Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Indicator

How can you tell if your political views are all well-founded, or if you are subject to hyper-partisanship, enormous Confirmation Bias, and tribalism? Well, if you're Jewish, a new test just arrived!

The following meme is being shared by a number of people in the Jewish community:

Now, these things might be quibbled by Democrats, but can certainly be pointed to by Jewish Republicans as good reasons to be opposed to Biden and yearn for the days of Trump. But there's one item in this list that most certainly does not belong. Did you notice it?

It's the third item, invading Syria. This is something that Jews are against?! While Trump did many things that are good for Israel (at least from a right-wing perspective) - defending Israel at the UN, moving the embassy and thereby exposing the sham that it would "blow up the Middle East," taking action against Iran, encouraging the Abraham Accords - one significant action that was absolutely terrible for Israel was Trump's withdrawal from Syria. It weakened Israel along with its allies, and massively strengthened its enemies. If Biden were to be reversing this decision by Trump, it would be something to tremendously welcome!

As it happens, unfortunately it does not appear to be true that Biden "invaded Syria." All that occurred was that a large US military convoy entered to provide some support for the Kurds, which routinely happens. Unfortunately, we probably cannot expect Biden to reverse this terribly harmful act by Trump - he is unlikely to pursue policies in the Middle East that are beneficial for Israel.

So, for anyone who values Israel's security, appreciating this meme (and sharing it without any disclaimer) just shows that they are so consumed by their tribalist, hyper-partisan love of Trump and hatred of Biden, that they can't even recognize when Trump did something bad for their own side and won't acknowledge even good things that Biden does. It should serve as a wake-up call. Will it?

UPDATE: Judging from the initial comments on the post, the answer is no! All that happens is that they make a 180 degree turn from the position that they took during the Obama years, when they protested that Obama was not invading Syria quickly enough, and they are now either happy to say that the entirety of Israel's defense establishment was wrong in being upset about Trump's withdrawal, or that they no longer desire America to send troops to do things in Israel's interests. The most important thing is to never, ever acknowledge any shortcoming with Trump or praise Biden for anything at all. Surprise!

 

See too this post: Know Your Brain

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52 comments:

  1. You might want to fix this.

    But honestly ... why should we be invading Syria?
    I can understand מבצע מחוץ לקופסה of course but besides that, why would we arm rebels against yet another government?

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  2. The soldiers were taken to a building with one toilet. Tow hundred soldiers. You had to wait in line for h0ours to use the toilet! They slept on the floor. Many got sick with covid.

    Trump's good for Israel outweighs the bad. By moving the embassy to Jerusalem, he recognized Israel's right to the holy city. Obama was very rough on Bibi. How will Bibi handle Biden? Will Biden remove the embassy? Do we really want a war with Syria? If Biden went to war it would not be to protect Israel but to extract Syria's resources. Remove Iran out of the picture would be a better bargain, in my view.

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    1. "Trump's good for Israel outweighs the bad." That may well be true. But can you acknowledge the bad? Can you acknowledge that Biden could do anything good?

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    2. You seem to have a bit of a Trump obsession yourself but...

      Of course Trump was flawed and did some flawed and questionable things. And as an individual even more so. But if we’re judging by the character of the individual then there are many presidents who are in question, including Clinton and JFK. You don’t hold them up as paragons of virtuosity and an example for your children to emulate. But the fact is that it’s the presidency and the policies that matter more than the character of the president.

      Obama was by all accounts ostensibly more pleasing as a person. But his presidency and policies… well let’s just say highly questionable. On his watch we saw the Middle East burn and the resulting European refugee crisis and population shift. That’s an Obama presidential legacy.

      As to whether Biden could do any good? That’s a silly question - of course he could. But are his good policies likely to outweigh his bad ones? Not so sure as he’s surrounded by a party where liberal extremism seems to be holding sway (not to mention rabid anti Israel members such as Tlaib and co).

      Nana

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    3. we could acknowledge that he's, theroretically able to do some good. HOWEVER, s far, his exexcutive order blitz has done nothing good to anybod, and caused enourmous damage. and that's in 4 days !! His desctrution potential is huge

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    4. Nana, I agree with everything you write. You're not the type of person that this post was aimed at.

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    5. Thank you Rabbi Slifkin. If you agree with everything I wrote above then I have to conclude that were you American you would’ve voted for Trump warts and all.

      Nana

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    6. Nana, Trump's character flaws were more than just personal failings. He lived with "alternative facts" as one of his spokesperson's put it. This was fine when it was all politics. But when his fantasies ran into real facts (as often happens in a crisis), it caused huge problems. The two examples are COVID and his election loss. With COVID, he simply repeated that the problem would go away, that masks weren't really necessary, that states should just open up and not worry about the disease. Besides killing people, this tanked the economy much more than if people had simply masked and social distanced. With the election, for whatever reason, he simply couldn't admit defeat which undermines the entire democratic system. [Also on Russia, he had it in his head that anything negative on Russia was an attack on him, so he simply ignored massive Russian hacking of the US govt sites that happened into 2020].

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    7. @RNS, Of course Biden could so some good. The question is, will he do more good for Israel than Trump? Somehow I doubt it. But we shall see.

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    8. David Ohsie, Everyone agrees, even Dems admit Russia did not hack the election. Trump did conceded, when it was necessary, even though the election was stolen. And he handled COVID well, especially when Trump saved millions of lives when he shut travel from China, the source of the virus.

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    9. David - I'm just going to stick with the covid item since the election debacle happened, well, after the election and therefore didn't really factor in how you voted.

      But let's stipulate that you're right and there's absolutely no question as to Trump's culpability to the covid situation and it singularly rests on his shoulders and that another president would have had the foresight to ensure a better outcome (and obviously better than the UK, Italy, Belgium and others who have a per capita higher death rate).

      Assuming you agree with what I wrote about the policies and presidency rather than the president and the inherent risks that seem to be in play with liberal extremism and a very vocal radical anti Israel minority that has an outsize influence - are you comfortable that you voted Democrat (as I assume you did)? How confident are you that your vote was not a vote for fascism (such as censorship and suppression, and the inability to even mention that you voted for Trump in polite society for fear of being "labeled"), pacifism (which in Iran's case could spell disaster), socialism, and having Kerry go back to tired, old ideas for peace-making in the middle east?

      I have to believe that you must have really deliberated before you cast your vote for Biden.

      Nana

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    10. even though the election was stolen.

      Have you ever not been a liar? The election was not stolen. There was no wide-spread fraud. Even if all the supposed incidents actually took place, the result would have been the same.

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    11. @Avi They just stool the election. There were most certainly huge massive amounts of fraud. There is a lot of evidence. I believe there was a lot of fraud. Did you see the video where Trump brought out diagrams proving the fraud? Dems blacked-out windows, and removed Republican poll watchers in Philadelphia.

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    12. Oh, he brought diagrams. That explains things. SO when a non-zero amount of republican observers are in the room, that is somehow a removal of republican poll watchers.
      Of course there was a massive amount of fraud surrounding this election. About $200 million worth, that Trump got from gullible fools to line his pockets.

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    13. @Zd, Yes, Trump brought out these diagrams that proved the election was scammed. There is footage of Dems removing Republican poll watchers, cheering about it. They applauded their removal. This is serious bungees. This is illegal stuff. there was a massive amount of fraud.

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  3. Shouldn't the US military be used to further the interests of the US? What you seem to be suggesting is that the US should risk endless dollars and endless young lives for another country's interests. Israel is more than capable of securing her own borders. There is no existential threat from Syria. The perception that young American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars are being sacrificed for Israel's safety and not for America's best interests is a source of growing antisemitism.

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    1. The post was written from the perspective of right-wing Jews, for whom Israel's interests are their interests too.

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    2. Even so, right wing Jews should have Jewish Americans in mind, too, right? Stoking antisemitism while expecting other countries to fight our wars for us is ultimately not such a pro-Israel position.

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  4. I know we all thought that Trump's Syria withdrawal would result in the strengthening of the Iran axis. But 1) it's not clear that that actually happened (as with so many other mistaken forecasts about the outcomes of his Middle East moves, and 2) to the extent that it did happen, it could well have been part of what drove the Gulf states towards their normalization deals with Israel. It's possible and not at all hypocritical to change one's view of a policy prescription given the benefit of hindsight. One could certainly argue credibly that this is exactly what the political Left (in both the US and Israel) consistently fails to do, prescribing as they do the same economic, welfare, and diplomatic policies for decades on end, long after their colossal failure has been abjectly demonstrated.

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  5. Can you show me anywhere in this blog where you acknowledge a single case where the Israeli state mistreated Palestinians? Maybe deal with your own confirmation bias issues?

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  6. He was writing "lisheetaso" of the liberals. He was saying even from a liberal perspective you should agree Biden is bad. Surprised you didn't pick up on this.

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  7. Charlie Kirk is an evangelical Christian, the most rabid group of Trump supporters. In some cases generalizations are true.

    Kirk is all-in on the grifting and lies. Ignore him.

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  8. This is all clear evidence that our political allegiances are more a function of personal identity than policy. If you think of yourself as "liberal", it becomes impossible to find fault with the politicians who represent your worldview, and anyone who supports the "other side" is either evil or stupid, probably both. If you are "conservative", it becomes impossible to find fault with your own politicians or see any good in the "Dems" or the "leftists", and they are all either stupid or evil...probably both.

    THIS IS IDOLATRY.

