As a student of the community organizer Saul Alinsky (at the Free University of
Madison, Wisconsin, 1969) who later earned a Master’s degree in community
organization social work – which was dedicated to Alinsky’s memory – it is
important to respond to Caroline Glick’s piece of June 10, 2012, in which she
denounced “Jewish Alinskyites.”
Alinsky has been mistakenly labeled a
communist ideologue. Alinsky was no communist.
The Catholic Church
actually hired Alinsky to break up communist cells, in the US, Western Europe
and in Latin America. This is documented in The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky,
published in 1984 by Paulist Press, a Vatican affiliate.
not understand that Alinsky’s method of using creative tactics to universalize,
humanize and empower a cause can be used by all sides – especially in
One of Alinsky’s principles was that if and when you represent a
small minority, you must align your cause with other minorities also affected.
Alinsky posited that this tactic will never be understood by your adversary who
cannot cope with diverse groups who unite to make the same
Israel’s national camp could seek out others whose civil
liberties have also been violated by the police and then form a wide base of
support for an Israeli civilian oversight of the police.
national camp could become heroes of the country if they were to lead the battle
against police indiscretions that affect the whole country, in addition to
Israel’s national camp: police brutality, police abuse of women, police violence
against minors, police destruction of private possessions, police removal of
badges, police bullying of reporters, police smashing of cameras, police use of
horses, police forced strip searches, and more.
Such a use of the Alinsky
“universalizing” principle would work.
Israel’s national camp could
present its case against the demolition of communities in Judea and Samaria
within the context of a humanitarian struggle to preserve the dignity of
homeowners not to have their homes destroyed because of an infraction which they
did not cause when they purchased their homes and received governmentbacked
Israel’s national camp could present its case against the
destruction of clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which
states that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their own citizens
from their homes, their private properties or from their farms.
only group slated for expulsion would be Jews, it may be recalled that the
government of Serbia was recently held liable for international prosecution at
the International High Court of Justice in the Hague, under the charge of
“ethnic cleansing,” after leaders of Serbia expelled an ethnic minority, solely
because of their religion.
And now that a new unilateral retreat has been
suggested by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, it behooves Israel’s national camp to
align itself with the one million Israeli citizens in Israel’s southern region
who now live under the real threat of aerial attacks from Gaza.
has come for Israel’s national camp to ask if everyone would like to live that
way, if Israel were to carry out a unilateral retreat from Judea and
The refusal of Israel’s national camp to coalesce with anyone
outside of their circles causes them to fail. Instead of denouncing the
Alinskyites, learn from them.
The other side of the political spectrum
has applied Alinsky tactics of “isolating your adversary” in an effective
Writing in the now defunct Mapam newspaper, Al HaMishmar, in
October, 1993, an intimate of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, industrialist
Yekutiel Federman, devised a public relations strategy to isolate the increasing
opposition to the Oslo accords.
Federman wrote that you must portray the
opposition as obsessively self-centered in their concern for the “settlements.”
Federman presented the idea that those who favor the Oslo accords would be
characterized as being for peace, while the three or five percent of Israeli
society who live in the “settlements” would be characterized as selfish people
who were against peace.
Federman assured Rabin that he could rely on the
precedent of the failed opposition to the peace treaty with Egypt and the
devastation of Yamit and 18 other settlements in the Sinai, as demolished by the
icons of the Israeli national camp – Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon and Rafael
Eitan, who in 1982 were then the prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief
Indeed, the movement against the Oslo accords has unwittingly
functioned in accordance with the approach outlined by Federman.
leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan
and the Jordan Valley think that if they yell loud enough about their concern
for the land, the government will back down from the Oslo process.
week, the Council of Judea and Samaria is organizing a “hasbara” conference. Not
one session is devoted to outreach to the unconvinced.
That is because
they will not use Alinsky’s tactics. Alinsky kept a picture on his desk of the
ovens of Dachau. Alinsky’s message: This is what happens if a community
organizer fails in his mission.
The writer is Director Israel Resource
News Agency Center for Near East Policy Research Beit Agron.