The Palestinians like to display their malignant obsession with Israel in everything they do. The children’s programs on PA television where tiny tots lisp their hatred of “the Jews” as they make stabbing gestures with the little knives they have been given, the public celebrations of the latest school or street or plaza to be named after a terrorist who murdered two, or ten, or 37 Israelis, and even, as the latest news brings, a marathon race in Bethlehem that turns into a propaganda assault on the Jewish state, are some examples of this. A report on that most recent Palestine Marathon can be found here: “Race to Reject Israel: The Problematic Palestine Marathon,” by Gidon Ben-Zvi, Algemeiner, March 24, 2022:
Sports have the unique power to foster inclusion and bridge gaps in increasingly divided societies around the world.
But not, it seems, in areas where the Palestinian Authority (PA) is in charge.
The annual Palestine Marathon, held on March 18 this year, was ostensibly created so that people from around the world could gather in Bethlehem for one of the city’s social and cultural highlights.
However, the race was used by its organizers — various branches of the PA — to target Israel.
For a supposedly apolitical event like a sports race, this year’s Palestine Marathon was noteworthy for its political agenda. For one thing, the official logo of the marathon was a map — but not of Bethlehem or other Palestinian areas of the West Bank. Rather, the entirety of Israel was subsumed under the “Palestine” moniker.
The official logo of the race in Bethlehem, that should have had nothing to do with politics, could have borne an image of a previous winner crossing the finish line, or a painting of Manger Square, where the race begins and ends, or even a view of the Church of the Nativity, the main site for tourists visiting Bethlehem. Instead, the organizers of the Palestine Marathon chose as their logo a place called “Palestine,” extending “from the river to the sea” — the Jordan River, the Mediterranean Sea — with the state of Israel entirely effaced. Israel can be found, however, in the Mission Statement at the Marathon’s website, where mention is made of Israel’s “Occupation” that supposedly prevents “freedom of movement” for the Palestinians. The organizers of the Palestine Marathon have made their meaning clear: Israel should not, and eventually will not, exist.
Furthermore, terms such as “country,” “Palestine,” and “State of Palestine” were frequently used on the event’s official website.
The notion of “Palestine” as a place, as a country, as a future state replacing Israel, is emphasized both with the logo and at the Marathon’s website. This insistence on replacing “Israel” in its entirety with “Palestine” makes clear that the Palestine Marathon is not so much about sport as it is one more vehicle for Palestinian propaganda and irredentism.
For the record, there has never been a Palestinian state. While the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 voted to accept the PA as a “non-member observer state,” this did not confer full sovereignty upon the government in Ramallah. In fact, the PA does not meet the requirements for statehood as defined in international law….
The PA lacks a sovereign’s control of its own borders. It does not have a national army. It does not enter into treaties with foreign states. It has only the status of a “non-member observer state” at the U.N., meaning it ordinarily takes no part in the votes. It is a pretend state passing itself off as a real one.
The Palestinians have not done everything they were obligated to do under the Oslo Accords to halt terrorist attacks on Israel. The greatest Israeli dissatisfaction with the 1993 Oslo Accords is over the fact that the Palestinian Authority has often failed to prevent terrorist attacks emanating from its territory. It refused to take steps towards disarming terrorist militias, permitted terrorist organizations to operate in its territory and either refused to arrest terrorists or adopted a policy of “revolving door” arrests–placing terrorists in prison for a handful of days and then releasing them. The rules were different, of course, if those terrorists had the PA, too, in their sights. In those cases, the PA security forces were willing to collaborate with Israel’s Shin Bet to help both themselves and the Israelis to deal with a common enemy.
While claiming to be fighting terrorism, the PA provides with its Pay-For-Slay program generous subsidies both to imprisoned terrorists and to the families of terrorists killed during their attacks. Mahmoud Abbas has claimed that, no matter how much American pressure is brought to bear, he will continue to support the program with his “last penny.” That program rewards past, and incentivizes future, terrorism. Just as disturbing, the PA names schools, streets, and squares after terrorists, thus holding them up to young Palestinians as heroes to be emulated.
Furthermore, since 2008, when Mahmoud Abbas walked out on negotiations with Ehud Olmert, rejecting the Israeli offer of 94% of the West Bank and internationalization of Jerusalem, the Palestinians have engaged with Israel only once, in 2014, in talks that eventually blew up because of Palestinian intransigence, and in the past eight years since, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to reengage with the Israelis.
The Palestinians have tried to present the Palestine Marathon as an example of the PA’s inclusivity, with this race ostensibly open to all. (How many Jewish Israelis, do you think, were allowed to register for this year’s marathon? None.) But they chose to have the starting and finishing lines of the Marathon in Manger Square in Bethlehem, a city that now stands not for inclusivity, but for the harassment and persecution of its Christian population by Muslims. The numbers tell the melancholy tale: in 1947, 85% of Bethlehem’s population was Christian. Today, that figure has sunk to 16%. Bethlehem now offers a case study of Muslim supremacism, that has caused so many of its Christians to flee, turning a once overwhelmingly Christian into one that is overwhelmingly Muslim.
Also notice how casually the Palestine Marathon website works in the apartheid libel against Israel:
Starting at the Church of the Nativity, in the center of Bethlehem’s Old City, its route takes runners through the town, two refugee camps (Aida and Dheisheh), and along the apartheid Wall.
Nota Bene: “along the apartheid Wall.”
Ever since its construction, the West Bank security barrier has been incorrectly depicted by Israel’s most vehement critics as an “apartheid” wall. In fact, it was built in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada, during which Palestinian terrorists killed more than 1,000 Israelis. Some 7,000 more were injured during this period of suicide bombings and shootings.
