- by Livia Rokach Belmont Mass: AAUG Press, 1986, third ed. Paperback, 63 pages, $6, ISBN 0-937694-70-3.
Blaming the Victims
- Edward Said and Christopher Hitchins, eds. London: Verso/New Left Books, 1988. Paperback, 296 pages, $15, ISBN 046091487 4.
Reviewed by William Grimstad
“Terrorism … terrorists.” Most people who read the ugly words in the newspapers probably take them for granted, not noticing their oddly increasing frequency. After all, what else could you call people who would, say, plant a bomb on a large airliner and kill hundreds? The only thing remaining is to skim the article and see what kind they were this time: PLO, PLO faction, Iranian? Or, maybe IRA? Anything but the real originators, it seems.
Even those cynical of mass media foibles, who might ridicule the spread of a veritable terrorist chic among the newsies, probably will not smell a rat and suddenly realize that we now have yet another word in a very special and potent vocabulary. Terrorism has joined such formidable swear/smear words as Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism. These fearsome epithets pack a big wallop. Just as voodoo and black magic make use of verbal mumbo-jumbo in (claiming to) conjure up varied occult powers, so have these imprecations been used for generations in the control of untold millions, perhaps billions, of people. One might call them weasel-words. They are a “psy-war” expert’s dream: they don’t cost anything and nobody notices them at work.
When Washington recently began prodding the Jerusalem government for discussions with the Palestine Liberation Organization, the response was a loud protest that Israel “does not talk with terrorists.” Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (Yezernitsky) is less voluble, however — in fact, he has refused all comment – at recently revealed documents proving that he was directly involved in the 1948 assassination of the United Nations peacemaker, Count Bernadotte.
This certainly was one of the more heinous of the acts of murder and mayhem committed by Zionist squads during Israel’s hear of independence.” That many of these gang leaders and assassins have risen to the top of a government which now spends most of its time denouncing “Palestinian terrorism” must be grounds for the gravest reflection.
‘Holocaust’ Impact in the United States
To understand how and why the new “terrorism” weasel word is being built up, we must observe one of the earlier but immensely successful terms. Those of us who have pondered the stupendous clout of Holocaust” ought to study further the exact relationship between that horrific tableau vivant of the Forties, seen through a (television) glass darkly, and the Zionist enclave which continues to dominate the crossroads of the Mideast.
The “Six Million” legend has been a stunning tour de force of raw mass-persuasive power, ringing seemingly endless changes upon a rather modest body of lies and distortions cobbled together ad hoc at the finale of World War Two. It is clear that the major area of incidence is the United States: without this country, it is unlikely that the tale would have got far in the world’s estimation, or would survive long in future.
Now, a striking analog exists with the Zionist entity itself. No one denies that Israel endures only because of its “special relationship” with the U.S., demanding vast flows of our capital and armaments, and endless political intercession by Washington in world forums. Beyond this, it is an insufficiently appreciated fact that the Zionist state is a highly artificial, even illusionistic phenomenon. It is based upon one part brutal subjugation of increasingly restive non-Jews at home, to three parts misdirection and deception in the outer world, particularly in this country.
Myth Cover for Zionist Onslaught
One sees, then, that Israel and the Holocaust myth are mutually indispensable, bound up together as complementary aspects of the same political thrust, rather like the familiar Oriental yang-yin symbol. Ultimately, if the Holocaust legend falls or fades too badly, Israel will effectively be delegitimized. This is exactly the dilemma facing the Zionists: years, decades generations are slipping away and the hoax is simply growing old, now in an increasingly hectic era living more and more on the instant. Add in the relentless chipping away at the confabulation by Historical Revisionism, and the long-range implications become clear, a lesson we can be sure has not been lost upon the proprietors.
Israel’s carefully cultivated propaganda “image” is that of a heroic little American-style democracy besieged on all fronts by medieval “Arab” tyrannies. Although there never has been much patience with this idea in the Third World, and even in parts of Europe, it has continued to “play in Peoria” among the U.S. intelligentsia, from academe down through the dreariest drudges of the mass media. However, there are unmistakable signs that even this cushy situation is finally deteriorating.
Conclusion: it’s time for new weasel-words.
International Zionism’s astounding ability to prop up the “brave little Israel” facade year after year depends upon continued concealment of the real, blatantly terroristic character of its initial seizure and subsequent expansion of territory, right up to the present. For not overly scrupulous historians and pundits, this remained a workable fantasy until the Moshe Sharett exposes. Now they must risk not only lying to themselves, but to their public — and being called to account for it. At a time when timidly increasing numbers of inquiries into Zionist doings are beginning to be seen, we can only praise Ms. Rokach’s as one of the most unique. Those of us who have spent much of our adult lives probing one aspect or another of the worldwide Zionist enterprise will recognize immediately what an utter rarity it is to be able to listen in on deliberations among the actual high command.
While there is probably little going on in the inner councils of major nations that is not monitored by the Zionists, who are legendary for the power of their espionage, these people are just as abnormally preoccupied with secrecy concerning their own affairs. That is why this study is such a revelation, based as it is on the private journals of Moshe Sharrett, one of the true founding fathers of the state of Israel. No doubt the Israel Cabinet is, along with the Chinese Politburo or the consiglieri of the Jersey City mafia, among the world’s most impenetrable executive bodies. Yet, for a brief period, we now have a glimpse of its inner workings.
Diary of Israel’s Early Era
Sharett was there, in the secret planning sessions, when some of the most momentous actions and policies in the terror-ridden era that is constantly trumpeted as the “heroic” early period of Israel were planned out. Among these were- the pointless 1953 attack on the defenseless West Bank village of Kibya, led by present-day Israeli “hawk” Ariel Sharon, in which 69 Palestinians were killed; the 1954 hijacking of a Syrian airliner to Israel in the wake of Syria’s arrest of five Israeli spies, admitted as such by Sharett, which was the world’s first case of air piracy; the savage 1954 attack on the village of Nahlin, near Bethlehem, with dozens of Palestinian civilians killed.
The real reasons for these and others similar, routinely called “Reprisals” for “Arab terrorism” by Israel, are here explained, from the inside and from the top, as cynical and carefully calculated provocations. The goal was twofold: first, the ongoing intimidation and demoralization of the non-Jewish subject population; but second, and equally important, the creation of a desired climate of fury and amoral adventurism within the Jewish citizenry. Sharett reports that this psychological manipulation via murderous reactions to trumped-up incidents of “anti-Semitism” was justified by Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan as “our vital lymph. They … help us maintain a high tension among our population and in the Army … In order to have young men go to the Negev we have to cry out that it is in danger.”
This, then, is the gruesome process from which Rokach’s title derives. Sharett confesses that, while early Zionists supposedly curbed “emotions of revenge,” those of his era had eliminated the Mental and moral brake” on this impulse and had come to “uphold revenge as a moral value … a sacred principle.”
Like so many Zionist pioneers, Moshe Sharett (Shertok) was born a very long way from the land he later helped seize, immigrating to Palestine from Russia in the early 1900s. He early showed political skills and advanced quickly in the Mapai (Labor) Party and in the Jewish Agency, where he became a close associate of the Agencyss rambunctious head, David Ben Gurion (Gruen). After independence, he became the first foreign minister of the new state, for a time even replacing Ben Gurion as prime minister during the latter’s much-ballyhooed “retirement to the desert.”
