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Discredit the message by attacking the messenger

Reader comment on item: How Central Is Muslim Anti-Semitism?

Submitted by Ethan Corey (United States), Jun 26, 2002 at 14:21

One of the more interesting and disturbing developments since the beginning of the latest intifada is that Palestinian sympathizers attempt to discredit/discount evidence of Palestinian or Arab misconduct by discrediting the messenger. If you can cast doubt on the messenger, then you somehow have discredited the evidence.

Under the simplest version of this strategy, the Arab apologist attempts to discredit evidence of Palestinian wrongdoing by noting that the party uncovering the evidence is hostile to Arabs or Palestinians. For example (http://www.danielpipes.org/article/426), Jim Zogby states that reports that Yasser Arafat himself was signing vouchers to pay for the implements for homicide bombers are false. Why? Because the evidence came from Israeli intelligence sources.

Under a more complicated version of this game, the Arab apologist, or the apologist's confederates first attempts to demonize the critic. Tactics include misrepresenting what the critic has said and name caling. Once the critic has been demonized, then the apologist points to the notoriety of the critic as an Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hater to discredit the evidence of misconduct. Ms. Eltantawi's appearance is an example of this, but it is certainly by no means the only one, as Steve Emerson can attest to. More recently, Palestinian symps have been tarring Dennis Ross with this strategy.

One of the more recent and disappointing episodes can be found in the most recent New York Review of Books. Robert Malley and Hussein Agha respond to Ehud Barak and Benny Morris almost exclusively by attacking Ehud Barak ad hominem. Malley and Agha, remarkably, failed to rebut a single point that Barak and Morris made.

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