How can we discern truth from propaganda? How do we know who is lying and who is telling the truth when we hear speeches or media reports about political topics? A suicide bomber when he blows himself up in the middle of civilians is certain that the people he is about to kill are part of an evil group, but before he ends his life and those of others did he make any effort to evaluate the truth of the speeches he heard that convinced him that, he is about to become a noble martyr for a higher cause? What about the multitude of people rallying for different causes across the world, how often do they objectively and intelligently evaluate what is true and what is not? Bertrand Russell once said "Most people would rather die than think, some do". That does not only apply to suicide bombers. The widespread support for evil politicians often leads ultimately to death. Adolph Hitler had widespread support and much of that support evaporated in Dresden as Hitler's supporters were turned into smoke by allied bombs.
I once had an email debate about the Middle East in which the person debating me argued that the documents I presented to him must have been written by biased people since everyone has an agenda and therefore the truth must be somewhere between what my documents said and what the Arabs say. Lets imagine a court case where you, the reader, are charged with murdering 30 children. You bring forth a witness who says that at the time of the murder they saw you at the supermarket. The judge rules that you are guilty of murdering 15 children. Why? because you must have an agenda to prove yourself innocent and so probably found a witness who will argue your case. In addition since your accusers also have an agenda the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. 15 children is in the middle of no children and 30 children. This may appear ridiculous but people, when they hear enough allegations from side against the other, assume that some of them must be true because the truth must be in the middle even if some of the allegations are totally crazy. Arabs have accused Israel of injected birds with germs and released them above Jordan, Palestine and the Suez Canal. It's amazing how those Zionist birds and germs make sure not to go back to Israel. Arabs have charged that Jewish tourists infected with AIDS are traveling around Asian and African countries with the aim of spreading the disease. They have accused Israelis of spreading chocolate contaminated with Mad Cow Disease into Palestinian cities as well as spreading sexually stimulating chewing gum to destroy Palestinian morals. The crazy accusations go on and on.
Ignoring the absurdity of accusations is not limited to politics. There are court cases where the allegations were absurd but because multiple people made those allegations the accused was locked up.
I have written an article about discerning the truth in the Middle East conflict in the Spring Issue of Logos which I recommend that the reader peruse before continuing with this web site. The article is followed in the same issue by an attempt to rebut my arguments by Lawrence Davidson whose strategy is to say that maybe some of the examples I discuss are true but there are so many examples of bad behavior by the Israelis it doesn't really matter. He misses the point of the article which is that allegations of bad behavior are not the same thing as bad behavior. If we find that the people who are making these allegations lie and fabricate than it makes all the allegations questionable.
The best way to evaluate what happened in a place is to go there. Martha Gellhorn spent a month checking Arab reports of civilian casualties with local civil authorities, hospitals and the refugees themselves and concluded that not more than 10 Arab civilians in the Gaza area died in the Six Day War (The Case For Israel, Gervasi). Jack Kelley an investigative reporter for USA Today investigated Palestinian Arab atrocity allegations years later and also found them to be false. I wrote about him in my article. If it is impractical to go and investigate we can at least read the results of such investigations. Other than that perhaps the best approach to evaluating the truth about a conflict can be to look at 4 things, Tactics Targets, Glorification and Demonization. Let say we want to evaluate the truth of whether the creation of the modern state of Israel was the result of an evil occupation in which innocent Arabs were murdered by Jewish terrorists and expelled from their land or it was the result of Jews returning to their land and buying their land back from Arabs who shouldn't have been there in the first place. We can try and wade through the allegations of each side to answer this question and attempt to determine the likelihood of the allegations or we can use the indirect approach I have just mentioned.
We can look at who do the Israelis target and who do the Palestinian Arabs target. The Israelis attempt to target specific terrorists, often at considerable danger to themselves, whereas the Palestinian Arabs shoot rockets indiscriminately. In addition after grizzly murders of civilians the Palestinians celebrate. Other targets of the Arabs in general include their own people such as women who don't obey Shariah law or dissident Arabs. A powerful video that discusses this follows this paragraph.
The Palestinians target their own people. Hamas murders PLO and vice versa. Palestinian Muslims attack Christians as seen in the video below.
Looking at tactics and targets is helpful but the most effective approaches to understanding the Middle East are to look at Glorification and Demonization. Who are the Palestinian role models? Who do they glorify? They glorify Samir Kuntar, who smashed a four-year-old girl's head between a rock and the stock of his rifle. They glorify Al-Mughrabi who with her comrades murdered 12 children and 25 adults in cold blood on March 11, 1978. Al-Mughrabi and her comrades shot an American photographer named Gail Rubin, carjacked a taxi, murdered the driver and his passengers, shot at traffic on the highway, hijacked two buses, and ultimately blew up the last bus - with all passengers aboard. For an example of this glorification see http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1805.htm. Here are two more clips glorifying Mughrabi from the recent anniversary of Fatah.
