Israel’s best arguments

Israel compared to "the Arab homeland".

Why is there need for a Jewish state? Why is there no peace between Palestinians and Israelis? What is the greatest barrier for a solution? What are the biggest mistakes Norwegian (and European) media do regarding Israel?

Med Israel for fred (MIFF) is a pro-Israel organization operating in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. From 2010 to 2020 MIFF distributed a magazine to 1.6 million letter boxes across Norway. This page has all the relevant content of the magazine translated to English. Thanks for sharing! Your feedback is welcome to post@miff.no.

Palestinerne krever ikke bare en egen stat på Vestbredden og Gaza. De krever å få flytte millioner av palestinere inn i selve staten Israel, slik at verdens eneste jødiske stat vil forsvinne og få arabisk flertall. Diskriminering og religiøs intoleranse vil på ny legge seg som et lokk over jødene, og de vil være uten en eneste nødhavn i verden. Det er tragisk at sterke krefter i Norge gir sin støtte til dette.

They want to take the Jews’ little piece of land

The Palestinians are not content with their own state in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian leaders insist on moving millions of Palestinians into the state of Israel itself, so that the world’s only Jewish state will disappear and have an Arab majority. Discrimination and religious intolerance threaten yet again to settle over the Jews like a clammy hand, leaving them with no safe haven in the world. How tragic that powerful forces in Norway and Europe have given their support to this.

In what follows we have laid out some of the Israeli arguments, which are largely ignored in the Norwegian schools and media.

Content

The basis for Israel

After centuries as a minority in Europe and the Arab countries, the Jews continue to be treated like foreigners. This clearly shows why there is a need for a Jewish state. Prior to 1948, the Jews constituted a minority of approx. 2% in Arab countries. Nearly all the Jews were persecuted and forced to leave their homelands. Most of them found their refuge in Israel, which is only 0.18% of the Arab countries’ territory. And the Jews had no intention of losing this little piece of land.).

Adversaries of the state of Israel often try to present the matter as follows: “The Jews have invaded and settled in Palestine on the basis of ancient Bible stories that no one believes in anymore. The Jews can’t start demanding land just because their forefathers resided there briefly a long time ago. If others use the same principle, then the Arabs would be entitled to lay claim to Spain and Portugal, the Italians would demand to reinstate the Roman empire, etc.” We can agree that the Jews would not have a very good case if it were based solely on the fact that the Jews dwelt in the land ages ago. But there are other, more important reasons for their claim.

Treated like foreigners

In many countries the Jews have been – and still are – treated like foreigners. Every country, folk and individual that has treated Jews in this manner have to all intents and purposes acknowledged that the Jews have a legitimate right to their own country. All peace-loving, law-abiding people are entitled to a home where they are treated as full-fledged inhabitants. After centuries of being dispersed abroad, the Jews have explored every alternative – from full isolation in ghettos (voluntarily and involuntarily) to full integration and assimilation. Nevertheless, discrimination persisted. The Jews remained outside the pale.

Thus the most important basis for a Jewish state in Israel is not the fact that the Jews lived there ages ago. Rather, it is the fact that they have been treated as foreigners and have been victims of discrimination and persecution. This treatment had resulted in a festering, centuries-old wound that could only be healed when the Jews got their own state.

It is only reasonable that such a state should lie within an area that previously had an Arab majority. Nearly all the Jews that had lived in the Arab lands have fled – the vast majority of them to Israel.

In recent years we have seen how Arab and Muslim hatred of the Jews has escalated and become increasingly vehement, even in Europe. Jews have been forced to flee from cities such as Malmo and Oslo from violence and serious harassment from other minorities.

All this means that it is only reasonable that the Jews have got their own state, and that this state lies in an area that once had an Arab majority. That their state must be situated where Israel is now is primarily due to the close connection the Jews have always had to their old country, even though few of them have lived there.

To know more, read the article entitled “The Jews have a right to the land”.

Jews celebrating the UN General Assembly proposal to make a Jewish and Arab state. (Photo: GPO)

Israel’s history

Two to three thousand years ago there was a Jewish state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river for centuries. The language of administration was Hebrew, and the capital city was Jerusalem. Here is where Jewish culture and religion were born. Here lies Judea, the area from which the word “Jew” is derived.

Ruled from abroad

The Roman Empire left the remains of the Jewish state in ruins and gave the geographical area the name Palestine (after the Jews’ ancient enemy, the Philistines). Since that time, various external rulers have controlled the area. It fell into Muslim hands when the Arabs conquered the Middle East and North Africa during the 7th century. However, no local Arab or Muslim state was ever established. Jerusalem was governed from such faraway cities as Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and Istanbul. Most recently, between 1917 and 1948, the “Mandatory Palestinian” was governed from London.

Israel is born

The Jews had never lost their religious longing to return to Zion (Jerusalem). At the end of the 1800s, the heyday of European national states, it was only natural that the Jews should focus their national and political ambitions on the area where they had their historical roots. The Zionist movement was born, and Jewish immigration to the area began in earnest. Already from the mid-1800s the Jews were the largest group in Jerusalem.

The Jews’ situation in Europe and in Arab countries made the prospects for a homeland of their own quite an attractive proposition. As a minority, they had generally been heavily discriminated against and persecuted. During World War I, Great Britain favored establishing a Jewish homeland in parts of the area they had conquered from the Ottoman Empire.

During World War II, six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. After the war, the European countries were unwilling to give the Jews who had survived – and who were now refugees – residence and prospects of a peaceful life. As a consequence, the international support for Jews’ national agenda grew.

In November of 1947, the United Nations voted to divide the Mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Arab sections. Arab leaders rejected the notion of a division and intensified their war against the Jews. This could not keep the Jews from declaring the establishment of the state of Israel in May of 1948. Despite a total lack of weapons support from western countries, the new-born Jewish state was victorious in many important military battles, thus ensuring its existence.

Withdrawals

Israel was also victorious in 1967, when its neighbors mobilized for a war of extermination. Within six days, the defense forces won control over the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. After the war, Israel offered to withdraw from nearly all the conquered territories in exchange for a lasting peace. This was a tentative offer, which was meant to be a basis for negotiations. But the Arabs met together at a summit meeting in Khartoum in Sudan and responded with three No’s: No to negotiating with Israel, no to recognizing Israel, and no to peace with Israel.

