No Laughing Matter

A classic comedy routine has a “newscaster” borrowing heavily from the events of the day and reporting them in classic news style. If you are not paying attention all sounds normal, the same coverage of the events of the day that appears in the newspaper. Upon closer scrutiny,  you realize that operative and decisive elements of the story have been turned on their ears, and the reporting of the event has now become a distortion, the punch-line of a satire. This, of course, is the nature of comedy; it is also the nature of a lie. For a lie to be effective, there must exist in it elements of truth or the listener will immediately dismiss it as an outrage. If, however, the statement has a fair seasoning of the truth and on casual contemplation it appears reasonable, then the lie has entered into the realm of accepted “truth.” With so many more pressing and immediate things to consider, most people, being decent and trusting generally, do not doubt the veracity of the supposed “facts” they are being fed from unscrupulous sources, whether from individuals or organizations (I am of course not referring to my column and certainly not to Hamodia).

To read or hear much of the news today is to experience this overflowing platter of lies being sprinkled with a seasoning of facts in order that they should be passed off as truth. As the intent is malicious, this is no longer the classic comedy routine but rather the classic routine of demagoguery and deception. The classic expression of this is from the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi regime, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, who famously said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Goebbels continues “…for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

This is the general tragic situation for truth today. Psychotic despots like the self-appointed Caliph of the “new caliphate” (Islamic empire) of ISIS, Islamic “theological leaders” like the ayatollahs of Iran, and Muslim terrorists like Hamas “political chief” Khaled Mashaal stay on point as well — if not better — than any public figure in the world today. They are passionate, dedicated, and devoted to their message, from which they never waver. They also never leave their geographic safety zones; they wear Islamic religious garb so the Western public does not perceive them as relevant, because they remain exotic and foreign in appearance, and therefore not immediately threatening.

Khaled Mashaal, on the other hand, wears finely tailored Western suits while being interviewed by prominent journalists in civilized Western settings. For several reasons he is the demagogue that concerns me. Much of the civilized Western world accepts his title, “political chief,” as fact, implying that he is the legitimate political leader of a legitimate political movement.

Implicit in this deception is the world accepting the claims of Hamas that Hamas has two distinct and disconnected halves: political and military. This is the exact lie that Mashaal and his associates like Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ former “Prime Minister,” foist upon a Western media anxious to sanitize the  blood that is running from the hands of these terrorists.

Last week Mashaal gave an interview which was stunning in its deranged sincerity. In an interview published by Yahoo News last Friday, Mashaal admitted that Hamas kidnapped and murdered the three teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, Hy”d, after denying culpability since the boys were abducted. He justified their killing because the three boys learned at a yeshivah in Kfar Etzion, a small community in the heart of Yehudah on the “West Bank.” Similarly, to Mashaal ALL citizens of Yehudah and Shomron are legitimate targets, because they “are aggressors, and they are illegally living in this occupied and stolen land. And the right to resist is the right of Palestinians.”

In defense of the murderers of the three boys, he said, “But we understand people are frustrated under the occupation and the oppression, and they take all kinds of action.” Mashaal exploits a grain of truth and tags on the buzz-words “occupation” and “oppression” to grant  license to do great evil.

The interview he conducted gave him a broad platform to espouse the “virtuous” nature of Hamas: “This is an opportunity for me to say we are against the killing of any civilians, any journalists.” He makes a sharp distinction between his organization and ISIS, which he called a “religious, violent group,” on the grounds that while ISIS targets civilians, Hamas only attacks “legitimate” targets. By definition, if a target is “legitimate” it is an appropriate target to be eliminated but let us remember that he views virtually ALL Israelis  as non-civilians and therefore legitimate targets.

Mashaal promised that in the future Hamas would take measures to warn Israeli civilians of impending attacks, just as Israel does in the Gaza Strip. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, this is high praise from the lowest source but Hamas’ point is not to praise Israel but to paint an honorable face on their evil organization.

The comment that I found most likely to be delivered in a news broadcast comedy skit was when Mashaal said that Hamas has a “problem” directing its strikes at military targets only because it does “not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy …  so aiming is difficult … We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets,” he said. His words of regret sound like the rallying cry of a telethon that “Imagine the great things we could do if we just had the money and the access to technology.” With a straight face he appealed to the world to provide him better weapons so he can kill Jews more accurately. By his insane calculus he is presenting to the world the notion that he would actually be “saving” Jews by using weapons with higher accuracy.

Fact is stranger than fiction, especially when there are deliberate lies in the mix. With the world imbibing the poison the media serves, this is no laughing matter

Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst, and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.