By Charley Reese
Repetition doesn't make a lie the truth -- this is how I know
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on May 23, 1999
A recent column of mine pointing out that Palestinian refugees were also ethnically cleansed brought the usual spate of hate mail from the Israel First Crowd with the usual name-calling. I am, in that crowd's view, a liar, an ignoramus or an anti-Semite -- or all of the above.
Zionism, a secular political movement, hasn't changed. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, when he was publisher of the New York Times, said publicly, "I dislike the coercive methods of Zionists who in this country have not hesitated to use economic means to silence persons who have different views. I object to the attempts at character assassination of those who do not agree with them."
I speak more to the point. The Zionists in America are the biggest enemy of freedom of speech and freedom of the press there is. And don't confuse Zionism with Judaism. Zionism is a secular political movement that would do anything to support the state of Israel. Judaism is a religion. Not all Jews are Zionists.
But so you will know, I have invested a lot of time and my employer's money into learning about the Middle East. I've had private interviews with Yitzhak Shamir, former prime minister, former head of the Stern Gang, who ordered the assassination of Count Folke Berdotte, a United Nation's diplomat. I've even had lunch in the Knesset's private dining room, where Shimon Peres and the late Yitzhak Rabin were sitting on opposite sides of the room. At that time, they were feuding and not speaking to each other.
I had the pleasure of lunch in the home of Mr. Rabin's sister and a couple of dinners with Ronnie Milo, at the time a member of the Knesset and later minister of the interior and more recently mayor of Tel Aviv. I even had a long talk in the Tel Aviv apartment of Shmuel Katz, now dead, who wrote much of the propaganda my critics now include in their letters. There were long conversations with Palestinians and Egyptians in Amman and Cairo and back here in the States. I continue to interview people from the region, and I continue to add to the list of more than 150 histories, memoirs and biographies relating to the region that I've read.
I don't pretend to be a scholar, but in the limited areas I write about, I know the facts.
For example, there's that old Zionist canard that Palestinians left voluntarily and are not entitled to return or to be compensated for their property. That was proven to be a lie a long time ago. To deny that Palestinians were driven out of their homes is the equivalent of denying the Holocaust. And the Palestinians were driven out by a combination of psychological warfare and a few well-timed massacres.
The atrocities committed by Israelis have long since been written about in Israel, both by journalists and historians. Nathan Chofshi, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who moved to Palestine in 1908, wrote that any American who wanted to know about the refugees " . . . we old Jewish settlers in Palestine who witnessed the flight could tell him how and in what manner we, Jews, forced Arabs to leave cities and villages. . . . Here was a people [Arabs] who lived on its own land for 1,300 years. We came and turned the native Arabs into tragic refugees. And still we dare to slander and malign them, to besmirch their name."
Arnold Toynbee, the historian, compared the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis to the treatment of Jews by Nazis. Toynbee told a Jewish audience in Canada, "The Jewish treatment of the Arabs in 1947 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter by the Nazis of 6 million Jews." I could fill several columns with similar citations from historians, witnesses, participants and journalists.
Don't fall for propaganda. Repetition doesn't make a lie the truth.
[Posted 05/22/1999 5:56 PM EST]