I Didn't Defend Israel Well
I went to my summer cottage and had a conversation about Israel with a relative of mine, and I was terribly upset by the conversation. Her argument was that the Palestinians are oppressed. The Israeli government had no business settling in the West Bank. The Jewish people are the total aggressors. I argued in defense of Israel, however, I don't think I won the debate and changed her mind. Her attitude bothered me, and the fact that I didn't change her feelings bothered me. I hope I at least made her think, but I am not too sure. How would you answer her?
Dejected Over a Debate
The Cyber Rav Answers:
This, by you, is a summer vacation? Look - I always lose debates. In fact, I hate debates. The people who "win" debates generally win not because they are in the right, but they win because they are good debaters. Nevertheless, were I in your situation, I might have used the following arguments.
- To say that the Israelis are the sole aggressors when any number of Palestinians have blown themselves up in crowded restaurants, packed buses, nightclubs teeming with teenagers, is somewhat disingenuous.
- To say that the Israelis are the sole aggressors when Yassir Arafat consistently calls for Jihad or "Holy War" against Israel in his inflammatory Arabic speeches is a gross oversimplification.
- Israel has withdrawn from a significant portion of the West Bank as part of the Oslo Peace Plan's operating principle, "land for peace." In exchange for land, Israel has not gotten peace, but an increase in violence. Clearly, the Palestinians have reneged on the deal.
- Aggressors do not unilaterally withdraw from occupied territory, but Israel has, and in the face of mounting violence, has not retaken any territory withdrawn from to date. If Israel is in the business of aggression, it does it poorly.
- To say that Jews don't belong in the West Bank is akin to saying blacks don't belong in your neighborhood. People who exclude ethnic or racial groups from neighborhoods are bigots, and it is exactly this type of bigotry that western liberals support in siding with such outrageous Palestinian claims.
- The assassination of known terrorists is a legitimate act of self-defense. Governments that turn a blind eye to such terrorists and expose their constituents to mortal danger are irresponsible at best, but probably accomplices to murder.
- The plight of the Palestinians is largely due to decades of irresponsible leadership. In a democracy, such leaders whose records of success is so miserable, would be voted out of office. But Palestinians realize, consistent with all we know about dictatorships, that dissent voiced too vigorously can cost them and their families, their lives.
These are just a few points I would have used. My unsolicited advice: take another two weeks off, and leave the relatives behind.
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