Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Elder and the "Assumed Symmetry Fallacy"

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Elder of Ziyon has a recent piece entitled, Peter Beinart cannot tell the difference between a "narrative" and a fact.

Speaking before a group of Democrats and progressives, former New Republic editor, Peter Beinart, said the following concerning conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson:
In 2008, when Tel Aviv University's Shlomo Sand published a book called "The Invention off the Jewish People," he was widely called anti-Semitic. When Adelson says the same about Palestinians, he's a Republican rock star.
This is an example of what the Elder calls the "Assumed Symmetry Fallacy."

He writes:
I am not a logician and do not know of a formal name for this fallacy, but let's call it the Assumed Symmetry Fallacy: the assumption that two sides - by virtue of their opposition - are falsely assumed to be symmetric.
This is a very important insight and one that we need to consider and discuss.  The western world tends to think of the Arab war against the Jews as a matter of symmetry.  They use terms like "cycles of violence" or the "Israel-Palestine" conflict, both of which suggest a symmetry of power and hostility.

This is not merely a matter of false analogy, as one of his commenters suggests, but of a systemic bias against the Jewish minority in the Middle East via medias and governments throughout the world.  It is a bias in which it generally suggested that the Jewish minority deserves a good beating because we are mean to the "Palestinians."

The Jews of the Middle East, via the State of Israel, are now a powerful people and we should be very proud, as Jews and friends of the Jewish State, of their accomplishments. The success of Israel is nothing short of remarkable, given its humble beginnings. Israel has the most powerful military in the entire region and one of the best economies, given its relative size, of any country in the world. Israel is creative, innovative, technological, internationally-minded, and sophisticated.

However, the Jews of the Middle East also represent a tiny minority surrounded by a much larger, hostile majority of Muslims who have made it very clear, over the long and brutal course of 1,400 years, that they simply will not stand for Jewish sovereignty on historically Jewish land and will do everything within their power to make life miserable for the Jewish minority. They teach their children that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs and that killing Jewish people is pleasing in the sight of Allah. They wage war against us. They shoot rockets at us. They strap suicide belts onto women and children because when Muslim women and children commit suicide in an effort to murder Jews it is considered not merely a noble act, but the most noble spiritual act of the shaheed.

The truth of the matter is that in the Long Arab War Against the Jews of the Middle East, there is no symmetry. In terms of numbers, resources, land mass, every advantage goes to the Arabs. They outnumber the Jews by a factor of 60 or 70 to 1 throughout the region. They conquered and control over 99% of the entire Middle East, with the sole exception of the Jewish State of Israel, and are driving Christians out of the region entirely. They hold all non-Muslims under submission to Islam within the system of dhimmitude since the rise of that religion in the 7th century.

And now they literally create a brand-spanking new people, the "Palestinians," for the distinct purpose of countering Jewish sovereignty and freedom on historically Jewish land. So, no, there is no symmetry in this fight.

The Jews are fighting to maintain freedom and sovereignty and the great Arab majority is dedicated to destroying that freedom and sovereignty and will ruin their own cousins, the Palestinian-Arabs, in order to keep them as the dagger pointed at the heart of the Jewish people on Jewish land.

Peter Beinart, it should be noted, is perhaps the single foremost example of Jewish dhimmitude in the public square today. He represents an excellent example of the kind of Jewish "progressive" who cannot only not bring himself to take his own side in a fight, but who has so incorporated the "Palestinian narrative" of pristine victim-hood into his understanding of the conflict that he honestly believes that the besieged Jewish minority in the Middle East are the aggressors upon their former Arab-Muslim masters.

Finally, and most importantly, the Elder is generally correct when he writes this:
The Palestinian Arabs are a recently invented people. They exist today, to be sure, but they were not a "people" before 1948 at the very earliest. Westerners who drew the borders after World War I created what today's Palestinian Arabs laughably call "historic Palestine" - arbitrary lines that surrounded a people who had as much in common with those across those lines as with those within them. Arabs in the Galilee had more in common with those in Damascus than those in Bethlehem. Tribes and families trumped geography (and they often still do.) They became a "people" because of how thheir Arab brethren refused to allow them to integrate into their countries, forcing them to suffer as a separate group that eventually diid turn them into a people. Arabs themselves admit freely that they kept Palestinian Arabs in miserable conditions in order to foster their nascent "unity."
And that, of course, is his primary point concerning the Assumed Symmetry Fallacy. The Jews have been a people for over 3,500 years and perhaps considerably longer. Among the peoples of the earth the Jews, along with the Chinese and other indigenous peoples, are among the oldest on the planet. Jews are also, along with native Americans, for example, among the most persecuted. The Palestinian-Arabs, by contrast, only emerged as an allegedly distinct people toward the end of the twentieth-century and did so for the specific purpose of beating up on the Jews.

And I suppose this is where I disagree with the Elder. Are the "Palestinians" a distinct and separate people from Jordanian Arabs or Syrian Arabs or Egyptian Arabs? The classical definition of nationhood would suggest not. So-called "Palestinians" share the same religion with other Arabs, the same food-stuffs, generally speaking, with other Arabs, the same language and traditions. The "Palestinians" are Arabs. Period. And, in fact, most of them immigrated into the area following the Jewish aliyahs around the turn of the century.

