Lies, Damn Lies, And Palestinian Lies

Jonathan Greenberg Senior Vice President, Salomon Center
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One of my favorite ironies is that the attribution to Mark Twain of the axiom “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” is apocryphal. We all know people who post false or fictional quotes on Facebook and, when made aware of the error, defend the rightness of the sentiment if not the citation; as if to say that the “truth” of their subjective agenda is more important than the truth of objective fact.

Last Friday, in the northern Israeli town of Afula, an Arab woman attempted to stab a police officer. This is part of a larger campaign of stabbing and rock-throwing by Palestinians that has killed and injured dozens of Israeli civilians in the past several weeks. In the case of last Friday, it was the fourth such stabbing attack by an Arab offender against a Jewish-Israeli target that day. As you might imagine, the police officers protected themselves and shot the woman. She was wounded, but was treated on the scene and transported to nearby Ha’emek Hospital where she is recovering.

Earlier this week, I saw a video of the incident. What interested me was not so much the video itself as the description of the video by the person who Tweeted it out: “Second angle: Israeli polices [sic] executes a Palestinian woman in occupied Afula while she posed no threat.”

The first thing that should jump out at you is that the police didn’t execute the woman. They shot her after she attempted to stab them. After conducting exhaustive research, I’ve discovered that zero percent of police in the world will allow people to stab them without responding. So, yes, the police shot her. But the word “execute” has a definition and it’s not “injure, then treat at the local hospital.” The woman is alive. This headline is a blatant lie. But the author isn’t interested in informing you; he wants to enrage and incite you.

The second thing that jumped out at me is that Afula, under any international understanding of the word, is not “occupied.” It’s well outside the so-called Green Line that separates the West Bank from the rest of Israel. In the event of an actual two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nobody – and, I mean, nobody – has ever brought up the status of Afula. But, for too many Palestinians and their sympathizers and apologists, Afula, like the rest of the Jewish state, is occupied territory. These are not people seeking peaceful accommodation.

Because of what those who hate Jews perceive as a uniquely evil, cancerous occupation carried out by an insidious foe capable of near-inconceivable villainy and armed with endless wealth and power, all manner of combat is justified. From the suicide terror we read about in the news when the body count gets too high to ignore, to the pervasive and well-known use of civilians as human shields that we don’t read enough about in the news, to the blatant fabrication and falsification of allegations against Israel that are almost never exposed in the news.

All’s fair in battling the Zionist oppressor. Dress your infants as suicide bombers. Brainwash your toddlers with TV programming that teaches them to kill Jews. Send your teenagers out to kill any Jew they can find. Preach Jew-stabbing in the mosque. If the Israeli security services don’t respond to your violent provocations with sufficiently embarrassing force, flood social media with claims that they did. Create fake pictures and videos purporting to show how bloodthirsty the Israelis are (the genesis of the term “Pallywood”). Above all, don’t be afraid to lie. The people who know you’re lying are a small group and, if you use the right code words (“human rights” is a good one) and lie with enough passion, you’ll attract a loyal following of well-intentioned dupes.

It is time – well past time, actually – that western media stopped letting these people quite literally get away with murder. In the most-covered conflict on earth, it should be news that one side regularly lies. If a western leader or movement were caught even once lying to the press, that leader or movement would be rightly pilloried. Palestinian political and terror leaders, their acolytes and apologists do it all the time. Western news consumers deserve to be told as much even if it upsets the “truth” of someone’s subjective agenda.

Jonathan Greenberg is an ordained reform rabbi and the senior vice president of the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. An expert in Middle East policy and former staffer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you can follow him @JGreenbergSez.

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Jonathan Greenberg