General Antisemitism

I think it, so it must be true


A guest post by Mitnaged

A common leitmotif on CiF Watch’s pages is the question about how, even in the face of verifiable evidence to the contrary, the reality-challenged above and below the line on CiF and elsewhere continue to believe the lies put out by radical Islamist organisations and their useful idiots, (and among these I include the Guardian and CiF) about Israel and its Jews and Israel’s attitude towards its Arab neighbours and its own Arab population.

There can be little doubt that the commenters below the line on CiF are encouraged in their distorted perceptions of reality by what is written above it.  For example we have the floridly bizarre Mya Guarnieri writing that Islamophobia is the new antisemitism, apparently oblivious to the ridiculousness of that comparison or to the fact that Islam itself is largely responsible for the increase in antisemitism.  She adds more poison to the mix by attributing Ku Klux Klan-type motives to the citizens of one American town who are outraged by the murders of 9/11.

The most chilling aspect of such rubbish and most of the comments about it, (all of which are typical of CiF and the Guardian) is that very few commenters actually question these bizarre interpretations of what might REALLY be going on.   (I suspect that where this happens, in true CiF fashion, the comments are deleted). Instead they go along with it like hunt dogs on the scent.   CiF abounds with articles of this nature about Israel and Jews, and, like iron filings to magnets, the reality-challenged are attracted to comment and to add their equally bizarre views.

Why, then, are these people so adamant that their opinions are based in reality and are therefore objectively true and provable, even when they patently are not?  This is not unique to the peculiar Humpty Dumpty land version of reality at the Guardian either – it also applies to the rest of the media and throughout the internet and particularly in relation to Israel.

A statement by Francis Bacon, sets the scene most appropriately, I think, for the explanation I want to advance:

“It is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives.”

This points to the fact that Guardianistas and CiFers are particularly inclined towards a form of selective thinking whereby one notices only aspects of a situation which confirm one’s beliefs and ignores aspects which contradict it, or, in the case of Guardianistas and CiFers, cause their beliefs about it to “wobble.”

This confirmation bias is a natural human tendency, but most adjusted and intelligent people recognise when they are doing it and may even take active steps to expose themselves to other points of view so as to gain a deeper all round understanding of the topic which has hooked them.   However, the typical Guardianista – above and below the line – appears totally incapable of doing this.  As a result their opinions become pernicious when they purvey their own prejudices as truths, as Guarnieri and most of her fellow CiF authors have against Israel in particular.

The deliberate promulgation of views based on confirmation bias is the cognitive error most often evidenced by CiF.  It actively militates against reality-testing, since reality-testing leads to cognitive dissonance, and   people in the grip of confirmation bias actively avoid the emotional discomfort which arises from being confronted with proofs which directly contradict their deeply held prejudices.   Thus the confirmation bias endures and grows more resistant to challenge.

Along with confirmation bias against Israel on CiF comes a whole raft of cognitive errors, the main components  of which may be found above and below the line in articles about Israel, or Jews, or Israel or Jews in relation to Islam, among them:

ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING – Also called Black and White Thinking.  This is thinking of things in absolute terms, like “always”, “every” or “never”, whether this is actually written or implied. People and posters on CiF who are in the grip of this cognitive error are incapable of answering truthfully to:

“Has there ever been a time when it was NOT that way?” (All or nothing thinking does not allow exceptions.  Even one exception can be found, it is usually denied).   A prime example here was CiF’s and the Guardianistas’ reaction to Israel’s first response to the Haiti earthquake, which was praised worldwide, but which CiF persisted in endowing with ulterior and malign motives, so completely had it bought into the “Israel is evil” paradigm (see also here).

OVERGENERALISATION – Most CiF a uthors and many posters take isolated cases and use them to make wide generalisations.  Mya Guarnieri overgeneralised from the alleged actions of one pastor by implying a link between her perception of his motives and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan!

