Now it's true that many in the Arab world tend to blame Mossad for everything; some Egyptians are blaming the Alexandria church attack on Israel, and last month the Governor of Southern Sinai suggested that the Sharm al-Sheikh shark attacks might have been an Israeli plot. Such conspiracy theories are laughable and deplorable and silly, especially when a public official like an Egyptian governor are behind the allegations.
At first glance, the vulture story looks like a repeat of the shark story. As this story has been repeated, we're seeing such headlines as "Saudi Arabia Accuses Israel of Using Vultures for Spying," and reports that Saudi security has "arrested" the vulture.
But wait, let's go back to that original Ha'aretz story:
. . . residents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia's Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be a "Zionist plot.""Residents and locsl reporters" told a local paper that seems to mostly be an online site that it looked like a Zionist plot, and "Arabic-language websites and forums" took up the theme. Where is the "Saudi Arabia Accuses Israel" in that? Internet forums in this counry are debating whether the recent bird kill in Arkansas is the result of aliens or the end times; Internet forums are not sovereign nations.
The accusations went viral, with hundreds of posts on Arabic-language websites and forums claiming that the "Zionists" had trained these birds for espionage.
It seems to me that this is more likely a case of some rural folk catching the bird, turning it in, and telling a local reporter they suspected an Israeli plot. Then the forums pick it up. None of the major Saudi media have picked it up that I've seen, though I may have missed it. On the other hand, Arab News does have a report about the dangers of spreading unfounded rumors.
Are conspiracy theories and paranoid suspicions too widespread in the Arab world? Yes indeed. But unlike the shark story, which involved a senior government official, this one seems to be based on local speculation and blown way out of proportion by the media.