Saturday, October 14, 2017

No Room for Small Dreams by Shimon Peres

This book is so full of life that it should be read by everyone, especially the young, and the leaders of the region, particularly those on both the Israeli and Palestinian side who find and raise every obstacle possible to avoid what Peres so pertinently calls “the necessity of peace.”

"In 1934 eleven-year-old Shimon Peres  emigrated to the land of Israel from his native Poland, leaving behind an extended family who would later be murdered in the Holocaust."

Toward the end of his memoirs he writes:

"I believe in the inevitability of peace because I understand the necessity of peace. Necessity ... drove the pioneers to settle the land. It pushed them to think creatively - to turn salted dirt into fertile ground, and transform a fallow desert into a community that could bear fruit. ...
I believe with all my being in the virtue of Zionism, and in the historic decision made by Ben-Gurion to accept the UN resolution for a partitioned Palestine. Even then, Ben-Gurion understood that in order to retain the Jewish character of our state, we had to uphold our values, and that our values are fundamentally democratic. Jews are taught that we are all born in the image of God. To believe this fundamental tenet, a Jewish state must embrace democracy, which demands full equality between the Jews and non-Jews. Democracy, after all, is not only the right of every citizen to be equal, but also the equal right of every citizen to be different. The future of the Zionist project depends on our embrace of the two-state solution.

... To give up on democracy is to abandon our Jewish values. We didn't give up our values even when we were facing furnaces and gas chambers. We lived as Jews and died as Jews and rose again as free Jewish people. We didn't survive merely to be a passing shadow in history, but as a new genesis, a nation intent on tikkun olam, on making the world aright."

Rabin and Peres at the peace gathering, Nov. 4, 1995
Netanyahu in a pre-Rabin assasination demonstration,
next to a coffin bearing the name of Rabin

Friday, October 13, 2017

Netanyahu the Hasmonean

Joshua Sobol, the outstanding Israeli playwright and director, writes the following, after Benjamin Netanyahu's comment in a Bible class that he hopes Israel will last longer than the rule of the Hasmoneans:

"Bibi compares the life expectancy of the State of Israel with that of the Hasmoneans, which lasted a merely 77 years, while he wishes Israel to be able to celebrate its hundredth birthday.
In other words: let’s hope Israel will continue to exist another thirty years.
Those words by the Prime Minister of Israel uncannily recall the prophecy by Ali Khamenei, who gave Israel another merely twenty-five years until it will be destroyed in war and disappear from the map.

“After us the deluge,” said Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. Louis adopted her nihilistic statement, who after France’s defeat in the battle of Rossbach in 1757, reformulated it thus: “After me, the deluge.”

This is the spirit that now emanates from “Israel’s Royal House.” The message to the young is: Go search for a place where life expectancy is more than thirty years. And for those who remain in this place, and desire to raise their children, grandchildren and their great-grandchildren, the message is: Our Louis XV and Madame Pompadour have to be speedily replaced by those that ensure Israel’s existence over the generations, by its peaceful regional integration, rather than being sentenced to disappear within three decades of continuous conflicts and wars.
Who wants to live under rulers who say, “After us, the deluge”?"

It should be added that the fall of the Hasmoneans was mainly due to strife and infighting, rather than the external onslaught (which Netanyahu refers to). And Bibi, seemingly to defend his rule against the investigations carried out against him, has increased his attacks on big parts of the population, against the media and the State's democratic institutions, such as the legal system and the police.

