I haven’t visited CAMERA in a long time, but I had reason to visit it today. I came across a fascinating example of how Palestinian propaganda gets spread around very effectively. In this case, the ugly comment attributed to an Israeli former IDF Chief of Staff was published in serious papers such as the NY Times, the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald. It was also published in academic books. I’ll let CAMERA tell the story:
A correction in the March 6, 2009 Chicago Tribune noted that UCSD’s Gary Fields relied on an “unverified” quote in his Feb. 22, 2004 Op-Ed, entitled “Build bridges, not walls.”
Stop right there. It took five years to publish the correction!
In that piece, Fields wrote of Israel’s security barrier:
More than a physical barrier imposed by the powerful upon the region’s stateless and dispossessed, the wall expresses a collective psychology of conquest articulated most succinctly by one of its leading proponents, Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli army chief of staff.
He insists that “the Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”
The correction in the Tribune notes:
In a Perspective piece by Gary Fields, professor of communications at the University of California, San Diego, that ran in Feb. 22, 2004, editions of the Chicago Tribune, an unverified quote was used and attributed to the Israeli army’s chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon. The op-ed quoted Yaalon as saying that “the Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” While cited frequently over the years, this quote does not appear in the Israeli newspaper article to which it has been attributed, and the writer of that article said Yaalon did not say this. Fields could not confirm the origin of the quote. A spokesman for Yaalon said Thursday that Yaalon was misquoted and did not say the sentence attributed to him. Since the exact origin of the quotation has not been found and verified, it should not have been used in the Tribune.
The correction ran after CAMERA brought the fabricated quote to the attention of editors.
Very good. You see how CAMERA stifles free speech right there, by pointing out that a university professor who had no trouble publishing an op-ed critical of Israel used a false quote to impress upon his readers how evil Israelis really are. Talk about the effectiveness of the “Israel Lobby.” It only took five years for those powerful, wily Jews to get an egregious quote to be removed from a newspaper with some stature. Yes, those stifling Jewish voices at CAMERA are really punishing Israel’s critics!
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Where did Fields, the professor, get his information? CAMERA tells us:
Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi used the Jan. 8, 2009 Op-Ed page of the New York Times to disseminate a false quote attributed to former Israeli chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon.
In claiming that Ya’alon said the Palestinians should feel they are a “defeated people,” Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and director of the school’s Middle East Institute, literally took a page from his own book. He uses the same fabricated quote in his 2004 book Resurrecting Empire, citing in the footnote an interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz Magazine, August 30, 2002, as quoted in Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Road Map or Road Rage?” Washington Times, May 28, 2003. (Citing de Borchgrave in this way was a further deception by Khalidi: While de Borchgrave did indeed use the false quote, contrary to Khalidi he actually gave no source.)
Below is Shavit’s question and Ya’alon’s answer:
Shavit: “Do you have a definition of victory? Is it clear to you what Israel’s goal in this war is?
Ya’alon: “I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation: the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold. If that deep internalization does not exist at the end of the confrontation, we will have a strategic problem with an existential threat to Israel. If that [lesson] is not burned into the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, there will be no end to their demands of us.”
Ya’alon repeated in the same interview:
The facts that are being determined in this confrontation — in terms of what will be burned into the Palestinian consciousness — are fateful. If we end the confrontation in a way that makes it clear to every Palestinian that terrorism does not lead to agreements, that will improve our strategic position.
The 2004 book, though, was not the first time Khalidi used the hoax quote to attack Israel. He also referred to it in columns published the The Nation (May 22, 2003) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 1, 2003).
Well, well, well, an important, published professor at one of the country’s finest institutions, Columbia University, published a quote of a statement that was never made in op-eds, articles, a scholarly book and then in another newspaper article.
Needless to say, if you see something sourced in a book by a prominent professor from a prominent university, you might just assume that it’s true, especially if you’re not as educated in the field as the well-known professor.
But it turns out that even people who should have known better repeated the rancid accusation made against Ya’alon, either ignoring primary sources (shades of Walt & Mearsheimer), such as the very interview they are supposedly quoting, or accepting Khalidi’s claims as fact.
Numerous others have likewise relied on the fabrication to support their claims. Columnist H.D.S. Greenway used it in the Boston Globe (March 7, 2006); University of San Diego professor Gary Fields fooled the Chicago Tribune and its readers with it (Feb. 22, 2004); the Toronto Star’s editorial page editor emeritus, Haroon Siddiqui, cited it in his obituary for Yasir Arafat to paint a picture of Israeli perfidy (Nov. 14, 2004); Henry Siegman relied on it for a piece in the London Review of Books (see Israel’s Jewish Defamers); and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah regurgitated the quote on his publication (March 7, 2008).
Nice. Pretty effective, when you think about it, making the Israelis look like blood-thirsty brutal animals when in fact the Chief of Staff is saying something entirely different. Then this gets published in some of the country’s largest papers, ones that syndicate their stories, and boom! you suddenly have everything you need to depict Israel in the most negative terms.
By the way, this doesn’t just happen in newspapers. It happens in a variety of places where it is actually the Israeli supporters who are stifled and prevented from speaking. I invite you to read this post from not too long ago. It deals with, among other things, the day that the publisher of Ha’aretz apparently whispered in Condoleeza Rice’s ear that Israel should be “raped” by the US.