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Tel Aviv University
Jose Brunner [Professor of Philosophy of Science and History of Ideas] / 'The competition of victims in Israel/Palestine: on the politics of trauma discourse in the shadow of the two Intifadas'

 http://www.healingthewar.net/cms/images/stories/2006/jose_brunner_abstract.pdf.


Jose Brunner [Professor of Philosophy of Science and History of Ideas] / 'The competition of victims in Israel/Palestine: on the politics of trauma discourse in the shadow of the two Intifadas'
 

 http://www.healingthewar.net/cms/images/stories/2006/jose_brunner_abstract.pdf.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The Competition of Victims in Israel/Palestine

On the Politics of Trauma Discourse in the Shadow of the two Intifadas,

José Brunner, Tel Aviv University

Summary for the International Conference "Healing the War"

Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Farnesina Palace

Rome 19-21 June 2006

Introduction and Method

This paper juxtaposes the trauma discourse of Palestinian mental health

professionals from 1987 to today with that of their Israeli colleagues. It focuses

on the professional trauma discourse only, that is, on texts of Israeli and

Palestinian mental health practitioners and researchers, published in academic

journals, as well as texts of Israeli and Palestinian professionals on websites of

mental health organizations and treatment centers, or in collections edited by

mental health professionals. Even though this analysis highlights parallels and

oppositions between the two discourses, it does not imply that the political

contexts in which they arose are symmetrical, for one belongs to the discourse

of the occupied while the other is part of the discourse of the occupier. An

additional asymmetry results from a limitation of language: although this

analysis undertakes a critical reading of both the Israeli and Palestinian

discourse, it refers to Hebrew and English texts of Israeli authors, but can

consider only English texts of Palestinian authors.Palestinian Discourse

The Palestinian trauma discourse emerged after and in response to the first

Intifada, a popular uprising characterized by mass participation with low and

limited violence. Perhaps the novelty of active resistance against the

occupation opened up a discursive space in which the psychic vulnerability of

Palestinians could be addressed by mental health professionals. The newly

emerging Palestinian trauma discourse appropriated the category of PTSD in a

highly positivist fashion, providing extensive statistical data in order to present

proof of Palestinian suffering under occupation. It was mainly addressed to the

West, depicting the traumatization of the Palestinians under occupation as a

special case within the PTSD paradigm. In this discourse there were no adult

males suffering of PTSD unless they were subject to torture in Israeli prisons;

for otherwise the traumatization of Palestinians by the occupation is reported

only with reference to children, youth and women. This discourse is strongly

supportive of the Intifada; it presents itself as located in the context of Israeli

violence on the one hand and Palestinian resilience and social solidarity on the

other. Activism against the occupation is portrayed both as a sign of mental

health and as conducive to it. The same holds for support for the Oslo peace

process that followed the first Intifada in the mind-nineties.

The outbreak of the second, violent Intifada in fall 2000 changed the

way in which Palestinian health professionals portrayed traumatization by the

occupation. PTSD began to be related to social disintegration and to an

epidemic of victimhood and victimization, in which Palestinians are presented

as helpless victims, while Israelis appear as traumatized perpetrators – either

by the Holocaust or by their role as occupiers. Palestinian terrorism, including

suicide attacks, is not mentioned. Though attempts at dialogues with Western

trauma research continue, differences are no longer stressed; instead

similarities populations with a high level of PTSD, typical of war zones or areas

of ethno-national conflict, are highlighted.Israeli Discourse

Israeli mental health practitioners wrote about the traumatization of Israelis

already since the late 1940s, developing a framework for research into PTSD

among soldiers in response to the 1982 Lebanon War. In response to the first

Intifada, Israeli trauma discourse focused on the possible self-traumatization of

soldiers, which was described in clinical vignettes rather than empirical

research. Although the trauma of Israeli soldiers was depicted as PTSD, it was

portrayed as a result of moral self-traumatization caused by historical

associations with the Holocaust. 

Much of this Israeli trauma discourse was self-referential,

focusing not only on the on the moral and political dilemmas of

soldiers, but also of the mental health practitioners, trying to conceptualize

the presence or absence of political conflicts among mental health

practitioners, as well as among civilian practitioners and army personnel.

References to the traumatization of Palestinians by Israeli military violence are

marginal; Palestinians appear almost only as passive vehicles in the self-traumatization of 

Israeli soldiers or objects of Israeli moralizing.

