Increasingly, when people around the world are confronted with problems or difficult situations, their answers boil down to one simple reply: the Jewish state did it.
Perhaps the most recent example of this pervasive “Blame Israel” game came from Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, who laid a grave charge at Israel, accusing it – incredibly – of causing the recent protests and unrest in Egypt and of engineering Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s overthrow.
Facing incredulity at this far-fetched charge, Prime Minister Erdogan held his ground: he had a smoking gun, he said, a document that supposedly “proved” this nefarious plot.
His “proof,” it turns out, was a videotape of a 2011 question-and-answer session following a public lecture given in Israel by the French Jewish philosopher Bernhard Henri Levy, during which Levy mused that if the Muslim Brotherhood (the party of Mohammed Morsi) ever took over in Egypt, there might, possibly, be popular domestic opposition to it.
No matter that Erdogan’s “proof” of Israel’s involvement was ludicrous. He – the head of state of one of the world’s most populous and sophisticated nations – was nevertheless able to get away with blaming Israel for events beyond its control – with no serious consequences to his credibility.
Erdogan is hardly alone in playing the “Blame Israel” game.
Egypt’s most popular newspaper recently also reported an Israeli “plot” – but it charged that Israel was behind the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in placing Mohammed Morsi in power to begin with (The Economist 31/8/13).
It seems no conspiracy theory is too outlandish when the Jewish state is concerned.
Amid the turmoil in Syria, particularly, the “Blame Israel” game is in full swing.
According to Ynetnews.com, Syrian rebels have recently said they know who’s to blame for the fact President Bashar al-Assad continues to remain in power. (You guessed it: Israel.)
After Syrian government forces gassed over 1,400 rebels – including 426 children – near Damascus on August 21, Iranian officials got into the Blame Israel game too, with chilling results.
Blaming Israel for Syria’s turmoil, Iran declared any intervention in Syria would result in an Iranian attack on – you guessed it – the Jewish state.
This particular piece of the Blame Israel game resulted in Israelis queuing to receive gas masks and seal “safe-rooms” in their homes in preparation for a possible gas attack.
Meanwhile, a British MP, George Galloway, voiced a unique twist on the “Blame Israel” game: apparently, he claims, it was Al-Qaida, not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Assad, who gassed hundreds of civilians – with the help of guess who – the Jewish state. (His lunacy of claiming that Israel cooperates with the Islamist terrorist organization Al-Qaida was never explained.)
It’s not only current events that are being blamed on Israel – the “Blame Israel” game has a long and destructive history.
In 2010, a regional Egyptian official blamed Israel for a deadly shark attack on a German tourist. (Apparently Israelis were supposed to have nefariously placed the shark in the ocean for this very purpose.)
After the 2012 terrorist bombing in Burges, Bulgaria, in which six Israeli tourists were killed (later found to the be the work of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah), Iran’s ambassador to the UN blamed Israel, saying it was the only nation capable of planning and carrying out such a horrific attack.
In 2009, a popular Swedish newspaper wrote that Israel was killing people for their body parts. The following year, a Liberal-Democrat member of Britain’s House of Lords, Baroness Jenny Tongue, accused Israel of possibly setting up a field hospital in Haiti after the major earthquake there in order to steal organs from Haitians, and called for an inquiry.
Even some of the most heavily-investigated events in recent memory – which have no connection with the Jewish state – have been blamed on Israel.
Twelve years after the New York and Washington DC terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for instance, it remains common “knowledge” among large swathes of the population that Israel was behind the attacks. This canard has been repeated by individuals as diverse as senior Muslim politicians, newspaper editorial boards in Egypt, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, the former poet laureate of New Jersey, and populist European newspapers and politicians.
And after the massacre of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, Iran’s state-backed news service reported that it wasn’t Adam Lanza who perpetrated the massacre after all, but – you guessed it: Israel.
According to the Guardian, in 2010, an emeritus Italian Biship, Giacomo Babini, even blamed Israel for the many reports of child abuse by Catholic priests.
And some of the most popular Turkish and Arabic television dramas in recent years have taken the “Blame Israel” game even further, depicting Israelis as horrifically cruel and heartless, murdering babies and abusing elderly people with impunity.
Dangerously, once we create a culture of blaming the Jewish state for disparate (and improbable) events, it becomes easy to take the next step and extend the hatred to Jewish people too.
What can we do? As Yom Kippur approaches and we start a new year, let’s resolve to examine our actions, resolve to become people who stand up for truth, and take the initiative to speak out against unfair or bizarre criticisms of the Jewish state.
Try getting in the habit of reading Israeli newspapers on-line, or sign up for reports from Israeli news services.
When specific instances of blaming Israel are in the news, media monitoring sources like www.Honestreporting.com are invaluable sources for information and tips in combating anti-Israel bias.
Most of all, resolve to stand up to the “Blame Israel” game. This year, let’s try to expose egregious accusations against the Jewish state for the nonsense they are.