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Palestinian movement's winning formula: Exploiting ignorance

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

The Palestinian movement has pressed ignorant people into service for an intolerant and violent cause based on the certainty that speaking from ignorance is better than not speaking at all.

Rachel Corrie, an idealistic young American, swallowed the Palestinian narrative. It cost Corrie her life.

During the civil rights movement in the United States, Martin Luther King warned that “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;” Margaret Mead said, “indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, noted the 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke, is for good men to do nothing.

There is no such thing, June Callwood said, as an innocent bystander.

What none of these great minds anticipated was the potential for good people to be motivated by lies and terrible ideas. They never anticipated the Palestinian movement.

The Palestinian movement has pressed ignorant people into service for an intolerant and violent cause based on the accepted wisdom that speaking from ignorance is better than not speaking at all. Each of these well-intentioned maxims failed to anticipate a Palestinian movement whose core modus operandi is to mobilize North America’s and Europe’s most ill-informed people.

Many of the street activists on the frontlines of this battle know of Mideast history only what they’ve learned from the handbills distributed by the International Socialists.

One young activist contested the idea that Israel is not hated for its occupation or “policies” but was unwelcome from the moment of its birth. He insisted that Israel had a chance to develop good neighbourly relations but blew it. Having made Palestine the top priority of his activism, in this interaction he indicated that he was not aware of even the most foundational fact of this conflict: That it began with the mass invasion by Arab states at the very hour Israel became independent in 1948.

A former Vancouver city councilor who had signed his name to a public statement condemning Israel spoke of his visit to Tel Aviv – then clarified sheepishly that Tel Aviv was, in fact, in Israel.

One former Israeli, now a Canadian filmmaker, asks activists where they think the borders should be drawn between Israel and, say, Portugal, to get a gauge on whether his sparring partner could even find the place on a map.

Another Israeli was asked during a smoke break where her accent was from. When she said Israel, the other person said it was terrible what Israel was doing to the Jewish people.

Even Libby Davies, at the time the most prominent voice for Palestine in Canada’s Parliament, demonstrated that she didn’t know the most basic facts of history when she was forced to backtrack on her comments that “the occupation” began in 1948, not 1967.

At the very least, shouldn’t people be encouraged to become informed before being pressed into service for the cause? That, however, is decidedly not in the interest of the movement.

Among the ironies of the Palestinian movement’s celebration of ignorance is that Zionists are routinely accused of “uncritically” and “blindly” defending whatever Israel does. There may be a degree of blind loyalty and occasionally fanatical belief on the Zionist side. But on the other side is a celebration of ignorance that defines the absolute core of the movement, its activists, leaders and narrative.

The Palestinian movement has largely abandoned quantitative facts, because by no measure could Palestinians rank anywhere near the top of the world's most destitute or endangered people.

So, among the more common assertion today is that Israel is “humiliating” Palestinians. (There is something inherently sexist and racist in this humiliation, in that it is almost always the Palestinian male being humiliated by the Jews which, in case you don’t follow, is a double-whammy of humiliation – Arab men who dominate at home being forced to submit to a lowly Jew. More on that soon.)

The humiliation assertion is essentially undeniable. If a person says they are humiliated, who are we to disagree, let alone disprove them?

This rejection of rational discussion and reversion to irrefutable emotion frees the Palestinian movement from requiring complicated facts to back up its hysterical claims. It helped alleviate any quantitative questions that some people were beginning to raise when the world’s self-proclaimed foremost human rights advocates were obsessing over Palestine while, for example, 1,000 people a day were dying in Congo.

Pressing people into activism while encouraging them to remain ignorant has been a fabulously effective strategy for the Palestinian movement, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Even when it causes the death of one of the Palestinian movement’s most iconic martyrs, few bother to explore the role ignorance played in the tragic death. The default, always, is to blame Israel.


Rachel Corrie was an idealistic young Washington state student who swallowed the Palestinian narrative – and it cost Corrie her life.

Corrie went to the Middle East in 2003 with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.”

The organization placed Corrie as a human barrier between Israeli military equipment and a terrorist installation.

“It’s possible they [the protestors] were not as disciplined as we would have liked,” one of the ISM’s founders admitted after Corrie’s death. Yet, the culpability of the ISM in Corrie’s death did not dissuade them from immediately, and for years since, celebrating Corrie as a heroine.

Corrie was killed by accident, struck by falling rubble while sitting behind a mound of debris, invisible to the driver of a military tractor. The trail of events thereafter follows the familiar path of deception and willful ignorance that defines the Palestinian movement.

Even while presumably mourning the loss of a young American ally, the ISM was immediately cashing in on the propaganda value of her death. The organization released pictures of Corrie, standing in plain view of an Israeli bulldozer and shouting through a megaphone. She couldn’t be missed. The photo seemed like a latter-day version of the famous photo of the Tiananmen Square facedown, but one in which the military, in this case Israel’s, was coldblooded enough not to stop or even alter course for the gutsy protester.

That photo, which ISM led us to believe was taken immediately before Corrie’s death, was snapped hours earlier.

The impression ISM wanted to create in the world’s imagination was that the death was as straightforward as a military vehicle deliberately running over a protesting American civilian; that the Israeli military is more coldblooded than the Chinese Communist regime.

What the young American was doing in front of a military vehicle was a question raised only tangentially and reinforces the narrative’s unquestioning commitment to ignorance. What was it Corrie was protesting?

In a disappointing comeuppance of this morality tale, the fact is Corrie died defending the right of Palestinian terrorists and black marketers to smuggle illegal weapons and explosives through tunnels from Egypt into Gaza, to be used to kill Israeli civilians and soldiers. If she is a martyr for anything, it is naivete, recklessness and the right of terrorists to blow up civilians.

Instead of condemning Israel, commentators worldwide should have railed against the manner in which Corrie’s naivete and ignorance were exploited by ISM. After that, what should have been asked is why the world community was so quick to believe that the Israeli military would perpetrate such a pitiless killing with intent.


A steadfast commitment to ignorance is also the global approach to the almost universal child abuse in Palestine: the destruction of generation after generation through indoctrination and incitement.

Incitement to kill Jews takes place routinely in the Arab world and has for decades: on TV and radio, from imams in mosques, from political leaders and, most destructively and unforgivably, in the popular culture and educational curriculum of schools in Palestine and elsewhere. The Palestinian Authority's "pay-to-slay" strategy also encourages murder and terror by offering pensions to terrorists and their families, allowing them to live like comparatively royalty.

Progressives cover their ears and avert their eyes to the mountains of evidence on the subject, because it does not suit the narrative.

To accept that generations of Palestinians and other Arab leaders have destroyed the potential of the Palestinian people in the name of ideology affronts progressives’ own naïve sense of humanity.

The manner in which children are exploited by the Palestinian cause, raised to kill and be killed, is so repulsive that humanitarians, rightly, can hardly stand to review the facts. So they simply choose not to. We would rather remain ignorant to the horrible reality than accept that the Palestinian ideology to which so many of us have signed onto in ignorance could be as evil as I’ve just described.

To confront reality would demand that progressives accept that peace may require something far more complex than simply ending the occupation now, as the chant demands; that a resolution to this conflict is not months or years off, but generations.

We would need to accept that the official voices of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim countries are less concerned with the welfare of their own people than with the destruction of the Zionist entity. But opening progressives’ eyes to the Jew-hatred and Zionophobia in the Arab and Muslim worlds threatens our whole sloppy worldview.

As one Middle Eastern expert puts it, “It’s difficult for people in the West to confront the possibility that the Palestinians really mean what they say. There is a tremendous cultural arrogance in certain circles in Israel and abroad that assumes the Palestinian goals are the same as ours.”[1]

That the world could overlook the obscene cynicism of the Arab leaders’ complicity in the Palestinian disaster while blaming Israel for the whole affair can only be explained away by willful ignorance on the part of millions. Fortunately for the movement, this willful ignorance, like the lies also inherent to the movement, has gone down extremely easily from Morocco to Montreal.

[1] [“Research group monitors Palestinian media,” CJN, June 14, 2001 quoting Yitzhak Sokoloff, assistant director of Palestinian Media Watch: ]


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