Israel - Out-Gassing its Unhealed Trauma by Paul Levy
As a human being of Jewish heritage, I feel deeply ashamed by what Israel is acting out in Gaza. I feel so shocked by the horror of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians that it has literally taken me a few weeks to sufficiently integrate the trauma triggered within me, enough so that I could begin to find words. I feel as if I am sitting in the audience watching a family member whom I love perform on stage—in this case the world stage—and because of my intimate connection and identification with my beloved family member, I am mortified—rendered numb by the extent of Israel’s criminal and moral insanity. It is like watching a dark, destructive energy making a people its instrument.
How we understand what is happening in Gaza depends upon where we start looking in time. The Israeli-influenced U. S. government/mainstream-media’s propaganda starts the narrative at the missiles being shot by Hamas, who are considered the terrorists, without asking the relevant question—why is Hamas shooting off missiles in the first place? Though Hamas shooting rockets into Israel can in no way be condoned, when we look at the situation in a broader context, we see that Hamas is terrorizing Israel in response to the terror, genocide and holocaust being perpetrated by Israel upon the Palestinians. Hamas is lobbing missiles into Israel to publicize the plight of the Palestinians, to bring international attention to the fact that they are being imprisoned and starved to death, as Israel has not been permitting sufficient food, water, fuel and medicine into the death camp which is Gaza.
There is an insidious double-bind inherent in their conflict. Both Israel and the Palestinians are afraid, and therefore unable to do themselves the very thing they need the other to do, which is to stop the violence. Israel wants security. And the Palestinians just want to be free of Israel’s illegal occupation and have the right to their own self-determination. Israel wants Hamas to stop shooting its missiles into Israel. Hamas insists they will stop if Israel stops oppressing them and gives back to the Palestinians their intrinsic right to exist in freedom. Israel, in its flawless illogic, is afraid to let the Palestinians be free of their domination because it imagines that the Palestinians will then more freely shoot rockets at it, thereby creating as well as perpetuating the very situation it says it doesn’t want.
To resolve the deadlock, Israel, being in the position of having infinitely more power than the Palestinians, must be the first to take the step out of the infinite regression. Holding the power in its hands, Israel has it within its grasp to stop abusing it. The fact that Israel is wielding its overwhelming power in a way that creates the very thing it is afraid of is the signature of the traumatized soul caught in the act.
Trauma Is An Entity All Its Own Israel is a nation in trauma, a form of collective madness. Trauma is not a noun in this case, but a verb. It is a dynamic process that has a timeless dimension, yet also unfolds over time, as its spirit gets passed down through multiple generations. When traumatized like this, we unconsciously act out the unhealed trauma, both within ourselves and out into the world, traumatizing and terrorizing others as we simultaneously re-traumatize ourselves.
Trauma happens when we suffer an overwhelming event that we cannot assimilate into our being in the typical way. Our attempts to heal from trauma tend to be dysfunctional, often becoming the very actions which re-create the trauma we are trying to heal from, in what becomes a diabolically self-perpetuating negative feedback loop, which is truly crazy-making and seemingly has no end or exit strategy.
The trauma animating events in Gaza can be more clearly understood when we contemplate the nature of trauma within the context of the field dynamics inherent in family systems. In abusive family systems, abuse is a ritual that is collectively and collaboratively enacted. Everyone in the field picks up a different inter-dependent role. All such roles weave together creating a tapestry of the whole family dynamic. In the tapestry of abuse in the Middle East, the Israelis and the Palestinians have switched roles over time, each having alternately played the role of the victim and/or the abuser, each justifying their violence based on earlier abuse by the other. In this moment in time, however, in this scene of the play we are in, Israel is the one that is unconsciously playing the role of the abuser, and it is important to not pretend this isn’t so.
Unhealed trauma demands the transmission of its lineage in the outside world, as if its nature is to spread and propagate itself throughout the field, branding and enlisting people to be its instruments of proliferation. Because of its nature of interactivity with the surrounding field, trauma cannot be comprehended if we view ourselves as isolated entities separate from the field. Israel and the Palestinians don’t exist in isolation from each other, but rather in intimate co-relation to each other. The violence that is being perpetrated between these two polarized agencies couldn’t happen without their mutual, co-operative antagonism. The adversarial roles they are playing are reciprocally co-arising and mutually conditioning each other, as if they are contained in and are an expression of a deeper unified and unifying field.
In Gaza, a role reversal has taken place—the Jewish people, clearly the victim of unresolved trauma that they suffered not only during the Second World War, but throughout their history, have now become the perpetrators. Israel, to the extent it hasn’t dealt with its own trauma, has split-off from and at the same time internalized the abuser, while unconsciously identifying with its original aggression, which is a common characteristic of the traumatized soul. To dissociate from, yet be unconsciously identified with the sadistic aggressor who perpetrated the original trauma is to become possessed by this figure, to be lethally compelled to act out its violence in a terrorizing, malevolent and life-destroying way. In an appalling reversal of the golden rule, Israel is doing unto others what was done unto it.
Terrorism is the re-creation and the ritual re-enactment of the original trauma, only with the roles reversed. In the open-air death camp by the sea which is now Gaza, the Jewish people have re-created their experience in World War II, with the Palestinians playing the roles that the Jews played in the Warsaw ghetto.
When we are traumatized, we compulsively give shape to our trauma by trying to kill in others what has been seemingly killed in ourselves. When we act out our unhealed trauma upon someone, we induce in them the feeling we had when we were traumatized, as if we are reducing them to the feeling which we are not able to feel ourselves. Instead of consciously feeling their own pain, trauma and vulnerability, the Israelis are trying to destroy anyone who reminds them of it.
The feeling of powerlessness is the origin of terrorism. Israel’s terrorizing behavior reduces the Palestinians to a state of utter helplessness, which only feeds future terrorism. There is only one thing for sure about what Israel is doing—its actions are guaranteed to make it less safe, as however many children, women, and men, or members of Hamas it kills, it will give birth to ten times more people in the Muslim world who want Israel destroyed. In their actions, the Israelis are putting the gas on, fanning the flames and kindling the fire of the never-ending cycle of retributive violence, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy which will ultimately destroy them if not illumined. By trying to make themselves safe, they are turning the wheel of karmic blowback and adding energy to the rotary engines of their own self-destruction.
A Cry For Compassion In its enactment of war crimes, Israel is a nation gone mad. Israel has become a rogue state that doesn’t abide by international law, has weapons of mass destruction, and enacts terrorism—simply defined as coercive threats or violent acts perpetrated on innocent civilians for political ends. Embodying the role of the archetypical abuser, Israel blames the Palestinians, the victims of their abuse, and imagines itself to be the innocent victim. And like a typical family system in which the culture of abuse flourishes, related figures who are in a position to not only condemn the abuse but have the power to stop it, like the United States, are instead complicit in, enabling and openly supportive of the abuse. For example, the U. S. blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, blames Hamas for the conflict and continues to supply weapons for Israel to use in its war crimes.
The United States supports Israel because Israel’s madness is a reflection of its own, analogous to the U S.’s abuse in Iraq. Israel and the U. S. are co-dependently entangled in a dysfunctional relationship in which they feed into and off of each other’s madness, endlessly reinforcing their mutual delusion in a collective, as compared to an individual, psychosis.
We are a species in trauma. What is playing out in Gaza is a re-creation of a timeless, archetypal process that has reiterated itself over, in, and through linear time like an endlessly repeating fractal. Israel and the Palestinians are unwittingly stepping into and embodying in amplified form the deeper, archetypal pattern of trauma and abuse which has seared and imprinted itself in the collective unconscious and has played itself out throughout history.
Seen symbolically, the madness that is being re-enacted in Gaza is a localized inflammation of a non-local psychic epidemic which pervades the entire field of human consciousness, rendering in visible form the collective psychosis which is enfolded throughout the planetary body politic. Just as each piece of a hologram contains the whole hologram, what is happening in Gaza is an acute outbreak revealing what is playing out both inside of each one of us as well as being the world’s process. Seen as a larger-scaled iteration of the same inter-nested fractal which is incarnating itself through each one of us in our personal lives, Israel is literally and symbolically acting out its, and by extension, our trauma, writ large on the world stage.
