Israel/Palestine,  Labour Party

Using their anti-Israel extremism against them

Prof. Alan Dershowitz writes at

[W]henever 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. This is the very same campus where radical Islamic students tried to prevent Israel’s moderate ambassador, Professor Michael Oren, from speaking.

About a year before that incident, 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.

I have now used this heuristic repeatedly on college campuses, and with considerable success. The lesson, I believe, is not to try to persuade irrational anti-Israel extremists, but rather, to use their extremism – which often includes anti-American and anti-Western extremism – against them and in favor of a reasonable and centrist pro-Israel position.

There is a necessary corollary to this approach, I think. Friends of Israel should not be so eager to narrow the definition of acceptable support. If people genuinely acknowledge Israel’s right to exist permanently as a Jewish state within secure borders, I don’t think it’s necessary to probe them for further signs of loyalty based on their positions on settlements and the like.

Which brings me to Labour MP Andy Slaughter.

He should be put on the spot at the earliest opportunity: does he or does he not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist permanently as a Jewish state within secure borders, along with the creation of a viable Palestinian state (the official position of the Labour party)?

If he does acknowledge it, why does he have anything to do with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which opposes “the Zionist nature of the Israeli state”– i.e., the existence of Israel as Israel?

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