'Conspiracy!' cried the delighted lady, clapping her hands. 'Of all things, I do like a Conspiracy! It's so interesting!' - Lewis Carroll, My Lady, Sylvie and Bruno (1889) Conspiracism is probably best characterized as a form of mental illness. Some researchers in psychiatry clearly agree. It is the attribution of control of world events to a hidden cabal of omnipotent conspirators. It is the claim that an organized "hidden hand" lies behind world developments. Conspiracism is closely linked with anti-Semitism, and many of the "grand cabal" theories of the conspiracists involve supposed plots by Jews (or "Zionists") to take over the world, or at least American foreign policy. Belief in a powerful cabal seems to serve a psychological need for some people. Embracing conspiracism strongly resembles the totalitarian immersion of cult members into cult herd thinking. Conspiracism feeds on misrepresentation of facts, outright lying, and tendentious twisting of unrelated factoids into a grand theory. Most of theories of conspiracists in Israel have been focused on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir. The leading conspiracist about the Rabin murder has been the Canadian-born Israeli, Barry Chamish. Chamish insists that Yigal Amir fired blank bullets at Rabin, serving as patsy for a conspiracy of the Israeli secret service and intelligence services to murder Rabin at the direct orders of Shimon Peres. Chamish has a small band of followers spread around the globe. Before inventing theories about Rabin's death, Chamish spent many years "documenting" the presence of UFOs and space aliens on earth. Chamish today is connected with several neo-Nazi and Holocaust revisionist organizations, which reprint his conspiracist articles. For instance, Chamish is listed as a columnist on the neo-Nazi Rense.com Web site, which routinely promotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Holocaust denial materials such as The Myth of Auschwitz. CHAMISH SEES conspiracies almost everywhere he looks. He claims that Shimon Peres engineered the crash of the plane flown by JFK, Jr.; that the accidental drowning of ex-cabinet minister Rafael Eitan was a hit ordered by Ariel Sharon. He claims that Natan Sharansky is a KGB spy; that singer Ofra Haza was intentionally infected with AIDS as a murder plot ordered by Shimon Peres to "silence her." He claims that US Congressman Wayne Owens was murdered by Shimon Peres while visiting Tel Aviv. He claims that Labor Zionist leaders collaborated with the Germans in planning the Holocaust. Now, all of the facts concerning the Rabin assassination were weighed carefully by an Israeli state commission of inquiry headed by the retired Chief Justice Meir Shamgar, a non-political distinguished jurist. Despite reviewing carefully of the evidence, including the "factoids" raised by the conspiracists, the commission saw no evidence of any conspiracy, dismissed the innuendos and theories of the conspiracists, and pointed the finger only at Yigal Amir. In contrast, the simple fact of the matter is that the Israeli conspiracists obsessed with proving that some nefarious conspiracy was behind the Rabin assassination have never produced a single shred of real evidence to back their theories. An Israeli court has convicted Yigal Amir of murder, and another did so on appeal. Virtually every question raised by the conspiracists about the Rabin assassination has by now been fully explained and answered:
The conspiracists make much of fact that someone at the scene of the murder supposedly yelled "blanks." The conspiracists believe that this alleged shout proves that Amir only fired blanks. Nonsense. People commonly believe that real gunfire is blanks.
The conspiracists have erected much of their theories upon the question of whether Rabin was struck by two or three bullets. The initial hospital admissions records said three, in error, later corrected. Rabin had two entry wounds, both from the back. How disappointing for the conspiracists.
Later the undershirt Rabin was wearing was found to have a third hole. A forensic lab in the UK found that the third hole was from a cigarette. Rabin was a notorious chain smoker. No conspiracy.
The car carrying Rabin to hospital took "too long" to get there and did not use the previously-planned evacuation route?
Well, too long in the minds of the conspiracists, that is. In fact, the driver saw that large numbers of people from the rally attended by Rabin were crowded into the alleys designated as the evacuation route and so chose to try an alternative route to the hospital, also crowded.
One can go on and on. But if Yigal Amir fired blanks or was a patsy, why does he still insist that he murdered Rabin? And why have people supposedly with real information about an assassination conspiracy not turned their material over to real journalists or to the police or to Shamgar?
The conspiracists are not above outright lying. They regularly claim that their theories have been endorsed by members of the Rabin family themselves. False. They repeat dozens of similar lies.
Ultimately the real damage done by Israeli conspiracism is significant. The failure on the part of many in the movement opposed to the Oslo "peace process" to disassociate themselves from and renounce the conspiracist nonsense has served to discredit all opposition in Israel to the policies of the Left, and has resulted in the perpetuation of those policies.
The writer is a professor at the University of Haifa. His Web site is stevenplaut.blogspot.com