Last Friday morning Boaz Bismuth, editor-in-chief of the free daily newspaper Israel Hayom, tweeted against Twitter for blocking the account of U.S. President Donald Trump, due to the incitement to violence in his tweets. In the evening of the same day, Bismuth turned up on Channel 12 News to explain the unprecedented attack on Capitol Hill. That was the channel’s response to the shocking sight of the occupation of the halls of the U.S. Congress: A fervent supporter of Trump, the man who in his belligerent speeches caused this bloody assault, was called to the flag to explain what happened to the unfortunate viewers in the only democracy in the Middle East. I immediately turned off the TV. After all, there’s a limit to cynicism.
The next day, Friday, on the day Twitter decided to close Trump’s account in perpetuity, Israel’s three TV channels reported, in “copy-paste” format, the news that the prime minister and his wife had spent time in a room guarded by the Shin Bet security forces, due to an attempted breach of the residence on Balfour Street. In the video clip a few dozen people were seen running to the gate of the prime minister’s residence – the only weapon they were carrying was slogans. A fun “putsch” like that deserves to be entered in a comedy film competition.
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This sensational news remained in the freezer for six whole days, until the attack on the Capitol, when it was thawed out and served quickly, as though straight from the oven, to our three diligent TV channels. The message was clear: Not only is American democracy under attack, Israeli democracy is also being threatened by demonstrators calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The U.S. Capitol was in danger? So was the Israeli Capital! There it was the right, here it’s the left! A sickening symmetry.
Such flimsy sophistication gets by only on channels with a flimsy spine, when they see the government as omnipotent. The dignitaries there didn’t even ask, for example, how such an earthquake, 9 on the Richter scale, took place in the Israeli capital a week ago without anyone knowing about it. Even Trump could learn from such fake news, and if we, like Twitter, had an institution that closes channels filled with fake news, the screens of the three channels belonging to the Jewish race, which feature almost no Arabs, would be darkened. No, there’s nothing more luminous that a darkened fake-news screen.
On the other hand, fake news has a glorious and ancient history in these parts. Here is one piece of fake news that handed Netanyahu the government on a platter of venomous incitement: a flood of slogans and tweets that informed everyone, shamelessly, that “the Arab MKs are supporters of terror,” and more fake news: The Arabs were accused by the choruses of the right of being serial perpetrators of election fraud. On the eve of the election tempers flared due to this issue; after the election, all was forgotten. In the coming election another dose of incitement awaits us.
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All the gatekeepers are silent, almost all the media outlets related to those lies as though they were an axiom that needs no proof. Why? Because anyone who questions these “axioms” is in effect a supporter of “supporters of terror.” Is it possible to ask Twitter to close the platform to the host of inciters against the Arabs and members of the left, with the same efficiency it is demonstrating in closing the platform to the world’s most powerful man? For some reason Twitter did not see fit to erase such tweets. Okay, if the landlord, in other words Israeli democracy, is silent, then why should Twitter intervene?
Now Trump is being seen as the pathetic person he is: an extremist, a racist, an inciter, a liar, you name it. But why is his philosophy conquering the world? Because those responsible for the war against lies kept quiet. The caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib said: “When the men of truth were silent in the face of lies, the men of lies deluded themselves that it was they who were in the right.” Not only they. In light of the silence of the lambs, ordinary people also thought that lies were truth.