By Vacy Vlazna
“Everything depends on our propelling force. And what is that force? The misery of the Jews” (Theodor Herzl , father of Zionism)
“If you combine three elements: the idea that we are right, with the notion that we’re the victim, and with our great military power,” [Halper] says, you have a lethal combination. “It’s like being autistic with power. You don’t care about other people because you’ve cast the others as the aggressors. (EI 30-3-03)
With regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, decent people scratch their heads and ask, “Why do the Israelis behave like Nazis to the Palestinians?’ or ‘Why, having suffered the Holocaust, do Israelis make Palestinian’s suffer?”
They are important questions, and the answer is shocking and distressing.
Speaking personally, this puzzled me. My parents lived under Nazi occupation in then-Czechoslovakia and were Jewish sympathizers so I was enlightened on the evils of Nazism including the Lidice atrocity. When I was 16, I read the The Belsen Trial detailing the horrors of the holocaust in one concentration camp and in my twenties fell under the propaganda spell Uris’ Exodus. Then as an activist for Palestinian human and political rights, I was bewildered by the Israeli record of Nazi-like persecution of Palestinians until…
.. until I attended a talk by Avigail Abarbanel, former Israeli soldier and now activist for Palestinian rights, who shared with us the state-induced compulsory trauma and victimhood, which is, sadly, Israeli childhood.
The world is outraged, as it must be, about the shocking incidence of child abuse and child soldiers, illegal under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Yet there isn’t a murmur of condemnation of the Israeli practice, shades of Huxley, of artificially altering with Zionist conditioning from birth, the minds of its children (with some lucky exceptions) who hatch at 18 years of age into mindless, cruel soldiers and soulless citizens.
Individuals who do not conform, who miraculously hold onto an independence of mind and compassion, are made into pariahs and branded with the pejorative, ‘Self-Hating Jew’ and ‘traitor’.
Nomika Zion, a member of an urban kibbutz in Sderot near Gaza asks:
“How did it happen that a person who suggests a nonviolent solution is the delusional one, the traitor, and the one who calls for the leveling of Gaza is the true patriot? How did peace become the enemy of the people, and war always the preferred option? How did it happen that dialogue and treaties cause more public fear than a volley of missiles? And how did these dehumanizing processes seal us off from the suffering of others? How did we lose the capacity for empathy? .. And how has a nation that has occupied other people’s territory for forty-five years continued to tell itself, with such deep conviction, that we are the single and ultimate victim in this story? And the evil of the occupation has become so banal that no one sees the evil anymore.”
I don’t know of any civilized nation that inflicts a brutal regimen of mind-torture on its population From childhood, Israelis are sealed in a glorified military bubble from where they anxiously peer at a hostile world that supposedly hates them and is rearing for another holocaust.
The indoctrination of victimhood of Israeli children is torture pure and simple. Torture is generally held to be ‘the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by or with the consent of the state authorities for a specific purpose.” The purpose in this instance is the preparation for universal conscription from 18-21 for males (2 years for females) plus reservist duties until 54 and unreserved support for the illegal occupation, for war crimes, and for crimes against humanity.
Victim indoctrination combined with crazy-making racism, exploitation of the holocaust, Biblical myths, Jewish superiority and militarism is integral to the education system. Reuters pointed out a grade four Israel schoolbook that said: “Israel is a young country surrounded by enemies, like a little lamb in a sea of seventy wolves.”
The mantra of the holocaust, the foundation of Israel’s meta-narrative of the victim’s right to defend itself, is added to the psychological poison. According to Jonathon Cook, “The Holocaust’s lesson for most Israelis is not a universal one that might inspire them to oppose racism, or fanatical dictators or the bullying herd mentality that can all too quickly grip nations, or even state-sponsored genocide.
Instead, Israelis have been taught to see in the Holocaust a different message: that the world is plagued by a unique and ineradicable hatred of Jews, and that the only safety for the Jewish people is to be found in the creation of a super-power Jewish state that answers to no one. Put bluntly, Israel’s motto is: only Jewish power can prevent Jewish victimhood.”
With a boost from the Hebrew Bible, Israeli children are made immune to the immorality of contemporary ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians through the heroic justification of the same methods in Johsua’s conquest of Canaan. Shlomo Sand says ‘under no circumstances is it permissible to skip over the book of Joshua. Moreover, even though the teaching of this “past” has been proven ethically and pedagogically destructive, the Israeli education system refuses to exclude from the curriculum these shameful accounts of extermination.’
Israeli peace activist, Professor Nurid Peled-Elhanan has made a thorough analysis of Zionist education: “Educational policies are designed by the ministry of education. But this entire education is designed to groom Israeli children into becoming soldiers, good soldiers with a capacity to kill and thereby to fulfill the destiny of the Jewish nation, a greater Israel. So school textbooks are firmly anchored in the ideology of militarism and the militarization of Israeli citizens begins in the classrooms with images of war, massacre, mutilation and killing that both draw on the holocaust narratives which figure Jews as victims but based also on the post 1948 triumphant ascendency of the Israeli state”.. When images of Arabs do figure they are often negatively depicted as less human or sub human, subservient, deviant, criminal and evil… [Palestinians] are seen as cockroaches, vermins, creatures who should be stamped out… When you hear the jokes among Jewish children in the settlements, they crack jokes about torturing Palestinian children, Palestinian workers and teachers, this is their past time. It is very hard to de-educate once their minds have been infected with such viruses.”
