The denigration of a single nation will not lead to peace as long as it involves neglecting facts and blindsiding the truth. This partial and vicious defamation of Israel has led to widespread misconceptions of the Middle East conflict. This letter aims to clarify misconceptions about Zionism, Israel and the conflict between Israel and the ruling Islamist party of the Gaza Strip, Hamas.
Zionism was the ideal that founded the State of Israel. Zionism is about the Jewish people being active decision makers in a state of their own, in control of their own destiny. Before there was a Jewish state, the Jewish people were scattered throughout the nations of the world with no national identity. One popular misconception about Zionism is that it involves Jews’ stealing of land from Arabs and ethnic cleansing. On the contrary, from the beginning of World War I, much of the land was owned by absentee landlords. Approximately 80 percent of the Palestinians were debt-ridden peasants and semi-nomads. In forming their initial agriculture living communities, or kibbutzim, Jews bought uncultivated land, paying high fees for small tracts of arid land.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy. It institutionalizes constitutional law through the Basic Laws of Israel. These laws give each citizen, whether Jewish (75 percent), Arab (21 percent) or other (4 percent), protection of life, the right to vote, freedom of religion and expression, freedom of occupation and the right to privacy. There are high-level Arab members in the Knesset, Supreme Court, Foreign Service, Israel Defense Forces, Israeli Police and Jewish National Fund.
The Israeli government has always supported a two-state solution in which there is a Palestinian state and Israeli state. Israel faces daily threats to its survival by hostile nations and armed terrorist groups that aim for its destruction. This constant need to go to war to ensure survival has been the common denominator for each war and the center of the Middle East conflict. Until Israel receives the peaceful partners it yearns for, Israel’s enemies will live on the Middle East conflict.
In 2006, Hamas was elected in Gaza. Hamas supports the destruction of Israel. It exercises this goal by launching rockets daily on Israeli civilians. Over the past 12 years, 12,000 rockets have been fired at civilians from Gaza. After the killing of Hamas Operative Ahmed Jabari, Hamas accelerated its rocket launching over the past few weeks and put over 1 million Israelis in bomb shelters.
In response, Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense, targeting 1,500 Hamas terror sites, which are embedded in the civilian population in Gaza in order to prevent Israel from defending itself without impacts on civilians and infrastructure. The accomplishments of the operation have come at many costs to Gaza at the fault of Hamas’s tactics and goals. But there is no nation that would tolerate missiles falling on its citizens without defending itself. Likewise, there is no nation that has gone to the length Israel has in efforts at minimizing civilian deaths.