Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ari Shavit: Israeli-Palestinian peace is dead, long live peace

Ari Shavit writes:
The tale of the Israeli left is a sad one. In the summer of 1967, the Zionist left was correct. On the seventh day of the Six-Day War, it already understood that the occupation would corrupt us and the settlements were pointless. It fought bravely against the rejectionism of Prime Minister Golda Meir and the messianism of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, as well as the general hawkishness of Likud. But the left’s great mistake was that it conjured a magical faith in the possibility of ending the occupation via the metaphysical promise of peace now. 
 This serious (almost religious) faith in an immediate and comprehensive peace was shaky even at the end of the 20th century, but it has become utterly groundless in the 21st century. But the left refused to recognize this clear and bitter fact.
Its view of the past didn’t really leave room for the rejectionism of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, or for the steadily growing power of Hamas. Its view of the present didn’t really leave room for Islamic fundamentalism, Arab chaos and Palestinian extremism. The rational, moral and Zionist political movement of the 1960s and ‘70s lost its identity and way. It became detached from reality. Read more
Ari Shavit has written another sober piece, questioning the failure of the Israeli left, without turning to the right-wing. After Abbas's speech at the UN, questions must again and again be raised about the possibility of complete peace agreements, with the reluctant leaderships on both sides.

The alternative, for the Israeli side, would be an immediate declaration of withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the security fence, to enable Palestinian civilian control of their territory, with termination of military occupation only when partial or full peace agreements are signed.

This would include the relocation (of a few kilometers) of 20% of the settlers (who live in 80% of the settlements, though these are significantly smaller than those in the blocs of settlements along the green line, which will remain Israeli in exchange for land swaps when negotiated agreements are signed).

The Hero and His Shadow 
($11:99 on Kindle)
A Necessay Companioin to Ari Shavit's My Promised Land

A review by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book of the distinction between “The Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths”. We see this vividly demonstrated when we put Ari Shavit’s acclaimed new book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel alongside Erel Shalit’s classic work, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel. The former takes us through the history of the heroic creation of Israel, including the darkest “shadow” behaviors of the Jewish state in the 1948 massacre of the Arabs of Lydda.

In the latter work, Erel Shalit tells us why.

This is no simplistic psychological analysis. The brilliance of this Israeli Jungian analyst is that he offers no easy solutions, plumbing the paradox of the necessary heroic identity of the Jewish state, and yet, around every corner is the shadow of every hero: the beggar, the frightened one, the part of all of us that is dependent on forces outside of our control.

It is also very important to note that Erel Shalit’s book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the inner workings of the soul. On one level Israel is the backdrop for the author to explore how shadow, myth, and projection work in all of us, regardless of our life circumstance, nationality, environment, or history. It even includes a comprehensive glossary of Jungian terms that has some of the best definitions I have ever encountered, and hence a find for readers new to Jung.

And, of course, for people who are fascinated by the scope and depth of the story of Israel, this is a simply great read. It stands alone, but read as a companion to Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, Erel Shalit’s Hero and His Shadow gives us The Spirit of the Depths in all its dimension. We may not be able to resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict, but we can learn many things from this brave, complex Israeli author, that we can apply to healing the inner and outer wars in our own lives.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Jung Neumann Letters Conference

The long awaited publication of the correspondence between C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann promises to be a landmark event in the history of analytical psychology. The Jung-Neumann Letters, edited by Martin Liebscher, is due to be published by Princeton University Press spring 2015. To mark this important event, an international conference will be held, jointly sponsored by The Foundation for the Works of C.G. Jung, the Neumann Estate, 

The Philemon Foundation, The International Association of Analytical Psychology, and The Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology.

More Than One Hundred Letters

This collection of more than one hundred letters between the two men spans nearly three decades, from 1934 on the eve of Neumann’s arrival in Tel Aviv until his premature death in 1960. The letters reveal an intense and intimate encounter between two brilliant minds. Respectfully, yet in a most straightforward way, Jung - the founder, pioneer and wise elder - and Neumann - the courageous and bold younger thinker – reflect upon a broad spectrum of theoretical, clinical and cultural issues, including Jewish and Biblical themes, as well as anti-Semitism and Nazism.

About the Speakers

The invited speakers for this conference will present recent discoveries and new perspectives pertaining to the correspondence, the relationship between Jung and Neumann, and the broad range of issues they discussed.

