The death of truth by a thousand cuts – Chuck Stephens on global Israel-Palestine divide

In a world increasingly marked by division, South Africa pushes for an Israeli war crimes investigation while UEFA denies a moment of silence in a soccer game between Israel and Poland. Remarkably, players defy UEFA, standing still in solidarity. The global divide intensifies with massive pro-Palestine and pro-Israel rallies. Amidst media distortion, Chuck Stephens explores the death of truth in a post-truth era, emphasising the need to seek common ground for peace. Confucius’ wisdom echoes: “The object of the superior man is truth.”

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The Death of Truth by a Thousand Cuts

By Chuck Stephens

It’s hard to take in the divergence of opinions.  Yesterday, South Africa’s ambassador in the Haig – the irrepressible Vusi Madonsela – hand-delivered an Israeli referral to the International Criminal Court.  South Africa wants Israel to be investigated for war crimes, citing the situation in the state of Palestine.

Then incredibly, the Union of European Football Associations denied a request for one minute of silence in the run-up to a soccer game between Israel and Poland (the under-21s).  In a powerful stand for unity, both teams defied UEFA’s senseless move, choosing solidarity over soccer! The first minute of the game was a remarkable moment, as players from both sides simply stood still.  The ball was left motionless on the pitch. 

We are seeing polarization get worse not better.  Instead of looking for common ground and things we can agree on, we are digging in and hunkering down.  This does not bode well for peace making.

There was a pro-Palestine rally on Saturday in London that was estimated at 300,000 protesters.  The very next day, there was a pro-Israel rally in Washington, with 290,000 marchers.  One leftist media platform called it a hate march.  How’s that for an anti-Semitic remark?

Then Arizona State University cancelled a pro-Palestinian rally.  Now a pro-Israel rally is slated for London this week-end, following the equivalent in Paris last week-end.  This in the wake of pro-Palestine rallies in London and Paris during the past few weeks, which seemed to sway at least one observer – Emmanuel Macron.

I recently wrote a book about the death of truth.  We live in a post-truth world.  Several points unpacked in my new book come to mind as I watch the political distancing.

To start with, people generally are not seeking truth.  They are seeking validation of what they already believe.  This is certainly true of South Africa’s policy.  What action was taken in the Haig after the 7 October massacre in Israel?  And is UEFA not informed about the empathetic policy of the European Union?  Wouldn’t they have granted a minute of silence to a Palestinian sports team?

Carl Sagan said… “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.  The bamboozle has captured us.  It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.  Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Winston Churchill said that three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon, and the truth.  Certainly truth is coming to light almost daily in Gaza.  Media coverage of Palestine is everywhere.  As a close observer, I do not think that one party is guilty and the other innocent.  That is different from one party being strong and the other weak.  Hamas is going the way of Al Queda and ISIS, because it has committed war crimes, long before 7 October 2023.  Like establishing command centres and weapons caches in Gaza hospitals.

Media reports are saying that 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced.  In a country of 2.2 million, with Israel still pleading with lingering citizens in the north to move south, this seems exaggerated.  How about the 250 thousand Israelis who have been displaced?  One Palestinian started to complain to a journalist about Hamas, and he was ignored.  The journalist just turned away from the interview.  It did not fit his narrative.  He should be rebuked by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s comment:  “The simple step of the courageous individual is to not take part in the lie.”

As Joseph Goebbels put it: “Keep the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.”  The Palestinian cause is trying hard to champion the plight of Palestinian civilians.  The problem is that they are serving (intentionally or otherwise) as human shields.  They have been protecting Hamas.  Israel has declared war on Hamas, not on all Palestinians.

Winston Churchill said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  The desire to censor people comes from an inability to counter their ideas and/or to defend your own.  The truth is not subject to public opinion, you can call a fork a spoon all day long but the soup will still run through it just like the fork that it is.

A great African called Tertullian (who was no stranger to controversy and violence) said: “The first reaction to truth is hatred.”  That is the problem with polarization.  It allows hatred to heat up.  Peacemaking takes the courage to love your enemies and to bless those who persecute you.

In the past, the truth was hidden.  Today, people are hiding from the truth.  They hunker down in their comfort zone of hatred, whether that is anti-Semitism or Zionist hegemony.  We need to follow the example of those footballers who stood still on the field in spite of UEFA’s intransigence.  On both sides.  That is the pathway to peace.

Confucius said: “The object of the superior man is truth.”

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