Lisa Liel

Taking control of the terms of discussion

Appearing on Dermot Murnaghan’s show on SkyNews, Minister Naftali Bennett took issue with Murnaghan’s hostile questioning.

“Are you kidding me?” – Bennett responds to hostile Sky News anchor

And kudos to him for doing so.  But other than his “Are you kidding me?!” response to Murnaghan’s initial attack, Bennett made some of the same mistakes that Israel has been making for years, when it comes to hasbara.

When one side dictates the terms of discussion, the other side is doomed to be misunderstood.  With that in mind, I would like to suggest the following:

  1. When an interviewer asks about proportionality, simply say, “Of course our response is not proportional.  Nor should it be.  There is only one moral reason to wage war, and that is to stop an aggressor from waging it against you.  The Palestinian Arabs* are waging war against us.  We have responded by ignoring their missiles, but that didn’t stop them.  We have responded by making minor attacks against their leadership, but that didn’t stop them, either.  So now we’re at disproportionality.  And even that isn’t stopping them.  So we will continue to increase our responses until they do stop.”
  2. Don’t ever talk about our “right” to defend ourselves.  It is our responsibility to defend ourselves.  Saying, “But we have the right to!” sounds whiny and weak.  It does not help our cause.  It sounds like we’re admitting that we’re doing something wrong, but what else can we do?  We have a right to defend ourselves.  We are not doing something wrong.
  3. Bennett pointed out, quite correctly, that while Israel protects its citizens by building shelters and the Iron Dome, the Arabs intentionally place their own civilians in harms way, as human shields.  But this should never be used as an answer to questions of proportionality.  In the first place, if they weren’t using their civilians as human shields, there would still be more Arab casualties, because we’re better at what we do than they are.  But in the second place, and more importantly, it comes across as even more whiny and more weak than “But we have a right!”  It acknowledges as legitimate the criticism that more Arabs are dying than Jews.  As though that’s something we should be apologizing for.  We need to own our actions.  We will not be respected while we refuse to do that.  We are taking the actions we need to because they are right and they are necessary.

Once again, there is only one moral reason to wage war, and that is to stop an aggressor from waging it against you.  To take away his ability to wage war against you.  If someone attacks you with a gun, pushing the gun aside may prevent him from killing you at that moment, but unless you take the gun away from him, it’s only a matter of time before he wins.  And you do whatever needs to be done to end his threat.

*I say Palestinian Arabs, and not Hamas, because the fact is that Hamas was elected decisively by a free vote of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, not to mention those living in the eastern parts of Jerusalem.  The only reason Fatah is still in power at all is that they refused to honor the results of the elections.  Hamas represents the Palestinian Arabs.  They are not a foreign body or a gang.  Hamas is the leadership they chose, and it is the leadership they deserve.

About the Author
Lisa Liel lives in Karmiel with her family. She works as a programmer/developer, reads a lot, watches too much TV, does research in Bronze/Iron Age archaeology of the Middle East, and argues a lot on Facebook.
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