I’m 15 years old, in 9th grade and am MIFF’s intern this week – here’s why I support Israel:
“Why do you support Israel?”, I am often asked. Why would I go so far as to support a country that has had 48 UN resolutions smashed in the head between 2006-2012? Why would I support a so-called apartheid state, a state where a concentration camp is run in the Gaza Strip or a state where one “steals” land?
Had we lived in a world where facts trumped being fact-resistant, asking why they supported Israel would be equivalent to wanting to know why they supported a country with democratic values, equality, a free press or the right to sovereignty over one’s own country. We would sigh inside when we heard people’s absurd claims that Israel should be an apartheid state or that Gaza should be a concentration camp. Unfortunately, we have to deal with reality. One is more likely, in the UN for example, to accuse Israel of untruths than, for example, to hold countries like China responsible for denying one billion people basic freedoms. Unfortunately, we also know that the UN’s view of Israel is contagious to other people’s perceptions of the country, as the UN has a reputation as a reliable source. Therefore, I have to put on my work gloves and hammer my fingers in the keys to explain why, as a young person, I support Israel and why, in my view, one should support the state. Both if you are young and adult.
First and foremost, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. There is free press in Israel, women and men are equal and LGBT people have the right to full protection from the state. There is full religious freedom, independent courts and people always have the right to a lawyer if they are accused of crime. 1/5 of Israel’s population are Arabs. They enjoy the same rights and are entitled to the same protection as a Jewish Israeli would have. There is an Arab party represented in the Knesset (Common List) and George Karra is an Arab Supreme Court justice in the Israeli legal system. Even on the small, impractical levels, Arabs and Jews in the state of Israel are fully equal. They have access to the same buses, go on the same roads, and it is not uncommon for an Israeli Jew to have an Arab Muslim as a neighbor. So we can now curl the paper-thin arguments, in relation to Israel being an apartheid state, and throw them in the bin. Accusing Israel of practicing apartheid is not only a major insult to the country in the Middle East where, for example, religious minorities enjoy the most rights. It is also a great insult to South Africa’s black population, who may be going through real apartheid, as it undermines what horrors they may be going through.
In addition, I support Israel because they have shown the greatest willingness to form a peace agreement and a two-state solution. Israel has offered the Palestinians a state at least five times. For example, in 2008, when Ehud Olmert (the former Israeli prime minister) offered to give back 94% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. Mahmood Abbas (President of the Palestinian Authority, rejected the agreement). So if people use the argument of occupation of the West Bank as a continuation of the fact that one should not support Israel, one should first of all keep in mind that Israel has repeatedly offered to give the country back to the Palestinians, and that Israel also withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in the hope of peace (the terrorist group Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007).
It should also be emphasized that all forms of military offensives have been to defend Israel’s sovereignty and security. Israel has just as little interest in war as Denmark has. This can be reflected in the many peace agreements that Israel has sought to conclude with the Palestinians. Last but not least, Israel is a valuable trading partner for Western countries and a major producer of medicines, for example. Israel thus contributes to our welfare and well-being in everyday life.
One might ask oneself whether one would support a Palestinian government (I would like to emphasize that I am in no way criticizing the Palestinian people, religion or culture, but merely their government). The terrorist group Hamas controls Gaza and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist (the terrorist group is on the EU and US terror list, among others) and Fatah in the West Bank, which is accused of being a deeply corrupt organization. Hamas is using Gaza’s people as a human shield against Israeli defensive attacks, it has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and kibbutzim in southern Israel for years, and it has been proven that they dig terrorist tunnels from Gaza into Israel to commit terrorist attacks against Israelis. There are no democratic rights, LGBT people are in no way protected, and equality is not a reality. If you support the Palestinian government, then, in my view, you choose to support a government that is directly detrimental to the Palestinians (a group of people who, like the Israeli people, want peace).
So next time you ask me why I support Israel, ask yourself why you do not…
See also my clip from the streets of Copenhagen, where I asked random passers-by what they think of Israel – watch the clip on YouTube: