Getting to NO on Campus: Israel and Palestine Edition


“Middle ground is just another word for failure. I do NOT want to make a deal! We deserve it all!” That’s the philosophy of the “NO-gotiatior,” a man who wants to teach you how to make the power of “No” work in your life.

It got me to thinking: What advice might the NO-Gotiator have for college students, particularly those involved in Israel/Palestine advocacy?

The only way to win on campus is to refuse to compromise. What is a college course anyway if not the professor’s opportunity to get their students to think like they do? Don’t believe me? Then why do they insist on writing their own textbooks?  It’s so that they can control their message and make all disagreement seem wrong.

Don’t like a grade? Let me tell you a story about two friends of mine that proves the power of Getting 2 NO on campus: Steve and Eve both got less-than-satisfactory grades on their anthropology finals. Steve negotiated with the professor, studied hard, got to take the test again, and brought his grade up from a C to a B. Eve NO-gotiated–she threatened to publish those pictures of the professor grabbing his TA online and she went from a D to an A, all without ever having to waste time studying!

Now let me show you how to make it work for you in one of the most charged situations on campus–the Israel/Palestine controversy.

For “Pro-Israel” advocates: It goes without saying that you can’t talk with BDS supporters since they’re all anti-Semites/self-loathing Jews and thus can’t be reasoned with. Now expand this tent to include even those who criticize Israel but don’t support BDS, because finding excuses to only talk to those who already agree with you is a necessary first step in NO-gotiating. When you refuse to accept that someone can support Israel and still disagree with you, this has the added advantage of shifting the conversation from being about issues that matter to being about semantics, what I call the “Anti-Semitic/Anti-semantic shift.” Once your opponent gets sick of it and walks away, you win!

Here are some tried-and-true methods campus Zionist advocates can use to Get to NO:

  • Support J Street? Use term ‘Occupation’? Sorry, can’t talk to you, the correct term is “Judea and Samaria.” And don’t bother telling me why you don’t like those terms, I’ve already said can’t talk to you!
  • Israel refuses to make concessions? Of course it does–Bibi Netanyuahu knows the power of NO-gotiating!
  • You want to talk about settlements? I want to tell you about Hamas terror tunnels.

Now rest of campus sees you as obstinate and delusional, just like the Israeli government–that’s the power of Getting 2 NO!

On “pro-Palestinian” side: First, whatever you do, don’t call attention to the fact that your group is almost all Jews and WASP’s. Second, it goes without saying that you can’t have anything to do with Zionist groups on campus since by definition they’re all Palestinian-hating colonist racists and not reasonable people like you. Avoid most Jews and Jewish groups too, unless you have it on good authority that they’re “kosher,” because the importance of only talking to those who already agree with you in NO-gotiating cannot be overstated. Be careful to make every aspect of Israel’s existence seem like a conspiracy to oppress Palestinians:

  • Israel invented drip irrigation? Don’t you think it’s kind of racist to suggest that Palestinians couldn’t have figured it out if they were farmers instead of nomads and Zionists hadn’t robbed them of their land?
  • Israel goes out of its way to protect civilians while Hamas deliberately hides missiles in schools and hospitals? What’s that, I can’t hear you because I’m too busy shouting FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA PALESTINE SHALL BE FREE at the top of my lungs!
  • Maybe we can work together to work for the rights of African refugees in Israel? Why don’t you come across my mock checkpoint and tell me that!

An added advantage to NO-gotiating from the pro-Palestinian side is that once pro-Israel groups bar you from their events for being disruptive, you can run to the media and student government to complain about how the Zionists are conspiring to further “silence” Palestinians. Keep this up and no one will ever try to reason with you again, and when the other side shuts up, it means you’ve won.

Whatever side you’re on, remember: If there’s not yet peace in the Middle-East, it’s because they aren’t listening to you.


Derek M. Kwait graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and is editor in chief of New Voices.

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