ReTold - December 6, 2016

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How We Advocate for Israel Matters - by Chriss Williams

It is a topic that triggers an array of emotions from love to exhibiting our most basic defense mechanisms.  It can feel overwhelming at times, especially when our newsfeeds are clogged with anti-Israel sentiment, but we still have the opportunity to engage and illuminate this tangled web. 

Be like Bob. A post on a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Facebook page was provocative, but the reaction of one man shows the benefits of a levelheaded response. Meet “Bob” (name has been changed to protect privacy), he is a shining star example of how we can point out the fallacies of arguments without undermining our message. This particular post featured a video of the IDF tear-gassing a group of Santa Clauses in December 2014, and there were plenty of colorful responses.

This Santa Con was protesting the Israeli government. Yay for free speech in the Middle East. However, some of the members were not so jolly and brought knives and rocks instead of candy canes to throw at the soldiers. This was a planned event to gain international media attention through the headline: The IDF vs. Santa.  Bob defended the actions of the soldiers by explaining the reality of the event beyond the photo. There was no monologue or profession of dislike for SJP, he simply refuted the argument that the IDF was discriminately targeting a group of Palestinian Santas. The post’s comment feed fizzled. Well done Bob.

When it comes to social media, post length matters. Often our response in the realm of social media manifests into two categories: short, bitter, political diatribes or the “passion essay.” Neither way proves conducive. It’s easy to quickly forget the focus of the conversation, and that’s where unnecessary and irrelevant arguments often begin. Bitterness erodes our empathy and convinces no one. We need to elaborate our message in a productive and informative way. 

Lastly, inclusivity is a key component when advocating for Israel. It’s important to remember that Israel isn’t just a “Jewish” issue. It’s an everybody issue. There are many, many, people that believe Israel is a vast desert in a constant state of Biblical-era chaos. They are disconnected. Part of our work is to not only show Israel as a vibrant and diverse country but that Zionists transcend any particular religious or ethnic background. “Sam” (name has been changed to protect privacy), a Muslim man thanked a “Bob-type” on a news feed for pointing out that not all Zionists are Jews nor all Muslims terrorists. “Thank you for seeing truth and reason above blind hatred,” he posted. Together our voice is heard.  

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