October 14, 2011 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Continued from:

Politics and global survival

Based on talks by Ralph Dobrin

Author of “How to avoid Armageddon”

Available through Amazon

Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

More than with most other topics, politics and ideology tend to bring about cognitively dissonant attitudes such as denial, automatic rejection of anything that doesn’t fit current perceptions and stubbornly clinging to old ways and ideas, no matter what new information emerges. So, whenever any issue with a political bearing is discussed, often even normally level-headed, intelligent, honest people can have their ability to think objectively and comprehensively, noticeably diminished. Right wing, left wing, liberal, conservative, centrist, it doesn’t matter. Intellectual honesty and rational thinking are often seriously compromised. Not always, not with everyone, but all too often. It’s amazing to see even wonderfully intelligent people, time and again over their entire adulthood, stick to the same old positions regarding ideology, politics and their various philosophical viewpoints, no matter how the world around them changes.

A classic example of cognitive dissonance – albeit with only a marginal bearing on politics – can be found in the story of Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor in mid-nineteenth century, who tried to convince fellow-physicians and nurses to wash their hands with disinfectant and sterilize their instruments before treating women giving birth in the maternity ward where he worked. Not a big deal, one might think. Plain common sense and standard practise for all medical treatments. Well, not then. At that time between 10 to 30 percent of women giving birth in hospitals died from childbirth fever, clearly due to the lack of hygienic conditions that prevailed.

Even though Semmelweis empirically and repeatedly showed how sterile working conditions could dramatically lower the mortality rates of mothers giving birth in hospitals to less than one percent, he was ridiculed and rejected by most of his fellow doctors in Vienna and elsewhere, because his observations conflicted with the established medical opinions of the time. It needed another 20 years before the medical establishment accepted Semmelweis’ simple solution to save lives. Meanwhile tens of thousands of women died agonizingly and unneccesarily because of the automatic rejection of any idea that didn’t fit people’s perceptions, no matter what new information so readily emerged.  

By the way, I’m not saying that every old idea or way is necessarily faulty and must be changed. But whenever we automatically close ourselves off to anything new or different, or to anything that doesn’t tally exactly with our perception of things, we should check to see whether we are really facing all facts and factors with complete honesty. Because the consequences of not doing so, can be pretty grim to say the least.

Semmelweis reached his conclusions through empirical deduction. Let’s take a more political example, utilizing empirical deduction, while showing other forms of cognitive dissonance. Many people in this Israel and all over the world say that Israel should agree to all of the Palestinian demands and then there will have peace with them – demands that include Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 Armistice Lines. But if we want to be absolutely honest about the situation, irrespective of our political leanings, surely we should also consider what happened every time that Israel withdrew its forces from areas in the West Bank and Gaza. Time and again, especially following the 1993 Peace Accords, withdrawal would soon lead to an escalation of armed attacks against Israeli civilians. In Gaza, even after removing every single Jewish vestige from Gaza in 2005, the response was an immediate and prolonged escalation of rocket attacks that lasted for years and was checked, only after a serious military incursion by Israel. There wasn’t any sign that Israel’s withdrawal had helped bring peace any nearer. On the contrary, Israel’s withdrawal pushed peace further away. So, empirically, it would appear rather unlikely that agreeing to ever-more Arab demands will, at the present time at least, bring about real peace.

On the other hand, there are people who call for an end to any negotiations with the Palestinians because they are not to be trusted, that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria justly was won in wars of defense – of physical survival actually, and that Israel cannot afford to cede territory of vital strategic significance, especially in a time of turmoil in the entire Arab world.

But have these folks honestly considered the following crucial questions? How long can Israel rule over a people that doesn’t want its rule, that in fact hates this rule? And if Israel annexes the entire West Bank, how long will it be before the Arabs in Israel combined with those in the West Bank would form a political bloc that could sway or even dominate fateful national decisions? Mind you, Israel could simply defranchise them, which would mean that Israel could no longer call itself a democracy and would be taking on an electoral feature of the apartheid state, which would deepen even more its international isolation; which would mean more boycotts and a lot less commerce, as well as a further erosion of political support in the United Nations, even the possible loss of America’s support.

