Dorothy Online Newsletter


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear All,

One of the disadvantages of reading on-line media is that one can read a great deal and find nothing worth while forwarding.  Of course I mean that there is nothing that would add or detract from the information about what is happening in this small part of the world.  True, I could have included a dozen articles on Libya and the other revolts, but today I was more concerned to keep you informed about events in Israel-Palestine.  I presume that your local papers have news about the rest of the Middle East these days.

If there are disadvantages there are also advantages of reading on-line media.  One such is that sometimes you find the totally unexpected.  The SF Chronicle, for instance, informed me that tomorrow people in San Francisco and elsewhere in the SF Bay Area (where I have a good deal of family, including our oldest son and his family) might wake up to snow! Wow!  That’s exciting.  It’s about equivalent to Tel Aviv having snow.  Also, I found an argument in Letters to the Editor of the Seattle Times about ads that were to have been put up in the metro, apparently calling Israel an apartheid state, but were ultimately not allowed.  But the fact that the argument made the newspaper is valuable, too, as some readers might derive from it a different view of Israel than the one that they previously had had.

These items are not among the 5 below, though.

Item 1 reveals another demolition of a village (tents and huts) including cisterns.  You must be tired of hearing about demolition after demolition.  But for the people who experience these, it is a cruel, dastardly act.  Israel seems to have forgotten the notion of not doing unto others what it would not want done to itself.  Moreover, demolishing cisterns is even more ugly or as ugly as demolishing dwellings.  The people in the South Hebron Hills have to trek water in by tankers to fill the cisterns.  So demolishing the cisterns is also theft of the water these people need not for themselves and  their livestock.

Item 2 expands on the report that I previously sent about the PHR’s Gaza event.  Hopefully Israel will continue to allow Israeli medical care to enter Gaza.

In item 3 Neve Gordon argues that ‘Israel’s media presents Egyptian democracy as a threat.’  This is what Israelis hear. Am not so sure, though, that this is brain washing, as I believe that most Israelis from the outset preferred to have Mubarak remain.  He served as a so-called safety valve for Israelis.  Therefore, the fact that he was a dictator for the Egyptians hardly matters to most Israelis.

Item 4 is on a topic that I don’t usually include, but as a member of New Profile (a feminist movement) I find it suitable and important.  Merav Michaeli gives you an inkling of the sexism that exists in Israel.  Israel is still much a male-run country. And to make things worse, many of the males in the lead come from the military and bring its values as concerns sex as well as other things to civilian life.



Item 5 ticks off the ‘8 most commonly held misconceptions’ Americans have of Israel.

All the best,


1. CPTHebron Tuwani Team <[email protected]>

Israeli military demolishes village of Amniyr

Video of the incident is available at:

Amniyr, South Hebron Hills, West Bank

22 February 2011 – At 5 AM this morning the Israeli army, accompanied by members of the Israeli District Coordinating Office, arrived at the village of Amniyr and demolished five tent-houses, two cisterns and the village’s olive trees. The demolitions effectively destroyed the entire village and left its three families homeless. All that remained unharmed after the military left was a cave and a small taboun oven.

According to villagers, the military had been coming frequently for the past several months and delivering demolition orders and maps claiming that the village was on Israeli state land, and that their homes would be demolished unless everyone left.

Residents of Amniyr told CPT that they have suffered from years of settler and army harrassment. Years ago, members of the Jaboor family lived in the cave in Amniyr, but Israeli military and settler harassment forced them to move to a different area a few kilometers away. The harrassment continued in their new location, however, convincing the family to move back to tents close to their original cave just over a year ago.

What was once a small village is now a pile of dirt mounds, uprooted olive trees and shattered clocks and dishware.

“Where are we supposed to sleep tonight?” said Moath Jaboor, who lived in a tent with his mother. “We’ll have to rebuild our homes so that we can sleep.”

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.


2.  Medical delegation from Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) enters the Gaza-strip.

Report by Salah Hay Yihyeh, director for activities in the occupied territories.

(Translated, edited and abridged by EK).

(This is an extension to the short report disseminated earlier).

During the two-day visit to Gaza (on 17 and 18 of February) the delegation, consisting of two neurologists and an orthopedic surgeon, and the director of medical activities in the occupied territories, all Arab-Israeli’s, all members of PHR, was mainly concerned with diagnosing and treating complicated medical cases, besides meeting with Health Organizations in Gaza.

