Israel’s fundamental case

by Andrew White, Director, The Beyond Images Project
May 2008

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The idea of Israel is under attack. Its history, its rights, and its legitimacy are all increasingly questioned, or obscured.

Some people ask: ‘why should Israel have to explain its right to exist as a country? Why should it have to articulate its fundamental case? No-one questions Sweden 's right to exist as a country?

But the truth is, Israel is different. The history of the Jewish people, and the circumstances in which the country was established, are unusual. Certain core principles therefore need to be reaffirmed. That's the purpose of this document – to restate the fundamental national rights of the Jewish people, and their aspirations for the future. We cover the following:-

A. The national rights of the Jewish people

B. The establishment of the modern state of Israel

C. Modern Israeli society

D. Israel 's quest for peace, and attitudes towards it in the region

E. Israel and the Palestinians: core issues

F. Israel and international public opinion    

A. The national rights of the Jewish people

1. The Jews are a people, not a race: The Jews are a people, not a race. The Jews comprise many races and ethnic groups, and have many ways of expressing their identities. They may be religious, secular or cultural Jews. They may be ashkenazi or sephardi Jews, conservative or liberal Jews, or Jews of the left or the right. They may indeed be combinations of these. For many Jews, Judaism is not a religious identity at all. And for many Israelis, being ‘Israeli' is now the primary form of their Jewish identity.

2. The Jews have a right of national self-determination: Like any other people, the Jews have a right of national self-determination – to express their identity by choosing to live as a nation in their own country. The movement to sustain this Jewish nationhood is Zionism. And within that movement there are left-wing, right-wing, secular and religious Zionists. Zionism involves both the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel , and the building of a society based on the ethical principles of Judaism. ‘Anti-Zionism' is immoral and discriminatory because it denies the Jews national rights which other peoples of the world enjoy. For the same reason, calls for a so-called ‘binational state' for Jews and Arabs are not ‘progressive' or ‘forward-thinking', but in fact immoral and discriminatory.

3. Israel is the Jews' national home, with Jerusalem is its capital: The concept that the land of Israel is the Jews' national home is over 3000 years old. It is deeply rooted in Jewish culture, tradition and prayer. Jerusalem was Israel 's capital 3000 years ago, as it is today. Some journalists, historians and archaeologists seek to diminish the Jews' historical connection with the land, and the significance of Jerusalem . Such claims are false, hinder the search for peace and feed extremism. Unfortunately, in most of the Arab world it is conventional wisdom that the Jewish connection to the land is a colonial myth. This itself is a myth. The connection is profound.

4. Modern Israel is the third sovereign Jewish nation-state: A sovereign Jewish nation has in fact existed three times in the land of Israel . The first two Jewish states each existed for several hundred years before being destroyed by imperial powers, the first by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and the second by the Romans in 70 AD. The modern state of Israel is the third time that the Jews have lived in the land of Israel as a sovereign nation. The Jews have never established national existence anywhere else.

5. The Jewish peoples' connection with the land of Israel has never been broken: The Jewish peoples' physical connection with the land of Israel has been continuous for over 3000 years. As a result of the Roman destruction of the second Jewish state, the Jews were forced into an exile, which lasted for nearly two millennia. During that time the Jews in the so-called diaspora survived as a people, but without a national home. They were scattered, vulnerable and frequently persecuted. But they never gave up hope of one day having the opportunity to return and rebuild. During this entire time small Jewish communities remained in the land of Israel (which the Romans had renamed Palaestina), and these communities ensured an unbroken presence there.

B. The establishment of the modern state of Israel

6. Establishing Israel involved a gradual process of state-building: The re-establishment of a sovereign Israel in 1948 restored the Jewish peoples' long-denied national rights. It followed over a hundred years when increasing numbers of Jews steadily returned to the land – often facing great danger in doing so - and gradually built the institutions and economic infrastructure for a state. While many Jews were fleeing European persecution, many more were driven by an idealistic vision for the future of the country. It is simply untrue to suggest that Israel came about as a result of ‘international guilt' over the Nazi Holocaust. Israel 's re-establishment was the culmination of 100 years of single-minded striving by the Jews of Palestine to re-establish the country.

