Alinksy’s ideas can help Israel, too

The refusal of Israel’s national camp to coalesce with anyone outside of their circles causes them to fail.

Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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.
Caroline does 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 Israel.
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 demand.
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.
Israel’s 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 mortgages.
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.
Since the 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.
The time 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 Samaria.
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 way.
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 of staff.
Indeed, the movement against the Oslo accords has unwittingly functioned in accordance with the approach outlined by Federman.
The 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.
This 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.