Israel - Pathology
The Ultimate Enemy - Jews Against Jew
(Part Two of Three)
Netta Cohen Dor-Shav
It is, interesting, apropos of this, that spokesmen of the left have, for
many years, actively fought and countered the idea that land, territory, is
necessary for Jewish renaissance and existence, necessary for the existence
of Judaism. They have, instead, touted the idea of a philosophic Judaism, a
kind of humanism, a Judaism stripped of its national, territorial, and even
religious identity. This is due not only to the fact that such a theory
helps rationalize their remaining, in whatever comfortable slot, in Canada
or the US that they find themselves, but is promulgated also because it
helps deny the claim of the Jewish people for the total and final liberation
of its homeland - something they are not comfortable with and which their
self-hatred (to be discussed below) cannot allow. One example of this was
the statement by Gad Yaakobi, while Ambassador to the U.N., who said: "There
is no Jewish Land; there is only Jewish people" . (I will not, here, go into
discussion of the "ideological" teachings of the socialist and other
negating systems, nor into that of the sundry vested interests involved.)
These Jews do not want to be in a position to have to assert their rights
and take their proper place in the family of nations, they do not want to be
catalysts for negative responses from the "others", they do not want to
engender conflict, they do not want to make waves or rock the boat, they
want to keep a low profile; what is important to them is to be accepted,
wanted, liked - and to achieve recognition and success in whatever part of
the world they find themselves.
This wanting to be liked, accepted, loved, is then, yet another factor - not
necessarily to be analyzed, - that leads to what, for want of a more
sophisticated term, I call the "good child" complex.
The Good Child Complex
The "good child" is generally the one who, not having had enough of it,
seeks love - behaves obediently so as to achieve love and acceptance, as
well as to preclude punishment. He may have been brought up where love was
conditional, conditional upon compliance and obedience. Thus every action
must be weighed in view of its possible consequences, especially calculated
to avoid the probability of negative response - the goal being to achieve
approval and avert disapproval. This is manifest not only at the personal,
private level, but in the public arena as well. We can see it, and often
shockingly, for example, when Israeli journalists and media people ask
foreign diplomats what they will do if Israel does "X", how they would react
if Israel were to refuse "Y" - i.e., virtually inviting sanctions, threats,
and negative responses.
It may not be surprising that members of a nation that has so long been
hated and abused, rejected and maligned, wish to have the semblance of
approval and acceptance - even at the price of subservience and obedience -
but it is undeniably a reflection of an unhealthy process.
No discussion of pathological factors current in the Jewish national
character would be complete without a serious look at what has been called
"Jewish guilt" - guilt which has played, and plays, a central role in
First, from a global point of view, it is fair to say that the Jewish people
have, to a great extent developed what can be called a "guilt culture", one
in which control of behavior is brought about by instigation of guilt,
rather than by shaming or physical means . Guilt, however, is assuaged only
by punishment, and, therefore, despite the fact that the Jewish history of
persecution and disaster might have led us to suppose that this people would
see itself as sufficiently punished to satisfy even the most tyrannical
super-ego, the strong guilt feelings still lead to the need for
self-punishment, self castigation, and even self-destruction; it is perhaps
in this vein that acceptance of the process begun in Oslo can be begun to be
What are some of the ways in which "guilt" develops and is fostered? First,
and most basic, the tendency to guilt is a function of a strong superego, a
strong sense of morality, and is intrinsically related to a particular
personality style (character type), i.e., that of the obsessive-compulsive
style mentioned above . These are the people who do not do wrong because of
an inner code - because of an internalized moral authority - and a mechanism
that would make them feel bad indeed (guilty), were they to act contrary to
their own incorporated standards.
We can add to this the traditional Jewish (religious) emphasis on
sin-avoidance, on doing things right. We note the liturgical emphasis on our
guilt and responsibility for our misfortunes, e.g. "Mipnei chataenu galinu
me'artzenu" (because of our sins were we exiled from our homeland), as well
as the Confessional vidui: "ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu-etc.", (we sinned, we
were traitorous, we robbed, etc. ) which are not only a central aspect of
the Yom Kippur AMlDAH (silent) prayers, but are also part of the regular
morning prayers for many.
Though she has been much caricatured in the past, we cannot refrain from
pointing to the traditional Jewish mother who exhorted her child to
obedience by emphasizing how much she has suffered for him: to bring him
into the world, to bring him up, etc., the mother, who, when her son does
wrong, says "You're killing me" or "Look what you are doing to your father".
These are all familiar examples which play upon, as well as foster, guilt.
As if this were not enough, for the Jewish people today, guilt is more than
an historical, socio-cultural phenomenon. As I have written before , since
the Holocaust, there are two new facets to the face of Jewish guilt, so that
the Jewish people have come to bear what is an unbearable burden of guilt.
Balance theory has taught us that human beings seek cognitive balance, or
fittingness. When things go wrong for someone, we cannot escape the thought
that maybe he "deserved it", deserved punishment, for we cannot allow
ourselves to assume arbitrariness in a properly run world. Thus we see
lucky, blessed people as deserving, as "good", and those who suffer, as
"punished", and probably deserving of punishment. Such an analysis has
serious implications for the generation following the Holocaust - for many
of the world's people, especially those who were so pre-disposed, perceived
the Holocaust as a just punishment for the infidel Jew, a "punishment" that
served to support their prejudices and to prove to them that they had been
always "right", that the Jew was, indeed, evil. Unfortunately, it appears
that the Jewish people too, have been left unaffected by such a "balancing"
process. The horrific experiences of the Holocaust led, for many, to the
not-necessarily conscious, unexpressed feeling that somehow we, the Jews
were punished by G-d for some unknown, inchoate, unexplained sins.
ln addition to the above, as a cause of guilt, is the attribution process
post Holocaust. It was a grave error for the nations - and for Israel among
them - to allow for the rehabilitation and re-integration of Germany among
the family of man. For, by ceasing to continue to blame the Germans, to fail
to consistently attribute the full burden of guilt for the Holocaust to them
and their allies, we have allowed the guilt in the system - and such guilt
cannot evaporate and must be allocated - to become attributed, even if only
in part, to the Jews themselves.
Inhibition of Agression
Guilt, furthermore, as was indicated, is intimately connected with an
additional and serious manifestation, i.e., the Pathological Inhibition of
the Use of Aggression (or force, or power), a reluctance to act aggressively
even in one's own self-defense; this is an inhibition that comes, in a large
measure from guilt feelings and is exacerbated by them.
It comes too, in part, from long experience of having been the victims of
aggression. Thus, ironically, it is its enemies who benefit from the Jewish
people's suffering. Because they have so long been the victims, Jews have
not only come to be especially sensitive to the suffering of others, but
have also come to be more comfortable as passive victims than as users of
even justifiable force. The Theme has been, too, within this people, the
ubiquitous denigration of aggression, the casting of even the legitimate use
of force (at least by Israel) as evil, as unacceptable. Thus the role of
victim has come to be known and familiar, even comfortable - and that of
aggressor foreign and unacceptable.
I recall a letter I received from someone who was then a new Olah (immigrant
to Israel), right after the Six-Day War - someone who had been one of the yo
ungest survivors of Auschwitz - a letter in which she was ecstatic over
Israel's success, over Israel having conquered. It did not take long,
however, in fact it was in her very next letter, that she told me that she
was undertaking to help the "poor Arab children" by becoming a teacher of
English for them. (I am not here denigrating the wish to help and/or teach -
rather to bring a clear example of the process I have referred to).
Forgotten, even by Israelis, it appears, is the long-standing tradition
dating back to Rabbi Akiva which states that, even in a case of two friends:
"chayecha v' chaye chavercha, chayecha Kodemet". When it is a choice of your
own life or that of a friend, your own has precedence. How much more so does
it take precedence in the case of the life of an enemy? Seemingly forgotten,
too, is the "psikah" (adage) "Haba I'hargecha, kum v'hargo". If someone
comes to kill you, arise and kill him first .
This inhibition of aggression has serious consequences, for the individual
and for the people - for the body politic - alike. For aggression does not
evaporate, aggressive drives are intrinsic to the human condition, and, in
the case of Israel, are fueled by constant frustration, attack, denigration,
and unfairness. This aggression - like a build-up of steam, or water - seeks
and must have an outlet, needs to find expression. In a situation where the
use of aggression has been delegitimized, especially where aggression
against the source of the frustration, the instigator of anger, (the Arab
enemy), has been precluded, it comes to be turned against what remains, by
default, as the only "legitimate" target, one's own self, one's own people,
one's own nation.
