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February 4, 2015 5:39 pm

Why Do Palestinians Believe Crazy Things?

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris that was attacked on Friday by an Islamist terrorist. Photo: JJ Georges via Wikimedia Commons.

The overwhelming majority of Palestinian Arabs believe that Israel carried out the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, according to a new poll. Although at first blush one might be tempted to chuckle and turn the page, in fact the poll is not merely a curiosity. It has significant implications for the chances for Middle East peace.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, was published in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida. It found that 84% of Palestinians believe the Paris attacks were “suspicious, and that Israel may be behind it.” Just 9% of Palestinians acknowledge that the Paris massacres were the work of Islamist terrorists.

Those who follow the Palestinian media know that the PA regularly promotes nutty conspiracy theories, often using Al-Hayat al-Jadida as its vehicle for doing so. Last year, they stirred a frenzy – and inspired waves of Palestinian violence – by repeatedly claiming that “the Jews” were conspiring to harm or destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jews were “contaminating” the mosque.

In recent years, senior PA officials have publicly claimed that Israel distributes chocolates laced with mad cow disease in Palestinian areas (the PA’s director of Consumer Protection made that accusation); that Israel infects Palestinian children with AIDS (according to the PA’s representative to the UN in Geneva); that Israel carried out the 9/11 attacks (PA Radio); that Israel murders Palestinian children in order to harvest their organs (Al-Hayat al-Jadida); or that Israel uses naked women to lure “intifada youth” into police ambushes (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida again).

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If such beliefs were limited to a handful of PA officials, then at least one could take solace in the knowledge that they could turn off the fountain of hate at any time. Of course it would still be deeply disturbing that Israel’s “partner in peace” is actively trying to incite anti-Israel violence. But at least there would be reason to hope the incitement might be curbed if, for example, the United States pressured the PA to stop it.

But when hateful conspiracy-mongering takes hold among the general Palestinian public, then Israel faces a deep and long-lasting problem. And that is what the latest poll, and other recent polls, suggest.

Most polls of Palestinians focus on their views of terrorism, settlements, borders, and similar issues. But every once in a while, a pollster asks a question that sheds light on the huge gap between how Westerners see the world and how Palestinian Arabs see it.

For example, take the question of who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A poll by PORI (Public Opinion Research of Israel) in September 2003 found that 26% of Palestinians believe Israel did it. A poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org in September 2008 found 27% of Palestinians think the U.S. carried out the 9/11 attacks, and 19 percent accused Israel. The Pew Research Center, in a July 2011 poll, phrased the question a little differently and found that 68% of Palestinians do not believe Arabs carried out the attacks, and only 22% acknowledge that Arabs did it.

We have not seen any polls that asked Palestinians whether they believe there was a Holocaust. But a May 2009 poll by the University of Haifa found 40% of Israeli Arabs believe the Holocaust was a hoax. Note that this astonishingly high number was among Arabs who have been far more exposed to modernization and Western thinking. It seems likely that the number of Palestinians who live in Judea-Samaria or Gaza and deny the Holocaust is even higher.

Why do Palestinians believe this stuff? We leave it to sociologists, historians, and political scientists to analyze the religious and cultural factors that encourage conspiratorial thinking. We merely take note of the fact that such thinking is widespread among the Palestinians, and the implications for Israel are significant.

Hamas, in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, in part of Judea-Samaria, already each have a de-facto state. Hamas lacks one major thing: total control of its borders. Israel’s partial blockade prevents them from acquiring tanks and jet fighters. The PA, for its part, also lacks one major thing: a full-fledged army.

So when the international community, the Jewish left, and the State Department demand that Israel lift the Gaza blockade and give the PA a sovereign state, Israelis have to ask themselves: Who would be in charge? Would reasonable, rational people run the State of Palestine? Or would the tanks and planes be in the hands of people who – by an overwhelming majority – sincerely believe crazy things, whether about 9/11 or the Holocaust or a dozen other issues?

