Twisting Israeli and Palestinian history
February 21, 2020
In Donna Nevel’s Feb. 7 op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel (“Bloomberg’s ‘kibbutz’ comment brings to mind Zionist history”), the self-styled “social justice activist” author capitalizes on an opportunity to convert a simple sentence on socialism into a wildly distorted and historically inaccurate diatribe against Israel and reality.
In her highly romanticized rendition of history, the author portrays the creation of Israel as a catastrophe for the Palestinians. She offers the Palestinian narrative of the “Naqba,” or “Catastrophe,” which resulted in the displacement of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.
She selectively chooses to omit the fact that an equal number of Jews were forcibly evicted from the surrounding Arab states at the same time. Apparently, the concept of “social justice” for the author is only applied to some and not others.
She then descends into the worn and historically disproven claim that Israel somehow practices a form of apartheid. While it is true that there are apartheid states in the Middle East—and even apartheid regimes that single out the Palestinians within their borders for segregation, mistreatment and abuse—Israel is not one of these regimes.
The author fails to acknowledge that, to the north, Lebanon refuses its Palestinians the right to work, marry Lebanese or even to leave the squalor of their forced existence in refugee camps. Even more egregiously, she omits the fact that to the south, in Gaza, Palestinians live on liberated land free from either Egyptian or Israeli control, yet suffer under the brutal oppression of the Hamas terrorists who control the territory and forcibly use the residents as human shields.
Israel, while clearly imperfect, has been a relative model of freedom and success for the Palestinians in her midst. Israel is the only place where Palestinians enjoy the right to vote, freedom of assembly, national healthcare, subsidized university education and the ability to travel abroad. Unlike every one of its neighboring nations, Israel instead chooses to engage its Palestinian neighbors within Israel’s borders, rather than disenfranchise them.
From the bench of Israel’s Supreme Court—where a Palestinian judge cast a vote to successfully imprison a corrupt Israeli Prime Minister—to the valedictorian of Israel’s leading university, to its selection of a Palestinian Miss Israel, to the thousands of Arab Druze and Bedouins who serve in the Israeli Army, Palestinians in Israel are hardly living in an apartheid state, and indeed enjoy their greatest opportunities for success in the region.
The author closes her case on Israel with a plea of support for the widely discredited and anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that has ironically done more to harm the interests of Palestinians than support them. The BDS movement has been recognized by the German and Austrian governments as a form of anti-Semitism, and here in the U.S., some 27 states (including Florida) have laws to protect us from its bigotry. The author seems to be on the wrong side of both history and the truth.
As former Senator Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y., put it: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.” The author of Friday’s column has not only distorted the facts, she has distorted history itself and, like the BDS movement, will ultimately do more harm than good for the Palestinian cause.
With friends like the author, the Palestinians hardly need enemies.
This article was originally published at OrlandoSentinel.com.
Aaron Weil is the CEO of Central Florida Hillel and lives in Orlando.