Did Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vow to burn Palestinian children and rape Arabic girls? Did former Israeli leader Menachem Begin refer to Palestinians as “two-legged beasts,” and did another Israeli leader declare that all Arabs must be killed unless they are willing to live as slaves?
No, but given the number of Web sites repeating these allegations, it is easy to see how this nonsense has gained credence. Indeed, the attribution of invidious statements to Israel’s leaders has become a popular stratagem among Israel’s enemies. Many are fabricated, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted, negative view of Zionist intentions and actions. Propagated on the internet, some of these misquotes eventually make their way into opinion columns in campus newspapers and even, on occasion, the mainstream press.
Take for example, the following quote (found on anti-Israel Web sites) alleged to have been said by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Israeli parliament in October 2001 and reported on Kol Yisrael radio:
Don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.
The statement also appears as "I control America."
As it turns out, it is a hoax. Sharon never made either statement. Nor did Kol Yisrael ever report that he did.
Yet syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer wrote in her May 10, 2002 opinion column, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, San Diego Tribune, and other newspapers:
In fact, it [American support for Israel’‘s actions] led Prime Minister Sharon to tell his Cabinet recently, "I control America."
Where did this quote originate and how did it enter the mainstream media?
CAMERA’s investigation found that it started with an October 3, 2001 press release from the pro-Hamas group, IAP – the Islamic Association for Palestine, which attributed the quote to a report on “the Israeli Hebrew radio, Col [sic] Yisrael.”
In fact, Kol Yisrael political correspondent Yoni Ben-Menachem, who reports on Cabinet meetings, confirmed to CAMERA that he never made such a broadcast and that Sharon never made such a statement. Nor was it reported by any other news service.
When confronted, Geyer told one editor that she relied on two anonymous Israeli sources for the quotation. She told a second editor the quote came from an alleged Ha’aretz article which she never produced and could not be found. A subsequent editor’s note by Geyer’s United Press Syndicate claimed the quote was widely reported in the Palestinian press (i.e. the IAP, which cited the bogus Kol Yisrael source) but could not be confirmed by independent sources.
Indeed for many, the Internet has completely replaced libraries, reference books, and original research as a source of information. This reliance on unregulated, unaccountable sources has boosted the proliferation of misinformation and bogus quotes. And when they are repeated by journalists, albeit those with radical anti-Israel agendas, few are willing to search deeper.
The CAMERA staff has researched many of the alleged quotes. Part I of our series on misquotes examines quotes that fall into three categories: 1) fabricated; 2) misattributed and 3) taken out of context.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child's existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I've killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian woman is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do.
Source given: Ariel Sharon in an interview with General Ouze Merham in 1956
Investigation: This quote was found on hundreds of Arab Web sites, and indeed, seems to be a a staple of anti-Israel propaganda. It cannot be found, however, in any text book, news article, or published record, nor is there any mention or record of a General Ouze Merham anywhere else. (Another giveaway is that the term “Palestinian” was not in use in 1956. It only came into vogue in the 1960's.)
Student columnist Mariam Sobh used the quote in her December 11, 2003 Daily Illinicolumn, but later had to apologize.
Summary: Fabricated quote, fabricated source.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan
We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.
Source given: Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, in articles by Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot April 13, 1983 and in New York Times, April 14, 1983
Investigation: The quote does not appear in either article. While both sources discuss comments made by then-outgoing Chief of Staff Eitan, there is nothing remotely resembling this quote. A wider search of the New York Times archives, also turns up nothing.
Summary: Fabricated quote, incorrect source
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
You can call me anything you like. Call me a monster or a murderer. . . . Better a live Judeo-Nazi than a dead saint...
Even if you prove to me that the present war in Lebanon is a dirty immoral war, I don't care...
Even if Galilee is shelled again by Katyushas in a year's time, I don't really care. We shall start another war, kill and destroy more and more until they will have had enough...
Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a wild country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go crazy if one of our children is murdered, just one! If anyone even raises his hand against us we'll take away half his land and burn the other half, including the oil. We might use nuclear arms...
Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us……And I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nurembarg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal...
What you don't understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it.
Source given: Ariel Sharon in an interview with Amos Oz, Davar, Dec. 17, 1982
Investigation: The source is found on Arab propaganda and Marxist Web sites. It gained credibility when Rocky Mountain News international editor, Holger Jensen, included it in an April 2002 column attacking Israeli Prime Minister Sharon. Four days later, Jensen was forced to recant, admitting he had “made a grievous error in not verifying the authenticity of 20-year-old quotes attributed to Ariel Sharon.” And shortly after that, Jensen “resigned to pursue other interests.”
In fact, Amos Oz has confirmed that he never met nor interviewed Sharon. The so-called “interview” was a literary device taken from Oz's book In the Land of Israel.In the English version, the interviewee's identity is not revealed, and is referred to as Z (Flamingo/Fontana 1983). Apparently, Palestinian propagandists substituted Sharon's name for Z in the Davar interview. The description of Z does not fit Sharon, and at one point Z himself refers to Sharon, Begin and General Eitan.
Summary: Quote from an anonymous character in book is falsely attributed to Ariel Sharon.
TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
President Moshe Katsav
There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies – not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.
Source given: Israeli president Moshe Katsav, Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001
Investigation: While nothing was found in the source given, there was an account in the following day’s edition of the Jerusalem Post. When examined in context, it no longer sounds racist. Katsav was specifically talking about the brutal murders by Palestinian terrorists of two young schoolboys. The remains of Kobi Mandel and Yossi Ish-Ran, who had played hooky from school to explore a cave, were found on May 9, 2001. The Jerusalem Post clearly placed Katsav’s words in that context:
President Moshe Katsav said yesterday that Israel would never stoop to the brutality the Palestinians displayed in the stoning to death of two Tekoa teenagers this week.
"There is a huge gap between us and our enemies - not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience," Katsav told reporters at Beit Hanassi.
"We would never stoop to the kind of brutality inflicted on the victims in Tekoa and Ofra," he added. "They're our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who don't belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."
Katsav said Israel must change its approach to the Palestinians, but stopped short of voicing exactly what that new approach should be -- although he appeared to imply that retaliation is at times necessary.
"Force is no solution to anything," he said, "but sometimes it's essential."
Referring to the brutal murders of two young boys from Tekoa, Katsav said he is sure there are Palestinians and other Moslems who oppose terrorism, but it was terrifying to realize how much cruelty and hatred the Palestinians harbor against Israelis. (Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2001)
Summary: Misrepresentation of comments by removal of context.
For part II, click here.