The Siege Mentality and Its Troubles

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The Siege Mentality and Its Troubles

The Siege Mentality in Israel

I will review a psychology paper by two psychologists who are professors at Tel Aviv University, Daniel Bar-Tal and Dikla Antibi.  Hopefully, the fact that they are Jewish will reduce the sense that “an outsider is attacking the Jews.”

The Siege Mentality in Israel

The siege mentality is defined as:

A belief held by members of a group that outsiders hold highly negative behavioral intentions toward that group.  …  This belief is a central belief held by a majority of the group with high confidence (a certainty that it is true).

Other national and ethnic groups have had a Siege Mentality throughout history but this paper focuses on this belief in the Jewish population of Israel.  Examples given.

The authors begin by explaining the reasonableness of the siege mentality in light of historical persecutions and hatreds, such as the holocaust, and traces a long and stunning history of

persecutions, libels, special taxations, restrictions, forced conversions, expulsions and pogroms.

Current attitudes:   They review surveys of contemporary Jewish Israeli’s done in the 1980s showing a strong beliefs, such as, “Hatred for Jews still exists in the world,” “The whole world is against us,” and “The holocaust was not a one time event and could always reoccur,” and “In all the world there exists anti-Semitism, even if not expressed explicitly.”  Perhaps most importantly is the belief that “No one will come to our aid in a time of need,” and “World criticism of Israeli policy stems mostly from anti-Semitism.”

Then the authors shift gears and review the ancient writings of Jewish scholars  dating back to the second century showing evidence of the Siege Mentality.  I will quote a number of examples as they communicate the depth and the profoundly enduring nature of these beliefs.

“The Jewish tradition finds anti-Semitism to be the norm, the natural response of the non-Jew.  The term ‘Esau hates Jacob’ symbolizes the world that Jews experience.” (Lieberman 1978)

“…persecution is not simply a tragic consequence of being a Jew in a hostile world; rather it is build into the fabric of the Jewish covenant with history.” (Stein 1978)

They quote a number of bible references emphasizing the aloneness and separateness of the Jews from the other peoples:

 “… a people that dwell alone, among the nations it will not be reckoned.”

The Jewish religious tradition differentiates between Israel and all other nations.  Saturday night a Jew recites a blessing saying:

 “He who distinguishes between Holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and all other peoples.

”In addition to separateness, Bar-Tal writes

the Jewish tradition contains a deeply rooted belief in the other nations hatred of Israel and their intention to hurt it.  … from the Passover Haggadalah…

“For more than once they (other nations) have risen against us to destroy us; in every generation they rise against us and seek our destruction.  But the Holy One, blessed be he, saves us from their hands”.

And

“Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not; and upon Kingdoms that call not upon Thy names; for they have consumed Jacob and laid waste his habitation”.

Second century Rabbi Shimon suggested that “hatred of Israel is as a rule” … “imprinted in the Peoples of Esau (non-Jews) and cannot be uprooted”.

In the 16th century, Rabbi Maharal,

“… expressed the view that the hatred of Israel is a unique phenomenon, which has no logical basis and is not dependent on particular circumstances.”

Soloveitzik, in the 19th century explained that

“There is no point in trying to adapt ourselves to the gentile leaders in order to find favor because their hatred is so deep and they wish to destroy the soul of Israel.”

“hatred weakens over time.  …But the hatred of Israel is different than any other hatred.  On the contrary, the hatred of Israel strengthens over time….”

Siege Mentality is the basic foundation of Zionist movement.  Bar-Tal reviews the Zionist writers:

“All of humanity among whom Jews live, is infected to the depths of their soul with the poison of anti-Semitism, from the illiterate farmer to the outstanding personalities …”  (Briman, 1951)

Pinsker in 1882, explains the need for a separate Jewish state:

“Fear of the Jewish ghost has been handed down and strengthened for generations and centuries…  Judeophobia is a psychic aberration.  As a psychic aberration, it is hereditary and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable…  Thus have Judaism and anti-Semitism passed for centuries through history as inseparable companions.”

And Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism:

“No-one can deny the gravity of the situation of the Jews.  Whenever they live in perceptible numbers they are more or less persecuted…  [W]e cannot hope for a change in the current of feeling…  The nations in whose midst Jew live are all, either covertly or openly anti-Semitic.”

The authors give many examples of the Siege Mentality in current Israeli culture.  Many examples of songs, poetry, educational textbooks and stories are provided. 

A popular song from the 60’s was “The Whole World is Against Us.”

The whole world is against us.

