The Biggest Mistakes Pro-Israel Advocates Make #10: How To Not Let Your Brains Fall Out
Everyone here probably already knows that Israel Advocacy is an uphill battle.
Over the last 40 years, there has been a concerted effort to make Israel look like Goliath and the Palestinians look like David, even though it’s truly the other way around, through a well-oiled propaganda machine (see what I did there?) that pretends to be grassroots. This web of lies began in the mid 1960’s with the creation of the Palestinian identity for Levantine Arabs in order to manufacture the illusion of indigenous status, in response to the overwhelming support of the Western world for the new State of Israel. The Arabs astutely figured out that the main reason for the support for Israel was the civil rights zeitgeist in the West, with the return of the Jews to their homeland following one of the biggest genocides of the 20th century at the pinnacle of reclaiming social justice.
Following the Israeli win of the Six Day War in 1967, seemingly against all odds. the fact that Israel was here to stay had finally sunk in for the Arabs. The Arab armies, ten times larger than the Israeli forces, realized they weren’t going to defeat Israel militarily. The 1973 Yom Kippur War cemented this fact. Even when caught completely offguard, during the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar, the Israelis still managed to defeat the Arab armies. Ashamed and humiliated, the Arab League plotted its revenge.
This revenge was not only spearheaded by the “3 Nos: No Peace, No Recognition, No Negotiation,” of the 1967 Arab League Conference. It was also marked by the launch of a brilliantly thought-out propaganda war against Israel. When the US began supporting Israel, seeing it as a strategic ally in a Middle East that shares its Western values, longtime enemies of the U.S. and the West, notably the Communist Bloc and former Western colonies in Africa, Asia, and South America were eager to come to the Arab League’s aid in smearing Israel. With the Cold War communists seeing Israel as an illegitimate Western proxy in the Middle East, and the former colonies seeing Israel as yet another outpost of the Western colonialist movement (since it was a British colony handed over to the Jews by its colonial ruler), the ground was optimally fertile for the beginning of what would become decades of subversion.
The Arab League not only struck oil, it also struck gold with these strange bedfellows that became its allies. Third World dictatorships and totalitarian Communist regimes had one major thing in common (other than rampant corruption): the necessity of keeping their populations in line to maintain their despotic governments, resulting in the ability to create the most brilliant, persuasive propaganda that gets to the core of the human psyche. They created propaganda that so delicately misleads, manipulating emotions to the extent of creating ire and bloodlust against any perceived threats in order to stamp them out and allow the regime to prevail. During the Cold War, America and her allies, in their deliberate attempt to subvert communism and tyranny and bring democracy to the world, were a huge threat to these leaders who profited off the suffering and admiration of the masses. Therefore, they were more than eager to lend the Arab World and later, the Iranian Regime, their propaganda expertise.
Part of the Communist Bloc’s Cold War strategy, which was later emulated by the Arab League, was to get the American population to turn on their leaders and sympathize with its regimes. It attempted to do this by starting with the most idealistic and vulnerable, as well as the most open-minded: the left. The late 1960’s genesis of the Palestinian propaganda movement coincided with the Flower Power anti-war movement in the wake of the Vietnam War. Supporters of the anti-war hippie movement were the angriest at their government, which the Eastern Bloc saw as an opportunity to lure them to the Communist and anti-Western cause. The posters and propaganda that the Eastern Bloc created were geared to this audience, cultivating sympathy for the Vietnamese affected by the war in order to generate even more anger at the U.S. government. They created posters that made these activists feel proud to support “the reds” in the Cold War, and even prouder to rebel against their own government in doing so. The same poster psychology that aimed to generate sympathy for communist Vietnam was also used to generate sympathy for the poor Palestinians who were allegedly being tortured and stripped of a homeland by the evil Western colonialist Israelis, supported by the U.S. of course. This zeitgeist culminated in Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism, one of the most brilliant propaganda pieces ever created. These tactics were, again, a ploy to weaken support for the West, that, in its support for Israel, was seen as betraying the Arab World.
This alliance between the Former Colonies and the Communist Bloc would become one of the most clandestine yet productive in recent history, using their hatred of Israel as a tool to subvert the Western psyche in such a way that it is easily conquered.
So now you know why lefties wear Keffiyehs over their Che Guevara t-Shirts, and why anti-Israel posters and Soviet propaganda posters are very much alike in their style. The left, like the Eastern Bloc and the Third World, learned to spread their gospel by manipulating emotions, because neither are known for their practicality or groundedness.
This brings us to Mistake #10.
Mistake #10: Don’t Fall for the Leftie Guilt Trip
Full disclosure: I was a radical leftist for a decent chunk of my university career. Why? Because leftism appealed to my young, idealistic heart, and because it was the only ideology that was promoted during my formative education. The field of education from Kindergarten to University is overwhelmingly left wing, so I saw the Right and Conservatives demonized in my education at every turn. I simply didn’t see an alternative. I was made to feel that any support of the Right Wing made me a bad person. In order to promote multiculturalism, harmony, and conflict resolution in a racially diverse environment, educators constantly promoted leftist values and attempting to understand and humanize all sides of any disagreement. I was taught that the Cold, Vietnam, Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq Wars were 100% bad and pointless, that Western intervention is always a bad thing, that the underdog is always more virtuous and necessarily being oppressed by the more powerful side, and that capitalism is disgusting and immoral. I was also taught that the more open my mind, the more tolerant of all points of view the better. Being a radical leftist in college seemed like a natural extension of my education to date. It was all I knew, all that was good and right in the world.
One of the things that my teachers and professors had always stayed away from was the Arab-Israeli conflict (thank goodness!) Everything I knew about the conflict was gleaned from reading the newspaper, which I did religiously, and talking to my parents, who are proud liberal Jews. To them, supporting Israel was a natural extension of being a liberal, as we support justice, peace, human rights, gender equality, and secularism, while the Palestinians are an extension of a theocratic movement that is anti-equality, regularly violates human rights, and refuses peace at every turn. I had no idea that most other leftists saw being a Zionist and being a leftist as being completely at odds, if not utterly contradictory.
In university, what started out as unwavering support turned into cognitive dissonance as I started to uncover the more sinister anti-Israel elements of the so-called “Social Justice Movement.” I knew in my heart it was wrong but I assumed that because I agreed with the leftists on every other issue, they must be right about this too, I must just be missing something or brainwashed by my upbringing. Hillel’s Zionist advocacy was boring and refused to address the more intelligent social justice questions I was conditioned to ask. They did nothing for me, and even pushed me in the opposite direction as I sought something more profound. Something the “pro-Palestinian” movement provided.
However, when I attended events, I couldn’t help but notice issues with their logic. They explicitly denied history that I was taught even in my leftist formative education. I was taught in high school, in passing, that the Israelis “stole” the land from the Palestinians, but that was sort of okay because the land was sparsely populated and the Jews needed a place to go after the Holocaust. My textbooks had factual information that was backed up by historical documents. Even though I thought my education was as left it as can be, the facts I learned about the conflict and the facts they were saying were very different. In fact, they sounded like they were exaggerating and angry, completely denying and omitting any Jewish claim to the land, which didn’t lend much to their credibility. Sometimes instead of saying “Israelis,” they would slip and say “The Jews” during their angry tirades. I started to see some of the cracks in the foundation, but I didn’t really know it yet.
Shortly after my first anti-Israel event, I ran into a booth that belonged to the now-defunct QPIRG Opt-Out Campaign. I was taught through my leftist indoctrination that QPIRG, the radical leftist HQ on campus, was Mother Theresa incarnate, the medium through which you could get involved with noble, selfless organizations and do good in the community and the world. The picture the men who ran the booth painted of QPIRG was anything but what I had learned it was. QPIRG apparently gave a lot of its money to extremist anarchist, communist, and anti-Israel organizations that sympathized with Muslim extremists and terrorists. I was shocked, immediately remembering my experience at the anti-Israel talk (which was marketed to me with a flashy heart-wrenching poster that used symbolism to convey Israeli oppression of Palestinian children, that appeared to be about social justice). Gradually, through my friendship with these guys, it all fell into place. I soon became involved in Israel Advocacy after I did my best to find proof of my leftist friends’ allegations against Israel but found they did not hold up to scrutiny. My leftist friends, feeling that I had betrayed Social Justice by speaking out against QPIRG and for Israel, dropped me like a hot potato. I was even kicked out of the feminist working group I had created (more on that here). After getting to know the intelligent, kind, progressive, accepting individuals I met through the Opt-Out campaign and my writing for the Prince Arthur Herald, I realized that they were the true liberals, and that voting for the Conservative Party didn’t preclude having a brain or a heart. The incessant smearing of the right wing became a huge turnoff for me, especially since the so-called “right wingers” did nothing to smear the lefties on campus and were extremely tolerant and supportive of the leftist views I still retained as the foundation of radical leftism came crashing down. Ironically, they were the true liberals. They were the polar opposite of the evil bigoted misognynist racist rape apologist Conservative demons that my leftist friends portrayed them as. I thought if this portrayal was dead wrong, what other portrayals were dead wrong too? It was then that I decided to unpack the radical left and noticed serious problems with the ideology, problems that were very similar to what this girl wrote about here.
