The final moral argument portrays Israel as a country that has sought peace at every turn and showed great restraint even when provoked. The Arabs, by
contrast, are said to have acted with great wickedness. This narrativ—which is endlessly repeated by Israeli leaders and American apologists such as Alan
Dershowitz—is yet another myth. In terms of actual behavior, Israel’s conduct
is not morally distinguishable from the actions of its opponents. Israeli scholarship shows that the early Zionists were far from benevolent
towards the Palestinian Arabs. The Arab inhabitants did resist the Zionists’
encroachments, which is hardly surprising given that the Zionists were trying to create their own state on Arab lands. The Zionists responded vigorously, and neither side owns the moral high ground during this period.This same
scholarship also reveals that the creation of Israel in 1947‐48 involved explicit
acts of ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres, and rapes by Jews.
Furthermore, Israel’s subsequent conduct towards its Arab adversaries and its
Palestinian subjects has often been brutal, belying any claim to morally superior conduct. Between 1949 and 1956, for example, Israeli security forces killed between 2,700 and 5000 Arab infiltrators, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed.The IDF conducted numerous cross‐border raids against its neighbors in the early 1950s, and though these actions were portrayed as defensive responses, they were actually part of a broader effort to expand Israel’s borders. Israel’s expansionist ambitions also led it to join Britain and France in attacking Egypt in 1956, and Israel withdrew from the lands it had conquered only in the face of intense U.S. pressure.
The IDF also murdered hundreds of Egyptian prisoners‐of‐war in both the 1956
and 1967 wars.46 In 1967, it expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly‐conquered West Bank, and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights. It was also complicit in the massacre of 700 innocent Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps following its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and an Israeli investigatory commission found then‐Defence Minister Sharon “personally responsible” for these atrocities.