Until the end of 2008 some degree of contact was maintained with medical services in Gaza and medical help could be extended by us. Since the last action by the IDF (Cast Lead) entry was denied to PHR by the Israeli authorities, until this sudden reversal of attitude. We can only hope that from now on contact and cooperation will be renewed.

On Friday 17 February the delegation waited for one hour at the Erez-crossing to finalize all necessary formalities and proceeded on foot to the Palestinian checkpoint, which is about two kilometers away form the Israeli side; there we were awaited by a vehicle from the Gaza Ministry of Health. We were warmly greeted by colleagues we had not met for two years and driven to Gaza to start work.

On our way there it seemed that time had stood still for two years. Buildings remained unfinished, or destroyed; roads are not maintained, and general malaise is noted all around. Sewage streams in the alleys, and horses and carts replace automobiles because lack of gasoline. Electricity is frequently cut off.

The delegation was received by the Minister of Health, and other high functionaries. The very difficult situation in the Gaza-strip was explained to the visitors.

First and foremost the lack of basic medicines and medical supplies are stressed. Essential medication for cancer patients is lacking, and a long list was presented to the delegation. But even basic medication, such as pediatric paracetamol syrup has been absent for one month.

Essential medical equipment is unavailable. For instance, the CT-apparatus in Khan Yunis European Hospital has been out of order for 10 months, because of missing spare parts. In Nasser Children’s Hospital the CT machine is non-functioning since there is no money for repairs. In Al-Shifa Hospital no blood tests could be performed for one month because of lack of necessary materials.

The minister of Health blames not only Israel for this situation, but also Ramallah, which is cooperating with the blockade. He stated: concerning the international assistance we supposedly receive: much of our supplies are of no use, or are over-date. One example – Algeria promised help and sent 28 dialysis-machines. It appeared that these were 15 years old, many do not function at all, and the American factory producing them has gone bankrupt 12 years ago. And many more sad examples.

Electricity is cut off frequently and generators need fuel, which is in short supply as well.

Another worrisome fact is the dearth of specialists, and the near impossibility to send young doctors for training in specialized medical centers because of the blockade.

The present developments in Egypt again stopped all passage of frontiers.

After this meeting the delegation proceeded to Khan Yunes, where 15 difficult medical cases were presented. Most of these need interventions that are not available in Gaza, mostly neuro-surgical and vertebral operations. Some of these patients need urgent operations in order to prevent rapid deterioration. We try to obtain the help of an Israeli specialist, member of PHR, who will perform the necessary operations and bring his own equipment!

After this activity, the delegation set up an improvised clinic in a building in the main street that connects several refugee camps. 70 patients were examined; 15 were deemed to benefit from operations. We will try to perform these operations on our next visit, and bring the necessary instrumentation with us.

At 20:00 after the clinic the delegation traveled to Al-Shifaa Hospital in the center of the Gaza-strip, to examine ten patients, who need joint replacement surgery. These interventions are planned for our next visit.

At 22:00 another meeting was held with the minister of Health and heads of the health Services. Many subjects were covered, about methods of training in the Gaza-area.

At 01:00 a representative of WHO joined the delegation and he gave an overview of the health situation in the Gaza-strip.

Friday, 18 February.

At 08:00 some 20 neurologists and internists from hospitals in the Gaza-strip attended two lectures given by members of the delegation.

Thereafter another meeting was held in the El-Oudeh Hospital, planning ways of intensifying cooperation between the hospital and PHR. The director of the hospital thanked PHR and expressed hope for continuation of our commitment.

At 12:30 the delegation started the return journey home.

Heartfelt thanks are due to the members of the delegation. Much effort will be needed to continue this important work, and continued financial support is necessary for PHR to maintain this level of support in the occupied territories.


3.  Israeli media ‘fears’ the new Egypt

Israel’s media presents Egyptian democracy as a threat, with one commentator lamenting the end of colonialism.

Neve Gordon Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 16:04 GMT

Israeli media changed its tone, first arguing that Hosni Mubarak’s government would not fall, and later worrying about the implications for Israel [GALLO/GETTY]

Over the past three weeks the Israeli media has been extremely interested in Egypt.

