When Fiction Masquerades as Journalism

By: Kevin RossKevin

 ZOA Member and World Likud deputy chair in the Zionist General Council



After reading Susan Abulhawa’s article on Philly.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer, “By touring Israel, Philadelphia Orchestra ignores crimes against Palestinians,” I was mystified how in today’s day and age, with all the resources at our disposal to verify information, such an article could make it in the opinion section of a major newspaper. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts.


Statements of fact are either true or not true. That’s why this article, which is so full of blatant lies, cannot be honestly described as an opinion. It can only be described as fraud.

Given the long history of Palestinian Arab supporters manufacturing evidence to the point that the phrase “Pallywood” has been coined, one would think that a major newspaper would be a bit more cautious in printing such an article. Palestinian Arab propagandists often make or share fake videos designed to pull at the heartstrings of the uninformed international community that is not knowledgeable about these efforts to demonize Israel.

Alan Dershowitz said of Abulhawa that she “supports Hamas, she supports Hezbollah, she supports Husseini (the Muslim Grand Mufti that collaborated with Hitler).” French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy described Abulhawa’s novel Mornings in Jenin as “a concentration of anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish clichés masquerading as fiction.” It appears that her article is consistent with her other views and works of propaganda.

Susan Abulhawa at the Oslo Book Festival | decltype/Wikimedia Commons

Abulhawa’s depiction of Israel, its history and alleged treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is something you would expect to read on Hamas propaganda websites. Her work of fiction begins by depicting an alleged sinister Israeli conspiracy to cover up Israel’s alleged diabolical crimes against the allegedly meek, innocent Palestinian Arabs. How is Israel going about hiding these crimes? She claims it’s by putting on lots of concerts in order to divert attention away from these crimes.

This begs the question: If Israel is so awful to Arabs, why do the majority of Israeli Arabs — by a wide margin — want to live in Israel rather than anywhere else, including in any future Palestinian state?

Her depiction of Palestinian Arab-led boycotts against Israel being successful and likening such boycotts to the fight against apartheid South Africa is laughable. The Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber, Aerosmith, Rihanna, Sia, Guns N’ Roses, Madonna, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Linkin Park, Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, One Republic, Robbie Williams, Seal, Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, the Pixies, Rod Stewart, Nick Cave, Tears for Fears, Grandaddy, Jose Gonzalez, Fatboy Slim, Jean-Michel Jarre, Paul Young, Vanessa-Mae, Emir Kusturica, Ace of Base, Alice Cooper, Santana, The Chainsmokers and so many more have either already performed in Israel or are scheduled to do so.

The creative community overwhelmingly supports Israel. Only a vocal minority have chosen to boycott Israel. The leader of the performing artists boycotting Israel is Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters, who best exemplified his views by floating giant inflatable pigs with the Jewish Star of David emblazoned on them at his concerts.

Moving on to the fantastical claims of Israel being an apartheid state, one simply needs to look at what an apartheid state looked like and then compare it to Israel.

In apartheid South Africa all non-whites couldn’t vote, couldn’t hold political office, couldn’t marry whites, couldn’t use the same restrooms, couldn’t attend white schools and couldn’t live in white neighborhoods. Not one of these restrictions exists for Arabs living in Israel.

There are Arab members of parliament. There are Arab Supreme Court justices. It was an Arab judge that sentenced a former Israeli president to jail for sexual misconduct. All the signs in Israel are in Hebrew, English and Arabic. The truth is that Arabs in Israel are freer than any Arabs in the entire Arab world.

Even members of South Africa’s parliament like Kenneth Meshoe, who lived under the apartheid regime in South Africa, have railed against the scurrilous comparison to apartheid South Africa. Meshoe stated that such comparisons are “inaccurate and malicious,” whose “purpose is to demonize Israel and delegitimize Israel’s existence. … Because it is so inaccurate, it betrays the memory of those that suffered under real apartheid.”

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s efforts to demonize Israel are founded on lies. Curiously, as supporting evidence to prove her outlandish accusations, Abulhawa chose to cite Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, a longstanding anti-Semite with an appalling list of anti-Jewish comments spanning decades. Here’s one of Tutu’s typical statements about Jews: “Whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can’t ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people.” And let us not forget, arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat was also a Nobel laureate.

Abulhawa “creatively” characterizes the Israel Defense Forces’ defense against Hamas terrorists attempting to breach the Gaza border fence and infiltrate Israel as having “killed 40 Palestinians and wounded 5,000 more in the span of four weeks” — as if these were regular Palestinian Arabs doing nothing wrong, just minding their own business. In truth, they have repeatedly thrown firebombs at Israeli soldiers.

Abulhawa refers to the 1948 Arab population as “indigenous,” despite the fact that overwhelmingly, the Arab population were new arrivals to the area, coming from the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1800s, as documented by British census data. Nonetheless, like Abulhawa, Palestinian Arab leaders have been attempting to rewrite history. Archaeologists continue to find ancient Hebrew artifacts that are thousands of years old, evidencing the Jewish presence in the land for thousands of years. Curiously, no such Palestinian Arab archaeological findings have been found.

Abulhawa’s libel of Israel is consistent with her radical views. Her screed was yet another shameless attempt to smear the only Jewish state.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is rightly proud to stand with the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. While no country is perfect, no other country facing similar threats and challenges has comported itself more honorably and equitably than Israel. Israel remains a beacon of freedom, democracy and equal rights for all. Even while on the front lines of the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, Israel remains a vibrant, successful and happy country whose contributions to mankind continue to enrich the world.

Israel truly is a “light unto the nations.”

Kevin Ross is co-president of the Zionist Organization of America’s Philadelphia office.

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