With this epiphany in mind, I sought to explore what draws the majority of Canadian college students to be anti-Israel, even though the historical facts were not on their side. I discovered a concerted, well-funded attempt to take advantage of young students’ idealism, naivëté, open-mindedness, and ignorance to push historically revisionist and inverted narratives. Yet to me, that didn’t answer the full extent of the question. I wanted to know why it didn’t occur to people that they were going against their own values by supporting Palestine and not Israel. The same people who rallied for gay rights, women’s rights, indigenous self-determination, and environmental sustainability rallied hand in hand against the only country in the Middle East that supports any of those things.
Noble Savage Theory, the concept that every culture is perfect until the West or Western influence gets their stinky claws on it, did answer part, but not all of that question. If the concept of the “Noble Savage,” so prominent in leftist, postcolonial discourse, was entirely to blame, leftist activists wouldn’t be signing petitions against the Ugandan government’s treatment of gays, for example, which they are doing in large numbers.
The truth, as I later found out, was that the Ugandan government isn’t funded by the multibillion dollar Arab propaganda industry to deter gay rights. The anti-Israel movement is. They have the money, the creativity, and the genius to convince the world that up is down and down is up. That freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength, cloaking it in our very own Western values. They exploit sympathy and distort facts in such a sophisticated way that it’s impossible to know they are doing it unless we are deliberately looking to make that accusation. They employ questionable ethics that the West would never even fathom while pretending to be ethically and morally sound so that the West suspects nothing. After all, being the first to point out others’ moral failings somehow gives them a carte blanche for their own, and they threaten those who attempt to expose them with death, inciting fear in anyone who would ever dare to uncover the truth. They’ve discovered how media, culture and subcultures around the world work, what makes them tick, what moves them, and they cater their propaganda accordingly.
How do they put some of the most intelligent people in the world, like Stephen Hawking and Noam Chomsky, under their spell? Lies that sound convincing, and, in Goebbels style, are repeated constantly in different ways. How do they keep them? None other than a good old-fashioned guilt trip.
One of the last strings that attached me to the radical left was my guilt. Guilt over the suffering of the world that the West caused. Guilt from believing what the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) told me, that if I don’t support Palestine, that I’m spitting in the face of Social Justice and therefore a bad person. Guilt over the fear that by supporting Israel, I was condoning the suffering of millions of innocent Palestinians and supporting their oppressors. When I gradually discovered that being pro-Israel and not supporting Palestinian suffering were far from mutually exclusive, the leftist Tower of Babel fell. When I was able to escape the tentacles of guilt that sought to return me to the clutches of leftism, I finally felt like a true liberal. I felt set free.
My message to you, dear reader? Avoid falling for the colossal guilt trip that is leftist antizionism. It is like quicksand – hard to escape without everyone making you feel like a bad person. I recall how in college the left was seen as a whole package that included antizionism, a package you could either take (and therefore be a good person) or leave (and therefore be a greedy evil capitalist who wanted to steal money from poor people). Reject one tenet of the package and you were seen to be rejecting the entire package, therefore a traitor to Social Justice and ostracized by anyone who claimed to support what they saw as all that is good in the world. This way of thinking ultimately feels wrong to me, the true antithesis of liberalism. Since leftism was seen as all or nothing, by being pro-Israel, I was seen as automatically choosing nothing. Over time I learned not to care about what people who pretended to be open-minded to different points of view thought.
Nowadays I look at each issue individually, and don’t define myself as right or left, even though I still support many of the left-wing values I did as a radical leftist (albeit watered-down versions). Putting yourself into a box is putting yourself in shackles. In order to truly set your mind free, you have to open your mind to points of view that you think ring true, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.
But don’t open your mind so much that your brains fall out.
View the rest of my Hasbara Guide HERE.