The following is an excerpt from my novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return, referring to the defeatist view reflected by Netanyahu - which I personally do not share. I trust Israel's past, present and future capability to fight against external forces that aim at its destruction. Leaders like Netanyahu, who with hate speeches set the torches of extremism on fire, do have the capability of tearing up the social fabric. 
True, not everyone had left. There were those who remained behind – he thought of the many poor who had no means to get away, and the baalei teshuvah, those Masters of Repentance who had returned to the fold of the orthodox fathers. It seemed to Eli Shimeoni that their return to the straight path of God had given them the freedom not to ask any questions. They always knew the answer so well, claiming that “in the War of the End of Days, the War of Gog and Magog, total defeat would precede the ultimate victory over evil,” as they knew to repeat by heart.
He had been fascinated by the fanatic obsession with the graves of holy men, whether those scattered over the country, prominently Shimon Bar Yochai at Meron, or those orgiastic journeys by the Bratslav Hassidim to visit the grave of Rabbi Nahman in Uman, or Uriah the Hittite in Iraq – what a thrill! Himself from a somewhat religious background, he often wondered about the fundamentalist need of doomsday fantasies, their need to split the world in good and evil, a “pure” world in which the “impurity” of the “evil other” will be persecuted and exterminated, without the simple realization that this means that if I succeed in my crusade, I will remain trapped as the evil exterminator. 
First his children had left, gone abroad to study. One had taken up a prominent position at the University of Stamville, while the other was doing gender research at the Institute of Harback. Then his wife had followed, accusing him of being a fanatic and an archaic idealist, or derogatively calling him silly and stubborn, an obsolete Zionist. Friends and colleagues had discreetly taken farewell. Initially they would apologetically say, “if things ever change, you can be sure I will be the first one to return home. After all, there is nothing like Israel, and you can not really extract Israel from an Israeli.” But then, people became increasingly forceful and determined as they said goodbye. The cultured ones would say with bleeding hearts, “this is not the country we prayed for,” and the self-proclaimed prophets would plainly tell him, “everything is collapsing, there is no future here.” Some would reinforce their doomsday prediction, relying on historical evidence that an independent Jewish nation could not survive more than a hundred years.
But what struck him the most was, that everything was so everyday-like. Nothing special, nothing particular to notice. So similar to Elie Wiesel’s pastoral description, “I left my native town in the spring of 1944. It was a beautiful day. The surrounding mountains, in their verdure, seemed taller than usual. Our neighbors were out strolling in their shirt-sleeves. Some turned their heads away, others sneered.”
That’s all. Nothing unusual. Only the mountains were taller than usual. And yet, when as a young man Eli had read those few lines, which he had memorized ever since, the impact on him had been shocking. In lieu of immanent mass murder, there was an uncanny sense of the ordinary, sensed by the mountains that were moved more than people were. As man became smaller, the mountains became taller. The uninvolved, the willing or unwilling bystander, may, or may not, have struggled to wrestle himself out of the conflict that the disruption of the ordinary entailed. The victim, on the other hand, would already have been transported away from the reality of a beautiful day in spring, however, not yet fully trampled down by the boots of the octopus.


“From the first pages of this book, the tone of a masterpiece emerges powerfully.
This book makes us realize that the “Israel problem” cannot be understood in a journalistic frame of mind. Politics, war, land, culture, and contemporary experience are expressions of the deep core of human life, the core of the human soul.
This is an important book for anyone who thinks about “cultural identity” and the love of one’s own country and culture.”

Junko Chodos

Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return

is available, in English as well as in Hebrew, at Amazon and other booksellers

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Netanyahu's shameful government

President Reuven Rivlin attends the state ceremony
marking 44 years since the Yom Kippur War. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Not a single member of Netanyahu's government saw it fit to honor the memorial service to the fallen soldiers of the Yom Kippur War, held at the military cemetery at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, on October 1, 2017. When contacted by the organization commemorating the fallen soldiers, the office of the PM responded that the ministers are very busy.

Ehud Barak expressed outrage at the ministers’ absence, “This is shameful and infuriating. This shames the soldiers who died. Where were Bibi and his ministers? Too busy making political appointments or at a political ceremony in Gush Etzion? This is a new low.”
 Ehud Barak further noted that a government that "forgets the fallen soldiers, will eventually fall and be forgotten."

Labor leader Avi Gabbay said, “A government that does not respect its past and does not have an impressive present does not have much of a future.” 

empty seats at the 10 million shekel
ceremony, Sept. 27, 2017

Netanyahu and his government did have the time - and the money, 10 million shekel - to arrange what they claimed to be a 'state ceremony', celebrating fifty years of settlements. They expressed outrage at the absence of the opposition, the High Court of Justice (as well as the President) from the ceremony, but managed to gather a merely 1600 attendees.

More than two thousand Israeli soldiers were killed in the Yom Kippur War, that began when Arab armies attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish year, and more than seven thousand were wounded. Considering that Israel's population in 1973 was 3,338,000, the number of killed would correspond to two hundred thousand in the US of today.

The following is an excerpt from The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel:

