Many journalists are confronted with a choice in their careers: pursue a difficult truth by taking on powerful interests or protect their livelihoods by going with the flow. While readers may think the choice is obvious – pursue the truth – it often comes with a high price, as journalist Alan Hart learned.
By Alan Hart
I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, and the following is an explanation of why.
More than three decades ago when I made my commitment to this war effort – in the full knowledge that it would make me persona non gratain the eyes of the mainstream media in which I had served with some distinction – I believed that the single most amazing thing about the conflict was Zionism’s success in selling its propaganda lies, lies which were told not only to justify anything and everything the Zionist (not Jewish) State of Israel did and does, but also to establish and fix the boundaries of what could and could not be discussed in public discourse about Israel’s policies and actions.
I mean what could and could not be discussed by non-Jews, Europeans and Americans especially, if they didn’t want to be terrorized by smears and false charges of anti-Semitism, which could result in them losing their positions and jobs.
What could be called the Mother and Father of Zionism’s propaganda lies is the assertion that all the Jews of the world are descended from the ancient Hebrews and therefore have a common ethnic origin and national heritage. In other words, according to Zionism’s assertion, Palestine is by definition the ancestral homeland of all the Jews of the world; and this, it is further asserted by Zionism, means that Israel has the right to sovereignty over all the land it occupies today and Jews from anywhere have the right to settle on it.
As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand explains in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, that is simply not true. And as I noted in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews (which was published before Sand’s work), almost all the Jews who went to Palestine in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews.
They, like almost all Jews, were the descendants of peoples from many homelands (mainly in Eastern and Western Europe) who converted to Judaism centuries after the brief rule of the ancient Hebrews ended and who, after their conversion, had only their religion and its rituals in common.
By the time Zionism declared itself into existence around 1897, there were more Palestinian Arabs, who had descended from the ancient Hebrews, than Palestinian Jews who could count the ancient Hebrews as direct ancestors. That is because many descendants of the ancient Hebrews had converted to Islam and Christianity over the centuries. Thus, Zionism’s claim that the Jews of the world have a right to the land now occupied by Greater Israel does not bear honest examination.
One of the most influential of Zionism’s follow-up propaganda lies asserted that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by the United Nations Partition Resolution of Nov. 29, 1947. As I document in detail in my book and have indicated over the years in more than a few articles and presentations of public platforms of all kinds, that is propaganda nonsense.
In the first place the UN, without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine, did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own. Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote (rigged by Zionist pressure amounting to blackmail on the leaders and governments of some member states), the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either.
But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal – meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council. But the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the U.S. knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.
So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid), and the question of what to do about Palestine after the occupying British had been driven out it by Zionist terrorism was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favored and proposed by the U.S. was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what to do next that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence – actually in defiance of the will of the organized international community, including the Truman administration.
The truth of the time was that Israel had no right to exist. It came into existence because David Ben-Gurion had done everything necessary to guarantee that his Jewish forces would be more than sufficient in numbers and well enough armed to roll back and defeat any Arab military response to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence, and that Zionist might would prevail over Palestinian right.
Thereafter, Zionism was successful in convincing the Western world that poor little Israel lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews. The truth is that Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Despite some stupid, face-saving Arab rhetoric to the contrary, which played into Zionism’s hands, the Arab regimes never, ever, had any intention of fighting Israel to liberate Palestine.
When elements of the armies of the frontline Arab states went to war with Israel in 1948, their objective was not to destroy the “Jewish state” but to hold the land that had been assigned to the Palestinian Arab state by the vitiated partition plan, and they failed miserably, as Ben-Gurion was confident they would.
Also true is that Jordan, whose king had been in secret dialogue with Zionism’s in-Palestine leaders, would not have been a serious party to the Arab war effort if Ben-Gurion had not tried to grab Jerusalem; if, in other words, he had been content for the Holy City not to be part of either the Jewish or Arab state of the vitiated partition plan. Israel always was the aggressor and oppressor, not and never the victim.
Its assertion, repeated over and over again, that it didn’t have Arab partners for peace was also a big fat propaganda lie (as the documented truth of history, including de-classified Israeli state papers which are ignored by the mainstream media, proves).
A Personal Stand
When I made my commitment to the war for truth more than three decades ago, I believed that calling and holding Israel to account for its crimes, in order for there to be peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all, would remain a mission impossible unless the citizens of the Western nations, enough of them and Americans especially, were informed about the truth of history.
