Monday, April 2, 2012

Dan Has Some Words: Jewish Stockholm Syndrome

Mike L.

Among the various undercurrents in the I-P conversation is the notion of “Jewish Stockholm Syndrome” (JSS). Our friend, Dan Bielak, has some thoughts on what Kenneth Levin dubbed the “Oslo Syndrome” in his book, The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions Of A People Under Siege, that I want to share.

JSS refers to the tendency of some Jewish people to embrace, in various degrees, the anti-Zionism or Israel Hatred prevalent throughout the Middle East. It is the incorporation into one’s own thinking of ideological elements that originated among those hostile to the Jewish people and, thus, hostile to the Jewish state.

In the more extreme examples, that of anti-Zionist Jews, it takes the form of recommending on “humanistic” grounds that Israel should be dissolved as the lone Jewish state in order to make way for a twenty-third Arab state and a fifty whatever Muslim state.

JSS is a matter of degree, but it is always harmful to the Jewish people because it justifies Arab and Muslim genocidal anti-Semitism.

Dan notes:

In experiencing this Stockholm syndrome -- this detrimental delusional unwholesome state of mind -- Jewish people do the following things.

Jewish people, in general, accept, to various degrees, false accusations that are made against themselves, or against other Jewish people, by non-Jewish people who are attacking them.

Jewish people who are not completely delusional, and who try to verbally defend themselves who are being attacked and falsely accused, and who try to verbally defend other Jewish people who are being attacked and falsely accused, are psychologically overwhelmed and, as a result of that, are not able to clearly communicate the reality of the situation that they are in.

Some Jewish people -- Jewish people who are experiencing extremely severe forms of this unwholesome state of mind -- are fervent propagators of, and are the most influential propagators of, lies that vilify the Jewish people who are being attacked and falsely accused.

The experience is that of accepting false accusations as truth because of relentless propaganda and thus, sometimes, transforming oneself into an actual enemy of the Jewish people.

Those of us who follow the Jewish Left are very well aware of Jewish scholars and writers and pundits and knuckleheads that routinely bash the Jewish state while entirely ignoring the never-ending violent hostility toward that state and towards us as a people.

Dan writes:

This deep profound form of Stockholm Syndrome… is constituted by the following factors.

Deep fear of being hated, for being a member of the vilified pariah scapegoated ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member, by people who are not members of the vilified pariah scapegoated ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member

Exceeding empathy for others

Egocentrism (in which one thinks: "I am so moral.")

Resultant immoral wrong empathy (empathy with (not wise compassion for, nor wise equanimity toward, but, rather, empathy with) people who are profoundly ignorant, and who hate, and who are holding evil malicious wrong views about the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member, and who, as a result of that, hate the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member, and who are attacking, and as part of that, falsely accusing, the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member)

Resultant antipathy (antipathy toward the members of the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member and who are being attacked by, and, as part of that, falsely accused by, people who are profoundly ignorant, and who hold evil malicious wrong views about the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member, and who, as a result of that, hate the ethnic and cultural social group of which oneself is a member)

In brief, Dan finds that JSS generally takes the form of a fear of being disliked, a sense of moral superiority, empathy with those who hate Jews, and sometimes an antipathy toward the Jewish people.

What I would suggest is that we cannot end the war against us until we acknowledge that we are a people under siege. Diaspora Jewry in the United States should be grateful to the open nature of American culture because it has allowed us to thrive, but this is less the case in Europe and in the Middle East Jews remain under constant assault.

In, The Psychology of Populations under Chronic Siege, Dr. Kenneth Levin writes:

"The phenomenon of Diaspora Jews embracing as truth the indictments of Jew-haters has been so commonplace that a literature on the subject emerged under the rubric 'Jewish self-hatred.' A similar predilection evolved in Israel, particularly among the nation's cultural elites, in the context of the Arab siege."

"Segments of populations under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted and outrageous. They hope that by doing so and reforming accordingly they can assuage the hostility of their tormenters and win relief. This has been an element of the Jewish response to anti-Semitism throughout the history of the Diaspora."

"The paradigm on the level of individual psychology is the psychodynamics of abused children, who almost invariably blame themselves for their predicament, ascribe it to their being 'bad,' and nurture fantasies that by becoming 'good' they can mollify their abusers and end their torment."

"The rhetoric of the Israeli Peace Movement, its distortions of Arab aims and actions, and its indictments of Israel likewise reflected the psychological impact of chronic besiegement. The Oslo process that the Peace Movement spawned entailed policies grounded in wishful thinking and self-delusion analogous to that of abused children..."

The bottom line is that we Jews are being unfair to ourselves.

Given 2,000 years of diaspora and 1,300 years of dhimmitude followed by another hundred years of Arab siege against the Jews of the Middle East (and increasingly elsewhere) we need to recognize that the problem is not with Israel.

The problem is not that Israel is the Jewish state or with Israeli security measures or with check points or with a fence that has dramatically decreased violence against us.

The real problem is Koranically-based genocidal Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism and the fact that Islam forbids Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land because it was once controlled by the Umma.

That’s the problem and the sooner that people such as Peter Beinart recognize it, the better off we’ll all be.

(Note: I am, perhaps, making a mistake in judgment, and if so I offer my apologies to Dan Bielak in advance, but it should be noted that Dan is sometimes a difficult thinker to read. His views and sensibilities and concerns are, to my mind, absolutely worthy of consideration. However as someone openly struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, his writing often suffers for it.)

What I recommend is looking past the OCD to the man’s ideas.


  1. Dan always makes some excellent points. Thanks for summing these up. I would ask you both some questions. Do you think there can be any solution to this Oslo Syndrome thing?

    My sense is that in is part of being in the Diaspora yet even in Israel proper we see it.

    1. The solution will come when we stop blaming ourselves for our own persecution.

      The solution will come when we stop thinking that if only we are nicer or more moral or just better people that then they will be nicer to us and stop try to murder us.

      The solution will come when we finally, really begin to stand up for ourselves.

      Unless, and until, we do that the Islamist will spit their hatred and western progressives will wonder if they are not right to do so.

      "Progressive Zionism" is poison because it essentially agrees with the Islamists that the real problem is with the Jews, despite the fact that history teaches us otherwise.

  2. Thank you for this excellent overview. I would never have thought of the Stockholm Syndrome as an explanation fro self-hating Jews.I will keep this in mind when I write.It will give me a framework within which I can respond to comments made in Canada by our own Jew-hating Jews like Judy Rebik, Naomi Klein and my favourite-Noam Chomsky.