Jewish Voice for Peace-Albuquerque – can’t achieve peace if purposefully distorting the facts
In the December 30 edition of the Albuquerque Free Press, Alan Wagman provides the Jewish Voice for Peace-Albuquerque (JVP) justification for attempting to get the Albuquerque City Council to cancel its sister city relationship with Rehovot. Upon searching the ABQ Free Press website we were unable to find the letter online, so we have reproduced it below.
It is clear from the letter that JVP is using factual errors (also called lies), misinterpretations of historical events, inflammatory statements, and clear distortions.
1. Write a letter to the ABQ Free Press. Choose one or two points and expound on them in under 150 words. Send your comments to email@example.com. Include your full name and a daytime phone number for the editor to contact you if needed. Tips on writing letters to the editor can be found on the SFVFI website here.
2. Write or phone Albuquerque City Councilors. Express your support for the sister city relationship with Rehovot and tell the Councilors that the JVP has been spreading distortions about the history of Rehovot and exaggerations about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. This is especially valuable if you are an Albuquerque resident; you can find your personal City Councilor by going to this website. If you are writing or calling and want to include all of the City Councilors by email, or call specific ones, here is the contact information:
- Ken Sanchez – District 1: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Elaine Romero: email@example.com; (505) 768-3183
- Isaac Benton – District 2: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Diane Dolan: email@example.com; (505) 768-3186
- Klarissa J. Peña – District 3: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Nancy Montaño: email@example.com; (505) 768-3127
- Brad Winter – District 4: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Rebekka Burt: email@example.com; (505) 768-3101
- Dan Lewis – District 5: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Rachel Miller: email@example.com; (505) 768-3189
- Pat Davis – District 6: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Sean Foran: email@example.com; (505) 768-3152
- Diane G. Gibson – District 7: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Chris Sylvan: email@example.com; (505) 768-3136
- Trudy E. Jones – District 8: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Aziza Chavez: email@example.com; (505) 768-3106
- Don Harris – District 9: firstname.lastname@example.org; include Policy Analyst Dawn Marie Emillio: email@example.com; (505) 768-3123
You can also write/phone Mayor Richard Berry, a strong supporter of the sister city relationship, by going to the Mayor’s website here.
Here is the letter. In brackets we’ve added numbers to indicate comments we make below about these items.
Jewish Voice for Peace-Albuquerque has been appearing before City Council during general public comment for the last three months, calling on the City Council to terminate Albuquerque’s sister city relationship with Rehovot Israel.
Our first speakers pointed out that Albuquerque’s sister city is built on the ruins of Zarnuqah, a Palestinian village destroyed in 1948 when Israeli soldiers entered the village, blew up the local mosque – killing the imam and his wife – and rounded up all of the residents at gunpoint and ordered them out of Israel. 
This was part of a mass ethnic cleansing that expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in order to ensure Jewish control of the new state. 
At subsequent City Council meetings speakers pointed out the following: that the Six-Day War in 1967 was not a defensive war responding to any imminent threat, but rather it was a war of Israeli choice, aggression, and conquest; that the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was not a move toward peace but a calculated and successful attempt to destroy the peace process; that Israel unnecessarily started the war on Gaza in 2014.
In addition, speakers have described for the City Council the ongoing crimes committed by Jewish Israeli civilians – such.as the Jewish lynch Mobs roaming East Jerusalem looking to kidnap and murder Palestinians  – and the Israeli military’s illegal collective punishment policy of destroying the homes of innocent family members of Palestinians suspected of committing crimes.
In the coming weeks we intend to go deeper into the injustices and also go into the Israeli arms industry’s use of Palestinians as guinea pigs to test civilian-control weapons which are then marketed around the world, including to police in this country.
– Alan Wagman
Let’s get the facts straight:
 Bottom line: Rehovot was founded in 1890 by Jews from Warsaw after a purchase of land from both landowners and Zarnuqa residents.
Here’s the true story: The region was an uncultivated wasteland with no trees, houses or water. Zarnuqa was a neighboring Arab village at the time. Early on there was a dispute between the settlers and Zarnuqa in 1882 over pasture rights. This was resolved through the courts by 1884. In 1926, the Jewish National Fund purchased land from residents of Zarnuqa, and by 1931 had established on that land the first workers moshav known as Kfar Marmorek, now a suburb of Rehovot, in which ten families evicted from the Kinneret in 1931 were resettled.
The agricultural research station that opened in Rehovot in 1932 became the Department of Agriculture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1934, Chaim Weizmann established the Sieff Institute, which became the Weizmann Institute of Science.
At the beginning of December 1947, the residents of Zarnuqa considered entering into a non-belligerency pact with Rehovot but apparently it was not formalized. In April 1948, Arab irregulars infiltrated into the village. The Dar Shurbaji clan was in favor of the village surrendering its weapons and accept protection by Haganah but others objected. Women, children and the elderly were evacuated to the nearby village of Yibna, leaving the Shurbajis and several dozen armed men from other clans. Zarnuqa was depopulated on 27–28 May by the Givati Brigade during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. While parts of Rehovot suburbs today are built on the former Zarnuqa site, the site became available from both voluntary and involuntary population changes as a result of the 1948 Arab refusal to accept Israel as a state and the invasion of Israel by five Arab countries.
References: http://www.rehovotisrael.com/history.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehovot, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarnuqa
 Bottom line: There was no “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs from pre-1967 Israel during the 1948 Arab war of aggression against Israel.
