This would be an extraordinarily strange story if it weren’t by now so familiar: another made-up anti-semitic attack in France.
On this occasion it is an Israeli film director, Yariv Horowitz, who inflated a trivial incident of a French minor throwing a punch at him into a “lynching” by a group of Arabs, who beat him unconscious. The story was published in the Israeli media (but not the French media) and started to spread from there.
The false claims came to light only because of great investigative work by Ali Abunimah. (See below and his earlier story
I guess Horowitz was motivated by a mix of a selfish desire for greater publicity for his film and his public duty, as so many Israelis see it, to perform hasbara: that is, to make Israel look good at pretty much any cost to truth.
What surprises me most is that these impulses were so strong in Horowitz that he decided to make up an outrageously false story, based on grossly racist premises, even though the incident was witnessed by the director of the film festival herself.
Horowitz’s story is the latest in a long line of such anti-semitic attacks in France that existed only in the mind of the “victim”. The trend started, to the best of my knowledge, with a French rabbi, Gabriel Fahri, who claimed he had been stabbed by an Arab in 2002. In fact, as it later emerged, he had stabbed himself.
A short time later a young woman claimed she had been brutally assaulted on a train for being a Jew, in an attack in which a swastika was carved with a knife on her stomach. As it turned out, she wasn’t Jewish and had made the injuries herself.
Abunimah mentions other such incidents. Why the compulsion to make up such incidents and why France?
The second question, it seems to me, can be explained by the Israeli effort begun by Ariel Sharon to present France as being taken over by “Arabs” and, as a result, a playground for anti-semites. Behind this campaign lies an Israeli interest to persuade France’s large Jewish population to migrate to Israel.
As for the first question, I guess Zionism and the rationale for Israel’s existence as a brutal ethnic state only make sense if Jews are surrounded by enemies who wish to hurt them at every turn. That sense of victimhood – and the idea of Israel as a safe haven – is becoming ever harder for Jews to sustain.
I am no psychologist, but I suspect some Jews, especially liberals ones (like Horowitz and Fahri, who was a Reform rabbi), find these illusions so important and their loss so troubling that they are prepared to create fantasies to bolster their vulnerable ideology.