Jews have been accused of harming and murdering of non-Jews since the 12th century in England, when the Jewish convert to Catholicism Theobald of Cambridge proclaimed that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.
That medieval blood libel, largely abandoned in the contemporary West, does, however, still appear as part of the Arab world’s vilification of Jews – now transmogrified into a slander against Israel, the Jew of nations.
But in the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has begun to show itself: the blood libel has been revivified, but, to position Israel and Zionism as demonic agents in the community of nations, its primitive superstitions are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship and politicized scientific study.
In March, to cite the latest instance of this trend, the findings of a study conducted by the New Weapons Research Group, a team of scientists based in Italy, were announced on “the use of unconventional weapons and their mid-term effects on the population of after-war areas,” in this case Gaza after Israel’s Cast Lead operations last year.
“Many Palestinian children still living in precarious situations at ground level in Gaza after Israeli bombing,” the study found, “have unusually high concentrations of metals in the hair, indicating environmental contamination, which can cause health and growth damages due to chronic exposure,” and these high levels were the direct result of Israeli bombs.
Moreover, suggested Professor Paola Manduca, one of the investigators, the presence of metals in children’s hair “presents serious problems in the current situation in Gaza, where the construction and removal of damaged structures is difficult or impossible, and,” in case anyone does not know who to blame, “certainly represents the major responsibility of those who should remedy the damage to the civilian population under international law.”
Environmental contamination of children is certainly a critical issue to address and identify, but questions arise from this particular study due to the shabby way the controls and research were conducted.
Was it actually Israeli weaponry that contributed to high metal levels in the hair of the studied group? Are those levels significantly different in Gaza, or do they parallel other high-density cities with refineries, smelters, and other form of pollutants that arise from other, non-military sources?
Was the same group of subjects tested prior to Operation Cast Lead to see changes in the incidence of metals in hair after the incursion? Were groups in other towns, which had not been bombed, tested as well, and how do those levels compare with the test group?
In fact, in a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences between 1998 and 2000, blood lead levels in children 2-6 years of age in Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority were studied, and, even at that time, “high levels in Gaza were all among children living near a battery factory,” suggesting that other causes may well be linked to metal levels on the children’s bodies.
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Those who denounced Israel for what was characterized as its disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks during the Gaza offensive had other serious accusations, as well: namely, whether or not Israel used white phosphorous as a military tool (allowed by international law) or as a weapon against human targets (which is illegal).
Human rights groups and perennial Israel-haters wasted no time in suggesting that Israel was, in fact, employing the white phosphorous on hapless Gazans, a charge that seemed to be given credence by a recent article in the online journal Torture by J?rgen L. Thomsen and Martin Worm-Leonhard, complete with the misleading title of “The Detection of Phosphorus in the Tissue of Bomb Victims in Gaza.”
It happens, however, that the researchers, whose tissue samples were smuggled out of Gaza by “an acquaintance” and were transported in a most unscientific way, were unable to detect conclusively the occurrence of any white phosphorous in the studied tissue samples, despite their personal belief (and, seemingly, their desire) to have found evidence to the contrary.
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When brutal military assaults and Israel’s use of weaponry cannot be blamed for causing health damage to non-Jews, Israel-haters are quick to condemn the alleged general oppression of Zionist occupation and brutality as detriments to Arab health and happiness.
In 2005, Psychologists for Social Responsibility took it upon itself to “condemn the Israeli Army’s use of psychological warfare against the Gaza population.” Israel, the group claimed, did so through the use of F-16 jet plane-generated “sonic booms” that are a “particularly pernicious form of psychological warfare.”
While they begrudgingly admit that the reason jet soirees were initiated against the Gazan population in the first place was the hundreds of rockets that had been raining down on Israeli neighborhoods in southern Israel, the psychologists’ concern never seemed to extend to Jewish children, nor did they call for an end to the terrorism that Israeli military operations were attempting to curtail.
But the sonic booms, nevertheless, were unacceptable.
That same year, as part of an unrelenting campaign to discredit Israel’s security barrier and position it as an “apartheid wall” that is emblematic of Zionism’s essential racism, the Palestinian Counseling Center concocted a “scientific” survey of the psychological effects on Palestinian mental health of what it called Israel’s “Annexation and Expansion Wall” on the residents in five villages in the Kalkilya district.
Tellingly, that same year the International Court of Justice had declared the separation barrier illegal, deciding that Israel’s right to defend its citizenry from murder could be trumped by the human rights of Palestinians who might be inconvenienced by the presence of the barrier.
Questionnaires were completed by Palestinians in three age groups: adults 19 years and older, adolescents between 13 to 18 years, and children between the ages of 6 and 12. To no one’s great surprise, the reaction to the presence of the dreaded apartheid wall (actually only a fence for approximately 80 percent of its length) had a profound negative effect on the Arabs who lived on the wrong side of it.
In fact, “the study results reflected a negative correlation between the residents’ exposure to the Wall and psychological symptoms; among the adult group (feeling lonely and somatization); among adolescents and children, positive correlation between exposure to the Wall and psychological symptoms (agitation, verbal violence, nightmares, and concentration problems).”
More ominously, the existence of the wall was blamed for “the emergence of psychological symptoms among the adults, such as feeling of loneliness and other physical symptoms such as difficulty in breathing and stomach pains.”
