PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Afterlives of Lies

The hoax of “weaponized rape” in Gaza takes what seems a fatal hit.

Lobby of The News Building in London, home to The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, Harper Collins, 2014. (Sarah Marshall, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News 

Last Friday, while President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and other Western leaders, along with the reporters who clerk for them, were in Normandy busily airbrushing out the Red Army’s heroism in defeating the Reich 80 years ago, something truer to history occurred in the pages of The Times of London.

Under the headline, “Israel says Hamas weaponized rape. Does the evidence add up?” two investigative reporters, Catherine Philp and Gabrielle Weiniger, decisively shredded the dense fabric of lies on this topic, woven these past eight months by the Israelis, Western media, freakishly obsessed Zionist sympathizers and various feminist poseurs.

[See: Evidence Missing in ‘Mass Rape’ Charge Against Hamas]

Philp and Weiniger have produced an exceptional piece of journalism, the virtues of which I will shortly consider. For now, just this: You will never read a piece of this integrity on this side of the Atlantic — and certainly never in The New York Times, whose infamous dishonesty in the matter of alleged sexual violence in the Gaza crisis has few matches in the history of the once-but-no-longer newspaper of record.

But the significance of The Times piece extends well beyond its quality as first-rate work. Mainstream media have at last reported on the monstrous propaganda operation that has fabricated lurid allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Hamas militias. The surface of silence has finally been disturbed. The historians will have a record with which to work.

And the record will include, as reflections in a mirror, the base derelictions of other major media — The New York Times, the BBC, the wire services, and so on down a long list — as they collaborated with the Zionist state to advance this edifice of lies to justify the barbarities of the Israel Occupation Forces. (And let us rename these savages in uniform.) [Three Israeli experts claim their comments were misrepresented in The Times of London piece.]

I liked Aaron Maté’s remark when he posted a link to The Times piece on X soon after it came out: “Establishment media starting to catch up with independent journalists and a squirrel Twitter account” – the latter a reference to the man, woman, or entity that flagged the piece when it was published last Friday.

Just the point, or one of many. Various independent publications, notably but not only The Grayzone, Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada and The Intercept, were swift to expose the Israelis’ aggressive propaganda op when, with Jeffrey Gettleman’s breathtakingly counterfeit pieces in The New York Times last December, the lying got entirely out of hand. 

These publications kept the light shining on a story that otherwise would have disappeared in darkness. We see in their reports the increasing power of independent media to force accurate accountings of events into the record. In this case if not in many others, those airbrushing the picture failed.

Unambiguous Rebuttal 

Answering the question posed in the headline atop their piece, Philp and Weiniger reply with an unambiguous “No”: there is no sound evidence whatsoever that Hamas militias, and others that crossed into southern Israel with them last Oct. 7, engaged in systematic, officially planned sexual violence against Israelis, women and men, during their attacks on various kibbutzim just across the Gaza–Israel border.

These fabrications began to appear within days of the Oct. 7 events and have ever since polluted public discourse across the West. We must now bear another bureaucratic acronym, CRSV, “conflict-related sexual violence,” to secure the gravity of the charges in our minds.

Prominent faux-feminists — Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg chief among them — continue to indulge in “the politicization of rape,” as one of Philp’s and Weiniger’s sources calls it.

But the air begins to clear. From here on out, those who continue to peddle the junk conjured by the Israeli propaganda machine will merely expose themselves as unserious buffoons in the service of an apartheid state. Let them.

Philp and Weiniger devote considerable column inches to the report issued March 4 by Pramila Patten, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in zones of conflict.

Predictably, Western media went long on Patten’s report of “reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in multiple locations.”

 Patten briefing the U.N. Security Council on March 11. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

Lost in the frisson this language prompted in the mainstream press was the U.N.’s finding that there is also credible evidence, and a lot of it, of such abuse by the IOF. And as Philps and Weiniger report, the Israelis flatly refused to cooperate with a formal investigation into any of these matters — the allegations against either Hamas or the IOF — when Patten, whose mission was preliminary to an official inquiry, recommended one.

The gaping hole Philp and Weiniger blow in the propagandists’ bow also derives from the Patten report. Whatever her team may have found in the way of sexual violence during its Jan. 19–Feb. 14 mission, it reported finding no evidence that Hamas ordered it as a systematic weapon of war.

Netting this out, sexual violence in wartime is as old and as regrettable as warfare itself.

The peasants in the Red Army’s infantry had a reputation for it during World War II. But it was not Soviet military policy by any stretch any more than it was or is the Hamas leadership’s.

