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.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail