Winning a Debate With An Israel-Hater: Book Review

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Winning-A-Debate-With-An-Israel-Hater-CoverWinning a Debate With An Israel-Hater: How to Effectively Challenge Anti-Israel Extremists in Your Neighborhood is an easy read on a very important topic.

Written by Dr Michael Harris of StandWithUs, it would be best described as a valuable primer for pro-Israel-advocates-in-training.

Dr Harris draws on his extensive experience dealing with Israel haters and BDSHoles (which he labels ‘PIDs’ – People with Israel Derangement Syndrome), to lay out main facts of the conflict, the main arguments and techniques of these PIDs, and which facts and techniques to use in order to win the debate with them.



And how does he define winning the debate? Correctly in my opinion, which is getting a fair-minded person listening to the exchange to at least think more about what you have to say, and perhaps even reconsider their positions (and not convincing the Israel hater of the error of their ways, which is almost always an exercise in futility and a common trap into which pro-Israel advocates fall).

One of the main strengths of the book lies in the clear style in which it is written, with an irreverent tone thrown in for good measure. And at a little over 150 pages, Dr Harris manages to cover a lot of important material seemingly effortlessly.

While definitely a worthwhile read, I do have a few issues with the book. My main substantive issue with it is Dr Harris’ position that in order to win a debate with an Israel hater, you must recognize and support the”two states for two peoples” formula. I do not agree with this. I think it is perfectly legitimate – and does not hurt your argument – if, for example, you state you would theoretically support such a solution if you felt it would lead to peace, but under current circumstances (such as the words and actions of the palestinians), you cannot in good conscience support it. This could also lead to your audience to ask you why, and provide you with an opportunity to expand on your position. Also, conceding a two-state solution being the only way forward can serve to put you on the defensive from the get-go.

My other qualms with the book are less significant, but exist nonetheless. Many of the maps and screenshots in the book are way to small or blurry to be comprehensible. The cross-references are often to URLs, which is not very useful to someone like me reading the print version (I would prefer to see the title of the YouTube video, for example, so I can easily search for it later). Also, I am surprised the Resources section at the end does not include any blogs, especially considering Dr Harris is constantly referencing them (and Israellycool not getting even one mention? The shame!)

Having said all of that, the book is certainly a useful primer on the conflict, especially for those requiring a quick education. I would highly recommend it for those heading off to US colleges. For those of us more experienced in hasbara, you will likely not find much new, but an easy-to-read refresher can always help you sharpen your skills.

Winning a Debate With An Israel-Hater is available at Amazon here.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.