this essence is transmitted by few recurring slogans:

The slogans and the content behind them are not only false but they are the exact opposite of the objective truth. It would have been very easy to refute these false allegations yet this has not been done and is not being done by official Israel, whichever Israeli party is in power. Why?

There is a paradox. Ever since the Oslo process began in about 1992, Israel has been making concessions as never before, some of them even unilaterally, and the more concessions she makes, the more her image deteriorates.[6] Furthermore, whenever there is an atrocity committed against Israeli civilians, instead of sympathy, Israel's image deteriorates further in the court of European public opinion. When it seems that Israel's image cannot deteriorate further, there is a new poll to disprove this assumption, like the recent NBI one.

There are two reasons for this situation. The first is Israel's passivity, timidity and apologetics-based approach. But perhaps even more important is official Israel's insistence, since the Oslo process began, on ignoring the false allegations thrown at her. They used to say they did this in order to have a peace partner -- or at least to pretend to have a peace partner. No one any longer believes the Palestinian Arabs want to live in peace next to Israel. But the attitude of ignoring Arab lies and not rebutting them seems to have taken on a life of its own.

The objective observer is bound to conclude that Israel is not in a position to refute these (false) allegations because they are objectively true. The Israeli public is not aware that since the Oslo process began, there have been radical changes for the worse in the policy of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). These changes have been dictated from the very top of the Ministry (often against the wish of the lower levels). The Ministers of Foreign Affairs themselves and Prime Ministers have directed that Israel adopt a passive approach and not refute these poisonous false allegations that are thrown at Israel. Even when there are many public opportunities to do so.

Not only is there a deliberate policy of official Israel to conceal objectively true historical and legal facts -- which happen to be pro-Israel. Not only are Israeli diplomats forbidden by the very top of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to refute the false allegations thrown at Israel. Worse, in contradistinction to the sane practice of refutation that prevailed in Israel's MFA before the Oslo process began, often high-ranking functionaries of Israel's MFA and the Minister himself, will actively disseminate the anti-Israel untruths propagated by the Arabs and their friends.

As a result, the number of people in the world that know the true historical and legal facts decreases autocatalytically. The result is very grave for many reasons, including the loss of belief in the justice of the Jewish-Israeli cause by the Israelis and Jews themselves and the ensuing decreased motivation of Israelis and Jews to engage in Hasbara (PR). Moreover, the Arab terrorists and the terrorist infrastructure have gained confidence. Thanks to the propaganda that blesses any action they take to "regain their homeland," they are highly motivated to kill Israelis and Jews. It has to be stressed that this is not an intellectual exercise. This self-inflicted Israeli failure to improve its image by immediate response using the actual facts is a direct and major cause of loss of Israeli and Jewish life and limb as well as resources.

The latest idea of Israel's MFA is to rebrand Israel's image by stressing Israel's achievements in science, music and culture and to highlight its historical and modern tourist attractions[7] is bound to fail as these achievements are irrelevant to the false allegations thrown at Israel. This latest -- and silliest -- campaign is merely another chapter in the policy of ignoring what the enemy is focussed on. But this campaign is probably less damaging than the sustained effort by Israel politicians and diplomats to negotiate and to proclaim they are willing to give away Israeli land for whatever sort of peace the Arabs are willing to give them. Any red-blooded American knows in his bones you don't give up land IF IT BELONGS TO YOU. So the more reasonable, the more concessionary the Israelis are, the more land they are willing to give away, the more they aid and abet the lies the Arabs have made the general public believe, namely, that the land doesn't really belong to the Jews, so it must, as the Arabs claim, belong to the "Palestinians." Contrariwise, the more Hamas, al Fatah, and the splinter group terrorists proclaim that they will do anything to regain ALL of Palestine, including Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, the more they bolster the argument that the land is really theirs.

If you have taken somebody's country you cannot evade your guilt by being good in science or offering the sun in the winter. It is just like an individual blamed for theft or murder defending himself by saying that he is a good scientist. You have to REFER to the incriminatory allegation and try to refute it, if you can.

