Russia Perfected Disinformation Ages Ago, Against Israel

Putin’s KGB training hasn’t gone to waste. His disinformation campaign while invading Ukraine appears much more effective than his generals’ battle plans... just as the KGB’s invented ‘Palestinian narrative’, when they created a people who never existed.

By Ziva Dahl


Amnesty International recently released a widely debunked report of recycled false accusations of racism (apartheid) against Israel. Few will read this diatribe, but collaborators will gladly headline it in mainstream media and spread these lies to millions on social media.

This follows the December 2021 U.N. vote to fund a permanent special commission devoted solely to delegitimizing the Jewish state as a perpetrator of war crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinian Arabs.

The goal of both demonization campaigns is to provoke outrage against Israel across the West.

The apartheid smear, comparing democratic Israel to loathsome South Africa prior to the 1990s, is part of one of the most complex and successful longstanding dezinformatsiya campaigns the world has known. It was originally designed and implemented by the USSR’s security apparatus, the KGB, as a highly orchestrated, sophisticated effort to foment chaos and instability in the Middle East — intended to yield political and military opportunities for Moscow in its war against the West.

Although the USSR had expected the newly re-established Jewish state to support the Soviet bloc after Israel declared independence in 1948, Jerusalem moved into the West’s orbit. Israel’s participation with Western allies in the 1956 Suez campaign and its defensive victories against Soviet-supported Arabs in 1967 and 1973 thoroughly alienated Moscow.

Shortly after the 1967 Arab defeat in the Six-Day War, the KGB created Operation SIG (Russian acronym for Zionist government). Operation SIG involved direct military support to Israel-hating terrorist groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization, along with a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign (hybrid warfare) to turn world opinion against Jerusalem.

Understanding that accusations of racism rightly engender abhorrence in Western society, the Soviets recruited doctors, journalists, politicians, teachers, even artists, as “agents of influence” or “useful idiots,” a term coined by Vladimir Lenin, to spread the word that democratic Israel must be considered a “racist” pariah unworthy of existence.

Ion Mihai Pacepa on Raul Castros yacht in Cuba 1974 – Photo courtesy: Ion Mihai Pacepa

How do we know this? Among the KGB agents who created and led its anti-Israel campaign were Soviet Major Vasili Mitrokhin and Romanian intelligence service Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa. Both were high-ranking officials in the Soviet sphere who subsequently defected to the West and brought with them massive secret KGB archives and considerable personal information about this operation.

For the Soviets, the first step was to create a fictitious Palestinian identity, a Palestinian “people,” around which a campaign against Israel would coalesce. There had never been a nation of “Palestine,” never a people known as “Palestinians,” no “historic Palestine.”

The name “Palestine” had been used to designate a geographical region controlled by foreign powers, not a sovereign state. The KGB simply rewrote history, fabricating a storyline that Palestine is the eternal home, not of the indigenous Jews, but of a distinct “people,” the Palestinian Arabs. Jews living there, called Palestinians pre-1948, were labeled Western colonizers.


This “big lie,” vigorously promoted by the Soviets and their Arab allies and repeated incessantly over decades, successfully transformed a vicious Arab terror war —a jihad to fulfill Islamic religious doctrine of regaining all territory previously under Muslim control  — into something the West would support: a campaign by the oppressed Palestinians for human rights and national liberation. This was brilliant!

Recognizing the power of the post-WWII human rights movement and collective Western guilt about colonialism, Moscow correctly calculated that this historical revisionism, this invented story, would be believed by millions across the world, including Western leadership.

Arabs themselves have been known to acknowledge the truth about the “fictitious” Palestinians. In 1977, PLO executive Zahir Muhsein confessed, “Between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese there are no differences. We are all part of ONE people, the Arab nation…. The existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons.”

In 2012, Hamas Minister Fathi Hammad said, “Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians, and the other half are Saudis.” But the KGB understood, as Jonathan Swift wrote, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”

Moscow knew that a newly minted people and a newly fashioned human rights cause needed a newly groomed leader, so they created one. According to the Soviet security agent Pacepa, Moscow in the early 1960s trained Egyptian-born, Jew-hating Yasser Arafat to be a terrorist and then transformed him into a heroic Palestinian leader and “freedom fighter.” Arafat became a powerful Soviet asset of disruption and chaos.

Arafat was cited in the March 29, 1970 Washington Post candidly admitting, “The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise. We don’t want peace, we want victory.”

Historian David Meir-Levi describes how Arafat ultimately took the advice of communist Ho Chi Minh’s chief strategist, General Giap, to give the appearance of moderation. Giap advised: “Stop talking about annihilating Israel and instead turn your terror war into a struggle for human rights. Then you will have the American people eating out of your hand.”

Arafat listened, and America and the West have been feasting on this ruse for decades.

The essence of deception (maskirovka) is the willingness to tell “big lies,” playing on human foibles, naivete, illusions, emotions and prejudices, and getting an echo chamber to spread the lies.

Blaming Israel — the actual victim — for Palestinian terror and disseminating images of crying Arab mothers and babies to manipulate Western emotions are SIG hallmarks. When Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians last May, the Israel-hating chorus condemned Jerusalem for retaliating.

Former KGB chairman Yuri Andropov said, “We have only to keep repeating our themes that the United States and Israel are fascists, Imperial-Zionist countries bankrolled by rich Jews.” The lies, believed and retold, become a force multiplier.

Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, turned down multiple generous Israeli peace proposals to create a Palestinian state because peace and statehood are not their goals. And yet, the Palestinians have managed to successfully portray themselves as the underdogs — helpless victims of Israeli and American imperialism.

‘Success through disinformation’

Operation SIG was pure genius, succeeding beyond the KGB’s wildest dreams. It legitimized antisemitism and the terror war to exterminate the Jews.

It even succeeded in making Yasser Arafat, the “father of modern terrorism,” the man responsible for plane hijackings, the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and decades of countless terror attacks against civilians, respectable.

So respectable that this killer received the Nobel Peace Prize!


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ABOUT the Author:

Ziva Dahl


Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Ziva writes and lectures about U.S.-Israel relations, U.S. foreign policy, Israel, Zionism, Antisemitism and BDS on college campuses. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The Hill, New York Daily News, New York Observer, The Washington Times, American Spectator, American Thinker and The Jerusalem Post.

Read more by Ziva Dahl on her website at:








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