Sunday, June 09, 2024

  • Sunday, June 09, 2024
  • Elder of Ziyon

The infographic above shows some of the drivers for people believing misinformation. we see a lot of that in the sheer amount of anti-Israel propaganda and bias in the news media, especially since October 7. 

One topic not often focused on, however, is the tendency of normal people to fill in information gaps with internally developed narratives that fit their biases.

During wartime especially, we only hear maybe 10% of what's really going on. We are all ignorant.  As the dramatic rescue operation on Saturday showed again, there is a lot happening  behind the scenes that we are not aware of. 

When we are given incomplete information, it is natural as humans to fill in the blanks with whatever stories seem to make the most sense to us. We have a hard time accepting that we don't understand something; we look for familiar patterns and attempt to fit the little we do know into a framework where we feel that we are on more solid ground. 

And that's where people reveal their biases, specifically, cognitive biases.

Imagine a video of a heated confrontation between a white person and a person of color in a mostly white neighborhood. Without audio or any other context, some people will assume the person of color was doing something that justifiably  upset the white person, others would assume the white person is a racist who is attacking the person of color for no reason and would not act the same way if the other person was white.  Bias will determine which of those scenarios people favor, and most people will subconsciously fill in the gaps to fit their biases as they watch the video, and cement those beliefs when watching it repeatedly, looking for hints like facial expressions and posture to justify their initial judgements.

During this war, we are seeing this play out every hour of every day. Modern antisemites invariably fill in the knowledge  gaps with lurid narratives of Israeli evil. They project their bias that Jews are bloodthirsty, malicious, liars, and uncaring about anyone but other Jews. Subconsciously or consciously they take fragmentary narratives and turn them into anti-Israel screeds. 

A great example is UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese's tweet yesterday soon after news of the hostage rescue raid in Gaza. 

She doesn't know how many civilians were killed, and how many militants were killed, but she believes the only source available at the time - the Hamas propaganda outlet the Gaza Media Office.

She believes the lie that the IDF soldiers were hiding in an "aid truck" when even the truck identified by Al Jazeera as an "aid trucK' had a logo for a dishwashing soap (and even 24 hours later it is not at all clear that this was the truck that was used, some Gazans claim it was a furniture truck.)

She believes that Israel had a choice of only two positions: give up all terrorists, thus legitimizing Hamas' kidnappings, or use the hostages as an excuse to wantonly attack Gaza civilians in a planned genocide. There is no other option. It is an oversimplification of reality that fits her biases perfectly. 

And she then concludes, based on her obvious ignorance, that the  rescue is a "genocidal action" and not really meant to rescue hostages. Not only that, but her antisemitic interpretation of incorrect, biased and fragmentary data is is "crystal clear."

Albanese is not stupid. But her bias against Jews prompts her to take a very incomplete view of a situation and fill in the gaps to fit her anti-Israel and antisemitic bias, of Jews who suffered genocide now maliciously engaging in genocide themselves. 

This is the pattern that nearly everyone uses: they look for evidence to back up their stories, and ignore anything that contradicts them.  But the important fact is that the stories precede the evidence, and the evidence is cherry-picked to support the story, not the other way around.

Israelis who have been in the IDF know how important it is as a basic  underlying principle to adhere to international law, to avoid harming civilians as much as possible. They are trained in the Laws of Armed Conflict more than 95% of journalists or human rights workers. They also know that LOAC doesn't mean sacrificing yourself or your fellow soldiers or your own civilians to save enemy civilians, that the lives of your own side take precedence when they are in danger. (Don't trust me, read the Geneva Conventions yourself. )

But too many in the media and NGOs and even other governments, who should definitely know better, make assumptions of Israeli malice that have no basis in reality. Whether the gaps in knowledge are a result the IDF not wanting to reveal its intel, or in their believing Hamas lies, or an unwillingness to look at how the IDF actually works (which is documented or those who care to know,) is not a as important as the fact that they choose to fill in the gaps with the worst possible interpretation and stories about Jews. 

Israel is objectively doing more to protect enemy civilians than any army in history ever has. (Feel free to find counterexamples. The US has gotten close in some limited operations.) Hamas has engineered the war to maximize its own side's civilian casualties because its main weapon is world pressure on Israel; dead civilians are the best way to achieve that. Hamas lies from the Al Ahli hospital to today are obvious and proven. 

Given all that, any assumption of Israeli malice or indifference towards Gaza civilians - and any assumption that Hamas cares one whit about Gaza lives or tells the truth in its accusations against Israel  - is not a reflection of reality but a projection of antisemitic attitudes onto the IDF and Israel as a whole. 

Of course, I have biases too. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to Israel, with my own research into how the IDF works, my own knowledge of how Israelis really think from actually speaking to them and interviewing them, my knowledge about how large organizations like the IDF work and how difficult it is for emotions like "revenge" to be part of multi-layer decision-making with layers of legal oversight, and a history of hindsight that almost always shows that the Israelis did everything that could be expected of any moral army - and when they fell short, they worked hard to fix the mistakes. 

Sometimes I am wrong in my assumptions of giving the IDF the benefit of the doubt, but not very often.  

Anyone who looks at the Gaza rescue operation and sees only an anti-Israel narrative is not objective. But beyond that, none of us outside a few decision-makers know the extent of Israeli preparation, the amount of intelligence it had, the alternatives considered and debated, the amount of time available and other limitations, the chances that the hostages would be moved elsewhere during the preparations, the controls put into place to minimize civilian casualties, how many were actually killed and how many of them were legal combatants. These are all pieces of information that are necessary to evaluate the morality of the operation, and almost no one knows it all.  Creating an anti-Israel story based on a tiny percentage of facts available is not analysis - it is propaganda.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!




EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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