Tag Archives: Zionist narrative

Bridges

bridge-footbridge-path-2257

A Muslim-American journalist has recently been the target of serious anger and hostility by some other Muslim-Americans who claim he was wrong to visit the West Bank and sit down with Jewish settlers to hear their side of the story, the Zionists’ perspective. They claim he was a stooge for the Zionists, manipulated into presenting the two sides (Israel and Palestine) as equal and equally justified. The term of art is a “false equivalency”.

Wajahat AliWahajat Ali’s article in June 2018 issue of The Atlantic is long, but well worth the time to read carefully before delving into the controversy. I read it two times and was starting on my third time around when my attention was redirected elsewhere. Maybe I’ll go back to it.

 

I found his story interesting, illuminating and nuanced. I’ve heard that some pro-Palestine activists on the other hand consider Ali’s article “problematic,” one-sided (the Zionists’ side), normalizing the occupation, and promoting false equivalencies. Read the article for yourself and be the judge.

(I first heard that term “false equivalency” from a Zionist family member in 2001, complaining about something I said about Palestinians. I came to realize that people who hear two very disparate perspectives/sides discussed in the same breath might be offended because they don’t believe the other perspective deserves to be included or they believe their side was unfairly treated in the discussion.)

The unintentional beauty of this current ‘controversy’ — Muslims attacking a Muslim for meeting and writing about Jewish settlers in the West Bank — is that it highlights the challenge of understanding the ‘other’ (whether the ‘other’ is a Jewish settler, a white nationalist, a refugee or a migrant).

If half the energy expended by many who are dissecting The Atlantic article was directed, instead, to building bridges with the ‘other’ (whoever that may be in your life) …. the energy might have made a real difference.

Some may object and say “[t]he problem is that one cannot build a bridge to those who have consistently demonstrated in actions that there are no bridges to even be considered. Zionists will not change their attitude in the same way as those who endeavor to support justice will not change their’s. They are not, however, equal. Justice does not equate with continued, unmitigated oppression. It is fantasy to believe that this can be done.”

  • My notion of bridge-building does not envision a bridge expanding the wide divide separating us so that I can drag the ‘other’ back to my side.
  • My notion of bridge-building does not require me to accept or believe the ‘other’ perspective, it only gives me a channel to learn more about the ‘other’.
  • My notion of bridge-building does not weaken my convictions and beliefs; in fact, it may strengthen them because I will have the opportunity to examine my beliefs in the context of the ‘other’.

In my first year of law school, I took a criminal procedures class with 100+ other students. One day, Professor Kreitzberg asked me to stand up and argue in favor of the death penalty. (She knew I strongly opposed the death penalty).  I was shocked but I did as I was asked and mumbled through some half-baked ideas in favor of the death penalty. Then she turned to another student and asked him to speak in opposition to the death penalty, knowing full well that he personally supported it. He also did as he was instructed.

The lesson that my classmate and I both learned (and maybe some of the other students picked up on it too) was (1) it’s really tough to get in the shoes of the ‘other’ and (2) we are stronger advocates when we understand and can express the position of the ‘other.’ The same may be true in the Palestine-Israel conflict. Since Wajahat Ali is a lawyer by training, this lesson has probably been drilled into him too. His article in The Atlantic helped me understand the perspective of the Jewish settlers in a way that I never could have on my own. I don’t have access to the settlers. I can’t sit in their kitchens to talk with them, as Ali did.

Some argue that Wajahat Ali’s article about the Jewish settlers speaks over (perhaps drowns out) the voices of the Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans who are the ‘legitimate’ voices that the West needs to hear. I simply don’t buy it. The whole notion of ‘legitimate’ voices (implying that others’ are illegitimate) is very problematic in itself.

In the marketplace of ideas, competing voices and ideas are valuable and should be valued. Certainly, the Western narrative of Israel-Palestine has been heavily skewed by Israel’s Hasbara for many years, and push-back is warranted to influence and educate public opinion in the U.S. and elsewhere. But let’s not fall for the mistaken belief that there’s a monolithic Palestinian narrative, or a monolithic Muslim narrative. There isn’t. Maybe this fact is creating some angst for those who would like to control the Muslim narrative.

Wajahat Ali’s article has done a great service in furthering the art of bridge-building. Sadly, many on his own side of the bridge may not appreciate that fact yet.

 

 

 

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Filed under Media, Occupation, People, Settlers, Uncategorized, Video

A young Zionist’s anger and fear

A friend of a friend posted the following message on Facebook. I skimmed through it quickly at first and shook my head saying “She’s wrong, she’s wrong, she’s wrong!” And then I was going to discard it.

Something took me back for a second look, a slower read.

Instead of trying to “educate” this young Zionist Jew, and respond to her inaccuracies, I wanted to feel her pain and anger. She has a lot of both.

Please read her words, not with judgment or criticism, but with care and concern. She obviously can’t hear the pain or anger of the Palestinians in Gaza today, or the frustration of the activists who are supporting the Palestinians, but perhaps we can hear her.

I am sick and tired of having to defend my right to be alive. The world stood by silently as 1/3 of the Jewish world population was systemically exterminated during the Holocaust. Not because they didn’t know what was happening. It was because they did not care. Israel was created because Jews realized that if ever a people would try and finish the job, the world would again be silent. It’s happening now. Jews worldwide are under attack. Do me a favor friends, IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING ISRAEL IS DOING RIGHT NOW TO DEFEND ITSELF AND THE JEWISH (AND ARAB) POPULATION THAT LIVES THERE, PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR LIST OF FRIENDS BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT TO SEE OR HEAR ANY OF YOUR MISGUIDED, MISINFORMED, ANTISEMITIC BULLSHIT ANYMORE. ANYONE WHO THINKS ISRAEL IS A WAR CRIMINAL IS AN ANTISEMITE AND THERE IS NO REASON FOR US TO BE FRIENDS. BE IT ON FACEBOOK OR REAL LIFE.
There are 15 million Jews in the world. That is 0.2% of the world population. Yes, less than 1 fucking percent of the whole world is Jewish. If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”

Dear Friend:

Your words very clearly express your pain and anger. I think I hear your fear too.

