Gaza: The Goebsie Big Lie-Blood Libel Awards

Today, I will reveal the honorees for First Annual—okay, they might have to be more frequent—Big Lie-Blood Libel Awards, for the individuals or collectives who have done the most recently to promote the Big Lie and the Blood Libel against the Jewish people.

But first: Just as the holy, peaceful, month of Ramadan—including four sacred Fridays and the feast of Eid-al-Fitr—blessedly passed with none of the predicted Islamic violence on the Temple Mount (the Noble Sanctuary), in the Middle East, and throughout the world, so the martial, belligerent, massive, unprecedented attack on Israel last night passed with virtually no damage. The coalition that completely blocked the attack included the US, the UK, France, and Jordan shooting down Iranian missiles and drones and Saudi Arabia providing logistic support. Imagine the degree of cooperation that such coordinated response must have involved. Now imagine the formidable coalition that will follow the war, annealed by alliance against this attack. My brother likens the attack to an amateur boxer throwing a hundred punches none of which lands, then waiting with tired arms for the professional blow that will pop his lights out. Now we’ll see what punch Israel uses. Its stock market finished higher today.

Timeline of deaths with blood libelers

But back to our Big Lie-Blood Libel Awards, known colloquially as Goebbsies in honor of Joseph Goebbels, the master propagandist who put it to history’s most effective use.

The chart above shows today’s Goebbsie honorees against the timeline of the dramatically declining deaths in Gaza since the war started. These are total deaths in successive two-week periods (the blue line) as provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and reported by the United Nations. There are many reasons to doubt these numbers, which are almost certainly over-estimates, but I am accepting them for present purposes because I want to focus on the steep decline—by Hamas’s numbers—and the remarkable fact that the lower the number of deaths got, the bigger the Big Lie got and the Bloodier the Blood Libel got as well. Five of the six Big Lies and Blood Libels shown here were smeared on Israel and the Jews when the number of deaths was about one quarter of what it was in the first month of the war—and declining.

Some background. The Blood Libel is the accusation that Jews ritually kill Christian children before Passover and use their blood to make Matzoh. It existed by the 12th century and has occurred ever since, although not every year. It frequently resulted in pogroms and severe persecution of the Jews where the belief spread. It is also a Big Lie, since it was repeated so often that many believed it. It even became part of Nazi propaganda.

The Big Lie has always existed, but it was specifically named by Joseph Goebbels and separately by Adolph Hitler in Mein Kampf. Ironically, both used the idea to describe how Jews carry out their conquest of Germany and the world, and they emphasized that if you repeat a lie often enough the masses of people will believe you. However, both Goebbels, who was Hitler’s chief propagandist and one of his closest associates, and Hitler as the voice, purveyed the  Big Lie about the Jews—in one iteration, “Die Juden sind unser Unglück” (the Jews are our misfortune)—repeating it in speeches, radio, and film. It soon enough produced the consensus among “the masses” that led to the mass murder of Jews.

All of the honorees on the chart repeated the Big Lie now being leveled against Israel and the Jews, although in one case the grammar in which the Lie was couched was so convoluted as to be almost incomprehensible. The lie was also a Blood Libel, since the killing of innocents, including children, was supposedly deliberate. As far as I know, people are not yet accusing the Jews of using Palestinian children’s blood to make Matzoh, but I don’t use social media very much and with Passover imminent I would not be surprised to see this pop up somewhere.

In order of appearance, here are the nominees:

