Tuesday, September 10, 2013

  • Tuesday, September 10, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
In my Hasbara 2.0 (and other) lectures, I discuss the importance of using the proper framework when discussing Israel and the Arab world.

My favorite example of how the wrong framework inevitably puts Israel on the defensive is an "even-handed" history textbook that gives equal weight to both the Palestinian Arab and Israeli narratives on both sides of the page. However, it starts history in 1917, with the Balfour Declaration. Using that as a framework inevitably makes it look like Jews are the invaders of Israel and Arabs are the natives - turning history n its head and  giving Israel, and only Israel,  the burden of justifying its existence ab initio.

Here, David Olesker has a great article about framing the argument from a slightly different perspective, but one that is no less important:

Supporters of Israel are often puzzled why facts that seem so significant to them are ignored or dismissed by others. We can understand how an ideological opponent of Israel can ignore inconvenient truths, but how can otherwise neutral people be so (apparently) blind? Must we believe that they are guilty of the same malice and mendacity so often displayed by opponents of Jewish rights? Is the new antisemitism really so prevalent?

The answer to these questions lay in the persuasion technique of conceptual framing. If you can understand it then you will possess the key to being persuasive about Israel.

A key principle of persuasion is known as the conceptual frame. What is it? To answer that question, let’s ask another one: Do you have a brother? If so, let’s ask a question about him – don’t worry, it’s a simple question, and you can (in fact you must) answer it yes or no. Here is the question: Is your brother out of prison yet?

Did you answer yes or no? If you responded either way, you fell for what logicians call the Fallacy of the Complex Question. Answering the question according to the “rules” means that you accepted the assumption that the question is based on–in this case, that your brother is a criminal. Of course, you could decline to answer yes or no and instead address the assumption. With such a transparent example it’s easy to see that you should shout out, “My brother is not, and never has been, a criminal!” But if you don’t do that, then you’ve let the questioner define the parameters of the discussion; you’ve let the questioner define a frame that includes only what he claims is relevant and excludes everything else.

The most extreme detractors of the Jewish state assert that the key to understanding the region (and perhaps the whole world) is to understand that “Israel is the problem.” Like the classical antisemite, the ideological enemy of Israel sees Jews and Israel behind everything that is wrong in the world (from 9/11[1] to shark attacks[2]!). Most reasonable people who are generally supportive of Israel’s rights can’t easily be seduced by the conceptual frame that defines a world where “Israel is the problem.” However, they can fall prey to its less extreme form of the frame, which can be summed up as “Israel is the issue.”

Those who have fallen for this scam often betray themselves unconsciously in language. The “Middle-East conflict” (as if there were only one) always seems to have Israel at its center. More thoughtful interlocutors, when challenged on this simple point, will usually admit that of course there are many other conflicts “but that’s what people call it and don’t get hung up on semantics.” (Tell them that they shouldn’t be anti-semantic.)

If Israel is the issue, then all problems can ultimately be resolved only by actions on Israel’s part . So factors such as widespread dictatorship and abuse of human rights in Arab states are ignored because they are outside the conceptual frame. Even when other factors demand attention, such as the carnage (and even cannibalism)[3] in Syria or upheaval in Egypt, they remain outside the overarching frame that Israel is the “root cause” of the conflict.
Read the whole thing.

(h/t Yerushalimey)




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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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