Forced existence

Middle East
on 41 Comments

In memory of Jeanne & Joseph Sullivan

It is popular in Israel, the US and western world to claim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is important to discuss to what extent this is true and how this assertion is disconnected from the reality of life in Israel.

Israel is a de facto two-nation state which, for a long time, has included the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Half the state’s citizens are Jewish and half are Palestinian; there are around 6.3 million of each. The Jewish half is privileged and enjoys social and civil rights, whereas most of the Palestinian half is under occupation and has few or no rights at all. This is not the way a democracy should behave. This is important because the status quo is supported by US taxes and foreign policies.

Most US citizens are not alone in failing to recognize this; most Jewish Israelis are also blind to it. There is a reason for this blindness: simply put, life for most of them is quite good; they don’t want to share their power with the Palestinians; they do not respect Palestinians. What do they respect and cherish? Mr. Netanyahu has told us: “life itself”. In a nutshell, this is the hardcore ethics of the Israeli-Jewish collective. I will come back to it.

 

Reflections on Israeli society

Israeli society is big on issues but only small in terms of its population. It becomes smaller when we consider only the Jewish sector, which comprises around 80% of all Israeli citizens. Most of these are Zionist Jews, from the left and the right, religious and non-religious, well-to-do and poor, coming from various countries of origin. I refer to this group as the Zionist Israeli Collective (ZIC) and I will analyze this group as if it were a single individual. The validity of such an analysis has been discussed by thinkers such as Carl Jung, Wilfred Bion, Emile Durkheim, and Elias Canetti.

The ZIC suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mainly as a result of the Holocaust. Such a disorder occurs when one can neither forget the trauma nor work it through; in other words, in order to recover the PTSD sufferer has to accept whatever elements have been repressed and overcome the psychological resistance to exploring them. In the case of the group, if the traumatic event retained in the collective memory is not worked through, in time it becomes ritualized and codified as part of the collective identity. The group relates to the trauma it experienced and survived as a founding event of its society.  This is what happened in the case of the State of Israel.

The Jewish large group had neither the time nor the opportunity to recover from the trauma of the Holocaust – or to cope with the overwhelming aggression hidden within its psyche – between the events of the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel. As a result, the ZIC remains in an unresolved post-traumatic condition which, among other things, results in its admiration of power, stemming from identification with the aggressor.  In the film The Gatekeepers[1], Avraham Shalom, a former head of the shabak (the Israeli secret services), clearly states that Israel has become a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in World War II.

The late Avraham Shalom, former Israeli security chief who likened the Israeli occupation to Nazi occupations. Photo from The Gatekeepers, Sony Pictures.

The late Avraham Shalom, former Israeli security chief who likened the Israeli occupation to Nazi occupations. Photo from The Gatekeepers, Sony Pictures.

The ZIC minimizes the humanity of non-Jews, especially in the case of Palestinian citizens of Israel, by including ethnicity and religion on ID documents and by conducting a policy that discriminates against them in respect of all their civil rights: in education, housing, employment, social mobility. In the occupied Palestinian territory violations of human rights include targeted assassinations, deportations, house demolitions, restricted mobility, extensive administrative detentions, torture and the creation of ethnically-sealed ghettos like the Gaza Strip.

These policies are coupled with a deep contempt for the weak, the loser, and the fleeing refugee. The image of the weak passive victim serves as an unbearable reminder to Jewish Israelis of the mythical, codified and painful aspect of the Holocaust that rendered Jews passive, weak and defenseless, with no army to protect them. It is my contention that the ZIC cannot forgive itself for what happened in Europe in World War II, and transfers its unforgiving contempt to those who are now the weak ones – the occupied Palestinians and those asylum seekers fleeing Eritrea and Sudan who end up in Israel.

However, the strong conqueror still perceives of himself as a persecuted victim. This sense of victimhood is a cornerstone of the ZIC identity. The victim feels persecuted and lonely. The evil and cruelty within him/her are denied and projected onto the enemy, thus transforming the weak enemy into a mighty persecutor.

I saw the same phenomena time and again in my psychotherapy practice, especially in treating couples and families. Being a victim in one’s own eyes can serve as justification for every wrongdoing to another person.

The ZIC is always in a state of preparation for the inevitable catastrophe, despite Israeli military might. It has always viewed itself as being under mortal threat from Arabs and the whole world and its fears have included invasion, defeat in war and becoming a Jewish demographic minority in the State of Israel.

The ZIC’s psyche is organized around unchallengeable basic assumptions which affect almost every aspect of life in Israel. Such underlying assumptions include the belief in the ZIC’s purity, justification and high moral values; that the ZIC does not commit evil acts, rather it is a victim, united and pursuing peace above all.  In the ZIC ‘s eyes, its army conducts itself with “purity of arms”[2], and it is the most moral army in the world which only uses force for self-defense.

The ZIC is not a lover of peace; on the contrary, peace might actually result in another trauma for this group. Having analyzed the psycho-political condition of the ZIC in the early 1980s, a period of aggravated inner tension, I claimed that the severe fragmentation of Israeli society left it in need of a war to restore its sense of unity and inner cohesion; war would be the remedy for social disintegration. The peace treaty signed with Egypt in the south (1979-81), and impending peace with Lebanon in the north, raised the threat of fragmentation and disintegration to the degree of psychological trauma. I predicted a war that would save Israel from the trauma of peace; war in Lebanon started in June 1982.

The first Lebanon war, then the second, attacks on the Gaza Strip, attacks in the West Bank together with the 49-year-long occupation (the longest in the world) were not enough to shake the  ZIC ‘s belief in its craving for peace and its conviction that it does no evil and is essentially justified – war crimes, systematic torture, killing without trial (extra-judicial execution), house demolitions, prolonged administrative detention, deportation and, most importantly, the vast Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory – all notwithstanding.

The role of the mechanism of denial in the human psyche facilitates passage from knowing to not knowing, and to not remembering unacceptable knowledge. Thus denial allows the ZIC to ignore the fact that they have the largest and mightiest army in the Middle East, and to see an existential threat to their existence from the Palestinians who have no air force, no navy or any kind of sophisticated weapons. The fear is real; only the facts on which it is based are incoherent. The ZIC victim views present reality through the prism of the past, the Holocaust; therefore the means by which coherent reality-testing might be achieved are completely distorted.

Distorted historical perspective goes hand in hand with distorted thinking in general, and critical thinking in particular. Thus obliterating the potential for insight, Israel has become catatonic in its public political discourse. There are no real voices of political opposition, despite the public relations image of Israel being a genuine democracy.

 

Intoxication with power

Since its founding, the Israeli state has tended towards an unshakeable belief in, and reliance upon power. This has intensified and reached a state of intoxication with power. This intoxication leads to disturbances both in the collective and the individual psyche. Such disturbances include the avoidance of historical perspective, the self-image of victimhood, increased aggression within Israeli society, the prevalence of hate and anti-social behavior.

 

Hate

I believe that hate can be seen as an inverted form of the libidinal power of love. It can serve the ego as a source of energy and become an addiction. Hate nourishes angry feelings and actions. Hate and anger serve the ego with a sense of its own righteousness, efficacy and self-preservation.

