Posts filed under ‘How to avoid Armageddon’
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.
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, sometimes 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 quite 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, and 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 here and 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 damages even further, any chance that there might be for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
And 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 the parties involved.
As far as Israel is concerned, in order to face 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. And coming to honest conclusions demands a far higher level of integrity among the national and spiritual leaders, parliamentarians, academics, media people and the general public than exist at present in Israel – or any other country for that matter. This must be seen as a most urgent national priority for Israel.
ARE PEOPLE GENERALLY HONEST OR NOT?
So, the keyword is truthfulness. And actually, I think that most people are usually fairly honest most of the time. Under normal circumstances, most people will seldom tell an outright lie. However, it does seem that very few people anywhere consistently, really follow all the principles of truthfulness – myself included – despite a conscious effort much the time. It’s an ongoing challenge.
We need to realize that 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. 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 practised 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.
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, indulge in some form of falsehood or deception, or who don’t go along with lies, or who act appropriately to established truths. In other words, we are all participants in the realm of falsehood in some way or another.
ACTIVE DECEPTION: There are many forms of falsehood, deception and outright lying.
(a) Exaggeration is a form of being untruthful. 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.
(b) Another common form of deception is the half-truth or selective omission of relevant facts. There are many ways that this form of deception is practised.
SELF-DECEPTION: 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.
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 warming. By doing this they are ignoring or rejecting what is probably the truth; they do not honor the truth.
It is through these aspects of falsehood, that most man-made problems in the world, whether small and large, as well as conflict, are caused and perpetuated. The above list of ways of lying should be referred to 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.
Based on talk on how to prevent a doomsday situation
A new stage in humanity’s
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
Can be ordered through Amazon
This is the third part my talk, whose full title is: “How to solve your problems … and save the world”? In the earlier installments we offered the key to avoiding and solving most of our own personal problems, through the understanding and practise of truthfulness as a way of life.
And similarly, it is truthfulness practised by more and more people everywhere that will save the world? Oh come on Ralph, the reader might say. Be serious for goodness sake. How is truthfulness going to solve pollution and poverty? How is truthfulness going to cope with the likes of Ahmadinijad and Zawahiri? Well just think about it. Throughout history it has usually been the opposite of truthfulness and honesty – it has been lies and deceit that bungling, inept leaders, scoundrels and tyrants have used to gain and keep power and to wreak havoc and bring boundless misery into the world.
Even in the more benign democracies of the world, political factors make truthfulness among all the aspirants to power, something very conditional, even a handicap. To a large extent, gaining power, even in these democracies, is a game, a contest in which, very often, the winner takes all. And the gullibility of the general public panders to these games. Consequently, governance – which is really management on a large scale – governance is mediocre at best, and sometimes quite pathetic. In totalitarian states, not only public gullibility enables a self-serving dictatorship, but dread and fear as well. But for the moment, I’m talking about Israel and other democracies.
In our earlier blogs on this subject, we had talked about wishful thinking and holding onto old ideas and concepts no matter how things change or what new information emerges? And automatically rejecting any ideas or even events and developments that might not tally with our own perceptions. It’s called cognitive dissonance. It’s really a form of lying to ourselves. And we mentioned how these very common tendencies can prevent clear and sensible thinking.
Well, with any issue that has a political bearing, cognitive dissonance readily prevails, and often, even normally level-headed, intelligent, honest people can have their ability to think objectively and comprehensively, noticeably diminished. Right wing or left wing, religious or liberal, conservative, centrist, socialist – it doesn’t matter. Bring up any issue with a political bearing and intellectual integrity and rational thinking are often seriously compromised. Not always, not with everyone, but all too often.
If we take a brief, candid look at Israel’s situation we find that Israel faces bigger, far more dangerous challenges, probably than ever before; quite probably no other country in the world faces such colossal threats and challenges. That’s why the people of Israel have to figure out how to make the right decisions regarding every aspect of their national well-being and security. The trouble is that just about every issue in Israel has a political bearing, arousing heated, divisive squabbling along party lines and coalition hanky-panky. And this makes wise, sensible, crucially-needed decision-making extremely difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand, if government decisions were based primarily on honest, objective imperatives, truthfully debated, and based only on what’s good for the country and its people, it would have a better chance of overcoming the many threats and challenges facing us. But for this to happen, integrity and truthfulness must become the dominant qualities among all sectors of Israeli society, because it’s from this society that Israel’s politicians emerge, bringing with them, for better or for worse, all the general mores. For the moment Israeli society has a long way to go before integrity and truthfulness become the dominant qualities among all its sections.
Also compounding the gravity of Israel’s situation is its standing with the rest of the world. It’s interesting that Israel has been condemned – not just criticized – but actually condemned, in the various United Nations agencies and forums far more often than any other country in the world, and that includes some truly repressive, murderous regimes such as Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia, etc., etc. And Israel heads the condemned list by far. Also, the media all over the world, including in Western democracies, is quick to pounce on Israel every time it tries to defend itself against military attacks. And there are many Jews in these countries as well as in Israel itself, who see Israel as largely to blame for the conflict with the Arabs. And of course, a major criticism is Israel’s occupation of Judea and Samaria and settlement construction.
What is largely ignored or downplayed by the leaders and people of the world and the media, is the multitude of infractions inflicted upon the Jews of Israel by the neighboring peoples. Over ninety years of unrelenting enmity and enormous efforts, to physically destroy Israel, using military invasions and terror, backed by commercial and academic boycott as well as the cynical manipulation of the United Nations.
Also ignored or downplayed are the incredibly disproportionate statistics. The Arabs outnumber the Jews of Israel by over 50 to one. They are backed by another billion Muslims. They have most of the world’s oil reserves. They have the second largest land-mass in the world, larger than the USA, Canada or Australia. On the other hand Israel, one of the smallest countries in the world, has needed to defend itself in half-a-dozen full-scale wars – all of them with the express purpose of either immediately or incrementally, destroying Israel. One would think that this enormous disparity would arouse some appreciation among the nations of the world and the general media regarding Israel’s desperate struggle to survive.
But no, it is Israel that is castigated, condemned, boycotted – not just by its sworn enemies, but by governments, trade unions, church organizations, municipalities, even highly educated, cultured folks at universities in North America, Europe and Britain, with seldom a word of disapproval towards those seeking the destruction of Israel.
Might all this be a case of double standards and bias? Well, when one also considers that seldom throughout history, or quite probably never, has a country been called upon by the nations of the world to return territories that it conquered in wars of defense, as is the case with Israel, it’s hard not to see bias. And in order to try and make peace with the Arab world, Israel has repeatedly ceded lands it conquered in these wars of defense … and yet with every concession that Israel has made, certainly in the last two decades, the enmity of Israel’s adversaries has kept growing, and peace has become less likely than ever before.
So it seems very clear that bias and double standards have blocked common sense and common decency on the part of many people all over the world. Ordinary people and their leaders and the opinion-makers in the media. But why is this? It’s a big subject, and it can’t fit in the scope of this talk. But briefly, let’s say that the bias and double standards are largely due to the concern for regular oil supplies, international politics and commerce, vested interests in certain journalistic circles and intellectual liberalism that might have tripped over itself, and oh, something to do with feelings about those pesky Jews. But no matter what the reasons, bias and double standards pop up when facts are not faced honestly; when falsehood is propagated and honored. That in a nutshell is the big picture regarding the Israel-Arab conflict, which incidentally got started and is perpetuated, to a large extent through falsehood. And yes, also through an inordinate degree of ignorance.
This series of blogs has been about a most basic value – truthfulness. Something that is clearly not fully understood, appreciated or practised … possibly anywhere. In briefly bringing up the Israel-Arab conflict, I have tried to show the connection between falsehood and conflict. How falsehood can start conflict and perpetuate it and prevent its resolution.
