Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor

I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.

Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El Halil), Rada the lady who cleaned our home on occasion (and would delight me with a bottle of delicious home-made olive oil from her groves in Beit Jala) and the delivery boy from East Jerusalem who was my age and worked at the local grocery store.

The Zionist narrative was deeply entrenched within me from an early age. I was convinced Israel is the David eternally pitted against the Arabs, who were the Goliaths out to get me and my fellow tribesmen and women. In school I learned about the succession of Jewish traumas and the various Israeli wars, which were always framed as romantic, just and heroic yet defensive and unavoidable. At home I heard about the horrific abuses members of my family went through and their incredible journeys to the shores of Palestine. Alternative narratives of settler-colonialism and occupation were completely absent and even the word “Palestinian” was considered radically political and controversial.

At the age of 18, I enlisted into the standard three-year military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as a medic in the paratroopers. During my service I was stationed in multiple “hot zones”, predominantly South Lebanon (which was occupied by Israel at the time) and Hebron (aka El Halil in Arabic) in the West Bank. I manned checkpoints and participated in raids, ambushes and other military operations and exercises. During this time, I was also exposed to the fundamentalism, violence and racism of the Israeli settlers against native Palestinians.

I believed I held high moral ground and could serve as a positive influence within the military. But the Israeli state’s trinity of nationalism, religion and capitalism had managed to thoroughly indoctrinate me with propaganda (aka “Hasbara”) that dehumanized the Palestinian ‘other’ and was meant to alleviate any moral dilemmas I encountered while carrying out policies of oppression.

Following the army, the intensity and barrage of stressful and traumatic news that constitute the Israeli experience caused me to shut myself off from my environment. As a result, and similar to many Israelis my age, I willfully disengaged from any political involvement. The occupation was just too “complicated” and I opted to focus solely on my personal development.

Fear and Propaganda

I went on to study biological psychology in the United States specializing in the behavioral neuroscience of fear, stress, social behaviors, aggression and trauma. My studies have afforded me the opportunity to investigate the neurobehavioral pathways involved in conflict and its resolution from the aspects of both aggressor and victim. I have found that studying the brain mechanisms associated with trauma and its healing can benefit our efforts to understand and find effective solutions to conflict (for more see here).

A simplistic Darwinian outlook is often cited by those who believe in a dualistic, ‘us versus them’ philosophy, i.e. in the ‘rough neighborhood of the Middle East only the strong survive’. We see that perspective represented by a long line of pro-aggression, exclusivist, expansionist and militaristic Israeli governments that instill and potentiate fear in order to control public opinion and facilitate their political and economic goals. In so doing, the Jewish victim narrative, a form of collective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sustains the level of aggression and oppression that is a part of daily life in the reality of occupation.

However, evolution also emphasizes the adaptive utility of altruistic and cooperative behavior based on humans’ natural qualities as a social species. Though it is very difficult to overcome fear and cultivate empathy in an environment of separation, aggression and hatred, it is possible through a principled and sustained process of education, communication and collaboration, which can be achieved using universal human languages to connect and bridge gaps, such as art and music.

At some point during my studies, I was challenged on my Zionist beliefs. I realized I was spewing propaganda that I could not back with facts, as I was accustomed to with my scientific research. My ignorance and emotionality regarding Zionism, in addition to my newfound ability and curiosity to reengage with politics due to the geographical and mental distance from the once overwhelming Israeli propaganda machine, inspired me to conduct my own research into the history of Israel and Zionism, the occupation of Palestine and subjugation of Palestinians, and my personal role in perpetuating injustice.

The Psychology of Healing

In my experiments in the laboratory, I trained rodents to become afraid of certain stimuli (odors/lights/tones) by pairing them to innate fears or pain (“fear conditioning”) and then to overcome those conditioned fears by a process of re-exposure to those same stimuli in neutral settings (“extinction of fear”). Once extinguished, I could “reinstate” the fears of these stimuli by scaring or hurting these animals without the presence of the neutral stimuli. As these neural systems are conserved in all mammals, it is valid to extrapolate findings on trauma and its healing in rodents to humans.

In order for Israeli aggressors to heal, en route to re-humanization and reconciliation with our Palestinian victims, we must break the cycle of violence and inequality, which is based on a similar process of conditioning and its reinstatement by various means, such as fear mongering and trauma. For this to happen, Israelis need to go through a painful internal process of deconstruction and reconstruction of our internal narratives, which includes a humble yet relentless quest for historical truth, a sense of deep outrage at the lies, tribalism and fear we were indoctrinated with, and a true reckoning with the profound shame and guilt at the crimes we were involved in both directly and indirectly by association or via our collective silence. Further, Israelis need to channel our outrage toward dissent; i.e. undermining state systems of oppression. Lastly, we must communicate and forge bonds with Palestinians that are based on the universal values of equality, freedom and justice.

