Richard L. Cravatts
Richard L. Cravatts

Lies in the cognitive war against Israel (Part 2)

In the cognitive war against Israel, supporters of what historian Bat Ye’or called Palestinianism have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated employing traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies, abetted by the academic and media elites in the West, have been using different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize and eventually destroy Israel in a cognitive war.

By dressing up old hatreds against Jews and transforming it into what comprises the “new anti-Semitism,” combined with a purported goal of seeking social justice for the oppressed and repackaging ugly biases as academic scholarship, professors, student activist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Israel’s other ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of being: a racist, apartheid oppressor of an indigenous people; white European Jews with no historical connection to the Holy Land who are colonial usurpers of Muslim land; the main impediment to Middle East peace; and a brutal military occupier of land on which illegal “settlements” are built as a way of subjugating an existing innocent population in the quest for a Great Israel that will swallow even more territory to which the Jews have no legitimate claim.

This is the current narrative in what Melanie Phillips has called “the world turned upside down,” an inversion of truth and fiction, calumnies and lies targeting the Jewish state in an effort to elevate the Palestinian cause, delegitimize Israel, and make Israel a pariah in the world community. But this narrative, unfortunately, is based on a presentation of lies, a series of repeated tropes about the malignancy and illegality of Israel that has little to do with facts, history, or reason. These lies are repeated promiscuously until they accepted as fact, a Goebbel-esque tradition that creates a new truth through the unrelenting repetition of falsity, disingenuity, and distortions of reality.

What follows are some of the major tropes which together serve to perpetuate the false narrative about Israel:

The Lie of Israelis Being the New Nazis

When SJP activists and their invited speakers demonstrate against Israel, their speech and literature is peppered with allegations about Israel’s alleged “crimes against humanity, “massacres,” genocide,” and, echoing comments by Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan, in their treatment of the Palestinians, Israel has demonstrated that “. . . their barbarism has surpassed even Hitler’s.”

The Nazification of Israelis — and by extension Jews — is both breathtaking in its moral inversion and cruel in the way it makes the actual victims of the Third Reich’s horrors a modern-day reincarnation of that same barbarity, at once ahistorical, disingenuous, and grotesque in its moral and factual inaccuracy.

What is the purpose of this grotesque campaign to transmogrify the Jewish state into the Third Reich? The insidious answer is that once Israel has been tarred with the libels of racism and Nazism, the Jewish state has been made an international outlaw, a pariah, losing its moral right to even exist — exactly, of course, what its foes have consistently sought.

What is more troubling is that the characterization of the Israeli as Nazi is a trope now promulgated by Western elites and so-called intellectuals, including a broad contingent of academics who are complicit in, and in fact intellectual enablers of, the campaign to defame Israel by Nazifying its people and accusing Jews again as being the world’s moral and existential enemies as demonstrated by their oppression and brutality toward the ‘long-suffering Palestinians’. Thus, campus anti-Israel hate-fests sponsored by radical student groups have such repellant names as “Holocaust in the Holy Land,” “Israel: The Politics of Genocide,” or “Israel: The Fourth Reich,” creating a clear, though mendacious, linkage between Nazism and Zionism — clear examples of both Holocaust minimization and inversion and both contemporary versions of anti-Semitic thought and expression.

That same trope is repeated and reinforced by other academics, such as Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law and Policy at Princeton University and the UN’s former, preposterously-titled “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” who wondered aloud if it was “an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity?” on the part of Israel, and then quickly answered his own question by saying, “I think not.”

At Columbia University’s department of Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics, as another example, never misses an opportunity to denigrate the Jewish state as a racist, colonial enterprise, a moral stain on the world without any semblance of legitimacy, and Israelis, as he never tires of mentioning, have become the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new Jews. “As Palestinians are murdered and injured in the thousands,” he wrote after Operation Cast Lead when Israel was defending itself against some relentless rockets attacks from Gaza into civilian neighborhoods, “world powers are cheering on . . , and it even happened during World War II as the Nazi genocide was proceeding.”

This is a lethal narrative because, when it is believed, the world naturally asks itself: if Israel is a Nazi-like, apartheid regime, standing in opposition to everything for which the civilized community of nations stands, who would not hold Israel accountable and judge it harshly for its transgressions? That against all historical evidence and the force of reason the calumny against Israel that it is a murderous, sadistic, and genocidal regime has been successfully promoted and continues to gain traction indicates that Israel’s academic defamers have been successful in inverting history as part of the modern-day incarnation of the world’s oldest hatred.

