Thursday, March 15, 2007


This week on the latest podcast of The Sanity Squad , posted at Pajamas Media, we are pleased to have special guest, Dr. Kenneth Levin, a Harvard psychiatrist and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege. (Click on the link to the left to get more information about the book or order it).

In the book, Dr. Levin discusses how in the 1990s, Israel believed that it had found a "partner for peace" in Yasser Arafat, even as he made speech after speech calling for the annihilation of Israel.

The United States of the 21st century likewise believes that it can negotiate with Islamic totalitarians post-9/11. This is all part of the psychological dynamics of people who feel under siege and who desperately hope that negotiation and appeasement will finally bring about a cessation of hostilities. Unfortunately, this hope is at best wishful thinking; at worse a serious delusion. It is far more likely to bring about an escalation of hostilities and violence, rather than peace. In an earlier interview Levin was asked why people under siege often end up internalizing the hatred against themselves and delude themselves about the malicious intentions of their enemies? He replies:
They do so because they are eager to feel some control over a painful situation which is, in reality, out of their control. Chronically abused children - more specifically those subjected to parental abuse - typically blame themselves for their victimization because to do so supports a fantasy that if they reform, if they become "good," their parents will treat them differently. To look at their predicament more realistically would force them to accept their helplessness to change their terrible circumstances, and children, and adults as well, prefer to fend off acknowledging such bitter realities.
Similarly, within populations under chronic siege - whether minorities marginalized, demeaned and attacked by surrounding societies or small nations besieged by their neighbors - some will invariably seek either to avert their gaze from the severity of the threat or rationalize the threat and blame themselves or others within their community for the danger. Their doing so reflects wishful thinking that if only they would reform sufficiently the danger would be alleviated.

Israel has, at best, a capacity to respond effectively to attacks by its neighbors; it does not have the capacity to end the Arab siege, to force peace upon the Arabs. Peace, if and when it comes, will do so on the Arabs' timetable, not Israel's. Unfortunately, all the evidence indicates the Arab world is not about to choose genuine peace with Israel in the foreseeable future. This lack of control over a painful situation led many Israelis to embrace delusions of control; delusions that the right concessions could not help but win peace from the Arabs.

Join Shrinkwrapped, Neo-neocon, Siggy and me as we engage in a lively discussion of the psychdynamics of appeasement and the delusions of diplomatic grandeur that grip the West as they refuse to take into account the essential nature of Islamofascism.

All podcasts of The Sanity Squad can be found here; and you can also download them from iTunes. (search for Pajamas Media)

(The Sanity Squad cartoon at the right is drawn by Eric Allie, whose collection of political cartoons can be found here and here).

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