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Take the Quiz! Israel: Perception & Reality

Part 1. The Origins of the State of Israel, the Palestinians, and the Holocaust


1. Which of the following statements was made by David Ben-Gurion, a key figure in the founding of the state of Israel?

a) "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."

b) "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?"

c) "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?"

d) All of the above.

e) None of the above.


1.   d

Answers a, b, and c are all quotes from David Ben-Gurion available at mainstream sources. The first quote is from a statement made in 1938, 10 years before the establishment of the state of Israel. Answers b and c are from a comment Ben-Gurion made in 1956, to Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress.


2. In a speech to the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Barack Obama stated that "It was just a few years after the liberation of the [Nazi concentration] camps that David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the Jewish state of Israel." Which of the following two statements is an actual quote reflecting Ben-Gurion's views on the relationship between saving Jews from the Holocaust and establishing Israel?

a) "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 first—because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people." [emphasis added]

b) "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." [emphasis added]


2.  b

Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, New York: Henry Holt, 2000.


3. Which of the following is an accurate quote from Moshe Dayan, a major figure in the founding of Israel?

a) "Overwhelmingly, the areas settled by Jewish emigrants were not populated by Arabs."

b) "One of the greatest myths is that we stole this country [Israel] from the Arabs."

c) "Israel is truly a land without a people for a people without a land."

d) "There is not a single place built in this country [Israel] that did not have a former Arab population."

e) None of the above.


3.  d

From Address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.


4. 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

e) None of the above.


4.  d

“Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer,” by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar (Middle East Research and Information Project). Over half of these 60,000 Jews were recent settlers.


5. What percentage of the land of Palestine did the state of Israel seize in the 1948 war between Israel and Arab states?

a) 95

b) 50

c) 77

d) 15


5. c

“Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer,” by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar (Middle East Research and Information Project).


6. The 1967 "Six-Day War" resulted in Israel occupying 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. After that war, Menachem Begin, who later became prime minister, made which of the following statements in a speech to the Israeli National Defense College?

a) "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."

b) "The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. The international community must be honest. We were defending ourselves."

c) "The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai protected terrorists who were endangering Israeli citizens without regard for the lives of children and civilians."

d) "Our military operations in the Sinai were actions of last resort."

e) None of the above.


6. a

Address by Prime Minister Begin at the National Defense College, August 8, 1982 (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).


7. Ariel Sharon was Israel's prime minister from 2001 until suffering a stroke in 2006. Which of the following is he famous for?

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

c) As defense minister, serving as 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 camps outside Beirut, carried out by Israeli-backed fascist Phalange forces.

e) All of the above.


7. e


(b) “Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem,” by Issa Nakhleh; “Israel: Massacre at Kibya,” Time, October 26 1983.

(c) “Heckled Over 1982 Lebanon Move, Sharon Defends Invasion Role in Unusual Lecture,” by Dan Fisher (Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1987);.

(d) "Final Report of the Israeli Commission of Inquiry," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XII, No. 3. Spring 1983.


8. In which, if any, of the following major international events was Israel deeply involved?

a) The Iran-Contra Affair, shipping arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Money from the arms sales was used to fund the "Contras" who were carrying out sabotage and violence against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

b) The installation of the notorious General Idi Amin as the ruler of Uganda.

c) The slaughter of at least 182,000 Mayan peasants by the death-squad regime in Guatemala during the period of 1978-1984.

d) All of the above.

e) None of the above.


8. d

(a) Excerpts from the Tower Commission's Report.

(b) “Revealed: how Israel helped Amin to take power,” by Richard Dowden, The Independent, August 17, 2003.

(c) Guatemala: Memory of Silence, Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification.


9. To which of the following countries has Israel not sold or transferred substantial military material?

a) The government of South Africa during the apartheid era. Israel observed an international boycott of selling military weapons to that regime.

b) The government of India over past two decades. Israel’s policy is to not support the Hindu-fascist Modi regime now in power in India.

c) The Islamic Republic of Iran. For obvious reasons Israel has refused to sell or transfer military supplies to that regime.

d) Israel has not sold or transferred weapons to any of the three countries listed above.

e) Israel has sold or transferred weapons to all three of the countries listed above.


9. e

Israel has sold or transferred weapons to all three regimes.

(a) “Brothers in Arms—Israel’s Secret Pact with Pretoria,” by Chris McGreal, The Guardian, February 7, 2006.

(b) Israel has long exported arms to India. Now it’s selling spyware too,” by Urvashi Sarkar, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 4, 2022.

(c) Excerpts from the Tower Commission's Report.


10. When did Joe Biden say that if Israel did not exist, the U.S. would have had to “invent” it?

a) In 1986, when he was a U.S. senator.

b) In 2015, when he was vice president under Barack Obama.

c) In October 2023, as Israel began the genocidal war in Gaza after the Hamas attack in southern Israel.

d) On all three occasions (and other times through the years).

e) He never made such a statement.



(a) As senator, arguing for the importance of $3 billion in military aid the U.S. gives annually to Israel, Biden said that Israel “is the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region. The United States would have to go out and invent an Israel." (C-SPAN).

(b) As vice president, at a celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, Biden said, “As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one. We’d have to invent one because… you protect our interests like we protect yours.” Office of the Vice President, April 23, 2015.

(c) During his trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, Biden said, “I have long said: If Israel didn’t exist, we would have to invent it.”, October 18, 2023.


11. From the 1948 founding of Israel and through the following decades, the Republicans have been much more vocal and aggressive compared to Democrats in pushing for U.S. military aid and backing for Israel. 

a) True. 

b) False.


11. False 

Democratic President Harry Truman was the first head of state worldwide to recognize the new state of Israel—just 11 minutes after its official founding (Harry S. Truman Library/Museum). Support for Israel has been a pillar of U.S. policy ever since, under both Democrats and Republicans. In 1999, Democratic President Bill Clinton pledged to give Israel “at least $26 billion” in aid—mostly military—over the next 10 years. In 2007, Republican President George W. Bush pledged $30 billion for the next 10 years. In 2016, Democratic President Barack Obama signed a 10-year pledge for $38 billion, entirely for military aid. (U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, Congressional Research Service, p. 8, March 1, 2023). Soon after Israel began its current massive war on Gaza, President Joe Biden sent Congress a request for $14 billion in additional military aid to Israel, as part of a $105 billion package including more aid for Ukraine in the U.S.’s proxy war with Russia and for Taiwan (as part of ramping up U.S. confrontations against rival imperialist power China) and further beefing up militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. (New York Times, October 20, 2023).


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