Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green’s thesis

More from Stuart Green’s thesis, The Problem of Cognitive Warfare, this time from chapter 3.

The Discourse and the Cognitive Offensive

Any discussion of the cognitive offensive must begin with a discussion of the discourse, for it is the accepted discourse cognitive warriors see as the strategic target. Limited to the issue or conflict at hand, the discourse may be considered a relatively small memeplex that finds its anchor in larger environmental memeplexes such as culture, religion, prevailing academic paradigms, economic traditions etc. It can, however, be manipulated by outside influences through transparent, open debate, or a protracted information campaign that makes skillful use of propaganda, violence, and knowledge of the adversary’s environmental vulnerabilities. The degree to which the accepted discourse is vulnerable to destruction from the outside depends on the nature of the contributing environmental factors.

Information and “Information”—The Accepted Discourse. It is important here to discuss the transformation of information into “information.” There must be a careful distinction between information meant to persuade and “information” meant to persuade. That is, there must be a way to differentiate between “information” cynically distributed for effect and information—less the quotation marks—distributed for effect but believed by its propagators to be true and free of exaggeration, regardless of the reality.

One could argue, for instance, that the Palestinians’ uttered beliefs are no more propaganda than those of many Jewish settlers who feel a strong emotional and historical connection to the land. Nonetheless, in the context of cognitive warfare and the pressing need for persuasion, there comes a point at which information ceases to be the heartfelt, honest articulation of one’s views. Disconnected from the desire for expression or articulation and no longer parallel to the propagator’s perception of the truth, it emulates propaganda in the traditional, pejorative sense and may be considered an engineered, infectious meme.

As time wears on and the conflict’s rhetoric intensifies, propaganda may pull away from empirical and perceived truths. Its propagators, seeking to shift the intellectual locus of legitimacy, attempt to obscure empirical truth by supplanting it with a “new” truth—in other words, manipulation and deception. Brodie offered the Trojan horse and repetition—discussed briefly in chapter three—as just two means by which minds may be deceptively changed. The more successful the campaign, the more acceptable debate peels off the empirical truth, hopefully, from the propagator’s perspective, without the constituents knowing.

The passage of time and the growing intensity of propaganda increase the gap between the acceptable discourse and the empirical truth, which gradually becomes lost or obscured. In the most extreme scenarios, the gap between the empirical truth and acceptable discourse grows so large that the former is perceived as extreme or unlikely.

stuart green figure changing accepted discourse
Figure 1: Changing the Accepted Discourse 1

In their campaign to expose “alternative” points of view, for instance, Holocaust deniers have benefited from time’s passage and the death of most survivors. As the evidence literally dies off and memories fade, the idea that far fewer Jews died during World War II seems less extreme and therefore more acceptable, particularly when that idea is pitched as a moderate alternative to the notion that the Holocaust never happened. In fact, Holocaust denial is a common theme in the Muslim world (see chapter seven). It presents a major memetic threat to Israel’s legitimacy in international eyes, as much support for the state’s existence is predicated on the Holocaust and the perceived, tenuous survivability of the Jewish race.

The different types of information do not always begin in unison, however. It may be that “information” exists apart from the empirical truth and accepted discourse in the beginning, but historical events or the independent evolution of the accepted discourse draw the public debate closer to propaganda. Some have argued, for instance, that Israel’s astounding 1967 victory marked the beginning of the end for Israel’s positive press coverage. Stephanie Gutmann describes a Life magazine special edition celebrating that victory:

The color photo on the cover was a close-up of a young IDF soldier, still in uniform and holding his rifle, who has just emerged dripping from a dip in the Suez Canal—which is where Israeli troops ended a ninety-hour drive across the Sinai Peninsula. It is an exhilarating picture…. Any photographic close-up is an invitation to identify with the subject of the picture, and this is a picture that invites the viewer to savor this IDF victory.

The text of the magazine seemed “to be crowing with aesthetic appreciation for [the Israelis'] great soldiering…” and more significantly, assigned responsibility for the Arabs’ and Palestinians’ plight to the Arabs and Palestinians themselves.

Gutmann argues that such positive coverage is comparatively scarce today. By selectively using passive voice, journalists have eliminated the Arabs as actors and transferred responsibility for the ongoing strife to Israel. Headlines such as, “Car bomb near Israeli bus kills at least 14,” and, “Suicide bombing kills 14 in Jerusalem,” contrast with, “Israeli strike kills at least 12 in Gaza,” and, “Israeli tank fire kills 4 in Jenin.” Gutmann states:

In one set of headlines, ‘bombs’ seem to explode themselves and kill Israelis, while in the second set, “Israelis” very clearly kill Palestinians…. Throughout the second intifada, Israel just kept doing things—firing guns, imposing checkpoints, making laws, adjudicating cases, and so on. But in response to what? …a map based on news coverage would have shown the state of Israel drawn in speed-addict obsessive detail sitting next to a mostly empty blob titled “Terra Incognita” or maybe “Here Be Palestinians.”

The paradigm assigning moral legitimacy to the weaker power remains relatively unchanged. But in the ensuing decades after 1967, particularly after the 1982 war, Israel’s strength and the West Bank and Gaza occupations deprived the fledgling state of its favored underdog status. Pundits hotly debate the consequences of Israeli actions and the state’s degree of responsibility for strife, but these questions probably entered the public discourse because of the change in historical positions, not because of an increase in Israeli transgressions.

stuart green figure changing accepted discourse 2
Figure 2: Changing the Accepted Discourse 2

The cognitive dissonance caused by historical shifts cast doubt onto the acceptance of Israel’s favored status. The psychological disorientation ultimately dislodged the discourse and made it more susceptible to the efforts of propagandists, who advertised revolutionary ideals and the valiant, morally righteous struggle of the underdog. That is, they offered cognitions that were psychologically comfortable and did not require the radical deconstruction of an old paradigm, which Israel’s newfound strength and continued moral legitimacy might have done.

It should be noted, however, that this process is never clean or simple. The change in Israel’s favored status likely stemmed from several factors, not the least of which is the natural, independent evolution of public discourse. The politically correct intellectual environment, for instance, has played a major role in the Israel’s evolving moral stature, but it did not develop because of events specific to Israel. Because political correctness has only gained prominence within the last few decades, its influence on the public discourse is coincidental with post 1967 events. Historical events, therefore, do not occur in a vacuum, but the context of environmental paradigms that are also changing.

In the end, a variety of factors will determine how the entrepreneur attempts to alter the accepted discourse, either his own or the enemy’s. The factors include, but are not limited to the target group’s literacy rate, proclivity for conspiracy theories, preexisting sympathy for the cause, the level of group fervor, and the effectiveness of enemy counter-propaganda campaigns. The campaign must be properly framed, of course. Arab-Muslims in general, for instance, are not particularly predisposed to believing Israeli sources, thus Arab Muslim identity entrepreneurs have a freer hand in being “creative” with their own material without fear of repercussion or repudiation.

87 Responses to Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green’s thesis

  1. E.G. says:

    Thanks Stu and RL for another inspiring piece.

    Am shocked by … of the Jewish race. There’s no such thing.

    May I suggest using a different term for “information”? By analogy to infomercial, it could be sthg. like infopaganda, infosuasion, infopinion…

    Also, I’m not comfortable with using truth. Empirical facts or data (i.e., the stuff that, once interpreted, becomes information) seem preferable.

    Regarding the match between context/background trends and the line of propaganda, I suppose this is the objective sought during the formulation of the propagandistic messages.

  2. Thanks RL for publishing this here. I really like this blog/forum despite my occasional complaints about the inability to preview or edit comments. I’d much rather read this here and discuss it than elsewhere.

    Stu, I’ve only read through this once so I haven’t had time to digest – but I see you mention Brodie. That does help me understand a little more about wherefrom you come.

  3. Chaim says:

    At least Paul Berman is an old-school liberal not caught up in all the cognitive warfare like so many “progressive” dupes today:

    Gaza and After: An Interview with Paul Berman

  4. Chaim, While I am digesting Stu’s installment above, I will mention that I read this yesterday and I think it is related to Stu’s thesis. The interview started out well enough but toward the end I doubted both his observational skill and his honesty.

