More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

History Matters: 5 Myths About Israel

I guess I could have taken the easy way and used the old canard “Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.” But let’s be honest: all of us have heard that ad nauseum, and it doesn’t seem to matter, so I will  take a different tack.

I come from a people who hold great amounts of knowledge in our oral history. We do not simply take whatever the written word says as being particularly perfect. In fact, we tend to take the word of our elders over whatever it is that is written in history books. We do this because it’s been our experience that colonizers have a certain agenda and it hasn’t exactly been kind to Indians.

For instance, we do not see ourselves as savages, as uncivilized bumpkins who needed the magnificent white culture to come and take us out of ignorance. We had equality in our societies, with equal rights for men women and children, as well as homosexuals. Murder, rape and crimes of that nature were incredibly rare in our societies, as were crimes against children. We looked after our sick and our elderly and poverty was almost non existent. This is why when an educated Indian hears a white person telling us about how much better off we are, we sort of chuckle in a sad, wry way. Our history was pretty much hidden the past 100 years, I have lost track of how many times a white person has said “ I had no idea” when I tell them that the Pass system in Canada was really only abolished in the 1960’s. They look at me funny when I tell them that you could literally kill an Indian and not even go to court well into the 1930’s, that Metis people were not allowed to have firearms until after ww1, and that Indians are treated more as wards of the state than as true citizens of Canada. None of these things I learned in school, not even in Native studies in University. All of these things I learned from elders and from study on my own.

There is a very real push to maintain a colonialist narrative to history and to ensure that indigenous peoples are not allowed to see things that should be obvious. Almost nobody in Canada knows that the Metis actually followed the rule of law. When we declared our state, it was valid under international law, and when the Canadian government sent the RCMP to attack us, it was actually not only an act of war, but a criminal one. You will never see this in a mainstream history book – it doesn’t fit the colonialist narrative, the one where only good things come from the colonialists. God forbid indigenous people ever accomplish anything.

That brings me to the history of Israel. I have actually been told by a very intelligent woman, who is actually a heroine of mine, that the Jews did not fight a war of independence against the British, that the Israeli war of independence was against the Arabs. I was somewhat shaken because this woman is very intelligent and very educated. Now if I had only read the mainstream sources, written almost entirely by old white British men, I would probably have agreed with her. If I had only ever studied this conflict in school, I would definitely have agreed with her. But I have spent half my life reading non-mainstream sources – and I am not talking about garbage like Edward Said who bases his entire foundation on false narratives – but on multiple historians including Arabs.

There is a very real push to deny the history and almost the very existence of the Jewish people. It would be laughable if it was not so accepted by so many. Lets talk about a few of these myths that seem innocuous but in fact are so absolutely offensive and dangerous.

Myth One: Israel was created by the colonialists

The truth is that the Jews had to fight tooth and nail for their ancestral lands. While the British opened the door with the San Remo accords, and then the Balfour Declaration, the subsequent partition plan and the Palestinian mandate handing over 75% of the promised land (sorry bad pun) to the Hashemite Arabs to create Jordan, showed pretty clearly that the British were not particularly helpful. When you look at the arms embargo that ended up being completely one-sided, the fact that the British armed and trained the Jordanian legion, and then limited Jewish immigration while encouraging Arab immigration, gives you a very different picture.

It’s rather amusing to me that the same people who claim that the British created Israel, are the same ones who bring up the King David hotel bombing as proof of how bad the Jews are. First, the King David was the centre of the OCCUPATIONAL BRITISH GOVERNMENT. More importantly, they never ask why the Jews would be fighting against the people who were supposedly creating the Jewish nation. It’s a perfect example of why we need to not just listen to the colonialist narrative. They of course want us to believe that without colonialist aid, the Jews would have failed, when in fact the Jews were fighting the colonialists. Feel free to verify this – the British don’t like to admit it but the facts are all there for anyone who wants to actually dig.

Myth Two: Israel IS the colonialist

Now this one is by far the dumbest one. Anyone capable of looking at a map, of reading the Bible or Koran, of reading at a 4th grade level, should be able to see that the Jews come from this place.

“The Jews come from Judeah, the Arabs come from Arabia” is something I am fond of saying to people who argue this idiocy. It’s not exactly rocket science, yet you will have people tell you that the Jews are white Europeans. The genetics show clearly that Ashkenazi jews carry a majority of Middle Eastern blood. The archaeology shows clearly that there was a Jewish presence in the land over 3 thousand years ago. The Bible and Koran show clearly that the Jews were the dominant majority for most of the land’s historical existence. The places have a majority of JEWISH names, except in certain cases where they have colonizer names that have been Arabized, like Neapolis which became Nablus because Arabs cannot say the P sound, (the city is actually called Schechem).

