We know that the media is extremely biased against Israel. When we delve into potential reasons for this bias, it doesn’t actually make all that much sense, nor does it account for the leaps in logic and temporary absence of reasoning that ensues whenever the issue of Israel is brought up. The media consist of people who otherwise have their moral compasses intact whenever it doesn’t apply to Israel. There must be another piece of the puzzle I am missing, because I don’t think I can explain it with pure Antisemitism. It’s likely much more complicated than that.
It’s a matter of external pressures based on Pascal’s Wager, the idea that you should maintain a pious life even if you aren’t sure if there is a God, or if your religion is correct.
The anti-Israel side has a religious zeal that cannot be matched, whereas we Jews have developed a “sit and be quiet and don’t rock the boat” mentality. Those two together will mean that those who are taking self-preservation into account when choosing a side in the Arab-Israeli conflict WILL choose the Palestinian side. Since they probably realize it’s a selfish and unjust reason, they eagerly lap up the so-called “human rights” argument against Israel’s existence and actions in order to assuage their guilt and doubt. If you ever wonder why people who have been exposed to both sides, especially the press, are so much more excited about anti-Israel headlines than pro-Israel headlines, and jump on the former whenever they can, enjoying portraying Israel as the bad guy, this guilt is what I think accounts for it.
So how is Pascal’s Wager relevant in this case? I mean they support the Palestinians to be on the safe side, as the zeal on that side means taking the pro-Israel side potentially puts them in harm’s way, especially if they are high-profile, for example, a member of the press.
Let me lay it out:
Option 1: Side with the Palestinians. Jews send angry emails at the absolute worst, but generally shrug it off. They hate us anyway. The Palestinian activists hail them as a hero and shower them in love and praise. And because Islam is a proselytizing religion, they know how to shower someone with love and support like they do new or prospective converts to attract them to and retain them in the faith. My friends who have converted to Islam are a testament to that.
Option 2: Side with Israel. Jews thank you profusely, but take it sort of for granted because it is the truth after all. Muslims around the world threaten you left and right. They tell you things that make you worry about going outside, their religious zeal pent up from years of frustratingly inept governance that is always blamed on Israel. Should you wear a Jewish star or Israeli flag, there is a high likelihood you will get jeered at on the street, and a much smaller probability you will get physically assaulted.
As usual, our pacifist nature as Jews gets the best of us.
Most people are, secretly or otherwise, afraid of ISIS, afraid of immigrants who refuse to assimilate and enforce sharia law in their neighborhoods, afraid of that zeal. So, they decide that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. They they become slaves to the tolerance of their intolerance, the notion that all cultures are inherently good, as they feel they have no choice if they want to be perceived as moral human beings. They resign themselves to the fact that the Palestinian side has zeal that the Jews who are simply defending the status quo don’t have. So they make a strategic decision. They choose safety over truth and suppress any pro-Israel ideas and beliefs. Sometimes they are pressured by family and friends to lay low, but if we lay low we are surrendering. We must hold the other side accountable. We must not let the anti-Israel activists, who are also usually antisemites, get away with their bigotry. We must use the clout that we have as a community to name and shame them, to bring them down like they bring us down. Otherwise our democratic, liberal civilization we hold dear might become a thing of the past as our kindness, tolerance, and magnanimity are taken advantage of for their ideological gain.
Learn from history. Stand tall and strong. If we all speak out they can’t get all of us.
Remember, there is safety in numbers. Join together. Make people feel like “everybody is doing it,” like it’s a popular movement. That alone will make people feel safe enough to maybe consider the truth when making a decision.
Another interesting part of Pascal’s Wager is what Pascal claims to be the unintended consequence of leading a religious life. In his view, that consequence is living virtuously, as religion, in its essence, forms the backbone of Western morality and human rights. Do not steal, do not kill, do not bear false witness, do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, among other commandments, form the genesis of modern moral teachings whether we are aware of it or not. It holds people accountable for their actions and teaches kindness and responsibility. According to Pascal, living a virtuous life in moderation is the best way to live well. He argues that there is nothing wrong with living a life full of kindness and good deeds, so if religion is the mechanism through which they may be executed, what’s wrong with following a religion?
What is the real wager? The real wager is to bet on truth, because in the long run, the truth will vanquish propaganda and lies if we believe and act in support of it. Our argument is unassailable at its core, so if we stand by it unequivocally, we will be the victors.
*That’s not at all why I became secular, but I was curious.