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Blood Libels Manufactured in Israel

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Last week the Jerusalem Post and the New York Jewish Week published articles in which I accused Haaretz of promoting blood libels by providing credence to unsubstantiated gossip alleging that Israeli soldiers were indulging in war crimes.A few days ago the IDF Advocate General released the findings of his investigation which provided a shocking exposé of how a leading Israeli newspaper and the head of an Israeli pre military academy had collaborated in a venture which led to IDF soldiers being falsely vilified as war criminals in front page headlines throughout the world.Far from expressing remorse or apologizing, Haaretz urged the army to check Arab testimonies!

The outcome of this scandal did not receive the coverage it warranted because the media is preoccupied with the new government.

To me, this episode highlights the depths to which an Israeli newspaper has fallen in its frenzied pursuit of a political agenda that the vast majority of Israelis would reject.

In view of the importance of the issue, I have completely revised my original articles which also appeared in the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom and written a new version which incorporates the most recent information and evaluates this outrageous episode in which Israel’s reputation was dragged into the mire by a small group of politically motivated fanatics.

I suggest that you disseminate this article. I do so because it is of enormous importance that Jews and Christians appreciate the truth and understand that, in contrast to the lies being disseminated throughout the global media, the IDF today is still unquestionably the most moral army in the world.

As we approach Pesach, our festival of freedom, I wish you and all your families Chag Kasher veSameach.

Isi Leibler

Blood Libels Manufactured in Israel

By Isi Leibler

In highlighting what was subsequently proven to be outright falsehoods about IDF soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian civilians, the daily Haaretz has behaved in an unconscionable manner and inflicted enormous damage to Israel’s global standing, already severely battered in the wake of other false accusations of war crimes.

At a pre military college a number of soldiers made unsubstantiated allegations concerning acts of indiscriminate killing and vandalism perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. It subsequently transpired that the key “witnesses” were relying entirely on gossip they had heard and had not even served in Gaza. They even confessed that although they were unaware that they were being taped, they had exaggerated rumors in order to “make an impact” and convey their message “powerfully”. The allegations were neither verified nor considered within the context of threats such as suicide bombers. Nor was the IDF granted advance notice to provide a response.

The accusers not only alleged that IDF soldiers had indulged in atrocities against Palestinians but also claimed that they were motivated by fanatical IDF rabbis who “anointed us with oil and stuck holy books into our hands”. They provided “booklets filled with Psalms….we could have filled the room with the Psalms they sent” and that Goyim invading our sacred land had to be expelled. The obscene implication that soldiers were brainwashed by zealous rabbis to initiate killing sprees has chilling parallels to the blood libels of the Middle Ages promoted by apostates who turned on their own people. The truth is that the defamed religious Zionist soldiers and officers are renowned for their patriotism and frequently held up as role models of dedication and self-sacrifice. They also volunteer to serve in IDF combat units in far greater numbers than their proportion of the population.

There is another element involved. The pre military academy in which these “exposures” were aired is headed by one Danny Zamir, who upon providing the IDF with the so-called testimony refused to identify the informants. Nor did he wait for the military authorities to ascertain the veracity of the charges, but rushed to release his “scoop” to Haaretz.

Mr. Zamir is no innocent bystander and has a record. In 1990, then a parachute company commander, he was tried and sentenced to 28 days in prison for refusing to obey orders to protect those whom he referred to as “right-wingers” at a ceremony at Joseph’s tomb in Shechem, then under IDF supervision. In 2004, in a book titled “Refusenik: Israel’s Soldiers of Conscience” endorsed by Noam Chomsky the icon of anti-Israeli academics, Zamir published a crie de coeur justifying his refusal to obey military orders, in the process of which he attacked the IDF and denied that Israel was a democratic state.

This begs the question. How could the IDF possibly approve a major pre military academy headed by a post-Zionist radical convicted for refusing to obey military orders? It would certainly be inconceivable for a religious officer who had rejected orders to be appointed head of a religious pre military academy. Zamir expressed no remorse after the IDF findings. His only concern was that “if soldiers will now feel that they cannot talk because of the outcome of this specific story, then this will be bad for us as a society and army”. In the light of all this the fact that Zamir is still permitted to retain his present role surely borders on the insane.

These unsubstantiated accusations received front page prominence day after day in the Israeli Haaretz whose editorial policy and columnists like Gidon Levy and Amira Hass maintain ongoing campaigns to demonize their governments. Few would deny that in recent years Haaretz, notably its English internet edition – has more effectively damaged Israel’s image in the Western world than all the Arab anti-Israeli propaganda combined. With the anti-Semitic tsunami now enveloping the world, most of the global media including the New York Times carried blazing front page headlines highlighting these false allegations and demonizing Israelis as war criminals.

Even after the Military Advocate General had denounced the atrocity stories published by Haaretz to be “categorically false” and “purposely exaggerated”, instead of apologizing, Haaretz repeated the accusations and argued that the army had failed to address testimonies given to the foreign media by Palestinians renowned for providing fabricated allegations of atrocities They added sarcastically that the IDF findings suggested that “either the troops are liars or the IDF is as pure as snow”.

For Israel this has been a no-win situation. All wars incur civilian casualties. Yet every element of objective evidence confirms that despite confronting an enemy which deliberately targets Israeli civilians, the IDF went far beyond any other army in implementing a code of ethics and endeavored to minimize civilian casualties. This despite the fact that Hamas ruthlessly employed civilians as human shields, encouraged their militias to masquerade as innocent civilians and transformed hospitals, schools and mosques into bunkers and arsenals. Which other country under such circumstances would not only drop leaflets but actually telephone hundreds of thousands of civilians providing them with advance notice to evacuate?

Contrary to the figures presented by Hamas, the final casualty tally disclosed that 800 terrorists and 300 civilians were killed. That relatively so few civilians died in such grim urban warfare is truly a tribute to the IDF. For us to now be accused of war crimes is to turn the world upside down.

That is not to deny that in every military conflict, aberrations and brutalities occur. But any Israeli soldier found violating the army’s strict ethical code will swiftly and transparently be brought to justice, as in the past. Even if the false allegations had contained an element of truth – which was not the case – depicting them as the norm would be equivalent to using Jack the Ripper to besmirch the British as a nation of cutthroat barbarians.

IDF Advocate General Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit in closing the case said “It will be difficult to estimate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers in Israel and throughout the world by these statements”. It is surely obscene that neither Haaretz nor Zamir have yet seen fit to apologize or express remorse for the untold damage they have inflicted on the nation. Who needs enemies when, at a time when every anti-Semite is salivating to find means to demonize the Jewish state, we have an Israeli newspaper exploiting freedom of expression not to expose injustice but to disseminate unsubstantiated and false allegations, providing ammunition to all who seek to harm if not to destroy us?

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