For a truthful person, demonizing Israel is difficult. How can one convincingly denounce a liberal democracy that is surrounded by despotic regimes, especially one that treats even its enemies better than the despotic neighbours treat their own citizens? How can one denounce a country that is a major contributor of humanitarian aid to the world despite being unfairly singled out and demonized by most of the world? How can one refuse Israel’s right to exist on land occupied by Jews for over three millennia? How can one not support a tiny nation that stands up to all the regional bullies? Easy: lie, then lie, and then lie some more. That is in fact the only logical strategy in this circumstance, and what’s more, because it is used at a massive and an overwhelming scale, it works!
The whole anti-Zionist enterprise is based on lies, as the Simon Wiesenthal Center has demonstrated (the lies that Israel was created by European guilt over the Nazi Holocaust, that Israel is the main stumbling block to achieving a Two-State solution, that Israeli policies are the cause of worldwide antisemitism, etc), but the lies go much further than a shaky ideological foundation. Fabrications about supposed crimes by Israel are frequent and unrelenting. Anti-Zionists clearly know that the accusations are always much more widely broadcasted than the refutations that inevitably follow sooner or later. They know that no matter how much effort is employed in defending Israel, frequent lies damage the reputation of Israel beyond repair.
Lots and lots of lies
Honest Reporting summarized five well-known and elaborate lies about Israel: the killing of Palestinian Muhammad Al-Dura, the Jenin “massacre”, the killing of seven members of a Palestinian family in Gaza Beach, fabricated stories during the 2006 Lebanon war, and the claim of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Palestinian Media Watch documented some of the lies against Israel: the lies that it spreads AIDS and drugs, that it murdered Arafat, that it plans to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque, that it steals organs from Palestinians, that it abuses prisoners, that it plans to rid Jerusalem of non-Jews, that it murders and poisons, that it seeks rule from Euphrates to Nile, and others.
One of the best known and most successful lie is the claim that Israel purposely attacked the American intelligence ship USS Liberty. This lie has absolutely no basis, but it still lingers, partly because the prize is too big to ignore: creating a rift between Israel and its most consistent ally.
Routine and habitual
Lying is a routine and automatic part of the anti-Zionist discourse. Listing all lies against Israel would be far beyond the scope of this blog. In December 2013, Barry Rubin estimated that “about 10 to 20 slanders (at least) are issued against Israel each day”. A recent lie is the false accusation that Israel tried to drown Gaza. Another recent lie is a fake picture of a Palestinian being chased by Israeli police officers. Lying about Israel has become so routine among anti-Zionists, that they often don’t even bother trying to obtain accurate information. For example, during the last war between Israel and Hamas, pictures from Syria were widely used with the claim that they came from Gaza.
Israel’s involvement is not even required in order to fabricate lies about Israel. The claim that ISIS is an Israeli invention controlled by Mossad has now travelled the world more times that one cares to count. These are in fact the most effective lies; since Israel has nothing to do with ISIS, it is impossible to present counter evidence for such claims. What can one show as evidence? A blank page?
The practice of lying is used by anti-Zionists not only against Israel but also extensively against those who dare defend it. Alan Dershowitz is a world-famous lawyer who so strongly supports human rights and especially freedom of speech that he has defended, often pro bono, the free speech of communists, Neo-Nazis, anti-Israel fanatics, and Holocaust deniers, while vehemently refuting their opinions. Yet, because he supports Israel, Dershowitz is routinely and wrongly accused of supporting torture, which is a flagrant perversion of his actual position.
High benefits at little cost
But why wouldn’t the anti-Zionists lie? After all, the President of the Palestinian Authority, in front of the whole world at the United Nations General Assembly, blatantly lied about Israel committing genocide in Gaza, and received little criticism for it. Not only do anti-Israel lies work, but they also only carry very minimal costs. In the modern world of the Internet and a mass media with lowered standards, lying is the tool of choice for those who have no legitimate claim, especially when there is already a widespread bias against the accused (Israel) and a pervasive willingness to assume the worst about its actions.
The accusation of “genocide” levelled against Israel wasn’t invented by Abbas of course. He just repeats what the legion of anti-Zionists regurgitate in social media incessantly. Despite the lack of a shred of evidence that Israel is engaged in any sort of genocide, despite the obvious idiocy of claiming genocide while the Palestinian population grows by leaps and bounds, the liars do not relent. The accusation of genocide is a powerful weapon because not only would it be a horrible crime, if it were true, but it is bound to cause pain to most Jews since practically all Jews have family who perished in the Holocaust, and they cannot bear the thought that Jews would do anything that even resembles the Holocaust.
The most popular lie about Israel is of course the accusation that it is an apartheid state. This lie is repeated often on university campuses around the world, hoping to elicit the kind of popular support that was enjoyed by the battle against the actual apartheid state of South Africa. Facts of course do not support such an accusation, but that does not stop the accusers.
The ultimate lie
The accusations of genocide and apartheid also conveniently provide anti-Zionists with seeming validation for the biggest lie of all, which is that Zionists are Nazis. Abbas does not dare repeat this lie (although he has claimed that the Zionist movement had links with the Nazis before World War II), at least not at the UN, but this lie is widely used by anti-Zionists in social media and on the Internet. Like the accusation of genocide, it has the additional effect of causing pain to Jews.
What is particularly remarkable about the anti-Zionists’ strategy isn’t only that they lie. After all, every adult has lied at one point or another. What is remarkable is that the anti-Zionists’ case against Israel is squarely and completely based on a massive and continuous stream of lies: big, small, and everything in between. If anti-Zionists were suddenly injected with a truth serum, their whole enterprise would immediately collapse like one giant house of cards.
To fight back, one must continue to tell the truth of course, but that is not enough. Supporters of Israel must also accept the fact that lies about Israel will continue, with as much scope and virulence as ever, just as lies against Jews have continued unabated since Jews came into existence. After all, anti-Zionists are also antisemites, and they use the same tactics against Israel as they use against Jews.
All that we can do, in addition to being ethical in the face of complete and utter immorality, is to keep Israel strong. In the end, the only reality that frustrates the liars’ extensive efforts is Israel’s tenacious and consistent strength as demonstrated by Israel’s battle cry “Am Yisrael Chai” (the people of Israel live). Let’s always remember that.