Lies About a Jewish Connection to Jerusalem and the Holy Land

As he and others in the Muslim world are wont to do, in 2012, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continued a long tradition of attempting to de-Judaize Jerusalem by expressing his mendacious notion that “Jerusalem’s identity is Arab, and the city’s and Christian holy sites must be protected from Israeli threats.” The same scholar of history who wrote a doctoral dissertation that questioned the extent and truthfulness of the Holocaust was now making his own historical claim that there had never been a Jewish presence and history in Judaism’s holiest city.

In characterizing East Jerusalem — or any part of Jerusalem, for that matter  — as a territory that Israel “occupies” but over which it enjoys no sovereignty, Abbas was misreading, once again, the content and purpose of 1967’s U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 that suggested an Israeli withdrawal “from territories” it acquired in the Six-Day War.  Critics of Israeli policy who either willfully misread or deliberately obscure the resolution’s purpose say that the Jewish State is in violation of 242 by continuing to occupy the West Bank and Jerusalem, including what is mistakenly now referred to as “Arab” East Jerusalem.  But the drafters of Resolution 242 were very precise in creating the statute’s language, and they never considered Jerusalem to have been “occupied” by Israel after the Six-Day War.  Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Arthur Goldberg, one of the resolution’s authors, made this very clear when he wrote some years later that “Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate[.] … At no time in [my] many speeches [before the U.N.] did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory.”

Along with their unwavering and various demands, including a “right of return” of all refugees and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the Palestinians now insist that Jerusalem must be divided to give them a capital in its eastern portion as the location of their new state. That view is troubling because it reveals a pattern in which Arabs endow Jerusalem with intense significance to serve purposes of political expediency.

Dore Gold, Israel’s U.N. ambassador from 1997 to 1999, observed in his book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, how many in the Muslim world, and even some individuals in the West, have begun a sinister process aimed at establishing a spiritual as well as political presence in Jerusalem for Islam, while simultaneously diminishing Jewish historical links to the city. Gold believes that this trend began at the 2000 Camp David meetings, when Yasser Arafat first stated loudly and publicly to a shocked President Bill Clinton his breathtaking belief that there had never been a Jewish temple at the Temple Mount. Arafat, according to Gold, thereby tossed “a stone of historical lies into a lake and its ripples spread all over the Middle East. ‘Temple Denial’ became a common theme at seminars in the UAE or in Jordan in the years that followed. European professors joined this anti-biblical trend.”

Palestinian propagandists, along with their apologists in the West, have, of course, assiduously attempted to rewrite a historical narrative with themselves as an indigenous people and Israelis as European colonial usurpers with no real connection to the land of what became Israel. So, to overcome that inconvenient set of facts, Barnard professor Nadia Abu El-Haj, as one egregious example, contended in her mendacious book Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society that Israeli-directed archeologists took it upon themselves to sift through a past rich with Muslim relics, but ignored them, and looked for, identified, and recorded only those findings which confirmed a historical Jewish connection to the land. “The work of archaeology in Palestine/Israel is a cardinal institutional location for the ongoing practice of colonial nationhood,” El-Haj writes with the politicized syntax of her ideological mentor, Columbia’s Edward Said, “producing facts through which historical-national claims, territorial transformations, heritage objects, and historicities [sic] ‘happen.’”

Her book has been widely denounced precisely because it seems not to be authentic scholarship on archeology of the Holy Land at all, but a revisionist history based on political ideology — the notion that any historical relationship between Jews and Jerusalem, indeed to Israel itself, is merely a construct, a fiction, a professional fraud hoisted upon the world of scholarship by Israel archeologists who sifted through digs and artificially ‘built’ a historical link between the Jews and Israel, thus, of course, denying the Palestinians their own historic connection. If the Jewish claim to the Holy Land is degraded, the Palestinian claim, naturally, is elevated and made more valid, but, of course, that is an inversion of the truth, something which Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai has aptly called a “tissue of lies.”

Pseudo-Science and Lies Against the Jewish State

In the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has begun to show itself: the blood libel has been revivified, but, to position Israel and Zionism as demonic agents in the community of nations, its primitive superstitions are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship and politicized scientific study.

When alleged brutal military assaults and Israel’s use of weaponry cannot be blamed for causing health damage to non-Jews, Israel-haters are quick to condemn the alleged general oppression of Zionist occupation and brutality as detriments to Arab health and happiness.

In 2005, for example, Psychologists for Social Responsibility took it upon itself to “condemn the Israeli Army’s use of psychological warfare against the Gaza population.” Israel, the group claimed, did so through the use of F-16 jet plane-generated “sonic booms” that are a “particularly pernicious form of psychological warfare.”

While they begrudgingly admitted that the reason jet soirees were initiated against the Gazan population in the first place was the hundreds of rockets that had been raining down on Israeli neighborhoods in southern Israel, the psychologists’ concern never seemed to extend to Jewish children, nor did they call for an end to the terrorism that Israeli military operations were attempting to curtail.