Since that time, Israel has withdrawn from the Sinai and made peace with Egypt – such as it is. The country has also withdrawn from Gaza, getting rocket attacks, grenade attacks and tunnel attacks in return.

Despite their bad experience with withdrawals, most Israelis are willing to withdraw from nearly all the West Bank, provided this can be done in exchange for a genuine and lasting peace.

Israel cannot risk a rain of rockets on its major cities from the highlands on the West Bank. That’s why any Palestinian state must be demilitarized, with no possibility of arming itself with heavy weaponry or making military alliances with countries such as Iran and Syria. Israel conquered the West Bank in a defensive war; thus, it has the right to set the terms in preventing any new aggression from the area. The Palestinians must also accept that Israel will continue to be a state with a Jewish majority.

Support for two states

For a large majority of Israelis, annexing the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip is out of the question; doing so would give the Palestinians citizenship in a “Greater Israel” and result in the Jews becoming a minority in their own state. This demographic situation is an important reason why most Israelis support some form of self-government or a separate state for the Palestinians. Successive Israeli governments have said that they do not want a one-state solution; however, they have made it clear that any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized. The fact that a large majority of Jews in Israel supports the idea of a Palestinian state in principle is because they feel the alternatives are worse.

Why is there no peace?

The main problem, as most Israelis see it, is the fact that Palestinian leaders have not accepted the existence of Israel as a state with a Jewish majority – regardless of the size of the state. The Islamist terror movement Hamas, which controls the entire Gaza Strip, makes it clear in its political constitution: Islam shall wipe out Israel. Hamas has done its part in this “holy war,” with the targeted killing of hundreds of civilians the past 20 years. The Fatah leaders, who control the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, also refuse to recognize Israel as a state with a Jewish identity.

The greatest hurdle to a solution with two states for two peoples is that the Palestinians not only demand a state in the West bank and Gaza Strip, but also “the right of return” (the right to move back to Israel) for its refugees from 1948 and up to 15 million descendants. But this would mean that the Jews would become a minority in their own country.

The demand that would spell the end of Israel

The Palestinians advocate a “solution” to the conflict that would, in practice, abolish Israel as a state with a Jewish majority. And powerful forces in Norway support this!

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Arab countries demand that those Arabs that fled Israel during the war in 1948 (in the 1960s Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians) shall have “the right of return” – and not just those few thousand who are still alive, but all their descendants as well (the figures vary between 7 and 11 million people). They were to decide individually whether they wanted to avail themselves of this “right.” To force these “refugees” back to Israel, the PA has made it clear that “the refugees” will not be granted citizenship in a Palestinian state – nor would those who have been living in the West Bank since 1948!

Demographic threat

Even if “the right of return” were to go unrealized, many fear (or hope) that the Arabs will become a majority in Israel within a few decades. The main reason for this is that the Israeli Arabs have a higher birth rate than the Jews.

Israel has approximately 9 million inhabitants. Two million are Arabs, and approximately 7 million are Jews. It is crystal clear that if more than 7 million Palestinians were to be granted the “right of return,” the Jews would quickly become a minority.

When some say: I am in favor of “the right of return” but I also want the Jews to have their own state, this is like pushing someone off a steep cliff and saying: “I just wanted to give her a nice flight; I never intended for her to get hurt.”

Why these threats?

Why must the Jews absolutely have a place where they are a majority? Because the Jews have very bad experience with the alternative. They have not had their own country for nearly two thousand years. In Europe, the history of antisemitism culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust. The Jews have not done well as a minority in Arab countries the past 1,400 years, and after the Arab states got their modern shape Jews have been almost completely driven out from the area. Experience would suggest that the Jews should never go back to a situation as a minority under Arab domination – especially in view of how Arabs treat their own minorities up to the present day. Just read the news coming out of Syria, Iraq and Egypt, for example. Antisemitism is also increasing rapidly in Europe.

The way to peace involves the Arabs’ acceptance of Zionism. This is a viable goal, and the Abraham Accords from 2020 show us how this might look. But acceptance will never win the day throughout the Arab world before the Palestinians have exhausted all means to end Jewish sovereignty – from war to terror, and international condemnation – and realize it’s of no use. As long as forces in the West support the Palestinians’ notion of “the right of return,” this will not happen.

A future under threat

There are at least four factors that explain why the Jews will be much worse off if they should once again come under Arab domination.

  • Now that Israel has existed for over 74 years, the Arabs, by their logic of revenge, have an incredible amount to avenge.
  • The prophet Muhammed reportedly said, according to a hadith, that the day of salvation (the resurrection) cannot take place before the Muslims kill all Jews. This is proclaimed repeatedly on Palestinian TV, and it is written in Hamas’ charter.
  • Many Palestinians attach great importance to their potential return to their old homeland and reclaiming their property. This will necessarily mean that the Jews that live there now will lose their homes.
  • Many groups in the Middle East have self-governing states or areas to which they can flee. Without Israel, the Jews have nowhere to go.

Nice words are worthless

The moment the Jews lose military control, all the fine words in declarations and agreements will mean absolutely nothing. The Jews will be in the same situation as other minorities that have been butchered in Muslim countries. In addition, for the reasons mentioned above, they will be even more vulnerable.

Norwegian support for their demands

Norway’s most powerful organization, LO, supports the demand for a “right to return.” The Socialist Left party in Norway once had “the right of return” as part of their program. Both People’s Aid and The Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees have made clear declarations of support for the “right of return.”

“A just solution”

The World Council of Churches and the Inter-Church Council (MKR) in the Norwegian Church have made a number of declarations of support for a “just solution” in the Middle East. This means, especially the way their Palestinian collaborators interpret it, that Arab refugees from Israel and their descendants shall have the right to return and get their property back – and receive compensation, as well. In September 2009, MKR gave “strong support” to the message in the document “A Cry from Amman,” where the demand for a return is clearly set forth.

Pro-Palestinian NGOs and churches never mention the fact that more Jews have fled from Arab countries than Arabs have fled from Israel. We have not heard a single word about where the Jews should go and what rights they would have. The Inter-Church Council denies that they want to abolish Israel. But what good is that when the policies it supports would lead to this very thing if they were to be carried out?

