"I write for a very selfish reason. When one day, Israelis stand trial for the occupation and the war crimes against the Palestinian people, I would like to be counted as someone who spoke up. I was brought up on stories of the Holocaust. I was told that even more despicable than the Nazis themselves were all those who knew what was happening and allowed it to happen. Jews have always felt abandoned by a world full of bystanders. Being a bystander doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means collaborating. And I don’t want to be a collaborator. "~ Avigail Abarbanel
This Jewish psychologist makes some excellent points about the people of Israel. In my opinion, in many ways she is an innocent who seems to be unaware of the ultimate Zionist goals for humanity. Despite my Western and rather jaded gentile take on all things Zionist, I appreciate fully her analyses of various unpleasant aspects of Jewish behaviour. This piece I picked up after the next piece titled ISRAEL'S GROWING INSANITY. Both articles are well worth reading.
14th January 2009
Resposted January 30, 2010
This piece appeared on Electronic Intifada on 18th January 2009. Here is a link to it:
This piece has been translated into French and republished on the Info Palestine site. The translation is at:
In late 2002 Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli Black Hawk helicopter pilot and a few of his fellow pilots published the Pilots’ Letter in which they said:
“We, veteran pilots and active pilots together, who served and still serve the State of Israel during long weeks each year, object to perform illegal and immoral orders of attacks that the State of Israel performs in the territories.
“We, who were raised to love the State of Israel and to contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in the attacks of the air force in concentrations of civilian population.
“We, for whom the IDF and the air force are inseparable parts of us, refuse to continue and harm innocent civilians.
“These actions are illegal and immoral and are a direct result of the ongoing occupation, which corrupts Israeli society as a whole.
“The continuation of the occupation delivers a mortal blow to the security of the State of Israel and to her moral strength.”
This letter came after a series of attacks on the densely populated enclave of Gaza. For Shapira and his fellow pilots the last straw came following a mission in which “a one-ton bomb was dropped (equal to a hundred suicide bombs) on a house in the Al-Deredg quarter in Gaza, one of the most crowded neighborhoods in Gaza, indeed in the whole world.”
Shapira described how he and other pilots couldn’t sleep at night after and during these operations. This was despite a briefing by Dan Halutz Head of the Air Force at the time who said, “… everything taking place before the mission is justified according to my moral compass …” and his reassuring words: “Sleep well tonight … you executed this mission perfectly.”
Two days ago, on the 11th of January, Shapira participated in a program on Israeli radio in which he was confronted with a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli Air Force, pilot Ye’ohar Gal. Here is what Gal had to say:
Dresden after America and Britain dropped 14 000 tons of bombs over a solid 24 hour period.
“I think we should go at it more strongly. Dresden, Dresden. Devastate a city. At the end of the day we‘re told that war has changed. It is no longer tanks roaring ahead, we no longer face regular rank-and-file armies. Missiles are targeting population centers.The remains of Dresden after the Americans and British have dropped literally hundreds of thouands of pounds on it.
It did not start today, nor yesterday. It has been the state of affairs for over a decade now. The Arab states have realized that it is very difficult, rather impossible to defeat us on the battlefield, so they have changed their warfare.
The battle is now waged between the old lady in Jabalya and the old lady in Sderot or Ashdod. The entire people, from the old lady down to the child, are an army. An army that fights. I call them (Palestinians) a people ~ although I do not see them as such. A people is fighting another people. Civilians are fighting civilians.
I tell you that we, as sons of Holocaust survivors, must know that this is the essence of our lives, coming from there: no one throws a stone at us. I'm not talking about missiles. No one will throw a stone at us for being Jews.
Yonatan (Shapira) is one of the people who have lost their survival instinct. As simple as that. He does not understand that a war of cultures is being waged here between the likes of him and the likes of myself. He is fighting for peace.
“I want peace too, like Yonatan…
“I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt.
That’s what I want.
I want to destroy the city.
Not necessarily the people in it.
“Make it crystal clear: no one is going to fire at us.
Not a bullet from Gilo to Jerusalem,
not a missile from Gaza to Sderot.
One of hundreds of mountains of bodies after the shelling of Dresden, AFTER the war had been legally ended.
I will not agree to a single bullet shot at us by the enemy. As soon as the enemy opens fire on me my survival instinct tells me to destroy the enemy. To defeat the enemy. If we do not defeat the Hamas ~ our deterrent force vis-a-vis the Arab states, who are also aspiring to destroy us one way or another ~ woe to us if we do not maintain this gap between us and them.” (Transcript Eyal Niv; Translation Tal Haran).