The painful feelings of self-hatred and contempt experienced internally by the ZIC when faced with the image of Jews as victims were unbearable to the point that they could not be contained. The result was a projection of these feelings onto the Palestinians; the more their misery increased over the years, the more they became the proper object for the displaced feelings of contempt and hatred of Israeli Jews. Thus, hatred of the Palestinians serves an emotional existential need of Israeli Zionist society; hate towards the Palestinians functions as the outlet for Israeli Jewish fear of inner fragmentation. The price paid for inner peace is avoiding peace with the Palestinians.

 

Violence

Violence has become a defining characteristic of Israeli society. The targets of this violence are the weak: Palestinians, foreign workers, asylum seekers, African refugees, women, the elderly and the poor.

A clear indicator of the increased violence in Israeli society is manifest in violence against women. The number of women murdered by family members and the number of rapes has increased significantly. Israel has consistently held first place in the western world in juvenile violence since 2000. In the same period, cases of murder or serious violence as a result of minor arguments, like fights over a parking space, have also accumulated.

 

Responsibility

The most meaningful political phenomenon which occurred as a consequence of the Oslo Accords was the reallocation of responsibility between the State of Israel and the fledgling Palestinian Authority, which took place without a parallel redistribution of power.  As I understand it, in the relationship between oppressor and oppressed, the oppressor sees responsibility as resting with the oppressed, not with himself.  During the years of ‘peace negotiations’, Israel increased its power and control over the Palestinians, on the one hand, and abrogated its responsibility towards them, on the other; too much power and too little responsibility is another path to an intoxication with power in the oppressor.

Israeli society is neglecting and avoiding the vital task of examining its actions: its refusal to look into the past is also a refusal to take responsibility for its actions in the past. Similarly, the inability to craft a vision for the future amounts to a refusal to take responsibility for its actions in the present.

 

Peace

A key axiom that persists among the ZIC is that Israelis want and crave peace, and that wars are always forced upon them. This belief brooks no argument, and critical thinking is out of the question. The Palestinians, and the Arabs as a whole, are always the warmongers; Israelis, on the other hand, are peace-loving.

The crucial question is not whether we are aggressive, but whether we will learn to take responsibility for our aggression.

The ZIC sees the occupation as an ongoing condition. The contradiction between the ZIC’s claim to an inevitable willingness to achieve peace and the prolonged status of occupation belongs to the psycho-political zone of denial. The ZIC is unable to confront this contradiction.

The occupier is trapped in his own forced existence as occupier – unable to change, despite the fact that this would benefit both sides.

 

Forced existence

Forced existence is a ‘soft’ term, not well defined; it cannot be found in textbooks. At the same time, forced existence sounds coherent, meaningful and even familiar, maybe because forced existence is part of the human condition. I will try to explain the term.

Most of the conditions of our existence are forced upon us: we cannot choose to be born, or select our parents or the time and place of our birth. We cannot choose our gender, race, color, talents, intelligence or other aspects of who we are. These are forced upon us and play a crucial part in shaping our existence. Very few of us choose or change our gender, class, nationality or religion.

In addition, there are the conditions which people enforce on others: in the different punitive institutions like jails, prisons, concentration camps, institutions for delinquent youth and in schools.

Most aspects of human life, whether on the personal or the collective level, are subjected to force under military occupation. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have been under Israeli occupation for the last 49 years; Israel has exercised almost absolute control over the day-to-day life of the Palestinian population. This is expressed in Israeli control over Palestinian movement and mobility through a system of sieges, roadblocks, closures and an arbitrary permit regime. Palestinians cannot travel abroad for health care, work, commercial interests, studies, or to visit family members – let alone for vacation. They cannot import or export any goods without an Israeli permit. Intentional destruction of civilian infrastructure, as in the case of the bombing of electric turbines in the Gaza Strip (2006), destroying essential civil systems, such as health care, sewerage, education, culture, work and trade – dealing a death blow to the Palestinian economy – inevitably results in forced poverty, malnutrition and psychological trauma.

It is quite easy to demonstrate the forced existence of the Palestinians under occupation; what may be less obvious is the forced existence of the Israeli occupiers.

The ZIC lives under the enforcement of a rigid regime of denial and a system of basic assumptions and axioms. Those are alleged ‘facts’ and therefore not subject to examination, critical thinking or any kind of proof of veracity. The axiomatic Israeli pursuit of peace is by far stronger than reality. The 1956 war with Egypt, the 1967 war, the 1973 war, the first and second Lebanon wars are all good examples. Under this forced existence, members of the ZIC offer themselves up to one war after another, without stopping to think why they are going to kill and get killed.  The denial and axioms create a vicious circle that traps the ZIC in a perpetual cycle of militarism and warfare, leaving no way out.

The occupation which started in 1967 brought about new dynamics in the ZIC’s mechanism of denial. The original denial of the Palestinians’ existence in the notion of an empty land (embodied in the phrase “a land without people for people without a land”, attributed to Israel Zangwill in 1892) was posited from the very inception of Zionism. This exhausted its usefulness in 1967 when a new epoch started. From this point onwards, the existence of the Palestinians had to be highlighted rather than denied, since the ZIC needed them as objects for their continuously forced existence as occupiers. In the words of the famous Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy:

“ועכשיו מה יקרה לנו ללא הברברים? / הם היו, האנשים האלה, סוג של פתרון”.

“What in the world will we do without barbarians?
Those people would have been a solution, of sorts.”

I remember my grandparents and some of their generation – thinkers who, like the members of Brit Shalom,[3] lived their lives according to Jewish ethics based on questions about how to live, and what values to be guided by. These are in profound contradiction to the ethics of Israeli Zionists who dwell on the question of do I live, and how one stays alive. When this is the guiding principle, there is no consideration of morality, of how to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’; rather, idolizing power and accumulating weapons become paramount. The notion of how to live is a moral question; how to stay alive is a functional one. That is exactly what Netanyahu said: Life itself – staying alive, no matter how.

 

Human Rights and Psychiatry

Human rights are historically connected with the advent of psychiatry.  The French physician Philippe Pinel[4] was the man who thought about and implemented the release of mentally ill inmates from French jails.  Understanding mental illness, distinguishing it from criminal activity, protecting the rights of the mentally ill and human rights are still integral substantial components of psychiatry. Awareness, or lack thereof, of these components dictates to a considerable extent how psychiatry makes use of its own power.

The question of where psychiatry situates itself in relation to the state and the individual is a socio-political issue contingent on psychiatry’s awareness of its role as a protector of human rights.

At the same time, psychiatry’s position in the social sphere also stems from – and is subject to – the theoretical position it adopts.  According to classical theory, which has informed psychiatry since its inception, the intra-personal is the principle dimension of therapeutic work.  During the last few decades of the 20th century, however, theoretical developments have stressed the significance of the inter-personal dimension.  Classical psychiatry, which assumes that everything takes place within the personal, considers the socio-political dimension – the super-personal as I call it – as beyond the borders of psychiatry, and therefore excludes it from its discourse.  Obviously, a theoretical position which ignores the socio-political dimension is itself political. The inclusion of the super-personal within psychiatric discourse is crucial for increasing awareness of – and providing the necessary theoretical tools for dealing with – human rights. It provides space for a socio-political examination of the system of motives, emotions, fears and prejudices informing the psychiatrist – as well as his or her rapport with the patient.

 

Mentally ill Palestinian prisoners

Psychiatry has considerable influence in determining social norms; it is conceived as an authority that defines and upholds these norms and determines what constitutes ‘normal’. Thus, psychiatry is at the same time the body that determines society’s norms, and the guardian of those norms.

