From the 1960s, inversion of truth and reality has been one the most favored propaganda methods of Israel's adversaries. One of its most frequent expressions has been the accusation that the Jewish people, victims of the Nazis, have now become the new Nazis, aggressors and oppressors of the Palestinian Arabs.
Contemporary observers have identified this method and described it as an "inversion of reality," an "intellectual confidence trick," "reversing moral responsibility," or "twisted logic." Because Israel's enemies have, for nearly half a century, repeated such libels without being challenged, they have gradually gained credence. Since inversion of reality constitutes the basic principle of current anti-Israeli propaganda, it is important to understand what it is and how it works.
This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany. It is totalitarian both in its methods, particularly the use of the paranoiac myth, and in the absolute solution it advocates. It denies all of Israel's claims completely and leaves no room for introspection and compromise.
....One of the tactical tools of ideological warfare is propaganda....In the twentieth century, propaganda served primarily as a weapon of war, and its effects could be devastating. Indeed, certain totalitarian ideologies, when brought to their logical conclusion, have been genocidal.
...If sheer repetition, in public and private contexts, can be taken as proof of belief, then it appears that Hitler, Goebbels, Dietrich [Director of the Reich Press Office], their staffs, and an undetermined percentage of German listeners and readers believed that an international Jewish conspiracy was the driving force behind the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II…. They certainly acted as if the Final Solution was Nazi Germany's punishment of the Jews, whom the Nazis found guilty of starting and prolonging World War II.
...a chilling example of the link between propaganda and genocide, namely, Hitler's annual speech to the Reichstag of 30 January1939 ...presented "what became the core Nazi narrative of the coming conflict": "I want today to be a prophet again: if international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"
In addition...Hitler's New Year's address to the nation on 1 January 1940...contained the "imputation of genocidal war aims to Nazi Germany's enemies, especially the Jews": "'The Jewish-capitalist world enemy that confronts us has only one goal: to exterminate Germany and the German people.…"
... the ultimate aim of Nazi propaganda was "the imposition of a paranoiac pattern on world events" in the form of a "paranoiac myth." ...
...This is the final horror of the myth. It becomes self-confirming. Once you are entrapped in this illusionary universe, it will become reality for you, for if you fight everybody, everybody will fight you, and the less mercy you show, the more you commit your side to a fight to the finish. When you have been caught in this truly vicious circle there is really no escape. Compared with this effect, the principle of advertising and mass suggestion in war propaganda may almost be called marginal.
Inversion of reality as a tool of media war, with its paranoiac state of mind, has persisted to the present. ...to describe the post-1967 outlook of the Palestinians. ....for them, "Zionism, then, is a new 'Nazism' threatening to dominate and destroy the whole human species…. Thus, in a context where Western elites never tire of calling for the avoidance of 'Islamophobic' utterances, the head of the Islamic Center in Geneva, Hani Ramadan, coolly denounced 'the genocide being organized against the Muslims.'"
It is noteworthy that Ramadan's story line is nearly identical to that of Nazi propagandists. Both presented themselves as targets of a Jewish conspiracy, and the potential outcome of their "logical process"-to use Hannah Arendt's expression-was genocide. Although both have inverted the truth, their assertions contain an additional feature which is disturbing and dangerous: an inversion of morality which leads to criminal behavior and violence without constraint.
....Leo McKinstry, a Belfast-born author and journalist who writes regularly for the Daily Mail, Daily Express, and Sunday Telegraph...identified the inversion of reality in British public discourse with regard to Israel and called it by its real name:
"In a remarkable inversion of reality, Israel has become a pariah state because of its determination to defend itself. A grotesque double standard now operates, where murderous Arab terrorists are hailed as "freedom fighters" yet Israeli security forces are treated as fascistic thugs. No nation has been more demonized than Israel. One recent survey across Europe revealed that Israel is now regarded as "the greatest threat" to world peace, an utter absurdity given that Israel is actually the only democratic, free society in the Middle East. But such a finding reflects the strength of the hysterical anti-Israeli propaganda that fills the airwaves of Europe. No matter how much this anti-Israeli feeling is dressed up as support for Palestine, it is in fact profoundly antisemitic…."
....After the defeat of Germany, the propaganda methods of inversion of reality and the Big Lie fell into temporary disuse. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union and its allies in the Arab world reintroduced them during the 1960s, particularly after the Israeli victory in the Six Day War in 1967. That outcome represented a humiliation and posed an internal danger because it shook the foundations of authority. It heartened the minorities in the Soviet Union, not least the Jews.
Having suffered a major reverse, the Soviet Union and the Arab countries decided to use political anti-Semitism to shift world attention from their own failures. They sought to delegitimize Israel, bringing about its isolation and destruction. Some elements of the new propaganda campaign were:
- The accusation that Israel was the aggressor in the Six Day War and denial of its right to self-defense.
