Group Psychoanalysis For Israeli Jews And Palestinian Arabs — Part 1
Can theories of psychoanalysis help us understand the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict? Can they offer us new ways to resolve the conflict?
Psychotherapist Paul Solomon would answer in the affirmative. He recently published an article in the journal, Psychotherapy and Politics International. Entitled, “Israel/Palestine: Roadblocks to Negotiation,” it relates to the political cultures of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, bringing group analytic theory to shed light on impediments to peace.
Let us start at the end: After presenting historical background to the conflict that is rife with misconceptions (examined in Part 2 of this series), and an examination of group psychoanalysis that Paul Solomon considers relevant to the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict (covered in Part 3), he provides the summary of his recommendations for resolution of the problem:
I believe that further use of force by either side is useless and destructive, and that ending the Israeli occupation without preconditions is the single event most likely to contribute to peace‐building dialogue in the region. I wish both Israelis and Palestinians of good will success in overcoming the formidable obstacles to dialogue that this article has discussed.
He calls this a call to action. Not only is call to action something unfamiliar to me in psychoanalysis, but his seems to be rather unremarkable. Let me parse it out, since conclusions are important: One —
I believe that further use of force by either side is useless and destructive,
Brilliant! Can I quote you on that? Sorry to be sarcastic and biting, Paul, but that is really not very original and not very bright. In fact, you are stating the outcome and not the remedy: the desired outcome is that force and violence, terrorism and response, will no longer take place. The violence is a symptom, a by-product of the conflict. And once the conflict will have been resolved, if it can be resolved, then the symptom will just go away — or will more easily be made to go away over time.
and that ending the Israeli occupation without preconditions is the single event most likely to contribute to peace‐building dialogue in the region.
First of all, you need to define the term, “occupation,” because I think you are using it with the assumption that readers are all supposed to understand immediately what you mean — and to agree with you. And you do that even when there is a vigourous debate among legal experts on this topic! I think you should be a bit more circumspect here. It would be both more honest and more professional for you to not infer expertise/competence in a topic you apparently know little about.
And even if it was an occupation in 1967, that ended in 1993/1995 when both sides signed the Oslo Accords. True, this was supposed to be a temporary measure and final negotiations were supposed to have resolved all issues long before today. However, there were several attempts at final negotiations that never reached the signing stage — because the leadership of the PA walked out in all cases. Yet, you still think that Israel should end the so-called occupation as a PRE-CONDITION to peace-building dialogue (final negotiations)! How is that any different from me saying to you:
OK. I want to buy your house. . . how about if you vacate it and give me the key before we sign the deed?
I wish both Israelis and Palestinians of good will success in overcoming the formidable obstacles to dialogue that this article has discussed.
Hmm. It is interesting that your best wishes are directed only to Israelis and Palestinian Arabs “of good will.” Without a definition of “good will,” I need to guess at what you mean. I suppose you mean those who are willing to make the compromises you think we should. Perhaps one could also surmise that you mean that those of “not-good will” constitute the “formidable obstacles” to dialogue that need to be overcome.
Perhaps you think that, in order for peace to break out, we need international intervention to push us into making uncomfortable compromises. Something like Nathan Thrall’s ideas, put forth in his book with the most condescending title I could ever imagine:
In your article, you quote psychotherapists who declare both sides as suffering from psychological disturbances. Perhaps this international intervention, then, should take the form of involuntary commitment to a mental ward? Then the “medical team” can prescribe drugs and such. . . . as if we — and the Palestinian Arabs — are not responsible adults making adult decisions, right or wrong.
After all, the international community did such a good job of taking care of Syria. Is that the kind of intervention you suggest for us?