Wishful thinkers – and there is no shortage of them in the Obama Administration, the pages of the New York Times, and the offices of various “peace” groups – look at the rest of the world and think that everyone is pretty much “just like us.” But the polls say otherwise.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • a yid

    This article gets the “Inanity of the Month” award. It poses a question and proceeds to not answer it at all. What an utter waste of time.

  • art frank

    First off they are not very bright (mainly due to inbreeding); and second they’ve been brainwashed from early childhood to believe Jews are inherently evil. So they will believe all the lies they’ve been told, not matter how outrageous and illogical. There is no hope for these people.

  • Babs

    It’s quite simple – they have not yet developed the capability to reality test the rubbish they are told by their leaders

    Daniel Pipes’ book, “The Hidden Hand”, sets out why the conspiracy theory is so abiding in the ME and among Muslims generally.

    Conspiracy theory researchers have developed a summary of key characteristics of those likely to believe conspiracy theories unquestioningly. These point to a constellation of helplessness, external locus of evaluation, phobia of being found to be wrong and shamed as a result and consequently the extreme tendency to externalise blame and responsibility.

  • Lynne T

    I’d be interested in putting the question to Bassam Eid. As an anthropologist who has spent the past 25 years investigating human rights abuses in the disputed territories, regardless of who the complaint is against (meaning Fatah and Hamas, the “militants”, etc.), he has as good an idea as anyone as to why his people are so ready to buy into such inversions of the obvious.

  • Gabrielle Grossman

    Most people, whatever their nationality, believe what their parents and teachers taught them, unless they are influenced otherwise. Palestinians today have grown up in the West Bank and Gaza with the beliefs of antisemitism, anti-Israel rhetoric, with
    the attitude that zionism is colonialism and that the whole of Israel is really Palestine. There are maps in their schoolbooks today that verify this view–Israel is not on their maps, and Israeli cities are viewed as Palestinian.
    I know it’s too late to say, “woulda–coulda–shoulda” but I wish that the Israeli’s had set up schools, libraries and lecture halls after the 1967 war, as part of the occupation, so that Palestinian children and adults could have been educated. Americans did this in Germany after WWII with their de-nazification program.

  • tovlogos

    “Those who follow the Palestinian media know that the PA regularly promotes nutty conspiracy theories.”
    True; however, it is exceedingly important to be aware of the underlying spiritual realities. There is a spiritual component to virtually every physical action.
    We have been warned to be aware “to stand firm against the wiles/schemes/tricks of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)
    He is permitted to attack us (Ephesians 6:16); he accuses us; he condemns us constantly; he is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). There is a difference between murder and killing — no one commits murder who is not inspired by the devil. Perhaps his best work is to have convinced the world he doesn’t exist.
    There is no mystery how the Bible categorizes Islam.

  • Did anyone ever consider the fact that Arab muslims marry their near relatives? The fact is they many times marry their first cousins. I know this to be a fact because in the early 1980’s I met many Saudi Arabians in Pittsburgh, Pa. while attending college there and personally knew one Saudi who’s father was a high ranking Gen. in the Saudi Military who was returning home to marry his first cousin. I recall many muslim students in their late teens and early twenties who had pacemakers. It struck me then that these were congenital birth defects from close intermarriage. It would only stand to reason they would be affected mentally. I don’t write this to be facetious it just happens to be a fact.

    • Darrel you hit the nail on the head. Well done sir!

  • Israel has been dealing with this irrationality for 100 years. Clearly they cannot afford to surrender any more control to people who are not thinking clearly, but irrationally hating them. It is a marvel that our leaders keep expecting Israel to “be nice” toward those who are caught up in pathological conspiratorial thinking. But don’t give up so quickly on the “why?” question. Biblical theism has the conceptual tools to explain the driving power of guilt, which shows now in the ISIS horrors and continues to show in this massive transfer of guilt that is demonizing Israel and the West. The incomprehension of European and US liberalism is itself part of the humanistic defensiveness that transfers blame to Israel.

  • Robert Davis

    Everything about Israel falls in the MYSTIFICATION PLOT for which left wing people work daily hoping to destroy Israel who they fear will eventually defeat them. What they say or do is UTTER NONSENSE and not even worth reporting.

