Friday, October 30, 2009
Examples: I believe that my parents never lie, but I just caught my father fibbing to his boss about being sick. How can this be?
I believe that Israel is always responsible for everything bad in the Middle East, but the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with it? How can this be?
Palestinian violence is always justified because they are "resisting Israel?" But a Palestinian just killed a thirteen-year-old kid! How can that be justified?
There are two ways that people deal with cognitive dissonance. One is that they change their worldview. My parents are honest people in general, but they aren't perfect. Palestinian violence is only justified against soldiers. The trouble with this is that changing worldviews is difficult to do. We need them to go through our lives, and they serve a very valuable function. They don't like to be challenge.
The second way of dealing with cognitive dissonance is to embrace it. You repress what you have learned, or you justify it. A secret cabal of Israelis somehow started the Iran-Iraq war with the US' help. The Palestinians are justified in killing little kids because they are settlers. This is where real trouble comes in: Because maintaining that worldview has become more important to the person than being honest or looking at new information objectively.
There seems to be an example of cognitive dissonance on this thread that started last night on the Huffington Post. The user "alysheba3" is making the case that Israel started Cast Lead because of their tunnel attack on November 4th. If you look at the thread you will see that she repeated the same copy and pasted statement at least twice.
The problem with this theory, of course, is that Cast Lead started on December 27th, not November 5th. So what happened during the intervening month and a half? alysheba3 doesn't know, nor care.
One possibility for this denial of reality is cognitive dissonance. It has been made clear from her posts that this commentor has the mentality of "Israel is always wrong. Israel always starts the wars." In that case, clinging to the only time that Israel retaliated to Hamas pre-Cast Lead is the only possibly way to maintain that worldview. Unfortunately, we know that Hamas was firing multiple rockets for weeks before the airstrikes started on December 27th. What's amazing is the way alysheba3 refuses to admit that they happened.
Of course, the other possibility is that she is simply lying and hoping that no one will call her out on it. But it's an extraordinarily weak lie. Even a child could see that there was too much time betwen the two events to make the claim that the second was a continuation of the first.
Let's start off with the standard AIPAC stuff as a warm-up:
Phute: "Ah well - sooner or later America will be seen as the zionist's servant. Won't do it any good - and the zionists will find themselves exposed to some uncomfortable questions. Oh what a tangled web we weave when, at first, we start to deceive."
posted Oct 12, 2009 at 11:22:00
Phute: "Strong and bright are no excuses for undermining Obama at every opportunity. She [Hillary Clinton] ought to show more rspect - AIPAC stooge."
posted Sep 20, 2009 at 07:26:48
Phute: "But AIPAC buys the majority in Congress to peddle their lie that what's in Israel's best interest is the same for the US. And of course the US pays."
posted Aug 30, 2009 at 06:15:17
Phute: "What about Clinton and Biden - AIPAC's stooges."
posted Aug 18, 2009 at 17:10:01
And then he attacks Israel as a state and Israel's actions:
Phute: "All Arabs back to Arabia - and all Europeans back to Europe. Can't leave the immigrants out." posted Oct 13, 2009 at 13:14:12
Phute: "WBMD - has only ever been exposed to zionist nationalism and the revisionism that is it's stablemate.
He is very good at retelling myths."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
There is no doubt among people who are educated about this conflict that the Arabs started the 1948 war, both from inside the borders of the Mandate and invading states from the outside. But when Israel fights back and takes territory, those actions are condemned and ruled unfair by Israel's detractors. The occupation is, of course, an incredible crime worse than anything the Palestinians have done. Fast forward to today, where Netanyahu's hope of a demilitarized Palestinian state is considered ridiculous by the HuffPosters and many others. But let's compare all of those complaints in the context of another war, World War II.
