Friday, May 14, 2010

"Don't Listen to Them!"

MJ Rosenberg's latest article got me thinking: It seems that there is a concerted effort among the anti-Zionist crowd to label people who are "Zionists" (i.e. they support Israel and think Israel should continue to exist) with various sorts of insults: For the HPers the usual "facist" "racist" "imperialist" are all good, though things often get even less intelligent than that. For people like Rosenberg, variations of "AIPAC drone" usually suffice.

In one sense, this is the kind of McCarthyism that we have spoken about before, that people who hold a particular point of view are ostracized and labeled as "the other." But I think that in this particular instance the accusation made against Israel's defenders is not as extreme as claiming they are "Unamerican" but the accusation is still quite dangerous.

You can read the whole recap of Rosenberg's article below, but in sum he accuses students at Berkeley of taking action only because AIPAC and Hillel told them to do it. He of course provides no evidence but this is nothing new. I find this troubling because if Rosenberg can do it once, then who is to stop anyone and everyone from doing it every time Jewish students say something about Israel? And then we have a situation where students who say, "I disagree with you" are immediately countered with "How much did AIPAC pay you to say that?" I get it on average once a week when I'm active writing on the Huffington Post.

This phenomenon is especially worrisome in the Berkley case because the students were speaking out against cases of intimidation of harassment that often take the guise of being simply "anti-Zionist." These are real people with real feelings and it is insulting to imply that they are saying these things because of some malevolent entity behind the scenes. Do all students now need to worry about being dismissed and insulted for standing up for themselves and their people? If the Rosenbergs have their way, it could get there.

I know that AZs love to claim they are being "silenced," but I am not saying that the pro-divestment activists want to keep Jewish students from speaking their minds. They just don't want anyone to listen to them. They want every person who speaks out in favor of Israel to immediately be labeled as a "hasbara" and discarded. They want every student who breaks down under harassment to be perceived as crying crocodile tears. They want the Hillels and Jewish Student Unions of America to be seen as extensions of AIPAC rather than other students who think and feel under their own volition. In other words, it is another variation of "poisoning the well," and the Huffington Post is a factory for these kinds of arguments.

One last thing: At this point, were I someone like MJ Rosenberg, I would claim that Israel's opponents only use this tactic because they can't win with just the facts. I don't think this is true, however, I do think that both sides of this issue have legitimate viewpoints that should be heard. What I am saying is that the AZs are normal human beings and will use the easy way out if given the option. Why have a long, drawn out debate with the Jewish Student Union when you can just intimidate them into silence? Why ask Michael Oren the tough questions when you can just drown him out? You need to be well informed to win a debate, you don't need to be to intimidate a Jewish girl walking to class. Especially when the Huffington Post blogger stable will always be there to defend you.

1 comment:

  1. All it takes to be a good anti-Zio these days is to shout supporters of Israel down. You don't even have to debate them.