Hoax or blood libel? A story of satire


For several days, the International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs (not to be confused with the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and jurists, which actually has a Web site) has been trying to get us to write about the “forgery” of a U.N. document purporting to be a speech from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The document (pdf), which has the logo of the UN News Centre on top — no great accomplishment, as anyone with rudimentary computer skills will tell you — features Ban railing against the Jewish state and calling for its removal from the United Nations.

The U.N. has confirmed the document as a fake, but the commission remains unsatisfied. They want a public condemnation and a call for a criminal investigation.

That’s probably not going to happen, so I made some inquiries myself and within a few hours got the man the law commission accuses of criminal wrongdoing on the phone, where he promptly confessed.

“The U.N. is correct,” Greg Felton told me. “This was not a forgery, it was not a hoax. It was a satire, done in the spirit that Jon Stewart would do on The Daily Show. If people missed it, that’s their problem.”

Felton claimed that he had no intention to deceive with the “speech” and that he made it clear in the document that it was a joke. So I took another look. And then another. Finally, I asked Felton to point out precisely where the tip-off was.

And then I saw it: Six paragraphs in, the first letter of the first word of the first sentence, an “S”, was featured in bold. A few lines later, yes there it was, an “A”, also in bold. Then a “T”, an “I”, an “R”, and an “E” — each of them separated from the others by a few sentences, at most, and in bold. Felton had spelled out “SATIRE.” How could anyone have missed it?

And if that wasn’t clear enough, Felton said, Ban couldn’t possibly have made the speech because he wasn’t even present at the U.N. on May 11th, the day the “speech” was supposedly delivered. D’oh!

Felton, a writer and blogger from the Vancouver area, is no fan of Israel. He has written a book about how “Israel’s fifth column” came to control American policy, entitled “The Host and the Parasite,” that he boasts on his Web site has Canada’s Israel lobby “panicked.” (On Amazon, it goes for $120 bucks used, but Felton sells it on his site for $18.95 Canadian.) He also contributes to WhatReallyHappened.com, which purports to tell to the truth about various government conspiracies, including the one that supposedly happened on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. His one brush with notoriety appears to have been an appearance at the Vancouver public library that raised hackles among Canadian pro-Israel and Jewish groups but nevertheless went on, more or less as planned.

Nevertheless, the International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs is adamant that Felton is not only a criminal, but dangerous too. “We are very concerned,” Jan Sokolovsky, the group’s executive director, told me. “This has the potential for violence. This is like a blood libel.”

Sokolovsky said the “speech” had been published on a Web site, Window Into Palestine, a headache-inducing page with flashing icons and more links and advertisements than could possibly be useful. It was also published by Felton on another site, Media Monitors, and has been forwarded around the Web by worried Jews.

I got this from very serious friends of mine,” Sokolovsky said.

Felton said the uproar was garbage, yet another example of “Zionist hysteria.” The blood libel comparison he said was “asinine.” But he and Sokolovsky did agree on one thing: the “speech” has not been without impact.

“What has gratified me to no end," Felton said, "is there have been people who have gone to the documents that have been cited in that speech. And they have analyzed them. And it is being discussed. Which is what I hoped to accomplish.”

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