7. The British did not ‘create Israel ' - indeed they created obstacles: Palestine had been a neglected area of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years until the 20 th century. Many thousands of Arabs lived there – but there was no real sense of distinct national aspirations. To many outsiders it seemed impossible that the Jews could build a viable nation there. Yet the Jews' state-building efforts defied the odds, and generated increased economic activity during the 31-year British Mandate (1917-1948) which followed the end of Ottoman rule. As a result, many more Arabs migrated to Palestine . As the outlines of a Jewish state evolved, so did opposition to it from the Arabs themselves, and a sense of Arab nationalism in that area also began to evolve. Far from enabling the Jewish state to come into being, the British hindered it during the 1930s and 1940s in order to avoid antagonising the Arabs, and for wider British diplomatic reasons. The British placed severe restrictions on further Jewish immigration. Thus, it is not true to suggest that Israel was ‘created' by Britain , or that Israel was ‘imposed' by Britain on the Arab population. Quite the opposite. As a result of Arab opposition to Jewish statehood, Britain closed the gates to Jewish immigration, consigning countless Jews to their deaths in Nazi-dominated Europe .

8. Jewish leaders accepted the 1947 partition plan and a two-state solution: In November 1947 the UN adopted its ‘partition plan', under which a newly born Jewish state of Israel would coexist side-by-side with an Arab-Palestinian state, rather than at its expense. This was a blueprint for a two-state solution. The leadership of the Jews of Palestine, seeking to achieve statehood after the devastation of the Second World War, accepted the plan. Disastrously for everyone, the plan was rejected by the Arabs of mandatory Palestine , and by Israel 's Arab neighbours. That act of rejection was self-destructive and has been a fundamental cause of the last 60 years of conflict. Some Palestinian Arabs today admit that Arab leaders made a historic mistake 60 years ago.

9. Arab decisions and actions triggered the Palestinian Arab refugee problem: Israel undeniably displaced Palestinian Arabs during its war of independence in 1948-9, but this happened in the context of a war of survival which was forced upon the reborn Jewish state by surrounding Arab nations. Many more Palestinians left voluntarily, often urged to do so by Arab leaders in anticipation of victory over the Jewish state. Palestinian Arabs became refugees not because of Israel 's creation, but because of the Arab decision to reject the UN partition plan and take up arms to prevent Israel 's creation.

10. Millions of Jewish refugees (including from Arab countries) have received sanctuary in Israel : Israel has served as a haven for millions of Jewish refugees from Europe, from Arab countries, from the former Soviet Union , Ethiopia and elsewhere. Indeed, almost 900,000 Jews were dispossessed and expelled from Arab countries in the years following Israel 's independence, without receiving compensation. In the face of massive economic, cultural and social challenges, Israel has nonetheless provided these and other refugees with democratic rights, shelter, opportunities and hope. This is a humanitarian achievement.

11. Israel is recognised under international law: Israel has been a sovereign member of the United Nations since 1948, and it is recognised under international law. Its peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan affirm Israel 's right to exist as a nation in peace and within secure borders.

12. Israel is a member of the 21 st century community of nations: Some argue that the very idea of a Jewish state of Israel is an anachronistic idea. They claim that nation-states do not have a ‘role' in the 21 st century ‘global village'. True, the world is becoming more integrated and interdependent. But that does not mean the end of the nation-state. Far from it. There are more sovereign nations in the world now than ever before. The Jewish people have the right to play a role in the international community both as citizens of different countries, and through the State of Israel. It is ironic that many of those who argue that Israel is an outdated idea are vigorous advocates of Palestinian national rights.

13. Understanding Israel 's history shapes the future prospects for peace: Some say that Israel 's history is ‘irrelevant'. They argue that it is pointless to dwell on the past, that “no-one is interested” in history, and that we should look only to the future to build peace. This is not the case with Israel 's conflict with the Palestinians, and its neighbours. Israel 's legitimacy flows from its history. And accepting Israel 's legitimacy is key to resolving the conflict. Far from being a matter of history, understanding these issues shapes the prospects for a better future. Until all of those who desire peace acknowledge this history, and the rights which flow from it, there cannot be an enduring solution to the conflict.

C. Modern Israeli society

14. Israel has built a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society in spite of conflict: Despite unending conflict, the Israelis have built up a liberal and democratic society, which is resourceful and resilient, ethnically diverse and a cultural melting pot. Israel has an independent and vibrant media. Its leaders and governments are freely and fearlessly criticised. The country has many grass-roots citizens initiatives in areas such as combatting poverty, minority rights, child protection, the environment and Jewish-Arab coexistence projects.

