by Babs Barron

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 the latest round of aggression from Gaza on Israel which resulted in Operation Pillar of Defence, and, most importantly, why Hamas keeps repeating behaviours which have shown themselves to be harmful to its people in the past, in the apparent belief that they will be successful this time round.

I believe that I can argue with much justification that Hamas does not value the lives and safety of its people as much as Israel does. This is evidenced by their placement of 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 that collateral damage upon which Hamas appears to depend for its propaganda. Amazingly, although Hamas is proud to have its spokesmen declare that Palestinians love death more than Israelis love life[1] — (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[2] 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:

"Hostility is 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. Used in the present context, it implies Hamas is making an large effort over and above the decent, which may include lies, in order to force a gullible public to put pressure on the Hamas' enemy, Israel.

Kelly (1957) "described the role of hostility in a person's individualistic construct of his world.[3] 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 italics in brackets):

  1. A person construes human nature in his own way.
  3. He makes social predictions on the basis of these constructions.
  5. 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 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 and that they are superior to the Jewish state militarily and in every other way.)
  7. He turns up invalidating evidence. It is clear that he was wrong about people. He can no longer ignore the fact. (Hamas was beaten, resoundingly and publicly in Cast Lead.)
  9. Moreover, he was overwhelmingly wrong - basically wrong. ( Hamas for all its "big talk" is simply no match militarily for Israel. Again Hamas is publicly shamed again and again.)
  11. 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).
  13. Alternatively, he could let matters ride — and say to himself, "So I just don't understand people very well." But this too is an alternative he is reluctant to choose. ( Hamas would find this impossible because it would be tantamount to admitting that it has been wrong.)
  15. Finally, he can behave like Procrustes in the Greek myth, who stretched or chopped his guests so that they would fit the guest bed perfectly. He can close his eyes to reality and attempt to make people fit the construct -- the bed his system provides. This is the hostile, manipulative choice. (This is the choice Hamas makes whenever 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, however, 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 them.

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 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 Hamas' rockets.

But do they in fact mean "provided that Israel does not defend itself too effectively"?[4] If there is a ground incursion, (and such a case we may be certain that Hamas will play its personal construct hostility card for all it is worth 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 Hamas' insane hostility be stopped in its tracks?

The best way would be simply by refusing to reinforce it (but see the postscript below). 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 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. Why does Hamas launch 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.

Postscript: Since I wrote this the fictional state of "Palestine" has been awarded observer status at the UN. I regard this to be the equivalent of giving a pacifier to a furiously fractious baby in the hope that it will stop screaming. More disturbing, however, is the knowledge that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will construe this specious award of "statehood" as reinforcement for their continued belligerence[5] towards their neighbour and they will believe that it gives them the green light to continue and worsen that behaviour whenever they can.

Of course there is no Palestinian state but Palestinian "big talk", the staple of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, continues to trump reality for these people. We know that the average Palestinian has little frustration tolerance. How might he react when he finds out that he has been sold a pup?








Babs Barron is a chartered psychologist in independent practice in the UK. She writes under a pseudonym because she wishes to keep her work and her professional life entirely separate from her politics. This article was submitted August 14, 2012. It was originally published by Faith Freedom International, which is a grassroots movement of secular ex-Muslims.

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