By and large, the Israeli trauma discourse that emerged in response to

the second Intifada also ignores the traumatization of Palestinians by Israeli

violence. However, under the impact of Palestinian terrorism on the one hand,

and a substantial escalation of Israeli military violence against Palestinians

living under occupation on the other, Israeli mental health practitioners no

longer focus on the self-traumatization of soldiers. Instead, after the year 2000

the Israeli discourse focuses on the traumatization of Israeli civilians by

Palestinian terror attacks. Terrorism appears in this discourse as a kind of

plague, without relation to the occupation and without mention of individual

terrorists. Israeli civilian trauma is presented as PTSD on which data are

offered in form of statistics, depicting a low level but pervasive traumatization

of Israeli society, affecting not only direct victims of terror, but all those

partaking in a national social imaginary; hence the notion of national trauma is

deployed. American audiences are addressed by comparisons and associations

with the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Together with the pervasive

effects of terror, this discourse stresses the resilience of the Israeli population.

Conclusion

The Palestinian trauma discourse started by stressing resilience and acclaiming

activism in response to the first Intifada, but turned into a discourse of despair

in response to the second Intifada. The Israeli discourse highlighted moral

dilemmas of the occupation in response to the first Intifada, turning into a

discourse of solidarity and resilience in the face of terrorism during the second

Intifada. Both Israeli and Palestinian trauma discourses tend to remain silent on

the violence that their side inflicts on the other and both discourses focus

almost exclusively on the suffering of their nations. Moreover, there is no

dialogue between these discourses; they mainly serve to document, diagnose

and certify political victimization and mental suffering for their respective

professional communities and their Western colleagues.

 

 



http://www.healingthewar.net/cms/images/stories/2006/jose_brunner.pdf
.

Taken from the conference:
http://www.healingthewar.org/conference/eng/documenti_en.php?subaction=showfull&id=1148086407&archive=&start_from=&ucat=5&


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Page 1
Rome, 20 June 2006
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Structure:Structure:Structure:Structure:Parts I and II: 1987-1999 – 1stIntifadaI: Origins of Palestinian Trauma DiscourseII: Transformation of Israeli Trauma Disc.Parts III and IV: 2000-2005- 2ndIntifadaPalestinian and Israeli Trauma DiscoursesTopic:Topic:Topic:Topic:Discourses of mental health practitionersin two societies engaged in a prolonged
violentethno-national conflict with each other.
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Sources:Sources:Sources:Sources:Texts of Israeli and Palestinian mental healthprofessionals, or co-authored by them, injournals, books, brochures and on theinternet.Argument:Argument:Argument:Argument:Trauma discourses are highly politicized, theirmainstream reflects mainstream
politicalconcerns of their societies, transposed intomental health terms. Even critics tend to beremain silent on suffering of other
society.Instead, there is a competition of victims.
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Asymmetries:Asymmetries:Asymmetries:Asymmetries:Citizenship and
residence.Texts in English and Hebrew only.Logic of the
occupation.Limitations:Limitations:Limitations:Limitations:No
intertextuality: no economic, political,cultural, religious, etc.
discourses.No context of competition of victimsNo therapeutic
practices.Presentation:Presentation:Presentation:Presentation:Selection of texts accompanied byinterpretation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 5

