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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Trump’s greatest gift making us all forever aware how much some people can lie

A legacy for generations to come

This is true on the individual and on the political level.

What Motivates People?

All people, all systems of morality, and all cultures aim for goodness.

Even the most aggressive person is not motivated to do badness but by positive reason, such as believing in honestly showing his emotions rather than choking on them. The control freak doesn’t want to make anyone’s life bad but rather doesn’t want to be overpowered. Even the revengeful person wants to establish what she sees as just rather than to hurt others. The sadist wants to feel powerful rather than to hurt. The suicide bomber tries to spread his beliefs rather than to maim and kill. And the thief wants to feel rich rather than to rob. That’s why Moses calls upon us “to seek [what leads to more] life [in this world and the future]” and not merely goodness, because goodness we all strive for.

Most people are basically decent. We can be incited or provoked, sometimes under extreme conditions, to let go of our morals and commit atrocities, but most people will live decent lives and not make the papers until their obituaries do.

This predilection for goodness makes most of us naive. We may not trust everyone but we tend to believe them until they have proven rock-solidly that they can’t be trusted — and even then, most people will soon forget their mistrust and what led to it.

So, Trump’s overarching achievement is that he made people around the globe aware not just about how much politicians can pretend and lie (most grownups knew that) but that some can even go way beyond the “normal” cheating, blatantly saying the total opposite of proofs that everyone saw.

This will help us to spot, avoid, and block pedophiles out to abuse tons of kids, con artist salespersons, and people with an abusive personality.

No to Racism!

Before diving into the second part, a few clarifications to distance us from racism and national chauvinism may be in order.

There is no perfect culture. All nations have strong beliefs and habits and ones they need to shape up on. Strong points only make that tradition superior in that respect; weak points only make that tradition inferior in that respect. We all need to learn from everyone to improve maximally.

Racism supposes that all people from a certain background are the same quality. That “enables” judging people on where they come from or what they look like. However, in reality, all people across any divide have more in common than what tells them apart. And certain groups are certainly not more valuable than others, as we all need each other.

Making a difference between groups doesn’t mean that you talk unfairly. True, bigotry needs bigots to distinguish between groups. That doesn’t mean that seeing no differences is the solution. There are differences. Just, don’t start labeling some groups as absolutely superior to others and don’t judge automatically all people of a certain group without allowing for exceptions, or for finding out that you were wrong about that group in the first place.

(Thankfully, the challenges to human survival have become shared. We’re now all in the same boat. The survival of all people is threatened by not giving all (poor) people the means to not destruct the environment and climate. Disinterest in healthcare for everyone (and also sporadic meat consumption) can wipe out a major part of humanity (Bird flu, HIV, EBOLA). Death became a joint enemy. All lives matter.)

How did Understanding the Middle East get so Stuck?

The culture of the Netherlands has a strong “integrity” component. That doesn’t mean that the Low Countries don’t have autochthon thieves. There are plenty of them in Dutch jails. But the culture teaches and stresses constantly that being honest is a big priority.

At Dutch trials, defendants and witnesses are only warned to speak the truth as it turns out that letting them promise or swear to not lie is a great push to most people to start fantasizing and telling stories.

Foreigners in the Netherlands often perceive the Dutch as “very direct” if not crude. But they’re just being honest and frank. Politeness and friendliness are also high on the Dutch list of cultural norms but not to such an extent that one becomes a walking fake.

Class differences also play a role. The less one is expected to pretend to be polite and happy, the more open, frank, and close people will be.

Most other cultures are not so strict on truth as the Dutch.

Now for Arab culture. It’s most informed by Islam. Islam, like all true religions, advocates strict honesty. But in contrast to the culture of the Netherlands, Arab culture has no priority for the “integrity” component.

That doesn’t mean that all Arabs are liars. Only racists say so and they lie.

It does mean that Arab leaders (and especially dictators) have an easier time to say things that in the West would be considered blatant lies but in Arab culture are fair descriptions of the mood and sentiment.

It just means that expressing your emotions “honestly” often may come before being factual.

You are also not going to ruin “a good story” by questioning the validity of the facts. What the story does with you is what counts, much more than if it’s factual. Besides, expressing doubt about a story hurts the relater’s honor, which in Arab culture is a paramount no-no.

That means that you don’t need prior fact-checking when you want to make your listener feel good by saying all kinds of niceties (compare Simon Peres, who never bothered with facts when praising someone). Flattery is then not lying — it’s being friendly — not a bad quality at all.

Besides, this is not foreign to most people. In situations where one feels or is less powerful, most of humanity will err on the side of over-friendliness — or lose their jobs.

In Arab culture, saying that someone attacked you doesn’t mean that that happened in the objective Western sense of the word. Maybe rather you attacked but you felt under attack so you “were attacked.” Again, this is not lying but rather an honest description of how you felt.

I think that some Mizrachi (Arab-Jewish) politicians went to jail in Israel for honesty infractions that in their understanding weren’t dishonest at all.

Obviously, Dutch people who live outside of their homeland are more prone to lie. And Arabs living in the West are more drawn to abide by Western norms about truth. This on top of that each Dutch and each Arab person always has a choice to stick to the facts or not, and many, especially when no great emotions are involved, will do so by default.

Also, Western Jews in Israel, a minority among Arab Muslims and Arab Jews, will be tempted by the Middle-Eastern mentality concerning honesty, compared to those who stayed in the West. To repeat this point: Non-Western cultures have great qualities compared to Western cultures so there is no need to look down on any culture as a whole.

Liberties with the truth for a correct description of how one feels is in Arab culture different from plain lying. “I didn’t rob that bank” or “didn’t harass that person” has nothing to do with describing one’s feelings. Regular Muslims are terrified to say the tiniest untruth after swearing on the Koran to say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Many Arab Gentiles (different from their politicians) can be surprisingly frank when describing their hatred for Jews.

All of this lack or presence of factuality comes on top of the lying and manipulation that usually goes on in politics all around the world.

Any lying from any Jews is extra sad when one sees to what great length the Sages of the Talmud go to be upfront. (So much so that haters of Jews are forced to falsify what it says in order to make them seem bad.)

I spend a major part of my time in the company of Jews with Arab roots. They surely distinguish between dishonest people (most of them) and dishonest people (an unpleasant few). But they do love a good story. The Sages of the Talmud and most women use stories, as different from theories, are a prime vehicle to teach, which is appreciated by most people.

It would be sad if you’d read in what I wrote above a “confirmation” of the opinion that all Arabs are liars. First of all, not all Dutch are honest and not all Arabs are liars. To have an unshakable preconception of someone because of what group s/he belongs to is a prominent hallmark of untruthful bigotry. But, more importantly, explaining variations on objective truth in Arab culture as lies is insensitive and possibly racist. You take a Western norm and glue it onto another culture.

In any case, if you think that above I confirms racism or that Arab culture is inferior, please reread because I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I shouldn’t.

Unfamiliarity with Arab norms for honesty has confused Westerners so much that they couldn’t help in the Middle East lack-of-peace process.

If citizens of Gaza would describe their anger for what the US and Israel “have done to them,” how cold-hearted must one be not to get angry too? Empathy with people in trouble is an excellent quality.

Yet, let Westerners not take these outbursts as fact sheets. They must create sympathy, but not be taken as history lessons or police reports.

Trump’s Middle East Peace team calls a spade a spade, a lie a lie, never mind offending and insulting Palestinian Muslims in the process. This is the exact opposite of Obama’s time where every letter uttered by Muslim negotiators was taken as unshakable truth. But while the latter is ridiculous, the former is not helpful either. To ram “the Truth” down their throat is abusive (like Trump is so often). Don’t try to neutralize the Palestinian narrative but don’t treat it as statements made under oath either.

Conclusion

Donald J. Trump’s main legacy may very well be that he taught many of us how deeply people may try to fool you by stone-faced lying.

Thus, after his unrestricted display, we may be better able to protect ourselves against other con artists and abusers and to find them out.

And he also may have educated the West to stop “believing” Arab anger as fair descriptions of reality or history.

Everyone should empathize with Arab suffering but not to the extent that they stop feeling for Jews too, who have been living in the shadow of extinction by no fault of their own for generations and millennia.

Rather, the West must assume that Arab and Western animosity towards Jews comes from the same source: centuries of hostility against Jews, who are as guilty about that as women are about sexism (not).

American English should be enriched with a new verb, to trump. “Don’t trump me” should mean, don’t tell me stories of which we both know they’re not true.

Trump is Guilty, Even When not Found to be! How so?

The Muller Report makes a few things abundantly clear:

  1. We found no collusion of the Trump party with the Russians.
  2. President Trump, on several occasions, tried to stop the investigation.

From number two it follows that he was afraid of what they would find. That must mean that Trump colluded with the Russians but that Muller didn’t find it.

Unless, Trump & co wanted to conceal Russian meddling in the elections. And that is even worse than colluding. That’s working for Putin.

After Trump leaves the White House, he will probably be sought for obstruction of justice. However, he will make his election night phone call in which he concedes losing the elections from Tel Aviv Airport.

Will save the US a lot of money and embarrassment. I also hope that President Harris will not go after him. She’s more important things to do than “Lock Him Up.” VP Buttigieg will agree. It will unite the country.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: https://youtu.be/QMPp6h6r72M * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AMoshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&s=relevancerank&text=Moshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1
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