The major reason why Israel's brand is so low, and keeps deteriorating, in particular since Oslo is that Israel doesn't obey the first rule of thwarting bad publicity. When someone tries to tar you, you fight back immediately. Instead, for many reasons and for many years, Israel has been mute in the face of Arab anti-semitism. More seriously, she has allowed the local Arabs to assert that they are "Palestinians" and Israel is occupying their country, Palestine[8]

A major cause of this self-inflicted wound, this silence in the face of bombastic calumny, is the refusal of Israel's ministers of foreign affairs -- and this only since the Oslo process began -- to allow Israeli diplomats to talk about the FUNDAMENTALS of the conflict. When they are on international radio, TV and other such public forums, they often share the same platform with Arab-friendly representatives, who, -- all of them, whatever the subject -- will invariably hum their basic mantras, and sing in simple and sincere-sounding language the same refrains, in particular, the slogans about the "occupation", "the illegality of the settlements according to international law" and the accusation that "Israel is not complying with international law". But the Israeli representative will invariably ignore such major allegations about the occupation, the settlements and noncompliance with international law. Rarely will he refer to these allegations at all, and even when he does, he emits a statement that confirms the Israeli guilt of occupation. He says something like "the occupation will end when the terror will end". And does his unease at his enforced mealymouthedness make him seem even more guilty of occupying someone else's land? Israel's MFA no longer produces the same written material they did until 1992, when their publications contained fundamental facts that could also be used by the other advocate bodies, diaspora Jewish communities, youth movements and Christian Zionists.

If official Israel does not proclaim the fundamentals it is no wonder that Israel's image is the lowest in the world -- especially when we take into consideration the ever increasing number of lies propagated by Israel's enemies. The representative Jewish bodies in the diaspora have a tendency to align themselves with the local Israeli embassy. So if the material propagated by the embassy is weak and doesn't deal with the essentials, the local Jewish communities and other advocate bodies will be much less effective. And the proportion of people that know the true objective facts will decrease further.

There are many objectively true pro-Israel facts that official Israeli representatives mention very rarely, if indeed, they mention them at all. Why don't they talk about the Jewish refugees from Arab countries? These Jews had to flee persecution by the Arab governments. They fled in greater number than the Arab who left Israel at the dictate of their leaders. These Jews left large holdings and property behind. Fearing for their lives, they fled from countries where they had lived before the Arabs came to these countries. They were transported large distances into unfamiliar surroundings, whereas most "Palestinian refugees" moved just short distances within Palestine itself, and out of their own volition and despite Israel pleas for them to stay. Why don't these Israeli representatives discuss that in the 1940s, Arab politicians suggested an "exchange of population"; i.e. that Arab countries absorb Palestinian Arabs and Israel absorb Jews from Arab countries.[9] Israeli diplomats could have pointed out that half of this Arab-suggested 'exchange of population' -- Israel has absorbed Jews from Arab countries -- has already been carried out. But the counterpart -- moving the "Palestinian" Arabs to some part of the vastness of the land the Arabs occupy in the Middle East -- has not yet been carried out. In fact, still pursuing the dream that the Arabs can be persuaded from their avowed mission to destroy Israel, Israel has uprooted some of its own Jewish population.

In counteracting the absurd allegation that Israel is a South-Africa type of discriminatory regime, official Israel should be pointing out that the opposite is true: Israeli Arabs have more rights than duties as compared with Israelis Jews. For example, Israeli Arabs do not do compulsory military service of three years and then long and dangerous reserve duties every year. Yet they have the right to vote in the national level.[10] They have "affirmative discrimination" in that many of them enter the universities with substandard qualifications. If anything, the racial discrimination in Israel's academia is anti-Jew, not anti-Arab -- see for example Steven Plaut, "Anti-Jewish Apartheid Comes to Israeli Academia," in They evade paying taxes yet benefit from everything including National Insurance, and the law is not enforced with respect to them paying tax. Similarly they do much building even in pre-1967 Israel without permission. The authorities are quick to destroy Jewish buildings built without permission but they almost never destroy Arab illegal housing. This is completely unparalleled in other western democracies where there is a correlation between duties and rights. For example, Jews killed Jews as parts of the opposing armies in World War I (WWI). Israeli Arabs even refuse to do national service in their own communities and terrorize the few members of their community who raise the possibility.[11]

Why doesn't Israel make it known that the Arabs themselves write in their official documents in Arabic that they are part of the Arab nation and not a separate people? These documents include the Baath party founding documents[12] in Syria and Iraq and the various founding Palestinian Arab documents.[13] The Feisal-Weizmann 1919 agreement[14] refers only to two states that will be created out of the Middle Eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. There will be an "Arab State" and a Jewish state called "Palestine" (!) according to this agreement. It thus follows that by the Arab's own logic they deserve one state only since it is customary in the world that one nation deserves one state only. Israel should point out at every opportunity that we face an anomalous situation in which one nation has got not one but 22 states and 22 votes in the UN. At the same time this one nation that has got by far more than one state already, with vast surface area and natural resources, refuses to let the Jews have even one tiny state.