Those who are agitating for these policies are aware of this, and yet they carry on, even though they know full well how minorities are customarily treated in the Middle East. The majority, watching all this passively, are hopefully unaware of what they are getting into. We think it is horrible that at this very moment, when antisemitism is on the ascendant in Europe, and the Jews no longer see a future here, such powerful forces in Norway remain unclear that the Jews must keep the tiny refuge they have.

The Palestinians have no “right of return”

If the Palestinian refugee problem had been handled like all other refugee problems, it would have been resolved decades ago. Here are just a few examples of a multitude of refugee groups:

  • During and after World War II, between 13.5 and 16.5 million Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe. An estimated 500,000 of them perished along the way. Many of them fled during the final phase of the war, but long after World War II had ended, millions were also expelled from places where their families had been living for centuries. The world community has outright rejected any “right of return” or “right to compensation.”
  • Four to five hundred thousand Finns fled from those parts of Finland (Karelen, Salla and Petsamo) that the Soviet Union took over after the cease-fire in 1944. Those Finns that demanded to get their property back have never been accommodated.
  • When India was split into India and Pakistan in 1947, nearly all Hindus were chased out of Pakistan and many Muslims out of India. At least 10 million fled, and up to 500,000 were killed.
  • When Turkey occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, approx. 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled south to their ethnic countrymen, and approx. 50,000 Turkish Cypriots fled northward. In 2004, The UN and the European Union decreed that the Greek Cypriot refugees had no “right of return.” The right to return was out of date.

Of all the major refugee groups from the first decades after World War II, only the Palestinians continue to have status as refugees. In the initial stages, the refugees received emergency assistance, but after that, the general rule was permanent residence in the region to which they had fled, or in another country.

The same approach would also solve the problem for the Palestinians. They must either be granted residence with full rights in the Arab countries to which they have been spread, or in a future Palestinian state, or in a third country. To “nurse” their refugee status, which Norway finances through the UN, does not help solve the problem.

Rupert Colville, who used to be the spokesman for the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, has put forth three main arguments against the “right of return.” Here we will apply these to Palestinian refugees.

  • The time that has elapsed. The UN and EU believe that too much time has elapsed for a return in Cyprus (1974). Using the same principle for the Palestinians, any return will be out of question.
  • Is the original ethnic conflict still ongoing? Yes.
  • Have new residents moved into the area? Jewish refugees, largely from Arab countries, have taken over the properties that Palestinians left behind.

According to all these criteria, the Palestinians long ago lost any “right of return.” The historical record shows that all ethnic refugees lose this right over the course of just a few years – long before 74 years have elapsed, as is the case here.

Finally, there is yet another compelling argument against the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees: This would mean the end of the only Jewish state in the world and would yet again turn the Jews into an oppressed minority all over the world.

Double standard: the Palestinians refuse to let Israel remain Jewish, and yet they insist on being a Muslim and Arab state

Even the most “moderate” Palestinian leaders will not accept that Israel remains a Jewish state. In 1993, Yasser Arafat wrote that the PLO “recognizes the state of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.” This was soon shown to be empty words. Until the day he died, Arafat stood firm on the demand to move millions of Palestinians into the state of Israel itself, thus turning Israel into an Arab country. Arafat was also the one primarily responsible for the war (the Intifada) that Palestinian groups escalated from the autumn of 2000.

“Moderate” leaders reject…

It is still the case that top leaders in the Palestinian Authority, including those considered “moderate,” refuse to recognize Israel as a state with a Jewish majority.

“Israel can define itself however it wishes. If they want to call themselves a Jewish state, then just let them do it. But the Palestinians will never recognize Israel’s Jewish identity,” said Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator at the time, in 2007.

“We refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” said the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi as late as January 3, 2017.

Fatah has never given recognition

The Fatah movement is the largest wing of the PLO; it controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“Fatah has never recognized Israel’s right to exist,” said Mahmoud Dahlan on the official Palestinian TV station Tuesday, March 17, 2009.

“We admit that the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist, but as a resistance movement we [Fatah] are not bound by it,” Dahlan said.

When Fatah held its General Meeting in Bethlehem in August of 2009, it adopted the principle of absolute opposition, which cannot be rescinded, to recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state.”

Mahmoud Abbas together with Vladimir Putin in 2022. (Foto: Kremlin)

Refusal to negotiate

With the exception of two brief periods, during which he was pressured into it by the Americans, the Palestinian’s president Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel since 2008. Abbas has demanded not only a halt to development in the settlements; he has insisted that the border issue be settled before entering into any dialogue.

In 2014, Abbas was pressured to the negotiating table by the Obama administration. The price Israel had to pay was the release of 104 condemned terrorists. The negotiations broke down in the spring of 2014 after the Palestinians, with the support of The Arab League, refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. On March 25, 2014, the Arab League unanimously declared its absolute, categorical refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. To reject Israel’s right to a national homeland is more important to the Palestinians than having their own sovereignty.

… yet their Palestine must have an Arab and Muslim identity

Palestine is to be an Arab state, with Islamic Sharia laws as the basis for legislation. Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator, claims that no other country besides Israel links their national identity to a religious identity. This is an odd thing to say, in view of the wording of the draft constitution for the state of Palestine.

Article 3 reads as follows: “Palestine is a part of the Arab nation. The state of Palestine adheres to the constitution of the Arab League. The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal that the Palestinian people hope to achieve.”

In Article 5, it is established that “Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion.” And in Article 7 we read that “the principles of Islamic Sharia are a primary source of legislation.”

Persecution in Arab countries

If Israel’s enemies were to succeed in moving millions of Palestinians into Israel, the Jews would again be a minority everywhere. The outlook would be gloomy when we see how Arab rulers in other countries treat their minorities.

The basic problem in Arab countries is the fact that the ethnic and religious groups that are in power at any given time do not grant others full rights. This applies to non-Muslims when the rulers are Muslims, but it’s also true with Shia and Sunni Muslims (both ways), and on ethnic terms (e. g. Arabs against Kurds).

Here are a few of the repression mechanisms:

  • When some in the ruling group do something criminal toward others, they receive little or no punishment – for example, when they kill Christians or destroy churches in Egypt.
  • People from minorities in a country are punished for what their fellow believers in completely different countries might have done (the Jews in Arab countries were punished for what European Jews did in Israel, Sunni Muslim countries threaten to punish Shia Muslims for what their fellow believers in Lebanon and Syria are doing, etc.).
  • Non-Muslims and those belonging to the “wrong” wing of Islam are poorly represented in terms of leadership positions; they have restrictions on freedom of belief and expression, and they can be severely punished (often by death) if they have renounced Islam.

