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Russion version
Hebrew version

FOR WHAT JEWS NEED ISRAEL, or ANTISEMITISM AS AN OUTCOME OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.

Vadim S. Rotenberg, MD, PhD, DSc.
Senior Lecturer of Tel-Aviv University.

While presenting lectures on psychological and socio-psychological problems to the Russian-speaking audience in Israel I periodically applied to them with a question: What from your point of view are the motivations, except of the pure idealistic one, of the American Jews to support Israel ?
Very often I got an answer: They support Israel in order to have a save place to escape to if the anti-Semitism in USA will suddenly increase. I always explained that it is a wrong answer. It is quite opposite they are doing it in order not to be forced to escape because a strong Israel by the fact of its existence is a guarantee of a psychological atmosphere in the world, including USA that excludes the possibility of the second catastrophe.

I remember the psychological atmosphere in Moscow just after the Six-day war.
Although it was a strong anti-Israel, and actually anti-Semitic propaganda in all mass-media, the self-esteem of the Jews in USSR tremendously increased and we had an unfamiliar feeling of respect and surprised interest of the non-Jewish population. All efforts of the soviet government to cause the atmosphere of a pogrom failed. The same happened in other countries, in spite of all anti-Israel resolutions that blamed Israel for aggression. Just after the Six-day war one deputy of the French parliament presented a speech in Knesset with the following speech: I am ashamed that I am a citizen of France because France twice in the recent 30 years betrayed its ally; I am ashamed that I am a socialist because the first in the world social state supports aggressors; I am even ashamed to be a human being because the humanity is still very tolerant to racism and anti-Semitism; I am not ashamed only that I am a Jew.

The inspiration of Jews in the all world caused by the Israel victory immediately elicited a powerful political and financial support of Israel. Exactly after the Six-day war donations for Israel increased tremendously. The prosperity of Israel became a very important factor of the Jewish self-esteem and self-respect in different Jewish communities.

I suggest that such a psychological effect of the Six-day war victory was determined not only by the unexpectedness of this victory and by the sudden rescue. It was an additional spiritual, if not a mystical, sense in this victory. Just according to this spiritual sense the most well known symbol of this victory was the triumph exclamation of Moti Gur: The Mountain of the Temple is in our hands! It was an exclamation in Israel of sixties with its cheerless and miserable socialism and narrow-minded secular establishment!

I have not been in Israel at that time, however according to many recollections of people I realized that Israel citizens at that moment had an euphoric feeling of the accomplishment of something what is going out of the frame of their every day life and what can't be estimated in the term of space of the released territories. It was like entering another space, more spiritual than physical. Even Palestinian Arabs felt an intend nature of what has happened and they were ready at that moment to evacuate territories not only because of their fear but also due to this feeling. (Who do not belief in miracle is not a realist in Israel it is a sentence not of the rabbi but of a very sober politician Ben-Gurion. Sometimes he was may be even too sober, however he had an intuition to such phenomena and that's why he announced the State of Israel in a very doubtful conditions in opposite to all sober calculations.)

Unfortunately this spiritual and psychological potential was not used and was devaluated immediately after the victory. The leaders of the country run to convince Palestinian Arabs to turn back. The government proclaimed in rush that if Arab countries will recognize Israel it is ready to give back all the territories the territories of the ancient homeland released in the process of the defensive war and this humiliating proposition was of course refused in a scornful way. Moshe Dayan proposed to give the Mountain of the Temple back to Moslems. He proclaimed : Why do we need this Vatikan? and this sentence together with other actions of the Israel government neutralized the effect of our victory.

Before the war in 1973 Israel was still in euphoria, however it was no more an inspiration caused by the feeling of the realization of the high mission but only confidence in military superiority. The war in 1973 was an effect of such replacement and was really lost before it started does not matter what was its formal military outcome, and it is the real psychological reason of the collective despair and distress related to this war.

Starting from this point and with all Governments State of Israel was moving the road of spiritual defeat, increasing the number of enemies and decreasing the number of friends.

We are perplexed today why after the numerous victims of terror (that started after our concessions in Oslo and tremendously increased after the even more generous propositions of Barak) and in spite of our delicate and restrained reaction on terror Israel became not only an object of pressure from politicians but also a victim of hatred of the civil population of European countries. And to our surprise, in parallel with the increase of anti-Semitism increases also the alienation from Israel of Jews over the world, something quite opposite to what happened after the Six-day war.

In order to understand this phenomenon and to find a solution of this problem, it is necessary first of all to realize that the basis of hatred, envy and a contempt to Jews was always a peculiar cognitive dissonance. It is a dissonance between cognitions (items of knowledge or belief ) that a person may hold at once at a given time when one cognition follows from the negation of the other. The abovementioned combination of attitudes and feelings (hatred, envy and contempt) does not look natural that is why I am speaking about the cognitive dissonance.

Strength may cause envy and hatred however usually in combination with involuntary respect. Weakness may cause contempt or disregard but often in combination with sympathy, not with hatred and envy. In both cases it is a holistic reaction without inner conflict. However helplessness of somebody who is perceived as strong and dangerous causes cognitive dissonance and irritation. It is a dissonance between the holistic impression elicited by Jews and their overt behavior.

The analysis of the anti-Semitic myths shows that Jews were never perceived from outside as simply weak, helpless and harmless. They were blamed for calamities and epidemics, for using blood for food preparation etc. It means that they were perceived as dangerous and powerful rather than weak and pitiful. It is not enough to be a stranger to elicit such blames. It is necessary to cause fear. The image of weakness does not correspond to rumors of aspirations toward the power over the world. A stable success of the forged document Protocols of the Sages from Zion is based on the rigid readiness to perceive Jews as dangerous and powerful. It is interesting that such prescriptions of power are coming not only from anti-Semitic population but also from phylo-Semitic population.

Such perception of Jews from outside must have some reasons, and they really exist. This Jewish power realized itself in the ability to go through centuries of exile and persecutions without dissolution and preserving Jewish ideals and values; in the high integrity of the religion and philosophy; in the intellectual power and creativity that influenced all aspects of culture at least in the recent two centuries, after many centuries in ghetto. Finally, this power realized itself in the creation of Israel just after the Catastrophe that according to all psychological laws had to cause helplessness.

However, after Jews have lost their independence in the antic period this power was better felt by others than by Jews themselves. This power not only paradoxically correlated with the objective dependence on other people but also with signs of being humiliated and timid, with demonstrative readiness to become small and invisible while objectively Jews were unable to correspond to this role. A very high spiritual potential of Jewish religion, philosophy and history display itself in parallel with meanness and readiness to cringe for a miserable profit. Exactly about this Volter said: If Jews will have their own State they will sail it.

Of course, not only Jews are characterized by the shallow mercantile attitudes, and not all Jews are characterized by it. Moreover, it is obvious that being restricted in most types of activity Jews had to display mercantile attitudes in order to survive. However this attitudes in Jews cause high hatred and irritability in other due to the poor concordance with the abovementioned power.

The artificial combination of inner strength and high mental skills with humility and readiness to give up causes irritation, anger and contempt in other people. If somebody is strong he has no right to behave as a weak one, in another case he provokes aggression. Every cognitive dissonance evokes in subject a strong desire to get rid of it together with those who cause this dissonance.

There are some evidences that in the period of the mass enthusiasm of Jews related to the movement of Shabtay Zvi when Jews believed in their high spiritual mission, anti-Semitism tremendously decreased and even was in some places displaced by the high respect to Jews. The same happened after the war for Independence in 1948 and just after the Six-day war. At the same time, after Shabtay betrayed his ideals and became a Moslem and when Dayan betrayed the Mountain of the Temple this effect disappeared.

Propaganda that demonstrate a peacefulness of Israel in front of terrorism and aggression cannot elicit the sympathy of the world because it increases the cognitive dissonance: if you can protect yourself, if you are strong enough (and it is obvious and well known that Israel is) and if your enemies are so cruel and perfidious from what reason are you not using all your forces in order to finish with them instead of searching for help and understanding from outside?

Irritation caused by this cognitive dissonance turns against Jews. After being convinced that Israel is not going to protect itself, other States start to require from Israel to solve this dissonance in an opposite way to give up, to finish with our strength.

And even American Jews that have for many years collected money for the Israel army recently established a foundation supporting Israel deserters!

Being unreasonably tolerant to terror Israel actually supports terror not only in our region however in the all world. Israel does not fight with terror in the only place in the world where this fight is available, where terrorists have a concrete, visible and accessible territory and a structure that can be destroyed Palestinian Autonomy. While refusing to destroy it due to some mercantile interests (do you remember what Volter told?) Israel government betrays not only its own citizens, but also the all world that is dealing not with such concrete and visible target but with the dispersed underground groups of terrorists. Other countries are unable to fight with terror on the appropriate level; Israel can but prefer not to do it is it not enough to increase the anti-Semitism even if this reason is not totally realized?

(Is it not a symbol that the signature of the agreement in Oslo and the tragedy with New York Twins happened in the same date according to the Jewish calendar like cause- and- effect. By giving up our spiritual mission, by collaborating with Palestinian criminals we betray the all world).

There are two ways to cope with the cognitive dissonance. The first one is to correspond in our behavior to the Jewish inner strength. Not only to the military strength that is the final hope of our manipulating government, but also (and first of all) to the moral and spiritual strength. For instance, we have not to betray our partners, as it happened in Lebanon. This way was proclaimed by Jabotinsky as well as by many other real Jewish leaders. This way has all opportunities now to be realized due to the existence of a strong Israel.

Another way to cope with this cognitive dissonance was always chosen by those who is ready to give up the Jewish identity, who are ready to be like other and to finish for ever with the inner strength of Jews they are afraid of because they cannot correspond to this strength according to the scale of their personality. This way starts with the liquidation of settlements and is leading to the liquidation of the Jewish state. In the context of this alternative it is impossible to suggest that it is reasonable to betray some of settlements in order to protect other or the territory beyond the Green line. To destroy any settlement on the territory of the old Jewish homeland is not a tactic, it is a position of self-destruction that reduces the cognitive dissonance by making a spiritual suicide, by giving up our identity. It would be impossible to stop this process in the convenient place.