    At one point he says, somewhat apologetically, I do think that, in some of the human rights reports on Israeli military action in the past, you could see a kind of in-built analytic distortion.

    Analytic distortion? How about accepting bald-faced Pal lies at face value and becoming the medium through which they are spread to the West in the frame of compassion for the poor victims of Israeli aggression. Need I mention the al Dura hoax, the Qana ambulance hoax, the Gaza beach hoax, the recent UN school hoax, etc.

    In each case these prominent human rights groups endorsed and supported the Palestinain versions, no matter how ludicrous, and have never retracted their accusations, as far as I know, even when substantial evidence disproving the accusations has emerged. Berman considers himself to be the friend of those orgs, as stated in the article. He therefore can’t possibly be a friend of the truth IMO.

    BTW, has anyone here seen a follow up on the supposed N. Gaza incident where an IDF soldier (supposedly with curls cascading down from under his helmet), emerged from a tank hatch momentarily to shoot three small sisters waving white flags, one being two years old, from 20 meters and in cold blood – while allowing their father standing nearby to remain unscathed?

  5. Chaim says:

    Pelican-

    I also noticed that and cringed while reading Berman. Hard to explain why he said that – is he not aware? As for a followup on the white-flag incident:

    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=55&x_article=1624

  6. Chaim, Thanks. I should have checked CAMERA myself. :thumbsup:

  7. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    “Am shocked by … of the Jewish race. There’s no such thing.”

    I certainly meant no offense and/or disrespect. If I stepped in a pile of dung–by all means–let me know. It’s not too late. Obviously, I haven’t devoted much thought to the religion/race/culture question with regards to Judaism.

    “May I suggest using a different term for “information”? By analogy to infomercial, it could be sthg. like infopaganda, infosuasion, infopinion…”

    Hmmm… let me think about that. I like infopinion.

    “Also, I’m not comfortable with using truth. Empirical facts or data (i.e., the stuff that, once interpreted, becomes information) seem preferable.”

    That’s fair. I’d like to hear what the others have to say, if they are willing.

    “Regarding the match between context/background trends and the line of propaganda, I suppose this is the objective sought during the formulation of the propagandistic messages.”

    Bien sur. As in judo, the weaker military power seeks a situation in which the stronger power’s own heft can be used against it. In cognitive warfare it ends in a “moral” victory if not a military one. Terrorists, for instance, have often deliberately provoked “overwhelming” or “disproportionate” responses in order to claim the moral high ground from a pile of rubble–you all know what I’m talking about (Qana, rocket attacks from Gaza, shooting from hospitals etc.). Or now that I re-read your comment, perhaps I have misinterpreted it and do not understand?

  8. Stu says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    “…I see you mention Brodie. That does help me understand a little more about wherefrom you come.”

    Don’t hold it against me too much, please. I read one book by him and I found it obnoxiously self-helpish and informal, but there was useable content at least.

  9. Stu says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    Yikes. The more I think about it, the more your comment has me worried. Does mentioning him destroy my credibility?

  10. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Is there a trophy for the winner of the race?
    There’s no doubt (total consensus) about there being a Jewish religion. Some doubt the notion of a Jewish nation. No foundation for any claim about a Jewish race (too much genetic diversity). Leaving out offense etc., it’s an unsubstantiated assertion. If “Jewish people” doesn’t seem OK for you, fall back on the juice.

    let me think about that. I like infopinion.

    Let me encourage your creative talents. Infopinion actually seems slightly restrictive: I’d use it for media “news” – the ones that are slanted by the reporter’s or editor’s opinion (e.g., active vs. passive formulation).

    My “matching” comment was perhaps more general than your comment. I meant tailoring the message so as to fit the current trend of thinking. Like in fashion: you’d want to come up with an outfit (message) that is trendy (skirt length/the season’s colour etc.), so a to get the ragazza get it (or is it la raggazza?)

    Truth always makes me think of Pravda.

  11. oao says:

    Analytic distortion? How about accepting bald-faced Pal lies at face value and becoming the medium through which they are spread to the West in the frame of compassion for the poor victims of Israeli aggression. Need I mention the al Dura hoax, the Qana ambulance hoax, the Gaza beach hoax, the recent UN school hoax, etc.

    berman is still a leftist and despite his selective honesty, i don’t think any leftie is capable of being completely honest, because then he would have to dump leftism.

    there are quite a few problems in his interview. he is incapable of accepting all the problems with today’s left.

  12. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    Informatting?

  13. oao says:

    stu,

    you may be interested in the following on taquiyyah:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025025.php

  14. oao says:

    here’s, folks, how slow jihad advances incrementally with the help of both a 5th column and gullibility and opennes of the western society:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025022.php

  15. oao says:

    and here’s another of how both the economy of the west and its culture is undermined via slow jihad:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025018.php

  16. Joanne says:

    I’m sure all of this has contributed to the precipitous decline in Israel’s moral standing, but you cannot dismiss the fact that some of the shift was based on Israel’s own actions. You cannot deny that Israel has encouraged or allowed settlements to expand in the Territories, unfairly handled water supplies, and engaged in at least some land-grabs and atrocities during the occupation.

    Some of these actions were likely unavoidable given Israel’s security needs, but in no way did the settlements contribute to security. They weren’t meant to; they were ideologically driven.

    Admittedly, Israel has long been in a genuine bind, surrounded as it is by hostile populations backed by millions of petrodollars and by millions of Muslims, left-wingers, and opportunists around the world. There is also the asymmetry here that leaves a guerrilla force backed by a sympathetic population with all the tactical advantages vis-a-vis a conventional army. And certainly many of Israel’s actions have been falsely reported or exaggerated beyond recognition, as has been documented in Guttmann’s book (which I read and highly recommend) and here, of course.

    I’m pro-Israeli at heart (while not being anti-Palestinian), but I have to say that the truth is a complicated mix of Israel’s misdeeds and suffering and the Palestinians’ misdeeds and suffering. That’s why advocates of both the Palestinians and the Israelis often emphasize the suffering of their side while emphasizing the guilt of the other.

  17. Stu says:

    E.G.,

    “People” it is. Thanks–and sorry.

  18. Joanne says:

    “Some doubt the notion of a Jewish nation. No foundation for any claim about a Jewish race (too much genetic diversity).”

    Actually you’re mistaken about the Jewish genetic diversity. Recent DNA studies have found that Jews, no matter where they come from, all have their DNA match. I’ve heard this was true via the y chromosome, but then later heard that it’s via the x as well. Jews match each other and not the surrounding populations of their host countries. Jews are closely related to Levantine Arabs, though actually more closely related to groups in the northern flank of the Middle East (Armenians, Kurds, etc.).

    Here’s a link to a New York Times article from a few years ago: http://tinyurl.com/dh6yov

    Here’s one to a Jewish Web site:
    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/jewish-genetics.htm

    Here’s one from another newspaper:
    http://tinyurl.com/cxu99w

    In fact, the Jews have been a kind of genetic island, like the Icelanders, with only .5% intermarriage in each generation before the late 20th century. I suspect that even that .5% didn’t lead to much mixing because Jews would usually marry out rather than the other way around.

    The question remains, however, as to why Jews do look so different from each other, if they do indeed share much the same DNA. That I cannot answer, except to suggest that the DNA governing appearance varies easily and comprises only a small percentage of DNA.

    This doesn’t mean that the Jews are a race, but it does show that the Jews are linked by more than religion and therefore could be seen as a people. Zionism was not based on race, nor was it racist. That was probably the furthest thing from Herzl’s mind and the minds of his colleagues. They saw the Jews as a downtrodden people who had the right to be a nation. Period.

  19. Stu said, Yikes. The more I think about it, the more your comment has me worried. Does mentioning him destroy my credibility?

    I thought when I wrote that you might take it that way. So, without expressing an overt opinion on Brodie, I thought I’d await your response – which is encouraging and along the lines of what I had hoped for.

