Posts filed under ‘How to avoid Armageddon’
A humanitarian solution for
Judea, Samaria and Gaza
Last week we held the third talk in our series on “Setting the Record Straight”. The guest speaker was Dr. Martin Sherman, well-known columnist for The Jerusalem Post, lecturer, policy adviser and political and strategic analyst. His subject was “Rethinking Palestine – what would Sherlock Holmes have said?” 90 people filled the hall at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
As the title of Martin Sherman’s talk suggests, it is a highly controversial subject. Rethinking Palestine, according to Martin Sherman, entails scrapping the two-state solution because, in his opinion, it has clearly proved to be a dangerous non-solution and indeed a recipe for catastrophe, both for Israel and the Arabs of Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).
Martin Sherman quoted Major-General (reserves) Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, who in 2009 had cautioned that, “The maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians … is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept.”
Interestingly, 14 years before that, in his last speech to the Knesset before he was assassinated in 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that Palestine should be an entity which is less than a state, which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.” He added, “The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.” He also said, “We have committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.” These are sentiments that today, in his Labor Party, would probably be met with angry calls of “right wing extremist!” How perceptions have changed!
To illustrate even further the shift in perceptions, Rabin’s associate in seeking peace, Shimon Peres, known to be even more willing to make concessions to the Arabs and still to this day urging the relinquishment of more territory, had concurred that the 1967 lines “constituted almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions …” and warned that “without a border which affords security, a country is doomed to destruction in war.”
Clearly, the desire to reach a peace agreement has been so strong in Israel, that it has brought about a willingness to concede more and more territory, but at the same time, a resolve has emerged on the other side of the political divide to prevent these concessions by holding on to as much territory as possible.
Martin Sherman says that two imperatives dictate the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews: The demographic imperative and the geographic imperative. Geographically, the two-State Solution poses critical security dangers for Israel, because of the longer borders that would result from the various pockets of Jewish and Arab population concentrations and the proximity of Israel’s main urban and commercial centers, power stations, military headquarters, highways and airport to an entity that, despite the proposals for demilitarization, will undoubtedly be armed to the teeth and in all likelihood be summarily taken over by Hamas or a more virulent form of extremism.
On the other hand, the One-State Solution, proposed by right-wing groups posits serious and obvious demographic risks that will generate even more inter-communal turbulence and instability than now, and dangerously erode the Jewish proportion voting for the Knesset – heralding the possible end of Israel as a Jewish state.
To offset both these predicaments, Martin Sherman suggests something which at the outset would upset many people – funded relocation. Many people immediately make the accusation of: “Ethnic cleansing!” Or “Transfer!”
Martin Sherman builds up his premise in a neat modular form, comprising three humane components. Firstly, he says, “End the discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian refugees by abolishing the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), or bringing it into line with international practice for all other refugees on the face of the globe. Every refugee on earth is under the auspices of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – except for the Palestinians. For them a separate institution exists – UNRWA. Strange, but true!
If the universally accepted UNHCR criteria for refugees were applied to the Palestinian case, the number of “refugees” would shrink from close to 5 million to fewer than 200,000. That’s because refugee status, according to the UNHCR lasts only one generation, and a concerted effort is made to integrate the refugees under its care, into other host countries, where they are expected to eventually receive citizenship. Under UNRWA, once a refugee – always a refugee until … return to their original homes. i.e. Israel!
The second humane component in Sherman’s paradigm is to end discrimination against Palestinians in the surrounding Arab countries and abolish the prohibition they face of acquiring citizenship of these countries in which they have been resident for generations. In most of the Arab countries refugees from the wars with Israel endure grave discrimination, with severe restrictions imposed on their freedom of movement, employment and property ownership.
The third component that Sherman proposes is to provide generous relocation financing directly to the Palestinian breadwinners resident across the 1967 Green Line, so as to enable them to build a better future for themselves and their families in foreign countries of their choice.
Countering the claim that this would arouse great opposition by local Arab leadership and the rest of the Arab world, Sherman says the procedure would not require the agreement of any official Arab organizations or states in order to effect implementation. Since the envisaged compensation would be large enough to allow recipients to comply with immigration criteria in numerous countries – not necessarily Arab or Muslim – and since they would be coming as adequately funded private individuals, quite a few countries would be happy to accept them. All that it requires is for the individual family heads to accept help on an individual and private basis.