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19901983
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 9
Gaza Community Mental Health ProgramGaza Community Mental Health
ProgramGaza Community Mental Health ProgramGaza Community Mental Health Programstudy of 1564 children (1991):study of 1564 children (1991):study of 1564 children (1991):study of 1564 children (1991):96% reported that they had beenexposed to tear gas.94% reported that at least one
familymember had suffered from tear gasinhalation96% of the sample reported that theirhouse had been raided83% had witnessed a night raid on arelative’s home.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 10
Gaza Community Mental Health Programstudy of 1564 children (1991):19% of the children had been detained10% reported that the head of theirhousehold had been arrested30% reported that their brothers hadbeen arrested75% reported that other relatives hadbeen arrested.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 11
Baker, A.M. & Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N. (1999). Theeffects of political and military trauma on children:The Palestinian case. Clinical
PsychologyReview. V. 19, 935-950.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 12
“The ArabThe ArabThe ArabThe Arab-Israeli war of 1948 witnessedIsraeli war of 1948 witnessedIsraeli war of 1948 witnessedIsraeli war of 1948
witnessedthe transformation of the Palestiniansthe transformation of the Palestiniansthe transformation of the Palestiniansthe transformation of the Palestiniansfrom a people who had a homeland to afrom a people who had a homeland to afrom a people who had a homeland to afrom a people who had a homeland to apopulation that became either refugees population that became either refugees population that became either refugees population that became either refugees or custodians of another state.or custodians of another state.or custodians of another state.or custodians of another state. …Palestinians continue to refer to thisPalestinians continue to refer to thisPalestinians continue to refer to thisPalestinians continue to refer to thistrauma as thetrauma as thetrauma as thetrauma as
thenakbehnakbehnakbehnakbeh(comparable to(comparable to(comparable to(comparable tocatastrophe or calamity)catastrophe or
calamity)catastrophe or calamity)catastrophe or calamity) … “(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical PsychologyReview, 937 ).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 13
“The Palestinians were masstraumatized in 1967 when they sawIsrael occupy what remained …. ofhistorical Palestine. Hence anothermassive
psychological wound wasinflicted on the Palestinians which theytermed as the nakseh (setback)”(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical
Psychology Review, 937 ).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 14
“… the subjects of this article were notonly born and lived under
conditions ofpolitical and military oppression … thetraumatized
Palestinian children of todayare weighted with the cumulative
traumabequeathed to them by their two ancestralgenerations … the
traumatized Palestinianchild of today may also be suffering thecumulative traumas of his parents andgrandparents.”(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical Psychology Review, 937 ).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 15
“… the Intifada created a situation that apparentlyshook traditional parent-child relations and familyhierarchy … decreased the role of the extendedfamily … children and youths played a very activerole in the national struggle … caused conflicts. Bybecoming leaders of political strikes andunderground cells, youngsters declined to obey theirelders …”Punamaki, Qouta and El Sarraj, International J of Behavioral
Development,1997, 21 (1), 94.
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“…There is a common belief thatchildren who throw stones andfought against the occupationarmy also challenge their parents'authority.”Punamaki, Qouta and El Sarraj, International J of BehavioralDevelopment, 1997, 21 (1), 94. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 17
“… the more the children were exposed totraumatic events, the more they perceivedboth their parents as strictly disciplining,rejecting and hostile, and their mothers asnegatively evaluating… politically
activechildren perceived both their parents asmore negative in
general.”Punamaki, Qouta and El Sarraj, International J of
BehavioralDevelopment, 1997, 21 (1), 94.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 18
“Trauma in Palestinian society is …experienced “collectively” rather than“individually”.”(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical Psychology Review, p.941).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 19
“Palestinian children (ages 9-16) did notdisplay signs of helplessness orhopelessness during the Intifada, althoughthey manifested elevated anxiety anddepression symptoms.”(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical Psychology Review, p.939 ).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 20
“Although anxiety and depressionscores of Palestinian children werefound to be elevated during the peakIntifada period, their scores on self-esteem inventories were notdepressed.”(Baker & Shalhoub Kevorkian, 1999, Clinical PsychologyReview, p. 939).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 21
“Our results suggest that the peacetreaty had a psychologically
positiveeffect only on children who supportedit, considered it just and agreeable, andexpressed their political opinion byjoining in the
festivities.. (1204)”Qouta, Punamaki and El Sarraj, Child Abuse and Neglect, 19 (10)1995, 1197-1208
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 22
“Another factor that might explain theincrease of well-being among celebratingchildren was the feeling that they hadachieved their goals of recognition orPalestinian rights … historical and politicalchanges do, indeed, influence psychologicaldynamics … After the cessation of
hostilitiesthe politically active children felt that theirsacrifices in the Intifada struggle contributedto a beneficial social change and increasedtheir self esteem (1206).”Qouta, Punamaki and El Sarraj,Child Abuse and Neglect, 19 (10) 1995, 1197-1208
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1.The First Intifada marks the origin of thePalestinian trauma discourse. Thereasons for this are a) Political self-assertion and images of heroism allowreferences to vulnerability; b) Palestinianautonomy creates a space for research;c) international interest and funding; d)concepts and methods are readily available; e) NGO’s and local institutions conduct research. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 24
2. The style of this discourse is stronglyscientistic, empiricistic.3. Palestinian trauma is described asdistinct in two respects: a) collective, b)increased self esteem.4. The publications conduct a dialogue withWestern trauma research, presentingPalestinian trauma as a special case of ageneral phenomenon.
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5. Concern with family dynamics, projectingtraumatization back to 1948, and fromthere forward as cumulative andmultigenerational. The uprising isdepicted as strengthening sons againstfathers. Attitudes towards fathers arerepresented as a consequence of politicalactivity, and not vice versa. Fathers aredepicted as weak.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 26
6. Emphasis on mental health relevance ofthe success of the Intifada, resistanceand identification with the peace processnot only a political activity, but also a kindof political therapy for youth.7. Data refer only to children, youth, womenand tortured male political prisoners,
noreferences to traumatization of adultmales who were not prisoners. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 27