Present-day official Israel studiously avoids pointing out that until the middle sixties there was no claim on the part of the Palestinian Arabs themselves that they are a nation apart. Indeed, they have no specific history, culture, or language to bolster their claim that they are an nation apart,[15] and, until the PLO invented the Palestinian people in the early 1960s, they never claimed to be. In fact when Palestinian Arab leaders represented their communities in discussions with the British Mandate authorities, they kept emphasizing that they are not a nation apart but are only a part of the Arab nation, at most a part of greater Syria. Israel could have cited the multiple admissions by Palestinian Arab leaders themselves that the Palestinian national identity was invented as a fiction only for the sake of fighting the Zionist Jews (one famous such admission is is by the head of the PLO Military Operations Department, Zuhair Muhsin, to the Netherlands paper Trouw in 1977).[16]

Furthermore, Israel could have said that even if we allow the polite fiction that Palestinian Arabs are a separate nation, it is still the case that the local Arabs already have a state of their own. Until the Oslo process began, Israel's MFA saw it as one of its major mission to make the world aware there already is a Palestinian Arab state. It is called Jordan. Earlier, this part of the world had other names such Trans-Jordan, Eastern Palestine, Eastern Eretz Israel and it is four-fifths of the land area known, after WWI, as Mandated Palestine. And as knowledgeable people know, ALL of mandated Palestine was to become the Jewish State. Arab play with words and names and the Israeli diplomats don't contradict them. Their failure to point this out is just as serious a failure contributing to the deterioration of Israel's image as the failure to point out that there is already a Palestinian Arab state in existence.

Israel could have furthermore pointed out that this Palestinian state is not in Uganda or Madagascar but in Palestine. In fact Jordan occupies four-fifths of Palestine. Israel should have stressed and be stressing that according to many international agreements the whole of Palestine was reserved for a Jewish state.[17] One of the bodies that took this decision was the League of Nations, an organization of 52 states that preceded the United Nations. This was the most fundamental decision of this body of nations and this decision was referred to by this body as a "sacred trust of civilisation". The decision was arrived at on the basis of the historical and legal facts and the long and unique association of the Jewish people with Palestine. In the words of the League: "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country".[18]

As just one example of how much the captains of Israeli Hasbara (PR) today have become detached from true objective reality -- to distinguish from the approach of my-country-right-or-wrong -- is the behaviour of Israel's first president Dr Haim Weizmann. He would be called today a leftist, and was always to the left of the socialist, Ben Gurion. He was always stressing that Israel's true moral status will be determined by the way it treats the Arabs; he was always trying to please and not to antagonize the British.[19] But when he heard that Churchill was contemplating "to postpone or withhold" (to use the words of the later League's acquiescence to Winston Churchill's recommendation) in four-fifths of Palestine the application of the original League's decision to recreate the Jewish state in the whole of Palestine, he strongly appealed to Churchill[20] to reconsider this postponement of the Jewish state in four fifths of Palestine, i.e., in Eastern Palestine, in the area of today's Jordan. He said that a Jewish state in Western Palestine only (i.e., all the area west to the river Jordan which of course includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza[21]) will not be economically viable and the whole of Palestine is crucial for a Jewish state whereas Eastern Palestine is not really important for the Arabs since they anyhow have such vast areas according to the original League's decision.[22] He and other Jews did not succeed, but they tried. Today, even the remaining fifth of Palestine that we know as Israel and its territories seems to be too much for some Jews.

The representatives of official Israel should have said and should say on every public opportunity, which they never do, that the League's decision is explicit in that only Jews were granted with national political rights in Palestine and the decision calls on all the nations of the world to facilitate Jewish immigration to Palestine and to encourage the dense settlement by Jews in Palestine "on the lands, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purpose." The League's Palestine Mandate conveys the requirement of urgency in the accomplishment of this Jewish settlement. It makes it clear that these rights of the Jewish people are safeguarded in perpetuity. And indeed Israeli representatives should have never missed an opportunity to further stress that it is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations that rights of nations obtained by virtue of a mandate of the League of Nations continue to be valid during the life of the United Nations. This principle of the 'Continuing Obligations of the Mandate' was further confirmed by the decisions of the of the International Court of Justice and applied in the case of South-West Africa (Namibia of today).[23]

