Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Logic, Internet-style

As I related a week ago, I left a comment on Ze’ev’s Israel Perspectives blog regarding his post on the conflict between “democratic values” (as elucidated by Israel’s Supreme Court) and Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. After the dust had already mostly settled, someone added the following comment to Ze’ev’s post:

Radlauer and his ilk would lead us down the drain with Olmert & Kadima at the helm... Heaven help us!!! We cannot grant equality to the Arabs for they do not recognize Israel at all, they want to supplant Israel with their pseudo-"palestine". But Radlauer & his cohorts are too stupid to read the writing on the wall, and hopefully, will be the next - and ONLY - Jews to be disengaged!

The gentleman who posted these lines is, of course, correct about my political leanings; I admit that he has correctly discerned my personal qualities as well. However, I find the logic of his central non-Radlauer-related contention to be rather suspect:

  • Premise: Israeli Arabs do not like the State of Israel, and have political aspirations with which Israeli Jews, in general, do not agree.
  • Conclusion: Israeli Arabs must be punished for this disloyalty. In the context of Ze’ev’s post, this punishment can be assumed (conservatively) to consist of lower funding for their children’s education and other government-provided services than Israeli Jews receive.
At a bare minimum, it appears to me that we’re missing a middle premise here – since I see no obvious and necessary connection between the stated premise and the conclusion. What might such a middle premise look like? Here’s a suggestion:

  • Premise (suggested): Government services should be provided on the basis of some form of loyalty test (or perhaps based on simple race or ethnicity) rather than on the basis of equality before the law (adjusted as necessary for actual need).
Now, if we accept this premise, Ze’ev’s – and this comment-writer’s – contention is correct, and Israeli Arabs (at least collectively) would in fact deserve a lower level of government services, despite the fact that they pay the same taxes as Israeli Jews. Were this premise to become part of Israeli law, even Stupid Radlauer (along, no doubt, with his cohorts) would read the writing on the wall – and Stupid Radlauer, with or without his cohorts, would be on the first plane out of here.

*          *          *

I wouldn’t normally waste time refuting some miscellaneous Internet forum post; I suspect (or at least hope) that few people take the medium all that seriously, and this comment is actually far less incoherent than some. But this particular bit of illogic, with its missing and highly questionable middle premise, is amazingly common in Israeli politics. (It’s probably just as common everywhere else, but I happen to live here.) I can’t remember how many times I’ve read comments from the Israeli Right (including some by very reputable columnists who are actually paid for their opinions) that basically boil down to the same thing:

  • The Arabs don’t like us…

  • (insert questionable middle premise here)

  • …and therefore we can’t leave the Gaza Strip / we can’t get out of Lebanon / we can’t fund Israeli Arab schools equitably / we need to hold on to every silly settlement in the West Bank / or whatever.
This kind of illogic is particularly dangerous because it effectively removes reasonable consideration of our national interest from Israeli political discourse. Instead of logically discussing what’s best for the State of Israel – taking account of the hostility of our neighbors where appropriate, of course – we use the hostility of “The Arabs” and the missing-and-thus-unchallengeable middle premise as a way of aborting thought and forcing the desired (usually right-wing) conclusion.

*          *          *

On the other hand, I suppose this type of logic does have its advantages:

  • The Arabs don’t like me.

  • The right-wingers don’t like me.

  • Therefore, I must go eat some pizza.


At Thu Mar 09, 01:09:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

I am not sure pizza is good for one's health in the long term.

But since the two groups you mentioned do not like you, long term shouldn't be of a concern to you ;-)

Bon appetite.


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