When Lying is a Strategy That Works

In his epic autobiography “Diplomacy” Henry Kissinger recorded one of his fond memories of Ronald Reagen: “… I remembered not the campaign rhetoric but the combination of common sense and epigrammatic goodwill with which Reagan conducted himself … During the Middle East War of 1973, I told him that we would replace Israeli loses in aircraft but were uncertain as to how to limit the Arab reaction. ‘Why don’t you say that you will replace all the aircraft the Arabs claim they have shot down’? Reagan suggested – a proposal that would turn the wildly inflated Arab propaganda against its originators.” (pg. 766).
50 years ago, people of common sense and goodwill knew that Arab (and Soviet) propagandists lied all the time. They lied to the West, to each other and to their own people. It is the mark of a dictatorship. What has changed? Common sense and goodwill seem to seem to have become a rare commodity. Dictatorships and autocracies still lie to be sure, but also speak their truth. Either way they are both accepted as legitimate “narrative”. If it fits the western agenda it is legitimized, parroted and echoed. If not, it is ignored or explained away.
The war Hamas waged against Israel has exemplified both of these phenomena. On the one had the explicit calls for genocide by Hamas, as apparent in their foundational charter and actions on October 7th. This is true not only for Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen but for the Iranian regime itself calling for the destruction of Israel repeatedly, publicly, for many years, and developing the means to do so. These are either ignored by western media and governments or explained away as unimportant, irrelevant, just posturing or negotiation tactics. On the other hand, false accusations against Israel for committing genocide are parroted, echoed and legitimized to the extent that a case against Israel is seriously being considered by the ICJ. It seems there is no accusation against Israel, as ridiculous and absurd at it may be, that doesn’t receive some legitimacy by the international media, placed on placards and screamed in demonstrations world-wide. Following decades of academic vilification of Israel as a colonizing, oppressive state, and Zionism as a supremacist ideology it had become easy for generations of students, now all grown up and in positions of political power and media influence, to accept these lies as truth.
There are blatant falsehoods. From the BIG lies (Genocide, apartheid, colonialism and now also famine), to absurdities like claiming Jesus as a Palestinian. There is malevolent fabrication of casualties, claims of organ harvesting and mass executions in pits by the IDF, and purposeful exaggeration of “settler violence” to create a false moral equivalency.  There are lies that are deliberately crafted as inversion of reality such as rape of Palestinian women by IDF soldiers and torturing of prisoners. A recent article in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine claimed the Israel has “mastered the information war in Gaza”. This analysis makes the incredulous claim that it is Israel, not Hamas (and its endless budget and supporters through Qatars Al Jazeera, Russia, Iran and thousands of influencers, real or bots, with millions of followers on social media) that is distributing misinformation and controlling the massaging on social media. It closes with the dumbfounding usage of the term “Israel and its proxies”, inverting the reality of Iran’s use of proxies in the middle east. The writers of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” would have been proud. Finally, there is the self-defined impartial media that does its part to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the existing paradigm – Israel, occupier/oppressor vs. Palestinian, occupied/victim. If it doesn’t fit the paradigm, it does not get reported and to hell with the truth.
This didn’t start on October 7th. Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yemini published in 2014 his meticulously researched book The Industry of Lies. In it, he methodically takes apart and debunks the vast, seemingly insurmountable collection of libelous accusations against Israel over many decades. But it goes further, deeper and longer.
Since the arrival of Jews on the world stage they have been accused of all manners of evil. As the constant ‘Civilizational Other’, they were vilified for rejecting pagan worship, considered immoral for rejecting Roman culture and humiliated by the early church to “prove” their unworthiness for God’s covenant. This organized, directed, structured humiliation and vilification over hundreds of years led to the false accusations of Deicide, host desecration and the blood liable. The first of many surfaced in the 12th century in Norwich, England. The towns Jews were accused of kidnaping 12 years old William, murdering him in the manner of Jesus’ death. In the riot that ensued dozens of Jews were murdered. In the 14th century Jews were blamed for the “Black Death” resulting in the massacre of thousands and the destruction of entire Jewish communities across Europe. There are countless other examples, persecution, expulsion and massacres, well into modern times. The Jew always represents the opposite of that which a society holds most dear. It is these beliefs that ultimately led to the ovens of Auschwitz.
Hamas’ foundational charter quotes the Protocols of Elders of Zion and Nazi propaganda. And though after the Holocaust it has become unfashionable to direct open hate and bigotry towards Jews, it became quite easy for Soviet and Arab propogandists to direct the civilizational hatred of Jews to the Jewish State. Israel has become “the Jew among the nations.” For many years these ideas were not taken seriously by a society where common sense and goodwill prevailed. That society exists no more.

Back to Kissinger: “Reagan’s rhetoric about America’s unique moral standing mirrored what almost every other president had said at one time or another in this [20th] century. What made Reagan’s particular variant of American exceptionalism unique was his literal interpretation of it as a guide to the everyday conduct of foreign policy”. (Diplomacy, pg. 767).  We need more Reagans.

