Noru Tsalic

Spreading Gospel or Gossip?

The moniker ‘useful idiots’ was coined decades ago to describe Westerners (writers, journalists, political activists, etc.) duped into supporting the Soviet regime.  As part of Stalin’s tactics, such naïves were typically invited to tour the Soviet Union, to ‘experience’ life under the Communist regime.   Carefully ‘shepherded’ from the shadows, lacking any real knowledge of the political and cultural background of the place they were supposed to ‘experience’, they typically returned to enthusiastically ‘share’ with others their manufactured ‘experiences’ – in effect becoming valuable cogs in the Soviet propaganda machine.  It was only much later that some of them woke up and saw the reality behind the carefully constructed sham.

British writer and Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing was one of them; in her memoirs, she writes about her 1952 visit to ‘the Soviet paradise’:

“I was taken around and shown things as a ‘useful idiot’… that’s what my role was. I can’t understand why I was so gullible.”

The Soviet Union is long gone to history’s rubbish bin; but the ranks of the gullible are never depleted, nor are the ranks of those willing to use them.  In the Middle East (an area rich not just in oil, but also in dictators badly in need of some ‘good PR’), the practice has been honed to a fine art.  The gullible are employed (usually at their own expense!) to report about ‘experiences’ ranging from ‘improvement in the situation of Saudi women’ to ‘Palestinian non-violent resistance’.

Those “taken around and shown things” include, for instance, members of an outfit called the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine & Israel (EAPPI).  According to its website, the organisation “brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation” and “provide protective presence to vulnerable communities” (which in practice means “to the Palestinians”; Israelis are usually not worthy of ‘protective presence’ or indeed solace; not even when they are innocent victims of despicable terrorism in the very area in which EAPPI operates).  But the EAPPI activists’ role is not just to ‘experience’ and ‘protect’; upon their return home, they are supposed to“campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation”.

After witnessing such ‘campaigning’, the Board of Deputies of British Jews stated:

“… whilst EAPPI’s aims may appear admirable, its programme lacks any kind of balance and shows nothing of the context of a hugely complex situation. Unsurprisingly its graduates return with simplistic and radical perspectives, giving talks against Israel which do nothing to promote an understanding of the situation in the Middle East, much less promote a peaceful and viable solution to its problems. Members of Jewish communities across the country have suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings …”

If one needs evidence that the Board was right, suffice to pore a bit over ‘testimonies’ provided ‘from the field’ by some EAPPI’s activists.

Resin cast of a piece of pottery inscribed in ancient Hebrew.  Found  in the ruins of "the historic Jewish city of Samaria".  Which, apparently, is situated in the 'Occupied Palestinian Territories'.
Resin cast of a piece of pottery inscribed in ancient Hebrew. Found in the ruins of “the historic Jewish city of Samaria”. Which, apparently, is situated in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’.

In his ‘West Bank diary’, one such activist describes his visit to the village of Sebastiya.  The account starts on a lyrical note, with descriptions of the “green ploughed fields of Sebastiya”, which remind him of his native Dorset (needless to say, it did not occur to this activist to question how “green ploughed fields” in arid Middle East square up with Palestinian complaints about the chronic lack of water imposed by the nasty Israelis).  The lyrical part continues with a guidebook-like description of the “impressive set of ruins and buildings, including some from the historic Jewish city of Samaria”, as well as “the tomb of John the Baptist, which sits next to a Mosque in the village centre”.

But the idyllic descriptions soon give way to the latest evil deed perpetrated against peaceful Palestinians by the nasty Israeli settlement of Shavei Shomron.  Of course, it does not occur to the EAPPI activist to ponder whether there might be a grain of legitimacy for a Jewish ‘settlement’ whose name translates as ‘Back to Samaria’ at the site of “the historic Jewish city of Samaria”.  Instead, he describes it as “built on land occupied in 1977 by the messianic Jewish movement Gush Emunium [sic!] which “believe[s] that Israeli victory in the 1967 war was a sign of divine redemption.”

He goes on to describe how these nasty messianic Jews pump what “is believed” to be “industrial sewage” unto “the Olive Groves of Sebastiya” (yes, with capital letters!)  Up to this point, there’s nothing extraordinary in all this: Western ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists often parrot such accusations made by their Palestinian ‘guides’, with no attempt whatsoever to verify the facts.

But mere gullibility becomes outright silliness when the author of the ‘diary’ informs his readers that

“Around 600 dunumns [sic!] (square kilometres) of land are estimated by local farmers to be affected by the leak”.

Now, admittedly not everyone knows what a dunum is (it’s an Ottoman unit of area equal to one thousandth of a square kilometre; not one square kilometre!).  But anyone endowed with intelligence, critical thinking and even minimal understanding of the place he’s come to ‘experience’ may want to question how one sewage pipe can pollute 600 square kilometres of land – i.e. an area equal to about 11% of the entire West Bank!  And that, AFTER one has decided that the “local farmers” are indeed who they claim to be, that they tell the truth and that they have the expertise needed to “estimate” such matters.

Needless to say, the EAPPI activist makes absolutely no attempt to ‘hear the other side of the story’ – in other words to ask the ‘settlers’ accused of such gargantuan crime what they might have to say in their defence.  (I do hope that this EAPPI chap never gets drawn to jury duty!)