Instead of evaluating the Palestinian culture of death that is inculcated into children, from kindergarten until high school, in which they are taught to hate Jews and strive for martyrdom, and examining whether those bits of psychological baggage might themselves have a negative effect on emotional growth, any adverse emotional or psychological symptoms were linked to the mere presence of the wall.
The biased findings “showed proportional relation between exposure to the Wall and emergence of psychological symptoms among the adolescents and children, mainly aggressive behavior causing children to act violently toward other children and use impolite language and other mental symptoms such as nightmares.”
If the most serious end result of the wall’s existence was a surge in “impolite language” among Palestinian youth, that was probably an acceptable tradeoff for Israeli citizens, since after construction of the security barrier terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel decreased by some ninety percent.
Moreover, the very presence of the separation barrier was said to have caused the creation of something the study imaginatively classified as an “institutional ghetto” that resulted in “the ghettoization, oppression, and displacement of a people.”
Ignoring the reason the barrier was there in the first place – namely, to prevent the murder of Jewish civilians going about the business of their daily lives – the researchers determined that the building of the barrier and the ” ‘institutional ghetto’ or segregation of Palestinians has left people thinking not too highly of themselves and thus these people are unable to advance socially and psychologically. With low self-esteem, people feel humiliated and unworthy, which brings inner conflict and psychologically threatening symptoms like depression, suicide and disassociation.”
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The entire “occupation” has become a target for scientists who attempt to link the general oppression of Zionism with pathologies in Palestinian society.
The author and commentator Phyllis Chesler, a frequent Jewish Press op-ed contributor, recently critiqued a particularly egregious example of politicized scholarship that appeared in Lancet, heretofore a respected British medical journal. Chesler noted that the article, with the biased title of “Association Between Exposure to Political Violence and Intimate-Partner Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Cross-Sectional Study,” revealed “that Palestinian husbands are more violent toward Palestinian wives as a function of the Israeli ‘occupation’ – and that the violence increases significantly when the husbands are ‘directly’ as opposed to ‘indirectly’ exposed to political violence.”
The study, of course, never chose to examine the effect of the conflict on Israeli husbands and wives, who may well share emotional stresses similar to their Palestinian counterparts as a result of the genocidal aggression against them from various jihadist foes, and instead, as Chesler noted, attempted “to present Palestinian men as victims even when (or precisely because) those men are battering their wives,” defining “Palestinian cultural barbarism, which includes severe child abuse, as also related to the alleged Israeli occupation.”
The cultural traditions in the Middle East that enable men to totally dominate family members, treat women as property, and even commit “honor” killings when women shame male family members – all of these, of course, are not included in the emotional equation that might logically lead or contribute to spousal abuse. It is the Israeli occupation, and that alone, that causes such deleterious mental health conditions, “intimate partner violence,” in Palestinian marriages.
Other scholarly publications have been intellectually hijacked with spurious studies that have a fundamental bias to them that discredits the validity of any research.
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, for example, ran an article titled “The Prevalence of Psychological Morbidity in West Bank Palestinian Children,” written, oddly enough, by a junior surgical resident and a microbiologist.
When members of a group of academics seeking balance in discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, became aware of the bit of defective scholarship, they analyzed the paper themselves and found that it was an example of “weak science, which included the lack of evidence or references, the lack of appropriate scientific design, the choice of nonstandardized test instruments and the inaccurate citing of the psychological literature.”
What is more, the authors’ original thesis, “that ‘settlement encroachment’ was responsible for the problems of Palestinian children,” had relied on the psychiatric “expertise” of linguist Noam Chomsky, whose loathing of Israel is widely known, to help draw the study’s conclusions.
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Even when Israel is engaged in what would by normal standards be considered as humanitarian aid, as it was with its immediate response to the Haiti earthquake, sending a contingent of medical teams who set up state-of-the-art medical facilities in Port au Prince, those who wish to continually defame the Jewish state were able to invent offense, even in Haiti.
The insidious claim came from peer Baroness Jenny Tonge, health spokeswoman in the House of Lords, who, while praising the IDF on the one hand, also suggested that Israeli soldiers were harvesting organs from Haitian victims. The Palestinian Telegraph, a publication of which Tonge is a patron, ran an article titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs” by a Boston-based blogger who seeks “justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians,” and who accused Israel of a “crime against humanity,” based, of course on absolutely no evidence or facts.
Last August, a journalist in a Swedish newspaper had made similar allegations which suggested – again without the faintest evidence – that in the 1990s Israeli soldiers kidnapped and murdered Palestinians to harvest their organs and that an investigation was warranted, based solely on the unfounded allegation. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz at the time understandably characterized it “an anti-Semitic blood libel against the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” yet another example of an effort to portray Zionism and Israel as Nazi-like in its thirst for non-Jewish blood.
Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies in the Middle East, abetted by their supporters in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize Israel in the hope of eventually destroying it.
By dressing up old hatreds against Jews and repackaging them as seemingly pure scholarship, Israel’s ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of fostering social chaos and bringing harm to non-Jews, in the bright lights of the “perverted science” Winston Churchill feared would be unleashed by a Nazi victory in the Second World War.
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing. He just finished a book about the worldwide assault on Israel taking place on college campuses, “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.”