July 23, 2020

Lying About Israel


Hamas mural in West Bank

Hamas mural in the West Bank

About 10-20 slanders (at least) are issued against Israel each day. They are frequently complete fabrications and from academia, media, or accusations mostly made up out of whole cloth. Lying is either simply reported irresponsibly or with participation in the “big lie.” Institutions and personal careers are benefitted by such moves.
Last month, a former Canadian ambassador–who seems to have been earning a living entirely on the misrepresentation of Israel–made a horrifying announcement. He announced that an Israeli Jewish civil rights lawyer had been attacked by settlers in the West Bank. But actually, the lawyer has said that this isn’t true. In fact, he had rocks thrown at him by Palestinians.
After a terrorist in Israel murdered a soldier by knifing him while he was sleeping on a bus, the New York Times photograph only showed the terrorist’s family. The newspaper apparently expected that the sympathy should be given to the terrorist, who might have to do prison time. But so what? It does not matter if each specific lie is exposed. Nobody is going to change their behavior by proving these findings. This certainly doesn’t mean that Israelis never lie and Palestinians never tell the truth, but if we’re talking about what the Israeli state would never do and what the Palestinian state would do, that’s different. Just as in the Cold War, we could easily tell the difference between England and Bulgaria. But as mentioned, the media does not make it a point to spend significant time and money exposing the truth.
After all, there have been such lies told about Jews for over 2,000 years. There has been a dense history of attempts to hate Jews and not have sympathy for them. Is this a surprise? Are some credible people inclined to believe these things? For example, a senior Saudi cleric announced that soccer was a Jewish plot; another complained that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion–which many Arabs believe to be true–dictated all of modern Egyptian history. Are ideological extremists (of the left or the right) showing a strong inclination to resist this? Did the New York Times cover the Holocaust in depth when it was happening? In other words, what exists here is a situation in which:
  1. Some are sympathetic to the truth
  2. Some will swallow lies.
  3. Some will spread lies for political advantage.
Is that anything new? For example, it is probable that millions of people read blogs denying Israeli claims that some specific lie is not true. Again, I don’t think there is a point in denying every lie. If one wants to do something, one should assess the truth. Once again, the problem with the Arab-Israeli conflict is not accidental; it is the natural result of two things:
  1. The Arab-Islamic general refusal to recognize Israel ever
  2. The Arab-Islamic inability to destroy Israel.
Get it? I must admit that the funniest falsehood is simply the result of hutzpah (audacity).
A recent New York Times article was titled, “Gaza Need Not Be a Sewer.” Now, let us think that you are a rational person. Let us think that you do not have a mere illogical clicker. Wouldn’t it be obvious to think this?
Of course Gaza need not be a sewer. For one thing, the Hamas government could have used the chance of getting a lot of money from oil producers, but then it would have to not wage war on Israel forever. Hamas would be expected to pay its electricity bills, and not expect Israel to provide it electricity for free while under the threat of destruction. It would not use antisemitic stereotypes in a clear sense that conveys genocide. And note that Hamas’s involvement in Egypt would be criticized. If Gaza had followed this policy, it wouldn’t have to be a sewer.
After the disengagement of Jewish settlements in Gaza, Israeli policy was to leave behind much of the equipment for the PA, in order to set a good example. Yet Fatah sold or destroyed everything that was left behind. It is quite likely that Hamas also earned a large amount of money from this.
Really then, is Gaza’s problem Israel’s fault? Did Israel have an alternative given Hamas’ desire to wage war on Israel? The point is that it is assumed that somehow Gaza could have become a paradise, and it was Israel’s fault that it didn’t. In addition, this situation is going to continue as such.
And by the way, Hamas is now helping revolutionary Islamists in Egypt and thus making another enemy for itself. This gets Gaza deeper embroiled in regional hostilities.
If you lie systematically about someone else, you will not find the truth about yourself.
About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)