Minority Elites and Israel’s Jewish Defamers

Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of "The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege."


Pages: 1 2

In a 1977 Supreme Court opinion, Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first African-American justice, observed, “Social scientists agree that members of minority groups frequently respond to discrimination and prejudice by attempting to disassociate themselves from the group, even to the point of adopting the majority’s negative attitudes towards the minority.”

Marshall further noted that “such behavior occurs with particular frequency among members of minority groups who have achieved some measure of economic or political success and thereby have gained some acceptability among the dominant group.” In fact, such behavior is particularly common within minority group elites more broadly; not only those to whom Marshall refers but also, for example, academic, artistic and journalist elites. In addition, it is more common not simply among those who have achieved elite status but also those who aspire to such status.

Of course, not all members of these elites within minorities embrace the wider society’s bigoted indictments of their own group; nor is the embrace of those indictments limited to the besieged community’s elites. But elites typically play an especially prominent role in this phenomenon.

In the context of Jewish experience, this has been a recurrent pattern throughout the history of the Diaspora and has figured in Israeli history as well. (Virtually all the psychological characteristics of minorities chronically denigrated, marginalized, and otherwise targeted by surrounding majorities are found as well within the populations of small states chronically besieged by their neighbors.)

The Oslo process of the 1990′s is illustrative. The path to Oslo was paved by journalists, academics, novelists, purveyors of other arts, and elements of the political elite who argued that the Palestinian-Israeli, and the broader Arab-Israeli, conflict remained unresolved because Israel had failed to make sufficient territorial and other concessions. If Israel would only return essentially to the pre-1967 armistice lines and were also more forthcoming in other ways, they argued, peace would be achieved. By the early 1990′s they had won about half of Israel’s population to variations of this view.

In doing so, they ignored the reality that throughout this same period, as well as in the wake of the initial Oslo accords of 1993, Yasser Arafat and his followers continued to tell their constituency that their goal was Israel’s annihilation and continued to promote terror to achieve that goal. During the years of Oslo, the editors and journalists of Israel’s three Hebrew dailies failed to report on the incessant defamation of Israel and calls for her extermination that permeated not only speeches by Arafat and his associates but broadcasts of Palestinian media more generally as well as sermons in Palestinian mosques and curriculum in Palestinian schools. The upsurge of terror that followed the initial Oslo accords was downplayed by the Israeli political leadership that had championed the Oslo process. Israeli academics, both immediately before and during the Oslo years, created a bogus “New History” that rewrote Israel’s past in a manner supporting the delusions of Oslo, the claims that Israeli missteps were perpetuating the conflict and Israeli concessions would resolve it. Israeli novelists, dramatists, film makers, as well as painters and others in the plastic arts, promoted the same delusions. A similar pattern of distortions characterized the work of many Jewish community leaders, journalists, academics, and artists in the Diaspora.

The reason so many Israelis followed the nation’s elites and embraced Oslo’s rationales is not difficult to fathom. Their doing so reflected the nation’s desire for peace and people’s wish to believe themselves in control of circumstances over which, in reality, they had, and have, no control. Both then and now, Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools purvey not simply the message that Israel must be destroyed but a broader, genocidal anti-Semitism. This is true as well in parts of the Muslim world beyond the Arab states. Peace will come only when internal political changes in these domains translate into abandonment of the drumbeat for killing Jews and annihilating Israel. It will come on the Arabs’ timetable. In fact, Israeli actions have little impact on this reality. Israel can neither appease its way to peace nor fight its way to peace. At best, it can deter aggression and suppress aggression when deterrence fails.

But for many, this lack of control over circumstances so central to their well-being is intolerable. The psychological response is like that of chronically abused children, who almost invariably blame themselves for their predicament. They choose to believe they are abused because they have been “bad” and that if they only become “good” the abuse will end. They do so, enduring the pain of the self-indictment, because the delusion preserves a sense of control over circumstances that are in reality beyond their control. Similarly, elements of minorities abused by the surrounding majority and small states besieged by their neighbors choose to embrace comparable delusions rather than acknowledge their helplessness to end their besiegement.

Even the dramatic upsurge in terror that accompanied the first years of the Oslo process had only limited impact on public support for the accords. It was not until Arafat, in 2000, rejected all compromise at Camp David, offered no counter-proposals, and instead launched his all-out terror war – which in the ensuing few years claimed another thousand Israeli lives and maimed thousands more – that Israelis in large numbers abandoned their Oslo delusions. Still more gave up their wishful thinking when Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 led only to more terror, much of it in the form of thousands of rockets targeting Israeli communities from the evacuated territory.

But hardly all Israelis have turned away from their Oslo delusions, and it is – perhaps even more than earlier – particularly elements of the elites that continue to embrace the argument, for example, that Israel does not require defensible borders. It is disproportionately members of the elites who insist return to the pre-1967 armistice lines will bring about a peace that will render “defensible borders” unnecessary, and that therefore it is Israeli intransigence that perpetuates the conflict.

The embrace of the indictments of one’s besiegers does not necessarily take the form of seeking to reform one’s community in accordance with those indictments, seeking to appease the besiegers in this way. It can also entail seeking to distance oneself from the community – to, as Thurgood Marshall put it, “disassociate themselves from the group” – to spare oneself the pain of the besiegement. And it is members, or those who aspire to be members, of the elites that disproportionately choose the path of distancing themselves from Israel’s predicament.

This is so because it is disproportionately members, or would-be members, of the elites who aspire to acceptance by circles beyond the nation, circles that have their own biases against Israel and its Jewish supporters. It is members, or would-be members, of the elites who choose to identify themselves less as Israelis and more as academics, writers, other artists, journalists, eager for the approval of their peers abroad and aware that being critical of Israel, whatever the reality of the nation’s predicament, is a surer path to that approval. It is disproportionately the academic defamers of Israel who get the visiting lectureships in Europe and elsewhere, including in the United States. It is the novelists and film-makers and journalists most critical of Israel who are awarded prizes and feted in Europe and elsewhere. It is the Israeli NGO leaderships most given to defaming the nation and promoting the indictments of its enemies, however bigoted and absurd, that are most showered with encomiums and lavish funding by governments in Europe and foundations in America.

Pages: 1 2

  • oldtimer

    There were Jews who collaborated with the Nazi's, this is not new. They are traitors, and they should be dealt with as such.

    • oldtimer

      These types have been around since the beginning. John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil…." Acts 13:10
      "And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, will thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" These were the "Jews" who crucified Jesus.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        Roman soldiers crucified Jesus the Jew.

        Today Muslims are crucifying people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fkjuliano Fabio Juliano

    There are traitors and collaborators in every human society and in every age. As mentioned in another current Frontpage article, Grover Norquist is a prime example of both in present-day America. In the case of Israel, the presence of such individuals is a little surprising to outsiders because the country is so obviously endangered and its enemies so murderously hostile.

  • PAthena

    Note that George Soros is a Jew by birth who collaborated with the Nazis ruling Hungary in 1944 when he was 14 and is still unrepentant about it. He is anti-U.S., using his billions to influence governments all over. So far as I know, he helped bring President Obama to power.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      The Occupy cult never slams Soros.

      They don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

  • Drakken

    It is about time that Israel tells the pali savages that the next rocket or mortar fired into its territorry will result in a gloves off approach, that means push Gaza into the sea and call it a day.

  • Ghostwriter

    I'm surprised our resident anti-semites aren't here to spread their filth around like crazy.

  • Michael

    Why these suicidal scums are called "elites"They got some academic degree but degree and brain in many cases opposite each other.

  • winston

    propaganda always paints in such broad strokes… that's how you can tell its BS as opposed to reality which is actually much more complex being made up of individual events the whole of which are never either one way or the other.

    Only simpletons and racists apply particulars (traits) to the general (whole) -This blog is full of this 'us against them' language. Its all the same and that is no sweeping generalization. FPM is nothing more than a propaganda mill posing as journalism. It is designed for simple minds who seek nothing more than to reaffirm their already firmly held beliefs.

  • winston

    'It was not until Arafat, in 2000, rejected all compromise at Camp David, offered no counter-proposals'

    I believe he would have settled had Israel simply obeyed the original plan of allowing East Jerusalem to be the Pali capital and been willing to negotiate on the right of return. Israel refused both fundamental points. Israel (being a theocracy in which Jews are given preferential treatment in some ways over non-jews) was concerned (the right and just thing be damned) that that many more Arabs added to her population was simply unacceptable and would somehow spell the end of the Jewish state. (Racism pure and simple. The ironic thing is how closely middle-eastern Jews and Arabs are related, -see study in Genetics 2000) This refusal to allow, even 100-150k annually, the victims of war and their descendents to go back to their homes reminded of those poor Jews, who after somehow miraculously managing to survive Nazi atrocities and genocide finally made it all the way to their former homes only to discover their former neighbors were no less hateful than the Nazis and would not allow, through use of force in many cases, them to return home. Imagine the heart break if you can. Tribalism means division. It is for this reason that Israel cannot be, despite her claims, a secular democracy.
    All you need to do to see what Israel has done is look at: Google: 'map of Israel through the years.' That tells the whole story. Illegal settlements (colonies) and military occupations, collective punishing of a whole population, and so on are all facets of ethic cleansing. There is a wonderful, old now, documentary, but if you have not seen it, watch Occupation 101. Then tell me about Israel's desire for peace. Or read what occurred during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. Israel becomes much worse than the terror she claims to be fighting against. During this assault on that ship.. I forget it's name (mavi something) -at the time I thought, why would they drop their soldiers in that hell? why not follow the ship to port and board her their with a proper force and arrest the Captain and seize the ship? They must have wanted to create a spectacle or are so used to acting with such impunity that they feel they can do whatever they want. Either way they killed many innocent people that day, including an American I think, as well as putting the lives of their own soldiers in extreme danger. In the end they found no real weaponry. I would love to support Israel but I cannot support terror, Not from the Muslims and not from any group.
    There are no 'sides' in a quest for truth.

  • Schlomotion

    Kenneth Levin is a CAMERA operative who takes a lot of paragraphs to come around to his real thesis: that Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart are Uncle Toms. He even gives a dandy hack-Freudian analysis at the end. Until Mr. Beinart and Mr. Friedman consult him for psychiatric services or are indicted for murder, it is definitely a mission-creep of Mr. Levin's profession to offer psychological theories on the two men. Then again, Mr. Levin is making a career move to switch to Dr. Laura style pop psychoanalysis. Imagine if Dr. Laura continued to use the aegis of Harvard University to write political smut about traumatic bonding.

    The about the author section here should disclose that Kenneth Levin works for CAMERA and that his wife is the Executive Director and President. "Psychiatrist" and "Historian" don't really explain what this article's purpose is. This does:
    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=56&…