Tuesday, June 18th | 12 Sivan 5784

June 20, 2021 12:40 pm

How Do You Fight Antisemitism? With Arab Israelis.

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avatar by David Suissa / JNS.org


Signs at a pro-BDS protest in New York following the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.

JNS.org – We’ve reached a point where it’s impossible to separate Jew-hatred from Israel-hatred. If you single out and unfairly malign the world’s only Jewish state, you’re effectively going after Jews. Using Natan Sharansky’s famous “three D” test — demonization, double standards, and delegitimization — it’s clear that most of the attacks on Israel today smack of antisemitism.

Instead of bemoaning this connection, we can turn the tables and use Israel to fight antisemitism. The stronger we can make the case for Israel, the better it will be for the Jews.

This requires changing our mindset. It’s not enough to get angry and express outrage. Instead of just fighting negatives, we need to think positive and project strength and confidence.

It also means being imaginative. We’re good at traditional tactics like calling out and condemning Jew-hatred and defending Israel because “the facts are on our side.” That may make us feel good, but it’s defensive. It conveys weakness. And it doesn’t really move the needle.

Here’s the reality: The world loves victims, and the Palestinians own victimhood. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we tell everyone that Hamas hides rockets behind civilians to murder Jewish civilians, no matter how often we remind the world of Israeli peace offers that were rejected, we’ll never win the Victim Olympics.

For better or worse, Jews and Israel represent the more powerful side. That perception is hardwired. No amount of outrage or condemnation will change it. So we might as well use it to our advantage.

What most people find credible about Jews and Israel is not victimhood but success. Yes, generally speaking Israel and Jews are very much about the restless, constant striving for success. You may find that notion blunt and stereotypical, but at least it’s credible and positive. It’s certainly more credible and positive than crying victimhood, no matter how justified those cries are.

But how do we use the success idea to fight antisemitism? Not through Start Up Nation and all the amazing things Israel does for the world. As much as we admire all those things, when used for PR purposes they smell like propaganda — as if it comes from Jews with an agenda.

If we want to make a real impact, we need to enlist not Jews but Arab Israelis. They have the credibility to turn the success idea into a progressive Israeli ideal.

There are thousands of Arab citizens throughout Israel who have made it because they live in the Jewish state. These are the best spokespeople we can hope for. They represent a direct rebuttal to Israel bashers who brand Israel as the world’s biggest oppressor of Arabs.

That assertion is a blatant, dangerous lie. As a Jew born in an Arab country, I can tell you that the people who can best expose that lie are Arabs themselves.

Is Israel’s record with its Arab minority perfect? Hardly, just like America’s record with its own minorities is far from perfect. But despite the flaws, Arab citizens of Israel still enjoy the same rights and freedoms as Jewish citizens. Arab Israelis have served on the Israeli Supreme Court and are represented in Israel’s parliament. They are integrated in universities, hospitals and even the media. They have more rights and opportunities than Arabs living in Arab countries.

“I made it thanks to Israel” is a potent message from Arab Israelis to the world.

Of course, it’s not a silver bullet. Nothing is. Nothing can eradicate the world’s oldest hatred. But we can aim to make progress with smart, credible ideas.

In the complicated field of shaping public opinion, enlisting Arabs to promote Israel would be progress, and it’s certainly good for the Jews.

David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

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