And the terrible thing is that it is this same general inability to face facts honestly by so many people, regarding the Israel-Arab conflict, that is also preventing humanity as a whole from coping adequately with all the other serious, pressing existential threats and challenges to our planet that we had mentioned earlier.
Crucial insights in the way
we all lie
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
Order it through Amazon
We all hate it when people lie to us or aren’t absolutely honest. Isn’t that so? One reason for our resentment towards any kind of falsehood – in others – is that it indicates that we cannot trust or depend on this other person. In family and friends it hurts even more, because we sense that the trust we automatically felt because of our kinship or fraternal ties, has been betrayed and could even be the source of harm to us.
But I think that our aversion to falsehood is probably instinctive. It’s a universal sentiment, like the disgust caused by exposed feces. I’m sorry to draw this unpleasant comparison, but that’s how repugnant lying can be. I think that our disgust with exposed excrement stems, not only from the smell and the messiness, but also from our innate knowledge that uncovered, it can be a source of disease. The smell and appearance exude a warning – watch out this is dangerous for your health! And while lying might not reach our olfactory senses, and although most of us might not be sensitive to its perniciousness when we ourselves lie, we instinctively recognize that something stinks – figuratively – when we are lied to.
Now, to a large extent it is belief that determines our routines and attitudes. Regarding every-day issues, my beliefs are largely based on empirical experience. I’m not talking about religious belief now. I turn on a switch – like I’ve done countless times, and a light comes on, even though I might not know anything about electricity. And I reckon that I can get to my office by 9 o’clock in the morning if I get out of bed early enough so as to catch a bus at 8.20, because I have done this hundreds of times. I acknowledge, truthfully, that I need to be at the bus stop before 8:20, otherwise I might miss the bus and be late for work. My truthfulness to myself is based on an empirical premise. Now, if I lie to myself, suggesting that I can stay in bed a little longer in the morning and that it’s fine if I get to the bus stop a few minutes after 8:20, because of my untruthfulness to myself, I could end up losing my job.
This is a small, very mundane example of the importance of truthfulness on a personal level. Employed as an unbreakable principle for every aspect of our lives, as well as for society as a whole, the practice of truthfulness can give us far more control in our lives, bring us less frustration and stress, and fewer personal problems and invariably ensure more fulfillment. Indeed the practise of truthfulness on a large scale can redeem the world. I’ll talk briefly about this later.
Now, I like to believe that most people are pretty honest most of the time. Don’t you think so? That’s wishful thinking on my part? Maybe! Look, I’ll agree that most people might exaggerate a little from time to time. Yeah, we know that. But under normal circumstances most people will seldom knowingly tell an outright lie. Under normal circumstances. But there are times when the large majority of ordinary folks … might twist the truth a little! For instance, as drivers, if caught not heeding a stop sign, many folks will swear to the policeman that they did indeed stop at the stop sign. Or when criticized or scolded for something, many people often lie about what they did or didn’t do or what they heard or didn’t hear or what they thought they understood.
How often have we ourselves given some kind of cockamamie excuse for coming late to an appointment or for not keeping a promise? I’m not talking about telling a little white lie so as to spare the feelings of someone. No, I’m talking about not being truthful, in order to impress someone, or to get out of an embarrassing or costly situation – and not even realizing that we were lying.
The thing is that if we … occasionally twist the truth a bit, and even though usually, very little harm might be done directly, fibbing can become a habitual thing. And if we fib about small things we’ll most likely have little problem lying about more serious things. And in any human framework, no matter how large or small, whether it’s a family or a factory or a large company, when the level of truthfulness is kind of shaky, and if there’s more than just a little deceit and lying, then trust and harmony will be undermined, and the prospects of success in whatever is being done, will be diminished.