But wait, that’s not the entire extent of the nasty settlers’ crimes.  Because, according to “local farmer Ahmed Kayed”

“Pigs are also released on a regular basis from the settlement into his fields, causing damage.”

Really?  Observant Jews, who believe in ‘signs of divine redemptions,’ grow pigs??  I have to say that – despite everything – I’m growing a bit fond of “local farmer Ahmed Kayed”.  I mean, let’s face it, he at least shows spirit: being employed to ‘guide’ Western ‘useful idiots’ towards the ‘right conclusions’ must, after a while, become quite a boring job; why not play a good prank or two, to see how far Western credulity can really be stretched?  If nothing else, it helps pass the time and gives a man something (someone?) to laugh about with his friends in the evening, over a cup of tea and a hookah.

One of the pigs released from the Israeli settlement.  Genetically engineered for maximum damage to Palestinian crops.
One of the pigs released from the Israeli settlement. According to ‘local farmers’, they (the pigs, not the farmers!) are genetically engineered for maximum damage to Palestinian crops.

Leaving aside Mr. Kayed’s private entertainment – delightful as it must have been – the fact that his story was ‘bought’ is rather sad.  Sure, not everyone is familiar with even the most basic tenets of Judaism; but shouldn’t individuals sent to the region in order to ‘experience’ and ‘protect’ – let alone ‘campaign’ and pass judgments – be equipped with an ounce of knowledge of the customs and beliefs of the populations involved?  And failing that – what happened to good ol’ Google?  Was he unwell that day?  And – seriously now – shouldn’t the EAPPI activist have given the accused ‘settlers’ the elementary right of speaking in their defence, before trumpeting the accusation as fact to the entire world?  Isn’t that an essential principle of the ‘justice’ that he claims to serve?  Had he asked them, he would have discovered that anything to do with pigs is just as repugnant to Aharon Kahn as it must be to Ahmed Kayed!

In case EAPPI activists have not noticed, there’s a rather bitter conflict going on in the region they clumsily meddle in.  Bitter enough for people to be ready to kill, let alone lie.  So why should Palestinian accusations be taken at face value and a judgement pronounced without hearing ‘the defence’??  Is there some ‘international law’ that proclaims that Palestinians never lie?  Had the UN issued any Resolution in that respect?  I have to confess that I rather lost track  of ‘United’ Nations Resolutions – after all the ‘well-oiled’ Arab voting machine has produced more Resolutions condemning Israel than those condemning gender apartheid-Saudi Arabia, labour-camp-North Korea and top-executioner-Iran taken together.  But, even if such Resolution had been issued, a prudent EAPPI activist would still do well to check the facts.  Who knows?  In the end, as we’ve seen with Iran’s nuclear programme, such Resolutions are sometimes negotiated away in some sort of ‘agreement’, some  ‘diplomatic solution’ which renders those capital-letter Resolutions just as ineffective as my own low-case New Year resolutions!

Now, I generally see credulity as a mark of innocence.  But when it is employed to slander an entire people and call for their persecution, I think it takes on an altogether more sinister meaning.


And then there are those who just repeat the slanders, with no attempt whatsoever to verify their veracity.  Take for instance a certain J. Moodey, who heads a Christian charity with activities in the Middle East.  In his blog (published on the charity’s official website!), Mr. Moodey makes similar allegations of Israeli misconduct, before ‘informing’ his readers that

“Another Palestinian community affected by settler pollution is the town of Sebastiya, to the north-west of Nablus. A recent article by a participant in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) reported that pollution from three factories in the nearby settlement of Shavei Shomron, producing aluminium, leather and plastics, were producing a ‘noxious’ grey liquid which was leaking onto some 600 square kilometres of local Palestinian farming land”.

As ‘evidence’, Mr. Moodey provides a link to the ‘West Bank diary’ discussed above.

Now, Mr. Moodey is an ex-banker (with Rotschild!); as such (and as head of a charity handling millions of pounds of donors’ money) one must assume that he is quite proficient with numbers and would never – for instance – write 600 million on a cheque, instead of 600 thousand.  And yet, this is exactly the amplitude of the error made here: 600 square kilometres are 1,000 times more than 600 dunums.  And –  to eliminate any possible confusion from his readers’ minds I guess – Mr. Moodey got rid of the “dunumns” in the original ‘diary’ and left just the square kilometres.  Which publicly accuses this particular ‘settlement’ of having polluted an area almost twice the size of the Isle of Wight!!

The Bible teaches

“You shall not spread a false report.”  (Exodus 23:1)

But hey – I guess this injunction from the Je… er… Zionist Bible is just another piece of propaganda meant to stifle debate of the terrible crimes committed by the Zionist entity.

About the Author
Noru served in the IDF as a regular soldier and reservist. Currently a management consultant, in his spare time he engages in pro-Israel advocacy, especially in interfaith environments. He presented in front of Church of England and Quaker audiences and provides support to Methodist Friends of Israel. Noru is the Editor-in-Chief of 'Politically-incorrect Politics' ( Translated into Polish, his articles are also published by the Polish portal 'Listy z naszego sadu.'