There will be lectures and panels on topics such as culture and history, the problem of evil, art and the artist, Eranos, memories of Jung and Neumann, a live performance of excerpts from the Magic Flute with lecture and discussion.

This will also be a celebration of Neumann’s unique and precious contribution to analytical psychology and cultural studies. Scholars and clinicians will present the latest views on many aspects of Neumann’s work, pertaining to psychological theory and clinical issues as well as to the arts and culture.

Please see the program.

Who is it for? 

The conference will appeal to clinicians and analysts, to scholars and academicians in the humanities from around the world, and to the general public with an interest in Jungian studies. It will take place in the pleasant country setting at the hotel and conference center of Kibbutz Shefayim, 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv, the home of Erich Neumann. 


With registration you will be able to order set(s) of eight postcards of previously unreleased drawings by Erich Neumann, some mentioned in the correspondence between Jung and Neumann.

In the spirit of Jung & Neumann’s writings on ethics and evil, donations from any conference surplus will be made to organizations working with Israeli and Palestinian children suffering from trauma.

The Others

The Distinct Other

In xenophobia, the Distinct Other is an object of fear, rejection and hatred. The Other carries the projection of what the subject detests in him or herself, refuses to accept and relate to, and splits off. The Other, carrying the subject’s (‘my’) shadow projection, relieves me from the pain of reflection and introspection. In my struggle to remain ‘pure,’ the impure, dirty, contaminated, is split off, projected, and carried by the Other as Enemy. In its most severe forms, when the ego identifies with archetypal heights of collectivism (such as a totalitarian ideology or regime), the distinct other “needs” to be persecuted and exterminated, as in Nazism or Islamism.

At its extreme, the distinct other carries no face, no image, only a collective projection of split-off aspects of the shadow.

This is the case, for instance, with classical anti-Semitism.

The Similar Other

This is a more complicated projection, since it does not emanate from the simplicity of projecting onto the well-defined, distinct other. The Similar Other, rather, is similar to the subject. It is often the tragic result of an open mind, able to reach out to the distinct other as an equal, as equally valuable, and in respect of the Other’s distinct difference.

However, the guilt and shame that inevitably result from reflection and introspection, may be burdensome to carry. I may then ‘need’ to split off and project onto the other within the tribe, such as “I can’t stand the settlers who don’t understand the suffering of the Palestinians; if they don’t get out of occupied territories, I could kill them.”

Or, the liberal minded Jew, who needs to separate and differentiate him or herself from “those savage Israelis; I am NOT like them.”

Israel and the Jews may be a convenient target for both these Others – for the classical anti-Semite and the xenophobic Right, they are the Distinct Other, while for the liberal-minded, they are the Similar Other, from which I need to distinguish myself.

The Other Within

To be able to carry the other within, to sense my wholeness in my shortcomings and limitations, may be far more difficult, and yet far more healing. Without idealizing myself or the other, and also without splitting off those parts in me (as an individual and society) which I reject, feel ashamed of, and oppose, I stand a better chance of attaining human potency – characterized by partiality and mortality in contrast to the immortality and totality of the gods.

Regarding Israeli society, it would require not only healing the inner split (“let’s make peace among ourselves,” with the implication that peace with the Palestinians can wait), or the phantasy of healing the external conflict (“if we only end the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel will thrive again,” as if the Palestinians are entirely peace-loving and only the Israeli right prevents a peaceful resolution), but it entails finding partial solutions with the Palestinians, and embracing the settlers, many of which will have to do similar sacrifices as the ten thousand who had to leave Gaza when Israel disengaged.

Creativity emanates from the tension that resides in the frustrations of partiality and the dissatisfaction of absence and deficiency. The time has come for the Israeli leadership to create new conditions and venture untried paths.

Some of my books deal with aspects of these topics, particularly The Hero and His Shadow:Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return (both published in English as well as in Hebrew).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eric Hoffer: Israel's Peculiar Position

Eric Hoffer was an exceptional American social philosopher (that’s why I am particularly proud of the Eric Hoffer award for “The Cycle of Life”). His 1951 book 'The True Believer' is essential reading. In an op-ed in Los Angeles Times, May 1968, he wrote the following amazing piece. I was reminded of it after the horrendous beheadings that have taken place lately, recalling that in 2006, Norway arrested four terrorists for planning to behead Israel’s ambassador.

Eric Hoffer, Los Angeles Times, May 1968 

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it, Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese-and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.

Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.

Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.

Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Negroes are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

The Swedes, who are ready to break of diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us.