Countering the charge of “ethnic cleansing” or “transfer” Sherman claims that the number of international migrants today is approaching a quarter of a billion, and is growing rapidly. Although this is partially a byproduct of wars, political conflicts and natural disasters, it is predominantly motivated by economics. Why should Palestinians be uninterested such motivations and why would it be morally wrong to offer them a better life for themselves, while helping to lessen the turmoil in the region?
There is compelling evidence that a desire to seek a better life elsewhere is widespread among the Palestinians, even without the availability of generous relocation grants. Numerous opinion polls vouch for this. The sense of national pride that obviously prevails in Palestine society, would probably be marginalized if a generously funded exit to other lands was made possible.
As for the overall cost, according to Sherman, it is easy to show that the price of the proposed plan would be comparable to any alternative under discussion, involving the establishment of a new independent Palestine, developing its infrastructure, and presumably absorbing a large portion of a relocated Palestinian “diaspora” within its constricted frontiers.
It should also be remembered that for the prospective host nations, the plan has a distinct economic advantages. The Palestinian immigrants would not arrive as destitute refugees, but as relatively wealthy immigrants in terms of average world GDP per capita. Their absorption would bring significant capital inflows to the host economies – typically around a billion dollars for every 10,000 families given citizenship. Clearly it would be a long-term process.
In his talk, Sherman also discussed the issue of Palestinian nationhood, claiming that they are the only group whose manifest raison d’etre is the not primarily the establishment of their own political independence but rather the denial of that of others (Israel). The fact that Palestinians have shown they are capable of cohesive action against another collective does not prove they are a nation. Virtually their entire collective effort has been directed at an attempt to annul the expression of Jewish sovereignty rather than assert their own.
For over two decades after the Oslo Accords – despite more massive financial aid per capita and global political support than any other people, they have produced nothing but a deeply divided entity, crippled by corruption and cronyism and bedeviled by wars against their neighboring Jewish state and among themselves. The result is a dysfunctional polity unable to conduct even the semblance of timely elections, and a puny economy, comprising a minuscule private sector and a bloated public one, totally unsustainable without massive infusions of foreign funds.
Sherman says that In every meaningful aspect, the Palestinians claim to statehood has failed the test of history, as has the two-state endeavor.
Accordingly, the time has come for new, imaginative initiatives to defuse one of the world’s most volatile problems, one for which remedies hitherto attempted have proved sadly inappropriate.
Martin Sherman has a doctorate in political science and international relations and was a lecturer for 20 years at Tel Aviv University. He was a ministerial adviser in Yitzhak Shamir’s government and is the founder and head of the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies. He has written books and numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of subjects.
The aim of this series of talks, called “Setting the Record Straight,” is to present the public with the information to understand more clearly the serious challenges that Israel faces, so as to counter the misinformation, ignorance and bias.
To see the video recording of the talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpCEBjkkoC0
Our thanks to Dr. Les Glassman for recording it.
The importance of correct
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon,” available through Amazon
With all the recent talk about an upgrade for the status of “Palestine,” it should be remembered that until 1948 anyone – Jewish or Arab – living west of the Jordan River was called a “Palestinian.” Israel’s Zionist newspaper was called The Palestine Post (today The Jerusalem Post); The electric company set up to provide electricity for Jewish settlers was called the “Palestine Electric Company”; the philharmonic orchestra in Tel Aviv was called the “Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra”; Bank Leumi, founded at the turn of the century, had the word “Palestine” as part of its name. During the British Mandate period, passports and other identification documents specified Jews as Palestinians.
Following the end of the British Mandate in 1948, the term “Palestinian” was seldom used to describe people involved in current events. The term began to be used more frequently in 1964 when the PLO was formed. But in the Six-Day War in 1967, “Palestine” and “Palestinian” suddenly became household words all over the world. Israel had repulsed the Jordanian army from Judea and Samaria – territory Jordan had annexed from what should have been an independent Arab part of Palestine following the United Nations Partition vote in November 29th 1947. (Actually an Arab part of Palestine had been created 25 years earlier with the creation of Transjordan, later to become the Kingdom of Jordan, on 77% of Mandate Palestine.)
It should also be remembered what the Six-Day War was all about and why Israel repulsed the Jordanian forces from its eastern borders. An attempt had been made to destroy Israel – together with Egypt and Syria. Funny how most people seem to have forgotten that!