Today is a perfect day of reckoning for Israelis: the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), grotesquely ignored and even outlawed in Israel and celebrated by Israelis as Independence Day.

We as Israelis must break the parasitic bond that Zionist propaganda has created between the Israeli/Zionist collective narrative (the state) and ourselves so that dissent becomes both legitimate and even patriotic as a means of building an inclusive and just society in Israel/Palestine.


2017-05-17

About the author:

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.

Source: Counter Punch

Loss of land in Palestine under Israeli occupation

Save

Save

Save 

RELATED POSTS
Bush Family Links To Nazi Germany: “A Famous American Family” Made Its Fortune From The Nazis
“A  famous American family” made its fortune from the Nazis, according to John Loftus’ documented historical analysis.     The Bush family links to Nazi Germany’s war economy were first brought to light at the Nuremberg trials in the testimony of Nazi Germany’s steel magnate Fritz Thyssen. Thyssen was a partner of George W. Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush:  From 1945 until 1949 in Nuremberg, one of the lengthiest and, it now appears, most futile interrogations of a Nazi war crimes suspect began in the American Zone of Occupied Germany. Multibillionaire steel magnate Fritz Thyssen-the man whose steel combine was the cold heart of the Nazi war machine-talked and ...
READ MORE
NATO’s illegal war against Serbia
Facts And Truth @ YouTube: “Remember why NATO spent 78-days bombing Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999? There was the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities. The refugees chased out of Kosovo by the Serb army. The mass graves. The heaps of bodies tossed into vats of sulphuric acid at the Trepca mines. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said there were 100,000 Kosovo Albanian Muslims unaccounted for. Problem is, none of it happened.”   Forensic report throws doubt on US/NATO claims of Racak “massacre” By Richard Tyler wsws.org, 12 February 2001 A forthcoming article by three Finnish pathologists throws further doubts upon official descriptions of a “massacre” in ...
READ MORE
Permanent War Against Humans and the Planet
War is evil; permanent war is permanent evil. It is evil to humans but also to other species and the planet; the weapons used destroy us but also contaminate and destroy nature. Despite a general knowledge of the evils of war and acceptance of peace and the rule of law, war has become a permanent feature of the 21st century -destructive, cruel, dehumanizing and vindictive. Its message: those who can kill and destroy the most have the upper hand. Major General Smedley Butler said it in a speech in 1933: “war is a racket.” Butler, who had joined the Marine ...
READ MORE
Overthrowing Other People’s Governments: The Master List
Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government) China 1949 to early 1960s Albania 1949-53 East Germany 1950s Iran 1953 * Guatemala 1954 * Costa Rica mid-1950s Syria 1956-7 Egypt 1957 Indonesia 1957-8 British Guiana 1953-64 * Iraq 1963 * North Vietnam 1945-73 Cambodia 1955-70 * Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 * Ecuador 1960-63 * Congo 1960 * France 1965 Brazil 1962-64 * Dominican Republic 1963 * Cuba 1959 to present Bolivia 1964 * Indonesia 1965 * Ghana 1966 * Chile 1964-73 ...
READ MORE
Somnolent Europe, Russia, And China: Accept US Hegemony Or Go To War?
Can the world wake up? On September 19, 2000, going on 16 years ago, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph reported: Declassified American government documents show that the US intelligence community ran a campaign in the Fifties and Sixties to build momentum for a united Europe. It funded and directed the European federalist movement. The documents confirm suspicions voiced at the time that America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen. William J. Donovan, ...
READ MORE
U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy To 138 Nations, 70% Of The World’s Countries
They could be found on the outskirts of Sirte, Libya, supporting local militia fighters, and in Mukalla, Yemen, backing troops from the United Arab Emirates.  At Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia, they assisted local commandos in killing several members of the terror group al-Shabab.  Around the cities of Jarabulus and Al-Rai in northern Syria, they partnered with both Turkish soldiers and Syrian militias, while also embedding with Kurdish YPG fighters and the Syrian Democratic Forces.  Across the border in Iraq, still others joined the fight to liberate the city of Mosul.  And in Afghanistan, they assisted indigenous forces in various missions, just as they have ...
READ MORE
US, UK, & EU, Are Now Dictatorships
