Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Death of a hoaxer

As longtime readers know, I have an interest in the perpetrators of political hoaxes. One of my heroes is Leo Taxil, the grandest leg-yanker of 'em all. ("Hero" may be the wrong word; he was more of a lovable rascal.)

Although good old Leo was in it mostly for the lulz (and the francs), most political hoaxers have had more troubling motives. The most notorious forgery in history is a literary obscenity called The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the original intent of which seems to have been the manipulation of Czar Nicholas II.

In 1984, a pro-Zionist counterpart to the Protocols forgery appeared: From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters (real name: Joan Caro). Her recent death has renewed interest in her important contribution to the genre of historical deception.

This book propounds the absurd argument that the land of Israel was largely empty before the Jews migrated to the area, and that the Palestinians now trapped in Gaza and the West Bank were actually Johnny-come-lately Arab immigrants who showed up in the 20th century. This outrageous falsehood is still promulgated in many quarters -- for example, in the cyber-pages of The Jerusalem Post.
Peters’ 1984 book, From Time Immemorial, began as a sort of defense of the Palestinian view that Jews wrenched Palestine from peace-loving Arab farmers. As her research advanced, Peters discovered quite a different narrative, namely that Arabs had begun mass immigration to the region in the late 19th century, on the heels of Jewish immigration. It seems jobs started to become plentiful.
Pure bullshit. No truly independent scholar believes this nonsense.

The scholar who did more than anyone else to demolish Peters' hallucinatory narrative was Norman Finkelstein, who painstakingly went through all of Peters' citations and found that she consistently misread and selectively quoted her sources. Wikipedia offers a good summary of Finkelstein's critique. Finkelstein:
The periodicals in which From Time Immemorial had already been favorably reviewed refused to run any critical correspondence (e.g. The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Commentary). Periodicals that had yet to review the book rejected a manuscript on the subject as of little or no consequence (e.g. The Village Voice, Dissent, The New York Review of Books). Not a single national newspaper or columnist contacted found newsworthy that a best-selling, effusively praised 'study' of the Middle East conflict was a threadbare hoax."
In the video embedded above, Finkelstein tells the story in an a very engaging fashion. But it is important to note that he was hardly the sole critic...
Reviewing the book for the November 28, 1985 issue of The New York Times, Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath described the book as a "sheer forgery," stating, "In Israel, at least, the book was almost universally dismissed as sheer rubbish except maybe as a propaganda weapon."[20] In 1986, Porath repeated his views in The New York Review of Books, and published a negative review that cites many inaccuracies.
Porath's review may be found here. His final paragraph:
I am reluctant to bore the reader and myself with further examples of Mrs. Peters’s highly tendentious use—or neglect—of the available source material. Much more important is her misunderstanding of basic historical processes and her failure to appreciate the central importance of natural population increase as compared to migratory movements. Readers of her book should be warned not to accept its factual claims without checking their sources. Judging by the interest that the book aroused and the prestige of some who have endorsed it, I thought it would present some new interpretation of the historical facts. I found none. Everyone familiar with the writing of the extreme nationalists of Zeev Jabotinsky’s Revisionist party (the forerunner of the Herut party) would immediately recognize the tired and discredited arguments in Mrs. Peters’s book. I had mistakenly thought them long forgotten. It is a pity that they have been given new life.
For some interesting backstory on this controversy, see this piece by Noam Chomsky. (That link goes to an interview available on YouTube which I'm too tired to look up.) Even though scholars have demolished the veracity of From Time Immemorial, and even though Daniel Pipes and Elie Weisel came to admit, grudgingly, that something was deeply wrong with this book, obvious pro-Israel trolls have planted laudatory reviews of Peters' work on Amazon. These plaudits are worth a read, especially the ones that are totally over-the-top. 
"A pro-Zionist counterpart to the Protocols forgery." If you need to know why the Jews require the safety of a homeland, if you fail to see how anti-Semitism is so ingrained and minimized — you need to examine the insidious points of view of Jew-haters. But no one is so blind as a person who refuses to see, so my guess is you won't get it. Even the massacre in France doesn't slow you down or give you pause. You are exactly the reason Israel must exist.
Perhaps if any and all criticism of Israel was not labeled antisemitism, maybe antisemitism would not be "ingrained". "Minimized"??? What rock do you live under??? Not bowing to the leaders of Israel is the one unforgivable sin, at least in the USA. Jews are NOT the problem. Israel is (if you don't think there is a different, then YOU are the problem).
There are legitimate criticisms of Israel. To accuse it of murder and racism obscures those criticisms. To declare that Israel should be invaded (by who? America? Really? or by the Palestinians, who would, if they could and would then murder as many Jews as possible?) And to what end? When the Allies invaded Italy it wasn't to put all the Italians on boats and empty the country of Italians.
Don't get too excited. I have figured this site out. It is a Mossad plant. Have you ever seen Joseph Cannon and Bibi Netanyahu in the same room at the same time? Hmmmm... The idea is to gather as many anti-semites at one site and then to send secret radio waves through their keyboards and turn them into paranoid, raving lunatics that no one will take seriously. You can see the effectiveness of this technique as they use words that have only a private meaning, such as murder, racism, apartheid and fascism. Uh oh, I'd better get out of here before it starts affecting me. Starting... feel... gobblygood.....
Except, murder and racism are, in fact, legitimate criticisms of Israel. Again, have you been living under a rock?

I'm not necessarily with Cannon on the idea of invading Israel. I would much prefer Israelis to fix the problems with their government themselves. Not many seem very interested in that, however, and the US government certainly isn't. The purpose of invasion, I would assume, would be to create an actual democracy (i.e. not a nation based on ancient religious claims that were never valid in the first place) and to give the Palestinians an actual autonomous nation of their own.
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