The mentally ill, or lunatics as Michel Foucault described them, are the ‘other’ and society treats them as such.  They are positioned outside the social order, alone and branded. Ironically and tragically, with mentally ill Palestinian prisoners, this is not the case.  A mentally ill Palestinian will be forced into the Israeli penal system and, as a prisoner, he or she is not removed from the social sphere to a psychiatric hospital, as one would expect, but rather incarcerated in jail.

Within the power game managed by the state to silence the voices of the ‘other’, the psychiatrist becomes complicit so long as he or she does not actively resist the prevailing state of affairs.

 

The diagnostic relationship in prison— a theoretical perspective

In far too many cases the psychiatrist reduces the prisoner to just one aspect among the many that make up his subjectivity.  Blinded to that which it suits him not to see, the doctor-psychiatrist assumes the part to be the whole and renders the prisoner nothing more than a criminal / Arab / terrorist / Muslim / woman / mother.  This view eliminates the prisoner’s individuality and reduces him to the representative of a group characterized by stereotypical features stemming from the doctor’s prejudices.

Just as a surgeon works with a knife, a psychiatrist works with his personality. The psychiatrist is required to be aware of his own subjectivity, and to recognize that he is subject to prejudices and preconceptions and cannot rely on classical theory which sees him as an objective and neutral observer.

The Israeli state plays an aggressive, political game to silence and oppress the ‘other’. There is a constant danger that psychiatrists will fall foul of their blind spots and end up being complicit in this process, acting as agents of the authorities. The blind spots allow the psychiatrist to see himself as apolitical and to consider anyone who objects to, or does not identify with, the government’s worldview as acting out of political motivation which counters the ‘purity’ of the psychiatric profession.

In the encounter between a powerful psychiatrist and powerless mentally ill detainee, especially one who is Palestinian, the doctor is likely to support the authorities’ worldview which obscures the boundaries between his professional judgment and his political beliefs. This occurs when the doctor’s self-awareness is deficient. It leads to one – or several – misdiagnoses of imposter, manipulator or even hysterical personality, all of which are aimed at avoiding the correct assessment of psychotic episode or schizophrenia that would save the patient from prosecution in a military court, lengthy prison sentence and/or extended solitary confinement.

 

PHR-Israel (PHRI)

Against this background let me tell you about a small but fierce (non-governmental) organization in Israel that I founded, called Physicians for Human Rights, which works to improve the health conditions of all individuals, and fights against the occupation and its attendant injustice.

As doctors in PHRI, we are guided by the conviction that human dignity and the integrity of the human body and mind are basic human rights, without reference to class, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation or religion. We start from the premise that without deeply rooted convictions, activism means very little; and that without concrete action, convictions, no matter how noble, are worthless. Our convictions support us through tough times when we feel isolated in our own society, particularly because our activity takes place in our own backyard, not in some other part of the world.

As doctors, we place more importance on fighting the wrongs committed by people against people than battling against microbes and viruses. Hence our title: Physicians for Human Rights, and our fight against the Israeli occupation which we see as the source of human rights violations here.

Some thirty years ago, PHRI was the first organization to introduce the term ‘human rights’ to Israeli policy makers and the public at large. Since then it has become a popular term co-opted and distorted in ways which suit various politicians. For us at PHRI it remains an enduring principle.

Another guiding principle is respect for others, which serves the human rights activist as the inner compass that ensures we avoid the trap of patronizing, despising, degrading or humiliating people in our “do-gooder” role. Respect monitors the dignity of both sides. Respect, I believe, is the readiness to share power.

PHRI activities include prisoners’ rights, ethical treatment of hunger strikers, the struggle against state-sanctioned torture and Israeli doctors’ collusion with it, and our efforts to change state policy towards undocumented people under its regime.

 

The IMA’s Ethics Committee and prisoners’ rights

In March 1993, the Israeli newspaper Hadashot published an article based on an interview with me. It presented the cases of three Palestinian prisoners whom I had examined in jail and found to be chronic schizophrenics. The article cited dubious diagnoses of these patients by different Israeli psychiatrists including “anxiety resulting from conditions of incarceration” and “imposter”. These people were psychotic schizophrenics, misdiagnosed by Jewish psychiatrists who failed to recognize their condition.

The rhetorical question asked by the journalist at Hadashot was apposite:

“What is a psychiatrist supposed to do when asked to treat a terrorist who is also mentally ill?  In the case of MS[5], he was found to be sane, incarcerated for eight years and at the same time treated with anti-schizophrenia medication”.

Following the publication of this article, two of the seven psychiatrists mentioned in the article filed a suit against me.  After two years of hearings, the disciplinary court appointed by the IMA’s Ethics Committee, decided that I should apologize in writing for mentioning the doctors’ names in the article. My apology was to appear in the IMA’s official newsletter.  The IMA’s Ethics Committee refused to deal with the moral, professional and ethical issues I had raised, namely that Jewish-Israeli psychiatrists examining Palestinian prisoners were repeatedly providing misdiagnoses and, therefore, in my opinion, this was not simply an error – it was intentional.

In my forced apology, I discussed the ethical significance of the way in which Jewish-Israeli psychiatrists systematically relate to Palestinians who are mentally ill as imposters and manipulators and how, as a consequence, military courts sentence them to many years in jail. While serving their sentence, sooner or later mentally ill Palestinians are transferred to solitary confinement which frequently leads to severe deterioration in their mental condition, such that they may smear their excrement around the cell or hit their heads against the walls. The apology I wrote included a request that the IMA’s Ethics Committee act to remedy this situation. The IMA never published my letter, and the Ethics Committee never convened to discuss my request.

It is a reflection of the socio-political needs of many individual psychiatrists, as well as of the organization that unites them, to see Palestinians as the enemy in line with the hegemonic worldview of the ZIC.

 

The IMA’s ethical failure to challenge the use of torture

In 1993, six years before the Israeli High Court of Justice prohibited the use of so-called moderate or severe force or, in other words, torture, PHRI asked the IMA to confront the problem of doctors participating in torture.

PHRI does not accept the claim that doctors’ examinations before, during and after interrogations which include torture are justifiable and rejects the argument that these can prevent suffering and irreparable damage.  PHRI views this activity as complicit with torture, and views a doctor’s recommendation not to use one form of torture as giving implicit permission to use others.

The PHRI challenged the IMA by demanding that the following clauses dealing with human rights be inserted into the IMA’s code of ethics:

  • A prohibition against the participation of doctors in torture by way of medical examinations before and during torture in General Security Services (GSS) interrogations.
  • Prohibition against writing false doctors’ letters constituting a cover for the GSS after harm was inflicted on the body or mind.
  • The obligation of every doctor who sees a man or a woman who has suffered from abuse, beating, torture, etc, to file a report, in a manner similar to the existing law in Israel regarding the duty to report cases of child abuse.
  • Prohibition against the active participation of doctors in examination and treatment of prisoners in solitary confinement or segregated confinement (which we consider as torture).
  • Only an absolute prohibition against any complicity with the GSS will ensure that doctors do not slide down the slippery slope ultimately leading them to participate in torture.

 

Migrants, Asylum seekers and displaced people in Israel

The State of Israel was founded as a homeland for Jewish refugees from Europe and around the world following World War II. Memories of the bitter past are buried under present fears of losing the Jewish demographic majority, leaving no room for solidarity with refugees, compassion or consideration of human rights. Refugees and asylum seekers are not welcome in Israel and the state treats them as a threat to its existence.

In Israel there are some 300,000 non-citizen migrants. Among them are migrant workers and about 43,000 asylum seekers, of who over 90% are from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel does not refer to them as refugees or asylum seekers, but rather as ‘infiltrators’ so as to portray them as a security threat. They enter Israel from the Sinai Peninsula, where many of them are tortured by Bedouin smugglers who hold them for ransom.  Among the various measures taken to deter their entry, Israel passed legislation permitting the incarceration of asylum seekers for a year. The purpose of this is to coerce them into leaving Israel ‘willingly’ since, according to the UN Convention on Refugees, Israel cannot deport them by force.

 

PHRI’S activities with migrants, asylum seekers and other displaced persons

PHRI’s work can be divided into individual case-work and general advocacy; it includes both humanitarian and human rights-oriented activities, as described below.

Medical services: These are delivered primarily through the Open Clinic as well as through our connections in Israeli hospitals, which are available to all residents in Israel who have no health insurance. The Open Clinic operates five days a week, staffed by volunteer doctors. Treatment doesn’t always end at the clinic – patients frequently need PHRI support vis-à-vis the healthcare system or private insurance companies. In 2016, PHRI’s Open Clinic will have conducted about 6,000 medical examinations of uninsured persons, primarily asylum seekers. In addition, our caseworkers will have assisted approximately 250 individuals.

Community outreach: This includes providing information on the right of displaced persons to health services, and the (limited) options for being treated in Israel; we also participate in community gatherings and give talks to the community.

Work with the medical community: PHRI gives talks to medical students, social workers and student nurses about refugees and other displaced persons’ rights to healthcare and the problems they face.

Advocacy: This work is undertaken both with individuals and at the general level and our clients include status-less minors, (there is a small number of minors whose parents are without legal Israeli status and who have no documents at all), asylum-seekers, migrant workers, Palestinians married to Israelis who are denied social and health rights, elderly people in the process of receiving resident status who cannot access healthcare, Holot Prison detainees, victims of trafficking and torture, pregnant women who have no prenatal care, HIV patients, people with chronic illnesses, and more.

Sinai Tortured Victims: We lobby the Israeli Parliament and Ministry of Justice, as well as the United Nations (UN Committee Against Torture) on behalf of the victims of torture in Sinai, and petition for a state-supported mechanism to identify and rehabilitate them.

We work on behalf of Palestinians married to Israelis who are unable to ‘upgrade’ their status, and petition for their access to health and welfare services, working both with the community generally and following up on new government regulations.

We provide assistance with migrant workers’ health insurance, for example where cover has been denied; in some cases we bring law suits against private insurance companies. We also lobby to bring about change to the conditions under which migrant workers live in Israel.

Apart from the daily work of PHRI, there is also considerable effort expended by PHRI to sever the connection between legal status and access to public health and welfare services. We define it as “social residency” and strive to disaggregate one’s legal status from access to public health and welfare services, so as to change the current situation in which access to the public health and welfare services does depend on legal status, and more specifically, on Israeli residency.

Underlying all this activity is the belief that critical thinking must combine with political activity in order to achieve change in the social-political sphere; one without the other will not suffice to bring about positive change in the disastrous situation between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the terrible situation of asylum-seekers, refugees and displaced people.

Notes: 

[1] A 2012 documentary film by director Dror Moreh, that tells the story of the Israeli internal security service, from the viewpoint of six of its own former heads.

[2] Purity of arms (Hebrew: טוהר הנשק‎‎, Tohar HaNeshek) is one of the values stated in the Israel Defense Forces official doctrine of ethics, The Spirit of the IDF.

[3] Brit Shalom, founded in 1925, sought a peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews in a bi-national state. Brit Shalom supporters and founders included Arthur Ruppin, Martin Buber, Hugo Bergmann, Hans Kohn, Gershom Scholem, Henrietta Szold and Albert Einstein.

[4] Philippe Pinel, Traite medico-philosophique sur l’alienation mentale, Paris, 1801.

[5] The name has been withheld to protect his privacy.

About Ruchama Marton

Dr. Ruchama Marton is a psychiatrist and human rights activist and the founder, in 1988, of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

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41 Responses

  1. gamal
    December 21, 2016, 12:56 pm

    “It is my contention that the ZIC cannot forgive itself for what happened in Europe in World War II, and transfers its unforgiving contempt to those who are now the weak ones – the occupied Palestinians and those asylum seekers fleeing Eritrea and Sudan who end up in Israel.”

    who can forget the time Jews invaded the Grand Mosque of Paris

    http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/the-grand-mosque-of-paris-a-story-of-how-muslims-saved-jews-during-the-holocaust

    • echinococcus
      December 22, 2016, 9:54 pm

      It is noted that at least 100 Jews, downed Allied airmen, Resistance fighters and escaped prisoners of war, were also spirited to safety.

      becomes, in the title: “A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust”.
      And concludes with: “Jewish literature inspires, enriches, and educates the community.”
      No Zionist site without propaganda.

  2. oldgeezer
    December 21, 2016, 4:54 pm

    Difficult yet important work. I am sure 4th personal cost is high. Thank you.

  3. RoHa
    December 21, 2016, 10:06 pm

    Cavafy wrote in Hebrew?

    • Abe Bird
      December 22, 2016, 11:54 am

      Of course not. But that one of many tricks to distort reality in order to strengthen rare and dubious left political distress.

    • echinococcus
      December 22, 2016, 9:46 pm

      He uses one Hebrew word, as an incantation, but not in this poem –I don’t have my library with me but will find it later. Not in square Aramaic script, though.

      First it was the oranges. Then it was fallafel. Looks like they’re coming for the Greek language now.

  4. Ossinev
    December 22, 2016, 9:13 am

    For a classic example of the eternally threatened eternally victimised eternally innocent of any wrong doing Zionist Israeli psyche read this carefully crafted wailing from the cuddly racist Danny Danon in today`s NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/opinion/israel-is-ready-for-a-reset-at-the-un.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0

    Don`t you just want to give the poor child a reassuring hug.

    • eljay
      December 22, 2016, 10:12 am

      || Ossinev: … Danny Danon in today`s NYT … ||

      … For Israel, the expectation from the United Nations can be summarized in one word: equality. We want to be treated no different from …

      …any other oppressive, belligerent, intransigent, nuclear-armed, (war) criminal and (religion-)supremacist that is intentionally and unapologetically engaged in colonialism and refuses to honour its obligations under international law.

      I agree.

      But what Danon is really asking for is for Israel to be favourably singled out – to be “more equal than others”.

    • talknic
      December 23, 2016, 4:59 am

      Their Hasbara runneth over … “The hostility toward Israel of an automatic majority in the General Assembly is well documented. In 2015 alone, the assembly passed some 20 resolutions condemning Israel — far more than any other country. Like all truly democratic countries, Israel has always been open to legitimate constructive criticism. Yet our critics in the General Assembly single out my country for unwarranted and excessive attention, while giving a pass to some of the world’s most brutal and despotic regimes like Syria and North Korea.”

