Middle East Madness by Paul Levy
Last summer I was watching Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, being interviewed on TV by Charlie Rose. Gillerman was incredibly articulate, and quite brilliant. He spoke with the utmost authority and confidence. Here was someone who seemed truly empowered. Flawless in his logic, it seemed like no one had a chance to win the slightest point in any argument with him. And then, something revealing happened. At one point, Rose asked him whether Israel preferred a military or a political victory. The ambassador answered, “We prefer a MILITARY victory over a military victory. Rose immediately corrected him, saying he meant that Israel preferred a POLITICAL victory over a military victory. Gillerman responded by saying “yes, a political victory over a military victory,” as if that’s exactly what he had said. He had no idea that he had misspoken, and that his Freudian slip may have unwittingly revealed a deeper process that was playing out through his, and by extension, Israel’s unconscious.
In his slip of the tongue, Gillerman unknowingly may have revealed what is going on inside the unconscious, whose intentions are opposite what he imagines or represents them to be (both to himself and to the world). He may have revealed what he was unconsciously dissociated from and hiding from himself, and hence, unconsciously enacting in the world. When we are not in conscious relationship with a part of ourselves, we are doomed to unconsciously give shape and form to it by acting it out in the world.
Once I began contemplating the ambassador’s Freudian slip, I wondered what it could have been revealing about his (and Israel’s) unconscious. If that was the voice of the unconscious, it is expressing the shadow, the darker part, of what Israel is playing out on the global stage, which is that Israel prefers a victory by force over anything negotiated via diplomacy. It is as if this voice that wanted a military victory was thirsting to assert its power and domination over its enemies. It goes without saying that this is the absolute polar opposite of the representatives of peace that Gillerman and Israel like to think of themselves as being.
Gillerman’s Freudian slip seems to be revealing an urge on the part of Israel for revenge, an impulse to punish their adversaries. Wanting to destroy the “other,” Israel is unconsciously acting out the part of itself that has been abused. Israel’s knee-jerk, vengeful reaction is coming out of a deep hurt, a deep wound. And yet, it is Israel’s desire for revenge that transforms it from being the victim of terror to itself becoming the terrorist.
By acting out of its wound and unconsciously acting out its trauma, Israel is actually doing the very thing it is accusing its enemies of doing. Does Israel really think that enacting violence is going to make it safer? Doesn’t Israel realize that perpetrating violence is just going to inspire and create more enemies than it will destroy? Of course, I can’t help but notice the similarity between Israel’s (ultimately self-defeating) attitude and that of my own country, the United States.
Israel’s argument that Hezbollah or Hamas “started” the violence, though seemingly accurate on a superficial level of reality, is profoundly untrue. Israel and its enemies “reciprocally co-arise” together, which is to say that we can’t pinpoint in linear time where the violence actually started. Hezbollah or Hamas didn’t react out of a void, but could just as easily point to a previous violence that Israel had perpetrated onto them that they were just reacting to. Israel and its enemies are both unconsciously acting out a deeper process that is a-temporal (beginningless in time) and a-causal, which is to say that it is a conflict that cannot be traced back to a “first cause,” as no one “started it.”
Although there are deep, historical roots to this conflict, no matter who is to blame for what has been done in the past, the fact is the only place we have the power to make a genuine difference is in the present moment. Thus, the present situation is the only place wherein effective action can be taken to resolve this crisis. From the point of view of the present moment, no one “started” the conflict. Either side, at any moment, can step out of the vicious cycle, which is nothing other than an infinite regression, and simply refuse to continue to feed the endless, self-reinforcing cycle of violence. The self-perpetuating cycle would be broken in that moment. This is the deeper meaning of Christ’s urging to “turn the other cheek.” This is the underlying meaning of both Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King’s teachings on non-violence. Only by not striking back can we become agents of peace.
There is an incredible “edge” or resistance around criticizing Israel, as many people will immediately accuse me of being anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, being a person of conscience, I must. Being of Jewish heritage myself, it breaks my heart to see the abuse that Israel is unconsciously acting out against its neighbors. It is as if the Jewish people have not learned the deeper lesson of the very Holocaust that almost destroyed us, which is that to project the shadow outside of ourselves is to become the very evil that we are trying to destroy in the outside world. (Please see my article Shadow Projection: The Fuel of War, available on my website www.awakeninthedream.com.) And yet, to criticize what the nation of Israel is doing is not only NOT anti-Semitic, it is being a true representative of what the Jewish people ultimately are supposed to stand for, which is peace.
This situation is analogous to when a family member in a position of power abuses that power. If other family members remain silent, they enable and are complicit in the abuse (such as, in this case, other Jews who blindly support whatever Israel does, as well as the United States, which is giving tacit approval of Israel’s violent actions by its silence and inaction). The family member who speaks up and sheds light on the abuse, though at first quite unpopular and unwelcome, is the one who is the truly loving “patriot” of the family system.
Of course, Israel’s enemies are doing to Israel exactly the same thing that I am pointing out that Israel is doing to them. Both Israel and its enemies are mutually projecting their own shadow onto and blaming each other, which creates a dark, but very intimate connection between them. Each party couldn’t project the shadow onto the other without its adversary’s secret collaboration in playing out and embodying the very shadow being projected. The violence that is happening between these two polarized agencies couldn’t happen without their mutual co-operation. Israel and its enemies don’t exist in isolation from each other, but in co-relation with each other. A deeper process is revealing itself through their interplay.
