Remember the outrageous Oliphant cartoon which appeared in the NY Times and the Washington Post last week? Barry Rubin said that it was “reminiscent of Arab propaganda cartoons” in the way it portrayed Israel as innately and irredeemably evil, not deserving of existence.
The popular fury being unleashed against Israel, its army and its leaders recently is a phenomenon of mass psychology that will be studied by future social scientists (if there is a future). Although there have been similar campaigns throughout the centuries (Carthago delenda est!, “Remember the Maine!”, etc.), the power of the media to induce hysterical blood lust in the days of the Internet and world-wide satellite TV channels has grown by orders of magnitude since Cato the Elder’s oratory and Hearst’s newspapers.
This may be the first time, though, that major media belonging to the victim of a dehumanization campaign have done their best to provide ammunition for their enemies. It is as if the most important German newspapers in 1914 ran articles headlined “The Hun Rape of Belgium”.
I am talking, of course, about the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, considered the newspaper of record in Israel and sometimes compared to the New York Times, which repeated unfounded accusations of murder and other misconduct by IDF troops in Gaza on its English website, which — like Oliphant’s cartoon — were then disseminated as fact by hostile media all over the world.
Even after the IDF investigated and showed that the accusations were hearsay about events that did not happen, Ha’aretz has continued on the attack. On March 31, staffer Amos Harel wrote this:
There is no reason to cast doubt on the sincerity of the military advocate general, or in the thoroughness of the military police investigators. Nonetheless, it is unclear how they can be so certain that the “combat soldiers’ testimonials” were just a series of “rumors and concoctions while the soldiers were truthful during the investigations conducted by the military police and the Givati brigades commander.”
Will this also appear on Hamas and Hezbollah websites?