      A) https://www.un.org/press/en/search/content/Syria
      B) https://www.un.org/press/en/search/content/North%20Korea
      C) The majority of UN resolutions on the question of Palestine are reminders because Israel remains in breach of the law

  5. JTMcPhee
    December 22, 2016, 11:18 am

    “Democracy” a meaningless term? Or maybe means “very much like the US Empire in its political economy, and like the Empire, that other self-mislabeled ‘democracy,’ getting worse for ordinary people and more deadly to the planet, but ever better and and better for ganefs and looters and spoilers of all sorts.”

    At least there’s a clear consistency and coherence to the vector of Israelite “policy…” So reminiscent of the Pentateuch and the next few Books… Judaism as an ethical discipline?

  6. Abe Bird
    December 22, 2016, 12:14 pm

    Just few facts to show the shallow concept of the article’s writer

    F(act): The US is a de facto 50-nation state which, for a long time, has included the Occupied Mexican Territories. More than Half the states’ citizens are White Christian from multiply descendants and the rest are Blacks and Hispanics coming from more than 70 states.
    So who cares?

    Q: Why should Israel share her power with their enemy, the Palestinians? Did the US shared power with Nazi Germany?

    F: Jewish Israelis are not blind but know reality very well. They won’t let the Arabs hurt Israel with their terror and violence. Arab Palestinians don’t want peace with Jewish Palestinians but want to exist without the Jews.

    F: Israeli Jews are not in Post-traumatic stress disorder, not as a result of the Holocaust. And not because of Arab repeated military and terror attacks. Raising sequiturs again and again just indicates unfamiliarity and lack of understanding of the situation.

    F: Israel treats the Muslims much better than the US treated Japanese in WWII.

    F: Israelis don’t fear peace nor fear war. They just know very well that their Arabs opponents are not looking for peace, but want to win by war, terror or political procedures and annihilate the Jewish states. It’s not what Israelis afraid of, but what the Arab Palestinians talk of.

    F: Israeli society is not violent more than any other European society. As a matter of fact, 65% of violence created by 20% of Arab citizens. Yet the numbers of crimes per capita are lower than half of the OECD states, and sure much lower as crimes in the US.

    F: Not sure who is the oppressor and oppressed in Mondo stories. But in real life the 200 million Muslims are those who (try) oppressing the 7 million Jews and not the other wise.

    F: Since 1994, Oslo year, more and more Palestinian Jews disappointed from the Arab Palestinians, watching them sticking their old believes regarding the Jews as pigs and apes and vowing to win by killing the Jews. That is the reason that even far left Jews don’t talk about peace as serious aim to achieve. They only talk about withdrawal but not for peace, but for the sake of preserving the Jewish identity of Israel. Get it? Leftists talk about the importance of nationalism as an excuse for giving up and moving away from the Palestinians.

    F: The phrase “a land without people for people without a land”, is Not attributed to Israel Zangwill in 1892 but to Rev. Alexander Keith, D.D., appeared in 1843, when he wrote that the Jews are “a people without a country; even as their own land, as subsequently to be shown, is in a great measure a country without a people”. In its most common wording,
    “A land without a people and a people without a land”, the phrase appeared in print in an 1844 review of Keith’s book in a Scottish Free Church magazine. And it was true. Only few inhabitants, Jews, Muslims and Christians, settled on that deserted region under the oppressive Ottoman administration. The great numbers of Arabs flooded into Western Palestine (as to all the Arab occupied lands all around the Middle East and North Africa. That mass immigrations resembles the nowadays immigration of millions of Muslims to the Western civilization) only after the first Zionists immigration settled on the land.

    F: Until 1974 there was no any “Palestinian people”. Every one talked about ‘Palestinian Arabs’ as kind of citizenship under the British mandate, the way the Jews were called ‘Palestinian Jews’ by the authorities. That fact hadn’t changed after 1948. The Arabs in former British mandate of Palestine were called Palestinian Arabs. They were not considered as separate people but as citizens of the Kingdom of Jordan. Why then they didn’t demand their self-expression of their identity? Because they were not a unique and separate people out of all the Arab people identity.

    F: Simplify the thoughts of existence by the writer make that article a shallow and shadow of reliable academic writing. Saying that Jewish ethics and Zionist ethics are not the same is quite a forge and abuse of truth. Israelis think first of ‘how to live’ and not of “do I live, and how one stays alive”. The common Israeli trusts its security establishment and concentrate on how to make life better. There are highly dynamic social activities. There were Great social demonstrations in 2011, while Muslims all around Israel were concentrating on how to kill more of each other, as they do it until these days. Netanyahu said that the most important for each human life is to stay alive. It’s not only the Israeli priority but all Western civilization priority. One should stay and leave to be able to take advantage of his right to live a good life. Arab societies justify the death, martyrdom, as a way of expression of human rationality. So no wonder these Islamic cultures find themselves again and again fighting each other to death. No wonder that they see their aim also to annihilate the Jews as the way to fulfill their Allah commands.

    F: If Israel would have played aggressively there was no any “Palestinian problem” by now. If Israel would have fight the Palestinian Arabs the way Arabs fight themselves in Syria, Iraq, Yemen than those of Palestinian Arabs that didn’t already died would have escaping to Europe. That means that Israel doesn’t play aggressively in any way and order. Israel many times plays to the hands of the Arab Palestinians for that.

    I could go on and show more and more false arguments of the author. She can’t support his claims by facts; she hangs on his political desires are not consistent with reality and ignoring the nature the Muslims treat to Jews, Israel and peace.

    Another important matter. She tries to analyze the psychology of Jews found in Israel, while ignoring the psychology concept of Israeli Arabs and Arabs in the occupied land and put all in proper context. Hence, blowing definitely false accusations so easily, especially as she does not have provable and can’t explain them with an accurate description of the harsh Middle East reality, before and after 2011.

    • Misterioso
      December 22, 2016, 7:09 pm

      Sigh. Just so much gobblygook.

      Fundamental truths:

      Zionism is racism. Zionism is theft. Zionism is fascism.

      Foreign Jews had the same right to claim Palestine as Irish Catholics and Mexican atheists, i.e., none whatsoever.

      Israel is a historical anachronism, 68 years of trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
      It will prove to be only a blip.

      As for today’s Arab Palestinians, along with their ancestors they have been living continuously between the River and the Sea for at least 9,000 years.

      To quote the renowned historian/anthropologist and “Holy Land” specialist, Professor Ilene Beatty:
      “When we speak of ‘Palestinians’ or of the ‘Arab population [of Palestine]‘, we must bear in mind their Canaanite origin. This is important because their legal right to the country stems…from the fact that the Canaanites were first, which gives them priority; their descendants have continued to live there, which gives them continuity; and (except for the 800,000 dispossessed refugees of 1948 [along with the further hundreds of thousands expelled before and after the war Israel launched on 5 June 1967]) they are still living there, which gives them present possession. Thus we see that on purely statistical grounds they have a proven legal right to their own land.” (“Arab and Jew in the Land of
      Canaan,” 1957)

    • Mooser
      December 22, 2016, 7:31 pm

      “I could go on and show more and more…”

      Oh, I’m sue you could. And give us lots of “de facto sequiters”, too. A look at the reasoning of a Zionist, always dispassionate, free from any taint of self-interest, and without a hint of any social or moral entitlement, let alone false accusations, or (shudder) prejudice or bigotry must be very daunting for those who would oppose the will of almost all of 2 billion Jews!
      But don’t worry “Abe” the message shines through: “Arabs” bad, Israel good” is pretty much the intended takeaway?
      And if the area isn’t up to your standards, you could always move away.

    • talknic
      December 22, 2016, 8:56 pm

      @ Abe Bird December 22, 2016, 12:14 pm

      Just few facts to show the shallow concept of the article’s writer

      F(act): The US is a de facto 50-nation state which, for a long time, has included the Occupied Mexican Territories. “

      After a referendum amongst its legitimate citizens, the US legally annexed Texas which at the time was not a part of Mexico

      “Q: Why should Israel share her power with their enemy, the Palestinians? Did the US shared power with Nazi Germany?”

      A: Israel is occupying the Palestinians. End the occupation. Withdrawal for peace. Worked with Egypt, Jordan. BTW Germany was occupying an ally to the US, Europe .

      F: … Arab Palestinians don’t want peace with Jewish Palestinians but want to exist without theJews .. Israelis.

      F: Israel treats the Muslims much better than the US treated Japanese in WWII”

      A) irrelevant to the legal staustus of Israel’s territial extent and its illegal activities in non Israeli territories held under occupation
      B)The US didn’t claim any Japanese territories as its own. Israel is in breach of International Law and the UN Charter by illegally claiming territories held under military occupation

      F: Israelis … just know very well that their Arabs opponents are not looking for peace, but want to win by war, terror or political procedures and annihilate the Jewish states. It’s not what Israelis afraid of, but what the Arab Palestinians talk of.”

      The Arab Peace initiative guaranteed Israeli integrity over it’s legitimate territories and conceded to accept only 22% of their legitimate territories for peace. Israel has yet to answer…

      F: Israeli society is not violent more than any other European society. As a matter of fact, 65% of violence created by 20% of Arab citizens. Yet the numbers of crimes per capita are lower than half of the OECD states, and sure much lower as crimes in the US….”

      A) Any European societies in countries that have been in military occupation of someone else’s territories for over half a century?
      B) Irrelevant to the legal status of Israeli territories and its illegal practices in non-Israeli territories held under occupation.

      F: … in real life the 200 million Muslims are those who (try) oppressing the 7 million Jews and not the other wise.”

      … and that’s why the Arabs offered Israel a Peace initiative guaranteeing Israel complete autonomy within its own territories, as required by International Law

      “F: The phrase “a land without people for people without a land”, is Not attributed to Israel Zangwill in 1892 but to Rev. Alexander Keith, D.D., appeared in 1843… “

      So what? It’s irrelevant to the legal status of Israeli territories and its illegal practices in non-Israeli territories held under military occupation.

      F: Until 1974 there was no any “Palestinian people” … They were not considered as separate people but as citizens of the Kingdom of Jordan … “

      A) Palestinian Nationality Law was adopted in 1925 per Article 7 of the 1922 LoN Mandate for Palestine, wherein Jewish folk could gain Palestinian citizenship
      B) Only the citizens in the territory that became Jordan, when it became Jordan (1946), were automatically Jordanian citizens. The Palestinians in what remained of Palestine at that time were not Jordanian citizens. The West Bank as it was officially renamed, was legally annexed to Jordan at the request of the representatives of the majority of the legitimate citizens of that territory. It was a part of Jordanian sovereignty in 1967 at which time Jordan was a UN Member State and a signatory to Geneva Convention IV as a High Contracting Power.

      “I could go on …”

      Indeed. However, you’ve let your team down enough already

      • Misterioso
        December 22, 2016, 10:47 pm

        Talknic:

        Well done!!!

        Like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • RoHa
      December 22, 2016, 9:14 pm

      ‘Until 1974 there was no any “Palestinian people”.’

      So what? They were people living in Palestine. They were denied their rights. They were driven out of their homes, and their farms and businesses were stolen. What does it matter whether or not they had a “Palestinian identity”? They were treated unjustly.

      “Only few inhabitants, Jews, Muslims and Christians, settled on that deserted region under the oppressive Ottoman administration. The great numbers of Arabs flooded into Western Palestine (as to all the Arab occupied lands all around the Middle East and North Africa. …only after the first Zionists immigration settled on the land.”

      It looks as though you have been reading Joan Peters.

      But let us pretend to believe that for a minute.

      (a) If it is true, it means that the main mass of Arab immigration occurred during the last years of Ottoman rule and the earlier years of British Mandate, and at the same time as, or even a bit before, the main mass of Zionist immigration. Why would not this give the Arabs at least the same right to live in the land as the Zionists had?

      (b) An argument commonly offered by Zionists (though you may not accept this argument ) is this:

      P. Since ancient times, there has always been a small number of native Palestinian Jews living in Palestine.
      C. Therefore, foreign Jews have a right to live in Palestine, and set up a state there.

      But this Zionist argument undermines Zionism, for it is also the case that

      P’. Since ancient times, there has always been a number of native Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in Palestine.

      So it seems we can conclude that

      C’. Foreign Muslims and Christians have just as much right to live in Palestine, and set up a state there, as foreign Jews do.

      How C is derived from P is a mystery, but, until that mystery is explained, we should either reject C or accept C’.

      So either foreign Jews had no right to Palestine, or the alleged foreign Arab immigrants had an equal right.

      • zaid
        December 22, 2016, 10:18 pm

        Ai BIrd

        Labeling something a FACT doesnot make it such, your long comment lakes any fact actually .

        “Why should Israel share her power with their enemy, the Palestinians? Did the US shared power with Nazi Germany? ”

        Is comparing Palestinians to Nazis acceptable in this website.

      • rosross
        December 22, 2016, 10:27 pm

        @RoHa,

        I am not sure on which planet you live, but NO RELIGION EVER has the right to set up its own State on someone else’s land.

        Jews have no right to Palestine, neither do Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Rastafarians – religions don’t get homelands or land rights.

        And this is not about Arabs, unless you want to classify Israelis as Europeans, which most were, as colonists – Arab and European are cultural labels. By all means compare them together but you cannot compare them with religions, i.e. Jews or Christians etc.

        And here is the irony, anyone spending time in UN Mandated Israel can see that culturally it is Arab which is not surprising, but it is almost funny, if it were not so tragic, that Israelis want the world to believe they are pitted against the Arab world when in fact, they are a part of the Arab world.

      • Talkback
        December 23, 2016, 7:08 am

        RoHa: “So what?”

        What Abe Bird is trying to say is that Jewish settlers – whether they are citizens of a country or not – are entitled to a country, because their self declaration of being a “people” came first. The legal citizens (the actual “people”) of this country don’t, even if their citizenship legally exists since 1925 and their term actually refers to a nation/citizenship.

        Settler colonialism in a nut shell.

      • RoHa
        December 23, 2016, 9:14 am

        “I am not sure on which planet you live, but NO RELIGION EVER has the right to set up its own State on someone else’s land. ”

        I am not sure in which universe you saw me suggest that any religion has the right to set up a state, but it certainly isn’t this one. My argument is that if (do you understand “if”?) Poles who happen to be Jews have a right to set up a state in Palestine, so do Syrians who happen to be Muslims or Christians. This does not imply that the states are religious.

    • rosross
      December 22, 2016, 10:24 pm

      Now that is what I call a euphemism of massive proportions, requiring troubling levels of denial:

      The Gaza Concentration Camp, the world’s largest open-air prison, is called ‘an ethnically sealed ghetto.’ I wonder if that is how the Germans saw their concentration camps?