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“When I look at the level of engagement ofWhen I look at the level of engagement ofWhen I look at the level of engagement ofWhen I look at the level of engagement ofpsychologistspsychologistspsychologistspsychologists … in the topic of thein the topic of thein the topic of thein the topic of theIntifadaIntifadaIntifadaIntifada, I,I,I,Ireach a startling
discovery:reach a startling discovery:reach a startling discovery:reach a startling discovery: there was an almostthere was an almostthere was an almostthere was an almostcomplete neglect!complete neglect!complete neglect!complete neglect! … At the 4At the 4At the 4At the
4ththththInternationalInternationalInternationalInternationalConference on Psychological Stress andConference on Psychological Stress andConference on Psychological Stress andConference on Psychological Stress
andAdjustment at Times ofAdjustment at Times ofAdjustment at Times ofAdjustment at Times of War and Peace inWar and Peace inWar and Peace inWar and Peace inJanuary, 1989, almost two hundred lecturesJanuary, 1989, almost two hundred lecturesJanuary, 1989, almost two hundred
lecturesJanuary, 1989, almost two hundred lectureswere given by leading scholarswere given by leading scholarswere given by leading scholarswere given by leading scholars … from herefrom herefrom herefrom hereand abroad, and yet only two (!) of them had toand abroad, and yet only two (!) of them had toand abroad, and yet only two (!) of them had toand abroad, and yet only two (!) of them had todo with thedo with thedo with thedo with theIntifadaIntifadaIntifadaIntifada, and even then, they mostly, and even then, they mostly, and even then, they mostly, and even then, they mostlydealt with attitudes towards thedealt with attitudes towards thedealt with attitudes towards thedealt with attitudes towards theIntifada.Intifada.Intifada.Intifada.(Reuven Gal, at the 22ndScientific Convention of the Israeli Psychologists’Union, Feb. 1989. 1990, 135) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 29
“I don’t believe that the IDF currentlyhas among its ranks soldiers orofficers who have sustained “severepsychological damage” as a result ofthe moral dilemmas brought on byserving in the [occupied
Palestinian]territories. There certainly is nosubstantial number of such cases. …(Reuven Gal, at the 22nd Scientific Convention of the
IsraeliPsychologists’ Union, Feb. 1989. 1990, 139)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 30
… Either the moral conflict facingsoldiers in the [occupied
Palestinian]territories is not as great orinsurmountable as people tend tothink, or our soldiers and officers,both conscripted and in the
reserves,are more psychologically resilientthan people tend to think. I think thatboth of the above are the case …”(Reuven Gal, at the 22nd Scientific Convention of the IsraeliPsychologists’ Union, Feb. 1989. 1990, 139)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 31
“I don’t think that there has beena decline in the IDF
soldiers’psychological resilience or theirability to cope. On the
contrary, Iwas awed by the fundamentalpsychological healthdemonstrated by IDF units.There’ll be no shell shock here.”(Reuven Gal, as quoted by Amram Dolev at the 22nd ScientificConvention of the Israeli Psychologists’ Union, Feb. 1989. 1990,152)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 32
“The first Intifada aroused heateddebates in the Israeli army, aboutthe impact of military service in theoccupied territories on the soldiers.I participated in one meeting, whichwas visibly divided. …(Emanuel Berman, Israeli Psychotherapists and the IsraeliPalestinian, Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1) 1–16,2003.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 33
“… Most practicing mental health officerspresent described severe
post-traumaticstress reactions of soldiers after theyparticipated in violent clashes withdemonstrators, shot demonstrators orharshly beat them up, and conducted brutalsearches in Palestinian homes. Many of
theirdescriptions indicated intense experiencesof anxiety, conflict and guilt. … ”(Emanuel Berman, Israeli Psychotherapists and the Israeli Palestinian,Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1) 1–16, 2003.) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 34
… Only those of us who came fromoutside the army, and participated inthe discussion as consultants, keptencouraging the field officers todescribe their experiences openly,and not to allow them to be silenced.”(Emanuel Berman, Israeli Psychotherapists and the IsraeliPalestinian, Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1) 1–16, 2003.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 35
…In contrast, their superior officers,heads of psychiatry and
behaviouralsciences in the army, made manyefforts to trivialize these accounts,dismiss them or rationalize themaway, and kept warning of riskypolitical influences. …”(Emanuel Berman, Israeli Psychotherapists and the IsraeliPalestinian,Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1) 1–16, 2003.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 36
“The question of whether the Intifada hascaused ongoing emotional wounds to theIsraeli soldiers became indiscussable inthe Israeli public or in professionalpsychological debate. Whoever madesuch a claim was immediately labeled asmaking a political statement, identifiedwith an “unprofessional” claim accordingto the conventional “objective”psychological
tradition.”(Dan Bar-On, The Silence of the Psychologists, 2001, 339) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 37
“A meaningful moment occurred whenRobert, after a week, found himself oneevening walking around one of theprisoners he was checking and
noticedthat he was enjoying it. His suddenawareness of his pleasure frightenedRobert intensely. …Daniel Brom and Eliezer Witztum, “When Political Reality enters Therapy:Ethical Considerations in the Treatment of Posttraumatic StressDisorder.” In Beyond Trauma: Cultural and Social Dynamics, 1995. p.242.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 38
… His first association was: I am aNazi. … Robert was so much disturbedby this incident the he asked for aleave, which was refused. From thismoment he was very tense, sufferedfrom frequent nausea, but did serve hisfull duty.”Daniel Brom and Eliezer Witztum, “When Political Reality
entersTherapy: Ethical Considerations in the Treatment of
PosttraumaticStress Disorder.” InBeyond Trauma: Cultural and Social Dynamics,1995. p. 242.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 39
“… the image that Israelis were intent oncreating of themselves as the strong,active and healthy “new Jew” who wouldnot be persecuted like their “weak” and“neurotic” diaspora cousins andforebears … left no room for therecognition of CSR and PTSD.”(Zahava Solomon, “Twenty years after the Yom KippurWar: The belated Recognition of War-Induced Psychic
Trauma.”Israel J. of Psychiatry and related Sciences, 30(3), 1993, 129) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 40
“… CSR was minimized andmarginalized through practices ofdenial and reframing reinforced by ahighly moralized discourse.”(Yoram Bilu & Eliezer Witztum, War-related Loss andSuffering in Israeli Society: An Historical Perspective.IsraelStudies, 5 (2), 2000.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 41
“From Denial to recognition: AttitudesToward Holocaust Survivors from WorldWar II to the present.”Zahava Solomon,Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8 (2), 1995,p. 215-227.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 42
1. Political debate in mental health circlesreflects political debate in Israeli civil societyat the time.2. Some Israeli clinicians describe a special typeof PTSD that results from a moral trauma,caused by historical associations or collectivememories.3. Psychologists associated with the defenseestablishment deny the moral traumatizationof soldiers in the First Intifada.4. There is no empirical research.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 43
5. Emergence of a historically reflectivediscourse on earlier denials of thetraumatization of soldiers and Holocaustsurvivors.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 44

