About six months ago, Jodi linked to a great interview with Jacqueline Rose. She was discussing her latest book, "The Question of Zion," which takes a psychoanalytic approach to Zionism and the Isreali-Palestinian conflict. What reminded me of this work has been the recent discussion of Zizek's new book, and the role of psychoanalysis in general, as an approach to socio-political conflict. Rose asserts that in its current form, Zionism represents the "militarization of suffering," where any sign of passivity or weakness is regarded as a national disgrace.
But that rigidification of identity which the state justifies in terms of such a history, ensures that every catastrophe that happens to Israel becomes a confirmation of its view of itself. It leads to a fortification of the soul. This distressing overlap between the need to feel safe as a nation and the need to believe in yourself takes on the form of a repetition of trauma.
Here you really need a psychoanalytic distinction. Israel is now the fourth most militarily powerful nation in the world. It is a nuclear power. It is not in danger. The fear that Israel will be destroyed is groundless. But that does not mean that it isn’t real. The fear is real and it is understandable. This is the difficult territory: you have to say both things at once. But...when the fear becomes an identity that justifies itself by a violence that cannot acknowledge itself as violence, something has gone terribly wrong.
The best example in my book is the commandant in Gaza who steels himself in the battle against Palestinian children by remembering as he says, “the flames of the Holocaust”. This fortress mentality that Israel cannot relinquish means that it cannot see itself as the agent of violence. That is one of the effects of trauma: you can’t then see what you are capable of doing. You are always repeating a situation in which you are threatened and potentially destroyed.