I’m not going to respond to the facts you shared about the Holocaust, the world’s criticism directed at the State of Israel today or Israel’s right to defend herself. But I hear you!

I’m not going to explain who the Palestinians are, or their history, or their right to resist the occupation. I don’t think you would hear me.

I’m just going to tell you a story about a young man who attended a Passover Seder in my community (Albuquerque, NM) about 10 years ago. As we were reciting the haggadah, someone asked “why are Jews God’s ‘Chosen People’?”

This young man was probably 17 or 18 years old at the time, but very wise for his young age. He immediately chimed in and said “Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ because God chose them to teach the rest of the world how to live with our neighbors.”

That’s a powerful message!

If it’s true, if Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ to teach us how to get along and live as neighbors, then how should the State of Israel (and Jews everywhere) share that lesson with the world?

  • By “unfriending” anyone on Facebook who disagrees with our point of view?
  • By only hanging out with people who think the way we do? Pray the way we pray?
  • By demonizing and killing hundreds of people we have never met (such as the Palestinians in Gaza)?
  • By building a wall between us and our neighbors so we can’t see each other, talk with each other, visit with each other?

You’re still living with the horror of the Holocaust but the Palestinians weren’t responsible for that nightmare.

I suspect you’ve never met a Palestinian or talked with a Palestinian.

If that young man at the Passover Seder was right, and God’s Chosen People are here to teach us all how to live with our neighbors, how can Jews help us live together? That young man at the Passover Seder is a Palestinian from Gaza, but I’m not sure whether he’s still alive.

I’m told that the Golden Rule is in the Torah, just as it’s in the Bible and Quran. Can the Golden Rule help heal your pain and fear?

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: “Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”  – Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Your Facebook message ends with a fear that I hate you.

“If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”

I don’t hate Jews, I don’t hate Israel, and I don’t hate you.  I want to learn how to live together as neighbors respecting the Golden Rule.

ABC News - Sulome Anderson

ABC News – Sulome Anderson

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Filed under Israel, Spiritual - Religion

The dominant narrative = hasbara

  1. Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past.

If you are a Jew, especially an Israeli Jew, the narrative you’re likely reading about the Palestinians is similar to this one.

If you’re an American, you’re likely seeing the news about Palestinians filtered through the same lens.

This dominant narrative makes these points (among others):

1) Palestinians are educated in the glory of terrorism from a young age, and children are encouraged to become martyrs.

2) Palestinians relish and rejoice when their acts of terror (ie. suicide bombers) kill many Israelis.

3) The National government of Palestine (Palestinian Authority), Hamas, and every other Arab organization calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

4) Islamist terrorists are honored with street names and other public places.

5) The “Moderate” Abu Mazen honors mass murderers and arch Islamist terrorists.

These points are supported with video clips to prove their accuracy. Anyone steeped in this narrative from an early age onward will no doubt be convinced of its veracity.

Those who prepare this hasbara are very good at their job — packaging the narrative so one side is clearly good and righteous, while the other is bad and evil.

My friend shared this hasbara with me today. I read it and watched each video clip. Please take time and read it for yourself.  Here.

If you believe the world is really THAT simple, I have a swamp in southern New Mexico for sale.

Lora blogging

Lora blogging

Now, if I wanted to prepare a counterpoint, a Palestinian narrative that included propaganda to support the Palestinian resistance, I could.

Here are the points I might make:

1) The Zionists have a plan to exterminate the Palestinians which they have been executing with great proficiency, and with the help of many Western nations, since 1948 to the present day. The Likud Charter calls for the destruction of Palestine.

2) The Zionists teach their children that Palestinians are inferior, innately stupid, lazy and not good for much of anything.

3) The Zionists don’t believe in the Rule of Law — there are innumerable examples of Israel’s violations of international law.

4) The Israeli occupation forces kill Palestinian children, women and the elderly indiscriminately, relishing in their marksmanship. And Americans who are trying to help the Palestinians are fair game. Israel has killed a number of Americans.

5) Israeli settlers carry guns, teach their children to shoot Arabs, burn their olive trees, and carry out Price Tag attacks against Palestinians.

I could provide a video-clip to support each of these points (ask me if you want video clips) but I’ll post just one —- these Israeli soldiers talking about their action in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead (December 2008- January 2009).

The factually accurate narrative which is missing from Israel’s hasbara and the mainstream media’s reporting … must include the OCCUPATION. If the news you’re reading or listening to fails to talk about the Israeli occupation of Palestine, then you aren’t learning about the context that explains why Palestinians are resisting against the occupation and the occupier. You’re not hearing about the 99-year hudna (truce) that Hamas, Fatah and other Arab countries have offered Israel. You’re not appreciating the long and peaceful history that Jews, Christians and Muslims shared prior to the occupation and the Nakba.

There is another narrative, a more honest narrative, that doesn’t paint one side right, the other wrong —- one side virtuous and the other side terrorist.

Israelis and Palestinians need the world to understand this honest narrative, for both their sakes.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Media, Occupation, Settlers, Video