These types of repression, more or less, are in place in all Muslim countries. The conflicts we have seen (and continue to see) in many countries during the so-called “Arab Spring” (Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt) involve those who don’t belong to the ruling group wanting to assume that role. The battles become so bitter and bloody because the ruling groups fear becoming those who are discriminated against in the future. Some countries can segue from minority tyranny to majority tyranny. The latter is perhaps even worse for the minorities. This is not democracy.

In Iraq, tens of thousands (perhaps even hundreds of thousands) were killed in ethnic and religious conflicts, even before the Islamic State started its rampages. Millions have been driven from their homes. Shia Muslims are forced to Shia regions in the south, Sunni Muslims to Sunni regions in the middle, and the Kurds to Kurdish regions in the north. Similar mechanisms are at work in Syria, where over 500,000 have been killed and millions have been forced to areas inside and outside Syria. Christians (are persecuted) in many countries. During 2006-2010, nearly 2,000 Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians, most of them in conflicts between Fatah and Hamas. Increasingly, Jews in Europe are encountering repression from Muslims similar to that experienced in Arab countries. Many are planning to leave for Israel or the USA, and some have already done so.

The Jews in Israel see what is happening to Christians and other minorities in Arab countries, and this makes them somewhat more inclined to increase their defense budgets and the length of military service. They know that if they lose Israel, things will go even worse for them. They see that the world largely does not care unless the Jews can be blamed. People in the Middle East now live in increasingly “pure” areas. Perhaps borders will be redrawn, with Sunni states and Shia states, etc.

The grim history of the Jews in Europe

The history of the Jews in Europe throughout the centuries is a mixed bag. For long periods of time, many Jews preferred Europe to the Muslim countries. At other times it was just the opposite.

In Europe, there were strict limits, as a rule, on where Jews could live and what occupations they could hold. From the 1500s, many of the same restrictions applied in the Arab world: clothes that identified them as Jews, not owning land, trading only for used goods, extra taxes, not holding public office, and having to live in ghettos.

The Jews were ready scapegoats whenever a war was lost or something else went wrong. Epidemics or earthquakes were thought to be God’s punishment because unbelieving Jews lived in the area – unless you believed that the Jews had poisoned the wells. The Jews engaged in international trade, and some Jews got rich doing it. And some rulers favored these Jews. Some rulers even regarded the entire Jewish community as a resource.

But the general rule was that the Jews were poor, and from time to time they were assaulted in their ghettos. The survivors had to flee. It was only during the 1800s that the situation improved noticeably in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe things remained pretty much as before.

Nearly all Jewish men could read, and there were many books. The Jews had a social conscience and took care of the poorest of the poor. They had hospitals of a high standard when measured by the knowledge of the time.

After the Holocaust, many people in Western Europe rejected antisemitism. But the last decades we have seen antisemitism reemerge, especially from the Muslim population.

The Jews and compensation

There are those who understand that Israel cannot commit national suicide by opening its borders to millions of Palestinians. But we hear it said: Israel ought to pay compensation to the Palestinians.

Let us be clear: Israel can pay compensation to the Palestinians no matter what the rate – provided Jewish refugees are compensated at the same rate. But that Jewish refugees (most Jews in Israel either came as refugees themselves, or their parents or grandparents were refugees) should pay compensation without themselves being compensated is simply wrong-headed.

More Jews have fled Arab countries than Arabs from Israel. The flight took place shortly after the colonial period (when the Europeans ruled the Arab world) and many Jews were prosperous. Arabs confiscated nearly all their possessions. In any fair compensation settlement, the Jews would be owed vast sums. Arab countries have refused to negotiate any settlement with Jewish refugees.

Before World War II, approx. 3.3 million Jews were living in Poland. After the war, only about 300,000 Jews had survived. When they returned to Poland, other Poles were living in their homes, others “owned” their businesses, and hundreds of Jews were killed by Poles in the months following the war’s end. Most of the Jews fled. These Polish Jews have enormous sums coming to them in any fair compensation settlement. Much the same is the case in other countries in Europe.

It is intolerable that tyrants should be allowed to save on compensation by killing their victims, so the Jews must also have the right to compensation for the millions who were killed during World War II and in other circumstances.

In any just compensation settlement, the Jews would be owed vast sums. US President Bill Clinton recognized this when he proposed a solution in 2000-2001. He dropped Israel’s claim to compensation and let the world community assume the compensation claims of the Palestinian refugees and the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. This would cost the world much less, and be much worse for the Jews, than a just settlement. Still, Israel agreed to it.

The compensation that most of the other refugee groups have received can be regarded as help to start a new life somewhere else.

Israel is a safe haven for refugees

For nearly two thousand years prior to 1948, the Jews didn’t have their own country. They were discriminated against and persecuted, both in Europe and in the Arab world. From approx. 1880, there was a new wave of Jewish immigration to the land that the Jewish people had in ancient times), the land that is now the modern, reestablished state of Israel. In Islam there are special rules for religious minorities. Jews have traditionally not been allowed to build synagogues; they also had to wear special clothes and were defenseless in the legal system. Before the state of Israel was established, several Arab delegations at the UN threatened to massacre the Jews in their respective countries. Israel has been a safe haven for at least 600,000 Jews were persecuted and forced to leave the Arab world.

When Israel was established in 1948, local Arabs and neighboring Arab countries went to war. Approx. 700,000 Arabs fled because of the war (Palestinian refugees). We hear about these Palestinian refugees all the time; but what is forgotten is the fact that millions of Jews have fled to Israel. More Jews have fled from Arab countries (over 900,000) than Arabs (Palestinians) have from Israel. Most Jews were only allowed to take a few possessions with them. Today there are practically no Jews left in Arab countries. They have nowhere else to go. If all Jewish and Arab refugees must be fully compensated for what they lost when they fled, then the Jews have vast sums owed them. The Jews traditionally comprised approx. 1-2% of the population of the Arab world, while little Israel comprises barely 0,2% of the land area there.

