Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Damage You Didn't See

Like many of my friends, when I heard that Israel had banned Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country, I saw this as a colossal mistake. What an utter PR disaster! True, Bibi might not have had much of a choice, given the pressure that Trump was placing. But, whether there was a choice or not, it was certainly a terrible course of action.

Then I started thinking about WWII fighter planes.

During WWII, the Allied forces had to figure out which parts of the plane most needed armor protection. So researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses studied the bullet holes which appeared on returning planes, and found that the bullet holes occurred in the following places:

Accordingly, the researchers recommended that the areas with the red dots should receive the armor plating. It's obvious!

But Abraham Wald, a religious Jewish statistician who had escaped Austria, pointed out that exactly the opposite was true. The planes with the bullet holes in these areas were the ones that had survived the missions and returned. It was the planes which had been hit in the other areas which had not survived the mission.

This is known as survivorship bias, and it is a form of selection bias. It's concentrating on that which is visible, without realizing that the thing which is not visible might be more significant.

I think that this is exactly the case with the Tlaib/Omar debacle. Yes, it was a disaster. But we're not seeing what the alternative would have looked like. Had they come, they would doubtless have used every opportunity to make some kind of PR scene that would demonize Israel. Starting confrontations with soldiers, making scenes at Temple Mount, inciting riots, etc., etc. And it would have been scenes with gripping photos and video, unlike the story of their not coming, which had no accompanying visuals. Stories with no visuals grab much less attention than stories with visuals.

It was a no-win situation for Israel. We can't assume that just because the situation is terrible, that the alternative would have been better.

It's kind of like Israel retaining control over Judea and Samaria.

49 comments:

  1. IL could have let those two in...and given trump's extremely limited attention span this too would have passed. But the weakness lies mostly with Netanyahu - despised and feared by both friend and foe - and his willingness to (stupidly) engage and indulge any slight. He truly is a spent force in a field of incompents. The IL political class is gutless and corrupt.

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    1. This is totally, and typically, delusional. Judged by Jewish standards, Netanyahu fares very poorly, but judged by ordinary standards he is obviously one of the most successful politicians anywhere in the world. He is also, by any coherent measure, less despised around the world than any Israel leader in history except Yitzhak Rabin (who would have ended up the same way had he survived long enough to have to clear up his mess).

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  2. Well said. Also keep in mind that these days, people only remember things for about a couple weeks maximum. So no reason to get too worked up about it. That's for the media to do, until they move on to their next story.

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  3. Based on this video from the Israel Advocacy Movement, it's best that Omar and Tlaib didn't come at all:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMjP36elHlE

    The fact that she can lie and twist the truth in such a facile manner, indicates that she would never be swayed by anything positive that she'll ever see in Israel.

    I thought of the metaphor Rashi gave in Devarim 1:23, regarding Moshe sending the מרגלים:
    This may be compared to a man who says to his friend, “Sell me this donkey of yours.” He replies to him, “Yes.” “Will you give it to me to test it?” He replies, “Yes.” “May I test it on mountains and hills?” Again he replies, “Yes.” When he sees that his friend does not withhold anything from him, the purchaser thinks to himself, “This man is certain that I shall not find any defect in the donkey,” and he immediately says to him,“Take your money; I need not test it now.” I too, consented to your words, thinking that you would perhaps reconsider when you saw that I do not withhold it from you, but you did not reconsider (Sifrei).

    Israel could have let Omar and Tlaib in, to show that Israel has nothing to hide. But the results would have been just the same as with the מרגלים.

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  4. FYI, Abraham Wald was a grandson of R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner, author of Dor Revi'i on masechet Hulin. Had he not been killed in a plane crash in 1950, he would have been one of the first winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics.

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  5. I suppose keeping those two out of the limelight is the smarter choice. I've never seen such talent-free women get so much media attention in their first year in Congress. All they do all day, every day, is insult Israel and Trump.

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  6. The alternative is that they would have been visiting "Palestine" when the PA announced a total ban on all public gay activities. I would have loved to see them try to defend this to their leftist activist supporters.

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  7. As a statistician I appreciate the accurate explanation of Wald's work.

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  8. That is fascinating but, just out of curiosity, how do you know he would have won the Nobel Prize?

