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Lev Topor
Lev Topor

Antizionist Disinformation: Tips for Hanan Ashrawi

A knife attack in the city of Jerusalem was recorded on camera on 4 December 2021 at approximately 16:30 (GMT +2), the details and description of the attack are fairly simple: A 25-year-old man was walking near the Damascus Gate in the city of Jerusalem, he was wearing blue pants and a white shirt. While crossing the street he rushed and attacked another man using a knife which he had carried in his pocket. The victim of the knife attack was another man wearing a black suit and a black hat. Immediately after the initial attack the man wearing the blue pants and white shirt – the attacker – rushed and attacked another man who carried a rifle and wore a greenish uniform. The man with the blue pants and white shirt then attempted to attack another woman who also carried a gun and wore a greenish uniform. Then, the attacker was shot by those wearing uniforms, an act that had caused the attacker to cease attacking people.

The facts of the above-mentioned knife attack are clear and undeniable as the entire event was recorded on camera. However, anti-Zionist activists are managing an ongoing disinformation campaign against Israel in an attempt to discredit it and associate Israel with negative terms like ‘execution’, ‘apartheid’, ‘murder’, or ‘terrorism’. Anti-Zionist activists are using keywords, terms, and hashtags on social media platforms like Twitter or messaging applications like Telegram to disseminate their anti-Zionist campaign while completely ignoring the actual details and facts of events such as the knife attack. The attacker, wearing blue pants and a white shirt is a Palestinian young man from the town of Salfit; the victim, wearing a black suit, is a Jewish man; those in uniform, who stopped the knife attack and prevented more casualties, are two Israeli border police officers. The video is accessible in many media outlets like the Daily Mail, YouTube, or Twitter.

The facts are clear. It is also very clear who is the attacker, who is the victim, and who had managed to stop the attack. Yet, anti-Zionist activists are constantly attempting to influence global public opinion by disseminating disinformation. They do not do it by mistake. Disinformation is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “false information deliberately and often covertly spread to influence public opinion or obscure the truth”. Indeed, anti-Zionist activists like Hanan Ashrawi, Mahmoud Refaat, Zahra Billoo, or Mohammed El-Kurd, just to name a few, are deliberately spreading false information to influence public opinion. For instance, immediately after the attack, Hanan Ashrawi had retweeted a tweet arguing that the border police “have executed a wounded young man…”. Ashrawi herself wrote that it was “cold-blooded murder”. Mahmoud Refaat wrote on Twitter that “Israeli forces carry out the execution of a young man in the occupied city of #Jerusalem today”. Those figures, all verified by Twitter, are consciously spreading false facts while constantly using hashtags like #Israel, #Jerusalem, #IsraeliTerror, #Zionism, #Israeli_State_Terrorism, #Palestine, #Gaza. As hashtags categorize Tweets and make search more efficient, and as retweeting and linking tweets exponentially spreads information, such hashtags are causing many Twitter users worldwide to consume false information.

In contrast to what anti-Zionist activists claim about the knife attack, the facts which were recorded on security cameras as well as by many bystanders speak for themselves: A man stabbed another man using a knife, police officers neutralized the attacker and prevented more casualties. It was not “cold-blooded murder” or an “execution”. In fact, one can assume that other law enforcement officers worldwide would have acted similarly in this type of situation. Even Al Jazeera has published the news in a more actual manner: “Surveillance video shows attacker stabbing Jewish man and then trying to knife Israeli police in the occupied city.”

Concluding, it is important to suggest anti-Zionist activists like Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) a few tips regarding the spread of disinformation or misinformation. First, one should not spread false information if actual information is recorded on camera, during the daytime. Second, one should not defame an entity that merely reacted and had not initiated any aggression, even defamation should make sense. Third, if anti-Zionist disinformation spreaders do choose to spread false information and ignore the first two suggestions, they should not share the actual footage that proves them wrong. That is, if you are planning to lie, at least hide the truth properly.

About the Author
Dr. Lev Topor is an ISGAP visiting scholar at the Woolf Institute at the University of Cambridge and a senior research fellow at the Center for Cyber Law and Policy at the University of Haifa in Israel. He is the co-author (w/ Prof. Jonathan Fox) of 'Why Do People Discriminate Against Jews?' Published by Oxford University Press in 2021. Lev publishes scholarly works and practical reports on the topic of antisemitism, anti-Zionism and racism.
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