A Dutch filmmaker, George Sluizer, recently claimed to have seen Ariel Sharon shoot two ‘toddlers’ in Lebanon during the Sabra/Shatila massacres. His story was published in the third-largest newspaper in the Netherlands, the Volksrant. The story is impossible for numerous reasons, not to mention the fact that Sharon would never have done such a thing.
When Hizballah was implicated in the murder of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, they immediately denied it and claimed that Israel had killed Hariri. There is no possible way that Israel could have benefited by Hariri’s death, and most objective observers believed (and still believe) that the plan was hatched in Syria.
In August 2009, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published a story by one Donald Bostrom which accused the IDF of deliberately killing young Palestinians in order to steal their organs. Despite the fact that it is impossible to harvest organs from dead bodies and despite the fact that Bostrom himself admitted that his story was entirely based on “what Palestinian families told [him],” the story has persisted and is widely believed today.
The UN’s Goldstone report claimed that one of the official objectives of Operation Cast Lead was to kill or injure as many Palestinian noncombatants as possible. Goldstone’s commission came to this conclusion despite Israel’s very visible efforts to protect civilians, and despite the fact that Israel’s interests were clearly harmed by the perception that it wanted to hurt civilians.
In November 2002, Prince Nayef of Saudi Arabia, said “It is impossible that 19 youths carried out the operation of September 11, or that bin Laden or Al Qaeda did that alone. … I think [the Zionists] are behind these events.” This, and many similar statements by other important Arabs and Muslims are quoted here.
Do you see where I’m going? There are many, many more examples, some trivial and some vicious.
It is possible to say absolutely anything about Israel, its leaders, its people and its army. It may be published in ‘legitimate’ media, and it will be believed in the worldwide community of Israel-haters. There are numerous internet sites and blogs that exist only to be repositories for this kind of story.
Most Americans think the slanders above are false. How could anyone believe them? And yet, in some places in the world almost everyone believes them. Here in the US it’s the less theatrical ones that tend to be believed, like the one that says that most of the casualties of Cast Lead were civilians (especially children), that ‘settlers’ run wild in Judea and Samaria uprooting olive trees and burning mosques, that there are starving people in Gaza, that “Israel is not interested in peace,” etc. But these are equally false.
Some of the US and Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era was equally vicious, at least if we ignore the echoes of ancient antisemitic blood libels in the attacks on Israel. What is unprecedented is the way these attacks are aimed in only one direction and emanate from so many sources: the Arab world, Iran, Europe, the UK, the international Left, etc.
It’s like schoolyard bullying, the way it’s focused on a particular target. A misfit nation, a Jewish nation in a place where Jews are despised, Israel is singled out in a historically unique way. But it’s not simple sadism. It has a purpose, which is to crush any sympathetic feelings toward Israel, both to stymie her political initiatives in peacetime and to justify actions to prevent her from making any gains or even defending herself in the event of war.
I don’t know what the solution is. It takes zero effort to make up a story like the one about Sharon, but it’s harder to prove that something didn’t happen. Anyway, the people that believe these tales are not persuaded by logic or evidence. Ultimately, the stories make it into the ‘conventional wisdom’, the things everyone accepts without question.
I’m sure the President of the US doesn’t believe that Sharon shoots toddlers or that Zionists perpetrated 9/11. But I wonder what stories he does believe?
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