The Jew Whisperers: An Exploration Of The Psychopathology Of Missionaries In Israel. By Donald Zev Uslan
A “Jew Whisperer”? What is a “Whisperer”?
You may have heard the term from the iconic 1998 film “The Horse Whisperer” starring Robert Redford and Scarlett Johansson.
In the film, the main character has an almost magical ability to tame and attract to himself an injured horse by “speaking” to the horse through an intuitive ability to understand its fears.
Whisperers of people are talented and skillful in managing, influencing, and soothing them.
Whisperers of people have many psychopathic traits.
A “Jew Whisperer” in Israel believes he can soothe and calm Jews who have been historically emotionally and often physically injured and traumatized, and thus befriend them.
[Words such as “psychopath,” “predator,” and “abuse” are psychological and psychiatric “terms of art” (having a specific meaning in these fields). These terms are used and adapted in this article to explore the motivation, mindset, and impact of missionaries attempting to convert Jews to Christianity in Israel. “Psychopathy” is not a diagnosis but a set of traits.]
The American Psychological Association considers psychopathy “a chronic disposition to disregard the rights of others.”
Manifestations of psychopathy include the tendency to exploit, to be deceitful, to disregard norms and laws, and to lack guilt, remorse, and empathy.
Psychopaths need to be thought of by others as very moral, as an example of goodness and holiness, wanting to help the less fortunate lead better lives. Psychopaths do not like being caught but do not mind harming others. They are not constrained by the ethics, morals, and values of normative people. A “conscience” is an unknown entity to them. In fact, they confuse “conscience” with their own opinion.
Psychopaths can act friendly and exhibit socially acceptable behavior. Famously, psychopaths are endearing, sweet, polite, and kind. They tend to be soft-spoken and disarming in their presentation, and often physically attractive. They are magnetic. Psychopaths are also cunning and pathological liars. They are unable to take responsibility for their actions and lack empathy. They may be able to tell that another person is suffering, but truly don’t care about the impact of their actions on the person, their family, or their community.
[“Psychopath” is not a technical psychological diagnostic term. The correct diagnostic term is “antisocial personality disorder.” The difference between “sociopathy” and “psychopathy”: a sociopath knows they are doing wrong; they just have little empathy for others. A psychopath lacks a sense of empathy or morality.]
The Psychopath Whisperer:
In his book “The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience” Dr. Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist specializing in psychopaths examines neuropsychological tests, psychological personality surveys, MRI brain imaging scans, and the neuro-chemical underpinnings of the psychopath. He believes psychopaths have different brain circuitry. Kiehl concludes:
- Don’t ever trust a psychopath: they are consummate liars and manipulators.
- If you catch them in a lie, you have to be willing to call them on it and see how they respond.
- Most psychopaths are born as psychopaths.
- They are grandiose.
- They never ruminate on anything.
- Certain parts of their brains are smaller than that of normal people – especially the part that controls empathy, moral decision-making, guilt, and embarrassment.
Dr. Kiehl warns:
- Psychopaths speak quickly, and animatedly, and often interrupt frequently.
- They come across as quick-witted and likable.
- We should listen to the gut feeling that says “there is something not quite right’ about them.”
- They cannot understand metaphors or abstractions — they are concrete, black, and white thinkers.
One of the psychological assessment tools to determine a psychopath, the “Hare Psychopathy Checklist,” by Robert Hare, includes features recognizable to anyone who has encountered missionaries:
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Egocentricity/grandiose sense of self-worth
- Pathological lying and deception
- Conning/lack of sincerity
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Lack of affect and emotional depth
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Spiritual abuse can be defined as any abuse or trauma done in the name of religion or the deity associated with that religion. Any attempt to exert power, control, or influence over someone using faith, beliefs, or religion is considered spiritual abuse. It is considered a part of the antisocial behavior of child abuse, sexual abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence.
Spiritual abuse can take place in any setting and cause serious trauma. Another form of spiritual abuse is religious abuse. An example of this is the use of scripture or theological beliefs to pressure, control, or influence spiritual beliefs to embarrass or humiliate, including falsifying or slanting information about the victims’ own religious beliefs to cause disbelief about one’s own orientation. Other examples of spiritual abuse include ridiculing one’s beliefs or practices, preventing practicing religious practices or beliefs, using beliefs to manipulate, and using religious texts or beliefs to justify the abuse.