How can it be that in virtually all of the Presidential-candidate head-to-head Democratic versus Republican polling that was done of both Democratic and Republican candidates during the primaries, the preferred Democratic candidate against any one of the Republican candidates was Bernie Sanders, but he almost certainly won’t be that Party’s nominee (and there’s more on that here); and the preferred Republican candidate against either one of the Democratic candidates was John Kasich, but he certainly won’t be the Republican nominee? Sanders and Kasich also scored the highest in his respective Party for net favorability rating, but almost certainly neither candidate will ...
READ MORE
The Birkenstock Bomber: When Bernie Did Serbia
The most useful parable about progressives is that offered by Bernard Sanders, self-styled “socialist-progressive-independent” rep from Vermont. Sanders owes his political career to rage against the Vietnam War among radicals, many of whom moved into the state in the early 1970s. They forthwith planned a long-term, carefully organized, assault on Vermont’s two-party structure. Sanders linked his political ambitions to this effort to organize a third force, the Progressive Alliance. He became mayor of Burlington and, later, congressman. At a rapid clip the emphasis moved from party-building to Sanders-building. By 1994, it was apparent that the only movement B. Sanders was interested in ...
READ MORE
Tiananmen: The Empire’s Big Lie
Early in 1989, China was stirring. A decade of groundbreaking reforms inspired by Deng Xiaoping had brought the moribund economy to life and freed the nation from the ideological shackles imposed by radical Maoists during the cataclysmic Cultural Revolution. Almost everything seemed possible, as Deng proteges Hu Yaobang and then Zhao Ziyang led policymaking on a day-to-day basis. But the changes sweeping China had its dark undersides. Large-scale economic reforms also meant expanded corruption opportunities, which many officials exploited. And Chinese who “got rich first,” under the Dengist dispensation, opened a rapidly expanding wealth gap with fellow citizens. Discontent simmered dangerously. The ...
READ MORE
Only Fools and Liars will Blame Assad
So, here's how it is:   1) There is still no evidence - that has been presented to the public - that Assad ordered a chemical weapons (CW) attack. 2) Yes, that evidence should be made public, discussed and debated by Congress, and a vote taken before we use force. I acknowledge that the War Powers Resolution gives the President the authority to use force for 60 days - but the interests of peace and stability are better served through a debate and a democratic process as opposed to a unilateral decision made in secret, especially when the military action is punitive and ...
READ MORE
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address To The International Conference On The European/Russian Crisis Created By Washington
Paul Craig Roberts’ address to the Conference on the European/Russian Crisis, Delphi, Greece, June 20-21, 2015 
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence ...
READ MORE
The Russians Are Coming
As 2016 closes, we find ourselves a deeply unsettled nation. We’re unable to draw the lines of our national interest. Is it jobs and economy, is it national security, or is it now in our interest to ensure global security — in other words, act as the world’s policemen? As the “failing” (to quote Trump) New York Times degenerates into a Washington Post organization with its stagnant Cold War vision of a 1950s world where the Russians are to blame for most everything — Hillary’s loss, most of the aggression and disorder in the world, the desire to destabilize Europe, etc. — the Times has added the ...
READ MORE
Illegal occupation of southern Serbia: Kosovo – Analysis
Serbia today is a member-State of United Nations (U.N.), after the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was split into several nations during the early 1990’s when war broke out between Serbian General Milosevic and neighboring nations. After partition, Serbia is still the most powerful “state” of the former Yugoslavia. “Kosovo”, the term used for the territory of southern Serbia, is de-jure recognised as a “state” by over 110+ “states”, but is not a “state” itself, as per the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933), and is not a “state” at the U.N. where 2/3rd positive vote is ...
READ MORE
The Great Leap Backward: America’s Illegal Wars On The World
Can we face it in this election season? America is a weapons factory, the White House a war room, and the president the manager of the neoliberal conspiracy to recolonize the planet. It exports war and mass poverty. On the economic front, usurious neoliberalism; on the military front, illegal wars. These are the trenches of America’s battle for world domination in the 21st century. If not stopped, it will be a short century. Since 1945, America’s Manifest Destiny, posing as the Free World’s Crusade against the Red Menace, has claimed 20 to 30 million lives worldwide and bombed one-third of the earth’s ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: An evil little war
Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong In the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For some reason, many in the targeted nation thought the name of the operation was “Merciful Angel.” In fact, the attack was code-named “Allied Force” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker. For, however much NATO spokesmen and the cheerleading press spun, lied, and fabricated to show otherwise (unfortunately, with altogether too much success), there was nothing noble in NATO’s aims. It attacked Yugoslavia for the same reason then-Emperor Bill Clinton enjoyed a ...
READ MORE
Terrorist al-Nusra Front is blamed for massacre and abduction of Syrian civilians.
As explosions from detonated mines continued in the background a Syrian general confirmed in some detail an ugly truth: Washington and its close allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel backed the ISIS takeover and destruction of Palmyra. Most of the weapons ISIS used were from the US , with some ammunition from Israel . ISIS had US Hummers, spinning explosive projectiles and military rations from the US , Turkey and Saudi Arabia . That should not have been a surprise. US officials admitted in 2014 that their allies Turkey , the Saudis and Qatar were backing every single armed group in ...
READ MORE
Mainstream news and USA’s heroics in Vietnam: Why the silence about the 7 million dead?
The amount of bombs dropped by Americans on the innocent citizens of tiny French Indochina was more than twice the amount of bombs dropped in Europe, Africa and Asia during the Second World War, and this includes bombs  dropped on the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong by American hero Senator John McCain, who proudly ran for president on his military record in spite of Nuremberg Counsel for Prosecution General Telford Taylor having said he would have been proud to have prosecuted US flyers shot down while bombing in Vietnam.[3]  What mastery of fake news, blacked out news, selected news and outrageously ...
READ MORE
Civilian Casualties Of NATO’s War On Yugoslavia
From the onset of NATO’s aggression from March 24 to June 11, 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) flew over 35,000 combat missions over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over 1,000 warplanes (among others F-15, F-16, F-117) and 206 helicopters were used in the air strikes. More than 20,000 laser or satellite-guided weapons were launched and over 79,000 tons of explosives were dropped, including 152 containers with 35,450 cluster bombs, thermo-visual and graphite bombs, which are prohibited under international conventions.1 The NATO forces justified the bombing of civilian targets as either “mistakes” or essential to the destruction of Milosevic and ...
READ MORE
New Israeli School Textbook Highlights Jewish Supremacy. Paints Palestinians As “Inferior”
To mark so-called ‘Independence Day’, Palestinian citizens forced to study the book that paints them as inferior to Jews Ramallah: An Israeli civics textbook under the theme of ‘Being a Citizen in Israel’, launched to mark the regime’s commemoration of the 68th anniversary of its establishment, has been slammed for its negative and dismissive attitude towards the native Palestinian citizens. After the Israeli Education Ministry officially launched the textbook as part of the curriculum taught in Israeli schools, including those attended by Palestinian citizens, Palestinians reacted by condemning the move. Israel on Thursday marks the 68th anniversary of its 1948 founding in Palestine, ...
READ MORE
Andrew Gavin Marshall: “The Imperial Anatomy Of Al-Qaeda”
The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis” Part I Introduction As the 9th anniversary of 9/11 nears, and the war on terror continues to be waged and grows in ferocity and geography, it seems all the more imperative to return to the events of that fateful September morning and re-examine the reasons for war and the nature of the stated culprit, Al-Qaeda. The events of 9/11 pervade the American and indeed the world imagination as an historical myth. The events of that day and those leading up to it remain largely unknown and little understood by the ...
READ MORE
Bush Family Links To Nazi Germany: “A Famous American Family” Made Its Fortune From The Nazis
NATO’s illegal war against Serbia
Permanent War Against Humans and the Planet
Overthrowing Other People’s Governments: The Master List
Somnolent Europe, Russia, And China: Accept US Hegemony Or Go To War?
U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy To 138 Nations, 70% Of The World’s Countries
US, UK, & EU, Are Now Dictatorships
The Birkenstock Bomber: When Bernie Did Serbia
Tiananmen: The Empire’s Big Lie
Only Fools and Liars will Blame Assad
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address To The International Conference On The European/Russian Crisis Created By Washington
The Russians Are Coming
Illegal occupation of southern Serbia: Kosovo – Analysis
The Great Leap Backward: America’s Illegal Wars On The World
Kosovo: An evil little war
How The US Backed The ISIS Takeover And Destruction Of Palmyra
Mainstream news and USA’s heroics in Vietnam: Why the silence about the 7 million dead?
Civilian Casualties Of NATO’s War On Yugoslavia
New Israeli School Textbook Highlights Jewish Supremacy. Paints Palestinians As “Inferior”
Andrew Gavin Marshall: “The Imperial Anatomy Of Al-Qaeda”