In her weekly column on May 2, Zina Rakhamilova discusses a recent example of how the Palestinian narrative promotes falsities in order to delegitimize Israel. The author describes the immediate and vehement response by the Palestinian leadership to the congratulatory assertion by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen upon Israel’s 75th birthday that Israel had literally made the desert bloom.
This statement, they claimed, was both racist and a lie. It was the Palestinians, they insisted, who were responsible for the greening of the Negev desert.
In addition to different factions within Palestinian society employing terror and lawfare, the persistent use of falsehoods by Palestinian spokespeople and their supporters has, over the years, proven itself a most effective tactic in the ongoing Palestinian propaganda assault against Israel. Thus, a Palestinian spokesperson once confided in me that lacking the resources and fighting sophistication of the IDF, Palestinians have learned to use words as weapons, and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that they have learned to employ them with great success.
The Palestinian rhetorical arsenal against Israel consists of two categories. The first is the dependence upon shocking words, the most familiar of these being “occupation,” “illegal settlement,” “apartheid,” “racism,” “genocide,” “colonialism” and “oppression.”
Each is a psychological bomb. Each conjures up jarring, repulsive and abhorrent images requiring no definition or explanation. Palestinians and their supporters have learned that the determined and ongoing use of these highly pejorative terms creates a fixed association in people’s minds with Israel.
Accordingly, whereas when one person thinks of Israel, one may picture its sunny beaches or marvel at its hi-tech successes, another has come to associate Israel with illegal settlements occupation and checkpoints. This is an example of social-psychological labeling theory, namely that the behavior or attitude of human beings towards others, including strangers, is influenced significantly by the way the latter is publicly labeled.
In simpler terms, this may be compared to juvenile haranguing and name-calling following which a child is saddled with a stigma. This tactic has demonstrated its efficacy in this conflict over many decades.
The second category is built upon a litany of lies, full statements, not just words, propagated by Palestinians and their supporters, also consistently and over many years. This repertoire is extensive and is further divided into two sub-categories.
The first is historical. Its objective is to establish Palestinian provenance in the land while simultaneously denying or erasing Jewish history. It amounts to no less than authoring a fictional version of the past.
Thus, the Palestinian narrative claims:
- Palestinian national identity is thousands of years old
- Jesus was a Palestinian and Moses was a Muslim
- Palestine was always verdant and fertile while under Arab hegemony
- The First and Second Temples in Jerusalem never existed, or alternatively, they were mosques.
TO THESE are added many other fabrications that are aimed at impugning modern Israel by claiming it is a society lacking moral values and is the source of all Palestinian failure and suffering.
- Zionists invaded Palestine with the forethought of expelling all Arabs in order to establish Israel
- The Jews are responsible for the “Nakba,” the Arabic term for the “Tragedy of 1948,” referring to the exile of over a half-million Arabs from their homes and land during Israel’s defensive war for independence
- Israel continuously builds new or expands illegal Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, appropriating Palestinian land to do so, sometimes destroying Palestinian villages and expelling their residents
- Israel continues to steal water from under the ground belonging to the Palestinians and provides it to Jewish settlers and IDF bases located in the occupied West Bank
- The IDF systemically raids Palestinian villages and abuses Palestinian minors solely to sow intimidation and fear
- During the recent COVID epidemic, Israel cruelly denied Palestinians access to the vaccine.
None of the above is true.
The Palestinian narrative, based on both shocking words and deceptive information, has been aggressively promoted throughout many years in countless live settings via traditional electronic media (television and radio) and in print. However, the advent of social media has exponentially empowered its impact.
The effect of this rhetoric, particularly upon the minds of well-meaning but otherwise uninformed Western liberals, is quite potent. Advocates of the Palestinian narrative learned long ago, the key to accruing supporters is to start with the heart and the brain will follow.
They say whatever must be said to secure people’s emotions and make it sound self-evident and once they’ve captured people’s hearts, fact-checking is rendered immaterial as each side of an argument offers it own facts. The same principle enabled Hitler’s infamous big lie about the Jews, as well as Stalin’s propaganda about the inevitable fall of capitalism.
According to the Palestinians, it was they, not the Zionists, who made the desert bloom. And of course, no human being ever walked on the surface of the moon.
The writer is a speaker, and founder of iTalkIsrael. He lives in Efrat.