Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Fresno Zionist Has a Few Words

I don't think that the Fresno Zionist gets the attention that he deserves.

This is a very insightful guy and I would hope that those of you who care about the well-being of the Jews of the Middle East would give him a fair read.

This recent piece is, in my opinion, very interesting.

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Part of my job — not my paying job, the one I do for the sake of shamayim — is to talk to my Jewish friends and try to explain why the existence of a Jewish state is essential for all Jews, wherever they live, why a good relationship with the US is essential for Israel, and why the support of American Jews is in turn essential for such a relationship.

I meet a lot of resistance, which is unsurprising when you consider that if you leave aside Arabs and other Muslims, the worldwide movement to end the Jewish state is disproportionately led by people of Jewish descent. Here are some of the reasons it can be tough to be a Zionist in America:

The politicization of Israel

My job recently got a lot harder because of the introduction of Israel as an issue in Republican-Democratic politics. President Obama (for multiple reasons that I won’t go into here but have written about at length) is no friend of Israel. His administration and informal advisers also lean toward anti-Zionism, some of them pretty sharply.

The Republicans have noticed this, and have made a pitch for Jewish votes. So now, any discussion about Israel becomes a discussion about Obama vs. Romney.

That is very unfortunate, because Jews are still overwhelmingly liberals, and criticism of Obama’s attitude and policy toward Israel is understood as “Republican propaganda.” Many liberal Jews seem to think that ‘Republican’ means ‘right-wing’ means ‘fascist’ means ‘Nazi’. Even if they don’t go that far, some of the social and economic positions of today’s Republican party are anathema to liberals.

The universities

The difficulty is even greater with academics or those who would call themselves ‘progressives’, to distinguish themselves from mere liberals. In their case I need to overcome the post-colonialist worldview, in which Israel is treated as a Western colonial power, oppressing the third-world Palestinians. This makes Israel the bad guy from the beginning, and excuses almost any degree of Arab violence as “resistance to oppression.”

Many Jews have university degrees, which means that they have been exposed to this ideology during their intellectually formative years. Since the 1960′s, the concept of academic freedom has come to mean permissiveness toward political activism, even radical activism, in the classroom.

Media bias

Liberal media, like the New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, the Huffington Post, etc. almost invariably slant their reporting in an anti-Israel direction. Progressive media, like Pacifica Radio, simply present the Arab or Iranian line, repeating accusations of Israeli wrongdoing as fact and ignoring or whitewashing violence against Israelis. If you watch or listen to this stuff all day, it sinks in.

The effect of the media is amplified by the ‘information bubble’ phenomenon: because it simply feels good to have one’s opinions confirmed, people seek out media that confirm their opinions. So liberals listen to NPR and conservatives to Fox News. They choose friends with like ideas for political conversations. Living in an ideological information bubble reinforces their views. It’s a positive feedback loop.

The human brain

Jonathan Haidt, in his excellent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, explains some of the reasons why it is so hard to change a person’s mind about ideological issues. One is that political opinions stem from moral intuitions that are primarily emotion-based, not the result of rational argument. These emotion-based moral intuitions happen immediately upon perception; only later does a person come up with arguments to justify his belief. Reasoned arguments work against other arguments, but don’t touch the underlying intuitions.

Haidt uses an analogy of a rational rider on an emotional elephant. The rider can try to influence the elephant, but mostly he comes up with reasons to explain the direction the elephant chooses to go.

How many times have you heard “I grant your facts and understand your reasoning, but I just don’t see it that way?” That’s the elephant talking!

Another reason is confirmation bias. Psychological research has shown over and over that humans have a tendency to focus on evidence that supports their beliefs and ignore evidence that challenges them. This is why scientists sometimes stick to discredited theories despite clear evidence against them (luckily for us, other scientists work hard to find disconfirming evidence for theories that they oppose).

What can be done?

Here are a few lessons:

It will never be possible to disconnect Israel from US politics, but soon the election will be history. The focus should always be on policies, not personalities. And it is a poor idea to mix Israel with other issues. I once read a persuasive article about why Obama’s policy was anti-Israel, which closed with a negative remark about Obamacare. Stupid.

It is important to be in touch with what is happening on campuses, oppose egregious politicization of supposedly academic activities, and fight to prevent the resources of universities from being used for anti-Israel purposes. Arab and Iranian interests fund departments and programs to serve their interests; Zionists should do the same.

There are numerous organizations opposing bias in the mainstream media. It’s also necessary to develop alternative media, but strongly partisan approaches will not be effective because of the information bubble phenomenon.

Finally, involved arguments about (for example) Israel’s rights under international law are less effective than appeals to fairness, Jewish self-determination, etc.

11 comments:

  1. Off-topic in a specific way, but on-topic in a general way, and important:

    56% of Muslims polled in the U.S. say that criticism of Islam should be illegal. (BTW: This is in contrast to what, in this video, is said is 1% of Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc. in the U.S. who say that criticism of their respective religions should be illegal.)