The Jews must have their own land because they are discriminated against and harassed in many countries. The way in which various religious and ethnic groups have treated (and continue to treat) one another in Arab countries tells us that the need for a Jewish state is just as great now as it was before (for example, think of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, the Kurds). As Europe becomes more and more Muslim, more and more Jews are considering their future here for themselves and their children.

The Jews were systematically discriminated against in the Middle East

The Jews were a minority in Muslim countries for over 1,300 years. No one wants a return to those days. When Islam arose in the 7th century, most of the world’s Jews lived in areas that had been conquered by the Arabs after Muhammed. In many places, the Jews regarded Muslim rule as an improvement – at first; there was a lot of hatred of the Jews among Christians.

The Pact of Umar

It wasn’t long before the Muslims introduced the Pact of Umar, with rules about how Dhimmies (“infidels,” Jews and Christians) should be treated. These rules have varied somewhat at different times and different places, but some have been commonplace:

Dhimmies had to pay extra taxes, they were not allowed to ride horses, they were not allowed to build new houses of worship (and sometimes not even allowed to maintain old ones), they had to wear clothes that distinguished them from Muslims, and they were never allowed to hit a Muslim (not even in justified self-defense). From the 1300s on, they were usually forced to live in ghettos, they were not allowed to hold public office, and in court the word (oath) of a Jew was worth less than that of a Muslim (false accusations were often believed in court). There were also a lot more rules, rules that made Jews and Christians second-class citizens. Much of this was abolished during the colonial period when the Europeans took over (from the 1800s). But the mind-set of the Pact of Umar persists, and some of the old rules continue to be practiced. The Islamic State is but one example.

In some places, local rulers protected the Jews when it was beneficial for themselves. The Jews paid a lot of taxes, and that was an incentive for the rulers to protect them. The Jews were in contact with Jews in other countries, and in some areas they accounted for a major part of foreign trade. In Muslim countries, a Muslim was not allowed to charge interest of another Muslim. But the Jews could, so they could be used as bankers.

Looting and killings

Some Muslim rulers were tolerant people who gave the Jews considerable freedom and turned a blind eye to many of the Pact of Umar rules. This was particularly the case where the Muslims (or the ruling direction within Islam) were in the minority and needed a loyal group to assist them. The Jews were at such a disadvantage that they were compelled to be loyal to their rulers. But from the 1300-1400s on, such liberal conditions were rare, and as time went on, the center of gravity of the Jewish population gradually shifted from the Arab world to Europe. After all, there were greater opportunities in Europe than in the Muslim regions.

There has not been an Adolf Hitler in the Arab world. But down through history there have been a stream of pogroms where mobs ran amok in the Jewish ghetto and looted, raped, and killed many – in Arab and European countries alike.

Jews residing in what later came to be called Palestine were discriminated against and persecuted at least as fiercely as they were in the Arab world. Extra taxes and protection money meant that they couldn’t afford to live there without support from Jews in the rest of the world.

Tens of thousand of Jews fled Jemen in 1949. (Foto: David Eldan)

The flight of the Jews from Arab countries

During the 1940s, approx. one million Jews were living in the entire Arab world. Now only a few thousand remain. Arab states did not – and still do not – have room for their Jews to live in peace, freedom, and dignity.

Before Israel was established, some Arab delegates to the UN threatened to massacre Jews in their countries. Following are some examples of how the Jews were driven from and frozen out of Arab countries. When all this was happening, the Jews in all the Arab countries were unarmed, defenseless, and peaceful.

Iraq

Immediately after Great Britain relinquished control of Iraq in 1932, persecution of the Jews began there. There were riots (pogroms); many Jews were slain, much property was destroyed, and there was a prohibition on teaching in Hebrew, the sacred language of the Jews. Jews were also fired from public sector jobs, and there were many other restraints.

In 1948, Nuri Sa’id, the Prime Minister of Iraq, openly advocated expelling the Iraqi Jews as part of a population exchange with the Arabs in Palestine (the Palestinian refugees). In 1950 or 1951, laws were passed that stripped the Jews of their nationality and property, even though many of the Jewish families had lived in the land for centuries. The Jews were given a year to get out. Most of them moved to Israel. Only a few thousand stayed behind. These continued to be discriminated against and persecuted and so they, too, eventually left. When American forces invaded Iraq in 2003, there were 34 Jews left in all of Iraq. Nearly all the Jews who left Iraq could only take little or no personal belongings with them.

Since then, successive Iraqi governments have never tired of saying that the Jews have no business being in Israel, that they should have stayed where they were.

Yemen

Because of constant persecution, Jews began to leave Yemen at the end of the 1800s. But the most significant exodus took place in 1949-50. At that time Great Britain controlled Southern Yemen (Aden), so they set up an airlift to Israel. The Jews from Northern Yemen had to travel on foot through the desert. Nearly everyone who did not die along the way was sick when they finally arrived. Approx. 50,000 Jews fled Northern Yemen; 13,000 fled Aden. Currently there are less than 100 Jews left in Yemen. They continue to be persecuted, and there are still those who flee.

Syria

In 1948 there were approx. 40,000 Jews in Syria; many had already fled the country. There were many violent attacks against the Jews, which led to major restrictions on their way of life. Punishment for leaving Syria was severe. The Jews were not allowed to hold public office, and there were times when they were not allowed to have a telephone, a driver’s license, withdraw their money from the bank or purchase property. Despite such restrictions and punishments, Jews left Syria throughout the period – most of them as outright refugees. As a rule, it was best not to tell one’s neighbors that they were planning to leave. The less they knew when the police interrogated them, the better. Reportedly there are currently about 30 Jews left in Syria.

Libya

In 1945 there was a series of raids on Jewish ghettos. 130 Jews were killed and 4,000 made homeless. In 1967, there were 4,000 left. They were told to leave the country. Each Jew was allowed to take along one suitcase and 50 dollars. In 1970, all Jewish property was confiscated and “replaced” with 15-year bonds. But after the 15 years had passed, the Jews got nothing. There are no Jews left in Libya.

The Jewish refugees from Arab countries have nothing to return to, in the countries from which they fled.

False picture of Israel’s warfare

The Israelis are forced into constant war. But the media in our country cover Israel’s wars much more intensely than other wars – incl. far bloodier wars. Thus, a false image is created. In reality, Israel’s wars are less brutal than, for example, the warfare that NATO has been engaged in in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and other countries. Israel uses only as much force as deemed necessary to stop the attacks on them.

