The casualty list from the "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube movie continues to mount by the day. First and foremost for the American people were the murders of our Ambassador and three other patriots serving their country. Then there is President Obama's carefully crafted outreach to the Arab and Muslim world shredded by a choreographed dance of hate that continues to inflame anti-American passions on the Muslim street from Cairo to Jakarta. Pope Benedict XIV's mission of reconciliation to Lebanon was lost amid the unending din of anti-West outbursts that dominated the news. Egypt's Coptic Christians, already reeling from the reality of a Muslim Brotherhood led-government, now fear the implications of a show-trial in absentia of members of their religious community allegedly involved with Coptic expat, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the barely viewed anti-Islam movie.
- Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes terrorists, who claim responsibility for a lethal attack from Sinai across the Egyptian-Israeli border, listed the anti-Islam video as its trigger.
- An East Jerusalem woman attempts to stab an Israeli policeman, allegedly in retaliation for the video. Arabs protest in front of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and the al-Jazzar Mosque in Acre.
- Leading the blood libel against the Jews is Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who alleges that the video "[is tied to] Islamophobic policies of arrogant powers and Zionists. Prime suspects in this crime are Zionism and the U.S. government." President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that the video is an "[Israeli plot] to divide (Muslims) and spark sectarian conflict."
Largely because of the other largely unreported casualty of "Innocence of Muslims" is the reliability of the media.
Seems when he was called by an AP reporter, the filmmaker, first claimed to be Sam Bacile, a Jewish real estate agent from California and that he raised $5 million from 100 American Jews. The wires agencies ran with the story without investing the five minutes of work on public access real estate databases that would have shown that Sam Bacile did not exist.
I was one of various Jewish leaders called after those blaring headlines went viral and around the world. Of course no one in our community ever heard of the non-existent Bacile, nor his non-existent Jewish supporters. But it was too late, truth and our community's good name and safety lost out to the almighty Breaking News.
Nakoula's anti-Semitic cover story was eventually questioned by the Voice of America, CNN, Fox News and yes, the AP. But Islamic extremists had already pounced on the unexpected "Jewish/American" PR boost for their annual anti-American 9/11 protests. Cairo protests were quickly followed by the terror onslaught in Libya and soon violent mobs as far away as Bangladesh were railing against "Zionists" along with their anti- American animus.
The Jewish people have long, unwanted relationships with conspiratorial canards, and "Big-lie" campaigns. From the medieval blood libel that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood to bake Passover Matzah, to the long-debunked Czarist-era Protocols of Zion, to the Internet favorite that Israel and U.S. intelligence were the puppet masters of the Sept. 11 infamy, Jews know how difficult it is to drive the stave of truth through the vampire of an ancient hate that will not die.
In our time, if respected media institutions won't make their No. 1 job The Truth, we will all be left unprotected before ever more sophisticated and deadly screeds from our enemies.
The enemies of freedom, pluralism and human rights have detected a weakness in the West:
A failure to clearly articulate and defend our values; a failure of our political leaders to lead; and a failure of the media to take responsibility. When the trumped-up passions of "Innocence of Muslims" cool, burnt-out buildings will be repaired, diplomatic dances will reboot. But who will stand up for the freedom to disbelieve, to criticize and to mock? And who will be left standing to defend religious minorities whose sole sin is that they choose a different path pray to G-d?