Avi Abraham Benlolo
Top 10 Myths and Facts About Conflict in Israel: A Primer
Dear Friends, I am getting many questions about the current crisis in Israel. I put together this mini-primer for the community's information. Feel free to send it to friends, family, political leaders and to the media. If you have additional questions you want answered and perhaps included here, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will do my best to add them in for everyone's continued benefit.
As well, many of you have commented that the video below is also a good primer to the issues at hand. So, I am including it here again for the benefit of those who have not seen it. Feel free to share this on social media in order to inform as many people as possible about the situation.
Explanatory Video About the Situation
MYTHS AND FACTS:
Myth: Israel started this war by attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
Fact: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel's constitution protects all religions and promotes religious freedom. Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Iran were inciting violence at the conclusion of Ramadan. There is documented evidence that the Palestinian rioters came prepared, even stashing rocks on the Al Aqsa compound.
Myth: Israel is evicting Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
Fact: No. This is a civil dispute that was being handled municipally by the courts for a long time. It is not a national state-sanctioned dispute. Essentially, buildings owned by Jewish families were seized by Jordan in 1948. Despite previous court rulings, Palestinians are refusing to return the property to its rightful owners - using this issue to ignite the violence we are seeing today. As it stands, the Supreme Court's decision is on hold until there is a de-escalation.
Myth: Hamas is a friendly organization. It's Israel that is oppressing Gaza.
Fact: No. Hamas is actually an organization designated as "terrorist" by Canada and America. Hamas is a radical Islamic group (like ISIS or Al Qaida) that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (outlawed in many Arab states). Its main reason for existence is the destruction of Israel. Sadly, it has been oppressing its own population with an iron fist since 2006, when it violently occupied Gaza. Israel left the Gaza in 2005 to give the Palestinian people a chance to build an independent peaceful state.
Myth: This latest round of violence is because Israel is expanding settlement activity.
Fact: No. For nearly 30 years, Israel has been attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. Each time, the PA rejects all overtures to try and create an independent Palestinian State living side by side peacefully with Israel. Recently, Israel agreed not to annex territories as a result of its peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Thus, this latest round of violence cannot be blamed on so-called "settlements".
Myth: Israel uses disproportionate force against Hamas and the Gaza Strip.
Fact: No. Hamas has now admitted that its powerful missiles are supplied by the Iranian government. To date, over 1500 rockets have been launched at Israeli civilian populations all the way into Northern Israel - demonstrating a growth of sophistication in weapons systems by Hamas. If it was not for the Iron Dome system, casualties and destruction in Israel would be much higher. Moreover, Hamas has also admitted that its military personnel have been trained by Iran's military and terror arm - the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). Hamas is equipped with Rockets, an armed military and navy and even drones to attack Israel.
Myth: But Isn't the Palestinian Authority the legitimate government of the Palestinians?
Fact: Even while the west recognizes the PA as the more moderate group in charge of the Palestinians, the PA has just cancelled its scheduled "democratic" elections. In fact, it hasn't held elections in 15 years. Western nations have been silent about the PA's lack of democracy and transparency. As importantly, the PA and Hamas do not get along and for all intents and purposes, are divided into two mini entities - both of which want to bring the other down and also seek the destruction of the State of Israel.
Myth: Israel is blockading the Gaza Strip, making it difficult for Palestinians to survive.
Fact: No. Israel is allowing food and supplies into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. It is also supplying the strip with water and electricity. However, because Hamas smuggles weapons and building supplies for tunnels to infiltrate Israel for terror attacks, Israel has to take every precaution to protect its own citizens. Interestingly, while Israel is blamed for a blockade, Egypt is never blamed despite the fact it controls Gaza's southern gateway.
Myth: Israel was looking for a conflict with Hamas and the Palestinians.
Fact: No. The reverse is true. Israel was completely unprepared for this latest round and has been pulled into a war it never asked for. As a result of the rocket attacks, it has had to defend its civilian population by bombing terrorist held targets in Gaza. Weeks before, to avoid a conflict, Israel even ignored the dozens of incendiary balloons Hamas deployed over the border to burn its crops.
Myth: The aid provided to the Palestinians through UNRWA reduces conflict with Israel.
Fact: No. Countries like Canada and the U.S. are providing millions of dollars worth of aid to the Palestinians through the United Nations Relief Works Agency. While this may be well intentioned, much of the aid reportedly helps incite hate against the Jewish state through its school curriculum. Some of the aid has been said to be diverted to paying for materials like concrete used to build attack tunnels. In the past, UNWRA has been accused of allowing its buildings to be used by Hamas militants to store and fire rockets.
Myth: Peace is not possible with the Palestinians.
Fact: No. Most Israelis and Jewish people around the world want nothing more than peace and good neighbourly relations with the Palestinians. Even while at rallies around the world, Palestinians call out "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free", we hold out hope that our peoples can live together. But first things first, Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel. The Palestinian Authority must come to the negotiating table with the will and desire to make peace.
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Avi Abraham Benlolo, BA MA, Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa)
Order of Vaughan, Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal, Race Relations Award
ABOUT: Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities, was founding President and CEO of a major organization in the Jewish community, has raised over $150 million for charities and is a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.
As a supporter of Israel, he is proud to have established "The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security" at Haifa University.