Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Conclusion: A Call for Nuance and Civility

So there you have it, a valiant attempt to effect change and a more nuanced debate - that went nowhere. If anything, let this week's discourse serve as a case study in just how difficult it is to change the status quo of American and global Jewish dialogue about Israel.

What has our discourse come to when it takes a Harvard lawyer to explain why ad hominem arguments are illegitimate in public discourse? The same lawyer who only four days ago levied the harshest of ad hominem attacks himself. Has the global Jewish community really lost its sense of compassion which is so fundamental to the core not only of Judaism but of Zionism as well? The legal legitimacy of the State of Israel was one of David Ben Gurion's largest concerns before the founding of the state. When did the pro-Israel movement get so out of touch with its origins?

In levying attacks on Alan Dershowitz this week, the tone of my comments have certainly been less than accomodating. But my beef is truly not with Professor Dershowitz as a person. It is rather with the partial and speciest tone of debate which his specific comments this week helped to encourage. In reality, the offenders against civil discourse are many.

What gives us as diaspora Jews the right to boil down the day-to-day complexities of Israeli and Palestinian life to black and white complexity? Since when is accusing a dissenter of being a bad Jew the way that we conduct discourse? The professor has shamelessly divested from engagement on this vital issue. But truly, this discourse is not the purvey of Alan Dershowitz alone, but rather of all who engage in discussion of Israel.

Let this week's events be a demonstration of how much work is yet left to do. How much more room remains for progress.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. This conflict is badly in need of more rational thinking from all sides. I think we're finally starting to move past the black-and-white, good vs evil arguments that have dominated the field. The conflict is much more complicated than that and requires more nuanced analysis...I'm enjoying your blog, keep the content coming!