Cognitive Egocentrism in Action

Despite numerous readings of Aluf Benn’s Cif article of February 4th, (take note of the wording of the URL on your search bar when clicking on that link) I still haven’t a clue what the author thinks he’s achieved with this piece. Although it looks rather like a quick re-hash of a very similar article which Benn wrote for his own paper Ha’aretz a couple of weeks previously, which also appeared on the website of Miftah – yet another NGO dedicated to bringing about Israel’s demise  – and was criticised by CAMERA, Benn’s CiF article is not only certainly pointless in any non-Israeli context, but is also so full of ridiculously sweeping and inaccurate statements that it is rendered meaningless.

“The separation policy of the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who strove to isolate Israelis from the conflict through the Gaza pullout and the construction of the West Bank security barrier, paid off handsomely. The vast majority of Israelis, who live in and around Tel Aviv, don’t interact with Palestinians, or even with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Only a small number of conscripts and reservists, deployed across the barrier as part of their military service, would go there.”

Benn’s fabrications are obviously disingenuous; the idea behind the Gaza pull-out was clearly what it said on the label – disengagement – and the construction of the anti-terror fence was initiated solely to prevent even more Israeli non-combatants from being ruthlessly murdered. He must also lead a very isolated life if he never interacts with Palestinians – say in a hospital – or goes to visit family or friends in Judea and Samaria. Benn’s analysis of the Israeli mood is summed up in this paragraph:

“As a result, most Israelis are indifferent to the establishment of a Palestinian state. For several years, a stable two-thirds majority of Israelis have supported the idea in opinion surveys – while a similar majority doubted its possibility. They simply don’t care, since they fail to see how an independent Palestine would make any change in Israelis’ lives.”

Here he displays a shocking lack of ability to recognise the nuances of the political and security situations in Israel; what Israelis would like to see happen in the future, compared to what they think it is realistically possible to achieve, have obviously been shaped by their experiences. Unfortunately, many on the far Left like Benn seem determined not to learn from the collective experiences of the Israeli people ; it is almost as though they wish to ignore the fact that we signed the Oslo agreements and got Intifada, withdrew from Lebanon and got Katyushas and disengaged from Gaza only to be rewarded with Kassams and Grads.
Many will remember that Aluf Benn has something of a history of painting Israel’s enemies in colours he finds pleasing. Just six days before the 2006 Lebanon war, he wrote an article entitled “We need a Nasrallah” in Ha’aretz which included this classic:

“Nasrallah hates Israel and Zionism no less than do the Hamas leaders, Shalit’s kidnappers and the Qassam squads. But as opposed to them – he has
authority and responsibility, and therefore his behavior is rational and reasonably predictable. Under the present conditions, that’s the best
possible situation. Hezbollah is doing a better job of maintaining quiet in the Galilee than did the pro-Israeli South Lebanese Army.”

Of course those of us who live in the North and occasionally travel on roads close to the Lebanese border had been somewhat less prone to defining the bellicose positioning of Hizbollah troops with their unmistakable yellow flags literally meters away from our vehicles as ‘responsible’ or ‘quiet’. Benn’s article was beautifully fisked by Richard Landes at the time and described as an example of “liberal cognitive egocentrism in full flower”. In this latest CiF article, Benn is once more projecting his own way of seeing the world onto others and it is precisely his cognitive egocentrism which appeals to fellow sufferers below the line at CiF and generates so many comments which are prime examples of this phenomenon at work.


4 Feb 2010, 10:15AM
Israelis define their country as a western democracy with an advanced high-tech economy, a bastion of innovation, modernity, and technological development in a backwards region
They attribute their economic and technological successes to their perceived cultural superiority instead of mentioning the over $100 billion of US aid they’ve received along with preferential trade agreements. And Israel is hardly democratic.

4 Feb 2010, 10:21AM
You ask why the world sees Isreali actions as aggressive, and yet state that Isrealis believe ‘security will be achieved through force, rather than diplomacy’. This is a major problem, as a lasting peace cannot be acheived by force. It can only be acheived through compromise. The reason why the western world concentrate on the settlements, military excursions and the constant expansion into Palestinian areas, is because it is ethnic cleansing – this is rightly seen as a more pressing concern than Isreal’s commercial exploits and ‘innovation’. Perhaps a halt to further settlements and the ethnic cleansing of East Jeruselem will undo some damage to Isreal’s reputation and help with the ‘rebranding’ you seek…

4 Feb 2010, 10:57AM

We hear a lot about Israelis wanting ‘peace’. I get the impression what they really mean is for the Palestinian to ‘peacefully’ disappear off the face of the earth. Wanting ‘peace’ is meaningless, how many Israelis want justice for the Palestinians? That would be a sign that they want real peace. I see no evidence of that.

4 Feb 2010, 11:14AM
Two thirds of Israelis favour a Palestinian state …
Quite a few say they favour the Palestinian State solution, but I doubt they actually want a state, but a bantustan solution called a state. Israelis seem to overwhelmingly support Israel retaining control of Palestinian air space, borders, large amounts of territory inside the West Bank including all the Jordan Valley, control of all foreign trade and policy and even veto on internal Palestinian matters, it’s hardly fair to say they favour a state. More of a permanent occupation policed by the Palestinians.
Complain all you like about Palestinian voters, who voted for Hamas in both Gaza and the West Bank, but given almost all Israeli parties favour settlement expansion, continuing the occupation and the wars on Gaza and Lebanon, in which civilians were openly targeted, and continuing the siege on Gaza forever, it’s not a case of Palestinians wanting to drive Israelis into the sea, but the other way around.

