Israel Advocacy Is Bad For Israel

Avram Hein, aka blogger Am Echad, writes @ Israel Insider:

Israel advocacy is not the way to build a strong Jewish people or a strong Israel. Advocacy, as Larry Derfner recently wrote in The Jerusalem Post, “only works on the home crowd – those who love nothing more than cheering Israel and booing the Arabs.” He noted that “the standard hasbara approach is ridiculously one-sided, propagandistic, not to be taken seriously at all.” If this is clear to an Israeli Jew, imagine how clear it must be to the majority who hold no views on Israel.
[…] Professor Steven Cohen once noted that “we need more exposure in the Jewish community to views which challenge our own. We need more opportunities for people to explore their views on Israel, some of which many of us may find uncomfortable.”
Education is nuanced. Advocacy isn’t. Unfortunately most Israel advocacy organizations are run in the Diaspora, by people not fluent in Hebrew and with little exposure to an Israel beyond missions and five-star hotels. Most have not lived in Israel for an extended period of time. Few understand the complexities of daily life in Israel which extend far beyond the battlefield. The lack of education and knowledge about Israel among the elites of the Jewish organizations lead to wasted funds and products which do not help Israel. The result of many advocacy organizations do not speak to most people. This is the root of Israel’s failed hasbara.

Full story.

8 thoughts on “Israel Advocacy Is Bad For Israel

  1. What are you implying?! That Israel’s staunchest defenders should actually put their considerable money where their considerable mouths are and live in Israel – really live in Israel – before they can be considered qualified to speak on its behalf? You fucking anti-Semite! Self-hater!

  2. This is a good article. I find the self-rightious posturing of American Jews on Israeli politics to be disgusting. At best, they look at the vibrant debate within Israel and say, look – proof of Israeli democracy! – without even the pretenses of following and participating in the debate. At worst, they see the many voices expressed in Israel as a threat, to be suppressed by say – expelling those poor left-Zionists from thier little campus advocacy effort.
    When you can cry with me over Israel’s sins, in public, and demand action – then I’ll join you in support of Israel. But if you can’t – then my job is to undermine your efforts and provoke the gentiles limiting Israel’s options.

  3. An honest and educated approach to Israel is good for Israel. Ultimately, education is the best form of advocacy.
    There is a shocker! Israel is – for the most part – is a major part of American Jewish life. It should be part but not the way it is. Jews love Israel like a kid loves mommy, perhaps a more mature love is in order.
    I makes me crazy that Israel is still at the heart of the American Jewish understanding. Amit is right we should stop sending our moeny to Israel (then watch the tune Avram Fein change) and focus on creating a real place for our Jewish community. Ach I say.

  4. Steven M. Cohen quoted to similar effect here:
    saying, “The needs of Israel advocacy, to help Israel in the short run, can run counter to the needs of Israel education, which will help Israel in the long run…. In that context, for the purposes of Israel education, we are better off inviting Jimmy Carter to air his repulsive and odious views in public, where they can be discussed and rebutted. We have been losing pro-Israel supporters over time — not to the anti-Israel camp, but to the camp of those apathetic to Israel. Speakers such as Jimmy Carter will certainly counter indifference and get Jewish young people talking about, learning about, and supporting Israel.”

  5. I would love to see just ONE attack on Carter in the rightwing media actually attack him on the issue of occupation. Everyone keeps changing the subject.
    I wonder why.
    PS That Carter’s being interviewed by these t.v. programs is probably related to the fact that he’s an ex-president, for fuck’s sake. Despite his being the media topic, the media continues to largely ignore the occupation.

  6. Four things (since I am the author):
    1. It’s Hein, not Fein (sorry, but have to make this).
    2. I agree with Professor Cohen strongly and his words influenced my thinking on this.
    3. I oppose American aide to Israel because I think it’s bad for Israel – see With Friends Like You by Matti Golan.
    4. I just want to point out that I am a center-right Israeli. I voted for Likud in the last election, I don’t believe that settlements are fundamentally wrong (but they must keep the Palestinian population into account) but there ought to be a demographic partition in the Land of Israel (2 states for 2 people) based on pragmatic demographic realities and the need for Jewish and Palestinian independence.

  7. BTW, asc, the NJ Jewish News article was awesome and I blogged it. I strongly identify as the hawkish dove although I want to point out that the notion of two states for two people has been the official policy of the Israeli government for quite some time (how it’s implemented in practice is another story).
    OTOH, I am concerned about comments that deny the centrality of Israel to the Jewish national narrative. Ultimately, Jews are a nation 1st and we were a nation prior to becoming a people. We have a land (Israel), a language (Hebrew òáøéú) and a religion (Judaism). However, throughout history, the borders of the land have been somewhat fluid. Israel must be central to the Jewish narrative, but it ought to be a true understanding of all of Israel and the pros and cons and the pretty and not-so pretty parts and not Jewish Disneyland. I love Israel – warts and all. Israel has many problems, but they are MY problems and MY concerns that I need to work on.

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