It is Sharett’s participation in Israeli Cabinet sessions that the diary records, and which Livia Rokach quotes. Although the period covered, fall 1953 through fall 1956, is relatively short, Sharett’s notations run to 2,400 pages in eight volumes. Something of the candor with which he documents highly sensitive Cabinet discussions, many of them still potentially embarrassing to the government today, may be gauged from the intensity with which the Israeli establishment attempted to prevent publication of the diary when Sharett’s son announced his plan to do so. That, however, was the original version, in Hebrew and limited to a small edition within Israel. A surprisingly different suppressive effort ensued when the publishers readied the present study by Rokach, this time from the Sharett family itself, and a bevy of New York Zionist lawyers. So, clearly the original publication must have been intended solely for internal Zionist edification. The effort ran aground, however, when the Israeli Foreign Ministry dropped out of the dispute, no doubt reckoning that a squabble probably would only end up promoting the book.
Confessions Damaging to Zionism
It is easy to understand the concern. Second only to the steady erosion of the “Holocaust” legend, which of course formed the propagandistic plinth of “sympathy” and moral legitimacy for the original incursion into Palestine, this testimony by a former prime minister and lifelong operative at the pinnacle of the Zionist movement seems the most damaging.
Sharett’s motives in compiling the diary can only be guessed, although assuaging of a troubled conscience may well have been a factor. He does seem to have been something of a Zionist Hamlet: a man torn by self-doubt, although conscience certainly did not make a coward of him in his spirited public defenses of Israeli excesses that he privately execrates. Most importantly, however, he clearly did not contemplate publication, and that adds greatly to the journal’s credibility.
The value of Sharett’s mea culpa is on two levels: he shows us the early planning stages of some of Israel’s most odious planned terrorism incidents, and he gives us his remorseful evaluations of what this atrocious record says of his own people. Coming from an “anti-Semite,” the latter observations would count for nothing; from this source, they are extraordinarily telling:
“I condemned the Kibya affair that exposed us in front of the whole world as a gang of blood-suckers, capable of mass massacres regardless, it seems, of whether Weir actions may lead to war.” (October 1953)
“I meditated on the substance and destiny of His People, who is capable of such honest aspiration for beauty and nobility, and at the same time cultivates among its best youth youngsters capable of calculated, coldblooded murder, by knifing the bodies of defenseless Beduin. Which of these two biblical souls will win over the other in the People?” (March 1955)
“I have been meditating on the long chain of false incidents and hostilities we have invented …” (June 1955)
Real Holocaust Victims
One cannot condone the undeniable excesses and atrocities committed by desperate anti-Israel partisans in the typhoon of terror and retaliation that has arisen over the Zionist seizure of Palestine. However, we are at least entitled to a balanced perspective on the matter, and this will not be forthcoming from mainstream news and opinion media in most Western countries.
This is the great value of Blaming the Victims. Editors Said and Hitchens and nine other experts offer a masterly critique of the avalanche of spurious reportage on the Mideast disaster to which we’ve so long been subjected. Its overall impact left this writer thunderstruck.
What finally dawns on one, after years of mulling over these problems, is the stupendous irony of the situation. Revisionist scholarship has established beyond doubt that Jews underwent no “genocide” during World War Two, and in fact suffered proportionately far smaller losses than did the Germans and Russians. Yet, here we have it staring us in the face that these very same people — or as least their Zionist heroes-have been carrying out a sort of gasless holocaust of the Palestinian people ever since the war!
Peters Book Deflated
This begins on the ideological level, if that is the right word, with the proposition “There are no Palestinians.” After all, if you employ your not inconsiderable money — and media-power to deny that a stateless, defenseless people even exists, how much attention will the military mopping-up operations attract later on? One of the major documents in this campaign is the 1984 tome, From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters. Although derided in the British press, and even in Israel where a distinguished professor, Avishai Margalit, denounced it as a “web of deceit,” the Peters volume has been welcomed with dithyrambs of praise by our savants, including, not insignificantly, the “Holocaust” experts, Elie Wiesel and Lucy Dawidowicz.
Peters’s contention is that the territory was “empty” when the Zionists moved in after World War One, whereupon the so-called Palestinians began sneaking in from surrounding Arab lands to find work as the Jews “made the desert bloom.” This, of course, is one of the oldest staples of Israeli propaganda, and indeed has largely been abandoned there; but Peters resuscitates the story with a great flurry of ostensible research, references to Ottoman Empire population statistics, and the like.
Unfortunately for her, she reckoned without Norman G. Finkelstein, a Jewish anti-Zionist historian who has become her book’s untiring nemesis. In separate essays, he and editor Said surgically deflate the vast farrago of errors, misinterpretations, half-truths and outright lies that characterize the Peters volume. Finkelstein uses a particularly effective technique of parallel columns, giving the actual original citation (which obviously cost him an enormous research effort) next to what Peters says it says. The effect is devastating. One can only agree with Finkelstein’s assessment that Peters’s book, which, in America at least, has become the “Bible” of the trendier Holocaustarians and pro-Israel blowhards, is “among the most spectacular frauds ever published on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Chomsky’s Valuable Insights
Blaming the Victims contains many other essays of similar Revisionist import unraveling the compounded falsification that has been visited nonstop upon the Palestinians, who share with the Germans the dubious distinction of being perhaps the most lied-about people on earth. Among these, the superb extended piece, “Middle East Terrorism and the American Ideological System,” by the noted Jewish linguist, Noam Chomsky, returns us full circle to our original forbidding subject.
Chomsky starts with the bedrock axiom of Israeli policy, voiced often through the years, but never more sanctimoniously than by future president Chaim Herzog in 1972: the Palestinians can never be “partners in any way in a land that has been holy to our people for thousands of years.” Ergo: the flat ban on (a) independent political organization in the occupied territories, and (b) discussions with Palestinian representatives, regardless of whether they agree to recognize Israel and to eschew violence. Chomsky shows what a stumbling block this incredible disenfranchisement has been, right up to the moment. As this is written, Israel’s leaders continue to tough it out against tepid U.S. urgings that they reach at least some accommodation with legitimate Palestinian spokesmen.
Arguably the most valuable of Moshe Sharett’s diaristic revelations are what he tells us of Israel’s long-range planning, in particular its goal of a much larger territory than it currently holds and its implacable determination to become the regional superpower. It is these ambitions that have laid groundwork for the largest-scale devastation yet unleashed by the Zionist state: the ghastly evisceration of the once flourishing land of Lebanon.
What was called “Israel’s Grand Design” in an important essay by the late pioneering Revisionist writer, John M. Henshaw, is a large subject unto itself. It would include such seemingly fantastic goals as controlling everything eastward to the site of ancient Babylon, in the Tigris-Euphrates area of Iraq. However, more realistic objectives lie closer to home, and in an arid region, Zionist chieftains long ago set their sights on control of key waterways to the north.
As far back as the Paris peace conference of 1919, they proposed a northern boundary for the Jewish “national home” mandated in the British Balfour Declaration that would have seized much of Lebanon up to the Litani River. At the same time, Ben Gurion and others tried to inveigle Patriarch Hayak with financial aid promises to abandon South Lebanon for Jewish settlement and set up a Christian state in the Muslim north. The patriarch indignantly refused, but that was by no means the end of the matter.
This Lebanon objective, pursued like an idee fixe through the decades, has formed the pivot point in one way or another for much of Israeli history. Zionist armed bands that took over Palestine in 1948 occupied much of South Lebanon, nearing the Litani River, but were forced to withdraw by international opposition. However, the military campaigns of 1967, 1978 and 1982 once again saw efforts to implement the policy, and these were successful to the point that Israel now effectively controls the Jordan, Banias, Wazzani, Hasbani and Litani rivers, an enormous geopolitical advantage.
In his February 1954 diary entries, Sharett details the strategy sessions where a beginning was made to draft plans that have only come to their full, dire fruition now, many decades later, with Lebanon in its death agonies. The overall framework for the plan was creation of a Lebanese Christian state. This was done chiefly to drive a wedge into the largely Muslim Arab League. Sharett writes:
“Then he [Ben Gurion] passed on to another issue. This is the time, he said, to push Lebanon, that is the Maronites in that country, to proclaim a Christian State … It is clear that Lebanon is the weakest link in the Arab League … Now is the time to bring about the creation of a Christian state in our neighborhood … This means that time, energy and means ought to be invested in it and that we must act in all possible ways to bring about a radical change in Lebanon. Sasson … and our other Arabists must be mobilized. If money is necessary, no amount of dollars should be spared … This is a historical opportunity.”
For various reasons, it proved unfeasible to activate this grand scheme for the dismemberment of a harmless neighbor until 1968, when Dayan was appointed defense minister. For twenty years the Lebanese border had been utterly tranquil and certainly no Palestinian guerrillas were anywhere on the horizon. Virtually overnight the situation changed, with mysterious border assaults against Israelis which were instantly avenged with savage military reprisals, escalating eventually to aerial bombing in South Lebanon. Finally, by April, 1975, the conflagration was ignited and Lebanon’s civil war rages on to this day, with incalculable losses and suffering.
Chomsky on Media Liars
Yet, incredibly enough, informed opinion here has dismissed this tragedy as a happenstance that was probably inevitable, given Lebanon’s “sectarian” diversity. Meanwhile, first things first, and “Israel’s security” must be vigilantly looked after, with its occasional understandable excesses explained and quickly forgotten. This is the ideational framework within which the entire sorry history of Israeli destabilization and destruction has been vended to propaganda consumers in this and other “First World” countries. Looking out on especially the American intellectual class, from the philo-Zionist to the opportunistic, as they preside over “news” and other mind-molding, one thinks irresistibly of “the dull, the proud, the wicked and the mad” deplored by Alexander Pope. Nevertheless, these people and their dirtywork are still with us, and cry out to be dealt with.
It is here that Blaming the Victims genuinely excels, in particular the Chomsky essay on the new hullaballoo over “terrorism” as a catchall for militant anti-Zionist resistance. This exhaustively documented, trip-hammer analysis ranges, case by case, atrocity by atrocity, over the violent highlights of the past decades – particularly in southern Lebanon — as they have been served up to us, and as the full facts suggest they more likely occurred. It is hard to believe, but Chomsky’s modest fifty pages seriously damage this old, vast, grotesque tissue of distortions and lies that has relentlessly screened Israeli doings, chiefly the ill-starred but indescribably brutal Lebanon invasion of 1982.
Summing up the whole sordid but still rather amazing process, Chomsky can only marvel: “Meanwhile the media are regularly condemned as overly critical of Israel and even ‘pro PLO,’ a propaganda coup of quite monumental proportions.”
Still Revering ‘Holocaust’
There the matter rests. Having noted the encouraging development that these books seem to portend, I am not sure what next to expect. These authors, and at least the Verso press, are all from the “hard Left” side of the spectrum, which of course entails a quite different set of assumptions from those of a “Holocaust” Revisionist. Marxian notions have almost no broad appeal among Middle Eastern people, but leftist partisan discipline apparently still is effective among writers who aspire to represent them.
That is the only way that I can account for the peculiar fact that the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic activists of the world, otherwise so brave in face of Israeli napalm and torturemasters, still are no less cowed than the rest of the world’s “masses,” and fearful of taking the first step to ridicule the strangely sanctified “Holocaust” and “anti-Semitism” shibboleths.
We shall not be rid of the word weasels who are now trying to diabolize “terrorism” as a cover for their own secret sacred mayhem until this gap can be bridged.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1989 (Vol. 9, No. 2), pages 223-232.
About the Author
WILLIAM GRIMSTAD, a professional journalist, has written for four major American newspapers, and been editor of Georgetown Today, the official magazine of Georgetown University. Grimstad is a longtime student of international Zionism and its far-flung operations.. His two books, Anti-Zion and Six Million Reconsidered, often regarded as classics in the field, are available from IHR.