APPLYING A MENTAL FILTER – Focusing exclusively on certain aspects of something while ignoring the rest.   Confirmation biases are prime examples of this and are, as I have suggested above, a rigid defence against cognitive dissonance.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – Assuming that something is or is not the case without looking for evidence to support that assumption.   Within this two specific subtypes are also identified:

1) Mind reading – assuming the intentions of others.   Below the line particularly on CiF, we find examples of what I call the “Stand by for the pro –Israel…..” where the writer arbitrarily concludes what will be said without bothering to check it out.

    A good counter to this is to ask for evidence, – “How do you know that…?” although this usually leads to temper tantrums from the person who posted it.

    2)  Fortune telling“the pro-Israel lot will only lie about ….”

      Again, the antidote to this sort of nonsense is to ask for evidence “How do you know that they are lying?  What evidence have you of this?”

      MAGNIFICATION & MINIMISATION – As regards CiF , deliberate exaggeration of negatives and the understating  or deliberately ignoring of positive aspects of Israel’s behaviour, or “yes butting” them when they are too obvious to ignore.  (See my reference above to CiF’s reaction to Israel’s first response reaction to the earthquake in Haiti).   Along with this, above and below the line on CiF there is a particular subtype – that of focusing upon the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, which can be perpetrated by Israel or Jews (or against Muslims) and stating that as a fact regardless of the lack of proof.

      Once again a good counter to these is to ask for evidence, below the line on CiF, that the negatives are invariably the case and that there are absolutely no positives. (This almost invariably gets the post deleted, since it goes against the Guardian World View, and no actual evidence can be provided).

      EMOTIONAL REASONING – Many writers and posters on CiF advance arguments which are blatantly based on how they feel rather than grounded in objective reality.  These people are often completely blind to the difference between feelings and facts.   All of us can recognise the posters whose ideas are born out of rage and the need to vent and, if we are wise, we give them a wide berth.    The poster Caudate, quoted at the end of Medusa’s article about Chris McGreal is an extreme example of this, but there are many more whose posts are plainly driven by their feelings, which have no provable basis in fact.

      The result is that all these examples, evidenced and reiterated as they are on CiF and in the Guardian about Israel and her people, have rapidly taken on an altered and specious reality of their own for the Guardianistas, and have supplanted objective truth in the minds of those who purvey them.   The more they are repeated, the more pernicious is their influence and potential.

      CiF Watch and all those who require honesty in the media about Israel cannot be expected to act as cognitive therapists to the reality-challenged individuals who write for or post to with CiF, nor can the media be expected to police itself sufficiently for us to be sure that it is telling us the objective truth.  Rather, blogs like CiF Watch can and must continue to irritate and undermine the liars and twisters of facts, as often and as publicly as possible.    People so defended against the cognitive dissonance arising out exposure to opposing points of view are easily dismayed when their lies ( and biased reporting is after all evidence of lying by omission) are made public just as often as their one-sided accounts are put out.

      However, CiF Watch must necessarily choose its battles and, if I may say so, it should not waste its energies in trying to convince the deluded of CiF.   Rather it should concentrate upon those who are intelligent enough to want to hear all sides of the story, and who happen on or search out its pages in the hope of finding measured and reality-based information upon which they can rely.

      These, I suspect, form most of its regular readership.

      15 replies »

      1. It is all part of a much larger scenario, and that is the deliberate attempt at identity theft.

        The Jewish experience is being copied and re-invented as the Arab experience.

        The work, the effort, the building, the corny as it may sound blood, sweat and tears are not shed, just the narrative of it.

        The stories grow and false history get cemented because……the STORY did work in the case of the Jews, the STORY is known to be successful, the STORY was david to Goliath.

        The STORY, which happens to be the history of the Jews is very appealing, and the arabist apologists are doing their damnest to steal our identity.

        Palestinian?- The Arabs refused the designation and 95% of associations, papers, sports teams that had Palestinian in its name was Jewish.
        Palestine Post, Palestine Football Club.

