Op-Ed: Battered Child Syndrome or Why Israel Believed in Oslo

An interview with Dr. Ron Shleifer, Ariel University, on the book "The Oslo Syndrome" by Prof. Kenneth Levin. Translated into Hebrew, the first printing was sold out in no time. A 2nd is now on the shelves .
Published: Wednesday, November 06, 2013 1:45 PM


"The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege" examines how Israel could have trusted Arafat and his cohorts. Its Hebrew translation was snapped up by Israeli readers, and the book's 2nd Hebrew edition has just been published.

Dr. Ron Shleifer, head of the Ariel University Center for Defense and Communications, talked to Arutz Sheva Radio about the  book by Professor Kenneth Levin, translated into Hebrew at Shleifer's initiative and published by Ariel University Press.

Dr. Shleifer, an international expert on psychological warfare, says that after the book was published in English and deliberately ignored by mainstream critics, he met with Professor Levin and suggested a Hebrew edition – which was subsequently published and snapped up in a matter of days. The second edition is now arriving in bookstores.

In the book, Professor Levin observes political and diplomatic developments in Israel and attempts to analyze how the Jewish people "swallowed" the Oslo group's messages hook, line and sinker, as Shleifer puts it, while it was clear to Levin that something much deeper was taking place.

Levin claims that it is not possible that a normal nation could observe with equanimity how Arafat and his men spoke glowingly about peace in English while simultaneously calling the Oslo Accords a springboard for the destruction of Israel when speaking in Arabic. It is untenable that a nation could suffer murderous terror attacks soon after the signing and continue to believe in the false vision of Oslo.

Levin finds the answer by integrating history and medicine. He compares the phenomenon to victims of Battered Child Syndrome, who blame themselves and are convinced that if they would only behave better, their parents would cease to beat them, without knowing that they will continue to be beaten anyway because it is their parents who have a problem and not they.

According to Shleifer, this theme, stressed throughout the book, is not fashionable in research centres and therefore the book was hardly noticed by academia in the USA. However, the Hebrew edition, edited anew by Tsur Erlich who shortened the book from 600 pages to 170, is eminently readable and a spellbinding eye-opener for the Israeli reader who, for the first time, sees the pertinent facts and details of the syndrome that the writer shows has afflicted the Jewish people since the early years of the Diaspora and that continues to do so right up to the present.

Levin shows how Battered Child Syndrome insinuated itself into Jewish consciousness for hundreds of years and blossomed in the fertile ground of assimilation whose adherents, in the last two hundred years, wished to find favor in gentile eyes at any cost. It was only a small step from there to blaming Jews for anti-Semitism and then moving on to blame Israelis for evils for which they are entirely blameless.

It is almost as if the source of the problem lies in the Jew's damaged historical DNA. Dr. Shleifer finds it taking root in the awakening of the Jewish people to return to independence and settling the land, in both protagonists and antagonists. He feels that the debate about the blossoming of the Jewish people in their land and the rejuvenation of Jerusalem, all the while lamenting its destruction, is an issue that should be put on the table.

He finds a correlation between the radical left and the radical hareidi communities, both of whom have deeply internalized a Diaspora mentality, resulting in the fear of independence and Jewish self rule.

Shleifer, whose most recent book, "Perspectives of Psychological Operations (PSYOP) in Contemporary Conflicts", has been accepted by Macmillan after its publication in Israel, feels strongly that the written word is a crucial weapon in Israel's public relations battle, especially on campus and in Jewish communities out of Israel.

The Ariel University Center for Defense and Communications he heads would like to be able to publish more translations of Hebrew pro-Zionist and pro-Israel works – he says there are new ones being written all the time. Shleifer, going off to defend Israel at conferences in Toronto and New York within a few days, would like to translate and publish more pro-Zionist English books into Hebrew as well. The left, he says, publishes at least a book a week and while those books are accepted by mainstream publishers immediately, excellent pro-Zionist books are all-too-often rejected.