This violent sickness of mind is symptomatic of Israeli society; after Operation Cast Lead shocking images of T-shirts custom-made for Israeli soldiers went viral such as “A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” (Mondoweiss 20-3-2009)
In February this year an Israeli soldier, sparked outrage when he posted an Instagram image of Palestinian child in crosshairs of a rifle.
Then in March, an expose of offensive Israeli reactions prompted by a photo of 3 Palestinian children sitting in a tent, included, “Run the tent over with a truck/Merkava tank/a bus/ whatever it takes to crush and kill these children,”; “I’d have thrown nerve gas into the tent and closed it and made them breath it until the end” ;“A hand grenade inside the tent!” ; “Put a couple of bullets in their heads and we’re done” (EI 22-3-13)
Along with soldiers, psychological damage from the emotional abuse of victimhood is a precursor to aggressive behavior rampant among the zealot settlers who have the right to carry arms. Incredibly, settler adults act as role models for their children who ape the state-sanctioned terrorism their parents and elders inflict daily on vulnerable Palestinians.
Systematic settler oppression includes torching fields, uprooting thousands of fruit and olive trees, damaging property, arson, poisoning sheep, defacing graves and mosques, illegal squatting, water and farmland contamination by diversion of sewerage, throwing sewerage on Palestinian passer-bys, road blocks, attacks on schoolchildren and school buses, intimidations, beatings, shootings, deliberate hit and run, vile verbal abuse, racist and threatening graffiti. In a normal society such violent fanaticism would be condemned as animalistic and criminal, but in Israel settlers enjoy impunity and military protection.
Of great concern is the rising numbers of militant settlers in the Israeli army and in the new government the “settlers’ dedicated party, Jewish Home, has been awarded three key ministries – trade and industry, Jerusalem, and housing – as well as control of the parliamentary finance committee, that will ensure that the settlements flourish during this government’s term.”(Cook, Palestine Chronicle 20-3-13)
The meta-narrative of the Eternal-Victim afflicting the Israeli psychosis is pure illusion; a sick trick played on their own people by Israeli leaders perpetuating the Zionist goal of claiming all of historic Palestine, US realpolitik, and economic pragmatism.
Israel, like the US, is a military economy so it is unsurprising that Nomiko states ‘[t]hat war is the most consistent and constant feature of our lives, almost a kind of ideal.’ and she was right in pointing out that was not waged in her name or for her security-”Neither was the litany of Israeli military operations, packaged in deceitful language in order to soften the depths of their destructiveness: not Rainbow (2004), or First Rain (2005), or Hot Winter (2008), or Summer Rain (2006), or Cast Lead (2009), or the recent Pillar of Cloud.’
These military operations against unarmed Palestinian families are testing grounds for the Israeli armament industry: “Tadiran Communications is the IDF’s signal corps’ main supplier of communications equipment. Consequently, the company benefits from immediate battle-tested results and is able to hone its technology to perfection.” Israeli arms exports rose by 20 percent to $7 billion in 2012.
Israel sports a facade of normality but when you view nation as family, Israel is a dysfunctional family in crisis. Its parenting, compared to normal society, is criminal. The basic survival value of self-preservation is cruelly exploited and, since the first Zionist trod on Palestinian soil, Israel’s children truly see through a glass darkly having been fed on lies and a threatening world view, so that the chronic fear contagion infuses the whole family leaving it ethically stunted and dependent on the state:
Our belief that “the world is against us” has in recent years turned into a real obsession, a sense that we are constantly under attack, a fear of delegitimization, an insanity of persecution. It is unclear whether Israel is truly capable of differentiating between a real enemy and those who wish it well, or if it is simply complaining about being persecuted because it believes this serves its interests. (Merav Michaeli in Haaretz)
Paradoxically, the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is a society of slaves stuck on the lowest levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
While ordinary Israelis play out the Joshua myth, unknown to them, the Herods in the Knesset, and in the IDF General Staff are deliberately committing psychological massacres of the innocents inasmuch as the occupation is a projection or mirror of the Israeli soul.
Every Israeli’s mental and spiritual health is under siege. Hundreds of frightening checkpoints block normal moral and critical judgment. Life giving compassion and respect of others is uprooted and the sewerage of hate, fear and murder perverts the humanity of each individual.
Israel’s soul perversion is clear when you try to consider what goes through young soldiers’ minds when they prevent an ambulance from reaching someone they have wounded and then mercilessly watch the person bleed to death. In a healthy society, people immediately follow their instinct to help someone who is hurt and call an ambulance. In Israel blocking ambulances is a systematic practice of one-by-one-genocide. Or what the hell went through the mind of the Givati commander when he ‘verified the kill’ of 13 year old schoolgirl, Iman Darweesh by emptying his automatic weapon into her small body. The Herods acquitted and promoted the officer.
What then is the effect on Israelis of thousands upon thousands of crimes against humanity?
Enmeshed in abuse, the abused becomes the Nazi and the Palestinians are now the innocent azazel sacrificed for the sins of Israel’s children…
“O Lord, I have acted iniquitously, trespassed, sinned before Thee: I, my household, and the sons of Aaron Thy holy ones. O Lord, forgive the iniquities, transgressions, and sins that I, my household, and Aaron’s children, Thy holy people, committed before Thee
– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.