Ari Tatarka

A Comprehensive Guide to Israel Advocacy

Protest Demonstration Israel - Free photo on Pixabay

I have written this guide to assist those who advocate for Israel; not only to strengthen their knowledge but to reassure those who may begin to crack under the strain of the falsehoods leveled against them. The points touched on in the guide are those I have encountered in my experience debating at protests and on campus. I have attempted to distill each point to its essentials which unfortunately leads to an inevitable loss of the nuance and complexity involved in explaining a 100-year conflict that derives from 2,000 years of aspirations, anti-western sentiment, and nationalism.

This guide intentionally omits references to cherry tomatoes, Waze, or drip irrigation. Such “fluffy” Zionism tends to undermine rather than bolster one’s sense of conviction and dulls rather than sharpens the advocate’s edge. People tend to mistrust utopian descriptions by nature and the picture of Israel sometimes conjured by advocacy groups draws it as being almost too perfect. This depiction is often out of step with the Israel described by most and it may be argued, leads people to disregard all Israeli information as propaganda.

The reality is that Israel is neither a perfect country nor a utopian society, yet despite its flaws Israel has a better human rights record than any other country faced with a comparable threat. While that may sound like a significant lowering of standards, I write that with pride. I shudder to think what other nations would do after suffering consistent terrorism for 76 years, the historical precedent for such a scenario is not on the side of human rights. Israel’s detractors seek to hold Israel to an impossible standard however, the reality of the situation that Israel finds itself in is far less than ideal.

Unfortunately, Israel’s imperfection and the intense polarisation surrounding anything that involves it seems to worsen as time marches on.  This leads to a perceived ultimatum for many, either defend Israel as a utopia or criticize it as a dystopia. In my opinion one does not have to be one or the other, defending Israel does not bind anyone to endorse all of its policies. If you were to go to the city in which Israel’s policies are criticized the most, you would most likely find yourself in Tel Aviv.

The approach to discussing the conflict should vary depending on the nature of the conversation. An adversarial discussion in which many false allegations are made should be addressed systematically, the resources below combined with basic logic, should be enough to dismantle most accusations.  Where someone justifies or denies acts of terrorism, the discussion is probably not worth having at all. Yet, in all discussions, what should be explained above all else is the Israeli narrative.  Our story is one of an indigenous people returning to their homeland after 2,000 years.  As a people Jews endured incalculable suffering, only to erect skyscrapers in swamps and plant forests in deserts. The story that once captured the West’s imagination but has now been forgotten, much to our detriment. Our connection to the land, our thousands of years of longing for return, our miraculous salvation from persecution, and the privilege of self-determination denied us for 2,000 years, have all been eclipsed by ceaseless accounts of Palestinian suffering and “settler colonialism.”

Many balk at the assertion of our indigeneity to the land of Israel. They mistake us for a religion, they do not know or at least fail to understand that we predate such ideas of religion being separate from nationhood. Many believe Jews to be foreigners because they do not understand the miracle of our survival.  No other people on Earth have survived 2000 years of exile with their identity intact, yet we have and, even more miraculously, finally returned to our home.

Though facts and figures may dismantle arguments, they are only weapons, you may disarm your foe but so long as they believe the Palestinian narrative, they will still oppose you. The enemies of Israel have no shortage of accusations and libels to arm them with when they choose to attack next. You must counter their narrative with your own to defeat the enemy for good, given time, stories can change minds far more effectively than arguments.

When responding to an accusation never be afraid to take a second to think about how to formulate a response, much like carpentry or tailoring arguments are a measure twice, cut once affair. A loose word and sloppy phrasing that misrepresents your contention can be the death of an argument and an opportunity for your opponent to strike a critical blow. When faced with a claim or accusation with which you are unfamiliar, take a second, ask for a citation, if there is no glaring logical flaw with the accusation, admit that you are unfamiliar with it and will have to do further research on that topic to verify the claim.

Perhaps most of all, do not take the willful ignorance, weakness, and moral bankruptcy of many who purport to be pro-Palestinian as a reason to dehumanize or disregard the Palestinian people themselves.  Poorly served for decades by morally bankrupt leadership they have suffered greatly as a result of the conflict, and no matter how many arguments you may win, they and their national aspirations will remain. Any long-term solution to the conflict will involve a healthy dialogue where we recognize the aspirations and humanity of both sides. Showing concern for Palestinians is not only morally upstanding but conveniently undermines the basis on which many of your opponents will stand. Demonstrating how the outcomes for which they advocate actively undermine the future and safety of the Palestinians is perhaps the most effective route to victory in any debate.

In the guide, I touch on Zionist settlement, 1948, the UN, conditions in the West Bank, the two-state solution, War in Gaza, and much more. This is not a guide for people with no knowledge of the conflict or Jewish history, I have attempted to be concise, explaining topics in need of elucidation, so not all context is included. Where my summaries prove insufficient or you are looking for more details, I have provided citations to facilitate further research.

I hope the guide helps; it was a labour of love.

A Comprehensive Guide to Israel Advocacy

 Ari Tatarka

Jerusalem 2024

About the Author
Ari Tatarka is a student of Politics Philosophy and Economics at Monash University in Melbourne, He previously spent 2 years studying at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem and has been a life long student of the humanities.
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