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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 27, 2003

Anti-Semitism, Misinformation, and the Whitewashing of the Palestinian Leadership

Francisco J. Gil-White is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a Fellow at the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict (SACSEC), at the University of Pennsylvania. Like Joseph A. Norland, he takes us on his voyage of discovery.
Until last spring, I held what people call a pro-Palestinian position.

Like many intellectuals, I had adopted Arafat’s cause, taking what I believed was a principled stand that blamed Israel for the conflict in the Middle East, and especially for the suffering of Palestinians. Because I come from a Catholic background, and because there is a long and violent history of Catholic anti-Semitism (though not in my family), I always made clear that I supported the right of the State of Israel to exist, and that my position had nothing to do with animosity against Jews.

In April 2002, I noticed that media coverage of the fighting in Jenin was manifestly one-sided (against Israel). I began to look into this and also into the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This work made me realize that my sympathy for Mr. Arafat was based on false information.

Here is what I used to believe about the Middle East (all of these beliefs are quite popular):

1) That the media (at least the American media) has a uniformly pro-Israel bias;
2) That Arafat’s Fatah is a secular nationalist organization trying to combat the fundamentalist influences of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamist terrorists;
3) That Palestinian terrorism is not anti-Semitic, but aims at national liberation;
4) That the Palestinian leadership has attempted to implement the Oslo accords in good faith, but the Israelis have sabotaged the process;
5) That Israel is a state overwhelmingly made up of European and American Jews who moved into Palestine and displaced Middle Eastern natives;
6) That historically, Jews were well-treated in the Arab world, and that current Arab hostility therefore stems from the current conflict.

Now, having spent time studying the historical record, I believe I was wrong about all six points.
He then goes on to debunk all these myths by scholarly arguments with all sources quoted. Recommended