Lamed: Israel Education

Engage. Educate. Apply. Israel.

Lamed is a source for teens looking to expand their experience with Israel. Through engaging with Israeli culture and people, educating about politics and daily life, and teaching how to apply this knowledge in the world, Lamed aims to prepare teens with a well-rounded, multifaceted understanding of Israel so that information can be more evenly distributed to the next generation of leaders.

 
 
  • Samantha Brody

The Case for Zionism

Making a case for Israel against anyone is tricky, and certain arguments are more complicated to counter than others. However, there are ways to prepare yourself for the most common arguments and misconceptions about Israel, Zionism, and the policies/belief systems. Check out some of them below and what you can say in response.

"Israel is an apartheid state."

The definition of apartheid is "a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race" and is definitionally used in the context of historical South Africa. While Israel does have some measures in place which separate the Israeli and Palestinian people (security checkpoints, barriers, etc.), the use of the word "apartheid" takes the word out of its original historical context and mischaracterizes the experience of those living in the West Bank. Try asking that others refer to specific events and accurate descriptions rather than generalizing terminology.

"Zionism is racism."

This comment is often followed up with a reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, which was largely supported by Arab nations and their close allies (though with some notable exceptions, such as Egypt). This resolution was meant to delegitimize the state of Israel and had no textual or historical backing. It is also important to note that this resolution was later revoked in 1991 by Resolution 46/86.

"Israel is murdering Palestinians."

Okay, yes and no. While some IDF soldiers has been caught on tape inflicting violence in Palestinian communities, this is not the whole of Israel nor does it invalidate the existence of the state. The treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank (and formerly Gaza) is not always just; however, by using this point as an argument against Israel's right to exist, this person holds Israel to a standard of perfection not expected of any other country in order to establish legitimacy. Only in Israel is a crisis met with calls to dismantle rather than calls to improve. In short, they're not entirely incorrect, but context matters.

"There are millions of Palestinian refugees because Israel kicked them all out."

After the events of 1948, there were an estimated 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced to flee. These people are refugees, certainly. However, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) considers any descendant of one of these refugees a refugee as well, even if they have never set foot in the land. This raises the number of people counted in the refugee number to 5,545,540 in 2019. Despite the definition of a refugee as someone who themselves was forced to flee, this number has been continually inflated and has contributed to widespread misinformation.

"From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

These words gained traction in the 1960s as a call to demolish the State of Israel in favor of a singular, secular state that Jews would theoretically leave. The rhetoric eventually transformed into the hateful language used against Zionists today. While the origins of the phrase were meant to be used for activism, today it is often juxtaposed with terror-based threats and hateful anti-Semitism. Ask what they mean by this statement: if they suggest pushing the Jewish people into the sea, report them for anti-Semitism. If they recall the backstory of the phrase, listen to what they have to say! You can disagree, but understanding nuance is everything.

"Israel doesn't exist."

I'm not going to lie. These people are in the 10% that won't agree with you. You can show them a map if you want, or give them a list of the countries that recognize it or helped to found it. But this one has such an easy prooftext it's almost not worth mentioning.

Some more things to remember:

  • If someone is anti-Semitic in their comment, report them. Call them out. Do not engage with them extensively.

  • If someone denies facts or will not listen to you, do not engage with them. They are not worth your time nor energy.

  • Always go by the 10-80-10 rule:

  • 10% of people already agree with you. Don't waste your time.

  • 80% of people are ambivalent, don't have an opinion, aren't educated, or otherwise are neutral. This is your target audience for conversations because they may actually listen.

  • 10% of people won't agree with you or even listen no matter what you say. You won't be able to convince them, so don't waste your energy.

Misconceptions are littered throughout the comments sections and news feeds of every social media platform. What matters is how we choose to respond; namely, calmly and factually.

 

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