Germany and Japan started World War II, Germany by invading Poland and Japan by bombing Pearl Harbor. No one contests this, just as no one contests the Arabs started the fighting in 1948. When the Allies eventually defeated the Axis, there were some consequences on the states that had caused the war. Germany had to give up some of its own territory, some of which was given to other states like Poland, and was itself partitioned. Both countries had to demilitarized for a period of decades after the war, as well as be occupied by Allied troops for an indefinite period. American soldiers are still stationed in Germany and Japan today, 60+ years after the conflict!
Does this sound familiar? The Palestinian Arabs started an aggressive war, just like Germany and Japan, and lost, also like Germany and Japan. Shouldn't it stand to reason, therefore, that they should suffer identical consequences? The loss of territory, demilitarization, and occupation should be the direct results of the war they started, not a crime committed by the mean Israelis against the innocent Arabs. The Palestinians could create a vibrant independent state in spite of the Israeli occupation, not use the occupation as a crutch to prevent themselves from taking responsibility. The sooner people look at Israeli actions as the logical and understandable response to Arab aggression, the sooner we can all move away from the conflicts of the past and towards the peace of the future.
Last night the Huffington Post carried this article detailing about how Hamas rejected Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas’ call for elections. Although it’s true that Abbas’ legal backing for his power is practically non-existent, refusing to allow people to elect their own leaders is about as undemocratic as you can possibly get. What kind of people would defend such actions?
The answer of course is obvious: The HuffPo talkbackers will gladly defend Hamas’ right to oppress their own people.
Many posters liked to take the track that because Abbas doesn’t have the authority to call elections, it’s okay for Hamas to refuse to hold them:
“Hamas are absolutely 100% correct in rejecting Abbas calls for an election.
For people who read the headline only, this would be like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Steele announcing there will be a new presidential election next year - they simply do not have the authority.”
“No matter what Israel and the US say, Abbas is not the elected leader of Palestine and has no right to call an election.”
“Abbas was elected separately, as President. His term of office ran out in January. He had NO right to call an election.”
This kind of thinking is problematic for two reasons: First of all, if Abbas has no authority, and Hamas won’t allow elections, then how is anything going to change in the Palestinian government? Even if Abbas leaves, Hamas and their supporters on HuffPo will just the same argument to his successor. Secondly, even if the HuffPo talkbackers don’t recognize Abbas’ authority, what can be wrong with another election? Are they afraid of the results? Are they afraid of another demonstration of how flawed the Palestinian government is?
Of course, other posters used the classic playground “If I am then you too” argument, to try and make the case that even if Hamas is undemocratic, so is Israel and the USA. These comments are listed along with straight up Israel-bashing, off topic and hateful but still allowed:
“Democracy and human rights are a joke in Israel as well. Why single out Arabs on this issue?”
[Ed note: Freedom House would seem to disagree ]
“Prediction: Israel will not stop its occupation and oppression until it annexes all of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.”
“Like an Israeli supporter would know what is democratic. Israel isn't.”
And most unbelievable of all, there were the commentators that defended Hamas. Yes, that’s correct. In a bastion of liberal thought Islamist dictators were considered to be on the side of the right.
[In a response to how Hamas calls for Israel’s destruction] “yeah Jerry - how dare they vote for "total liberation"
They deserve total oppression right?”
“[Palestinians elected] a party with backbone and independence from Israel.”
[In response to a post that Hamas doesn’t want peace and are out for destruction]
Only "destruction" of the powers that harm and oppress them.
In their devotion to Israel hatred, it seems the “progressive” bloggers among the Huffington Post talkbackers have managed to convince themselves that Hamas are people that deserve their support. Cognitive dissonance surfaces yet again.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It probably won’t come to anyone’s surprise that the Huffington Post is a bastion of liberals and leftists. If Matt and I wanted to focus on the amount of hate directed against Republicans, conservatives, “neo-cons,” and the Bush administration instead of hate directed against Jews and Israel, it would take the rest of our lives to get it all down. And it’s fine for the HuffPo’s audience to have these political leanings.
So then the question is asked: Why is there so much anti-Semitism among this leftist audience? After all, liberals are all about inclusion, multiculturalism, and acceptance. Clearly, somewhere along the line it became acceptable to not only declare hate against Israel, but also to use anti-Semitic tropes and canards to do it.