This is an ancient tale

Taught by our forefathers

To sing and dance to.

If the whole world is against us,

We don’t give a damn

If the whole world is against us,

Let the whole world go to hell.

Several short story writers convey the sense of anxiety and terror that perceives the surrounding Arabs as an amorphous threatening presence, the stuff of nightmares.

There is a genre of fiction called “Hebrew Holocaust Fiction” in which stories of persecution, inspired by the holocaust, are played out.  One, called “The Hunt” written in 1971, tells a story of the Jew’s hunter.  The powerful imagery paints the picture of an archetypal threat “that has existed since the beginning of time.”

Bar-Tal believes that the Siege Mentality, firmly established millennia ago and anchored into the current generation’s mindset by the holocaust, is the leading political myth of modern Israel.  He shows that it is actively maintained and nurtured in contemporary Jewish culture.

The authors make a very zen-like observation that we respond to the world that we perceive to be true, not necessarily the world as it actually is.  A group that deeply believes that others intend them harm will act very differently.   The second part of this paper goes over the consequences of the Siege Mentality.

------------------------------------------

So where does this universal and timeless hatred for the Jews come from?  Did God implant this hatred into the hearts of non-Jews all over the world and throughout the centuries?  Or is there some way that the Jewish people think, act and relate that elicits resentment?

As our marriage therapist has started many a session: 

"Lets use our big brains to understand each other, the ways that we affect each other, and find a better way."

 

 

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Deteriorating Moral Framework Under Survival Conditions

Several writers here have imagined a regression to more fundamentalist religious or primitive moral frameworks during times of collapse.  (James Howard Kunstler was one with a post here on PP--though I can't find the link.)

Maslow's hierarchy says that our needs must be met in order--only when we are fed and warm are we  concerned with respect, kindness and meaning.

Ken Wilbur has a developmental stage theory describing an ever more inclusive sense of self that occurs with maturation.  Where so we place the border between "us" and "them."

Egocentric--the individual is only concerned for his individual well being.  This person would "sell his own mother for a nickle."  Intensely Narcissistic. Will harm others for personal gain.

Socio/ethno-centric--sense of us includes both the individual and "my group."  Usually people who look like us.  Our race.  Our religion.  Our Tribe. The connection can be membership in a mythic group-- royalty, the elite,  "followers of ____."   Will harm and wage war on out-groups for in-group advantage.

Worldcentric--the sense of us includes all human beings, even those of different races, genders and group identifications.  Will not harm other's for gain.  Values relationship higher than economic advantage.

Kosmocentric--the "us" sense includes not only all peoples, but the biosphere, (plants, animals) and all of the natural world (mountains, rivers, oceans, deserts, the moon and sentient beings from other worlds--should they be found).  Mystics might expand this sense even further.

-------------------------------

Lets imagine a time of collapse when all the food has been consumed except for that one last can of chili in my neighbor's pantry. 

I go over and ask my world-centric neighbor to share it with me, but faced with his own starvation he refuses.  Though I am normally a world centric person myself, I kill the neighbor and steal the last can of chili.   I take it home and give the chili to my children.  

I now function at a socio/ethno-centric level.  In even more extreme conditions, I might not share at all and be egocentric.

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Report on efforts to criminalize criticism of Israel

Phillip Giraldi summarizes the current state of this issue in Fighting Israel's Wars posted yesterday at Unz Review.

Congress is meanwhile also making a list and checking it twice, looking into the vexing issue of how to make any and all criticism of Israel equate to anti-Semitism as a step forward to turning such activity into a hate crime with actual criminal penalties. The House Judiciary Committee has been holding meetings to try to decide how exactly one might do that without completely jettisoning the First Amendment, which once upon a time was intended to guarantee free speech. On November 8th, nine experts, seven of whom were Jewish, were summoned to address the issue of “codify[ing] a definition of anti-Semitism that incorporates a controversial component addressing attacks on Israel…[as] a necessary means of stemming anti-Semitism on campuses.”

The proposed amendment to the Civil Rights Act would use language being considered for the still pending Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to considerably expand the currently accepted government acceptance of anti-Semitism as “demonization” of Israel and/or its policies. A broader definition would have real world consequences as it would potentially block federal funding for colleges and universities where students are allowed to organize events critical of Israel. Fortunately, the hearing did not produce the result desired by Israel. To their credit, four of the witnesses, all Jewish, opposed expanding the definition of anti-Semitism and even some congressmen uncharacteristically indicated that to do so might be a bridge to far.

The Haaretz reports "US Congress Split Over Whether Criticizing Israel Constitutes Anti-Semitism."

