Reader Post: How To Debate Anti-Zionists – From a Progressive/Left Wing Perspective

debateOver the years, Israel advocacy has had more than its fair share of peaks and valleys. Although Israel has millions of supporters all over the world, it has just as many enemies (if not more). In particular, we seem to have a lot of trouble convincing the Western left of the merits and justice of our cause. With this guide, I’ve set out to rectify the problem. These steps should help you become a better advocate for Israel, especially when debating with anti-Zionists on the left. Here we go…

Step 1. NEVER use the Bible (or any religious text) in an argument. This should already be self-evident. Arguments based on the Bible might work on hardcore devout Christians, but everybody else will simply point and laugh. Atheists and leftists in particular will mock you. Even if you earnestly believe that the Bible is the “word of God”, don’t do it. You will only be harming our cause when you do. Same rules apply for using the Torah or the Qu’ran. Furthermore, we don’t NEED the Bible to make our case. We already have a valid indigenous claim based on history (REAL history), archaeology, identity, culture, genetics, and most importantly, international law. Jews meet all of the criteria for indigenous status adduced by Jose R. Martinez Cobo, whose definition is still used by indigenous rights activists and anthropologists alike to this day. These are cold, hard facts that do NOT make recourse to the Bible. Use them instead.

Step 2. Always use reliable sources. No Wikipedia articles, no tabloids, no right wing/partisan media sources (e.g. FOX News). Use Youtube videos sparingly, and with an eye for quality and reliability. Times of Israel, YNet, and JPost are all fine, since they are usually objective and accurate. Outside of that, don’t cite anything that you would not give to your professor in a research paper. If an opponent uses Electronic Intifada, If Americans Knew, Mondoweiss, AlterNet, PressTV, Salon, Rense, or any other highly biased (and often antisemitic) tabloid news source, feel free to shame the hell out of them for insulting your intelligence. If they cite a mainstream media source that has a documented history of dishonest/skewed reporting or outright anti-Israel agitation (e.g. the Guardian, BBC, al Jazeera, etc), point out their poor track record and cite examples. If they use “good Jews” (read: anti-Zionists) like Anna Baltzer, Miko Peled, Ilan Pappe, or Neturei Karta/Satmar, they are engaging in racist tokenization, so take the kiddie gloves off and let ‘em have it!

Step 3. Be careful with the “diversity” argument. It is easy to see why this point is so popular with Israel advocates. It puts a huge gaping hole through the “apartheid” smear, therefore it can be extremely effective, but only when it’s used correctly. It does come with a number of significant risks. Even though the majority of our people were dispersed to all 4 corners of the globe after the Roman colonists came, and underwent varying degrees of admixture during their travels, we are (and remain) a Semitic Middle Eastern people indigenous to the Fertile Crescent. In this sense, we are not “diverse” at all, because we’re still part of the same ethnic group. The diversity argument should remain limited to non-Jews living in Israel (and there ARE plenty), lest you run the risk of implying that Jews are really aboriginal to their former host countries and not Eretz Yisra’el, inadvertently lending support to the “settler colonialism” narrative against Israel. This is especially important with regards to Ashkenazi Jews i.e. Jews who settled in Central/Eastern Europe after their expulsion from Israel. They are the focal point and chief target of the anti-Israel campaign, not only because they lived in Europe until recent times, but also because the Jewish population of Mandate Palestine was overwhelmingly Ashkenazi prior to and during the 1948 war. These two factors are what allow Palestinians and their allies to draw a false link between Israel’s rebirth and European settlers/colonies throughout the rest of the world, thereby painting Israel’s War of Independence as a “crime” and a historic injustice that must be rectified (with Israel’s destruction). If this narrative becomes widely accepted as truth, it will not matter how many Ethiopian Jews win “Miss Israel”, or how many Arabs serve in the IDF. They won’t care how open and tolerant Israel is when they don’t even believe it should exist in the first place. So it is absolutely imperative to let people know that our claims to Israel are 100 percent legit, and to do this, you must tell the entire truth. Otherwise, you are only applying bandages to ax wounds i.e. you might stop some of the bleeding, but not all of it. Ashkenazi Jews are not white people, they are not Europeans, they are not Russians, Poles, Germans, Romanians, or Slavs. They are racially/ethnically an indigenous people of the Middle East. Their genome is predominantly Near Eastern (with most of the rest of it coming from converted Greeks and Romans), and virtually indistinguishable (with a few exceptions) from Palestinians and other Levantine Arabs in terms of phenotype (that is, facial features/appearance/skin tone). Don’t let anybody forget this.

Step 4. Don’t be reckless in calling people antisemitic. The majority of BDS supporters you see are not antisemites in the traditional sense. Most of them are just ignorant college students whose world view is limited to the Colbert Report, their professors, friends, or one of the aforementioned news outlets, according to a recent poll. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you come off too aggressively, you will only drive them further into the arms of Arab/Islamic right wingers. Reason with them calmly, show them the facts. Don’t call them antisemitic until it becomes obvious that they are motivated by hatred/dislike of Jews. For example: if they become even more aggressive and more irrational in the face of overwhelming and irrefutable facts, that is a red flag.

Step 5. Don’t make bigoted comments about Arabs or Muslims. This should be obvious. Don’t call Arabs “savages” or “animals”. Don’t call Islam an “inherently evil” religion. Don’t tell Palestinians they are “just Arabs”, or that they belong in Jordan (seriously!). Even if they don’t meet the anthropological criteria for indigenous status, they are still our blood brothers and they still live there legally. It is their home too, and they have just as much right to be there as we do (provided they don’t try to kill, expel, or oppress us).

Step 6. Refute everything they say in minute detail. As tempting as it may be to simply poke one or two holes in an anti-Zionist argument and then leave, it is too risky. If they post a massive wall of text on a message board, dissect the entire post and systematically shoot down every single point they make. Let NONE of the lies stand. Don’t be lazy.

Step 7. Don’t lose your cool in an argument. Israel advocacy is not easy, and you will encounter some very nasty people along the way. This is why it’s important to always remain calm, no matter what. Don’t post multiple exclamation points or question marks. Don’t resort to ad hominem attacks. This will only turn people off.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

About Binyamin Arazi

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