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“The Truth About the West Bank”

It is understandable that the Israeli government wants to make its occupation and settlement policies seem reasonable and justified when they aren’t, but even by the standards of clumsy hasbara this video (via Joe Carter) is exceptional:

The bit around the 3:00 minute 2:45 mark when Ayalon claims that the Balfour Declaration somehow entitles Israel to the West Bank is probably the most outstanding falsehood. As I’m sure almost everyone knows, the Balfour Declaration was a “declaration of sympathy” that said the following:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Jeffrey Goldberg describes the video as “cheesy and disturbing,” which it is, and challenges the main argument Ayalon makes:

Ayalon argues, among other things, “The West Bank should not be considered ‘occupied’ because there was no previous legal sovereign in the area and therefore the real definition should be ‘disputed territory.’ Ayalon neglects to mention that the salient point about the West Bank might not be who the “legal sovereign” was 44 years ago, but that actual people of another ethnic group live on the West Bank and don’t want to be ruled — “occupied” would be another word for “ruled” — by a foreign power. To most of the world, at least (and to many, many Israelis and a clear majority of American Jews) this is what matters.

The purpose of the video is to maintain support for the continuation of the occupation of the West Bank, so it’s a bit rich for Ayalon to claim that it is mainly concerned with accurate terminology.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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