15. Arab citizens in Israel have democratic rights: Israel 's declaration of independence in May 1948 proclaimed its obligation to protect the rights of Arabs and other non-Jews living in the country. Today, Israeli Arabs – around 20% of the population - have democratic rights and freedoms in Israel . They are represented in Israel 's parliament. They enjoy the benefits of Israel 's healthcare and higher education systems, and have succeeded in defeating successive Israeli governments in high-profile court cases. Arabic is an official language of Israel , and Arabs and other ethnic groups are increasingly prominent in Israeli culture, government, media and sport. There is an independent Islamic movement in Israel , and Palestinian Arab perspectives are routinely expressed not only in Israel 's parliament, but in mainstream Israeli films, newspapers, TV and literature.

16. Poverty and discrimination among Israel 's Arabs would reduce in conditions of peace: Many Israeli Arabs suffer serious poverty. But this is also experienced by major sections of Israel 's Jewish population. In conditions of long-term peace and prosperity, the poverty and discrimination which many Israeli Arabs do experience would reduce.

17. Israel upholds religious rights of Christians and Muslims: Christians, Muslims and Druse practise their religions freely in Israel . This contrasts with the absence of rights for Christians (and other minorities) in many Muslim countries, and the widespread harassment and persecution taking place there. Christian and Muslim holy sites are protected under Israeli law, and thousands of Christian pilgrims visit the Holy Land each year. Muslim men are sometimes restricted by the Israeli authorities from worshipping at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem . But this is mainly due to the history of anti-Jewish riots and stone-throwing attacks which have been launched from there, including against Jewish worshippers at Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, situated immediately below.

18. Israel helps make the world a better place through its medical breakthroughs, its technology and its international humanitarian projects: Israel has become a world leader in many areas of medicine, communications, agriculture and environmental technology. It is helping the ‘green revolution' through its leading role in areas such as solar energy, efficient irrigation, water purification, and combating the spread of deserts. Israel 's products are improving the quality of life of many of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. Israel is also a sophisticated international provider of disaster relief, for example after the Asian tsunami of 2004. And Israeli citizens give to such causes, generously and spontaneously.

19. Israel could serve as a bridge between the West and the Muslim world: At a time when there is such hostility to Israel in the region, it may be hard to picture Israel acting as a meeting point between the values, cultures and societies of the West and the Muslim world. But that is exactly what Israel could become. In conditions of regional peace, Israel could serve as a bridge between the West and the Arab and wider Islamic world. It could share its experience, its technologies and its expertise more widely in the Middle East for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the region, as well as serving as a cultural ‘meeting point'.

D. Israel's quest for peace, and attitudes towards it in the region

20. Israel 's citizens yearn for peace in the region: Israel 's citizens yearn for peace. Over 25,000 Israelis have lost their lives in the decades since Israel 's independence, in six major wars, and as a result of ongoing terrorism directed against its civilian population. Israelis wish to live free from the hostility of the Arab and wider Muslim world. Israeli ministers, think-tanks, journalists, grass-roots groups, retired generals, students and religious leaders passionately promote rival peace plans. These are signs of a society which deeply desires peace.

21. Rejection of Israel – spearheaded by Iran - remains at the core of the conflict: Hizbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian factions such as Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade reject Israel outright, as does al Qaeda. These groups plan mass attacks on Israeli civilians. But the most powerful rejectionist force is Iran , which poses a long-term strategic threat to Israel , and supports Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, and Hizbollah in Lebanon . Iran has 10 times the population of Israel , is over 50 times larger than Israel geographically, has large oil reserves, and is pursuing nuclear technology. Its leaders repeatedly challenge Israel 's right to exist as a sovereign nation, and it seeks to sabotage moves towards a ‘two-state solution'. Until the Iranian challenge to Israel is addressed, there cannot be lasting peace.

22. Islamists don't want a ‘two state solution' but an Islamic state in the whole of Palestine : The rejectionist mindset – mainly driven by Islamism - is not merely to refuse to recognise Israel 's ‘right to exist'. They believe that Israel is an alien state in the region, which they aim to wear down psychologically and militarily, and eventually eliminate as a nation, to be replaced by an Islamic state with sovereignty over the whole of Palestine . Furthermore, they are willing to expose their own civilian populations to great suffering, in order to been seen to be winning ‘victories' over Israel , and to inflict suffering on Israel 's civilians. This attitude underlies the strategy of Hamas in Gaza , and Hizbollah in Lebanon , which is why they launch missile onslaughts at Israel in the full knowledge that their people will invariably suffer as a result, and there will be no military or diplomatic gain. Needless to say, these ideologies are a massive obstacle to building peace and a better future for the region.

