FYI 135

We all have opinions on issues about which we are ignorant. They arise from our characters, our prejudices, and our emotions. Fortunately, in our private lives, our opinions seldom matter enough to cause much harm. But when persons in power form policies based on uninformed opinions arising from their deep-seated prejudices, they affect the lives of millions, necessarily for the worse.

And in the arena of politics, the prejudices and uninformed opinions of many individuals can all too easily influence the actions of the powerful.

One of the dangers of democracy is that the vote of the know-nothing counts for exactly the same as the vote of the well-informed, and the know-nothings can swing an election.

It’s the business of the mass media to inform the public. When journalists let their own opinions keep them from telling the truth about an issue or a candidate for office, they empower the ignorant. The media failed in their duty to inform the electorate that Barack Obama was a poorly-educated, inexperienced, far-left ideologue with close ties to terrorists and jihadists. The votes of the uninformed gave him the presidency. The result is a wrecked economy, and the weakening of the United States as a power in the world and so of Western civilization as a whole.

If there is one issue in world politics on which opinions are held most strongly while being least informed it is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Vast numbers of people, almost certainly a majority, believe these falsehoods:

  1. The Palestinians had their country taken away from them by the Jews.
  2. The Israelis expelled the Palestinians.
  3. The Israelis illegally occupy territories that belong to the Palestinians.
  4. The Israelis refuse to negotiate for peace with Palestinian leaders.
  5. Israeli intransigence impeded a peace process that Palestinian leaders pursued in good faith.

We summarily dismiss points 1 and 2: –

  1. There never was, in all history, a State of Palestine.
  2. There is no evidence that any Arabs were expelled from the State of Israel. There is evidence that in at least one city – Haifa – they were implored to stay. There is also evidence that the Mufti of Jerusalem and Arab leaders urged them to leave before five Arab armies invaded the newly-declared State of Israel, promising them a victory after which the refugees would return to their homes. And there is absolute certainty that hundreds of thousands of Jews were forcibly expelled – stripped of all they possessed – from the Arab states. 

As for points 3, 4, and 5, we quote from an excellent recent column by Melanie Phillips at the Mail Online. She writes:

One of the most egregious signs of western irrationality and bigotry over the issue of Israel is the way in which its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is routinely scapegoated for causing the breakdown of the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

This charge is based on the widespread fallacy that the ‘peace process’ has stalled because Israel keeps building more Jewish ‘settlements’ on ‘Palestinian land’. This reasoning is not only totally wrong but utterly perverse on the following grounds:

1) The actual reason for the collapse of the ‘peace process’ is that Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly maintains that he will never accept that Israel is entitled to be a Jewish state, hails Palestinian terrorists as heroes for murdering Israelis and does nothing to end the incitement to murder Jews disseminated in schools, mosques and media under his control. In other words, Abbas is not a legitimate interlocutor in any civilised ‘peace process’ since he remains committed to the eradication of Israel [as are all Arab and Muslim leaders – JB]. Yet Netanyahu is blamed for the impasse.

2) It is only Israel that has made concessions in this ‘peace process’ [giving up vast areas of land conquered in defensive wars in exchange for peace that was never granted]. The Palestinians not only failed to deliver what was expected of them under the Road Map [or under any of the signed agreements] but now, with their UN gambit, have unilaterally reneged on their previous treaty obligations. Yet Abbas is given a free pass while Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

3) The claim that the ‘settlements’ are the key to resolving the dispute is ridiculous. First, they take up no more than one or two per cent of West Bank territory. Second, even when Netanyahu froze such new building for ten months as a sign of good will, Abbas still refused to negotiate. Yet this is all ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

4) The claim that the establishment of a Palestine state would end the dispute is also ridiculous. Such a state was on offer in 1948; Israel offered to give up more than 90 per cent of the West Bank for such a state in 2000; and an even more generous offer was subsequently made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Palestinian response was in every case war and terror. Yet all this is ignored, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

5) Whatever land Israel may choose to give up in its own interests, under international law Jews are entitled to settle anywhere in the West Bank. There is no such thing as Palestinian land and never was.The West Bank and Gaza never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from Mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman empire. Israel’s ‘borders’ are in fact merely the cease-fire lines from its victory in 1948 against the Arab armies that tried unsuccessfully to exterminate it at birth. It is therefore more correct to call the West Bank and Gaza disputed territory. Yet this history and law are denied and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

6) The Jews alone have the legal – as well as the moral and historical – right to settle within the West Bank and Gaza, a right given to them by the Great Powers after the First World War on account of the unique historical claim by the Jews to the land then called Palestine. This Jewish right to settle anywhere in that land was entrusted to Britain to deliver under the terms of the Mandate for Palestine – an obligation which it proceeded to break. [Even giving away the greater part of the territory to the Arabs to create the Emirate of Transjordon – now the Kingdom of Jordan – which is therefore an Arab state of Palestine.] Yet this history and law are denied, and Netanyahu is blamed instead for the impasse.

This information is the bare minimum a commenter needs before he is justified in expressing an opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An opinion formed with any less knowledge is worthless and potentially dangerous.