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 45

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 46

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 47
“The Middle East Conflict betweenthe Palestinians and the Israelis is adeadly battle between two victims. …Eyad El Sarraj and Samir Qouta, “The Palestinian Experience”inDisaster and Mental Health, World Psychiatry Association,2005, Chapter 16, 229-237.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 48
… The Israelis, survivors of a long historyof persecution and
discrimination, are stillbearing the scars of victimization. They
aretrapped in their collective memories ofbrutal suffering, which
culminated in thehorrors of the Holocaust …Eyad El Sarraj and Samir Qouta, “The Palestinian Experience” inDisasterand Mental Health, World Psychiatry Association, 2005, Chapter 16, 229-237.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 49
… In the course of their modern history, thePalestinians have found themselvesbecoming the Jews of the Middle East.They suffer persecution and discriminationin every corner and most painfully in theirown country. Their uprooting in 1948 fromtheir homes and villages in Palestine hasleft an inner focus of fear andhelplessness.”Eyad El Sarraj and Samir Qouta, “The Palestinian Experience” inDisasterand Mental Health, World Psychiatry Association, 2005, Chapter 16, 229-237.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 50
“ … both the Palestinian and Israelisocieties behave as ‘trauma
organized’societies, where violence is tolerated asa normal way of life (38). “Eyad Hallaq (Director of the Palestinian Center of Traumatic StressStudies, Al Quds University, Jerusalem) “An Epidemic of
Violence”,Palestine-Israel Journal, 10,4, 37-42.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 51
… the daily humiliation of being treatedalways with suspicion will have long-termand pernicious psychological effects …One must also take into account thepsychological affect here of the victimizers,the soldiers who are the physicalinstruments of policy … long-term effects onthose who find themselves forced into aconditioned mode of thinking in which it
isjustified to treat other human beings in sucha way because they are somehow seen asless than human. …
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 52
… Israeli and Palestinian societies are astrong case of societies that have becomeorganized around unresolved,multigenerational traumatic experience(39). … To be able to effectively addresspeoples’ traumatization and engender atrue healing process, we must go beyondthe dichotomy of victim and perpetrator(41).”Eyad Hallaq (Director of the Palestinian Center of Traumatic StressStudies, Al Quds University, Jerusalem) “An Epidemic of Violence”,Palestine-Israel Journal, 10,4, 37-42.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 53
1. Palestinians are depicted as massivelytraumatized by Israeli
violence.2. The pathos of solidarity with a successfulstruggle and an emphasis on high self-esteemleading to a peace process has been replacedby a pathos of emptiness and despair.3. Israeli soldiers are also portrayed astraumatized – by the heritage of the Holocaustor their own actions. References tomultigenerational transmission, turning the areainto an area of trauma.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 54
4. Only references to perpetrators are toIsraelis, either because as victimized in thepast (Holocaust), or as self-traumatizingperpetrators. There are calls to go beyondperpetrator-victim dichotomy. No referencesto Palestinian violence, Israeli fears andtraumas of Israeli victims of Palestinians.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 55

