I don’t know how well I’ve emphasized it here, but there has for a long time been a disproportionate amount of attention given in major media and public venues to those who want to see Israel exterminated, whereas those who believe otherwise are consistently shouted down and shoved out of the debate.
If this is news to you coming from me, then I haven’t done a good job of stating my purpose in this blog. Maybe I need to rewrite my About page.
More vitally, it is uncomfortably clear that Israel and Israel’s supporters have not done a good job of presenting Israel’s case to the world. The Jewish people gave our society its moral and religious foundation, but those who hate them are blatantly trying to rewrite history – and the awful thing is, they’re getting away with it.
This blog, and thankfully many others, and more significantly a good number of ‘ball carriers’ or name-brand commentators (several of whom you will find among my links to the right) are fighting the good fight, neither giving up nor slacking off. But then so often it seems like our voices are being drowned out by the sheer volume of noise coming from the abyss.
So it was very encouraging this week to see that two major Israeli leaders—Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon—published strongly worded statements in major media, Ayalon in the L.A. Times and Ya’alon in Foreign Policy Magazine.
Well at least I found it encouraging, but when I shared the articles with a colleague, she said they were “too scholarly;” that they needed to have more of a punch to them. I asked if my blog was also “too scholarly,” and she answered yes, so I suppose I’m in good company. But that doesn’t deal with the problem.
Then over the next few days I noticed that some answers are beginning to come, starting with an awareness and acknowledgment of the problem. Rather coincidentally, it was on the Unity Coalition for Israel news and commentary site that I saw three essays in quick succession narrowing in on the target.
First, Prof. Phyllis Chesler wrote an article (which I briefly noted in my last post) that did a lot better job than I’d seen up till now of calling the problem a problem, and demanding an answer in no uncertain terms. She’s ready and willing to fight, and has fought seemingly alone for a long time, but this is not a one man or one woman war.
Then a piece by Melanie Phillips wrapped up a detailed but blunt message with a twelve point plan for taking the baddies to the mat:
Time to stop the hand-wringing. Time to stop fretting over how much better it is to play along with the narrative of Israel’s enemies in clear English rather than a thick Israeli accent – almost totally irrelevant.
Both Israel and diaspora Jews have to stop playing defence and go onto the offence.
- We should be demanding of the world why it expects Israel alone to make compromises with people who have tried for nine decades to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land and are still firing rockets at it.
- We should be demanding why America, Britain and the EU single Israel out for pressure which they apply to no other victims of genocidal aggression. For in any other such conflict, their cause of the aggressors would be deemed totally forfeit by their behaviour.
- We should be asking so-called ‘progressives’ – including Jewish ‘progressives’ — why they support the racist ethnic cleansing of every Jew from a future state of Palestine.
- We should be asking ‘progressives’ why they are not marching against Hamas on account of its tyrannical oppression of Palestinians in Gaza.
- Why they are not mounting a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority on account of his Holocaust denial and the PA’s continued incitement of Arab children to Jew-hatred, murder and genocide.
- Why they are ignoring Arab and Muslim persecution of women and homosexuals.
- And we should be telling the Jews ‘own story of refugees and ethnic cleansing – the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands after 1948, and who now make up more than half of Israel’s population. Why isn’t Israel bringing this to the world’s attention? In Britain virtually no-one knows about it. At a stroke it takes the ground from under feet of those demanding ‘right of return’ for Arabs.
- We will never convince bigots that facts are as they are, or that the evidence of history tells a different story from the one they believe.
- We cannot fight prejudice with reason. But we have a duty to bear witness to the truth. And we have a duty to fight in our defence.
- We can best do this by getting off our back foot and putting western fifth columnists on theirs.
- We should accuse them, not of Jew-hating motives we cannot prove but of absurdities and contradictions and untruths they cannot deny.
- We should ridicule them, humiliate them, destroy their reputations; boycott them, not invite them to our houses, show them our disapproval and contempt. Treat them as pariahs.
Turn their own weapons against them.
And now also Charles Jacobs puts his finger on an unsettling aspect that he sees in Jewish behavior: a tendency to go immediately on the defense as soon as an accusation is made. Speaking of the way this problem shows up in the universities where so much anti-Semitic invective is thrown up, Jacobs writes:
Instead of explaining to our students the dynamic of “accusation” that has been used to hobble Jews from time immemorial, we teach them to sit in the dock. Instead of exploring with them just how Israel is under a massive ideological assault which masquerades as legitimate criticism, we teach them to keep the focus of discourse Jewish conduct, Israeli behavior, which is exactly what our adversaries want. Instead of turning our fingers back on the tyrannical Arab/Muslim world whose criticism of Israel defines chutzpah, we answer their charges. Instead of exposing the hypocritical Western liberal elites — the “human rights” establishment, the media, and the professoriate – who have abandoned for reasons of political correctness whole classes of people in the worst of circumstances: women, gays, apostates, Christians, democrats in the Islamic realm – we accept playing the role of defendant. In other words, instead of making the subject of this entire discussion the actual world tyrannies and the execrable Western hypocrites who aim to destroy us, we are bitten by the “accusation” virus, and we simply lose our minds.
I will add that it’s not just Jewish nature; it’s human nature, or at least it is in the neighborhood where I live. But whether or not Jews are any better at it, we’re beginning to see that it’s not the answer, and especially not in this situation. The enemies we’re up against are sophisticated; they’ve been on to this pattern for a long time, and they’ve become very good at it. It is antithetical to honest people or people of integrity to even consider acting this way, but we’re not dealing here with honest people or people of integrity. The enemies of Israel do not work on that level. I’m not saying that we should lower ourselves to their level, but we do at least need to recognize what they’re doing and refuse to any longer dance to their tune.
As with just about anything, it’s easier said than done, but it won’t ever get done if it never gets said.