Sorely Needed: Some Reality Therapy

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The sober reality that no one is immune from terrorism came back to haunt the United States this ‎weekend when its citizens experienced three separate attacks: one knife assault in a St. Cloud, Minnesota ‎shopping center and bombings in both Seaside Heights, New Jersey and Manhattan. ‎Yet another pipe bomb was found in a backpack in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Fortunately, there were no ‎fatalities. ‎

However, 10 people were wounded in the St. Cloud attack and 31 in the attack in Manhattan. As I am ‎writing this, the man suspected of being responsible for the New York and New Jersey attacks, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a ‎former Afghan and naturalized American citizen, has just been apprehended.‎

In the assault in Minnesota, witnesses report that before the assailant went on his knifing spree, he ‎asked people whether or not they were Muslim, and shouted “Allahu akbar!”‎

Many officials and pundits in the United States have taken the lead from the Obama ‎administration and are reluctant to name the obvious, and to call a terrorist, a terrorist, as though by ‎somehow not acknowledging the presence of terrorism on our shores, we make it go away.

As we psychologists know, denial is a defense mechanism that eventually hurts individuals and entire societies, because when they are awoken to the reality of what they must confront, they are not at all ‎prepared to face it.‎

This denial is only a part of a long catalogue of wishful thinking that characterizes much of the policy ‎of the Left, both in the United States and in Israel.‎

As a former psychologist and a current foreign policy practitioner, I feel that just as there are mentally ‎ill people, there are mentally ill societies. ‎

The definition of health is, essentially, doing what promotes life. Just as a healthy body knows to eat ‎well and exercise, a healthy society promotes the value of life over death. Just as drug and alcohol abuse are considered diseases because they can lead to the death of an individual, ‎a culture and a society that teaches its children to love death more than life is essentially a diseased ‎society.‎

By that logic, Palestinian society is a diseased society. Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh‎ has famously declared, ‎‎”We love death like our enemies love life.” ‎

And this philosophy, unfortunately, is not simply limited to Hamas. Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media ‎Watch has painstakingly documented how the Palestinian Authority has educated its children with a ‎steady diet of glorifying martyrdom and death for the last 23 years.‎

Again, borrowing from psychology, if a member of a family is diseased and ‎we deny it, we are collectively enabling the disease to continue and to spread. We are then ‎considered “enablers.”‎

Those on the Left who still cling to the wishful thinking of the Oslo paradigm are enablers of the ‎disease of glorification of death or terrorism. Their denial and their wishful thinking continues despite ‎the obvious realities of the Gaza withdrawal, where that land was subsequently used as a launch pad to send more than 11,000 rockets into Israel, and for the digging of an elaborate network of tunnels into ‎Israel, from which to abduct its soldiers and citizens.‎

After the 1,500 Israeli deaths and 69 American ones at the hands of Palestinians terrorists, to deny the ‎reality that “land for peace” does not work in the Middle East is to cling to an ‎empirically proven fallacious paradigm that only increases the likelihood of more terrorism and more ‎death.‎

As the Oslophiles cling to the fallacy of wishful thinking that land for peace actually works, there are ‎many in American and Western foreign policy circles who cling to the stubborn myth that Israeli-‎Palestinian peace is the lynchpin upon which all of peace in the Middle East rests.‎

After all America has been through in the last decade and a half, failing to acknowledge that the Sunni-Shiite conflict is the paramount struggle here, is ludicrous. That conflict now plays out in the power struggle between Turkey, ISIS and the Gulf states on the one hand, and Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and the Alawite forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad on the other — all encouraged by the vacuum left due to America’s ‎retreat from the region.‎

The inability of some Americans to connect the dots between terrorism in ‎Israel and terrorism in the rest of the world is rooted in a denial of the reality that radical ‎Islamists are waging jihad on Western civilization.‎

Last week, the Endowment for Middle East Truth hosted its annual Capitol Hill 9/11 memorial seminar. During this seminar, Senator Ted ‎Cruz of Texas stated, “Since September 11, we’ve seen victim of terrorism after victim of terrorism. ‎And, you know, there’s a continuity. Whether Fort Hood or San Bernardino, whether Paris or Nice, ‎whether Orlando or Jerusalem, there’s a continuity of radical Islamic terrorists who have declared war. ‎Declared jihad. Declared their intention to murder as many of us as possible.”‎

Cruz gets it. Once again, those who refuse to see that obvious connection are denying ‎reality, and are therefore enabling more shedding of innocent life, whether in New York, New ‎Jersey or Minnesota or in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Hebron.‎

What is sorely needed in many elite foreign policy circles here in Washington, as well as in ‎other Western capitals around the globe, is a generous dose of some “reality therapy.”‎

Originally published at Israel Hayom:

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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