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 56
19981999
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 57
“Over 200 of us published a petition inOver 200 of us published a petition inOver 200 of us published a petition inOver 200 of us published a petition inthe Israeli press in April 2002, callingthe Israeli press in April 2002, callingthe Israeli press in April 2002, callingthe Israeli press in April 2002, callingattention to theattention to theattention to theattention to the enormous and potentially enormous and potentially enormous and potentially enormous and potentially irreversible
postirreversible postirreversible postirreversible post-traumatic
emotionaltraumatic emotionaltraumatic emotionaltraumatic emotionaldamage caused on both sidesdamage caused on both sidesdamage caused on both sidesdamage caused on both sides, and calling, and calling, and calling, and callingfor an immediate return to the negotiatingfor an immediate return to the negotiatingfor an immediate return to the negotiatingfor an immediate return to the negotiatingtable in order to stop the vicious cycle oftable in order to stop the vicious cycle oftable in order to stop the vicious cycle oftable in order to stop the vicious cycle ofmutual violence and bloodshed.mutual violence and bloodshed.mutual violence and bloodshed.mutual violence and bloodshed.”(Emanuel Berman, Israeli
Psychotherapists and the Israeli-PalestinianConflict, 2003, 1)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 58
“Soon after its publication, the petitionwas attacked by a right-wing psychiatristas ‘mixing professional and politicalmatters’ and potentially ‘undermining thepsychic strength of the population’(Ha’aretz, 21 April 2002). A heated debateensued.”(Emanuel Berman, Israeli Psychotherapists and the Israeli-PalestinianConflict, 2003, 1)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 59
“NATAL (the Israel Trauma Center forVictims of Terror and War)…was born of aserious need on the part of many in theIsraeli public to cope with the rupture of ourself-confidence. The erosion of the fabricthat had united Israeli society adverselyaffects its psychological resilience, as wellas its ability to cope with situations oftraumatic stress.”(Judith Yovel Recanati, Chairperson of NATAL)ïåéìéâ22001
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 60
“The Al-Aqsa Intifada, and thedramatic way in which the securitysituation has deteriorated, … haveled to severe psychologicalreactions among the Israeli publicand created a rupture in self-confidence, compromising the unityand resilience of Israeli society. …(Roni Berger, Director for Community Services, NATAL)ïåéìéâ22001
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 61
“It seems that in Israel repeatedexposure to traumatic events and thesense of personal threat experienced bymost of us are so intense that we are allin danger of being psychologicallyaffected by terrorism, whether or not wehave been directly exposed to it.”(Avi Bleich, head of NATAL’s
Professional Steering Committee)ïåéìéâ52003
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 62
“When we speak of a trauma on anational background, we are alsoreferring to another psychologicalaspect, namely our feeling of identityand
belonging. In other words, atrauma on a national background is atrauma that which we experience simplybecause we belong to a certain nation.”(Avi Bleich, head of NATAL’s Professional Steering Committee)ïåéìéâ62004 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 63
“This survey provides qualitativeconfirmation of the extensive exposure toterrorism that Israeli civilians haveexperienced during the violent Intifada thatbegan in September 2000 … almost half theparticipants in the sample were exposed toterrorism personally or through a friend orfamily member …”(Bleich, Gelkopf & Solomon, JAMA, 2003, p. 618)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 64
“… we found no association betweensymptom criteria for PTSD and level ofexposure. … That is, persons who wereactually injured in a terrorist attackshowed no more adverse emotionaleffects than those who had not beenexposed to an attack, either themselves orthrough a family member or friend.”(Bleich, Gelkopf & Solomon, JAMA, 2003, p. 619)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 65
“…despite high levels of distress andconcerns about safety, a relatively lowlevel of symptoms of PTSD was observed… A majority also expressed optimismabout their personal future and the futureof Israel, and a sense of self-efficacy in theevent of a terrorist attack.”(Bleich, Gelkopf & Solomon, JAMA, 2003, p. 618)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 66
“These results may help to dispel thebelief that people exposed to terrorismbehave irrationally and that both egocontrol and the social fabric disintegrate.”(Bleich, Gelkopf & Solomon, JAMA, 2003, p. 618) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 67
“… our study does show that after 19months of unremitting exposure topublic terrorism, Israeli society wascoping.”(Bleich, Gelkopf & Solomon, JAMA, 2003, p. 619)
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1. Israeli and Palestinian violence of the IntifadaAl Aqsa moved Israeli mental healthpractitioners to go public.2. At the beginning of the Second Intifada, thereare expressions of fear of a rupture of thesocial fabric, then expressions of confidence innational resilience. In 2003 Israeli mentalhealth practitioners make claims about self-confidence that are similar to claims made bytheir Palestinian colleagues in the first Intifada.
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3. After 9/11 Israeli practitioners echoAmerican research and rhetoric on nationaltraumatization.4. Emphasis on collective traumatization ofIsraelis by Palestinian terrorism. Noreferences to Palestinian fears and thetraumas of Palestinian victims of theviolence of the occupation.
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1. Palestinian trauma discourse started adialogue with Western PTSD discourseafter 1987 by stressing special features ofPalestinian trauma. Though attempts atdialogues with Western trauma researchcontinue after 2000, differences are nolonger stressed; instead similarities toother populations with a high level ofPTSD, typical of war zones or areas ofethno-national conflict, are highlighted.
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2. After the first Intifada Israeli traumadiscourse introduces a hitherto unknownconcept of a moral trauma by association,attributed to soldiers. After 9/11 Israelitrauma discourse focuses on civilians,stressing
similarities to American traumadiscourse, especially with reference to theconcept of a national trauma.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 72
3. Silence of Israeli and Palestinian mentalhealth practitioners on the violence that theirside inflicts on the other, focusing almostexclusively on the suffering of their ownnations. No dialogue between the
twodiscourses; they mainly serve to document,diagnose and certify
political victimization andmental suffering for their
respectiveprofessional communities and their Westerncolleagues, seeking and promoting politicalalliances in terms of a competition of victims. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 73
4. A reading of the two trauma discoursesreveals them as pervasively political. Ateach stage they provide a reflection ofsocial and political concerns, interests andpolicies of their nations (or of a section ofthe educated elite), rather than criticalreflections on them.

 


 
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