23. Continued incitement and hatred towards Israel runs through the Muslim world: The idea that all of Israel is “occupied Arab territory” is still a core belief across the Muslim world. Israel is an object of hatred and vilification ‘on the street' and in state-controlled Arab language media in most Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia , and in the Palestinian Authority. Incitement extends to schoolbooks. And Arab language TV is laced not only with incitement but with anti-semitism. The demonisation of Israel serves as a convenient tool for avoiding domestic reform in Arab societies. In addition, and as a result of this anti-Israeli mindset, Arab citizens are not being prepared for the changes in attitude which will be needed to achieve lasting peace with Israel . Those Arabs who do speak out for Jewish national rights face intimidation, or vilification, or worse.

24. Pragmatic Arabs still hold Israel entirely to blame for the conflict: What about the ‘moderates' in the Arab world? Diplomats from so-called ‘moderate' Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States may say privately or in symbolic gatherings that they wish to live in peace with Israel . Indeed Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel . And the US-hosted Annapolis meeting of November 2007 was intended in part to ‘strengthen' further moderate voices in the Arab world. But the actions of these leaders too often bely their claimed desire for peace. They blame Israel in one-sided fashion for the conflict, and do not acknowledge the Arab world's responsibility. Arab diplomats endlessly demand concessions from Israel and outside pressure to be applied against it. The much-heralded Arab League ‘peace initiative' of 2007 is the latest example of this approach. In fact, there cannot be peace until all parties acknowledge the responsibilities which they have to build peace, and the changes they will need to make.

25: The demand for a Palestinian ‘right of return' makes peace impossible: Both the Palestinians, and the wider Arab world, continue to demand a right of return of Palestinian refugees (as defined by themselves, and by UN agencies) to Israel . This demand makes peace impossible, as well as being legally and morally unsustainable. The demand would spell the demise of Israel as a Jewish state, and is yet another indication that the obstacles to peace are not about territory, but about the right of Israel to live as a Jewish sovereign state in the region. Some commentators claim that Arab moderates are lowering their demands for a right of return: but no Arab leader can proclaim this publicly (even if it is true), as the vision of ‘return' is so deeply embedded in Arab culture and politics.

26. The USA supports Israel , but not uncritically : The USA is commonly seen as biased towards Israel , and unable to play the role of ‘honest broker' in the region. It is true that the United States supports Israel . But it is a myth to suggest that this has been ‘blind' or ‘uncritical' support. Many of Israel 's most significant policy changes over past decades have come about as a result of pressure from the USA , and many in Israel consider that this pressure is sometimes ill-judged. Following Annapolis , the US is bringing major pressure to bear on Israel to bring about a two-state solution, many would say at considerable risk to Israel 's own security. US support for Israel also offsets the huge military and financial resources of the Arab League nations, and gives Israel the reassurance necessary to make further concessions, and take risks for peace.

E. Israel and the Palestinians

27. The Israelis and Palestinians share an interest in a solution: The Israeli and Palestinian people have a shared interest in achieving a long-term solution. They are not engaged in a ‘zero-sum' game where being ‘pro-Israel' means being ‘anti-Palestinian', or vice versa. The challenge for third parties who support the quest for peace is to argue humanely and rationally for the legitimate rights of both peoples. At the moment, far too many third parties, including many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and pressure groups in Europe believe that their role is to preach at Israel , or treat it as a pariah state, until it succumbs under pressure. This is completely misconceived. Ideas about peace, and how it can be built, need to be embedded in Palestinian and wider Arab societies too.

28. Israel accepts Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution: Mainstream Israeli thinking about Palestinian statehood has evolved hugely in recent years. Over the last 15 years the Israeli public has shown its acceptance of the idea of Palestinian statehood side-by-side with Israel , and the readiness to make tangible sacrifices to build a two-state solution. The absence of a Palestinian state today is not the cause of the ongoing conflict, but a symptom of that conflict. It is Iranian, Arab and Palestinian rejectionist attitudes which preventing a viable Palestinian state from coming into being.

29. The Palestinians need to reject ‘victimhood' and seize opportunities: The extremism of Arab and Palestinian leaders have perpetuated the condition of the Palestinian people. They always portray themselves as victims of Israel ; and in so doing they have missed many opportunities to improve their situation, and achieve statehood. Even now, when the Israeli leadership is eager to create a Palestinian state, they continue to promote a one-sided mindset of ‘victimhood'. Friends and supporters of the Palestinians need to highlight their responsibilities as well as their rights, and remind them that there has never been a national movement which has attracted such international diplomatic and political attention, or economist and financial support.

