Ever since I was a school boy I have been wondering about the peculiar order in the sentence All that the Lord has said we will do, and we shall listen [be obedient]. Exodus 24:7. Doing without comprehending goes against conventional wisdom. Reacting without reflecting is certainly not the preferred order of things in the post-enlightenment world. It all, however, became much clearer to me after I learned about the elephant residing in each and everyone of us. I am referring to Jonathan Haidt’s Elephant (The Righteous Mind), the one that controls our minds and actions, and the one that points each one of us in whatever innate direction our visceral instincts are pre-programmed to take us.
Survival is often a matter of split second decisions. One must obey one’s instincts, because comprehension and reflections take much too long. So when we see a garden snake, by the time our rationale intervenes to reassure us that it is harmless, the elephant inside us has already made us recoil away from the perceived danger, caused our hearts to pound, and our faces to flush. Our elephants take us where they were programmed to go by years of bio-social-evolution. For some of us, spilled Palestinian blood causes the elephant to recoil with dread, while for others it is embraced as victory over a would be terrorist. To some of us the call of the Muezzin is the most beautiful sound they have ever heard, while to others it is a battle cry that summons Muslims to attend services filled with hate speech against Jews and other infidels. It is not so much in the thoughts of the beholder as it is in the Amygdala (two specialized areas in the brain), the adrenals, and the autonomic nervous system over which we have no control. It’s all about the Elephant.
To better understand some of the more recent events in the Middle East; America’s reaction to the events in Egypt and non reaction to the events in Syria; Its positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; its capitulation to a nuclear Iran, it might be best to examine what the elephant does, rather than to listen to what its rider says. This elephant’s rampage through the Middle East left behind it distrust, broken promises, damaged alliances, and shuttered credibility, all of which could have been anticipated if we had remembered the ancient wisdom that we do what we are programmed to do. America’s foreign policy accomplishment since the end of the Cold War have all but vanished. Egypt is about to fall back into the Russian camp, Tunisia has turned to extreme Islam, Libya is in the hands of Al Qaeda, Syria is burning, and even Netanyahu is flirting with Putin.
Even before this elephant (or in this case the Donkey) was crowned king, all one needed to do was to study the foundations of his world views; early Muslim upbringing; imprinted anti-colonialist sentiments; Marxist associations; a deep sense of historic victimization and oppression, all of which needed to be righted, steer this elephant. No matter what the rider professes, this elephant’s zone of comfort, the soothing voice of maternal reassurance, lies well within the reach of the sound of the Muezzin. That is, after all, where he was raised. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.
White Zionists are the oppressors, especially if they are tied to the Rothschilds, and ride the wave of British Colonialism of the early 20th century. The Arab conquest of the land of Israel, on the other hand, some fourteen hundred years earlier, with the consequent mass killings of many thousands of Jews, Christians and Samaritans are viewed as just another form of ordained Islamic justice. And so is the beheading of the seven hundred men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, and the enslavement of their women and children in Medina a couple of decades earlier. And, since the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattāb (592-644) decreed that the control of the land and the land itself ought to be endowed as a Waqf [in perpetuity] for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection, Jews are now deemed to be occupiers of their own homeland, and settling one own’s ancestral land has become illegal.