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Arafat's use of "Turnspeak" to say Israel causes terrorism

Arafat and the Big Lie

Another day, another terrorist attack. 

This time, eight dead and 20 hurt near Holon. Technically, Hamas claims responsibility for the bus assault. Technically, Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Authority have plausible deniability. I emphasize the word "technically." 

Just read what Arafat actually said about the attack for yourself to see how he not only excuses it, he continues to condone this type of terrorism. 

"The combined attack on the Palestinian people by (Prime Minister Ehud) Barak and (Prime Minister-elect Ariel) Sharon has a direct effect on the mood of the people. The Israeli escalation is what brought about the attack," he said in Jordan. 

Arafat has mastered a propaganda technique known as "turnspeak." Turnspeak is achieved when you attack someone but claim, with some success, to be the victim of the attack. Over and over again, we see this happen in the Middle East on a daily basis. 

In effect, a purveyor of turnspeak disseminates information that is the exact opposite of the truth -- making it difficult for the real victims to respond in a way that is clearly understandable to the world. 

Guess where turnspeak was first employed as a propaganda tool? In March 1939, some enterprising journalists recognized that Adolf Hitler was using "the big lie" in justifying Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia. 

Whose fault was it that Germany was forced to invade? It was the fault of the Czechs, of course. They were trying, Hitler claimed, to provoke a regional war by attempting to claim their land as their own. 

"Thus the plight of the German minority in Czechoslovakia was merely a pretext for cooking up a stew in a land he coveted, undermining it, confusing and misleading its friends and concealing his real purpose to destroy the Czech state and grab its territories," wrote William L. Shirer about Hitler's gambit. 

How did much of Europe respond? They bought the big lie -- hook, line and sinker. They didn't want to risk an all-out war. So they rationalized that Hitler had some legitimate claims on Czechoslovakia. 

Tell a big enough lie often enough and some people -- often many people -- will believe it. That is the lesson of turnspeak. And Arafat has learned it well -- from his masters. 

What do I mean? It's not uncommon for the Arabs today -- Arafat included -- to refer to the Israelis as "Nazis" or fascists. Why do they do that? To provide cover for their own similarities and ties to the Nazis. 

As Joan Peters points out in her Middle East history, "From Time Immemorial," Hitler's crimes against the Jews have frequently been justified in Arab writings and speeches. In 1940, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, requested the Axis powers to acknowledge the Arab right "to settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along the lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy." 

Yasser Arafat's given name, as an Egyptian, was Abd al-Rahman abd al-Bauf Arafat al-Qud al-Husseini. That's right. He called the former mufti his "uncle." 

Arafat will continue to say day is night and war is peace. We should expect it from him. That is the way the big lie works. 

But how many more body bags do we need to see from terrorist incidents before the whole world recognizes Arafat for what he is -- a bold liar whose ultimate goal remains as always the annihilation of the Jewish state? 

Oh yes, Arafat will continue to maintain plausible deniability with regard to Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist operations. He will portray himself as a reasonable man, a man of peace. He will wax persuasively about his own victimhood. He'll tell you that the Israelis are the true obstacle to peace. 

Understand what all that means when you hear it. That's just the way turnspeak works. He's practiced at the art of deception. He moves quickly in an effort to remain at least one step ahead of the truth. What he says is usually the exact opposite of reality -- and he knows it. 

Joseph Farah is editor and chief executive officer of and writes a daily column.

This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst 
Brooklyn, New York 
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Source: "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters, 1984
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