The Israeli government approved and began construction of the security fence — only about 10% is a concrete wall — in 2002, in an attempt to stop Palestinian terrorist infiltration. As a result, the number of terror attacks originating from the West Bank has decreased by more than 90%.
What the website of the Palestine Marathon calls an “apartheid wall” is in fact a “security fence” – only 10% of it is made of concrete. It was not put in to torment the Palestinians but to save lives, both Jewish and Muslim. It began to be built in 2002, during the Second Intifada, when the Palestinian terrorists killed more than 1,000 Israelis, through shootings, stabbings, and suicide bombs, and wounded 7,000. Israel’s security fence – what the Palestine Marathon website calls an “apartheid” wall – was deemed the most effective way to diminish infiltration by Palestinian terrorists. And it worked: terror attacks from the West Bank have gone down by 90% since 2002.
Yet the claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” is intensifying worldwide. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in November of last year said that Israel risked perpetuating a system of “apartheid.” His remarks were parroted by many news outlets, which failed to even mention repeated Israeli peace overtures that have been rejected by the PA.
In reality, apartheid refers to the policy of racial segregation in pre-1990s South Africa — a construct that does not remotely apply to Israel, as HonestReporting has outlined in numerous articles (see for example here and here).
As often as the “apartheid” libel is made, Israel’s defenders respond just as often with the evidence that shows just how absurd such a charge turns out to be. We have to keep sweeping back the malignant tide. So here goes, yet again, to disprove the ”apartheid” label and libel: Arabs serve in the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs study in the same universities, work in the same offices and factories, play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. Jewish and Arab medical personnel together treat Jewish and Arab patients. Jewish and Arab entrepreneurs own businesses together, everything from restaurants to high tech startups. But while these facts are repeated ad nauseam, the army of Israel-haters simply ignores all this, and continues to insist, without feeling the need to produce any evidence, that Israel is an “apartheid” state. All we can do is to keep offering the evidence, in the hope that those whose minds are not made up will be convinced by our sober recital of the facts, and not by the baseless fictions of Palestinian propaganda.
Specifically, since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, the vast majority of Palestinians have been governed by either the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or Hamas.
100 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza live under the despotic rule of Hamas. 95 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank live in Areas A and B, under the despotic rule of the Palestinian Authority. The only Arabs “between the river and the sea” who enjoy democracy and the rule of law are the Israeli Arabs.
Meanwhile, in Israel, the legal, state-sanctioned discrimination that is the very definition of apartheid is not only absent, but it is combated by the country’s laws and court system.
Equal rights for all groups, including ethnic and religious minorities, are safeguarded in Israel – forming the basis of the Middle East’s only functioning democracy.
Everyone – Jew, Christian, Muslim, Druze – is equal under Israeli law. No state-sanctioned discrimination, ethnic or religious, is allowed. The sole difference in the treatment of Jews and Arabs is this: Jews must serve in the IDF, while Arabs may serve if they so choose. This hardly constitutes discrimination.
By infusing an event meant to bring people together with such divisive rhetoric, the PA is serving notice that it will continue to incite Palestinians to reject coexistence with Israel — hurting peace-seeking Palestinians in the process.
The Palestine Marathon is billed by its organizers as an event to “bring people together.” But instead, at every turn – on the posters that are put up in the city and along the race route, and at the website for the Marathon — we see that the PA continues to reject Israel’s very existence. The logo for the Marathon is a map of ”Palestine” which extends “from the river to the sea.” Israel does not exist. Or rather, it does exist, but only as an evil presence. Israel is mentioned only at the website, in the Palestine Marathon’s “mission statement.” Here it is:
The PALESTINE MARATHON ‘s mission is to telling [sic] different stories about Palestinians and their lack of freedom of movement, and adding value to the Palestinian tourism sector & economy.
To tell a different story about Palestine and increase international knowledge of Palestinian culture, hospitality and life – and of course the effect of the Israeli’s [sic] Occupation on Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
Sport is the vehicle, but the real story, as always with the Palestinians, is Israel’s cruel “Occupation” and its “effects on the Palestinians’ freedom of movement.” The Palestinians are not restricted in most of their “freedom of movement.” They can leave the PA territories to go anywhere they wish in the world –outside of Israel. And the only reason Israel has kept most of the Palestinians from entering is because of its unhappy experience with Palestinian terrorists who too often in the past were let in to work by the Israeli government, and then they proceeded to commit attacks on Israeli civilians.
Even so, in the hope of improving economic conditions for the Palestinians, Israel feels that the security situation is such at present that they can increase the number of work permits it gives to the Palestinians. In the West Bank, 106,000 Palestinians now have permits to work in Israel within the Green Line, and another 35,000 work in the settlements. Another ten thousand Palestinians from Gaza also have permits to work in Israel. Israel provides jobs for these Palestinians, and their pay is many times greater than what those workers would earn at home – to even more Palestinians if the security situation merits it. And the Palestinians who are allowed to work in Israel consider themselves very lucky; as one such worker said, “I feel I have won the lottery.”
None of this is going to be mentioned in any of the material disseminated by the organizers of the Palestine Marathon. For them, the Israeli “Occupation” is the primal sin. But there is no “occupation” in Gaza, where not a single Israeli remains, nor is it correct to describe as an “occupation” the situation in Areas A and B in Judea and Samaria, where 95% of the Palestinians in the West Bank live, ruled by the PA. Israel does not keep the Palestinians “cooped up” – they can travel around the world, if they wish. Right now more than 150,000 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank are allowed to work in Israel, and more will soon be permitted to join therm.
None of this will be mentioned at the website of the Palestine Marathon. But you can read it here, and then can send that information on to others who may have been misled by Palestinian propaganda. Feel free.