Students should know how to combat anti-Israel propaganda and misinformation, especially in the face of recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, David Project Center for Jewish Leadership Educator Ari Applbaum told about 15 Boston University students at BU Hillel House Tuesday.
‘A lie untouched becomes truth,’ Applbaum said. ‘Even if you don’t know all the facts, say something.’
‘There is a moral obligation for a person who hears a lie to respond,’ he said.
The David Project is a nonprofit organization that promotes pro-Israel education on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Applbaum taught students how to argue for Israel using a rhetorical technique, known as ARM, to use in response to anti-Israel sentiment they might encounter. ARM stands for ‘address, reframe and message,’ a method in which a person gives a short rebuttal to an allegation, expresses his or her own beliefs on the issue, then ends with a summarizing message.
‘ARM is for when your time is limited . . . and you want to get an idea across,’ Applbaum said. ‘When someone is asking a question and there’s an underlying current of hostility, you can uncover that.’
Rather than waiting passively for an attack, the method allows for active, not defensive, participation in an argument, Applbaum said.
‘The biggest problem with Israel supporters and Jewish students on college campuses is they spend too much time on the defensive,’ Applbaum said. ‘You can’t just keep defending. You have to take initiative.’
Students said they found it difficult in the past to counter aggressive anti-Israel rhetoric on campus.
‘When you’re speaking in conversation, you don’t have facts in front of you,’ School of Management senior Josh Orbach said. ‘People can just throw out whatever they want, and it comes down to who’s more charismatic and a better speaker.’
College of General Studies sophomore Matt Goodman said gaining control of an argument is difficult for him.
‘People won’t listen to you,’ Goodman said. ‘I think the biggest challenge is engaging them in conversation.’
CGS sophomore Adam Korn said dealing with anti-Israel propaganda is frustrating. Korn, who is the BU liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobby that promotes favorable policy between the United States and Israel, asked Applbaum to speak at the workshop.
‘My main point in putting on a workshop like this is that I’ve had arguments where you just end up screaming at the person, and if you can learn to communicate effectively you can create a dialogue,’ he said.
College of Communication sophomore Tara Malinasky said the rhetorical technique was practical, and the workshop overall was valuable.
‘I think we unintentionally use [the technique] anyway,’ Malinasky, a member of BU Students for Israel, said. ‘But it makes it clearer, not only for this but for all forms of argument.’
David Project Campus Coordinator Michael Delatizky said although it is ‘hard to quantify’ the effectiveness of workshops like this due to varying sentiments across college campuses, any education is a step toward understanding.