Two fake Zionist quotes in the Irish News

Such fake Zionist quotes demonstrate a broader problem within the Irish media: the frequent dissemination misinformation about Israel by pro-Palestinian activists that routinely goes unchallenged by newspaper editors, thus grossly distorting the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in that country.

Today, The Irish News – based in Belfast, Northern Ireland published a letter with two ‘quotes’ by Zionist leaders.

The letter (published, for some reason, twice within the last month), which attempts to refute a previous letter praising Israeli democracy, includes the following paragraph, designed to discredit not only Israel’s democracy, but Zionism itself.

The thinking behind Zionism can be illustrated by the speech of David Ben Gurion, (prime minister of Israel 1949 to 1954 and 1955 to 1963) when he told his followers: “We will expel the Arabs and take their place.”

However, research by CAMERA quite a few years ago clearly demonstrated that the words “We will expel the Arabs and take their place” – suggesting Ben-Gurion favoured the ethnic cleansing of Arabs – represented the opposite of the truth.  Here’s what Ben-Gurion actually wrote in the letter in question.

“We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.”

Here’s the second quote in the Irish News letter, used to suggest that Israel – and not the Arabs – has generally been the aggressor in the region since 1948.

Israeli minister General Moshe Dyan stated that: “Israel must invent dangers and to do this it must adopt the strategy of provocation and revenge.” This statement is consistent with every war Israel has fought with the exception of the Yom Kippur war of 1973 when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to drive them from lands occupied by Israel during the six-day ‘war’.   

We’ve never seen that quote before, and there were very few references to it online. We were, however, immediately suspicious when even Wikiquote flagged it as a “misattributed quote”.  Upon further research, we found that it appeared on a few fringe anti-Zionist sites, but it was usually attributed to the diaries of former Israeli prime minister Moshe Sharett, and framed as Sharett’s personal characterisation of Dayan’s views, not the views of Dayan himself. 

However, based on our research, it now appears that it wasn’t even Sharett’s characterisation of Dayan’s views.

It appears to have originated in a 1980 book by Livia Rokach (with a forward by Noam Chomsky) titled ‘Israel’s Sacred Terrorism’, a book dedicated to “all the Palestinian victims of Israel’s unholy terrorism” and promoted by anti-Zionist and antisemitic sites, such as the Holocaust Revisionist site, ‘Institute for Historical Review’.  

Here’s the section of the book where the quote appears:

As you can see, the quote is the writer’s characterisation of Moshe Sharett’s characterisation of Dayan’s views, itself merely based on a conversation between Dayan and two Israeli ambassadors – a meeting that Sharett didn’t himself attend.

The words appear to belong to the author of the book, ‘Israel’s Sacred Terrorism’, not Dayan, and not even Sharett.

Such fake Zionist quotes demonstrate a broader problem within the UK media: the dissemination of misinformation about Israel by pro-Palestinian activists – in both op-eds and news articles – that routinely goes unchallenged by editors, thus grossly distorting the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in that country.

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