Gal sounds like he was enjoying the massacre of Gaza just winding up at the time. He makes no sense in some ways yet in others all too much. He says he does not see the Palestinians as people. He says he wants to erase their cities like the British and Americans did Dresden but not the people who he wants gone somewhere else. He sounds totally paranoid with unreasonable reason.
I have often written about Jewish trauma and its effects on Israeli outlook on life in general and on the way it treats the Palestinians in particular. I get the impression that people are not so interested in my psychological take on the conflict. The mainstream media seem to prefer purely political or economic analyses, and that’s what I read in most newspapers and see on TV channels like the BBC or the Australian ABC or SBS.
but with psychology and more specifically, the psychology of Jewish trauma. This trauma pre-dates the Holocaust and goes right back to early Jewish narrative about Jewish identity, right back to the stories of the Old Testament.
Gal says that Shapira lost his ‘survival instinct’ but what he calls survival instinct I call trauma-induced Jewish paranoia.
Both Shapira and I have both lost our Jewish paranoia alongside a growing number of Jewish peace activists inside and outside Israel. And thank goodness we have, because it means that we have healed from Jewish trauma. As a result we are healthier more peaceful people, who do not see the world exclusively in adversarial terms.
We no longer think about everything in terms of whether ‘it’s good for the Jews or not’, we do not believe that our life’s purpose is to preserve the Jewish people, and we can work as equals alongside non-Jewish people to promote peace.
We no longer spend every waking moment worrying about anti-Semitism, as we were taught to do. We know it exists as do other forms of racism, but we do not allow it to define who we are, what we do, or what we think and feel about ourselves and about others.
Being free from Jewish trauma means
Zionist Jews think I have gone insane because I don’t fear anti-Semitism and refuse to focus on it, but I think I have gone sane. I once received an email from an Israeli who said to me: ‘You are naïve and stupid but regardless, when they finally come to get you, you will run to us and we will still accept you with open arms.’ I responded,
'Thanks but I had my time in Israel and I’d rather take my chances elsewhere’. Trying to convince him that no one is coming to get me, was pointless.
These are not just the ramblings of one man. This echoes the feelings of the majority of Israeli Jews and most Zionist Jews. Even very educated people feel this way. ‘Because we were victims of anti-Semitism we can never relax and must always be vigilant in case a new enemy of the Jews will come to destroy us.’
Living with trauma is a terrible thing and it leads to precisely the sort of views and sentiments expressed by Gal, and the kind of crimes committed by Israel right now. Trauma that is a product of past hurts can make you believe that everyone hates you and wants to destroy you ~ now, always, not just in the past. Some people respond to trauma by becoming aggressive and frightening, to make sure it doesn’t happen to them again. Just like Gal says, ‘No one will throw a stone at us for being Jews’."
You have not begun to appreciate the depth of our guilt.
We are intruders.
We are subverters.
We have taken your natural world, your ideals, your destiny, and played havoc with them.
We have been at the bottom of not merely the latest great war, but of every other major revolution in your history.
We have brought discord and confusion and frustration into your personal and public life.
We are still doing it.
No one can tell how long we shall go on doing it.
Who knows what great and glorious destiny might have been yours if we had left you alone."
~ Marclis Eli Ravage, Century Magazine February, 1926
My first thought here was of the beautiful land of North America, once pristine and full of nature and glory, now stripped of its wealth through activities like blasting, or the Tar Sands, which leave death and pollution in their wake. There is such utter truth and blatant hatred in this statement. Such obscene activities can only be the political outcome of a paranoid, self delusional, aggrandized people. This author does not seem to be aware of this part of history or has chosen to omit it for now.
Together with the fierce determination to not be hurt again comes a perception of oneself as righteous and ‘better than’. Moreover, the former victim will hold survival as the highest value, above everything else.
I am sad to say that
the identity of the Jewish people
is based entirely on survival.
At least three important Jewish festivals are based on a story of a bloody victory over an enemy that sought to destroy the Jews, Passover, Purim and Hanukah. I stopped celebrating these festivals years ago because I find their real meaning offensive.
If life is only about survival
it does not leave much energy for anything else.
From what we know about the human brain we know that living with the belief that one is under constant existential threat can lead to tunnel vision, to short-term thinking, to lack of empathy, to constant stress.
This ultimately leads to an isolationist mentality and an inability to see the humanity of others. This is Israel in 2009.
This is the country that is walling the Palestinians in and then walling themselves in from the world. These are the people who starve their neighbours, force them to live in squalor, and refuse them even the basics of survival, is hell bent on genocide.
Note that Gal says, ‘for being Jews’. And this is another problem with trauma. It leads to blindness. Israelis don’t accept that their problem with the Palestinians was caused by the occupation. They really believe that it is because they are Jewish that the Palestinians are angry and attack them.
