There are very few people who would risk their own lives to defend someone else's country – especially when that country is the state of Israel. But when Israelis are terrorized, murdered and lynched by their Arab neighbors, when the very existence of the Jewish State is in jeopardy, Joseph Farah may very well be the best friend Israel ever had – for as a believer in the Bible, he cannot "stand idly by the blood of his brother." Yet, remarkably, Joseph Farah is not a Jewish brother at all. At best he is a cousin. By definition, however, he should be an enemy – after all, he is an Arab, albeit an Arab American.
Journalist Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WorldNetDaily.com, fights against Israel's detractors with the most far-reaching offensive: a war of words. With his leading independent newssite, which gets 40 million viewers monthly from 165 countries, Farah's blasting editorials blow apart the Arab myths that have come to revise history and continually attempt to shape reality in the Middle East. "Arabs are good at spinning myths," Farah says. "The cultural stereotype goes back to the Arabian Nights. What else are Arabs known for but inventing fanciful tales?"
What amazes Farah is how these Arab mythmakers have been so successful at shaping the international community's whole Middle East agenda. "There has never been a Palestine governed by Palestinians," Farah explains. "Now the whole world is convinced that we must create this new state. It is a masterful piece of propaganda." Farah continually reminds his readers that Arafat himself was not even born in "Palestine"; he was born in Egypt.
What appalls Farah even more is that some Jews are also starting to believe the myths and are willing to give away precious Jewish land to pacify acknowledged enemies of the State. "Pieces of Israeli soil are not what Arafat wants," Farah exposes. "It's not even what he says he wants to his own people. It's only what Arafat tells Ted Koppel on 'Nightline.' The Palestinian slogan for Palestine is 'from the river to the sea' – which basically eradicates Israel from the map."
Farah points out that the Palestine Liberation Organization was established in 1964, three years before Israel secured the West Bank and Old Jerusalem. What was the PLO trying to "liberate" then? Clearly the pre-'67 state of Israel. In addition, Farah reminds his readers and all who will listen to him, that Israel did not seize Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem from the Palestinians; those were areas controlled by Jordan from 1948 until Israel won the Six Day War in 1967. Farah questions why the Palestinians made no serious demands on Jordan for a Palestinian homeland and why it was only when Israel took control of those regions that longings for Palestinian nationhood in the so-called "occupied territories" erupted.
Another myth spinning out of control, according to Farah, is the perception and accusation that Israel is busily building settlements. Farah says, "Do the math!" Since 1967 the Jews have built 144 Jewish settlements, while the Arabs have built 261, almost double. He questions why no one talks about that!
Farah is by no means a self-hating Arab American. He is very proud of his Syrian and Lebanese heritage. He has even named one of his daughters Jihan, after Anwar Sadat's daughter. As much as he supports the Jewish state, he would not be pleased if any of his daughters married a Jew. But as a veteran reporter of 25 years, who worked as editor-in-chief of the Sacramento Union and as executive news editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Farah is committed to accurately conveying the unfolding of history, not tapping into the agenda of those trying to reinvent it.
In his effort to debunk falsehoods that have taken on a life of their own, on Oct. 11, 2000, Farah published an article on his newssite entitled "Myths of the Middle East." The article was reproduced in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Press and the Chicago Sun-Times, publications for which Farah now writes on a consistent basis. Coinciding with the onslaught of the now year-old intifada, the article was positively received by Israel's supporters around the world. He received 15,000 emails from Israel alone from those both on the left and right of the political spectrum. The article also earned him thousands of death threats and other nefarious utterances from Arabs all over the world. He was accused of being a Mossad agent, a propagandist for Israel and a covert convert.
In "Myths of the Middle East," Farah wrote:
The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine.
The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury ... Palestine has never existed – before or since – as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. ... There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians.
What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem. Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically correct.
I know what you're going to say. "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites." Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem. ... Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.
Farah goes on to explain that the claim Jerusalem became the third holiest site of Islam is based on a vague passage in the Koran, Sura 17:1, entitled “The Night Journey.” It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by night “from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote.” It is important to note that while Mohammed was dreaming of a remote mosque in an unidentified city, in actuality the city of Jerusalem was Christian dominated and filled with churches. There was no mosque in the entire city. It was only later in the century that some Muslims identified the two mosques mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. It was not until six years after Mohammed died that Jerusalem first fell under Arab rule in 638 C.E. In actuality, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built 53 years afterward on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site where both Holy Temples stood – the first temple being built by King Solomon 1,500 years before Mohammed’s dream.
Farah’s beliefs have greatly diverged from those of his childhood days when both his family’s and his own sympathies were aligned with the Arabs. Born and raised in Fair Lawn and Paterson, New Jersey, he was 13 years old during the 1967 Six Day War – and he wanted the Arabs to win. “To me it was a football game and the Arabs were my team,” Farah recounts. “You can’t imagine how I felt growing up with many Jewish friends and watching how excited they were as every day brought Israel a new victory.”
