At one of the sessions of the UN dealing with a motion to condemn Israel, the Israeli ambassador got up to speak. He said, "Before I reply, I would like to tell you a story from the Bible. When Moses was leading the Jewish people in the desert, he came to a stream and decided that it would be a good opportunity to take a bath. So he walked to a site where no one could see him, took off all of his clothes and went into the stream to bathe.
When he came out, he couldn't find his clothes. A Palestinian had stolen them." As the ambassador said this, the PLO Representative jumped up and shouted “I object! There were no Palestinians then!” At that, the Israeli ambassador announced, “I rest my case,” and stepped down from the podium.
The point of this joke is the reality that a major part of the Palestinian propaganda strategy is based on establishing lies as truths by repeating them with a straight face and getting others to repeat them too. Over the past few years the anti-Israel machine has developed an annual libel, claiming that Jews are systemically burning down all the olive groves in Judea and Samaria. Foreign aid, human rights and peace groups are tripping over each other in a competition for who can tell the story best, thereby making the Israelis look the worst.
Britain's Oxfam has even published a price tag, claiming that half a million dollars' worth of damage has been caused by Jews vandalizing Arab residents' olive crops. To translate that into actual product, that would mean that some 60,000 liters of olive oil have been lost. There would have to be approximately 15,000 trees in 200 acres of olive groves burnt to cause that amount of damage.
News reports and anti-Israel websites that repeatedly report on the alleged arson very rarely post pictures of a fire, and those that do often repost the same few pictures that have been used again and again over the last few years - pictures that do not show a clear scene of a major fire. Some 200 acres of burnt olive groves is not a small issue that could easily be hidden in tiny Israel. I live in Samaria and travel the roads daily. If the olive groves were burning regularly, as reported by Palestinian propagandists, I would have seen some smoke and fire. But in actuality, the only place that I am seeing it is on Twitter and Arab blogs.
Recently I was interviewed by a foreign journalist who has been assigned to a nearby Middle Eastern capital for the past five years. He came to Israel to get a close-up of the olive harvest story and the conflict between the Jewish and Arab residents in the area. In the interview, I explained that the famed "olive harvest conflict" is more media spin than it is reality on the ground. Sure, there are some events on both sides here and there. But the bulk of those being publicized are promoted by non-local provocateurs who are bringing the story to the media as a publicity stunt for the advancement of their agenda - namely, to give the Jewish residents a bad name.
This has become the norm for interaction between the radical leftist anti-Israel activists and the representatives of the international media, who are glad for any opportunity to defame the Jews who make their home in Israel's heartland - the hills of Judea and Samaria.
After the interview, in a open conversation with the journalist, who has much experience with the Arab population in Middle Eastern countries, I pointed out that if we were to look at the situation with an objective eye, putting aside preconceptions about Israel and the Palestinians and political correctness, the fact is that in general, Arabs under Israeli rule don't have it as bad as Arab citizens of most of our neighboring countries. That is the truth that the Palestinian propagandists do not want the world to know. That explains why the majority of Arab residents of Jerusalem have answered polls saying that they would rather be a part of Israel and not an Arab state.
The journalist actually acknowledged my point and went on to tell me how difficult his work as journalist is in Arab countries, where freedom of press and freedom of expression are nearly non-existent. In recent months, international journalists have been beaten, molested and kidnapped in other Middle Eastern countries, but the norm of the media is to criticize Israel for much less and accept and overlook such offenses in Arab countries.
Those who pose as "peace" and "rights" activists, who make it their business to libel Israel and the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not advancing peace as they would prefer to be viewed by the world, but actually, they are the biggest deterrent to peace between the Arabs and Jews in Israel.
Peace will not be brought about by denying the great benefit that Jewish development has brought to the region. On the contrary, peace will come about when the Arabs stop lying to themselves and the world and express true appreciation for Zionism, which has brought the Jewish people back to the land and is a true cause for blessing in the entire region.
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