Swedish “Walk To Palestine” Activist Refuses to Debate Me

Benjamin Ladraa’s Wikipedia page describes him as, “a Swedish human rights activist. He is best known for advancing awareness to rights violations in the occupied West Bank by embarking on a solo 4,800-kilometre (3,000 mi) trek from Gothenburg, Sweden to Jerusalem.”

After many months, at the beginning of July, he completed his walk, but was barred from entering Israel, which he is using to try to promote himself all over the world. Ladraa posted, “”Now ask yourself why the Israeli state fears one Swedish man so much that they didn’t allow him to enter the country they are occupying?”

I would like to answer that question. Israel doesn’t fear “one Swedish man.” I am sure many Swedes visit Israel. No, rather, Israel is defending itself from a con artist who helps to justify the murder of Israeli citizens.

Ladraa is a young musician who left everything behind to walk to Palestine. He is tall and dreamy. He speaks softly and talks about his burning heart for the suffering of the Palestinians. Before arriving at the border of Israel, Ladraa wrote, “Tomorrow I will make the final distance of my journey and arrive at the border of occupied Palestine. There is a big probability that the occupying Israeli soldiers will not let me enter Palestine so i have a favor to ask of everyone if this happens… If they don’t let me in tomorrow it is a very good opportunity to try and get the media around the world to talk about how Israel is blocking human rights activists from entering Palestine.” Ladraa even included instructions on how to Google search and contact media in your own country. He is working as hard as he can to make sure his public statements are put in every newspaper in the world.

Ladraa and I have exchanged a series of messages and I have repeatedly challenged him to debate me on webcam, but he repeatedly refused, finally on the grounds that, “I’m just careful about where I do public statements.” In other words, a man who wants his public statements to be put in every newspaper in the world claimed he cannot debate the merit of his accusations because he is careful about where he makes his public statements. Rather, the real reason Ladraa won’t debate is because it would be incredibly easy to disprove his lies. Ladraa is very open about his goal: Jewish people should not be allowed a homeland. In the majority of his pictures, he is wearing the same t-shirt with a map of Palestine replacing Israel. He is a walking billboard, stating Israel should be destroyed and replaced with Palestine.

There are perhaps a hundred countries with a majority Christian population and fifty-seven Muslim majority countries. The Arab League is comprised of twenty-two states, which all identify as ethnic Arab states. But, none of this offends Ladraa. For him, the worst evil in the world is that there is a drop of land defined as the nation state of the Jewish people. According to Ladraa, we should all be united in the goal of purging this great evil from our our planet.

Palestinian violence is constructed on two major foundations. The first is Palestinians on the ground who do the dirty work: fire rockets, become suicide bombers, stab Israelis, burn crops, cut fences, throw stones, all the way down to becoming human shields. The second foundation is the army of foreigners who support this terrorism by spreading propaganda to justify the hideous acts of Palestinian violence in social media. Ladraa belongs to the second camp.

For this reason, I offer this blog as a public challenge to debate Ladraa. Or, if Ladraa sincerely does not feel comfortable with me, then he can set up a debate with someone who is willing to take the Pro-Israel position, just so long as he is willing to allow his accusations to be challenged. Since Ladraa loves to have thousands of people comment on his Facebook page, I want to encourage everyone reading this to go to his page and challenge him to a public debate. If Ladraa refuses to debate anyone, then it is obvious his claims are lies.

Here is selection of our conversation copied and pasted – with a tiny bit of correction to the mistakes made in the grammar.

May 8th: Ladraa: “At the moment, all the people in Gaza that are demonstrating [against] the occupation are at grave risk of being shot and killed by Israeli snipers.”

May 8th: Me: “your facts are wrong, but you will never admit it. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. In 2007, after endless rocket fire, Israel put up a blockade with Egypt. So, you leave out the withdraw, as well as Egypt’s role. I have seen your video, and you never mention that Gaza is also blocked by Egypt, because then your whole claim disappears.”

May 8th: Ladraa: “Neither Israel or Egypt has the right to occupy and put up a blockade on Gaza… I think all lives matter and what Israel is doing against the Palestinian people is appalling.

May 9th: Me:Benjamin, you have stated, “what Israel is doing against the Palestinian people is appalling.” And you have asked me what “we” can do to bring peace. My suggestion for a method to bring peace is to start with correct facts as the foundation. Your AJ+ video has 1.5 million views. I was quite surprised you took the time to message me. I disagree with most of your statements and consider your messages to be inaccurate. You enjoy being a public figure, and you feel qualified to speak about the issue to a couple of million people. I am a pro-Israel blogger, and my blogs only get shared in the hundreds. So, you are speaking to a couple million people, while I am speaking to a couple hundred. But, because you enjoy being on camera, I would like to challenge you to a webcam debate.

The subject of the debate will be whether Gaza is occupied, or whether Israel withdrew from Gaza, is the blockade justified, and is the IDF a moral army? Since a million people listen to you, and only a couple hundred to listen to me, then this should be no problem. And, since we will debate in English, because I know English is not your first language, then I will give you five minutes extra, so you can have an extra five minutes to go back and clarify anything you felt needed to be reworded.”

May 10th: Ladraa: “I don’t think this is the appropriate timing to discuss the questions you laid forth. The people of Gaza are being shot and killed, including children, and I fear a massacre is imminent on the 15th of May. I am happy to have a constructive debate where the focus is on how to achieve an end to this awful conflict plaguing the people of Palestine/Israel. Also I have a different point of view regarding debates. They are not about winning or losing, they are about solving problems and learning together. Perhaps we can engage in a constructive debate after we see how the events in Gaza will play out and talk about ways forward?”

May 17th: Me: “I would be willing to revisit the possibility of some form or debate after Israel’s Independence Day.”

June 8th: “Hi Benjamin, well, plenty of time has passed. You say that you want to have many meetings and lectures. So, again, you are calling Israelis criminals, and making criminal accusations against Israelis. So, will you debate your claims?”

June 8th: Ladraa: “I never said anything about Israelis but the state of Israel is committing terrible crimes.”

June 8th: Me: so you are making criminal accusations against the state of Israel. I would like to challenge you to debate your accusations by webcam. If your criminal accusations are accurate, then you will win the debate, and you have no reason not to debate.”

June 8th: Ladraa:Well, to be honest, I’m kind of wondering why you are so keen on about talking about this.”

June 8th: Me: “You are calling Israelis criminals. Will you defend your accusations by debate on webcam?”

June 8th: Ladraa: “Are you Israeli yourself?”

June 8th: “I am not Israeli… So, again, will your defend your criminal accusations against Israelis on webcam? If your facts are accurate, and your claims are accurate, then you will win the debate. Will you debate your accusations in public forum on webcam? Yes or no? So you call Israelis criminals. But, you don’t believe that you are morally obligated to defend your claims?”

June 8th: “No, I’m just careful about where I do public statements. And you seem very keen on doing this which makes me wonder why.”

June 8th: Me: “Name your conditions of debate to make you comfortable”

At this point, Ladraa stopped responding. But, I am still here, my offer is always open, I will debate Ladraa anytime on webcam. I will be checking my messages for his response.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.