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Mon, May. 4th, 2009, 07:41 pm
Arguing with Zionists vs. Arguing with creationists.

E-mail from a friend at Students for Palestine on a student union by-election: "Zionists and right-wing people in the student union are collaborating to run a ticket called “Reform”, which explicitly wants to stop the union wasting time “condemning entire countries” and campaigning around "political issues"."

Ugh. So much Orwell. They are, of course, only referring to one specific country when they say "condemning entire countries". And, a political group which doesn't want students to be vocal about "political issues"?

There's a whole argument that staying silent while some atrocity is being committed is a political act. But even without that, it's kind of comical. And scary. Its hard to get into the heads of these people. On one level, a lot of zionists seem to have just been raised that way; and i get that. I've encountered it before within other ideologies that i generally find dubious. It's not uncommon, and it's not dishonest. (Often, they just think that all the awful things done by the Isreali government are justified by the existence of terrorism. You can argue with these people honestly, it just becomes an argument about politico-military tactics and human rights.)

But there are others with whom you might argue face-to-face, and they'll perform these amazing rhetorical gymnastics that no honest coherent person could really believe in, and you wonder, 'what is really going on in there?' The only experience that seems directly comparable is having internet arguments with creatonists, where there's a web of self-contradiction, of blatant and unapologetic warping of language (bait-and-switch is common), and it makes you wonder what is going on in that person's head. Surely you can't use those tactics without being aware that you're using a tactic, at least some of the time?

Hardcore fundamentalist Christians will sometimes say "It's okay to use dishonest tactics to convert someone to the cause; we know we're right because of our faith, so we're just doing them a favour. Ends justify the means."

I wonder if there is a similar philosophy with Zionism - something like "I actually do believe that the Jews have a right to establish a racist state and dispossess anyone who isn't Jewish in the process. But i know this person i'm arguing with would never accept that, because they're indoctrinated into 'Western liberalism' or whatever, and they might even accuse me of racism, so i have to pretend i don't believe that to get them to be sympathetic toward me as a supporter of Isreal. If i succeed, then the trickery used to get there doesn't matter."

The Reform ticket is sponsored by people opposed to the activities of groups like Students for Palestine; but instead of saying this, they say they're opposed to student union members campaigning around "political issues". Afaik they dont have a problem with the campaign for higher Austudy payments, or lower costs for degrees, or better public transport to uni, etc etc. So why don't they just say "We want them to shut up about Palestine"? Just be honest, for god's sake.