Claim: Gaza is an open air prison
- Israel has a security fence/blockade on its border to prevent terrorists from entering from Gaza - not to keep Palestinian civilians locked in. Egypt has the same type of closed border with Gaza for the same reason.
- In 2005, Israel disengaged and withdrew from Gaza, dismantling all Jewish settlements and withdrawing all military forces. Since 2007, Gaza has been controlled by Hamas, an Iran-backed terror group, which came to power through elections.
- Since 2007, Hamas has posed a true security threat to Israel. It has launched thousands upon thousands of rockets into Israel, targeting civilian neighborhoods. There have been wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, including in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021. Hamas has built underground tunnels from Gaza into Israel through which they smuggle weapons and engage in terrorist incursions into Israeli territory.
- Hamas, with the funding it receives from international aid, could have built infrastructure, health care, and education systems for its population. Instead, it has created rockets and tunnels to attack Israel, turning Gaza into a wasteland and keeping the Palestinian population in poverty.
- Israel has issued over 15,000 work visas for civilians in Gaza to work in Israel, which provides an economic lifeline for tens of thousands of Gazans, and provides free electricity and consistent humanitarian aid to Gazans.
- It is important to also keep in mind that, as noted above, Gaza has a border with Egypt. Egypt and other Arab nations could take in Palestinian refugees who don’t support Hamas and are essentially being held prisoners by a terrorist group. It has thus far refused to do so.
Claim: Israel is equally at fault for killing as many or more Palestinian civilians
- The Gazan people are tragic pawns of Hamas, which has prioritized terror against Israel over the wellbeing of its own people. Using civilians as human shields, Hamas stores missiles and military equipment in schools and hospitals, putting the lives of Palestinian civilians in danger when Israel must bomb military installations. Israel has a policy of warning civilians before attacking, making phone calls to residents and dropping lead on buildings to warn of impending missile strikes. In this conflict, Israel has warned Gazans to evacuate ahead of air strikes. The Israeli army has shared footage of Hamas
- Israel was attacked by Hamas, and 1,300 Israeli citizens were murdered. Israel has a moral obligation to protect its citizens and to recover the approximately 150 Israelis, among them babies, children, women, and the elderly (some of whom are American citizens), who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
- While Israel does its best to avoid civilian casualties through warnings before bombing military installations, Hamas uses its own citizens as human shields, which increases the death toll in Gaza exponentially. Unfortunately, Hamas’ lack of humanity results in the tragic death of innocent civilians.
Claim: Israelis are colonizers
- There is no justification for terrorism. Period.
- The accusation that Israel is a colonial state is an attempt to delegitimize the existence of the State of Israel and deny its right to exist.
- As is documented through historical sources and archeological finds, Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. The Roman Empire destroyed the Jewish state of Judea in 70 CE and expelled the Jews living there, but even in exile, the Jewish people always longed to return to their homeland. The Zionist movement of the late 19th century gave Jews the hope and ability to begin to return to live there.
- The term “colonizers” suggests a colonial empire which benefits from colonization. Far from colonizers, Jews who returned to Israel were fleeing persecution in their nations of previous residence to return to their ancestral homeland.
- Lastly, and importantly, Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip and has had no presence in the coastal enclave for nearly two decades.
Claim: Antizionism is not Antisemitism
- Zionism is the movement for self-determination for Jews in the land of modern-day Israel. Antizionism is the opposition to Jews having a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland and the denying of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, calling for Israel’s dissolution.
- While criticism of Israeli policies, like critiquing any other country, is valid and not antisemitic, the particular belief that Jews do not have the right to self-determination is discrimination against Jews and is antisemitism. Natan Sharansky’s 3D test and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism (IHRA) are helpful frameworks to determine when criticism of Israel veers into antisemitism.
- While criticism of Israeli policy is valid and not antisemitic, attacks on “Zionists” are often thinly veiled attacks against Jews, especially since most Jews support Zionism and have a connection to Israel.
Claim: Israel is an apartheid state
- This is one of the most commonly used canards against Israel, which seeks to cast Israel as uniquely evil and worthy of being dismantled. Apartheid is defined as “the implementation and maintenance of a system of legalized racial segregation in which one racial group is deprived of political and civil rights.” 21% of the Israeli population are Muslim Israeli Arabs who enjoy the same rights as all other citizens of Israel. There are two Arab parties in the Israeli Knesset, the legislature of Israel. There are also two Arab Supreme Court judges.
- People who claim Israel is an apartheid state point to the barrier wall between the West Bank and Israel proper as evidence for their claim, but the wall is a critical security measure put into place as a result of the Second Intifada during which terrorists crossing into Israel from the West Bank killed approximately 1000 Israelis. The wall has saved countless Israeli lives, including Arab Israeli lives. It is important to note that terrorists do not only harm Jews. Arabs are also protected from terrorist attacks by Israeli security measures.
Claim: Gaza lives in abject poverty because of Israeli oppression
- Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Hamas gained control of the territory in 2007. Instead of investing in schools, civil infrastructure, and hospitals, Hamas invested in rockets to target Israeli civilians and they consistently place Palestinians who live in Gaza as human shields, hiding their terrorist cells in heavily populated neighborhoods where it becomes challenging to dislodge them without harming innocent civilians.
- Israel provides electricity, fuel, and humanitarian aid to Gaza. International organizations also provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza. Hamas takes this aid and weaponizes it to build terror tunnels, fund missiles and weaponry, and pay off the families of suicide attackers instead of providing for the Palestinian people.
Claim: Israel has created the context and circumstances that led to this recent conflict.
- Let’s be very clear here: Nothing justifies the unprovoked murder and kidnapping of innocent civilians. Babies, children, young people, elderly, disabled individuals have been killed, injured, or kidnapped by brutal terrorists. What happened in Israel was a pogrom. The slaughter of innocent Israelis and the documentation by Hamas of these crimes against humanity must be denounced unequivocally.
- Any attempt to rationalize or justify Hamas’ terrorist actions is utterly abhorrent. There can be no moral equivalency drawn between the horror of Hamas’ attack on Israel beginning October 7th, 2023 and Israel’s legitimate defense of its citizens from Hamas aggression.
- For decades, Israel has endorsed a two-state solution that would lead to a Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected proposals for two-state solutions. Since 2005, Israel has had no military or civilian presence in Gaza.
Claim: Rallies and organizations celebrating the “successes” of Hamas have a right to organize and express themselves.
- When freedom of speech turns into hate speech, it is our collective responsibility as a society to condemn it and denounce it unequivocally.
- The horrors that we see perpetrated by Hamas are acts of terrorism, and supporting Hamas’ actions in any kind of way equals defending terrorists.
- Organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and other pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement groups who back Hamas and their terrorist acts are supporting and praising the killing of Jews. They foment hatred against Jews and create an unsafe environment for Jewish students on campus.