Revolution #103, October 7, 2007

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Think You Know the Facts About Israel? Take the Quiz and Find Out

Last spring, at the School for International Training in Vermont, a student posted a fact sheet about the state of Israel on an online discussion group. The fact sheet came from Revolution’s predecessor, the Revolutionary Worker. The school went into an uproar. The Dean of Graduate Studies called for a campus forum – not to debate the content of the fact sheet, but to criticize the student who sent it for violating the school’s policy on “appropriate use of the electronic media” by posting “material that may be or may be perceived as harassment”!

Apparently a simple examination into the actual history of the state of Israel is now verboten on college campuses and intellectual centers. Were it only this campus, it would be one thing – but a number of prominent universities have “disinvited” everyone from poets to historians who’ve criticized the state of Israel. And then there’s the shameful firing of Norman Finkelstein at DePaul, for his critical views of Israel.

So, be forewarned. The following quiz will bring out facts that may make you uncomfortable. It may even cause you to question long-held beliefs and – gasp! – change your understanding.

In this issue, we are printing Parts 1 & 2 of the quiz. Watch future issues and visit for the complete quiz.

Part 1: Who Said It?

1. “For Europe we shall create there in Palestine an outpost against Asia, we shall be the vanguard of the civilised world against barbarism.”


2. “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”


3. “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second—because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.”


4. “If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”


5. “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not a single place in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”


Part 2: “A Land Without People for a People Without a Land?” — Or an Ethnically Cleansed Settler State?

1. True or False: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. All citizens of the state of Israel, including Arabs, enjoy equal rights under the law.


2. Multiple Choice: Zionists hold that historically, Palestine had been "a land without people for a people without land." What was the actual Palestinian Arab population compared to the Jewish population in Palestine at the beginning of World War 1 in 1914?

a) 10,000 Arabs and 150,000 Jews

b) 100,000 Arabs and 150,000 Jews

c) 15,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews

d) 683,000 Arabs and 60,000 Jews


3. Multiple Choice: The November 1947 UN resolution backed by the U.S. and other powers partitioned Palestine into a Zionist state and an Arab state. At that time, the Palestinians outnumbered Zionist settlers two to one and owned 92 percent of the land. The partition gave Israel 54 percent of the land. On May 14, 1948—after the Palestinians and the Arab countries refused to accept the partition—Israel launched a war against Palestinians. What percentage of the land of Palestine did the state of Israel seize in the 1948 war?

a) 95

b) 50

c) 77

d) 15


4. Israeli leaders have always claimed that during Israel’s “war of independence” in 1948, Arab leaders ordered the Palestinian population to abandon their homes in Palestine and promised that refugees would be cared for in neighboring Arab countries until they could return to Palestine. True or False: This is the reason that when the war ended in January 1949, nearly 800,000 Palestinians—two-thirds of the population—ended up in exile in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank.


5. In the 1967 “Six-Day War,” Israel took over the remaining 23 percent of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem—along with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights. True or False: All Israeli leaders have insisted that they were defending themselves against Arab aggression, in particular threats from Egypt’s Nasser.


6. Multiple Choice: Ariel Sharon was Israel’s prime minister from 2001 until suffering a stroke in 2006. Which of the following is he famous for?

a) Led a commando unit of the Haganah, a Zionist underground group, that carried out terrorist operations against Palestinian communities before the establishment of the Israeli state.

b) Led an Israeli army unit in the 1950s called Unit 101 which carried out armed attacks against Palestinians. In October 1953, for example, this unit blew up the village of Kibya in the West Bank, killing 69 civilians.

c) As defense minister, was the main architect of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon when, in a space of a few weeks, the Israeli military killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians.

d) Being charged with “indirect responsibility” by an official Israeli investigation for the September 1982 massacre of 2,000 people at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp outside Beirut, carried out by Israeli-backed fascist Phalange forces.

e) The blatantly provocative action in September 2000 when he visited Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, one of the key sites in Islamic religion, surrounded by a huge contingent of Israeli soldiers. Israeli troops gunned down 90 Palestinian youths during protests that erupted in response.

f) All of the above



Part 1:

1: Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement. Zionism arose at a time of great social ferment in Europe, including over the place of Jews in society. Many Jewish people joined Marxist movements or other movements fighting against the oppression of Jews in European societies. But Zionist leaders instead offered to set up a settler-state in the Middle East in service of various imperialist powers. The imperialist power that eventually became the patron of the Zionist movement was Britain. Herzl explained that “England with her possessions in Asia should be most interested in Zionism… The shortest route to India is by way of Palestine. And so believe in England that the idea of Zionism, which is a colonial idea, should easily be understood.” [back]

2: David Ben-Gurion, founder of the state of Israel, speaking in 1938. Ben-Gurion maintained from the beginning that Israel would have to dominate all of historic Palestine, despite agreeing to different “partition” plans. [back]

3: Ben-Gurion, 1938. The bitter irony of this, given the ways in which Israel utilizes the Holocaust to prop up its legitimacy, is obvious. [back]

4: Again, the speaker is Ben-Gurion, in 1956, to Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress. [back]

5: Moshe Dayan, the commander of Israel’s 1967 war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Approximately 500 Arab villages and nearly a dozen urban neighborhoods were utterly destroyed by Israeli settlers. Dayan also remarked that, “There is not a single Jewish village in the land which was not built on the site of an Arab dwelling place.” [back]

Part 2:

1: False. A few of the many reasons: Israel was founded in 1948 as a Jewish state. In 1992, a Knesset (the Israeli parliament) committee removed a clause from the Israeli Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty before the final version became law. That clause would have guaranteed equal rights before the law for all citizens and outlawed discrimination based on race, nationality, country of origin, religion or gender. The Israel Democracy Institute reported in May 2003 that 53 percent of Israeli Jews “are against full equality for the Arabs” and only 31 percent “support having Arab political parties in the government.” [back]

2: d. And over half of these 60,000 Jews were recent settlers.] [back]

3: c [back]

4: False. The often verbalized (but only rarely officially codified) doctrine of the Zionist movement is to “transfer” the Arab population out of Palestine in order to pave the way first for the establishment and then the strengthening of the Jewish state (see statements by Ben-Gurion and Dayan in Part 1, for example). In 1948, at the village of Deir Yassin, Israeli forces massacred defenseless villagers. While all credible sources admit to over 100 Palestinian people being slaughtered, the Jewish eyewitness Meir Pa’il insists that there were 250. Israel used this atrocity to spread terror among the Palestinian people, and many fled their homes in panic. Other Arab towns such as Lydde and Ramle were surrounded and the people forcibly expelled en masse. [back]

5: False. After the war, Menachem Begin, who later became prime minister, said in a speech to the Israeli National Defense College, “The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” And a number of historians and researchers—even within, and supportive of, Israel—have challenged the official story that the “Six Day War” was in response to the threat of Egyptian aggression. [back]

6: f [back]


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