Once again we return to the question of where anti-Semitism comes from.  Was the hatred of Jacob (the Jewish people) put into the heart of Esau (non-Jews) by God?

Or is there a much more understandable psychological process at work?

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What does the BMJ thought pattern look like

After a break from obsessing about the world to learn the Hora (Jewish Wedding Dance) from a youtube video in preparation for a (GREEN) friends wedding this Saturday, I found a good example of the way that the BLUE Meme Jewish (BMJ) thought process works in an article from Haaretz.

Mad 'Max'? The Paradox of the Murdered Brooklyn Hasid.

How does one reconcile Menachem Stark's image as a philanthropist in the Satmar community with that of an exploitative slumlord?

Debra Nussbaum Cohen Jan 07, 2014 11:12 AM  

(I have extracted and abbreviated from the original article--thus these are not quotes)

NEW YORK – The paradox of the recently murdered Menachem “Max” Stark is profound.  On the one hand, he was a 39-year-old Hasid who owned about 1,000 apartments in NYC.  He is described as a slumlord with a list of enemies “a mile long.”   He had not paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines levied by the city for rental properties in severe disrepair.  He and a business partner had been sued for $51 million for defaulting on five separate loans. A Yelp reviewer wrote that he lived in a building owned by Stark for five years and “the plumbing was a nightmare. The first-floor was overrun with big-ass rats.  Electricity would randomly be shut off for days at a time.”

In 2011, Stark was arrested by undercover cops and charged with assaulting a woman on a Manhattan subway.

Then he was murdered.  Security footage showed Stark being attacked and pushed into a van late last Thursday night. His burned body was discovered Friday in a gas-station dumpster.

In contrast, people in the Williamsburg Satmar religious community have been unequivocal. “He was a big ba'al tzedaka (giver of charity). Everybody only has good to say about him.”

Yet at his funeral on bitter-cold Saturday night, attended by some 1,000 people standing on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Stark was lauded as a pillar of his [religious] community. 

The Question:

How can Stark’s two faces — on the one hand a wealthy philanthropist in his community, but on the other an alleged exploiter when it came to business dealings outside of it — be reconciled?  

The explanation:

Samuel Heilman is an expert on Hasidic communities like Satmar.  Heilman, authored “Defenders of the Faith: Inside Ultra-Orthodox Jewry” and is a distinguished professor of sociology at Queens College.  He explains:

“What you do to the goyim is not the same as what you do to Jews,”

That attitude stems from days when Jews were actively persecuted, he said. “Part of the collective mind-set in the crucible of history when this part of Jewry was formed, the outside world was filled with anti-Semitism and persecutors. The whole understanding of that was that you need to keep a distance from them, that they are a different level of human being”

Samuel Katz, now a Fulbright biomedical scholar, grew up in an orthodox community but later became secular.   He explains:

“growing up in such a community, boys in the community are taught that non-Jews aren’t quite human. “you don’t see commonality with people who aren’t Jewish. There is a completely different taxonomy of people. There are Jews and then there are non-Jews, who don’t have souls.”

When the messiah comes, “every boy is taught that the bad goyim will be killed and the good gentiles will have the privilege of serving us, of being our slaves.”

"The way Stark dealt with tenants is part of that world view… It’s not taking advantage of them, [rather] that is the world order you’re taught to expect.”

“It informs your moral compass. Like all good people Stark was benevolent and generous to the people who he saw were like himself,” but not to other people, added Katz. “There’s an empathy 'blind spot' that imbues the Haredi outlook.”

This explanation is a perfect example of the BLUE Meme way of thinking.

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BLUE Meme and the push to war with Iran

Trump's Anti-Iranian Policy is Not Enough For Neocons and Israelophiles

In September, at Unz Review, Stephen Sniegoski reviews a coordinated set of efforts within (American) institutions and think tanks to push Trump into war with Iran.  Sniegoski is a Ph.D. historian who has specialized in documenting the Neoconservative movement within the US.  The report is documented well with abundant source articles from mainstream academic publications.

If we look through the list of institutions and persons we see that the prime movers in this push are  American Jews.  This is similar to the buildup to the invasion of Iraq (and here).

Similar to the report, Which Path To Persia, from the (American) Brookings Institute, the necessity of economically crippling Iran is considered a self-evident given.  In no place are the words "Jewish," "Israeli" or "Oded Yinon Plan" mentioned.  All of the above arguments for attacking Iran are presented in reasonable tone and from an American perspective.  Rationales are peace and stability.

