Joe at Winds of Change.NET made a follow-up post to his initial response, where he outlines his perception of my "dishonest debating tactics" :

I won't tolerate a debating style where any accusation can be made, however outrageous, with no serious evidence but with the expectation that it will be taken seriously and treated as a topic for moral debate (even condemnation, whic Aziz did ask for) as if it were true. Then the next invented charge is brought out, of course, and the pattern continues in this vein. That's the game. By accepting those terms, one makes the charges themselves seem respectable and true... and they're neither.

This is a serious charge, which has formed the bulk of Joe's accusations (and has served as secondary ammunition to fuel teh fires that started over at Winds of Change). I don't believe Joe makes this accusation out of malice, but he is indeed mistaken. He defines the tactic to which he objects as:

  1. making an obscene claim against a target

  2. expecting that the claim be treated as valid by the target

this is indeed a dishonest technique because it puts the burden of proof on the victim. Hence it fits the definition of libel (in the generic definition of the word). This is equivalent to asking "when did you stop beating your wife" - it presumes the accusation in the expectation of response. In fact, I've been subject to a variant of it myself, with the question "why haven't you condemned terrorism - your silence speaks volumes" ("you" taken to mean Muslims in general, in this context).

The difference however is a matter of intent. First of all, for Point 1, you have to agree that the claim is indeed obscene. If you look at how my has evolved over the course of the comments at Joe's site and mine, you'll see that we are taking about two different claims:

Joe sees: "The Jews are designing a WMG that kills all Arabs but spares Jews."

Aziz sees: "The state of Israel may have done research into a WMG that could target ethnic Arabs."

Joe's version of the claim is indeed obscene. It ignores the simple fact that "The Jews" are a religious community, not an ethnicity. His version also faults the Jews as a people collectively, with the motivation implied to be universal to the Jewish temperament (which is somehow adopted when you convert to the religion, apparently?). The rationales are implied to be malicious and racist.

My version is quite different. Joe's describes an existing weapons capability, whereas mine describes a line of research inquiry that *may* have happened years ago. Note that the Sunday Time article specifically focused on the work done in identifying genetic markers of Iraqi Arabs. Such a genetic program would amount to essentially a precursor of the Human Genome Project and would be (in the terminology of UNSCOM) "dual-use".

Further, the fact that Israel is NOT the same as "The Jews" is a critical distinction. The state of Israel has pursued all sorts of actions - including occupying Gaza and the West Bank, funding MR-guided ultrasound cancer therapy, playing in the World Cup - that reflect absolutely nothing about the Jewish people other than those Jews (and some non-Jews) who happen to be involved in that specific effort. The state of Israel pursues actions that are rightfully decried or justly lauded by both Jews and non-Jews, inside and outside Israel alike.

Finally, the target in my version is ethnic Arabs - which means that Arab Jews are also vulnerable. The only way to avoid affecting your own population with such a weapon is to employ geographic constraints - ie, drop the bomb over *there* rather than over *here* - and is as much a problem with Israel's existing nucxlear arsenal as it would be for any genetic weapon. 100% Arab-specifity and 100% Jew-sparing are not even suggested, let alone required.

What this boils down to is that I do believe that WMG are possible, theoretically (the question of whether Israel itself pursued that research is one I will address later). Hence, I simply don't equate my words on the topic of WMG as meeting Point 1 above[1]. I have also previously addressed Point 2 in detail.

My arguments on WMG don't meet Joe's criteria. I understand why he made the accusation, but having cleared up the differences above, I think it's reasonable to expect the claim to be withdrawn.

[1]And I think it is extremely relevant that the context was Israel's WMD arsenal - and its weapons sales to China (which was ignored by Joe in his response). More info here. It isn't just Phalcon missiles, but also radar systems, optical and telecommunications equipment, drones and flight simulators.

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