In 1987, a black teenager, Tawana Brawley, claimed to have been abducted and raped by six white cops in upstate New York. In addition to sexually abusing her, she said, they had scrawled racial epithets on her body and smeared her with feces. She later identified Steven A. Pagones, a Duchess County district attorney, as one of the perpetrators, and the case became a cause célèbre in the black community, with prominent black leaders demanding that Pagones be prosecuted and the “cover-up” ended. The Reverend Al Sharpton used the case to catapult himself into the center of public attention, and the alleged incident was seized on by some civil rights activists to illustrate a persistent and seemingly inherent “racism” in American society.
There was just one problem with this line of argument: the “rape” of Tawana Brawley was a hoax.
There was no physical evidence Ms. Brawley had been raped, and so she changed her story to sexual abuse without penetration. But there were so many anomalies in her tale that the whole thing began to fall apart, anyway, and yet still Brawley and her supporters insisted that she had been victimized, instead of the innocent Pagones, who had been falsely accused. It took seven months for a jury to conclude, after examining medical and police records and hearing over 100 witnesses, that Tawana was a liar. The epithets scrawled in charcoal, the smearing of feces, her ripped clothing all of it had been self-inflicted. For the better part of a year, the community had been rent apart by a divisive and increasingly contentious feud, pitting black against white, but the perpetrators of this hoax weren’t through. They continued to maintain that the “rape” was real, and called Pagones and virtually every New York politician in the book a “racist.” Ten years later, Pagones sued Brawley and her lawyers for defamation: a judge, in awarding Pagones a substantial sum, remarked that “Tawana Brawley appears caught up in her own fiction.”
The myth of victimization is not easily dispelled by the facts, especially when it is reinforced by ideology. Brawley’s camp followers and supporters knew that American society is inherently and unredeemably racist, and therefore the rape of Tawana just had to be true. The line between truth and falsehood is easily blurred where ideology is concerned: if Tawana wasn’t literally a victim in this case, then surely her rape at the hands of marauding white cops was figuratively and symbolically true in the sense that it was a plausible story.
Or something like that .
A similar hoax recently threw all of France into turmoil. This time the author was one Marie-Leonie LeBlanc, a 23-year-old Frenchwoman, who claimed she had been attacked on the Paris subway by six youths of North African appearance. Upon relieving her of her wallet, and discovering her address, one of her alleged assailants had supposedly remarked: “Only Jews live in the 16th arrondissement.” The six proceeded to tip over her baby carriage, slash her clothes, and draw swastikas on her stomach all in plain sight of some 20 people in the train car at the time, who supposedly sat passively in their seats while LeBlanc was cruelly abused by these swarthy stormtroopers.
The incident provoked a national orgy of outrage and self-recrimination: every public official and newspaper of note bellowed that the whole society stood condemned and wallowed in a luxurious bath of collective guilt. Why hadn’t they woken up to the rising threat of a supposedly rampant anti-Semitism earlier? The answer, we were told, lay in the North African minority that was permeated with “hate.” Israel’s amen corner was quick to point out that this “hate” was fueled by opposition to the Jewish state, not only in the Muslim community but among secular French opponents of Israeli government policies: anti-Zionism, they claimed, was separable from anti-Semitism only in theory. In practice, they averred, the two are almost always indistinguishable.
The braying chorus of moralizers kept it up even as Ms. LeBlanc’s story began to fall apart with Tawana-like speed: the video surveillance cameras revealed nothing of the surreal scene described by the alleged victim, and not a single witness had come forward. Unlike Tawana, however, it took LeBlanc only four days to admit to the hoax, engineered in cooperation with her boyfriend: an apology was offered, but no explanation. And still the braying of the moralizers only got louder, as in this bizarre account in Time magazine,
“No one felt vindicated, however, for the simple reason that the tale had been completely credible France today is a place where such acts of anti-Semitism and racism are commonplace. ‘If reaction was so intense, it’s because people unfortunately know that such a horrific scenario is plausible,’ says Yonathan Arfi, president of the Union of French Jewish Students. France’s hate-crime wave extends far beyond a single well-publicized case. ‘Whether this is the 10th or 20th assault of its kind changes nothing,’ says former Socialist Economy and Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn. ‘We have a real problem.'”
As a metaphor for the myth of “rising anti-Semitism,” the ersatz martyrdom of Marie LeBlanc illustrates the real problem: truth is now irrelevant. A lie has only to be “plausible,” these days, and it passes the reality test.
Anti-Semitism is “commonplace” in Europe and the United States only if one redefines it to include looking cross-eyed at Ariel Sharon. As Israeli helicopter gunships shoot down Palestinian teenagers and the apartheid-like conditions prevalent in the Jewish state are given physical form in the shape of a Wall of Separation, this group has grown in numbers evidence, we are told, of increasing anti-Semitism.
Something is on the increase, but it isn’t anti-Semitism: it is the aggressiveness of Israel and its international amen corner, not only in the occupied territories but in places as far-flung as France and New Zealand. The French were taken aback when, in reaction to the LeBlanc episode, Sharon declared in an address to American Jewish leaders that French Jews must “move immediately” to Israel. “We see the spread of the wildest anti-Semitism there,” Sharon said, adding “I think it’s a must and they have to move immediately.”
The French daily Le Figaro cited a source close to LeBlanc describing her as a “mythomaniac.” She and Sharon are perfect soulmates, in that sense, psychologically if not politically. Even as the Zionists’ Tawana Brawley was arrested and charged, and her boyfriend detained, the Israelis touted the arrival of some 200 French Jews “fleeing” alleged persecution at the hands of their French tormentors.
The limits of political correctness having been reached, French President Jacques Chirac exploded in a fury, disinviting the Israeli Prime Minister from his planned visit to Paris and demanding an official explanation. But old Ariel just chuckled and explained, with some justice, that he had always said that Jews should commit themselves to aliyah, and come “home” to Israel. It was only a few months ago, after all, that Ha’aretz reported on a meeting held by Sharon and his top lieutenants in government on the question of how to increase Jewish immigration to Israel with the focus particularly on France.
According to the report, Sharon envisions a million new immigrants this year, 20,000 of them French. Whereas before the main thrust of Zionist recruitment had been toward the East, directed at the former captive nations of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, Sharon proposed a complete turnaround:
“One necessary change would be for the relevant agencies to shift their focus from distressed countries to the prosperous West – what the Jewish Agency defines as ‘immigration by choice.’ The problem is that there is no precedent in Zionist history for mass immigration of this sort. ‘The dominant factor in mass immigration was distress,’ said Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of Hebrew University. Nevertheless, he said, it is possible to observe signs of distress even in the wealthy West with France being the prime example.
“Dr. Erik Cohen of Bar-Ilan University’s school of education, who recently conducted a study of French Jews, concurred, saying that interest in immigration is at an all-time high. ‘This isn’t an exodus that will begin from one day to the next,’ he said, ‘but before such an exodus, one hears an echo and I heard this echo.’ Cohen said it ‘would not be impossible’ to bring 50,000 French Jews here, particularly, he said, as 90 percent of French Jews already have friends or relatives here.”
The Sharon-Chirac showdown is a psychodrama with a Zionist lesson attached to it, and the Israelis are playing it for all it’s worth. It’s part of a more general pattern of increased Israeli belligerence directed at unlikely, i.e. Western, adversaries with New Zealand certainly qualifying as the unlikeliest.
The case of the Mossad spies who tried to get a passport by stealing the identity of a housebound paraplegic has been the subject of a previous column, and the story has by now evolved into a full-blown diplomatic brouhaha similar to the fracas with the French. While Sharon’s government and the two Israeli agents captured by New Zealand’s security services has stubbornly denied any involvement by Israel, it turns out the Kiwis were bugging their phones from the get-go. Prime Minister Helen Clark, although reticent in relating how she knew it, wasn’t shy about saying what she knew:
“The New Zealand government views the act carried out by the Israeli intelligence agents as not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law.”
After announcing diplomatic and political sanctions against the Israeli government, and canceling talks planned for later this year, Clark challenged the Israelis to come clean:
“The ball is in Israel’s court as to where it wants to move from here. Three months ago we asked for an apology and an explanation. That has not been forthcoming.”
Instead of apologies, the Israelis and their supporters internationally have been demonizing the Kiwis as neo-Nazis for daring to defend their sovereignty. They are especially sensitive to the implications of this scandal because, as New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff told Ha’aretz:
“The passports that Mossad agents tried to obtain illegally might have been reserved for an assassination operation in a third country, which would have caused irreparable damage to New Zealand.”