- The passing of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, "Zionism is racism," on 10 November 1975 which conferred the standing of international law on a proposition totally based on the inversion of reality. This resolution transformed Zionism, the Jewish national movement, into the embodiment of evil by equating it with the depravity of Nazi Germany.
- The drafting of the PLO Covenant in its various versions of 1964, 1968, and 1974. This document claimed that justice was totally on the Palestinian side and that Israel had no standing at all.
- The Hamas Charter of 1988.
- The unprecedented assault on Israel which took place at the UN Conference in Durban at the end of August and beginning of September 2001.
Both the Arab world and the Soviet Union used inversion of reality as a method and drew on the idiom of Nazi propaganda. The transfer of this expertise cannot be traced in detail because the information is incomplete. It is known, however, that many Nazis found refuge in the Arab world. From 1953, Egypt absorbed some two thousand of them. Some worked in Nasser's secret service. Some administered concentration camps. Others were involved in the design and construction of rockets. Among this population were specialists in anti-Semitic propaganda. From Egypt, they disseminated anti-Semitism in the Arab world as well as the doctrine of Holocaust denial.
...For his part, the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini in his conversation with Hitler of 21 November 1941 and his radio broadcasts contended that Jews were the common enemy of Islam and Nazi Germany. The ex-Mufti frequently went on tour to encourage the Balkan SS Muslim units, and the Axis radio stations faithfully covered these visits. During his broadcast of 21 January 1944, he proclaimed:
"The Reich is fighting against the same enemies who robbed the Moslems of their countries and suppressed their faith in Asia, Africa and Europe…. National Socialist Germany is fighting against world Jewry. The Koran says, "You will find that the Jews are the worst enemies of the Moslems." There are considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism, namely in the affirmation of struggle and fellowship, in the stress of the leadership idea, in the ideal of order. All this brings our ideologies close together and facilitates cooperation. I am happy to see in this division a visible and practical expression of both ideologies."
...If today's Arab anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish propaganda strongly resembles that of the Third Reich, there is a good reason.
...On September 6, 1968, Dr. Simon Wiesenthal held a press conference in Vienna where he accused the German Democratic Republic for its use of language identical to the Nazi era in its condemnation of Israel. The title of the publication which he distributed on this occasion was, The Same Language: first for Hitler - now for Ulbricht. In this well documented publication Wiesenthal and his staff identified thirty-nine Nazis with excellent credentials in the Third Reich who found their way into the service of the G.D.R. Some were extremely well placed. Not surprisingly, one of the tools of propaganda which they used was inversion of reality, accusing Israel of being the aggressor. This information may explain how the East Bloc co-opted Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda themes. J. H. Brinks, in his essay "Political Anti-Fascism in the German Democratic Republic," explained that there was no ideological impediment to prevent the cooperation between Communist party members and National Socialists, as they had once been allies. That is, until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
....It should be added that with France's change in diplomatic orientation in favor of the Arab cause, and as a consequence of its great influence in Europe, anti-Israeli information steadily gained currency on the Continent. Historian Bat Ye'or remarked that the Second International Conference in Support of the Arab Peoples, held in Cairo in 1969, was a turning point for Europe. Its chief objective was to "demonstrate hostility to Zionism and solidarity with the Arab population of Palestine." ....
....It did not take long for the cold winds to blow. At the end of 1968, Bertrand Russell published an open letter to Wladyslaw Gomulka, first secretary of the Polish Communist Party, protesting the outbreak of state-sponsored anti-Semitism in Poland. Russell bluntly likened this new anti-Semitism to that of Nazi Germany. He used the term "twisted logic" to describe the method of inverting reality:
"Over the past eighteen months in Poland, the Press, the secret police and the Government have instigated anti-Semitism quite deliberately. By some twisted logic, all Jews are now Zionists, Zionists are fascists, fascists are Nazis, and Jews, therefore, are to be identified with the very criminals who only recently sought to eliminate Polish Jewry…."
The Soviet Union spread several other fictions in its new propaganda war against Israel. One of these was the accusation that Israel was the aggressor in the Six Day War. ....Soviet propaganda has managed to make the main issue appear Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in the course of the war. Thus, a matter which should be part of the final settlement of the conflict becomes a precondition of negotiations leading to a settlement. Whatever one's feelings about the substance of the Israeli-Egyptian dispute, one cannot but admire the adroit use of an intellectual confidence trick to turn the tables on an opponent and shift the burden of recalcitrance from oneself to the other party....
