Over the many years I’ve engaged in debates and discussions with non-Muslims and ‘Muslim’ advocates of the secular liberal persuasion, I’ve noticed that many Muslims tend to have a very simple (and many times erroneous) view of the other side’s arguments and position. This has then led many Muslims to discover, the hard way, in a public arena or forum, that the positions opposing Islam or justice aren’t exactly what they imagined them to be. What’s worse is, many Muslims watch a debate where the Muslim doesn’t refute or really address the opposing side’s falsehood, but they somehow come out of it at the end believing the Muslim speaker had clearly won the argument!
Here’s a simple advice to all, borne of some experience in this regard:
‘If ever you think the other side’s belief is so obviously ludicrous, that no one could ever possibly be convinced to believe it – you’re probably deeply wrong about the other side’s beliefs. rationalisations and justifications’
No one (usually) walks into a debate, or argues a position in public, if they believe they’ll get refuted and their side’s position humiliated. So the very fact that someone approaches to debate or argue their side should be a strong indicator that they fully believe they are able to defend their position and even make an attempt to refute the other side.
In this regard, how Muslims approach Zionism and the arguments of Zionists is no different. Zionists are acutely aware that they need to win global support and opinion lest a strong majority of people in the world pressure their governments significantly enough that Israel gets treated like the new Apartheid South Africa (well, at least in its last days – let’s not forget how many Western governments were totally fine with Apartheid South Africa, and even officially treated Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’).
To prevent this ‘hilf ul fudool’ (an alliance of people against a commonly recognised injustice), Zionists have had to present seemingly plausible justifications and rationalisations for why they can defy internationally recognised borders, build settlements in defiance of the Geneva convention, building apartheid walls, evict Palestinians from neighbourhoods and deny a Palestinian right of return while at the exact same time, hold a ‘right of return’ to anyone who claims Jewish ancestry no matter how many thousands of years removed they are from anyone who set foot in al-Shaam/Palestine/Canaan (to put that into perspective, English people came from Germania about under 1,600 years ago, modern day Germany wouldn’t accept that as an excuse for English people to just begin residing there without permission from the Germans, let alone invade with the intention of taking over a land to create an English homeland in their ‘ancestral lands’).
With the exception of one Zionist who said ‘if I don’t steal it someone else will’, most Zionists make a whole host of other arguments that aren’t so injudiciously worded. So how do Zionists advocate for Zionism? They make arguments that sound plausible, even reasonable, but in truth they are in fact historically, religiously, morally, legally and even logically flawed. we have a word for such kinds of arguments, they’re called ‘specious’.
So, in the interests of showing you that Zionist arguments in the public arena are more sophisticated than ‘if I don’t steal it someone else will’, here are just some of the specious arguments Zionists have used in international and public arenas (written from years of my own experience of engaging their arguments. I’ve written it in the first person, with my own wording. The word ‘Palestine’ is used here because this was what early Zionists referred to it during the British mandate):
1. The Jewish Right of Return
Jews are indigenous to Canaan/Palestine, and this doesn’t change just because we’ve been out of the land for around 1,800 years. If a native american couple left North America for Europe, had children, and that child wanted to return, that child wouldn’t cease to be indigenous to North America even if the child was born in Europe. However, Jews were were kicked out involuntarily by the Romans, and we can all agree in the interests of justice, that a people who were kicked out of their land should have a right to return. Therefore Jews have a right to return to Palestine.
2. Israel should be recognised as a legitimate state
All nation-states in the Middle East were creations of Britain, so if everyone accepts them as legitimate states, you must also accept that Britain created in Palestine a nation-state for Jews there, which must equally be accepted as legitimate. Britain did not create a nation-state for Palestinians, who prior to British acquisition of Palestine, didn’t even call themselves Palestinians! So the creation of Israel did not impinge on anyone else’s state, because there simply wasn’t any other state for Israel to supplant!
3. Conflict against the Palestinians were purely defensive
The legal protectors of the land of Mandate Palestine, allowed Jews to return back to their land. We never came to fight anyone, and we expected it would be peaceful. But it is because of Pan-Arab Nationalism, that Palestinians were encouraged to fight and raid our neighbourhoods – and it was only in reaction to this militancy, that we armed ourselves to defend ourselves. We never initiated violence, but in needing to defend ourselves from those who wanted to ‘drive jews into the sea’, we had to relocate people who gave aid to invading Arab armies, in order that we live safely and securely. We regret this needed to happen, but the necessity of our safety required this. And this is something any reasonable person in our shoes would’ve done. We couldn’t go back to europe, and no where else were they accepting us, so our only choice was to live in Mandate Palestine. It’s sad that some of the Palestinians didn’t embrace us as long lost natives of the land, but instead reacted with violence and xenophobia.
4. Zionism is justifiable and should be supported by all
Zionism is simply the belief that the best interests of Jews should be in the hands of Jews, as history has demonstrated we cannot trust other countries to always protect us as a minority. Therefore, Israel is about guaranteeing Jewish security and rights.
5. Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism
Because anyone who believes that the nation-states of the Middle-East, established by Britain, or established due to recognition by Britain and the entente powers, are legitimate, must believe that Israel is legitimate too. Anyone who believes that the United States, Canada and Australia and New Zealand, and most of Latin American states are legitimate, must believe Israel is legitimate too, because anyone who singles out Israel and deems it illegitimate, and believes Jews shouldn’t have a nation-state in their ancestral homeland, while believing everyone else has this right, must be anti-semitic, because the only thing unique in Israel’s case is it being a nation-state for Jews. It cannot be argued that Israel’s ‘conflict’ with the Palestinians de-legitimises it, if you accept other countries who had conflicts with resident native populations doesn’t negate their legitimacy as a country. To hold otherwise, is anti-semitism.
