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Fabricated Language

Israel and its allies have a long history of distorting the speeches of Arab leaders.

George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

From the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially after the 1942 Biltmore Conference, Zionist leaders focused most of their propaganda efforts on the United States. In that year, future Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion chose to move the Zionist Congress from Europe to the United States, in an effort to situate the movement within the framework of the “free world,” even while Israel was being successfully sold to the Soviet Union as a socialist experiment.

The trend continued. After Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed power in Egypt in 1952, Israel calculated that this charismatic and popular pan-Arab leader would be its most formidable foe. There were massive efforts at convincing Western audiences that Nasser was the second coming of Hitler.

But Nasser was a very frustrating target. He was a secular who was always careful in his rhetoric. He never maligned Jews, and always expressed his belief that Arabs should not harbor any ill will toward Jews qua Jews. Nevertheless, Zionists went to work. But they could only find a lone interview with an Indian journalist in which Nasser, allegedly, made a reference to the grotesque forgery that is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In 1964, Israeli elites turned their focus to the new leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmad Shuqayri. They claimed that he had threatened to “throw Jews into the sea.” And no matter how many times Shuqayri challenged Zionists to come up with the citation, or any sort of corroboration, and no matter much he agitated to prove his innocence — indeed, to his last days, in his two memoirs — they made the lie stick. Indeed, a Google search of Shuqayri’s name will turn up this invented quotation.

The same went for Yasser Arafat, who assumed leadership of the PLO in 1969. Arafat was called a terrorist and a tool of international communism during the Cold War.

The notoriously sensationalist journalist, Oriana Fallaci, even made up a quotation by the thoughtful George Habash, who never in his long career as head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, ever insulted Jews or Judaism — unlike Zionist leaders who casually insult and malign Arabs and Muslims. Fallaci claimed in Life Magazine that Habash had said, “We believe that to kill a Jew far from the battleground has more of an effect than killing one hundred of them in battle.”

Zionists also distorted the pronouncements of Iranian leaders after the 1979 revolution. While former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made quite a few dumb and insulting statements regarding the Holocaust, Zionists distorted the words and have alleged threats of war by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Yet Khamanei has made his position clear: “We recommend neither a classical war by the army of Muslim countries nor to throw migrated Jews at sea.”

As Hezbollah developed into a formidable enemy to Israel, and after repeatedly humiliating the Israeli army on the battlefield, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, became a favorite target for Zionist propagandists. After the September 11 attacks, Zionists fabricated a call by Nasrallah in which he allegedly urged Palestinians to undertake suicide attacks “worldwide.” The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation conducted an extensive search and could not find any source for this statement except in an article in the Jewish Week.

The quotation was not sourced.

And when Hezbollah produced its authoritative political document in December 2009, it said explicitly “our problem with them [Zionists] is not because they are Jewish,” and added in the section on Zionism: “[The conflict] is not based on ethnic, religious, or racial confrontation on our part.” This portion of the document was ignored by Western media.

Ever since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, US outlets have alleged, without any evidence, that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Nasrallah have been using anti-Sunni sectarian rhetoric when neither of them speak in these terms  — unlike the “pro-Western” Saudi and Hariri media in the Middle East. (Nor has anything said been comparable to the words of the infamous pro-Saudi cleric ‘Ar ‘ur, who threatened to place Alawites in a “meat grinder.”)

Late last month, both the New York Times and the Washington Post distorted the contents of a speech by Nasrallah to make him seem either sectarian — against Sunnis, even though he consistently steers clear of any sectarian language — or dogmatically religious in his attack on the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

As the New York Times wrote, “Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, denounced the Saudi-led operation Friday, accusing the kingdom of unleashing Sunni extremists like Al Qaeda against Shiites elsewhere.” This is a total fabrication. Nasrallah only made one sectarian reference in the speech, when he said that Iran supports Hamas and other Palestinian groups who are Sunnis. And he prefaced his remarks by apologizing to the audience for using the sectarian language that he consciously avoids.

He never stated that they send Sunnis against Shiites. In every reference that Nasrallah makes about Takfiri groups, he goes out of his way to say that they pose the greatest danger to Sunni Muslims. He did indeed accuse Saudi Arabia of sending terrorists to Iraq, but in very different terms.

Yet the Washington Post reported: “In a lengthy speech Friday night, the Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah poured scorn on Saudi Arabia’s attempt to influence the outcome of the Yemeni conflict, saying that it is doomed to fail ‘because these are the laws of God.’” In fact, this was part of a humorous section of the speech when Nasrallah mocked the Saudi regime and said that they follow the religion of Bush. Playing the role of conquerors and occupiers, they can only fail — his reasoning was quite secular.

These distortions are no outlier. Whether it’s Nasrallah or Nasser or Habash, when it comes to the enemies of Israel, you can’t trust what you read about their rhetoric and speeches in the mainstream media of the West.