The most outrageous tissue of lies I have seen in my forty-five years as a journalist appeared yesterday on the website of The Forward, a once-great Jewish publication long since absorbed into the echo chamber of liberal propaganda.
The Forward trumpeted an exclusive: It claimed to have found a 2007 Hungarian television interview with Dr. Sebastian Gorka, now a national security adviser to President Trump, in which Gorka endorsed a militia then proposed by anti-Semitic political parties. Embedded in the “exclusive” story is a clip of Dr. Gorka speaking on Hungarian television full of jarring cuts and jumps, and ending strangely in mid-sentence. The Forward may style itself Jewish, but it learned its journalism from classic anti-Semitism.
In fact, as David Reaboi shows at RedState, the Forward’s clip edits out Gorka’s denunciation of the anti-Semitic parties for exploiting popular fears in order to advance their own agenda. Gorka explicitly says that it is the ultra-right parties that are behind the proposal, and that his party, the New Democratic Coalition, is not behind it.
How does black turn into white, day into night, democracy into tyranny, friendship with the Jewish people into anti-Semitism?
There is a name for this sort of propaganda, and it is The Big Lie: as Hitler’s mouthpiece Joseph Goebbels liked to say, if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. I denounced the Forward’s campaign of defamation against Dr. Gorka last month in this space. Yesterday’s lie denotes a new low point.
The events in question followed Hungary’s political crisis of 2006, when a feckless and corrupt Socialist government collapsed after its prime minister was caught on tape bragging about lying to the country. Ferenc Gyurcsány told his party this at a closed-door meeting:
No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have. Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years. It was totally clear that what we are saying is not true. You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink.
The revelation led to street protests.
On Sept. 18, 2006, protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of Hungary’s national television. Extremists from the old Communist regime joined by football rowdies battled with riot police — 141 policemen were injured. In the aftermath, the idea of a volunteer militia gained currency. That is when Dr. Gorka gave his interview to a Hungarian news station.
He states clearly that he does not oppose the concept of a militia as such, noting that many free countries including the United States have employed the concept. But he explicitly warns that the right-wing party FIDESZ (the party of the current prime minister Viktor Orban) and the extreme right, anti-Semitic Jobbik Party are exploiting popular fears in order to push the proposal through. His party has nothing to do with it, he emphasizes.
Dr. Gorka said:
It is clear that in Hungary, after last year’s violence, [by the former Communist government] a tangible need for organized self defense emerged. After the assault at the Hungarian National Television HQ, which I witnessed personally, — and it was interesting because the people there were not mostly 40-year-olds who had lived through the Fall of Communism, but mostly young people who felt society was in trouble — there was a growing need felt by many Hungarians for a defense of the nation’s soul, and I see Jobbik as having decided to politically exploit this, to politically profit from this societal call for protection.
And the most important thing of all, and I stress, the most important thing of all is that this isn’t anything to do with the UDK [Gorka’s party], but with Jobbik and that FIDESZ is really behind them and supporting it from the sidelines.
Dr. Gorka takes issue with the interviewer, accusing FIDESZ of using the Jobbik Party (an explicitly extremist organization) for its own purposes:
I don’t believe that FIDESZ itself wished to create any sort of quasi-military organization but it now sees the potential to exploit it [Jobbik’s proposal] as a tool.
The interviewer countered: “Excuse me, but FIDESZ could not be this stupid,” to which Gorka replied:
Why not? It failed twice during recent elections.
Gorka not only denounced the militia proposal as it came from the extreme-right Jobbik Party, but denounced the notionally respectable FIDESZ (the party that has ruled Hungary since 2010) for allying with Jobbik to advance its own agenda. He took precisely the opposite position that the Goebbelistas at the Forward attributed to him, and attacked not only the explicitly anti-Semitic extremists but the notionally respectable centrists who used the extremists.
The Forward edited his careful explanation that militias can be part of a democratic state to make it seem that he supported the formation of militias at the moment, when in fact he said the precise opposite, and cut the tape in mid-sentence just when he was about to say this.
As I said, I’ve never seen anything this grotesquely mendacious. But it still is dangerous. The left-wing Israeli daily Ha’aretz trumpeted the Forward’s story this morning.
“How does the Forward expect to get away with this, when the whole television interview is on the public record,” one might ask. The answer is: They don’t. Neither did Goebbels. The Forward is employing time-tested methods of anti-Semitic propaganda. Ben Hecht begins his 1944 book A Guide for the Bedeviled with the remarks of a proper Los Angeles lady who admits that the Nazis wrote mountains of lies about the Jews, but nonetheless insisted that there must be some fire behind all of this smoke: If so many terrible things are said about the Jews, she argued, the Jews must have done something bad to provoke them.
The Forward is a left-wing rag. In 2015 it sent its news editor Larry Cohler-Esses to Iran to hobnob with the mullahs and report that (off the record, of course) “there is high-placed dissent to the official line against Israel.” The mullahs talked about destroying Israel but really were ready to compromise, the Forward claimed, the better to drum up liberal Jewish support for Obama’s Iran deal. The Forward has gone out on a limb for the left so many times that its credibility is long since shredded.
But the Forward’s editors believe that if they lie energetically and often enough, Jews will come to believe that there must be something anti-Semitic about Sebastian Gorka — even if this charge and that charge turn out to be void of truth. Lie, lie, and lie again, and people will believe that there must be some fire behind the smoke, just like Ben Hecht’s Los Angeles society lady.
The average reader scans a headline and skims an article. Few read transcripts, look at context, and weigh the evidence — even when the evidence is overwhelming and unambiguous. No matter how comprehensively the charges are refuted, the Forward thinks, if you throw enough mud at the wall some of it will stick. The Forward believes that the end justifies the means, that the greater good of wrecking the Trump administration entitles them to employ lies and character assassination.
I state once again: Dr. Sebastian Gorka is one of the best friends that the Jewish people and the State of Israel have in the Gentile world. He is a key official of the most pro-Israel administration in the history of the United States.
I am honored to call him my friend and I am chagrined that he must endure this kind of public abuse, when his entire career stands as evidence of his amity with the people of Israel. As a Jew I am ashamed that the extreme left-wing fringe of the Jewish world has lost its way so profoundly as to smear him with obvious and transparent falsehoods.