Three Simple Rules for Gaslighting American Jews

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By Michael J. Koplow

Hello, and welcome to the pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist campus resistance! Thank you for standing in solidarity with us as we use our scholarship money, our student loans and our parents’ tuition payments to enable us to do anything and everything while at school other than participate in the academic life of our universities!

Demanding that righteous and deserved justice for Palestinians must necessarily mean the end of any form of Jewish sovereignty and statehood is the single greatest cause of our lifetime, and we will brook no accusations that we are in any way extremist, one-sided, or antisemitic.

Nonetheless, there are some people who interpret our shunning anyone who supports Israel’s existence as bigoted, or our embrace of a term expressly identified with suicide bombings as violent, or our toleration of signs calling for Jews who came from the Middle East to go to Poland or the U.S. as antisemitic.

We cannot abide that, since our support for bigotry, violence and antisemitism must not carry any adverse consequences for us!

To ensure our deeply held but somehow simultaneously surface deep beliefs and our inviolable right to do whatever we want do not actually come with any costs, here are three good tactics that you should begin practicing now in order to make our resistance more effective.

First: surround yourself with Jews! This one is the most important, because for some reason, people seem to take bigotry against history’s longest and most brutally persecuted minority very seriously. That goes double here in the U.S., where the Jews are particularly in your face about it and also control lots of stuff.

Luckily for us, Jews are a famously fractious and argumentative bunch, and even embrace disagreement as an integral part of their religious and cultural heritage, so it is very easy to find Jews who agree with us and can inoculate us against charges of antisemitism no matter what we say or do.

If there are Jewish people, or even better, Jewish groups who say that they support us, feel perfectly safe with our activities, and — best of all — hold Jewish prayers or holiday rituals in our encampments, then it is ironclad proof that there is no hint of antisemitism anywhere!

It also lets us decide which kinds of Jews and Judaism are good (anti-Zionists are the most authentic types of Jews) and which are bad (Jews who feel connected to their ancient and spiritual homeland and to the actual Jewish state that exists are violent genocidal maniacs), and also to decide what is or is not antisemitic.

We definitely cannot leave such a charged issue up to the people who are on the other end of the purported antisemitism, especially since polls show that nine out of every 10 American Jews feel that Israel is an important or meaningful component of their identity.

So, it is even more important to make sure that the Jews who agree with us are front and center and held up by reporters who don’t know any better as truly representative
of the community.

Of course, it goes without saying that this line of reasoning can only apply to Jews and accusations of bigotry against Jews. (They really are the chosen people, aren’t they?) Don’t you dare try to apply this line of reasoning elsewhere, for instance by claiming that Clarence Thomas or Candace Owens can’t possibly say anything deemed to be anti-Black because they are themselves Black, or that pro-life women cannot take any positions deemed antithetical to women because they are themselves women.

Tokenism is used by bad actors to suppress authentic ideas, unless it is Jews we are dealing with, in which case having Hezbollah flags alongside a seder means that the Jews who object are the real antisemites. Plus, Jill Stein (a Jewish name if I’ve ever heard one!) showed up to support the protesters and to decry Zionism, and you think you know better than a Jewish presidential candidate whether there’s any antisemitism going on anywhere?

Second: define peaceful and non-violent however you want! It is peaceful and non-violent to take over a common space and prevent other people from entering the space that you have cordoned off for yourself, especially if the people trying to enter that common space have the same rights to use it as you do but hold different beliefs.

It is peaceful and non-violent to lock arms and march forward in lockstep to physically expel nasty Zionist infiltrators who have managed to sneak into your encampment established on common space, since by virtue of being in that common space, they are the ones disturbing the peace and employing violence.

It is peaceful and non-violent to hang signs on your tents that extol Hamas rockets and quote from the charters of designated terrorist entities, wave flags of groups that have killed hundreds of Americans as well as Israelis, appoint spokespeople who say that campus officials should be grateful that they are not going out and killing Zionists, and insist that the only way to achieve justice for Palestinians is by taking the most expansionist approach possible and eliminating Israel entirely. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Chanting that Tel Aviv should be burned to the ground, holding signs in front of pro-Israel students that identify them as Hamas’ Qassam Brigades’ next targets, or declaring “we are all Hamas” is not genocidal, and in fact it is those who object to such sloganeering who have the real genocidal intentions. They should take their outrageous hate speech elsewhere and stop infringing on our right to peacefully and non-violently urge a genocide of Israelis.

Third: selectively ignore what is actually taking place in the real world outside of your protest encampment!

The horrific suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and the enormous destruction wrought by Israel’s military campaign have given us complete and enlightened moral clarity, but other events prevent some from joining our mindset.

They think that a terrorist group still holding 133 Israelis hostage, many if not most of whom have been killed in forced captivity, following its murder of 1,200 more makes things more complicated than we assert.

We cannot risk such thinking piercing our veil of virtuous certainty! It is therefore critical to ignore that nearly every government involved in regional diplomacy right now puts the onus on Hamas to release the hostages and accept the cease-fire offer from Israel now on the table; otherwise, how can we chant for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire that is entirely Israel’s responsibility to undertake?

It is imperative to deny that Hamas committed any atrocities on Oct. 7 and to doubt that it is even holding hostages; otherwise, how can we rip down posters with names and faces of Israeli hostages and insist that we are doing so in the name of justice and fighting oppression?

It is vital to elide the fact that there has been a country called Israel in existence for over three-quarters of a century and that dismantling and replacing it with something else would not only be unjust but cause a geopolitical and humanitarian catastrophe alongside the various others in the region going on in Gaza, Yemen and Syria; otherwise, how can we demand for Israel to be replaced wholesale and insist that nine million Israelis (but really the seven million who are Jews) “go back” to the places that either gassed them, shot them, or expelled them?

If you follow these three simple rules, you too can have it all: you can camp outside with your friends, wear fun protest clothing and cosplay as revolutionaries, take over campus property against university rules while also insisting that the university keep you well-fed, and do it all without any long-term consequences!

And the side benefit is that you won’t impact anything happening on the ground in Israel and Palestine, but you will have a huge impact right here at home. You can make large majorities of American Jews feel unwelcome and worry that they are inevitably being thrust back into a history that they thought they had escaped, while convincing more and more people to deny that Jews’ worries about antisemitism and discrimination and violence are real! Welcome to the resistance!

Michael Koplow is Israel Policy Forum’s chief policy officer, based in Washington, D.C.

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