Israel and its adversaries are both mirroring back what the other is doing. They are simultaneously playing both roles of terrorized-victim/terrorist-victimizer.
Though the American mainstream media is propagandizing the conflict as being between Israel and the “terrorists” (similar to how they frame the Global War on Terror as being between the United States and the “terrorists”), the question arises, “Who is the real terrorist? (The answer goes something like this: the terrorist is just a role in the field that is being played at different moments by all participants in the conflict).
Like a kitten looking in a mirror, Israel and its enemies are reacting to their mirrored reflection, thinking it is separate from themselves. They don’t recognize that they themselves are generating and calling forth the very behavior that they are reacting to. Reacting to their own reflection, they are compulsively acting out a collective form of the repetition compulsion, which feeds into and off of each other’s madness.
In my book The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis (www.awakeninthedream.com), I name this psychic epidemic “malignant egophrenia,” or ME disease for short. Falling prey to this psychic epidemic, we truly suffer from a case of mistaken identity, an erroneous sense of ME, of who we imagine we are. The essence of ME disease is a deep dissociative split in which we project out our own darker half, becoming entranced in thinking that our own evil exists outside of ourselves. We then try to destroy it in the outside world, which is to act out and become possessed by the very darkness we are trying to destroy. The figure of George Bush embodies and is therefore a living symbol of this disease. Not being separate from ourselves, Bush is merely an embodied reflection of the mad part of all of us.
The “inner name” of ME disease is “Mad Emperor” disease, as it is what happens when an individual such as Bush, or a nation such as Israel, is in a position of power and abuses its power over others simply because it can. Those who have fallen prey to ME disease identify with an illusory “separate self” (be it on the personal, or national scale), which is fear-ridden, while simultaneously generating fear in others by traumatizing anyone within its dominion. Instead of being in relationship to others and the environment, people (or nations) taken over by ME disease want to dictate, subjugate, dominate, and have power over others. They are tantrum-throwing bullies, who live by the rule of “might makes right.” I immediately associate to the archetypal and mythic figure of the negative father (Cronos/Saturn), who abuses his power over others simply because he can, a morally indefensible act.
ME disease is a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that non-locally pervades and is holographically enfolded throughout the entire field of consciousness. This is to say that ME disease exists, in unmanifest potential, deep within the collective unconscious of all humanity. ME disease in-forms and gives shape to the greater body politic of the world, and it is noteworthy that the Middle East has been having an acute outbreak of ME disease. ME disease could just as easily stand for “Middle East disease,” as this is where the disease is currently having a localized inflammation and is thereby, in fully condensed and essentialized form, where this deeper, underlying non-local field disease is becoming visible in 3-D space and time for all who have eyes to see.
Israel and its enemies are engaged in a ritualized dance of mutual shadow projection in which they are both doing the exact thing they are accusing the other of doing. Terrorized by the other, each side terrorizes in return. They are both looking in a mirror (whose inner meaning, etymologically speaking, is “holder of the shadow”), and trying to destroy their own shadow, which is not only a battle that can never be won, but is a form of insanity. Seen as a dreaming process, we have dreamed them up to objectify and show us these mad parts of ourselves. Israel and its adversaries are embodied reflections of the part of ourselves that unconsciously enacts this same insane behavior, both within ourselves and outside in the world.
Just like George Bush and the terrorists, Israel and its adversaries are acting out a form of collective madness in full-bodied form on the world stage. A madness that exists deep inside the psyche of all humanity is being symbolically re-presented and played out in the Middle East. Something is being revealed to us about ourselves through this outer display of collective madness.
The only genuine and lasting solution that will create true peace is for enough of us to realize what is being revealed by ME disease. Like Israel, we are a species in trauma, enacting our trauma as we traumatize others while simultaneously re-traumatizing ourselves in a diabolical self-reinforcing feedback loop with no exit strategy. A deeper, mythic process that is taking place in the soul of humanity has been playing itself out, both literally and symbolically, in extreme and exaggerated form in the Middle East for a long time. Encoded in these events are the keys to their resolution.
Once we realize we are reacting to our own mirrored reflection, our relationship to our reflection, both within ourselves and as it appears in embodied form in the outside world, changes. Instead of trying to kill our reflected shadow, we recognize and embrace it as part of ourselves.
Integrating our shadow into the full-spectrum of our being literally “fleshes us out,” as we become more spiritually substantial, embracing the light and dark parts of ourselves, which is what genuine incarnation is all about. Waking up to who WE are allows us to open up to including “others” as being inter-related, inter-connected, and inter-dependent parts of ourselves. We step out of a world in which we are alien and recognize we are co-related with each other as well as the universe at-large. Stepping out of the illusory “separate self,” we heal our mistaken sense of ME (which is the cure for ME disease), as we simply recognize what has always been the case, which is that we are truly one.
Paul Levy is a spiritually-informed political co-activist. A pioneer in the field of spiritual awakening, he is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are awakening to the dream-like nature of reality. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis, which is available at his website www.awakeninthedream.com. Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. If you resonate with the message of this article and want to help Paul spread his work, please contact him at [email protected], as he needs all the help he can get. He is very interested in hearing any reflections you have to offer. © Copyright 2006.