  • ML/NJ

    They believe crazy thing for the same reason Americans believe crazy things. Their Media tell them. So they believe Mosad was responsible for the Paris attack and Americans believe Obama is an American.

    • Mother Nature

      Except, Americans may believe propaganda from our media, shamefully, but here the message is not 100% racist against Jews which is the driving force of Palestinianism.

  • Thoughts that the Paris shootings were yet another a false flag operation are reasonable, logical and historically based.

    One lesson of history is that Jew’ish’ peoples operate a big public relations effort (hasbara, for example) to attempt to enforce their narrative reality. It is a form of psychopathy on a massive scale.

    The Achilles heel of these efforts to cement big lies is the exposure of 9/11 lies–and especially who benefitted (and planned, orchestrated, executed and continue to cover-up) from 9/11.

    Bibi said it: Israel benefitted from 9/11.

    Motive, means, opportunity, control of the press–all fingers point to zionists.

    When will good Jews join humanity in exposing the synagogue of satan in their midst?

    • merrychicago

      I think you are one of those who believe crazy things.

    • Mother Nature

      There is no propaganda effort on earth that compares to that wrought by the Muslim world in creating a false state and people of “Palestine,” based only on cynical lies for which the Palestinians themselves are the main victims. Not accepted by the states of their recent ancestors, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and more, where they are not allowed citizenship and are barred from many professions. In this immoral way, Islam wants to steal not just the land of Israel, but the whole world. This is from their own lips.

    • Mother Nature

      Ed, when will racists like you stop lying about Jews?

    • Dorn L

      Dear Dr. Kendrick,
      You should move to Amman or Cairo, or the West Bank. You clearly have the same level of faith in conspiracy theories involving Jews as do Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians.

    • June Grant

      So you take the infamous Protocols to be fact? Incidentally, hasbara means information.

    • June Grant

      What exactly are you a doctor of? My guess is that your dissertation was on proving the truth of “The Elders of Zion”. Go read some real history, that is if you indeed are able to read.

    • very interesting Dr. Ed
      It’s time to have the shrapnel removed from your brain

    • art frank

      You’re a sick Jew hater “doctor”. Who taught you, your parents, your pastor, or both?

    • Marsha Coleman

      What are you a doctor of? My guess is you are a quack! And a mentally sick one at that! Anti-Semitism is a form of mental disease! I think your parents were brother and sister!

    • Thomas Schwartz

      How does the Kool Ade taste “doctor”?

  • Because they are a crazy hateful people, who follow crazy hateful leaders, and always have. Hence the problems.

    • To Henry Tobias, Palestinians (and millions of clear thinking people around the world) believe things like Israel’s blame for 9/11 (assisted by Bush and Cheney) because the facts establish it. The buildings in New York came down as controlled demolitions. Muslims did not have the needed access to the buildings. Larry Silverstein, the lessor of the buildings, Netanyahu’s buddy, had such access. You do not believe the obvious because you are probably Jewish, believe what you read or view in the Jewish owned and controlled media…. You call Palestinians “crazy and hateful.” I disagree but wish to state that any people would have the right to be
      crazy and hateful if the UN gave another group the right to invade their country, murder and drive out great numbers of your people (Never Forget Deir Yassin, Henry! Many right thinking people have not forgotten or forgiven it!)(Algemeiner, You have broken the rule:
      Never debate a Gentile. Just insult him. You can’t win
      a debate!

      • Jgo

        Seems to me you are condemning yourself to the same confused thinking you are accusing Henry Tobias.

      • Paul

        aren’t you afraid the all=powerful jews will get you for your big mouth ?
        You can’t be debated – not because you are a gentile, but because of the biblical saying – “do not answer a fool in his stupid arguments. (Al taan ksil behivalto).

      • CWinokoor

        never forget blah blah blah. get over it pal, grow up and become human.

  • Efram

    I would not be surprised if Obama believed some of this nonsense himself. I do know that it is not only the Palestinians who hold these crazy views. Just read some of the filth on the Discus blogs, and you will see how widespread is this poisonous drivel.

