Was it gullibility? Or was it anti-Semitism? Or was it both?
A few days ago the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that a rabbinical court in Mea Shearim, an orthodox enclave in Jerusalem, had condemned a dog to death by stoning because it supposedly harbored a reincarnated secularist who had insulted the court 20 years ago.
Maariv soon realized that this was a complete canard and promptly ran a retraction, as chrionicled by Carmel Gould. As it turned out, a dog indeed had wandered into the rabbinical court, attracted attention from children, and prompted rabbis to call the dog catcher to remove the intruder. But no harm befell the dog.
However, this didn't deter international media to jump on this total fabrication and pass it on to viewers and readers as "news" -- even after Maariv's retraction. The BBC posted it under a "must read" heading -- with a headline, "Jewish rabbis condemn dog to death by stoning." Agence France-Presse ran it under a headline reading, "Jewish Court sentences dog by stoning." Time magazine flashed "Shocking sentence -- Jewish court condemns dog to death by stoning."
Yahoo got into the act with 1,800 "hits" prompting most readers to respond with violent anger. Facebook and Tweeter also got into the act.
So what does this episode teach us? Was it simply gullibility by international media sensing a juicy story? Or, more seriously, was this quick and ready acceptance of this phony article fueled by anti-Semitism? An innate feeling that religious Jews might be capable of such an act?
Or, as I would conclude, was it basically anti-Semitic gullibility?