Until 1948 there were Jewish settlements east of the green line. These included the four settlements of Gush Etzyon, Kefar Darom, Atarot, Neve Yaakov, Kalya, Beith Haarava, the Jewish quarters in Hebron and the old city of Jerusalem. A very easy way for Israeli diplomats to point out that in international law, Jewish rights and the obligation to settle Jews in Western Palestine are the same on both sides of the green line, as stressed by Professor Eugene Rostow, would have been to observe at every public opportunity that indeed there were Jewish settlements until 1948 on the eastern side of the green line until they were removed in 1948 or before by Arab aggression. This very existence of Jewish settlements east of the green line before 1948 is a proof of their legality since even the British, who were not friendly to Jewish settlement and immigration (in betrayal of their official obligation according to international law, which was to encourage Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine), did not dare remove these settlements east of the green line. They knew that this would be the most glaring violation of international law and their own obligation as the Palestine Mandatory.

To argue otherwise would mean that the very Arab aggression, in 1948 or before, that caused the destruction of Jewish settlements east of the green line, caused these settlements to become illegal, which is of course absurd and illogical.[24]

Post-1967 Jewish settlements east of the green line should enjoy at least the same legitimacy as their pre-1948 precursors. In fact often the settlements reconstituted after 1967 were built in the same places as the pre-1948 settlements that were destroyed by the Arabs.

The whole Jewish settlement enterprise erected after 1967 enjoys multiple sources of legitimacy. Not only were the settlements built on public land, and not only they were built in the historical cradle of the Jewish people, and not only does it enjoy the legitimacy bestowed on it by the obligations of the Palestine Mandate of the League of nations, but it has the legitimacy that follows from Arab aggression that caused it to be removed 19 years earlier or before. Indeed in international law there is the cardinal principle of Ex iniuria non oriur ius, according to which it is forbidden to allow an aggressor state to benefit from the fruit of its aggression. There are many examples of the application of this principle. For example, Belgium still has a part of Germany that it obtained after WWI because of German aggression.[25] Trans-Jordan's and Egypt's invasion of Western Palestine in 1948 was such an aggression. This aggression alone would have allowed Israel to apply its sovereignty in all of Western Palestine.

It is because of these multiple sources of legality according to international law that all experts in international law agree that Israel has the right to annex and apply its sovereignty in all the territories that she acquired in her self-defence wars in 1948 and 1967 [26]

As I said, the main reason for the deterioration of Israel's image is the fact that its official representatives are forbidden (since the beginning of the Oslo process) "from the top" of the Israeli government, to deny in public the untruths thrown at her. These untruths, issued slogan-like by the Arabs and friends, whatever is the subject discussed, focus on the "occupation" and the "illegality of the settlements according to international law", a subject I dealt with above.

The third slogan thrown at Israel is that it "does not comply with international law and U.N. decisions" (see for example the recent declaration for boycott of Israel issued in the Irish Times by the 61 Irish academics). But here again the Arab argument is opposite to the truth. This is explained in detail by the great expert in international law, Professor Julius Stone, and this was the major reason he wrote his book and gave it the title Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations. Everybody should read this book and spread the news of its existence. The title of this book is very significant in the context of refuting the argument that Israel does not comply with international law.

It is indeed an "Assault on the Law of Nations" to claim that Israel does not comply with international law. It is Israel who studiously complies with, and accepts UN recommendations, and it is the Arabs who reject all recommendations ever since and before 1948. It is the Arabs who systematically violate the agreements they do sign. For example, the Feisal-Weizmann 1919 agreement, duly signed by Arab and Jewish representatives, was never kept by the Arab side.

Indeed a major point of Professor Stone's book -- and it should be clearly and unequivocally proclaimed -- is that Israel's fundamental rights to mandated Palestine are in accordance with international law. In particular Israel's rights as enshrined in the charter of the UN. If the claims that Israel haters propagate -- that Israel does not fulfill UN resolutions and Israel does not abide by international law -- were true, this would mean that there are fundamental logical contradictions between the charter of the U.N. and its later resolutions, which is not the case. Even the U.N. with its hostile singling out of Israel cannot champion logical contradictions, and there are no logical contradictions in the set that includes the UN charter and the U.N. resolutions.

