I am going to start with politics, end up in Israel, and connect them through society.
We are already well into the 2016 presidential election cycle. People support this candidate or that one; the polls tell us which candidate is ahead and by how much.
It is almost impossible for someone to agree 100 percent with any other person. Even if you like a candidate, there must be something on which you disagree. Yet, strangely enough, after someone finds a candidate or politician he likes, he defends the candidate on every issue.
Instead of remaining objective, people defend their candidates’ foolish policies and even rationalize or deny the candidates’ vices and misdeeds.
I have a friend who follows a simple strategy: Politics is like driving. If you want to move forward, use “D” (drive, Democrat). If you want to go backward, use “R” (reverse, Republican). Shoin.
In my friend’s world, and for many other people, whatever Democrats do is good and whatever Republicans do is bad – or the other way around. (For the record, I am unenrolled – which here in Massachusetts means I am registered to vote but belong to no party.)
Many of us tend to view everything in terms of black and white – “FDR was good for the Jews,” “Reagan was an outstanding president,” or my favorite, “[fill in the blank] was an anti-Semite.” What’s wrong with being honest and saying the president in question did things that were good and things that were bad?
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about FDR, Reagan, both Bushes, or Obama. You may find what they did to be 90 percent good and 10 percent bad or vice versa, but discussing their specific actions yields a much more accurate and realistic assessment of their presidencies.
I suggest that people should take stands on issues and forget the candidates and the parties. (Thomas Jefferson argued against the formation of political parties, referring to them as “cabals.”) It is up to you to decide what issues are important to you. What are your principles? What are your values? What issues do you feel strongly about? You can then vote for the candidate who is the best match for your positions. And yes, a candidate’s integrity can be one of those issues.
But be careful not to back a candidate blindly. Don’t outsource your mind or your standards. Don’t let others decide what your values are. Make your own decisions. And don’t fall into the trap of sweepingly defending a candidate, his positions, even his misdeeds. Ask yourself: Would you still feel this way about a specific policy if it were the position of an opposing candidate or the other party?
Supporting a politician regardless of problematic policies or character defects (or both) leads us to create or accept false narratives (lies). We make up stories to justify our candidate, just as we invent false narratives in other areas of life. And false narratives are an underlying cause of many societal ills.
When people see that false narratives are not challenged or are even accepted as Truth, they are encouraged to create their own false narratives. While some false narratives turn out to be relatively inconsequential, others have major implications.
Consider these examples of false narratives that have made the rounds:
* It doesn’t matter how you were born, you can choose to be a man or a woman.
* A woman’s right to choose need not take into account the heart beating in her womb.
* Government spending stimulates the economy.
* Very large banks and companies are too big to fail.
* The term “separation of church and state” is based in our Constitution.
Many more come to mind but I will end my list here. Feel free to add your own, but please be honest. And this leads us, of course, to false narratives regarding Israel:
* Israel supplanted the country of Palestine.
* Palestinians would stop committing acts of terror if they had their own state.
* Arab citizens of Israel live under an apartheid system.
* A Jewish Temple never stood in Jerusalem.
* The settlements are an obstacle to peace.
The facts are that from its inception (and even prior to that), Israel has made every attempt at peaceful coexistence with the Arabs, who have rejected the offers and instead turned to terror.
The truth is, there never was a country of Palestine. Palestinians are not a race, ethnic group, or nation. (Until 1948, the term “Palestinians” referred to Jews who lived in Palestine. Referring exclusively to Arabs as Palestinians is another false narrative.) Many Arabs initially welcomed the European Jews, anticipating new economic opportunities and development.
Today the majority of Palestinians will settle for nothing less than a one-state solution called Palestine and the elimination of Israel (Heaven forbid). And if Hamas-run Gaza and the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority are indicative of what a Palestinian state would look like, it is not hard to imagine the dangers a Palestinian state would pose for Israel.
But for the most part, the world accepts the false narrative put forth by the Palestinians. Unfortunately, that false narrative is even promoted by Israel’s leaders, who speak publicly of a two-state solution, exhibiting an eagerness to negotiate and compromise that only encourages more terror.
I recently watched talks on YouTube by Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim who nearly signed up as a terrorist to fight Israel but became pro-Israel after reading Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel. He then visited Israel to see for himself how the Arabs lived. He now calls himself a “Muslim Zionist.” Kasim questioned the popular narrative and learned that it was indeed false. He has risked his relationship with his family and his community, but he could not deny the truth once he opened his mind.
Whether on Israel or on other issues, we all need to question the popular narrative and learn the truth for ourselves. Most important, we must clarify the values, principles, and standards we believe in, and make our own decisions. And when it comes to politics, it’s imperative we stand for issues, not people.