  1. On January 11, South Africa argued its case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Despite having members known to be consistently anti-Israel (one of those was just elevated to be the Court’s President), the Court could not conclude that Israel is or was committing genocide; that requires a years-long process, which has to happen. But the court did not implement this item in the case: “South Africa has requested an Order for the immediate suspension of Israel’s military operations in and against Gaza.” (p. 78) This was the most important practical request from South Africa. Surely, if the Court thought that South Africa’s accusation of genocide was plausible, it would have ordered a ceasefire as requested. Instead, it issued warnings that Israel should act so as to prevent genocide, and that it should submit reports showing that it has done so. Since Israel had always acted as such, the reports write themselves. Incidentally, among democracies, Israel is ranked #30, South Africa #45; among countries ranked least to most corrupt, Israel is #33, South Africa #87. South Africa has extensive and growing ties with Iran.
  2. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who I’m ashamed to admit is a Brooklyn Jew like me, told the Senate “The US should be working to end Israel’s genocide in Gaza, not aiding and abetting it,” and voted with 31 Republicans against aid to Israel; 67 Senators, including all Democrats, voted for the bill. Sanders has been anti-Israel in key Senate votes since 1988. His official and deliberate use of the word genocide to describe Israel’s actions makes him well worthy of the Big Lie-Blood Libel Award.
  3. Hollywood movie-maker Jonathan Glazer used his two minutes of fame accepting an Oscar, with 19.5 million movie fans watching, to say: “Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.” Huh? Okay, it is possible with effort to parse this sentence, so awkward it’s almost opaque, but it’s not surprising that many thought he was “refuting” his “Jewishness.” What he is “refuting,” also speaking for his colleagues, is his “Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation” that “has led to conflict for so many innocent people.” He places the blame for the conflict squarely on Israel’s “occupation” and “refutes” Israel’s “hijacking the Holocaust.” Because he made a movie about it, he seems to think that the Holocaust belongs to him and that he has a right to decide how the word is used. The movie has been widely praised and won the Oscar, but The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a dead film,” the New Yorker an extreme form of Holokitsch,” and The New York Times “a hollow, self-aggrandizing art-film exercise set in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.”
  4. I’ve discussed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC’s) use of the Big Lie-Blood Libel, following the Goebbels playbook by multiple repetitions. Adding that Israel had “crossed the threshold of intent” in mass starvation of the Gazan people, “half of whom are children,” she joined a long line of blood-libelers, although she stopped short of saying that Jews’ “intent” in killing Palestinian children is to use their blood to make Matzoh. When she issued this Blood Libel the number of deaths in Gaza (as estimated by Hamas) was about a quarter of what it had been early in the war, a change due entirely to the care taken by the IDF to reduce civilian deaths while learning how to fight an enemy hiding behind children.
  5. After three more weeks of declines in Gazan deaths, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), rival of Bernie Sanders for chief moralizer and most self-righteous advocate of all left-wing causes, followed AOC in the Big Lie-Blood Libel disinformation frenzy against the Jewish state. In an appearance at the Islamic Center of Boston, and referring to the ICJ, this supposed champion of truth and justice said, “If you want to do it as an application of law, I believe that they’ll find that it is genocide, and they have ample evidence to do so.” Three months earlier, the ICJ did not find sufficient evidence even to call for a cease-fire.
  6. Last but not least, Nicaragua, that lovely vacation spot—see State Department warnings— brought a case in the ICJ not against Israel but against Germany, for aiding Israel’s “genocide.” Clever of the corrupt, autocratic, violent, and refugee-hemorrhaging Central American country to level this charge against Germany, which—knowing full well what “genocide” means—has done more to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the dignity of its victims than almost any other country. Again, among democracies, Israel is ranked #30, Nicaragua #143; among countries ranked least to most corrupt, Israel is #33, Nicaragua #172. Nicaragua and Iran have growing military cooperation.

And the Goebsie goes too…

Sorry, the committee (namely me) has found all six of these nominees so accomplished in the Big Lie-Blood Libel, it’s impossible to choose one. We will therefore take the unprecedented step of dividing the Goebbsie—a polished-lead non-working microphone—among them. They can take turns using it to try to spread their bloody, libelous lies.

Meanwhile, today alone, the US, the UK, Germany, many other Western nations, several Arab ones, and even UN Secretary General António Guterres have condemned Iran’s attack on and declared solidarity with Israel in this moment of crisis. Perhaps it is dawning on them that Iran, not Hamas, is the real threat, and that the world, not Israel, is the target.

Gaza War: A Visual Aid

(Blogging on the Gaza War since January 14th. Please link them on to others.)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I shouldn’t have much more work to do this week. I started with the very good public website of Kevin Drum, who presented the first graph in the top half of the picture (panel a). Based on data from the (Hamas-run) Gaza Health Ministry via the UN, it displays the daily deaths (red dots) of Gazans from October 7 to February 19, with a linear function (dotted black line) fitted to the daily data. This function declines from between 300-400 in October to 100 in February.

The lower part of the figure (panel b, my responsibility alone) is my attempt to extend Drum’s excellent graph from February to today. The daily deaths (also from the Gaza Health Ministry via the UN) are shown as blue dots, with the red line representing the 7-day moving average. Please note that the two graphs are on very different scales. Continue reading

Gaza War: Hamas is Haman

(Scroll down to see earlier posts starting January 14th.)

We have passed not just the start of Ramadan, but the first and second Fridays, with today’s noon service considered particularly sacred. Forty thousand Israeli Muslim citizens and East Jerusalem Residents have come to the Noble Sanctuary—for Jews, The Temple Mount—each Friday to pray in one of its two great mosques, without a single untoward incident. Aside from a lone gunman in the West Bank, these Ramadan Fridays have been peaceful in the region and throughout the Muslim world. Estimates of Muslims visiting the Old City of Jerusalem today are up to 120,000. An Israeli journalist reporting from the crowded Noble Sanctuary as services let out described the atmosphere as reverent and celebratory.

Meanwhile, the tiny Jewish world—there are 100 Muslims for every Jew—is preparing for Purim, an irreverent, raucous, often drunken celebration of the survival of the Persian Jews, who came under deadly threat some 2,600 years ago. The Book of Esther,  chanted aloud in the evening and following morning in synagogues circling the globe, tells the story.

