Palestinians: Fake News and "Alternative Facts"
One after another, young Palestinians continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Jews. Why? We might start at the beginning: the campaign of incitement, indoctrination and lies that Palestinian media outlets wage against Israel. This campaign has poisoned the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs and Muslims. It ought to be no surprise, then, when the poisoned Palestinian youths grab a weapon and set out to do the death-work they are taught to cherish.
The anti-Israel incitement can even be quite subtle. Those injecting the venom do not always issue a direct call for Palestinians to go out and kill Jews. It is enough, for example, to tell Palestinians that Jews are "defiling with their filthy feet" Islamic holy sites, to drive a Palestinian to go out and stab a Jew.
Or when a Palestinian leaders repeatedly accuse Israel of seeking to "Judaize" Jerusalem and change its "Arab and Islamic character." This is like urging Palestinians to "defend" their city against Israel's "evil conspiracies."
The vicious rhetoric and the fairy tales they feed Palestinians provide ample incentive and ideology for would-be terrorists.
While Palestinian mosque preachers, political activists, journalists and senior officials have long been preoccupied with the mission of delegitimizing Israel and demonizing Jews, other Palestinians also fabricate "news" in order to further the Israeli death count.
The epidemic of "fake news" and "alternative facts," which has recently flooded the internet, is not new to Palestinian culture. In fact, "fake news" has long been an essential component of the Palestinian campaign to delegitimize Israel, demonize Jews and even to cite false claims. Historically, for example, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1948 war and proceeded to ethnically cleanse the area of Jews; in the 1967 war, the Israelis merely took their land back.
The head of Apple, Tim Cook, was recently quoted as saying, "Fake news is killing people's minds."
Palestinians have long been fed fake news. It is a tried and true method for recruiting terrorists and jihadists in the fight against Israel and Jews. As, in Islam, jihad is allowed to "defend Islam," narratives sometimes have to be provided to give the impression that Islam is being attacked.
There is no shortage of Palestinian and Arab news websites that publish hoaxes, propaganda, lies and disinformation disguised as real news. This garbage is accepted as factual by many Palestinians and other Arabs.
This is another form of incitement to which the West is deaf, largely because journalists working for Western mainstream media do not wish to understand what is being reported in Arabic, or even in English. These journalists either deliberately turn a blind eye to this indoctrination or underestimate how it deforms the hearts and minds of Palestinians.
Take, for example, a recent story published on Palestinian news websites, claiming that Israel has been spraying agricultural fields in the Gaza Strip with pesticides. According to the report, Israel uses planes to destroy Palestinian agricultural products in order to ruin the Palestinian economy and deprive farmers of their livelihood.
Last week, some Palestinian news websites came up with a story that sounds as if it were lifted straight from an action movie. What do such stories accomplish? Excuses for the murder of Jews.
The story goes as follows: "An Israeli plane dropped suspicious objects that look like candies near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank." According to the report, Palestinians who examined the "candies" discovered that they contained toxic material. In other words: Israel is seeking to poison Palestinian children. Is it any wonder when a Palestinian teenager who hears such a story runs out to murder Jews, as in Petah Tikva last month, when a 19-year-old Palestinian shot and stabbed several Israelis.
Another recently resurrected old blood libel that Palestinians have been spreading against Israel claims that Israelis are flooding Palestinian communities with narcotics in order to spread moral corruption and destroy the health of Palestinian youths. This particular lie helps the Palestinians avoid responsibility for the smuggling of drugs (by Palestinians) into the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt.
At a recent seminar in the Gaza Strip, a group of Palestinian "experts" claimed that "hidden parties backed by Israel" were responsible for "drowning the Gaza Strip with various types of lethal and dangerous drugs."
Similar false charges were made by the Palestinian police in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip last year.
Ayman Al-Batnihi, a police spokesman in Gaza City, went as far as claiming that the widespread use of narcotics was the product of an Israeli "conspiracy" to destroy Palestinian youths and prevent them from engaging in the fight against Israel. Needless to say, the spokesman, like the Palestinian news websites, never provides any evidence to back up his false claims.
The libels and lies are not coming from Hamas alone. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which relies almost solely on American and European funding, offers similar "information" to its readers. Here is a news report that appeared in the PA's Ramallah-based Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda newspaper, claiming that Israel is "flooding" the Arab residents of Jerusalem with narcotics. The report claims that some 20,000 Arabs have fallen victim to the purported Israeli "conspiracy" and have become drug addicts. "Israel's goal is to destroy the Arab youths of Jerusalem and empty the city of its Arab inhabitants," the report went on to explain.
According to reports such as these, Jews also supposedly use pigs to persecute Palestinians. Palestinian news websites regularly inform their readers that Israel releases wild pigs in the West Bank to destroy Palestinian crops and drive Palestinians out of their homes. The wild pigs, the reports tell Palestinians, are brought by Jews to Palestinian villages as part of a scheme to destroy the crops and intimidate villagers (some of whom claim the wild pigs attack them). An interesting facet of this "fake news" is that the Jewish settlers accused of using pigs to wage war against Palestinians are mostly religious, the last people in the world interested in getting involved with swine.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lies about Israelis that Palestinians are fed daily by their leaders, journalists and media outlets. This is also what Palestinians think of when they pick up a knife to thrust into the body of a Jew.
Blood libels against Jews were once thought to be part of the dark past. They are not. That leaves us with some questions: Where is the international community's exposure of the lies that fuel the Palestinian murder of Jews? And: Will the international community once again in history fail to speak the truth about the murder of Jews?
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based on the Middle East.