Phyllis Chesler Interviews Carol Gould

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Hitler and Stalin Had no TV or Internet
Last uploaded : Tuesday 18th Jan 2011 at 18:30
Contributed by : Carol Gould



Is Jared Loughner nuts? I think not. He knew exactly where he was headed on January 8, 2011 and managed to kill a controversial judge and gravely wound a liberal congresswoman. The authorities may eventually find that he had his wits about him and had built himself up to that day with meticulous planning and surveillance.

Long before Twitter, long before Facebook and long before hate-filled blogs, words and hysteria brought down Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin as he tried to achieve what seemed the unattainable : an enduring peace between his country and the Arabs in surrounding lands.

The Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels said a lie told often enough metamorphosed into the truth; national mania against Jews eventually brought the demise of six million. I was due to go to Israel in November 1995 for a wedding but my trip became a documentary project when Rabin was assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv on November 4th by a right-wing extremist, Yigal Amir. The young assassin had served in the army and was regarded by many as a hero. After the murder I went into a post office and the clerks told me they were waiting for the commemorative Rabin stamp to be released so they could ‘spit on the front of it, not the back.’

In the weeks leading up to the Rabin assassination the incitement against him was terrifying. I watched as one of his cabinet ministers, Benjamin ben-Eliezer, sat trapped in his car as enraged mobs tried to overturn it and slash his tyres. Television and radio shows revealed the true level of fury in over half the population who felt Rabin was selling the Jewish State down the river. Crowds of Israelis had been gathering every Friday to start the Sabbath with vicious chants outside the Prime Ministerial home. His wife Leah endured verbal abuse as she tried to venture in or out of the flat. Middle class demonstrators, furious with her husband for handing back lands won in the 1967 war, shouted ‘ We hope you and Leah hang like Mussolini and his whore in Kikar Malchei Yisroel.’ Ironically it was in the same kikar (square) that Yitzhak Rabin, a hero of the 1967 war, was shot dead. (It was later renamed Kikar Rabin.)

Although it is said a rabbi gave Yigal Amir the ‘hechsher’ to kill Rabin, whom millions considered a traitor, there is no doubt in my mind that the atmosphere of confrontation in the land of milk and honey had led to his act of murder. It would be the first time a Jewish leader had been slain since the biblical story of Gedalia.

There is a great deal of loud debate going on right now in my native United States, most particularly on Fox News, blaming the Left for creating an atmosphere of rancor in the wake of the shooting of Arizona Democrat congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In the past year I have sat in my living room every evening aghast at the direction in which the rhetoric on the right has been moving. I used to be a big fan of the Fox commentator in chief Glenn Beck but recently he has been making some outlandish statements and spending great swathes of airtime comparing the economic situation in the United States to that of the Weimar Republic. He has also blamed the Left for anti-Israel rhetoric but as I said in a recent editorial some of my staunchest Tory friends hate the Jewish State. The conservative Republican former Secretary of State James Baker is no admirer of Tel Aviv, nor is arch-conservative independent Patrick Buchanan.

Now in the era of social networking and blogs, anyone can set up a website and generate hatred.
London MP Stephen Timms nearly died after being attacked by an angry constituent at his surgery in a local Beckton library on 14 May 2010. 21-year-old Roshonara Choudhry stabbed him twice in his stomach and liver with a 6-inch knife, before being overpowered. She said she was influenced by the sermons of Anwar al Awlaki, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. She also wanted to punish Timms for voting for the Iraq intervention, and sought revenge for the people of Iraq.

On 2 November, Choudhry was found guilty of Timms' attempted murder and given a life sentence subject to review after fifteen years.

Timms later told the press he was seeking the banning of incendiary material on some internet sites "to protect other vulnerable young people from going down the same road." You Tube removed several videos of Awlaki after the case.

When all is said and done it was not the internet that influenced Yigal Amir to murder Yitzhak Rabin but a local rabbi who infected him with a religious zeal that became homicidal venom. Jared Loughner posted material on the internet about the gold standard but he also made it his job to confront Gabrielle Giffords. Ms Choudry ruined her young life by watching too many videos.

Hitler and Stalin murdered tens of millions before the era of television, let alone computers. There is no doubt the atmosphere of division in the United States is as bad as many can recall but the jury is out on the influence electronic media have on the act of murder.


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