Jacqueline Rose Psychoanalyses Zionism

I believe that Judaism is not Zionism is not Israel/Palestine. When Jewish intellectuals speak out on this subject, the totally non-intellectual reaction by Zionists is a sight to behold. Enjoy:

[extracted from article by John Sutherland — The Guardian — November 28, 2005] ================================================================================The vitriol Jacqueline Rose’s ideas have provoked is, perhaps, more
startling than the ideas themselves. After Rose spoke on the winning side in a public debate on Zionism in January, Melanie Phillips — one of the speakers on the losing side — described her as one of “three Jewish persecutors of Israel who strutted their repellent stuff,” and accused her of implicitly suggesting that “the Jews are responsible for their own destruction.”

. . .

In her book — an analysis of Zionism that examines the paradox between what was a secular political cause and its inextricable link with a Messianic vision — Rose criticizes the Israeli state. Most provocatively, she draws tentative analogies between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews. Even a sympathetic reviewer raised an eyebrow, observing that “in Jewish consciousness … to compare Jews with Nazis is beyond blasphemy.” Unsympathetic reviewers were simply outraged, and expressed their outrage at length.

“… linkage … to psychoanalysis, which for me has always been a radical form of thought — something that takes the lid off our values and reveals all the disturbing and challenging thoughts that you have but don’t dare to have.”

In The Question of Zion, therefore, she was uncovering the collective fantasies that have plagued Israel since its birth, and trying to look behind the state’s proclaimed public values.

Rose explicitly applies psychoanalysis in order to lift the lid, so to speak, off Zionism. When I ask whether she believes Israeli democracy has the resources to absorb and use the kind of criticism that Rose and others like her friend the late Edward Said, bring to it, she replies:

“It’s a very difficult question. Psychoanalysis says if you have a rigid symptom, the symptom will end up being too psychically or economically expensive, as it were, and will cease to be viable. In my book on Zionism one of the things that really made me very happy to discover, like a coral at the bottom of a pool, was this extraordinary tradition of dissent inside Israel. Part of the argument I’m making is that Zionism knows itself better than it appears. In psychoanalysis, Freud said famously that the patient is in the position of knowing and not knowing at the same time. I believe that Zionism is a very rigid system of thought but with incredibly creative forces running through it and a self-critique at the heart of it. I believe that other side will assert itself. So in that sense I’m optimistic.”

. . .

“We went to visit Dima in Ramallah where her mother was running a United Nations relief operation for young Arabs. A whole crowd of girls rushed up to us, all in blue overalls, all incredibly excited that we foreigners were there. They were overjoyed to see us. Then they smiled and their teeth were rotten. There was no dentistry in the refugee camps. That was like a political education in a split second and it’s never left me. It still gives me shivers when I talk about it. Those were the decisive moments and, if anything, I would say it’s taken a while for my intellectual life to catch up with those moments.”

So does she see what is going on in Israel now as an ideological civil war or something more like a lively internal debate with the possibility of hopeful political conclusions?

“It’s an ideological civil war. The voices of dissent and opposition are very strong inside Israel. But I think things have never looked worse in the sense that Ariel Sharon [we are talking before his decision to leave the Likud party and set up his own political group — and also before he was felled by a major stroke] is now a hero in Israel among large parts of the population and the Gaza disengagement is seen as a success. Meanwhile the annexation of swaths of the West Bank and the building of the wall are proceeding apace. It’s a very dangerous moment and it’s a very pessimistic moment. But the good thing that’s happening is that it’s so rigid and brutal in its enactment that it’s going to provoke increasing resistance. And it’s also going to fail. It cannot work. As W.G. Sebald says in Austerlitz, no fortification in the world has ever succeeded in defending what it wanted to defend. Fortifications, like the wall in Israel, breed defiance and their own eventual destruction. It’s non-viable. So I would say the combination of the internal dissent inside the country, and the non-viability of the solution, means that something must change”

(The Question of Zion by Jacqueline Rose is published by Princeton
University Press.)