In their book Sleight of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our
Everyday Deceptions, neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde
describe how magicians use the way our nervous systems are wired to create
seemingly impossible illusions.
One of the main tools used by magicians
is directing the audience to look away from the location where the trick
actually occurs. They write, “Paying attention to one thing means the brain must
shut out other information.”
This technique, which propagandists use to
persuade us to focus disproportionately on the Israel-Palestine conflict,
diverts our attention from the many grievous tragedies that are more deserving
of our serious and immediate attention.
While in some cases this is done
deliberately, the sheer overwhelming persuasive power of the oil-funded
propaganda of organizations like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
movement has succeeded in recruiting many well-meaning but misinformed
supporters to engage in this disproportionate attention.
Let’s look at
The grim results of wars
The war in Syria has caused the death of
some 120,000 people, and turned some 2 million into refugees who are suffering
terribly in temporary camps in the harshest of weather.
The war in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo has claimed an estimated 3 million lives, and
the United Nations has described Sudan’s western Darfur region as one of the
world’s worst humanitarian crises, with about 1.4 million people in displacement
Persecution of Christians in the Middle East
In recent years
Christians have become the unfortunate targets of religiously motivated
violence. This month the Vatican said it regarded as credible reports that
100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their religion.
Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in a terror campaign against Egypt’s
Christian minority, attacking Christian homes, shops, schools and churches in
the worst violence against the Coptic Church since the 14th century. In the
Egyptian city of Dalga, Christians live in terror. Churches have been attacked,
a monastery burned and jizya, the special tax on non-Muslims, has been imposed
on the 15,000 Coptic Christians who remain in Dalga.
Not only Christians
but all non-Muslims are threatened by radical Islamic rule. Freemasons, Rotary
clubs, Lions and similar organizations should also beware, as the Hamas charter
promises to obliterate these organizations.
The reactions of two
Two religious bodies in Britain seem to regard the above
enormities as being of minor concern. They appear to be so completely
preoccupied complying with the exhortations of the biased BDS propaganda machine
that one must question how they respond to the desperate calls for attention by
millions of pathetic war victims and their own persecuted Christian
It is difficult to understand how they can virtually ignore
these millions of desperate victims and instead spend enormous amounts of time,
energy and money attacking Israel although, as reported in a 60 Minutes
documentary, that is the one place in the Middle East where Christians are not
suffering from violence. To paraphrase Macknik and Martinez-Conde, paying
attention to this populist Israeli thing means the brain must shut out concerns
about millions of real sufferers.
The Methodist Church of Great Britain
focuses its humanitarian actions against Israel by actively supporting BDS. It
recently launched a public consultation with a questionnaire about this subject.
To those well-intentioned Methodists who naively believe that by supporting BDS
they are promoting a peaceful two-state resolution to the conflict, it will come
as a surprise to learn that BDS categorically opposes it and that in common with
Hamas, its aim is “euthanasia” for Israel, as expressed by BDS co-founder and
leader Omar Barghouti. Moreover, when asked whether BDS would end if the
“occupation” was brought to an end, Mr. Barghouti replied with an emphatic
And the St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, London, is hosting a
hugely expensive “Bethlehem Unwrapped” festival focusing on Israel’s security
wall, with no mention of its purpose and its effectiveness in having
substantially reduced terrorist attacks, saving hundreds of lives. While a
portion of the wall is close to Bethlehem, the church’s claim that it
“surrounds” Bethlehem is not even approximately true.
elaborate, expensive event, images will be projected onto a giant replica of the
wall which will be lit up at night for 12 days, and anti-Israel speakers will
The saddest and most misleading aspect of this
extravaganza is the failure of the church to use the occasion to muster relief
for their own persecuted brethren in Bethlehem who are crying for support. Their
plight is described in the following extracts from a MailOnline article titled
“O, Muslim town of Bethlehem,” which describes the situation very differently
than painted by the St. James Festival.
Referring to the wall that is the
focus of the St. James festival, the article reports that it is designed to stop
suicide bombers, adding that in 2004 fully half the Israeli fatalities from such
attacks were attributable to extremists from Bethlehem.
population of Bethlehem has dwindled from over 85 percent in 1948 to 12% of its
60,000 inhabitants in 2006. There are reports of religious persecution in the
form of murders, beatings and land grabs. A Bethlehem Christian, Joseph
Canawati, says: “There is no hope for the future of the Christian
Life for Palestinian Christians has become increasingly
difficult in Bethlehem. The fear of attack has prompted many Christian families
to emigrate, including Canawati’s sister, her husband and their three children,
who now live in America.
“I want to leave but nobody will buy my
business,” Canawati says. “I feel trapped. We are isolated.”
Moussa Amaro has firsthand experience of the appalling violence Christians
His two sisters, Rada, 24, and Dunya, 18, were shot dead by Muslim
gunmen in their own home. Their crime was to be young, attractive Christian
women who wore Western clothes and no veil. Samir Qumsieh, general manager of
Al-Mahed (The Nativity), the only Christian television station in Bethlehem, has
received death threats and visits from armed men demanding three acres of his
land – and he is now ready to leave. “As Christians, we have no future here,” he
How sad that these two churches have been persuaded by powerful
propaganda to direct their strenuous efforts toward populist attacks on Israel,
instead of an energetic international campaign to relieve the plight of the many
desperate war victims and persecuted Christians.
The writer is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara
Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV and is a retired engineer and
industrialist who comments on the Mideast conflict at www.2nd-thoughts.org.