        Olive trees, the new symbol of the Arabs, not found in any symbols, markings of the Arabs, but a regular component of Jewish symbols.

        UN res 194- Famously rejected by EVERY Arab country in the UN.

        The 1949 Armistice lines- Rejected by the Arab countries as final borders.

        the 1949 Armistice agreement- Broken by the Arabs who refused to allow visitation of Jewish holy sites and the cemetery at Har Zeitim.

        This history, the real Arab history is hidden, shahhhhh we can’t discuss it….it isn’t “nice” to mention it.
        The arabist apologists have done a wonderful job in aping the Jewish Experience in word only, not deed!!!

      2. Peter1

        Agreed – and it all began with Mohammed who so much wanted to be like the Jews that he created a new religion. Of course, he was also following in the footsteps of Christians.

        Mitnaged

        Your article is clearly common sense. The Guardian confuses emotions or opinions with facts. Intellectual doubts never enter the equation, or if they do, it is always trumped by an anti-Israel interpretation.

        Btw. —-“CiF Watch must necessarily choose its battles and, if I may say so, it should not waste its energies in trying to convince the deluded of CiF. Rather it should concentrate upon those who are intelligent enough to want to hear all sides of the story “—

        Why, then, did so many people on CW waste their time on Lauren Booth???

      3. Cif’s bigots brigade exemplify your categories excellently Mitnaged. I am reminded of that nasty GenocideNo2 person who keeps insisting that Gaza was carpet-bombed and resists any comment on the lack of logic this displays – there was bombing so it must be carpet bombing because that is a description this person has heard as the worst kind of bombing – she thinks it so it must be that.

        It also reminds me of the moderators who stubbornly don’t delete entries carrying this obvious lie.

      4. This points to the fact that Guardianistas and CiFers are particularly inclined towards a form of selective thinking whereby one notices only aspects of a situation which confirm one’s beliefs and ignores aspects which contradict

        Sure that applies to plenty of BTLers (and writers) on CiF – but also, of course, to more than a few posters on this website as well.

      5. @ Fairplay

        Agreed – and it all began with Mohammed who so much wanted to be like the Jews that he created a new religion. Of course, he was also following in the footsteps of Christians.

        Sorry, what exactly are you trying to say there?

      6. How much is the predicament of the Arab Muslim a function of cognitive dissonance, which assumes the suppression of uncomfortable truths because they are recognised as a threat to emotional well-being, and self esteem, and how much is it a culturally, socially, and religiously determined inability to comprehend the very nature of the debate? Living a life whose moral dimensions are wholly determined externally, is very different from one in which they are set by careful rational analysis of personal duty to others by internally determined moral obligations. An Arab Muslim behaves well by obeying an external authority on which he has no claim other than blind obedience. The misogyny we see in his exploitation of women for example, might only exist in our eyes, for it cannot be seen as such if its manifestations, however harsh, are divinely prescribed.

      7. Thanks, everyone.

        Of course, this is just a brief overview.

        peter1, yes, this “identity theft” is an extension of Islam’s tendency to steal the best of other religions before it, contort them (as I see it) and incorporate them into Islam, but then to go one step further – to delegitimise those other religions because as the Islamic prophet argues, Muslims are the latest and therefore the best. This whistling in the dark, and trying so hard to convince themselves as well as others that they are superior, is evidence of insecurity. I am remembering Medusa’s encounter with Islamic supremists (see http://cifwatch.com/2010/08/01/they-walk-among-us-a-personal-encounter-with-religious-supremacists/ ) whose insecurities about their faith were all too evident, otherwise they would not have been so strident.

        @Fairplay, yes, it is indeed commonsense, but I do believe that the actual naming of these processes helps to undermine them and goes at least some way to dispel the smoke and mirrors effect of so much that is put out mindlessly about Islam.

        As for Lauren Booth, perhaps anger at the utter cheek of the woman, had a great deal to do with the posts? She is an epitome of emotional reasoning as I describe it above, and the way in which she expresses those emotions can hook into other vulnerable people’s insecurities.