Thus anger does not go away, and so it is displaced against an acceptable
scapegoat, or turned against the self - and so the pent up angers, and
aggression, fueled by continued frustration, not allowed to be turned
against the source of that frustration, and inhibited in legitimate
expression, come to be turned against one's own people, ones own interests,
Last year's furor regarding the opening of the Hasmonean tunnel near the
Western Wall is a case in point. The tunnel itself existed for centuries, it
had been cleared and was in use for some time, all that was, in fact done at
the time of the opening, was a final breakthrough. That the Arabs yelled,
was understandable, that the nations - even the US - castigated without
bothering to find out the facts, was not unusual, but that Israeli citizens
blamed their own government for an act that was utilitarian in nature and
perfectly within its rights, reflected the pathological tendency to turn
blame upon oneself-one's own.
Even more indicative of pathological attitudes was criticism that the
government, that Netanyahu, had not consulted Arafat (sic.) - as if any
self-respecting autonomous government should have done so. At this point we
may say we meet the tip of the iceberg of the very dangerous process
described below, i.e., identification with the aggressor.
Identification with the Aggressor
Identification with the Aggressor is the most pernicious of the dynamic
processes that have served to disarm the Jewish/Israeli people vis-a-vis
it's enemies. In seeking security by means of this defense mechanism, of
identifying with the enemy, by incorporating the calumnies and accusations
leveled at one, one loses one's own fulcrum of identification, and ends up
identifying with the aims and objectives of the enemy/aggressor, at the
expense of one's own being and identity. It is this dynamic of identifying
with the aggressor that has led many in Israel today, (e.g., Yael Dayan and
Tamar Gojansky, Anat Maor, Uri Avnery and Dalia Rabinovitz) to enthuse over
the enemy's progress, to thrill to his accomplishments, and to cheer the
fulfillment of his goals and plans.
Anger and aggression toward the enemy are quelled, denied, and repressed.
The enemy is now an esteemed friend, his goals legitimized, the fulfillment
of his aspirations has become one's own cherished goal.
Such identification with the aggressor, however, must be recognized as also
involving projection, as being a function of a combination of the two. It is
this process which can help us understand the tolerance of Israelis for the
rabid nationalism and racism of the Arabs, for the latter's flagrant and
unjust demandingness, and for the terrorist violence perpetrated by Arabs
against them. It can help explain, too, the fatuous "pleasure" seen on the
faces of so many, as Arafat marched into Gaza and Jericho, and the
enthusiasm with which they pressed for the renunciation of Hebron.
Identifying with the enemy has led respectable adults, scions of renowned
families decimated in Hebron in 1929, to publicize a call to renounce
Hebron, to give up their/our patrimony - all in the service of a
pathological self-abnegation, cloaked in the seeming interest of the
so-called "peace process".
This is an example not merely of an identification with the aggressor that
serves primarily to help allay anxiety, but, rather, combined with
projection, one which helps to fulfill vicariously all those wishes which,
for reasons of a perverted inhibition of ego, and a misguided irrational
superego, are no longer tolerated in the self. Jewish, Israeli nationalism
and patriotism are perceived as bad, as racist, they are therefore rejected,
and projected. Arab nationalism and chauvinism are acceptable and accepted -
and then enjoyed vicariously. Arab "rights" are considered "just", and the
demand for them enjoyed vicariously, while one's still Zionist and patriotic
brethren are deemed "extremist" and vilified.
Some have been shocked by, and have asked how it is that we see among the
vociferous left, even some who are children of survivors of the Holocaust.
It is sad, indeed, to see these young people who, having lived with and as
victims, while prevented from expressing vengeance, or even thoughts of
vengeance, project and identify with their present enemies, and thus come to
feel somewhat empowered and vindicated.
Since the beginnings of "Oslo", we have seen repeated evidence of this means
of defense, repeated manifestations of this mechanism at work. There were
those Israelis who thrilled to Arafat's entry into Jericho - while Ehud
Yaari (Israel TV's reporter on Arab affairs) was castigated for reporting
that the Arabs themselves were less than ecstatically enthusiastic. Most
shocking, of course, have been the extreme, even pathological acts such as
the incredible draping of herself in the Palestinian flag by MK Anat Maor,
and the more recent kissing of Arafat by MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer - as well
as statements like that of Dalia Rabinovitz that "now Arafat has returned to
the land of his forefathers"(sic.) . This tendency was recently brought to
its ultimate absurdum, when so called "peace groups" chose the 29th of
November (the anniversary of the establishment of the state according to the
Gregorian calendar) to publish an advertisement in Haaretz calling for a PLO
Thus anger and aggression toward the enemy are, in these people, quelled,
denied, and repressed. The enemy becomes an esteemed friend, his goals
legitimate, the fulfillment of his dreams and national aspirations have
become their own goal. For, identifying with the aggressor in the case of
Israeli Jews, means identifying with the actual enemy - Arafat.
An example that would be funny, were it not so sad - but one that could not
be clearer - was a poll conducted regarding the popularity "competition"
between the puppets used on the Hartzufim show, (a so called program of
political satire using life-size puppets) a competition won by the Arafat
doll. One is reminded of the famous experiment by Clark & Clark in which
they found that Negro children had incorporated White prejudice to the point
that they had come to prefer and identify with White dolls rather than Black
So we see that aggression, even assertion, in the self, for Jews, has come
to be inhibited, rejected, and projected; aggression by the Arabs is
tolerated and explained away as response to the "occupation", to
Israeli/Jewish "oppression", oppression by those who now become designated
as the "enemy" and against whom their aggression is ultimately leveled,
i.e., the still-Zionist "settler" - hated and vilified because he dares be
himself, dares to continue to maintain his own rights, dares fight for his
own country, his own existence, his own ego, and his own self.
The "settler" becomes targeted as the ultimate "enemy", to the extent that a
soldier was quoted in an Israeli newspaper last year as saying to a mother
in Judea; "I would rather guard the garbage truck than your children" .
The settlers have been honored, too, with descriptions that would have done
credit to the publication "Der Sturmer" of the Hitler era in Germany. Thus,
Dan Tadmor wrote (and long before the Rabin assassination) "A settler,
adorned with an Uzi and a standard blue winter coat, traces of spit and
crumbs of food stuck in his wild beard, and next to him, his settler wife,
at the height of her national sex act, babies are constantly dropping from
her womb while she eagerly speaks about ancestral rights...Screaming,
And a "professor" who specializes in - and apparently identifies with -
Germany and things Germanic, one Moshe Zimmerman, asserted (and with
impunity) that: "A whole sector of Israeli society is a copy of the Nazis.
Look at the children of Hebron. They are exactly like the Hitler Jugend"
This identification with the enemy is, as already noted, most pernicious,
both because it leads to the championing of the enemy's interests and the
denial and denigration of ones own, and even more so, because it leads to
and fosters an inner time-bomb, one that can lead this people ultimately to
self-destruct, i.e. Jewish self hatred; it is fair to say that the plague of
Jewish self-hatred is more dangerous for the survival of the Jewish people
than any outside threat.
This is true not only because self-hating Jews constitute a fifth column
within the ranks of their people, a fifth column which rejects the identity
of the Jew, his culture, his tradition, his patrimony, and introduces those
of, and extols, that of the outsider (both benign and anti-Semite), of the
enemy - thus working against Jewish interest, but also because this
self-hatred fuels a vicious cycle that can lead to disaster and dissolution
of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.
This is so, because the self-hating Jew, having incorporated the "other's"
view of himself tries more and more to be like the "other", to identify with
him and his values and interests. Then, in turn, he projects the rejected
(stereotypical) aspects of himself as Jew onto one of the identifiable
subgroups of his people, e.g., the new-immigrants, the religious, the
Zionists, and casts them as having the so-labeled undesirable traits - and
by so doing, not only serves to vitiate these aspects in the overall
society, but also thus weakens Jewish culture and identity in general.
Moreover, to the extent that the now scapegoated group sees the self-hating
Jew (be he a member of the "paparazzi", the "intelligentsia", the left,
etc.), as a member of a desirable group to join, or as a group whose favor
he wishes to curry, these will, in turn, try to be like him, and project the
"negative" characteristics on yet another sub-group, etc., etc., endlessly.
