Friday, December 18, 2020

(Based on a Twitter thread.)

The socialist Left is attacking the mainstream Democrats who support Israel like Democratic Majority for Israel @DemMaj4Israel. It's interesting to watch, and it exposes the false themes and anti-fact methods of the Israel haters.

In November, some members of Congress wrote a letter to Mike Pompeo expressing concern over Israel demolishing a group of illegal structures in Khirbet Humsa which were deliberately built in an IDF practice firing zone over the past few years.

DMFI responded with its own letter explaining the facts.

This caught the attention of Alex Kane who wrote about it in +972, emphasizing that DMFI’s letter used information from the pro-Israel NGO Regavim. The article doesn’t bother to actually disprove anything that DMFI wrote – it just accuses it of parroting both Israeli and Regavim talking points, as it proud Zionist Jews couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

This conversation was picked up on Twitter, where  DMFI and its many Israeli-hating critics argued.



Notice how they cannot argue with DMFI's facts, most of which came from Israeli High Court rulings. As always, the facts don't favor the Israel haters, so instead they say that DMFI used information from which they tar as "far right" and "anti-Palestinian" sources as if the source invalidates facts.

I have spoken to Regavim and they do care about the Palestinians and Arab residents of Israel. But they also care about Jewish and Israeli rights. They properly try to balance both sets of rights within the framework of the law, just as Israel's High Court does. That is not extremist. That is noble.

Which brings up Peter Beinart’s tweet.

Beinart is brighter than most anti-Israel activists, and he knows that arguing facts is a losing battle. He wants to use more effective propaganda methods.

Beinart doesn't want to accurately frame the conflict as two groups with competing rights. He wants to frame it as only Palestinians having rights, and Israel having none.

And when Jewish nationalists want to assert their rights, Beinart wants to call that “denying basic rights to millions of people.”

Any time you have competing rights, one party’s assertion of rights will diminish the other party’s claims. That is what a conflict is. Solving the conflict means compromise and accepting at least part of the other party’s position, even if you don’t agree.

Beinart doesn’t want you to think of this as a conflict. He wants to frame Israel asserting its own legal rights as denial of Palestinian rights. Standing up for your rights is a good thing, and denying others’ rights is a bad thing, so Beinart wants to ensure you never even consider that Israel has any rights in Judea and Samaria in order for him to demonize Israel.

This is why framing an argument is so important. When you frame it you can cut off the other side’s arguments before they have a chance to say anything. For example, Israel haters like to start the history in the 1890s or 1917 – framing history as if Jews are invaders to the land of their forefathers. Admitting that Jews have been indigenous to the land for thousands of years undercuts their arguments so they don't that to be part of the framework. Setting the framework wins the argument before it starts.

Beinart sees that the arguments of the New Israel Fund and +972 and their allies were in danger of being lost because DMFI actually had facts on their side. So look at his tweet as a master class in propaganda:


DemMaj4Israel can spin, rant and rave all it wants.”

First. delegitimize the careful and reasoned arguments of DMFI and try to ensure no one takes them seriously by insulting their points – backed up with facts -  as “spin, rant and rave.”

“But, ultimately, it comes down to this.”

Second, reframe the argument in a way where the facts cannot even be admitted into the discussion.

“An organization that defends Israel's denial of basic rights to millions of people…”

This is framing DMFI as something it is not, but it is not a direct accusation. It is written as an assumption to set up the punch line. Assumptions are harder to argue against than direct accusations because they are interpreted by readers as being something that is accepted by all - including the readers themselves.

“… can't represent a party that claims to hate bigotry and love justice.”

Beinart and his anti-Israel cohorts are more threatened by pro-Israel Democrats than by the Right. They see themselves as fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party. Beinart wants to demolish any sympathy for Israel in that party, and DMFI is an effective roadblock. For Beinart, it is imperative to create a wedge between the two, and here he uses effective propaganda methods to claim that DMFI is bigoted and hates justice, against the supposed principles of the party.

Crucially, Beinart here is not only accusing DMFI but all Zionists of being bigoted and against justice.  Again, this isn’t a direct accusation, but framed as something that everyone knows. Casual readers do not realize how he is manipulating them to think that they always accepted his premise as truth.

Because of how Beinart framed his tweet, it is difficult for DMFI to respond without looking defensive. Beinart just defined supporting Jewish rights as bigotry and the only way to respond is to attack the framework, not the message, which is something most people cannot do. An example might be, "Unlike Peter Beinart, we support both Palestinian rights and Jewish rights. Perhaps he can respond to our arguments instead of calling us bigots.....Or perhaps, he can't."

The propaganda in his tweet doesn’t end there. Beinart defines the Democratic Party as hating bigotry and loving justice to make members uncomfortable with Israel and DMFI because of the implication that they are against those things.  The party platform’s use of both of those terms are centered on racial justice and being against racist bigotry.  Beinart is trying not to only paint Zionists as bigoted against Palestinians but he is framing a political conflict as Jewish racism – against Muslims or against people of color, the victims don’t really matter as long as the reader views the Jews as  racist oppressors.

Also, Beinart deliberately uses the word “justice” here, implying that “justice in Palestine” is a major Democratic tenet.  It isn’t. That word has been hijacked by Palestinians and their supporters to mean that unless Palestinians are given all they want, there is no “justice.” Palestinians themselves are the judge and jury. While real peace requires compromise, insisting on “justice” in this context means that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. 

Beinart is not using this word by accident.

And here’s the irony. Beinart’s entire purpose with this tweet is not to promote Palestinian rights but to deny that Israel or Jews have any national rights. Instead of accurately describing a conflict, Beinart is saying here that anything Jews do to assert their own national rights is racist, illegitimate and bigoted  and therefore one should not even listen to a word they say.

He is guilty of exactly what he is accusing Zionists of.


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