30. Palestinian society is divided and weak, which hinders a two-state solution: The Palestinian people are, yet again, deeply divided. The Palestinian Authority is too weak to enforce security even in the territories under its control in the West Bank . Hamas, which rules Gaza , rejects a two-state solution outright. It is not Israel which is the obstacle to a land-for-peace agreement, but the absence of strong pragmatic leadership among the Palestinians and the ideological divisions inside Palestinian society and the Arab world (as highlighted above).

31. Disengagement from Gaza and the Northern West Bank showed that Israel is ready to sacrifice and take risks for peace: In recent years Israel has yet again demonstrated its willingness to take difficult steps in order to further the search for peace. In 2005 Israel disengaged from Gaza , withdrawing its military presence, forcibly uprooting thousands of civilian Israelis living there, and physically destroying their homes and communities. It also withdrew from the Northern part of the West Bank . Israel 's hope was to enable the Palestinians in Gaza to build a stable and internationally supported mini-state, and thus build momentum towards a two-state solution. Instead, Gazans elected a violent and rejectionist leadership, and its missile onslaught against southern Israel has intensified. Even in the face of Islamist threats and the Hamas military build-up, Israel 's leaders are negotiating the framework for a final agreement with the Palestinians on the West Bank, and are openly debating possible land-swaps, the size of future territorial withdrawals and new arrangements for Jerusalem . These issues have caused anguish inside Israel . For many, reaching agreements with the Palestinians at this time represents both a security threat to the country, and the end of the religious vision of a ‘greater Israel '. The reason Israeli society is willing to go through this internal turmoil is because the majority of its leaders and citizens realise that sacrifices which are painful to many will be needed to achieve peace.

32. Israel 's security measures are forced upon it by Palestinian violence: Israel 's security policies are routinely criticised for blocking peace and increasing Palestinian resentment and extremism. But these policies have been forced on Israel by the sustained attacks and threats which Israel faces. Israel would prefer not maintain its ‘security fence', make arrests in West Bank Arab villages, declare Gaza a ‘hostile entity' or carry out military incursions there, or operate West Bank military checkpoints which unquestionably hinder freedom of movement, and cause day-to-day frustration. But even the Palestinian factions have admitted that Israel 's security measures have thwarted many attacks, and brought down the level of violence. If lasting peace is reached, and terror ceases, Israel 's security measures would over time become unnecessary.

33. The Palestinian have a long record of suicide bombings, and the will and ability to carry out more: In recent years there have been over 25,000 violent attacks against Israeli targets by Palestinian Arabs – bombings, machine-gun attacks, drive-by shootings, and many others. These include 150 suicide bombings, and many more foiled attempts (and excludes the over 7000 mortar and missile attacks from Gaza , and the 4000 Hizbollah rockets launched in Summer 2006). Palestinian bombing targets inside Israel include shopping centres and open-air markets, buses, restaurants and coffee houses, a synagogue entrance and a Passover feast, a snooker hall and a university canteen. Over 1000 Israelis have been killed and thousands more injured and traumatised. Palestinian plots have also been thwarted to carry out ‘mega-terror attacks' on a fuel depot in North Tel-Aviv, and the country's tallest skyscrapers. The Ohayon children on a Northern Israeli kibbutz were shot dead at point blank range by a Palestinian gunman while their mother read them a bed-time story. The four Hatuel sisters were shot dead at point blank range by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza while the girls were strapped into car-seats in the back of the family car. Their mother was also shot dead. Israelis understandably need some reassurance that a Palestinian state on the West Bank is not going to become a launching pad for further violence of this type.

34. There is no moral equivalence between Palestinian targeting of Israeli civilians and Israeli measures to defend its citizens: Israel does not wish to be caught in a ‘cycle of violence'. Its security policies are last-resort measures, which have been forced upon it, and which are intended to defend its citizens (the duty of any responsible government) and quell the violence directed against them. There is no equivalence between deliberately targeting civilians, and retaliation or pre-emption against the attackers (who often shelter in civilian areas) which causes civilian loss of life. For the Palestinian groups, aiming to hurt Israeli civilians is their chosen strategy. Israel seeks to avoid causing civilian Palestinian casualties. Tragically, they sometimes fail.