    Also discussed in this video is the fact that this belief held by Muslims is being reflected in the current U.S. administration (and which is a belief held by Muslims and advocated by the current U.S. administration (in collusion with the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) in the U.N.) which is a belief which, and, moreover, which is belief whose enforcement is, in opposition to the U.S. Constitution (and to basic Western Enlightenment principals of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience)).

    Robert Spencer and Michael Coren on U.S. Muslims' opposition to the freedom of speech
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/11/robert-spencer-and-michael-coren-on-us-muslims-opposition-to-the-freedom-of-speech.html

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    But, no matter.

    "It's 'THE JEWS'! It's 'THE JEWS' who are the danger to the world! (They're evil deceitful usurpers who are persecuting 'The Palestinians' and who control the U.S. government.)" (That's the belief that's being ubiquitously propagated by Western governments (including the members of powerful sectors of the U.S. government), and by Western mass media, and by Western academia, etc. And Jewish people, at best, are doing nothing about the propagation of these (classically culturally Western (culturally Christian-European)) intendedly genocidal anti-Jewish lies, and, at worst, are actively engaging in propagating these intendedly genocidal anti-Jewish lies.) And Jewish people are thought of as being "smart". That's "funny".

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    1. The modern "Protocols of Zion" - How the mass media now promotes the same lies that caused the death of more than 5 million Jews in WWII, by Francisco Gil-White

      Part 1 - Introduction: The "Protocols of Zion" in the broadest historical perspective.
      http://www.hirhome.com/israel/mprot1.htm

      "Genocides don’t just happen. The killers must think they kill in self defense. Which is to say that the victims of an extermination must first be perceived as a mortal danger. For this, a propaganda campaign will be necessary. The propaganda that got between 5 and 6 million Jews exterminated in WWII went by the name Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion. This series documents that this propaganda is once again being energetically spread by the Western mass media, just as it was in the prelude to WWII. ..."

      Part 7 - Why do people say that ‘the Jews’ control the media? They don’t.
      http://www.hirhome.com/israel/mprot1.htm

      "Table of Contents

      "Introduction
      "General Electric -- not controlled by Jews
      "Time-Warner -- not controlled by Jews
      "Rupert Murdoch's empire -- not controlled by Jews
      "Who controls the media?
      "Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s failed attempt to control Universal, and the lessons therein
      "Final remarks

      "Introduction

      "Before WWII, the Nazis and their sympathizers made popular all over the world the allegation that ‘the Jews’ controlled everything in secret, including the mass media, and that they would use this clandestine power to hurt us all. The accusations were widely believed because they were built on a long tradition of Western accusations against the Jews going back to the first century, when they were accused of killing God: a cultural inertia (see Part 1). The Nazi accusations of the supposed clandestine total power of ‘the Jews,’ plus supposed evil intent of the same, produced a pan-Western anti-Jewish hysteria that fueled the genocide of more than 5 million Jews, which repeated the consequences of similar accusations in previous centuries in the West (see Part 1). We are back where we started. It is almost impossible to be both alive and in the West and not have heard the allegation that 'the Jews control the media.' As before, the accusation is a lie. This piece will demonstrate that most of the big media is not controlled by ‘the Jews,’ and that when people claiming a Jewish identity do own a big media company, this company will be especially careful to take an anti-Jewish slant. ..."

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      Antisemitism is everywhere in the mass media - Sometimes it is relatively subtle... - How the economist [magazine] attacks the Jews, by Francisco Gil-White
      http://www.hirhome.com/israel/subtle.htm

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    2. Johann von Leers and Walt/Mearsheimer, by Clemens Heni
      http://clemensheni.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/johann-von-leers-and-waltmearsheimer/

      "Most people think that the book 'Israel Lobby' by Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer was published in 2007 -- at the same time in the US and in Germany, by the way. Well, the first edition of that book was rather published in 1940 -- by leading National Socialist anti-Semitic publicist Prof. Dr. Johann von Leers. Von Leers published “Kräfte hinter Roosevelt” (“Forces behind Roosevelt”) in Berlin in 1940. ..."

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      Yale Kills YIISA, by Clemens Heni
      http://clemensheni.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/yale-kills-yiisa/

      "...'Yale University last week killed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism — the only program of its kind in the country, an academically stellar one-stop anti-Semitism research shop. Worse, it almost certainly did so because YIISA refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.'

      "If one is analyzing the most dangerous form of contemporary antisemitism, you are censored, defamed, bullied, and finally thrown out from campus: highlighting Muslim and Arab antisemitism is taboo.

      "In that sense, American academe is like its counterpart in Europe.

      "Analyzing liberal and left hypocrisy, YIISA Associate Professor Neil Kressel, already showed in 1992 that progressives aim at antisemites as long as they are right-wing or Nazis. Antisemitism from the Third World or from minority groups, including the left, have never been a topic for mainstream scholars and journalists in the US. Contrary to fantasies about a powerful 'Israel-Lobby' in the US, antisemitism is very strong among the elites in America. The recent Yale decision is proof for this. ..."