    I joined his mailing list a few years ago for a few weeks. I had just discovered memetics and saw his views on it all as a window into that field. It took me a while to see and be put off by the new-agey, self-help-guru thing that seems to be happening there – at which point I became disenchanted and left. Not before I confronted him with some of his inconsistencies, however.

    Aside from Brodie’s I did read several other papers and books on memetics including Blackmore’s excellent book which I mentioned. I now believe there are valuable ideas within the field of memetics (some of them are not so valuable) and I now see the main concept of memetics as part of a larger realm of mental activity that I call belief.

    I give credibility to anyone who thinks about these things seriously – as does Richard and many of the members of this unique forum. Even the statements and assertions of those I disagree with about one thing or another contain some truth worth considering and I learn from them over time. I certainly don’t believe my views on any of this are error free. Although you look at these things through a somewhat different lens than I do I think I largely agree with your conclusions. Also, I prefer to look at a complex topic like this through as many lenses as I can. Thanks again to you and Richard for offering me (us) that opportunity.

  20. Stu says:

    Pelican,

    Whew.

    I have an entire chapter on memetics. Blackmore was indispensable.

  21. oao says:

    Some of these actions were likely unavoidable given Israel’s security needs, but in no way did the settlements contribute to security. They weren’t meant to; they were ideologically driven.

    the motivation of actions and their consequences are often disparate things.

    israel was once blamed for osirak as a violator of international law. later on it turned out to have a life saver (not that it got much recognition).

    perhaps the ideologues behind the settlements (and i don’t mean the fanatical religious ones) saw the future better than most of naive israelis who thought and still do that land will give them peace.

    i still ask: if the settlements were not there, what would be in their place and do you really believe there would have been peace without them?

    at the very least they serve as leverage. what else does israel have as leverage at this point?

  22. (Cross posted) Just some housekeeping I’ve intended to do for a while. I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable discussing such significant ideas while being known as “Pelican’s Point”. Not that it should make much difference to anyone else, but from now on I will use the moniker “Ray in Seattle” if you don’t mind, an ID which I have occasionally used on other news forums.

    I am also trying to find time to establish a blog that has more details about me and my ideas about brains and behavior if anyone is interested. It is unfinished at this time but you can find it by clicking my name at the bottom of any of these comments, no matter which name appears there. Thanks

  23. E.G. says:

    Joanne,

    Sorry, I don’t share your interpretation of the articles (themselves re-interpretations of research conclusions). Mine is that despite the large variety of genetic “material” among Jews, there are a few commonalities that indicate relatively few origins to some heritage. In my mind, this corresponds more to a clan-tribe-people sequence (mix and match). By no means some distinguishable race.

    A propos (mixed) marriage, let’s remember that polygamy may have been less practised before, but decreed as forbidden in Jewish law only about 1000 years ago. And it probably took a little while to be implemented by all communities.
    Any evidence regarding the necessary Jewishness of a 2nd or 3rd wife/concubine ?

  24. Eliyahu says:

    The denial of any common descent of Jews has long been a theme of Communist anthropologists who were trying to back up Stalin’s circa 1915 denial that there was no Jewish people of nation at that time, although he accepted the existence of an ancient Jewish people. Likewise the Bolshaya Sovyetskaya Entsiklopedya article on Yevrey [Jews]. Reform Jewish ideologues also promoted the denial of any Jewish nationality for other reasons. It was also convenient for other political tendencies to deny any Jewish descent or peoplehood.

    As to Jewish descent, obviously the Jews are not a pure race nor are Arabs, Greeks, or whoever. However, the Jews began as a nation with a national religion, Judaism, named after that nation or people. The Jews did make converts, a phenomenon described in the Bible. However, once Christianity became an established religion conversion to Judaism was forbidden to anyone, pagan or Christian. Islam forbid Muslims to change their religion to another, although Jews could become Christians and vice versa. So European Christians who wanted to convert went to the Islamic domain where conversion of Christians to Judaism was allowed. This may be one of the main reasons why Muslim society was mitakenly believed to be more tolerant toward Jews than Christendom. Anyhow, the ban on conversion in both Islamdom and Christendom tended to preserve the original Jewish stock, although it was probably never entirely pure what with the Biblical mentions of conversions of Kenites [Cainites] and Canaanites, etc. Also, deportations of Jews/Israelites to the northern Middle East region [Kurdistan and Hayastan (= Armenia)] can explain the similarity to those people mentioned by Joanne.

  25. Stu says:

    Joanne,

    “…you cannot dismiss the fact that some of the shift was based on Israel’s own actions.”

    Well, let’s see. Can’t we? It’s the shift in perception we’re talking about, not whether Israel is morally pure in an absolute sense. You are acknowledging that there has been a shift, and argue that Israel is partially responsible for that because of its own immoral actions.

    I imply that Israel has more or less maintained the same level of morality (relative to itself) throughout its history (although I could easily argue that its “morality” has actually increased by today’s standards, esp. in light of increasing “progressive” politics, peace movements, and unilateral withdrawals). What you are saying implies that the overall morality of Israel’s actions has decreased since 1967 and I think you’d have a hard time arguing that.

    “You cannot deny that Israel has encouraged or allowed settlements to expand in the Territories…” No, and for the record I don’t agree with those policies either. Nonetheless, we also cannot deny that those territories were taken in the course of indisputably just wars and the fact that Israel has not annexed and populated all of them is an exception to the historical rule, not the norm. What is also exceptional is the highly disproportionate LEVEL of criticism Israel receives for continuing to control those territories, especially in light of the above.

    And I will reiterate that it is the level of criticism that has changed so sharply, not the purity of Israel’s actions. So, even if there is some truth to the black-marks you point out (I’m not so sure about the post-1967 “atrocities”, though), I fail to see any change in Israel’s character that could warrant the press’ venemous shift and growing world-wide antipathy.
    So yes, I can and do dismiss Israel’s actions as a significant driving factor in this phenomenon.

    And for what it’s worth, I believe that propaganda may not be the only factor driving this perceptive shift. I could easily throw in others, such as latent anti-Semitism and the increasing fear of violent reprisal by Arabs.

    Quite frankly, our accepted discourse is such that Israel is not allowed to do right.

  26. E.G. says:

    Sturkish delight!

  27. E.G. says:

    Less sweet & gooey than the one without the S, but yummy.

  28. Cynic says:

    Joanne,

    is a complicated mix of Israel’s misdeeds and suffering and the Palestinians’ misdeeds and suffering.

    Where can one obtain a list of Israel’s misdeeds in a column and the facts to back them up as factual in the next column, and a similar one for the Palestinians?
    Then we need a list of those accessories to provide context to the misdeeds.(not excuses for them but who aided and abetted them).

  29. rl says:

    Cynic, that’ s an interesting idea. we could even make it a list of descending severity, and include things like black september and the lebanese civil war, so that the highest israeli misdeed doesn’t even show up for a while.
    r

  30. oao says:

    Cynic, that’ s an interesting idea. we could even make it a list of descending severity, and include things like black september and the lebanese civil war, so that the highest israeli misdeed doesn’t even show up for a while.

    methinks the point is to let joanne do the list — she was the one to sort of claim equivalence.

  31. oao says:

    given the amount of morality of israel and the arabs, i would not spend much time on those who raise any sort of equivalence, not matter how much gymnastics they play.

  32. Stu says:

    oao,

    Very much so. Thanks.

  33. Cynic says:

    RL,

    I think that a list of facts and figures would help balance this “equivalence — fair & balanced”” emotion and bring things into context and “focus” some of those minds more clearly.

  34. Cynic says:

    oao,

    from your link:
    Decision makers and practitioners should consider the possibility that certain incidents are staged or that they are escalated by manipulation of the media and the legal system to create controversy and to provoke a response to serve strategic purposes.

    Hell, from the Danish Cartoons Controversy I thought that was most obvious.
    None of the media reported that the cartoons were visible throughout the period of Ramadan in Egypt and elsewhere and nothing happened until some 3 months later after a certain Imam had been on the trail, and with a false cartoon added, did the arab street erupt.

  35. oao says:

    stu,

    apparently the lefties have learned from islamists about the technique.

  36. Joanne says:

    E.G., sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I was not suggesting that the Jews comprised their own race, only that their genes point to a common ancestry.

    Stu, I don’t understand how you can say that Israel’s moral standing was the same before and after the occupation. The only people who would argue that would be those who think the whole of Israel is “occupied Palestine,” and I hardly think you’re in that category. While the level of criticism has increased, there was certainly more to criticize, although the criticism was often opportunistic and exaggerated.

    Cynic, I cannot quote chapter and verse every atrocity Israel has committed in the last 40 years! What a silly request, though you probably meant it tongue-in-cheek. Do you really suggest that mistreatment didn’t occur? That there was no destruction of fruit orchards, the razing of homes, routine mass searches of the population, the separation of Palestinians from water supplies, the separation of farmers from their fields and the division of towns with the security wall? That there were no land-grabs by settlers? I know that Israel has had security needs, but the occupation is a brutal one.

    In any case, I cannot make up a detailed list, as it would take a lot of time that I don’t have, and would probably be a long list indeed.

    OAO, I never sort of implied equivalence between Israel and the PA or PLO or Hamas. Please don’t put words in my mouth. I just said that there was suffering on both sides and misdeeds on both sides. You’re going to deny that?

  37. Stu says:

    Joanne,

    “Stu, I don’t understand how you can say that Israel’s moral standing was the same before and after the occupation. The only people who would argue that would be those who think the whole of Israel is “occupied Palestine.”

    I think I understand what your beef with Israel is now. It seems that Israel’s greatest moral transgression, as you see it, is the occupation itself. Yet you do not seem to acknowledge how that occupation came to be or why it continues. It is as if there were no lead-up to the 1967 war, and there is no existenial threat lending context to the subsequent occupation.

    Arguing that Israel’s moral stature is degraded by this occupation requires some stunning philosophical acrobatics. It amounts to a complete moral inversion of what may be the most clear-cut case of a just war in human history. Lest we forget, the Arabs were mobilizing both their militaries and public opinion for a SECOND genocidal attempt at wiping out the Jewish presence in the Middle East, and they bragged about it for any doubters. It is amazing to me that world opinion about the occupation–which was initially supportive–so radically transformed when the threats to Israel have not. That is, the very reasons that we can all agree drove Israel to a morally correct invasion still exist–but now we think Irael is the hegemon? The side that failed in its genocidal attempts–and openly claims that it wants to try again–is now being rewarded with the moral upper hand? Somehow they deserve their territory back? What logic is this?

    I suspect it has something to do with the “underdog good, overdog bad” paradigm. If Israel is now the strong party, so goes the logic, it must be 1) morally bankrupt 2) at least strong enough to cede the territories it once needed for national security reasons or 3) both of the above. Of course, I reject this logic.

    I can explain for you–from a military perspective–why Israel cannot afford to give up any of the territory it has ceded or still occupies (this would include an explanation of how the traditional concepts of war get thrown out the window in such a small area), but it would first require you to acknowledge that there is even an existential threat. Yes, even those countries which have signed peace treaties with their Jewish neighbor should still be watched very carefully–the overwhelming majority of their populations are not supportive of those treaties, whatever the transient view of their pragmatic leaders, and terrorist/guerilla operations and weapons still eminate from them.

    I acknowledge that there is an religious-ideological component to the occupation, but it is not the driving force. Even if there were no such component, the military concerns and existential threats unequivocally override any discomfort we “progressives” might experience under the circumstances.

    So that is how I can say that Israel’s moral standing is–at worst–the same as it was before 1967.

  38. E.G. says:

    Joanne,

    the occupation is a brutal one

    a. How do you know?
    b. More or less brutal than other occupations?

    I don’t think Cynic’s is a silly request. Atrocities must be recorded. But I’m not sure the categories you cite actually fall under the “atrocity” label. Furthermore, none of these acts occurred out of the blue, none of them was initiated by Israel as if there were some will to oppress, harass, or harm the population. Have you ever heard about terror attacks?

  39. Stu says:

    Joanne,

    You state on the one hand, “I never sort of implied equivalence between Israel and the PA or PLO or Hamas. Please don’t put words in my mouth,” and on the other you state, “I know that Israel has had security needs, but the occupation is a brutal one.” The latter claim, which, quite frankly, is laughable in terms relative to the rest of the world, certainly does imply some moral equivalence. This demonstrates a classic tendency of guilt-culture members to draw useless parallels between the two sides, which, in essence absolves the true belligerant party of its guilt. It is dangerous because it 1) suggests that we should do much more to make them happy and 2) that they do not need to do any more than us in order for there to be progress on the peace front. This is, of course, completely false.

    Of all the items you list, none of them involves death or mass population transfer–both are openly stated objectives of the Palestinians (though population x-fer might be wishful thinking on my part). Once again, Israel’s behavior as an occupier is the exception to the global norm, not the rule. Let’s not get into the fact that the quality of life and GDP among Palestinians improved before the instense radicalization seen during and after the 1st intifada. Let’s just note that much of the destruction you mention (razing of homes) is a direct consequence of those individuals participating in militant activities designed to murder Jews and destroy Israel–so no sympathy there. Mass searches–so what? What do those do other than inconvenience the populations? Are searches conducted in a vacuum, i.e. just for fun, or do you think there might be some life/death concerns that trump the Palestinians’ hyper-sensitivity to “humiliation”? The security wall I have more mixed feelings about–our at least I would have if the Palestinians hadn’t deliberatly scuttled Camp David and started the 2nd intifada. In my book–as it should be in all of our books–they destroyed any credibility they might have had in the peace process and lost the right to complain about Israel’s unilateral, territorial acquisition. Even Clinton agreed that Arafat’s “participation” was all a sham. Just like in 1948, 1967, and 1973, they gambled on more violence, assuming they could get everthying. Just like in those wars, they lost and are now complaining as if Israel had just plopped without history or context.

    I’ll state again that I do not think Israel is pure as the driven snow, but many of the things you list aren’t even morally objectionable when you put them in context. The greatest fallacy in this whole conflict is that it would cool off if Israel just stopped being so bad–even the Palestinians don’t believe that in their cores.

  40. Joanne says:

    Stu,

    Your first comment was based on a misreading of my views. The occupation itself is not the point for me. So the rest of what you say isn’t really germaine. As far as the occupation not being brutal, we must be living on different planets. I wish you were right, though I don’t know how comparisons to other occupations would be meaningful here. What other countries would you compare Israel to, while maintaining that Israel is a first-world democracy?

    I cannot argue chapter-and-verse about Israel’s abuses. Below are two general statements that I found after a quick search on the Internet. I tried to avoid the obvious leftist wingnuts and Arab propaganda sites. Is there exaggeration in the below statements? Maybe. Are they complete nonsense? Probably not. Here they are:

    1. “[Israel] annihilates civilian infrastructure, targets civilian shelters, blocks medical teams from reaching victims, uses chemical weapons, such as white phosphorous, on civilians, prevents medical equipment from entering the war zone, cuts off fuel, electricity and running water, and forcibly prevents civilians including children from escaping their carnage. These are only the latest in a long and shameful history of violent, illegal and immoral actions taken by the government of Israel against the Palestinian people over the last 61 years.”

    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31731

    2. “Few such documents have surfaced in Israel’s archives during the past fifty years, partly because soldiers and officers who committed atrocities rarely left written descriptions behind, partly because those that do exist are mostly deposited in the IDF Archive, where internal censors make sure that documents explicitly pertaining to massacres or expulsions never see the light of day. But occasionally slips occur.

    ”We now know, on the basis of United Nations, American, and British documents and a handful that surfaced in Israel’s civilian archives (the Israel State Archive, party political archives, private papers collections, etc.) during the 1980s and 1990s, of more than a dozen massacres of Arabs by Jewish troops in the course of the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. These range in size from the shooting of a handful or several dozen civilians arbitrarily selected and lined up against a village wall after its conquest (as occurred, for example, in Majd al Kurum, Bi’na and Dir al Assad, Ilaboun, Jish, Saliha, Safsaf, and Sasa during Hiram) to the slaughter of some 250 civilians and detainees during a firefight in the town of Lydda, southeast of Tel Aviv, on the afternoon of July 12, 1948.

    ”Over the years, the release of new documents and newspaper interviews with witnesses and participants has uncovered Israeli massacres of Arab civilians and prisoners of war in the subsequent wars of 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982. The revelations came as a shock to much of the Israeli public, which was nurtured on a belief in its own moral superiority and on a doctrine of “purity of arms.” Jewish troops, it was believed, in the mainstream Jewish underground, the Haganah, before 1948, and in the IDF since then, had been trained not to sully their arms by committing atrocities. When an atrocity nonetheless came to light, it was always dismissed as a rare exception, a unique occurrence.”

    http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/arab-israeli-war.html

    Finally, I am not saying that Israel’s actions were all or only atrocities, only that it’s impossible for me to believe that there haven’t been at least some atrocities (as much as I’d like to believe there haven’t been), especially in the course of the occupation and the 1982 war.

    It’s true that Israel’s actions have not resulted in the death of millions, only (!) several thousands. It’s true that the Palestinians are not helpless, as the media portray them, but are often actively involved in trying to destroy Israel. In such a case harshness is hard to avoid. But I still cannot dismiss all Palestinian claims as nonsense.

    As for religious ideology not being a driving force of the settlements? It certainly is a driving force in many cases. And if it isn’t a driving force, then what is? Some thickening of Israel’s originally narrow waistline would probably be necessary for security reasons. Other than that, the only answer I can think of is expansionism. That’s hardly better.

  41. Cynic says:

    Joanne,

    <emCynic, I cannot quote chapter and verse every atrocity Israel has committed in the last 40 years! What a silly request, though you probably meant it tongue-in-cheek. Do you really suggest that mistreatment didn’t occur?</em.

    Then list some of them, give the facts, references, context etc.

    Example: They stopped the ambulance.Yes. Why? To check for explosives and arms which passed through in previous attempts.

    As for: That there was no destruction of fruit orchards, the razing of homes, routine mass searches of the population, the separation of Palestinians from water supplies, the separation of farmers from their fields and the division of towns with the security wall?

    The Supreme court righted the separation fence debacle didn’t it?

    The wall in places. Why? Go and ask the Christian Arabs of towns around Jerusalem why.
    Why didn’t you complain when Arafat’s thugs were using the Christian houses to fire into Jewish parts of Jerusalem.
    Sniper fire at kids watching TV. Move along, nothing to see just some Juice shot in front of the telly.

    Do you know anything about pruning olive trees?

    The razing of homes when the Terrorist came from them.

    Where the separation of the Arabs from water supplies when in several instances the very settlers who are vilified were the ones to put in piped water for an Arab village – go look that up, but you won’t find it in the NYT!

  42. Cynic says:

    Joanne,

    With regard to ‘paragraph 2.’ you will have to better than
    These range in size from the shooting of a handful or several dozen civilians arbitrarily selected and lined up against a village wall after its conquest (as occurred, for example, in Majd al Kurum, Bi’na and Dir al Assad, Ilaboun, Jish, Saliha, Safsaf, and Sasa during Hiram) to the slaughter of some 250 civilians and detainees during a firefight in the town of Lydda, southeast of Tel Aviv, on the afternoon of July 12, 1948.

    Links to the documents. Who were the witnesses? The same types who have given us Pallywood, Jenin, etc?

    The “slaughter” of civilians in a “firefight” where the Arabs have always sought cover in civilian populations? Slaughter = premeditated killing?

    Get hold of released British papers that were archived for 30 years and 50 years and discover the reality.

  43. oao says:

    Yet you do not seem to acknowledge how that occupation came to be or why it continues.

    bingo. which is the same position of the arabs, europeans, etc.

    i don’t think you’ll get very far with joanne. she has a streak of that absolute notion of good in her, which does not allow for any compromise with practical reality.

    one of the things i regret is the inability to play what if real games: have israel cede the wb and see what will follow. but then, even that may not convince joanne: for we have the cases of lebanon and ghaza, and they don’t convince her either. and the ghaza occupation was much worse than the wb’s.

    another thing joanne disregards is the reality of keeping a hostile, treacherous and murderous population under control. there is no army in the world which has not been worse, much worse than israel, yet being the best possible under horrible circumstances, even at the point of endangering israeli soldiers’ lives (which NO army has ever done!!!) is not enough.

    absolute good can, as we know, lead to the worst things, don’t they?

  44. Stu says:

    oanne,

    “Your first comment was based on a misreading of my views. The occupation itself is not the point for me. So the rest of what you say isn’t really germain”

    A short recap: I suggested that Israel’s moral legitimacy is more or less the same now as it was before 1967, you responded, “Stu, I don’t understand how you can say that Israel’s moral standing was the same before and after the occupation.” This statement does indeed imply that the occupation was the point for you, and that the rest of what I wrote is dearly germane. But let us suppose that it was not the occupation itself, rather the “brutality” contained therein that degraded Israel’s moral stance for you. Why then, does the bulk of your evidence (uncorroborated as of yet) point to Israeli actions before 1967? How does this help you show that Israel has morally deteriorated since the occupation?

    Remember, in my thesis I was trying to show that public opinion had shifted, not Israel’s moral stance–however good or rotten that may have been (I think good, though). Now, I propose throughout that this is because a skillfully waged cognitive war has peeled our accepted discourse off its original track. You have tried–and failed–to demonstrate that it was Israel’s own doing post-1967.

    I can’t help but smell something else here. The de-contextualized examples you cite, the dubious sources you use, the hyperbolic accusations, the roving manner of your argument–all of it–points to something deeper than a disagreement about the particularities of the shift I note in my thesis.

    I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here when I say that you are a great example of a cognitive war victim. You claim to be pro-Israel in your heart, as so many do, but you cannot seem to detach yourself from the anti-Israel narrative. Let’s look at one of your primary sources, the one which just happens to be the first listed: http://www.kibush.co.il

    Here’s what they say about their own sources: “The material includes articles selected from the Israeli, Palestinian and international media which we consider informative, as well as observations on the ground by us and by fellow activists, and reports by anti-occupation and human rights organizations. While every effort is made to supply reliable information, we do not have the means to verify every fact reported in the articles. On the other hand each of us makes an effort to keep oneself informed on the Occupation by observations on the ground, interactions with Palestinians and with fellow activists, and by reading.”

    Hmmm. “…by us and by fellow activists, and reports by anti-occupation and human rights organization….” One gets the impression that we’re not exactly diving into Lake Objective here, or aren’t we? Let’s move past the fact that kibush doesn’t think it worthwhile to get any Israeli perspectives “on the ground” in the Occupation (note the capitol “O”)–even though those have been shown over and over again to be more reliable. Let’s just note that these editors are self-described “Israeli anti-occupation activists”. This means that we don’t have a website devoted to airing unknown facts and debunking commonly-believed falsehoods, rather we have a clearly stated political Objective (note my capitol “O”) and some “information” that is likely selected because it supports said objective. Would kibush admit to this if you called them on it?

    Probably not, which is why we are lucky enough to have the likes of camera.org and ngo-monitor.org. You’ll no doubt note the pro-Israel tenor of these and other sites, including theaugeanstables.com, but I would be careful about dismissing them as unreliable. While NGO chiefs have actually admitted that they inflate the coverage against Israel, these sites take great care to get their facts right and make their cases unimpeachable. I doubt we can say the same for kibush. I haven’t delved into it, but “Crimes of War” hardly appears much better. (Incidentally, you might be interested to note that Benny Morris, the author of the article you link, is often cited by anti-Israel activists, but he has really come around to a new perspective since 2000, apparently disappointing a great number who previously relied on his credentials).

    “As for religious ideology not being a driving force of the settlements? It certainly is a driving force in many cases. And if it isn’t a driving force, then what is? ”

    I wrote “occupation”, not “settlements”. That’s a large difference. The settlements probably have a greater ideological component to them than the occupation writ large–I’ll let others with more expertise comment on that. I will say, though, that there is at least some pragmatism in them. They will be bargaining chips at the negotiation table, if the Palestinians ever seriously decide to make a final peace.

    So much more to write, but time for bed.

  45. Joanne, I think you are right about atrocities committed by the IDF in the 1948 War. I recently read Benny Morris’ “1948″ and he did document where and when those events supposedly occurred. His account rings true to me even though I had to change my opinion on those matters from reading his book.

    He also listed similar atrocities on the Arab side. He also showed instances where both the Arabs and Israelis showed remarkable compassion and humanity toward civilians and POW’s of the other side.

    I think that wars of ethnic hatred (in this case hatred of Jews by Arabs, wars initiated by the Arabs to kill and wipe out the Jews of Israel) cause such events because when one side attacks the civilians of another with ethnic cleansing in mind, the soldiers defending their civilians have an understandable reason to see all Arabs (civilians and military) as having the goal of killing their families. So, under those circumstances, things can get out of hand. It is also the case that communications between commanders and units in the field in 1948 was very primitive compared to present day. In some cases, IDF units who took prisoners while attempting to reach their primary goal could neither release them nor bring them along and without specific orders from the top could only execute them or seriously risk their objective.

    That being said, if you look at the certain annihilation that Jews were facing and the primitive abilities of each side to wage war at that time, in the history of warfare it is remarkable how few civilian casualties there were, on each side. Seen objectively, Israel’s War of Independence was a very minor skirmish in the world’s history of similar wars at that time.

    My question would be, why do these minor accounts of immoral behavior always seem to provide such obvious evidence of Israel’s overall guilt in this conflict and never the Arabs’ / Palestinians’ culpability.

    Why do those who see such evil in Israel’s actions in the defense against attacks purposely directed at its families not also see at least some evil in the actions of Arabs who repeatedly attack the civilian Jews of Israel, attacks that make such defense necessary? It seems as if the cause of war – one side attacking the other – is ignored, while the higher relative number of casualties on the Arab side is repeatedly brought forth as evidence of Israel’s culpability in the conflict.

    As far as I know, Israel has never attacked any Arab state or region except as part of a defensive campaign. I’m sure the peace-activists would have elevated any such documented operation to mythic status by know if it had ever happened. And that means that the Arabs have never attacked Israel or Jewish civilians except as naked aggression – never defense at the war/campaign level.

    I have my conclusions for this but I would ask you Joanne, what moral scale you are using for this? Can you justify your moral position here in some way that gets past this obstacle?

    The main question I’d like an answer to is in bold above. I hope you can take it as honestly asked.

  46. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    Just one correction.
    the primitive abilities of each side to wage war at that time

    Not each side. One side.
    There were 5 regular, quite well equipped and trained armies, plus local Palestinian Arab gangs, attacking one, newly founded, hardly trained and very poorly equipped army.

  47. E.G. says:

    Dear Joanne,

    Do you count establishing higher education institutions as brutal acts or as war crimes?
    Take a look at the PA education ministry website and the dates the different universities were founded.

  48. oao says:

    Why do those who see such evil in Israel’s actions in the defense against attacks purposely directed at its families not also see at least some evil in the actions of Arabs who repeatedly attack the civilian Jews of Israel, attacks that make such defense necessary? It seems as if the cause of war – one side attacking the other – is ignored, while the higher relative number of casualties on the Arab side is repeatedly brought forth as evidence of Israel’s culpability in the conflict.

    rashid khalidi is livid that in the US the issue is discussed only from the israeli point of view, as if the pals do not just react to aggression and “occupation”.

    so you see, it’s a matter of perspective.

  49. Cynic says:

    #49

    To add to that, as new immigrants (those survivors from Europe) arrived so they were put into service fighting for their lives.

  50. Cynic says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    Read Morris’ latest stuff.

  51. Cynic re #53 – I though “1948″ was his latest. I have an MP3 of an interview he did not too long ago on NPR. Has he written any articles more recently that you’d recommend?

    EG re #49 – Morris’ views on this were very interesting to read. As I understand him, while the Arabs did have organized armies, their weapons were often poorly maintained, in bad repair, of older design and the ammunition was often old and unstable.

    I think in “O Jerusalem” I read that at least one Arab general sent his army to Palestine without any ammunition because he had sold it all for a good price on the black market.

    The Jews started off in ’47 was almost nothing to fight with. But they relentlessly purchased and smuggled in arms, canon and even aircraft throughout the war. The Arab started off with more arms but lost them in various battles and did little or nothing to replace them as the fighting continued. By the end the Jews had a decided advantage in weaponry and men under arms.

    But, I think the main advantage the Jews had over the Arabs was their far greater determination and their ability to organize and plan their operations more effectively – unhindered by the Arab politics that revolved around perceptions of honor and shame that accrued to various Arab leaders.

    Also, many of the Arab operations were directed at securing territory for their own dominion after (hopefully) the other Arab armies wasted themselves fighting the Jews. Both Jordanian and Syrian armies plopped down onto land that was easily taken but that they thought they could hold such as N and S Gallilee and along the Lebanese border.

    The Egyptians didn’t play that game as well and overextended themselves. Their army was finally trapped in the Negev where it was saved only by the UN politically forcing an armistice with the Jews.

  52. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    A year old letter to the Irish times editor by Benny Morris:

    The Arab armies were largely superior both in numeric and material terms. This is the reason they were confident about their victory. They also suffered from corruption and some lack of discipline (see: maintenance) as well as variable levels of soldier motivation – but these were minor problems (if the leadership ever acknowledged them) given the massive force, absolutely disproportionate vis-a-vis the Israeli.

    Israeli determination played a decisive role, as did their resourcefulness (gathering arms while fighting, modifying/renovating obsolete arms, strategic and tactical planning, etc.). I believe that in “O Jerusalem” they mention the “no choice” saying, reflecting the zeitgeist: fight or die. Extremely high motivation. Compensated for the numerous disadvantages. Especially the very summary training (often in the heat of the battle).

  53. E.G. says:

    Sorry, the link above is not active. Here‘s another.

  54. Cynic says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    The link gives me a
    Sorry
    This document has passed the retrievable timeframe
    set for this service and is no longer available.

    By the way this should stir things up:
    Benny Morris and the Reign of Error

    Toward this end, I shall focus on a key charge: the claim by Benny Morris of

    Ben-Gurion University, a leading New Historian, that the Zionist and Israeli establishments have systematically falsified archival source material to conceal the Jewish state’s less-than-immaculate conception.4 Through a detailed reexamination of the same documentation used by Morris, I shall seek to establish just how reliable his work is and whether it forms a legitimate basis for the revisionist theories he espouses.

    Israel and the Palestinians – according to Benny Morris

    Madam, – Israel-haters are fond of citing – and more often, mis-citing – my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections.
    The Palestinian Arabs were not responsible “in some bizarre way” (David Norris, January 31st) for what befell them in 1948. Their responsibility was very direct and simple.
    In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), they launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.
    It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa’s Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.

  55. oao says:

    Take a look at the PA education ministry website and the dates the different universities were founded.

    not to mention the shifa hospital in ghaza.

    also, let her seek karsh’s papers on the economy of ghaza before, during and after israeli occupation.

  56. oao says:

    Incidentally, you might be interested to note that Benny Morris, the author of the article you link, is often cited by anti-Israel activists, but he has really come around to a new perspective since 2000, apparently disappointing a great number who previously relied on his credentials).

    actually, i recommend karsh’s debunkings of morris initial work, which shows intentional falsification or ommission of his facts to the point of reversing the meaning of what he was reading.

    as to morris’ change of mind, i read some of his recent articles and he has not changed it about his previous claims. rather he has finally realized the truly genocidal nature of the arabs.

  57. oao says:

    e.g.,

    Israeli determination played a decisive role, as did their resourcefulness

    looks like the opposite these days, doesn’t it? how, then, is it likely to end?

  58. E.G. says:

    oao,

    What do you mean? Israelis are still as resourceful, if not even more.
    When Ein Breira there’s no choice. Benny Morris is not the only one who got a reality check.