I reckon that many of you know all this from personal experience. As for myself, I am standing here this evening presuming to know what I’m talking about because of my own personal experience, which includes being both a purveyor of untruthfulness, a lightweight purveyor if you please, and a recipient or target. I admit that in the past I have indulged in a lot of exaggeration; I have fibbed and lied – for many reasons; I have tried to impress people, especially womenfolk, with fib and fantasy – on a scale that makes me embarrassed when I think of it. But today, I think I’m more honest and truthful than I used to be because I realize more fully than ever before the paramount importance of truthfulness. And yet, sometimes, even now I still catch myself about to regurgitate one of my old fibs or even tell a lie. But I usually catch myself in time. At least I hope so. It’s an ongoing challenge to be a fully truthful person.
However, there are great dividends to truthfulness. In itself, being an honest person can have its rewards in the form of self-esteem. Why not? As long as we don’t become self-righteous prigs. And we’ll earn the respect of our friends, neighbors, work associates and family. Also, a spirit of truthfulness in whatever we do, is likely to have positive results. We might not make a lot of money all at once, but in the long run whatever we do will have a better chance of turning out fine.
And there’s a good reason for this. Firstly, we won’t be so prone to kidding ourselves about the prospects of whatever it is that we want to do, or our own ability, or what is needed; we won’t be kidding ourselves about the budget needed, or the risks involved, and a whole lot of other details and issues. For instance, we might have our hearts set on buying a new car or a house with a garden, or opening a business or expanding our business. And it’s wonderful to have aims, ambitions and dreams, and to try and make them come true. But if we’re not completely honest with ourselves about all the details and issues, then instead of a dream coming true, we might find ourselves in a nightmare.
To make the best possible decisions, whenever there is some kind of dilemma, or an ambitious project, what we can do is take all the facts and factors, see them as objectively and honestly as possible. Then, if we have a problem deciding what to do, we can use the old system of making two columns – pro and con. Then give each item a rating according to the scale of likelihood – ranging from definite, probable, possible, unlikely to absolutely no chance. Add to this equation personal feelings about the issue. What does our heart say? Try to assess how much weight this aspect carries in our ultimate decision. Then, even after coming to a final conclusion, it might be helpful to mull over the question for a little while longer – if the issue is not too urgent. Then we will probably have made the best possible decision. And it will have been personal honestly and truthfulness that enabled us to do so.
Truthfulness, integrity, honesty – these are serious principles. But please bear in mind that abiding faithfully to these principles, doesn’t mean that we have to constantly be absolutely objective about everything; it doesn’t mean that we have to be unmitigatedly cautious all the time, or unimaginative, humorless, inflexible and puritanical. We can still be our true selves. We can still joke if that’s what we like doing, or smile and laugh if we feel that way. We can even tell tall tales – as long people can understand that our stories are not meant to be taken literally, but just for the purpose of amusing others.
By the way, truthfulness won’t solve all our problems, especially if there are serious, incurable illnesses involved, or if we have unsolvable problems with crazy neighbors, or very rebellious children, or a nasty spouse, or overwhelming financial woes. Although truthfulness might help us reconcile ourselves to a difficult situation, or keep us from making things worse, and yes, maybe even find the best way out of our problems. And we might even be able to convey to any adversary of ours, the fact that being straight with each other might help us resolve our differences.
There is an important additional aspect involved in the practise of truthfulness. It has to do with the way we speak. In any discussion or argument, if we shout, we might be heard, but we won’t be heeded. It’s usually best to talk quietly, calmly and politely. If you need to raise your voice to be heard, then raise your voice until you are being listened to, and then revert to a less confrontational tone. By continuing in this way, it is likely that we will be responded to in a similar tone. A modulated decibel level is invariably more conducive to honest discourse. I bet that for many folks this would be a new approach, uh?
Based on one of the most
important talks you’ll
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of How to Avoid Armageddon
Available through Amazon
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you for coming to listen to me.
