The deceptions of Ben Ehrenreich

Influential website Politico has an anti-Israel story by Ben Ehrenreich that is literally filled with lies that for some reason were not considered worth checking.

The centerpiece is an interview with a former Israeli soldier turned "peace activist" named Eran Efrati who described the horrors of what IDF soldiers do to Palestinians in Hebron. Of course it is not possible to debunk specific details of the soldier's anecdotes or alleged conversations with his superior, but this one incident that he mentions is simply impossible - and with it goes Efrati's credibility:

That weekend, Efrati recalled, settlers filled the central city. He was assigned to escort a group of them into the Patriarchs’ Tomb, a site holy to both Islam and Judaism, where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their wives Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are believed to be buried. The settlers were allowed into the Palestinian side of the site, into the mosque. What he saw there shocked him: Israeli children were peeing on the floors and burning the carpets. Their parents were there—the mosque was packed with settlers—but no one was stopping them. He and another soldier grabbed one of the children and took a cigarette lighter from his hand. “He started screaming at us,” Efrati said. “We laughed at him.” Five minutes later, “one of our very, very high-ranking officers came inside the mosque and said, ‘Did you steal something from the kid?’” They tried to explain, but the officer only repeated the question. “We said yes.” The officer ordered them to give it back and apologize. They found the child, apologized and returned the lighter. The boy ran right into the next room, Efrati said, and resumed setting fire to the carpets.
The Cave of the Patriarchs is the second-holiest site in Judaism. Several times a year Jews are allowed to visit the entire holy site. Those are the only times of the year that Jews can visit the cenotaphs of Isaac and Rebecca. Naturally, on those days the site is crowded with fervently religious Jews who take the opportunity to pray in a place they are normally banned from.

The tomb is holier to Jews than it is to Muslims.

The idea that religious Jews would allow (or, as implied, encourage) their children to urinate and set fires in this sacred spot is beyond absurd. In 2009, there was a small fire at the site from Jews placing too many candles there for religious reaosns but it caused no damage. Arab websites would be filled with allegations of Jews urinating at the site and purposefully setting fires - but the story begins and ends in the sick and hateful imagination of Eran Efrati, and happily believed by Ben Ehrenreich.

(There have been reports of Muslims urinating next to the Torah scrolls at the site and otherwise desecrating it.)

Given that this story is simply not possible, Efrati's other lurid tales from Hebron should be treated as equally suspect. And for any real journalist, they would be. But for Ben Ehrenreichm these are too good to check, since the target is religious Jews and the army.

Ehrenreich then goes on to extrapolate on the reasons for the knife intifada based on these lies:

If you terrorize people long enough, they eventually lose their fear. They hold onto the anger. This last October, after a year of relative calm, young Palestinians began attacking Israeli soldiers, police and civilians, occasionally with guns or cars but most often with household implements: knives, scissors, screwdrivers. The attacks were uncoordinated and outside the control of the Palestinian leadership or the traditional armed factions. Many occurred in or near Hebron, often at checkpoints or other sites of friction between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli military, but also on buses and trains in Jerusalem, in supermarkets and in the streets.
This is the Western media view of the uprising, and as I demonstrated previously, it is a lie. Arab media never blamed the violence on "frustration" or general "anger" at "occupation." They were very specific as to their reasons: because of supposed Israeli designs on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and later as revenge for Israel killing those who attacked Israelis. And it can all be traced back very specifically to Mahmoud Abbas' speech in September when he said, referring to Jews who peacefully visit the holy site, “Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.

It was a call to violence. And the attacks started shortly thereafter.

The incitement against Jews escalated and it expressed itself with stabbings and shootings and car rammings that were cheered by Mahmoud Abbas' own political party as well as by other factions. Those who were killed for trying or succeeding to kill ordinary Jews were heroes. Only after Israeli forces responded with increased security did the targets turn to the soldiers at the checkpoints, because the would-be stabbers could not as easily reach Jewish population centers. And the people most vulnerable to propaganda - teenagers - were the ones who were the most likely to attack,

The meme of "frustration" is a convenient untruth meant to blame the victims.

When I was back in Israel and the West Bank earlier this month, the violence appeared to be ebbing. Until Wednesday’s shootings, no Israelis had been killed by Palestinians since February 18.

This simple statement shows how Ehrenreich knows the facts and wants to minimize Arab responsibility for the violence.

On March 8, American Taylor Force was murdered, and 10 others injured, in a stabbing spree in Tel Aviv. But since he wasn't an Israeli, Ehrenreich wants to ignore that attack to make it appear that the timeline of "calm" is longer.

The terrorist who murdered Taylor Force didn't know that he was an American. But Ehrenreich chose to ignore this attack to minimize Palestinian culpability for violence and strengthen his thesis that Israelis are not in as much danger as they claim. That is why he chose to frame this sentence the way he did.

And it is all the proof you need to show that Ehrenreich isn't trying to illuminate the situation in Israel, but to obfuscate it for his own anti-Israel propaganda purposes.

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