    Here’s Karsh.

  59. oao says:

    What do you mean? Israelis are still as resourceful, if not even more.

    israelis perhaps yes, but their elite are corrupt utter failures (read the last column by carolyne glick).

    but there is a limit to resourcefulness, when the whole world is out to defeat and eliminate you. what resources do you have when you are forced to supply your enemy with everything it needs to defeat you, while they limit your access to resources?

  60. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Pipes got it all wrong. Read Amira to see the light.

    The Israel donors conference

    Every cent paid to the Palestinians – whether for the Ramallah government’s budget or medical treatment of children wounded by Israeli pilots or soldiers – lets Israel know that it can continue its efforts to force a capitulation deal on the Palestinian elite. Only by recognizing that surrender is the goal can one understand that 16 years after Oslo, no Palestinian state was established.

  61. Richard Landes says:

    watch it EG, not all readers understand your dry sarcasm.

  62. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    I’m waiting for one of them readers to cite your comment as proof.
    You should have included in bold that every cent paid by the US and Europe lets the Arabs know that they can continue their efforts in the West’s proxy war to force Jews into the sea.
    Maybe some XHTML tags exists for changing the colour of the text?

  63. Cynic says:

    By the way here’s an Ed Gamble cartoon that puts in in a nutshell:
    Another bailout

    E.G.
    We commented on Hamas getting the money ($900,000,000) by hook or by crook.
    It seems that what has been termed straw companies have been set up in Gaza waiting with open pockets.

  64. Eliyahu says:

    EG & RL, the kind of paranoia expressed by Amira is typical of “Leftists” going back into the 30s. Sometimes it is well-founded and sometimes it is groundless, as in this case. But it is a typical emotional attitude. Maybe she really believes in her own words.

  65. Eliyahu says:

    “Leftist” psychology really has to be understood. I’m sure that the master psywar manipulators know it well.

  66. E.G. says:

    Well, it is true that reading Amira Hass’ article felt like the poor Jew reading Der Stürmer: where else would such a Jew find out that actually he’s rich, controlling the world’s banks, media, govt’s etc.?
    Not dry but drei-groschen sarcasm.

    If one reads only this Hass-Haaretz production, one is lead to believe that there are humans confined in some cages, sitting there like sheep and waiting for some providence to herd them into a bigger cage that will be called an independent state. Why do those evil juice keep bombing the ruminating flocks, killing lambs and demolishing their pens? Who knows? Who cares? Uniting donors to pay for the reconstruction of the pens is sufficient evidence that Israel’s policies are agreed and encouraged.

    I don’t think, like Eliyahu, that it’s paranoia. It’s a willful distortion of a landscape that is appreciable in painting but not in journalism.
    It’s furthermore a twisted logic and judgement.

    And yes, Cynic, I’m aware of the straw companies (JPost had an article 5-6 weeks ago) waiting for the manna with open bags and tunnels.

  67. EG, Thanks for the link to that letter-to-the-editor by Morris. Interesting. That was my general understanding of Morris’ position after reading “1948″ – which I believe rings true to me.

    (I do get the impression that some here who speak with such certainly about Morris have not read the book. It was published April 30, 2008. I believe it was his attempt to finally set the record straight regarding his views on these matters. He cites his sources in great detail, perhaps anticipating detractors.)

    Several regulars here obviously have a very good understanding of this conflict and the history of the region – certainly better than mine. I have read everything I could get my hands on but I still have much to learn, which is one reason I hang out here. I greatly appreciate your reading suggestions and esp. links like those offered above.

  68. EG said: I don’t think, like Eliyahu, that it’s paranoia. It’s a willful distortion of a landscape that is appreciable in painting but not in journalism.
    It’s furthermore a twisted logic and judgement.

    It is distortion but all such distortions are willful, even if subconsciously so. Now “twisted logic and judgment” – there it is. As I’ve been trying to establish, logic and judgment are very minor obstacles to a mind driven by strong passions. Identifying with one side in a violent conflict creates some of the strongest available. In the sixties we called it radicalization.

    These discussions are interesting for understanding how the mind works at that level – such as discussions of honor / shame, guilt / integrity, cultural mendacity, etc. – although there is still a lack of appreciation for the raw strength of such psychological forces as compared to human moral reasoning and judgment. I suspect most here see such forces as acting only in weak minds (i.e. the minds of those who disagree with me.)

    It is a fools errand however, to critique the logic of those who, owned by such passions, used none of it to arrive at their conclusions. Their logic is harnessed after the fact to justify the conclusions required of their passions. There are few examples of human logical creativity that surpass this effort.

    What most here describe as cognitive dissonance is the mental anguish that those who believe they have just offered the perfect logical rebuttal – think (wish) their target should be feeling.

    This conflict is full of Westerners who apologize for and try to logically justify the worst possible immoral actions of Israel’s enemies. When was the last time one of them, when faced with an irrefutable rebuttal (or dozens of them) admitted to a logical error and reversed their conclusion?

    You’d think that cognitive dissonance would have some effect on them, some day, just once even. If occasionally someone ever does reverse position, it is because in that person’s mind, the emotional balance first shifted for some reason, enough so that the passions were reduced and reason was allowed to penetrate. Or, more probably, the polarity of their passion was reversed because of some emotional event – like Capt Ramius in The Hunt for Red October whose wife died from the incompetence of Soviet health care.

    It was never because their reason overcame their passion.

  69. oao says:

    here’s laqueur’s review of morris’ latest book:

    http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=20960

    i detected quite a few problems with it. let’s see if you can catch them.

  70. The one that jumped out most forcefully for me was:

    There is a naive belief in Israel, only slowly eroding, that on the international level there is one justice for all, that if (not only figuratively speaking) major powers can get away with murder, smaller ones can get away with it too.

    Murder is intentional killing, i.e. aggression, not in defense. I may be naive but as far as I know, Israel has never engaged in this activity – and the Arab side has engaged in nothing but. For him to use that revealing word causes me to question his objectivity.

    Shouldn’t he have said something more like,

    There is a naive belief in Israel, only slowly eroding, that on the international level there is one justice for all, that if major powers use retaliatory violence to defend themselves against aggression, smaller ones will be assured license to use the same decisive tools.

    There were other statements that I found questionable but I’m having trouble getting past this one.

  71. This doesn’t make sense to me:

    Perhaps there has been a change of heart among the Palestinian leadership, a greater willingness to collaborate as the result of the sad subsequent history of their people? They have tried all possible approaches—protofascism, quasi-Marxist anti-imperialism, Nasserist pan-Arabism and most recently Islamic fundamentalism—all without notable success. And according to all of the evidence, there has been radicalization rather than greater willingness to compromise.

    If the last sentence is true, what use is the first?

    Isn’t he just saying that the Israelis have slowly been forced to face reality? They have come around from their initial belief (perhaps wishful thinking) after their victory in 1948 that the Arabs would eventually react like any Western power faced with the same options. Does he find it puzzling that they haven’t? If so, this is classic cognitive egocentrism.

  72. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    Have you read Karsh’s “1948 – The True Story” in Commentary?

    Here’s Robert Kennedy’s 1948 Reports from Palestine vintage series.

  73. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    As I’ve been trying to establish, logic and judgment are very minor obstacles to a mind driven by strong passions.

    Do you have sufficient empirical data upon which to base such an assertion? A priori, I doubt it.
    There is ample empirical evidence about human judgement not always (in fact, hardly) obeying formal logic rules. Attributing these biases to “strong passions” is less substantiated. Some biases are likely to draw on “passions”, others – on somewhat less complex mechanisms (e.g., imperfect memory storage and retrieval). It is sufficient to drop out a few options from an if-therefore argument for it to seem complete while it is not. But most people will not intuitively think of the missing alternatives.

    Cog-war exploits these biases. Relying, for example, on imperfect memory, small and apparently insignificant changes can be introduced into (re-)describing an event (e.g., using positively or negatively connoted terms; passive/active formulation) in order to (re)shape people’s perception and subsequent judgement of the event. In such cases, emotion is induced, evoked, manipulated. This is voluntary, conscious action, undertaken by Cog-warriors.