How to avoid problems and how you can solve problems when they arise … and how to save the world! Yeah, yeah! This might all sound very presumptuous. But in the course of this talk, you’re going to get answers. Answers that deep down you probably already know. But they’ve simply been buried, forgotten, ignored … and need to be brought to light. And by the time this talk is over everyone here this evening will have the key to bettering our lives … and the world, for that matter.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let’s take an example from real life. I’ve changed the details a little to avoid any embarrassing identification. Anyway, a woman applies for a job as the assistant manager of a small, family-owned hotel in a seaside resort. The owner needs an assistant manager because his wife, who used to help him run the hotel, has become chronically ill. The woman who has come for a job interview is very pleasant, youngish, nice-looking, well groomed. She tells the hotel owner that she had been assistant manager at a five-star hotel in the French Riviera. Wow! The owner asks the woman a few questions about the name of the hotel where she had worked, the number of rooms, size of staff, prices and the exact nature of her duties. But some of the woman’s answers just don’t make sense. She’s vague about the duties. Also, while the staff ratio in his hotel is one worker for every six guests, she stammered a ratio of one to twelve, which seems very unlikely for a five-star hotel anywhere. Also, she has no diplomas or degrees in book-keeping or accountancy, hotel administration or any kind of management; not even cooking. And she has no letters of recommendation. He’s about to say he’s sorry but he can’t hire her, but she cuts him short and says, “I always give 150% of myself wherever I work. And I learn very quickly. I will be an asset to your hotel.” She says this with a smile that looks sincere and full of respect and compassion. Boom – all the owner’s experience and common sense is dulled and he ignores all his well-founded doubts about her and takes her on as his assistant manager.
Well very soon it turns out to be a disaster. After four days, there aren’t enough supplies to prepare meals; not enough linen to make the beds, kitchen and dining room staff are very unhappy with her bossiness and her obvious incompetence. And never have there been so many complaints from the guests. Before the week is over, she is looking for another job and the hotel owner still needs an assistant manager.
Now in this story we have examples of different forms of lying. Firstly there was the woman’s false claim about having been the assistant manager in a five-star hotel. And such lies are usually exposed sooner or later. And that results in a loss of credibility, frustration, unpleasantness and eventually total rejection. The other example of lying in this story is the wishful thinking of the hotel owner. The woman who applied for a job was so pleasant that he lied to himself about her suitability and in hiring her, he lowered the standard and reputation of his hotel and needed to deal with dissatisfied guests.
And here in a nutshell, is the answer to our question – how to avoid and overcome our problems. Don’t lie to others! Don’t lie to yourself! And another pointer that would have helped the hotel owner: don’t be taken in by another person’s dubious statements. Especially when what is said is clearly unlikely.
The keyword is truthfulness. Being truthful in our dealings with others and being truthful to ourselves. And also being alert to untruthfulness in others. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to our question – how to overcome our problems. Okay, so, we have finished our talk … yeah, we’ve finished. And we can all go home now. Or if you like we can have a party.
But wait a minute – before we all rush out of here or get ready to do a hora, or salsa or a waltz, we need to know that there’s a lot more to the concept of truthfulness. It’s actually a fairly big subject. And we need to acknowledge that just about everyone, from time to time does indulge in some form of untruthfulness.
You see, apart … from always telling the truth in the sense of being honest about what we’re saying, truthfulness also means not expressing half-truths or indulging in selective omission. For instance, let’s say that I’m going to sell my car to someone. The car had a tune-up a few days ago and seems to be running just fine. But the garage mechanic had told me that the transmission is badly worn-out and might break down at any moment. Now, if tell the prospective buyer that my car is in excellent working order, that might be part of the truth at this moment. But by not mentioning the worn-out gear box, I am indulging in a half-truth. True, the buyer could have the car checked by a garage before he buys, but I’m still being devious by not telling the whole truth up front. And what if the buyer feels that I have the kind of face that he can trust, and that he doesn’t need to have the car tested by an authorized garage? So, okay, I’ll make some money by selling a car that might break down at any moment. I’m making money. That’s what counts, no? Yeah, but I will have compromised on my integrity.