Arab spokesmen always state that Israel is not abiding with UN Resolutions. And there are many such resolutions. In fact, the UN -- given its large bloc of Arab member countries and their unrelenting hatred of the Jewish state -- has spent a disproportionate amount of its time, money and resources chastising the Jewish State and ignoring almost all other trouble spots around the globe. What these Arab spokesmen forget to mention is that these so-called "UN resolutions" with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict have no legally binding power and are just recommendations. By their nature they become legally binding law only if both sides to the conflict accept them. One party cannot reject such a UN resolution (recommendation) and years later claim that the power of this resolution is binding even though it was the one who had rejected the recommendation in the first place. This has happened again and again. For example, consider the legal standing of resolution 181 (II) ("Partition Plan" of 1947). Prof. Stone devotes chapter 4 (pp. 59-66) to this question. He says that the Arab-friendly view that the General Assembly's Resolution 181 (II) remains in legal force "ignores the stark historical reality that the resolution never came into legal force at all. That resolution would have come into force if the parties concerned had accepted it. But it is well known that the Arab states not only rejected it, but committed armed aggression against it and against Israel, and thus wholly aborted it. They deliberately destroyed it, as it were in utero, before it entered the world of legal effectiveness."

Professor Stone pointed out that:

"[t]o attempt to show, ... that resolution 181 (II) 'remains' in force in 1981 is thus an undertaking even more miraculous than would be the revival of the dead. It is an attempt to give life to an entity that the Arab states had themselves aborted before it came to maturity and birth. To propose that Resolution 181(II) can be treated as if it has binding force in 1981, for the benefit of the same Arab states, who by their aggression destroyed it ab initio, also violates 'general principles of law,' such as those requiring claimants to equity to come 'with clean hands,' and forbidding a party who has unlawfully repudiated a transaction from holding the other party to terms that suit the later expediencies of the repudiating party."

In view of this irrefutable logic it is amazing that you see at times self-hating Jewish -- post-Zionist -- historians that write that it was in fact Israel that rejected Resolution 181 (II). They turn factual reality on its head.

Resolution 242 that was passed after the 6 days war and is a fundamental "UN resolution" (again, only a recommendation without legal binding power) yet many of the later UN resolutions (recommendations) are based on it and quote it. Again the same pattern of Arab falsification of the resolution repeats itself: first the history of the resolution is falsified and then it is claimed that Israel does not comply with it. Then academic and commercial boycotts as well as atrocities against Israeli and Jewish civilians are committed on the basis of this lie. Arab-friendly representatives keeps saying that resolution 242 calls for the retreat of Israel from all the "new" territories it returned to in the 1967 self-defence war. But this is again a lie. There were months of haggling in the UN, before the resolution was passed. The Soviets and the Arabs wanted a resolution recommending that Israel retreat from all the territories, but in the end they did not have their way. This has been confirmed again and again orally and in many writings, for example by the two main formulators of this resolution, the British lord Carrington (not a friend of Israel) and by the American, the Under-Secretary of State, Professor Eugene Rostow.[27] Rostow was earlier Dean of the Faculty of Law at Yale University.

Israel has already retreated from more than 90% of the territories. She has given Egypt land that was never Egyptian, and that Israel conquered in self-defence no less than three times (and was thus entitled to keep it many times over) in 1948, in 1956, and in 1967. Note too, that the resolution recommends that Israel give away only part of the "new" land. It also recommends that Israel gives away some of the land only in the context of total peace in the area, and even then it recommends that Israel retreats to borders that are recognized by all its neighbours and are compatible with its security requirements. We know that it was the American Chief of Staff who prepared the report for president Lyndon Johnson that spelled out the "recognized and secured borders" mentioned in the resolution to which Israel would retreat in the context of total and real peace. According to this expert, "secured borders" mean retaining not only the areas in Western Palestine and the Golan heights but a part of the Sinai peninsula (which Israel already gave away).

The reasons Israel's image keeps deteriorating is in part because its official representatives are deliberately forbidden by the heads of the Israeli government to mention in public the objectively true legal-historical facts. In addition to this active concealment of pro-Israeli facts by the top Israeli strata, the top of the Israeli government itself often propagates Arab untruths. Worse, it is the very people that are officially responsible to spread the basic facts of Israeli Hasbara (PR), as their counterparts indeed did in previous generations prior to Oslo, who now often propagate the enemy's lies. Thus an Israeli minister propagated the Arab lie that Israel had already taken 78% of Palestine and left for the "Palestinian Arab Nation" only 22% of Palestine. But the fact is that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are 22% of a fifth of Palestine (the part we call Israel) and not 22% of 100% of Palestine. Western Palestine is only fifth of Palestine. Jordan is four fifths of Palestine. The correct definition of Palestine is the one that appears in the Feisal-Weizmann agreement, the League of Nations documents, the United Nations documents, and in all the other many international agreements and documents referring to Palestine. But if you falsely define a fifth of Palestine as Palestine, you enhance Palestinian victimhood and Israeli guilt.