By the way, the many countries that choose to downplay the perils facing Israel, while blithely calling for its full withdrawal to the indefensible lines of 1967, are also ignoring fateful facts and factors that could have a bearing on Israel’s very survival. By ignoring these issues they are actually pandering to falsehood; the immorality of this is greatly compounded by pressuring Israel to do what might well lead to its very destruction.

Many people say that Judea and Samaria is Israel’s God-given land, that God is on Israel’s side (the Muslims also believe that God is on their side!) and that Israel will prevail even if the entire Muslim world faces us on the battlefield, even if the United Nations joins in. After all, Prophecy talks about such an eventuality. How wonderful to believe! But then, empirically, we might remember previous times when God was expected to intervene – like when the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire, believing that their leader Bar Kochba might even be the messiah, only to face destruction and their long exile; or the question of where was God during the Holocaust? On the other hand, one can point to the incredible victories of 1948 and 1967. Although they might have been due to smarter planning, better training and a lot of luck. Or maybe they were truly miraculous … the hand of the Almighty. No matter what I want to believe, I cannot honestly know.

But I will say this about the totally unfathomable factor that we call God: I believe – and again, that’s not really knowing, but I believe that to receive divine backing, Israel needs to be worthy, truly worthy. And surely that demands more than the observance of the Sabbath and the kosher laws. Surely worthiness demands a strong inclination towards honesty, integrity and truthfulness by Israeli society. In fact, from a purely pragmatic point of view, the only way Israel can prevail against the demonic odds being stacked against it, is through developing a society, in which the dominant characteristics are honesty, integrity and truthfulness. Only this way will Israel be able to build up a nation with the trustworthiness and competence nation necessary to survive.

Whether we look at the situation from a religious or a secular point of view – it seems that Israel and indeed the whole of humanity is now facing an enormous test, a test that will very likely determine humanity’s fate. We have already listed the perils that confront us all, perils the like of which, humanity has never faced. And the test is … the universal practise of truthfulness. Failing this test is simply not an option. Certainly not for Israel. It’s primarily a practical, pragmatic imperative.

How are we to succeed in this test? What must we do to promote the tenets of truthfulness among Israeli society … and throughout the world? The answer: on an individual basis, not a great deal. No need to make any heroic effort or drastic changes in our present lifestyles. We can start by doing a little soul-searching about our own level of truthfulness. I must ask myself. How truthful a person am I. Do I sometimes exaggerate things and to what extent? Do I sometimes fib and why? Do I twist the truth, cheat – even from time to time, deceive anyone? Do I lie? And please we shouldn’t be too upset by what we reveal about ourselves. I bet that everyone, or just about everyone, from time to time does indulge in some from of falsehood. The thing is to understand this, to recognize our own shortcomings and endeavor to the best of our ability to become as truthful as we possibly can. It entails a daily review.

At the same time we should also question the validity of our notions – especially notions with a political and ideological connection. And together with all this we should confront any form of falsehood that we encounter, no matter where … in shops, with people who provide service, clerks in municipal and government offices, etc. But we should be very cautious before pointing out any twisting of truth, so as to scrupulously avoid accusing anyone of lying if they haven’t lied. But when we do encounter cases of undeniable falsehood, we should make it clear that it has been exposed and that it harms us all. But do this quietly and without overt hostility. The aim is to enlist people into the cause.

By the way, we should realize that by leading our lives in a normatively honest manner we are already advancing the pursuit of national and global truthfulness. We must understand that this will be a long-term endeavor, which we must win.

Also, what has to be done is to form a group of people that will start the ball rolling. There are practical ways that we shall spread the message – through the usual methods that ideas are promoted. For more information please e-mail me:

To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click:   type:how to avoid Armageddon


Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, In order to survive, Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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