It dawned on me that all of Israel’s friends and defenders have been wasting our time over the last several decades.
Instead of writing thoughtful essays that provide facts and perspectives while making the case for the Jewish state, or organizing talks, educational programs or other campaigns that present arguments in favor of our cause or against our foes, we could all have spent that time doing something much simpler, so simple that it requires almost no thought.
So what could we have been doing, rather than bombarding the world with longwinded explanations based on facts and logic?
The answer is simplicity itself, and so easy to implement. For all it would involve would be to never use the term Palestine or Palestinian without first prefixing it with the string of pejoratives titling this piece.
We would not have to be mindless robots uttering the same phrase over and over again. Certainly whenever we find ourselves in debate, we would make sure the words “racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian” precede the use of any reference to Palestine, Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas (and maybe their friends and allies throughout the Middle East). But we could get creative with the ways we slip those words into the discussion over and over and over again. For instance:
Comparative: Yes, there is a difference between the racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian, corrupt Palestinian authority and the racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian, religious fanatics in Hamas. But the two have important things in common: they’re both racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary totalitarians.
Generous: You are free to support all the racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian political movements you like, including the racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian Palestinian movement. Just don’t also demand to be considered progressive, much less tell us you get to decide who is anti-racist and who isn’t.
Voltairian: I will fight to the death for your right to scream your support for the racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary, totalitarian Palestinian movement, and any other racists, sexists, homophobes, reactionaries and totalitarians you like. That is your right, just as it is my right to point out your choice to give racism, sexism, homophobia, and reactionary totalitarians your full-throated support.
Nostalgic: In my era, progressive politics meant being against racism, sexism, homophobia, reaction and totalitarianism, so forgive me if I choose to cling to those principles and fight against the evils you have decided to embrace.
And on and on (so long as on and on means fusing our five mantras to any mention of Israel’s enemies and their supporters).
Needless to say, actual political discourse, compromise or the search for peace would have to be abandoned if this were our strategy. For the purpose of making the name “Palestinian” synonymous with the worst sins of modernity is to reduce others to objects of disgust and loathing, with no concern over the consequences.
This is, in fact, the strategy Israel’s enemies have embraced for decades with their “Israel = Apartheid” smear, one they unleash in every discussion, regardless of the topic under consideration. So the strategy outlined above is the most straightforward way to fight fire with fire.
Now we would have to be willing to keep this up for not just a few weeks or months, but for years and decades and we would have to put great effort into getting others to follow our lead, or condemn them for their own refusal to fight against racism, sexism, etc. In short, we would have to be just as (if not more) ready and willing to poison politics in order to try to get our rivals to be perceived as utterly beyond the moral pale.
If both sides started playing the same game, victory would go to those who could shout the loudest, ignore critics more thoroughly, and be ready to shut down voices not willing to adhere to our vocabulary (by any means necessary).
Perhaps it is our general wussiness that keeps us on the course of dialog, discussion, argument, persuasion and compromise, rather than jumping into the sewer with those who have made it their life’s work to see the world’s one Jewish state dismantled. Although given the state of Israel and the Jewish world – vulnerable though it might be – versus the hell on earth Israel’s enemies have constructed for themselves, perhaps hanging on to our humanity is a wise strategic, as well as a moral choice.