"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it with my own ears."
Have you ever heard anyone say that? Have you ever said it yourself? Well, I have...most recently, well, just about 20 minutes ago.
We all know that "knowledge is power"...that's why it's so important to be well informed...in fact, the last I knew, this was codified into the founding documents of the U.S....does 'First Amendment rights'...guaranteeing freedom of speech and a free press ring any bells?
With information, --as with any valuable commodity-- we do well to heed the warning "caveat emptor"-buyer beware. In other words, if you're seeking to be informed, go to the trouble to discern if you're getting 'the straight scoop:"true information. Because, inconvenient as it may be, the dichotomy does exist: Right v. Wrong, True v. False.
Why does it matter? Because what we believe to be true arguably influences most, if not all, of the decisions that adults make. Thus, the concern that media outlets should, and in fact used to, have for accuracy and objectivity.
Which brings me to the issue of disinformation, not to be confused with MISinformation, which is unintentionally false.
"Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately," according to Wikipedia and general public consensus.
At sometime between 2 and 2:30 pm, CST today, I heard the following statement made on National Public Radio:
"I think no one argues that Israel is there [in the Middle East] or doesn't have a right to exist."
Say what? Who said this?
Well, I will tell you: the speaker was a guest, named Graham Fuller, who apparently served as a former vice counsel with the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. Mr. Fuller has just written a book, A World Without Islam, for which he seems to be on a promotional tour. I heard him today interviewed by Neil Conant on the NPR regular feature, "Talk of the Nation." The thesis of his book, according to Mr. Fuller, is 'how much Western relations with the Middle East would be different if there were no Islam.'
Perhaps a more pertinent question would be how much of this book is factually based? Ah, those pesky facts...they can so easily get in the way of what we want to say...
So, really, Mr. Fuller...is it true that "no one argues" about Israel's right to exist? What have you been smoking?
Is it for no reason that Israel is one of the best armed nations in the contemporary world, and until recently was known as the only nuclear power in the Middle East? Is it not the case that the history of the modern state of Israel, since its founding in 1948,is littered with incidences of armed conflict and even declared war waged over territorial boundaries? Why would this happen if no one was bothered by their presence on that tiny little finger of ancient land? Is Israel afflicted with some psychotic paranoia that causes them to doubt that her neighbors wish her good will?
And, here's a quandary; the following quote, taken from the IRIB News/Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's online news network reported on October 26, 2005 that:
Tehran, Oct 26 - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the President told a conference in Tehran entitled 'the world without Zionism'.
"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini.
Seems pretty clear to me.
In fact, as I listened to Mr. Fuller's statement, I found myself raising my voice to the air: "Are you kidding me?!!" Is this some ill-conceived, unsuccesful attempt at geopolitical satire? Did show host, Mr. Conant, momentarily black out, causing him to let this statement simply slip by?
Acknowledging to myself that I am certainly no expert on Middle Eastern politics, I checked the Ask.com search engine to see if my understanding of these statements was somehow faulty. What I found was a rather tedious discussion about whether the referenced quote used a Persian idiom that literally meant 'wiped off the map', or 'erased from the pages of time.' I see no difference in intent between these two.
Allow me to quote Pres. Ahmadinejad further, as posted on the IRIB website:
"Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," Ahmadinejad said.
"Any leaders in the Islamic umma (sic) who recognise Israel face the wrath of their own people."
Further internet research, to those so inclined, may lead to non-substantive parsing, such as the following,
Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, agrees that Ahmadinejad's statement should be translated as, "the Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly, as "be eliminated from the pages of history."
According to Cole, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to 'wipe Israel off the map' because no such idiom exists in Persian". Instead, "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."
So, why do I go on and on about this incidental statement from a former government official? First, because it seems to be an egregious error, at best, and one would expect better from an author touting his tome over national airwaves. But second, and most importantly, statements presented as fact are often accepted at face value..thus influencing opinions, presumptions, decisions, and even textbooks, potential legislation, and political positions.
I am one of those who remain firmly convinced that the blessings enjoyed by the US for more than 200 years have come from the hand of God. The US is still considered the land of promise and opportunity, the country that many from other nations aspire to make their own, often due to harsh conditions and suffering in their native lands. Not least of those who have come here for a better life are the Jews, God's chosen. I believe we have been blessed as a nation, in part, because we have been a haven to those persecuted, and because we have stood as a stalwart ally of the state of Israel. God keeps His Word, and He clearly states:
"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
In my view, this is The Unimpeachable Source. Far be it from us to be lose sight of what's true because we are beguiled or led astray by false statements masquerading as truth.