Jan 2, 2011
Dec 30, 2010
In March 2011 Palestinians entered a home in the Israeli village of Itamar and murdered most of the Fogel family. Two children got away. The victims are shown in the picture below.
"I don't regret what I did, and would do it again," Amjad Awad, one of the murderers, told reporters in court. "I'm proud of what I did and I'll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine," he added.
The charge sheet detailed how the two saw two young brothers sleeping in their beds, 4-year-old Elad and 11-year-old Yoav, snuck into the home, and stabbed them both to death. They then entered the parents' bedroom, where they launched a knife attack on Ehud and Ruth Fogel. The parents fought back, attempting to fend off the attackers. Ehud died of stab wounds and Ruth was shot dead by the attackers with a stolen M-16 gun. The two then left the house, before hearing cries from three-month-old baby Hadas. Awoken by the attack, the baby lay in its crib in the parents' bedroom.
"They went back into the house and stabbed the baby to death to silence her cries," a security source said following the arrests in April. After the murders Palestinians celebrated by passing out candy and a Hamas leader said that the murders were not enough.
Palestinian Arabs celebrated the 9/11 attacks. When Osama bin Laden was killed the military wing of Al Fatah had this to say:
The Islamic nation awoke to a catastrophe the reports of the Shahid (Martyr-) death of the Sheikh, Jihad-fighter Osama bin Laden, in a treacherous manner, by the gangs of the heretics and those who stray. The path irrigated with the blood of its leaders is the path of victory, Allah willing. If Abu Abdallah [Bin Laden] was killed, then he merited the Shahada (Death for Allah) which he had sought, and inscribed with his blood the landmarks of Jihad, leaving behind an entire generation that follows the path of Sheikh Osama. The military wings of the Jihad fighters in Palestine and outside of it, who have in the past lost many of their commanders and their men, will not stop. This has only strengthened their determination, their resolve and their loyalty to theirShahids (Martyrs), who have turned their words into a reality testifying to their honesty, and which in fact bolsters the drive and the strength of their brothers on the path to victory or Shahdada (Death for Allah). We say to the American and Israeli occupier: the [Islamic] nation which produced leaders who changed the course of history through their Jihad and their endurance, is a nation that is capable of supplying an abundance of new blood into the arteries of the resistance and is capable of restoring the glory of Islam and the flag of Allahs oneness, Allah willing.
In the video below, a 92-year-old Arab
woman, originally from Hevron, glowingly recalls on Hamas-Gaza TV how the Arabs
of Hevron, including her father, without provocation, massacred the peaceful
Jewish neighbors they had lived beside for years in 1929 almost 20 years
before the 1948 War of Independence. Needless to say, there was no State of
Israel then, no IDF, no "occupation" etc.
If one side glorifies those who murder civilians and the other doesn't that is a strong clue as to who is responsible for the conflict and who is not.
The other approach is to ask does one side demonize the other? The word demonize I use to indicate painting the other side as worse than they really are. The Palestinian Arabs accuse the Jews of spreading disease, of breeding rats to drive them out, of using Palestinian blood in Matzah of being apes and pigs and so forth.
Another way to judge guilt in a conflict is to examine what each side teaches their children about the other side. This is what Hamas teaches:
Once you see this you know with great likelihood the answers to the other questions.
The method I generally use for discerning truth from propaganda can be broken down into the following steps:
In the drop down menu above I have started a list of allegations that have been made. If the user clicks on the allegation they will see an application of this method to evaluate that allegation. There are other methods for discerning truth for propaganda as well. If one side is trying to create hatred toward the other side the believability of their accusations will decrease, the application of the believability test toward evaluating the innocent and guilty in the Middle East can be viewed by clicking here. Another method of evaluating the innocent and the guilty in a conflict is by the severity with which they wish to deal with their opponents. An application of this method can be viewed by clicking here. An approach to determining the truth about the causes of a conflict is to examine predictions made by people with different points of view. Those whose predictions came to pass are the ones who understand the root causes of the conflict. An application of this method can be viewed by clicking here.
Dr. Lawrence Davidson wrote a rebuttal to my article in Logos, which I have answered. To view my response to his article click here. Click on the drop down menu above to view allegations and evidence that they are fabricated.
To email me click here.