Did Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vow to burn Palestinian children and rape Arabic girls? Did former Israeli leader Menachem Begin refer to Palestinians as “two-legged beasts,” and did another Israeli leader declare that all Arabs must be killed unless they are willing to live as slaves?
No, but given the number of websites repeating these allegations, it is easy to see how this nonsense has gained credence. Indeed, the attribution of invidious statements to Israel’s leaders has become a popular stratagem among Israel’s enemies. Many are fabricated, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted, negative view of Zionist intentions and actions. Propagated on the Internet, some of these misquotes eventually make their way into opinion columns in campus newspapers and even, on occasion, the mainstream press.
Take for example, the following quote (found on anti-Israel websites) alleged to have been said by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Israeli parliament in October 2001 and reported on Kol Yisrael radio:
“Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.”
The statement also appears as “I control America.”
As it turns out, it is a hoax. Sharon never made either statement. Nor did Kol Yisrael ever report that he did. Yet syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer wrote in her May 10, 2002 opinion column, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, San Diego Tribune, and other newspapers: “In fact, it [American support for Israel’s actions] led Prime Minister Sharon to tell his Cabinet recently, “I control America.” ”
Where did this quote originate and how did it enter the mainstream media?
CAMERA’s investigation found that it started with an October 3, 2001 press release from the pro-Hamas group IAP – the Islamic Association for Palestine – which attributed the quote to a report on “the Israeli Hebrew radio, Col [sic] Yisrael.”
In fact, Kol Yisrael political correspondent Yoni Ben-Menachem, who reports on Cabinet meetings, confirmed to CAMERA that he never made such a broadcast and that Sharon never made such a statement. Nor was it reported by any other news service.
When confronted, Geyer told one editor that she relied on two anonymous Israeli sources for the quotation. She told a second editor the quote came from an alleged Haaretz article which she never produced and could not be found. A subsequent editor’s note by Geyer’s United Press Syndicate claimed the quote was widely reported in the Palestinian press (i.e. the IAP, which cited the bogus Kol Yisrael source) but could not be confirmed by independent sources.
Indeed for many, the Internet has completely replaced libraries, reference books, and original research as a source of information. This reliance on unregulated, unaccountable sources has boosted the proliferation of misinformation and bogus quotes. And when they are repeated by journalists, albeit those with radical anti-Israel agendas, few are willing to search deeper.
The CAMERA staff has researched many of the alleged quotes. This column examines quotes that fall into three categories: 1) fabricated; 2) misattributed and 3) taken out of context.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: “I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian woman is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do.” (Source given: Ariel Sharon in an interview with General Ouze Merham in 1956.)
Investigation: This quote was found on hundreds of Arab websites, and indeed, seems to be a staple of anti-Israel propaganda. It cannot be found, however, in any text book, news article, or published record, nor is there any mention or record of a General Ouze Merham anywhere else. (Another giveaway is that the term ‘Palestinian’ was not in use in 1956. It only came into vogue in the 1960’s.)