Another thing that most people seem to have forgotten is that the 1967 attempt to destroy Israel (widely and openly proclaimed by Arab leaders prior to the outbreak of the war) was the second time that the Arab nations would try to invade Israel with the aim of snuffing it out. The first time was in 1947-1949. Yet another thing that most people either don’t know, or have chosen to forget or disregard is that the people who spearheaded that attack on the nascent Jewish state were the Jews’ fellow-Palestinians. So many things that people have forgotten or choose to disregard!
It is important to understand that “Palestine” and “Palestinian” have became politically-loaded terms implying that the Jews of Israel had stolen the local Arabs’ land. What the Jews had done, in fact, was prevent the Arabs from usurping Israel and God only knows what they would have done to the local Jews had they prevailed. The terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian” serve the cause of Israel’s adversaries and also distort history through sloppy terminology.
So what should these people be called? Depending on the context they can be called “local Arabs,” “West Bank Arabs,” “Gazans” (in the case of Israel’s hapless southern neighbors), or “Palestinian Arabs.” Calling them “Palestinians” keeps giving them more and more leverage in their quest to destroy Israel.
Furthermore, calling them by any of these names need not impede the peace process – if peace with Israel is what these folks really, really want.
International law must change
in order to cope with terrorism
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon,” available through Amazon
By following these laws, Israel gives its enemies an unassailable advantage, no matter how superior Israel’s weaponry, tactics and fighting caliber of its troops. These rules include always trying to verify that no unarmed Arab civilians are at risk before any attack. Often an attack against an enemy position is halted because of the suddenly noticed presence of too many unarmed civilians.
On the other hand, the terrorists often launch their attacks from within population centers, thus intentionally putting their own people at risk. This way, not only do they limit Israel’s battle options, but perversely, they also generate international censure against Israel whenever Arab civilians are harmed.
The rocket attacks from the Gazans had very little to do with gaining independence, which they have de facto. Rather, for them, attacking Israel has been a part of a war waged by global militant jihad in order to eventually bring the rest of the world under a Caliphate. There have been many battles waged by Israel, the USA and other allies, against Islamist terrorist armies. Usually the Islamists are severely battered, only to keep coming back with a vengeance, greatly strengthened and more determined than beforehand because of their resolute belief in the rightness of their cause.
And they might win – unless Israel and the USA and other reluctant allies understand what the stakes are, and modify international law so as to make it applicable for dealing with terrorist forces. This will, unfortunately entail far less consideration for non-combatant populations. But it should be remembered that had the present laws of engagement applied to the Allied Forces in World War II, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan would probably still be on the rampage – unless, because of undue consideration for enemy civilians, the Allies would have capitulated.
How to make the right
It’s the most important thing in our lives
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon,” available through Amazon
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make the right decisions or come to fully rational conclusions all the time? Well, there is a way to do this, at least most of the time. It’s a simple procedure that can be applied to just about any question or problem, big or small, whether it’s about a personal matter, a business issue or an international conflict.
The procedure involves asking ourselves two questions:
1. Necessity? Is there a real necessity for whatever it is that we are considering, why and to what extent is it necessary?
2. What are the disadvantages or possible risks involved?
There are some cases where two other questions should be asked:
1. Are there any moral issues involved?
2. Are there any feasible alternatives?
The order of these questions is not binding and can be changed. But there is one cardinal rule and it is complete honesty throughout the process. Answers to all questions should scrupulously follow all the principles of truthfulness. In order to do this we need to get all the relevant facts as accurately as possible. However, unequivocal answers are not always forthcoming, or some answers that we get are not proven, or they are mere speculation or questionable. All this has to be taken into account throughout the entire process.
To see how this procedure works, let’s take a simple, mundane question that involves most of us. Eggs!
Medical experts tell us that eggs cause high cholesterol that can lead to serious health problems. On the other hand nutritionists say that eggs are a good source of protein, B vitamins and a number of important minerals. Now, let’s assume that I have a great liking for eggs in any form – fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelettes, french toast, egg salad, etc. So, whose advice should I heed? Can I continue eating eggs to my heart’s content, or should I cut down on my egg consumption or avoid eggs altogether? [By the way, this article is not meant to promote or discourage egg consumption. Eggs in this case, merely provide a familiar subject to illustrate the procedure that is necessary if we want to understand how to make sensible decisions.]
So, to get back to our eggs, and the first question: is there a necessity? Well, there seems to be a necessity in the form of our great fondness for egg dishes. Also, eggs provide significant nutritious benefits. All this indicates necessity.
Next, in addressing what disadvantages or health risks there are, we will find a lot of cautionary material by medical experts. We will also find that there are some experts who qualify their cautionary remarks by saying that depending on the person’s medical condition and metabolism, and the conditions of the egg-laying hens, moderate egg consumption can be acceptable. Yippie! So, I check my cholesterol and triglyceride levels and if they are high, this would indicate severely limiting my egg consumption, according to what my physician suggests. However, if my overall levels are low or at a level that is considered acceptable by my doctor (when he takes into consideration my overall physical condition), I should be able to indulge in my fondness for eggs, as long as annual or bi-annual tests keep showing satisfactory levels.
However, in my candid quest for answers, I learn that cholesterol and triglyceride levels are not the only medical factor to be considered. I find that in many places that use modern poultry factory farming methods, hens are crammed into battery cages in large sheds holding hundreds and even thousands of birds under the most insalubrious conditions. Furthermore, the hens are subjected to antibiotics, vaccines and other drugs to prevent disease, hasten maturity and increase egg production. So, another question arises: do such intensive conditions, together with the drugs administered, pose any additional health risks, to which my physician hasn’t seriously related?
I will need to spend quite a lot of additional time studying the subject in depth. But I can save a lot of time by resorting to a technique that is useful whenever we can’t get a clear-cut answer. It’s called the scale of likelihood. It’s a scale grading the validity of any claim or notion, or the chance of something happening – ranging from “definitely” to “probably,” “possibly,” “unlikely” or “definitely not.” So, I can ask myself which adverb on this scale fits our question: “Do the conditions under which egg-laying hens are raised, pose any possible health risks?” If my answer, candidly reached, is “unlikely,” then I might be able to disregard this issue. But if I think that “probably” or “possibly” are more likely conclusions, then I should factor this into my final decision regarding any additional health risks to eating eggs.
However, we should bear in mind that officials and health experts speaking on behalf of the egg producers and any organizations affiliated with them, including even the Agriculture Ministry, will possibly try to assure the public that the eggs are absolutely safe for consumption and provide maximum nutrition. While one shouldn’t immediately suspect people’s level of honesty, we can consider that their statements might be biased and therefore justify double-checking with other sources. With Wikipedia and countless other internet sites, finding all the relevant facts is much easier nowadays than ever before.
The third issue to be taken into consideration is morality. Considering the densely-crowded, cooped-up existence of the hens – unable to move more than a few centimeters or flap their wings or even stand steadily on the wire-mesh floor of their cages, amid the incessant noise and stench of ammonia from their droppings – that is part of their lives, I should ask myself if the hens are kept under conditions that cause them no suffering, or am I unwittingly or cynically, enjoying produce that results from cruelty – possibly in the extreme? It’s a moral question that I should consider or I can choose to ignore. But I should remember that ignoring any relevant fact or factor, is an aspect of dishonesty. It’s dishonest because by ignoring a relevant fact or factor I am distorting a situation. Can I ignore a moral question and still consider myself a decent person?
But even acknowledging the possibility that extreme cruelty is involved here, and if we assume a health risk for me personally, one thing is clear: it’s going to be very hard for me to stop eating eggs because of my fondness for them.
Which brings us to the fourth question on our list. Are there any practical or feasible alternatives? Is there any alternative to battery-cage, factory-farmed produce? The answer is a resounding yes! There are free roam eggs or organic eggs that are laid by hens that are free to strut around the barnyard and peck to their heart’s content. That could solve the question of morality. (Eggs under such conditions are also said to contain less risky ingredients and have more nutritious value. On our scale of likelihood this seems a valid assumption.)
But now another question presents itself – the cost! Free-range and organic eggs can cost about twice as much as factory-farmed eggs produced in battery cages. So, can I afford the extra outlay in money?
Clearly, in order to come to a decent decision I need to weigh up all these factors as honestly as possible – my desire for egg dishes, my health, morality and practicality. I must remember, however, that objectivity, while very important in coming to any conclusion, can sometimes demand a concentrated effort. In this case, my taste buds might impede on my objectivity. In a similar way, a tendency to miserliness, even though my budget might easily afford the extra expense involved in using free-run or organic eggs, could outweigh the other factors regarding health and morality. However, I should be mindful of the fact that by taking all these factors into consideration, I will have a much better chance of making the right decision, regarding my health and – if it’s important for me – my morality. By the way, there are some issues, where it might not be necessary to consider all four issues.
