Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Imagine if not 26, but just one US state passed legislation condemning Israel using language similar to the slurs the boycotters routinely pack in their BDS resolutions.  Actually, let’s paint an even less-unlikely scenario.  Imagine if just one small town in rural Vermont passed such a measure.  Do you think we’d be having a debate over what such a vote might mean for free-speech?

No!  For if the Israel-haters ever got their way by getting any government anywhere to parrot their views, they would be bazooka-ing the planet with bellows of triumph, insisting that such a vote was proof positive that Israel is as horrid as they claim and that they were a hair’s breadth away from total victory.

Yet here we are several years into a bandwagon in which one state after another has passed legislation condemning BDS as a form of bigotry and telling those who practice it that they can kiss state contracts goodbye, with the federal government supporting the effort through legislation saying such state action is perfectly legal. 

Unlike BDS votes that tend to take place in the dead of night, behind closed doors, state anti-BDS measures were passed by overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in the full light of day.  But, instead of talking about what it means when vast democratic majorities pass BDS votes against the BDSers, we are instead arguing over whether the very kinds of votes the boycotters have been lobbying people to pass for years represent assaults on free speech.

The reason for this is that the boycotters are much much better at framing an issue than we are.  If we had more of their talent, we would incessantly communicate that every state anti BDS vote is proof positive that the majority of the nation agrees that BDS=bigotry, and demand our opponents answer our accusations (while ignoring theirs), rather than sitting on our lead and then acting surprised when enemies end up dictating how the story plays out in the media.

Keep in mind that “America agrees that BDS = bigotry” and “anti-BDS legislation is a threat to free speech” are both tag lines that can agreed upon or be contested.  So why are ignoring one advantageous to us, while engaging with the enemy on the turf they want to fight on?  No self-respecting BDSer would ever tolerate being put on the defensive, and it’s not something we should tolerate either (especially from the moral midgets who demand we debate them solely on their terms). 

Here is one way we can act like our enemies in order to progress our cause without selling our souls.  For the person who frames the debate tends to win it (or at least not lose it), which means picking a storyline beneficial to our cause, focusing on that storyline and nothing else, and insisting our opponents respond to us vs. vice-versa is a winning tactic, one we seem too insecure to use.
There are other storylines we could also be advancing, beyond the one I’ve used to illustrate my point regarding the failure of Israel and her supporters to frame issues and news to our advantage.  Startup nation, for example, is a nice, elevating topic – one many friends of Israel like to embrace since it (alongside multiculturalism, tolerance for women and gays, and decent cuisine) seems uncontroversial.

But how about pushing these positive narratives in a direction that might generate a little controversy? Israel’s economic success story is wonderful news, but bigger news is how a people at death’s door after World War II managed to not just bring themselves back to life, but bring back into existence their ancestral homeland, along with a reborn language, one ready to provide a home for Jews (including millions of refugees) from around the planet.

If the Holocaust was the nadir of human history, the emergence of the state of Israel might represent history’s pinnacle achievement of justice.  How’s that for a truth that will set some people’s teeth on edge?

Claims about the staggering success of our people need not be wrapped up in hubris or acclimations of “chosen-ness.” Rather, they can be presented with humility and generosity, pointing out – for example - that if a nearly murdered people could achieve such stunning success, anyone can do it.  All that is required is the readiness to create a society dedicated to the needs of its members, rather than wandering off into utopia (where no one cares for anyone since we’re all abstractions) or creating a people or nation that prioritizes wallowing in victimhood and revenge fantasies over improving the lives of actual human beings. 

Positive messaging is often condemned by some Israel supporters who see it as an attempt to ward off assaults on the character of the Jewish state and Jewish people with dance performances and hummus parties.  These critics have a point, but one that highlights the ineffectiveness of focusing on surface manifestations of the miracle that is the Jewish state, rather than the miracle itself.

If we instead embraced Zionism, rather than let others define it as a dirty word, as a model for every nation in the world that actually wants to see its people living in peace, happiness and prosperity, we would no doubt piss off people who already hate us.  But we might just inspire those who have not chosen a side to pick the “strong horse” that also happens to be the true embodiment of justice and morality.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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