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The distinction is key to the destruction of propagandists’ edifice. The most infamous piece of rubbish published on this point — Jeffrey Gettleman’s long Dec. 28 takeout, the piece that lit the fuse — was headlined, “Screams Without Words: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on October 7.”

‘Inherited Trauma’

Having surfaced this fraud in an influential mainstream newspaper, Philps and Weiniger are simply without equal as they investigate just where the Israelis’ platoons of fabricators and outright liars got the imagery that made the propaganda op so explosive.

They mark it down to the “inherited trauma” — Gabor Maté’s phrase, not Philps and Weinger’s — European Jews bear within from all those centuries of pogroms and from the Reich’s concentration camps.

Here are the two Times reporters explaining this use of the past. Their reference in this passage is to Sarai Aharoni, a scholar at Ben–Gurion University who is assembling an archive of the events that began Oct. 7 (and may it prove accurate when it is opened after a 50–year embargo):

“For Jewish Israelis, the specter of rape was more closely associated historically with the pogroms of Eastern Europe, in which thousands of Jews were killed and Jewish women raped by Christian soldiers and antisemitic mobs. That persecution would become one of the driving forces behind modern Zionism and the resettlement of European Jews in the Ottoman province that became British mandate Palestine.

These ‘historical memories,’ Aharoni notes, have become a cultural inheritance for the Jewish people, particularly those without a secular education, a fact that would come to play a role in the reporting of what happened on October 7.”

And later in the piece:

“Aharoni and others are struck by how closely the Zaka accounts cleaved to stories handed down about the horrors of the pogroms. ‘The first framing of rape and sexual violence was automatically linked with European histories,’ she says, particularly by those with a religious education.

‘So there is a Zaka [an ultra-orthodox rescue group known for fabricating evidence] volunteer whose main education is religious. He’s read a lot of Jewish texts that depict the raping of women. These texts kind of reappear again and again in Jewish stories and they reappear every time there is a major event against Jewish communities.”

And further on:

“The now debunked story of the pregnant woman and her slaughtered foetus is well known from the pogroms. Many other erroneous tales involved babies — one Zaka figure claimed to have found a baby baked alive in an oven.”

Very fine journalism. Philp and Weiniger are also excellent on the sociology of the worsening of Israel’s ever-present racism since Benjamin Netanyahu, in the cause of his political survival, formed a government of beyond-belief freaks in the final days of 2022.

“The idea of the Arab male as an explicit sexual threat to Jewish women,” they write, “developed in tandem with the movement of Israeli politics to the right.”

Philps and Weiniger are too kind, in my view, to put the framing of Hamas for directing sexual abuse down to the Jews’ past traumas. It seems to me more in the line of amateurishly sloppy propaganda and yet another case — how heartily sick one grows of this — of pimping the historical sufferings of Jews to maintain the Zionists’ cynical claim to be the world’s eternal victims.

Will The Times exposé cause the propagandists and Zionist zealots to desist, now that a mainstream newspaper adds its voice to the honorable work of the independent publications noted earlier? In the long term, yes. The story of gang rapes, baked babies, and disemboweled mothers is dead.

Maintaining the Facade

In the short term, no. One of the defining characteristics of propagandists is that they can never admit to being wrong when exposed. Surrender is out of the question when your objective is not to convey realities but to construct a façade obscuring them: Façades collapse like poorly built walls if a single chink appears in them.

Jeffrey “I don’t want to even use the word ‘evidence’” Gettleman is our case in point.

While there is no question of the Times firing him — this would be to admit the paper’s dishonor — I had predicted he would be reassigned to the police blotter in Trenton or some other such ignominious fate. I was wrong. Gettleman is back in Ukraine, from whence he was reporting until the morning of Oct. 7.

His first piece, after a hiatus of three and some months, appeared May 11 and was actually a very good report on the recent Russian advances into northeastern Ukraine. Several others in this line followed, all more or less balanced — or more balanced, let’s leave it, than the obvious propaganda the Times has long given readers in its Ukraine reports.

Gettleman’s latest, datelined June 8 — a day after The Times ripped him a new one without mentioning his name — was a weirdly long report on how popular caffeinated energy drinks are among Ukrainian soldiers at the front.

I read this, war correspondence at its pithiest, as an indication the Times has begun a lengthy rehabilitation of a reporter in whom it has long taken pride.

Will you ever again trust a Gettleman byline? Not I. An X user named Mazen Labban put it nicely as The Times piece got around: “Every day the NYT keeps Gettleman on its staff, and does not retract the drivel he’s written, is an insult to journalists and journalism.”