Now, I am far from the first person to write about this. Here is one article among many, but I would like to write down some of my thoughts. I recently had a discussion with some of my students on this topic and I wanted to get it down before I forgot everything we talked about.
I think something that younger people forget is just how much the past few decades have been an aberration, when it comes to anti-Semitism. My grandparents were brought up in a time when it was normal for churches and religious school teachers to tell them that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. The way things have been recently have caused some to say that anti-Semitism is gone, or is only present in the thoughts of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In other words, extremists.
This has changed. Big time. Anti-Semitic terminology, myths and accusations have taken on a resurgence, even in mainstream society. The fantastic website zombietime contains many of these, but here are a couple of examples. Notice how both are of left-leaning rallies.
Anti-War rally in San Francisco
What has changed since the Holocaust (which rendered anti-Semitism in its current form as “un-PC” and therefore poison to the leftist sensibility) is twofold: The rise of Israel’s military and political strength, and the rise of its enemies’ propaganda weapon.
There are particular parts of the leftist ideology that make up a worldview, and as such can never be changed. Some of these include:
1. Suffering is only due to inequality. If there is no inequality, people will not abuse each other.
2. It is the responsibility of the rich to take care of the poor. If the poor are doing something wrong (like breaking the law) it is because the rich are not doing a good enough job helping them become productive. In other words, the rich are always wrong, the poor are always right.
3. The West is always wrong. Accordingly, in a dispute between the two, whoever is not in “the West” is always right.
4. The USA in particular is always wrong. In a dispute between other countries and America, the other countries are always right. Unless those other countries include Israel, in which case Israel is wrong and are only trying to manipulate America. (In disputes between America and Israel, you may see a sudden resurgence in blind patriotism and “America-firstism” among the leftist, which in any other situation would be unacceptable).
5. Military force is never justified. Unless it is against the West.
Obviously, I’m generalizing a bit. But I have found that you can really see these kind of worldviews playing out in much of the population on the HuffPost and elsewhere. So how does this get us back to anti-Semitism? Because Israel in its current form became rich, powerful, and Western. All of which are antithetical to getting leftist support. Even Israel’s democratic government and inclusive society were not sufficient to gain the support of the Far Left. Israel is seen as a powerful, American-backed nation oppressing poor, non-white, uneducated “natives.” The fact that the “oppressed” were just as oppressive towards their own people, if not more so, did not phase the left even the slightest. It’s a good example of cognitive dissonance, a subject I intend to write more about in the future.
But this alone would not be enough to explain the anti-Semitism that has grown so pervasive among the Far Left. It is true that anti-Semites would see the anti-Israel cause (though of course they would call it the “pro-Palestinian cause”) and jump on board accordingly. If you scan some more of the zombietime photo documentaries this will become pretty clear. But among those who really have nothing against Jews to start with, what cause their acceptance of such clearly bigoted attitudes?
This brings me to the second part: The propaganda of Israel’s enemies. In the book “Upside Down History” the author talks about how Yassir Arafat was talk to speak the language of the left by his Communist backers:
Muhammad Yazid, the minister of information in Algeria [told Arafat]:
"Wipe out the argument that Israel is a small state whose existence is threatened by the Arab states, or the reduction of the Palestinian problem to a question of refugees; instead, present the Palestinian struggle as a struggle for liberation like the others. Wipe out the impression …that the Zionist is the underdog. Now it is the Arab who is oppressed and victimized in his existence because he is not only facing the Zionists but also world imperialism."
As you can see, Yazid didn’t tell Arafat to actually change the goals or tactics of the Palestinian movement, he just told him to change the way he presented it to the world and the kind of language he used. Arafat and the other Palestinian leaders went right on declaring their devotion to the destruction of Israel in Arabic, relying on the cognitive dissonance of the leftists supporting them for cover. Looks like they were right. By the time we got to the ‘90s and ‘00s, the Palestinian position has become one of the favored “causes” among left-wing college students, right up there with saving the Darfurians from a real genocide, women’s rights, gay rights, and the environment. One of these things is not like the other...
I’m getting sidetracked again. This sort of belief led to anti-Semitism because American Jews overwhelmingly support Israel. But the pro-Arab propagandists changed the argument so that Israel’s very existence was an injustice and a blot on humanity, everything they did was a crime, and anyone who ever so much as spoke positively about them was complicit with all these terrible things. It became pretty natural to equate Israel and their Jewish supports, forming them into one cruel creature dedicated only to stealing land and killing Palestinians.
There is little room for compromise in the minds of many extremists, including those among the left. You are either with us or against us. If you support Israel, even if you disagree with its policies, you are endorsing “a system of oppression and racism.” And the Jews are against us, because they want Israel to exist. Therefore, we hate them. And we are justified in hating them, because they like the “Zionist entity.”
Once the Arab propagandists had their followers seeing “Zionists” (Jews who don’t despite Israel and wish it destroyed) as the enemy, the rest of the anti-Semitic myths came quickly:
-Jews control the government? Sure, it’s contained in the protocols, but let’s just change it to “AIPAC controls Congress.” It’s just as wrong, but why else would our Democrat president be supporting the evil Israel unless some nefarious Jews were forcing him to do it with campaign money?
-Jews kill the children of non-Jews? The Arabs are all too happy to wave the bloody shirt whenever one of their child soldiers or human shields is killed, and their leftist defenders are all too happy to minimize the possibility of Arabs using either...or to blame exclusively Israel for it.
-Jews steal organs? Well, the Palestinians said they did, and even though they had no evidence, we’ll believe it anyway. After all, we all know how evil Israel is....
-Jews are like Nazis? I don’t think I even need to explain this one. As much as it’s become all too common for everyone in this day and age to equate something we don’t like with Nazi Germany, I would expect better from the super-PC leftists.
And yet despite the overwhelming belief among the left that Israel is one of the most odious countries on the planet, they still don’t mind holding it to a higher standard than 99% of the world. As we determined in this post, double standards are unquestionably bigoted regardless of who is on the receiving end. Yet among the HuffPo crowd, double standards are perfectly okay as long as their chosen enemy is the one being subjected to it. They don’t see a problem in equating hypocrisy with justice.
I’ll talk a little bit more about the psychology and worldviews of the HuffPo crowd and the leftists among them, but I’ll close with this plea: Remember what’s important. Standing for peace is the most important thing on this topic. Don’t be sucked into a morass of ideology where punishing Israel or the USA for what they did is more important than the wellbeing of human beings on the ground. Isn’t freedom and peace what we all want? How is supporting Hamas going to accomplish that?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The other day in the “Israel Raids Temple Mount” I posted a rather long comment that I described as hitting all the talking points. It occurred to me that we haven’t done a counter-argument post, so let’s fisk hrholmes’ comment. It can be found in the thread at this permalink . Let's get started
Israel is a well crafted shell game of religion, race and state. Shell number one is Israel is a democratic nation. Only if you are Jewish and allowed to become a citizen can you vote.
So right off the bat he gets his facts wrong. There are multiple Arab parties and every non-Jewish citizen of Israel votes. Besides, the ‘allowed to be a citizen’ comment is a distortion. There’s no nation on earth that allows people who aren’t citizens to vote in their elections.
They are a minority in that country, most are Muslim Arabs. Everybody else within the borders is second class at best.
I’m not exactly sure what he’s referring to when he means “that country,” as any link will tell you that Israel is 75% Jews and 25% non-Jews. It seems as if he thinks that the disputed territories are part of Israel and Palestinians are Israeli citizens. Not the most common of misconceptions, but still a rather grievous error. It explains how he drew his conclusions.
The second shell is that they are a separate race as the chosen ones. Chosen for what is rather unclear as in all theocracies. They make up their own brand of racial supremacy.
