‘Does Israel Have A Right To Exist’ Is A Trick Question.

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article was published by Yousef Munayyer in Forward on January 22, 2019


“There’s a famous scene in the 1992 movie ‘My Cousin Vinny’ where the out of work hairdresser Mona Lisa Vito, played by Marisa Tomei, takes the witness stand to provide expert testimony. The prosecutor, aiming to discredit and belittle Vito, asks her a convoluted question about the precise engine timing of a specific car. ‘That’s a bullsh*t question!’ Mona Lisa cries. And in response to the smug grin of the prosecutor, proceeds to explain that the car in question does not exist. The performance earned Tomei an Academy Award, and is worth rewatching. But it’s more than just a delightful scene.

It’s a useful template for the kind of questioning that appears sincere but is actually an evasion tactic. And it’s par for the course for those critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. I immediately thought about this scene when I watched a recent interview of Tamika Mallory. In it, Mallory was asked by The Firing Line’s Margaret Hoover a question that is constantly posed to critics of Israel’s policies: ‘Does Israel have a right to exist?’This is, as Mona Lisa Vito would put it, a bullshit question. Mallory for her part realized this. “I believe everyone has a right to exist,” she said multiple times, before shutting down the conversation and telling Hoover to move on. This was absolutely correct. Because it is a trick question. The truth is that no state has a ‘right to exist’ — not Israel, not Palestine, not the United States. Neither do Zimbabwe, Chile, North Korea, Saudi Arabia or Luxembourg have a ‘right to exist.'”


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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

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