With any decision, the keyword is truthfulness and we should realize that truthfulness means a lot more than not lying to others. Truthfulness means refraining from undue exaggeration or half-truths. It means not indulging in the deliberate disregard of facts and factors that might be relevant to any issue that is being discussed or considered, and It means not kidding ourselves through wishful thinking or denial. There is also the obverse side of falsehood and that is how we relate to what others say to us and the degree of gullibility that we evince.
Clearly, there is a lot more to the subject of truthfulness than what the vast majority of people realize. But following all its principles, can provide us with the key to usually making the right decisions about most things, and generally enabling us to have a less stressful, more successful, happier life.
There’s a short, vitally important addendum to this article: Never before has knowing how to make the right decisions been more important because the future of all humanity depends on more and more people learning this essential lesson. The key, as we have so often said, is truthfulness. And that demands first and foremost, being absolutely honest with ourselves.
The fanatics have always
A friend send me a very interesting e-mail the other day. It’s an article called “A German’s view on Islam,” and whose authorship is not known for certain, so I refrain from mentioning the assumed writer’s name. I have taken the liberty of renaming the article and have posted it because it is so important.
– Ralph (Rafi) Dobrin
A man, whose family belonged to the German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. “Very few people were true Nazis,” he said. “But many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”
We are told again and again by pundits that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Allah.
The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.
The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the “silent majority,” is cowed and irrelevant.
Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority was irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.
The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.
And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving?”
History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:
Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.
Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts – the fanatics who threaten our way of life.
Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on! Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on before it’s too late.
How to ensure the future of Israel and the planet
The key is actually very simple
By Ralph Dobrin
In Israel and all over the world, there are a lot of very serious problems, some of them even existential. Clearly, unless these problems are properly dealt with, the future for everyone could be very grim indeed. Now, I believe that the best way to deal properly with any problem is by facing it as objectively and as truthfully as possible. And this is the key to ensuring the future of Israel and the entire planet. Sounds naïve? Overly simplistic? Ridiculous? Well, let’s think about it!
If we examine any serious problem, especially if it’s a conflict, we’ll often find that it was the opposite of truthfulness – it was falsehood – in some form or another that was a factor in starting it, and that falsehood is also a factor, often even a major factor, in blocking the way to any decent solution.
The Israel-Arab conflict is a classic example. While there have been valid claims and understandable grievances by the parties involved, it was falsehood that played a definite part in igniting the conflict over 90 years ago, and to the present day the falsehood continues, with exaggerated and unfounded claims, half-truths and blatant lies, that create false perceptions, distrust, contempt and deep enmity between Arabs and Jews. And all this untruthfulness has made any real peaceful resolution to the Israel-Arab conflict quite impossible
BEWARE OF POLITICAL SNARES
With any issue that has a political bearing – especially if there is a nationalistic factor involved – most people tend to stick adamantly to their old ideas and sentiments, no matter how things change or what new information emerges. Bring up any issue with a political bearing and any tendency to objectivity quickly fades in favor of denial, wishful thinking and other forms of cognitive dissonance. Even normally level-headed, intelligent, honest people can easily have their ability to think objectively and comprehensively, noticeably diminished. Whether right wing or left wing, liberal, conservative or centrist, it doesn’t matter – intellectual integrity and rational thinking are often seriously compromised. Not always, not with everyone, but all too often.
About the Israel-Arab conflict, there is a great deal of false misinformation that is spread around the world by the media, by governments and by political and ideological organizations in Israel, among the neighboring Arab countries and farther abroad. Much of this misinformation is generally adopted as the basis for policy by other countries and international organizations that try to influence what happens in this part of the world, but which invariably damage even further, any chance that there might be for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
It is this same pattern of falsehood – actually it’s a general failure to face all facts honestly – by so many people in the Middle East and all over the world, regarding the Israel-Arab conflict, that is also preventing humanity as a whole from dealing more sensibly and effectively with all the other serious existential issues that threaten the future of our planet – such as pollution, climate change, demographic turmoil, economic instability, rampant militant jihad and a lot of other serious issues – that keep getting worse because they are not being addressed honestly by all parties involved.