....When discussing the developments of this era, one must include the PLO Covenant in its different versions from 1964 onward. It provided a codified ideological statement which embodied Palestinian myths and claims. At first it did not have much impact, but later, particularly after 1973, it became the PLO credo.....Prof. Yehoshafat Harkabi was probably the first to recognize the importance of this document and carefully analyzed its content and language. In the introduction to his publication of the text of the Palestinian Covenant with his commentary, Harkabi stated that the absoluteness of the Palestinian inversion of reality was inherently totalitarian:
"The Palestinian movement claims absoluteness and "totality"-there is absolute justice in the Palestinian stand in contrast to the absolute injustice of Israel;…right is on the Palestinian side only; only they are worthy of self-determination; the Israelis are barely human creatures who at most may be tolerated in the Palestinian state as individuals or as a religious community…; the historical link of the Jews with the land of Israel is deceit; the spiritual link as expressed in the centrality of the land of Israel in Judaism is a fraud; international decisions such as the Mandate granted by the League of Nations and the United Nations Partition Resolution are all consigned to nothingness in a cavalier manner."
The PLO Covenant is central to our understanding of today's Palestinian Authority. The fact that Yasser Arafat refused to amend this document, even though he pretended to do so in the presence of President Clinton on 14 December 1998, is the best indication of his real intentions. Of related interest is the Hamas Charter of 1988, the text of which may be found on the Internet.....its distinctive inversion of reality [is traced ] to Nazi sources:
"The renewed impact of Nazi-style conspiracy theories becomes particularly obvious if we take a look at the Charter of the Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine, otherwise known as Hamas. Created in 1988, the Charter pointedly makes use of the antisemitic rhetoric of the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem which he had adopted from the Nazis. According to this Charter, "the Jews were behind the French Revolution as well as the Communist revolutions." They were "behind World War I so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate…and also behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading in war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state." They "inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council…in order to rule the world through their intermediaries. There was no war anywhere without their [the Jews'] fingerprints on them." The original text of the Charter is clearly stated in Article 32, in which it states that the intentions of the Zionists "[have] been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what is said there.""
The importance of these charters has not been sufficiently appreciated. Nevertheless, the myths which they embody have become part of the fictional and paranoiac worldview which Palestinian propaganda has imposed on reality.
On 10 November 1975, the Soviet Union and its supporters passed UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, "Zionism is racism," which transformed an anti-Semitic slogan into an internationally accepted "truth." Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman explained that "the term 'racism' was coined in 1936 to rally scientific and political opinion against Nazi doctrines of 'Aryan superiority' over Jews and other alleged untermenschen." According to the original meaning of the term, then, "racism" denotes one of the great abuses of Nazism. Thus, to equate Zionism with racism represents a serious accusation and inversion of reality.
Although Resolution 3379 was finally rescinded on 16 December 1991, and the Soviet Union passed into history shortly thereafter (26 December 1991), the damage to Israel's cause was considerable. By reducing a complicated issue to a slogan, this libel, which inverted reality, prevented rational discussion of the real problems of the Middle East. In an era of mass media when the study of the past has gone out of fashion, slogans such as "Zionism is racism" have taken the place of facts. They have penetrated the popular mainstream idiom and the consciousness of uncritical mass audiences.
Israel's enemies made many accusations during the years after Resolution 3379, but for a time they spared Israel another massive assault on its legitimacy. That changed with the UN World Conference against Racism which took place in Durban, South Africa, from 28 August-8 September 2001. Durban was the scene of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli speeches and agitation of an intensity unknown since the 1930s.
Some of the main players who joined this effort were the UN high commissioner for human rights and secretary-general of the conference, Mary Robinson; Arafat, Hanan Ashrawi, and Farouk Kaddoumi for the Palestinian Authority; Ahmed Maher and the Arab Lawyers' Union for Egypt; Farouk al-Shara for Syria; and the Iranian delegate. Others included the representatives of the NGOs, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Cuba, China, Sudan, Iraq, Chile, Jamaica, Finland, and South Africa.
Squarely in the tradition of "Zionism is racism," the Durban Conference made ample use of the inversion of reality. Indeed, the NGOs called "for the reinstatement of the UN resolution equating Zionism with Racism" and "the complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state," and condemned "Israeli crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide."
...The significance of Durban is yet to be fully appreciated, particularly because the malicious intentions of its sponsors-Egypt, which is supposedly at peace with Israel, while those of the Palestinian Authority and Iran-have not been fully acknowledged....
....For more than half a century, inversion of reality has been the essential characteristic of a media war against Israel and has caused considerable harm. This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany. It is totalitarian both in it methods, particularly the use of the paranoiac myth, and in the total solution it advocates. It denies all of Israel's claims completely and leaves no room for introspection and compromise. Following the same strategy which the international community applied against South Africa, the long-term strategic objective of Israel's enemies is to destroy the Jewish state, even if it takes years. Its use proclaims the true intent of those who resort to it.
For its part, Israel has a strategic need to defend itself on the battlefield, but in order to exercise this sovereign right, it must effectively defend its legitimacy in the forum of public opinion. Accordingly, Israel must first recognize the type of war in which it is engaged and then formulate an appropriate strategy based on solid information.
.... There is, therefore, an urgent need to expose the lies which have become part of the media war and to discredit those who spread them.