Inflated Strength and Denial of Fear

Illusions of safety and self sufficiency were the result of excessive reliance on strength with concomitant denial of fear following the Six Day War.  President Sadat’s attempt to initiate negotiations in 1971 72 did not elicit an unambiguous Israeli response, because there was no real feeling of need.  The psychological frame of mind was such that no one seemed able to pose a threat to Israel, or even evoke fear.  Thus, despite Sadat’s repeated declarations that the coming year would be one of either war or peace, the warnings were foregone and the 1973 Yom Kippur War erupted in complete surprise to the Israelis.  As a consequence of such an illusion of self sufficiency and invulnerability, Israel’s leadership was unable to correctly interpret the intelligence at hand about imminent attack.  Like the entire Israeli collective, the leadership was caught in the dangerous psychological condition of fusion between the individual ego and the extended national or collective self. Personal and collective identities had merged, they were as if inseparable. The individual could (and, in fact, social undercurrents encouraged him to) identify with the national image of strength, omnipotence and fearlessness.  Even death was challenged.  Nothing could inflict harm or injury.  This state of psychological inflation affected the entire nation, including the political leadership, which was unable to differentiate itself from the collective process.  The leadership had fallen victim to the collective self-image of invincibility, and was therefore unable to prevent the war.  In striking contrast, following the Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948, when the people rejoiced and danced in the streets, Ben-Gurion was gravely concerned with what lie ahead, contemplating the possibility of the Arab nations’ forthcoming attack.  In 1973, however, the process of redemption, of the individual ego merging with the collective self, had attained its tragic peak.
The position of strength, force, and power, disconnected from its opposite pole of loss and fear of annihilation, collapsed following the Yom Kippur War.  Since any trace of weakness might have threatened the sense of hubris, and therefore had been denied, the gap between reality and self-perception had reached unhealthy proportions.  With devastating clarity, the Yom Kippur War brought to light the weakness that lingered in the shadow behind the persona of strength and self sufficiency, by which the collective ego had become possessed.  The war brought forth the sense of loss and – again – the deeply rooted fear of ultimate destruction.  This, in turn, generated the release of strength and the will to survive.  The Yom Kippur War was the tragic outcome of a complex having taken possession of a nation’s collective consciousness.

The Yom Kippur War and Its Aftermath
From Ambivalence to Unconditional Ideology

The mood in the wake of the Yom Kippur War was entirely different than the triumph and euphoria that had followed upon the Six Day War. Israelis now found themselves depressed and in grief, the narcissistic illusion of grandiosity and invulnerability had shattered.  …


Preface       The Beggar in the Hero’s Shadow      
Chapter 1    Return to the Source               
Chapter 2    From My Notebook             
Chapter 3    From Dream to Reality             
Chapter 4    Origins and Myths             
Chapter 5    From Redemption to Shadow         
Chapter 6    Wholeness Apart               
Chapter 7    Myth, Shadow and Projection      
Chapter 8    A Crack in the Mask          
Chapter 9    The Death of the Mythical and the Voice of the Soul

Dedication of The Hero and His Shadow

I dedicate this book to those, all too many, whose voices were silenced by man’s evil.
   I dedicate it to those, all too few, who raise their voice against fascism, who speak up in the struggle for peace and reconciliation, especially between Palestinians and Israelis, incessantly on the verge of yet another cycle of violence and hostilities.

   I dedicate it to those who try to hold the vulnerable balance in that ultimate conflict of Abraham between Father and Son, divine and human, idea and implementation, past and future, ego and self.
   I dedicate this book to the daughters and the sons whose future is endangered.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Rope on the Eve of Atonement

A legend tells us that when a person is created, s/he is tied to God with a string. If s/he sins, the string breaks. But repentance during the Days of Awe brings the angel Gabriel down to make a knot in the string, and the person is once again tied to God. Because we all sin once in a while, our strings become full of knots.

But a string with many knots is, clearly, shorter than one without knots. Therefore repentance brings a person closer to God and, evidently, there is no repentance without a sin.

We cannot, so it seems, live a life without shadows, the completely pure, good and sin-free life. Such a life would be a clean and straight line. We spontaneously think of our string to God vertically, but if we imagine the line horizontally, the straight line characterizes life that has come to a standstill.

© Benjamin Schiff
The knots of sin and remorse repair the torn rope and make it shorter. The knots show us the rope is no longer innocently unbroken. And the knots add width and curves and complexity to the string by which we are attached to the transcendent.

And the knots add knots – they link and connect, they bind and harden, they snare and ensnare, they complicate the passage but they enable holding on to the rope.

Not speaking about the professional sinner, sins are often committed unawarely, because we have not reflected well enough on our deeds, or when we have found ourselves torn by strife and conflict, or when “clouds have blurred our vision.”

Do the knots of sin and repentance really bring us closer to God, to the divine, to higher principles, to greater morality, to the Self as the messenger and seat of the divine in our souls?

Perhaps it depends on the manner in which we carry the burden of our sins, how we allow the sins we commit to affect us, to bring us out of innocence into greater complexity, how we reflect upon the sins we commit, how ably we respond – that is, what responsibility we take upon us, rather than the resolution and dissolution of crime and conflict.