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    1. Because he was the first to prove the existence of a solution to a system of equations describing the equilibrium of an economy. Aside from that he was one of the three or four greatest mathematical statisticians of the twentieth century whose work was critical to the subsequent development of econometrics. And it was only discovered recently (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2636557) that he was actually the mathematical brains behind Oskar Morgentstern who was the nominal co-author with John von Neumann of the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Wald

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    2. Fascinating! Incidentally, I take it he was a relative of yours?

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  9. You understand, RNS, that there is no such thing anymore as a "PR disaster", if there ever was, which is highly questionable. Supporters of Bibi and Trump are fine with it, opponents of them are not. Your analysis might be correct, it might not, but it doesn't matter. Had the exact same situation occurred with a left wing president or PM, כביכול, the positions would have reversed. It was the same under Bush too. So it's just another case of, "who cares?"

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  10. It really is not a PR disaster because most of humanity doesn't care.

    Even the ones that do forget about it as soon as the next day's news flashes on their TVs.

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  11. It would have been very bad had they been allowed to enter Israel. They were looking to portray Israel in the worst possible light. Tlaib and Omar would have had meetings with the worst Jew haters and would have done very provocative things in order to portray Israel in a very bad light. Nothing good would have come from the visit. It was the right and very courageous thing to do.

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  12. Demonizing Israel? You mean, criticizing Israel in any way. Not bowing to it as if it is an infallible god. Listen, if you can't handle criticism, you can't have a country. Israel obviously has much to hide if it's scared of two ladies.

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    1. Why the straw man? The only people I see claiming Israel is scared are the bigots. Are you one of them?

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    2. Perhaps you should watch the video to which I provided the link above:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMjP36elHlE

      Their proposed trip was sponsored by Miftah, which is a Palestinian organization that propagates lies such as Jews using Christian children's blood to make matzoh, Jews poisoning Palestinians' water, Jews stealing Palestinians' organs, etc. etc. etc.

      This is not "criticism", these are blood libels that have been circulated since the Middle Ages against Jews. And Tlaib and Omar are not much above that. They're not on a "fact-finding mission", but on a "fault-finding mission". There's an expression in Yiddish, "Whoever looks for trouble, finds it."

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    3. Yehudah P.,

      So what? It is no secret that Omar and Tlaib are haters of Israel and the Jewish people. In a free and open society (which, as I noted below, Israel should be proud to be a part), that should not be a bar to being allowed to travel freely and express opinions.

      That is the great thing about modern, open, democratic societies, and it is the same fundamental right that allows us to practice our faith as we wish. The notion of depriving people of a platform simply because you disagree with what they have to say should be anathema to anyone who loves freedom and the rights it affords us (in fact, the notion of "de-platforming" or depriving one's opponents of the right to speak is a repressive tactic increasingly utilized by the radical left with which Omar and Tlaib so proudly associate).

      There is a quotation attributed to Voltaire (likely apocryphally), "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". These should be words to live by for all lovers of freedom and modern democracy.

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    4. @Just,

      No democracy on the planet adheres to those words, and no democracy ever will. It's a nice aspirational quote, but it's a recipe for societal anarchy and endless violence. Words can kill.

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    5. @Just Curious:
      They have freedom of speech--no one is denying that. But they will knowingly spread falsehoods and half-truths about Israel. Even their fellow Democrats are getting weary of trying to defend them--especially since Israel gave Tlaib permission to visit her grandmother, but she refused anyway, because Israel's conditions (which she agreed to) were too "oppressive"!

      When Bill Maher calls them out as BDS being a "bullshit purity test", Tlaib says that people should boycott Bill Maher's show! What, she can't put up with a little criticism?! I thought she honors freedom of speech!

      -Yehudah P.

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    6. Just Curious has a theory, commonly espoused by liberals, that we'll call the "indivisibility of freedom hypothesis". The theory runs as follows: if we restrict the right of a hostile Somalian Marxist to come to our country and cuss us out, then this sets in train irresistible freedom-constraining forces that will in due course will impinge on your freedom to wear tefillin. On the other hand if you let the hostile Somali Marxist do what she wants, then this fortfies a freedom-protecting forecefield guaranteeing your own freedom in perpetuity.