When I was a little kid in sunday school, I read about Hebron, the biblical capital of King David, and of Shiloh where the Jews built the first temple to honor God. These are things that the Arabs cannot gainsay, but they try. The Temple Mount is the site of the Temple, yet the Arabs feel that by desecrating it and building a mosque over the top of it, it suddenly becomes an Arab holy place. No indigenous person would ever accept that line of reasoning.

Judaism itself shows very clearly that the Jews are indigenous. If they were not, their sacred places would be somewhere else, their religious holidays that are based on the seasons would be at different times, their very traditions would be different. The Jews are indigenous, the evidence is overwhelming. The Colonialist world is perfectly ok with everyone seeing Israel as a colonialist project, because frankly if one indigenous people regains control of their ancestral lands, might not another? What if indigenous people started seeing Israel for what it is – an example to indigenous people everywhere of what is possible even for a people who just underwent the worst genocide in modern history, a people who should have been too broken and damaged to ever have had a hope to regain their lands, yet who not only did so, but after regaining it, made it thrive again. If the Jews could do that, is there any reason that Native Canadians couldn’t achieve self determination? The Maori? The Australian indigenous? What if we all started working together? Inconceivable I know, at least to colonizers.

Myth three: Without support from the West, Israel would never have survived

This one is actually kind of funny, because without San Remo we may not have seen open Zionism, but other than that, this is a myth. Let me explain why.

First, the West did next to nothing to aid the creation of Israel. In fact, they did everything to hinder it.

The first and only early support came from somewhere very unexpected – Czechoslovakia! And in an even greater irony, much of the equipment sent to Israel was of German design. It set up one of the ultimate ironies when Jews flying german designed Messerschmidt 109s fought against Arabs flying British designed spitfires. The British and French actually supplied weapons and material to the Arabs while maintaining an embargo against the Jews. America also maintained the embargo, although many American and Canadian Jews sent money and some even went to fight for the nascent Israeli state. we are sold this narrative because we cannot ever be allowed to see indigenous people succeeding without colonialist assistance. That would be catastrophic to the colonialist narrative that nothing good ever happens without their assistance.

Myth four: The Jews massacred the Arabs (“the G word” Genocide)

This one is super easy to debunk simply by looking at the statistics. In over 67 years of conflict, less than 45,000 Arabs have been killed. Now that number still sounds large until you put it in perspective – this was after three major wars and four shooting conflicts. In less than 5 years in Syria, over 250,000 people have been killed, and in Iraq, over 200,000 have died since the Americans invaded. When looked at in context, it becomes clear that the Jews have either exercised great restraint, or they are bad at war – given that they have won every major conflict I think its obvious which it is. This one is just sheer numbers and is not really debatable. Their population has grown sixfold. ‘Nuff said.

Myth five: The Jews oppress the Arabs with THOUSANDS OF CHECKPOINTS and the MASSIVE WALL

I believe there are 13 checkpoints and the “massive wall” is actually a fence for about 90% of its length. It is only a wall in certain areas to prevent snipers. The truth is that the barrier has worked – the number of killings dropped dramatically, the barrier follows a path determined to maximize its effectiveness and it protects the people of Israel from even more random attacks. It may seem that its oppressive but unfortunately the Arabs have yet to demonstrate that they can be trusted not to kill Jews.

31 thoughts on “History Matters: 5 Myths About Israel”

  1. 1) Ryan, thank you yet again for your passionate writings about the struggle of my people. It is heartwarming to have your support, especially as it comes in such an intelligent and well-articulated package. That Israel’s struggle is that of an indigenous people was always true, but I never realized it that way until you framed it so.
    2) Your comment of “I had no idea” is something I’ve been feeling lately, as your writings among others have started to open my eyes to the ongoing struggles of Pre-Colonial American peoples going on to this day.
    Would you please point me to some solid resources, preferably online, so I can get a better education about this? As I’m from the US, I’d especially want to know about the struggles in the US, although I presume you’re going to mostly be knowledgeable about the struggles in Canada.
    As I live in Israel now , I don’t how much I can do to materially help, but I’d at least like to defeat my own ignorance for starters.

    1. Sheri :I read your comment and left a comment. However I think you are wrong governments are not so afraid of Israel(a little yes but not more than of others in the same case) it is a bit self assuming to think this. It is just that as long as Israel does not claim sovereignty over Western Palestine other government will NATURALLY NOT DO IT. Why and how could they? Simple as that, stop racking your charming brain!