6. The ‘West Bank’ isn’t ‘occupied’ by Israel
Anyone who believes that Israel has an occupation of the ‘West Bank’ and that Israeli settlements are illegal should look into history and law and notice that the area we call ‘Judea and Samarra’ is legally ours.
In 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne the Ottoman successor state, Turkey formally renounced and relinquished to Britain, the land of Palestine (and others). Since the time of the Balfour declaration and the 1920 San Remo conference, it was formally recognised by the League of Nations Britain’s mandate to transform Palestine into a Jewish homeland in such borders (delineated by the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan Memorandum) that correspond to Israel and the 1967 borders ‘West Bank’. Furthermore, if it is argued that the West Bank is ‘occupied territory’, that belongs to Palestinians, no such internationally legal agreement assigning it to a Palestinian state, exists. The West Bank was annexed by Jordan militarily in 1948 and after the 1948 Jericho Conference, was formally annexed in 1950 with the approval of Palestinians, being called ‘West Bank’ for the first time. The United Nations did not recognise Jordan’s annexation and in 1988, Jordan formally relinquished sovereignty of the ‘West Bank’.
This means that Judea and Samarra, [J&S] (i.e. ‘the West Bank’) can validly be considered territorially contiguous with Israel, and therefore our presence there isn’t an occupation by international law (regardless of what the International court may mistakenly claim) any activity we do in the land is valid. It’s for this reason, that the United State of America, has already recognised Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel (including the East past captured in the 1967 war), and in 1981, President Reagan (and recently US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) considered that the settlements in Judea and Samarra are not incompatible with international law.
7 The military checkpoints and transport control of the ‘West Bank’ isn’t oppression
As for the checkpoints in ‘West Bank’, this a regrettable necessity, but legitimate due to the Oslo accords signed by the legitimate representative of the non-Israeli Palestinians, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The Oslo accords give us legally recognised Palestinian approval for the division of the ‘West Bank’ into three administrative zones, one zone of which is under Palestinian authority control, the other zones under our control, which we have to administer. It is because the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to control or prevent militant factions from carrying out attacks against Israelis, that we need checkpoints to make sure there is no transfer of arms between Zone A (Palestinian controlled) territories. The PLO gave us approval to police Zone B (Palestinian areas under Israeli control), and so we must use policing actions there when necessary. Unfortunately, because our police are greeted with violence at times, our operations need to be robust to defend our military police units whose job is to maintain order and prevent violence.
8. Israel isn’t an apartheid state
Israel isn’t apartheid because if that was so, we’d give second-class citizenship to Palestinian citizens of Israel, which we don’t. Those citizens have exactly equal rights to Israel Jews, and are even granted an exemption from mandatory military service, which all Israeli Jews (except Haredi Jews) aren’t granted. There are no walls between Israeli Palestinians and Israeli Jews, so clearly this shows Israeli isn’t an apartheid state like old South Africa was, where people were grouped into different colours/races and given different legal privileges and zones of habitation and movement.
As for the separation wall in ‘West Bank’, this was needed as a security measure to prevent suicide bomb attacks since the 2000 Intifada. It’s regrettable that such walls are needed, but if it saves peoples lives, then until we have peace, it is necessary. If walls don’t kill people, but bombs do, then having a wall that saves lives will have to do for now. It should be noted that before the 2nd Intifada, Palestinians from the West Bank could travel to any part of Israel and Gaza.
9. Housing Demolitions/appropriations
We don’t kick out Palestinians out of their homes, we only demolish homes that were built without permits, or extended without permits. We’ve also conducted demolitions of Israeli Jews who have also not obtained permits too. In East Jerusalem, there were many neighbourhoods that were owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war, and these Jews were forced to flee for their lives. When our courts were petitioned by representatives of companies that owned the property, we restituted these properties to the successors of the original owners. But even in doing so, we never demanded the Palestinians living there to leave, only to pay rent to the rightful property owners. It is only because these tenants refused to pay rent, that their eviction was ordered by the court.
10. Why do we see images and videos of Israeli settlers/police being violent?
…a few bad apples. We usually prosecute those who kill unarmed Palestinian civilians outside the rules of engagement, here’s a list of court cases….
And many many more arguments….
If you aren’t convinced by those arguments, know that that;s not the measure of the effectiveness of these arguments, they’re not designed to persuade Muslims to change their mind – THAT’S NOT THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE. Their main target audience is the rest of the world who, without detailed knowledge of the history of Palestine, and the history and interests of the stakeholders in the colonisation/conflict in Palestine, these arguments will sound very reasonable.
Now all those 10 arguments had critical defects, in both history, legality, ethics and logic, and there are very effective and robust counter-arguments to each of those points, and more, but the point to only show the Zionist side was to demonstrate to those who think this debate doesn’t require much knowledge, that it does.
This is why The Quran Institute [TQI] saw the need for a specialist Palestine Advocacy course to equip attendees with the requisite detailed historical knowledge, citations, references, fact-checked points, and effective counter-arguments and strategies to engage these and all other Zionist arguments effectively and refute them completely in the eyes of the wider world, as well as guiding the Muslim world in how to effective help and free the Palestinians from their occupation.
To sign up for this course, and see the full schedule and breakdown, please click here:
Furthermore, after consulting students of the Quran Institute we learned that many students who wanted to study advocacy for Palestine but had trouble with their finances and could only afford to pay smaller amounts over time instead of one lump sum. As a result, we have organised a separate page called “The Struggling Student Payment Programme” to do exactly that. And here it is: