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Anti-Semitism and Addictive Ideologies and the War in Israel

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Violent extremism is increasing in the United States and around the world, the latest example being the horrible attacks against Israel by Hamas and the subsequent criticism in the U.S. of Israel for defending itself.

Appearing on the Lean to the Left and Justice Counts podcast with thriller author Mark M. Bello and myself, author and clinical psychologist Dr. Emily Bashah discusses the factors that lead to anti-semitism and addictive ideologies, including those that have led to the tragic war in the Gaza Strip.

An Arab Jew whose family was persecuted by Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party, Dr. Bashah says the lack of understanding around what causes extremism simply adds fuel to the fire.

"The thought of understanding extremists feels very icky to many of us," she says. "But the truth is, more and more seemingly reasonable individuals are falling into the trap of violent extremism, and are lured in by compelling conspiracy theories and a feeling of control they have when they engage with extremist ideologies. By not working to understand extremists, we are actually encouraging extremism to continue."

During the interview she was asked for her opinion of recent college campus demonstrations where students have shown support for Hamas and criticizing Israel for its attacks defending itself from those attacks.

"I'm saying it is okay to have sympathy and empathy for the innocent Palestinian child who has nothing to do with this conflict," she says. "And yet Hamas is exploiting them as a military terrorist organization, pseudo political.

"But they've got their own agenda in this and they're just exploiting Palestinians for their own political. agitation. And that is what is driving these massacres and the attacks that occurred in Israel on October 7th. They are political agitators. That is the motive of a terrorist. And it is happening on a broad scale."

Anti-Semitism and Addictive Ideologies

Dr. Bashah was asked for her thoughts about Israel being portrayed as the aggressor rather than the defender in this conflict.

"People have been asking me this, why is there so always been so much anti Semitism historically? What is it about the Jews that they become the scapegoat in so many historical contexts?

"If you look even at my family story, so I am an Arab Jew, my parents escaped from persecution out of Baghdad during the time of the Ba'ath party, when Saddam Hussein was rising to power in 1941, we suffered the farhood, which was the violent dispossession.

It's a pogrom. And we saw these horrific. type of atrocities, the same kind of sadistic massacres that we saw on October 7th where women who were pregnant, their bellies were cut open, fetuses were pulled out and Jewish people were mutilated and dismembered. Same thing that we saw on October 7th.

"I don't know if your audience has heard. Babies were beheaded, even Hamas was putting babies in ovens and killing them, burning them alive. There are horrific stories that I'm hearing on a day to day basis from family members directly who are talking about what has happened to their family in Israel."

Jews, she says, have "never had something to defend aside from our own ethnic, religious, spiritual, racial identity. And so we learned to uproot ourselves in order to survive. Because it wasn't worth staying to defend until the state of Israel was created and Israel will stop at nothing. Israel will not, Israelis will not give up Israel. It's just full stop."

Dr. Bashah frequently serves as an expert witness in civil and criminal court sand has worked on high-profile cases covering issues of domestic terrorism and capital offenses. She and Paul E. Johnson Jr., former mayor of Phoenix, AZ, are the authors of the new book, Addictive Ideologies -- Finding Meaning and Agency when Politics Fail You."

Listen to the podcast:

View the interview:

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