As the “Arab Spring” continues in the region, a new round of violent anti-American and anti-Israel protests have been initiated in many countries, supposedly sparked by an offensive film about Muhammed. This film has created fury among Muslims, as well as among secular elites. However, it is the media’s hasty assignment of blame, falsely, and the feeding of anti-Israel sentiment that is truly the most astounding. The film was, at first, widely reported as being created by an Israeli living in the US and as being responsible for the deaths of a US Ambassador and three other US diplomats in Libya due to the protests that ensued. Both of these claims were later proven false, but only after they had already been widely reported as facts and taken root in many Muslim and secular elite circles.
Whether intentional or not, by creating the direct claim that an Israeli had created the very film supposedly responsible for endangering Americans everywhere and for the deaths of high-level US officials, all backed by the funding of more than 100 wealthy Jewish donors, the media was creating a sort of modern “blood libel” against Israelis and Jews. This is all despite the fact that all three premises turned out to not be connected in any way. First of all, it later turned out that the attack on the Ambassador and diplomats in Libya was a pre-planned attack that was likely linked to al-Qaida and would have probably occurred regardless of the insulting film. In fact, the high-level diplomats were possibly meeting about just such a threat when they were attacked. The film was only an excuse to make the attack look more legitimate to the Muslim world in the midst of anger over the film. However, the deaths of the Americans were not a result of the film.
Secondly, the most irresponsible of the media’s false assertions was the Israeli-Jewish origin of the film. It was widely reported by CNN, Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and many other outlets, that Israeli-American Sam Bacile was responsible for the film and was continuing to insult Islam. Most media outlets did not even check to see if “Sam Bacile” was a real person or if the origins were indeed Israeli even after the Israeli government sent a statement out saying that there was no such Israeli citizen. Additionally, the one media outlet with enough integrity to look into the truth of the matter, NPR, actually pointed out the improbability that 100 wealthy Jewish donors had anything to do with the film, as it appeared to be very poorly done and with little to no funding. NPR later went on to investigate each claim individually and found the story to be greatly lacking.
In the end, the film turned out to have been created by an Egyptian Coptic Christian who was rightfully sick of Islam but chose to vent his disgust in a very unwise and unloving way, while also using Israel as a scapegoat to deflect any blame off of himself. Sadly, this left many Israelis wondering why it was so easy for the media to jump on claims of Jewish and Israeli complicity in the deadly attack and protests that took place when the same news outlets often are very careful to not point out who the perpetrators of attacks against Israelis are. For many Jews and Israelis, this was eerily reminiscent of the historic tendency of the Western world to make Jews into scapegoats or to create “blood libels” against them.
Most of these news outlets would likely be very defensive against claims of anti-Semitism and would be quick to point out the several notable Jewish members of their staff. However, it seems that it is okay to be Jewish only as long as one conforms to the worldly, Western point of view and does not stand for Israel or for any one Truth. Israelis or those who actually believe in Truth are easily painted in a negative light in news coverage and do not warrant apologies for being misrepresented or for their own safety being jeopardized by a story.
Gratefully, the world has learned from the consequences of racism and so it is no longer vogue to be against one single race, making it unpopular to outright discriminate against Jews. However, Israel continues to be a stumbling block to the nations (Zechariah 12) and Israelis are easily painted as ignorant, blood-thirsty and abusive people as a whole. Even Israeli artists who are often fighting within Israel for Palestinian rights and for peace are boycotted or protested when visiting places in Europe. The protesters cannot differentiate as, to them, all Israelis are taken from the same mold and must be exactly the same-as attitude that usually is the first step in dehumanizing a group of people. Furthermore, the same protesters are not doing anything for the good of the Palestinians themselves and are actually protesting the very people who are living alongside and helping the Palestinians, showing that it is not really about being for the Palestinians but more about being against Israel. In the same way, the media often repeatedly gives a negative slant to any story involving Israel or Israelis, assuming them to all be complicit in the crimes of a few. Even when Israelis are victims, the media does not paint the crime as harshly or the victims as innocent in the same way as in other such attacks. For instance, in the recent suicide bombing of an Israeli bus in Bulgaria, a BBC correspondent described the attack as an “accident” and many other news outlets only said that Israel “claimed it was a ‘terrorist attack’” even after Bulgarian authorities confirmed it was clearly a suicide bombing. By using terms such as “accident,” or “claimed,” these outlets paint Israelis as paranoid and making too big a deal out of the situation, therefore belittling an attack that killed seven people and injured scores more.
Though Scripture is not clear about the reasons for anti-Semitism, we know that God made a special covenant with the Jewish people and called them to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 60:3). He also warned that they would suffer greatly at the hands of the nations due to His name being on them (Deuteronomy 28:64-67). However, He repeatedly promises beautiful restoration and also warns the nations about their dealings with Israel and its people (Joel 3). So, in sum, we know that God warned the Jews that they will be dispersed among the nations, and also that the nations will be judged for how they mistreated the people of Israel and Judah. However, after each generation has seen anti-Semitism in some way, many Jews and Israelis wonder when it will end. Likely, the answer lies only in the spiritual restoration of Israel and the acceptance of her Messiah. However, until then, those in key places in the nations are being held accountable for their actions and words against the Jewish people. This is not to say that all criticism is wrong, if rightfully earned. However, one had better know the facts before implicating Israel. The prophets were plenty critical of Israel’s actions and there is still much to find fault within her today. But making Israel and Israelis out to be significantly worse than other nations and arrogantly deciding her fate is hypocritical and shows a double standard that God will not tolerate when He holds the nations accountable.
Despite what one’s personal opinion is of the controversial film that sparked fury in the Muslim world, one cannot ignore the media’s clear disregard for truth in the incident and their full-fledged embrace of a convenient lie regarding an “Israeli” culprit. This demonstrates the need for believers to truly stand for Truth and to discern the information that is being fed. It does not mean that we should believe in fantastical conspiracy theories which can be just as damaging, but rather to be “wise as a serpent and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) in everything that we read or hear.
Please pray that:
- The world’s lies about Israel and the Jews would be unmasked to those who are truly seeking truth and that even those who are buying into those lies would have their eyes opened
- God would protect Israelis from the repercussions of such false accusations
- The Jewish people would turn to their Messiah and begin to accept Him as the atonement for their sins and as their defender
- Many in bondage to Islam would be set free and that believers would be given a wise and loving strategy to reach them with the love of Messiah
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