Caitlin Johnstone: Israel Is Left Only to Gaslight the Public

Israel works so hard to distort your perception of reality because a lucid perception of reality is highly unfavorable to Israeli information interests.

Atlantic editor Jeffery Goldberg (r.) interviews former President Barack Obama. (The Obama Foundation)

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Atlantic has a new Israel apologia article out titled “The Decolonization Narrative Is Dangerous and False” — a noticeable change in tone from the outlet’s “Decolonize Russia” sentiments of last year. 

The entire article has been picked apart paragraph by paragraph by a commentator named Sana Saeed, but for my purposes here I’d just like to focus on one specific sentence in it about Israel’s ongoing massacre in Gaza:

“The Israeli goal in Gaza — for practical reasons, among others —is to minimize the number of Palestinian civilians killed.” 

If you didn’t know that The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg is a former IDF prison guard who in 2002 said that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality,” it would astonish you that such a sentence ever went to print. 

One need only look at the before and after satellite images of the bombing campaign in Gaza to see immediately that Israel is doing nothing at all to minimize the number of civilians killed. 

One need only look at the fact that nearly 70 percent of the people killed in these airstrikes have been women and children to see immediately that Israel is doing nothing to minimize the number of civilians killed. 

One need only listen to Israeli officials themselves saying “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy” and “Gaza will eventually turn into a city of tents; there will be no buildings” to see immediately that Israel is doing nothing to minimize the number of civilians killed.

You don’t get to openly declare that you’re going to do a ton of damage with no regard for accuracy, carpet bomb entire neighborhoods into gravel killing mostly women and children, and then say you’re trying to minimize civilian casualties. That’s not a thing.

But that’s exactly what The Atlantic instructs us to believe. They demand that we ignore what’s right in front of our faces and mistrust what we are seeing with our own eyes.

You see this kind of thing over and over again from Israel apologists. They tell you things you absolutely know to be false in your own direct perception, over and over and over again, in the hope that they can overwhelm your mind.

That’s what’s happening when they tell you Israel is “defending itself” and “targeting Hamas” when they’re mostly killing women and children and bombing entire city blocks into powder, and that’s what’s happening when they tell you over and over again that you hate Jews and love terrorists even when you know for a fact that you don’t.

The term “gaslighting” has been frequently misused in modern political discourse lately; you’ll often see people using that term to describe someone lying, or even someone just saying something they don’t agree with. But that’s not what the term gaslighting historically means.

Merriam-Webster defines gaslighting as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories.” It’s when you attack someone’s perception of reality with such sustained aggression that the victim’s psyche just kind of gives up and assumes they’re not mentally competent enough to interpret reality for themselves.

And that’s exactly what you see Israel apologists doing day in and day out with regard to this conflict. 

They tell you to doubt your own eyes when you see mountains upon mountains of evidence that Israel is raining high tech military explosives upon areas known to be packed full of children. 

They tell you to doubt your own ears when Israeli officials spout genocidal rhetoric.

They tell you to doubt your own intelligence when you talk about the many gaping plot holes in what we’re told to believe about October 7.

They tell you to doubt your own sanity when they demand that you accept unverified allegations about beheaded babies and babies cooked in ovens while ignoring the thousands of children that are being massacred in Gaza.

They tell you to doubt your own beliefs when they tell you repeatedly that you’re an anti-semite for criticizing Israel even when you know you have nothing but good will toward Jewish people.

They tell you to doubt your own motives when they tell you repeatedly that you support terrorism and want Jews to be killed even when you know nothing could be further from the truth.

They tell you to doubt your sense of reality when they tell you Hamas is responsible for all the death and destruction that you can plainly see is being inflicted by Israeli bombs.

They’re never just telling you what to believe about the world, they’re also telling you what to believe about yourself. This is always a telltale sign that you are being psychologically manipulated.

Anytime you find yourself involved with someone who continually works to change your perception of yourself in a negative way, you would be well-advised to dis-involve yourself from them as quickly as possible.

Israel apologists need to do this because they don’t have truth on their side, and they don’t have morality on their side, so all they’ve got is manipulation. They work so hard to distort your perception of reality because a lucid perception of reality is highly unfavorable to Israeli information interests.

Don’t let them do this to you. Whenever you get the sense that you are being manipulated by someone, just start ignoring their words and watch their actions instead. Their words can deceive you, but their actions, examined objectively, will tell you everything you need to know about them.

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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27 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Israel Is Left Only to Gaslight the Public

  1. jamie
    November 1, 2023 at 12:04

    Even the worst article can be the best to understand the complexity of a situation. The Atlantic’s article, is about a “master apologist” accusing others to be apologists. Projection seems to be central in our society, perhaps the result of a “guilt culture” sure an evolutionary human trait.

    Though, Simon Sebag Montefiore showed us how evil can be justified, turning a human atrocity/crime into “just” a tragedy, by saying, “More than 7,000 Palestinians, including many children, have died so far in this war, according to Hamas. This is a tragedy—but this is not a genocide, a word that has now been so devalued by its metaphorical abuse that it has become meaningless…”

    That phrase seemed enough for him to explain what happen in Palestine now, the brutality, the hatred behind IDF’s actions, the killing of thousand innocent people; because to him a genocide implies a widespread reduction of the number of a population, while Palestinian population kept growing “The Palestinian population has grown, and continues to grow, at a substantial and healthy rate. Demographic shrinkage is one obvious marker of genocide.”
    If not “technically” a genocide/ethnic cleansing it sure an attempted genocide, when there is a total disregard for the safety of civilians, which is undeniably the case of the IDF and a forced displacement of people, in such short time period.
    Military experts have explained well that prior to a strike careful analysis is required to ensure the safety of civilians; in addition, several high ranked figures must approve the conclusions of the analysis and give the ok; it takes long time to do that.
    With more than 6000 strike in just few days it is clear that IDF attacked based on sheer rage and hatred.
    Gallant’s statement “we are fighting human animals” and the total blockade that would hurt the vulnerable, leaves no room for misinterpretation.

    Montefiore’s article is long, confusing, overfilled with number of assumptions and accusation with little info to support them; perhaps this is a strategy to confuse readers, overwhelming them with so many ideas that it takes months to critically analyze them and/or is a product of a confused and emotionally wrecked person, with rage as the main driver, which is somewhat understandable.

    A ceasefire would allow our minds to analyze and judge properly the situation, something neither Israel nor US/EU were willing to give as they might have lost the momentum and it might have allowed the world to see even better through smokes and dust the atrocious crimes committed and change the course of actions.

    Montefiore never mention once the world “ceasefire” in his long article, feel free to guess why.

    If ICC must accuse Israel of war crime, charge Gallant and Netanyahu of crimes against humanity, if that does not happen Israel will lose even if it wins this battle.
    Apologists for Israel accuses you to support Hamas if you accuse IDF’s crimes, isn’t’ this enough to prove their madness?

  2. George Rudman
    November 1, 2023 at 04:43

    Israel has conquered the United States now its just tying up loose ends.

    • Pedro Ghirotti
      November 1, 2023 at 06:32

      You are right George. Sometimes is difficult to differentiate where the US ends and Israel starts. We all have known about the AIPACs of the world and the Israeli lobby for many years, but I still get amazed by the amount of Israelis or American citizens who are Israel hardcore supporters, mnay of them have willingly have served the IDF. These people are running editorial boards in the US, corporations, education institutions, think tanks, or hold government positions. It’s quite disconcerting .

  3. November 1, 2023 at 01:04

    One group which strongly supports Israel are the evangelical Christians. This is based on their understanding of this one particular book, the Bible, the alleged “Word of God”.

    For instance there are the Christian Zionists who strongly believe that the return of Jews to Palestine is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, of God’s plan regarding the “end times” allegedly predicted in the Bible, and starts the clock ticking to the return of Jesus Christ (but not before Armageddon). Not supporting Israel is tantamount to standing in the way of God’s plan.

    Also there is the alleged promise God made to Abraham, considered to be the Jewish patriarch, in Genesis 12:3, in which God tells Abraham he will “bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee:”

    And the threat made in Isaiah 60:12 “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”

    See the article at:


    The evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is the “inspired” and “inerrant Word of God”, which had better be believed and accepted, or else!

    And they believe that a person can go to Heaven and be with God by “accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”, and ONLY by doing so, and only by doing so in this present lifetime. Otherwise a person is condemned to an eternity of torment in hell. Too bad for those who, for whatever reason, do not come to “accept Jesus Christ” in this present lifetime. Too bad for those who all their lives adhere to a religion other than Christianity. And too bad, apparently, for an “unsaved” murder victim, while if the murderer “repents” and “accepts Jesus Christ” (which chance the victim is presumably denied) the murderer is let into Heaven.

