Facts and history aren’t enough

In “We Are Alone Again” (February 9), David Rocker does an excellent job of balancing the necessity of Israel’s actions with the sympathy we feel for the innocents who are suffering in Gaza. However, I respectfully disagree with his statement that those who oppose Israel’s actions “conveniently forgot history.”

The thought leaders on the left have not forgotten history. Instead, they have constructed alternative narratives around some facts, while declaring other facts to be either irrelevant or unproven.

Did the Ottomans rule the land prior to the British mandate? “Yes, but the Palestinians lived and worked on that land for generations before being expelled by Israel in 1948. Therefore, it rightfully is their land.”

Were Jews persecuted in Europe for centuries? “Yes, but Europe has no right to make amends by allowing Jews to colonize Palestinian land.”

Did Arab countries expel Jews? “Perhaps, but why do the Palestinians have to suffer?”

A particularly infuriating approach by those who are anti-Israel is to simply declare that any fact originating from an Israeli source should automatically be dismissed as Israeli propaganda. This, of course, is the basis for October 7 denialism.

This distinction is important because we cannot afford to underestimate the tactical prowess of our adversaries in advancing anti-Israel propaganda.  We should never assume that facts alone will be enough to win a debate against Israel’s detractors. Truly, there is no point in even having such a debate, unless there are persuadable people listening.

However, if you find yourself in such a debate, you need to be prepared to dispute their anti-Israel narratives, to provide multiple sources for your facts, and to refuse to allow your adversary to minimize or rationalize the evils of Hamas. Then, you do exactly what Mr. Rocker did and show your empathy by being laser-focused on the overwhelming harm that Hamas has done, not just to Israel but to the Palestinians of Gaza.

David Teitelbaum
Fair Lawn

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