Among the many powerful messages of the disturbing new HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” one of the most distressing involves the culture of abject lying that permeated political society—and therefore life—in the USSR in the mid-Eighties.
This culture exacerbated the Chernobyl disaster and cost hundreds, if not thousands, of lives due to delays in addressing the explosion’s true magnitude and causes.
The opening lines of the series’ first episode instantly brought to mind the Palestinians’ similar unashamed dedication to falsehood:
“What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories. In these stories it doesn’t matter who the heroes are—all we want to know is, who’s to blame.”
A sterling example of Palestinian prevarication occurred just last week, as Israel opened to tourists the recently excavated “Pilgrimage Road” in Jerusalem, which devout Jews used to get to the Temple two thousand years ago. In response to this undeniable, tangible evidence of a Jewish connection to Jerusalem, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed the road is a “lie that has nothing to do with history.”
Erekat was merely following a tradition venerated and emulated by other Palestinian leaders, most famously Yasser Arafat, who, on the ninth day of the Camp David Summit in 2000, tried in vain to convince U.S. President Bill Clinton that “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but in Nablus.”
Since Muslims lost control over the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six-Day War, the myth that no Jewish temple existed in Jerusalem has become an article of faith among Palestinians. Ironically, until Israel became a state in 1948 official Muslim guidebooks all agreed that the location of King Solomon’s Temple on the Temple Mount was “beyond dispute.”
Despite the discovery of literal tons of Jewish artifacts by secular scientists in the Temple Mount area, a Palestinian lecturer at Bir-Zeit University, Dr. Jamal Amar, claims that after “60 years of digging … they’ve found nothing at all. Not a water jug, not a coin, not any earthen vessel, no bronze weapons, not piece of metal, absolutely nothing of this myth … because it’s a lie.”
Of course, these falsehoods are just a drop in the bucket compared to those issued by Palestinian leadership, clergy and teachers. Palestinian lies are so pervasive that today most of them are believed unquestioningly by Palestinians generally.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s doctoral thesis denied the Holocaust. In 2016, Abbas falsely proclaimed to the European Parliament that Israeli rabbis had called for Israel’s government to poison Palestinian water. (After an outcry, Abbas later retracted the statement.) Palestinian imams have asserted for decades, with zero evidence, that Israel is planning to dismantle the Al Aqsa Mosque, which has led to many Arab riots, causing deaths.
These untruths are piled on top of more fundamental lies, such as the P.A. Charter’s statement that “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people.” This is a lie because it characterizes the “Arab Palestinian people” as a distinct group historically, which it never was, but even more so because it ignores the indigenous Jewish people who have lived there for 3,000 years, long before any Arabs arrived in the region.
Palestinian lies are evil first because they are false and second because they attempt to deny the legitimate rights of Am Yisrael—the Jewish people—to self-determination and a nation in their ancestral homeland. But these lies are evil also because, as the “Chernobyl” quote states, they devolve into stories—fiction—in which it doesn’t matter who the heroes are, but only who is to blame.
We all know who is to blame in the Palestinian narrative: the Jews and Israel. This is perhaps the greatest tragedy and greatest harm of the Palestinian lies. Because these lies tell a story not of struggle, achievement, or heroism—but rather a narrative of victimhood, failure, rejection, hopelessness … and ultimately a tale that allows Palestinian leaders to disavow responsibility for their own future and that of their people.
James Sinkinson is President of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.