        Booth is also very accomplished at applying the mental filter – how else could she stay at a luxury hotel, shop at supermarkets full of food, and then still claim that Gaza is starving? (I have little doubt that there are pockets of extreme poverty in Gaza, but surely that is the case in many cities throughout the world?) Booth filters that out because to acknowledge it would wobble her world view profoundly.

        @epidermoid, it’s difficult to generalise onto a whole people, but I believe that a lot of Arab Muslim anger is a reaction to cognitive dissonance. Your reference to living life in relation to an external authority also reflects a predominantly external locus of evaluation – which is essentially cognitively immature, since those who operate from it are infantilised and lacking in the capability to think critically and are therefore at the mercy of whoever wants to use them or crank them up.

        The fundamental cognitive dissonance is, of course, that Arabs/Muslims are still not victorious over the whole world as their prophet promised – indeed the Jews, whom they despise, are superior in attainment and other aspects. How then can they square what they are told to believe – that they are the chosen of Allah – with their shame at being bested?

        The simplest approach is by telling themselves others a different story, which paints them as “all good” and their Jewish enemies as “all bad” (pre-verbal psychological splitting), and because critical thinking and reality-testing of what they are told is actively discouraged, believing their leaders’ lies and being disappointed and knocked back again and again.

      8. @Mitnaged
        Thank you for your reply. I think a critical account of Arab thinking is vital to a proper assessment of the I/P conflict.A medieval way of thinking and the superstitions that inevitably follow it remains a dominant part of Islamic doctrine, not as an accident of history, but as an essential and inevitable consequence of Godly immutability. It would be absurd and deeply threatening to the faithful were the notion ever to surface that that the Deity was incompetent in His original revelations.
        Discourse can be difficult even when the language spoken is the same, but when a man’s ideas about the nature of reality are limited and unreasoned, then minds are doubly distant. Conversations between Israelis and Arabs may suffer because of linguistic obstacles but need in addition the services of those like you who assess the psychological, cultural, religious, and social impediments of the their opponents.

      9. epidermoid: “…when a man’s ideas about the nature of reality are limited and unreasoned, then minds are doubly distant…”

        How true! Research has shown (the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) that language defines thought and vice versa and that both inform the perception of reality.

        Heggy, Pipes and others have written extensively about Arab/Muslim use of hyperbole in language – “Big Talk” – which, because it is often repeated and there is no way in which the hearers can reality test it or disagree with it, takes on a whole life of its own and becomes the listeners’ “truth.” “Comical Ali’s” antics in public on TV were prime examples of that. The Koran and Hadith, moreover, permit such lying to troops in battle to boost their morale!

        I don’t know whether you have been lied to about an important thing, but if so ask yourself about the effect the discovery of that lie had on your perception of the trustworthiness of the liar. Would you agree that, in order to be able to trust that person again, you would have to compartmentalise that person’s lie and lie to yourself in turn about the effect it had had on you?

        Now imagine a society where such deviousness is sanctioned, if not encouraged. How might that affect the reality testing capability of children reared in such an environment?

        It would require many articles at a deeper level to analyse the intricacies of impaired reality testing and how this affects Arabs/Muslims at the interface with the west – and how the Arab concept of al-taqiyya messes with Arab heads at a very fundamental level. The perniciousness of these lies and half-truths at that interface should not be underestimated. Most of us tend to tell the truth and expect others not to lie to us. Western leaders are simply not equipped cognitively and psychologically to call out Arab lies for what they are and often they may not believe the barefacedness of them.

        From where most of us are located (and here I exclude the writers for CiF and most of the below the line haters) all that may be needed is for some brave souls to stand and shout, “The king is naked” whenever we hear lies of this sort.

        However, we would need to be very persistent. Taking the reaction to Pamela Geller and her exposure of the “peaceable” Imam Rauf as one example, were we to do it then people might turn on us because of the cognitive dissonance caused them, and because they were being deftly manipulated by the liars themselves.