As an example, missionaries often preach and expound in their conversionary efforts through media and in personal appeals about the invalidity of rabbinic Judaism and the Oral Torah (the Talmud), with extensive efforts at Christic justifications.
Spiritual abuse can cause Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS). Like other forms of trauma, this can have an impact on one’s nervous system and subsequent physical health. It is similar to PTSD in its psychological, social, familial, and social consequences.
Ironically, Robert Hare – the author of the “Psychopathy Checklist” – refers to the Christian Bible in his development of the assessment of psychopaths. He writes:
“St Paul in two letters to young church leaders cautions them about individuals whom he describes in these terms ‘hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:2, NIV); and again, people whose ‘minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions, they deny him’ (Titus 1:15-16, NIV). The core characteristics of these individuals are their defective or deficient conscience, their duplicity, their callousness, and, importantly, their potential to cause great harm to congregations. Hence, St Paul introduces a category of psychopathy, namely that of the religious psychopath.”
The traits of a psychopath are the hallmark of predatory missionaries in Israel. Many of these characterological features are subsumed and obfuscated under the rubric of “theology” and “doing God’s work.”
One clear example used by missionaries is, “if you don’t believe in Jesus/Yeshua, ‘The Bible says you’re going to hell.’”
This is spiritual and religious abuse. Spiritual vulnerability is fertile ground for predators, demonstrating psychopathic traits and qualities.
Psychopathy and Missionaries:
In his article, “Why Predators Are Attracted to Careers in the Clergy,” FBI agent and author Joe Navarro notes that psychopathic predators are often attracted to the clerical and missionary fields. Why? Because a religious structure provides a pre-existing organization with which to prey on others. It gives them legitimacy, respectability, and a “title.”
A religious community possesses a pre-existing pool of potential victims. Relationships with individuals are easy to establish in a religious organization or community from which to exploit vulnerabilities and weaknesses, as well as private information.
For a missionary psychopath, associates and colleagues help provide cover and collaborator cooperation. Organizations have a tendency to “cover up” negative revelations or actions of members. Organizations provide financial support for a psychopath, and legal or moral cover in the event of ethical or legal revelations.
Another expert, Dr. Cyndi Matthews, points out in “The Dangers of Spiritual Abuse: Clinical Implications and Best Practice” that some indicators of spiritual abuse are that the abusers:
- will talk about how they are the cause of their own suffering and need to be more faithful, read more, go to church more, and be more forgiving for their suffering to be alleviated.
- will have a polarized view of their deity – they see their god as either a Santa Claus figure or an extremely vindictive being. This polarized interpretation creates a picture of life in terms of all things being good or evil.
- may display magical thinking, meaning all good things come as a result of good behavior and all bad things come as a result of bad/sinful behavior. Car accidents, illnesses, cancer, and tragedies may all be seen as somehow being their fault because of their sinful behavior.
- Author James C. Tanner, in an article entitled “Why Psychopaths are Attracted to Jobs in Religious Ministry,” contends that no denomination uses any form of psychological screening to assess psychopathology in their clergy or missionaries. Being a clergy member or having religious roles is one of the most popular professions chosen by predators and allows them to engage in spiritual abuse.
Involvement and association in a religious structure allows the religious predator to defy criticism under the guise of an attack on the religious structure or theology itself. Conversely, a missionary predator not only has the defense of the structure of the religious organization, and the cover of theology and ideology but also the defense of other religions and their structure. Invoking “God” as a defense for religious predatory behavior crosses religious lines and pits the legal system and psychopathological crimes against “a higher power” – a different realm of defense entirely.
As author Navarro states:
“Predators soon realize that the ability to invoke a deity in their defense is a powerful card to hold that trumps all other arguments. They can always say, ‘I was moved by the lord,’ to do this or that, ‘I was commanded by God to,’ do this or that, or ‘it is the will of the lord,’ to do this or that. That is a tough, faith/emotionally laden argument that is difficult to refute; especially for believers that are already vested having spent time and money in an organization….”
Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Freyd has developed an acronym to understanding psychopaths called “DARVO,” which means “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”
The first stage involves gaslighting. In the case of predatory Christian missionaries in Israel, the psychopathic abuser Denies their predatory behavior; when confronted with evidence such as their own words or media, they Attack counter-missionaries for trying to hold them accountable for their actions; and then the psychopathic missionary proclaims that they are the actual victim in the missionary activity, thus Reversing the position of Victim and Offender. Thus, the predatory missionaries not only play the victim (such as “those Jews are anti-Christian” or “they want to restrict our expressions of our faith”) but also blame the victim (Israelis who identify the harm done by predatory missionaries).
Dr. Freyd writes:
“… I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully, and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior. This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of law suits, overt and covert attacks on the whistle-blower’s credibility, and so on. [T]he offender rapidly creates the impression that the abuser is the wronged one, while the victim or concerned observer is the offender. Figure and ground are completely reversed. […] The offender is on the offense and the person attempting to hold the offender accountable is put on the defense.”
Why are Israelis unable to distinguish between Christian support of Israel and actual missionary efforts to convert Jews?
There are general traits that make one vulnerable to manipulation by a psychopath. Psychopaths such as missionaries can readily detect the demeanor of a potential victim by their negative traits: isolation and loneliness, family or community estrangement, financial stressors, unsatisfactory religious experiences, yearning for support and relationships, new to a community, previous victimization and trauma, recent loss of a loved one.
Positive characteristics can also be a sign of potential approach by a psychopath: being a bored extrovert, sentimentality and empathy, free-spiritedness, excessive trustingness, to name a few.
Psychopathic missionaries have little fear of the law, no code of ethics beyond the rationale of their theology, no concern about the impact of their actions on families or communities or individuals.
Dr. Gandis Mazeika, a Lithuanian American neurologist and psychiatrist (and himself a victim of a psychopath), stated in a personal interview: “Psychopaths succeed because normal people suspend disbelief in their behavior and their impact. Psychopaths in general will often shelter behind the cloak of institutions – whether politics or religion. Psychopathy is the ultimate con game, the ultimate way to control people, it’s the cloak of authority.”
Israeli community, political, and organizational leaders crave American Christian political and financial support. They seem unable or unwilling to distinguish between genuine support (no matter the theological and ideological underpinnings) and the toxicity of psychopathic missionary activity. When Israeli leadership takes no role in limiting, regulating, restricting, or even acknowledging actual psychopathic missionizing, it is difficult for the public to take seriously the true nature of active, predatory conversionary missionizing. Renaming and identifying all Christian support of Israel as “friends” ignores the long history of Christian predatory expansionism.
I have attempted to discuss this issue with well-intended, good-hearted Israeli community and organizational leaders. Many of them appear to have “lacuna” – a psychological term implying a break or a gap in memory or cognition. It can imply a gap in conscience.
In conversations about the harm done to Israel and Israelis by psychopathic missionaries, many community leaders agree with the potential danger and impact but cannot distinguish the constructive and positive support versus the toxic actions of missionaries. Some respond with unbridled anger to any discussion about the consequences of not addressing psychopathic missionaries.
The justification by Israeli Jewish supporters of overt Christian missionizing in Israel includes minimizing the impact or number of successful converts, denying the existence of missionary activity, decrying the impact on financial and political support from the United States by counter-missionary activity, noting the diminished political and financial support of American Jews, accusations of anti-Christian bigotry, outrage at articulation and presentation of proof of such activity, lawsuits of defamation and libel at counter-missionaries, and accusations of theological rigidity.
For some community and religious leaders intimately involved with or supporting predatory missionary activity, it is the source of their livelihood. Some Israeli leaders fully acknowledge the harm and damage done by missionaries but refuse to put themselves on the line for fear of losing financial or political support.
The Impact of the Jew Whisperers in Israel:
As of this writing, there have been 24,213 Israeli casualties of war since the foundation of the State and 4,255 victims of terrorism, for a total of 28,468 physical deaths.
According to recent media reports, missionary activity in Israel has successfully converted 30,000 Jews to a belief in “Yeshua” (Jesus), under the guise of “messianic Jews.” These are Jews who have been lost to the Jewish people, lost to their families, lost to their communities, and who have become Christians. This is the murder of Jewish souls.
Missionizing in Israel is not “freedom of religion.” It is the historical continuation of the social and geographic predatory expansionism of Christianity. We are beguiled fools if we don’t deal with this swiftly and decisively.
Beware of the Jew Whisperers.