Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Psychologists Cited for UnEthics
Was the IDF brainwashed into carrying out the Disengagement from Gush Katif and northern Shomron in 2005? A complaint has been filed with the Ethics Committee of the Israel Board of Psychologists against two psychologists for "using their psychological and hypnotic skills" to facilitate the Disengagement-expulsion. The complaint was filed by psychologist Dr. Amira Dor of Raanana, in light of a recently-published report entitled, "The Mental Preparation for the Disengagement and its Aftermath in the IDF." The 230-page report details the systematic manner in which the army, with the help of the two psychologists - Nachi Ayalon and Chaim Omer - allowed itself and its soldiers to be brainwashed into expelling thousands of Jews from their homes.
Dr. Dor, one of the authors of the report, wrote in her complaint that the two psychologists had behaved "unethically and damagingly."
How were tens of thousands of IDF soldiers brought to the point where they marched en-masse and robotically with glassy eyes to throw out family after family of their countrymen from their homes, 'with sensitivity and determination'?
The report's point of departure, as stated in its introduction, is: How were tens of thousands of IDF soldiers brought to the point where they marched en-masse and robotically with glassy eyes to throw out family after family of their countrymen from their homes, 'with sensitivity and determination' [as the government boasted at the time]?
Dr. Dor's letter to the Ethics Board stated that the two psychologists, who spoke publicly of their methodology after the Disengagement, "trained the officers and psychologists of the army and the police, and taught them various techniques of emotional manipulation, instilling ideas, and massive influence upon the soldiers' behavior, opinions and emotions. The purpose of the training was to nullify the soldiers' and policemen's instinctive opposition to the expulsion, and to bring them to the point of obedience to any command that would be given."
"The behavior of these two psychologists stands in clear opposition to the principles of the psychologists' ethical code," Dr. Dor wrote.
The report quotes a ruling by former Chief Justice Aharon Barak in which he vetoed the expulsion of terrorists from Shechem to Gaza. Barak wrote at the time, "The basic principle is that taking a person from his home and forcibly transferring him to another place is a great blow to his dignity, freedom, and property."
The report continues, "Everyone who saw the parades of sodiers in Gush Katif wearing their black uniforms, with the country's emblem on their shirts and hats; whoever saw them chasing and persecuting, in close coordination with the police, the country's best youth as 'infiltrators'; and whoever heard the IDF's top generals calling the 'orange camp' more dangerous than Hizbullah - could not help but marvel: How did this wonder occur? How was the IDF turned into an army of expulsion?"
"The astonishment increases after the Second Lebanon War. Just ten months after the most efficient operation in IDF history, the army suffered a dismal failure in Lebanon in the real thing - war against an external enemy. Was it just bad luck?... Clearly not. It was rather the necessary outcome - because the same mental preparation that worked so well for expulsion is exactly that which castrated the army's fighting abilities."
The report states that a secret team of psychologists was convened by OC Southern Command Gen. Dan Harel, to prepare a large-scale strategy to mentally and ideologically sway the army in general, and the soldiers in particular. Their work was completed in July 2004 - seven full months before the Disengagement Law was passed in the Knesset.
The same mental preparation that worked so well for expulsion is exactly that which castrated the army's fighting abilities in the 2nd Lebanon War.
IDF kits entitled "Mental Preparations for the Disengagement Mission" were disseminated throughout the army, published by the IDF Behaviorial Sciences Wing, the Psychological Wing of the Ground Forces, the Israel Police, and the IDF Education and Youth Wing.
The report's authors interviewed many soldiers who took part in the preparation process, and studied thousands of pages of the "mental preparation" kits and political briefings. They wrote that they found that a new ideology was being taught in the army: "Democracy is the most important ideal; the State is democratic more than it is Jewish; the Disengagement is democratic and legal; the IDF is the protector of the democratic regime and therefore may legally be used against civilians."
In fact, one of the teachings in the kit stated, "Failure to carry out the mission of evacuation will be a failure of democracy. Guarding over the principles of democracy and the rule of law are what will guarantee the continued existence of the State of Israel. The sovereignty of the State of Israel is expressed by the ability of the IDF to carry out the decisions of the government. And this is what is being tested in this mission."