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      Anti-Semitism 2.0, by Mudar Zahran -- 'Palestinian' Arab writer and academic from Jordan who currently resides in the U.K. as a political refugee
      http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1979/anti-semitism-20

      "The concept of the 'evil Jew' has made a well-disguised comeback: Criticizing Israel and Zionists is now deemed a legitimate option to cursing Jews and Judaism. Not only is it open, socially acceptable and legal, but it can actually bring prosperity and popularity. This new form of anti-Semitism 2.0 is well-covered-up, harder to trace and poses a much deeper danger to the modern way of life of the civilized world than the earlier crude form of it, as it slowly and gradually works on delegitimizing Jews to the point where it eventually becomes acceptable to target Jews, first verbally, then physically -- all done in a cosmopolitan style where the anti-Semites are well-groomed speakers and headline writers in jackets and ties; and not just Arab, but American and European, from 'sanitized' news coverage of the most bloodthirsty radicals, to charges against Israel in which facts are distorted, selectively omitted or simply untrue, as in former President Jimmy Carter's book on Israel. ..."

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    3. The Secret War Against the Jews, by John Loftus and Mark Aarons
      http://books.google.com/books/about/The_secret_war_against_the_Jews.html?id=trU7nY-T-4EC

      "The authors demonstrate that numerous Western countries, especially the United States and Great Britain, have conducted repeated and willful spying missions on Palestine* and later Israel over many decades. While on the surface these two countries and others profess to be ardent allies of Israel, they work, in fact, through their intelligence services to betray Israel's secrets to the Arabs. Their motive: oil and multinational profits, which must be attained at any price through international covert policies. To understand the duplicitous nature of the West's diplomatic relations with Israel, the authors contend that one must understand the history that begins after the end of World War I with the sordid Mideast exploits of a British diplomat, Jack Philby. They then proceed into a detailed discussion of the boardrooms of American and English bankers and lawyers who had strong connections with Nazi leaders and Arab oil tycoons in the 1930s prior to the outbreak of World War II. Particularly intriguing is the information that the writers present to suggest an all-too-cozy financial relationship that existed between the Allied intelligence community and German banks even during the war. One of the authors' chief contentions is that Israel was the unwitting victim of bungled Western spy operations such as Iran-Contra and BCCI, whose true dimensions have never previously been exposed. A consistent theme is that the White House and the British Secret Service have repeatedly run illegal programs, hidden from both the CIA and Congress, and then used the Jews as scapegoats."

      America's Nazi Secret: An Insider's History, by John Loftus
      http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Nazi-Secret-Insiders-History/dp/1936296047

      "Fully revised and expanded, this stirring account reveals how the U.S. government permitted the illegal entry of Nazis into North America in the years following World War II. This extraordinary investigation exposes the secret section of the State Department that began, starting in 1948 and unbeknownst to Congress and the public until recently, to hire members of the puppet wartime government of Byelorussia—a region of the Soviet Union occupied by Nazi Germany. A former Justice Department investigator uncovered this stunning story in the files of several government agencies, and it is now available with a chapter previously banned from release by authorities and a foreword and afterword with recently declassified materials."

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      Who is Who in German trade with Iran?, by Matthias Küntzel
      http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/who-is-who-in-german-trade-with-iran

      Ahmadinejad's Bank, by Matthias Küntzel
      http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/ahmadinejads-bank

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      Note: * "Palestine": British Mandate of Palestine

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    4. Correction:

      46% of Muslims polled in the U.S. say that criticism of Islam should be illegal.

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    5. Another correction:

      I wrote:

      "1%"

      which should be:

      "1% to 3%"

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    6. I apologize to all of my fellow Jewish people for writing: "And Jewish people are thought of as being 'smart'. That's 'funny'." That writing which I wrote was harsh wrong writing. It was wrong of me to write that harsh wrong writing. I wrote that harsh wrong writing because I was frustrated. However it was wrong of me to write that harsh wrong writing. I'm sorry. Please forgive me.

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    7. It is good for those of us who are Jewish to have compassion for each other. It is good to be patient with each other. It is good to be kind to each other.

      And, also, I very much appreciate people who are not Jewish who are supporting and defending the Jewish people.

      It is good for us all to be kind to each other.

      May everyone be well and happy.

      May all living beings be well and happy.

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  2. The only place I differ is that Jews disproportionately make up the non-Muslim contingent of anti-Zionism. Like in most things, here the Jews are highly outnumbered by non-evangelical Christians that seek to instigate measures to inflict direct harm, under the guise of being "liberal."

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    1. That's a quibble, but you are clearly correct.

      One thing that I've noticed is that our non-American non-Israeli Jewish friends, such as Geoffff and Daphne and Shirl, seem to be far more concerned than American Jews about non-Evangelical Christian hostility toward Israel.

      I'm wondering if we don't need to follow their lead on this.

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    2. Truth is, it's hard to know where to start, as there are so many avenues to pursue. I care more about the indoctrination at the university level, but have known for a long time that these Christians hate Israel and cannot see that, coupled with their behavior, they practice antisemitism.

      The Evangelicals and the Mormons for that matter, whacked as they may be in their faith, leave it there, yet some Jews cannot help be outraged and see them as a threat.

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