Truth has fallen prey to storytelling. Historical facts no longer matter, mythology replaces reality, and narratives of convenient fictions or half-truths promote political agendas. Today’s mythologies are repeated so often that they become dogma not only to political decision-makers and the media, but also to ordinary people. To paraphrase George Orwell, if everyone accepts the lie — if all records tell the same tale — then the lie passes into history and becomes the truth.
A powerful false narrative has been created regarding the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Accepted as truth, it forms the basis of political dialogue and provides justification for decisions made by the Obama administration, the U.N., the EU and individual nation-states.
We witnessed the efficacy of mythology to promote political agendas in Nazi Germany, which embraced myriad narratives and metaphors to provide powerful justification for its ideology and policies — the Aryan man’s racial struggle against the “international Jewish conspiracy,” the fuehrer demigod cult, the Aryan master-race, to name a few. The Nazis offered the Germanic myth of racial purity as the antithesis of “Jewish racial decadence.”
Hitler’s use of the metaphor of the Jew as a deadly “parasite” residing in the German body politic, a parasite which needed to be removed, employed imagery to provide a conceptual basis for Nazi genocidal policies.
Nazi mythology resonated with the German people as at first merely plausible and then later as conclusive and was an extremely potent tool in uniting the German people and creating loyalty to the Reich.
Today there’s a widely held mythology about the Arab-Israeli conflict, a mythology highly prejudicial against Israel’s rights, security and its very existence.
As in Germany, this involves false narratives, stories and legends not based on fact but masquerading as truth. This ahistorical view posits Israelis as colonialist oppressors and Palestinians as their innocent victims in order to generate support for the Palestinian cause, demonize the world’s only Jewish state and delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, similar to the Nazis’ successful demonization and delegitimization of Jews.
Here are the principal false narratives:
• Jews are colonialists in the Middle East with neither historical nor religious connection to the area.
• Palestinians are the indigenous people of Israel and the rightful occupants of Judea/Samaria (aka West Bank).
• Israel has a peace partner in the Palestinians.
• Israelis forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the newly founded Jewish state, creating a huge refugee problem.
• Israel is a brutal occupier of Palestinian land.
• Israeli communities (pejoratively termed “settlements”) in Judea/Samaria and east Jerusalem are illegal and a major obstacle to peace.
“Israelis are occupiers” and “Palestinians are victims” are metaphors that ignite passions with visceral impact just as the “Jew is a parasite” did for the Nazis. They shape the way decision-makers view Israelis and Palestinians, framing the discussion and creating the perception that Israel is the main obstacle to peace. Israel, therefore, must make significant concessions to ensure a resolution of the conflict while Palestinians are held blameless, their Jew-hatred ignored and their actions rationalized and excused. They face no demands for compromise.
Embracing this mythology, President Obama declared unequivocally at the U.N. that Israel must “recognize that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” The EU decides to label Israeli products from Judea/Samaria to facilitate a boycott. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon excuses the dozens of Palestinian-perpetrated stabbings of innocent Israeli citizens by blaming Israel’s “stifling” occupation of the “Palestinian territories.” The U.N. Security Council holds a meeting to delegitimize and condemn Israel, titling its discussion, “Illegal Israeli Settlements — Obstacle to Peace and a Two-State Solution.”
And finally, just last week, the ultimate travesty — a bigoted act of anti-Semitic hostility — UNESCO passed a resolution that deliberately denies the documented 3,000-year-old historical and Biblical Jewish connection to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. The resolution describes these entirely as “a Muslim holy site of worship” and calls Israel the “occupying power” at both sites. Twenty-four U.N. members vote in favor, six oppose and 26 nations abstain including France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, India, Sweden and Argentina.
Nazi mythology resulted in war and the extermination of six million Jews. According to Hitler, the war was less a struggle among nations than a worldwide fight between the noble Aryans and the filthy Jews. Likewise, present-day legends about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict contrast the virtuous Palestinian with the oppressor Jew. This mythology of fables and lies provides the justification for efforts to sanction Israel, undermine her negotiating position and force the Jewish state to compromise its security and ultimately jeopardize its survival.
• Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.