How the media paints a false picture of Israel

It may be that Israel has a spotted military record, but if you compare this with Israel’s neighbors and other countries, we get a different perspective. Unlike what is often the case, Israel followed the rules of war “well above the average” during the Gaza Strip war of 2008/2009, according to senior researcher Cecilie Hellestveit.

“I don’t believe that here is another instance in the history of warfare where any army has made more of an effort to reduce civilian casualties and the deaths of innocent people than the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip,” said Colonel Richard Kemp to the BBC during the Gaza Strip War in 2009. Kemp was commander-in-chief of the British forces in Afghanistan in 2003.

“The destruction in the Gaza Strip is extensive, but not as extensive as in Iraqi cities that were captured by American and British forces,” concluded British colonel Tim Collins after his visit to Gaza on behalf of the BBC.

Here are three techniques the media uses to create a false image of Israel

  1. Conflicts in which Israel is involved are given far more coverage than other conflicts that cost far, far more lives.
  2. Israel’s wars are not compared with those of other nations.
  3. Palestinian refugees are constantly in the news. But there has hardly ever been any mention of Jewish refugees from Arab countries since the 1940s, even though they outnumbered the Palestinian refugees.

Thirty-nine percent of the Norwegian population state that Israel’s actions influence their attitude toward Jews in general. Media coverage intensifies and legitimizes prejudice and hate – not just against Israel, but also against Jews.

The best way to combat antisemitism is to give Israel the same coverage as other countries. Those in the Norwegian media who are willing to fight antisemitism have no credibility as long as they do not at the same time work for a fair media coverage.

Skjermdump av John Kerry på CNBC torsdag 21. januar 2016.

A typical example of the media’s one-sidedness

On December 28, 2016, John Kerry, USA’s outgoing Secretary of State, held a long speech on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. When Gro Holm (a journalist with NRK – the Norwegian Broadcasting Network) summarized Kerry’s speech, she mentioned only his criticism of Israel and Israeli settlements. Not a word was mentioned about the many points on which the Palestinians reject the principles of the outgoing Obama administration.

Kerry made it clear that the solution had to be two states for two peoples – one Jewish and the other Arab. Kerry also made it clear that a solution for Palestinian refugees (primarily descendants of refugees) had to be found that did not alter “the fundamental character of Israel.” For their part, the Palestinians insist on moving millions of Palestinians into Israel, so that Israel will lose its Jewish majority.

Kerry emphasized that any agreement had to be permanent – no new demands could be made in the future (for example, concerning border adjustments). We know that the Palestinians have been negative about this previously.

Nor does NRK repeat a single word about the strong criticism that Kerry leveled against the Palestinian Authority and Fatah.

Furthermore, NRK also omitted this: “The settlements are not the whole – or even the primary – cause of the conflict; of course not. Nor can it be said that if they were to be moved, you would have peace without a more comprehensive agreement – because you wouldn’t. And we understand that in any final status agreement, some settlements would become part of Israel so as to take into account the changes that have taken place the past 49 years, including new demographic realities on the ground,” said Kerry.

3 out of 20 believe gross lies

And 4 out of 10 Norwegians don’t know enough to distance themselves from these lies. An overblown coverage of Israel’s wars, without their being compared with wars in other countries, has created a false impression of a treacherous Jewish state.

A false image of Israel has taken root in large parts of the Norwegian population. The best evidence of this appeared in reports from the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Outlook Minorities (the HL Center) in 2012, 2017 and 2022.

The participants were presented with the following assertion: “Israel treats the Palestinians just as badly as the Jews were treated during World War II.” In 2012, a full 38% supported this. In 2017, this had fallen to 32%, in 2022 it increased to 33%. At the same time, 33,2% replied that it was impossible to say. Only 1 in 3 know enough to distance themselves from such a gross lie.

A comparison

Is comparison with the Holocaust fair? In the countries that the Nazis controlled, two-thirds of the Jewish population was exterminated by mass murder on an industrial scale within a few short years. The Palestinian population, on the other hand, has increased by at least tenfold in the last hundred years, despite a lot of emigration. Life expectancy for Palestinians under Israeli control has increased from 54 years in 1970 to over 73. People believe a lie!

Despite everything Israel is rightly (and wrongly) accused of doing, the Palestinians are on par with Egypt (114th and 111th place) in the UN’s Human Development Index. They enjoy better living conditions than Indonesians, Moroccans, Indians and people in 74 other countries.

The HL-Survey points up a blatant lack of knowledge; but why has it come to this? Go to miff.no/mediedekningen for examples of a series of factual errors in the Norwegian media!

Followed the rules of war “well above average”

Compared to what is usual in wars elsewhere in the world, Israel has followed the rules of war “well above average” during the wars in the Gaza Strip.

The Norwegian media, well backed by physicians Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse, has painted a picture of Israel’s warfare in the Gaza Strip (in 2009 and 2014) as the most brutal and most inhumane in the annals of war. This is a completely false picture.

During the 2009 war, Israel abided by the rules of war “well above average” compared to what is usual in other conflicts in recent years. This is not MIFF’s assessment, but that of senior advisor Cecilie Hellestveit at the international Law and Policy Institute.

Israel is treated differently

Hellestveit points out that Israel is being held to a higher standard of international law than other countries. The conventions of warfare have been repeatedly prejudicially tightened with respect to Israel. There was no reaction when western countries used cluster bombs and white phosphorus, only after Israel used them, Hellestveit said.

Israel is a state governed by the rule of law

Finally, we quote Hellestveit’s description of Israel as a state governed by the rule of law: “As for the Israeli legal system, it is important to know that Israel is one of the world’s most law-oriented societies. (. . .) Israel’s supreme court (. . .) handles cases involving Palestinian rights in the occupied territories. This is the only construction of its kind in the world. HCJ has handled thousands of cases involving Palestinian rights. It also functions as a kind of civilian oversight of IDF, the Israeli military.”

Completely different coverage of Norwegian and Israeli warfare

In 10 years in Afghanistan, Norwegian troops may have killed more Afghans than the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers during the first and second intifadas.

