Battered leftist syndrome

Recently some commentators have started to use the phrase “battered nation syndrome” to explain the strange responses of some Israelis and Jews to Arab terrorism. The analogy is to an abusive relationship from which a woman (usually) won’t take steps to escape, because the continued violence has led to a loss in self-esteem and a conviction that the violence is somehow her fault.

Battered women often try to placate or conciliate their abusers, even when this behavior appears irrational to outsiders. And they often find that the abuser’s violent tendencies are actually reinforced by the victim’s passivity.

Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now writes

There is no way to avoid admitting the truth and to state clearly that the continued occupation, which this week will mark its 40th year, has inflicted a mortal wound on Israel’s status in the world. The British boycott is just the first harbinger of things to come.

A year ago, former US president Jimmy Carter published his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, which exposed a sad but accurate picture of the reality in the territories under Israeli control…

There is no way to avoid admitting the truth and to understand that the continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict presents Israel as an occupying nation, violent and forceful, which strives to conquer more territory and to expel Palestinian citizens from their land.

Oppenheimer is probably aware of the almost 100-year history of violent Arab rejection of a Jewish presence in the Middle East. Somehow he fails to make the connection between the fact and nature of the occupation and this rejection.

Even further, he fails to see that the occupation can’t possibly be a sufficient explanation for the extreme Israel-hatred that underlies the boycott, nor does he appear to notice that Carter is paid by Saudi Arabia for his work. How does he miss these things?

A reasonable person would conclude that Israel is being ‘presented’ as at fault here because the boycotters and Carter are trying to divert the blame for the conflict from violent Arab rejectionism and place it on Israel. But Oppenheimer doesn’t get it because he is a battered leftist.

He believes that the rejectionists can be placated by withdrawals from occupied territory, despite the fact that the violence started long before there even was a state of Israel, not to mention occupied territory. And he is unable to see that the conciliatory behavior that he favors, such as the withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza, have been perceived as weakness and have reinforced the violent tendencies of Israel’s abusers.

We need to see the abusers and their allies as they are, and not as distorted by the psychological defense mechanisms of those like Oppenheimer.

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