Pro-Israel: What Happened When Supporters of AIPAC, J Street, AJC and the ADL (And All Points In Between) Were Invited To Meet (UPDATE)
by: Jeff Pozmantier on February 14th, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Last week, I wrote about my attempt to bridge the growing Jewish community divide over Israel. I thought (in my naivete) that I could bring supporters of seemingly disparate pro-Israel factions together. Those with tactical disagreements over how to best strengthen Jewish support for Israel would surely beat their verbal swords into plowshares and till the verdant Israel discussion soil. We might not agree on every policy, but we could certainly unite behind a shared pro-Israel goal.
I might get better odds on the Republicans and Democrats working together on contraceptive health care benefits. Or passing “super” political action committee legislation to quash the ability of billionaires to fund millionaires’ political campaigns.
But was my attempt to set up a meeting of supporters of Israel, who are also supporters of AIPAC, J Street, AJC, the ADL and all points in between, really, as one person put it, a massive failure?
The few people who either declined the opportunity outright, or accepted the opportunity and then had a change of heart, certainly thought so. After all, they weren’t coming.
The reasons varied:
“You have to understand. People have a lot of pressure not to come.” (Fair enough. Dependent thought is too little valued.)
“People have enough to do. They don’t need to take their valuable time to meet with people on the other side.” (Translation? My pro-Israel isn’t your pro-Israel. Because we don’t agree on how to best support Israel, and you refuse to engage in my diurnal cycle of practiced talking points, you’ve moved over my “pro-Israel” border.)
Two comments reflected the need for more accurate opposition research:
“You included B.D.S. supporters, so we won’t come.”
“You didn’t include B.D.S. supporters, so why should we come?”
Three other comments reflected the need for better polling data and keener insight:
“No one believes this kind of meeting will be good for Israel.” (In this case, “no one” means this person and possibly a few other serial objectors to anything outside their favorite pro-Israel organization’s purview. It certainly didn’t include the 23 Democratic and Republican Jewish leaders, rabbis, and major community leaders — many with widely different views — who said “yes.”)
“I’ve seen what you write, so I know the meeting will be slanted. You’ll just force the discussion in the directionyou want. (In the Jewish community world I live in, if a meeting of more than two Jews ever seemed to move linearly, then it could only mean we misunderstood each other or we were very late in the meeting and the cookies, brownies and fruit were summoning our attention. But while the “starve them to steer them” strategy is an interesting idea, it’s not one on the meeting agenda.)
“The Jewish community isn’t divided. You either support Israel or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’re not pro-Israel.” (In other words, we need to stop making things so complex. If we’re for something, then we can’t be against it. If we’re against something, then we can’t be for it. So if we’re for Israel, then the Jewish community can’t be divided, Jewish support for Israel has to be increasing, and this meeting invitation never happened.)
But the invitation did happen and the efforts to set up the meeting didn’t fail. A few “yes’s” did become converts to “no,” but a few “no’s” became “reverse-converts.” Our group is now not only larger than expected, but just as diverse.
So where do we go from here? That would be a slight detour to a pizza joint to do some pre-meeting game planning with a smaller, equally diverse group.
I’m recommending the thin crust — with extra thick skins.