      Now, if we examine this hypothesis for a second we see that liberals don't even attempt to apply it consistently. They can advocate restrictions on firearms ownership or healthcare choice without fearing for a second that this will impinge on the rights of LBTQ people, for example. Not only that, but even within the realm of speech they instinctively know their theory is nonsense. Restricting the ability of white nationalists to spread their views does not in any way threaten the ability of liberals to propagate their views. Indeed, common sense tells us (and them) the precise opposite.

      The truth is this. Liberals instinctively know that politics is war and that in war you don't win by attacking your own team. Liberals and Somali Marxists are on the same team, so liberals advocate unrestricted freedom for Somali Marxists. That's really all there is to it. In the real world, the more freedom your enemies have, the less freedom you have and vice versa. An "Open Society" just means a society in which leftists of all kinds can do what they want and rightists know to keep their mouth shut if they want any job more dignified than janitor.

      Case in point. Voltaire was an atheist and a monarchist. He knew, however, that atheism was unpopular and most atheists were republicans. He therefore advocated unrestricted freedom of speech for republican atheists (not surprisingly he was unperturbed when the Jesuits were outlawed in 1764). Unsurprisingly, the free speech given to atheist republicans led to more people becoming atheist republicans.

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    7. @Gavriel,

      You can sum up the liberal (really: leftist) position very simply: I will defend to death your right to agree with me. With this formulation, you find they are much more consistent than they might first appear.

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    8. Anonymous,

      "...they will knowingly spread falsehoods and half-truths about Israel"?? Gasp, stop the presses! As I said above, the fact that Omar and Tlaib are rabid, virulent haters of Israel and the Jewish people is no secret. But, amazingly enough, true freedom of speech does not require that what one says be true or agreeable.

      That is the point: it is easy to defend freedom of speech when what folks are saying is congenial to you; the real test is whether you are willing to defend those who don't agree with you (and may not even like you).

      The fact that these odious people would seek to silence even a fellow ultra-leftist like Bill Maher for disagreeing with them only strengthens my point: speech restriction is a favored tactic of the left for suppressing dissent

      (Though, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I should note that, in a formal sense, only governments should be bound to not restrict speech by law/decree; private individuals/companies should be free to do as they wish. Lawful freedom of speech does not mean that speech should not have consequences, and people should be free to demonstrate just how abhorrent we find the misguided opinions of people like Omar/Tlab, Holocaust deniers, etc.)

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    9. Gavriel (and, by extension, Avi),

      I was unfamiliar with any "indivisibility of freedom hypothesis" (by saying "we'll call", did you mean you just made it up?), so I googled it and found a bunch of unrelated information pertaining to this Brexit nonsense and some dogma of "indivisibility of the four freedoms" of the EU single market (freedoms to move "goods, capital, services, and labor", apparently).

      The argument you are proposing sounds more properly like a typical "slippery slope" argument which is, incidentally, not the argument I am making by any means. My argument is simply that "freedom of expression" (i.e., the rights to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press) is a fundamental good in and of itself and should/need not be abridged simply b/c you disagree with the opinions expressed by some hateful idiot.

      But you are absolutely right that modern leftist Liberals (capital "L") are keen to apply that freedom selectively to silence dissent (as I have noted in multiple comments on this thread). That is a chilling prospect, and it is precisely the reason why those of us who subscribe to the ideals of classical liberalism (lowercase "L") should defend freedom of expression (even, and perhaps especially, for those who disagree with us) all the more vigorously.

      You are absolutely correct that "Restricting the ability of white nationalists to spread their views does not in any way threaten the ability of liberals to propagate their views." That is not why we should protect the speech of white nationalists (or other repugnant groups); we should protect their speech b/c it is the right thing to do. To do otherwise is to be no better than the leftists.

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    10. Avi,

      Words most definitely cannot kill (unless you are referring to words that explicitly incite violence).

      The ludicrous idea that "speech equals violence" is a decidedly leftist canard. (If you are unaware of this or don't believe me, feel free to google "speech equals violence" or spend time on pretty much any college campus in the US.)

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    11. Gavriel (and, by extension, Avi),

      I was unfamiliar with any "indivisibility of freedom hypothesis" (by saying "we'll call", did you mean you just made it up?), so I googled it and found a bunch of unrelated information pertaining to this Brexit nonsense and some dogma of "indivisibility of the four freedoms" of the EU single market (freedoms to move "goods, capital, services, and labor", apparently).

      The argument you are proposing sounds more properly like a typical "slippery slope" argument which is, incidentally, not the argument I am making by any means. My argument is simply that "freedom of expression" (i.e., the rights to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press) is a fundamental good in and of itself and should/need not be abridged simply b/c you disagree with the opinions expressed by some hateful idiot.

      But you are absolutely right that modern leftist Liberals (capital "L") are keen to apply that freedom selectively to silence dissent (as I have noted in multiple comments on this thread). That is a chilling prospect, and it is precisely the reason why those of us who subscribe to the ideals of classical liberalism (lowercase "L") should defend freedom of expression (even, and perhaps especially, for those who disagree with us) all the more vigorously.

      You are absolutely correct that "Restricting the ability of white nationalists to spread their views does not in any way threaten the ability of liberals to propagate their views." That is not why we should protect the speech of white nationalists (or other repugnant groups); we should protect their speech b/c it is the right thing to do. To do otherwise is to be no better than the leftists.

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    12. Anonymous,

      "...they will knowingly spread falsehoods and half-truths about Israel"?? Gasp, stop the presses! As I said above, the fact that Omar and Tlaib are rabid, virulent haters of Israel and the Jewish people is no secret. But, amazingly enough, true freedom of speech does not require that what one says be true or agreeable.

      That is the point: it is easy to defend freedom of speech when what folks are saying is congenial to you; the real test is whether you are willing to defend those who don't agree with you (and may not even like you).

      The fact that these odious people would seek to silence even a fellow ultra-leftist like Bill Maher for disagreeing with them only strengthens my point: speech restriction is a favored tactic of the left for suppressing dissent.

      (Though, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I should note that, in a formal sense, only governments should be bound to not restrict speech by law/decree; private individuals/companies should be free to do as they wish. Lawful freedom of speech does not mean that speech should not have consequences; people should be free to demonstrate just how abhorrent we find the misguided opinions of people like Omar/Tlaib, Holocaust deniers, etc.)

      Delete
    13. Avi,

      Words most definitely cannot kill (unless you are referring to words that explicitly incite violence).

      The ludicrous idea that "speech equals violence" is a decidedly leftist canard. (If you are unaware of this or don't believe me, feel free to google "speech equals violence" or spend time on pretty much any college campus in the US.)

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    14. (Sorry, don't know how these comments got posted multiple times...)

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  13. RNS, your Abraham Wald story is great, too great, and it almost certainly didn't happen that way if it happened at all. Everyone involved knew they had to account for the planes that did not return. Here is an interesting article attempting to get to the bottom of the story. http://www.ams.org/publicoutreach/feature-column/fc-2016-06

    Could it be that you still have some of the credulousness for "Gedolim" stories that it a by-product of a Chareidi upbringing? I know I do.

    Rationalist

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    1. You probably didn't read the postscript to the article you directed us to:
      Postcript
      My indignation at how the internet dealt with Wald's work was overblown. Stephen Stigler (son of George, and a statistician at the University of Chicago) called my attention to a note by W. Allen Wallis himself in which he mentions Wald's work explicitly in connection with survivorship bias. Wallis' original article in the Journal of the American Statistical Association was followed by two very brief comments and then by a further 'rejoinder' of a bit more than one page. Towards the end of it he says, "The military was inclined to provide protection for those parts that on returning planes showed the most hits. Wald assumed, on good evidence, that hits in combat were uniformly distributed over the planes. It follows that hits on the more vulnerable parts were less likely to be found on returning planes than hits on the less vulnerable parts, since planes receiving hits on the more vulnerable parts were less likely to return to provide data. From these premises, he devised methods for estimating vulnerability of various parts."

      Stephen Stigler recalled to us that both Wallis and his father George Stigler had mentioned this work of Wald in conversation several times. He called attention to Wallis' remarks in a letter published in the May 1989 issue of Nature in which he also pointed out the relevance of survivorship bias to the interpretation of the statistical record of trilobite fossils. This may have been the original seed from which the tree of subsequent comment grew.

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    2. Just curious said, "So what? It is no secret that Omar and Tlaib are haters of Israel and the Jewish people'

      How are they haters of the Jewish people? Be specific now and leave out the hysteria. As for hating Israel, if they do, a person is allowed to hate a country. nothing wrong with that necessarily.

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  14. "So researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses studied the bullet holes which appeared on returning planes..."

    I hate to be pedantic and distract from the point of the article, but there must be a mistake somewhere. The Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) did not exist by that name during WWII. Their predecessor, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Research Group (ASWORG) did exist, but I'm not aware of any evidence that they performed the analysis described in this article. CNA did end up publishing some of Wald's papers once they were declassified, maybe that's the source of the confusion?

    I'd be very interested if someone could point to a source connecting aircraft survivorship analysis at the Statistical Research Group (SRG) where Wald worked and ASWORG.

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  15. Included in the “what if Israel had let them in” analysis has to also include the possible repercussions of ignoring Donald Trump’s supposed advice, which was more like instructions or even marching orders. Trump has been shown to be a vindictive and petty individual, who does not react pleasantly to perceived slights. His “advice,” in this case, was not offered just because he felt keeping Omar and Tlaib out of Israel to be in Israel’s best interest — it is to serve his goal of keeping that pair front and center and portraying them as the supposed true face of the Democratic party. If Israel did not willingly go along with his plan, and instead undermined it by allowing them in, we have no idea of the extent to which Trump could have expressed his anger and exacted revenge on the Israel government. We are not as independent as we would like to believe.

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  16. R' Slifkin,

    Your discussion of Abraham Wald's statistical contribution to the war effort is very interesting, but I'm not sure that survivorship bias furnished a particularly apt metaphor in this circumstance.

    In any case, I have heard cogent arguments both for and against Israel's decision, but it seems to me that barring these contemptible people from the country just makes Israel look petty (and Netanyahu's alacrity in obeying Trump makes him look like a lapdog).

    There is a clever quote from one of George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" books: "When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."

    Of course, you might argue that these people are free to wag their tongues in their own country, but I would maintain that in a free and open society (of which the State of Israel should be proud to be a part) people should be free to travel and express opinions (however abhorrent) as they wish (short of inciting actual violence, which--for all these women's faults--I don't believe they have done).

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    1. That's a ridiculous position to take, because _no_ democracy on the planet takes it, and thus singling out Israel is just another double-standard. EU countries bar contentious foreigners all the time, whether they are politicians in their own countries or not. The US does the same. Germany has a policy to bar Holocaust deniers. Israel has a policy to bar Israel-deniers. Stop insisting that Israel be different in a way that is against its own interests.

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    2. It is a ridiculous position to take b/c no democracy takes it? Simply because b/c countries are too cowardly to do it in practice does not mean that I and the classical theorists of democracy (and lower-case "L" liberalism) are wrong, but perhaps countries don't have the luxury of principles.

      What is ridiculous *is* that "Germany has a policy to bar Holocaust deniers". Why should morons have any less freedom of speech in an ostensibly free country like Germany than elsewhere? The answer is b/c Germany, with its shameful history, feels it necessary to utilize this speech-restriction as virtue signalling as a means to assuage its collective national guilt.

      So you see, I'm not singling out Israel by any means. But I maintain that, in a truly free society, allowing people to the freedom to express their opinions (however odious or wrongheaded) is not against anyone's interests.

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    3. I made it clear that what is ridiculous is holding Israel to a standard no one else adheres to.

      The answer is b/c Germany, with its shameful history, feels it necessary to utilize this speech-restriction as virtue signalling as a means to assuage its collective national guilt.

      No. It's because Germany knows better than most that speech can be deadly.

      You sound like an advocate of anarchy, not of liberty.

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    4. I am emphatically not holding Israel to a different standard.

      I am an ardent Zionist and I believe Israel has every right to defend itself again Arab (or so-called "Palestinian") violence. However, it is important to note that rantings of a "Somali Marxist" (as one commenter put it above) and a whiny Arab do not, by any reasonable definition, constitute "violence".

      As I made clear, I think it is equally ridiculous that Germany bans Holocaust denial (do the Germans think that making it taboo to say it in public somehow erases or absolves the long and notorious history of German Jew-hatred?) and similarly laughable that UK regulations forbid using footage from parliament "in any light entertainment programme or in a programme of political satire".

