Cognitive dissonance — “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.”
Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. … For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition), they are in a state of cognitive dissonance.
I may have a couple of examples of cognitive dissonance from today’s (3/18/2019) UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.
Legal experts and delegates from around the world all said in unison “Israel must be held accountable for its gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory” (behavior) but they know that Israel has never been held accountable in the past 51 years of occupation (cognition) despite annual demands for accountability. Furthermore, there are no discernible plans to hold Israel accountable at the international level.
Another example might be the Israeli supporters and cheerleaders demonstrating outside of the United Nations.
They condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council for its criticism and “bias” against Israel while holding the State of Israel up as the paragon of virtue (behavior) although they must know that Israeli military sharpshooters have killed nearly 200 Palestinian protesters since the #GreatReturnMarch began in March 2018, and there’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that threatens the lives of 2,000,000 Palestinians (cognition).
Maybe the UN Human Rights Council really believes that the State of Israel can be held accountable, although there’s no objective evidence to support that belief.
And maybe Israeli supporters really believe that Israel is a victim unfairly targeted by the rest of the world and the Palestinians threaten their existence — a true David and Goliath story — but there’s no objective evidence to support that belief either.
Israel is the occupier with a first-world military. Palestinians have some rockets that might sputter over Tel Aviv until the Iron Dome intercepts them.
Israel has a first-rate economy, a technology giant, and is not hurting for job growth. Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing the highest unemployment in the world (54%) and high food insecurity (68%) due to Israel’s 12 year blockade. The report released today by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry is a fact-filled compilation of the tragic events surrounding the #GreatReturnMarch protests, not speculation or conjecture.
Who is David and who is Goliath?
I suspect each side will continue this charade for years to come. Israel isn’t motivated to change the status quo (end the occupation) because it believes the benefits of the occupation accrue to Israel.
I’ll hazard a guess that the occupation will end when there’s a magical convergence of three elements:
The United Nations regains its credibility and steps in forcibly to take action to end the occupation (legal, economic, or maybe something else).
The Palestinians manage to change the dominant narrative that exists today (which is that Israel is a victim and the Palestinians are terrorists wanting to destroy Israel).
Advocates and activists on both sides are willing to sit down and listen to each other.
It happened to me tonight when a 24-year old man from Brussels came up to me at the hostel in Geneva and wanted to talk about the UN Watch protest he attended today in solidarity with Israel. He asked sincere questions because he overheard me talking about Gaza, and listened deeply to my responses. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything but we shared a common concern about climate change, and he now knows the environmental engineering students in Gaza are also concerned about climate change.
Dr. Tarek Loubani (a Canadian physician) spoke at the UN Human Rights Council’s 40th session today. Here’s what he said:
Thank you, Madam Vice President,
I am here with Dr. Mahmoud Matar on behalf of our colleagues from the hospitals of Gaza. I am an emergency physician in Canada and Gaza and associate professor of Medicine at Western University in Canada.
On 14 May 2018, I was at the protests delivering trauma care on the field. I saw only peaceful protesters, and none posed any threat to the soldiers. When protestors were shot, me and my team of medics would treat and evacuate them. Due to the blockade I did not have the materials or medics to care for my patients.
I was one of the 19 medics shot that day. I wish I could tell you I was in the midst of some chaos when it happened. I was not. The skies were clear, with no gas and no burning tires. I was standing among a group of medical professionals away from the main protest area wearing full hospital green uniform.
We were not close to protesters and there was no Israeli gunfire at the time. I heard a loud bang, felt an incredible pain and found myself on the ground.
I was treated, stabilized and discharged within an hour. I sewed my own legs because of the number of wounded. Like hundreds of others that day, I did not receive the care I needed. Still, I was lucky.
When I was shot, paramedic Musa Abuhassanin treated me. He was my rescuer. About an hour after, he was shot in the chest during a rescue. Musa died. Medical teams are not political actors, but humanitarians. We simply want to ensure that if people get into trouble, we’re there to help them.
Some 600 health workers have now been wounded at the protests and three killed. Thirty-nine were killed between 2008 and 2014. We are still under fire. Four paramedics were wounded last week. International law is clear on the duty to protect health workers, and to facilitate our life-saving work.
When I return to my work in Gaza, I should not worry that next year I will have to speak to you again about what I saw. I should not worry that my name will be added to the list of dead health workers doing their jobs. When you here do not act meaningfully, it is more likely that injuries and deaths to medics occur – more likely that I will be injured or killed. Madam Vice President, I ask you and members of the council to do all you can to ensure we are protected in line with international law.