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.