    They gaslight us out of any objections that one might have by saying things like God’s ways are higher than our ways, and are past finding out. How dare sinners like us presume to question God. We are sinners and deserve to go to hell, and we had better just simply accept God’s gracious offer to let us escape hell and to let us into heaven.

    And of course always have FAITH! Just the exhortation to have faith can be a way of gaslighting; i.e. faith must override our reason and our critical facilities.

    So just by believing in a cruel God (and not questioning the alleged “Word of God”), it is not surprising that the evangelical Christians would have no trouble with the duty to support Israel.

    Thomas Paine said: “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.”

    hxxps:// (just a little over halfway down)


    • J Anthony
      November 1, 2023 at 08:04

      “The government of the USA is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
      _John Adams, The Treaty Of Tripoli, ratified unanimously by
      the US Senate on June 7,1797 and signed into law June 10,1797
      Of course, like the 1st amendment of the constitution they claim to cherish, the Christian fascists will say it doesn’t mean what it actually says.

  4. bobzz
    October 31, 2023 at 18:16

    About the killing of women and children: the reason is obvious; it is to kill off or greatly reduce the next generation. I recall years ago a female Zionist leader, Ms. Shaked (or something similar), justify killing Palestinian women because they were ‘snakes’ who bear ‘little snakes.’ The end of this cannot come soon enough, but some day the world’s sadists will be in the crosshairs of judgment. They will hear the question: “Tell Me now, ‘do you think it was worth it?'”

    • Xpat Paula
      November 1, 2023 at 07:25

      Your first sentence is the definition of genocide, your second a further explanation.

  5. firstpersoninfinite
    October 31, 2023 at 16:24

    Great article yet again, Caitlin Johnstone. The world is dividing itself with all the efficiency and energy of pure mitosis. And when the division is complete, the powers that be in what used to be called “the democratic west” want to make certain that everyone is on the same page: repeating the same mantras, fighting the same enemy (however illusory they may be). Reality will not matter to them. But it is our job to make certain those powers don’t get to dictate our reality. Unlike many things historical, it didn’t have to reach this point. It was our chosen path, and it will not turn out well. As you do in this article, we have to point out their behavior since they refuse to allow any other outcome than the one they have chosen. All they can do to us is give us names.

  6. Reynold
    October 31, 2023 at 14:02

    Nice catalogue of techniques used by the gas lighters. I’m going to show it to our grand daughter. As I drove her to school this morning she said she was studying how to judge the reliability of various sources of information. This piece is timely.

  7. ingamarie
    October 31, 2023 at 13:59

    I’ve experienced just such a persistent attack by one or two commentators on a Chris Hedges report….so they are everywhere. Often they begin as wanting a comment sense compromise to the situation in Gaza….but their ‘common sense’ totally blames Hamas, Iran etc.etc. When you bring up the bombardment of Gaza they keep referring back to Hamas terrorism….Israeli losses, etc, etc.

    If you persist and bring in more history, they usually resort to the name calling and accusations Caitlin identifies in her article.

    But with me, they don’t get the last word. I know my history…I continue to learn more of it (imagine!!! FOR THE LAST 16 YEARS, GAZA HAS SURVIVED ON INTERNATIONAL AID…Israel gets to enforce the concentration camp, the humanitarian organizations pay for its upkeep!! That has been a particularly galling bit of learning for me these last few weeks)

    One more thing: The apologists for Israel are also apologists for the Washington Dominated World Order.

    The west is seriously compromised for our one sided support of Israel. And we need to keep saying so.

  8. Jeff A
    October 31, 2023 at 12:40

    The entire IDF has become a bunch of sadistic prison guards, be best to see how Israel is doing in a few months. They’re not the warriors they’d were in 67’ that’s for sure. That’s what 50 years of American pampering does, makes you dependent,,,and expendable.

    • Xpat Paula
      November 1, 2023 at 07:33

      A Jewish colleague of mine in NYC visited Israel in the mid-60s & came back disgusted with its militarization & its hatred & treatment of Arabs.

  9. Blessthebeasts
    October 31, 2023 at 11:45

    This gaslighting is only effective on very weak-minded people. I have witnessed enough of it to know that ANYTHING the U.S. or Israel is saying is the exact opposite of what is really happening.

