FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Inside Israel’s Psyche

CDATA[Groups of people, either nations or cultures, just like individuals have a consciousness. And like individuals, a civilization collective consciousness records and  reacts to historical traumas. History leaves scars on people’s collective consciousness. If some individuals tend to bury personal traumatic experiences under the false assumption that ignoring the pain will heal it, some cultures tend to do the same. Bringing up the collective crimes of Germans and Japanese during World War II is a taboo subject in both Germany and Japan, as if both cultures are suffering from a collective amnesia. If you bring up in a conversation the atrocities committed by Japanese troops in Manchuria, Korea, the Philippines or Vietnam between 1936 and 1945, the standard answer from amnesic contemporary Japanese will likely be either “We didn’t know” or “It was a long time ago”. This applies to Germany as well, even though it is a crime in this country to deny the existence of the holocaust. Regardless, both cultures, as a defense mechanism, suffer from historic amnesia.

From persecuted Jews to Zionists: Why do abused become abusers?

If Sigmund Freud was alive today, and could put Israel or more practically either PM Netanyahu or his sidekick Lieberman on his couch for a few psychoanalytical sessions, one wonders what he would find out. Most psychological studies of abusive personalities point in the same direction. It seems to be a paradox, but as individuals, most people who display abusive behaviors in relationships were abused as children.

On first thought, one would think that people who had been abused would be more sensitive, not less, to the pain inflicted on others. That they would, as individuals or a collective, show a greater sense of empathy. But more often than not, in the case of children who were abused, they grow up to be abusers. It is as if the psychological damage and trauma from early childhood turns our natural and normal sense of compassion and empathy towards each other into a vicious cycle of  borderline sociopathic behaviors, where inflicting pain become a source of pleasure. For individuals, this cycle of pain get passed on endlessly from one generation to the next. What applies to individuals is a good analysis model to a culture collective’s psyche.

For thousands of years, between the Middle East and Europe, the Jewish people have been persecuted, abused and forced to move constantly around. In Europe, Jews were not allowed to own land and could not have roots as they were fleeing bigotry — such as the Inquisition in Spain — slavery, pogroms and the despotic powers of the kingdoms of Europe and the Tzars in Russia. When tolerated, they had to live in ghettos such as the one in Warsaw. This precarious existence for Jewish communities in Europe, with the constant thread of having to leave, brought crafts, knowledge and money at an essential premium for Jewish survival. Books and money are portable, and the constant persecutions against them very likely made Jews develop special skills in both areas of knowledge and finance. Jews became “the people of the book,” and to them knowledge, not material things, was the most precious possession.

Israel: “He who struggles with God”

“He who struggles with God” is the Hebrew meaning of the word Israel. But the Jewish state, as defined by Zionist principles, is not only fighting with recognition of Palestine as a nation, but also with Judaism’s  humanist traditions. Judaism is viewed by many Jewish scholars as a civilization, not just a religion. Part of this rich Judaic cultural heritage was passed on into more recent monotheist religions such as Christianity and Islam.

This view of defining Judaism more as a civilization than just a religion is one of the main points made by Amos Oz and his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger in their new book “Jews and Words.” For Oz, a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University and Oz-Salzberger, a writer and historian at the University of Haifa, “Judaism is not a bloodline but a text line.”

“For thousands of years, we Jews had nothing but books. We had no land, we had no holy sites, we had no magnificent architecture, we had no heroes: we had books. We had texts, and those texts were always discussed around the family table. I would add that you can never get two Jews to agree with each other on anything. It’s difficult to find one Jew who agrees with himself or herself on something, because everyone has a divided mind and soul, everyone is ambivalent. So our civilization is a civilization of dispute, of disagreement and of argument,” said Amos Oz in an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon.

Gaza: A modern-day version of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw

After the horrendous crimes committed against them during World War II by Nazi Germany, Jews rightly decided that it would never happen to them again. They will not be the sacrificial lamb of human history, and no longer be victimized. But 64 years after its creation in 1948, the Jewish state is now the one doing the victimizing: evolving from oppressed to oppressor. If Jews were treated like second-class citizens and were denied land ownership for centuries, they have now turned the table of history, and Palestinians are on the receiving end of the wrath of the abused turned abuser. Palestinians are denied land while Israeli settlers keep expanding in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Just like their ancestors in Eastern Europe, Palestinians are treated by settlers and the Jewish state as second-class citizens living in an open-sky jail surrounded by thick concrete walls. Palestinians, just like Jews during World War II in the Warsaw ghetto have become the victims, the collateral damage of history.

Gilbert Mercier is the Editor in Chief of News Junkie Post, where this essay originally appeared. 

More articles by:

Gilbert Mercier is the editor in chief of News Junkie Post and the author of  The Orwellian Empire.

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail