The sad case of Iman Rauf is bringing the practice of muzzling to a much wider audience. The potential target is literally concrete: a thirteen story building rather than someone’s job or right to speak. And the victim, is unusually well connected, an envoy of the US Government.
But the process is much the same. So for all the people who’ve joined us late, it would be a good time to write the definitive guide to “muzzling” debate on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
First, pick someone whose crime is not their outlandish views, but their very reasonableness. A few out-of -context quotes, and that very reasonableness can appear sinister, evidence of a hidden agenda!
Second, in addition to being reasonable, this person should have some particular influence credibility. There is no percentage in gagging a random nut on the internet. Particular points will accrue to you if the person is seeking an expanded role for Arab or Muslim Americans in public life or an expanded debate within the Jewish community about Israel. Neither development can be tolerated, for the Jewish community must remain utterly lockstep on Israel. Who knows to what use Jewish Americans with dissenting views might put their ethical traditions or feeling of connection to others? And what would occur if Arab and Muslim Americans could report on the Middle East, raise money for charities in their countries of origin, or build community centers like everyone else?
If you have done your homework well on the first and second points, this third should go without saying, but the person you are targetting should actually care what other people think. While hard line lunatics can sometimes be useful, they only derive gratification on your attacks on them. Whereas the tolerant liberalism of the muzzlee and their actual opposition to anti-Semitism can be their own undoing! It’s no fun if they don’t cry.
Once the first three conditions are met, mazel tov, you have your victim, now go get ‘em! Here’s a tip, if you are a liberal-seeming organization, let conservative blowhards do your dirty work. Their accusations will be eagerly reported by journalists who believe the only “real Americans” are white rural protestant blowhards and the people they like, not coffee drinking liberals like themselves. Once the reporters do their work, good liberals will be earnestly repeating slanders, after all they read them in the New York Times!
If this muzzling attempt is an internal Jewish community affair, you can either use the Jewish version of the right wing blowhards or if the community is small enough, create a new group! You could name it something like “Jewish Americans for Peace, Kugel, and Continuity” or something equally heart-tugging. In the post-Madoff age where so many Jewish organizations have gone belly-up, there is valuable community growth to be had from muzzling!
Ok, now to actually apply the muzzle. Make sure you begin your speech/ blogspot/ oped by saying how against the thing you are doing you are. You are NOT against Muslims or an Open Debate on Israel, just THIS Muslim or Open Debate. And every other one you have met. The word “BUT” can be given a world of innuendo and meaning here.
Congratulations, you are now a muzzler. But sadly your work is not done. In the good old days, it would have been but now the other side has blogs of their own, and plasma televisions. They will complain. You should also be prepared to alienate everyone in your community, many of them younger, who are disgusted that you engage in such activity. This should be your cue to lament how “we are losing the young people” and plug the indoctrination program of your choice.
Your work is finally done. Your reasonable, open-minded opponent will now lack a platform for their speech/reportage/Islamic community center and you can lament how there is no one to talk to. Your supporters will be suitably terrified by the enemies you have conjured under every rock and lower Manhattan block. Any backlash against your group for bullying and moral blindness will only feed those fears. Most meaningfully of all, Israeli government officials will thank you, for you will have provided an invaluable distraction from their latest outrage against Palestinians. So everyone will be happy.
Until the day when this game no longer works. When your community begins to hold you accountable to their actual needs and values. When Israel’s abuses can no longer be justified as self-defense. When Muslim and Arab in the United States and Israel/Palestine no longer accept second class citizenship or none at all.
So your last move should be to hope that day has not yet arrived, and repeat the entire cycle until you no longer can.
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