Skirmishes in the cognitive war

The struggle against Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East, which has been going on for at least 100 years, has lately been characterized by alternating diplomatic/psychological assaults with violence in the form of small wars and terrorism.

The past year marked a violent phase, characterized by decentralized terrorism. We are presently engaged in a diplomatic battle, or more correctly, we are being attacked diplomatically. Security Council resolution 2334 represents a skirmish that we lost, and there are several other engagements scheduled for the near future, such as the Paris conference (that Israel will not attend) planned for January 15, and a possible follow-up Security Council resolution that will be voted on before January 20th, when a new American administration will take over.

At some point after the last “big” war in 1973, it became clear to our enemies that it would be hard or impossible to beat us militarily.  But Israel’s greatest weakness, as its enemies well understand, lies in its susceptibility to cognitive warfare, a combination of small wars, terrorism, diplomatic, legal and academic warfare, and long-term psychological and propaganda operations designed to make Israel defeat herself.

By creating misperceptions of guilt, Stockholm syndrome effects, internalization of anti-Jewish memes, impossible-to-satisfy desires for approval by both “hard” enemies (e.g., Arabs) and “soft” enemies (e.g., Europeans), and by encouraging our own Jewish “useful idiots” and traitors, our enemies attempt to cause us to make deadly strategic mistakes in our responses to their pressure.

Their goal is to weaken us bit by bit, to obtain concessions in territory and our responses to terrorism, to weaken our society and our army, to undermine trust in our leadership, to prevent us from preempting military buildups on our borders or the acquisition of game-changing weapons by our enemies, and to paralyze us and ultimately prevent the full deployment of our military capability when it is necessary to defend the country against attack. Ultimately, when the time is ripe, traditional military force will be used to finally achieve their long-term goal of eliminating the Jewish state.

Here are some of the examples of our enemies’ accomplishments:

  • The Oslo Accords, which reintroduced the murderous PLO into our country and as a diplomatic factor, which allowed Arafat to implement his “education for murder” system to turn the population of the territories into a hostile force.
  • The retreat from South Lebanon, which allowed Hezbollah to gain influence and set the stage for the Second Lebanon War.
  • The withdrawal from Gaza, which created a new permanent front for war against Israel, and at the same time gave rise to a multiplicity of diplomatic, legal and propaganda opportunities for our enemies.
  • The diplomatic failure after the Second Lebanon War that allowed Hezbollah to build the infrastructure for the next war with little interference, and Israel’s failure to preempt the threat.
  • Israel’s allowing the rise of the subversive European-funded NGO system, which has acted and is acting in countless ways to delegitimize the IDF and the state; which has turned our own legal system into a tool to weaken the nation; and which is so well-entrenched now as to have blunted efforts in the Knesset to rein it in.
  • The successes of the anti-Israel movement in almost totally taking over the discourse in the academic world in the West – including Israel – both among students and faculty.
  • The empowerment of the suicidal Israeli Left in media and the arts.

Most of these are examples of cognitive pressure causing Israel to act against its own interests.

In some areas there is little to be done. We can repudiate the Oslo Accords, but we can’t easily undo the damage done in the PA areas by Arafat’s educational system. On the other hand, we can push back against the pernicious memes that our enemies have introduced into our own culture.

This is a Jewish state, the state of the Jewish people. It isn’t “undemocratic” to believe this. We don’t need to feel guilty about it. The Arabs tried to kill us and prevent the establishment of our state. They failed. This was their nakba. They did it to themselves. The Arab nations screwed them, and are still screwing them. Why do we blame ourselves?

We have to understand that we belong here, we are not colonialists but the one people with the closest historical ties to this land. Do our schoolchildren learn about the history of the Jewish people in this land? Do they also learn that most “Palestinians” are descended from migrants that arrived here in the later 19th and 20th centuries?

Do we know who and what the PLO and Hamas are? Do our kids read their founding documents (here and here) in school?

The media are full of accounts of the “stubborn settlers” who insist on living in the “Arab city” of Hevron. Everyone knows that Baruch Goldstein was a terrorist who shot a bunch of Arabs there in 1994. Do they also know that Jews lived in Hevron until they were murdered and driven out in an Arab pogrom encouraged by Palestinian leader al-Husseini in 1929? Do they know that the PLO is a direct ideological descendant of Hitler, via al-Husseini and Arafat?

Do our young people learn about the Jews of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem who were murdered and expelled in 1948? Do they know about Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, whose defenders were massacred by Arabs? If they knew these things they might be as outraged as I am when I hear “Arab East Jerusalem” or “West Bank.” We need to make sure that every Israeli Jew knows our history. Then maybe there will be fewer deadly mistakes like Oslo.

The European funding for anti-state NGOs has to stop. Transparency isn’t enough: the money flow has to be shut down, just as we would shut down the flow of mortar shells to terrorists. It is a scandal that this hasn’t been done yet. Are we crazy that we allow this?

Minister of Culture Miri Regev is correct when she opposes state funding of “cultural” activities that are actually anti-state propaganda. We can’t pay people to be patriotic, but we can certainly stop paying them for being subversive.

What about Ha’aretz, what about Gideon Levy, what about pro-BDS Neve Gordon and the Political Science Department of Ben-Gurion University, and the rest? What they are doing is sedition and possibly treason. Is this OK? Does “democracy” demand that we let them strike out against the Jewish state? Even if they can do real damage? These are questions that we have to allow ourselves to ask. We aren’t the US, with its enormous strategic depth in both the physical and cultural sense. We need to protect ourselves against those of our own people who would help our enemies destroy us, for whatever reason.

We’re not fighting the cognitive war. The opposite! We act aggressively enough against teenage “Jewish extremists” who embarrass us. We even trump up – yes, I am convinced of this – charges of horrible murder against them. We torture them. But we don’t try to stop the Left that day after day, year after year, does the work of our enemies.

We prepare for the next rocket barrages from Hamas and Hezbollah, we procure new aircraft and submarines, we build army units to specialize in cyber-warfare, we react to diplomatic attacks by recalling ambassadors and ending aid programs, but we spend almost nothing on public diplomacy, on fighting the lies and telling our true story to the world.

You can’t win a cognitive war by ignoring the most important parts of it. We need to aggressively attack the Palestinian narrative, to support our story as the legitimate owners of the land – historically, legally and morally – and we need to do all this both toward the outside world and for our own people.

You can’t win the war you don’t fight.

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