    Is it not? In what way does it differ from outright idolatry? Are we not Jews? Why would any of us have any allegiance whatsoever to secular domestic politicians?

    I urge us all to renounce party affiliation. It is counterproductive. Support policies, fine. But do not support politicians. It serves nothing but divide us.

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  9. It's kind of delusional to still believe that the US invading Middle East countries or "invading Syria" would be good for Israel. The US invasion of Iraq was a disaster for Israel. It strengthened Israel's biggest threat, which was and still is Iran. When the US first got involved in Syria, it helped "rebels" aka ISIS. Decapitating middle east dictatorships and creating power vacuums for Islamic terrorist groups to fill has proven a terrible strategy and terribly damaging to Israel.
    How can you still believe in the W Bush era lie of "exporting democracy" after all these years of failure?

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    1. Proxy war nonsense. There is no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people any more than Putin poisoned Navalny. The real threat is Iran. You can't use the appeasement policy anymore. The Iran nuclear deal was a disaster. In addition to the $150 billion, an additional $1.8 billion in cash payoffs was given as ransom to Iran under the Obama regime. We need Trump to protect Israel from Iran, not Biden and a unless war in Syria. I agree with student v.

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    2. Riddle: How much uranium did Iran refine after the deal with Obama, and how much under Trump after he reneged on the deal?

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    3. Under Trump, Iran's nuclear capabilities were decreased. Under the Obama regime, Iran's nuclear capabilities were heavily increasing. Big difference. Iran's uranium grows despite Trump's deal. Biden will only worsen it. At least Trump did the Abraham accords.

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    4. TH - your sleight of hand is impressive, and necessary to continue voting republican.
      Obama cut a deal, and Iran stopped enriching uranium. Well done Obama.
      Trump reneged on a deal, and Iran started enriching uranium. Not so well done, Trump.
      Iran's uranium grows because of Trump's non-deal.

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    5. "There is no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people any more than Putin poisoned Navalny"

      Why don't we throw ys"v and the shoah in there too?
      Always looking for some redeeming quality in what i see in life, at least i can use your comments to gauge how far the Deep End really goes.

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    6. @ZD, again, Obama gave Iran billions of dollars. Under the Obama administration, Iran had the money to pursue nuclear engineer. Appeasement doesn't work. We tried that with Hitler. It does not work. It never has.

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  10. Pulling out of Syria was arguably a very strategic move which has INCREASED Israel’s security. Ever since US has pulled out, the Israelis have been bombing Syria incessantly under the cover that the Americans have left them without any "choice".

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    Replies
    1. "arguably" as in, disputed by Israel's defense establishment.

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    2. Natan you obviously don't get it. When was the last time Israel’s defense establishment layed out for the public what there "True" thinking and strategies are?!

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    3. How very gullible. This is the same "Israel's defense establishment" that threatened to resign rather than agree to drop a few bombs on Iran's nuclear facilities. Some of them have deep relationships with American military industrial complex and the warhawks of Congress who never found a war they didn't like. Of course they "went to bat" publicly for their allies within the faction of US Intelligence and Military that didn't like the idea of less US presence there. Those US warhawks also went public with their opposition to Trump's decision. Presenting either group as monolith is convenient for a straw man argument but not realistic.

      We have no idea what is truly going on in Syria, and we have no idea what makes Israel safer or more at risk except for very basic things like:
      Did Islamic militants gain control of the country? Was it a goal of the US govt for that to happen (in the name of "democracy" of course)?

      The same guy the Israeli defense and diplomatic establishment desperately tried to convince to sign a peace deal with them for years is now suddenly the most evil dictator and threat to world peace in the world, so we need the US military to invade and topple him? LOL. Yeah, ok. They wanted to give this guy Golan Heights. Some rightwing/republican Zionists may have been deluded in the past but their bush era mistakes are irrelevant to what is the wise policy of today. It's clear that the Trump-supporting rightwing Zionist US Jews of today wised up and realized how stupid and misaligned those ideas of the American deep state were and still are! Democracy exportation doesn't work and only endangers Israel.

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  11. As an aside, everything about this "meme" is moronic (which is not at all unexpected given its author).

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  12. Every Yoizel knows exactly what is the best foreign policy for Israel and the US.
    If it is just Turk Hill, it would be understandable. 'I read somewhere' is serious research in his world. Which is how he became a republican.

    But for the rest of us, why would we think we have the understanding, background knowledge and access to information to make an informed decision.

    A theory I have been toying with is, a person's confidence in his opinion is inversely proportionate to the amount of knowledge with which said opinion is backed.