The Jewish people are under no obligation to recognize a brand-new allegedly distinct people who came into existence for the explicit purpose of robbing the tiny Jewish minority of sovereignty on Jewish land.

The truth of the matter is that we owe them nothing.

If this sounds rather harsh, I am sorry, but the "Palestinians" have turned down every single offer for a state in peace next to Israel since 1937. They are never going to accept a Jewish presence with autonomy on land that was once captured by the forces of Islam, because to do so contradicts the very reason that they came into existence as an allegedly distinct ethnicity to begin with.

What the Elder understands, and what Beinart clearly does not, is that there is no symmetry. Shlomo Sand is a racist and a traitor to his people. The very notion that the Jews are a recently invented people is historically preposterous and Sand is a fraud. Adelson, however, whatever one may make of his politics, was correct if he suggested that the "Palestinians" are a newly invented people.

This is not a matter of opinion.

It is a matter of fact.


  1. And what's the name for those who idolize, or at least endlessly apologize for, Edward Snowden, while working themselves up into a frenzy of foaming rage at even the mention of Jonathan Pollard?

    I'm sure there's a name for that too, out there somewhere... ;)

  2. By the way, you guys should know that the Elder was actually kind enough to post this piece on website. I would link back to it, but I am still working off my ps4 - if you can believe it - and simple things like linking to other websites has suddenly become rather difficult. Heck, I cannot even linebreak on this comment. In any case, it is very nice that he republished this piece and I appreciate it very much.

  3. Why can't these people be both Arab and Palestinian? Who are we to tell them what to be?

    The requirement that they accept and respect the right of Jews as a people is not contingent on whether or not Palestinian Arabs are a people. Until the Jewish right is fulfilled, there will be no peace no matter how they describe themselves.

    That does not mean that their false claims about history and facts should not be disputed. when

    1. School,

      Why can't these people be both Arab and Palestinian?

      They are both Arab and "Palestinian." But so is every single Jew and non-Muslim born into what was the British Mandate of Palestine also a "Palestinian."

      "Palestinian" is not an ethnicity any more than "Californian" represents a distinct ethnic group. A "Palestinian" is anyone, whatsoever, born to that land. This includes Jews and Christians and Hindus and Rastafarians and Whatever-Come-What-May.

      But the point is, of course, that by representing themselves as some distinct and separate and long-standing ethnic or national group they can freely challenge Jewish claims to Jewish sovereignty on the land of our history and posterity.

    2. As I said, inaccurate and false claims about history and facts should be disputed, even as one accepts that they are a people, and that the meaning of Palestinian has undergone change.

      Bottom line is that even as we accept that they are a people, they refuse to accept that Jews are a people, or that they have let their peoplehood be defined by rejection of Israel, which means they cannot allow themselves to be a peace partner.

  4. O/T, Doodad asked -


    The above is a new "progressive" organization I am just starting to hear about. Anyone here looked at them yet?

    (I took my diary down to work on something...)

    I haven't looked into them yet, but the current Pallywood-style front page image on their site of frightened children peering out of holes in walls seems to be a curious choice.

    1. I hope you repost your piece, Jay.

    2. Yeah and some of the names look dodgy to me. They appear to be taking a hard stand against BDS so that interested me.

    3. It's good to see a union page on their site. A J Street sorta thing without the BDS support certainly has its place, even if I wouldn't join it myself.

      On second thought, that picture I mention above doesn't seem too bad, looking at it again, but maybe I'm understandably a little touchy when it comes to progressive organizations involved with the Arab-Israel conflict using pictures of children, since same has usually generally preceded heartstring-tugging, but untrue, narratives of Israeli villainy, in the past. Not that I have any evidence this is what this group is doing, it's just a gut reaction. "Sigh, here we go again." If you know what I mean...

    4. Gotta say I am real nervous anymore when I hear the word "progressive," any more. So many of them have turned out to be antisemites or vile Israel haters. Just don't trust 'em.

    5. This is such a shame.

      When I read what Doodad writes above it makes me sad - and it pisses me off - because the thing of it is, he is correct. The progressive movement, which I was a proud member of since my teens in the US, is driving out its Jews because it is forcing us to choose between a hate-full political movement (BDS) and our own people.

  5. Yes, Doodad, but if they screech 'ethnic cleansing' and 'racism' loud enough and long enough, maybe they'll convince themselves they aren't just mere antisemites.

  6. It's often, almost always, unnecessary to engage idiots like Beinart. I mean when you take your whole website offline because the organization that hosts it gives you 100% complete freedom to say whatever you want w/o comment and you still pout and scream (on MSNBC no less) like a 3 year old that you're being oppressed and censored.....then you're just another paranoid narcissist.

    These idiots don't have a cause or a goal or even a point of view. They're people who'd rather be hated than ignored.

    1. The funny thing is, Trudy, that Beinart supported the Iraq war as an editor of the New Republic. This guy is not a "progressive," but a foreign policy conservative. When I was marching against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush 2 administration, this guy was joining with Tom Friedman saying that we need to just "give war a chance."

      The hypocrisy, and failure to acknowledge even recent history, is just astounding.