Occupation: The Big Lie
by Asher Zelig Fried, Arutz Sheva, December 28, 2007
See Also: Jew Visits Bethlehem
See Also: No Jews in Judea
Israel stands accused of conducting a brutal military occupation of Arab lands inhabited by an indigenous, peace-seeking Arab population. Repeatedly, in newscasts and the press, Israel is characterized as harshly subjugating another people. These accusations are dangerous, a pervasive lie, and an existential threat to Israel. They are a classic manifestation of a much utilized propaganda tactic known as “The Big Lie.”
Accusations resulting from this falsehood exceed all bounds of truth and continue relentlessly. Incredibly, many are now accepted as “articles of faith” by increasing numbers of those who heretofore viewed Israel favorably. These accusations have become the common ground that transforms casual supporters of Israel into vocal Israel-bashers, and the glue that today binds every manner of Israel’s enemies.
Israel’s “occupation” of the disputed areas began subsequent to its 1967 victory in the Six Day War, when Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria began in earnest. Initial Arab reactions were positive, as working relationships were maintained between Jewish communities and their Arab neighbors. Jews would regularly visit Arab towns and employ local townspeople. The Arab standard of living improved significantly as its per capita income increased exponentially. Local roads were modernized, water supplies increased, electricity and telephone communications were developed, and a new tourism industry flourished. With rare exception, there were no road-blocks, lock-downs, or curfews, as Arabs worked and shopped in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and Jews shopped in Ramallah and in local Arab villages.
With the benefits of Arab and Jew living side-by-side and in relative peace apparent through the 1970s and 1980s, there nevertheless were Arab rumblings about Jewish settlement in the land. It received, however, minimal attention; it was perceived to be the sentiment of relatively few Arab dissidents. The improving economic conditions of the local population and its benefits were deemed far more important than the negative potential of a renewal of friction.
These relationships, built over a period of 25 years, were dramatically and irretrievably altered with the signing of the Oslo Accords of 1993. The Accords created an entirely new narrative. The status of Jewish residents changed abruptly from neighbor to occupier, even in their own homes and communities. Arab extremists, emboldened by Oslo’s promise of an independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, demanded removal of all Jewish communities in areas they now claimed as exclusively their own.
In 1994, Israel granted the Palestinian National Authority autonomous control of the major Arab cities in Judea and Samaria, and of the surrounding areas. The PNA’s corrupt rule and suppression of all opposition resulted in a GDP in 2003 one-tenth of what it had been in 1992. The then-newly-returned Yasser Arafat and his murderous henchmen spread their reign of terror and hostility, while their propagandists introduced a new rallying call, “End the Occupation.” Israel’s political Left, in support of Oslo, immediately joined the fray.
Incredibly, no one questioned the incongruity of Jews branded occupiers of Judea, the province named for its Jewish residents. No one thought it odd that Jews were now accused of occupying Jerusalem, known historically as “the city of the Jew.” Far more vociferous then even the Arab propagandists, the Israeli Left immediately embraced the Arab narrative and intensified their onslaught. They too adopted “End the Occupation” as their rallying call, with which they then pervaded Israeli TV, radio, newspapers, film, literature and the universities. Today, the very words of seditious Israeli university professors, who denigrate Israel in the most perverse manner, are quoted by Israel’s enemies across the globe.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that The Big Lie as a tool of propaganda was first introduced by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf. He states that for the Big Lie to be effective, it “must be so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” He further posits that “in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily.” This tactic was utilized by Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, who understood that for the lie to be effective, it must not only be colossal, but also must contain at least a kernel of truth, and be repeated with great frequency. The Arab propagandists, and now enemies of Israel worldwide, have learned well from their murderous Nazi predecessors.
Accusations of occupation by Israel’s leftist press, and by Israel’s detractors following their lead, are repeated regularly and without respite. The necessary kernel of truth is evident: Israel does, in fact, occupy Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem; much the same way that it occupies Tel Aviv and Haifa, and in much the same the way the United States occupies Miami and Los Angeles with their minority Latino populations, and the same way Canada occupies Quebec, with its minority French population.
Jews were sovereign in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and the lands west of the Jordan River for a thousand years, while Arabs were never sovereign in these lands. It was not until the late 19th and early 20th century that the overwhelming majority of Arabs living west of the Jordan River migrated to the area. The land then was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, until the founding of the Jewish State, it was under British control.
With Israel’s victory in the Six Day War and subsequent control of these areas, Jordan disavowed any further claim to it. The merit of Israel’s claim thus far exceeds any other. By what standard are Jews “occupiers” for striving to settle these areas? By what justification should this land, Israel’s ancient heartland, be exclusively Arab and forbidden to Jews?
Branding Israel an “occupier” is designed to engender overwhelming negative reaction to Israel and ultimately to delegitimize her. It places Israel, via comparison, alongside murderous military occupations. Israel’s “occupation” is thus similar to Nazi Germany’s occupation of eastern Europe, or Japan’s occupation of China, or the Soviet Union’s occupation of eastern Europe, all of which resulted in millions murdered and enslaved. Perpetrated by cruel and despotic dictators, these occupations were militarily invasions of sovereign countries for the purpose of murder, mayhem and subjugating the citizenry.
Israel’s “occupation,” by contrast, is led by Jewish families building new communities, schools, and houses of worship. These families have built the area’s infrastructure anew and desire only to live in peace with all residents of the area. Comparing such families settling their ancestral homeland to murderous Nazi, Japanese and Soviet armies is more than a lie; it’s obscene.
In the final analysis, the lie of Israel as Occupier was created by the Oslo Accords. The Accords transformed Jewish families settling Israel’s heartland into pariahs in the eyes of much of the world, and confusion as to where in Israel Jews would be permitted to live. Israel’s friends began to wonder why Israel would surrender its heritage to an enemy sworn to destroy it. Most horrifically, Oslo brought about a reign of terror resulting in death and disfigurement to thousands of innocent Jewish men, women and children.
The most difficult issue facing Israel today is that of a hostile minority population, resentful of and refusing to live in peace with the ruling Jewish majority. Believing the surrender of Israel’s heartland will bring peace is delusional. The issue will be resolved only when Israel’s minority population recognizes the myriad advantages of living together peacefully with the Jewish majority. Israel needs new leadership with a new vision, one that is ready to proclaim Jewish sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and over Israel’s historic heartland.
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