    • Susan Siens
      October 31, 2023 at 16:33

      If what you say is true, then an awful lot of people are “weak-minded.” And we can see this by the limited questioning of what the U.S. government gets up to.

      • Blessthebeasts
        November 1, 2023 at 13:32

        Sadly, it’s true. Most people I know, including the “intelligent” ones don’t bother to think very deeply beyond their comfort zones.

        • November 2, 2023 at 15:35

          According to the late writer and psychotherapist Alice Miller, a person’s ability to resist propaganda and group think and going along with evil is not a matter of intelligence but rather a matter of access to one’s “true self” (which includes awareness of one’s true feelings, desires, and thoughts). Such access to one’s “true self” is harmed by childhood mistreatment, which is almost universal, and in particular mistreatment that is not acknowledged as being such but is accepted without question as being “for one’s own good”. In fact one of Alice Miller’s first books, written in the early 1980’s, is titled For Your Own Good, with subtitle “Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence”. The book is now online.

          Alice Miller in her book has a long section dealing with horrendous child-rearing practices advocated in books which were popular in previous centuries, including during the time when future participants in the Third Reich were being raised as children. Here is an excerpt from this section:

          If the child learns to view corporal punishment as “a necessary measure” against “wrongdoers,” then as an adult he will attempt to protect himself from punishment by being obedient and will not hesitate to cooperate with the penal system. In a totalitarian state, which is a mirror of his upbringing, this citizen can also carry out any form of torture or persecution without having a guilty conscience. His “will” is completely identical with that of the government.

          Now that we have seen how easy it is for intellectuals in a dictatorship to be corrupted, it would be a vestige of aristocratic snobbery to think that only “the uneducated masses” are susceptible to propaganda. Both Hitler and Stalin had a surprisingly large number of enthusiastic followers among intellectuals. Our capacity to resist has nothing to do with our intelligence but with the degree of access to our true self. Indeed, intelligence is capable of innumerable rationalizations when it comes to the matter of adaptation. … Martin Heidegger, for example, who had no trouble in breaking with traditional philosophy and leaving behind the teachers of his adolescence, was not able to see the contradictions in Hitler’s ideology that should have been obvious to someone of his intelligence. He responded to this ideology with an infantile fascination and devotion that brooked no criticism.

          In the tradition we are dealing with, it was considered obstinacy and was therefore frowned upon to have a will and mind of one’s own. It is easy to understand that an intelligent child would want to escape the punishments devised for those possessing these traits and that he or she could do so without any difficulty. What the child didn’t realize was that escape came at a high price.

          hxxp:// (scroll about 3/4 down)

  10. Daedalus
    October 31, 2023 at 10:43

    Personally, I think we need to use the word ‘Zionist’ more frequently. An ‘Israeli’ is simply a citizen of Israel, whereas a Zionist wants a region of pure ethnicity as well as racial homogeneity. Israel now is being ruled by Zionists.

    • Arch Stanton
      October 31, 2023 at 17:47

      Absolutely, the word Zionist should be used more frequently and associated with its vile racist agenda.
      The word should repulse everyone, a lot of education is therefore needed.

    • Xpat Paula
      November 1, 2023 at 07:36

      I absolutely agree.

  11. Larry McGovern
    October 31, 2023 at 10:24

    Thank you, Caitlin, for pointing out the true definition of “gaslighting”, and for the litany of examples.

    Jeffrey Goldberg: Yes, a cheerleader for the Iraq invasion. So much for accountability. He is just one example of those in the MSM, our political elite, intelligence agencies, academia, think tanks (hmm, I’m recalling my brother Ray’s MICIMATT), who are still in their positions of influence and power, (E.G. Victoria Nuland), while those who have correctly shouted TRUTH from the rooftops since Iraq get no play, or worse, get condemned as Putin apologists, or Anti-Semites. Hopefully, the truth will eventually “set us free”! But until it does, it is shameful – atrocious – that so many innocents have to suffer.

  12. susan
    October 31, 2023 at 08:14

    Wonderful article Caitlin! I believe that our own government, MSM and MIC have also been “gaslighting” us for generations….

  13. Francis Lee
    October 31, 2023 at 08:01

    ”Gaslighting: a novel new method of mass psychology practised by the powers-that-be upon those without a response mechanism to fight back.”