That seemed obvious to me because it was clear that, unwilling to confront the Zionist lobby in all its manifestations, the governments of the major Western powers were not going to use the leverage they have to oblige Israel to end its defiance of international law unless and until they were pushed to do by informed public opinion – by manifestations of real democracy in action.
THE problem was that most citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, were too misinformed and uninformed to do the pushing. In other words, because they had been conditioned by Zionist propaganda, peddled without question by the mainstream media, most citizens were too ignorant to make their democracies work for justice and peace in the Middle East.
So my starting point was the belief that the real conflict is an information war between Zionism’s masters of deception on the one side and the truth-tellers on the other.
The truth-tellers were few in number but among those who produced major truth-telling works (books) were Jews of real integrity including, for example, the Jewish-American Alfred M. Lilienthal; the first two Israeli “revisionist” meaning honest historians – Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe; the Jewish-American Norman Finkelstein; and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer. (In such company the Gentile – me – felt secure in the frontline trenches of the war for truth. There was also comfort in knowing that we were taking on Zionism from the moral high ground).
Over the last 20 years or so, with their books, articles and public speaking, the truth-tellers have made an impact but not on a big enough scale to change the outcome of the war. The truth today is that the situation of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians is worse than it has ever been and is worsening as Israel continues its defiance of international law and gobbles up more and more Palestinian land and water resources.
Also true today is that there is a rising, global tide of anti-Israel-ism, but it has little or nothing to do with the work of the truth-tellers. It is being provoked by Israel’s policies and actions. Some people (including perhaps President Obama) hope that Israel’s growing isolation will bring a majority of Israeli Jews to their senses and cause them to insist that their government be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. That has to be a possibility, but I think it is much more likely that the rising, global tide of anti-Israel-ism will have an opposite effect.
I mean that sentiment will assist Zionism’s deluded leaders to reinforce the message that what is happening is proof of what they have always said – that the world hates Jews and that Israel’s leaders must therefore do whatever is necessary to preserve and protect their state as an insurance policy, a refuge of last resort for all Jews everywhere even if that means telling an American president and the whole world to go to hell.
Lack of Resources
On reflection today I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel, right or wrong.
In my view, which is based on my own engagements with audiences across the U.S., Americans in great numbers would have been open to the truth of history if they had also been made aware that unconditional support for Israel right or wrong is not in their own best interests.
Because the resources were not made available, the war for the truth of history has remained the most asymmetric of all information wars. Zionism’s masters of deception have, as they always have had, virtually unlimited funds for the coordinated promotion of their propaganda lies. The truth-tellers are, as they always have been, without the resources needed to put together and implement a coordinated, winning campaign strategy.
The main providers of the resources necessary for winning the information war ought to have been seriously wealthy Arabs in general and seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians in particular. They ought to have done for Palestine what seriously wealthy Jews did and still do for Zionism.
There are two main reasons why seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians declined to play their necessary part in funding promotion of the truth of history.
Those who live in Western Europe and America are frightened that any association with the work of people who credibly challenge Zionism’s version of history would invite Zionist retribution, which could result in their businesses being damaged and perhaps even destroyed.
Those who live in the Gulf States are frightened that assisting the truth-tellers could put their very comfortable positions and relationships with the rulers of those states at risk because the rulers would not take kindly to a blow-back hassle from Zionism.
Zionist heavyweights in America do sometimes call Gulf Arab rulers directly to tell them what they should not do or allow. One such call was made to tell a ruler that he should not support Alan Hart and Ilan Pappe. The call was made after Ilan and I had made a joint presentation in the particular state, at its invitation, and had been promised support for our work.
Another possible reason why some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not assisted the promotion of the truth of history could be that they don’t understand (at all or well enough) that Western governments are not going to confront the Zionist monster unless the citizens of nations, the voters, are informed enough to demand that they do.
It’s also not impossible that some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not contributed to the information war effort because they believe but dare not say that Palestine has long been a lost cause. The brutal truth about seriously wealthy non-Palestinian Arabs is that most of them don’t care about the occupied and oppressed Palestinians and the many others, refugees still living in camps, who were dispossessed of their homes, their land and their rights. The Arab masses do care but their elites don’t. (That statement is something of an exaggeration to make a point but it contains much truth).
Today I can quantify the cost of my own commitment to the war for truth. If I had written a pro-Zionist book, I would have had wealthy Jews throwing money at it and me for global promotion of all kinds. But with Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, (which is a complete re-writing of the entire history of the conflict exposing Zionist propaganda for the nonsense it is and replacing it with the documented truth of history), I was on my own.
