Monday, May 17, 2010

J Street and the Orwellian Importance of Framing and Semantics

From the first time I encountered J Street, I have been fascinated by their use of the Orwellian phrase “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” Though I may strongly disagree with the organization’s politics, I have a tremendous (though grudging) respect for any group crafty enough to conjure up such a positioning statement, and then to repeat it with such mind-numbing frequency that one almost begins to believe.

Let’s look at this a bit closer, shall we?

J Street will tell you (over and over and over) that they’re “pro-Israel.” Well then it must be a fine organization! I mean, you’d have to be a pretty mean-spirited (dare I say “self hating”) Jew not to be “pro-Israel,” right?

J Street will also tell you they’re “pro-peace.” Again, don’t we all long for peace? Don’t we all want Israel to live in security with its neighbors? For all peoples of the region to have the opportunity to better themselves, and to provide a safe environment for their children and their children’s children?

Well, upon reflection, if I’m “pro-Israel, and pro-peace,” then I must be pro J Street, since that’s their motto, after all. Not like those Other Guys. Those Old School, Reflexive Supporters of Israel. And since they’re not J Street, they must not be pro-Israel (not really), or not pro-peace, or both! (Darn them to heck!)

Holy cow. J Street seems to believe if you say something enough, it becomes true.

Thus the organization bashes the Jewish State (for its own good, of course), and criticizes the likes of Dershowitz and Koch and Wiesel, all the while chanting “pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-Israel, pro-peace,” over and over and over.

In conclusion, then, and in the interest of truth, I would like to suggest alternatives to J Street’s snappy-sounding-but-let’s-face-it-somewhat-inaccurate positioning statement.

I’d propose: