Saturday, 2 March 2013

The false equivalence of liberal Zionists

by Annie Robbins

One of the most well worn tricks of the PR trade is establishing a false equivalence between supposed extremes in order to position yourself in the middle as the pragmatic, moderate viewpoint.

In his article "Zero Dark Zero" Roger Cohen does this very thing in an attempt to position liberal
Zionism between two extremes. He establishes an 'equivalency' in the minds of readers between Israel's radical extremist religious-nationalist camp and advocates for Palestinian human rights. He writes:

For any liberal Zionist — and I am one — convinced of the need for
the two-state outcome envisaged in the United Nations resolution of 1947
 establishing the modern state of Israel, both the religious-nationalist Israeli push to keep all the land and the Palestinian refusal to abandon the untenable, unacceptable “right of return” (there is no such right in history, just ask the Jews) are causes for deep despondency.

With Cohen's argument in mind here are two videos I'd like you to view. First, religious-nationalist Israelis:

Make sure to hit the 'cc' icon to access the subtitles

Next, a Palestinian advocate for the right of return:

Does that look equivalent to you?  Why does Roger Cohen do that?

Zionism, whether religious or secular, revisionist or liberal, based on biblical prophecy or not, is an ethno-nationalist movement.  In contrast, the principles of the BDS movement, including the right of return, are based on equal civic and human rights. This is the challenge for liberal Zionists. To position themselves as moderate they seek to create an equivalence between extremists where none exists. And, evidently, are not averse to using a fallacy to make their arguments when all else fails.

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area.

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