The authors noted that this stands in stark opposition to the basic creed of the IDF, which demands adherence only to legal orders, emphasizes the importance of love of homeland and Jewish national values, and does not mention at all the need to protect the regime or democracy.
Selected quotes in the report from testimony by those who planned and participated in the mental preparation of the IDF:
"During pilot training, the red lines were a type of a 'pistol in the drawer.' There is no need to discuss them publicly. It was clear that any cadet who refused to participate would be expelled from the course, and even without any other punishment the possibility of being dropped from the course was a very serious threat which meant giving up all of one's dreams and personal challenges."
"Look, part of the image included the masses of people, the badges, the uniforms. The maintenance of outward appearances was very important. The soldiers felt proud. This was part of their psychological preparation. You are in uniform, you are demonstrating your pride in the Israeli flag that you wear. It did something for you. You were not part of a crowd of riffraff."
The newspeak that was created was loaded with definitions stemming from a new world of concepts and terminology.
"The organization of the soldiers into tight-knit groups provided a protective feeling of belonging and support."
"For a year and a half, the officers were involved in transforming a narrow mission-oriented language into a way of speaking that would allow those with difficulties to participate in the mission... The newspeak that was created was loaded with definitions stemming from a new world of concepts and terminology: 'A mission within the family'; 'contributing to the community'; 'support'. Use of these terms decreased conflicts and allowed the flight school cadets and the Golani soldiers to say to themselves, 'We came to provide support and not to destroy' and to replace the phrase 'we are part of the enemy who came to destroy' by saying, 'we are part of the supporting force.'"
"This was sophisticated creation of a massive force. Instead of creating an image of a huge and very powerful bear, the eviction forces were painted as a bear that is friendly, considerate, weeping, noncombatant, and embracing. However, in practice, the embrace was that of a terrifying bear, which led to the surrender of the evacuees, prevented physical resistance, and suppressed thoughts of disobeying among the evacuation forces themselves... In practice, this allowed a dual meaning, by means of a double manipulation both with respect to the evacuees, who felt embraced but were at the same time put through a mechanism of cooptation, and with respect to the soldiers, who were forced to adopt feelings which included... the embracing bear, with all of its double meaning. This emotional manipulation was seen in the slogan, 'with sensitivity and determination.'"
"My sensitivity was a fraud... It could be compared to the distant empathy that I feel for the victims of the natural disaster in New Orleans."
"In addition, we exploited the officers of the Gaza Division of the IDF, based on their broad range of links to the population of Gush Katif... They helped... establish a discussion and calm the atmosphere. They worked behind the scenes, concealed from the community... In this way they contributed to decreasing the resistance of the evacuees and to decrease the negative identity that had evolved for the IDF... Internal civil functions were created, consisting of people who served as mediators or as channels for passing on messages. They included security coordinators of the settlements, rabbis, and social workers. All of these people were part of the evacuated population, but they were given glowing orange vests which separated them from the local people and allowed them legitimate freedom of movement... They worked behind the scenes and helped channel the frustration and the anger of those who were evacuated."
"The process of mental preparation is being taught in the IDF mainly to prepare for actions against the... Jewish civilian population."
"Mental preparation is a key element in preparing the forces... The purpose of the mental preparation is spiritual inoculation in order to counter the attempts by the evacuees to divert them from their missions."
"What is needed is much training and a significant strengthening of spiritual forces. The common mechanism for this is... emotional disconnect and to focus on the technical and operational aspects of the mission. This will provide the soldier with 'spiritual inoculation' and 'thought control'."
"Those soldiers who evacuated the people were subjected to a full month aimed at creating a team spirit hikes, swimming, a day of fun, joint dormitories. The conditions were unbelievable in terms of living quarters, food, recreation, air-conditioned tents, television in every tent, club houses with games such as backgammon, checkers, ping pong, and books. And the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers provided many gifts. In the two-day training sessions in Latrun there were fantastic conditions: air-conditioned rooms, trips to restaurants, and more..."
"Soldiers who participated did not really understand what was in store for them. During the preparation, they felt as if they were playing a game. There were social and sports activities, and team building activities which did not seem to be connected directly to the expulsion."