Canadian Arab News,
In a corrupt world, nothing succeeds like satire!
June 14, 2009
It’s amazing how much excitement a little wit and some basic computer artistry can generate. My satire of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as a man of principle and courage took on a life of its own as scores of websites and blogs posted it, debated it, and translated it.
Reaction ran from jaw-dropping (albeit temporary) elation from those who thought Israel finally got what it deserves, to a collective colon purge among zionists who went into Defcon 4 panic mode.
Some even wrote hysterical letters to the White House, Congress and the UN, and called for me to be charged with committing a crime. (Ain’t gonna happen!)
I don’t usually respond publicly to reader reaction but this is an exceptional case. Before I explain why, a little nomenclature clarification. Contrary to numerous assertions, especially from the Lobby, the “speech” is neither a hoax nor a forgery.
A hoax is an attempt to dupe, deceive or trick someone into believing that something unreal is in fact real. At no time did I attempt to deceive anyone. As many people noticed, I spelled-out the word SATIRE clearly in the text. In the words of Jewish Telegraph Agency reporter Ben Harris: “How could anyone have missed it?”
Nevertheless, modern political hoaxes do exist. Some of the more infamous false claims include:
• Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction;
• Muslim hijackers brought down the World Trade Centre;
• Torture saves American lives; and
• Exposing Israeli atrocities is “anti-Semitic.”
In contrast, the mainstream media is riddled with hoaxes. For example, The New York?Times’ chief hoaxster Judith Miller was largely responsible for making the invasion of Iraq possible by passing off Pentagon propaganda as legitimate reportage.
In essence, my satire was designed to expose a hoax—the hoax of Israel being a legitimate member of the United Nations. For all of its frothing denunciations, the Lobby has not made any attempt to refute the evidence.
Selected Media Reaction
|“With the current climate of anti-Israel sentiment, undoubtedly hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will accept this forgery at face value. If it is not denied promptly and publicly, this false document, which clearly has the potential for violence, can produce dire consequences in world opinion. The integrity of the United Nations will be damaged as well.”
—Dr. Haim Katz, chairman,
International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs (B’nai Brith)
|“The alleged speech suggested that, based on a considered legal analysis of UN documents, Israel had violated the terms of its creation by the UN and its subsequent admission to the world body. As a result, Ban Ki-moon was calling the General Assembly into special session to withdraw the UN terms for the establishment of Israel and to expel Israel from the UN. While much of the criticism of the UN by pro-Israel and Jewish activists is valid, the ‘letter’ is a total fabrication—in fact, it is a signed piece of wishful thinking by an anti-Israel Canadian writer. The Jewish community needs to cease fanning flames of hatred and hostility where there is no fire.”
—Dr. Gilbert N. Kahn,
New Jersey Jewish News
|“We are very concerned. This has the potential for violence. This is like a blood libel. I got this from very serious friends of mine.”
—Jan Sokolovsky, executive director,
International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs
|“Felton claimed that he had no intention to deceive with the ‘speech’ and that he made it clear in the document that it was a joke.… Six paragraphs in, the first letter of the first word of the first sentence, an ‘S’, was featured in bold. A few lines later, yes there it was, an “A”, also in bold. Then a ‘T’, an ‘I’, an ‘R’, and an ‘E’—each of them separated from the others by a few sentences, at most, and in bold. Felton had spelled out ‘SATIRE.’ How could anyone have missed it?”
—Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraph Agency
|“To prevent the allegations contained in the SG’s alleged speech about Israel’s conditional membership from snow-balling, an urgent widely publicized clarification is needed from the UN and I respectfully suggest that in your capacity as Director of the Task Force against Hate of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at the United Nations, you take up this matter at top level.”
—Letter by Maurice Ostroff, founding member, International Council of Hasbara Volunteers, to Mark Weitzman
|There were, however, some valid points in the mock speech that I wish to address… United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 requires that Israel compensate Arabs for all property destroyed or confiscated by Israel. Israel’s membership in the United Nations as set forth in UN General Assembly Resolution 273 specifically requires Israel to comply with Resolution 194. It must be pointed out that Resolution 194 also grants the Palestinians the Right of Return to their homeland. Sixty years after its admission to the World Body, all of the above resolutions have been violated or ignored, yet Israel remains a member in good standing of the United Nations.
The charge of forgery refers to my homemade pdf replica of a UN News webpage containing the “official” transcript of the speech. To qualify as a forgery my webpage would have to be indistinguishable, or nearly indistinguish-able, from the real thing. As certain observant people noted:
• Ban Ki-Moon did not address the General Assembly on the day in question;
• None of the links worked; and
• My pdf did not appear on the official UN website or anywhere in the mainstream press.
There was no attempt to deceive, unlike the case of the infamous forged Niger documents that George W. Bush held up as “proof” that Saddam Hussein’s was buying uranium.
The fact that many readers pro and con were impressed by the seeming authenticity of my mock-up is nevertheless gratifying. After all, what’s the point of doing satire if it isn’t believable?
I think the most significant effect of my satire is how it generated its own reality, especially after some sites posted it, then took it down when they could not confirm its authenticity. The fact of my satire appearing and then disappearing spawned speculation that it was true and that it had been censored for political reasons.
According to a poster on abovetopsecret.com: “I gotta tell you, you found a gem, and they stole it back. I’m sure it will be redacted or cosmetically made more PC; and people will call you a liar for ever having relayed the find. Too bad really. Every now and again, I like to pretend there's hope. Then AIPAC strikes. And the dance begins all over again.”
The French site alterinfonet.org even translated my satire with the added heading “censored by the press,” but also with a read-at-you-own-risk caveat. The idea that AIPAC or other any other arm of Zionism Inc. could censor the media so easily clearly comes as no surprise, which made what “I” had to say that much more believable.
In response to the satire, and the climate of suspicion it engendered, one zionist “praised” it as a highly successful “false meme”—a form of disinformation as part of cognitive warfare against Israel. The irony, which is lost on this individual, is that the entire history of Israel is a false meme, and that my satire, for all of its inventiveness, was truthful.
Similarly Maurice Ostroff founding member of Hasbara, an organization dedicated to spewing apologetics for Israel, paid me the highest compliment by demanding the UN “clarify”(!) its position about Israel “to prevent the allegations contained in the SG’s alleged speech about Israel’s conditional membership from snow-balling.”
Not only does Ostroff recognize the power of the allegations, which are 100% true, but he also lends credence to those who charge that Jews control the media, or at least exercise an undue influence. He also shows just how easily the myth of Israel can be exploded. If one writer can do so much damage, just how sustainable is Israel’s position?!
All this backhanded praise does is show that the satire was a runaway success, and so the success had to be discredited.
The third reaction to the satire concerns the debate it engendered. Numerous blogs carried on prolonged discussions about UN General Assembly resolutions 194 and 273, complete with excerpts. This true, uncensored discussion about the history of zionist treachery and fraud reached thousands, if not millions, of people, if the Lobby’s latest screech owl Dr. Haim Katz is anything to go by.
If I had written this piece as a straight column, it would not have had nearly the same impact. It’s easy, and I suspect commonplace, to judge a story by its source, rather than its message.
We live in irrational times where truth is a commodity defined by the government and propagated by a compliant, corrupt media. Those who dissent from the prescribed verities are marginalized and persecuted, not because they are wrong but because they are right. In such a society, satire is the best source of truth, and the satirist is a dangerous man.