Michael J. Salamon

The Legend Becomes Fact

On July 17, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, commonly called UNRWA, found 20 rockets warehoused in one of its schools. UNRWA took a strong stand against this and according to the UNRWA web site “strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. This incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza.” It should be made clear that the UNRWA case may be the first of its kind for UNRWA but not the first of the kind of tactics used by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. These radical groups have shown total disregard for human life and always store their weapons in homes, mosques and schools.
Several Jewish and Israeli media sources along with Al-Arabiya picked up the UNRWA story immediately. On the same UNRWA site in another article entitled Director of UNRWA Affairs, Syria Strongly Deplores the Killing of Nine Palestinian Refugees and Three Syrian’s in Dera’a, Southern Syria, an UNRWA official decried the killing of 12 people in a refugee camp in Southern Syria, nine Palestinians and three Syrian’s. These poor people were killed by terror in the conflict between Syrian forces and rebels and their homes were destroyed. This happened two days earlier. I have yet to see any major media outlet run this story.

Why are some stories told and others not? Why is terror more of an issue in some areas of the world and in some neighborhoods than in others?

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” is one of the most iconic and prophetic lines I have ever heard in a movie. In the 1962 movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, (which I saw for the first time recently) the journalist, upon hearing that the commonly held belief of who shot the notorious Mr. Valence is untrue, tears up his notes. No reason to report the truth that he has managed to uncover when the legend is the pervasive conviction, he explains. In simple words, the lie is what everyone believes to be the truth, no need to go beyond their confabulation. No one is really interested in the truth. It is hard to go beyond beliefs all the way to reality in an environment that has been telling the story that everyone wants to hear when they do not want the facts.

It seems counter intuitive. Doesn’t everyone want the truth? Aren’t we all better armed to deal with life if we have the facts and deal in candor? The simple answer is yes but with people there often is no simple answer. Psychology can be complicated and confusing, so many variables to account for. There are, however, certain facts and clues to provide insight.
There are some truly cruel, hateful people in this world. They are bullies, abusers, criminals and terrorists. Their behavior is antagonistic, deceitful, impulsive, aggressive, irresponsible, reckless and lacking in remorse. They can lie so well it seems that they are saintly even in their dishonesty. They use intimidation to get their way and they always blame someone else if they are caught. They have no sense of attachment to others except to use them for their own monetary, physical or psychological pleasure. They trade in people as if humans were simple chump change and easily shed. When done with the people they targeted they throw them away as easily as a used tissue. We commonly refer to these types of people as psychopaths but the clinical literature refers to them as individuals with an Antisocial Personality disorder. The disorder is not all so common. It exists in only about one percent of the population but that one percent creates havoc throughout our world locally and internationally. It takes only one psychopath to create a terrorist organization and start a war. The saddest part of this fact is that most people fail to see the pathology that drives these psychopaths and their adherents. Often, even their supporters, those hurt the most by them, are their strongest adherents and simply do not see how they are being used, controlled and hurt, even killed. This is one of the reasons why many people who are abused are loathe to turn on their abusers. They have been manipulated into believing the lies that they have been groomed into.
It is this sort of behavior that begins to explain the vilification of Israel in its attempts at self-defense. It is easier for people to believe that it is big powerful Israel that is the aggressor despite the fact that the lie is obvious – even when people are being killed in clear terror attacks just across the northern Border and to the not so distant East by like minded psychopathic terrorists. The grooming that began with the denigration of the Jewish people centuries back has yet to be openly and completely confronted. I fear that it may never be. When I see the hyper focus of the media on the tragic death of innocent Palestinians but  the fact that their leaders use them as shields is mentioned as an afterthought and when I hear of the people in France placing swastikas on items from Israel in stores I see the perpetuation of the legend rather than an attempt to get the facts. And unfortunately the media is helping to perpetuate the lies just as in the movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."