This is why the great over reaction to the primarily grade school Hamas missles by using thousands of tons of bombs in retaliation.This image by Carlos Latuff may seem "funny" to us, and true, but to the Israelis it is how things are.
Most Israelis do not even know that Israel committed ethnic cleansing in 1948.
Ah the glory of Bolshevik education, history rewritten. Today they deny the existence of Nakba. To publically speak of the Nakhba is a crime now. It is as if it never happened they try to convince the world. Yet the rest of the world is to never ever forget the Holocaust ONLY of the Jews in WW2.
The fact that, since Israel Day is the same day as Nakba, it infuriates them and is taken as a personal attack. However they insist on celebrating their day on the same day as when they began the expulsion of so many Palestinians. It certainly proves that the winner rewrites history to his own advantage and glory.
Most Israelis are convinced to the core that Israel is the ‘good guy’ in this story who has done no wrong, the small weak David standing in front of a giant anti-Semitic Goliath. To many Israelis the Palestinians are not the same as the Nazis but are the Nazis, the powerful, non-human, faceless, single-minded psychopathic murderers who were determined to exterminate the Jews for being Jews.
This takes some stretch of the imagination. The Palestinians were a people of the land, olive growers, fruit growers, farmers. They never had guns or weapons and fled their homes to avoid war, not realizing it was forever.
When Israelis kill Palestinians they are killing Pharaoh and his army (Passover), Hamman and his 10 sons (Purim) and the Greek occupying army (Hanukah) over and over again. The Palestinians are the recipients of 2000 years of unresolved rage that has more to do with the past than the present.
In therapy we call this ‘misplaced anger’. But I guess it is more comfortable for Israelis to blame Palestinian anger on anti-Semitism than to take responsibility for their real history.
The implications of seeing the conflict from within the lens of Jewish trauma are very serious. Can we really negotiate with this?
Can we explain to Israelis that their perspective on life and on the conflict is seriously flawed?
If we tried will they listen, and do the Palestinians have time to wait until they do?
I know from the personal experience
of having been born and raised in Israel,
in a Jewish family,
that this psychology is very powerful
and very deeply embedded in one’s identity.
To give up on it means to question everything one stands for, and that’s painful. It was very painful to me. But the cost of not doing it, we are seeing right now in Gaza and the Palestinians have experienced for a very long time usually away from the watchful eyes of the world.
This is why we, who sympathize with and support the Palestinian cause should not hesitate to acknowledge this human sacrifice from its participants. Here I especially refer to the teenaged Shministim who refuse to serve at great personal cost that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Most are jailed again and again for 65 day periods and put into isolation for refusing to go against a defenseless population whom they do not see as an enemy. And it is THESE young people who let us know that there IS hope for Israel! Mass indoctrination does not always overcome common human decency.
Many of these young people are homeless because they were cast out. Israel insists on service from every young person upon graduation from Gr.12 which also unites the citizens and often sets their careers in place. By this refusal, they are giving up opportunities for the future and refusing to become "true Israelis" as one with their compatriots.
What Avignail is describing from the view of a Jewess is breaking free of the matrix, eating the red pill, shedding the illusions and delusions of a lifetime ~ of beginning to SEE the truth, not what you have been told is the truth.
We can all relate to how truly painful it can be as we shed, often in isolation almost everything that defined us and yet kept us in unity with those around us. She speaks of beginning to become isolated from her countrymen, something we Truthers and revisionists have been experiencing for a long time now. Daring to break free is equally frightening for those around us whether Gentile or Jew.
It doesn’t help that Israel has a powerful friend in the US, a country whose collective mindset is very similar to that of Israel’s. As long as the US enables Israel’s blindness by vetoing any decision against it in the UN Security Council, by supporting Israel financially and militarily, there will be no reason for Israeli leaders to question their perception of reality.
Israel needs real friends who with ‘tough love’ can save it from itself, who can help it see what it is unable to see. Indulging Israel’s trauma and blindness is costing the lives and wellbeing of Palestinians, and it is inexcusable.
Gal thinks that Shapira has no survival instinct but he is wrong. Shapira and others are doing what they are doing because they know that Israel’s survival is threatened by its very own actions, its own psychology, not by the Palestinians or anyone else.
They are not worried that Israel will be attacked or that the Israelis ‘will be thrown into the sea’.
They are worried about the social, emotional and spiritual cost to a society that has become one of the worst perpetrators of ethnic cleansing in modern history.
Israel is falling apart from within, losing its humanity, its dignity and its identity, and they know it.
Gideon Levy a Ha’aretz newspaper reporter recently asked:
“If Israelis were so sure of the rightness of their cause, why the violent intolerance they display toward everyone who tries to make a different case?”