June 17, 2005


Israel's Deadly Delusions a review of THE OSLO SYNDROME: Delusions of a People Under Siege By Kenneth Levin (Edward Alexander, June 13, 2005, NY Post)

In this massively researched, lucidly written and cogently argued narrative, Kenneth Levin tells the appalling story of what has been called the greatest self-inflicted wound of political history: Israel's embrace of Yasser Arafat and the PLO in the Oslo Accords of September 1993 and its dogged adherence to its obligations under them even as its "peace partner" was blatantly flouting its own.

The book is divided into two sections. The first recounts Jewish political failure in the Diaspora, where Jews lived with a constant burden of peril, as the background for the self-deluding rationales that engendered Oslo. The second traces the same self-delusions in the history of Israel itself.

Levin shows how a tiny nation, living under constant siege by neighbors who have declared its very existence an aggression, was induced by its intellectual classes to believe that its own misdeeds had incited Arab hatred and violence, and that what required reform was not Arab dictatorship and Islamicist anti-Semitism, but the Jews themselves.

That core idea is the most compelling feature of the book, that Jews have throughout their history fallen prey to the idea that they could escape the hatreds of their enemies by changing their own behaviors. In essence this requires them to treat themselves as enemies too.

The Oslo Syndrome (Jamie Glazov, November 25, 2005, FrontPageMagazine.com)

Frontpage Interview's guest today is Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of the new book The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege. [...]

FP: What inspired you to write this book?

Levin: It was obvious to me at the start, as it was to many others, that the Oslo agreements could only lead to disaster. I said as much in a Jerusalem Post op.ed. a few days before the 1993 signing of the first accords on the White House lawn. That there was something very deluded about the thinking of Israel's leaders and their pro-Oslo constituency became more evident as Oslo proceeded. Arafat and his Palestinian Authority immediately used their media, mosques and schools to promote hatred of Israel and violence against Jews and continued to make clear their objective remained Israel's destruction. The level of terrorism increased to unprecedented dimensions. Yet Israel responded with more concessions.

During this period, there were many cogent critiques of the Oslo process. But none addressed why Israel's leaders, supported by the nation's academic and cultural elites and much of the broader population, were pursuing a course that was demonstrably placing the nation, including their own families, at dire risk. It seemed to me then, as it does now, that, given the irrationality of Israel's course, the explanation had to lie in the realm of psychopathology.

Israel's Oslo diplomacy was also reminiscent of aspects of the political life of Diaspora Jewish communities that likewise reflected a self-destructiveness inexplicable except in psychiatric terms.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2005 6:58 AM

Hmmm... "...fallen prey to the idea that they could escape the hatreds of their enemies by changing their own behaviors."

Seems like that could apply to blame America firsters as well.

Posted by: M. Murcek at June 17, 2005 2:02 PM

A lot of good people impute their own righteousness upon others who would better be thought of as enemies.

Posted by: Randall Voth at June 18, 2005 7:31 AM

But it's rarely an existential error.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 7:38 AM

You are suggesting this is specific to the Jews?

My wife told me a story yesterday about a Jewish family who sent their relatives in Germany $5000 so they could escape Hitler. The relatives thought that things were pretty good in Germany, so they invested the money in their business, instead. The next year they were murdered.

The same story could be told about my own family history, the Mennonites in Russia.

Posted by: Randall Voth at June 18, 2005 7:53 AM

Yes, that was one mistake. Jews have been making the same mistake over and over again for a couple thousand years. And if they biff Israel their existence is at risk.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 7:58 AM

The continuing existence of the Jews depends on the United States, not Israel.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 18, 2005 10:41 AM

Actually, David, the less relevant that Europe becomes, the greater the likelihood of Jewish survival(except perhaps that of our co-religionists still stuck there). East Asia and South Asia have no anti-semitism, except for the Muslim areas. In fact, most Asians who have to deal with Muslims have great sympathy for Israel.

Australia and New Zealand have virtually no anti-semitism except for the hard left, some Muslim immigrants and of course some Whites of Eastern and Southern European extraction who fled de-Nazification in Europe, because it would have meant the gallows or the labor camp for them.

Anti-semitism is a diminishing factor even in Argentina.

Posted by: bart at June 18, 2005 11:10 AM

They're intermarrying too fast here to last.

Posted by: at June 18, 2005 11:44 AM