During the climatic days of the unprecedented demonstrations, television news programmes spent most of their airtime covering the protests, while the daily papers dedicated half the news and opinion pages to the unfolding events.

Rather than excitement at watching history in the making, however, the dominant attitude here, particularly on television, was of anxiety– a sense that the developments in Egypt were inimical to Israel’s interests. Egypt’s revolution, in other words, was bad news.

It took a while for Israel’s experts on “Arab Affairs” to get a grip on what was happening. During the early days of unrest, the recurrent refrain was that “Egypt is not Tunis”.

Commentators assured the public that the security apparatuses in Egypt are loyal to the regime and that consequently there was little if any chance that President Hosni Mubarak’s government would fall.

Media switch

Once it became clear that this line of analysis was erroneous, most commentators followed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lead and criticised President Barack Obama’s Administration for not supporting Mubarak. The Foreign News editor of one channel noted that: “The fact that the White House is permitting the protests is reason for worry;” while the prominent political analyst Ben Kaspit expressed his longing for President George W. Bush.

“We remember 2003 when George Bush invaded and took over Iraq with a sense of yearning”, Ben Kaspit wrote. “Libya immediately changed course and allied itself with the West. Iran suspended its military nuclear program. Arafat was harnessed. Syria shook with fear. Not that the invasion of Iraq was a wise move (not at all, Iran is the real problem, not Iraq), but in the Middle East whoever does not walk around with a big bat in his hand receives the bat on his head.”

Israeli commentators are equivocal on the issue of Egyptian democracy.  One columnist explained that it takes years for democratic institutions to be established and for people to internalise the practices appropriate for democracy, while Amir Hazroni from NRG went so far as to write an ode to colonialism:

“When we try to think how and why the United States and the West lost Egypt, Tunis, Yemen and perhaps other countries in the Middle East, people forget that. The original sin began right after WWII, when a wonderful form of government that protected security and peace in the Middle East (and in other parts of the Third Word) departed from this world following pressure from the United States and Soviet Union… More than sixty years have passed since the Arab states and the countries of Africa were liberated from the ‘colonial yoke,’ but there still isn’t an Arab university, an African scientist or a Middle Eastern consumer product that has made a mark on our world.”

Fear and the brotherhood

While only a few commentators are as reactionary as Hazroni, an Orientalist perspective permeated most of the discussion about Egypt, thus helping to bolster the already existing Jewish citizenry’s fear of Islam. Political Islam is constantly presented and conceived as an ominous force that is antithetical to democracy.

Thus, in the eyes of Israeli analysts, the protestors- that Facebook and Twitter generation- are deserving of empathy but also extremely naïve. There is a shared sense that their fate will end up being identical to that of the Iranian intellectuals who led the protests against the Shah.

Channel Two’s expert on “Arab Affairs” explained that: “The fact that you do not see the Muslim Brotherhood does not mean they are not there,” and another expert warned his viewers not to “be misled by ElBaradei’s Viennese spirit, behind him is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

According to these pundits, the Muslim Brotherhood made a tactical decision not to distribute Islamists banners or to take an active part in leading the protests. One commentator declared that if the Muslim Brotherhood wins, then “elections are the end of the [democratic] process, not its beginning,” while an anchorman for Channel Ten asked former Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer whether “the person who says to himself: ‘How wonderful, at last the state of Egypt is a democracy,’ is naïve?”

The Minister responded: “Allow me even to laugh. We wanted a democracy in Iran and in Gaza. The person who talks like this is ignoring the fact that for over a decade there has been a struggle of giants between the Sunni and Shia with tons of blood spilled. The person who talks about democracy does not live in the reality we live in.”

Democratic threat

Ben-Eliezer’s response is telling, not least because it is well known that Israel supported the Shah regime in Iran and has not proven itself to be a particularly staunch supporter of Palestinian democracy. Democracy in the Middle East is, after all, conceived by this and prior Israeli governments as a threat to Israel’s interests.

Dan Margalit, a well-known commentator, made this point clear when he explained that Israel does not disapprove of a democracy in the largest Arab country but simply privileges Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt over internal Arab affairs.