  • Stephen Franklin

    They believe it because that is what their media tells them. You need only to look at Palestinian Media Watch bulletins after 9/11 and after the Paris attacks to read translations into English of Palestinian media reports putting these ideas into the heads of their audience/readership.

  • June Grant

    What hope for peace? It is too depressing. Whoever said that the pen is mightier than the sword knew what he was talking about.

  • What alarms me is the fact that now, not in some future, the tanks and planes of Israel are in the hands of leaders who believe crazy things such as, for example. Germany, fighting on many fronts for its very existence, would waste resources
    transporting Jews great distances to kill them when Germany
    needed every source of labor to maintain its war effort. Another example, these leaders believe that Muslims committed
    9/11 when groups like the Architects and Engineers for 9/11
    Truth (com) have proved conclusively that the buildings in New York came down as the result of controlled demolitions.
    Muslims operating out of distant Afghanistan could not accomplish that. Jews like Lucky Larry Silverstein, in control of the buildings, could and did accomplish that work of deviltry. That is what reasonable and rational people like myself believe.
    It is nice to know a sizable number of Palestinianss agree.

    • Mother Nature

      Holocaust deniers are pond scum.

      • Dear Mother Nature, You call me “pond scum.” To people reading this, please note that the alleged “pond scum” offered reasons for his opinions.
        The name-caller, “Mother Nature,” offered only an insult. Read Dr. Arthur Butz of Northwestern University’s book on the Holohoax:” The Hoax of the Twentieth Century.” Quite an erudite bit of pond scum he!

    • mbkraft

      You should be a writer for ONION or some other satirical publication. There is a future for you in that field.

      MK

      • Alexi

        The GERMANS disagree with you. Care to tell me what they have to gain?

        And Osama bin Laden ALSO disagreed with you.

        WHY? Because you are a foolish one trick pony who can’t see beyond his hatred of Jeeeeeeeeeeewwwws.

        Now do something useful, go play in traffic.

    • Jgo

      Seriously? Then how do you account for the 100’s of reels of film showing the transportations taking place? How do you account for Germany saying THE HOLOVAUST happened exactly as reported? How do you account for Arabs claiming responsibility for 9/11? How can you believe (sans physical evidence, not solely news supporting your biased views) these unsupported conspiracies? You’ve been brain washed and have forgotten, if you ever knew how, to use critical thinking paradigms.

  • Mike P

    Believing in conspiracy theories is commonplace throughout the Arab world. It is totally wacky when you get into it with them. Almost the entire Arab world believes Arabs did not carry out 9-11. But it extends to almost everything…just pick an issue and they’ll find someone to blame aside from Arabs or Muslims in some kind of crazy conspiratorial tale…almost every time. Totally cookoo.

    • Mother Nature

      Believing in conspiracy theories is commonplace throughout the whole world. Just look at some of the comments on this thread. Holocaust denial? That is the most sinister and evil conspiracy theory around, especially with the vast amount of evidence to the contrary.

  • steven L

    Obama is not a wishful thinker, on the contrary, he has been deeply influenced by his Islamism, communism, Ed. Said and R. Khalidi and not integrated in the white population because of racism. Let us be honest.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    Why do they b elievecrazy things. Firstly because they want to. Secondly it is a form of projection. Thirdly they are ignoran and are subject to crazy talk.

  • Desperation tends to put one at odds with empirical reality. Aren’t these the same folks whose leaders claim Jesus was the first Palestinian?

  • Emmett

    Why do you call terrorists & the illegal Arab infiltrators of Israel, “Palestinians”? Throughout history, there has never been a “Palestinian” people. Calling them by that Arab invented, ficticious name lends support to their lies & destructive intentions.
    As for analyzing the sub-human thought process, just check out what is taught in those UNRWA schools that your American tax dollars have been wasted on for the last 20 years. Then you can let your less than informed readers in on what’s been going on.

  • Because the Arabs are a shame based society which can never accept responsibility for failures and catastrophes.

    • Mother Nature

      I thought they were an honor based society, thus the honor killings.

  • Mickey Oberman

    They are told Israelis are the bad guys.

    They believe what they are told.
    To question that could result in the amputation of their non thinking cranium.

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