Friend or Foe: How to Tell Who Israel’s Real Enemies Are

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Friend-or-foeOne of the biggest problems in Zionism, aside from a Jewish identity crisis among our youth, is that we don’t know who our true liabilities are, and often unwittingly go after the wrong people or give others a pass who are doing seriously damaging things to the pro-Israel movement.

We spend too much time fighting those on the same side who have minor disagreements and do not spend enough time fighting people who literally do not believe Israel has the right to exist, but are malleable as they are often misled into such a belief with false premises. If we want to have any kind of unity or cohesion in the pro-Israel movement, we need to start fighting the same enemy. The problem is, as many Jews struggle to recognize antisemitism, we also often struggle to tell our friends from those who are doing serious damage to our cause and whose “activism” can be counter-productive or might even provide ammunition to our haters.

You are NOT NECESSARILY a liability to Zionism if you do one or more of the following:

  1. Express disapproval or disagreement with government policy without being demonizing or unfairly critical.
  2. Believe in coexistence between Arabs and Jews.
  3. Argue that the fact that many Palestinians live under a government they have no influence over is unfair.
  4. Voted for Obama/Hilary because you put progressive domestic politics first.
  5. You visited Ramallah/Nablus/Bethlehem and happened to not be killed.
  6. You have a Palestinian or Arab friend (or even several)
  7. You argue that Palestinians who are living in Israel or the territories have the right of longstanding presence to live there.
  8. You call yourself a “Peace Activist.”
  9. You admit Israel wasn’t and isn’t perfect without alluding to moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
  10. You believe that a two state solution can work if Palestinians have a change of leadership that isn’t hostile to Israel and mutual recognition is in place.

No matter how “pro-Israel” you say you are, you’re a liability to Zionism if:

  1. You believe in Palestinian “Right of Return.”
  2. You believe Palestinians are also indigenous and argue so and/or don’t believe Israel should be a Jewish State (the latter would make you, technically, not a Zionist).
  3. You want to “end the occupation” which to you means putting the territory in the hands of the Palestinians entirely rather than annexing and absorbing the Palestinians living there as citizens and/or argue for a two-state solution regardless of Palestinian hostility or lack of recognition of Israel.
  4. You repeat blood libel from Al Jazeera, Haaretz, Electronic Intifada, etc.
  5. You believe every Palestinian sob story you hear and are extremely apologetic as a result.
  6. You use disclaimers such as “I am uncomfortable with my Zionism.”
  7. You express public support of any kind for movements like Breaking the Silence, Jewish Voice for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, B’tselem, New Israel Fund, or JStreet, that threaten Israel’s very existence.
  8. You hold Israel to a higher standard than any other country and claim Israel shouldn’t exist if it’s anything less than perfect.
  9. You believe in disarming or weakening the IDF for the sake of “peace” or “fairness.”
  10. You think BDS is an acceptable pressure tactic against the Israeli government.

You are ALSO a liability to Zionism if:

  1. You only use religious arguments. That’s not logic, it’s folklore, even if it’s true. It won’t appeal to the secular truth-seekers, as those who are religiously-minded usually support Israel anyway because scripture does, or won’t support Israel out of religious or tribal loyalty to the Palestinian cause.
  2. You act as if Israel can do no wrong (ignoring the fact that it screws up sometimes just like any other country). I call this the Gan Eden Problem in pro-Israel advocacy – those who are raised to believe Israel is a flawless paradise on earth are in for a rude awakening when they discover such is not the case, so Gan Eden Advocates often do more damage than they mitigate.
  3. You back ultra-right-wing organizations that support ethnic cleansing and other draconian measures against Palestinians or quote known extremists like Kahane who are widely hated, whether this hatred is deserved or not.
  4. You argue with fence-sitters that “Palestine/Palestinians doesn’t/don’t/never exist(ed)!” without providing any background first. (e.g. you just yell ‘Palestine never existed!’ instead of “Actually the only sovereign state on this land has been a Jewish state, the other owners of this territory were part of greater colonies, including the Arabs who had control of Palestine by conquest around 700AD, the use of the term “Palestinian” to represent Arabs started in the 1960’s to create the illusion of indigenous status.”) Most people don’t know the context so this makes you look like an insensitive jerk.
  5. You support and promote hatred against ALL Arabs or Muslims, using hyperbolic language, stereotypes, and bigotry, and claim to support Israel because “my enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
  6. You make supporting Israel a partisan issue by conflating the support of Israel with other right-wing political stances (e.g. lack of separation of church and state, anti-LGBT, the Republican Party, etc.).
  7. You cite or repeat (usually inaccurate) conspiracy theories from fanatical websites.
  8. Yelling, screaming, expletives, derogatory terms, racial slurs, and other ad-hominem in an attempt to intimidate the other side.
  9. You dismiss all criticism of Israel as antisemitic even if it does not have any antisemitic connotations or tropes, or call people who even allude to the fact that Israel might not be perfect “antisemites.” Some people might just be parroting what they hear and are genuinely surprised and turned-off by being called antisemites when they would have ordinarily been open to dialogue.

When facing these foes, realize that many might not even realize the damage they are doing, or may genuinely believe they are acting in Israel’s best interest. As such, I always advise to be kind. I don’t think anyone ever changed their minds because someone was rude to them, or called them stupid, or referred to them as an enemy of the state they feel they are vehemently defending or saving. Kindness will always take you further than accusations, as the latter will only drive them further into their abyss.

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