Ideas should be the focus of the debate, not character

There has been a lot of response to my recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, a Breach in the Dam, and my post on BlogsofZion.
It has even engendered dissent on BlogsofZion by Sam, which is a very good thing–BlogsofZion is meant to be a forum for argumentation and discussion, and I welcome a debate based on ideas.
What I do not welcome–and what I think is unfortunately the norm for some people–is a character debate that tries to dirty ones opponent instead of presenting a systemic analysis of why the argument is wrong. In that regards, I have posted my response to Dan Sieradski’s mudslinging below.
I hope we can move to a day where disagreement and dissent is encouraged, and that people can argue respectfully while disagreeing wholeheartedly.

Hi Dan,
I must say that I am disappointed that you attacked my character instead of my ideas. I think I did a good job of describing your motivations in my article in the Jerusalem Post, and did not in any way attack your character.
Moreover, I am disappointed that you chose to highlight selected portions of my past in order to strengthen your case. Your readers should know that I was the national director of a socialist Zionist youth movement–Hashomer Hatzair, that I was a peace activist working with Palestinian youth movements in Gaza and the West Bank in 1998-1999, that I ran a lecture series on Minorities in the Middle East at Columbia, and that I have been a vocal advocate against genocide in Sudan years before the cause hit the public agenda, and ran a full section on it in my magazine, PresenTense.
But you are right. I did not raise $500 for the North–I donated three years of my life, worked with my good friend Aharon–who is donating months of his life to the State–to raise thousands of dollars for military equipment to help protect you and your bourgeois life in Jerusalem, and am donating thousands of dollars of space in the next issue of PresenTense to raise awareness about the plight of people in the North.
But none of that matters, because it is irrelevant to the ideas I put forward.
I think that if you quote the Chofetz Chaim it would do you well to study what he wrote about attacking a person instead of disagreeing with their ideas, and I would hope that you would deal with my central claim–that universalism has historically led to a weaker Jewish People–instead of resorting to smear tactics and mudslinging.


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