No, there is no erasing a disgrace of the magnitude of Gettleman’s, Mazen. But Gettleman will stay — he must. His job from here on out is to stand in place so the façade does not crack.

There is also the case, at least as egregious as Gettleman’s, of Sheryl Sandberg, the longtime propagator of, let’s call it, corporate feminism.

Sandberg took on the sexual violence fraud with what we have to count reckless abandon given how eagerly she adopted the unexamined Israeli propaganda and how indifferent she has since proven to contradicting facts.

Sandberg, center, while chief operating officer of Facebook, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2016. (WEF, Flickr /Remy Steinegger, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On May 2 Sandberg released a 60–minute film on Hamas’ “weaponization” of sexual violence theme titled “Screams Before Silence.” If this suggests to you she is fine replicating all the demonstrated lies of the infamous Gettleman takeout, stay with the thought.

Sandberg calls the film a documentary, and also the worthiest work she has ever done. It is a straight-out rehearsal of the original Israeli line, complete with Zaka and all the other discredited non-witnesses and liars paying attention readers will have encountered in the Gettleman piece and countless others like it.

Screams Before Silence was released two months after the Patten report and the independent journalism previously mentioned, but never mind all that.

Sandberg will soldier on regardless. She is determined to make hatred of Hamas, and one suspects by extension Palestinians, some kind of feminist cause. Pitiful. No mention of the 20–odd thousand women the IOF has slaughtered, Ms. Sandberg?

This is feminism weaponized in the Zionist cause, plainly and simply. Genuine, worthwhile feminism, feminism as a subset of humanism, went out the window long, long ago, I am perfectly aware. But this seems to me a degradation too far, even with the sorry history of a cause that was once so promising in view.

Maybe because of Sandberg’s obsessive motivations and the repetition of so many false narratives, Screams Before Silence has earned faint praise indeed in mainstream media.

CNN and The Wall Street Journal covered it, mutedly. Few others have had anything to say.

Lies in the cause of our hegemonic orthodoxies have afterlives, certainly. But they rarely, if ever, live eternally, and they often die slow, painful deaths.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for The International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. 

TO MY READERS. Independent publications and those who write for them reach a moment that is difficult and full of promise all at once. On one hand, we assume ever greater responsibilities in the face of mainstream media’s mounting derelictions. On the other, we have found no sustaining revenue model and so must turn directly to our readers for support. I am committed to independent journalism for the duration: I see no other future for American media. But the path grows steeper, and as it does I need your help. This grows urgent now. In  recognition of the commitment to independent journalism, please subscribe to The Floutist, or via my Patreon account.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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25 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Afterlives of Lies

  1. peter mcloughlin
    June 14, 2024 at 09:26

    It is near impossible to access the truth in war. And it is the failure to see reality that is bringing humanity to the precipice of nuclear Armageddon. Perhaps a little cryptically (wise in the current circumstances) I ask others to search the following phrase: The Doomsday Syllogism

  2. Litchfield
    June 13, 2024 at 23:45

    Re “These ‘historical memories,’ Aharoni notes, have become a cultural inheritance for the Jewish people, particularly those without a secular education, a fact that would come to play a role in the reporting of what happened on October 7.”

    I don’t buy it. How come only Jews have “inherited trauma”?

    What about the Palestinians?

    This whole inherited trauma thing is just more Jewish exceptionalism. It is not scientific. They use it as a way to slide out from responsibility for the crimes they themselves have committed WITHIN LIVING MEMORY.

    Quite apart from the fact that the history and causes of the pogroms is contested, but actual historical examination, discussion, and analysis of what really happened, and WHY, is taboo. Very convenient.

  3. Kay Karpus Walker
    June 13, 2024 at 14:03

    Just had my post of your article and my comments removed by Facebook as being against community standards. I can assure you that my comments were not and I assume that you know yours were not, Patrick Lawrence.

    • June 14, 2024 at 22:56

      Thanks to you, Lois, Rose, the faithful Carolyn, and others abt this. We just tried to post the piece, sheer experiment, and it was removed within seconds. The algorithmic trip word could be anything, but my bet is it is “Sandberg,” the former whatever-her-title, after all.
      Funny but not altogether so.
      My usual thanks to all those commenting.
      P. L.

  4. Kay Karpus Walker
    June 13, 2024 at 13:18

    Mr. Lawrence, I just had this (your post and my comments) removed by Facebook giving me 128 days to contest the removal. I often post articles from the Consortium and other journalists on many subjects that i am sure facebook finds offensive but I have not had anything removed but my friends have reported this has happened to them as it happens. At times, friends report they are put in facebook jail for 30 days ie can’t post. All of these facebook friends of mine seem to be accurate critics of the propaganda and lies being fed to us in the USA and abroad the mainstream media and various governments. In my case I do not use swear words, misquote articles or create artificial realities. Just letting you know. Facebook is of course violating your and my and others first amendment rights. Thank you for your articles and sense of justice.

    • Lois Gagnon
      June 13, 2024 at 15:50

      I have resorted to posting articles from CN in a comment under a post that says something benign like see my comment below. The algorithm usually doesn’t pick up that it’s something Zuck disapproves of. CN is definitely on his violation of community standards radar. Posting to private groups usually, although not always survives to be read by members of the group. Power abhors a challenge to its lies.

  5. Rose Garrity
    June 13, 2024 at 12:36

    I posted this article to Facebook and it was immediately removed!

  6. Carolyn L Zaremba
    June 13, 2024 at 11:54

    Great column. And you need to know that Facebook deleted this article when I posted it a few minutes ago, saying that it was spam. I took a screen shot of their attack screen for future reference, but CN needs to know that this is being censored on FB, at least for me. I am curious to know whether anyone else has had the article removed on spurious grounds.

  7. TomG
    June 13, 2024 at 07:54

    Eight years on and too many of my “friends” cling to lie that Putin and Trump–linked at the hip–stole the election from HRC. You shall know the lie and the lie shall keep you bound.

  8. Afdal
    June 13, 2024 at 00:30

    I predict the next step is the propagandists will move on to a new outrageous claim that will take months to falsify. The most effective propaganda is really about death by a thousand cuts: overwhelm skeptics and the general public’s ability to debunk it.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 13, 2024 at 11:55

      See my comment above about Facebook deleting this article when I posted it.

  9. wildthange
    June 12, 2024 at 21:26

    It also may be true that the crucifixion is the start of a weaponized religion without factual nature too. Maybe in service to an occupation force facing resistance. Even the claims of a ransacked temple as unauthenticated moral outrage. Weaponization for war through human history have much too long half lives for human civilization to reckon with. Global community eventually will have to have innumerable reconciliation council to defuse just like the buried bombs and bomblets of time.

  10. cjonsson
    June 12, 2024 at 21:20

    Patrick, This article was instantaneously blocked by facebook when I tried to post it. It must be something we need to know.
    Thank you. I still nee to read it.

  11. Jeff Harrison
    June 12, 2024 at 17:33

    Are you sure her last name is Sandberg and not Riefenstahl?

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 13, 2024 at 11:56

      Nice one.

  12. Rob
    June 12, 2024 at 17:15

    The propagandistic lies have already served their purpose of planting a false narrative in the minds of millions of people who are either emotionally inclined to believe them or too lazy to seek the truth. Exposing the lies will not remove that narrative from many, if not most, of those minds. The same thing happened with the Russiagate hoax, which is still widely accepted as truth.

    • anaisanesse
      June 13, 2024 at 01:52

      The shameful “Bucha massacre by Russia” fabrication early in the SMO is another example of effective mass indoctrination.

      • Dwight
        June 14, 2024 at 14:35

        And like Bucha, the rape stories were pushed at a time when there was a chance for early ceasefire.

  13. Geoff Burns
    June 12, 2024 at 16:23

    Great column Patrick. And many thanks to Catherine Philp and Gabrielle Weiniger for their honest reporting.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 13, 2024 at 11:56

      Yes, indeed.

      • Bushrod Lake
        June 14, 2024 at 13:03


  14. mgr
    June 12, 2024 at 15:39

    Spot on. The Times just cannot break its “Judith Miller habit…” Not an anomaly of bad or propagandist reporting but rather routine intent. And Sandberg, chief operating officer of facebook. Why am I not in the least surprised..?

    • Susan Siens
      June 12, 2024 at 17:28

      And why would anyone in their right mind listen to the COO of Assbook? That’s on a level with quoting Wikipedia as a “source.”

  15. forceOfHabit
    June 12, 2024 at 15:19

    The true believers in the Hamas systematic rape narrative will simply close their eyes, and stuff their fingers in their ears. Their minds will remain firmly made up on the topic, and at the same time open to whatever new slander the corporate media espouses.

    • mary-lou
      June 12, 2024 at 17:44

      Hosea 4:6 – “My people (i.e. J*ws) are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.

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