There’s an old saying that goes “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”.
We’re used to this scenario playing out numerous times over the years when it comes to Israel and its defensive wars, but never has it been more evident than last week and the tragic bombing of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza.
Perhaps we were the foolish ones to believe that now that the world had finally seen the true evil face of Hamas – a terrorist group that beheads babies, rapes women and burns families alive –its twisted propaganda might now be questioned rather than quoted in the world’s media as fact.
We were wrong.
It didn’t take long for Israel to be blamed, demonised and condemned, all without a shred of evidence. Thousands took to the streets across the world to decry Israel’s supposed evil actions in deliberately targeting civilians hiding out in a hospital.
Incidents of antisemitism worldwide skyrocketed. In Tunisia, an ancient synagogue was destroyed. In Turkey, a mob of thousands tried to storm the Israeli embassy. In Berlin, petrol bombs were thrown at a synagogue.
Here in Australia, some mainstream media outlets and public figures joined the fray in condemning the Jewish nation. There was no waiting for confirmation or to check the facts. Just slanderous condemnation of the Jewish state for an act we can now be assured it did not commit.
Writing in The Australian on Saturday, former editor of The Age Michael Gawenda accurately described it as a “blood libel”.
He noted that the newspaper he once edited, The Age, ran an opinion piece with the headline “This is a massacre” prominently on its website for at least two days. The taxpayer-funded ABC, who (last week, by the way) saw fit to lend legitimacy to Hamas by interviewing one of its representatives, also spread the lie.
And of course the Greens, who last week essentially blamed Israel for the murder of its own citizens and the heinous acts Hamas terrorists committed against them, naturally delighted in amplifying the calumny.
“The Israeli airstrike on a hospital in Gaza is an abhorrent, illegal crime against humanity,” tweeted the party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Jordon Steele-John.
Through videos, satellite imagery, and a damning audio snippet of a conversation between Hamas members, we now know that it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that did the damage.
We also know that the hospital itself was not struck at all but rather its car park. And far from the 500 civilians that Gaza authorities – read: Hamas – say were killed, a senior European diplomat has now suggested that the number killed may actually be as low as just a few dozen.
The New York Times even admitted this week that it relied too much on Hamas’s claims and its editors should have taken more care. Though glaringly absent from the masthead’s editors’ note was any kind of actual apology.
Of course, according to that other saying, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn,” none of this evidence matters one iota to the anti-Israel masses. The mud has already stuck.
And not wanting to even consider the possibility they may have been wrong, all those self-appointed moral luminaries who could not wait to condemn Israel on the word of a baby-beheading terrorist organisation alone still refuse to apologise.
As of this week, Steele-John’s tweet was still on X.
Greens leader Adam Bandt claimed it was difficult to get “independent verification” and then pivoted to condemning Israel’s operation in Gaza. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for deputy leader Mehreen Faruqi made her superior look like an angel in comparison by telling The Australian, “The Netanyahu government and IDF leadership have a history of making false and misleading statements.”
Of course, anyone who read last week’s AJN would know that such moral inversion is to be expected from the Greens.
Many however, depend on the ABC and publications such as The Age for reliable information. Which is what made Age editor Patrick Elligett’s declaration last Friday: “We don’t know what happened. And we’re not ashamed to admit it,” all the more disappointing.
Because yes, we do know, for all the reasons outlined above. The United States government, even the President himself, agree it was a misfired terrorist rocket. That information was available when Elligett wrote his piece.
He went on to state that if readers wonder why a story is up on a rival publication’s website but not on The Age’s, it is because it is important for them to verify it first before going live.
“The Age holds itself to higher standards than other newsrooms. We check our sources, strive for certainty and question everything,” he wrote.
So why again did The Age run “This is a massacre” almost straight away last Wednesday?
Which brings us to our last saying – one that is actually untrue: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me.”
As we Jews know too well from our history, words are all too often followed by violence.