Derb – I know what you mean. I used to try to reason with some of my ignorant but not necessarily invidious correspondents who insisted that I must be on the Israeli payroll. I’d tell them I’ve never even had a conversation with a single Israeli official, never been to Israel etc. But invariably they’d reply “how can I believe you?” Which, of course, is the point of conspiracy theories, you can’t disprove them because all conspirators are liars. I mean if I were on the payroll, I’d say the same thing wouldn’t I?
This really hit home with me a few months ago when I attended a conference in LA. It had absolutely nothing to do with Israel at all. But one hyper-liberal college activist girl told me a story about what it was like to go to Berekley and be Jewish in radical left circles. She said she and a friend attended a pro-Palestinian march — you know the stuff with Ariel Sharon with a Hitler mustache etc. Her friend wore his yarmulke (better to hide the horns, of course). And despite the fact that he was in complete — or near complete — solidarity with the whole zionism=racism gestalt, he got beaten up. Not badly, but bad enough to fear far worse could happen to him if he stuck around. The moral: There’s absolutely nothing that will persuade some people and, ultimately, you’re a fool for trying.