    • zaid
      December 22, 2016, 10:24 pm

      Palestine in 1896 (oldest video of Palestine)

      “In that regard, it’s worth quoting one of the most ardent Zionists, Israel Zangwill,
      who stated as early as 1905, that Palestine was twice as thickly populated as the
      United States. He stated:

      “Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The pashalik of Jerusalem
      is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having fifty-two
      souls to the square mile, and not 25% of them Jews ….. [We] must be prepared
      either to drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our
      forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly
      Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us.” (Righteous Victims,
      p. 140 & Expulsion Of The
      Palestinians, p. 7-10)”

      http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story414.html

      • Talkback
        December 24, 2016, 6:14 am

        “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.”

    • Misterioso
      December 22, 2016, 10:56 pm

      Abe Bird

      “The great numbers of Arabs flooded into Western Palestine (as to all the Arab occupied lands all around the Middle East and North Africa. That mass immigrations resembles the nowadays immigration of millions of Muslims to the Western civilization) only after the first Zionists immigration settled on the land.”

      For your further edification:

      Obviously, like many others, you have been duped by Joan Peters’ long since debunked mountain of mendacity, “From Time Immemorial…”

      To wit:

      Dr. Porath, one of Israel’s leading demographic historians, called Peters’ book a “forgery… [that] was almost universally dismissed [in Israel] as sheer rubbish except maybe as a propaganda weapon.” (New York Times, Nov.28, 1985)

      Rabbi Arthur Herzberg, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, agreed: “I think that she’s cooked the statistics…. The scholarship is phony and tendentious. I do not believe that she has read the Arabic sources that she quotes.”(ibid)

      To further quote Professor Porath: “The precise demographic history of modern Palestine cannot be summed up briefly, but its main features are clear enough and they are very different from the fanciful description Mrs. Peters gives…. [S]he has apparently searched through documents for any statement to the effect that Arabs entered Palestine. But even if we put together all the cases she cites, one cannot escape the conclusion that most of the growth of the Palestinian Arab community resulted from a process of natural increase.” (“Mrs. Peters’ Palestine” New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.)

      Abe, there is no excuse for your appalling ignorance. You’ve only made a complete fool of yourself.

    • Talkback
      December 23, 2016, 7:34 am

      Abe Bird: “Q: Why should Israel share her power with their enemy, the Palestinians? Did the US shared power with Nazi Germany?”

      Don’t understand your second question, since it was Nazi Germany which took over territory through war, illegaly annexed territories and illegaly colonialized them and other occupied territories, collectively punished the occupied people and stripped them of their fundamental basic rights.

      So you should rather ask yourself: Why does the US lets Israel get away with the same? And is it really wise to refer to Nazi Germany and its war crimes and crimes against humanity being pro-Israel?

    • Sulphurdunn
      December 23, 2016, 5:13 pm

      Thank you for your extensive almost point by point rebuttal. It moved any doubt I may have harbored regarding the verity and validity of Dr. Marton’s article.

  7. Maghlawatan
    December 22, 2016, 1:12 pm

    Israel is a basket case of Jewish trauma that is fed by the army and the education system.
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.612763
    ” While Begin personally escaped the Holocaust, Netanyahu embodies second-hand trauma. “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany,” summed up his perception of our enemies, between whom he refuses to make distinctions. His military threats against Iran expressed the hubris that is the opposite pole of the fantasy. Netanyahu’s contradictory tone of perpetual fear and overconfidence has resonated with a large piece of the Israeli public. He speaks what they feel.”

    Israel is a messed up society that has lost its moral compass. It projects its trauma 24/7 onto the Palestinians, who are far more normal than Jewish Israelis . Gaza gets the full hatred.

    http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.610988

    “Hassan, who has worked at the mental health center since 1991, spoke a lot in our conversation about the meaning of psychological treatment during periods of unrelenting and continuing trauma. “I came to the conclusion that such treatment is not ethical,” he said. “For 23 years, I have been trying to help children living in trauma, but there is no guarantee that they will not be affected again. It’s as if I am just preparing them to deal with something worse. You cannot provide true psychological treatment when the patients have no protection, no guarantee that it won’t happen again and soon, when what causes trauma never ends,” he said. ”

    Gaza is not responsible for the unmet pyschological needs of Yossi Israeli.
    Israel will end in a conflagration

    • rosross
      December 23, 2016, 12:51 am

      I am not sure how any nation which begins, particularly in the modern age, and the 1940’s were the modern age by comparison with other colonisers, as a conscious occupier, driving out and killing as many indigenous as they could and then holding the remainder under occupation because they consider them inferior because they are not followers of Judaism, could ever have had a moral compass.

      Occupation is immoral. Colonisation is immoral. Considering people to be inferior because they don’t belong to your religion is immoral. Apartheid is immoral.

      Israel was founded on, in and by, immorality. Only by finding a moral compass can it become civilized and acceptable.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 23, 2016, 12:11 pm

        I remember discussing this stuff with a Zionist called Hans Schouten 10 years ago on the guardian site. Nothing has changed. Israel is severely unhinged.

  8. JLewisDickerson
    December 22, 2016, 2:33 pm

    RE: In the words of the famous Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy:
    “What in the world will we do without barbarians?
    Those people would have been a solution, of sorts.”

    SPEAKING OF CAVAFY:

    Of the Jews

    (A.D. 50)

    Painter and poet, runner and discus-thrower,
    beautiful as Endymion, Ianthis Antoniou.
    From a family friendly to the synagogue.

    “My most honourable days are those
    when I forsake aesthetics pursuits,
    when I abandon hellenism, with its
    beauty and harshness, its overriding dedication
    to perfectly formed and perishable white limbs,
    when I become he whom I would wish
    always to remain—of the Jews, of the holy Jews, a son.”

    Very passionate his statement “always
    to remain of the Jews, of the holy Jews—”

    But he remained nothing of the sort.
    The Hedonism and Art of Alexandria
    kept him their devoted child.

    C. P. Cavafy
    Translated by Pavlos Andronikos

    SOURCE – http://members.iinet.net.au/~andronikos/OfTheJews.htm

    • rosross
      December 22, 2016, 10:29 pm

      It is perhaps not recognised by it was the ancient Greek culture which was instrumental in educating Hebrews/Jews and which profoundly influenced Judaism. Of course coming on top of the original source which was ancient Egypt, the foundation of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

      But of course, nothing happens in a vacuum and all religions arose from the belief systems of the various ages, blending together in myriad form, numerous deities and dogmas.

      • Mooser
        December 23, 2016, 11:43 am

        “But of course, nothing happens in a vacuum and all religions arose from the belief systems of the various ages, blending together in myriad form, numerous deities and dogmas.”

        I think that’s a good way to look at it, too.

  9. rosross
    December 22, 2016, 9:38 pm

    The good doctor should know better.

    You cannot refer to Jews, a religious label, and Palestinians, a national label because they are two entirely different things.

    You can talk about Jews and Muslims and Christians, or Palestinians and Israelis, but you cannot talk about Jews and Palestinians.

    I realise that this is Zionist propaganda to pretend Jews are somehow a people or nationality and if Israel changed its name to Jewdistan they could be a nationality, although the label Jew would then apply to all citizens, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or whatever.

