|Pro Palestinian Bias. Anti Israel Bias. How to reach people convinced Israel is the big bad wolf? Smart caring students. Utterly biased.|
Pro-Palestinian Bias. Anti-Israel Bias.
How to reach those who believe
That sounds great. At least they weren't on the "multiculturalism above all else" bandwagon.
On the other hand, in both classes, Israel and Gaza came up - and both classes were overwhelmingly on the side of the people in Gaza, supposedly horribly oppressed by Israel. Over and over, the students mentioned the 2000 dead in Gaza vs the less than 100 dead in Israel.
It didn't matter that the difference was because the Israelis had invested in bomb shelters, rather than tunnels to murder civilians.
It didn't matter that a terror attack had been planned by Hamas against Israel, aiming for 10,000 dead Israeli civilians, including kindergarten children. (Why didn't it matter? Because it had failed, and so the people were alive.)
It didn't matter that Israel sent out warnings - leaflets, phones calls, text messages - before bombing.
It didn't matter that in Gaza, people - women and children especially - were used as human shields, while Israel did all it could to protect everyone in Israel.
It didn't matter that Israel was the only democracy surrounded by a whole pile of Muslim countries - there are 56 Muslim countries in the world, I believe, and a whole lot right around Israel.
It didn't matter that 99.9% of the Middle East was Muslim-controlled, and only one-tenth of one percent was under Jewish control.
What mattered was that there were Palestinians with keys to homes that were in Israeli territory. Therefore any violent attack on Israel was justified.
I said to the students, that if israel didn't have a right to exist (according to them), then any country set up in a similar way or through worse means - through violence, for instance - must also not have the right to exist. So all those Muslim countries - which had been Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and so on before violent attacks by Muslims - must also have no right to exist.
No, no, no, they countered, that happened too long ago to count.
One response could be: In that case, how long does Israel have to exist before it also has the right to continue existing?
But my biggest question was: how could I get through to the students? was there any way to get through?
One thought (a thought I've had since the classes): priorities. Human rights are a priority, or so they said when they put human rights above valuing different cultures.
Hamas-controlled Gaza denies human rights - like to freedom of religion, freedom of political allegiance (just think of the murder of anyone suspected of being a collaborator with Israel), male-female equality, gay rights. Another human right may be to education that does not teach hatred - an education definitely not available in Gaza.
If Gaza - and the rest of Muslim-controlled areas in the Middle East - had marvelous human rights, then maybe one could talk about the lack of need for Israel.
But if the priority is human rights …
In that case, right now, Israel has human rights. The other countries don't.
So right now, the destruction of Israel would not only mean mass murder of Jews - and most likely other non-Muslims - who could not get out, but it also would mean the end of any place with human rights in the Middle East.
Of course, by Islamic standards, hanging gays, murdering anyone who leaves Islam, lack of religious freedom - that's all great.
But the students claimed to be for "Western" human rights.
I'm sure they haven't considered what would happen to the human rights of those in Israel - including the 20% of the population that is Muslim - if Israel ever became Muslim-controlled.
And one other thought has just crossed me mind. It's about Holocaust survivors. Families murdered. Near starvation. 6,000,000 murdered Jews. And then lives rebuilt, as well as possible. (I know there has remained much inner damage.) But almost 70 years later, they have - so many, anyway - lived rich, full, creative lives. I think of my neighbor, who became the head of a university department though she spent years as a teenager in a concentration camp - and who married and had a child - and is such a caring and considerate person.
Quite some contrast to the rage and hatred of many of those in Gaza.
Two things stand out for me in my experience with the two classes. One: feeling the wall of anti-Israel feeling. Second: trying to figure out what might work to get through the wall, or bypass the wall, or vault over it. I feel like Houdini, trying to get out of yet another seemingly impossible situation.
Suggestions welcome. What's worked for you? Or … what's been most frustratingly difficult for you?
And all the best for all those who care and dare,
PS. In case you need more information - another way of getting through to people - here are 4 fabulous short videos with lots of facts about Israel and the Middle East:
Pro Palestinian Bias. Anti Israel Bias.
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