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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 3, 2007


If you are going to tell a lie, it had better be convincing.

If you are going to tell a big lie, it had better be very convincing.

If you are going to tell a bunch of lies, they had better be consistent.

Syria has been lying about the events of September 6th, the day of the pre-dawn Israeli aerial raid into Syria ever since September 6th. Lying, lying again and then lying a third time. Yes attack, no attack, yes attack. This is how it all breaks down:

Lie # 1: Syria claims to have shot at Israeli aircraft forcing Israeli fighter jets to back down and return home fearing for their lives.

Lie # 2: Syria claims that no Israeli attack took place at all.

Lie # 3: Syria claims that there was an Israeli attack but insists that the strike was against nothing but empty buildings.

The claim that Syria sent Israel back home defeated and cowering, Lie # 1, sounded so preposterous that analysts immediately began to question the entire story. Lo and behold they discovered that not only did Israel not run away, but there was no anti-aircraft activity in the area at all. Analysts determined that there was, however, evidence that Israeli rockets had been shot and had landed in Syrian territory. Ejected fuel tanks from Israeli fighters were discovered in nearby Turkey.

No surprise, the Syrians had lied.

If you are Syria and you have been caught in a lie and if the people you have been lying about, i.e. your enemy Israel are remaining uncharacteristically quiet and restrained about the entire incident you are left with but one recourse. Lie again.

And that is how Lie # 2, the claim that there was never any attack at all, came into being. By this time, the Arabic press had run with the story and American media had picked it up, but that made to difference to the Syrians. It was time to spin another story. Syria and friends decided to change the venue.
Instead of talking about an aerial attack Syria mounted a media attack against Israel and the United States. Syrian leaders began pushing the idea that no Israeli attack took place at all, that is was all fabricated, a myth. Ignoring the fact that they were the ones who first let out the story, Syrian voices shouted that these deliberately propagated myths were proof of the true intentions of Israel and the US in the Middle East region. They said that Israel and the United States have only one interest - continuing war, not peace. They said, and they are still saying, that the US sponsored and proposed Middle East peace conference scheduled for November in Annapolis, Maryland is no more than a tool to help the United States and Israel.

The Arab League collaborated with Syria, supporting the new party line by issuing statements about how the attack on Syria never happened, that it was all an Israeli fiction. An Arab league spokesman was even quoted in a-Sharq al-Awsat, a London Arabic newspaper, saying "These are just fantasies and part of the wartime psychology being waged in the Middle East. Talk of Israel violating Syria's airspace is all mean(t) to rehabilitate Israel's deterrence after the war in Lebanon." As if that was not enough, the Syrians brought forth people living in the area of the supposed attack, had them interviewed in the Arabic press and had them saying that they never saw any planes, heard any missiles or witnessed any explosions.

But that wasn't enough. On Monday night, October 1st, Lie # 3 was born.

Syrian President Bashar Assad in an interview, in English, with the BBC, acknowledged the Israeli attack but insisted that the strike was against empty buildings. He said that the attack showed Israel's "visceral antipathy towards peace."

The plan worked. Someone took note.

The spin in the Arab world influenced Israel. On Tuesday, October 2nd, Israel lifted the ban the military censor had put on the events of September 6th. Official Israelis, not just Bibi Netanyahu, were ready to talk about the raid. Netanyahu had grabbed local headlines claiming he was a major part of the decision to strike Syria and he was the only one who actually acknowledged the Israeli raid, but his statements were seen by Israelis for exactly what they were political grandstanding, an opportunity to grab voters. What Bibi said meant nothing - now it was official.

The military censor permitted the release of a single line officially confirming that Israel struck Syria. That was all, they gave no other official details. Under different circumstances one line would be a tease, it would open the flood gates and leaks would come pouring in. Not this time, not yet.

Over the next few weeks far more material will be released about the events of September 6th. They have to, or Syria will have the upper hand in the aerial raid propaganda war. Neither the United States nor Israel wants that to happen. The Syrians know their audience. They are playing to an audience that believes them and distrusts Israel. It is an audience that truly believes that the United States and Israel conspire to trick and exploit the Arab world. It is a world that can never be convinced that it is Syria behind the trickery and that the US and Israel are trying to create some kind of rapprochement. The true story line is difficult to sell in the Middle East.

If you are going to tell a lie, hope it doesn't backfire.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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