      10. Pretzel

        “Sure that applies to plenty of BTLers (and writers) on CiF – but also, of course, to more than a few posters on this website as well”.

        Yes, as the article makes clear, this is a human condition, the difference being that CIF has institutionalised its prejudices and has virtually shut down any dissent that contradicts its hostile and dogmatic views on Israel.

        In fact the prejudices are so visceral that its anti-Israeli censorship is carried out in the name of common decency, accuracy and relevance to topic by morally degraded ‘moderators’ – like the nepotistic BellaM – who are intellectually incapable of passing objective or fair judgement and are oblivious to the culture of bigotry that they themselves perpetuate.

      11. Jonny Moses

        the difference being that CIF has institutionalised its prejudices and has virtually shut down any dissent that contradicts its hostile and dogmatic views on Israel.

        That’s a massive exagerration.
        If you keep on topic (yes, that’s debatable) and don’t insult anyone then comments tend to stay up.
        (even if not all, of course)

        p.s. Is BellaM that Rusbridger daughter? If so I’d agree with you there – although also because of the juvenile character she appears to have.

      12. From CiF and quoted on CiFWatch at http://cifwatch.com/2010/05/06/the-hostility-of-frankie-boyle/ (another of yours, Mitnaged)

        “Scriptor

        13 Apr 2009, 12:09PM

        roachclip: “…must say I’m looking forward to the day when there is a Christian, Moslem or Athiest Prime Minister of Israel…”

        Happy to oblige:

        In February 2007 Israeli Druze MK Majallie Whbee briefly served as the country’s President, when acting President Dalia Itzik travelled to America . This is a historic day because it is the first time that a person from the minorities has become the President of Israel said Whbee. The important thing for us is that it shows that we can be counterparts, citizens who have duties and rights, and that we are actually a democratic country…. My appointment is the answer to those who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. Minorities have equal rights and we are part of the government, the state and the parliament….

        OK?

        “I know there aren’t any Jews in the Palestinian West Bank or in Gaza, but there are Christians. Can you tell me whether Hamas or the West Bank PA have Christians in their governments?”

        And then you go on to note an answer from Arkasha, which shows his cognitive errors – use of the mental filter and minimisation, which is probably driven by emotional reasoning – no doubt because the cognitive dissonance brought about by Scriptor’s post “wobbled” his view:

        ” Arkasha

        13 Apr 2009, 12:17PM

        “scriptor – what makes you think a president ( “the position is largely a ceremonial figurehead role, with executive real power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister’) will substitute for a PM?

        “You are being disingenuous here – shame on you.”

        Scriptor replies and very politely, but so entrenched and wobbling is Arkasha that he reacts with anger and we get:

        “Arkasha

        13 Apr 2009, 3:53PM

        “Don’t try to unload your crap all over me, Scriptor. You claimed to show that non-Jews could be PMs, and the best you could pull out is some Druze who was “president” for a day or so – and you tried to sell it as if the two positions are equivalent.

        “You got caught weaving a lie. Says a lot about your mindset, such as it is.”

        Arkasha is well and truly hooked into distorted thinking, to the extent that he dare not admit or perhaps cannot realise that Scriptor’s answer to him makes a nonsense of his argument, and there’s a massive helping of emotional reasoning, too.

        This is going to be an immensely useful check list to undermine the guff at CiF above and below the line.

        Thanks, Mitnaged

      13. pretzelberg, no it isn’t. Try disagreeing with or criticising the views and activities of extremist Islam or Hamas on CiF, or pointing up that the one-sided reporting about Israel is precisely that, and see how long your post lasts, however politely it is worded.

        What CiFWatch refers to as the Guardian World View, includes the institutionalised prejudice against Israel that Jonny Moses describes and, given what I have read in this article, I believe such institutionalised prejudice incorporates and arises out of many of the cognitive errors listed above).

      14. Mitnaged – thanks for providing yet another insight into the mindset of what we are up against.