Prof. Steven PlautSteven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of "The Scout" (available from Gefen Publishing House). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog, as well as in numerous electronic and print newspapers.
Of course, Haaretz would not be the only paper accusing Israel of such things as poisoning innocent Arabs. Al-Ahram has done so repeatedly (see this online edition of the newspaper from March, 2003). Various papers have claimed that Israel is planning to poison Hamas and Jihad terrorists around the world (not that this would be such a bad idea). Numerous webs sites accuse Israel of using poison against Arabs, although these sites often also deny there was ever any Nazi Holocaust of the Jews.
In recent months, the media have repeatedly run "news stories" amounting to little more than sensational anti-Semitic libels, little better than the filth spread in the Middle Ages. Stories of Jews poisoning wells and torturing and carrying our medieval atrocities. Some of these were spread in the Arab press, others spread by the Far Left Israeli Professors for a Second Holocaust. Even Suha, the bovine spouse of His Ugliness Yasser Arafat, insisted the Jews poison Arab wells, while The Hillary sat and clapped politely.
Among these was a story about Israeli soldiers carving a Red Star of David in the arm of an Arab boy. It turned out to be a red Star of David on a band-aid of the sort routinely provided by Israel's Red Magen David (Israel?s emergency medical relief agency, like the Red Cross). Several Israeli leftist professors had posted that ?story? on web sites, without the band-aid clarification. Then there were the tall tales of evil settlers tossing Arab children out of windows, which proved to be nothing more than the wild imagination of the Levantine Lunatic Fringe. There was that story a few years back of Israel shooting poison gas into an Arab girls? school and causing mass panic. Turned out the "poison gas" was pollen from flowers in season.
Then there were the urban legends, spread by the PLO and its amen choruses, about Israeli choppers dropping poisoned candy in Gaza. There were the Arab ?news reports? about Jewish settlers poisoning the farm animals of Arabs, a lie financed by the European Union, by the way (http://www.poica.org/casestudies/aqraba3-9-01/). The ?man with the pubic hair on his face? at the Palestinian Authority told CNN on February 15, 2001, that Israel was using poison gas against Palestinians. Palestine Chronicle, a web site of choice for many Israeli Jewish leftist professors, has repeated the fibs (http://www.palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20021223231050753), as has the misnamed Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). And so on and so on.
Some of the same media outfits insisting we must all be skeptical about Saddam?s weapons of mass destruction, now hidden in Syria, until scientific proof emerges, have never felt the need for any empirical evidence to prove any of these Levantine lies about Israel.
The Jenin operation gave birth to oodles of such stories. Like Israel blowing up a hospital wing that it turns out never existed and had never been built. Or like Israel committing mass murders of Jenin civilians and other ?war crimes?. This went on until the UN investigated and found there was no massacre at all, and even Shimon Peres confirmed that less than 20 civilians died in Jenin - less than in the Netanya Passover massacre that triggered the incursion in the first place.
It is against such a background that we read the latest anti-Semitic blood libel, this time in Haaretz, June 23, 2003. Haaretz has a long history of running lurid stories about the alleged abuses of Arabs by ?settlers?. Haaretz? Amira Hass got convicted in court for libel a few years back because of one such story that turned out to be a fabrication. In general, if one takes a Haaretz story about ?settlers? and replaces the term ?settler? with ?Jew?, one would have a ready-made feature that could fit comfortably onto any neonazi web site.
On June 23, Haaretz ran a story about yet another atrocity committed by the Jews against the poor oppressed Arabs. I reprint the headline for you here: "Soldier charged with making Palestinian woman drink poison,? by Gideon Alon and Amos Harel. The opening paragraph of the story began: "A woman soldier was yesterday charged with forcing a Palestinian woman at gunpoint to drink a highly toxic liquid that made her blind and that caused external and internal burns that needed hospital treatment. "
Now, before telling you the real story, let us note the ease with which Haaretz, which some have suggested seeks to be Israel's main Hebrew Palestinian newspaper, chose to print out such a story. I am curious whether the people involved will sue the paper?s derriere for libel.
So, what really happened? And what is Haaretz writing about? Well, it turns out Israeli soldiers are on alert for Arabs trying to smuggle bottles of poison into Israeli areas to try to mass-murder Jews for peace. There have already been attempts by Palestinians at protesting ?occupation? via mass poisoning of Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Three peace partners were arrested on September 9, 2002, and charged with trying to use poison to mass murder customers in a caf?. Even the BBC reported that one (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2259855.stm)! On April 26, 2002, a Palestinian plot to poison the Israeli water supply with cyanide was uncovered. The Palestinians have repeatedly laced the bombs set off by suicide bombers with various poisons, although ?fortunately? (if that is the correct word) these tend to be incinerated in the explosions.
A month or so ago, a woman soldier was at a checkpoint when a Palestinian woman carrying a suspicious-looking bottle tried to pass through. The soldierette asked what the bottle contains. The woman says water. Good, says the soldierette, prove that to me by taking a swig and then you can go through.
Now, before continuing, let me put this dramatic saga into its proper context. Last summer, I was checking in with the family at the Tokyo airport when the Tokyo security people decided to give the Plaut family an extra-thorough inspection, what with their suspicious Middle East faces and a Harry Potter book in Hebrew and all. The family accepted the extra attention with equanimity, understanding and even happiness, encouraging the Japanese to inspect as thoroughly as possible, to their hearts? content. The guards opened one bag and found a bottle of clear liquid. ?What is this?? they asked in broken English. Allergy medicine for junior, we replied. ?Prove it, oh distinguished tourist-san,? says the guard. With pleasure, replies the Mrs. and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-in-the-Plaut-Household. She dips her pinky in the liquid and gives youngest son a lick of it to prove it is not nitroglycerin or any other bad stuff. Multi-lingual smiles and handshakes later, we boarded our plane for Honolulu, none the worse for the inspection, and junior's allergy even slightly improved.
I mention all this, because the Israeli soldierette and heroine of the Haaretz scoop did exactly the same thing as the Tokyo security guards, with far more justification, and simply followed a very similar routine. Of course, as it turned out, the Palestinian madame was carrying a dangerous poisonous substance. When soldierette demanded that the woman prove the substance was harmless water by taking a chug-a-lug, she was following reasonable procedures. Oded Savorai, the soldier's defense attorney, claims the soldier?s version of events is corroborated by others present. The Palestinian woman chugged and lugged and collapsed and was hospitalized, at Israeli taxpayer expense, while the soldierette was tossed into the military clink.
Now if you read the small print in the Haaretz article, then you might figure out what the actual story here is. But if you only read the headline, you will have a great deal of trouble distinguishing it from those in certain other newspapers and web sites - those with a slightly different political agenda, which does not necessarily include the survival of Israel and Jews.
Steven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of The Scout (available from Gefen Publishing House: http://22.214.171.124/shop/indi_scout.htm). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog.