Five Misconceptions About the War in Israel and Gaza and How To Respond to Them

The horrific events done at the hands of Hamas on October 7th have shaken our people to the core. We haven’t felt such a rise in antisemitism since the Nazi Holocaust in Europe. We are deeply wounded. Over 1,400 people in Israel were murdered, often in the most barbaric ways imaginable. Thousands more were injured and more than 200 people including little children were taken hostage, which only gets harder each day that passes. Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel, destroying homes and other important facilities. If it weren’t for Israel’s iron dome — a system that causes rockets to explode in the air before landing — the damage would be horrific.

Since then, as we know, our special IDF army has bombarded the small enclave with countless numbers of missiles to topple Hamas altogether. In addition, the IDF has begun the ground invasion into Gaza to help destroy Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure as well as rescue the hostages.

As all this is going on, there is another war, the war of public opinion, which is taking place all over the world, but especially here in the US — in the streets and on college campuses. In many ways this war is just as dangerous and important, as college campuses represent the future of America’s youth. It would be frightening if the next generation does not share the Israel-America alliance which has been so vital to the modern-day State.

Many people attribute all anti-Israel sentiment to be thinly veiled antisemitism. As an eternal optimist who believes in the good of most people, I find this difficult to believe. Yes, many are certainly antisemitic, but I believe many others are simply ignorant of many very important facts since they only pick up bits and pieces here and there, usually from Instagram posts or comments. Here are five common misconceptions that I hope can clarify and educate those who are simply ignorant of these facts. These misconceptions go all the way back to the founding of the State of Israel, but I will begin with current times, and then move backward.

Misconception 1: There are exponentially more civilians killed in Gaza than in Israel, making it a very disproportionate war, and Israel is clearly not caring about the loss of Innocent life. They also are not letting fuel into Gaza which is vital for the Palestinians.

To start, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, even more than Manhattan. Some 2.3 million people are crammed into one tiny enclave. As such, civilian casualties will always be higher in Gaza than in other part of the world where there is war. In addition, Israel drops leaflets warning civilians to leave the areas where Israel will bomb which many armies don’t. In addition, they usually give “warning knocks” when Israel drops empty missile shells to further warn civilians so they can leave the immediate area before Israel moves in. It would also be catastrophic for Israel to allow fuel in, as Hamas uses the fuel for their rocket attacks among other deadly uses. It is also important to note that the death to civilian ratio is tallied by the Palestinian Health Ministry, which is Hamas controlled, and is therefore not a reliable source. Further, Hamas uses their civilians as shields, purposely storing rockets in civilian-dense areas such as hospitals and schools making the situation only more complicated.

Misconception 2: Israel has been needlessly persecuting the people in Gaza for over 15 years. They have a full land, sea, and air blockade on Gaza, without allowing any trade, completely crippling Gaza’s economy. In addition, the entire Gaza is surrounded by a security fence, and no airport is allowed, making the entire Gaza effectively an “open air prison.” This is collective punishment of all the people of Gaza.

First, Israel’s blockade of Gaza is not collective punishment at all. It is done for very legitimate security concerns. Gaza as we know, is controlled by Hamas, one of the most barbaric and extreme terrorist groups in the world. It would be impossible for Israel to monitor every single item brought into Gaza, and Hamas would never allow such monitoring to take place to begin with. Even food could have bombs, or parts to make a bomb smuggled inside of it. Again, allowing an airport would be incredibly dangerous, as Hamas would never agree to allow Israel to oversee security of the airport. The same is true with allowing Gazans to enter Israel. The dangers to Israel would be overwhelming. Imagine if an ISIS controlled area lived within just a couple of miles from the US. Would the US allow everyone to be able to come in? 

Misconception 3: Israel has never offered to rightfully give this land back to the Palestinians. Instead, they continue to illegally occupy it.

This is patently false. Israel offered to give back Gaza to Egypt in addition to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the peace deal with Anwar Sadat. Sadat refused taking back Gaza and was only interested in taking Sinai as part of the peace deal. It is also important to note that Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, giving Gaza full control to the Palestinians. At the time, no blockade was put on Gaza; that only began after Hamas took over in 2007, forcing Israel to put on the blockade for its own security.

Misconception 4: Israel forcefully stole the land from the Palestinians in the Six Day War. As such it began as an illegal occupation.

Facts first. The Six Day War of 1967 was entirely a war of self defense (as every war against Israel has been). Israel was surrounded by three armies at its borders, with Egyptian President Abdul Nassar declaring, “We will drive the Zionist entity into the sea once and for all.” Israel was sorely outnumbered and outgunned and was forced to launch a pre-emptive strike to avoid complete annihilation. The spoils gained from a defending army is not the same as spoils gained from an aggressing army.  

Misconception 5: Israel forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes in the 1948 war, thereby they began the Palestinian refugee crisis.

This is also patently false. Israel never forced the Palestinians to flee. The 1948 War for Independence was once again a war of self-defense, when five neighboring Arab countries refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist, even after the United Nations had approved the Partition Plan, which gave part of the land to Israel and part to Palestine. The Palestinians fled their homes on their own accord to make way for the invading Arab armies. Those who did not flee eventually became Israeli Arabs and are full fledged citizens of the State of Israel and are given all of the same rights as Jewish Israelis.

So, to conclude, for many people reading this article, these truths are already well known. However, many people simply don’t know these facts and only believe the falsehoods they see. I implore you to share this article with as many people as you can, but especially those who may be ignorant of these facts and wrongfully perceive Israel as the aggressor. Please share this — especially on college campuses — with the student body, with professors, as many people as you can reach. Even send it to people and organizations that are anti-Israel, as it is important for the truth to always be heard. Israel needs this. Israel feels alone right now in the world. With G-d’s help, we will win both wars, the war in Gaza and the war of public opinion. One day, let it be soon, we will experience the eradication of our sworn enemies and true peace in Israel and beyond.

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  • Avatar photo Yehudit Hannah Cohn says on November 1, 2023

    In the section on the security fence and restricted movement, I would have suggested to keep in mind that we are not the only country to impose these on Gaza, also for good reason.

    • Avatar photo Lori Hutchinson says on December 14, 2023

      There is a reason Egypt didn’t want the Gazans

  • Avatar photo Neva Anton says on November 16, 2023

    The population density of Gaza is 15,000 people per square mile.
    The population density of Manhattan is over 70,000 people per square mile.
    Why do people say it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world?


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