Monday, March 14, 2011

Dahlia Scheindlin Overreaches

We haven't seen much from the Huffington Post blogger Dahlia Scheindlin, but of late she has fulfilled the role of "yet another Huffington Post blogger talking about J Street." This is unlike her usual job of "yet another exclusively anti-Israel Huffington Post blogger." In her latest article, she once again tries to tackle "narratives," and change them to suit her own needs. This is a bit difficult to explain so let me use an example and then go from there. The whole article is like this but here is one:
""Israeli-Palestinian peace" should be used synonymously with "American security interests." The occupation is synonymous with "American security liability."
This is an attempt to rewrite the use of words so that when a conversation about Israel and the Palestinians begins, it is built on a foundation  that Ms. Scheindlin is right and people who disagree with her are wrong. In this example, people who don't agree that "the occupation" is an American security liability (aka people who think that Arabs should be held responsible for their own actions) are not even allowed to enter the conversation.

And of course the claim that Israel's lack of peace with the Palestinians is still hotly at risk. Ms. Scheindlin's only source for this point of view as "fact" is a panel made up of three anti-Israel activists, including Lara Friedman of Peace Now and Lawrence Wilkerson, who said that AIPAC was "highly influential" in the decision to invade Iraq. Objective? Sure.

I can see why Ms. Scheindlin is attempting to use these tactics. After all, controlling the way that people talk about an issue has a big influence on where the conversation goes and how it affects those who listen. The Palestinian supporters have done this well, for example when they talk about "the wall" endlessly even though it is not a wall. However, this convinces their audience that is in fact a wall, because the Palestinians say it is. But I don't think Ms. Scheindlin is going to succeed in telling everyone, including people who disagree with her, how to say things. Talk about biting off more than you can chew! Click below for some other examples.

The most hilarious example of her attempt to lecture literally everyone who takes part in this conversation is early in the article:
"Today, support for current Israeli government policies is mistakenly described as 'pro-Israel.' Such support is hereby renamed 'Pro-occupation,'... The new meaning of the term "pro-Israel" is: active support for a mutually acceptable resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (I personally prefer the two-state solution), and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders."
Now, bloggers telling pro-Israel people that the only way to be pro-Israel is to agree with the blogger is nothing new. This is a less subtle version of what MJ Rosenberg says pretty much every week. But I think that Ms. Scheindlin's desire to hurry through this section and to take the term "pro-Israel" greedily for herself has led to a slip-up. Let me explain using her example.

I agree with most other commentators that the current situation is unsustainable and that if Israel doesn't make a change (along with the Palestinians) then things will get worse rather than better. In that sense, supporting a resolution to the conflict is pro-Israel. However, if working toward that resolution means that more Israelis are getting killed or Israel is being harmed in other ways, then supporting that course of action is not pro-Israel. Even if, according to Ms. Scheindlin and people like her, the result is peace and harmony. Because that part is just an opinion. What is happening on the ground is fact.

Ditto for "Israel's government's policies." She didn't specify which policies, which I think is very informative. So what she is really saying is: "People who agree with me that Israel's government is bad are pro-Israel, while people who think that Israel's government is good are anti-Israel." Remember, this is the democratically elected and legitimate government of Israel that we are talking about. Confused? Me too. My theory is that she is taking the usual paint-by-numbers approach used by MJ Rosenberg and Sharmine Narwani among others: That whatever I think should be done is "pro-Israel," and if you disagree you are the real "anti-Israeli," not me! It's hardly original, and apparently hasn't become old there yet.

This is getting long so I'm going to break it into two parts.

2 comments:

  1. Zach, there is not going to be peace because the Arabs hate the Jews and Israel.

    There has never ever been a situation where one side hated the other that has ever resulted in an end to the conflict.

    Nothing Israel does will bring about peace. Dahlia Scheindlin and other anti-Israel activists would be advised to direct their efforts toward the reform of morally diseased Arab societies. This is a far greater obstacle to Middle East peace than the issue of a lot of Jews living in Yesha.

    In a rational world, it would be possible for both Arabs and Jews to share the country. But the Arabs are far from ready to come around to that kind of sensible viewpoint in our lifetime and by ignoring the incitement and preaching of hate and violence towards Jews rampant in the PA and Gaza and for that matter in the Arab World, Scheindlin and her ilk will ensure peace in the Middle East remains a distant dream in our generation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sure, this is "not a wall"

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/images/israeli-wall14.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/israeli-wall14.shtml&usg=__yR3jY60fQkUlDYBHYPb5Fk8zx4k=&h=525&w=350&sz=70&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=0ga1UOhKrP8i4M:&tbnh=134&tbnw=97&ei=1ER-Tb2qB4mJhQe4_6TvBg&prev=/images%3Fq%3Disraeli%2Bwall%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D589%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=125&vpy=79&dur=13851&hovh=275&hovw=183&tx=82&ty=146&oei=1ER-Tb2qB4mJhQe4_6TvBg&page=1&ndsp=19&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0

    nor is this

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://mazinx.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/1211649763israeli_wall_kids_soccer.jpg&imgrefurl=http://mazinx.wordpress.com/2008/05/&usg=__q_djc_ORJiAc02duoFhBneJQ3Is=&h=300&w=400&sz=20&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=4RSICm3Wm5SeXM:&tbnh=137&tbnw=175&ei=1ER-Tb2qB4mJhQe4_6TvBg&prev=/images%3Fq%3Disraeli%2Bwall%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D589%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=542&vpy=304&dur=2526&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=161&ty=193&oei=1ER-Tb2qB4mJhQe4_6TvBg&page=1&ndsp=19&ved=1t:429,r:15,s:0

    and nor is this

    http://www.palestinehistory.com/issues/wall/wall.htm

    THIS is a "fence"

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.stopgapfencing.co.uk/images/picket_fencing.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.stopgapfencing.co.uk/domestic_garden_fencing.html&usg=__9Gxvp-dEpAZfAFjTsVaVQCvXeOw=&h=451&w=800&sz=56&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=S5PCggcfVKzboM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=142&ei=30Z-TdHqOcv64Aak4ZjEBQ&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dfences%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D589%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=548&vpy=314&dur=75&hovh=168&hovw=299&tx=102&ty=130&oei=7EV-TdywOYmJhQfNwrjiBg&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:0

    ReplyDelete

Hey guys we've started to employ a slight comment policy. We used to have completely open comments but then people abused it. So our comment policy is such: No obvious trolling or spamming. And be warned: unlike the Huffington Post we actually enforce our comment policy.