Dear Belladonna Rogers,
Of all the challenges I face dealing with leftists, one of the most difficult is contending with their anti-Israel bias. I realize Ron Paul has also expressed and mobilized anti-Israeli sentiments, but I, personally, don’t have to deal with them and hope I never do. How can I deal with the growing, overt liberal animus toward Israel?
Chagrined in Chicago
Much of the malicious and inaccurate criticism of Israel stems from two sources: ignorance and anti-Semitism.
If the criticism is based on the first, you can counteract it with facts. Here are four of the principal, hostile myths about Israel and the facts to rebut them.
(1) Israel is a foreign implant, a Western outpost, alien to the Middle East.
To the contrary, Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, who were living there for centuries before Christianity or Islam began. Jews have lived in what is now Israel continuously for more than two millennia.
(2) Israel has imperial ambitions and seeks to expand its territory and dominate others.
When it was established by a vote of the United Nations in 1948, Israel accepted the borders that the UN drew. The year it was founded, the surrounding Arab countries, however, all attacked Israel in an effort to destroy it. Israel ended the war with more territory than it had had at the beginning. In 1967, Arab aggression led to another war of self-defense in which Israel captured more territory. The Israeli government immediately offered to return the territory in exchange for peace. In 1979-82 it did return territory to Egypt as part of a peace treaty brokered by the United States.
It has conducted negotiations with Syria to the north, and the Palestine Liberation Organization to the east, for the same purpose, but neither of them has been willing to make peace with Israel. For that reason the Golan Heights, to the north, and the West Bank of the Jordan River, to the west, have remained under Israeli control. At no time has Israel sought to enlarge its territory by attacking others in an “imperial” effort. Its boundaries have changed only as a result of wars initiated against Israel by its Arab neighbors.
(3) Israel is not a democracy.
The status of the Arabs living in the West Bank is the subject of negotiations, as discussed above. As for the rest of Israel, it is a Western-style parliamentary democracy in which full civil and political rights, including the right to vote, extend to all of its citizens, including its almost one million Arabs citizens, both Christian and Muslim, and to all women. (Full American-style rights are not available to the citizens of any Arab country.) Arabs have been elected to, and serve in, the Israeli legislature, the Knesset.
(4) Israel and its friends manipulate American foreign policy.
This is the canard of the vicious polemic written by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. They charged that Israel and its friends were responsible for the American war in Iraq, which the two professors opposed.
The president, vice president, secretaries of state, and defense and national security advisor of the George W. Bush administration (none of whom is Jewish), who made the decision to go to war, were not, of course, manipulated by anyone, nor was the United States Congress, which supported the decision.
Indeed, Israeli government officials privately counseled their American counterparts against the Iraq war, believing that Iran posed the greater threat.
WHEN ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY IS AT THE ROOT OF ANTI-ISRAELI SENTIMENT
As for anti-Semitic bigotry as a source of anti-Israeli sentiment — a subject on which Eliot A. Cohen has written brilliantly — here are some telltale signs that this ancient hatred is the underlying cause of the animus against the modern Jewish state: