[Hebrew University, Education] Yoel Elizur who analysed brutal behaviors by soldiers during the first Intifada, chairman of psychologists council
Participation in Atrocities Among Israeli Soldiers During the First Intifada: A Qualitative Analysis
School of Education, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Atrocities committed by soldiers are a common occurrence that harms not only victims, but also perpetrators, armies, and nations. However, censorship, limited access to information, and the tendency to deny one's evil and project it onto the other impede investigation into how ordinary soldiers cross the line between legitimate fighting and excessive violence. This study examined processes associated with Israeli soldiers' brutal behaviors during the first Intifada. Participants were 21 male combat veterans of two companies stationed in Gaza whose sampling reflected diversity in Israeli society and a wide range of behaviors in the Intifada. Situational factors and social—psychological processes (i.e. modeling, moral disengagement, dehumanization, and deindividuation) were powerful inducers of brutality. The data also showed individual differences in violence, inner—outer directedness, and moral standards. Consequently, five subgroups were identified: Callous/Impulsive, Ideologically Violent, Followers, Restrained, and Incorruptible. The use of these categories to examine the soldiers' unfolding experience over time generated a unique perspective into two less studied dynamics. The first was a synergistic interaction between dispositional and situational factors, manifested in level of brutality and differential subgroup stability of violent behaviors over time. The second was the company as a family-like primary social system that developed inner culture and structural patterns characterized by alignments and social power. Initially, there evolved a culture of brutality with an associated leadership that escalated the violence. A later clash with soldiers who adhered to the army's professional culture transformed the company's culture and structure. This analysis has implications for preventive measures, including the development of morally committed and resolute leadership at both lower and higher echelons of command.
Nufar Yishai-Karin attended the Hebrew University and spent seven years investigating the processes that led Israeli soldiers to maltreat Palestinians in the first intifada, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her study, which she conducted as her master's thesis in clinical psychology, focused on soldiers' testimonies about acts of violence in which they had participated. The thesis was adapted as an article that appears in the current issue of the journal Alpayim, coauthored by her thesis adviser, Prof. Yoel Elizur. The article, titled "How can a situation happen?", disguises the names of the soldiers involved, as well as times and places, in order to protect the interviewees, who were chosen as a sample from two armored infantry companies that did long service in Rafah.
Member of Psychoactive http://www.psychoactive.org.il/
A Study Day by PsychoActive Group 28.6.09
Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights
The Psychological Effects of Military Service in the Occupied Territories on Soldiers and on Israeli Society
Israeli society entrusts the task of controlling and administering another nation, the Palestinian people, to the soldiers who serve in its army. These soldiers constitute the more or less exclusive interface between Israeli society and Palestinian society in the Occupied Territories. Their encounter with Palestinian residents - at the military checkpoints, carrying out arrests, and while undermining freedom in diverse other forms – takes place from a position of power, authority and control and very often involves infringements of basic human rights.
This study day will offer an opportunity to consider the psychological effects of Israeli military service in the occupied Palestinian territories, from the point of view of the soldiers themselves, and from that of Jewish Israeli society as a whole, which, while avoiding any direct encounter with Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, dispatches its conscripted sons and daughters to serve there . We shall also look into the question of the extent to which these effects are dealt with and discussed in Israeli society, within the army, and among mental health professionals.
Notes from PsychoActive conference:
Yoel Elizur, a clinical psychologist from Hebrew University addressed the topic: “Salt of the Earth? Israeli Soldiers, Army, and Society in the Intifada”. Elizur spoke of war crimes in the US-Vietnam war and questioned how to reduce them. He spoke of IDF war crimes during the first Intifada and quoted soldiers’ reactions. He showed parts of a film “Z32”, a series of interviews with soldiers bragging about the killing they did during their service. He spoke of post traumatic stress, PTS, and how no one wants to check into soldiers’ problems, emotional numbness in those who were brutal, the evidence of the ‘macho’ syndrome and how it continues in civilian life after service. He said that the greatest factor on soldiers was the cultural development in their group that was shaped by the leadership’s values. He stated that it was the responsibility of senior advisors in the Ministry of Defense to instill values in the soldiers. He quoted from the Journal of Peace Resource’s book “Salt of the Earth” edited by Melach Haretz. He believes that the lack of social discourse creates polarity. He accused our society of not checking what caused this lack of values, and that it doesn’t have the mechanisms to rehabilitate soldiers who murdered and committed war crimes.
Political pressure leads to replacement of top candidate for chairman of psychologists council
By Dan Even, Haaretz
Tue., January 18, 2010
Political pressure last week resulted in the replacement of the leading candidate for chairman of the Council of Psychologists, an advisory body at the Health Ministry, Haaretz has learned. The new nominee, who has been unofficially told he was chosen as council chairman, advocates allowing non-clinical psychologists to practice psychotherapy, a controversial initiative that has divided Israeli psychologists.
Members of the professional staff at the Health Ministry had recently recommended that the post be filled by Gabriel Weil, the chief psychologist at the Be'er Sheva Mental Health Center and a former director of psychological services in Netivot.
But when Weil's appointment papers were presented to Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, his office was pressured to nominate Yoel Elitzur of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's School of Education instead.
However, Litzman's office said no chairman has officially been appointed.
It said several candidates have been proposed and that the final decision is up to Litzman.
"I have been told that I have been chosen as council chairman, but I have yet to receive appointment papers," said Elitzur. "In addition, I have not been involved in the process of my appointment to the position and I am not aware of any kind of political pressure."
Weil refused to comment.
The law provides that the council is to advise the Health Ministry on matters dealing with the practice of psychology, including ethical rules and selection of the psychologist examination committee and grievance committee. The council also determines whether psychologists are eligible to be certified as specialists or begin training for specialization.
About six months ago, the Health Ministry decided to appoint a new council chairman and to make the council more active. Several candidates for council chairman were considered, and several ministry psychologists settled on Weil.
The council generally meets four times a year but has not convened for about a year, since the term of former chairman Shlomo Lax expired.
About a year ago, near the end of Lax's term, the council recommended Elitzur as chairman, but the professional staff at the Health Ministry pushed for Weil.
"The council can recommend a new chairman, but the decision is in the hands of the health minister," said Lax. "Since the end of my term, I have not been involved in the activities of the council. I am not aware why it has not convened for a year already and I am not involved in steps to appoint a new chairman."