35. Recognising Israel as a Jewish state is fundamental to long-term peace: Astonishingly, moderate Palestinian leaders and spokesmen have stated that they will not recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish' state. It is impossible to see how peace can be achieved until they shift this belief. Another key challenge in forging a two-state solution is achieving Palestinian recognition of Jewish national rights. With recognition, the Palestinians could achieve security, economic prosperity and their legitimate rights.

36. The Palestinian Arabs must recognise the Jewish people's historic connection to Jerusalem : When Jerusalem was in Arab hands, the Jews' right to worship at the Western Wall was ended. Jewish sites under Palestinian jurisdiction such as Joseph's tomb in Nablus have frequently been torched or desecrated. Most Palestinians reject the idea that Jerusalem is the Jews' historical capital: an attitude that makes peace impossible. Once again, the core of the conflict is not about Israel's readiness to recognise Palestinian rights, but the other way round.

37. The right of Palestinian refugees to live in a future Palestine : While rejecting the Palestinian ‘right of return' to Israel , Israel has long advocated a practical resolution of the refugee issue. Under this, Palestinians living outside the area would be entitled to move to a future state of Palestine , but not to Israel itself (except for a possible few). Compensation schemes would need to be put in place. Many Israelis and diaspora Jews argue that this must include compensation for the 900,000 Jews forced out of their homes in Arab lands in the years after Israel was formed.

38. A pragmatic solution to the settlement question can be achieved: It is often assumed that the only way to peace is for Israel to depart from the West Bank settlements in which over 250,000 Israelis reside. To Israel , this is ‘disputed', not ‘occupied' territory, which was never under the control of an Arab sovereign entity, and it considers the settlements to be lawful. Furthermore, as we have shown, the core of the conflict is not about Israel 's presence on the West Bank , but about its legitimacy as a state per se. Nonetheless, Israel wishes to withdraw from most of the West Bank . Under blueprints considered by Israeli governments, many small outlying Jewish settlements would indeed be evacuated, but it would retain around 8-10% of the West Bank area, in which the vast majority of Israelis live. Under such a blueprint, it would be possible for the Palestinians to build a viable state there, coexisting with the main Jewish settlement blocs. Israel wishes to negotiate such an agreement.

39. Curbing incitement against Israel : Palestinian society, both in Gaza and in the West Bank, promotes incitement and hatred towards Israel , and continues to honour suicide bombers as martyrs. From newspaper cartoons, to Palestinian TV broadcasts for children, Palestinian society demonises Israelis and stereotypes Jews. Making peace will be a task for diplomats. Sustaining peace will depend on what is taught in the classroom.

F. Israel and international public opinion

40. Criticism of Israel 's policies towards the Palestinians is not anti-semitic, but demonisation of Israel is anti-semitic: Criticising Israel is not anti-semitic. Israelis themselves readily admit that the country has made mistakes, and has no right to be immune to criticism. Israelis of all persuasions are vocal critics of their own governments. But some outside critics of Israel use arguments or images which are anti-semitic. ‘Demonising' Israel – that is to say, depicting Israel as persistently inhumane and ruthless with no redeeming features - is anti-semitic. That image of Israel is untrue and fosters hatred of Israel and Jews.

41. Arguments based on double-standards contribute nothing to peace: Many supporters of Israel claim that double-standards are frequently used in criticising Israel . They also claim that this is driven by anti-semitism (though most of Israel 's detractors fiercely deny that they are anti-semitic). Most Israelis argue that any other country placed in the situation in which it finds itself would adopt harsher similar or harsher security measures - yet it is Israel which is singled out for criticism. (Others point out that Israel can have no interest in having its conduct measured by the standards of Syria , Sudan or China in Tibet ). Ultimately it is irrelevant whether the alleged double-standards are motivated by anti-semitism or not. The effect of the double-standard is to drive boycott campaigns and international resolutions in forums like the UN Human Rights Council which each condemn Israel in one-sided fashion. These measures contribute nothing to peace, and are damaging to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

42. Israel looks to the international media to be fair and provide context: Israel has a free and critical press, and hosts more international journalists per capita than any other country in the world. Pro-Israel media monitoring groups which claim that media coverage of Israel is ‘biased' are not complaining that Israel is criticised, as such. What they criticise is inaccuracy, absence of context, and the willingness of journalists to accept stories at face value from Palestinian and other sources without checking the facts, and even in the fact of past efforts by Palestinians to manipulate facts or concoct untrue stories. Israelis do not ask for uncritical media support. But they are entitled to expect the media to promote informed understanding of Israel 's situation.