Home Contributors The difficulty of perception, language and understanding

The difficulty of perception, language and understanding

A headline from the July 10, 2014 front page of the Huffington Post, a notorious inciter of anti-Israel hatred." width="500" height="298" /> A headline from the July 10, 2014 front page of the Huffington Post, a notorious inciter of anti-Israel hatred.
A headline from the July 10, 2014 front page of the Huffington Post, a notorious inciter of anti-Israel hatred.


By Samuel Solomon

Dear Family and Friends:

As you know, I try not to just regurgitate the news since there is so much “gurgitation” on every website in the world it is hard to keep up.  I will tell you, however, to keep in mind a few things when reading or watching the news:

  1. War reporting makes no sense in real time.  Every aspect of it – who bombed whom, casualties figures, and analysis are deeply flawed by the fog of war.  Please keep this in mind.
  2. Understand that there is a lot of propaganda masquerading as facts.  The one most egregious is the “body count” of Palestinians.  These numbers are produced by the Gaza “Ministry of Health” a pure Hamas political organ.  They intentionally do NOT differentiate between fighters and civilians (I already wrote about this); those killed by Hamas vs. Israel (a serious number are killed by Hamas missiles or Hamas executioners), double counting and misreporting. I have written a nice portion of my last blog on this but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to hold reporters and politicians accountable for spouting this nonsense.  From all the sources, I believe the number of civilian casualties are no more 40% of the total  (and those were, for the vast majority of the cases, due to Hamas’ cynical use of civilian areas to launch their attacks).  Since I already covered much of the data, I will just add this one issue to consider — the number of civilians being killed by Hamas’ rockets landing in Gaza: http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/30/algemeiner-editor-dovid-efune-up-to-25-percent-of-hamas-rockets-fall-short-and-kill-gazan-civilians-video/ and the misfiring of rockets: http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/07/30/israel-says-10-percent-hamas-rockets-misfire-fall-gaza-strip/ By the way, it is reported that 36% of Hamas rockets landed in Gaza over the last day.  It makes sense as Israel pushing deeper in Gaza from the North, missiles need to be launched further South and in more of a panic hence the increased error rate. (http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=64534)
  3. Language, the order in which things are said and the use of pictures and videos produce incredible bias.
  4. We are at a real disadvantage not knowing Arabic.  Trust me, what is said in English is for Western consumption – in Arabic, it is a very different story; like the quotes by Abbas or Imams in Gaza speaking about killing the Jews (links later in blog) : http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=12198
  5. There is clear evidence that Hamas is intimidating reporters who want to report the truth of Hamas brutality and its use of civilian areas to launch missiles and tunnels to attack Israel and its soldiers. Whether it is reporter bias, the desire for continued access in Gaza or fear, reporters are clearly not reporting even close to the real picture. Here are just a few examples:   http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/24/french-journalist-describes-interrogation-at-hamas-headquarters-next-to-emergency-room-at-gazas-al-shifa-hospital/#widget-zoom-video-cat-3 This incredible tweet where the reporter left the tweet in place (unlike the WSJ reporters who were pressured to remove their tweets:   ). Spend a few moments and read through the threats to this reporter in Gaza https://mobile.twitter.com/JohninJerusalem/status/491948431380738048 or this Italian reporter who needed to wait till he left Gaza to report what really happened: http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/30/italian-journalist-defies-hamas-out-of-gaza-far-from-hamas-retaliation-misfired-rocket-killed-children-in-shati/ or this recent Times of Israel article on the subject: http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-threatening-journalists-in-gaza-who-expose-abuse-of-civilians/#ixzz38mds7ZY2.
  6. Humanitarian organizations have been hijacked by Hamas.  I have already written a full blog on UNWRA.  I mentioned last time that UNWRA employees, except for some management positions, are all residents of Gaza and they employ many with direct connections to Hamas.  There has been substantial documentation of indoctrination and bias in these schools against Israel and summer camps. (http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/53/how-unrwa-supports-hamas) It is appalling that these schools are used to house arms and missiles, that missiles and RPG’s are fired from areas DIRECTLY ADJACENT to these schools and, we have learned last night, they have use UNWRA facilities (or the use of UNWRA signage) to hide tunnels and explosive devices with fatal results for three soldiers yesterday.  I have been watching the interviews of UNRWA officials, especially Chris Gunness, the UNWRA spokesman and  former “professional journalist” from BBC who cried on TV and has been giving one sided interviews (here he is being pressed on NBC on Hamas’ role in this fighting: http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/meet-the-press/full-meet-the-press-interview-with-un-relief-official-chris-gunness-312742467771 — here he describes this as Israel’s problem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKlbEkQmFpY) .  You would think that Israel just woke up in the morning and started shelling. UNWRA cannot directly confront Hamas — there is a co-dependent relationship here. UNRWA  and UN Palestinian advocacy hides the role of Hamas (watch, people will say they have no choice given they need to “work” with Hamas) and this is grotesque. ( At least there are two sides here:  http://www.newsweek.com/gaza-attacks-israel-and-palestine-blame-each-other-262196) Here is UN advocacy at work.  Define “attacking”, Mr. UN.

