Alleged Ouze Merham interview of Ariel Sharon
In the first decade of the 21st century, a paragraph alleged to come from a 1956 interview of Ariel Sharon, conducted by an Israel Defense Forces general named Ouze Merham, was quoted in a number of publications. The paragraph advocates burning Palestinian children and raping Palestinian women and Arab girls, as well as Sharon claiming to have killed 750 Palestinian civilians during the Suez Crisis. The interview, the paragraph, and the existence of Ouze Merham himself have been denounced as fabrications. In 1956 Sharon, who later became Prime Minister of Israel, was a major in the IDF.
The alleged interview
According to the allegations, Sharon was interviewed by a general named Ouze Merham about his service in the 1956 Suez Crisis, and said the following:
“I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do.”
The disputed quotation was published by a number of media outlets and websites in the Muslim world and elsewhere in conjunction with anti-Israel commentary, including on IslamOnline; the English language Pakistani newspaper, The Nation; and the London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, which published the quote in a July 11, 2005, opinion article. As'ad Abdul Rahman, chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopedia, used the quote as his lede for an opinion piece about alleged Jewish control of the world media in the Gulf News of December 4, 2004.
A student columnist used the quote in her December 11, 2003 Daily Illini column, but later admitted the quote was false and apologized. The incident was still being discussed as late as 2007.
A columnist for The Hoya, the student newspaper of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., used the quotation on March 19, 2002, introducing it with "Then again, we shouldn't be surprised about Sharon's feelings toward Palestinians; in 1956 when talking with Israeli General Ouze Merham, he said […]"
The Daily Star English-language newspaper in Bangladesh published the quotation on January 31, 2005 in a commentary article by retired Brigidier General M. Abdul Hafiz, who introduced the quotation with "Back in 1956 in an interview with general Ouze Merham, Sharon, a remorseless butcher of Sabra and Shatilla, said […]"
Called a hoax
According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA, a pro-Israel media research group), there is no record of any Israeli general named "Ouze Merham" existing, nor any record of Sharon giving such an interview in 1956. It is also unclear why an Israeli general would interview Sharon (who, at the time, was only a major), and then publish the interview. CAMERA has also stated that the quote cannot be found in any text book, news article, or published record.
The quotation was reportedly put on the website of MIFTAH, a Palestinian organization founded by Hanan Ashrawi, who is on the executive committee of the group's governing board. MIFTAH has been accused by the pro-Israeli group NGO Monitor of fabricating the quotation.
Islamic Human Rights Commission award
Based on the reported Ouze Merham interview, the Islamic Human Rights Commission announced Sharon as the winner of the "Most Islamophobic International Politician of the Year" award at the 2003 Annual Islamophobia Awards ceremony. The host told the recipient, described as a "Palestinian freedom fighter," to personally deliver the award to Sharon.
In a June 9, 2004 interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The Religion Report, interviewer Stephen Crittenden challenged Arzu Merali, the organizer of the Islamophobia awards, on the Sharon presentation. Crittenden pointed out that the IHRC's own website stated that the alleged interview could not be corroborated. Merali replied "Well you know, I can take that further with the people who researched that, but pretty much everything that went out last year was well researched. If you want, I’ll go out and dig up the verification for you. I’m happy to do it." The IHRC website stated that the veracity of the quote had not been confirmed:
Whilst this quotation can be found on several reputable sites, we could not independently verify its authenticity. If you know the source please do let us know.
- "I Don't Know Something Called International Principles: Sharon". News. Islam Online. April 1, 2002. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Haque, Israrul (April 7, 2005). "The world's No.1 terrorist". The Nation. Retrieved 2008-03-24.[dead link]
- el-Khazen, Jihad, "Words that Went Unpunished", English language version. Retrieved March 24, 2008
- Rahman, As'ad Abdul (December 4, 2004). "As'ad Abdul Rahman: Jews use media as a weapon". Gulf News. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "Anti-Israel Venom at University of Illinois Paper", Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, March 24, 2004.
- Passner, Deborah. "University of Illinois Columnist Fully Apologizes", Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, April 26, 2004.
- Newbart, Dave (December 9, 2004). "Chancellor: U. of I.'s student paper spews anti-Semitism // Official says he will fund rival publication if training not improved" (ABSTRACT). Chicago Sun-Times. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
The latest furor erupted after the newspaper published a letter to the editor last month in which a student claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once said he wanted to 'burn every Palestinian child.' Although the quote has been widely disseminated, Jewish groups say there is no evidence Sharon ever made the statement. Wednesday, the paper's editors apologized for running the 'inaccurate information.' What's most disturbing, some said, is the same quote appeared in an opinion piece by student columnist Mariam Sobh last year. In the spring, Sobh admitted the quote was false and apologized.
- Levy, Lauren (October 18, 2007). "Students must take note of Israel’s portrayal in college media". JUF News. Jewish United Fund. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- High Beam Research version of: Hamid, Shadi, "COLUMN: Present aggression reminiscent of past atrocities", March 19, 2002. Retrieved March 24, 2008
- Hafiz, M. Abdul, "What next on the Middle East peace process", The Daily Star of Bangladesh, January 31, 2005. Retrieved March 24, 2008
- Hollander, Ricki. "Exposing False Zionist Quotes (Quote Busters)", Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, October 1, 2004.
- Great Britain (2007). "NGO Monitor". The EU and the Middle East Peace Process: 26th Report of Session 2006–07 (GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH). Volume II: Evidence. Contributor Lord Julian, Grenfell Grenfell, Lord Roper, John Roper Roper. London: The Stationery Office. pp. 149 (Note: 15). ISBN 0-10-401122-X. OCLC 170909437. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
Quote from evidence submitted by NGO Monitor: "MIFTAH invented interviews with Ariel Sharon and quoted him saying, 'I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area…I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls…' "
- "The Annual Islamophobia Awards". Innovative Minds. May 31, 2003. Archived from the original on 19 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Merali, Arzu (June 9, 2004). Islamophobia (TRANSCRIPT). Interview with Stephen Crittenden; Produced by Noel Debien. The Religion Report. Radio National. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
“ Stephen Crittenden: No prizes for Australian audiences guessing that the prize for the most Islamophobic international politician went to Ariel Sharon last year, but I was rather shocked to see that on your website, Ariel Sharon is nominated for an interview in which he described wanting to burn Palestinian children and encouraging his soldiers to rape Arabic girls, and describing Palestinian women as ‘slaves for Jews’, all of which you say yourselves on your website, comes from an interview that can’t be verified for its authenticity.
Arzu Merali: Well you know, I can take that further with the people who researched that, but pretty much everything that went out last year was well researched. If you want, I’ll go out and dig up the verification for you. I’m happy to do it.”