A senior official repeatedly said on a major radio program that the settlements are illegal according to international law and they do great damage to Israel's public relations and image, and that the faster we got rid of them the better. Promoting the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and North Shomron and extolling the idea of a Palestinian State was contrary to the way MFA had argued pre-Oslo, when they correctly pointed out that "Jordan is Palestine". Handing Gaza over to the Arabs in the summer of 2005 has already proven disasterous. The army has already reported that the area of North Shomron is becoming like Lebanon and Gaza and that they have difficulty in controlling it and in collecting intelligence (exactly as was predicted). There are by now many, including by military experts, admissions that both retreats were a great mistake security-wise. But MFA hasn't changed their post-Oslo tune favoring a Palestinian state.

The functionaries of Israel's MFA before the Oslo process stressed the legality of the settlements and they put great effort into, and saw it as a major mission, to advance in the world the recognition that THERE IS ALREADY A PALESTINIAN ARAB STATE.[28]

In this context, Professor Stone has pointed out that "the cutting away in 1922 of four-fifths of the territory within which the Jewish national home was to be established in order to create the emirate of Transjordan, which later became the present state of Jordan...drastically reduced the already tiny allocation to the Jewish people's right of self-determination...Both Cisjordan and Transjordan made up historic Palestine" and "that the origins and present position of the Arab state of Jordan in Palestine rebut the very claim that the Palestinian people lack a homeland. Not only did the state of Jordan arise in Palestine over Jewish protest at the expense of the home allocated for the Jewish nation; it also inexorably became, by the same course of history, a Palestinian Arab state".

The self-defeating way that official Israel conducts itself is also seen from the following argument. According to all objectives analysts the "territories" are essential for Israel's security and in addition its leaders have no right to give them away since these territories were given by the community of nations to the Jewish people in perpetuity and no present generation can give it away on behalf of future generations. But assume one wants to overlook the illegality of giving away these territories and their importance for security reasons. Then how the present Israeli leaders expect to benefit from the appreciation of giving away the land, if they do not accompany this giving away with the stressing that Israel gives away as a gift something that is legally hers. After all, if you have stolen something and then you return it, this is not such a great act of benevolence that need to be rewarded as compared with giving a gift of something that belongs to you.

The turning of 'official Israel' against Israel is not limited to MFA. Unlike its pre-Oslo counterparts, post-Oslo Israel's judiciary system also parrots the enemy's untruths. For years hostile bodies, for example Amnesty International, have used the concepts (slogans) "Geneva Convention, IV, Article 49(6)" and "belligerent occupation" in order to label the "settlements" as illegal. Discourses 1 and 2 of Julius Stone's book (see also Footnote 23 below) are devoted to refuting this practice. Professor Stone explains the irrelevance of these slogans to the question of the legality of the "settlements". Their legality is based on other bases of international law which are independent of these concepts (slogans). For one enumeration of these "other bases of Israel's territorial entitlement," see his book, pp 168-169. He repeats that all international lawyers of standing agree that Israel is entitled to annex Judea, Samara and Gaza and to apply her sovereignty there if she is so minded. Before Oslo, Israel's Supreme Court, when faced with practical problems in the territories (for example, the Supreme Court would never allow the confiscation of private Arab land even for security reasons), invoked the above concepts but in a completely different context than the present Israel's Ministry of justice and Israel's Supreme Court. In order to deal with practical problems the court had to avail itself with items taken from a complex mix of international law and municipal law. And in these two discourses Stones uses them again and again as if ... For example (p. 173): "The court found that these required it to decide the case as if Israel were a belligerent occupant. This it did, reserving all other questions of international law affecting the territorial title of Israel". There is here some analogy to the Americans bestowing on the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay some of the benefits of the Geneva Convention without regarding them as prisoners of war according to this Convention. Stone very clearly rejects the claim that because Israel's Supreme Court used the concept of "belligerent occupation", therefore the settlements are illegal in international law. He states that this argument is "legally incorrect in important respects" (p.175). Yet the present generation of Israel's Supreme Court uses this out-of-context claim. In fact it went so far as to base the uprootings in Gaza and North Shomron on the basis of 'belligerent occupation' (apart from one dissenting Supreme Court judge, Edmond Levy, who acted in line with the previous generations of Supreme Court judges). In adopting this false position -- the position of Israel's enemies -- in a manner akin to MFA's new post-Oslo practice, it turned international law on its head.

Once the fundamentals are brought into the conscious of the world, many other relatively minor criticisms of Israel -- such as the issue of the fence -- lose their power. It is clear that since Israel is entitled to annex and apply its sovereignty anywhere in Western Palestine, it can build a fence wherever she choose to.

The issue of the fence and the checkpoints are a clear reflection of one-sided anti-Semitism but they are taken seriously because they are said to disrupt Palestinian life. Implicit in this criticism is the assumption that the convenience of Palestinians is more important than the lives of Israelis.

Here too the accepted asymmetry of who carries the burden is the reverse of the true one. The unpleasant and costly burden to maintain a fence and checkpoints is non-existent on the Arab side because no Jew will attack Arabs. But in a properly-run informational system, this would be pointed out explicitly. Furthermore, the burden of maintaining checks at the entrance to every mall, every school and every public institution does not exist on the Arab side. No Jew would come and shoot at Arab shoppers or set off explosives laced with rat poison near school children in Arab towns. Every Arab can walk safely in Tel Aviv but the Jews are under attack in neighboring Jaffa.[29] An Israeli, in the Palestinian Arab town of Nablus will be lucky to get away with his life, but most probably he would be lynched and cut into bloody pieces as the unlucky Jews were in Ramallah.[30] Arabs can express their political opinions in all the coffee houses in all the towns of Israel. Can you imagine one Jew doing so in any Arab town in any Arab country? Thousands of Israeli Arabs and Arabs from other Arab countries are given at any one time the best medical treatment available in Israeli hospitals. Can you imagine a single Jew given such a treatment in any Arab town in the world? In Arab countries Jews cannot by law enter into the country. They are certainly not allowed to build a synagogue. Even in Jordan that is formally at peace with Israel, it is punishable by death to sell land to Jews. Yet the liberal academics of this world single out Israel as the racist apartheid state. Even when the situation is so appalling, there is no ducking it or whitewashing it -- as in Sudan, for example -- they have never suggested an academic boycott on Sudan because of Darfour.

In order to point out that the accepted asymmetries are Orwellian inversions of the true asymmetries, one need to break with the culture of passivity and self-depreciation that has been cultivated by the Israeli elite since the Oslo process began. This attitude has been encouraged and often financed by external agents hostile to Jewish national existence.

Internally, Israel needs systematic reform. Its waning but still influential Marxist left can take advantage of Israel's election system where the voters vote for political parties, not for local representatives. The education system does not encourage patriotism.[31]. Much of the media, the army, the police and the MFA are not acting in Israel's best interest, but in accordance with the ideology of those who control these groups.

So the failure of Israeli diplomats since Oslo is only one facet of the general atmosphere. Self-depreciation and the absence of self-assertion go to absurd levels. Israeli diplomats were persistently grilled on the BBC because of collateral damage caused by targeted military activities. It was suggested to these Israeli diplomats that they point out that 630000 German civilians were deliberately killed by allied bombing in World War II. Unlike Israeli action which always warn civilians, the British WWII bombings were without prior warnings.

It was suggested that these Israeli worthies mention the destruction of Arab villages by the British airforce during the suppression of the Arab rebellion and the use of nuclear weapon in WWII just to save allies soldiers' lives and shorten the war. It was suggested they point out the more recent death of many civilians in ex-Yugaslavia, in Afghanistan and in Iraq by NATO bombing from the safety of high altitude. These Israeli diplomats rejected these suggestions. Why? They asserted that the MFA would not accept such rebuttals for fear of offending the British.

With mentality like that, Israel's image will only keep deteriorating.

End Notes

[1.] "Survey: Israel worst brand name in the world," Israel Today,

[2.] Caroline Glick, "Wake Up, People!" Jerusalem Post, 1164881847667&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

[3.] Bernice Lipkin, "The Unenviable Fate of Israeli Leftists", Think-Israel,

[4.] Haviv Rettig, "Irish academics call to boycott Israel Eire academics," Jerusalem Post, Sep. 24, 2006 JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1159125862229

[5.] See for example, Alyssa Lappen, "Racist Road Show,"; Dexter Van Zile, "The Sabeel Center's One-State Agenda,; Dory Elliott, "An Anglican Response to the APJN Report,"; and Annie Cohen, "From Churches, a Challenge to Israeli Policies,",

[6.] Evelyn Gordon, "Israel's Image - Why The All-Time Low?" May-June 2006,

[7.] Naomi Ragen, "The New, Fun Israel," November 6, 2006,

[8.] For historical and geographic accuracy, read some of the articles cited in

[9.] Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons, "A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895 - 1947," September 1, 2004,; and also Benny Morris, "A New Exodus for the Middle East?" The Guardian, October 3, 2002,,10551,803417,00.html; Rachel Neuwirth, "A Win-Win Solution To The Arab-Israeli Conflict," July-August 2004,

[10.] Yoram Shifftan, "If The Arabs Don't Serve In The Army, They Shouldn't Vote,"

[11.] Note that we are not talking about the Druse community or many of the Bedouin, who serve in the army and are loyal to the State.