The so-called Afghan Study was published on the website forsvaret.no in February, 2013. In it, more than 1,400 Norwegian soldiers report that they have fired at the enemy; 940 say they have killed one or more people. 72 soldiers believe that they have each killed between 12 and 50 soldiers. Based on these figures, it is estimated that Norwegian soldiers must have slain at least 2,000–4,000 Afghans over the course of 10 years. In comparison, approx. 3,900 Palestinians – combatants and civilians – were killed by Israeli security forces during a 16-year period from 1987 to 2003.

Nineteen percent of Norwegian soldiers say that they have witnessed brutality against prisoners and civilians. Forty-two percent have witnessed things that are morally questionable. Eleven percent say they themselves participated.

Every year, Norwegian authorities give tens of millions of Norwegian kroner to Israeli, Palestinian and international organizations whose goal is to bring Israeli soldiers to justice and broadcast accusations worldwide. Norwegian media are only too glad to give them a microphone and an inordinate amount of column space.

At the same time, these same authorities, Norwegian NGOs, and Norwegian media show almost no interest in doing the same with western and Norwegian soldiers. This results in serious misconceptions among large sections of the Norwegian population about how Israel wages war – for example, 32 percent believe Israel treats the Palestinians just as badly as the Jews were treated during World War II. The effect of this morbid prioritization is antisemitism, and – indirectly – hatred of “these cruel Jews.”

Israel is surrounded by enemies on all sides

The threat from extreme Islamism is one of the foremost security threats facing Norway. According to PST (the Police Security Service), Israel has the same problem, only to a much greater degree. The day Israel can no longer defend its population, the Jews will experience many of the same horrors that minorities have experienced in the areas the Islamic State controlled in Syria and Iraq.

In the East, the Islamic republic Iran has openly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. The Ayatollah regime works purposefully with a view to realizing its dream of a world without Zionism.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s former president, had this to say: “Once Iran has atomic weapons, the West’s strategy will run up against a wall, because a single atom bomb can destroy Israel completely, whereas an Israeli counterattack can only partially harm the Islamic world.” Iran has already acquired rockets with sufficient range to strike not only Israel, but also most of major European cities.

Just north of Israel, in southern Lebanon, Iran has an ally in the Shia-Muslim Hezbollah movement. The terrorist group “Allah’s Party,” which is also an important political player in Lebanon, has over 100,000 rockets ready to fire against the Jewish state. Hezbollah regards the destruction of Israel (“the Little Satan”) and the liberation of Jerusalem as its religious duty. USA is “the Great Satan.”

Syria is also part of the threat on the northern front. These past few years, the Assad regime has developed close ties to Teheran and allowed weapons to stream into Hezbollah. Iran has also tried to establish military bases in Syria. In the south, Israel faces the armed forces of Hamas and a very uncertain future in relations with Egypt.

Israel has to be tough

Israel’s enemies are bent on breaking the Jewish state, either by open war or by psychological pressure in the form of a constant threat of attack.

If Israeli cities and urban areas were to be attacked with rockets, Israel would be compelled to respond with massive retaliation. The response would have to be so tough that the price of new attacks against Israel would be too great. No state will tolerate allowing its inhabitants to live in continual fear that a rocket could fall on their head at any time.

The Islamists’ view of Israel

This is how Islamists and their supporters view Israel: The Jews are not a people, just a religion; therefore they do not need a state. It is a falsification of history to claim that there was a Jewish kingdom in ancient times. Israel has attracted Jews who were living happily in the Arab countries. Islam was always very kind to the Jews. The Jews don’t deserve this land. They have been so impudent as to wage war on Allah’s chosen people (the ummah). All the land that has ever been conquered by Islam, will remain Islam’s land forever. Palestine was one of the first lands to be occupied by Muslims in the 7th century. It cannot be taken back by non-Muslims. Spain, which was ruled by Muslims for about 800 years, must also be reclaimed for Islam.

Hamas looks forward to killing Jews

Hamas, which governs Gaza, openly advocates religious war to eliminate Israel and kill Jews.

In August of 1988, Hamas adopted its fundamental political document. The conclusion can be seen already in the introduction: “Islam will eliminate Israel. Our battle is with the Jews as a people, and this battle is extremely comprehensive and serious.”

Hamas is first and foremost an Islamic organization that considers itself a part of The Muslim Brotherhood. Members of Hamas are completely loyal to Allah. “The ultimate goal is Islam; the Prophet is our example, the Koran our constitution.” It says in Article 5. Hamas is also a Palestinian movement, one that wants to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestinian [soil]. [Hamas regards the state of Israel as part of Palestine.] “Only under the shadow of Islam can people in all regions live together in security for their lives, property and rights.”

We can see the kind of safety and security the Jews can look forward to under Hamas’ rule in Article 7: “Hamas has looked forward to fulfilling Allah’s promise, no matter how long it takes.” The promise was given by Muhammed: “The time will come when Muslims fight against the Jews (and kill them) until the Jews hide themselves behind stones and trees, which will cry out: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”

No compromise

For Hamas, there are no compromises. We read in Article 7: “Hamas believes that Palestine has been an Islamic land area (waqf) for generations [and will remain so] until the Day of Resurrection. No one can renounce it or any part of it, abandon it or any part of it.” Not even all the Arab and Palestinian leaders put together can give it up. “This applies to all the countries that Islam has conquered by force.”

Article 13 states that Hamas opposes every “so-called peace solution or international conference [whose aim is] to solve the Palestinian problem.” “There is no other solution to the Palestinian problem than Jihad.”

Hamas encourages Muslims all over the world to wage war against Israel. “When our enemies usurp Islam’s lands, Jihad [holy war] becomes a duty incumbent on all Muslims.”

Finally, in Article 15, we find this quote from an Islamic writing: “I really want to go to war for Allah! I will attack and kill, attack and kill, attack and kill.”

Demonizing Jews

Hamas also uses its charter to demonize Jews. The movement “confronts an evil, Nazi-like enemy” (Art. 20), which controls the world’s media (Art. 22). The Jews “were behind the French and Communist revolutions, and most revolutions that we hear about.” The Masonic Lodge, Rotary Club and Lions Club are listed among the organizations that “promote Zionist interests.” “They are all destructive spy organizations.” The Jews “were behind World War I in order to destroy the Islamic Caliphate.” The Jews “were also behind World War II. They profited greatly from trade in war materials and laid the groundwork for the establishment of their state.” “No war has ever broken out in the world that doesn’t have all the earmarks of [the Jews’].

