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Endless lies about the Jews & Israel

By SHMULEY BOTEACH
Jerusalem Post; Apr. 28, 2004

 

UN special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi - a man who is purportedly meant to be neutral - recently told French radio that "the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians." Brahimi then told ABC television that the brutal, repressive Israelis "are not interested in peace, no matter what you seem to believe in America."
Normally, the Israeli and Jewish response to such silly lies, which contradicts all the facts of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is to roll our eyes and to dismiss such stupid allegations as beneath contempt - Brahimi as yet another UN anti-Semite.

But it is my contention that this attitude of not battling lies like Brahimi's so as not to dignify the remark is the main reason that Israel has lost the public relations battle. It's time to wake up and smell the hatred. There are those who would believe we have horns under our yarmulkes unless we prove that we don't.

Hence, are we really surprised that the world believes that tiny Israel is the cause of most of the strife in the Middle East, and that six million Israelis are oppressing four hundred million Arabs? Indeed, while debating a leading Arab editor at Oxford University, he stated plainly that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is what brought Saddam Hussein to power, and hundreds of the most intelligent students in the world nodded their heads in agreement.

Larry David's hit HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm recently featured a show that revolved around the idea that Orthodox Jews have sex through a sheet with a hole in the middle. Countless lectures around the world have confirmed to me that the vast majority of people actually believe that this is true.

My response to the audience members who believed this used to be that the Jewish law allowing a couple to have sex with a sheet with a hole in the middle is actually a very lenient rabbinic position and is practiced mostly by Reform Jews.

The truly Orthodox usually don full body armor before sex (the modern Orthodox often substitute football pads and helmet), while the Hassidic community takes it a step further and mandates that the husband and wife be in separate rooms while having sex through a hole in the wall.

Still other rabbis further to the Right insist that husband and wife be in two different cities and have sex by fax and e-mail. As for those couples who do actually use a sheet with a hole in the middle, the law maintains that there be a flashing neon arrow saying, "Insert here," to ensure that everything goes smoothly in the carnal act.

Rashi adds that the size of the hole, of course, is variable, depending on the needs of the individual user.

IN OTHER words, I make fun of their beliefs. I couldn't accept that intelligent people could believe such incredible lies about Jews.

But I have since learned otherwise: No lie is too absurd to be eagerly gobbled up. First, we were charged with having killed god. Then, that we poisoned the wells of Europe during the Black Death. Next, that we tortured the crackers of the Eucharist in an effort to cause suffering to Jesus, whose flesh was embodied in the wafer.

After that, that we slaughtered Christian children and drank their blood like vampires. Of course, plotting and scheming to take over the world is an ongoing conspiracy charge against the Jews that is still believed by billions of people.

Most Jews are at a loss as to how to combat the torrent of lies about Israel. Amid unending pressure throughout the ages, we have categorically refused to assimilate and become Christian or Muslim, and we have therefore been portrayed as weird, untrustworthy, even satanic.

But whatever the motive for the character assassination of the Jews, it's time we adopted a policy wherein every single falsehood about Jews and Israel - without exception - is combated.

Israel chose not to even send a delegation to the hearing about the security fence at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Fair enough. Israel was concerned not to empower an international body to determine how it should best defend its citizens.

But why weren't Israel's best spokespeople on TV day and night to point out that even the pope - who has condemned the security barrier - travels around in what looks like a glass Alcatraz to protect him from assassins. And who could blame him? After all, he was shot in 1981.

Over Pessah, I was a scholar-in-residence in Puerto Rico, where I gave lectures proving that the Jews did not kill Jesus and that Israel was the victim of Arab aggression. A wise man came to me and said that he believed that subjects like these should be standard in Jewish day schools. Every Jew should be equipped, as part of his or her basic education, to respond to lies about our people.

Why isn't the true history of the Palestinian refugees, for example, taught in Jewish day schools so that when young Jewish professionals go out into the world they can respond to non-Jewish co-workers' false impressions of Israeli oppression?

The best way to combat lies is at the grass-roots level rather than even through professional PR. Jews may not use a sheet with a hole for sex. But they do need a wall without holes to stop suicide bombers.

And unless we can convince the world of the justice of our cause, they will continue to throw barriers in the path of our barriers.

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