Counterpoint: Five gradations of stupidity

We have simply forgotten the art of syllogistic reasoning - to examine not only the moral implications of our policies, but also their practical impact

By DAVID FORMAN
March 26, 2009 13:48
Counterpoint: Five gradations of stupidity

2703-forman.jpg. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Some policies enacted by our many governments defy logic. They can only be characterized as policies of stupidity, particularly since they all will reap harsh domestic and international repercussions. More than the policies making no sense, there seems to be no redeeming value to them. It is as if arbitrariness is the new ideological guide for decision-making. Our leaders cannot see the forest through the trees. Simply, there is no correlation between cause and effect. Below are five gradations of stupidity that can be attributed to our governments. 1) No sooner does US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive in the country than she admonishes Israel for its plan to destroy 80 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem - in Silwan, the City of David. The government's claim is that the houses were built without permits - never mind that many have been standing since before the state was established. Of course, it is virtually impossible for a Palestinian to secure a building license. The real cause of the demolition orders has little to do with legalities, but rather with the fact that the government wants to create a "green space" in place of the houses, where it intends to open an archeological site. The settler organization, Elad, with financial backing from Bingo magnate Irving Moscowitz, is navigating the process, making wild claims that it has purchased many of the homes. The members of Elad pose as concerned citizens, protecting the national interest in conducting archeological excavations. The ultimate goal of these far-out religious Jews is to "Judaize" the capital. The complete foolishness of the government and the Jerusalem municipality to uproot so many Palestinians from their homes - in the heart of east Jerusalem - is beyond measure. The entire international community will rightfully come down on us, and we will have no defense. And one can imagine what riots will follow on the part of Palestinians - riots that such an inane policy invites. 2) Then there is the idiocy of the punitive and unnecessary checkpoints, roadblocks and inner barriers/walls/fences within the Palestinian Authority - all of which suggest a commitment to irrationality. While there is little debate that the security barrier has helped to reduce suicide bombings, the route of the barrier is most certainly problematic because of its expropriation of Palestinian land. Nevertheless, few Israelis object to the checkpoints and roadblocks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (although many of them are administered in a needlessly inhumane way), because they are necessary, especially since we still face a real threat of terror. However, there is a network of roadblocks and checkpoints and interior walls within the West Bank that are rarely discussed in the public forum, which place unbearable hardships upon the Palestinians. Having little security value, these interior obstacles are ostensibly set up to protect settlers going to and from their settlements. But they are already protected by a separate road system. That these barriers limit the freedom of movement of so many to guarantee the freedom of movement of so few lacks any measure of reasonableness. Israel is basically imprisoning a people, not only making it virtually impossible for Palestinians to travel from one village to the next, but also cutting off access to their land and their livelihood - again all in violation of international agreements to which the government is committed. 3) Another act of imbecility is the expansion of existing settlements, the refusal to destroy illegal ones (unlike the government's eagerness to destroy those homes in Silwan), and the actual building of new settlements. If one wants to thwart a two-state solution, all one has to do is continue confiscating Palestinian land and building Jewish communities throughout the West Bank - with separate roads leading to them - so that the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state would be impossible. And, once again, the world, including our greatest ally America, will condemn us for violating agreements we have signed, as well as stalling the peace process. 4) And, if the above three acts are not sufficient to indicate the insanity of our political thought process, there is the utterly absurd policy surrounding the monitoring of the border crossings into Gaza. While one should be concerned about arms smuggling, to decide one day that blankets are considered legitimate humanitarian aid, but not sheets, that toothpaste satisfies the criteria for needed hygiene, but not toothbrushes, staggers the imagination. Despite the justification of the war in Gaza, Israel has been taking a beating in the international community. Hypocrisy seems to rule the nations of the world, but that has little to do with providing an unhindered flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. After all, how many times did we hear our leaders proclaim that we are not fighting the Gazan people, but their leaders, Hamas? So what is the sense here, especially since we are not using the well-worn argument that we are closing the borders to punish Hamas for the continued firing of rockets? 5) The last area of mischievous nonsense, which goes far beyond inanity, is the construction of the alleged Museum of Tolerance on top of an Arab graveyard. Recently, I visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. While the museum places special emphasis on the Nazi persecution and eventual slaughter of the Jews of Europe, it also addresses bigotry and genocide in today's world. It seems that those behind erecting Israel's supposed Museum of Tolerance have little understanding of what the museum should represent. Jews throughout the world are the first ones to cry anti-Semitism when a Jewish graveyard is defaced. The sacred Mount of Olives cemetery was partly destroyed by the Jordanians during their occupation of the West Bank from 1948 until 1967, and the headstones of many graves were used in the foundation of the Seven Arches Hotel. We were justifiably outraged by this blatant act of disrespect. It is sad that we do not hear a word of protest from the Orthodox establishment about the setting of the new museum, whereas many in the Orthodox community come out in force to stop archeological excavations or road building when there is the slightest suspicion that Jewish graves may be affected. It is these same Orthodox Jews who do not raise their voice to condemn the desecration of Palestinian graves by their coreligionists in Hebron. What Israel is doing by constructing a so-called Museum of Tolerance on an Arab burial plot is no different than the settlers' acts of defilement. In fact, it is worse, because the government has sanctioned the building of the museum. Again the political fallout could be devastating, whereby the entire Muslim world will engage in a public relations campaign against Israel, giving further force to their argument that we are a racist state. It could also lead to violent protests by Israeli Arabs. We have simply forgotten the art of syllogistic reasoning - to examine not only the moral implications of our policies, but also their practical impact. In one of our morning prayers, we ask the Almighty to grant us "knowledge, understanding and insight." That our government politicos have not displayed any of these noble attributes is a sure sign that opposite traits have penetrated the cranial sanctums of our titular leaders: ignorance, simplicity and stupidity.

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