      The US, on the other hand, still affords its citizens the freest speech in the world (for now), including Holocaust denial, Israel denial, right-wing extremism, left-wing extremism, and everything in between. Remarkably enough, this great country has not descended into anarchy in spite of all that speech.

      I find it mystifying that you mock leftism (deservedly) above and yet espouse such a decidedly leftist position that "speech can be deadly" and should therefore be restricted.

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    5. Just Curious says, "I am an ardent Zionist and I believe Israel has every right to defend itself again Arab (or so-called "Palestinian") violence."

      The implication in that statement is that this whole mess is the fault of the Arabs. What do you do with this statement by Israel's most prominent historian on the early history of the conflict:

      “Israelis liked to believe, and tell the world, that they were running an “enlightened” or “benign” occupation, qualitatively different from other military occupations the world had seen. The truth was radically different. Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation.” (Israeli historian Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 341)

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  17. Omar loves those Miftah benjamins

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  18. The idea that we want to appreciate the benefit for "damage we didn't see" from a visit needs to consider two more points to be complete. First, what possible benefits would there have been from having them come here, try to provoke people and not getting anywhere? Second, just the process of doing something hard is good for individuals and good for us as a society, whereas the process of avoiding something hard (ie, being criticized by people we disagree with) is harmful. Now, instead of building a society whose instinct is to say, "Your criticisms and attacks are wrong for the following reasons," we're building one that says, "We know what's right from the outset and no one can tell us otherwise."

    We're not perfect, we never have been and we never will be, but the ability to overcome challenges and to improve ourselves has been one of Israel's greatest strengths. The real lasting damage hasn't been harm to our political position, it's been harm to our ability to improve and overcome challenges.

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    1. Adam, tonight I'm going to come over and call you a dork in front of your wife and kids. I'm bringing over a camera crew with instructions to get footage of you looking like a moron, which I will then spread about on Whatsapp. I expect a good dinner in compensation for the enormous benefits this will confer upon your family and social life.

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  19. You must keep this entire story in context.

    Omar and Tlaib were originally invited to come along with a large group from Congress. They chose to not go with that group.

    They later decided to visit "Palestine", going with a group of people from a group known to support BDS and terrorism. They were refused, as was appropriate.

    Then Tlaib asked to be allowed to come in order to visit her grandmother, promising to not do anything politically provocative. Israel called her bluff and allowed this, after which she changed her mind and refused to go.

    This is, and has always been, nothing but political grandstanding.

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  20. I generally oppose banning BDS people from Israel, because by doing so and contributing to our economy they expose themselves as hypocrites.

    In fact, I think we should have let Omar and Tlaib in, and assigned a government economist to follow them everywhere and jot down everything they purchased or consumed (gas, hotel rooms, food, etc.). Then, upon their exit from the country, present them with a letter along these lines:

    Dear Ms. Omar,

    Thank you for visiting the State of Israel. During your stay, you provided the government with an estimated $x of tax revenue, of which an estimated $y will contribute to the budget of the IDF.

    Thank you for supporting BDS!

    Yours sincerely,

    Moshe Kahlon

    Minister of Finance

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  21. Ok, so we don't know what would have happened. Fine. But how do decisions get made then? I see you are advocating blind belief in Netanyahu's knowledge and understanding of the situation, because he is there at the table. When it was Rabin deciding on Oslo, did you say the same?

    Your position that advocates blind belief in the Commander in Chief is inconsistent and disingenuous.

    P.S. I personally have no idea if Bibi's actions here were wise. From speeches of his he sounds like a sound byte person, not a serious nuanced attention-to-detail expert, and that is why I don't trust him. Between Obama and him regarding the Iran deal, I would trust Obama more, because he doesn't sound like a sound byte person. But personally I don't know how it is possible for anyone to have an absolute opinion about these things.

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  22. "Had they come, they would doubtless have used every opportunity to make some kind of PR scene that would demonize Israel. Starting confrontations with soldiers, making scenes at Temple Mount, inciting riots, etc., etc. And it would have been scenes with gripping photos and video, unlike the story of their not coming, which had no accompanying visuals."

    Ummm... Probably not. If they did, it would not have played well back in the US and would have cut them off more from the mainstream. The way it played out made them into martyrs.

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