I would refer this poster to a basic Judaism course. “The chosen ones” refer to a nation, not a race, who have been selected by the big guy upstairs to fulfill a mission. Note the typical attack on Israel as a “theocracy.” Unless Netanyahu is also the head rabbi and no one decided to tell me, this latest canard falls flat on it’s face.
The third shell is where you have to be a member of their chosen religion under the control of your local Rabbi to have any voice whatsoever. Jews that object are proclaimed self hating.
I could explain why he is wrong, but instead I’ll just link him to Bradley Burston’s column in Ha'aretz. Really, all you ever need to do is open an Israeli newspaper. There are plenty of voices, both Arab and Jew, and there is plenty of criticism as well. I guess that’s what happens when you spend too much time in the echo chamber of the Huffington Post. You internalize the myths that are repeated endlessly there.
All dissention by anyone else causes them to whine their coined term ‘anti-Semitic’ or ‘remember the holocaust’.
Even though I don’t want to give such ignorant and spiteful comments any more attention than they deserve. Instead, I’ll remind Mr.hrholmes that it was a German named Wilhelm Marr who “coined the term” of anti-Semitism and that Israel has never used the Holocaust’s memory to justify anything they do. Not once. If he would like to find an example and put it forward, consider this a challenge.
They do utilize the shell game to great advantage especially when bombing neighbors, robbing them, erecting walls, stealing their properties by calling them settlements and thumping their version of their bible.
Classic HuffPoster decontextualization of the situation. Yeah, Israel just runs around bombing things because they are eeeeevil Jooooos, not because their enemies are, you know, shooting rockets at them. As usual, what the Arabs do “doesn’t count” for some reason and is swept under the rug, so accordingly Israel is being cruel to them for no reason at all. Let’s not forget also that the vast majority of Jews are secular, and the vast majority of settlements are not built on expropriated land. But facts have never stopped hrholmes’ type before.
I for one am ashamed that we as Americans are forced to pay for them. Time to cut off their free welfare payments for which we get nothing in return. They don’t even pay taxes here.
1. Who exactly is forcing America to give aid to Israel? I wasn’t aware that America could forced to do anything. Learn something new every day, I suppose.
2 America receives plenty of material, information, jobs and technologies in return for their aid to Israel. It’s just that anti-Israel posters will refuse to admit this because they don’t want to admit that there might be some real-world advantage for America taking an action that they disagree with.
It’s a slow day on the Huffington Post, so I thought I would post the point system that Matt and I are putting together for scoring our Most Hateful Comments. We will try to award this once per thread, and maybe at some point keep track of a Top Ten list. Without further ado, here’s the scoring as it stands. We are open to further suggestions in the comments section.
1 pt per buzzword used in the comment. Examples including “racism,” “apartheid,” “Nazi,” “genocide,” “colonialism,” "massacre," etc.
1 pt per ad hominem attack made on another poster.
1 pt for spelling Jews as “Jooos.”
1 pt for making any of the following comments but using “Zionists” in place of “Jews.”
2 pts for comparing Israeli actions to those of the Nazis. This includes accusing Israel of genocide.
2 pts for claiming that critics of Israel are stifled by accusations of anti-Semitism.
2 pts for accusing the “Jews” of something bad. (This includes insinuations about “the chosen people”)
2 pts per conspiracy theory reference (e.g. USS Liberty or 9/11)
3 pts for claiming that anti-Semitism isn’t real because Arabs are Semites too.
3 pts for claiming that the Jews control America. (2 pts if it’s just AIPAC)
3 pts for referencing a classic anti-Semitic trope (such as the Protocols or baking matzah with blood)
3 pts for stating that the Jews should “go back to Europe” or “go back to where they came from.”
3 pts for accusing the Jews of controlling the media.
3 pts for a call for people to boycott Israel.
4 pts for accusing American Jews of being more loyalty to Israel than America. 1 pt in addition if this includes an accusation that American Jews are pushing America to a war they won't fight in themselves.
4 pts for claiming that there is no Israel or other attacks on Israel's existence.