To fund the research and writing over nearly five years, then the printing and publication of the original, two-volume hardback edition, and then some promotion, I took out a loan against the security of the home that my wife and I owned outright and have lived in for a quarter of a century.
At the time I decided to do so (with my dear wife’s complete understanding and support), I didn’t think I was being stupid. My previous book (Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker?) had earned me significant income from the sale of the Arabic newspaper serialization rights, and I assumed that my latest book would do the same, enabling me to clear the re-mortgaged debt on my home.
I was, of course, aware that there were truths in Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews that would be more than uncomfortable for the Arab regimes and which they would not want their newspapers to publish. When I was writing the book, I had to be guided by the fact that you can’t tell the truth about Zionism without telling the truth about why the Arab states were never a threat to Israel’s existence.
But newspaper serialization of a two-volume book (which became three volumes in its updated American edition) would have taken only a relatively small amount of total content. Arab editors doing the serialization could have left out everything that offended their political masters and still had more than enough material to inform and entertain their readers.
But it was no go. My book was not only red-flagged by Zionism and therefore all the major Western publishing houses, this despite the fact that my extremely well-connected and respected literary agent had on file letters from the CEOs of some of them with rare praise for my manuscript. One of the letters, which I quoted in the Preface to the original hardback edition, described my manuscript as “awesome … driven my passion, commitment and profound learning.” It added, “There is no question it deserves to be published.”
For their part, the Arab regimes were at one with Zionism in wanting the full truth of history to be suppressed to the maximum extent possible. They effectively endorsed Zionism’s strategy for dealing with me and my work – “Alan Hart and his book do not exist.” (I think my dear friend Ilan Pappe may well have been right when he said that Zionism was more frightened of my book than any other because of its title, which he described as “the truth in seven words.”)
Today I have to face the cost consequences of my commitment to the truth of history. To avoid being dispossessed of my home and land in the not-too-distant future because I don’t have the money to pay the principal sum of the outstanding re-mortgaged debt (I have been paying only the interest on it), I now have to sell and downsize. Preparing to downsize will require, among other things, months of my fulltime to sort through and dispose of much of what has been accumulated over decades and could not be accommodated and stored in a much smaller property with little or no land.
And that in the proverbial nutshell is why I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for truth. The days when I could serve causes beyond self in order to feel that I was doing something useful with my life are gone. Like seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians and other Arabs, I must now put my own interests, and above all those of my dear wife, first.
Love or Justice?
Back in the early 1970s when I was making Five Minutes To Midnight, my documentary on global poverty and its implications for all, I had a verbal boxing match with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. After a day of filming with her as she collected some of those dying from poverty on the pavements to give them a few more days of life with shelter and loving care, she invited my camera crew and me to a frugal evening meal with some of her sisters. The question I posed for discussion over the meal was this: Which is the most important word in any language – love or justice?
Mother Teresa argued with passion, sometimes angry passion, for love. I argued, with equal but not angry passion, for justice. If she was alive today, I would say to her, “Mother Teresa, it’s justice not love that is required if the countdown to catastrophe in Palestine that became Israel is to be stopped.”
But it was not only my complete identity with the Palestinians’ irrefutable claim for justice and my admiration of the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed that inspired, drove and sustained my commitment to the war for the truth of history. I feared, as I do even more so today, that if the information war that probably could have been won by now is lost, the end-game will most likely be a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, followed, quite possibly, by another great turning against the Jews, provoked by Zionism’s insufferable self-righteousness and contempt for international law.
For three decades, I have done my best to contribute to the understanding needed to prevent both obscenities from happening, but I have now reached and passed the outer limits of what I can do when there’s a lack of will on the part of seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinian and other Arabs to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history.
In the days and weeks to come, I will no doubt find myself wondering if I was naive to believe that I could help Palestinian right triumph over Zionist might. To those all over the world who through the years have expressed appreciation for my books, articles and presentations on public platforms of all kinds – Thank You, your moral support helped to sustain my commitment.
A Palestinian friend once asked me if, on matters to do with Palestine, I was aware of the main difference between Arabs and Jews. He didn’t wait for me to respond. He said: “Arabs almost never do what they say they will do. Jews often do what they say they will not do.” I said I thought there was an element of truth in that.
Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who has covered wars and conflicts around the world and has specialized in the Middle East. His latest book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Vol. 1: The False Messiah, is a three-volume epic in its American edition. He blogs on AlanHart.com. [This article is reposted with the author’s permission.]