Propaganda of hate and lies against the Jews
April 10, 2008 – Jewishinfone.ws originally published the following article on November 29, 2006. We think it’s high time we reminded ourselves that being a Zionist is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Israel’s Middle East foes trying to turn Zionism into a dirty word,” writes Michael Belling in South Africa’s Cape Argus newspaper.
Zionism is not a dirty word, but in a stunning propaganda success and perversion of the truth, it has been used as a term of international opprobrium for over 30 years, a continuation of the virulent hatred against Israel and frequent outright antisemitism that goes back much further.
Total rejection of Israel’s right to exist by the vast majority of the Muslim world was already clearly evident on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations General Assembly voted by a two-thirds majority to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, as Britain ended its 30-year rule over the territory under a League of Nations mandate.
The vote was the culmination of the Zionist dream, 3 000 years of unswerving devotion to the Land of Israel. Politically, in modern times, Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jews, one that transformed a small country into a model of democracy, freedom, innovation, technology, education and so much more.
Turning that with obscene inaccuracy into a term used to denote racism, colonialism and every evil under the sun demanded a concerted and lengthy “big lie” that would have made Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his successor in untruth, the KGB department of disinformation, extremely proud.
So how did the enemies of Zionism, Israel – and, yes, the Jews – falsely manage to equate them with racism, apartheid, human rights offenders, war criminals and a country and people in breach of the Geneva Conventions?
The answer is so simple it is almost laughable, but its consequences are not. It is so blatant as to engender disbelief among all too many who either do not know their history or choose to deny it.
The first, less sophisticated, part of the campaign of distortion and vilification began over 85 years ago, led by the Nazi-supporting Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a member of the same family as Yasser Arafat. It lasted almost 50 years.
To foment armed insurrection against the Jews of Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, he used baseless allegations about the Zionists and Jews wanting to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount. The Arabic cry taken up then is still used today, itbah al-Yahud, kill the Jew – not the Israeli or the Zionist, but the Jew.
The Mufti spent several years in the 1940s during World War 2 at Hitler’s side in Germany, plotting genocide against the Jews of Palestine and stirring up pro-Nazi rebellion in Iraq.
This approach continued with the Arab rejection of the 1947 United Nations resolution to establish two states in Palestine, Jewish and Arab. Armed attacks on Jewish communities began immediately afterwards.
One day after Israel’s independence in May 1948, five Arab armies invaded from neighbouring countries, with the avowed aim of throwing the Jews into the sea, accompanied by blood-curdling threats of another Holocaust. The invasion failed to destroy Israel, but it did kill the Palestinian Arab state, with Egypt controlling Gaza and Jordan annexing the West Bank.
Between 1948 and 1967, the Arab countries refused to recognise Israel, continuing their enmity through armed incursions, terrorism, political manoeuvring and economic boycotts. In 1967, in a defensive war recognised as such internationally, Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.
But in an unprecedented move after the war, Israel offered to withdraw from all the territories in exchange for recognition and peace.
The Arab League, meeting in Khartoum in September 1967, gave its unanimous response, the notorious three “nos” – no negotiations, no recognition, no peace.
Then came the second part of the hate campaign, that has lasted ever since, caused by one of the unintended consequences of the Israeli victory against Arab aggression. Soviet Jewry suddenly rediscovered its identity after 50 years of oppression under communism and many Jews campaigned for permission to go to Israel.
The atheistic, dictatorial and anti-Israel leadership of the USSR found this totally unpalatable. The notorious KGB department of disinformation was instructed to suppress this Jewish and Zionist renaissance and to help their Arab allies recover from their defeat.
From 1968 new lies spewed out – Zionism as everything bad and evil – often a precise echo of the anti-Jewish canards heard so often in earlier years. The wild untruths were welcomed by all Israel’s enemies. Using their automatic majority in the United Nations and other international forums, the propaganda lies became official decisions, culminating in the low point in United Nations history on November 10, 1975, with the General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.
The resolution was repealed in 1991, the only time the UN has done so. But the damage still continues. It has become a form of misguided conventional wisdom in all too many countries, including South Africa, going far beyond Israel’s older enemies.
South Africans witnessed an especially pernicious example at the 2001 UN anti-racism conference in Durban, that turned into an anti-Israel and openly anti-Jewish hate fest.
Sadly, many South Africans joined in the racist street marches at the time in the major cities. The same tired and pernicious accusations were also heard recently in parliament in support of a virulently anti-Israel resolution.
The Western media have frequently fallen victim to these falsehoods, featuring scurrilous accusations against Israel in the guise of objective reporting.
The so-called 2002 “massacre” in the West Bank town of Jenin is just one example, with allegations of over 5 000 Palestinian Arabs killed and buried in mass graves during the Israeli response to civilian deaths as a result of suicide bombings in hotels, pizza parlours and elsewhere.
The accusations against Israel were splashed all over the Western media, which gave nothing like the same prominence to the truth when it came out a few weeks later – fewer than 100 dead on both sides, with many Israeli casualties in house-to-house fighting in an attempt to minimise civilian Arab casualties. The numbers were eventually acknowledged even by official Palestinian spokespeople.
Similar unfounded allegations abounded during the recent war in Lebanon – such as civilians being deliberately targeted in Kana.
Pictures and reports of such “atrocities” were faked and Reuters even fired one of its long-time cameramen.
However, part of the tragedy is that Jenin, Kana and other lies like them become part of the anti-Israel mythology and remain fixed in the minds of people.
In our world of instant mass communication, Goebbels would truly have derived great satisfaction from the extent of this great anti-Israel and all too often simply anti-Jewish propaganda and big lies. The road to peace is not paved with hate, rejectionism and lies.
Michael Belling is a former foreign correspondent for a South African media group in Israel, where he also practised as an advocate.