    As to Jewish trauma, this is also propaganda. It is part of human nature for just about everyone alive, that there is ancestral trauma. Many people suffered at the hands of the Nazis, whether for religion as Jews did, or race as Romanies and Poles did, and others, or for being homosexual, or whatever did not fit the Nazi view of what was acceptable, and suffering is suffering and not greater for one group than another.

    Except of course the concept of Jewish trauma and suffering is entrenched in the religion and Judaism has been pushing this theology for centuries, regardless of how followers of the religion lived.

    My ancestors did fine in both the UK and in Australia, as economic refugees, and so those descendants who held onto the religion are not traumatised. If Israeli Jews are traumatised it is because of Zionist propaganda and the fact that the Jewish experience of holocaust at the hands of the Nazis, was used to seek to defend the theft of Palestine from its indigenous people, and the ongoing abuse and subjugation of those people by Jewish European colonists.

    Sadly, waving the ‘but Jews have suffered’ flag is simply more propaganda from apologists.

    And in light of the shocking human rights atrocities and war crimes, Israel carries out against the Palestinians, such ‘flagwaving’ simply irritates the world at large because it is so hypocritical. Being a member of the Jewish religion does not confer a capacity for greater suffering, nor allow that any suffering should be used as an excuse for the abuse of others by Jews.

  10. rosross
    December 22, 2016, 10:57 pm

    To follow the psychiatric analogy, and there is no doubt, if Israeli culture were an individual it would have been committed long ago for its own sake and the sake of everyone else.

    However, nations cannot be forcibly committed although they can be forced. My understanding of psychiatry is that generally, unless the individual wishes to be treated and participates, at best initiates, it, there is not a lot which can be done.

    So, how can a country, Israel, be forced to pursue treatment for its sickness? There is no doubt that occupation debases the occupier and as the Palestinians, who have always had justice and right on their side, grow through suffering to become stronger and more resilient, so do Israelis and their society become more debased and dysfunctional.

    I have long believed that Israel has been poorly served by her frenemies, friends whose actions manifest as those of an enemy, which has allowed the country and the culture to commit horrendous acts in the name of religious bigotry, with few having the courage to speak the truth about what Israel is, what Israel does and the horrors with which it was founded.

    There is no doubt that such horrors don’t pertain just to Israel and neither do the injustices of occupation, colonisation and apartheid, for such actions have been seen in others, but only in the case of Israel have those who could help, become enablers, encouraging the worst of human nature to manifest in Jewish Israeli society.

    One could argue that the foundation of elitism and victimhood in Judaism predisposes Israeli Jews to dysfunction, but here again, they could never have been as bad as they have been and are, without the help of their so-called friends.

  11. wechslerh66
    December 23, 2016, 8:25 am

    Outstanding work and excellent analysis. Trauma, the return of the repressed, denial and the deflection of oppression onto The Other are all loaded concepts. I am in no way analytically trained but wrote a paper in something similar for a graduate class on Lacan at Temple University in 2005:
    https://blackvelvetcoat.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/the-zionist-objet-petit-a/

  12. Ossinev
    December 23, 2016, 9:40 am

    @Abebird
    “Israel treats the Muslims much better than the US treated Japanese in WWII”

    A particularly sparkling gem amongst the many in your Ziorant. So the kind hearted Israelis chose not to drop one of their may have may not have what`s it to you anyway nuclear bombs on the”Muslims”.

    BTW “Jews” are not a people they are are members of a religious cult so there are eg Israeli Jews , Italian Jews , Irish Jews , English Jews etc etc etc ad nauseum just as there are Israeli Catholics , Italian Catholics , Irish Catholics , English Catholics etc etc ad nauseum . All are “people” as in members of the human race and all are descended from Neanderthals although a certain batch insist that they were the chosen Neanderthals.

    Ease off on the ziomeds , deep breathing exercises etc etc recommended.

  13. Elizabeth Block
    December 23, 2016, 10:02 am

    I’m surprised that Israeli doctors are permitted to assist in torture. In August 2015, Psychologists for Social Responsibility got a motion through the American Psychological Association essentially forbidding psychologists to do so. But it was my understanding that other medical professionals, including doctors of course, were already barred by their codes of professional ethics.

    A couple of other comments:
    “Migrants” means all those poor people, mostly from South or East Asia, who have been recruited to do the jobs that Palestinians are no longer allowed to do. They have no rights that they can enforce, and the consequences are what you would expect.

    I’m going to look up “the spirit of the IDF,” as I have wondered for years what is meant when the IDF is called the most moral army in the world. Does it mean that they don’t make a general practice of raping Palestinian women, children, and men?

  14. Maghlawatan
    December 23, 2016, 11:18 am

    I think this is a stand out article. Israel is not a political problem. It is a lethal concoction of trauma and the absolute worst of Judaism. It is by now unreachable . The only sane people inside the borders of Eretz Israel hashlemah are the Palestinians and a tiny minority of Jews. Netanyahu feeds the pathology of victimhood. One of the monotheistic religions ends up running apartheid. And there is no equilibrium. Israel goes deeper and deeper into trauma and hatred.

  15. JaapBo
    December 23, 2016, 4:21 pm

    “Being a victim in one’s own eyes can serve as justification for every wrongdoing to another person.”

    I think its the other way around. Zionists do not feel victims because of the Holocaust, but because the are precisely the opposite: perpetrators. Admitting to being perpetrators is desastrous for the righteous self-image. The only way out is to imagine oneself as victim.

    If Palestine had been empty 100 years ago Zionism wouldn’t have had to steal it from the Palestinians, and it wouldn’t have needed to feel a victim all the time in order to feel righteous.

  16. Marnie
    December 26, 2016, 3:14 am

    “The first Lebanon war, then the second, attacks on the Gaza Strip, attacks in the West Bank together with the 49-year-long occupation (the longest in the world) were not enough to shake the ZIC ‘s belief in its craving for peace and its conviction that it does no evil and is essentially justified – war crimes, systematic torture, killing without trial (extra-judicial execution), house demolitions, prolonged administrative detention, deportation and, most importantly, the vast Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory – all notwithstanding.”

    I read and agree with most of the author’s statements and then got to ‘the 49-year-old occupation’ bit and just got pissed off. Why do so many israeli apologists and so-called liberals continue to state the occupation is almost 50 years and not truthfully go back to 1948, so almost 70 years? What happened in 1948, the nakba, laid the groundwork for the ‘zionist state’ and ‘jewish freedom fighters’ to morph very quickly into an apartheid state and jewish war criminals. I find this 50-year lie almost as offensive as zionists claiming there is no such thing as Palestine or palestinians. I think the good doctor needs a little therapy herself to come to grip with the numbers – it’s going on 70 years doc, not 50.

  17. Donna Baranski-Walker
    December 28, 2016, 9:14 pm

    Hello Ruchama,
    Thank you for writing this important article, sharing what you have learned through these many years. I deeply value your insight.

    You advise, “Underlying all this activity is the belief that critical thinking must combine with political activity in order to achieve change in the social-political sphere; one without the other will not suffice to bring about positive change in the disastrous situation between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the terrible situation of asylum-seekers, refugees and displaced people.” and I agree.

    What forms of action, though, can also provide healing? Do the forms of treatment offered individuals apply to societies as well?

    Amos Gvirtz suggested that those of us who have been to Gaza come speak in Israel too. I would like to do more of that in the future – maybe Rotary Clubs would offer speaking opportunities. I also want to encourage Americans to bring voices like yours forward here in the U.S., especially in meetings with members of Congress.

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