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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bibi's points about JBlogging

I caught the last half hour or so of Binyomin Netanyahu's Q&A with Jewish bloggers at the first JBlogger's Conference happening now.

Some of what he said resonated strongly with me, because it is a lot of what I am trying to do with this blog.

The first point was that the way to fight the lies is with the truth. Yes, there is no shortage of websites, blogs, social networking sites that are filled with lies about Israel, but the major weapon against them is the simple truth - not embellished, not exaggerated, but the simple facts, that need to be repeated over and over, and the lies exposed.

The second point is that the narrative has been too long centered on Palestinian Arab "rights" versus Israeli "security." The fact is that there are Jewish rights on the land as well, that history is also on the side of the Jewish narrative. Bibi quickly outlined the fact that Jews remained the majority in Palestine for many centuries after the Roman conquest, and that the first time they were physically dispossessed from the land itself was by the Arab conquest in the eighth century. And it is not inaccurate to describe pre-Zionism Palestine as a backwater of the Arab world, certainly not as the important center of Islamic and Arab culture that it is represented as nowadays. These facts need to be understood better, not only by the world at large but even by supporters of Israel.

To expand a bit on Bibi, there is no reason to be put on the defensive no matter how the argument is framed. "Occupation," "settlements," "ethnic cleansing", the USS Liberty, Rachel Corrie - all of the common attacks that are used against Israel can be used not to react defensively but also pro-actively, with context and pure truth. And it should not be embarrassing to link today's Zionism with the historic and deep religious connection of Jews to the land, something that is in the collective Jewish DNA. The emotional and religious component of the Jewish attachment to Israel is something that is inherently understood by many Christians and observant Jews as well as Israel's founders, but it seems to be treated as vaguely irrelevant by too many of today's Zionists. Without the religious and historic components, there is no reason for Israel to exist on historic Jewish land - the Uganda option is equally valid.

This is the reason that Muslims not only emphasize their own tenuous connection to "Palestine" but also the reason they try so hard to disconnect modern Israel from Judaism and Jewish history. The liberal West might relate better to a secular Israel but they cannot argue against an religio-emotional argument that is inherently a-logical. The Jewish argument for historic Palestine is so much more compelling and obvious than the Muslim connection that it is strange that it is so often backpedaled. And this is a shame.