Is There a Way Beyond Israeli Madness?
The patient, by the name of Israel, walks into the room and instantly bursts into a tirade of arguments conclusively proving his credentials, and says that he is better than everyone else.
The opening line of Israel On The Couch: The Psychology of the Peace Process
-By Ofer Grosbard, a clinical psychologist born in Israel, who practices in the US
Americans have an Israel problem.
Recently I responded to an email propaganda piece on Israel sent out by a friend that listed all the magnificent things Israelis have done in technology and agriculture. The clear implication was that Arabs and Palestinians can’t hold a candle to Israelis when it comes to making the desert bloom. Israelis are clearly superior and, thus, deserve to own what was once called Palestine.
I told the list of people (many of them American Jews) that everything on the list was likely true but that it was a case of making an economic and technological argument in response to a moral question. That is, pointing out how smart and savvy in western ways Israelis are does not address the festering military occupation of Palestinian land and the effective imprisonment of Palestinians.
One member of the list went back-and-forth with me -- until a handful of others on the list began to cry out “enough!” Naturally, one person pointed out there were many anti-semites in the world, the suggestion being I must be one of them.
The problem Americans have with Israel is that the region it exists in is in the midst of a major political sea change, while Israel is frozen in time and holding on to its militarist, right-wing policies of extending settlements in the West Bank. It's a policy that harks back to the ideas of the British-trained militarist Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall, which is based on the idea a live-and-let-live policy between Jews and Arabs is impossible and, thus, Jews must militarily control and repress Palestinians. Here's Jabotinsky:
"Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy."
This frame of mind is at the root of the current psychology that keeps Israel frozen in time. By extension, it's a potentially grave problem for Americans.
Israel may be the most unique nation in the world. Psychologically and nationalistically, its citizenry feel deeply that what is now Israel is their homeland from which they were unjustly banished thousands of years earlier. It doesn't matter that most Israelis arrived after World War Two as refugees and immigrants from a devastated Europe.