      1. Thanks for your comment, Robert. I wasn’t saying that governments are afraid of Israel, but that they are afraid of Israel succeeding in claiming sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and the whole of Jerusalem because that would encourage other indigenous peoples to use our example to fight harder for their own sovereignty. I agree with you – that it is only our job to do such a thing and we cannot expect others to either do it for us or to even want us to do for ourselves. But we need to stop worrying about what others think.

  2. I too remain mystified at how seemingly educated people are so misinformed about Israel. I suppose it is a combination of getting their “information” from friends or essentially single source media and, while not really being particularly interested in digging deeper, feel the need to express an “opinion” more as an act of solidarity with their in-group than anything else. Having done their part, they move on to something that actually interests or affects them on a more personal level.
    That said, credibility is important in this debate, so permit me to correct some minor points. On Myth 1, your chronology is slightly askew. The Balfour Declaration dates to 1917 and is no more than an expression of Britsh policy – so it has no significance in international law. The San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres took place in 1920 and was supposed to conclude matters with the defeated Ottoman Empire, including its loss of territory. However, the treaty didn’t stick for a variety of reasons, including Greek aggression in Anatolia and the Turkish counterattack under their hero of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal (later given the sobriquet Ataturk). Matters were finally resolved in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne in which Turkey gave up its claims to all lands outside Anatolia and a population transfer of Greeks and Muslims was effected to avoid further sectarian violence as far as possible.
    Meantime, the League of Nations created the Mandate system and established the Mandate for Palestine in 1922. That Mandate codified the Balfour Declaration into international law. If you read the text of the Mandate, you will see that the League concluded implicitly that the Jews were the indigenous people because they alone were given a right, now secured under international law, to return and settle in what was described as their historical homeland. Also, the Mandates established in former Ottoman lands were set up for the express purpose of creating self-governing countries – and, as far as Palestine was concerned, national rights (as opposed to civil and religious ones) were only given to the Jewish people. Everyone understood that, when the Jewish Agency was “ready” (though that was left vague) to govern with a Jewish majority now settled there, the Mandate would terminate and a Jewish state would be born.
    Britain was made the Mandatory Power, which is like a trustee, tasked with bringing the Jewish state into being – a project they eventually turned away from in large part to secure their imperial interest by placing Arab interest ahead of the Jewish rights they had a “sacred obligation” to uphold, before abandoning their responsibilities altogether in 1948.
    As a final point, when the UN was created, its Charter included Article 80 (informally called the “Palestine Clause”) that deprived the UN of the power to diminish any rights given to “peoples” in existing Mandates. This limitations has continuing relevance to current Security Council ideas about imposing boundaries, but that’s a separate story.
    Sorry to have gone on at such great length to give even an incomplete rendition, but that’s both the point and the problem. The anti-Israel crowd deals with sound bites and slogans, the facts take longer to set out and most people have neither the patience nor interest to take them in. That’s why the Lie can go around the world before the Truth can get dressed.

    1. It was not a timeline, if it had been the balfour declaration would have been before the partition plan of course, I am trying to make history easy to understand and simple, which is more complex than you may think, but thank you for posting this its obviously in much greater detail. something that is hard for me to do using less words lol. anyway, thank you for the valuable addition.

      1. I fully agree. My point was, as I said, a minor one and meant to forestall the cheap debating trick of pointing out a small error to cast doubt on the speaker’s overall credibility. Having read many of your articles over the past two years, I have no doubt that you have studied the history carefully. It remains the case that most people who comment on Israel, whether friend or foe (so to speak), have a very limited understanding. That is always my excuse for using articles like yours as a springboard for getting the broader story out there. The public defense of Israel is multi-faceted and, to me anyway, it is mystifying that Israel itself doesn’t do a better job of presenting them all. I recognize that there may be certain constraints that face them, but part of the Zionist ethic, it seems to me, is that today’s Jew can speak “a Truth to Power.” If valid arguments are ignored by the international community, it highlights the hypocrisy of a process where the fix may be in (and, somewhat fatalistically, you go down fighting the good fight).
        As a client of mine once said, “all facts are friendly” which I have adopted as a useful mantra. If you have intellectual integrity, you need to address all facts, especially those that undermine your position, if you are going present a credible argument. You, Ryan, are already in that group. Here’s hoping that your continuing efforts, and those of others, help move the public discourse to a more rational and honest level.

    2. Excellent comment, I noted these points too. People do not show interest to persons or States they deem weak and Israel is deemed POLITICALLY weak reason why news rags, politicians, leftwing scum side with arabs against Israel. Scum side with scum there is some logic in it : Totalitarian leftwing/communists want to rule the world, turn everyone into a communist and arabs want to conquer the whole planet and turn everyone into a moslem!

