Arutz Sheva spoke to Ben Dror Yemini, journalist and author of Industry of Lies, at the Israeli American Conference (IAC) in Washington, DC about the distinction between legitimate debate and lies about Israel:
"Industry of lies is mainly about media and academia, and how they are lying - lying - about Israel. I'm not speaking about criticism. I'm not speaking about the debate that is taking place in Israel about many issues, which is a legitimate debate. I'm speaking about journalists, activists, scholars, that lie about Israel.
"They manipulate their students, they manipulate their leadership, and so many claims against Israel are actually a modern blood libel, not less than that."
We used to use the word "misconception".
"It's not a misconception, it's something that's much worse, unfortunately. Now I'm not dealing with opinions, I'm not dealing with somebody who is criticizing Israel. Fair enough, do it. Israel has no exemption from any kind of criticism. What I'm talking about is that people lie - blatant lies - about Israel. Sometimes they're not even aware that they are lying. There are blatant lies, like when somebody says that 'Israel is committing an extermination of the Palestinian people by increasing infant mortality among babies. Now.. what?! The infant mortality among Palestinians decreased dramatically - just the opposite.
"But there are some other lies that people are not even aware of. When Bernie Sanders, for example, is saying that Israel disproportionally killed innocent civilians, just like what Richard Goldstone said in his report, they have no idea what they're talking about. Because when you compare, when you check other battlefields - Fallujah, Afghanistan, whatever, you name it - even Kosovo - you find out that Israel is actually killing much less, much less, absolutely proportionally, but people don't know, and they keep on saying that Israel is retaliating in a very disproportional way."
How do you find who the liar actually is? Bernie Sanders: Is he a liar, or is he fueled by all the lies around him?
"That's a very good question. Many don't even know that they are lying. When he said what he said about the casualties in Gaza, he had no idea what he was speaking about. Eventually he even retracted, and even when he retracted, he kept on with a lie, as if 2,000 civilians were killed and not 10,000, as he said in the first place. So he doesn't even know that he's lying, but yes, this is the outcome of what he's exposed to."
One of the examples you gave during the Shabbat we were here at the conference showed that, at least when you lie, get your dates straight.We were talking about 9/11 and the IDF activity in Jenin.
"Yes, it's interesting because a professor was saying that the perpetrators, the terrorists of 9/11 did it because of the 'Jenin massacre'. There was not any massacre in Jenin, and the 'Jenin massacre' was a year after, so he did not even know how to lie."
What should be done? Is it about fighting these liars, or is it mainly about telling the people 'When you watch the news, when you read the newspaper, understand that there's this industry of lies?
"It's both. First of all, we have to expose the liars. We have to put a mirror, and tell them, 'You are lying.' But the problem is that most people - I'm speaking mainly about young students who come to universities and they hear the professors telling them about one of the worst crimes in modern history committed by Israel in '48 - the 'Naqba' - they don't know that they are manipulated. They just have no idea. They don't know that in that time, in '48, the transfer - the population exchange - was highly recommended by Churchill, by Truman, by others, they don't know. And they don't know that it happened to something like 52 million people. When they single out Israel and they say that Israel committed the crime, they are lying to their students."
What kind of responses to you get especially here and around the world? Is it like 'Ah, I didn't know', or 'You're talking nonsense'?
"All kinds of responses. Sometimes people are totally biased against Israel; they don't want to be affected by facts. 'Don't confuse me with facts', as we say in Hebrew and as we say in English. So I want to confuse people with facts. Now many people need the facts. You know what? I have news for you: Many, many pro-Israelis - pro-Israelis - who are fighting for Israel do not know the facts. When they are challenged with many questions -"
They have the spirit, they have the belief, but they don't have the facts...
"Yes. So even they need this kind of equipment of facts. You have to know, in every aspect, there are so many lies about Israel. Actually, I'd have to write ten books in order to expose it all - I wrote one book to deal with the main lies; apartheid, disproportional retaliation, war crimes, crimes against humanity, 'Naqba', historic lies; all together, that's what I tried to do. And not everybody knows my opinions. I'm not a right-winger. Because many times when you deal with lies of professors and journalists about Israel they label you as a right-winger. I'm not; I don't have to apologize about it. I'm trying to be as decent as possible. People who know me from Israel know that I criticize the current policies of the government. But it has nothing to do with to do with lies. To criticize is legitimate. To have debates about settlements yes or no is legitimate. You can have any opinions that you want; I'm not talking about that. This is now demonization, and we need to separate between lies and legitimate debate. We have to separate."