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Self-deception in the Service of Deceit


I take this title from the title of an essay written by the socio-biologist, Robert Trivers, and Black Panther party leader, Huey P. Newton. The pair wrote the essay on how deception is internalized (Trivers is interested in the evolutionary significance of this).

We can easily look around to see examples. If you were to go to Yahoo!’s homepage you would see these two articles:

They serve instructively for Ed Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s "propaganda model." It’s not so much what the articles do say, but more of what they don’t say – though how it is framed is revealing as well.

The article on Iran does not mention the May 2003 peace offer by Iran (which would include normalization in relations and the cessation of support for Hamas and Hizbollah if Israel accepted a Palestinian state) that was delivered by a Swedish diplomat (and apparently to Karl Rove). Nor does it mention the fate of that Swede. Nor does it mention Iran’s support of FISSBAN. In fact it does not mention FISSBAN at all.

Last night, while taking questions from reporters, President Obama was asked about Iran. He stumbled for words and predictably placed the blame at their feet. He said they haven’t been "helpful." Of course Obama ignored our actions and those of Israel, and did nothing to assess how "helpful" we have been. And as the article on Israel points out, the elections are hindering the peace process, which is instructive for many reasons.

First, I think it should be pointed out that no sooner had Norman Finklestein written that the Gaza invasion was the latest example of Israel aggressively opposing a "peace offensive" (a reference to the 1982 war on Lebanon where an Israeli military analyst, Avner Yaniv, said the war was about killing the PLO’s "peace offensive") that three senior official of Hamas said they would renounce violence and recognize Israel if the latter renounced violence and accepted a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders (i.e. "green line").

Hamas had already been making many overtures for peace since being elected. All of which has been a repeated offer from the Arab League. Another interesting feature of what is NOT said in the second article and that has been completely missing from our leaders – Obam included – is that the US demands Israel renounces violence and recognizes Palestine on conditions of aid. This biased encounter also lies at the heart of what Ahmadinejad clearly meant when he said he would welcome talks if they were respectful and mutual.

Some have even written, that beyond killing the revitalized "peace offensive" the invasion was also used to steer the elections towards hardliners – again, for the purpose of what is already being noted: killing peace.

The Israeli historian, Zeev Maoz, has made the observation that Israel never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. In other words, Israel intentionally goes out of its way to sabotage peace in favor of expansion, which of course, entails more carnage and suffering for those being expanded upon.

Noam Chomsky recently noted:

[I]n 1971, Israel made a fateful decision: President Sadat of Egypt offered a full peace treaty to Israel, with nothing for the Palestinians.  While he spoke of implementing full withdrawal, in accord with UN 242 as understood at the time by the US along with others, it was clear that his prime concern was the Sinai.  If Israel had accepted Sadat’s peace offer, its security would have been largely guaranteed.  Israel considered the offer, recognizing it to be a genuine peace offer, but rejected it, preferring expansion — at that time to the northeast Sinai, where programs were soon implemented to drive out the Bedouin inhabitants and to build Jewish settlements and a major port city, Yamit.

Israel was compelled to accept Sadat’s 1971 offer, at Camp David in 1978-79, but only after a major war that was a near-disaster for Israel.

Since 1971 Israel has, with rare exceptions, preferred expansion to security.  That of course entails reliance on the US as its protector.  There have been many examples.  One of the most noteworthy was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, intended, as was hardly concealed, to put an end to annoying Palestinian peace initiatives and to enable Israel to carry out its illegal settlement and development programs (another goal, not achieved, was to install a client state in Lebanon).  The pretext for the attack was to protect the Galilee from rocketing from Lebanon.  That was utter fraud, but it is commonly accepted in the US, even by critics of Israeli policies, like Jimmy Carter: that is the one serious error in Carter’s book on Israel-Palestine, but was ignored in the barrage of criticism, because the lie is so convenient and commonly accepted.  The goal of the war was expansion.  It hardly contributed to security.

One cannot say that the policy has failed.  It has largely achieved the goals explained by General Ezer Weizmann, commander of the Air Force in 1967 (later President of Israel): Contrary to the propaganda, Israel faced no threat of destruction at the time but the conquests enabled it to "exist according to the scale, spirit and quality she now embodies … We entered the Six Day War in order to secure a position in which we can manage our lives here according to our wishes without external pressures."

What can we learn from the news in Yahoo! by reading between the lines? Unless we take an active interest in analyzing further we won’t learn much, though perhaps we might internalize the party line (i.e. fall prey to self-deception in the service of deceit). But if we look further we will see how we are being "deceived" and can reasonably conclude what the "service" is.

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