by Michael Berenhaus
Secretary of State John Kerry, in his parting speech on the Middle East, posed what is called a "false dichotomy argument" which is sometimes referred to as a "false dilemma." This type of argument presents two choices as if no other alternatives exist. When getting to the crux of his speech, Kerry posed two stern choices regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Kerry insisted that "there must be a two-state solution or a one-state solution." This argument forces the listener to choose between the two choices when others may exist. In this case, Kerry puts the onus on Israel and those that support Israel (most Americans) to make this false choice. It is deceptive and sleight of hand. The "false dichotomy argument" is done either on purpose or by accident. We can leave it up to the readers to decide the motive.
Kerry ingenuously posits a "false dichotomy argument" which is sometimes referred to as a "false dilemma."
The facts remain: other choices, whether likely to occur or not, exist. How about no choice? Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank are not even unified and very different: how is Israel even supposed to negotiate with a non-unified Palestinian people? Does Israel negotiate with Fatah or Hamas? Will an agreement with one subsume an agreement with the other? This is one example that blows a hole in Kerry's argument. Certainly, Hamas and Fatah need to come to terms before Israel negotiates with them.
Secretary of State Kerry used a subtle yet powerful argument technique which is used to manipulate. Shouldn't we expect more from our leaders?
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