The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Cutting Through the Myths & Misinformation


There is a tremendous amount of misinformation and disinformation spread about the Arab-Israeli conflict, even by prominent people such as former President Jimmy Carter.

There are at least two websites dedicated to debunking widespread myths: We will discuss some of the more prominent myths, such as those listed here along with others participants are encouraged to raise.

Myths may be objective or subjective.

We may describe objective myths as commonly held understandings which are contrary to fact, while subjective myths may be described as commonly held opinions which are fundamentally unreasonable. Of course, the classification of a subjective myth is itself subjective.

The statement "The 1949 armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the new nation of Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States, and recognized officially by the United Nations," made by Jimmy Carter in "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," is an example of the former, easily disproven by an examination of the relevant documents, while the need to make progress on an Arab-Israeli peace in order to get Arab backing for efforts to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, or the belief of some Israelis that they can obtain peace without making further territorial concessions, are examples of the latter.

There are also commonly held beliefs that, when examined closely, are far from clear, such as the belief that territories captured by Israel in 1967 qualify as being "occupied" under international law, itself a highly nebulous term.

We will concentrate on objective myths, with a lesser degree of concentration on subjective myths, although it's likely some of the latter will get introduced during discussions. We include just a handful below.

Objective Myths

  • Arab terrorism is a reaction to Israeli occupation.
  • Israel created the Arab refugee problem.
  • Israel forced the Arab refugees to stay in camps.
  • Israel perpetrated a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp.
  • The PLO has removed the portions of its charter calling for the elimination of Israel.
  • The Palestinian Arabs are being asked to accept only 22% of Palestine for their state while Israel gets to keep 78%.
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to return to its pre-1967 boundaries.

Subjective Myths

  • Israel built an apartheid wall, which does nothing to prevent terrorism, to steal Arab land.
  • Israel has built an apartheid wall on Arab land.
  • Israel is causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza with its illegal blockade.
  • Israel prevents ambulances from taking sick and injured Arabs to hospitals.
  • Israel uses checkpoints to deny Arabs their rights and humiliate them.
  • The "al-Aksa intifada" was provoked by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount.
  • The Arab states accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 but Israel rejected it.
  • The Palestinian question is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Fact-Free Middle East Negotiations?— This is an article by Arlene Kushner explaining some of the pervasive myths re the Arab-Israeli conflict, including some of the above but others which are not mentioned above. Arlene Kushner maintains a highly informative blog, Arlene from Israel.