In any situation, the act of driving people toward a particular political point is a dangerous thing. Far-Right and far-Left groups use it to their advantage for their own causes. “Siege mentalities” may be created for those on the receiving end (and those involved) even for those who are moderate and are willing, at first, to use reason and dialogue as an automatic resort to face the barrage of hate and lies they see directed at them.
One can see this with Jewish people and Christians (who end up favouring extreme groups in countering anger and intolerance by anti-Israel-groups) and find themselves advocating more extreme positions than they had anticipated in the beginning, against the barrage of lies and hatred toward shops and businesses.
One can even witness this polarisation within some of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement and PSC members outside Ecostream. Apart from the hardened extremists, many of them, at the beginning of the demonstrations, appear to be normal and reasonable, especially outside the protest hours.
However, the BDS/PSC leaders try to enforce a segregated system of their own kind, by interrupting mutual and friendly conversations, by the method of forcing their bodies in between conversing people, and trying to derail the situation. Often the leaders physically grab the BDS/PSC member, and drag them away, either hissing reprimands into their ear, or rebuking them in the street. Some leaders stand at the side of the aforementioned friendly conversation between the Zionist and pro-Palestinian supporter, and insult the Zionist to try and cause a distraction.
It is obvious the leaders are terrified they will lose valuable BDS/PSC converts to Zionist “influence.” The result for some has been a polarization of the moderate BDS/PSC converts. Several members have been cautioned against talking to us, and will return within a few weeks, with a hardened attitude, cold eyes, and a personalised anti-Israel mantra to repeat over and over again.
It is quite creepy to have witnessed some of these transformations, as one must assume that indoctrination by the BDS/PSC leaders must have taken place in between their member’s “fraternization” with Zionists, and their new frozen, robotic character, and slogans.
Polarization in any circumstance is not only a dangerous thing; it achieves nothing, except more hatred and animosity on both sides.
The way forward is dialogue.
But what happens when moderation fails? This is when the easy option of resorting to a reactionary extremism seems attractive – to seemingly “get the job done.”
One does not have to abandon their senses while standing firm against another kind of intolerance. It will simply be a “face-off” which will discredit both sides in civil society’s perception.
One can stand firm in their beliefs, yet still be respectable in their outlook. Intolerance and bigotry must be countered, but no compromise or betrayal needs to occur.
Meanwhile what about the moderates? Common ground may still be found in serious, calm discussion.
For therein, is hope.