As far as Israel is concerned, in order to contend with its enormous threats and challenges, the nation needs to make the right decisions regarding every aspect of its national well-being and security. And that is possible only if the people running the country, and the general public, get their facts straight and come to honest, rational conclusions about those facts. But getting the facts straight is possible only if people, as a rule, follow all the principles of truthfulness.
For this, it’s essential that first we our get facts straight and our perspectives clear. Otherwise much of our thinking will be based on false, misleading data and mistaken assumptions, and on such a basis it’s impossible to deal properly with any problem. Problems will probably get worse. And here’s the clincher. Only complete truthfulness can enable the objectivity and lucid discernment that are necessary in order to get our facts straight and our perspectives clear, so that we can figure out the best possible solutions for our problems.
ARE PEOPLE GENERALLY HONEST OR NOT?
So, the keyword is truthfulness. Actually, I think that most people will not tell an outright lie under normal circumstances. But apart from outright lies, there are many other ways that people are untruthful or not entirely honest, even among the most respectable members of society. There’s a lot more to the concept of truthfulness than merely refraining from lying. Incidentally, truthfulness and “truth,” while connected are not the same and we don’t need to go into any deep philosophical theories regarding the full meaning of the word “truth.”
Truthfulness means telling the truth in the sense of being honest about what we’re saying; it also means avoiding undue exaggeration and refraining from expressing half-truths or indulging in selective omission of relevant facts and factors. Furthermore, a truthful person will not make any gesture, facial expression or action with the express purpose of deception.
A common form of untruthfulness is when we hoodwink ourselves – through wishful thinking or denial. We sometimes cling rigidly to old ways and ideas, no matter what happens or what new information emerges. Many people automatically block themselves off from anything that might not tally with their perception of things – no matter how logical or convincing. We sometimes make claims or conduct ourselves in accordance with these forms of cognitive dissonance, without even realizing that in actual fact, we are lying to ourselves.
There is an obverse side to all this. It is gullibility. While excessive cynicism is not an ideal attitude, one should nevertheless be alert to falsehood expressed by others – including and especially when what is said or claimed, might initially appeal to our sentiments. We should always ask ourselves questions such as: does what is being said really make sense? In what context is it said? Is it a half-truth? Is it consistent with what had been said beforehand? Does it have any political, religious, ideological or commercial connection?
In the limited framework of this blog, I don’t have space to mention all the ways that people twist, mangle or hide the truth. There are many more ways, which I deal with in my book. In many cases people don’t even realize that they are lying or pandering to falsehood.
However, it is abundantly clear that falsehood in all its many aspects, together with gullibility, are the major causes of muddled, illogical and flawed reasoning – on an individual basis and also at a broader, higher level by governments and other public offices in all countries, and especially in the United Nations. That’s why many of the big problems in our world are never resolved and even get worse.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Obviously, it is the ultimate folly for humanity to continue in its present dangerous course. Never, throughout history, has there been such a need for clear, sensible thinking and wise action. However, encouragement can be taken from the fact that it had been clear, sensible thinking that enabled humanity’s present ever-growing understanding of how the world functions on a physical and biological level. Most, if not all, the great discoveries and inventions from Archimedes’ Principle to crop rotation, DNA, the microchip, flush toilets and countless other examples of human ingenuity would have been impossible without uncompromising truthfulness regarding every question, detail and stage of each issue.
The overriding challenge for all humanity today is how to employ that same uncompromising truthfulness in the quest of dealing properly with the pressing existential issues mentioned earlier. How are we to maintain a high level of truthfulness among people and nations, regarding disputes, rivalries and conflicts – that are understandably, emotionally charged? How can the cold, self-serving imperatives of industry, finance, politics and government be addressed truthfully by all the interested parties and the public? How can truthfulness become a prerequisite in the workings of the United Nations and other international organizations purportedly working for the good of humanity?
There is only one clear, obvious answer. We need to announce – and keep announcing – the simple fact that the key to all these questions is truthfulness – and explain, suggest, even demand that it be learned and practiced everywhere, starting from us ourselves and the people close to us. Every section of society must eventually be imbued with this insight, including leaders in every field. Clearly, this won’t be easy and it will take a lot of time. And time might be running out.