In committing war crimes for all to witness, Israel is revealing how it was the victim of similar criminal acts in the past. The Jewish people are understandably still reeling from the so over-the-top it’s completely-unimaginable-but-true trauma of the not-so-long-ago Nazi death camps in which the world looked away and fell silent. Just like a new carpet emits, releases and out-gasses the toxins trapped in it so as to become purified, the Jewish people are out-gassing the most noxious vapors imaginable, discharging the toxins of their own horrific abuse. Because their personal trauma is at the same time archetypal in nature, which is to say it is a reflection of the spirit of unhealed trauma existing deep within the collective unconscious of humanity, the Jewish people’s out-gassing of their trauma allows them to let go of both their personal as well as the collective spirit of trauma which has been hermetically sealed in the cellular memory of our species.
Israel is enacting its trauma in full-bodied form onto the Palestinians in an unconscious attempt to integrate the abuser within itself while potentially piecing back together its own experience of being in the role of the Palestinians. In giving life to its trauma, Israel is unconsciously trying to re-member itself, to re-connect with the dis-membered parts of its experience, as it attempts, Humpty-Dumpty like, to put itself back together again from its fragmented and shattered state.
Seen symbolically, Israel is a reflection of the part of us that simultaneously is the victim and the perpetrator of abuse. We are all participants implicated in the trauma that Israel suffers from, as what Israel is enacting on the world stage is our trauma, too. To the extent that we are connected with all beings throughout time and space, we are all inter-related to and complicit in each other’s trauma. Recognizing this is to realize that we are not separate from the Israelis or Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter—a realization that should snap us out of our delusion of imagining we exist as separate entities. Stepping out of the fiction of the separate self and recognizing we are all interconnected, interdependent parts of a greater whole is the very expansion of consciousness that is simultaneously the first and last step to the re-solution of our world crisis.
Psychologically speaking, perpetrating inhumane war crimes on the Palestinians is Israel’s extremely perverse way of crying out for help, as by its unconscionable abuses of power Israel is expressing and revealing to us in a most dramatic way how extremely sick and in need of healing it truly is. Israel is a mirror of the wounded, traumatized and mad part of ourselves. The natural, organic expression of this realization is compassion and forgiveness.
But feeling compassion and forgiveness for Israel in no way precludes our also recognizing that in its enactment of its unexamined trauma, Israel is guilty of war crimes and needs to be held accountable. Compassion isn’t always smiley-faced and sweet— sometimes compassion is fierce and sets firm boundaries. Because of the corrupted state it has fallen into, Israel can literally not stop itself from acting out its abuse, which is to say that it desperately needs the world community’s help to curb its ultimately suicidal behavior, as it is in no position to help itself. In co-operatively coming together in repudiating and saying “no” to Israel’s abusive actions, we are ultimately helping to save Israel from itself.
Abuse can only happen in a family system, be it a nuclear family or a nuclearized world community, when people don’t step into their intrinsic power and speak their true voice. When we bear witness to someone enacting criminal acts, we instantaneously inherit a moral responsibility to do everything in our power to stop the criminal act, or else in our silence and inaction we become complicit. People, Jews or non-Jews, who unquestioningly support Israel are simply being complicit in war crimes. They are playing the same roles as family members who are in a position to stop the abuse in the family system and choose instead to support it by siding with the abuser.
What Israel is doing—killing innocent men, women and children held captive in a prison of Israel’s own making—is a crime against humanity as a whole, which is to say it is a crime against each and every one of us. When innocent people are being slaughtered like they are in Gaza, we are all suffering the tragedy of losing family members. It is not just a Palestinian tragedy, or an Israeli tragedy, but a universal, human tragedy.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also 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 on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. You can contact Paul at [email protected], or 503-234-6480. © Copyright 2009