[su_intro]One of the first steps of Israel advocacy is knowing how to appeal to your audience.[/su_intro]
Of course, many tools can be useful in pitching Israel to just about anyone: use of social media, sharing personal stories, etc. Careful consideration of the audience can enhance those general tactics and make them all the more effective. One should bring up very different points when speaking, for example, to a person who cares most about peace than to a person who cares most about upholding Christian religious tradition. Below are some examples of the types of people who should naturally support Israel, because support for the Jewish state fits in well with their other values/interests, and how they can be convinced.
Here are a few ideas for convincing…
A peace activist: Israel is a critical force for peace in the Middle East, and has been since before its conception. Chaim Weizmann, before he became the first president of Israel, sought out Emir Faisal (a leader of the Arab nationalist movement) as a representative of the Palestinian Arabs and signed an agreement in 1919 that ensured Arab recognition of a Jewish homeland in Israel in exchange for Jewish/Israeli recognition of an Arab state. In 1947, Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan while the relevant Arab leaders rejected it. In 1967, immediately after the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return all captured land for peace with its neighbors, an offer to which Arab leaders responded with the “Three No’s of Khartoum,” rejecting any efforts toward peace. In the year 2000, at Camp David, Israel again showed its willingness to sacrifice for peace, but Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat rejected every offer, facilitating a violent intifada instead of cooperating. Israel has struggled time and again to make peace with often unwilling neighbors, and for all of its successes and all of its failures, it is certainly a country intent on achieving peace.
A militarist: Some of Israel’s most important services to the United States are related to the military. Israeli surveillance helps the American military keep track of affairs in the Middle East. Many American soldiers and officers are trained in Israel or by Israeli officials. Many technologies that the American army uses routinely were invented in Israel, such as Bradley reactive tank armor, which explodes outward to prevent improvised explosive devices from harming American soldiers, or Emergency Bandages, which prevent soldiers from dying of blood loss from their wounds. The United States military benefits tremendously from the US-Israel alliance.
An American patriot: Since the Cold War, which Israel became involved in during the Six Day War when it defeated several Soviet-supported Arab armies without receiving aid from the American government, the Jewish state has been a key ally in the region. It has supported American interests, for example, through moves such as the 2007 bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor that eliminated a very serious threat. Around 75% of American aid to Israel is spent in the United States, providing Americans with jobs and making support for Israel an extremely worthwhile investment. Israel also provides the United States with intelligence, training (of soldiers, military officers, policemen, emergency response teams, Transportation Security Administration officials, etc.), and a plethora of critical technologies. Supporting Israel is patriotic toward the United States, because Israel is such a crucial American ally.
A science junky: Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world, contributing immensely to various fields of science and technology. The cell phone was invented in Israel, along with many medical advances, including the PillCam and treatments for multiple sclerosis that are used by some 70% of patients worldwide. The OrCam is an Israeli invention that allows blind and visually impaired individuals to “see” through a camera that is so intelligent that it can recognize familiar faces and important symbols such as signal lights on a crosswalk. For someone who is interested in science, Israel is a fascinating and admirable country.
A humanitarian: In many instances in the past, Israel has been the first country on the ground to help alleviate the damage caused by natural disasters and political chaos. Israel has lent support to flood victims in Sri Lanka to earthquake victims in Haiti, to Bosnian civil war refugees and victims of the Rwandan genocide. Israeli medics have saved the lives of wounded Syrian civilians who have escaped the ongoing civil war, including pregnant woman who was recently brought into Israel and helped to deliver her child on Israeli soil. Furthermore, Israeli experts work closely with farmers in Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, India, and many other countries (especially in Africa) to teach techniques in irrigation and other skills that boost agricultural productivity and success.
A feminist: Unlike many of its neighbors, Israel maintains a progressive attitude toward the treatment of women. While the United States has yet to elect a female president, Golda Meir is one of Israel’s best-remembered Prime Ministers, after working to engage Israel in the support of various African countries and protecting Israel from annihilation during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. A law in Israel prevents underweight models from being featured in advertisements, a measure that the United States has yet to take to fight the media’s attacks on women’s body images. In fact, while women in other Middle Eastern countries are often deprived of educations, forced into marriages with abusive husbands, and barred from participating in the work force, Israel treats women as equals so that the percentages of women who are literate and employed are roughly equal to those in the United States.
An LGBTQ rights activist: Israel is known as the most welcoming country to LGBTQ people in the Middle East. Tel Aviv has been labeled the “gay capital of the Middle East” and, in an online poll conducted by GayCities.com and American Airlines, was named the best LGBTQ travel destination in the world. Huge gay pride parades march all over the state, celebrating Israel as the only country in Asia that recognizes gay marriage and that grants marriage rights to same-sex couples for “unregistered cohabitation.” In fact, Palestinian members of the LGBTQ community often immigrate to Israel to escape oppression by the Palestinian Authority. LGBTQ citizens serve openly in the Knesset and in the military (the latter was true far before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the United States), and LGBTQ issues are discussed openly on TV and in Israeli pop culture. Israel is unique in the region for its welcoming policies and culture toward the LGBTQ community.
A secular Jew: Israel’s identity as a Jewish state is not only rooted in Jewish religious traditions, but also in Jewish culture, history, and peoplehood. Sharing stories of Israeli culture and the interconnectedness of the Jewish people can be very compelling to a Jewish audience in particular. Furthermore, Israel has made it a priority to protect the Jews of the Diaspora. Operation Moses in the 1980’s, for example, liberated Ethiopian Jews from anti-Semitic oppression. Israel is more than a center for religious Judaism: it is a center for the Jewish people.
A religious Jew: Israel is an important religious center that helps keeps Jewish traditions alive. It is home to many great yeshivas, and provides an environment that is conducive for religious observance, with kosher food easily available, a multitude of famed synagogues, etc. From Yavneh to Tzfat, the land of Israel has long been the foundation of religious Judaism, and the state of Israel ensures that it continues to function as such.
A religious Christian: Israel is careful to maintain holy sites of all religions, including, in many cases, Christianity. Because so much of Jesus’ story happened within the land that is now Israel, there are many Christian artifacts and sites that are under Israeli sovereignty, and Israel preserves them with great care. Jordanian forces, on the other hand, were known to destroy holy sites when they controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Only under the Israeli government have Christians from all over the world been welcomed to visit and worship at those holy sites, and only the Israeli government is committed to preserve them. Moreover, it is the Christian belief that the land of Israel was given to the Jewish people by G-d, and therefore a religious Christian will generally recognize a Jewish right to that land, and often to land even beyond Israel’s borders.
Anyone: Make use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets to tell your friends about what living in Israel is like. Post about your own trips to Israel, share the human voices of the Israel Defense Forces, and let the world know that Israel has a rich and vibrant society, culture, and people.
Using these and other targeted points will ensure that your advocacy is effective. Be careful not to rely only on general arguments; always show the side of Israel that will best appeal to your audience.