Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The charedi false dilemma and WZO elections

My wife used to incorporate a lesson on logical fallacies in one of her writing courses because errors in logic are so easy to fall into and sometimes hard to spot. One of the classics is the fallacy of "false dilemma" (sometimes knows as either/or fallacy). The idea is that a complex issue is misrepresented as a choice between only two options, one obviously positive and one negative. An example: "Vote for teacher's raises or oppose education", implying the only possible result of a oppossing raises is acceptance of poor education - the dilemma is a false either/or because one can very well oppose raises and at the same time champion good education. The point is the logical issue, not the politcs, and I am sure you get the idea. I bring all this up because of Avi Shafran's latest gem on the WZO elections. I quote:
>>>In order to vote in the elections, one must affirm a set of ideas known as "The Jerusalem Program." It is the credo of the contemporary Zionist movement, and stresses the "centrality" of the "State of Israel" in "the life of the [Jewish] nation." There are no greater "zionists" than haredim, who pray daily and fervently for the Jewish return to Zion; who are so disproportionately overrepresented in the rolls of both those who make aliyah and those who visit Israel regularly; and who are so strongly supportive of ensuring Israel’s security. Yet, for haredim, Israel the state is one thing; Eretz Yisrael, the holy land promised by G-d to His people, another. And to a haredi, the "centrality" of the Jewish people can be only one thing: our Torah.<<<
Its either the centrality of the State or the centrality of the Torah, and we must obviously choose the latter. A classic false dilemma if I ever saw one, yet guaranteed to take in a good many readers of the propaganda machine. Did Avi Shafran consider that it just be possible to affirm the centrality of the State in our lives and at the same time affirm the centrality of Torah? Might it not be the case that Torah can only be actualized in Eretz Yisrael with "kol yoshveha aleha", or that the Torah is itself a blueprint for Jewish nationhood, so that affirming the centrality of Torah is impossible without at the same time affirming the centrality of a State?
As I wrote before, I could never run dry of topics if I all did was respond to the absurd arguments that come from the self-proclaimed defenders of chareidihood, but it is shooting fish in a barrell and only fun when I am annoyed.
(BTW: notice how Shafran puts "zionists" in quotation marks when referring to charedim. That could lead to another whole rant, but I'll save it.)


  1. I disagree with your assessment of Rabbi Shafran's remarks.

    I agree with you that it is "possible to affirm the centrality of the State in our lives and at the same time affirm the centrality of Torah?"
    However, if one does so then he is proclaiming himself a Religious Zionist. The point I believe Rabbi Shafan was adressing was from the view of one who identifies with what is referred to as the "chareidi" hashkafa.
    (Note: I only put "chareidi" in quotes and not zionist :-)).
    To a "chareidi" the two ideas can't exist together.

    FWIW (and I am sure I will take some heat for this) I was contemplating voting in the WZO elections but I felt I couldn't commit to the ideas of the Jerusalem Program and therefore I felt that to sign my name on the ballot would be a form of sheker.

  2. I will devote another post to shoot this one down, but it is meant in a nice way.