Furthermore, self-hating Jews, by casting other Jews in negative and
pejorative roles, perpetuate the excuse for hatred towards the Jew, in
general, and supply some of the fuel and the stereotypes for it. Thus German
Jews ostracized the "ost-jude", the eastern (mid-European) Jew, the Yishuv,
made fun of the "Franks" and American Jews at the time of WWII made fun of
the "greenhorns", the "refugees" - the newcomers who had succeeded in
escaping Hitler's clutches and had not yet shed their dress, language and
habits, (yes, it happened).
This process is well-described by Sender Gilman, in his book: Jewish
Self-Hatred. He, too, sees self-hatred as a function of the Jews identifying
with the stereotypes projected upon them by what he calls the "reference
group" - and, after adopting these, then projecting them on a sub-group
within their group. This explains, of course, some of the internecine
prejudice we have been witness to historically, referred to above.
Gilman also makes an important and very interesting point, that those Jews
who accept the reference group's stereotypes of the Jew and then attempt to
deny and extirpate these in themselves, essentially serve to prove to the
anti-Semites that, indeed, these stereotypes were true. Furthermore, by
projecting these negative aspects on other Jews, the self-hating Jews can
never really achieve their goal of acceptance, because, in the final
analysis, the anti-Semitic "other" will believe, when all is said and done,
that he - the self-hating Jew (the "white Jew) - is no better, really, than
that Jew whom he has now in turn stigmatized.
In Israel we have Jewish self-hatred not only at the micro, personal, level,
but also at the macro-national level. The wish to be like the "goyim"
manifests itself in multi-faceted efforts to adopt foreign mores, culture,
and even language; more and more, as we see product labels, storefronts,
etc., in foreign languages and alphabet, and witness incredible efforts by
Israelis to speak foreign languages, particularly English, (even in the
media) we come to the conclusion that Eliezer Ben Yehuda's monumental
achievement of the resurrection of Hebrew as a spoken, everyday language,
needs re-affirmation and resurgence.
It should be emphasized that the need to deny characteristics that are
traditionally Jewish, is one that has led the self-hating Israeli Jew to
demonize those sub-groups who are the most "Jewish". The recent imbroglio
involving Yigal Tumarkin, in which he was quoted as saying that when he sees
the "charedim" (black-garbed Jews) he can understand the Nazis, is a clear
example of this. Thus we have the vilification of the "datiim" (religious),
the charedim (above) and the "mitnachalim" (settlers), who not only pose a
challenge and point out the weaknesses of the self-hating Jew, but also
continue to embrace all those things which he, as a more "modern" Israeli
Jew has learned from the anti-Semites is not acceptable. This has come to
include not only religion and traditional Jewish culture, but Zionism
itself, as well.
Thus, many have now arrived at the age of "post-Zionism". Examples of this
kind of vilification abound. Yaakov Sharett, son of Moshe Sharett, Israel's
first foreign minister and second president, in his book The State of Israel
Does Not Exist, wrote: "lt is an historic fact that throughout the years of
the Zionist enterprise... facts have been and are being determined on the
ground... by all the violent uncontrolled steps... of the Jews... and this
against the background of Israeli everyday life saturated with vengefulness,
the fruit of a religious tradition, ghettoistic and sectarian... based in
fostering primitive, vengeful drives...(p.17)." Another compelling example
comes from the writings of Amos Oz who described the settlers as: "A
messianic cult, closed and cruel... criminals against humanity, sadists,
pogromists and murderers, a cult that popped out... from some dark corner of
Judaism... out of the cellars of bestiality and pornography... in order to
impose a thirsty, savage cult of blood...". These quotations, and others
like them, demonstrate not only the degree to which these Jews have
assimilated the hates and prejudices of the "other" and have turned them,
with venom, upon groups of their brethren who for them are seen as
legitimate scapegoats, (in line with the known process common to all racism
and prejudice) but also serve to illustrate to us the nature of what is
being projected, and which tells one more regarding him who projects (and
scapegoats) than about the objects of his calumny; and the nature of these
projects is both shocking and frightening.