Oct 9, 2008
Imagine, it’s raining outside and all of your friends are at the beach having a barbecue. Or, better yet, imagine that your apartment building is on fire and as you rush out to find safety, you notice the rest of the tenets sitting in their living rooms watching the ball game. Would you think something odd?
What if you sounded the fire alarm and no one responded? What if you sounded the alarm and everyone looked at you wide-eyed with wonder about the danger? What if your friends at the beach told you that it wasn’t really raining – that the sun was actually shinning, and the wet clothes they’re wearing weren’t really wet? Would you think this odd?
What if the fireman who responded to the alarm, looked at the apartment building – all ablaze – and then yelled at you for calling in a false alarm? What if the meteorologist you tuned in to on the radio to check the weather forecast – reported clear skies and sunshine? Would you think this odd?
Would you think it odd that for everyone else, it is business as usual, but for you it is not? Would you think that everyone else is odd? Or, would you think you were odd?
It really doesn’t matter how you answer the above questions. In either case, you are in a state of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one's beliefs. In detailed terms, it is the perception of incompatibility between two cognitions, where "cognition" is defined as any element of knowledge, including attitude, emotion, belief, or behavior.
The theory of cognitive dissonance states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions.
This is the state of Americans when it comes to Israel.
What Americans are told, taught and spoon-fed about Israel, is often in conflict with the actions of Israel and the deeds of the Jewish people. Americans are told that Israel is a shinning example of democracy in the Middle East. But, Americans see how Israeli Arabs, Ethiopian Jews, and the Palestinians are treated and know, from the experiences of their own country, that Israel is not a democracy but a theocracy.
Americans are told that Israel is America’s “closest Middle East ally. Yet, Americans need only to do a quick Goggle search to realize that Israel’s track record as an ally is questionable at best. For example, Americans know that allies don’t:
- commit espionage on America and Americans
- vend American military secrets to America's enemies
- pirate sensitive American technology
- amass weapons of mass destruction
- calculatingly attempt to sink an American naval vessel in international waters
- deliberately allow Americans to be killed
The following are only a few examples:
CIA Asserts Israel Sold Arms Programs To Chinese Military
Four Decades of Twisting Facts About Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty
Israel Charged with Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines
Israeli Spying on the United States
Pentagon, GAO Report Israeli Espionage And Illegal Technology Retransfer
The Spy Who Loves Us
The Troubling Reticence Over U.S. "Terrorism" Cases
With full knowledge of the above facts, American presidents, defense officials, and political leaders continue to declare to the American people that Israel is America’s “closest Middle East ally.” Clearly, this misrepresentation of the facts, course of dis-information, and frankly, program of propaganda increases dissonance in the American psyche.
Dissonance increases with (1) the importance of the subject to us; (2) how strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict, and (3) our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict. The American people can in no way reconcile their leaders glowing praise of Israel with Israel’s actual deceitful, conniving, and underhanded behavior.
So, Americans are essentially mentally ill when it comes to Israel. Here’s why.
Cognitive dissonance is central to many forms of persuasion to change beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors. The tension can be injected suddenly, as was the case with 911, or gradually over time, as is the case with Israel. People can be moved in many small hops over time or one giant leap. To release the tension we must:
- change our behavior.
- justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
- justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.