Today Farah believes that what happened in 1948 and 1967 was a fulfillment of prophecy and of God’s covenant with Abraham. He is appalled by Jews who ignore their historic claims and divinely ordained birthright. “If I see Jews willing to compromise on the Temple Mount, I come to the conclusion that those are not Jews, just as I conclude that anti-Semitic Christians aren’t real Christians,” Farah says fervently. “If they are really Jews they would understand that the Temple Mount is their centerpiece. I have no respect for those Jews.”
Farah’s eye-opening journey began when he was a young journalist. His two beats as a reporter, Hollywood and the Middle East, could not have been more different, except in one regard: You just can’t believe what you see on TV. Farah reported from Lebanon in the ‘70s and ‘80s before the Israelis invaded, spending much time in Christian enclaves in the south. He tells how the Christians and the Muslims were terrified of the PLO, who had come to Lebanon after King Hussein kicked them out of Jordan. The PLO had taken control of the high ground and used artillery shells as a means of intimidation. “There wasn’t a building in southern Lebanon that didn’t have bullet holes in it and wasn’t partially destroyed by artillery shells,” Farah says. “That had nothing to do with Israel; they hadn’t even set foot into Lebanon except to clean out the PLO once in a while.”
When Farah got back to America, he was shocked by the skewed portrayal of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon by the media. “I said, ‘Wow, you’re getting it all wrong!’” Farah recalls. “When Israel finally invaded you saw pictures of devastation, but it was the same devastation wrought by the PLO that I’d seen a year or two earlier.”
When Farah came back to the United States, he tried to network in the Arab-American community and write for the local Arab newspapers. Although he was not the staunch supporter of Israel that he is today, the editors would nonetheless cut the conclusions in his articles that they did not like. It is for that very reason of censorship that Farah feels more compelled than ever to identify himself as an Arab-American. He wants it to be known that the Arab community is not as monolithic as it is portrayed by its self-appointed leaders. According to Farah, the Arab people are afraid to speak out against the more radical among them.
“Fear and intimidation are the forces that keep the Arab-American community in line,” Farah says. “It is the same forces that silence the Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Gaza.” Farah remembers when Arab mayors such as Zafer al-Masri of Nablus and Hassan Tawil of Al Bira were murdered by the PLO, in 1986 and 1988 respectively, because they were appointed by and cooperated with Israel.
“It’s important to know that a lot of the Arabs in Lebanon felt that their only hope for a normal peaceful life was that Israel would protect them,” Farah says. “That is another thing you never see portrayed by the media.” In fact Farah feels that the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, where so many Arabs trusted them and depended on them, is one of the most horrific things Israel has ever done.
But on Farah’s tally of “horrific acts committed,” Yasser Arafat still leads the pack. Farah deems him an unrepentant liar and murderer. And Farah is not one to hurl gratuitous invectives. He reminds his readers of Arafat’s ordering of the 1985 hijacking of the Italian luxury liner Achille Lauro, where heavily armed Palestinian gunmen seized the cruise ship and threatened to blow it up unless Israel freed 50 imprisoned Palestinians. Prior to surrendering, the terrorists shot a wheelchair-bound American, Leon Klinghoffer, and then threw him overboard.
On his newssite, WorldNetDaily.com, Farah also exposed an alleged cover-up of Arafat’s involvement in a 1973 operation in Khartoum, Sudan, where two U.S. diplomats were murdered by Arafat’s Fatah organization, Black September. Farah interviewed James J. Welsh, a former intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency, who said that the NSA had intercepted communications between Arafat and his operatives regarding the imminent operation. The NSA was told to send a rare “flash” message – the higher priority message – to the U. S. embassy in Khartoum. For some reason, the message was downgraded and never arrived in time, resulting in the murder of Cleo Noel and George Curtis Moore, as well as Belgian diplomat Guy Eid. Welsh, breaking his silence after 28 years, told WND that he is certain that tapes exist of Arafat’s communication with his Fatah organization because he participated in their production. Welsh said that he can’t understand why recent administrations overlook something as terrible as this in their dealings with Yasser Arafat.
Farah says that the daily murdering and terrorizing of Israeli civilians in the intifada hardly epitomize Arafat as a paradigmatic Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Farah agrees with the many reports, including those found in the Arab press, which confirm that the intifada was planned after the Camp David meeting between Arafat, Clinton and Barak and was not prompted by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. Farah also reminds his readers of the mass cargo of weapons (Katyusha and anti-aircraft rockets, mortars, rocket propelled grenades, explosive charges, anti-tank mines, assault rifles and hand grenades) that Israel intercepted on May 7, 2001, which the Palestinian Authority attempted to smuggle into Gaza.