    ” This has been used on a number of occasions but recently rolled out by those in control with some success.” (See below.)

    The present war in Ukraine, has we are told, been occasioned by a decision of the Russian President Putin who saw fit to send his army to invade Ukraine in April 2022.

    In point of fact, however, the entire political imbroglio can be traced back to the putsch in Ukraine which ostensibly took place with the events of 2013/14. This apparent uprising began with the violent overthrow of the legitimate government in Kiev. Other internal actors became involved namely, the Right-Sector ultras. In addition to this, external foreign interference – in the shape of Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyatt (Ambassador to Ukraine) The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the ubiquitous Mr Soros (Open Society Foundation) decided that they had a role to play.

    What followed was a civil war by the Kiev regime against the hold-outs in the Don-Bass republics in the shape of Lugansk and Donetsk republics; these fighters were to put up a stiff resistance to the Kiev regime. The Ukies had to endure being blooded in the Battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo. Not to be deterred the Kiev regime decided to shell to two republics killing some 13000 of the resistance therein. This did not go amiss with the Russian population who regarded Putin’s reticence as somewhat less than wholehearted . Be that as it may, Russians, military and otherwise began to cross the borders and bring weapons and recruits to the Don Bass militias. War was imminent and Putin and the more under more pressure – pressure which finally spanned. Putin instructed the Russian army to cross the border and committed Russia to the war.

    Thus the scene was set and the actors were/are all in place.

    • Michael Davidson
      October 31, 2023 at 15:37

      Francis. You are missing one critical piece of the puzzle… The true reason why the US began the process of a coup d’état in the Ukraine, and the subsequent massacres that began in the Donbass, stems directly from Russia’s intervention in Syria that stopped the overthrow of Bashar, El Assad… the aim was to prevent Russia from intervening in the neocon orchestrated plan to remake the middle east around Israeli hegemony…this is becoming more and more prominent in the analysis of many experts that understand US policy and how it is directed around Israeli regional hegemony. if you remember the project for a new American century, which was instigated by the neocon Cabal, of which the Nuland/Kagan families are a major contributor to included the overthrow of Syria as part of that diabolical project ending in the toppling of Iran… it should be clear to all that Victoria Nulan’s role was a harbinger of Zionist NeoCon involvement in goading Russia into war Russia put a kibosh to that whole plan.

      • firstpersoninfinite
        November 1, 2023 at 23:58

        And now those same neocons you mentioned are in league with the Democratic party. It’s one party, one state of delusion among them all.

  14. J Anthony
    October 31, 2023 at 07:43

    You couldn’t be more correct Caitlin, thank you. The campus protests, and others around the world, have the media in a tizzy. Maybe some of the pro-Palestine protesters are a bit extreme, I’m not sure, but I give these people credit for challenging the notion that it’s perfectly ok for Israel to go on with their imperialistic, hypocritical ways (with US support). The massacre now taking place is abominable, and all nuance and context is being twisted in order to inspire fear and anger against “antisemites”, “Jew-haters”, etc. It’s exactly as you put it here. It is maddening and infuriating, they are dividing and confusing people more. I often feel like ripping my own teeth out in helpless exasperation when I watch a clip from FOX or CNN. It’s all too much. They ought to be talking about stopping all the fighting, but instead they are ramping up the violent, indignant rhetoric and gaslighting us all.

    • Susan Siens
      October 31, 2023 at 16:36

      I’ve stopped watching the so-called news, including local news. Bland, dead faces talking about genocide in bland, dead voices. I’ve had contempt for the media for many, many years, but my contempt is turning into hatred for their empty, shriveled souls.

      • J Anthony
        November 1, 2023 at 08:21

        I have as well, long ago, I never watch corporate news anymore, but the independent news I do watch, such as Katie Halper and Aaron Mate’s “Useful Idiots”, or Revolutionary Blackout Network, often cover what the corporate-whore media (I’m sorry I can’t help but refer to them as anything else) is spewing, so we don’t have to, bless them, and rerun clips from that week’s propaganda barrage, so it’s unavoidable if you’re trying to stay on top of what bile is being pushed forth. so yes it’s enough to turn anger into passionate hatred for the utter lack of intelligent, contextual reporting or discussion, especially when so many people are influenced by what they see and hear on the major networks. The C.W.M. are playing a big part in perpetuating the insanity.

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