"Oh, no" he responded.
The gist of his conversation was that he wanted to have a civil dialogue with me about the issues and offered to exchange information resources. This is the man who refused to read Tom Segev, on the basis that he was a "revisionist!" in the previous conversation. Finally, I had to tell him that I just didn't see the arguments he was making as an even a bit legitimate and that I couldn't have such a conversation with him on that basis at all. I said, "If you had a friend who loved Rush Limbaugh and insisted that he was telling the truth, and kept coming to you with things Rush had said, and asking you to take them seriously, wouldn't it drive you crazy?"
I could see that this hurt his feelings, and I felt bad about it, but on the other hand, he's coming to me with offensive, racist propaganda and asking me to accept it as a rational argument. If we were acquaintances in Mississippi in the 1960s, and he was talking about how inaccurate the Northern media was to depict Mississippi as a racist backwater, I'd have had to say the same thing.
Most of the time, I live in a bit of an alternative news "bubble" and unless I encounter students with very conservative views (this almost never happens where I teach) I don't often encounter right wing views, some of which seem like they are coming from another planet. In case you have the same experience...here's my report from the land of ultra-Zionist propaganda...part one.
The Right Wing Spin Machine on Israel/Palestine
1. "There are no Palestinians." This is the first departure point, and it's the one that Golda Meier made in her infamous statement, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian." Here is a web-site that promotes this point of view and a column from Ha'aretz that argues against it on this simple basis: no one gets to decide whether someone else's identity is valid or not.
* This justification for seizing other people's land is as specious as the justification used by the Puritans who came over to North America and seized Native American land on the basis that they a) didn't have the same concept of private property and farming as the Europeans and therefore couldn't make a legitimate ownership claim and b) weren't a nation in the European sense of the term.
I don't know what else to call it but racism when the basis for denying the existance of a people and their rights to stay where they are is that they are different from and therefore inferior to you. It doesn't matter whether the Palestinians have always called themselves Palestinians or not. The fact is, Israel was built on land that was inhabited by people, and the leaders of Israel expelled those people from their homes (about which, more later).
But let's see....what IS the basis of the Palestinian national identity?...It began in the 19th century, and you can find out more about it in the most serious scholarly history of it by Rashid Khalidi. For those who would claim that the Palestinians are not a "real" nation, it might be useful to think about the history of nationalism more generally. The "French" and "German" identities were also "made up" for political reasons. European historians generally agree with Benedict Anderson's description of the nation as an "imagined community" , not a biological reality.
2. The American media is biased against Israel and the Palestinians are manipulating the world media to hate Israel.
Yes, you heard it right. My colleague insisted that the liberal media couldn't be trusted in its reports from Israel. He went on to talk about CAMERA, which is not a neutral organization, which is affiliated with AIPAC, and which spends its time denying the murders of Palestinian children by the Israeli Defense forces. It does focusing on such cases as the image of Mohammed Al Duraduring the Al Aqsa intifada. In that case, the media first decided the photo was accurate, then later decided it was not. And with this one image, groups like CAMERA convince otherwise rational people that the entire record of crimes by the IDF is an elaborate Palestinian hoax. However, if you knew the big picture, you'd know this:
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israeli security forces killed 2,038 Palestinians between 29 September 2000 and 11 May 2003. Of these, 366 (18%) were minors under the age of 18. Indeed, by the end of the second day of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the day on which Mohammed al-Dura died, 15 Palestinians had already been killed. Of these, four (27%) were minors. Besides Mohammad al-Dura, whose death was so graphically captured on video, B’Tselem reports these otherwise-invisible child casualties:
· Khaled 'Adli al-Baziyan, age 15, from Nablus, killed by Israeli security forces live gunfire to the head in Nablus/The West Bank
· Nizar Mahmud 'Abd al-'Ayedeh, age 16, from Deir 'Ammar/Ramallah, killed by Israeli security forces gunfire to the chest in Ramallah/The West Bank
· 'Iyyad Ahmad al-Khashashi, age 16, from Nablus, killed by Israeli security forces live gunfire in Nablus/The West Bank
The day after Mohammad al-Dura died, four more minors—including another 12-year-old, Samer Samir Sudki Tabanjeh—were killed by Israeli security forces.
(By comparison, B’Tselem reports that between 29 September 2000 and 11 May 2003 Palestinians killed 483 Israeli civilians and 216 Israeli security personnel, or 699 total. Of these, 92 or 13% were minors. By the end of the second day of the intifada one Israeli soldier but no Israeli civilians, and therefore no Israeli minors, had been killed. Further information is available at www.btselem.org.)
That's all I can manage for now, I'll do some more responses to ultra-right Zionist talking points later in the week.