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Myth and Fact: Israel's Treatment of Palestinians
Mitchell G. Bard


"Israel is pursuing a policy of genocide toward the Palestinians that is comparable to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews."


This is perhaps the most odious claim made by Israel's detractors. The Nazis' objective was the systematic extermination of every Jew in Europe. Israel is seeking peace with its Palestinian neighbors. More than one million Arabs live as free and equal citizens in Israel. Of the Palestinians in the territories, 98 percent live under the civil administration of the Palestinian Authority. While Israel sometimes employs harsh measures against Palestinians in the territories to protect Israeli citizens - Jews and non-Jews - from the incessant campaign of terror waged by the PA and Islamic radicals, there is no plan to persecute, exterminate, or expel the Palestinian people.

In response to one such comparison, by a poet who referred to the "Zionist SS," The New Republic's literary editor Leon Wieseltier observed:

The view that Zionism is Nazism - there is no other way to understand the phrase "Zionist SS" - is not different in kind from the view that the moon is cheese. It is not only spectacularly wrong, it is also spectacularly unintelligent. I will not offend myself (that would be self-hate speech!) by patiently explaining why the State of Israel is unlike the Third Reich, except to say that nothing that has befallen the Palestinians under Israel's control may responsibly be compared to what befell the Jews under Germany's control, and that a considerable number of the people who have toiled diligently to find peace and justice for the Palestinians, and a solution to this savage conflict, have been Israeli, some of them even Israeli prime ministers. There is no support for the Palestinian cause this side of decency that can justify the locution "Zionist SS" (The New Republic, December 30, 2002).

The absurdity of the charge is also clear from the demography of the disputed territories. While detractors make outrageous claims about Israel committing genocide or ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian population has continued to explode. In Gaza, for example, the population increased from 731,000 in July 1994 to 1,225,911 in July 2002, an increase of 68 percent. The growth rate was 3.95 percent, one of the highest in the world. According to the UN, the total Palestinian population in all the disputed territories (they include Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem) was 1,006,000 in 1950, and rose to 1,094,000 in 1970, and exploded to 2,152,000 in 1990. Anthony Cordesman notes the increase "was the result of improvements in income and health services" made by the Israel. Since the intifada, the Palestinian population has continue to grow exponentially, increasing more than 20 percent just from 1995 to 2,000 when it reached 3,183,000 (Anthony Cordesman, "From Peace to War: Land for Peace or Settlements for War," DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 15, 2003, pp. 12-13).