An Israeli assassination team used Canadian passports in a 1997 botched mission to Jordan targeting Palestinian militants, and a stolen New Zealand passport was found on a member of an al-Qaeda cell that plotted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport at the turn of the millennium. As the New Zealand and Australian governments beef up security procedures, they are also hunting for at least two other suspected Israeli agents, including one Ze’ev William Barkan, thought to be either American or Canadian, apparently the ringleader of the spy cell. The Sydney Morning Herald cites an international aid worker with the goods on Barkan:
“‘He goes to Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand and deals with gangs who rob tourists of their valuables and passports,’ the aid worker said. ‘Barkan is mostly interested in passports and there have been a number of Australian passports.’ Intelligence analysts in New Zealand believe Barkan, a former navy diver in the Israeli Defence Force, was trying to secure a ‘clean’ passport for use in a sensitive Israeli undercover operation in the region, less risky than a forged passport.”
Given Sharon’s ambitious plans to inspire aliyah, perhaps the idea was to so thoroughly embarrass the Jews of New Zealand that they would flee to Israel out of pure chagrin. However, a more sinister aspect of this operation is underscored by reports that Barkan has been spotted in North Korea, attending a conference as an “Israeli security consultant.” The New Zealand website Scoop cites “a senior NGO chief executive with Global-Protect All Children” who says:
“Barkan is there (In Pyongyang) negotiating details of an extensive contract for design and technical equipment to support (a security wall) project, including- but by no means limited to – Israeli produced motion sensors and night vision equipment. Barkan flew from Beijing to Pyongyang at the end of April. He was allegedly travelling on a Canadian passport issued in the name of Kevin Hunter, which had been reported stolen at the Canadian Consulate in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid April.”
Barkan’s in the neighborhood because “it is believed North Korean and Israeli experts are conducting a ‘feasibility study’ on the construction of a security fence along the 1500 KM North Korea China border. Brussels-based NGO contacts attached to Human Rights Without Frontiers tipped off other NGOs to the North Korean plans,” Scoop reports.
I don’t know if I believe all that, but certainly it’s plausible far more believable as a narrative than the alleged wave of anti-Semitism supposedly burying all Europe in an avalanche of Hitlerian hate.
Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in relation to its other neighbors, has recently been a series of provocations, and now this in-your-face aggression is being directed at the West. The covert activities of Israel’s infamous intelligence agency, the legendary Mossad, raise the question of the source of the LeBlanc hoax what was her motive? We are told she’s deluded, but then what about the complicity of her unnamed boyfriend?
The parallel case of the French Rabbi Farhi, who apparently knifed himself in what was initially thought to be an unambiguous case of anti-Semitic violence, is suspicious in the same sense. As in the Brawley and LeBlanc cases, Farhi’s story had an emotion-laden political angle and began to come apart when it came down to the details.
In January of last year, Farhi claimed a man in a motorcycle helmet appeared at the front door of his synagogue, shouted “Allahu Akbar,” and stabbed him with a knife. But according to the center-left weekly magazine, Marianne, the medical report noted that the Rabbi’s light wound “could correspond to one that was self-inflicted.” The police report observed that the tear in his coat didn’t match the location of the knife, and the doctor further noted that Farhi’s wound was “hardly compatible with the description” of the incident.
To further murk up an already cloudy incident, it was discovered that a threatening letter sent to Rabbi Farhi after the alleged incident was authored, not by some radical Islamist gang, but by one of his own congregants.
First Farhi, and now LeBlanc: if the hoaxing pattern holds true to form, I don’t suppose it takes much to topple a few gravestones in one of Wellington’s oldest Jewish cemeteries. In any case, the incident, which occurred soon after Clark’s severing of relations, provided a much-needed counterpoint to front page stories about the lurid escapades of the Israeli identity thieves and their Maxwell Smart-ish antics.
Sharon has been riding pretty high since 9/11, and even higher since the American invasion and conquest of Iraq for which his spooks provided much of the intelligence, and which his amen corner in the U.S. relentlessly lobbied for.
The Israelis have always pursued their own interests, to the exclusion of all others, but rarely so ruthlessly as today. Their policies can only be described as reckless a troubling characteristic in the leadership of a nation armed with nuclear weapons.