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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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Insulting the intelligence




Good morning, children.

Today we are going to learn about two common rhetorical tricks that help greatly with the cynical manipulation of arguments.

First, disingenuousness. The Oxford Shorter English Dictionary defines disingenuous as “lacking in frankness, insincere, morally fraudulent”, in the sense of pretending not to know what you in fact know very well.

Second, the straw man argument.  Wikipedia defines this as misrepresentation of an opponent’s position, to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the straw man) and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original proposition.

Today, thanks to Mr Netanyahu, we have one handy slice of well-worn rhetoric to illustrate both rhetorical tricks.

Branding Israel



For many Israelis the sight of European delegates walking out during a speech by Iran’s president at last week’s U.N. conference on racism was a rare moment of solidarity by countries often critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

“Defeated” read a front-page banner headline in one Israeli newspaper next to a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had to face the mass walkout by Western diplomats at the forum in Geneva when he called Israel a “racist state” in his speech.

The Holocaust’s untold toll


As Israelis prepare for their annual Holocaust commemorations on Monday, one scholar has taken a different tack on the tragedy by estimating how many Jews might have been alive today were it not for the Nazi genocide.

According to demographer Sergio DellaPergola, the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War Two more than halved the potential global Jewish community in the long-run. Rather than numbering some 13 million now, there might have between 26 million and 32 million Jews, he says in an article to be published in the journal of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.