  3. This comment is shorter, thankfully. On the Myth 3, you can Google Al Schwimmer and/or look at Nancy Spielberg’s documentary “Above and Beyond” about the attempts of some Americans to establish an Israeli Air Force in 1948 and how the U.S. dealt with that and them – spoiler: not well.

    1. I watched it here when Nancy came to Calgary, and even more importantly one of my very good friends, Cory Gelmon’s father Al was a mahalnik, albeit not a pilot, he served on the ground in a mortar unit.

  4. Norman_In_New_York

    The television channels dedicated to history, particularly military history, are constantly documenting the events of World War II. It’s all Hitler, all the time. But the creation of modern Israel is a blank page to the media. The bosses are anxious that they might anger certain political pressure groups by telling it like it was according to Ryan’s factual narrative. The only way to kill a lie is to drown it in truth. I know the history and I constantly urge others to study it, since amnesia about 1948 has gripped the media, even though it takes knowledge of that history to understand the events of today.

    1. ahad_ha_amoratsim

      Yes, and Jewish history in general is a blank to them as well. I noticed in high school, 50 years ago, that history books written in the US showed us as existing during the days of the Tanakh, then briefly reappearing to give birth to the man they worshipped (if they even mention he was a Jew), then mysteriously disappearing until the 1930s when we conveniently reappeared just in time to be murdered by the Germans, then disappeared again.

      In between we played no role in international trade, made no contributions to Europe’s culture or history, were not oppressed or exiled from various European states, were not affected by the Crusades, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the settlement of the New World or the French or Russian revolutions. We simply did not exist.

      My apologies to my Mizrachi and Sephardi brothers and sisters, but I am not familiar enough with your history to add it to the list, nor did our history textbooks address what happened outside of Europe and the US.

      1. Maybe you are starting to understand that truth is not that important, what is important is to be STRONG otherwise you do not get the truth. Truth is for the strong not for the weak. This is planet earth not paradise. Starting from here Israel must expel arabs to become strong and the hell for leftwing fools good for nothing. All the nations understand this except Israel and Jews.

  5. You should write a book, Ryan. You’re so passionate and articulate, and your perspective of Israel’s struggle as a sort of archetype for the struggles of all indigenous peoples is really unique. Seriously – I think you should consider putting your analysis in book form. It would probably cause Western professors’ heads to explode. 😀

    One thing I’ve always wondered about: why do you call First Nations people “Indians”? Isn’t that a colonial term?

    1. the word Indian is sort of like jew, depending on the context, some indians hate the word some of us have always seen ourselves as “indians” and we do it as a huge eff you to the racists. I stopped using it for a while until my dad gave me a lecture about it. I have been thinking about writing something and im working on a few projects.

  6. As a proud British person, it never gets any easier reading about this very shameful episode in our history. Ironically, many of my self-hating British friends who would normally jump at any chance to bash their country choose to ignore the British treatment of Jews in the Middle East, presumably because in this instance they hate Israel more than they do their homeland.

    Some excellent points raised in this article which I can add to my ever growing list of responses for when the anti-Semites come calling. Thank you!

    1. Steve, there were British people who give you more than enough reason to be proud, men Like Ord Wingate, so its not about being a self hater, its about simply acknowledging what was done and then working to make things better.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Actually, there are even more gruesome details. For example, in the 1948 war, the British actually served as officers leading Arabs in bombing campaigns against Jewish villages (not to mention an infiltration of Nazi officers in the region). A lot of this “missed” history is in newspaper archives. (The YouTube channel MideastWatcher posts a lot of them.) Also there’s a 1930s(?) book available for download (though I haven’t yet read it), called “The Rape of Palestine” by Ziff that supposedly uncovers a lot of the British sabotage of their own project.
    As for the “Israel as Colonialist” myth, yes, this is funny on several counts. First, what colonialist celebrates a “War of Independence”? Second, I believe the majority of Israeli Jews are from Arab countries (driven out); not from Europe. And as for the Europeans, how interesting that when living in Europe, they were unwanted Jews, but only now that they’re in the Mideast have they become bona fide Europeans (shape-shifting?).
    And with regards the “massive wall”: We’ve got Western college kids building mock walls on campus to dramatize the suffering; meanwhile, a survey conducted by Palestinians themselves found that only a minuscule percentage of Palestinians listed the wall as a source of complaint.

  8. Btw, I knew this gentleman quite well. His story never altered or adjusted according to what may have been called for.

  9. Ryan, as always, a highly enjoyable and useful article. One of the year’s best.

    I would like to know more about the Métis Declaration of Independence. What do you recommend I read?

  10. Amazing article and so well said! God bless you and the Metis people. I hope the Metis continue to gain more of the rights and some kind of compensation thay they have aways been denied since collonialism and that they have been due for centuries!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top