Friday, May 11, 2012

Black and White Thinking and the Problem With "Criticism"

This is another response to a Great Anti-Zionist Strawman, one of the most common one that we have seen. The GAZS is that "Israel can't take criticism" or that "Israel's supporters can't handle any criticism of their precious Jewish state." Here is an example just so you know that I am not strawmanning myself.

So what is the problem with criticism? The problem is that in my experience nine out of ten anti-Zionists aren't interested and are never interested in criticism of Israel's policies. Even ones that don't necessarily have extreme political views (such as thinking that Israel should be wiped out) aren't being completely truthful when they say that they are merely "anti-occupation." You don't post hatred against Israel and insult its supporters day after day after day after day simply because you don't like checkpoints. The hatred of Israel comes from a place not of logic but of emotion. And that emotion is not deep seated caring for the Palestinian people either.

I have two examples to support my conclusions: The recent article about a fence being built on Israel's border with Lebanon, and the less recent story about Israel's aid to Haiti. Even when Israel doesn't do anything wrong (and especially when it does something very very right) it still causes haters to come charging in with their claws out. In fact in Matt and my experience an article praising Israel is more likely to earn the rage of the Huffington Posters than an article criticizing Israel, even one by someone like Sharmine Narwani or Ahmed Moor.

So what is the cause for thus, assuming that they simply don't hate Jews? After pondering this I came to the conclusion that it all comes back to cognitive dissonance and black and white thinking. It's a very human way of coming to conclusions, everywhere we go we try to find "good guys" and "bad guys." The difference between an internet propagandist and a regular person is that a regular person tries to resist the temptation to engage in black and white thinking and approaches each situation on its own. In my humble opinion the pro-Zionists are far more capable of doing this than anti-Zionists.

In the case of Israel, obviously the "pro-Palestinian" forces on the Huffington Post see them as the "bad guys." Therefore anything that makes them look like anything less than "bad guys" is immediately considered a threat and must be pounded into the dirt. Even a neutral story (like the fence in Lebanon) should either be ignored or just merely as a spring board to publish endless anti-Israel talking points and spammed paragraphs, even if they have nothing to do with the actual subject of the story.

Actually when you think about it, a lot of "pro-Palestinian" people engage in this exact kind of behavior even off-line. Just look at the accusations of "pinkwashing," and all its other clever parallels. This is rarely done because people like Mondoweiss actually care about gay people, otherwise they would criticize the Arabs for murdering them. It's done because Israel is the "bad guy," and any evidence that shows it isn't 100% evil right down to its foundation has to be covered up or otherwise shamed into silence. People can't know about it, otherwise the illusion is broken and the hatred of Israel might not be as strong.

When the sides become reversed, the Palestinian supporters also hate it when Palestinians are being criticized, though not nearly as much as when Israel is being praised. Very very rarely will an anti-Zionist say "What Hamas does is evil and depraved but I think Israel needs to work harder for peace." What is more likely is an anti-Zionist will say "I don't support Hamas," before launching into a multi paragraph rant about how evil Israel is. Remaining neutral on a subject like Hamas is probably the best that one can hope for, but when you firmly believe that Palestinians (all Palestinians) are the "good guys" that's as far as one will get.

Let's sum up: The reason why Zionists are so "defensive" about criticism of Israel is that it rarely stays "criticism" for very long and usually the people criticizing are doing so from a position of hatred of Israel and its people. Even when they use the MJ Rosenbergian defense of "tough love," its very clear that they don't actually believe it. At this point we can tell the motives of a great many of the users on the Huffington Post and its usually fairly obvious whether the attacks on Israel come from a place of hate or criticism. It's only a matter of time (usually not very much time) before a mere "critic" of Israel's "policies" drops his or her guard and says something about the Zionists buying the American government. That is the point at which we are no longer so receptive to your "criticism." Sorry.


  1. " The slogan that criticism of Israel cannot be construed as antisemitism, should be reversed, because in truth, antisemitism and/or antizionism for that matter cannot be construed as mere criticism of Israeli actions or policies."

  2. I agree entirely, you will not be surprised to learn.

    What you are talking about leads to the very strange phenomenon of people who claim to care about "social justice" and "human rights" and "peace," being the very same individuals who reveal the most hatred.

    Israel Thrives


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