* MIFTAH (The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy), an organization under the helm of Hanan Ashrawi, aims to “increase global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities by providing reliable, accurate and comprehensive information, policy analysis, strategic briefings and position papers.” [emphasis added] To that stated end, the organization dispenses information on its Web site, among which are quotes attributed to Zionist leaders under the heading “Memorable Quotes.”
* Media Monitors describes itself as “a non-profit, non-bias [sic] and non-political platform which mainly helps to prevail the whole truth and generally facilitate answers to any disputed, controversial topic being broadcast, web cast, published, distributed or telecast in the world media.” It calls upon journalists, editors, writers, reporters, researchers, columnists, content providers, etc. to join the organziation “to counter information warfare and fabricated propaganda in the world media.” An article on its Web site entitled “Apartheid in the Holy Land: Racism in the Zionist State of Israel” is filled with racist quotes by Zionist leaders.
* British journalist Robert Fisk, known for his virulent anti-Israel sentiment, wrote a column for The Independent in April 2001 entitled: “When Journalists Refuse to Tell the Truth About Israel.” Suggesting that journalists fear being “slandered” as anti-Semites, he accuses them of covering up Israel’s supposed guilt thus “abetting terrible deeds in the Middle East.” Of the “truths” journalists are being censured for refusing to tell are several contemptuous quotes attributed to Israel’s leaders.
All of the above rally against those who hide the truth or fabricate propaganda, while puporting to reveal the hidden facts. Their hypocrisy is mind-boggling as they disseminate “truths” that are anything but that.
In Part I of our series on misquotes, we showed how the attribution of invidious statements to Israel’s leaders has become a popular stratagem among Israel’s enemies, with many quotes fabricated, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted, negative view of Zionist intentions and actions. Part II will examine some of the misquotes presented by self-proclaimed purveyors of truth.
Of the “memorable quotes” featured on MIFTAH’s Web site (some of which have already been debunked in Part I), the following is attributed to one Chairman Heilbrun:
We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.
Source given: Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983
Investigation: The quote is found on numerous anti-Israel sites, in addition to MIFTAH’s, but the facts do not check out. While Shlomo Lahat was indeed re-elected as mayor of Tel Aviv in 1983, no record was found of any “Chairman Heilbrun.” The quote was traced to a 1988 book, The Hidden History of Zionism, by radical Marxist Ralph Schoenman (dismissed by mainstream historians as a crazed conspiracy theorist), and is one of many bogus quotes in the book attributed to Israeli leaders. According to Schoenman’s footnote, the quote by Heilbrun was hearsay relayed to him in private conversations:
Cited by Fouzi El-Asmar and Salih Baransi during discussions with the author, October 1983
Needless to say, Schoenman’s scholarship, upon which many anti-Israel Web sites depend, leaves much wanting. CAMERA contacted former Mayor Lahat who attested that he has never employed, known or heard of any such person as “Chairman Heilbrun,” and that the reported incident never took place. Lahat also emphasized that he would never allow any of his employees to make such statements, as it completely contradicts his own sentiments about Palestinians.
Summary: Fabricated quote, fabricated source
Media Monitors (http://www.mediamonitors.net)
An article archived on the Media Monitors Web site is filled with questionable assertions and bogus quotes (some of which were debunked in Part I.) The following quote (which also appears on the MIFTAH Web site) was attributed to Israeli Northern District Commissioner Israel Koenig, supposedly from his controversial report on Israeli Arabs in Galilee:
We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.
Source given: Cited in Lustick, Ian, Arabs in the Jewish State, University of Texas Press, Texas, 1980.
Investigation: Neither the source given (Ian Lustick’s Arabs in the Jewish State) nor the actual report itself contains any mention of “terror, assassination, intimidation or land confiscation”.
The Koenig Report or “memorandum” as it is sometimes referred to, was a private document of recommendations written in 1975 by civil servant Israel Koenig, the Interior Ministry’s official in charge of the Galilee, to alter the demographic balance of the region in favor of the Jews. The recommendations were rejected by then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, denounced by senior Cabinet ministers and rued by then foreign minister Yigal Alon who expressed great regret that the recommendations were ever written. It provoked controversy within Israel after being leaked to Al Hamishmar, the publication of Israel’s Marxist party, Mapam. Koenig’s recommendations included expanding and strengthening Israel’s Jewish presence in the Galilee, applying legal consequences to Arabs expressing hostility toward the state and Zionism, enforcing tax collection from the Arab sector, cutting family subsidies to Arabs with large families, eliminating preferential acceptance of Arabs into Israeli universities, channeling Arab students into studying the physical and natural sciences rather than humanities, and encouraging young Arabs to study abroad and emigrate. As controversial as Koenig’s proposals were at the time, however, there was absolutely no suggestion of using “terror,” “assassination,” “intimidation” or “land confiscations.”
Summary: Fabricated quote, false source
According to Fisk’s article:
[Arafat] is chastised by George Bush while his people are bestialised by the Israeli leadership. Rafael Eytan [sic], the former Israeli chief of staff, used to talk of the Palestinians as “cockroaches in a glass jar”. Menachem Begin called them “two-legged beasts”…
These quotes appear on numerous anti-Israel Web sites, raising the question of whether Fisk obtained his info rmation on one of the sites that share his agenda. While there is some truth to these quotes, they are either distorted or taken out of context.
Investigation–Example 1: Fisk suggests that Eitan routinely referred to the Palestinians as “cockroaches” He states this as fact, giving no source, but other internet sites refer to an April 13, 1983 article by Gad Becker in the Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot. This original source of the quote, however, indicates that Eitan’s comment was atypical, made in specific reference to Arab violence. According to Becker, this “uncharacteristic”(as he puts it) and controversial comment was made by outgoing Chief of Staff Eitan during a discussion of how best to deal with Arab violence in the West Bank. In responding to suggestions by Knesset members that the army should stop stone throwers by shooting at their feet or throwing stones back, Eitan reportedly said:
The Arabs will never win over us by throwing stones. Our response must be a nationalist Zionist response. For every stone that’s thrown–we will build ten settlements. If 100 settlements will exist–and they will–between Nablus and Jerusalem, stones will not be thrown. If this will be the situation, then the Arabs will only be able to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.
Summary: A single (albeit controversial) remark made in a specific context is misrepresented as a generalized, routine slur by an Israeli leader
Investigation–Example 2: Internet hate sites, as well as Fisk, attribute this derogation of Palestnians as “two-legged beasts” to former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The source generally given is:
Menachem Begin, as quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts,”New Statesman, June 25, 1982
Indeed, the radical French-Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, did attribute such a quote to Begin in his New Statesman article criticizing Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. The author posited:
For this reason the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise the Palestinians. Begin described them in a speech in the Knesset as “beasts walking on two legs”.
However, further investigation by CAMERA reveals that the actual speech upon which Kapeliouk based his quote, as well as news reports at the time demonstrate that the journalist distorted the quote, giving it a completely different tone and meaning. Begin was talking, not about “the Palestinians” but about terrorists who target children within Israel.
On June 8, 1982, Begin addressed the Knesset in response to a no-confidence motion over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. He talked about defending the children of Israel, and according to a June 9, 1982 AP report, “his voice quaver[ed] with anger and sadness.” According to the minutes of the session, Begin stated:
The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.
Kapeliouk neither recanted nor apologized for his deception.
Summary: Distortion by an Israeli critic of a Begin speech discussing terrorism and terrorists.
For more on false Zionist quotes, click here.
Also check out CAMERA’s “Urban Myths and Misquotes“