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The Psychology of Palestinian Distortions and Deceptions

Fake Viral image of a baby trapped under rubble was actually generated by Artificial Intelligence

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 24, No. 6

  • Global opinion has moved from outrage at Hamas on October 7, 2023, to criticism of Israel just months later. How? A Palestinian strategy manipulates perception to distort and present an alternate reality.

  • While the Hamas of October 7 was a vicious terror organization, the passage of time has shifted perception to “innocent Palestinians” who are “victims,” consistent with the ongoing Palestinian chronicle of victimization used as a central motif in their national narrative.

  • Facts and accurate information will not always effectively counter misinformation based on previous perceptions created by Palestinian sources. The “primacy effect,” where first impressions persist, plays a psychological role.

  • Palestinians distort reality by providing material for perceptions that feed a cognitive set that promotes favoring perceived victims who are presented as suffering, with images of casualties, poor housing conditions, lack of food, and emotional distress.

  • Western thinking that elicits sympathy for victims and absolves them of responsibility feeds into the deception strategy of Palestinian terror.

  • While contextual reality is the basis for accurate information, Palestinians distort this by using civilians as psychological human shields in a cognitive war.

  • Countering with the “truth” is likely ineffective unless the “truth” is framed in a context that appeals to the same cognitive framework of “fairness” and victim appeal that Palestinians have been using.

  • While sterile “counter-narratives” are ineffective, research suggests that adding emotive imagery and personalization can help change perceptions and reality.


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