Tobin Harshaw, writing at the Opinionator blog of the NYT, rounds up responses to Jeffrey Goldberg's piece from last week about how Hamas really and truly doesn't like Israel, period. (I blogged approvingly about Goldberg's post here).
So far as I can tell, of all the people responding to Goldberg, not a single one speaks Arabic except of course Goldberg himself. Apparently one can respectably pontificate on the finer points of Hamas policies and intentions without being able to talk to them in their language or read what they write, with nary a twinge of embarrassment at your own arrogance or ignorance or both.
Actually, it's much worse. Most people with opinions on such matters don't even know the sort of stuff one can learn even in English. Here's a nasty rhetoric trick I've often resorted to, which you can use also with no more than an hour of preparation. Whenever I find myself about to face an audience who I expect to be hostile, I quickly prepare a list of six or eight Arab names, or when I want to be really nasty, six names and two Arabic words that are not names, and then at the appropriate moment I reel them off and ask my audience to distinguish between them: which is the Palestinian Prime Minister, which the top negotiator, which the Druze member of Knesset from Likud, and which the top terrorist from Hezbullah someone assassinated last year.
In 100% of the cases I've done this, my audiences or interlocutors are not able to identify anyone. I then run over the names, or not, while noting that any educated Israeli could of course identify at least most of the names, and ask what that tells us about their level of seriousness when talking about Arabs in general or Palestinians in particular. "How serious am I supposed to take your assertions that if only we did things differently with the Palestinians, the outcome would be so much better, when you can't even tell the difference between an important Palestinian leader and a dead poet?"
Yes, I admit, it's nasty. But fun, and they deserve it, which is the important part. Preening ignoramuses.
How can you do the same? Go spend an hour googling intelligently. That's all it will take.