Using a Knife in the Public Relations Intifada

Intifada victim Yonaton Azarihab knew when to take the knife out of his wound and Dafna Meir knew when to fight to keep it in. We all need to have the presence of mind they showed, in thinking of those around them and not themselves. Azarihab pulled the knife from his neck and used it to kill the terrorist before he could hurt anyone else and perpetrate a horror such as we saw in Jaffa that same day (without knowing about Jaffa). Meir hung onto the knife and didn’t let the terrorist pull it out of her body and use it to attack her kids.

Another hero, of the Jaffa attack, is guitar-wielding Yishai Montgomery who not only hit the terrorist with his guitar but also gave chase until the terrorist was shot by police. In a television interview right after the attack, Montgomery said he kept up with the terrorist so he wouldn’t get lost to security forces. That was a brave thing to do and goes against an individual’s survival instincts. It is an example of turning the fear the terrorist sought to instill in Israelis as a weapon against that very same terrorist.

And we can find another way of fighting the haters with their own weapons in the public relations intifada, otherwise known as BDS. This means that one puts aside one’s rage and other strong feelings when responding to hate-filled proclamations and lies of the anti-Israel propagandists and activists in order to stick the knife into their “arguments” and twist it around and around, revealing the fallacies and manipulations of fact and myth. Here is one case study:

Vanderbilt Students in Solidarity with Palestine

On February 25, administrators of the Facebook page of the Vanderbilt Students in Solidarity with Palestine (SSP) uploaded over 70 photos of students holding a poster with their personal completions to the statement “when I think of Palestine, I think _______”.

Intifada - students at Vanderbilt University hold up signs saying what they think of when they think of Palestine.
Facebook Screenshot – 9 March 2016 – One of 2 sets of photos.

Many pro-Israelis decided to take the knife in hand, so to speak, hopping over to the Vanderbilt SSP page and commenting on the post, sometimes joining a general thread beneath the post and sometimes in response to individual images. (We need to recognize that Vanderbilt University, itself, does not support BDS, a fact made obvious by their organization of the academic trip to Israel, the trip during which Vanderbilt student, Taylor Force, was murdered by the knife-wielding terrorist in Jaffa about a week after this poster campaign on campus. Therefore, the commenting-campaign was directed at the specific hate organization, Vanderbilt SSP.)

Assuming that these pro-Israel comments would be deleted when students would come across the deluge that was generated on their page as they awoke to begin a new day, I took screen shots to preserve the comments. I was surprised to find that they are still up.

Here are some examples of comments on the general overall thread:
intifada - comment about Hamas TV inciting children to grow up to kill Jews

intifada - comments responding to Vanderbilt SSP project

Here are some comments added to individual images. I have copied the comments below the relevant image as some are too small to read easily. If I took issue with a particular comment, I covered the commenters’ names as a matter of discretion.

intifada - he thinks of apartheid re Palestine

Comments: Yes, there are no Jews in Gaza, No Jews left in almost all of the arab countries. And Abbas wants no Jews in the west bank. I guess that is apartheid.and You are an idiot! As a South African I can tell you haven’t the foggiest idea what Apartheid actually was. Doos!and Apartheid. Under the Palestinian authority selling any property to a Jew is punishable by death. That’s just one example of Pal Arab apartheid practices. Ask me for more, and I will oblige.

In my opinion, calling people idiots only serves to distract them from the point of your comment. It is much more effective to present a fact or reference respectfully. Many people are ignorant, not because they are stupid, but because they simply have not learned something and someone else led them astray. Help them back on the right path by giving them something to think about, not by calling them names. Of course, we do not know if the person above knows the truth and deliberately twists it, or if he has been duped. It is still better to assume that he just does not know any better and to use this as an opportunity to inform him (and silent lurkers visiting the page).

intifada - sign says he thinks of Bethlehem as he thinks about Palestine

Comments: Bethlehem was 90 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim, in the 19th century. Bethlehem was 85 percent Christian in 1948. Bethlehem was 54 percent Christian in 1967. Bethlehem was handed over to PA rule in 1995. Bethlehem was 40 percent Christian in 1998. Bethlehem was 15 percent Christian in 2009. Bethlehem is about 10 percent Christian, 90 percent Muslim, today.” and “And Israelis are accused of ethnic cleansing.” andAnd before 1948, there were 2,400 Jews living there. Today, NONE.andwhere Christians are demonized now, and leaving in droves where Christians are demonized now, and leaving in droves…/christian_exodus_from…”

These comments point out an important fact about Bethlehem if that city is what he thinks about when he think about Palestine – the Palestine for which he seeks justice is, in fact, unjust to its own population, in this case the Christians among them.

public relations intifada

Comments: When I think of “Palestine”, I think of the fact that the name “Palestinian” meant JEW from the time of the Romans until 1948, when Jews threw away that name which was imposed on us by colonial rulers, and we took back our native name, Israel. And then I think of the Arabs who picked up our old name in 1964, to try to use it against us, to steal our heritage, our history, and OUR land. And I think of all the deluded students and human rights activists who have fallen for the lies and deceit, and are aiding and abetting the terrorists who are still trying to steal Jewish land, through both propaganda and through acts of terror.” andWhen I think Palestine, I think of its leaders who constantly declare that they don’t want peace and who encourage its people to not want it either. I think of the Vanderbilt University student who was stabbed to death yesterday by a Palestinian terrorist and the Palestinian government which is inciting all of this and paying all the murderersandWhat history, moron? Name even one historical fact regarding the never existing country of ‘Palestine'”. and “I suppose this one is true, in its own way – the REAL history, that of the JEWISH people who are indigenous to the land, deserves to be heard. The FICTIONAL tales which pretend it is Arab land should be saved for story time, just like all other fairy tales.

There is material here that may spur some lurkers, and perhaps even some of those in the photos, to re-examine what they think they know about the origins of the name, Palestine, and of the people to whom it was originally attached. If people believe the oft-repeated lies, they might just start to believe the oft-repeated truths (even if we are coming late onto the field).

public relations intifada: she thinks of "brave" when she thinks of Palestine

I included this image because the pro-Israeli comments here drew the only counter-responses we can find in the set of images. You can see that the accusation of incitement leveled against this student only resulted in a conversation about HER rather than about the issues. The exchange of comments continued for quite some time and it degenerated into name-calling and insults, unfortunately mostly on the part of those supportive of Israel. A much better approach is to put up short comments with information strictly concerning the issue at hand and that does not at all relate to the person in the photo.

The Challenges of Fighting the Public Relations Intifada

I have found that, in most cases, pro-Israeli comments in response to pro-“Palestinian” propaganda generally bring on an automatic flood of further unsubstantiated hate-filled declarations and unfounded allegations of the evil of the Jewish state. If one persists in the attempt to engage in intelligent debate of the issues, calmly and by providing facts, the other side will soon merely block you and continue to rant and distribute their arrogant proclamation of your idiocy for all their social media followers.

It is jarring and may lead you to ask yourself why you even bother to try to make sense to people who do not care about sense.

And the only answer lies in the rare instance whereby someone suddenly ceases to attack you and begins to ask you to explain yourself. Sometimes the individual desists from further public communication and sends a private message. This has happened to me twice in the short time I have engaged in this activity, and it is very gratifying. I have heard others mention similar experiences.

The other answer lies in trusting that there are many silent lurkers around who have not yet decided what they believe. They may have been induced into paying attention to the hate speech because it is loud and convincing when you know nothing about the situation. It is important to take advantage of every opportunity to try to get such individuals to keep their minds open and to be willing to question the lies presented by haters as incontrovertible facts. The same principle lies behind planning effective responses to antisemitic campus demonstrations.

The Importance of Engaging in the Public Relations Intifada

Historical truth is fundamental for the establishment of peaceful relations between Israel and the Arabs, and this is a war – a war between sense and nonsense, a war between hate and justice, a war between human rights and human wrongs, between claims of genocide and genocide in fact. We are fighting big bucks, big egos and big mouths. We have to be more determined and more knowledgeable than those who wage war against us.

Just as the airplane needs to be held together by a myriad of screws and bolts to be air-worthy, some of which may even seem inconsequential, so our battles for truth and justice need all of us, ALL OF US, to fight this war wherever we each feel most comfortable — some people fight in the public sphere and some of us fight on the social media while others help by encouraging those who face battle out in the open. Some are fighting at the highest political levels and even in the courts. Their efforts are certainly helped by those of us who fight in the trenches of public opinion.

The only way to combat the tsunami of hate and lies is by countering it with a tsunami of truth and facts.

This originally appeared on Israel Diaries.

Feature Image Credit: Facebook Screenshot from thread under discussion here.

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One comment

  1. When I think of Palestine, I think of the Roman Occupation of Israel, the Bar Chochba Revolt, how the Romans changed the name of Eretz Yisrael to Palestinia, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and how we wound up with the Anglo-American Treaty of 1924 and the rights of Jews within Mandatory Palestine east and west of the Jordan River and how the US and UK breached that Treaty by creating the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.