Posted on May 22nd, 2011
If you think about it, there is nothing all that surprising about President Obama’s speech where he said that the “1967 borders” should be the basis of a peace agreement between Israel and the new state of Palestine. The vast majority of the world has bought on to this concept that the Jewish history of Jerusalem and what is popularly referred to as the “West Bank” only began in 1967.
While anyone who has really looked into the history of the region will know that this conception is a big fat lie, that’s just the point. We live in an age where people want their information in tiny, bite size, entertaining bits. When even a five minute video on YouTube is too long for the average person’s attention span — it is no wonder that the simple lie is winning more adherents than the more complicated truth.
Consider references that appear every day in the media:
“Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel conquered in 1967 but the Palestinians view as their future capital….”
“The West Bank, occupied by Israel as a result of the Six Day War….”
“Settlements are illegal under international law, but Israel disputes this….”
Appearing again and again in almost every major media publication, these phrases are now accepted as fact. So much so that a U.S. President sees nothing wrong with calling for a peace agreement based on the 1967 lines. Why not, if Israel stole this land from Palestine, we need to give it back, right?
But wait the pro-Israel side cries out. Gives us a chance to trot out our historians and international law experts. Let them discuss how the Geneva Convention was never intended to apply to territory taken in a defensive war. Let them explain how in 1948, everyone involved agreed that the “green line” would never be an international border. Let them dissect the Oslo Accords and the Road Map and explain how Israel is in compliance and the Palestinians are not.
Sorry, but while the Hasbara experts are doing all that, the world moves on. We live in the Facebook era. If you can’t reduce your message to a Facebook status update or a Twitter post no one’s listening anymore. Having the facts on your side is no longer enough (was it ever?)
Facebook recently changed the way you post comments. You now no longer have to click on the post button. Just press return and your comment goes up. Why did they make this change? Because the extra half second it took people to click on “post” took too long. Do you really think we can keep answering Israel’s critics with a response that can’t be read from an iPhone while grocery shopping?
So what should be the short to the point message? How can we change the debate so that Israel is not always on the defensive?
By talking like this…
“Jerusalem — which Israel reunited in 1967…”
“Eastern Jerusalem, where the Jordanian Legion expelled Jewish residents in 1948…”
“What is now called the West Bank, which is home to many of the most historically significant Jewish areas”
“…parts of the West Bank that were liberated by the Israeli Army in 1967.
“The West Bank, that was occupied by the Jordanian Legion for nineteen years…”
“Jerusalem, which was only divided for nineteen years out of its 3,000 plus year history….
I could go on but I think you get the point.
Our message is simple:
The history of Israel did not begin in 1967.
Until we can make this clear in every possible forum, we will keep hearing of “peace plans” that are based on the assumption that the Israeli presence in the disputed territory is illegitimate and must be ended.
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