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
All The American Lies About Serbs – Some Of The Worst War Crimes Have Been Committed By Reporters
In the sea of misinformation sloshing around the Western media during the Yugoslav civil wars, Serbs fared the worst. As a rule, they were accused even of atrocities that never happened, or were committed by others. The real truth would usually emerge several years later, from the mouths of international officials who at the time held important and responsible positions. Jack Kelley: Thousands of Serbs died due to his fabricated stories; that puts him on war criminal list American press and electronic media have “discovered” that the Serbs weren’t the “bad guys” to the extent the American reporters from the Balkans made ...
READ MORE
Article In Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others For Them
On the eve of President Obama's April 2016 visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Congress began debating the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), that would, inter alia, allow the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue the Saudi government for damages. Also in April 2016, the New York Times published that a 2002 congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks had found that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. The commission's conclusions, said the paper, were specified in a report that has not been released publicly.[1] ...
READ MORE
The Ku Klux Klan: America’s Long History of Accepting White Terrorist Organizations
Thursday marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of America’s deadliest terrorist organization: the Klu Klux Klan. Since September 11, extremists associated with various far-right wing ideologies, including the KKK and Jewish extremists, have killed far more people in the United States than extremists motivated by radical Islam. One centuries’ old example of US government double standards when it comes to terrorism, is the infamous Klu Klux Klan. The Klan has terrorized and killed far more Americans than Islamic terrorists ever have; and despite being America’s oldest terrorist organization, the US government does not officially consider the KKK a terrorist organization, classifying ...
READ MORE
“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan For The Middle East
This article was published on Global Research April 29, 2013. Global Research Editor’s Note: The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government (which has recently been re-elected), the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.  The election was fought by Netanyahu on a political platform which denies Palestinian statehood.   According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”  According to Rabbi Fischmann,  “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt ...
READ MORE
Journey To Aleppo: Exposing The Truth Buried Under NATO Propaganda
The extent of the destruction inflicted upon the Kurdish-held Sheikh Maqsoud by the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels” and the scars of the battle for its liberation are highlighted in the state of the neighborhood’s infrastructure. (Photo by Vanessa Beeley) ALEPPO, Syria — Aleppo has become synonymous with destruction and “Syrian state-generated” violence among those whose perception of the situation in the war-torn nation is contained within the prism of mainstream media narratives. The NATO-aligned media maintains a tight grip on information coming out of this beleaguered city, ensuring that whatever comes out is tailored to meet State Department requirements and advocacy for regime ...
READ MORE
The Unspoken War on Yemen
Is your money that good? Will it buy you forgiveness? Do you think that it could?” (Bob Dylan, b 1941, Masters of War.) On Tuesday 6th of September, twenty-four hour monitoring by Yemen’s Legal Centre for Rights and Development (LCRD) recorded the bombings by the Saudi led “coalition”, armed by the US and UK and advised by their military specialists, thus collusion and co-operation of both countries render them equally culpable for the carnage. Yemen has a population of just 24.41 million (2013 figure) and according to the Rural Poverty Portal: “ … is one of the driest, poorest and least developed countries in ...
READ MORE
What Is The European Union For?
    After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently. In a pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote: At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of ...
READ MORE
Victims Of The (Western) Christian Faith
Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete) Ancient Pagans As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed. Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain. Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis. Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple ...
READ MORE
Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction
From Libya and Egypt to Syria and Yemen, the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is undergoing unprecedented tumult and chaos. To understand the current breakdown of states and society, examining the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 that laid the groundwork for this ongoing regional anarchy is indispensable. Global Research brings to the attention of its readers the newly released book by Christopher L. Brennan.  Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction (available here), propounds an incisive and timely analysis. The book views this widespread Arab upheaval, not as authentic grass roots movements for democracy, but as a US-engineered destabilization. Below are ...
READ MORE
Chile, September 11, 1973: The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, “Shock Treatment” and the Instruments of Economic Repression: The Junta’s Deadly “Economic Medicine”
“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile!  Long live the people! Long live the workers!”  President Salvador Allende’s farewell speech, 11 September 1973. “It’s hard to find someone with the fighting spirit, courage and the story of Allende. He was a man who actually had the branded name in history: democratically the left came ...
