1947 Partition Plan, The Washington Institute

Opinion: A Middle East Quiz for Pundits & Protesters

By Moshe Phillips

(Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.)

The six-month anniversary of the savage Hamas terrorist attack of October 7 came and went, and I was left with the feeling that less and less of the American politicians, TV talking heads, protesters, and so-called journalists, who feel they must comment about Israel, should not be. Far too many just don’t know the simple historical facts needed to intelligently speak about this war. They refer all the time to what they call Palestine, “the Israeli occupation,” “Israeli apartheid,” and “the Israeli settlements”, which shows they lack a basic understanding of simple facts.

How many of these so-called arbiters of truth do you think would be able to pass a simple quiz? Could they even score a 50%? And if they could not, what drives them to speak out so harshly against Israel?

How many pundits and protesters could score a 50% on the below short quiz?

1. What year was the First Zionist Congress held?
This founding Zionist meeting was held in Switzerland in 1897. The idea that Zionism originated as a response to German Nazism is false as is the claim that the Zionists wanted a Jewish State outside of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. The anthem selected at the 1897 Congress included the words “The land of Zion and Jerusalem.” The false claims about Zionism’s origins and goals were created to portray Zionism as having been created to further European colonialism and solve the European problem of antisemitism. Antisemitism was never only a European hatred and was just as strong or stronger in Islamic majority countries.  

2. What percentage of Israelis are not descended from European Jewish communities but hail from the Middle East and North Africa?
According to the Pew Research Center, a plurality of Israeli Jews are Sephardim or Mizrahim (48%) compared to 45% Ashkenazim (European). The remaining 7% are mostly Ethiopian and Indian Jews. The idea that all Israelis are descended from European Jews who came to Israel to escape Nazism and are not from the region is false.

3. Do Palestinian Arabs serve in the Israeli Knesset (legislature)?
The Israeli government system is the antithesis of apartheid. Multiple parties led by Arabs participated in Israel’s first election in 1949 and Arabs have been candidates and have been elected throughout Israel’s history. Currently 10 Knesset Members are Arab. The Likud, which is very often labeled as racist by those ignorant of Israeli politics, had an Israeli Arab Druze Knesset Member for over 22 years named Ayoob Kara.

4. Who occupied Gaza from 1948 to 1967?
Egypt occupied Gaza from 1948 until June 1967. No attempt was made by any Gazans to free the area from Egypt nor was there any international pressure to create a Palestinian state there nor serious calls for such from Arab nations.

5. When was the first President or Prime Minister of Palestine elected?
Yasser Arafat became President of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994. Before that there was no modern, independent, viable Palestinian Arab nation that existed nor any government. The idea of separate Palestinian nationhood did not exist prior to the creation of Israel.

6. What are Israeli settlements?
Settlements are Jewish communities where there are neighborhoods of families in areas that Israel did not control before 1967; put another way, these are cities and towns founded by Israelis in Judea and Samaria the so-called “territories”. No settlements were attacked on October 7. There are families with deep roots in the settlements with several generations of children born and raised in the settlements.

7. How long has Israel occupied Gaza?
On October 7 no Israeli troops were in Gaza at all. All Israelis were removed from Gaza in 2005 as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. Gazans had complete control within their territory for 19 years before October 7. Many of the Jewish families who lived in Gaza that were removed in 2005 had previously lived in the Sinai and had been removed from their homes there when Israel surrendered the territory in 1982 to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords. Israel has already relinquished control of over 23,000 square miles of territory it captured in 1967. By contrast Israel is only 8,000 square miles. Israel has already sacrificed tremendous amounts of territory in its efforts to try to achieve peace with the Arab nations that surround it.  

8. When was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formed?
The PLO was founded in 1964 when the Old City of Jerusalem, Gaza, and Judea-Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”) were all occupied by Jordan or Egypt. So, the PLO was created to end the existence of any Israeli control of any land it held after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

9. What did Hamas call its October 7 surprise terrorist attack and why?
Hamas and its terrorist allies named the attack Al-Aqsa Flood after a Jerusalem mosque built on the Temple Mount above the Western Wall. Hamas (like Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood) is dedicated to a violent, expansive militant version of Islam that sees the murder of civilians as a legitimate part of the wars they launch. Moreover, the use of the name Al-Aqsa is their way of saying that the war doesn’t end until Jews are driven out of Jerusalem and kept out just as the Jews are banned by the Saudis from Mecca and Medina.

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They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

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