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“Nothing Fights Lies Like the Truth”

Avi Friedman

Promoting Israel on the international stage has never been more difficult, and watching the country come under constant attack in the media can be frustrating even for the country’s most fervent supporters. But twenty-five years after launching his own hasbarah operation, David Olesker is still confident that truth and morals will triumph over lies and propaganda.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dr. Phillip Broocks-Khalidi stands in front of a large audience of South African Jewish students and young professionals in the conference room of a Jerusalem hotel. His subject: the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The captive audience is thirsty to hear about his family background (his father is a British doctor, his mother a Palestinian nurse), their journey to northern England (he was born in the Old City of Jerusalem, but the family fled advancing Israeli forces in 1967, when Khalidi was just ten) and his lifelong struggle to maintain his identity in exile, far from his people and homeland. Now a heavyset man of fifty-three with a full beard and a clipped English accent, his presentation is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming, filled with equal amounts of tears and laughs.

Khalidi’s condemnation of Israel seems (at first) to be almost reluctant. But gradually his outrage builds, as does his rhetoric. The Israelis are behaving like Nazis! They carry out war crimes and their policies are not only evil, but doom Israel to eternal war and universal condemnation. Some in the audience argue with him (not very successfully) and some seem paralyzed by guilt at Israel’s actions. After about twenty minutes, Broocks-Khalidi seems the master of the situation, having shot down every retort.

But no one in the crowd is ready for the curveball they are about to receive: Khalidi excuses himself politely, steps off stage, and returns with a black yarmulke on his head and tzitzis dangling down the sides of his trousers. “I apologize, ladies and gentlemen, but I’m sorry to tell you you’ve all been fooled. My name is David Olesker, I’m a Jewish resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, and every detail you’ve just heard from Dr. Khalidi is absolutely false. Now I’d really like to talk to you about the situation in the Middle East today.”

 

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