This year Purim begins tomorrow, Saturday, exactly 24 weeks after the Saturday (both the Sabbath and another Jewish holy day), on which Hamas terrorists committed grotesque mass atrocities against 1200 Jews and others in Israel, deliberately inviting destruction on themselves and the women and children they hide behind. Many say that this was the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. That it was, but actually the Nazis rarely took the time to rape women with knives or cut off the limbs of children before killing them. The Nazis did torture Jews at times, but mainly aimed at efficient mass murder.

Continue reading

Gaza: What is Victory?

Scroll down to see earlier posts in this series, beginning January 14th.

On November 11, 1918, the last day of World War I, there were higher than usual casualties, because General John J. Pershing—“Black Jack Pershing” as his men often called him—resented the Armistice. He insisted on hurting the Germans further, at high cost to his own troops, and continuing, to the last minute—the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—to inflict German losses. He reportedly said: “They never knew they were beaten in Berlin. It will have to be done all over again.” *

A myth arose. The German generals spread the word that their army was “undefeated in the field” but was “stabbed in the back” by politicians bent on surrender. Actually, their defeat in the field was staggering. After four years of what was mostly standoff, a million Americans arrived and, with their reinvigorated allies, swept across German-occupied France and Belgium in three months. The allies occupied a small part of western Germany for a while before they went home. But in Berlin, they never knew they were beaten. Pershing, alas, had to observe in his later years the rearming of Germany and the second world war he had predicted, with all its dreadful costs. His warnings, like Churchill’s in Britain, were ignored.

After that second war, they knew they were beaten in Berlin, and they knew they were beaten in Tokyo too, because the US and its allies took the war into those capitals and insisted on unconditional surrender. Although greatly complicated by the division of Germany and the Soviet role, the US (along with the UK and France) transitioned from military control, including denazification, dissolution of the German army, and occupiers’ rule of law, through municipal elections, to the buildup of a democratic state, officially declared four years after the war. The US State Department explicitly decreed that this governance “does not effect the annexation of Germany.” West Germany regained “near-sovereignty” in 1955, but it remained nominally occupied until 1991, after re-unification. Continue reading

Gaza, Israel, and the United Notions

I was born in August 1946; the first UN meetings were held in London in January that year. So the UN and I are the same age—you might say, nonidentical twins. I have followed it from an early age, and I am glad to report that—despite the small scale and limitations of my lifetime efforts—I have done better with my challenges than my twin has in its equal lifetime.

Per the UN itself, the genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s proved “in the worst possible way” that the UN repeatedly failed to prevent this horror, despite being able to do so. It failed to stop and even to recognize earlier genocides in Indonesia (1960s) and Cambodia (1970s) and much more recent ones in Darfur, Iraq and Syria (against the Yazidis), and Myanmar (the Rohingya). The UN rights council refused to discuss China’s ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims.

The UN’s failure to prevent small wars—more than 200 in its lifetime and mine—speaks for itself; advocates argue that it has prevented World War III, but that is conjectural. Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning its Ukraine invasion, although the General Assembly passed it overwhelmingly. The UN has done good work against hunger and slavery and promoting sustainable development, but has consistently fallen short of its own stated goals. More than 780 million people (and rising) face hunger, and there are more slaves in the world today than ever before in human history.

Continue reading

Gaza War: Some Numbers

Please see below (“Concerning the War in Gaza”, January 14) for my overview of the war, and the disclaimer introducing it, also applicable here. So is this: Every death is a terrible loss, and every civilian death more so.

In 1944, General Curtis Lemay was appointed to command the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force) in the Pacific Theater, his predecessor having been fired for a reluctance to bomb civilians. Lemay soon ordered the fire-bombing of Tokyo with napalm, killing as many as 100,000 people in six hours. He repeated this in other Japanese cities, with the estimated total deaths ranging from 241,000 to 900,000. This was before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed another 129,000 to 226,000. These mass bombings were not directed at military targets (few were involved) but were carpet bombings of civilians. To many, Lemay is a hero.

Similar incendiary bombings, also creating firestorms, were carried out by the British and Americans in the German cities of Hamburg and Dresden, killing at least scores of thousands. Civilian populations being what they are, most of the victims in all these cases were women and children. Causing terror was their explicit goal, in the service of ending the war. Some considered these war crimes, but they were never tried or punished as such. German mass murder of civilians, using different methods, was of much greater magnitude, and was punished.

In part in reaction to the destructiveness of that war, the 1949 Geneva Conventions greatly strengthened the laws defining and prohibiting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, a term coined to describe what the Germans did to the Jews, but subsequently applied—in a few cases I think legitimately—to other mass killings. It has more often been misapplied. Continue reading

Is Genocide Now Maladaptive?

David Blumenthal, a good and wise friend who is a Jewish studies professor and a rabbi wrote me recently asking about the former adaptiveness and present maladaptiveness of xenophobia. The operative passage in his letter was, “In the global world, however, survival requires the cooperation of varying and different groups. Humanity, in its groups, cannot survive without the quintessential other. Xenophobia has ceased to be adaptive. So has antisemitism, racism, orientalism, and misogyny.”

I have little trouble agreeing that at some times in the past these behaviors were adaptive for the perpetrators. Continue reading