In the controversy over Pamela Geller, much has been made about Geller's pro-Israel bona fides and her willingness to call a spade a spade when it comes to Islamic radicalism. It is true that Geller is a good friend of Israel. However, I doubt that she is a great friend of Israel. To understand why, one would need to know the difference between a good friend of Israel and a great friend.
A good friend of Israel is someone who supports Israel in any conceivable circumstance. This characterizes Pamela Geller, George W. Bush, and most of the Republican candidates from president.
A great friend of Israel is someone who induces others to support Israel. A prime example of inducing others to support Israel is Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel which led Kasim Hafeez to turn 180 degrees from instigating on behalf the Palestinians and Jew-hatred to full-fledged support for Israel.
This is a difficult measure to apply. In assessing someone's support for Israel, one only needs to read what they write for varying situations. However, to directly assess how someone affects others' support for Israel, one needs to survey people's changes in opinions about Israel and identify what information influenced their opinions. In this sense, the example of Kasim Hafeez provides a clear case of one individual's writings inducing support for Israel because Hafeez repeatedly says that it was reading Dershowitz that convinced him that everything he had been taught about Israel and Jews was a pack of lies.
However, there are some principles to apply in order to make an indirect assessment of one's inducement of support for Israel. The first principle is to realize that what makes Israel-supporters feel good about their support for Israel would not necessarily make Israel-opponents feel uncomfortable about their opposition to Israel or even be convincing to fence-sitters. An example of words providing the former but not the latter is when Bush declared, "[Ariel] Sharon is a man of peace." For a supporter of Israel, that is a heartening sentiment, however, for any non-supporter of Israel whose source of news about the Middle East was a constant drumbeat about how Sharon was a war-monger, the only information gleaned from that statement was the Bush was out of touch.
What's needed instead is to provide incontrovertible facts. In this department, anything about Hamas would not qualify because its relevance would depend on Hamas' platform being applicable to Palestinian society more broadly, which however accurate it may be is not an incontrovertible fact. What is incontrovertible is the fact that the Palestinian Authority is engaged in an anti-normalization crusade directed at ordinary Palestinians who meet with Israeli Jews for any purpose other than "resistance." Combine this with the principle that does not require any partiality in the conflict that peace requires good will between the peoples, and you have something that may convince people. Such a line of argument may not succeed, but continuing the current line of argument, in the hopes that repeating it often enough from enough sources would convince the as-yet unconvinced, would be like Westmoreland saying that air raids had killed many Viet Cong (along with many innocent South Vietnamese), but have not the Viet Cong so what's needed is more air raids and more sweeps in order to kill a larger number of Viet Cong which would do the trick in subduing the Viet Cong.
Sar Shalom, as with all of your material there is much to be said.ReplyDelete
I want to focus on this, however:
A good friend of Israel is someone who supports Israel in any conceivable circumstance.
I am assuming that you really meant that a good friend of Israel is someone who supports Israel in most any conceivable circumstance.
There are, in fact, any number of circumstances and issues within which I do not support Israel.
For example, I am entirely opposed to Israel's prejudicial posture toward non-Muslims on the Temple Mount. I find it entirely offensive and am disgusted that Israel maintains a policy that is "racist" toward Jews, Christians, and all other religions outside of Islam. It is neither liberal nor just.
What is incontrovertible is the fact that the Palestinian Authority is engaged in an anti-normalization crusade directed at ordinary Palestinians who meet with Israeli Jews for any purpose other than "resistance." Combine this with the principle that does not require any partiality in the conflict that peace requires good will between the peoples, and you have something that may convince people.
The problem here is that if we say something along the lines of, "Peace requires good will between the parties, yet Mahmoud Abbas and the PA celebrate genocidal anti-Semites," enemies of the Jewish people will simply say that Israel creates its own hatred through its racist and hostile posture to the perfectly innocent bunny-like indigenous people who want nothing so much in this world than to raise their sacred olive groves in peace without the vicious harassment of violently-inclined Jewish settler-thieves.
Your distinction between "good friend" and "great friend" makes sense, however.
Alan Dershowitz is a great friend of Israel, while Geller is a good friend for the very reason that you pointed to.
As to your first point, when I say "supports Israel in any conceivable circumstance," I am excluding unlikely events. For instance, someone whose support for Israel is conditional on Israel not taking the advice from some on the right to kill every single Palestinian (yes, there are those who suggest that, the only defense is that those people have little to no influence) can still be a good friend of Israel.ReplyDelete
As to the second, there's a reason why I selected the example I did. I did not select something about Abbas saying anything about or suborning action against Jews. I selected something about Abbas' actions against Palestinians who seek peace. That is something for which even the most ardent sophists on the other side will not be able to find anything on the Israeli side. The closest they might be able to find would be proposed legislation to crack down on various Israeli-staffed leftist NGOs, and that has bright line distinctions with restrictions on casual contact with Palestinians.