Thursday, April 25, 2002

It's easy to make a list of lies used by the Israelis and their American apologists, as practically every article written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict contains at least one of them. Leaving aside the big lies that are based on incorrect and myth-making readings of the Bible and Biblical archeology, and historical lies that the Palestinians do not have ancient connections to the Palestine, we can consider the following:

  1. The Israelis sometimes admit that their myth that the Palestinians voluntarily went into exile in refugee camps in 1947-48 is a lie. They admit that the Palestinians left because they were murdered and brutalized in a campaign of ethnic cleansing (which appears to be the model for the current outrages). The Palestinians were effectively scared into exile, as was the intent of the Zionists. Let's call this lie the "Palestinians-just-up-and-decided-one-day-to-leave-their-homeland-and-take-a-permanent-vacation-in-a-squalid-refugee-camp-in-Jordan" lie, or "Voluntary Emigration" lie (VE) for short.

  2. As I have already written, it is a myth that the Palestinians rejected an extremely generous offer made by Barak at Camp David. Figures of a return of close to 100% of the Occupied Territories are mentioned. This is completely untrue, and the Palestinian 'state' envisaged by the Zionists would have been no more than a series of armed camps surrounded by Israeli settlements, with no control of its own borders, deep incursions by Israeli army access roads, and no access to the best land or water supplies. The Israeli conception of a Palestinian state was a bantustan of Palestinians providing cheap labour for Israeli enterprises. In fact, the 'generous offer' was never formally made to Arafat, and it would have been completely unacceptable to anyone. Let's call this lie the "Generous Offer" lie (GE). The evil of this lie is that it has been used to build the next lie, which is the idea that the Palestinians rejected the generous offer because they will settle for nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel.

  3. The worst lie of all is the idea that the Palestinians seek the complete destruction of Israel. This isn't completely untrue, as it is clear that the most radical Palestinians do seek the destruction of Israel. Given the current crimes against humanity committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians, it is hardly unusual that many share this view. Most Palestinians, however, like people everywhere, just want to get on with a normal life, and have to realize that the only way this can happen is with a symbiotic relationship between the new Palestinian state and Israel. The new state will need the capital and demand for labour that only Israel can provide. Destroying Israel would only leave everyone destitute. The fact of the matter is that there is no conceivable possibility where the Palestinians could possibly destroy the State of Israel. Israel has one of the largest and best trained armies in the world, and the Palestinians have nothing but a very finite supply of suicide bombers. The Israeli arguments that they can't let the Palestinians have their own state remind me of the argument of the school-yard bully who justifies his beating up the smallest kid in the class by saying that if their positions were reversed, the smallest kid would do the same to him. The fact that some Palestinians have very negative attitudes to Israel is completely irrelevant if they can do nothing about these attitudes, and the constant carping on the subject constitutes another lie (and let us not forget that it was only when Sharon was elected that the most recent round of peace talks at Taba ended, as I assume he feared they were coming dangerouly close to establishing a successful peace). Let's call this the "No Israel" lie (NI).

  4. There are lies that somehow the suicide bombers are real terrorists, but that the systematic brutality of the Israeli state against the Palestinians is somehow just self-defence. The absurdity of this can be seen in the following: 1) it was Sharon who, by taking a provoking walk on the Temple Mount with full knowledge of what would happen as a result, intentionally started the current wave of the intifada and the suicide bombings in order to create the insecurity which led to his election (people say he had a right to walk wherever he wanted, but in his position the walk was like the right to cry 'Fire' in a crowded theatre); 2) whenever Arafat attempted to calm the situation, Sharon would inflame it and provoke more suicide bombings with his targeted assassinations; 3) the Israelis used exactly the same terrorist methods against the British in obtaining their own state; 4) suicide bombings, while terrible, can hardly be compared to attacks by tanks, helicopters and other modern weapons of war; 5) the numbers of dead civilians and children caused by Israeli actions proves that they are not just attacking terrorists; and 6) while the Israelis complain bitterly about the inhumane attacks against civilians, they do exactly the same thing in their general brutal treatment of the Palestinians, including the slow-motion degrading of the Palestinians by the constant expansion of the illegal settlements, and the use of collective punishment, in the Occupied Territories (and we shouldn't forget that the systematic Israeli brutality had been going on for a long time before the current, more dramatic, outrages). Let's call the idea that somehow Israeli state terrorism is morally elevated above suicide bombing the "State Terrorism" lie (ST).

  5. Much is made of the fact that the various Arab countries are all run by dictators, unlike the democratic Israel, and that therefore the opinions of the Arabs and their leaders are not worth listening to. The fact that the countries in the Middle East are all run by dictators is true, but leaves unstated the reason for this. The leadership of each of the Arab countries has been carefully determined by the colonial power - first Britain, now the United States. In each case the ruling elites were chosen from weak minority groups in order to make their power dependant on the colonial power. Much effort has been put into this system, including assassinations and coups. The current power structure in the Arab world is completely due to the interventions of the colonial powers. It is therefore a bit rich for the American commentators to make snide remarks about the absence of democracy and the unsuitability of the ruling elites. Let's call complaints about Arab governments and Arab opinions the "Colonial Legacy" lie (CL).

  6. There are a series of arguments, made mostly by American Protestant and Jewish religious fundamentalists, that revolve around the fact that the State of Israel is the homeland of the Bibical Chosen People, and that the creation of a Greater Israel covering the land now occupied by the Palestinians is somehow necessary for the world to move into the End Times as prophesied in the Bible. I include these stories for completeness, if only because they seem to provide a psychological foundation for much of the American writing on the subject. Let's call these lies or myths the "Greater Israel" lies (GI).

  7. While not strictly speaking lies, we have to face the various ad hominem arguments that are thrown up, which all revolve around the idea that due to past mistreatment of the Jews, no one has the moral right to make any critical comments about Israel. These arguments are being used particularly against Europeans. These are emotional and absurd arguments, and aren't even worth replying to, but have to be recognized for what they are. The meaning of the Holocaust is exactly the opposite of these views - in fact, everyone has the right and obligation to complain about crimes against humanity, and the sufferings of your ancestors give you no licence to cause others to suffer. Let's call these ad hominem arguments, well, "Ad Hominem" arguments (AH). You can recognize them when you see the words 'Holocaust' or 'anti-semitism' included in an argument about why Israel is immune from criticism.

As an exercise I recommend reading articles written on the Palestinian problem, particularly those written by Israelis or Americans, with a red pencil to circle and identify the various lies and arguments (VE/GE/NI/ST/CL/GI/AH) which are used. You will be amazed at how consistently the arguments against the Palestinians are based on untruths and sloppy thinking. It's practically impossible to read any article written by the American press which isn't riddled with these lies.