CST Blog

Middle East Monitor: faking a Jewish conspiracy

5 October 2011

Middle East Monitor (MEMO) is a pro-Palestinian lobbying group which generally supports Islamist positions within Palestinian politics. We have had cause to write about MEMO on this blog before, because they commonly promote conspiracy theories about politicians in Western nations being beholden to Jewish or Zionist political manipulation and financial inducements, along with other classical antisemitic canards and tropes.

Now MEMO's Senior Editor, Ibrahim Hewitt, has gone right to the top, and accused U.S. President Barack Obama's government of being "led by the nose by a pro-Israel Lobby" because of Obama's dependency on "Zionist votes and Zionist money." It is not MEMO's peddling of this kind of familiar conspiracy theory that caught my eye, however. Instead, I was drawn to this concluding passage:

There are a number of quotations alleged to have been made by prominent politicians suggesting that US foreign policy is dictated by the Israelis, including one by ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "yelling" at Shimon Peres, "Don't worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America".

If that is true, then perhaps it's time for a rethink. We shouldn't talk about Israel being the 51st State of the USA; we should think of the USA as the 2nd State of Israel.

This alleged quote by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a fake. It has been thoroughlydebunked since it first appeared in 2001 in a press release from the pro-Hamas Islamic Association for Palestine. IAP's claimed source for the quote, the Israeli radio station Kol Yisrael, had never broadcast it, and their political correspondent confirmed that Sharon never said it. No other source has ever emerged to confirm IAP's claim. There is a long history (pdf) of fake quotes in the canon of anti-Israel propaganda, and this is one of them.

Hewitt appears to suspect that this may be the case, because he frames his use of the quote with an acknowledgement that it is only "alleged", and asks "If that is true...". If anything that makes his use of it even worse than if he unwittingly believed it to be accurate. The allegation that "the Jewish people control America" has a very clear and deep antisemitic provenance. These are not words to use frivolously or without 100% certainty.

MEMO, in the first line of its Mission Statement, claims to "Provide our clients with up-to-date reporting and carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence." (my emphasis). MEMO is proud of its work with Members of Parliament and journalists from a range of newspapers and claims to be "recognised as a legitimate and credible source of information on the Middle East." If MEMO wishes this to remain the case, its senior staff should be more careful about peddling fake quotes in order to spread antisemitic conspiracy theories.

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