But the sonic booms, nevertheless, were unacceptable.

That same year, as part of an unrelenting campaign to discredit Israel’s security barrier and position it as an “apartheid wall” that is emblematic of Zionism’s essential racism, the Palestinian Counseling Center concocted a “scientific” survey of the psychological effects on Palestinian mental health of what it called Israel’s “Annexation and Expansion Wall” on the residents in five villages in the Kalkilya district.

Tellingly, that same year the International Court of Justice had declared the separation barrier illegal, deciding that Israel’s right to defend its citizenry from murder could be trumped by the human rights of Palestinians who might be inconvenienced by the presence of the barrier.

More ominously, the existence of the wall was blamed for “the emergence of psychological symptoms among the adults, such as a feeling of loneliness and other physical symptoms such as difficulty in breathing and stomach pains.”

Instead of evaluating the Palestinian culture of death that is inculcated into children, from kindergarten until high school, in which they are taught to hate Jews and strive for martyrdom, and examining whether those bits of psychological baggage might themselves have a negative effect on emotional growth, any adverse emotional or psychological symptoms were linked to the mere presence of the wall. The entire “occupation” has become a target for scientists who attempt to link the general oppression of Zionism with pathologies in Palestinian society.

Even when Israel is engaged in what would by normal standards be considered as humanitarian aid — as it was with its immediate response to the Haiti earthquake when Israel sent a contingent of medical teams who set up state-of-the-art medical facilities in Port au Prince — those who wish to continually defame the Jewish state were able to invent offense, even in Haiti.

The insidious claim came from Baroness Jenny Tonge, former health spokeswoman in the House of Lords, who, while praising the IDF on the one hand, also suggested that Israeli soldiers were harvesting organs from Haitian victims. The Palestinian Telegraph, a publication of which Tonge is a patron, ran an article titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs” by a Boston-based blogger who seeks “justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians,” and who accused Israel of a “crime against humanity,” based, of course on absolutely no evidence or facts.

Scholarly publications have also been intellectually hijacked with spurious studies that have a fundamental bias to them that discredits the validity of any research. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, for example, ran an article entitled “The prevalence of psychological morbidity in West Bank Palestinian children,” written, oddly enough, by a junior surgical resident and a microbiologist.

When members of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), an organization of academics seeking balance in discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, became aware of this bit of defective scholarship, they analyzed the paper themselves and found that it was an example of “weak science, which included the lack of evidence or references, the lack of appropriate scientific design, the choice of nonstandardized test instruments and the inaccurate citing of the psychological literature.” What is more, the authors’ original thesis, “that ‘settlement encroachment’ was responsible for the problems of Palestinian children,” had relied on the psychiatric “expertise” of none other than linguist Noam Chomsky, whose loathing of Israel is widely known, to help draw the study’s conclusions.

Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies in the Middle East, abetted by their supporters in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize Israel in the hope of eventually destroying it.

No more salient example of that type of mendacious academic output can be found than in an odious 2017 book by Rutgers professor Jasbir K. Puar published by Duke University Press, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. The thesis of Puar’s book is formed by her examination of “Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule,” which, she asserts, is “that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.”

In other words, Puar’s core notion is that Israeli military tactics — as an extension of its political policies — involve the deliberate “stunting, “maiming,” physical disabling, and scientific experimenting with Palestinian lives, an outrageous and grotesque resurrection of the classic anti-Semitic trope that Jews purposely, and sadistically, harm and kill non-Jews.

“The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have [sic] shown a demonstrable pattern over decades of sparing life, of shooting to maim rather than to kill. This is ostensibly a humanitarian practice,” she admits, although it results in “leaving many civilians ‘permanently disabled’ in an occupied territory of destroyed hospitals, rationed medical supplies, and scarce resources.” So, while Puar reluctantly admits that Israel purposely limits the lethality of its self-defense through restraint and tactical control, she still accuses it of using violence and injury as a tactical tool of a settler state to maintain control of a vulnerable indigenous population. It is both sadistic and exploitative, she contends, because it maintains a purportedly unjust and illegal occupation and the oppression of a victim people.

Of course, no acknowledgment from Puar is ever forthcoming as to the reasons “why the most intensive practice of the biopolitics of debilitation,” the use of force against the civilian Palestinian population, exists in the first place; that is, that Israel’s so-called brutal occupation and its military incursions are necessitated by Arab aggression and terrorism, and the use of force, the maiming of the Palestinians, are not random occurrences based on the whims of a sadistic Israeli military, but a reaction to and the result of unrelenting terroristic attacks in which psychopathic jihadists have attempted to murder Jews with knives, trucks, bombs, rockets, and rifles since Israel’s founding.

About the Author
Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, immediate Past-President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews and Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad Against Israel and Jews.
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