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Killing the messenger

02/01/2010

Here’s the thing about truth: it can be bent fifteen ways till Tuesday, turned into a giant lie, and still gain traction. All because people would rather not be challenged on what they believe to be true.

Case in point: a vicious and highly personal campaign launched this week against Israel’s largest social change organization – the New Israel Fund – by the group Im Tirtzu (“if you will it”). It began with Im Tirtzu‘s 112-page screed alleging that NIF is directly responsible for the content of the Goldstone report (the highly controversial U.N. report on the Gaza conflict). Posters of NIF’s President (and former Knesset member) Naomi Chazan with a giant horn on her head are surfacing. There are protests outside her home.

I don’t doubt that individuals representing NIF funded human rights groups made statements later used by Goldstone’s commission.  These groups were on the ground on both sides of the Green Line. Saw things. Goldstone found that Israel committed human rights violations. Two and two = these people are out to get Israel because, by definition anything that Israel does is correct. Criticism = anti-Semitism. By cooperating with Goldstone, even at a distance, by saying out loud what they saw with their own eyes, individuals are contributing to the downfall of the Jewish people.

Members of Knesset are actually talking about limiting the activities of, or outright banning, NIF — the largest funder of women’s, equal rights, environmental, and economic justice non-profits in Israel. An organization that proudly fights for democracy and open government.

J.J. Goldberg has the best summary of the issues and the inaccuracies here, so I won’t bore you further. Friends, the whole thing makes me want to spit.

This is just another example of what I find to be a disgusting trend in public discourse: don’t like something? Forget about arguing your case on the merits. Kill the messenger. Character assassinate. Bend facts and just plain make stuff up. Don’t let up until you’ve worn down the opposition.

It stinks.

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