A lot of people might not think that’s not important – when making money is concerned. But, I might also have stirred up a hornet’s nest in the form of a very angry buyer, and I might find myself needing to spend a lot of money on legal fees and time in unpleasant court hearings. All unnecessary had I simply told the truth. I could have sold the car eventually, but at a lower price or paid to have the transmission repaired and then sold the car at its market value. The point is that by indulging in half-truth, I was not being truthful and I opened myself up to the possibility of some time-consuming trouble. Who needs it? Also, I had behaved unethically and dishonorably. In fact I had become a bit of a scumbag.
There are other ways that we lie. For instance we often lie to ourselves. One way is through wishful thinking. Like if I have toothache and I tell myself that the pain will pass and my teeth will be okay. I don’t need to go to a dentist. Now, that’s wishful thinking! And what an expensive, painful form of lying to myself this has been for me over the years!
Another way that we lie to ourselves is when we cling rigidly to old ways and ideas, no matter what happens or what new information emerges. Many folks automatically block themselves off to anything that might not tally with their perception of things … it’s called denial. These are tendencies that can lead to families breaking up; businesses crash; people get unnecessarily sick because they rejected advice on healthy living, or ignored bodily danger signs and left medical attention too late. On a larger scale, national economies have spiraled out of control; governments have fallen; there have been terrible wars because of the stubbornness of people in charge, who refused to even listen to any new ideas and developments. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every old idea or way is necessarily faulty and must be changed. Of course not. But whenever we automatically close ourselves off to anything new or different, or anything that doesn’t exactly tally with our current perception, we should check to see whether we are really facing facts with complete honesty. Because the consequences of not doing so, can be pretty grim to say the least.
Being truthful also means refraining from saying things that we are not absolutely sure of, and if we do say or claim things that we are not quite sure of, we should make it clear that we either heard or read such and such, or that in our opinion, maybe such and such is the case. There are factual issues and there are value judgments.
Many years ago a controversial issue was the fluoridation of water. Do you remember? It had to do with prevention of tooth decay in younger people. I had read a few articles in health magazines that claimed that the serious dangers to general health caused by fluoridation of water far outweighed any possible dental benefits. So I became a vociferous, really vociferous activist against fluoridation in Jerusalem’s water system. One day the head of the Government Health Ministry’s Dental Health Department, Dr Kelman, invited me to his office. After a short discussion with him it was obvious that I really didn’t know what I was talking about. While I was in his office, Dr. Kelman said that he had a large collection of books and scientific papers on the subject – for and against fluoridation, and he invited me to read the material. And ask questions. Well, I did just that. For about two or three weeks I sat in a room next to his office and tried to study the material on fluoridation. I had majored in science studies at high school, but it wasn’t nearly enough to enable me to fully understand the issues involved. But I quickly concluded that I couldn’t know really determine that fluoridation was hazardous to health. Although from all my reading, I did get the feeling that the miniscule quantities of fluoride added to the municipality’s water system, posed no danger to general public health. I couldn’t say for sure. But I did come to a personal conclusion, weighing the pros and cons according to a scale of likelihood ranging from probable, to possible, to unlikely and surely not, that my opposition to fluoridation was unjustified.
Incidentally, two areas that open us to untruths are gossip and generalizations. About gossip, it’s not for me to say that we shouldn’t gossip. After all, everyone loves gossip. No? And most of us indulge in it. However, this talk is about truthfulness, and gossip can very easily stray into the realm of unfounded fabrication. And that is something wrongful. Especially if it’s malicious.
Another area that can lead us away from truthfulness is when we generalize about something. Like saying that “all politicians are liars and cheats.” Oh yes? You know all the politicians? Some of them might be liars. Indeed, quite a few have been proven to be liars and cheats in a court of law as well as by their statements and actions over the years. But that doesn’t mean that all politicians are liars and cheats. And if we say that all politicians are liars, that possibly makes us liars ourselves.
Truthfulness also means being able to admit when I am wrong. No matter what the issue, If I suddenly realize that I had indeed, done something wrong, or said something I shouldn’t have said, or made any kind of mistake – if there is a discussion on it, I should be able to admit: “Yes, I was wrong!”
