Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

When Ariel Sharon repatriated 8,000 Israeli settlers (among more than 1 million Palestinian Gazans) in 2005, he did so for the benefit of Israelis, not as a gift to the Palestinians.

When Ariel Sharon repatriated 8,000 Israeli settlers (among more than 1 million Palestinian Gazans) in 2005, he did so for the benefit of Israelis, not as a gift to the Palestinians. (Photo: BDS South Africa)

Three Myths About Gaza Dispelled

The lives of 119 Gazans have been lost and thousands more unalterably changed. We can't let the truth die with them.

Jim KlutznickMarilyn Katz

 by Forward

The front-page photos and nightly news reports of the killings at the Gaza/Israel border have faded; the issues that fueled the confrontation have not.

That the lives of 119 Gazans have been lost and thousands more unalterably changed is horrific. It will be just as tragic if the history of Gaza and the truth is buried along with those killed.

While the lull in violence brings relief to those in the Middle East, it also provides time to challenge the myths perpetuated by Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Trump and others, and to understand the truth, the reality of the conflict, in pursuit of a policy that has a chance of achieving the peace that all purport to seek.

Myth one: Gaza is the natural home of Palestinians that Israel captured in 1967 and withdrew from in 2005.

While Gaza is now home to 1.8 million Palestinians, it is not their natural home. Nearly two-thirds of the population are those, or descendants of those, who fled Israel in terror and whose homes were seized by Israeli forces in 1948 or 1967.

After Israel captured Gaza in 1967, all movement in and out was controlled by Israel. Although Israelis could move into Gaza, with government support, Palestinians were prohibited from moving to Israel.

In the 40 years from 1967 to 2005 that Israel controlled Gaza directly, the century-old Palestinian agricultural economy was deliberately weakened. Additionally, dependency on Israel was created through the appropriation of 40% of the arable lands; Israeli control of resources, including access to water; control of all trade and goods entering or leaving the country; and even denial of the right of Palestinians to plant citrus trees.

Myth two: Israel has always supported Gazan independence, as evidenced by Sharon’s removal of settlers and troops in 2005, and only Hamas’ mismanagement and provocation causes demonstrations.

When Ariel Sharon repatriated 8,000 Israeli settlers (among more than 1 million Palestinian Gazans) in 2005, he did so for the benefit of Israelis, not as a gift to the Palestinians.

Not only did Sharon never negotiate an agreement to leave Gaza with his counterpart, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he pulled up stakes, locked the gates behind him, and threw the key into the Mediterranean Sea.

The inhabitants of Gaza might have had the over-crowded land and structures, but Israel maintained full control of the air above (all radio, cell phone and internet capacity), the sea beyond (Israel patrolled and claimed sovereignty over the Mediterranean Sea) and the land surrounding the territory. Israel, with the help of Egypt, controlled the entrance and exits, all imports and exports, and access to water and electricity — essential for basic human needs such as heat and lights, potable water and sewage treatment.

After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, isolation and privation were heightened by an Israeli-mandated blockade. No Gazan or Gazan-made item could leave without Israeli permission, and no foreign goods—humanitarian supplies, medicine, books or food could enter by land, air or sea. What Gaza is today is what the U.N., Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have called the world’s largest “open-air prison.”

Myth three: Israel must protect itself because Hamas, the PLO and Palestinians are dedicated to its destruction.

Hamas has been the sworn enemy of Israel for decades, and certainly urges resistance. However, those who have been to or know Gaza — Jews and Palestinians alike — understand that it is the prison camp-like conditions and Israel’s de facto occupation that breed protest.

By the time Sharon led Israel’s 8,000 settlers out of Gaza, the PLO and Fatah had already acknowledged or recognized the State of Israel: in 1988, at the 1991 Madrid Conference, in the 1993 Oslo Accords and in UN Resolutions 242 and 338. Even Hamas, in its agreement to form a unity government with the PLO, was willing to abandon its historic stance and recognize Israel’s right to exist. Ironically, Netanyahu, who had previously said he could not negotiate with Palestinians because of the split between PLO and Hamas, immediately changed his tune and said he now would not negotiate with such a government because it contained terrorists.

What is clear is that it is neither the storming of the border nor the crude rockets of Hamas and others that present the greatest threat to Israel.

Certainly, people will protest, and many proclaim the “right to return,” as refugees do throughout the world. Most Gazans, however, are consumed by the daily routine of scrambling for employment, food, potable water, electricity and gas where little is available due to Israel’s hostile prevention of the flow of goods, services and people.

In reality, that same occupation and blockade that deprives the people of Gaza of the basics of daily life may be a far greater threat to Israel. While Army controls and barriers can prevent the movement of people, they cannot prevent the untreated, sewage-filled water from traveling the Mediterranean to the beaches and water systems of Tel Aviv. And they cannot keep the toxic air from the burning of tires on the streets of Gaza City from drifting to the fields and towns of Israel. They cannot keep the stain of immoral acts against other human beings from tainting the standing of the state of Israel among nations with integrity, empathy and humanity.

We have a chance to help refigure the future, to end what appears to be endless war for a rational peace. This can only happen if we remember that peace must be secured with justice, and that justice requires that we honor rather than deny the truth of the present and the past, however painful or discomforting.


© Forward 2018

Jim Klutznick

Jim Klutznick is Chair of Americans for Peace Now

Jim Klutznick is Chair of Americans for Peace Now, and Marilyn Katz is on the J Street National Board.Jim Klutznick is Chair of Americans for Peace Now, and Marilyn Katz is on the J Street National Board.Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/402517/three-myths-about-gaza-dispelled/

Jim KlutznickRead more: https://forward.com/opinion/402517/three-myths-about-gaza-dispelled/

Marilyn Katz

Marilyn Katz is on the J Street National Board.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering."

Jake Johnson ·


Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo