Is the Vatican Training Hezbollah?
Israeli Disinformation Targets Holy See
New in the Website
On Israeli Newspapers
In business administration courses, the reality of Israeli newspapers is described as an “oligopoly.” That means a few players control the market. The three largest Hebrew newspapers are family owned; “Yedihot Aharonot” is the largest, “Maariv” was the largest and is owned by a family that made a fortune in the international weapons market, and “Haaretz” is the smallest, but widely recognized as the most serious one, the local version of the “Washington Post” or the “New York Times.” The “Jerusalem Post” should be added to this list as the main English newspaper.
All of them are de facto controlled by the government. The government does not own them, but they would publish nothing of a sensitive nature without the government approval. This de facto censorship is controlled through the editors. They decide which material would be published and which won’t.
Under such reality, seeing open criticism on Israel in these newspapers is difficult. If it appears, usually is of innocent or irrelevant nature. Thus, if seeing embarrassing material against the government, one should ask himself if the article is not a bogus serving other goals.
Recently, a good friend draw my attention to such an article published in Haaretz. At first I couldn’t believe. The article was given to me in an email. It looked so impossible that I went to the Haaretz website and checked out that it really was published there. At first, it looked strange that such a material was published by the most serious newspaper in Israel.
Too incredible to be truth, I fear the article would be taken out of Haaretz site. Thus, I provide here the link, a snapshot of the page and the original text.
The original can be seen here; it was published by Ofri Ilani and last modified on July 19, 2009. Here is the text:
Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews, says pamphlet for IDF troops
The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
Officials encouraging the booklet's distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.
The booklet was published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, and has been distributed for the past few months.
The booklet, titled "On Either Side of the Border," purports to be the testimony of "a Hezbollah officer who spied for Israel."
"The book is distributed regularly and everyone reads it and believes it," said one soldier. "It's filled with made-up details but is presented as a true story. A whole company of soldiers, adults, told me: 'Read this and you'll understand who the Arabs are.'"
The copy obtained by Haaretz included a Pesach greeting from Shalom, "in the name of the Nahshon Brigade."
The story is narrated by a man named Avi, who says he changed his name from Ibrahim after he left Hezbollah and converted to Judaism. Avi says he was once close to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and describes Hezbollah's purported close relationships with the Vatican and European leaders.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement: "The book was received as a donation and distributed in good faith to the soldiers. After we were alerted to the sensitivity of its content, distribution was immediately halted."
According to the book, Nasrallah was invited to join a delegation to tour France, Poland and Italy, including the Vatican. Nasrallah could not refuse an invitation from the Vatican, Avi explained: "We knew [the Pope] identified with Hezbollah's struggle."
The book describes the alleged visit of Hezbollah officials to Auschwitz, led by the Vatican: "We came to the camps. We saw the trains, the platforms, the piles of eyeglasses and clothes ... We came to learn ... Our escort spoke as he was taught. We quickly explained to him: Every real Arab, deep inside, is kind of a fan of the Nazis."
The booklet also describes how European politicians and journalists ostensibly work against Israel.
"Our escort introduced us to important figures who identify with our causes. Rich people, people with authority ... They allocate big budgets to all sorts of Israeli organizations that erode the standing of the IDF ... We have a special budget for encouraging politicians and journalists who serve our purposes. Every opinion piece that conforms to our position is rewarded generously."
Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, the son of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, is known for his extremist views, and was once charged with incitement to racism after calling for the expulsion of all Arab students from Safed College after a terror attack in the area.
The younger Eliahu was also behind an online video in which he described the "miracle of our matriarch Rachel," whom he claims appeared before Israeli soldiers in Gaza to warn them of booby-trapped buildings during Operation Cast Lead.
"In some of the places we went in Gaza there was a woman who warned them ... 'Did they tell you who I am,' she said, 'I am the matriarch Rachel," Eliahu says in the video. He claims his father confirmed the veracity of the story, and told him that he had prayed to Rachel: "I told her: Rachel, there's a war... Go to God, Blessed Be He, pray over the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the People of Israel, so that they will strike and not be struck."
David Menahemov, an aide to Eliahu, claims the book is not fiction. "Avi is a real person and everything in the book is absolutely true," insists Menahemov. "It's a totally true story, I know the guy personaly. He's an Arab, who even though he converted still acts like an Arab. We helped him to write and to translate it. We changed a few details to protect him and his family."
The article include a mishmash of information: from quotations of a mysterious booklet to mystical apparitions of Rachel. Being designed for internal consumption of the IDF, probably it would never be made public.
Most of the facts in the booklet and the article are completely irrelevant. Moreover, visiting Auschwitz cannot be claimed to be any type of “military training” as it is implied in the title of the article. The soldiers that got the booklet are already convinced that anybody who is not a Jew is an enemy (and that Jews supporting leftist parties are the enemy, and that converted Jews are the enemy, and that... ad nauseum) and thus the information appearing there is of no influence.
Do You really Think So?
For a moment I fell into the designed trap. It was easy to classify it as nonsense for internal consumption of gullible young soldiers, in an attempt to make them more loyal to the State of Israel and more scared of Christians, Muslims and anybody identified as not belonging to the “gang.”
However, if that was the intention, why did the article get published on the international, English version of the most serious Israeli newspaper? This publication was approved by an editor, and thus – obliquely – approved by the Censor (an IDF high-ranking officer in charge of the Israeli media censorship).
That could only mean the article was intended for someone outside Israel. Who could it be?
The title provides the first clue. “Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews” begins the title. On whom is this title throwing mud? The Vatican, the Holy See is the only victim of this vicious article.
The text claims the Vatican – a peaceful entity by all means – is actively training the Hezbollah on war techniques. It is difficult to imagine a more ridiculous claim. Would Mother Teresa be classified as a “Terror Expert” by the Israeli government if she wasn’t already in the presence of God?
The piece is so clumsy that it is difficult even to think of one international reader taking it seriously. The text fails to support the title’s claim. So, what’s the point?
Was this designed to be a piece of disinformation? If that’s the case, then it is difficult to see the point. I can’t see future Hezbollah soldiers asking to be recruited by the Vatican for training as a result of their reading this article. Moreover, as pointed out, the Israeli soldiers are already convinced that the Vatican, the Hezbollah and any foreigner are part of the enemy. “Everybody is against us,” claims the Israeli mantra-turned-into-mythos.
Thus? No disinformation. To me, it looks as a sophisticated extortion attempt by the State of Israel toward the Vatican. “Behave; otherwise we will publish more embarrassing lies on serious international newspapers we control.”
As one that his last book is continuously sabotaged by Israel and that had survived several violent attacks by the State of Israel (including a sniper attack a few years ago and a strangulation event last month), I can only hope the Holy See would stand firm on Christian Values and would not surrender to this extortion attempt.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
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