Now, as we indicated earlier, truthfulness should be complemented by yet another important aspect and that is how we receive … how we choose to understand … what others say. We need the ability to sense in others, whether what they are saying is factually valid, or maybe questionable, or unlikely or downright false. We should be able to consider the credibility of things even when what is said or claimed, might initially appeal to our political, religious or ideological sentiments. We should always be able to sense when something might seem glib, or contrived or just doesn’t make sense, and we should have the ability and the integrity to question or reject it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s our best friend, favorite singer or politician, or our parents.
Although if we do catch our parents not telling the truth, we should temper our reactions to them with due consideration. Like: I’m sorry to ask, Dad, but are you sure that what you’re saying is really so? Actually this is a good response in most cases when we feel someone is lying to us. Because when we blatantly or indignantly challenge someone’s honesty, they will probably become very defensive and reject our question and paradoxically, even see us as being in the wrong for daring to question them. And if that happens we will have lost an opportunity to set the record straight and in fact, lost the opportunity to plant the seed of the importance of truthfulness in the other person’s mind.
Incidentally, when we speak about truthfulness, we’re not necessarily talking about “truth,” which while connected, is not quite the same as truthfulness and we don’t have to go into any abstruse philosophical theories about the full meaning of the word “truth” – which granted can be a fascinating subject, if one has the time and inclination. But I do want to say that the often repeated phrase that everyone has his own truth, actually mangles the meaning of the word “truth”. What everyone has in actual fact, is his or her own notion of what one might think is the truth about something, but that notion, all too often lacks pertinent facts and might include half-truths and quite a bit of wishful thinking. And no matter how deeply felt, it is often – not always, but often – just a notion. Not necessarily the truth.
To continue Click
GLOBAL SURVIVAL AND
THE ISRAEL FACTOR
I give talks on dealing with the serious challenges facing humanity and how to ensure a better future for everyone.
If we examine the root source of most man-made problems in the world, we will find that falsehood in its various forms plays a significant part. Throughout history inept leaders, scoundrels and tyrants have used half-truths, lies and other forms of deception to gain and keep power and wreak misery and devastation all around them. And it has usually been the gullibility and indifference of the general population that allowed this to happen.
Accordingly, it follows that we can prevent and solve most man-made problems by calling for complete truthfulness in all human discourse, while being alert to any form of falsehood and categorically condemning and rejecting all who concoct or spread it.
While most people will seldom knowingly tell an outright lie, untruthfulness in its various forms frequently touches our lives without us even realizing it. We are often subjected to half-truth, selective omission and confidently-proclaimed – but false – rumors and assumptions by political leaders, the media and even our friends, while many of us unwittingly lay these and other forms of falsehood on others. Also, most people indulge from time to time in wishful thinking, denial and other forms of cognitive dissonance that cloud our perspectives and befuddle our thinking. All this leads to flawed reasoning and unfortunate consequences for all.
But it is the Arab-Israel conflict, which so patently shows how falsehood can lead to conflict in the first place, perpetuate it and prevent its resolution. It follows, therefore that the only way to even begin to resolve this tragic conflict is through an approach based on truthfulness by all parties involved. Any approach that lacks this essential factor will ensure a continuation of the conflict – as has been so abundantly shown by the events of the past and the present.
However, the Israel-Arab conflict has ramifications far beyond the region. The understanding and practice of truthfulness on a global scale is the only way that humanity will have any chance of coping adequately with all the other serious existential challenges that humanity must contend with, such as climate change, pollution, demographic problems and Jihadic expansionism – to mention just a few of the crucial issues.
And that’s what my talk is all about.
A few words about myself: I have lived in Israel for over 50 years, worked as a printer, writer, editor and publisher. I am author of the book “How to Avoid Armageddon,” published by Old Line Publishing.
To give an idea on my style and deliver you can watch a short introductory video. Click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVX53jHtibY
I will be happy to address any audience anywhere and talk about the most important thing for all people at this crucial time — the fostering of truthfulness among more and more people.
Ralph (Rafi) Dobrin, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org