Friday, February 09, 2007

A Short Guide to the Israeli Emotional State of Mind

The Isreali/Palestinian conflict is emotional. To understand what's going on, you must understand the feelings.

To help you do that, I have listed some basic Israeli emotional patterns.

These are not opinions - these are feelings. I know many of them are wrong (correction: I personally identify with some, and think others are misplaced), but there's no point in arguing with them. You can't change feelings with logical arguments.

So here they are, 11 typical Israeli feelings:

  1. Israel is our home.
  2. We are good guys. We want peace. We are modern, moral and responsible. (Although our leaders are irresponsible and corrupt).
  3. Any attack on Israelis is an attack against me personally. Heck, I could have been there!
  4. All Arabs hate us. They want to destroy Israel and kill us. (Left/center view: change "All Arabs" to "Some Arabs", and possibly "kill us" to "drive us out of here").
  5. Arabs lie about current events and rewrite history in order to suit their hatered of us. (Left/center view: change "Arabs" to "Some Arabs")
  6. We are still alive only because we defend ourselves. We have every right to defend ourselves. It's a pity if that causes suferring on the other side, but our safety comes first. (Left wing view: add "we should be more careful about our moral values when defending ourselves").
  7. We must not show any signs of weakness. If we show signs of weakness, this will encourage Arabs to attack us even harder. (This feeling is somewhat less prevalant in the left wing - although the Qassams that followed the Gaza withdrawal are making this feeling more common)
  8. The Palestinians are suferring because "they brought it upon themselves with the exploding busses and the other terror attacks". (Right wing: add "Besides, there are so many Arab countries around - why do they have to stay here where they are suferring?")
  9. [Right Wing view] Arabs cannot be trusted. For example: we gave them Gaza back, and we're getting Qassams in return.
  10. [Left wing view] I'm confused. I thought some Arabs can be trusted, but maybe the Right Wing people are right about point #9? Or maybe it's just that these trustworthy Arabs are not powerful enough to change things.
  11. [Right wing / religious view] Our heritage and holy sites must be protected.

Israeli actions are directly caused by this emotional pattern. As a matter of fact - our interpretation of reality is based on these emotions. For example, how do you think most Israelis interpreted the Arab riots in Al-Aqsa today? (Hint: see point #5).

The problem with these emotional responses is that they block our thinking, and make us keep making mistakes that fuel the conflict (e.g., the recent Al-Aqsa events).

By the way - the emotional responses of the extreme Israeli Left Wing are completely different - but they also do not help resolve the conflict. The emotional response of the extreme Israeli Left starts with a different point #2 - but I'll explain in another post.

Is it possible for these patterns to change? I'm sure it is - because it happened to me. I used to follow these exact patterns, but I went through a process that changed my emotional responses.

But how can I help other Israelis go through this process too?

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