by Jeremy Havardi, Author and journalist
Today Israel finds herself condemned in the international court of public opinion. She stands accused of crimes and misdemeanours which are wholly without parallel in the modern world. Labelled a pariah nation, an apartheid regime and even a genocidal state, she is often blamed for fomenting political conflict, wars and economic crises around the globe. Conspiracy theories, which invoke the spectre of malevolent Jewish power, suggest that Israel actively manipulates Western governments for her own sinister ends, forcing them to genuflect before the terrifying power of pro–Zionist lobbies.
The accepted wisdom among many of the West’s policy makers, political academics and media elites is that Israel’s actions are not just a liability for the West but a primary cause of instability in the Middle East. No other nation on earth is being subjected to such a systematic and relentless assault on her legitimacy.
I analyse all this in my latest book Refuting the anti-Israel narrative. The book explores the insidious reach of this narrative in western policy circles, academia and the mainstream media. There is an abundance of evidence that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and alleged occupation of Gaza, is seen as a prime barrier to achieving a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians. Settlement policy is widely viewed as illegitimate (the US), illegal (Europe) or just plain divisive.
The accusation of using disproportionate or excessive force is routinely trotted out whenever Israel has been forced to defend herself from attacks by Hamas or Hezbollah. Worse, there is an implication from many quarters that the Jewish state is deliberately violating the laws of war by ‘intentional’ attacks on civilians in war zones and ‘extra judicial assassinations’.
The book refutes these accusations using a blend of historical and moral analysis, as well as an understanding of international law. The book also exposes the depth of the left’s insidious anti-Israel propaganda. A range of malevolent voices has likened Israel to Nazi Germany, demonising the state and cheapening the Holocaust. They have tried to hijack Holocaust Memorial Day with inflammatory anti-Zionist rhetoric, suggesting that it is the Palestinians, not the Jews, who are the real victims of genocide. Even Holocaust denial has been hijacked with talk of ‘Naqba denial’.
Alone among the movements for self-determination, Zionism is singled out for being racist, as if there was something inherently illegitimate about celebrating Jewish nationhood. The crude smear of apartheid naturally follows.
In each case, the book spells out the falsity of these accusations using facts, evidence and logic. A truly Nazi state would not have overseen the massive increase of the Palestinian population within the territories, nor would it have allowed certain institutions, including the Supreme Court, to defend its Arab population. Similarly, while the Zionist state is a project for Jewish national flourishing, it expounds a philosophy of civic rather than ethnic nationalism in which democratic rights are for all.
Where the state falls short in its treatment of Israeli Arabs, particularly in regard to issues of incitement and racism, it is entirely legitimate to offer constructive criticism. But even here, one should acknowledge the strides Israel has taken to equalise treatment of all its communities. This is why the often made apartheid analogy is so illegitimate, ill conceived and immoral.
One chapter examines the case that Israel’s actions are the real driver of radical Islam’s assault on the West. It is a viewpoint that defies history (Islamists plotted the fall of western influence long before Israel’s creation), ideology (Israel is opposed because it stands in the way of a Caliphate, not because of the occupation) and morality (blaming Israel whitewashes the actions of jihadi murderers).
The second half of the book provides an alternative narrative on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Jewish claim to Israel is not primarily grounded in western Holocaust guilt, Anglo-Saxon colonialism or the Balfour declaration. Israel’s legitimacy rests both on historical self determination and the dictates of international law, primarily the San Remo convention and the League of Nations mandate for Palestine.
Indeed few countries can claim to have received the stamp of approval from both the League and its successor, the UN. But the tragic history of Jewish persecution, culminating in the demonic genocide of the Second World War, has cemented an additional moral case for a Jewish safe haven.
It follows that the real cause of the Holy Land’s tragic conflict is not Jewish expansionism, colonialism or occupation. It is the ongoing refusal by both Palestinian and Arab leaders to recognise the right of Jewish nationhood. But this stubborness has also been encouraged or rewarded by western appeasers in various guises, as a lengthy chapter illustrates.
Thus mandatory Britain continually indulged the anti-semitic Mufti of Jerusalem despite his role in instigating riots against Palestine’s Jews. European nations released PLO terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s at the same time that the UN was showering the arch terror leader Yasser Arafat with legitimacy. The US meanwhile helped sponsor yet more incarnations of the peace process despite relentless Palestinian incitement and terror. Only by challenging this deadly cocktail of rejectionism and reward is there any hope of ending the impasse.
But regardless of the conflict, Israel is a vital asset to the west, not a lethal liability. She has prevented the proliferation of WMD by attacking nuclear installations in Syria and Iraq while her intelligence helps expose the machinations of rogue states. She has made many contributions to the war on terror which are actively aiding the western fightback against jihadism.
As a powerhouse of science and technology, she contributes profusely to western progress in many fields. Finally, her status as a fully-fledged democracy makes her a bedrock of stability in a turbulent region. For these and other reasons, we can only celebrate Israel’s prodigious and long-lasting accomplishments while decrying those who promote a wholly contrary narrative.
• Refuting the Anti-Israel Narrative by Jeremy Havardi is published in June