    When further framing an event in a moral context, techniques such as detailing some aspects (e.g., a family’s distress) while keeping a more global view of others (e.g., the agency in charge’s policy), can be (and are) used to form (or manipulate) the receiver’s perception of a situation in whatever sense one wishes: good/bad, just/unjust, fair/unfair etc.

  74. EG said,

    Have you read Karsh’s “1948 – The True Story” in Commentary?

    Here’s Robert Kennedy’s 1948 Reports from Palestine vintage series.

    I’ve now read them both. Thanks

    Re: “1948 – The True Story” – First, the title seems to be an article in a blog by a Samuael J. Scott. This article links to Karsh’s article in Commentary titled “1948, Israel, and the Palestinians: Annotated Text”

    This article (Karsh’s) seems to be consistent with most of what I read in Morris’ “1948″. I see no outright contradictions but I have not compared item by item – only my general impressions from reading both. Karsh seems to de-emphasize Israeli expulsions of Arabs more. He says they occurred but were militarily justified.

    That’s what Morris said but described the expulsions in far greater detail. (His was a book, not an article.) Karsh, despite admitting Israeli expulsions seems to place more importance on Arab AHC culpability in his article.

    They both explain that there were a variety of motivations at play and that they each were more or less determinative in different operations, regions, etc. I’d agree and add that different motivations probably existed even in the minds of the refugees in the same village or family.

    I basically believe that people defending from aggression should have reasonable latitude to decide what measures they need to employ in their defense. If that means the expulsion of some Arabs from their villages, that’s unfortunate but such is the nature of war. If the Arabs had accepted the Partition instead of attacking Israel there would have been no expulsions.

  75. I said: As I’ve been trying to establish, logic and judgment are very minor obstacles to a mind driven by strong passions.

    EG said: Do you have sufficient empirical data upon which to base such an assertion? A priori, I doubt it.

    Your question presupposes that there is an accepted psychological theory that explains normal human behavior as the result of logic and judgment.

    I challenge you to provide this theory and the empirical evidence it is based upon. Instead, I’d suggest that this is only assumed to be the case – despite thousands of psychological experiments that provide ample evidence of the opposite – experiments on bias that prove logic is very often not determinative in behavior.

    The supposition that logic and judgment is the basic mental mechanism by which we decide our behavior is the existing paradigm and it is therefore never questioned despite evidence to the contrary all around.

    I think I mentioned before the Bush v Gore case of the USSC. How can it be that five justices can come to such an opposite conclusion as the other four on the dispassionate legal merits of the case – and why is it that their conclusions follow exactly what would favor their ideological (passions at play) preference as to who should be president?

    It is very hard for a rational person not to conclude that despite the vaunted brilliant judgment of these justices – exemplary of the finest minds in US jurisprudence – that their political passions over-ruled their logic and judgment quite easily – simply based on the odds against such a coincidence.

    They did however, show great logical brilliance in devising their convoluted written opinions afterward, and with straight faces.

  76. E.G. says:

    Your question presupposes that there is an accepted psychological theory that explains normal human behavior as the result of logic and judgment.
    Not at all. I should have made it clearer that it’s the “driven by strong passions” that raised my doubts. To be sure, lots of things enter under “passions” and no doubt contribute to deviate reasoning and judgement from formal logic rules. But they’re far from being the only factors that are at play. IOW, attributing the “mind’s deviations” solely to strong passions is, to the best of my knowledge, inaccurate.

    Of course there is a theory, albeit not originally psychological, of rationality (sorry for the non-news). But it’s been empirically refuted, as you know.

    The supposition that logic and judgment is the basic mental mechanism by which we decide our behavior is the existing paradigm and it is therefore never questioned despite evidence to the contrary all around.
    See: Behavioural economics. Almost 2 decades young but flourishing.

  77. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG – You must be the person who recommended “Cognitive Dissonance and Social Change” (paper by Matthew Rabin). I have a copy now and am studying it. Tnx

    I think we are speaking past each other re: “mind’s deviations” – a term you introduced to the discussion. I’m not sure what that means.

    Do you mean deviation from some norm? What is the norm?

    To save some time I offer the following conceptual framework re: minds and behavior. As I see things,

    a) minds produce behavior by attempting to predict the future

    b) each behavior choice is a prediction that the organism will maximize their well-being as a result of that choice, as compared to any alternatives

    c) predicting the future is difficult and organisms often fail to choose the optimum behavior

    d) reason and judgment are facilities of human minds that can assist in behavior selection – but do not direct behavior choice

    e) reason and judgment are fallible tools. they suffer from inadequate or false data, data biased in interpretation, too many variables for a solution, operator error, etc. – and so even humans using reason and judgment also make non-optimum behavior choices

    Is that what you consider to be deviation?

  78. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle, #79

    Just to add – Intl. law, and specifically about war was not the same as today. And remind that post WWII there have been many population transfers in Europe and in Asia.

    Another short reading:
    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1938/jul/13/terrorism#S5CV0338P0_19380713_HOC_69

  79. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    Yes, I happily plead guilty for signaling Matthew Rabin’s paper.
    Deviation (irrationality) is vis-a-vis formal logic rules and theoretic rationality axioms.

    re-your:
    a) plus interpreting present and past.
    b) in principle; not necessarily de facto (we have trouble predicting what we want – your c)
    d) not sure what you mean.
    e) reason and judgment are fallible tools.
    I wouldn’t couch it in these terms. Rather, reasoning and judgement are activities performed daily by all humans, that sometimes, with great effort, conform somewhat to as many formal logic rules as possible.

  80. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    TY. Seen my comment #2 in the Pryce-Jones thread?
    :-)

  81. I said, d) reason and judgment are facilities of human minds that can assist in behavior selection – but do not direct behavior choice

    EG said, d) not sure what you mean.

    I see behavior as the result of subconscious forces in the mind. These forces come from many sources including instincts, habits, learned responses, internalized beliefs, etc. The mind resolves these shifting and omnipresent forces to generate behavior at any moment in time.

    When we “think” it is not to direct our behavior as we assume. (We assume that because we are only aware of what happens consciously in our minds.) What really happens is that “thinking” about a problem creates new subconscious behavior-directing forces that compete with the others – and those can affect (not determine) behavior choice depending on the context.

    For example, “thinking” has almost free run to direct our behavior when few other forces (such as instincts, habits, learned responses, internalized beliefs) are present – like when figuring out how to operate an unfamiliar TV remote. Thinking is far more often used to execute behavior choices like that – that were made without thinking. (I’m bored, let’s change the channel.)

    But “thinking” often has little effect otherwise for two main reasons. One, thinking produces relatively weak forces and justifiably so. We learn early on to be wary of our intellectual conclusions for more important decisions in life. If you’ve ever played 3 Card Monte you know what I mean. Instead, we use intellect to create provisional beliefs that we try cautiously at first. When we have used them successfully over many repititions in life we gradually elevate those to “integrated belief” status – that no longer require thinking to apply.

    The other is that, in the presence of strong beliefs, thinking is subconsciously harnessed to reinforce (justify) those existing beliefs rather produce new objective problem solutions – a form of bias. When we are exposed to foreign ideas that contradict our existing beliefs that we’ve learned to trust we experience psychological pain that we relieve by using our reason to discredit those ideas.

    In short, we believe what feels good to us – which is what is familiar and trusted and accepted by others who we trust. All of these reduce the effect of intellect and reason (conscious cognition) on our behavior when we already have strong internalized beliefs that we trust. This is especially true for behavior decisions that we sense are significant to our survival.

    (That’s why I don’t see critical thinking skills as being nearly as important as cultural beliefs for understanding the behavior of the progressive left, for example.)

    **********************

    I don’t mean to make this my cause celebre but I think it bears directly on many issues discussed repeatedly in this forum such as honor/shame, Salzman’s Balanced Opposition, guilt/integrity, cognitive egocentrism and Stu’s cognitive warfare. It allows me to visualize how those concepts interact with brains to produce the behavior that perpetuates this conflict.

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