September 23, 2018

The Gaslighting of Jews

Women are being told to show rapists “some empathy”; to have “compassion” for abusers; to “humanize” harassers.

Oh, wait. That’s not what we’re being told at all. In fact, women are being told to name and shame our abusers. If anyone dared to tell a woman to show empathy toward a rapist, that person would be rightfully vilified. But another group is being told to do this. Jews are being told to have compassion for those who want to kill us. To show terrorists some empathy. To humanize them. 

This is called gaslighting, and in line with typical patterns of abuse, it’s now increasingly being done by Jews themselves.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted group, making people question their memory, perception and sanity. Using persistent denial, contradiction and lies, gaslighting attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s beliefs.

The gaslighting of Jews has a long and sordid history, of course, culminating in Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ masterful deceptions. But Goebbels would be floored (and perhaps a bit jealous) by the way Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been able to con the international media and academia into repeating this century’s version of the Big Lie: Israel exists on “stolen” land. 

Suicide bombers are thus “freedom fighters”; keffiyeh-clad thugs with machetes and kite bombs are nothing more than “peaceful protesters.” Genocide, occupation, apartheid, organ harvesting — Jews are hearing these lies starting in middle school (and now at Jewish summer camps) and are bullied into silence if they dare voice the truth. Is it any question why insecure, status-obsessed Jews have turned on Israel? Why their kids are pulling away from Judaism itself?

In recent years, the Big Lie has moved into Jewish culture. Heritage? What Jewish heritage? The Jews stole everything from the Palestinians. The PA has successfully made UNESCO an integral part of its propaganda machine. The next target: the Dead Sea Scrolls. Soon, UNESCO will declare Yom Kippur a Palestinian holy day.

Compared with all of this, the Empathy Now! folks may not seem so bad. What’s so wrong with showing a little love for terrorists? But in some ways, this is the deepest psychological manipulation of all. Imagine telling the great-grandson of slaves — slaves who were hung on trees and tortured — that he really should read about Klan members’ early lives — you know, to give their evil “some context”: to understand why his great-grandparents were “complicit” in their own destruction.

In recent years, the Big Lie has moved into Jewish culture.

The Empathy Now! folks have clearly never had to deal with abusive people in their lives. Because those of us who have know that abusive people aren’t suddenly “fixed” if you respond to abuse with empathy. On the contrary. Abusive people take that empathy and turn it into more rage and abuse.

Exhibit A is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. More than a dozen times, Israel has tried the compassion route in multiple ways, only to have that compassion twisted and hurled back at Israel in the form of stabbings, rockets and bombings.

Because the root of this conflict is racist hatred: anti-Semitism. And racist hatred — as the “social justice” crowd well knows except when it comes to Jews — is immune to rational argument, let alone compassion. 

Yes, the Palestinians have been victims as well — first of the Arab world and then of their leaders. These leaders have refused every opportunity to create healthy communities, depositing all funds into their own pockets or terrorism. Has Israel had to instill innumerable security measures? You bet. Daily suicide bombings will trigger that.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of all of this is that so few Israelis are angry or tortured souls. In part, Israelis know that they don’t have the luxury of being angry or tortured. But if there is ever a case for a people returning to their sacred land and, well, becoming more sacred as a result, this is it. 

As for Jews in the Diaspora who have made the Big Lie a part of your self-esteem: Get help. Please. Because of the “success” of gaslighting, the narrative now has shifted from “the Occupation” to all of Israel. The international left is consumed with the Big Lie, which now includes an “Israelis are Nazis” blood libel. This is advanced gaslighting — emotional terrorism. 

It’s well past time to say: Enough.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic.