Scribblings: The Speed of Lies
Dec 14, 2022 | Tzvi Fleischer
There is an old adage often attributed to Winston Churchill, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
If Churchill ever actually said this, he certainly didn’t originate it. The adage is centuries old, and is now generally sourced to a 1710 quote from the satirist Jonathan Swift: “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale has had its effect…”
Swift’s version, emphasising that lies can have lasting effects that cannot be undone by later truth, is particularly apropos today in the era of social media, when lies can spread widely, instantly. This is especially true in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.
A good example followed a terror attack at Huwarra, near Nablus in the West Bank, on Dec. 2. A 22-year-old Palestinian named Ammar Mefleh, armed with a knife, tried to break into the car of an Israeli couple and stab them. One of them was an off-duty soldier, who pulled out a gun and wounded Mefleh. Mefleh then ran at a nearby Border Police officer and stabbed him in the face. Another officer tried to restrain and arrest Mefleh, but two Palestinians tried to pull him free. Mefleh managed to partially free himself and attempted to grab the officer’s rifle, which fell to the ground. The officer then shot him dead with a sidearm.
Footage released shows almost all of this, so there is no real dispute over the course of events.
But Palestinian social media accounts posted edited footage of the incident, making it appear the officer shot Mefleh for no good reason after a scuffle. And both official Palestinian media and Palestinian officials, including the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, insisted that Mefleh’s death was “a despicable crime of execution, which was committed by an Israeli soldier in cold blood.”
Sadly, these sorts of lies are the default claim spread in the Palestinian media whenever a Palestinian is killed while committing a terrorist attack – even when the evidence that the Palestinian initiated the violence appears undeniable.
But in this case, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, was deceived by the Palestinian lie, spreading and magnifying it further. He tweeted that he was “Horrified by today’s killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mefleh, during a scuffle with an Israeli soldier… My heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. Such incidents must be fully & promptly investigated, & those responsible held accountable.”
The lie did its job, and the truth cannot really undo it, as Swift warned.
Sadly, this is a pattern in the UN’s agencies – Palestinian lies are often accepted as gospel without the need to check the evidence. Such lies have major consequences – claims that Israeli soldiers are murdering innocent Palestinian youths for no good reason “in cold blood” contribute to other young Palestinians deciding, like Mefleh, to carry out murderous attacks in the name of “revenge”. They too may end up dying, possibly taking Israeli civilians or soldiers with them, and the cycle continues.
Such are the speed and power of lies in the current age.
Al Jazeera openly cheers for terrorism and calls for more
Many people remain convinced that Al Jazeera, the well-funded and slick TV network owned and paid for by the Qatari royal family, is a professional and trustworthy news source, despite exposé after exposé of the network’s blatant cheerleading for terrorism in general, and particularly against Israel. Even a media award by the terrorist group Hamas to the network, hailing its services to the “resistance” (meaning terrorism), hasn’t really dented its credibility in many circles.
A recent article that illustrates the sorts of things Al Jazeera says in Arabic is “A Palestinian Hat-trick in Ariel, and the scorer is 18 years old”, by Muhammad Khair Musa, a Palestinian writer, published by Al Jazeera on Nov. 21.
The story concerns a murderous terrorist attack on Nov. 15 near Ariel in the West Bank. A Palestinian youth named Muhammed Souf, armed with a knife, first stabbed a security guard and then attacked a crowd at a nearby gas station, stabbing three more people. He then stole the car of someone who had gotten out to try to help the wounded, rammed into some Israeli cars and ran over one person. He then got out, stabbed another person, stole another car, and rammed that into other cars before being shot dead by a soldier and an armed civilian.
He murdered three people – Tamir Avihai, Michael Ladygin and Motti Ashkenazi – and seriously wounded three others. All were civilians.
In the Al Jazeera article mentioned above, Souf is presented as both an absolute hero who scored a “hat-trick” by murdering three Jews, and someone who all Palestinians, and Muslims generally, have an obligation to imitate.
The article starts:
History will record for a long time that on Tuesday the fifteenth of November… a young man named Muhammad Souf, at the age of eighteen … executed an epic triple in the face of a heavily armed army, and he had nothing but a knife in his hand and a heart in his chest that did not fear death.
The article repeatedly praises his supposedly great achievement in making the “Zionist entity… taste terror.”
Musa ends by comparing Souf to the young companions of the prophet Muhammad, and says Souf sent a message to “the youth of the Islamic nation in general and the Palestinian people in particular,” namely, “You are the ones who bear the responsibility to renew the birth of these models.”
In other words, murdering Israeli civilians like Souf did is a religious obligation for Muslims.
Al Jazeera in Arabic routinely celebrates terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, and calls for more murderous terrorist violence, thus deliberately aiding and abetting terrorism – a crime in most countries. It should be treated accordingly.