Interaction between contradictory positions and values Recent blog posts

Interaction between contradictory positions and values

I had a conversation yesterday, Sunday the 20th of July, with a holder of the nationalist Zionist position where I presented the piece I wrote here on the situation.I tried to give him the contradictory discourse to the traditional national Zionist discourse and doctrine.


The traditional national Zionist is very simple, predicted and predictable.

Jews suffered in the diaspora, Jews go to their biblical homeland. Jews have the right to defend themselves.  Israel is right.  The Arabs are wrong.  Anyone who challenges this is an anti-Semite, if a non Jew, or a self-hating Jew trying to please the majority and survive in the diaspora, if ethnically Jewish.  


The result was an interaction that completely failed the Turing test in the sense that the other side inserted responses to my contradictory challenges that might have been written or scripted by a computer, AI.  I was fascinated as I never had an interaction that failed the Turing Test



Here is information on the Turing Test

Could a computer think?

Alan Turing's 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence has become one of the most cited in philosophical literature.

It heads the list in David Chalmers' bibliography of the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence.



See the original transcript of this discussion.

Reading the transcript is rather like reading the conversations generated by computers, described on the next page. Few of the discussions can stick to a point or actually address a question! But it is nevertheless a striking document. From the discussion of Gödel's theorem, to the reference to 'neural networks, to the connection with detailed brain physiology, all the topics are completely relevant today. In the midst of this came a joke against Turing (and perhaps Newman): the question 'Are mathematicians human beings?"

Such 'murmurs' are liable to provoke a revolt of the nerds, and Turing was entirely willing to be the revolutionary. He was fully aware that his propositions contradicted widely held assumptions about the uniqueness of human abilities and happily called himself 'a heretic' putting forward an unpopular view.


Turing's discussion of 'intelligent machinery' did not begin in 1950. It went back to to the 1936 Turing machine modelling the human mind, and the developments which flowed out of wartime work at Bletchley Park. Turing's 1950 paper is best read as the successor to two earlier papers, unpublished in Turing's own lifetime. These were a 1947 talk and a 1948 report, both accessible in the Turing Archive. These have more technical and mathematical detail, and add much to the 1950 paper. However, the 1950 paper was the first properly published work. See the Bibliography on this site for full references.





Excellent Wikipedia article.


The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. In the original illustrative example, a human judge engages in natural language conversations with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give the correct answer to questions; it checks how closely the answer resembles typical human answers. The conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so that the result is not dependent on the machine's ability to render words into audio.[




I was challenging the national Zionist doctrine and discourse as a nationialist discourse wherein an ethnicity is seeking nationialist right in a country for them. 

I conducted a conversation with some one (human, machine, computer programme I do/did not know, all I saw was responses to my electronic mails that I sent to a certain electronic mail account, who or what sent the reply, I could not know)who/that/which was apparently sitting next to a computer in Tel-Aviv, or Herzlia, or Kfar Shmariahu.  Maybe not, maybe it was just scripted computer programme. I asked questions and presented a discourse that was met with a script, a rhetoric, a discourse, a series of words, signs on my computer screen, that I knew and expected.  I knew exactly what I will receive when I sent the assertions or questions  Nothing surprised me.  I anticipated every piece of semantics I received on my email box from that electronic account in subject to my questions and assertions. For example:

I presented the view that the solution is for Jews to live in a liberal democracy for and of all in dignity, equality, humanity, wellbeing, growth and empowerment where everyone has the right to practice his/her belief, wear whatever he/she wants  and the police and the liberal majority will defend those rights and trial and punish anyone who does not let another follow his/her religious and ethnic beliefs.  


And I was met with


. If you think the Jews will not be prosecuted eventually if there is no Israel  you are naïve. There is a reason why we need a country for the Jews. Finally, even if what you say is the absolute truth, Hamas still wants annihilated and so do the numerous other Muslim extremists around us.  


. There is a reason why we need a country for the Jews. Finally, even if what you say is the absolute truth, Hamas still wants annihilated and so do the numerous other Muslim extremists around us.  


Then, pushing more, I was met with


If you grow a small beard, wear a Yarmulka, and go and visit some Muslim dominated quarters in Paris, London, may be Johannesburg, I doubt you will last for long. If you however hide your origin, or identify yourself as a repenting anti-zionist Israeli you will get standing ovations.


Challenging  this,   the response I received was.  


 The point is you cannot feel safe there if you look like a typical Jew


Continuing the challenge, the response was typical and well-scripted .

Well I suggest you first preach this in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lybia, Qatar etc, focus all your energies there and once you are successful in installing a true democracy there, you can deal with the Zionist mob here. The suffering and injustice there is much greater in absolute terms so it must be more urgent.


My showing how education in Israel costs a fee (called Agrat Hinuch in Hebrew) paid to the city hall, as well books, stationary, travel cost to or from school, and that the national health insurance costs a lot of money was met with   

And Education and medical service is free in Israel – if you are poor – you pay nothing, if you are not you pay little, if you are rich you pay more, its progressive. 

 My argument that the quality of education and healthcare is different between the wealth cities in central Israel and the poorer developing towns, mostly for Oriental Jews in the what is called in Israel the peripheries was not met with any response.  I have enough research to show this.@@@@@@@

 My continuing and saying how critiques of Israel are met with aggression in Israel that includes, bullying, threats, death threats, and even physical attacks wherein the Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy described as an attempt to lynch him, and Amira Hess is called a traitor, Nazi and Arab-lover, and members of Knesset, of Paletiinian ethnicity, or of Marxist or liberal views, are being attacked and sanctioned by the Knessert itself , led to this response


Nothing is more sad than a self-hating Jew. You make me feel sorry for you. Indeed, too much choice can be hard on the mind. Your words are harsh and based on nothing but ignorance and insecurity. Indeed, you live in exile and play the part well. The bravura of your words can only be tolerated either by the hateful or the ignorant.


Amirra Hess is a great writer and so is Gideon Levi. They both publish in the most important and influential newspaper in Israel. Many people dislike what they have to say in Israel but they have a stage. Some of the things they say are harsh but correct and others are just harsh. They have an important role in our society. They would never condone what you say.


I am not going to communicate with you on this anymore but pray that you will find enough peace and confidence within you to cope with this in a respectable manner.

And the conversation ended.  The thing was that I could predict word-by-word when I pushed the send bottom what I will get.  This was not a conversation between human beings.  It was a conversation with a doctrine, with a scripted discourse.  It was a clash between contradictory values.  It was like I was receiving a  script that I knew very well as I know this script.


It was not a transforming dialogue between two Israelis who love their country and want to see it thrive and the killing to stop.  One holding the nationalist  Zionist values and doctrine, while the other one is holding the contradictory position that Israel should a democracy of and for ALL its inhabitants, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Marxists, African economic migrants, refugees from Syria and IrAq in dignity, humanity, equality, wellbeing, growth and empowerment for all not just Jews.  


I know the Zionist argument by heart, I was raised on it in school and as I did my PhD and postdoc on narratives, nationalism and values, I learned to challenge it.  The other party knew I know the argument, knew I have problems and legitimate convcern with the nationalist Zionist view (that is view, that's it) but fed it to me nonetheless.  And refused to heed to what I was saying on democracy for all rather than a certain national ethnicity.  It ended up by him throwing personal insults on me and saying how sorry he feels for me, and how wrong and dangerous I am.



This was the first reaction to the blog I wrote on Friday


Dear Alon,


1.       Having lived in Israel for the last xxx years, with xxchildren in school and in the Army, I can confirm to you there is no indoctrination in Israel of looking at the Palestinians as the ultimate villains and Israelis as the saints. On the contrary, Israel reflects in all parts of society a great degree of scrutiny, self-criticism always attributing a great importance to human life, Arabs and Israelis.

2.       We do have a small number of extremists that turn too loud once there is action but have no real bearing on policy and majority public opinion.

3.       In 2005 Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. Within hours, Hamas toppled from the roof tops dozens of Phatach officials, whether corrupt or not, and took over the Gaza strip. Ever since it has invested most of its scarce resources in arming itself with missiles and rockets fired indiscriminately on civilians in Israel and in building a huge number of elaborate and extremely developed network of underground tunnels from Gaza into Israel which are intended for exercising terror attacks on Israeli civilians, all this instead of advancing the standard of living of its population. Israel did not want to  permit cement into Gaza initially but cave in to world pressure. We now know for sure what was this cement used for – the terror tunnels.

4.       Throughout this last operation, Israel has stated time and again that if Hamas will stop firing so will we; Egypt has prompted a cease fire based on this line as well but we were all rebuffed by the Hamas. Even when the UN asked for a humanitarian cease fire for 5 hours, Israel complied but Hamas tried during this ceasefire to use a terror tunnel to infiltrate into Israel for a massive attack on a Kibutz with civilians next door.

5.       Hamas keeps their rockets and launchers within residential buildings hospitals etc. Hamas threatens civilians not to follow Israel's Army's flyers calling them to evacuate to the center of Gaza – Hamas is cynically using their own population. The 4 kids that died on the beach were sent there to report back although the IDF asked to clear the ground (see the interview with their father).

6.       This is what we are fighting. We are definitely the stronger side but Hamas leaders are ruthless. We did not elect them nor did we put them in power. In our agreements with the Palestinians they committed to have Gaza completely neutralized from weapons. This never happened. Gaza people had plenty of time to do something about it but they choose to support Hamas.

7.       Now, what do you want us to do! Open all our boarders so they bring more weapons and build more terror tunnels.

8.       What is most frustrating to us is to see how this is covered worldwide. Yes there might be some obscured blogs that criticize Assad for what he is doing in Syria. But when the strong Jewish Army harms 'defenseless peace loving farmers from Gazza' it is all over the news. This is double standards which means a new form of racism. I did not see any large demonstrations in Paris or London calling to stop Assad from massacring his people. However, if a 4 generation Pakistani Muslim from the UK or Algerian Muslim from Paris hears that a Muslim was killed by a Jew they will go out on the street in their thousands or their extremists will shoot down a few innocent unrelated Jews in a Museum in Belgium or in School in France. Remember what happened when someone in the Netherlands drew a caricature of Mohamed…?

9.       This is the reality we as Israelis are facing. We don’t have a miracle solution that could work and leave everybody happy. If you or your friends have one, please go ahead and advise us, short of asking us to go back to Europe, or to expose ourselves to terror attacks.

10.   Below please find a link to an interesting analysis in the economist which throws some light on what we are facing.


This is just a position, a discourse, that can very easily challenged



All Israel did was leave the inside of the prison, leaving to fend for iself and guarding it from inside. 

The Palestionians is an ethnicity, with history, tradition, psychology, language (Palestinian Arab dialect is different from the Lebanerse or Syrian dialect).  It is not a religious


Thyere are a lot of stop-Assad protests in London or Paris.  I participated in them.  There are demonstration against Burma, Mexico, China, U.S. Great Britain, and every country in the world.  Israel is not targeted.  It is vey hard not to feel sympathy to the Palestinians.

Israel does not have any right to dictate anyone what to do, what materials to bring into their land, what to use, what to teach their children in school.  This interference is colnisation and imperialism.

Hamas was elected by the Palestinian.  He is the legitimate authority in Gaza.  Israel has no right to tell the Palestinian who to vote for and who to be governed.  Israel should respect and talk to the Palestians governing body as equal parties in dignity.


I can go on and on.  The point is that this is just a discourse and doctrine that could very 4easily debunked and challenged.  I do not have to accept or agree with it.  And I do not. The other side ses his doctrine as absolute and the truth.  When they cannot respond with facts and arguments they move to personal insults as we could see from the above interaction.


As for the economy, I was told that


Unfortunately you do not have the facts straight about Israeli economy. In absolute terms you can see a huge increase in the standard of living for all social levels since 1948. In relative terms it is true that some people have more I-phones than others. Nobody starves for food in Israel and there is free education and medical for all.


Now, what type of an argument is that


In 1948, people did not have washing machines, air conditions, televisions, small radio.  People ion the Europe were rationing food.  The whole world's standard of living increased, it calls progress and technological advancement.  The question is relative and the question is how many people have the best life they can and what is the socio-economic gap, and how much more some people have over others?



How do contradictory value-laden and ontological ideologies that define the very ontology and identity of the interacting person meet?  The person has a doctrine, set of values, a position that for him or her is defining his/her life, actions, activities, wellbeing and growth.  Mine is a participatory democracy of dignity, humanity, wellbeing, growth and empowerment and equality for and of all, and a one world without national, racial or ethnic  boundaries whatsoever.  These are legitimate views and positions that directly clash and contradict the position of the nationalist, with Zionism the last place  for nationalist ethnic/religious place.  Jewish and democracy they want, unaware of the contradiction for after democracy nothing can come as it will distort it.  Jewish and democratic - if it is for Jews then how can it be a democracy for all?  If it is a democracy then it is a democracy.  It is like Yes, but response.  It is a democracy but a Jewish democracy.  So the interaction n results in what happened above.  An interaction that is and was disintegrated into personal insults - the  of the worse kind for the nationalist Zionist and a call to stop.  The machine's script ended.


So - How could two sets of contradictory, value-laden passionate discoursers, positions, doctrine communicate and dialectically and transform and create a third position, a synthesis? Can it?  So the nationalist Zionists interact and communicate with the nationalist Zionist and the challengers of national Zionists communicate and interact among themselves.  Not transformation. No synthesis.  No learning.  Just insults. Yelling discourses at each others.  And ceasing to communicate





Turing's paper is available here or here.

Posted by Alon Serper on 21 July 2014 07:39:02

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