When trying to convince someone to understand the truth about something, it’s best not to insult his mother, or bring into question their mental facilities. Sounds obvious, right? You’d be surprised at how many times irritated people turn from academic historical analysts with a diverse and thorough range of knowledge of the Israeli-Arab conflict, to a display of an internal combustion process. It often brings out shrieks of mirth from the opponent who then disregards the person as a complete lunatic who has bought into some kind of “lobby” or reacts angrily at the debased insult (especially to his mother, sister, brother, etc) and all rational thought toward the original debate goes from their mind.
I’m sure out there, that tomes have been written about the cons of “going ad hominem” and Hasbara is no different. Exasperation often results in the biggest Hasbara defeaters out there, and Ad hominem kills any conversation dead and results in a rather futile mud-slinging match which benefits no one, and so often entrenches differences. If this occurs on a public forum, or on the street during Israel advocacy meetings, the public gets turned off and things do backfire, especially if there was any chance of introducing an alternative view into someone’s knowledge while listening on the edge of the group (where most people go while listening to debates and don’t want to get involved themselves.)
Our opponents may be stubborn, but many of the pubic appear to take face value as importantly as the ideas put to them, and exasperation at the stubbornness and ignorance (wilful or not) has resulted in vocal exasperation which leads to the unravelling of good work done. My experience of Hasbarists shooting themselves in the foot by being intrinsically aggressive on-line or offline has indeed been the cause of much face-palming. However, some Hasbarists reply to their concerned responders with scorn or irritability. (“But HOW could [my opponent] be so STUPID?? So bone-headed! The time for complacency with these people is at an END!” )
Rage in one’s heart against injustice, bias and slander channels the just desire for justice, fair, and honest reporting and dealings with Israel. Unbridled exasperation against blinded, stubborn but potentially reachable people can end up with negative results.
The public often hear only one side: The anti-Israel side. We sometimes only get one change to reach them. We need to make it count.