Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dershowitz: Anti-Israel radicals can be defeated

Dershowitz: Anti-Israel radicals can be defeated

Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz
In my earlier article about the bullying tactics of the IPSC and their fellow-travelling anti-Israel haters, some of the commenters expressed despair at the hatred of Israel and seeming lack of pro-active action on the part of pro-Israel groups and some ((particularly Adam and cba) also came up with some useful suggestions for actions to counter the hatred.
When I came across this article by the famed American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, an indefatigable activist for Israel and author of “The Case for Israel” I thought that he eloquently addressed the points above and also had some excellent insights and ideas into how the anti-Israel radicals can be exposed and defeated.
The background to his article is a previous article in Ynet (which has also been published elsewhere) by the British Zionist Muslim Kaseem Hafiz: “Muslim, Zionist and proud”:
By the time I had reached 18 I was completely indoctrinated to the fold of radical Islamism. My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.
So what changed? How could I go from all this hatred to the great love for and affinity with Israel and the Jewish people? I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section of a local bookstore and picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel. Given my worldview, the Jews and Americans controlled the media, so after brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking “vile Zionist propaganda.”
I did, however, decide to buy it, content that I would shortly be deconstructing this propaganda piece, showing that Israel had no case and claiming my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.
As I read Dershowitz’s arguments and deconstruction of many lies I saw as unquestionable truths, I searched despairingly for counter arguments, but found more hollow rhetoric that I’d believed for many years. I felt a real crisis of conscience, and thus began a period of unbiased research. Up until that point I had not been exposed to anything remotely positive about Israel.
Now, I didn’t know what to believe. I’d blindly followed others for so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong. I reached a point where I felt I had no other choice but to see Israel for myself; only that way I’d really know the truth. At the risk of sounding cliché, it was a life-changing visit.
Read the whole article for a heart-warming, heartening and incredibly fascinating story.
Alan Dershowitz picks up from there:
I was gratified to read the article by Kasim Hafeez, a former anti-Semite who had become a Zionist. I was particularly gratified to learn that my book, The Case for Israel, played a role in his conversion from irrational hatred to support based on his own observations of the reality of Israel.
The hatred for Israel in parts of Europe and on many university campuses has become so irrational that no evidence, regardless of how indisputable and powerful it may be, seems to be able to change closed minds hardened by years of unremitting falsehoods. These falsehoods take on an aura of undeserved credibility, particularly when espoused by people who identify themselves as Jewish or Israeli (or even formerly Jewish or formally Israeli.)
But whenever I get discouraged, I recall an incident several years ago at the University of California at Irvine, which is a hotbed of anti-Israel hate speech….
… I spoke to a full audience of students that included some of the same radicals that tried to shut Oren down. About 100 of them sat to my right. Another 100 or so students, wearing pro-Israel shirts and kipot, sat to my left. Several hundred additional students were in the middle – both literally and ideologically. I know that because I asked for a show of hands before I began my remarks.
I first asked for students to raise their hands if they generally support Israel. All the students to my left and several in the middle raised their hands. I then asked how many students supported the Palestinian side. All the students to my right and several in the middle raised their hands. I then posed the following question to the pro-Israel group: “How many of you would support a Palestinian state living in peace and without terrorism next to Israel?” Every single pro-Israel hand immediately went up. I then asked how many on the pro-Palestine side would accept a Jewish state within the 1967 borders, with no settlements on territory claimed by the Palestinians. There was some mumbling and brief conversation among the people to my right, but not a single hand was raised.
The debate was essentially over, as everyone in the middle now recognized that this was not a conflict between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups, but rather, a conflict between those who would accept a two-state solution and those who would reject any Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East. The pro-Israel view had prevailed because I was able to use the extremism of the anti-Israel group to demonstrate the ugly truth about Israel’s enemies to the large group of students in the middle with open minds.
will not give up despite, perhaps because of, the increasingly vocal hatred directed against Israel. It is imperative to continue to appeal to the open minds of rational people who want to hear all sides of this complex and nuanced issue. In the end, I have confidence that the power of truth will overcome the lies of anti-Israel extremists. If we believe in the marketplace of ideas, we must persist in our efforts. The conversion of Kasim Hafeez from an irrational anti-Semite to a thoughtful Zionist should encourage us to keep telling the truth.
My only concern is that Dershowitz is a little too optimistic about people’s willingness to actually hear the truth. As long as people are open-minded enough to listen, I am convinced that our case can convince them. The trouble lies, as always, with those who do not wish to see or hear.