View image on Twitter
Is there any explanation here?  Of course not.  The other part of this advocacy has been  –” Look Gaza is a dense place, where else will the civilians go?”  Ok. I get that.  That’s not the question, though. Why is Hamas next to these facilities violating human rights of Palestinians and Israeli’s?  Could it be that Hamas wants to hide there among civilians and use civilians as part of their media strategy? As religious fascist ideology? (http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=12117)  Hamas could be elsewhere even if civilians cannot.  Oh, come on, that is not even the question. The real question is why is Hamas spending its money and efforts, blood and treasure to attack Israel?  I will cover some of the reasons below but this requires the ability to keep these issues in your head while watching the misery on TV.

Keeping complex issues in ones head is not easy. Dan Kahneman, who received  Nobel Prize  in economics (Israeli, of course), in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, discusses the concept of System 1 and System 2 thinking (http://bigthink.com/errors-we-live-by/kahnemans-mind-clarifying-biases).  He provides tremendous insight into the difficulty for people to keep complex issues and calculations in their head especially when they are engaged in basic emotional or physical activities — but it is a challenge no matter what is going on.  At a most basic level it explains why the media is literally incapable of analyzing  complex issues or ascertaining context.  It’s biology. Add to this the issue of information reduction due to the medium where only the most basic messaging may get through – dead babies.  victims,  it’s his fault, etc.    Must tell you that my whole career as a jury consultant was to figure out how to re-message (we called it framing) complex issues to fit this behavioral challenge, the limitations of the medium, significant value-belief filters, group decision making dynamics and societal mimes.  And that was just for a group of 8 to 12 jurors!

Bias in the use of language is an area of personal interest as a jury consultant and I focused a lot on the use of language, the order that things are said  and the use of visuals aids — these became core components of my persuasion toolkit.  So I am keenly aware of how these communications weapons are being used to misshape perceptions of Israel and the war.  A simple example of primacy and its use to subtly discredit is demonstrated by Jodi Rudoren, the NYT Jerusalem Bureau chief, and her recent article about the tunnels coming into Israel from Gaza.  Ah, finally something favorable after all the biased, liberal spin coming from the paper.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/world/middleeast/tunnels-lead-right-to-heart-of-israeli-fear.html?ref=world&_r=0  It’s a small, yet great example of the her frame of mind. She writes that the military is showing the tunnels to reporters as a “propaganda push” which is clearly judgmental and is used to prime the reader for whatever they will read or see next. Could it be that the IDF is showing these tunnels to journalists so they better understand the context of why we are doing what we are doing in Gaza?  In contrast, the NY Times, when it mentions the count of Palestinians killed without mentioning how many of these are terrorists/militants (again language is king) or killed by Hamas itself, could say the source of these numbers being tallied is a “propaganda push” by the “Ministry of Health” in Gaza. I doubt it.

