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Vox’s History Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Is Complete Garbage

As an ahistorical apologia of extremism, if fits quite well with Vox’s general coverage of the Middle East.


Vox, the Internet’s most popular anti-Israel site, has produced an easily digestible ten-minute history of the entire Arab-Jewish conflict for progressives who find Wikipedia too intellectually demanding. (Fingers crossed for the seven-minute video explaining The Reformation.)

It begins with this proposition:

When you talk to people about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the myth that you’re likeliest to hear — even more than the myth that they’ve been fighting for centuries, or that it’s all about religion — is that the conflict is too complex to possibly understand, a mess so far beyond human comprehension that we shouldn’t even try.

No one really says this, right?

Vox can find absolutely no relevant history worthy of note on this topic before 1900. Why not begin in 1600 BC? Or 500 BC? Or 639? Probably because it’s the earliest Vox can start its fairy tale without mentioning Arab pogroms of the 1920s and 1930s (later thrown into a cycle-of-violence platitude.) I suppose we should be thankful history didn’t start post-1967, as it usually does.

Vox can find absolutely no relevant history on this topic before 1900.

Anyway, Vox tells us that “a little over a century ago,” the area — before the colonialist Jews showed up — was a pretty peaceful place. Which, again, necessitates ignoring a few thousand years of invasions, empires, carnages, and a diaspora of the Jews, who had at least a thousand years of history under their belts before any Arab showed up.

But yes, as Mark Twain famously wrote when visiting Palestine in 1867, it was a desolate and peaceful place where he “never saw a human being” while trekking around the interior. Vox would have viewers believe it was a hotbed of restive Palestinian nationalism. Just as Jews were embracing Zionism, the Arabs, contends Vox, were forming “a distinct national identity” under Ottoman rule. George Eliot’s successful proto-Zionistic novel “Daniel Deronda” was released in 1872 and Theodor Herzl’s “The Jewish State” in 1896, both around long before any post- or-pre-Ottoman Arab nationalism was born. The notion that everyone involved had more or else come up with the idea of distinct nationalism on “the same piece of land” is complete bunk.

From there, we learn that the Holocaust happened. Vox has a picture. No mention of the Jerusalem mufti’s alliance with Hitler — a worthwhile piece of information that would have told us something about the disposition of many of the locals. We learn instead about the Arab rejection of the United Nations’ partition plan and the attack of numerous Arab armies. Vox stresses that, while Israel won, it took more than what the U.N. agreement allotted. Why Israelis didn’t return to the partition lines after Arabs rejected the agreement and plotted their extermination remains a mystery to this day.

From there, we jump ahead all the way to 1967 — with no mention of the Palestinian fedayeen attacks on Jewish civilians that killed hundreds, the numerous attempts by the Israeli government to reach out to its neighbors, or even the 1956 conflict.

“Then something happened,” reveals Vox, “Israel and its neighboring states fought another war.”

Just like that? Nothing about the rise of Nasser or his dangerous alliance with the Syrians? The Soviets? Nothing about massing Arab armies or ejecting U.N. peacekeepers from the Sinai? Nothing about using Palestinians as a pretext for war? All we know is that when the conflict ended, Israel was now occupying a bunch of places that supposedly didn’t belong to it, including Jerusalem.

The most important — and wicked — character in this risible narrative is the Jewish settler.

Then Vox skips another decade or so, to 1978. No mention of Israel’s proposal to return most of the occupied territories to Arabs in recognition (this point, admittedly, disputed by some revisionist historians). No mention of the Yom Kippur War or the rise of worldwide Palestinian terrorism. No mention of the PLO-instigated revolt in Jordan that ended with thousands dead — many Palestinians attempting to escape into Israel. No mention of the rise of Likud, or Menachem Begin’s offer to Egypt, which initially included ideas about resolving the Palestinian conflict. All rejected.

No. The most important — and wicked — character in this risible narrative is the Jewish settler. These “settlers bring soldiers,” which makes life far more difficult for Palestinians. Not, these “settlers bring soldiers” because Palestinians demand a Judenfrei West Bank and murder any Jewish civilians who aren’t defended by soldiers. But you get the picture. The frustration of this reality, says Vox, led to the first intifada.

The rest of the story devolves into the standard propaganda and a tangle of ludicrous moral equivalencies. After flashing a picture of Netanyahu and other Likud types, we learn that widespread zealotry got Rabin murdered. Extremists on both sides want “to keep a permanent conflict going as they seek the other side’s total destruction.” This dynamic, says the narrator, is still the case. Yet there is not a shred of evidence that any political force in Israel desires the total destruction of the Palestinian people.

There is not a shred of evidence that any political force in Israel desires the total destruction of the Palestinian people.

The next round of talks come up empty. Vox explains (skipping the part where everyone involved, including Bill Clinton, blamed Arafat for walking away, even though Israel had basically capitulated on almost everything) that the “Palestinians come to believe peace isn’t coming, [and] rise up in a second intifada.”

Yada, yada, yada … Israel gives Palestinians some autonomy in Gaza, but for some incomprehensible reasons (if only the video were 11 minutes long we might learn why) it decides to blockade. “This is the state of the conflict today. It’s relatively new, and it’s unbearable for Palestinians.”

Incidentally, as far as I can tell, the words “Islam” and “Muslim” are not mentioned once in this history. Which is odd, when we consider the neighborhood. But then, Vox is heavily investing in pretending Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. As an ahistorical apologia for anti-Jewish extremism, this fits quite well with the site’s general coverage of the Middle East.