Israel, one should note, is not alone in this self-serving approach; most western countries constantly lament the absence of democracy in the Arab world, while supporting the dictators and helping them remain in office. In English this kind of approach has a very clear name – it is called hypocrisy.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel’s Occupation and can be reached through his website.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera


4.  Haaretz ,

February 23, 2011

Big harassing brother

Men constitute most of the people in charge, and the way they see women determines what it is that women can even be.

By Merav Michaeli

Since the chief editor of the reality TV show “Big Brother” was kept on staff, despite being heard on live television telling a female contestant she has to “play with his penis between her breasts,” it must be at least pointed out that his was clearly a watershed moment, for the worse, and one that warrants an explanation.

It must be made clear that this is sexual harassment. By definition, specifically defined by the law: “A desecrating or derogatory attitude toward a person with regard to his or her sex, gender or sexuality.” The comment made by the editor in question is not denigrating coming from a person with whom you want to have a sexual relationship. From anyone else, it is forced sex − “even if the individual who was harassed did not indicate to the harasser that he or she was not interested in the proposal or the approach.”

It is sexual harassment because this is the model in which all sexual attacks and harassments happen: A man in authority, who has total access to and enjoys the trust of the victim, takes advantage of his power to force sexual actions or language on her.

In the case of the “Big Brother” editor, he is in an ultimate position of power: He sees and is not seen; he holds the position of a father, a priest, a therapist; he is the omnipotent one, who decides what happens to the people who have placed themselves in his hands − and he has surely promised them that those hands are trustworthy.

It is sexual harassment because the remark was made in a place where the editor, Yoram Zak, is the boss, the overlord. Even if the female contestant did not hear what he said, all the men and women working under him certainly have, thus turning the workplace into a hostile environment for women, and for some of the men as well. The attempt to separate between what can supposedly be said in a room, but cannot be said on television, is based on male morality − by which anything that makes men laugh is deemed humorous and anything that stimulates men is sexy and legitimate, no matter how violent it may be.

Indeed, the fraternity rallied around its tried and true territory: the right to sexually harass women as one of the privileges of the powerful class.

Editors and writers did not hesitate to publish how they too tell sexist jokes and look at pornography in their place of work. That is to say − how they, too, break the law. They, too, like Zak, understand that when a woman appears on a show like “Big Brother,” as with any workplace where a man is in charge, she is giving up not only her privacy ‏(something which is true for men as well‏), but also the right and ownership of her own body

Men constitute most of the people in charge, and the way they see women determines what it is that women can even be. Zak is the one who cast the female contestants on “Big Brother,” including their breasts. The CEO of the Keshet television franchise is the one who cast Zak to design his pornographic screen.

The law against sexual harassment states that “the employer must take reasonable steps … to prevent sexual harassment or abuse by his employees or by supervisors appointed by him.” The employer in this case, Avi Nir, not only does nothing to prevent the sexual harassment, he creates the perfect conditions for it. And once it was exposed, not only did he neglect to “efficiently deal with the incident … and do everything possible to prevent such incidents in the future and to correct the damage done,” rather he keeps the harasser who he appointed in a senior and lucrative position − allowing Zak to stay in charge of many hours of live programming, in which they will continue to abuse their power..


5.  [forwarded by David McReynolds]

By Ira Chernus  57 COMMENTS 8 Most Commonly Held Misconceptions About the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Too many Americans hold dangerous misconceptions about the defining conflict in the Middle East.

February 21, 2011  |

Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP  LIKE THIS ARTICLE ?

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza goes on, seemingly without end. Israeli troops continue to kill innocent Palestinians. The United States arms Israel to the tune of $3 billion a year or more. And most progressives talk as if there’s not a thing anyone can do about it.

This sorry state of affairs persists because so many wrong ideas about the conflict are widely held here. Here are eight of the worst distortions in our discourse.

1. The biggest and most dangerous misconception of all: “Israel is a vulnerable nation surrounded by powerful enemies — a little David, pure and innocent, bravely fighting back against Goliath-like Arabs bent on destroying it.”

This tale was, and still is, so commonly accepted that most Americans ignore the obvious facts: Israel has been the Middle East’s dominant military power since the Six Day War in 1967. It has a sizable nuclear arsenal while its neighbors have no nukes at all.

The idea of Israeli being destroyed or “pushed into the sea” is a fairy tale. Palestinian violence against Israel never came near the levels of Israeli violence against Palestinians. Now, while Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and economically strangle Gaza, Palestinian violence has virtually ceased.

Yet the old story of tough little Israel fighting for its life — which is often read, between the lines, as a story of civilization warding off the barbarians — continues to be the foundation of most everything the U.S. mass media and policymakers say about Israel. It’s a powerful story, especially when coupled with another, equally common misconception:

2. “There is no space between the United States and Israel” when it comes to our national interests. Obama administration officials like to say that a lot. They make it sound as if U.S. and Israeli interests are identical.

In fact, there are huge differences. The U.S. has plenty of reasons to want an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israelis are in no rush. The Israeli right thrives on the vote-getting power of a continuing battle against an enemy. Israeli centrists and even many liberals tend to ignore the Palestinian issue now that violence against Israel has practically disappeared.

On the other hand, Israeli leaders have long been eager to strike Iran’s nuclear installations. But U.S. leaders have never even considered giving them the green light.  The George W. Bush administration knew as well as the current administration that military action against Iran would be unthinkable folly. According to a senior Israeli official, his government has not asked for U.S. permission to attack Iran because it does not want to be embarrassed when it’s told no. As Vice-President Joe Biden said, “There is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed” on Iran.

The differences between U.S. and Israeli interests were on public display most recently during the uprising in Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that he was eager to see Hosni Mubarak stay in power. After some uncertainty, Barack Obama came down on the other side, recognizing the strategic dangers if the U.S. supported Mubarak. U.S. officials were “on the telephone almost daily with their Israeli counterparts,” the New York Times reported, “urging them to ‘please chill out,’ in the words of one senior administration official.”

The obvious differences between U.S. and Israeli strategic interests belie a third misconception:

3. “The U.S. and Israel are tied together because they need each other as military allies.” Anthony Cordesman, one of the most prominent hawks in the national security establishment, has stated flatly what many other experts have also concluded: “America’s ties to Israel are not based primarily on U.S. strategic interests.”

Top U.S. military leaders have explained why, in private and in public: U.S. military support for Israel endangers U.S. military interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the predominantly Muslim world. In Israel Meir Dagan, until recently head of the Mossad (Israel’s CIA), warned that Israel is gradually becoming a strategic burden on the United States.

An article in the New York Jewish Week, quoting a former staffer for AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), explained that the whole idea of “shared strategic goals” was cooked up by AIPAC in the 1970s “to persuade Republicans, who were overwhelmingly opposed to foreign aid, to vote for aid to Israel.”

In recent years the GOP has been more likely than the Democrats to approve a U.S. blank check for Israel. But that may be changing. So watch out for the next misconception:

4. “A more Republican Congress means more U.S. support for Israel’s right-wing government.”

It’s true that Republicans are usually more hawkish on Israel, even though they usually come from districts with very few Jewish voters. But more GOP influence could be bad news for the Israeli government.

Although Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen, the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has always been a stalwart friend of “anything and everything for Israel,” she now warns that the new Republicans in Congress are again bent on slashing foreign aid, and even Israel’s aid could be “on the chopping block.” A Reuters analysis suggested that the Dems’ midterm loss “might convince Obama he has nothing to lose and decide to lean heavily on Israel to accept painful compromises.”

If Obama leans heavily, would the Israelis move? That brings us to the next common misconception:

5. “Israel never responds to pressure from the U.S.”

The Israeli press is constantly filled with warnings from top-drawer pundits that when push comes to shove, Israel would not dare to refuse firm orders from the Obama administration. No less a figure than Israel’s President Peres bluntly explained why: “Israel must forge good relations with other countries, primarily the United States, so as to guarantee political support in a time of need.”

Even a longtime hardliner like Netanyahu bends rather than run the risk of losing U.S. support and leaving Israel alone in the world. There are plenty of examples since Obama took office. For his whole life Netanyahu refused even to consider the possibility of a Palestinian state. Now he has publicly committed Israel to that goal. He initiated a de facto freeze on settlement expansion well before he agreed to the official 10-month freeze. He kept up a de facto moratorium on Jewish building in East Jerusalem for many months, too. These steps and others angered his right-wing coalition partners. But as leader of the nation he saw no choice except to cede to Obama’s demands.

The Obama administration’s pressure on Israel points to another misconception:

6. “The right-wing Israel lobby has an invincible lock on U.S. Mideast policy.”

If that were true, Obama would never have made his groundbreaking speech in Cairo, demanded the settlement expansion freeze, reprimanded the Israelis for breaking it and for building in East Jerusalem, or humiliated Netanyahu at the White House (which led a popular Israeli columnist to write that lots of Israelis were repeating “that joke about the eight-ton elephant that can sit down anywhere it wishes … Obama sat down on us this week.”).

If the Israel lobby could control U.S. policy, Obama would have swung all his weight behind Mubarak in the recent Egyptian upheaval. But the Israelis’ plea to the White House to support Mubarak, seconded by their lobby in Washington, was ultimately ignored by the administration.

Inside the U.S. foreign policy establishment there are powerful voices opposing the traditional pro-Israel lobby, too. Elite newspapers are regularly taking more moderate stands on the issue, including the New York Times, whose two Jewish foreign policy columnists, Tom Friedman and Roger Cohen, regularly chastise the Israelis.

The same change has come to Congress. Last spring, when AIPAC initiated another of its typical “we love Israel” letters in Congress, they were shocked to find that more than a third of Democrats refused to sign. As I recently heard a Jewish congressman say, when Israel issues come up, legislators generally turn to their Jewish colleagues for advice. The Jews used to simply parrot the AIPAC line. Now they’re likely to say, “Well, AIPAC says this, but J Street says that. You decide.”

On every front, the hawks who once ruled the roost have to contend with a serious challenge from the doves. The division among Jewish lobby groups points to yet another misconception:

7. “The U.S. supports Israeli policies because American Jews demand it.”

Exit polls on Election Day, 2010, showed that three-quarters of Jewish voters want the U.S. to lead Israelis and Palestinians toward a two-state solution, and nearly two-thirds say they’d accept Obama administration pressure on Israel to reach that goal.

American Jews are increasingly disturbed about the overt anti-Arab racism that’s moving from the fringe to the mainstream of Israeli society. New Israeli laws mandate McCarthyite crackdowns on prestigious human rights and peace groups.

In response, top American-Jewish journalist Ron Kampeas recently wrote, “mainstream American Jewish organizations are embracing a strategy of acknowledging what’s wrong about Israel … addressing what some characterize as the deterioration of Israel’s civil society.” They “remain dedicated to defending Israel” when they think it deserves to be defended, “but they are no longer holding back on criticizing Israel.”

Prominent individual Jews are speaking out too, like Peter Beinart; New Yorker editor David Remnick, who says he “can’t take” the occupation any more; the Atlantic magazine’s prominent pro-Israel writer Jeffrey Goldberg, who has confessed that “peace will not come without the birth of a Palestinian state on the West Bank which has its capital in East Jerusalem”; and prominent Jewish historian Howard Sachar, who now says “the Israelis and the Palestinians will never find peace if they are left to negotiate on their own. …Washington must lead the way in enforcing a final-status settlement.”

Sachar’s view was recently echoed by a much more influential Jew, Tom Friedman, who is urging Obama to “put his own peace plan on the table … and demand that the two sides negotiate on it.”

8. That’s not to say the right-wing pro-Israel lobby is powerless, by any means. Those right-wingers are eager to spread a misconception of their own — that they don’t really influence government policy at all. The U.S. backs Israel so firmly, they say, because the American people have a long-standing cultural affinity with Zionism and just love the Jewish state.

But polls consistently show that about two-thirds of all Americans want our government to stay neutral between Israel and Palestine. The continuing pro-Israel tilt attests that the right-wing lobby is still a force to be reckoned with. But the large majority who favor neutrality show that the lobby has no hammerlock on public opinion any more than it has on policymaking.

However most Americans are still much more favorable toward Israel than toward the Palestinian cause, according to the polls. The main reason, I suspect, is the power of misconception number one: the widespread view of Israel as a victim of aggression whose very existence is always endangered. Americans love to root for the innocent underdog — especially when he looks like a tough, courageous fighter who just won’t quit.

The other misconceptions show there could be a very real possibility of changing U.S. policy, if progressive groups are willing to make the effort. But they won’t have any success unless they confront misconception number one head on, debunk it, and rebuild the public narrative on a foundation of truth about Israel’s strength and security.

Ira Chernus is professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Read more of his writing on Israel, Palestine and American Jews on his blog:

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