A Bad Neighbor Policy

Israel is pursuing bad neighbor behaviors in the middle east.  The Oded Yinon Plan summarizes the goal of domination by harming non-Jewish neighbors who might otherwise compete with Israel.  This vision included preemptive attacks on emerging neighbors to destroy economies and infrastructure BEFORE they become competitive.  Since Israel does not have the military might to destroy its neighbors alone, Israel-loyal American Jews (neoconservatives) work to bring the US military in to help. 

Would you want to live next door to someone like this?

The Twin Poles of this Circle of Insanity

From the Spiral Dynamic framework, this is a structure stuck in the BLUE Meme way of thinking.  BLUE has not yet discovered the advantages of cooperation, mutual respect and the seeking of a mutually beneficial win-win arrangements.  BLUE seeks safety through domination -- a win-lose relationship.  BLUE thinks zero-sum and has not found that cooperation can increase the size of the pie for everybody.

The two poles of this insanity are:

1.  superiority beliefs

2.  persecution beliefs

Both of these beliefs are backed up by scripture, making them very persistent.

Two corollaries follow.

1.  collective identity is ascendant over individual.  This gives rise to pack or hive behaviors.  Circling the wagons to protect the tribe.  Collective, coordinated actions offer powerful tools for group benefit.

2.  Superiority has a flip side: a deep devaluation of the lives of non-Jews.  Non-Jews are harmed casually (at the 11:00 minute mark) for Jewish benefit, eliciting resentment and a repetitive pattern of rage.  This leads to repeated expulsions of Jews and feeds the cycle of persecution.  There are many, many, many examples of this.

As long as the role of the Jewish people themselves is not seen, then the anti-Jewish fury can be viewed as "irrational bigotry" or perhaps "an attitude implanted by God into the hearts of all non-Jews."  Laws and public policies forbidding hate-speech and anti-Semitism might seem reasonable from this perspective.   I suspect that both the superiority and persecution beliefs may persist in the Jungian shadow part of the psyche in the more liberal Jewish people who consciously deny such beliefs.  (The shadow is a psychological mechanism for self deception.)  But a devaluation of non-Jewish lives is the overt and consciously held position of fundamentalist Jews.  Read about Gush Eminem, Rabbi Kook, Rabbi YosefRabbi David Bar-Hayim

BLUE Meme thinking is let go when the cycles of conflict become too painful and tiresome.  Discovering the economic advantages of cooperative relationships (ORANGE) and a sense of compassion that includes out-groups (GREEN) offers a way out of BLUE.

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Mythologic Descent Verses Genetic Descent

Ordinarily I have found that it is very bad form (and terribly offensive) to critically examine another person’s sacred myths, and I apologize in advance to my Jewish friends.  However, it also seems unlikely to me that anyone was born of a virgin or that an angel showed anyone golden plates and then made them disappear.

Usually our sacred stories (myths) do no harm, offer meaning, and improve quality of life.  They touch a sacred part of each human heart which is real in my direct experience, even if the stories build around them are not necessarily historically “true.”

But sometimes the myths do harm.  And in that case they must be critically examined even risking offense.

Shlomo Sand reviews the myth that the modern day Ashkenazi Jewish people are the descendants of the Ancient Israelites.  This myth is the rationale for the genocide and expulsion of the Arab peoples from Israel, and the Jewish tribal superiority belief.  The apartheid social structure of Israel is justified by this myth.

This myth justifies the rightfulness of the Jewish people to return to their homeland, and by extension, justifies the expulsion and killing of the indigenous peoples currently living there.  It is the basis of the Likud claim on Greater Israel territory.  (This claim impacts the war in Syria, ownership of the Golan Heights, and rightful place of Israel as the ME regional hegemon.)

Shlomo Sand summarizes his take on genetic and historical findings:  The Ashkenazi people are descendants of Eastern Europeans who converted to Judaism between 700 and 1200 ACE.  They are not descendants of the middle easterners scattered during the Diaspora.  The Levant region is not the source of the Ashkenazi DNA.

Maternal mitochondrial DNA, a separate line of genetic evidence, also shows eastern and northern European origins of the Ashkenazi lineage.

Sand’s conclusion: 

There is a greater possibility that the current day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Israelites, than the current day Ashkenazi Jews.

(When a person endeavors to look up the genetic information on this, be aware that immense economic and political fortunes depend upon this myth and it is defended heavily, especially in biology and history departments of Israeli universities.)

I again apologize in advance to friends who find peace, meaning, belonging and sacredness in these stories.

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