Also published on:
The Times of Israel

In his epic autobiography “Diplomacy” Henry Kissinger recorded one of his fond memories of Ronald Reagen: “… I remembered not the campaign rhetoric but the combination of common sense and epigrammatic goodwill with which Reagan conducted himself … During the Middle East War of 1973, I told him that we would replace Israeli loses in aircraft but were uncertain as to how to limit the Arab reaction. ‘Why don’t you say that you will replace all the aircraft the Arabs claim they have shot down’? Reagan suggested – a proposal that would turn the wildly inflated Arab propaganda against its originators.” (pg. 766).

50 years ago, people of common sense and goodwill knew that Arab (and Soviet) propogandists lied all the time. They lied o the West, to each other and to their own people. It is the mark of a dictatorship. What has changed? Common sense and goodwill seem to seem to have become a rare commodity. Dictatorships and autocracies still lie to be sure, but also speak their truth. Either way they are both accepted as legitimate “narrative”. If it fits the western agenda it is legitimized, parroted and echoed. If not, it is ignored or explained away.

The war Hamas waged against Israel has exemplified both of these phenomena. On the one had the explicit calls for genocide by Hamas, as apparent in their foundational charter and actions on October 7th. This is true not only for Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen but for the Iranian regime itself calling for the destruction of Israel repeatedly, publicly, for many years, and developing the means to do so. These are either ignored by western media and governments or explained away as unimportant, irrelevant, just posturing or negotiation tactics. On the other hand, false accusations against Israel for committing genocide are parroted, echoed and legitimized to the extent that a case against Israel is seriously being considered by the ICJ.

It seems there is no accusation against Israel, as ridiculous and absurd at it may be, that doesn’t receive some legitimacy by the international media, placed on placards and screamed in demonstrations world-wide. Following decades of academic vilification of Israel as a colonizing, oppressive state, and Zionism as a supremacist ideology it had become easy for generations of students, now all grown up and in positions of political power and media influence, to accept these lies as truth.

There are blatant falsehoods. From the BIG lies (Genocide, apartheid, colonialism and now also famine), to absurdities like claiming Jesus as a Palestinian. There is malevolent fabrication of casualties, claims of organ harvesting and mass executions in pits by the IDF, and purposeful exaggeration of “settler violence” to create a false moral equivalency.  There are lies that are deliberately crafted as inversion of reality such as rape of Palestinian women by IDF soldiers and torturing of prisoners. A recent article in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine claimed the Israel has “mastered the information war in Gaza”. This analysis makes the incredulous claim that it is Israel, not Hamas (and its endless budget and supporters through Qatars Al Jazeera, Russia, Iran and thousands of influencers, real or bots, with millions of followers on social media) that is distributing misinformation and controlling the massaging on social media. It closes with the dumbfounding usage of the term “Israel and its proxies”, inverting the reality of Iran’s use of proxies in the middle east. The writers of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” would have been proud. Finally, there is the self-defined impartial media that does its part to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the existing paradigm – Israel, occupier/oppressor vs. Palestinian, occupied/victim. If it doesn’t fit the paradigm, it does not get reported and to hell with the truth.

This didn’t start on October 7th. Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yemini published in 2014 his meticulously researched book The Industry of Lies. In it, he methodically takes apart and debunks the vast, seemingly insurmountable collection of libelous accusations against Israel over many decades. But it goes further, deeper and longer.

Since the arrival of Jews on the world stage they have been accused of all manners of evil. As the constant ‘Civilizational Other’, they were vilified for rejecting pagan worship, considered immoral for rejecting Roman culture and humiliated by the early church to “prove” their unworthiness for God’s covenant. This organized, directed, structured humiliation and vilification over hundreds of years led to the false accusations of Deicide, host desecration and the blood liable. The first of many surfaced in the 12th century in Norwich, England. The towns Jews were accused of kidnaping 12 years old William, murdering him in the manner of Jesus’ death. In the riot that ensued dozens of Jews were murdered. In the 14th century Jews were blamed for the “Black Death” resulting in the massacre of thousands and the destruction of entire Jewish communities across Europe. There are countless other examples, persecution, expulsion and massacres, well into modern times. The Jew always represents the opposite of that which a society holds most dear. It is these beliefs that ultimately led to the ovens of Auschwitz.

Hamas’ foundational charter quotes the Protocols of Elders of Zion and Nazi propaganda. And though after the Holocaust it has become unfashionable to direct open hate and bigotry towards Jews, it became quite easy for Soviet and Arab propogandists to direct the civilizational hatred of Jews to the Jewish State. Israel has become “the Jew among the nations.” For many years these ideas were not taken seriously by a society where common sense and goodwill prevailed. That society exists no more.

Back to Kissinger: “Reagan’s rhetoric about America’s unique moral standing mirrored what almost every other president had said at one time or another in this [20th] century. What made Reagan’s particular variant of American exceptionalism unique was his literal interpretation of it as a guide to the everyday conduct of foreign policy”. (Diplomacy, pg. 767). We need more Reagans.

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