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From time to time, I debunk hoaxes, such as The German Arms Embargo on Israel Hoax, Anti-Semitism in France Hoax, and UK stops Holocaust education Hoax. The last one seems to have nine lives.

Actually, I thought I had the problem licked when I first wrote about How hoaxes undermine the credibility of Zionist advocacy, citing the Robin Williams letter hoax, the "Dear World" letter from an "anonymous Israeli," the bogus Martin Luther King letter about Zionism and quite a few others. I was wrong. The hoax letters keep coming. Of course there are the ones about Barack Obama the Muslim and Barack Obama the Communist, but those are par for the course in elections.

Today I got a letter about the Mohammed Atta hoax. You know, the one that started in October 2001, when a letter that was circulated insisted that the Mohammad Atta who bombed the World Trade Center was the same Mohammed Atta who was earlier released by Israel under US pressure. If you don't believe it is a fake, see here for example. Some of the hoax debunkers didn't have all the facts right either, but the Mohammad Atta who bombed the World Trade Center was not in Israel when the other Mohammad Atta was caught following a terrorist raid in Israel.

The people who send around these letters, and who also send legitimate materials without provenance, mean well. Their intentions are laudable. They are doing a lot of harm. They cry "Wolf!" when there is no wolf. They reduce Israel advocacy to "propaganda" that can easily be disproved. If you send around absurd claims, your messages will eventually be ignored.

Even when people circulate good articles and actual news without giving the source, they are reducing the value of these items and robbing authors of credit. Please, never forward materials that don't have a provenance. If there is a Web address, copy the address with the letter. If there is no address, look for the text on the Web with a search engine like www.google.com. and enter the URL of the oldest article. Check that that is not a hoax either. l always take the time to check if a claim is a hoax. It will usually be listed as a hoax and you can find it by typing some text from the item with the word "hoax" in a search engine. If not, check that the facts at least appear to be correct.

Being a good activist includes guarding against disinformation!

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000563.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Intellectual laxity is a hallmark of homo sapien sapien and even those who are rigorous tend to be disciplined for things that are of their interest. The UK boycott of Holocaust education issue I was forever putting out that fire, but so be it. The other issues you mentioned for some reason never caught my interest so I let them die without ever forwarding them along, corroberation is the key and they were never validated by other reliable sources. I think you might refer to http://www.snopes.com or some other site that is similar

Larry Riteman, Wednesday, June 4th

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