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    1. A version of the Dunning–Kruger effect
      Moshe from BP

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  13. Eliminating 70 thousand jobs (killing keystone pipeline) with the stroke of a pen on the pretext of “it’s necessary to save the world from climate change” is enough to disqualify that senile old corrupt politician from being anywhere near the WH. All other points on the meme from Charlie Kirk are superfluous. I have bought your books and agree with much of writings on Halacha and Torah. Sadly, I strongly disagree with your political views on American politics. For all of trumps personality faults, most people supported him (NOT because of his personality but rather) because 1. He reduced taxes and regulation which created the environment for sustained economic growth and lowest unemployment in decades. 2. Was 1st president in decades to NOT start any new wars. 3. Supported Israel in policy and not just words by recognizing sovereignty over Golan Heights and achieving peace deals with arab countries. To pick on 1 item from Charlie Kirk’s meme is to miss the forest for the trees.

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    1. Actually, you probably don't disagree much with my political views, you're just making some mistaken assumptions about them because you didn't get my point. My point was NOT that it was wrong to vote for Trump - I would probably have voted for him myself. My point is that a person's support for Trump should not make him insist that *everything* Trump did was good, and *everything* Biden will do is bad. Do you disagree with that?

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    2. I get it. But why fall into the hands of the Democratic Party and mainstream media narrative by creating a hyper partisanship, confirmation bias and tribalist test by citing republican sources? Why not do the same with democratic sources? Do you not think that those exact same attributes exist among those who voted for Biden in spades?

      By using only trump voters as your example you unwittingly play into the hands of the Democratic propaganda machine.

      Nana

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    3. Because right now, it's more of a problem with Trump voters. When it was more of a problem with Democrats, I wrote posts about that.

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    4. It's important to distinguish between certainty arising because of empirical evidence or mathematical proof; and certainty arising from common knowledge / normative behaviours / 'the gedolim' / 'the security establishment' / expert opinion. Only one is worthy of scientific consideration, but the human condition is such that the second heuristic approximation of evidence will prevail.

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    5. For those concerned about the loss of potential jobs on they Keystone Pipeline, they will be made up and then some with the signing of the Made in America act and investments in clean energy, another area where Europe has left the US in the dust

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    6. Furthermore, i've just read that the pipeline would have cost more jobs in the trucking industry than it created in the first place.

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  14. Have you ever heard of the term "straw man"?

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  15. This post is a prime example of cognitive bias. There's a huge statement of misfact right there, and yet the person suffering from it accuses others.

    This ain't a good look for you, buddy.

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  16. Charlie Kirk is a conspiracy theorist and a known grifter.

    I would say that any claims he makes (such as those in this meme) need to be quadruple-checked against actual sources before being taken at all seriously.

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  17. There is no doubt that there was some sense of "Obamaic Infallibility" amongst my Democrat friends. However, I have never seen anything in politics in my lifetime like the hero-worship, cult of personality, and outright idolatry that Trump has inspired. I was no fan of Obama, nor am I a fan of Biden, but those who cannot see that Trump is an outright charlatan who's only thesis while in office was to enrich and aggrandize himself are utterly blind.

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  18. Yes! I do agree that to say “everything Biden does is bad” and “everything trump did was good” is intellectually dishonest and wrong. I would hope most people would agree with that. Also, regarding the “troops troops returning to Syria” post, one does not need to overreact and create false things to be outraged by the Biden administration. There are enough objectionable policy changes
    that have already been instituted.

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  19. Maybe another litmus test is that if you are more passionate about politics than you are about limud hatorah or any other mitzvah, you are also subject to hyper-partisanship, enormous Confirmation Bias, and tribalism?

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  20. What an utterly silly post.

    (1) Charlie Kirk is not Jewish and does not formulate his criticisms based on what is good for Israel. If Jewish Republicans agree with six out of seven of his points, then that is fair to forward to others, even if they disagree with the seventh.

    (2) It is highly debatable whether it is good for Israel to have America have military presence in Syria. The military establishment is entitled to their views, but American Jews do not have to agree with them.

    (3) From the American Jewish perspective, there is a big downside in having America get involved in a ground war in Syria. There is a perception here that the Jews are using American military force, and American blood, to fight Israel's wars in the Middle East. So there is a positive in having America stay out, at least on ground wars, even if that means that Israel has to bear more of its own security burden.

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    Replies
    1. @Bored lawyer, I agree with your post. I think that the perception that America needs to fight Israel's wars can lead, and has led, to anti-Semitism. A war in Syria will only increase lockheed martin's wealth. On the other hand, there are many Americans, evangelical Christians, and certainly among Republican groups who find it a duty to protect Israel, and this is good. Countries should help their allies. But the war in Syria will not benefit anyone. Rather than help in proxy wars, America's strength should only be played when Israel is in a dire state. Only in December 1940, when Japan air raided Pearl Harbor, Churchill wrote in his memoirs that he knew, that "we had won after all!" Only when Israel's very existence is at stake should Americans rise to protect her. That is what allies do.

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