Saturday, March 14, 2009

Willful ignorance, like eternal victimhood, is a bliss - Part 2

Part 2 is a brief presentation of two excellent articles mentioned in Part 1 of this posting

Gideon Levi wrote recently a very interesting article about the Tennis Match events in Sweden, titled "Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us?". It is a must-read, and it discusses the reason for pervasive and unreal sense of innocence some Israelis have, and the real anger the world outside Israel feels.
The world is always against us, period. But the world is not against us - to the contrary: The truth is that there is no other nation toward which the world is so forgiving, even today. Yes, today. Granted, world public opinion is very critical, sometimes in a way that's unique to Israel, but most governments (except Venezuela and Turkey, but including Egypt and Sweden) are far from being in sync with the public opinion in their countries. The official world continues to be sympathetic to Israel, regardless of its actions. The rise of Hamas, the increase in hatred for Islam in the West, the American hegemony - all this helps in strengthening the support, and we know how to make the very most of it.
And in a scathing criticism of the role of media manipulation in manufacturing the apparent sense of innocence amongst Israelis, he adds:
What's the difference between national tennis player Andy Ram and national tennis player Thomas Johansson? Johansson and his angry fans saw real pictures from Gaza; Ram and his complacent fans never did. Had Ram seen them, maybe he, too, would demonstrate. But he, like most Israelis, was spared this discomfort, thanks to the gung-ho Israeli press.
He is not shy of recognizing that the truth about what Israel does would lead normal people to protest the horror of what they witnessed Israel doing to the Palestinians.
Can we and Ram really criticize those who were horrified by the pictures from the war? Can we reproach those who dare to protest against the people responsible for those scenes? Are we demanding that the world remain silent once again?
A more pointed article by Akiva Eldar has an even more provoking title: "Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?". It reviews an academic research done in Israel on the sensitive topic of perpetual victimhood by Daniel Bar-Tal, an eminent Israeli political psychologists - probably soon to be pronounce a self-hating Jew.
Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering.
"Most of the [Israeli] nation retains a simplistic collective memory of the conflict, a black-and-white memory that portrays us in a very positive light and the Arabs in a very negative one," says the professor from Tel Aviv University. This memory, along with the ethos of the conflict and collective emotions such as fear, hatred and anger, turns into a psycho-social infrastructure of the kind experienced by nations that have been involved in a long-term violent conflict..."
That study goes back in history to assess the collective memory of Israelis about what happened in 1948.
"The study demonstrated that widespread support for the official memory testifies to a lower level of critical thinking, as well as belief in traditional values, high identification with Jewish identity, a tendency to delegitimize the Arabs, and support for taking aggressive steps against the Palestinians."
Bar-Tal, while also critical of the violence committed by Hamas, sees the stance of the average Israeli as "[relying] primarily on prolonged indoctrination that is based on ignorance and even nurtures it."
In his opinion ... the general public is not interested in knowing what Israel did in Gaza for many years; how the disengagement was carried out and why, or what its outcome was for the Palestinians; why Hamas came to power in democratic elections; how many people were killed in Gaza from the disengagement until the start of the recent war; and whether it was possible to extend the recent cease-fire or even who violated it first.
The context of the Holocaust memory is a central part of the Israeli psyche:
"Nets-Zehngut and Bar-Tal find a close connection between the collective memory and the memory of "past persecutions of Jews" ("the whole world is against us," and the Holocaust). The more significant the memory of persecution, the stronger the tendency to adopt Zionist narratives. F"
The article concludes with specific statistics about the 1948 partitions and the lack of awareness of objective facts about that era by a large portion of the Israeli society.

The articles by Gideon Levi and Akiva Eldar are excellent assets for anyone that has interest in the psychology of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and both have implications for Jewish culture outside Israel as well. This psychological aspect of the conflict is, in my opinion, the single most important obstacle to the resolution of the conflict.

From it stems most if not all the evils chronically afflicting that sad part of the world.


Par1 1 of this posting can be found here.

Links to cited articles:
Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians? Akiva eldar - - Haaretz - Israel News

Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us? - Gideon Levy - Haaretz - Israel News

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