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Hogwash: The Israeli Boars Conspiracy

In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are…

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In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are using boars to uproot local Palestinian agriculture.

Partway through this piece, Erlanger writes, “They [settlers] chop down olive trees, roll flaming tires down the hills to burn crops and even send boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees, the locals say.”

In the next paragraph, he expands on this claim, relating how a local Palestinian man has bought dogs to keep these boars away from his land.

This is not the first time that Israelis have been accused of setting wild boars loose in order to attack Palestinians and destroy their property.

However, in the over-15 years that this libel has made the rounds of both Palestinian and foreign media outlets, it has proven to be only an incendiary cudgel used against the Jewish residents of the West Bank and not a legitimate news story.

As far back as February 2007, the Elder of Ziyon blog reported the Palestinian claim that Israeli settlers were using trained wild boars to terrorize local Palestinian communities and to tear up their agricultural fields.

This claim was repeated in April and June 2007 as well as February and May 2008.

However, the claim that Israelis were using trained wild boars against local Palestinian communities gained steam in 2012, when it was reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that Israelis were training wild boars to uproot Palestinian trees and to “spread corruption on the face of the earth.”

In 2014, Abbas reiterated this baseless claim at a conference in Ramallah.

Since then, this libel has routinely popped up in Palestinian publications as well as news outlets aimed at foreign audiences.

As the blog Israellycool has previously noted, when it comes to blaming Israelis for wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas, there are a wide variety of conspiracies about how Israel is to blame.

These contradictory conspiracies include the allegations that Israelis are setting these pigs against Palestinian communities, that Israeli security fences are protecting Jewish communities while allowing for Palestinian areas to be ravaged, that Israelis are allowed to shoot wild boars while Palestinians are not, and that Israeli construction has forced these animals to venture into Palestinians towns and cities.

If this claim about Israel-trained fighter pigs seems fantastical, it’s because it is.

As HonestReporting noted last year (when we critiqued a UK education magazine for publishing similar absurd claims), there is no evidence that wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas of the West Bank are attributable to a nefarious Israeli plot.

In recent years, due to a variety of factors, there has been an uptick in boar sightings in both Jewish and Palestinian communities in the West Bank as well as parts of pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the rise in boar appearances inspired a 2021 New York Times profile on the boars of Haifa.

Parallel to the rise in boar sightings has been the rise in boar attacks, with both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians falling victim to the pigs’ aggression and viciousness.

Even Yesh Din and B’Tselem, two Israeli organizations that focus on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, have found there to be “no evidence” of any boar attacks in Palestinian communities being attributable to a Jewish conspiracy.

Related Reading: Mooove Over, Wild Boars: Spy Cows Are the Latest Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory

This boar conspiracy is but another point in a long line of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.

While they might seem ridiculous, some of the theories include:

  • The claim that Israel trained dolphins to serve as spies or assassins.
  • The claim that a vulture was trained by the Mossad to conduct reconnaissance.
  • The claim that Israel was using rats to drive out Palestinians from their eastern Jerusalem homes.
  • The claim that the Mossad was responsible for a slew of shark attacks in the Red Sea off the coast of the Sinai Desert.

 

Much like these other conspiracies, the claim that boar attacks in the West Bank are attributable to an Israeli plot is hogwash and should not be spread by The New York Times or other reputable news organizations.

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Photo Credit for the Background: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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