The contact with our inner self may require the knots on the rope. Contact, relationship and knot are the same in Hebrew, kesher. The contact between human and transcendent, and the relationship between ourselves and others, upon which sins and shame, guilt and remorse are tied like knots, require, so it seems, that we hold the rope, in all its imperfection and complexity, with all its knotted tears.

אהוד ברק: הטקס בגוש עציון - גושי היישובים מול התנחלויות מבודדות

יציעים ריקים בטקס ה"ממלכתי"י
מאמר בהארץ של אהוד ברק

הטקס בגוש עציון לציון 50 שנה לחזרתנו אל כל ארץ ישראל, ערש לידתנו כאומה וכנושאי שליחות אוניברסלית, הוא הכל מלבד טקס ממלכתי. זהו אירוע שעוצב כניסיון פוליטי זול ובוטה לנכס לימין בישראל את הישגי מלחמת ששת הימים ואת אהבת הארץ, ולעזאזל האמת והעובדות.
טקס ממלכתי היה מדגיש את המאחד והמוסכם ולא את המפלג והמפריד, שלא לומר המסית. טקס ממלכתי היה משקף את תרומת כל הזרמים בעם להישגי ההתיישבות ביהודה ושומרון ואף את המחלוקת הלגיטימית על מטרות ודרכים.
טקס ממלכתי היה מציין שמי שבנה את צה״ל והוביל את המערכה לשחרור חלקי ארץ היו יצחק רבין, חיים בר לב, מוטה גור ואחרים (שהתבררו לימים כ"שמאלנים" רחמנא ליצלן), ושמי שגיבש והוביל לאורך עשור את ביצוע ההתיישבות, בעיקר על פי שיקולים ביטחוניים, היה המערך השנוא כל כך.
טקס ממלכתי היה מעלה אל דוכן המברכים את אלוף (מיל׳) אלעד פלד, האיש שבגיל 21 בראש מחלקת פלמ״ח שחרר את צפת ובגיל 40 בראש אוגדה 36 שחרר את כל השומרון. איש מעשה חכם וצנוע, שמעולם לא דרש "כפיים!", ומעולם לא קיטר על "אפס כיסוי תקשורתי" של הישגיו, אך תרם לשחרור יהודה ושומרון יותר מכל המברכים והאורחים בטקס – יחד. או את דליה רבין, בתו של רמטכ"ל הניצחון ואדריכל השלום יצחק רבין, שנרצח על ידי בן עוולה, איש ימין קיצוני מוסת. או את יצחק הרצוג, ראש האופוזיציה ובנו של ראש אמ״ן והנשיא לשעבר, חיים הרצוג, שפוגג בהופעות ייחודיות בטלוויזיה שזה עתה באה לעולם את חרדות הציבור טרם ובמהלך המלחמה והיה מושלה הראשון של ירושלים המאוחדת. או את הילה אלעזר-כהן, בתו הבכורה של האלוף דויד אלעזר, דדו, שתבע מהיום הראשון והוביל מהיום הרביעי את כיבוש רמת הגולן בסערה.
טקס ממלכתי היה מעלה על נס את בהירות הראייה של "תכנית אלון" ואת ההיגיון הפנימי של תפיסת "גושי היישובים" ושכונות יהודיות במזרח העיר, לצד אחיזה התיישבותית לאורך הירדן - כממדי תפיסה ביטחונית מפוכחת ומוסכמת על כל חלקי הציבור; ולא מטשטש בכוונת מכוון את ההבדל הקריטי בין גושי היישובים - שבהם 80% ממתיישבי יו״ש ושערכם לביטחון מוסכם על כולנו - לבין ההתנחלויות המבודדות, שאפילו על פי ראשי ההתיישבות ייחודם איננו בתרומה לביטחון אלא בהיותם "קיום מצוות יישוב הארץ".

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoor

טקס כזה לא יתקיים, משום שהמטרה היא לנכס, לפלג ולאחז עיניים דרך טשטוש הקו המפריד בין מה שמשותף לכולנו - ביטחון תחילה, שלמות העם קודמת לשלמות הארץ וערכי מגילת העצמאות - לבין מה שמשרת אג׳נדה לאומנית ואפלה, נגועה במשיחיות, המאיימת על עתיד כולנו.
סיפורה המופלא של חזרתנו לציון והתיישבותנו בחלקי מולדת החיוניים להבטחת עתידנו, הוא המשך סיפור הלאומיות הישראלית הגאה. מחליף אותו בתודעת מנהיגי הימין חזון העוועים של "מדינה אחת" עם מלחמת אזרחים מתמשכת ו"אפרטהייד יהודי" או רוב ערבי. זהו חזון שבמוקדו כיום הניסיון לסכל כל סיכוי להסדר עם ביטחון בעתיד, באמצעות ההתנחלויות המבודדות, וזהו מרשם אסוני שחיוני לעצור.
צודקים לכן אלה האומרים: אנו גאים בחלקנו בשיבה אל כל חבלי הארץ ובמפעל ההתיישבות החיוני לביטחוננו. בה בעת אנו דוחים את הניסיון הזול והמביך לנכס פוליטית את ההורות על ההישג לצד אחד במארג הפוליטי תוך טשטוש מודע של ההבדל בין "אין ברירה", רגעים של אחדות מופלאה ומעשה ציוני גדול בעקבותיה, לבין לאומנות אפלה, שהעירה חזון משיחי, שיישומו מאיים על הפרויקט הציוני כולו.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Erich Neumann: The Roots of Jewish Consciousness

With the publication in 2015 of the important correspondence between C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann (edited by Martin Liebscher), there has been something of a Neumann renaissance. A major international conference was held in 2015 at Kibbutz Shefayim, with participants from more than 25 countries, and in 2016 a symposium was held at the Pacifica Institute in California. 
Neumann’s slim but brilliant book, Jacob and Esau: On the collective symbolism of the brother motif, was recently published by Chiron in collaboration with Recollections. 
A volume of essays by prominent Jungians, as well as members of the Jung and Neumann families, has also een published by Chiron/Recollections. It is edited by Erel Shalit and Murray Stein, Turbulent Times, Creative Minds: The relationship between Erich Neumann and C.G. Jung (1933-1960). 

Ann Conrad Lammers
Soon, in late 2018 or early 2019, Routledge will publish Neumann’s major treatise on The Roots of Jewish Consciousness in an impressive two-volume set (Volume 1 on the psychological significance of revelation, Volume 2 on Hasidism), edited by Ann Lammers, and translated by Mark Kyburz with Ann Lammers. This work, written between 1934 and 1945 but never published, is a treasure trove, a wealth of pearls. Although Neumann mined its themes in several of his Eranos lectures, the work as a whole holds a unique place in his opus.

Further announcements will be posted as the work of translation and editing progresses, but here is a taste of Neumann’s writing:
... for Hasidism the world consists of a great, diffusely distributed creative nothingness, whose points of concentration, in varying degrees of power, reshape and form this unformed energy and cause it to shine. These points of concentration are the world's individuals, created in the tzimtzum, having a smaller and greater circumference and varying energy charge. They can also diminish or increase the extent and intensity of their radiance, depending on the level they attain, that is, their ability to enter into contact with divine nothingness.
Read more about Erich Neumann's The Roots of Jewish Consciousness
Read more about Erich Neumann's Jacob and Esau: On the collective symbolism of the brother motif
Read more about Turbulent Times, Creative Minds: The relationship between Erich Neumann and C.G. Jung (1933-1960)

Cover painting by Mordecai Arnon
Cover image silhouette by Meir Gur Arieh

Etching by Jacob Steinhardt

Saturday, September 16, 2017

On Kafka's short story The Next Village

“The art of life is the most distinguished and rarest of all the arts.” 
C.G. Jung

Kafka's short story The Next Village illustrates two aspects of the cycle, or the stages, of life - the experience and the memory.

I am grateful to Adam Kościuk and Karol Domański who have prepared and edited this video, as always in the most wonderful way. (The video can also be watched with Polish subtitles here).

Topics explored in the book The Cycle of Life include:

 I. The Journey
Stages and Seasons
 Jung’s Stages of Life
 All the World’s a Stage, and a Stage of Life
 Being on the Way—A Way of Being
Hermes and the Journey: Being on the Way
The Crossroads

II. The Child
The Child in the Mirror
 Psychotherapy and Childhood
 The Divine Child
 From Divine to Human
 Eros, Psyche and Pleasure

III. The Puer and the Puella
 Between Shame and Fear
 Wine, Spirit and Fire
 Prometheus—the Thoughtful Thief

IV. The Adult
 King on Earth
 Boundaries of Reality
 Celestial Jerusalem—Terrestrial Jerusalem
 The King who Refuses to Die
 The Dried-up Earth
 The Limping Ego
 The Empty Shell

V. i. The Senex
V. ii. Homage to Sophocles
V. iii. The Last Chapter: Self and Meaning
 Ancestral Roots
 An Oak and an Acorn
 We Are All Beggars, Are We Not?

The Cycle of Life is available on Amazon, Fisher King Press, and other book sellers.