I have also written you about Islamic antisemitism.  It is scary and you need to force yourself to watch what is being said by religious leaders in mosques and on TV.  There a tons of examples on YouTube and you should help yourself but here are just two very recent examples:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdQTJKPeGj4   https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUpBvIBfZ-foo5ZbLH5O0N4g?autohide=1&v=R7WAoczRV_k#t=18

It is so important for you to read through Hamas’ founding document.  It is CRITICAL that you read it.   The Wikipedia piece on it discuses whether this was repudiated or not. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Covenant).  It reminds me of the debate on whether Hitler really believed in what he wrote in Mein Kempf or was it for “internal consumption”.  This seems to be the constant game played by people who want to get Hamas out of their racist box.  It is nonsense and we all know it.  Here again is the charter but I must waste some ink pasting some quotes so you will see how completely Mein Kempf meets Protocols-like and antisemitic it really is.

I have written an intro sentence to each cite.  Again, their Charter is a worthwhile read.

Article Eleven: The Strategy of Hamas: Palestine is an Islamic Waqf

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right… This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. The world is controlled by the Jews. This is lifted from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Article Twenty-Two: The Powers which Support the Enemy

The enemies have been scheming for a long time, and they have consolidated their schemes, in order to achieve what they have achieved. They took advantage of key elements in unfolding events, and accumulated a huge and influential material wealth which they put to the service of implementing their dream. This wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe in order to fulfill their interests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there.

They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein.

As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate. They collected material gains and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it…

Boy, we do get around!

Lastly, here is the son of the founder of Hamas, who converted to Christianity and lives in the U.S, has to say about their theology (the movie “The Green Prince” was produced about this guy)

Let me wrap up by touching on an article that hopefully will lead to a larger discussion on the subject of  occupation.

Peter Beinart, who has developed somewhat of a Zionist bad-boy reputation in the last few years, wrote an article in Haaretz  the other day: “Gaza myths and facts: what American Jewish leaders won’t tell you. Myth: Gaza is free. Fact: it has been under Israeli occupation since 1967 to this very day.”  (https://drive.google.com/a/arizal.biz/file/d/0B4_jLzgwVn7dQVAwOW9ZNU1MYW8/edit?usp=sharing)

Let me tell you, Peter is one really smart dude.  He is also the most intellectually dishonest people I know.  How is this possible?  Because he thinks that I will not read to the end of his article, reverse the order and them put primacy to his real agenda. Of course, he wants to stick it to the Jewish “establishment”. What is going on here is related to what I described earlier about the power of language and order.

Peter lays out his facts and, for all I know, he may be technically correct.  I cannot tell because he does not describe his bias   until the end.  That is how you use order to prime an audience to what you want to say.  In fact, his title is the prime he wants to deliver:

Myth: Gaza is free.

Fact: It has been under Israeli occupation since 1967 to this very day. 

At the very end of his article he writes: that Israel has repeatedly played into Hamas’ hands by not strengthening those Palestinians willing to pursue statehood through nonviolence and mutual recognition. Ahhh, that’s really the premise of the whole article. That there are these incredible desire of Palestinians willing to purse statehood through nonviolence and mutual recognition if only Israel was not such a party-popper.

Really?  The PA does not recognize Israel as a Jewish State, believes all Palestinians have a “right of return” (whether or not they do return) and that they always reserve the right to resort to violence. That as a society they are undemocratic, violent and racist.  Beinart, give me a break. Your whole article is built on this faulty premise buried near the bottom of the article.  Let’s re-frame his title.

Myth: Gaza is free. 

Fact: it would make no difference however one defines occupation.

Please don’t get me wrong, I do not agree with a large portion of his “facts” but in the end, does that really make a difference?  Facts are never the issue — it’s interpretation of facts to fit a specific world view that is destructive to the State of Israel which does.

We are living in very tough times where evil is masked, good is unforgiven and pictures tell it all.  I am afraid.

Take care,


Samuel Solomon is a retired legal consultant, and blogs at Notes from Israel on the Gaza War.