Has this ever happened to you? You get into an argument with someone who deplores Israel. They mention one horrible crime, say the massacre in Jenin, and you point out that it was an invention, a blood libel disproven a hundred times over. They mention another — say, the Mohammad al-Dura affair — and again you refute the point. At a certain point they say something like, “Well, it’s not the specific examples that matter, it’s the general point that counts.”
Israel’s enemies have discovered a tremendously powerful insight into the human psyche: If you invent a false narrative and constantly flood the media with manufactured falsehoods to support it, especially if it is about a far-off land riddled with conflict, many people will accept the narrative no matter how many of its supporting claims are refuted.
It is just far more convenient to believe it than to question it.
This week the IDF issued its preliminary rebuttal to the Goldstone report, and to read it is to get the same feeling of the futility of the corrective argument. Ok, so maybe you didn’t deliberately destroy a flour mill factory. But you attacked that sewer system. Ok, so maybe not that either — but how can you account for the sheer number of reports, of accusations, of claims of Israeli war crimes?
The IDF report definitively refutes Judge Goldstone’s complaints about a small number of incidents. Alan Dershowitz has done a superhuman job going over the vast tome of Judge Goldstone’s report with its 1,223 footnotes. The bloggers have joined in as well, showing the fast and furious way with which Judge Goldstone’s “fact-finding mission” reported the most absurd statistics as fact — like the claim that the destruction of Gaza factories led to the loss of 40,000 jobs, when the Palestinian report on which the claim was based said it was only 4,000.
We can play this game forever.
But the game is rigged. It is a public-relations version of the Kassam and Katyusha rockets that terrorists rain down on Israeli civilian centres.
Israel and the West could spend billions of dollars developing sophisticated missiles and “kinetic interceptors” to shoot them down, hoping that one day the world will understand that the bad guys are the ones launching rockets at schoolyards and hospitals, not the soldiers shooting at rocket-launching squads who position themselves inside schoolyards and hospitals in order to make their next fabrication more plausible.
But just as it is much easier to build and launch Kassams than to build and launch Patriot missiles, so too is it much easier to manufacture claims about Israeli inhumanity than it is to refute them.
When Arafat ruled, we constantly heard about Israel using “depleted uranium” in its tank missiles, that it poisoned Palestinian wells, that it was “ethnically cleansing” the Palestinians, and so forth — as if Arafat, the inventor of modern terrorism, ever saw a weapon he thought too inhumane to use.
In every military conflict Israel has ever had, its enemies circulated wild, gruesome, absurd accusations that evaporated with the morning sun.
You would think that the “objective” observers of the world would stop believing the libels, but I guess objectivity isn’t what it used to be, and unfounded rumours continue to fill the “fact-finding” reports.
“If this were a court of law,” Goldstone admitted to the Forward, “there would have been nothing proven.” Indeed.
So what can Israel do? Not much other than what it is doing already — refuting, engaging the debate with full force, making the case. The world continues to be a jungle, the institutions of the UN continue to parrot the endless charges of Israeli atrocities, and life goes on. In a jungle, you don’t expect justice from anyone who pretends to judicial authority — only friendship, humanity, and loyalty from those who will see you as you truly are.
David Hazony’s first book, ‘The Ten Commandments’, will be published in September