Article 28 continues the denigrating of Zionism, which “is behind the spread of narcotics and poison of all kinds.” Article 32 states that the Jews’ “plan is set forth in the Protocol of Zionism’s Wise Men, and their actions are the best evidence for what is written there.” The Jews are also referred to in the article as “merchants of war.”

Israel will be gone shortly

Hamas believes that Israel will disappear shortly, especially if Muslims are sincere about their religion.

The “Nazi-Zionist actions” against Palestinians will not last more than a generation after the invasion [of Israel’s Jews], because “states that rest on suppression only last an hour; states that rest on justice last until the hour of resurrection.” Muslims are able to “resist the Zionist invasion and overcome it,” just as they overcame the crusaders and Tartars. “This will not be difficult for Allah if our intentions are pure and our will is sincere.”

The Islamists’ hatred of Jews is also alive and well in Norway

Islamists do not limit their hatred of Jews to founding documents. Hatred of Jews is conveyed through mosques, the school system, cultural activities, and TV programs. Hamas’ TV station has on a number of occasions broadcast children’s programs with a pronounced antisemitic content.

In March of 2010, NRK’s Dagsrevyen (Norway’s largest prime time news program) reported that even young Norwegian Muslims are infected by this hatred of Jews. A Jewish father told of how his children were so severely harassed that the family had to move. Four upper secondary school teachers told of widespread antisemitism among their Muslim pupils.

After 10 years of attendance in Norwegian schools, Muslim young people praise Hitler for having slain Jews. “If they come to this school, Jews should be killed,” these pupils say. If anyone expresses antisemitism, no one protests. When the teachers speak about the Holocaust, the pupils sneer.

“One teacher sums it up like this: “The worst part is that antisemitism has become completely legitimate among large groups of pupils with a Muslim background.” None of the teachers or the Jewish parents dared to come forward with their name and picture in the reports. The worst stories of violence and harassment against Jewish children have yet to be told. They are so unsettling that Jewish parents don’t want to share them, for fear that they will be identified.

In December of 2017, an opinion poll was conducted which showed how Norwegian Muslims viewed Jews. 28.3% of Norwegian Muslims agree with the claim that “the world’s Jews are working behind the scenes to promote Jewish interests.” A full 42.2% of Muslims believe that “Jews have far too much influence on the international economy.” By comparison, 12.8% of the population in general feels the same way.

“When one thinks about how Israel treats the Palestinians, harassment and violence against Jews can be defended.” A full 20.4% of Norwegian Muslims feel that this claim is quite true, or completely true. 37.9% say that it is impossible to say, while only 41.8% reject the notion that violence can be justified.

More than half of Norwegian Muslims – 51% – believe that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians can be compared to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews during World War II.

Israel is a great success

Israel is a successful state and a genuine democracy. Here you find free and lively debate, free and fair elections, and nearly no violence between political groups. Israel has a higher life expectancy than Norway. On the HDI (Human Development Index, the UN’s Living Conditions Index) for 2020, Norway tops the list of 189 countries. Israel is in 19th place (tied with Japan) ahead of countries like Spain (25), France (26), and Italy (29). The Palestinian areas (the West Bank and Gaza) are in 115th place and have no fewer than 72 countries behind them on the list. These are UN figures based on objective criteria, so we can take the media’s crisis maximization with a pinch of salt.

In 2022, Israel was named the 9th happiest country in the world in the annual World Happiness Report awards. Israel is only one point behind Norway’s 8th place and ahead of New Zealand’s 10th place.

There are solid arguments for considering Israel to be the most successful country of the 1900s; furthermore, it can be argued that Israel is the best Middle Eastern country to live in, even for Arabs.

Israelis can boast of having most high-tech start-ups and university educated people per inhabitant. The list of things to brag about could be made even longer, but this would not necessarily give us a clearer picture of Israel’s success as a state.

Israel in 19th place

How does one measure a state’s success? Here at home, successive governments have preferred to stick with the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) as a measure of our success, not least because for several years Norway has ranked in first place. HDI ranks countries and land areas according to a combined point system based on figures such as life expectancy, reading and writing skills, educational level, and the gross national product for each inhabitant.

In the HDI’s 2020 rankings, Israel was in 19th place. This notable placement was achieved even though the country must spend more money per inhabitant on security measures than any other country in the world. Among other Asiatic land areas, only Hong Kong and South Korea place higher than Israel.

Rapid qualitative growth

Israel’s impressive standing on the HDI is all the more impressive when one considers its development over time. None of the western countries that place higher than Israel on the list improved their HDI grade from 1975 to 2010. Israel’s rapid qualitative growth in the relevant target figures has taken place during a period of far more rapid population growth than that of any other western country.

These figures are even more impressive when we realize that most of Israel’s population has a background from developing countries. This applies to Jews from Muslim countries (about half of the Jews) and Arabs (the area was altogether a developing country before Israel was established). Most European Jews come from poor countries in Eastern Europe with few democratic traditions. Despite all this, Israel is a rich country and a genuine democracy.

Palestine in 115th place

Some claim that Israel’s success has come at the expense of the Palestinians. The answer to this can be seen in the HDI rankings for the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians’ situation is not all that bad; people in 72 land areas are in fact worse off. “The occupied Palestinian areas” come in at 115th place out of a total of 189 countries and territories in the 2020 rankings. Despite all the alleged and actual sins of the Israelis, the Palestinians have roughly the same living standards as their neighbors in Egypt (116th place).

Much better than neighboring countries

In 2020, MIFF studied the Human Development Index in some detail. We found that the Palestinians scored better than the average of the Arab countries in all the most important figures with respect to life expectancy and education. For expectancy at birth, the Palestinians were ahead of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic states. Life expectancy is perhaps the most important expression of health and life situation. The percentage of adult Palestinians that can read and write is far above the average in the Arab countries.

Great potential

These results are even more impressive when we consider that several Palestinian groups have chosen war against Israel as their chosen strategy. If only the Palestinians chose peace and cooperation with Israel, they would soon become the envy of all the other Arabs. Arabs in Israel are better off than Arabs in neighboring countries in most areas, even though some choose to disparage the situation.

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