[12.] A description of the Baath Party and pan-Arabism can be found on the ForumFed website
Constitutional-Options-Jan05-e.pdf+baath+party+founding+documents+ arabs+%22one+people%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=4

[13.] "The PLO Charter" can be found at

Netaxs has translated the Palestinian National Covenant, the official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). states: "The text is the English version published officially by the PLO, unabridged and unedited. Note, however, that the PLO's translation sometimes deviates from the original Arabic so as to be more palatable to Western readers. For example, in Article 15, the Arabic is translated as 'the elimination of Zionism,' whereas the correct translation is 'the liquidation of the Zionist presence.' 'The Zionist presence' is a common Arabic euphemism for the State of Israel, so this clause in fact calls for the destruction of Israel, not just the end of Zionism."

Resolutions of the Palestine National Council, July 1-17, 1968
Text of the Charter:

Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation."

[14.] The Agreement between Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann of January 3, 1919 can be found at; Julius Stone, pp 147-148.

Article 1 reads:
"The Arab State and Palestine in all their relations and undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial goodwill and understanding, and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited agents shall be established and maintained in the respective territories."

[15.] Yashiko Sagamori, "Who are the Palestinians?" Think Israel, November 25, 2002,

[16.] See the Muhsin quote among the quotes at the top of the front page of Think-Israel.

[17.] Howard Grief "Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People To The Land Of Israel And Palestine Under International Law," Ariel Center for Policy Research, Policy Paper #147, or at

[18.] "Modern History Sourcebook: League of Nations: The Mandate for Palestine," July 24, 1922,

[19.] Lewis Lipkin, "The Loss Of East Palestine: British Perfidy, Jewish Infirmity of Purpose and Arab Intransigence," Think Israel, February 14, 2003,

[20.] Nam Dangoor, "The Cadre conference," The Scribe, Issue 33, April 1989,

[21.] The original international decisions included the Golan heights where there had been intensive Jewish life for millennia.

[22.] They have 99.9% of the Middle East. By analogue, if this were money, it would mean the Jews have a penny for every 10 dollars -- 1000 pennies -- the Arabs have.

[23.] Yoram Shifftan, "The Jewish Right To Live In Western Palestine: The Irrelevancy Of 'belligerent Occupation' and the 4th Geneva Convention," Think Israel, May-June 2005,

[24.] Not that absurdity and illogicality are always enough to stop the Arabs from using what sounds like a strong point in their favor. TransJordan -- as Jordan was then known -- invaded the infant Jewish State in 1948 and conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem and the territories. They expelled or killed all the Jews living in eastern Jerusalem and invited Arabs from the neighboring countries to come and "squat" in Jewish-owned houses. They renamed Samaria and Judea -- names that go back thousands of years -- the "West Bank". In 1967, the Arabs again invaded Israel, but this time, when Israel took back the eastern part of Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea, the Arabs argued that eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank were Arab, because there were no Jews living there from 1949 on.

[25.] "The Versailles Treaty"

[26.](for further details see Julius Stone, "Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations.".

[27.] Eugene Rostow wrote two articles explaining Resolution 242; they appeared in The New Republic. They can be read at

[28.] See also in this context the chapter in Julius Stone's book entitled "The Kingdom of Transjordan (Jordan) as a Palestinian Arab State", where it is made absolutely clear that the correct definition of the extent of "Palestine" in the legal world is the one we have been using in this essay.

[29.] "A Threat From Within", November 14, 2006,

[30.] "Life and Death in the Jungle: Peace at Any Price?" Masada 2000,

[31.] In the latest example, Israel Education Minister Professor Yuli Tamir, who was a founding member of Peace Now, has unilaterally decided Israel's borders, at least in the textbooks Israeli children use. See "Priorities Of A Jewish Educator--The 'green Line' Versus The 'Mandate For Palestine',"


Dr. Yoram Shifftan has published many articles on Israeli hasbara, in publications such as Ha'aretz, Ma'ariv, Hatzofeh, Hamodia and Ha'Uma. His articles in Think-Israel have been on hasbara and the legal basis of Israel's ownership of Biblical Israel.


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