Offense Is The Best Defense

ryan footballPro-Israel advocacy is often way too apologetic. The strategies are often way outdated and even when actually executed are often ineffective.

Mainstream Jewish organisations don’t want grassroots organisations “rocking the boat”, their belief is that things could always be worse, so instead of working to make things better, they are always on the defensive trying to keep things from getting worse.

The past few years being involved in pro Israel advocacy, have been interesting to me. Not just because I have remained active in my own people’s struggle and have seen parallels, but because I have studied Israel intensively and its hard to reconcile the stubborn stiff-necked and iron-willed people who built a state on their ancestral lands in the face of incredible pressure, who reclaimed salt marsh and desert into arable land, who fought not one, not two but three wars against multiple enemies and incredibly long odds and WON, with the often apologetic and weak-willed advocacy efforts on a battlefield which is incredibly important, perception.

As a student of military history, I have read a lot of strategy and tactics. I have read Von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Guderian, and Montgomery. If it has been written about warfare and how to wage it effectively I have read it. The one thing that every single military mind has ever agreed on is that when you are outnumbered or outgunned, you do not fight defensive battles, you fight offensively. You choose the terrain and you maintain the initiative, because as long as the enemy is reacting, he is not initiating. The enemy cannot attack you if he is defending. It takes many more people to defend something than it does to attack it; the resources expended by the defender always exceed the resources expended by the attacker. The attacker chooses the battlefield, he chooses the timing, and he chooses the method. The defender has to react, has to anticipate and has to defend from all directions or risk a rout. For the non-military minded, I will ask you one simple question: Who do you think has the easier job? A guy who runs around the forest setting fires, or the guys who follow along behind him putting them out? As long as the guys putting them out catches them quickly it’s not bad, but if they miss even one, or get there late, its pretty obvious which one is more effective.

Our problem as pro-Israel advocates is that we are always on the defensive. We are always putting out fires, which requires us to expend a huge amount of resources while our enemies expend much less.This is the key to asymmetrical warfare. Make the other guy spend way more that way even if he has more. It’s more costly to him to fight. This is why maintaining initiative and being on offence is so important. It’s also why Israel has lost the war for public perception so badly for the past few years.

I have tried to go on the offensive using a weapon I am suited to fight with. It’s an argument that for many years was simply ignored because it is so obvious that I think people took it for granted. However, it is an argument that is effective because not only is it true, but it absolutely destroys one of the central myths that our enemies use. The myth of  the white Jewish European colonizer” who “stole the poor brown Arabs ancestral land”. My argument is simple, based entirely on empirical fact and science. It does not rely on emotion and when used properly is unassailable. Simply put, Israel is the ancestral land of the Jewish people, as evidenced by archaeology, genealogy,and most importantly anthropology. These are not “arguments” because arguing implies there are two sides to something. These are facts. Cold hard facts. For every single point my detractors come up with, there is an inarguable counterpoint based entirely on facts and science. My argument is that the Jewish people are an indigenous people who fit all the prerequisites as determined by Martinez Cobo and that Israel is demonstrably their ancestral homeland. I believe there are other valid arguments but this one is good because it attacks one of the central arguments of the enemy and destroys it.

I am seeing more and more people understand the value of this argument, but I need for people to actually understand that indigenous rights do not mean that non indigenous people cannot live on your land. They do mean that if someone is unwilling to accept your right to live on your lands, and is unwilling to live in peace with you on them, you do have the right to defend yourself and remove the threat. That your right to live in safety and security on your ancestral lands outweighs another’s rights to live there if they refuse to live in peace.

Now I am not the only person who understands going on the offensive. Many of the new breed of pro-Israel advocates understand this way of doing things. People like Chloe Valdary do not just debunk weak arguments made by our opponents, but she actually goes on the offensive, denying them their time tested strategy of stealing other peoples struggles and using them in invalid comparisons with the Arabs’ situation in the Levant. This is absolutely integral because it removes one of their most effective strategies from the table. How can they say their struggle is the same as black people when black people themselves tell them it is no such thing? And when those black people provide facts and a coherent argument that destroys the narrative? It’s invaluable. AND IT PUTS THEM ON THE DEFENSIVE. My friend Joni makes funny and easy to watch videos attacking the ridiculous claims made by so called pro palestinians, using facts and humor to show how absolutely factless these so called narratives really are. Ridiculing them is really effective, AND IT PUTS THEM ON THE DEFENSIVE.

Some of the new organisations and even some of the older ones have embraced the smarter way of doing things. Organisations like Stand with Us bring people to see Israel, are active on social media and do not just spend time debunking lies but actually support events, and bring in pro-Israel speakers including IDF veterans. Showing the faces of the young people who are demonized is something I believe very strongly in. CAMERA has speakers touring North America, going to campuses where lies and false narratives have been unchallenged for decades. They make videos that are easy to watch and understand, and they expose media bias. Honest reporting Canada, exposes the ridiculous media bias in many media outlets and actively calls them out. They are by nature more defensive, but they understand the importance of going on the offensive and often challenge media sources proactively.

And of course Israellycool is in fact really cool. They use humor and have a variety of writers who make an amazing team. They disseminate information, debunk fallacies and are one of the best sources for accurate news from Israel that I know of. The founder of the blog Aussie Dave really gets it – he was one of the first blogs that went on offence, and a lot of people have copied his formula. I was incredibly lucky to join that group because it meant that my arguments got immediate reach which is very important.

I am not saying that defense is not needed. In fact debunking myths is always important, and calling out lies is incredibly valuable. I am saying that the strategy adopted by most mainstream Jewish organisations is not valid, that the action of inaction is not only ineffective but is why the lines have moved so far so quickly. When the bullies are not challenged, they do not back down. They get bolder and the line moves a little bit more. The do not rock the boat attitude does nothing but make our enemies believe they have gotten away with something. It emboldens them and the line moves farther yet.

As advocates and just as average everyday people who believe in justice and fairness, we need to understand that our enemies do not care about the same things we do. They care about perception. They are not constrained by concepts such as truthfulness, or honesty. They believe the ends justify the means and they want nothing less than the destruction of the worlds first modern indigenous state. They will even invert history as well as invent it. They will create false narratives and then act as if they are the truth. Our choice is to keep reacting to this or to get out and go on the offensive.

If you are curious what YOU can do, its simple. Organize small groups in your communities, and network with larger groups. This is all one cause after all. Ask for help, organize events, contact Stand with Us and CAMERA, inquire about their programs and speakers, bring in speakers, make videos, and never let lies go unchallenged. All these things are doable, believe me, because I did them and am still doing them.

I told my friend Sarah when I started an advocacy group with her, that we wouldn’t be rocking the boat, we would be tipping it over and building a new boat. That’s what we are doing, and I see many other activists who are doing the same thing. That’s why I believe we will win – not only do we have the truth on our side, but we have intelligent people who understand how to fight this fight effectively. We are building a better boat.


Ryan Bellerose

A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football, reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.

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