In a post today on the Tony Kushner debate, Andrew Sullivan attributes highly offensive simile to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. The problem is, the Israeli leader never actually said it. JTA’s Ron Kampeas thought the quotation looked suspicious and checked into its citation, a Reuters story first published by the New York Times in 1988.
Here’s the statement Sullivan attributed to Shamir: “’The Palestinians’ would be crushed like grasshoppers . . . heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”
And here’s the actual Shamir quote from the original Reuters story:
Mr. Shamir, standing atop an ancient West Bank castle, told reporters: “Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls.”
[Later in the article]
In remarks aimed at Arab rioters, the Prime Minister said: “We say to them from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us.”
The statement on Sullivan’s blog is clearly fabricated—it has almost no resemblance to what Shamir actually said.
Sullivan didn’t invent the phony quote. His source is an anti-Semitic website called “The Real History of Israel,” which he links to. The website is a treasure-trove of fake and misrepresented “Zionist-supremacy” quotations from Israeli leaders. It’s also a great resource for anti-Semitic cartoons and music videos.
I highly doubt Sullivan was aware of the website’s racist content, but he should have been double-checked before citing such a salacious quote that could potentially smear Shamir’s reputation. If he’s willing to accept the veracity of that sort of remark without question, what other information is he credulously accepting about Israel?