Quoting a wise old sage, Farah says, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Farah wonders how long it will take everyone to realize that in dealing with Arafat “over and over again,” the final results will never equal peace. Farah says that the only reason Bush should receive Arafat in the White House is to read him his Miranda rights.
He strongly believes that because the United States has allowed terrorists to escape justice for so long in the Middle East, terrorists have become conditioned to believe that they can attack even the U.S. itself with impunity. He points out how the Bush-Powell team has urged Israel for months to show restraint in their dealings with the Palestinians and not to retaliate or use excessive force, but rather to reopen negotiations with Arafat. “Yet, within hours of the blitzkrieg attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the dramatic hijacking of four airliners, the Bush-Powell tune has changed,” Farah writes in his column Between the Lines. “There was no talk of negotiation. There was no worry about excessive force. There was a promise of retaliation.”
So Farah strongly urges Ariel Sharon not to be so self-conscious and to be “Ariel Sharon”! He says Israel must be strong and defend itself or risk losing everything it has worked to build over the past 50 years. “There is no room to negotiate with people who want to destroy you,” Farah says. According to Farah, one truth is certain: The troubles in the Middle East will not be solved by the creation of a “Palestinian State.” He says that even if Israel were eliminated tomorrow, there would still be the same violence as was seen between Iran and Iraq. The problem, according to Farah, is the fervor of Islamic expansionism, which is intolerant of everyone and believes in evangelizing with the sword.
In line with the Jewish teaching that the tongue may be mightier than the sword, Farah is not guiltless of evangelizing. On WorldNetDaily.com, Farah is very vocal, persuasive and opinionated on almost every subject shaping public opinion, from gun control to global warming. He is fearless and ruthless in his pursuit of the truth, so much so that he is now being sued for $165 million by a Gore fund-raiser for an 18-part series Farah featured on WND dealing with political corruption in Tennessee – a series some believe resulted in Gore losing his home state.
Everyone is fair game to Farah. He doesn’t even reserve equivocal terms for his fellow journalists when they are guilty of being euphemists instead of reporters. In a recent article on WND, Farah bashes Reuters – the London-based international wire service – and the Religion Newswriters Association for concluding that the word “terrorist” should be avoided because news organizations should not “classify” people, but rather report events. He writes:
Here’s my problem with this kind of thinking, or shall I say non-thinking, within my profession: It might make sense if there were some consistency to the rules. But there isn’t. Reuters, and every other news agency in the world, uses labels all the time, even WorldNetDaily, though, I would suggest, we apply them more carefully than most.
Take Reuters, for instance. The editors don’t like the word “terrorist” anymore. But what about other labels? What about “right-wing”? I did a quick search and found dozens and dozens of examples of the gratuitous use of this term, and only occasionally referring to the hockey position.
What about “far right”? Again, bingo; lots of hits.
What about a less inflammatory label, like “moderate”? You’ll find Yasser Arafat and his minions constantly referred to with that label.
What about “hard-liner”? You’ll find Ariel Sharon is the only hard-liner in the Middle East. …
But I thought Reuters editors didn’t believe in sticking labels on people, only in describing actions? That’s their story and they’re sticking to it. Guess what? No amount of evidence to the contrary will persuade them they are wrong. They are wrong, however. They’re wrong about the word “terrorist,” too. If civilized people – and that includes most reporters and editors I know – cannot agree that what happened Sept. 11 was terrorism, we’ve got a real problem on our hands. What can we agree on, for heaven’s sake? Why are we mincing words? If anything, terrorism is not a strong enough term to describe this atrocity. This is ultra-terror, this is super-terror, this is hyper-terror. What’s wrong with these people? And, guess what? Lots of U. S. journalists are agreeing with these journalistic extremists.
Farah must be doing something right, because WND is a highly visited newssite running neck and neck with The New York Times and USA Today Internet sites. He anticipates that in the next five years it will be the No. 1 newssite. It is hard to doubt Farah in the face of his ambition, seeing that he and his wife Elizabeth created and built up WorldNetDaily from their bedroom each night after putting their four daughters to bed.
And so, despite the threats and lawsuits, Joseph Farah is not afraid. As an evangelical Christian, he believes each man has a divine mission to tell the truth, come what may. He also believes that Israel has a divine mission: to be a light among the nations. Farah says that it is not so much another land concession that threatens Israel’s ability to defend itself, but rather the spiritual concessions which would allow the yielding of God-given land. “My scriptures, too, make clear that God, not Arafat, is sovereign over Jerusalem.”
Archive of Joseph Farah's articles at WorldNetDaily
Aliza Davidovit is a Middle East reporter for Lifestyles magazine and free-lance journalist. This feature story is reprinted from the January issue of international Jewish Lifestyles Magazine.