Sunday, May 20, 2012

An exercise for would-be hasbarists

Tomorrow night I will be part of a panel discussion held by the American Zionist Movement called "Israel in the Write Light" in New York City. Along with Commentary contributor/Tweeter extraordinaire Noah Pollak and Tablet senior editor Bari Weiss, we will be discussing how to effectively communicate pro-Israel messages.

I believe that knowing history is essential to being an advocate for Israel, and it takes practice to hone the historical arguments down to a form that can be read in a couple of minutes.

So here is a challenge for people who want to be good at Hasbara:

In an obscure newspaper called the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune, someone named George Smith ("a nonreligious member of Congregation Beth Shalom") wrote a polemic against Israel for the occasion of Nakba Day. It is literally filled with the usual anti-Israel lies, compressed in the space of an op-ed. Over the years, I have disproved these lies many times on this blog.

The challenge is to write an effective response that is no lengthier than the original.

Taking the time to actually go through something like this - sentence by sentence - and disproving the lies yourself, briefly but thoroughly, is a most valuable use of time. The first time you do it it would probably take a few hours, but by the end of that time you will know how to answer the lies quickly and devastatingly.

If you want to send your resulting response to the newspaper (or to me) is up to you. The point here is that while many Zionists know that this article is absurd propaganda, not as many know enough to actually prove it. Proving it and boiling that proof down to something readable is a very valuable skill, one that you can only get from practice.

So if you can, this might be a good way to spend some time this Sunday.