Pushing back against anti-Israel lies and propaganda

Israel advocacy expert David Olesker who recently addressed audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

[notice]Libby Norton reports on the advice given to South Africans by visiting Israel advocacy expert, David Olesker, on how to respond to anti-Israel propaganda.[/notice]

For those who love Israel and the Jewish people it is hard to see the international onslaught of criticism, lies and propaganda against them — particularly so when they have not seemed to fight back.

The reasons why they have not are complex. Visiting South Africa is David Olesker, an imposing Jewish Advocacy expert from Israel, who gave valuable teaching on this necessary subject of pushing back.

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During the second half of August he addressed audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town explaining the difficulties and strategies involved in responding to lies and deceptive questions. He gave excellent ‘how to’s’ and ‘what not to’s’ in order to be effective.

Jewish people are very aware of this inability to present Israel to the world as she is and want us to understand their ambivalence in order to overcome it.

Israel today is a miracle of multiracial, multiculturalism. A picture of the Lord’s outstanding favour and blessing — she has problems and corruptions like any other country, yet Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, with Arab, Druze and Jewish members of the Knesset (Parliament).

Indeed, whether her detractors like her being the Chosen Nation or not — as others have noted, her very existence as a people after scattered exile for two thousand years is proof of the existence of our amazing living God that keeps the nation.

We are familiar with the concept of Jesus as our Advocate, yet Olesker articulated that in old Hebrew there is no word for this, just witnesses — Torah (the Word,) does not produce an adversarial nation.

It is not about the best player winning, it is about the discovery of truth. But we are part of this world even if not of it, and must be as gentle as a dove and astute in our championing.

Olesker pointed out that most people cannot answer the lies because the reasons are complicated and it just takes so long to do so. This is not possible in chat shows, debates and other fora.

On the utterly nonsensical claims of apartheid it would take a long time to explain that Israel’s laws are race and colour inclusive — just one look at a lineup of Israeli soldiers shows every skin colour from fair-skinned to darkest complexion. There is nothing racial in Israel resembling South Africa’s Group Areas Act, Bantu education policies and so on — but explaining takes time and secondly, by explaining, one is tacitly accepting the concept of the lie by responding to it.

The  major lessons taken away from the training are :

1) Beware of questions with untrue assertions and assumptions within them — do not be drawn into answering. You will be dancing to the questioner’s tune.

Be armed with facts and turn it around by asking them questions that lay bare the truths — and in their having to respond they are subject to your control.

2) Questioners who are hostile will endeavour to whip up emotions. Our job is to be truthful and also touch the heart of listeners so they can empathise with our points; points we introduce — not responses to issues questioners want to provoke. Place yourself in control of the discourse — or conceptual frame — and remain in control. If they say “But we’re not talking about that…” press the point as it will pique the listeners’ interest in the very point the questioner wishes to avoid.

Each of us know testimonies or have first hand stories — we have the tools — place them on social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email. A photograph or cartoon is especially powerful.

No nation has a better story to tell than Israel — from the family of one couple, Abraham and Sarah came the thousands that prospered in Egypt, were enslaved and delivered to the land of Canaan according to God’s promise — twice scattered into exile with a third of their entire population murdered in unprecedented barbarity in the last hundred years, yet that same generation returned to its homeland after 2 000 years to create the miracle of the modern day state. And almost every country in the world has millions of people who read, study and love Israel’s documented history. What other country’s history is so well known and memorised around the world?

The need to ‘tell’ the truth about her modern history is urgent in the face of today’s rising anti-Semitic sentiment — not least in the Church where people have been bombarded for so long by lies that they do not check out the facts. As the evil Nazi Joseph Goebbels said and has run like wildfire among the evildoers of the world, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Reggae artist fiasco
A textbook case in both the nature of today’s anti-Semitism and of how to defeat it came up just recently.

In Spain, the Rotodom Sunsplash reggae festival organizers demanded that Matisyahu, the American-Jewish reggae artist, express public support for “Palestine.” He was the only known Jew in the festival line-up and the only performer asked to produce such a statement. They cancelled their invitation to him because he refused to bow to the organisers’ demand.

The organisers claim they were intimidated into discriminating against Matisyahu by a local anti-Israel BDS group. BDS País Valencià resorted to “pressures, threats and coercion” and warned the organisers that its members would “seriously disrupt the normal functioning of the festival”.

Matisyahu resorted to Facebook, writing, “It was appalling and offensive that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.”

His ‘disinvitation’ prompted a worldwide outcry by Jewish organisations. The Foreign Ministry registered a complaint with the Spanish government, the festival organisers issued an apology to Matisyahu and officially reinstated his invitation to perform.

 When Jews stand up to anti-Semites, the anti-Semites back down. Our Lord is Jewish and Christians have the honour of standing with His brothers and sisters, the Jewish people, in promoting and protecting them and Israel.

As that Nazi added, “the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie”. It is our job to tell the truth big enough and keep repeating it so often that people will come to see it.

More advice from Olesker is available on the website: http://jccat.org/

One Comment

  1. Sheena Freeman

    Good to see you’re still around, Libby. Interesting article. Fond memories of FEBA Harare.