While there is controversy about the cause of movement of Arabs from Israel regarding the numbers who left (1) voluntarily, (2) because their fellow Arab invading armies urged them to leave so they’d be able to return after Israel was destroyed, (3) because they were scared of Israeli defense and the casualties of war, or (4) they were forcibly removed from their land by Israeli forces, most agree that the movement of populations included an approximately equal number of Jews expelled from Arab lands as there were Arabs who left pre-1967 Israel. By the end of the 1948 war there were 156,000 Arabs still in Israel, along with 757,000 Jews. In 2014 there were 1.73 million Arabs (Druze [8%], Christian [9%], and Moslem [83%]) in pre-1967 Israel along with 6.1 million Jews. There was never “ethnic cleansing” in Israel – a volatile term used only to incite. But there have been attempts at ethnic cleansing in Palestinian territories – the Palestinians have made it clear that no Jews may remain in Gaza or the West Bank if the two-state solution is ever implemented. Furthermore, a few years ago the Palestinian Authority Court ruled that “the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death.” [Haaretz September 20, 2010]
The real tragedy is how the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, and Lebanese kept those Palestinians who left Israel in 1948 in squalid camps, including in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today most of those in the West Bank and Gaza are living in better conditions than their “brethren” in the “refugee” camps in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.
references: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Palestinian_exodus, Righteous Victims by Benny Morris, From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters
 Bottom line: no credible historian has claimed that in 1967 the Israelis were not threatened by Egyptian aggression in the Sinai, and Syrian military posturing in the Golan, exacerbated by Russian deceptive intelligence.
While it is possible to attribute the 1967 Six-Day War cause to numerous factors, including the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) by the Egyptians in 1963 and their terrorist activities within the pre-1967 Israeli lines, more directly the Syrians had been shelling Israeli kibbutzim and towns in the Galilee from the Golan Heights since the end of the 1948 war, intensifying their attacks from 1965 onward. Here are some of the more direct precipitating factors for the 1967 Six-Day war:
- On April 7, 1967 Israel retaliated for Syria’s attacks on kibbutzim from the Golan Heights. During the attack, Israeli planes shot down six Syrian fighter planes — MiGs supplied by the Soviet Union.
- Shortly thereafter, the Soviets gave Damascus false information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack.
- Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt and asked Nasser to come to its aid.
- On May 15, 1967 Egyptian troops began amassing in the Sinai and near the Israeli border.
- On May 16 Nasser unilaterally ordered the UN Emergency Force (UNEF), stationed in the Sinai since 1956 as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces to withdraw.
- On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This in itself was a casus belli for war.
- On May 30 King Hussein of Jordan joined the alliance with Egypt and Syria.
- On June 4 the President of Iraq joined this alliance after declaring that the intent was “to wipe Israel off the face of the map.” At this point about 465,000 troops, more than 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft were mobilized by the Arabs surrounding Israel.
Much more could be said about these threats, but in the face of such obvious hostility and impending war, as well as clear casus belli actions taken by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the PLO, objective observers agree that this was a justified preemptive strike by the Israelis. [Only the losers think it was unjustified.]
references: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/67_War.html, Six Days of War by Michael Oren
 Bottom line: (a) the allegation of Jewish lynch mobs marauding through Jerusalem is ludicrous in light of Palestinian terrorism stabbings, car killings, and Palestinian rejoicing over their kidnapping and murdering three yeshiva students among other acts. (b) The Palestinians had been asking for Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories (WB and Gaza) for 2 decades. Gaza was abandoned by the Israelis in 2005 (Jewish residents who did not leave voluntarily were forcibly evicted by the Israeli government).
This was an opportunity for Gazans to demonstrate their ability to be self-governing. Instead, the Gazans destroyed the greenhouses left by the Israelis, elected a terrorist Hamas government, and started two wars with Israel by sending thousands of indiscriminate and unguided rockets into Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
No credible individual could claim Israel “started the war in 2014” or in prior years. It was clearly provoked by Hamas rockets, soldier kidnappings, and tunnel attempts to infiltrate Israel, kill Israelis, and create death and destruction in Israel. As every western leader said, Israel had the right and duty to defend its citizens, all while Hamas’ terrorists hid behind the skirts of their women and children by fighting from hospitals, schools, and non-combatant residences.
 Bottom line: Israel uses the destruction of homes of Palestinian terrorists according to the law of the land as a deterrent, as is permissible by international law. Whether or not it actually acts as a deterrent is unknown, but this is true of many laws propagated in many countries, including the U.S. (n.b. the death penalty). NGOs in Israel and elsewhere unilaterally proclaim these acts as “war crimes” – this is debatable within international law. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International frequently make these claims, but here is a response from NGO Monitor:
In their highly politicized assessments, HRW and Amnesty use the rhetoric of international law selectively, failing to note that private property used by armed combatants loses its protected status within a war zone. Although Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of private homes by military forces, it also includes the very significant caveat: “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” Israel’s understanding of its rights and responsibilities under international humanitarian law have been scrutinized by the Israeli Supreme Court, which refused a petition filed by a number of NGOs asking to halt [such]…operations.
Israeli forces do not demolish houses without court review, which sometimes prevents the demolition. Furthermore, the houses do not belong to mere criminal suspects but to actual murderers of Israeli citizens (e.g., the murderer of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, killed while driving with their four young children, in October, 2015).
 We are unable to find any concrete evidence of this allegation, hence no credibility can be given to the claim.
Blatant statements as Wagman’s fail to recognize the important forces working against the safety of Israel and its people, and substitute sophistry and hyperbolic rhetoric for the truth. They should be ignored, and even castigated for being deceptive and dishonest.
Some handy links to help in understanding the US policy on anti-Semitism, Myths and Facts about the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the UN anti-Israel bias, and other Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian issues can be found here.