4 Feb 2010, 11:28AM
1) The reality of Israel is that it occupies someone else’s land!!
2) The reality is that Israel is stealing and building on Palestinians’ land.
3) The reality is that Israel massacres innocent Palestinians!!
4) The reality is that Israel is breaking UN resolution with impunity!!
5) The reality is that Israel treats Palestinians as sub-human!!
6) The reality is that Israel is constantly threatening it neighbours/region!!
7) The reality is that Israel only follows selective “democracy”!!
8) The reality is that Israel is blindly supported by the WEST!!
9) The reality is that western media deosn’t even show 10% of what the Israeli’s are doing to the Palestinians!!

4 Feb 2010, 12:05PM
One should take no notice of what the Israeli government says. They put on a nice show in English but one needs to listen to what they say in Yiddish to get a true picture of what they are about.
If the Israelis had ever wanted peace they could have abided by their agreement to hand back automony of the West Bank and Gaza nearly 30 years ago. Instead they have chosen to continue the illegal occupation, steal more land, murder more people and spend their time whining about how much everyone hates them.

4 Feb 2010, 2:43PM
The Palestinians and their apologists do say things to their willing listeners that bear no relation to what they say to their own people, and the Israelis don’t.
Ha ha! Brilliant.
“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” Tipi Livni as the bombs were falling.
“We want peace” The state of Israel before attacking it’s next target.
Israel just says stuff it thinks other people want to hear, then does whatever it wants.
The biggest liar of all is Mark Regev, who tried to tell the world that the traumatised children of Gaza were conspiring in a Hamas orchestrated campaign to make the IDF look bad. Or maybe the time he claimed Hamas were manufacturing White Phosphorous shells to fire at their own people.
There’s lies, damn lies, and Israeli government lies.

4 Feb 2010, 3:31PM
I am sure that he would see your words as a great compliment.
Thanks. You demonstrate exactly the problem. Regev tells outrageous and blatant lies and then him and his apologists sit back, proud in their lying work.
Regev is a propagandist of fascist proportions. He would be equally at home in any totalitarian regime. Imagining him describing tractor production as “a great leap forward for freedom”, or the forced migration of a million peasants resulting in a million deaths as a “government improvement scheme” is no leap of the imagination at all.
This sort of massive disinformation and the joy people take in it is just one example of why Israel is the biggest threat to world peace. Another is the need for constant violence in order to feel safe. Another is the absolute refusal to assume responsibility for any bullets fired from IDF guns. Another is the delusional self image, and another still is the myth that Israel is more European than middle eastern. If it’s European, it’s trapped in the 1930’s.

Now, what happens when the cognitive egocentrism at CiF is challenged? Obviously, the delete button must be pressed, as it was in the case of these brave attempts:

4 Feb 2010, 11:40AM
However if Isareal wants to act like a Western country then there are certain rules and expectations to follow.
You mean invade countries thousands of miles away, and exterminate or subjugate the natives on every continent, like Britain, France and Spain? Or commit genocide like Germany? Israel has not descended to that level thank goodness.


4 Feb 2010, 11:44AM
There has been little or no effort to address the serious accusations regarding Cast Lead – just a ferocious effort to smear anyone who questions Israeli actions, and to deflect any attempt to investigate
This a joke? Every “accusation” leveled against Israel regarding its conduct during OCL has been thoroughly responded to. It is the people who cannot engage in an intellectual conservation and provide facts beyond coached-hamas testimony to support their opinion.
For example, the claim that Israel used WP against civilians was debunked. Israel simply said they don’t have weapons-grade WP, and used the M285 shell-smoke that is standard in urban combat.
European media, however, made a mockery of journalism by recruiting Palestinian freelancers to basically rewrite reality and victimize Hamas.
Now they’re trying to save face by claiming “not enough” is being done. Yeah, after you vilified Israel for 6 months, more must be done!
As far as the article goes, no one seems capable of refuting my original comment and most of the CIFers demonstrate little to know understand of the current Israeli-Palestinian dramas.
The fact that people believe Israel is holding the brakes against the Palestinians is absurd. The Palestinians are in conflict with each other. Fatah hawks are going after Abbas and claiming he is “giving into Israel” (which is why he is avoiding negotiations), and Hamas has more money and support and they would massacre Fatah if it weren’t for Israel to stop them.
I think the real issue is leftists dont want to see a resolution to this conflict because it would be an end to their ultimate scapegoat. So they exploit the Palestinians to bash Israel, going so far as to victimize their brutral leadership and portray them in a perpetual state of victimhood as this author does.
This is why we never hear about the Palestinians in Lebanon from any European media, because their lives are completely independent of Israel.
And this is why Europe didn’t care about the Palestinians before 1967, because they were occupied by Arabs – not Jews.
Palestinians have learned conflict with Israel (not Arabs) pays, and will continue to milk it until Israel gets tired of it.

I guess re-hashing an already written article which had proven popular with audiences similar to that found at CiF is an easy way of paying the rent. There is, after all, nothing remotely challenging in preaching to the converted. Aluf Benn and the similarly challenged at CiF would do well to get out more and discover that there’s a whole other world, and certainly a whole other Israel, beyond their cognitive egocentric bubble.

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