This is a guest post by Mitnaged
I have written elsewhere about the toxic effects of personal construct hostility when it is allowed by the person whom it grips to override reality testing. In that article I describe what George Kelly, the father of Personal Construct Theory meant in his use of “hostility” to describe reiterative, manipulative behaviour engaged in again and again to bring about a change in the other’s behaviour in spite of the fact that the hostile behaviour has been shown not to work in the past.
This was, of course, entirely the case with the Mavi Marmrara in the Flotilla of Fools, who must have anticipated the reception they would get (and concern for their Palestinian brethren could not have been farther from what passed for their minds) and yet Mavi Marmara still went ahead with its doomed endeavour. If it wanted to call attention to themselves, it certainly achieved that, but ultimately nothing has changed for the Palestinians to whom it took out of date medical and other supplies and equipment not fit for use (and, indeed, Hamas refused to accept it).
Even if we accept that the main object of this exercise was to draw attention to the flotilla, the general reaction on CiF to the Mavi Marmara’s failure and the initial ineptitude of the Israeli commandos to contain them, was so out of proportion to and divorced from the reality of what actually took place, that one has to wonder about the collective sanity of those who participated in it.
To recap what I have already written about personal construct hostility, quoted from Kelly’s Presidential address to the Clinical Division of the American Psychological Association in 1957, in which he summarised the essential features of hostility:
1. A person construes human nature in his own way. (Guardianistas might construe Zionists as Nazis or deliberate aggressors and no amount of contradictory evidence can make them waver from this one track mindedness)
2. He makes social predictions on the basis of these constructions. (e.g. all supporters of Israel and Jews and anyone else who supports Israel are Nazis who are deliberately starving the Palestinians and we must therefore support the Palestinians who want to destroy them)
3. To set the stage they must be crucial predictions; that is to say, he must have wagered more on them than he can afford to lose – more of his construct system, that is. (This could be the sort of CiF poster who would start a post along the lines of “All Jews who support Israel are Nazis and their conduct proves it….”).
4. He turns up invalidating evidence. It is clear that he was wrong about people. He can no longer ignore the fact. (In the case of the Fools’ Flotilla, Guardianistas are confronted by the video records of the initial, pre-emptive aggression of the “peaceful” flotilla members, in the face of the initial non-aggression of the IDF commandos, and those video records include CCTV recordings from the Mavi Marmara itself. There is also the fact that Gaza is far from starving and that the Israeli government sends in thousands of tons of aid daily).
5. Moreover, he was overwhelmingly wrong – basically wrong. (See 4 above).
6. In the face of the harsh facts he can, of course, revise his outlook. But the revision would shake him so deeply that he is reluctant to undertake it. (I would say that the anti-Israel lobby on CiF and in the Guardian’s reactions reflect something much more deep-seated than mere reluctance. Such people are utterly incapable of undertaking such a thing, so deeply entrenched are they behind the delusion that everything Israel does is evil. The natural thing to do under such circumstances is to seek out others who will support such a very distorted view of the world, therefore they are drawn to post to and/or write for CiF).
7. Alternatively, he could let matters ride – say to himself, “So I just don’t understand people very well.” But this too is an alternative he is reluctant to choose. (See 6 above. The Israel-hating CiF authors or posters are utterly incapable of admitting that they may have been wrong all along. They have too much psychological investment in “Israel is is the unique evil”).
8. Finally, he can close his eyes to reality and attempt to make people fit the construct bed his system provides. This is the hostile choice. (emphasis mine).
And number 8 above maps on, almost completely, to the behaviour of the majority of the anti-Israel posters on CiF and certain others who post their crack-brained interpretations to CiFWatch. Also deeply embedded in number 8 above is the overriding need of such people to achieve cognitive consonance at any cost, even if it means believing the lies they are being told, in order not to have to experience the profound discomfort they will have felt as the video footage came in.
Here, courtesy of Just Journalism, is a compilation of all the videos, including the particularly damning ones recorded by the CCTV cameras on board the Mavi Marmara itself and which shows how the “peace” activists prepared for the confrontation they planned from the time they sang Khaybar al Yahud before they set out . The Marmara would hardly have falsified its own video footage, would it?
The result of all this for those who were forced to witness the stark reality that the “peace” convoy was anything but peaceably inclined, was that they became enraged. They had to witness such things but were utterly incapable of incorporating that new information into their view of the situation, much less reacting to it like mature, intelligent human beings and adjusting that view accordingly! I mentioned cognitive consonance above. This is, of course, the satisfied feeling we all get when what we believe to be true is proven actually to be true, or when we behave consistently within our value and belief system. Achieving consonance can be difficult if, as I have outlined above, we wager more on our predictions than we are comfortable about losing, or hold values which are later proven to be mistaken or downright suspect, and we risk losing face or looking foolish when we are shown to have done so. However, most mature people manage it even when they are found out to be wrong.
The Guardian (see also here and here) and CiF, however, abandoned any attempt to achieve consonance. Instead, there was the only -to- be- expected backlash of rabid antisemitism above and below the line as well as the usual collective refusal to face reality from CiF, also above and below the line. (See also here, and this one from one of the Theobald stable)
It seems all too obvious therefore that, as well as showing personal construct hostility, those who are rabidly oppositional to (or blind to the rationale behind) the Israeli actions in respect of the Fools’ Flotilla at CiF are almost in the terminal stages of the cognitive dissonance they are bound to feel when, at base level, they know that their arguments are desperately flawed. Richard Landes aptly describes this: “[t]hey begin with their a priori judgment; they are, in the classic liberal expression, “prejudiced.”