READ MORE
Can the United States Own Up to Its War Crimes During the Korean War?
When I was living in San Francisco in 1981, I met and became friends with Chun Sun-Tae, a Korean immigrant who had come to the United States as a college student in the 1960s and ran a small luggage shop in Oakland. James, as he was known, had grown up in the 1940s in the city of Kaesong in what was then the northern frontier of South Korea. One warm day in June, 1950, he went camping with a group of friends at a nearby lake. The next morning, they woke to the sounds of artillery and gunfire: Kaesong had just ...
READ MORE
Vietnam War Atrocities Committed By The US Army
Atrocities and war crimes are subjectively defined as acts of violence that exceed military necessity. All war includes atrocities. The stress of combat includes a build up of emotion during action that leads to vicious attacks on the enemy when the opportunity arises. American military units are trained and indoctrinated to avoid inhuman treatment of enemy combatants. Soldiers who violate the norms are prosecuted. This reduces but does not eliminate the problem. Photo of Vietnamese civilians killed by an American unit during the massacre at My Lai, 16 March 1968. Atrocities During the Vietnam War The actions of armies in war have seldom ...
READ MORE
Western Warmongers Killed 1.5 Million Muslims In “War On Terror”
“I believe the perception caused by civilian casualties is one of the most dangerous enemies we face.” – U.S. General Stanley A. McCrystal in his inaugural speech as ISAF Commander in June 2009. The dust had hardly settled on Russian airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria before Western media reports claimed that ‘civilians’ had been killed “including women and children”. Leaving aside the dubious nature of these allegations – the first of which was made before Russian airstrikes had even begun, according to Putin – Western propaganda outlets and the politicians they serve are in no position to point the finger at Russia ...
READ MORE
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
A newly-released Hilary Clinton email confirmed that the Obama administration has deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as the “best way to help Israel.” In an indication of her murderous and psychopathic nature, Clinton also wrote that it was the “right thing” to personally threaten Bashar Assad’s family with death. In the email, released by Wikileaks, then Secretary of State Clinton says that the “best way to help Israel” is to “use force” in Syria to overthrow the government. The document was one of many unclassified by the US Department of State under case number F-2014-20439, Doc No. C05794498, following the uproar ...
READ MORE
Russia’s Message to the Mushroom
A NATO warmonger President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite (her surname means a mushroom in the English) is observing Russia's "aggressors" and "cannibals" Save Save Save
READ MORE
Euromaidan: Anatomy of a Washington-backed coup d’etat
In late November 2013, the ‘Euromaidan’ in Kiev began as a popular protest against a generalized state of corruption and cronyism in Ukraine. The spark that ostensibly ignited the protests was the inability of then President Yanukovych to sign an EU Association Agreement that would cut Ukraine’s economic and military ties to Russia in favor of a closer relationship with the EU and NATO. The EU had made the release of former Ukrainian prime minister and “gas princess” Tymoshenko a precondition for signing the agreement. But the fact that Tymoshenko was/is a convicted embezzler of state funds, combined with the rather ...
READ MORE
All The American Lies About Serbs – Some Of The Worst War Crimes Have Been Committed By Reporters
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Honors In Kremlin Afghan Mujahedin Fighters – Photographs Of Evidence
Article In Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others For Them
The Ku Klux Klan: America’s Long History of Accepting White Terrorist Organizations
“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan For The Middle East
Journey To Aleppo: Exposing The Truth Buried Under NATO Propaganda
The Unspoken War on Yemen
What Is The European Union For?
Victims Of The (Western) Christian Faith
Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction
Chile, September 11, 1973: The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, “Shock Treatment” and the Instruments of Economic Repression: The Junta’s Deadly “Economic Medicine”
Can the United States Own Up to Its War Crimes During the Korean War?
Vietnam War Atrocities Committed By The US Army
Western Warmongers Killed 1.5 Million Muslims In “War On Terror”
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
Edward S. Herman (ed.), The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (PDF Book)
A Boomerang Policy: From Paris to Paris
Russia’s Message to the Mushroom
Je Sius La Serbie 1999!
Euromaidan: Anatomy of a Washington-backed coup d’etat

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

Subscribe, Share & Follow