Everyone knows the avenues taken in promoting any idea: Being in contact with all forms of the media, presenting talks and seminars at schools, places of work and every possible public venue, appearing on radio and television and utilizing all the internet tools such as Facebook. Indeed, because of the immediacy offered by modern communication systems, promotion can be facilitated much quicker than ever before.
Also, we should remember that over the years many concepts that had once been totally unthinkable, eventually became widely acceptable. Such as men with long hair and ear-rings; or explicit physical intimacy in movies, or single women intentionally having babies, to mention just a few previously totally taboo concepts. So, if these things could become mainstream norms for society, then surely it should be possible to promote truthfulness, which is actually a rather simple concept, not to mention the fact that it is absolutely essential for the future of humanity.
A group is being formed in Jerusalem to get this hallowed work started. If you’re interested I can be contacted through Facebook.
My book, “How to Avoid Armageddon” is available in some bookstores in Jerusalem and through Amazon or Kindle.
We all lie or pander to lies
in some way or another
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
There are probably very few people on the face of the earth who don’t on a regular basis, engage in some form of untruthfulness, falsehood or deception, or who consciously accept questionable claims and lies, or who fail to act appropriately to hazards and dangers, whether they are imminent or not. In other words, from time to time, most of us are participants in the realm of falsehood in some way or another.
Here are a few of the many forms of untruthfulness and falsehood:
EXAGGERATION: If I say I waited for a bus for half-an-hour, when in fact I waited for only 20 minutes, I was telling a lie. Admittedly a minor infraction, but nonetheless a lie. It distorts the reality of what I’m discussing by inflating figures (or deflating them) or by embellishing details about incidents and situations. Exaggeration can become a very habitual thing.
HALF TRUTH: A common form of deception, it constitutes the selective omission of relevant facts. There are many ways that this form of deception is practiced. It is often more deceptive than the outright lie because often, what is omitted is something of over-riding importance, which the listener won’t be aware of. Example: if I’m going into partnership with an existing business and my accountant checks the bank reports and other projections, which look sound. But the owner omits to mention that he owes a loan shark a sum of money far in excess of the value of the entire business, it is clear that I will be throwing away my money.
WISHFUL THINKING: Self-deception has many forms – wishful thinking; denial; clinging to old notions no matter how things have changed; refusal to heed anything that doesn’t tally with our perception of things. Example: A person has toothache, but is afraid of dentists and balks at the price of treatment. The person kids himself that he doesn’t need to go to a dentist. He’ll take a painkiller for the pain, and his teeth, he reckons will be okay. What a painful, expensive form of lying of lying to himself this wishful thinking can turn out to be for him for years to come.
AUTOMATICALLY REJECTING WHAT OTHERS SAY: Some people automatically reject or ignore anything, no matter how plausible or probable, if it doesn’t conform exactly to their point of view. Thus they often block out what might be the truth about something. This is especially so with anything that has a political connection.
AUTOMATICALLY AGREEING WITH WHAT OTHERS SAY: Sometimes we automatically agree with something even though it is questionable, unfair or obviously false. We agree, despite its falseness or unfairness, because it appeals to our political sentiments, pet theories or a prurient interest in cheap gossip.
DECLARING AN ASSUMPTION AS A CERTAINTY: When we say something with certainty even though we’re merely guessing or don’t really know what we’re talking about, we often spread false information. We’re engaging in falsehood.
SANCTIONING FALSEHOOD: People who hear a blatant lie and fail to oppose or question it. All the delegates at the U.N. who kept quiet or even applauded when the leader of Iran repeated the canard that the Nazi Holocaust never occurred, were actually participating in the lie.
FAILING TO ACT APPROPRIATELY ACCORDING TO A KNOWN OR PROBABLE TRUTH : People who keep the lights or air conditioning on unnecessarily in their homes, or who drive a gas-guzzling SUV for ordinary use, indicate that they’re ignoring all the warnings about pollution and global climate change. By doing this they are ignoring or rejecting what is probably the truth; they do not honor the truth at everyone’s peril.
It is through these aspects of falsehood, that most man-made problems in the world are caused and perpetuated – whether they are small or large. This incomplete list of ways of twisting, ignoring or manipulating the truth, or fostering falsehood, should be internalized by every person concerned about the future of our world, because by assessing his or her degree of untruthfulness we can all work on ourselves and raise the level of truthfulness in the world, and thereby in the long run, redeem it.