Hamas hostility towards Israel – a psychological explanation of why it endures

faithfreedom.org 21 November 2012

George Kelly (1905 – 1967) was an American psychologist who researched into personality.  He developed the notion of "man the scientist” and is best known for his research into this particular approach, set out in Personal Construct Psychology (PCP).   I use Kelly’s theories in my work, not slavishly but to inform my understanding of how my patients might construe their world and their place in it as well as causes and effects of their behaviour and of what may have happened to bring them into therapy.

I have also found myself referring to PCP more recently to try to help me understand the rationale (if there is one beyond the ignorant Muslims’ ignorant and mindless hatred of the Jew) behind latest round of aggression from Gaza on Israel and, most importantly, why the Hamas keeps repeating behaviours which have shown themselves to be harmful to its people in the past, in the apparent hope that they will be successful this time round.

I believe that I can argue with much justification that the Hamas does not value the lives and safety of its people as much as Israel does, not least because the Hamas sites rocket launchers and munitions in civilian areas in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, in the sure knowledge that the IDF will attack them, whereas the IDF tries everything humanly possible not to cause the collateral damage upon which  the Hamas appears to depend for its propaganda.  Amazingly, although  the Hamas is proud to have its spokesmen declare that Palestinians love death more than Israelis love life –  (although it is doubtful that ordinary Palestinians have ever been consulted about this) it is quick to rant and weep and wail if the civilians it deliberately puts in harm’s way actually get killed or wounded.  The leaders who so proudly declare that Palestinians love death do not, of course, die or put themselves in harm’s way.  They are content with "big talk”, to exploit their people, and abuse their children in order to ensure that Israel/Jew-hatred is perpetuated down the generations.

Most people would agree that to repeat behaviours that are known to have been unsuccessful for them in the past, (such as the rocketing of southern Israel in the vain hope that Israel will form its people into a line and march them into the Mediterranean), are at least unrealistic.   I argue that such behaviours are so divorced from reality as to be almost insane, and, returning to PCP theory, they are extreme evidence of what it calls hostility.

PCP defines hostility differently from the connotative meaning, as:

" ….  the continued effort to extort validational evidence in favor of a type of social prediction which has already been recognized as a failure”

The use of the word "extort” above, with its connotations of dishonesty, is particularly appropriate in this  case. Where it is employed by the Hamas it implies effort over and above the decent, which may include blatant lies, in order to try to force a gullible public to put pressure on the Hamas’ enemy, Israel.

Kelly (1957) described personal construct hostility in action   The following applies to Hamas/Islamist attitudes not only to Israel but to the world in general because so phobic of shame are they that, rather than admit that they may possibly be wrong and change their construing, they waste vast amounts of energy trying to extort others into believing their own twisted reality.  My own comments are in brackets:

1. A person construes human nature in his own way.

2. He makes social predictions on the basis of these constructions.

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.   (For the Hamas, these crucial predictions are that they are always right, that they dare not be shamed by being seen publicly to be wrong, particularly in their war of attrition against the Jewish state)

4. He turns up invalidating evidence. It is clear that he was wrong about people. He can no longer ignore the fact.  (The Hamas is neutered and beaten, resoundingly and publicly, but is blind to that and entrenches still further)

5. Moreover, he was overwhelmingly wrong – basically wrong.   (The Hamas for all its "big talk” is simply no match militarily for Israel.   Again the Hamas is publicly shamed)

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 average Islamist and Hamas member is constitutionally incapable of such revision, which would not only shake him deeply but may well send him mad).

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.   (The Hamas would find this impossible because it would be tantamount to admitting that it has been wrong)

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.  (This is the choice the Hamas makes whenever it resorts to "if it bleeds it leads”, when it parades the dead that its own resistance to reality causes, and particularly the dead children it has taken care to put in harm’s way, in the hope that the scenes of carnage will extort pressure from other governments on Israel)

The most important aspect of the operational definition above is that the Hamas steadfastly refuses to admit that every attempt it has made so far to eradicate the Jewish state and its people has failed.  However, it must recognise this at some level otherwise it would not try to manipulate western and the world’s media in the way it does in order to gain sympathy for itself.  In the current conflict it continues to try to extort validation from the west and portrays itself as the only victim in spite of its egregious behaviour towards Israel.  It tries to extort validation for its behaviour from the rest of the world for its "resistance” to Israeli defence against Hamas aggression (which is its own social prediction) as is the notion that it will triumph over the Jewish state if only it persists in its barbarism against its own people as well as against Israel.

Disturbingly, some of the western media, (particularly the BBC and the Guardian in the UK) have fallen for this in the past, apparently unquestioningly, and even more disturbingly so have governments.

This time around, however, I sense that there is much less sympathy for the Hamas’ double-speak and its willingness to endanger its own people.  Most governments are actually stating openly that Israel has the right to defend itself from the Hamas’ rockets.

But do they in fact mean "provided that Israel does not defend itself too effectively”?   If there is a ground incursion, (and such a case we may be certain that the Hamas will play its personal construct hostility card for all it is worth in order to extort sympathy and make absolutely sure that many civilians and children will be killed because it will use them as human shields) will we have to bystand yet again while Israel is condemned for trying to eradicate totally the danger to its people – condemnation which effectively colludes with and reinforces the Hamas’ insanely hostile construing?

 

What can be done to stop this cycle once and for all?   How can the Hamas’ insane hostility be stopped in its tracks?

The best way would be simply by refusing to reinforce it.  We can begin by starving it of the oxygen of inappropriate publicity.   We can take the media to task whenever it focuses too much on the "Pallywood”-type over-acted grief fests and demand that it gives balanced accounts of the context of any deaths, including where the Hamas is responsible because it fired missiles from public places or the roofs of private buildings.   We can ask why Palestinian children are not kept safe and  why the Hamas launches rockets from school playgrounds and blocks of flats and store ordnance in the basements of houses.   Why does it launch them at all at Israeli civilians and yet expect not to be retaliated against? Then, we can take on the media which falls mindlessly for Hamas’ manipulations by countering lies with well-researched, true evidence which undermines them.

As much as it takes for as long as it takes.   The written word also endures.

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