Easily insulted Palestinians, logical fallacies, and sovereignty

From YNet:

Israeli authorities may question Palestinian Americans on arrival in Israel and require them to obtain a Palestinian Authority travel documents, the US State Department said on Wednesday…

“American citizens whom Israeli authorities judge may be of Palestinian origin are likely to face additional, and often time consuming, questioning by immigration and border authorities,” the State Department said in a “travel warning” to US citizens.

The US government is not happy about this:

“Our view, as expressed by Secretary Rice, former Undersecretary (Nicholas) Burns, former Assistant Secretary Maura Harty, our ambassador, the acting assistant secretary for consulate affairs, recently, and a variety of other people, to the Israeli government is that American citizen is American citizen is American citizen,” [State Department spokesman Sean] McCormack said. “There are no second classes…You have a blue American passport, you should be treated like an American citizen.”

Of course, this is exactly the question of ‘profiling’, because this is how Israeli security works: screening resources are allocated in proportion to the likelihood that a person — on the basis of such factors as age, sex, ethnicity, and numerous other factors — is a threat.

Here in the US, profiling is anathema. Because of our national collective insanity regarding anything relating to race or ethnicity, it is not acceptable here to take these factors into account when evaluating the possibility that a particular individual presents a risk, even though, statistically, a young middle-eastern man is more likely to be a member of Hezbollah than a 70-year old female from Minnesota.

The argument seems to be that since there are young Arab men who are in fact not terrorists, then it is inexcusably insulting to them to assume that they are more likely to be terrorists than the above-mentioned female.

But that assumption is a statistical one about a group and says nothing about the particular individual. It is a basic logical fallacy to conflate the two.

Profiling is exactly the same kind of reasoning that a physician goes through when diagnosing an illness like sickle-cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease that is more common in a particular ethnic group.

The important point is that the US State Department needs to understand that Israel, a sovereign nation, is not the US, and is not required to share our pathological inability to think logically.

Israel is also obliged to protect her citizens from terrorism, and in the area of airport security has done a significantly better job than we have.

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