The Jewish psyche?

Idith Zertal, the Israeli co-author of Lords of the Land, talked at Columbia University last week (as recounted by blogger Philip Weiss):

Zertal talked about the Israeli psyche. She said that in 2003 a young Israeli officer was interviewed by British tv and asked about the killings of Palestinian children. The ratio of Palestinians to Israeli injuries was so out of balance. Was this right? “The young officer, a third generation from the time of the Holocaust, said, ‘the only authority to what we are doing is the gas chambers.'”

This is the function of the “organized memory of the Holocaust in the Israeli mind,” Zertal said. “This ominous presence of a most horrific historical event, how it has shaped a whole society, shaped a collective psyche, and served as a warrant for such [abuses]….Traumas are bad advisers.”

And meantime Palestinian children are drinking some of the worst water in the world in Gaza, and suffering high rates of kidney disease, Zertal said. Which raises the issue of history and consciousness. Jews, she said, “feel at home in a very distant past and a very distant future.” Our psychic lives take place 2000 years ago and 3000 years ahead. “The present s always creating a problem for us, for Israelis and Jews.” And the present is the time in which we must actually make our lives. The only way to peace for Jews is to “take responsibility for the present and the near future.”

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