In an interview with Tovia Singer on IsraelNationalRadio, Dr. Levin [pictured above] claims that as a result of their desire for the Arab siege on Israel to end, many Israelis conditioned themselves to believe that a potential partner for peace existed in the Palestinian Authority, when the reality pointed only to the continued escalation of violence and terror.
Dr. Levin, an instructor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Princeton-trained historian, has blended the two disciplines in his extensive writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“It is characteristic of people under siege or chronic attack - whether you’re talking about minorities that are marginalized, defamed and attacked or a small state under attack by larger neighbors - it is characteristic of portions of those populations to embrace the indictments, however bizarre, and to believe that if they perform in a way consistent with those indictments, then the siege will end,” Dr. Levin stated.
Levin compared the psychological delusions that led up to the Oslo Accords to those created by abused children desperate to end their suffering. Levin explained,
“Abused children always blame themselves for the abuse because they want to believe that they can have control over a situation that is really beyond their control. They believe that if they can change their behavior they can make their situation better.”
“The hope is that if they just accept the indictment, if they just repress the recognition that they are being attacked unfairly, and try to change accordingly that somehow they’ll win relief from their attackers.”
According to Levin the behavior exhibited by contemporary Israeli governments is not a new phenomenon:
“It’s a very old problem, characteristic of Jews throughout the Diaspora. There were segments of the population that consistently embraced the indictments of the Jews' enemies when Jews were being attacked, and it is characteristic of Israel during the chronic Arab siege.”
Levin believes that the Israeli delegation to the Oslo accords ignored the reality of the messages Arafat and his people were broadcasting to the Arab world. "The people who led Israel’s engagement in the Oslo process," he explained, "completely ignored what the Arabs were saying to each other and what Arafat was saying to his people in Arabic, what he had his schools teaching, and what he had his associates in the PA saying to their constituents. Instead, if Arafat said something positive in English, they would just grab onto that, or even if it was hinted at they would extrapolate. They wanted to believe, they were so desperate for an end to the siege. They wanted to believe, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Levin postulates that the Palestinian Authority, as a realistic partner for peace, was an entirely fictional entity, created by an Israeli government that was desperate to put an end to suffering:
“They created a partner that didn’t exist. They created this image of the other side that was prepared to give them peace in response/exchange for Israeli withdrawals. But that partner did not exist; it was a figment of the imagination. They ignored what Arafat was saying on the very night of that famous Arafat/Rabin handshake on the White House lawn. Arafat spoke on Jordanian TV telling his constituency that they should understand Oslo as the first phase in the 1974 PLO Plan of Phases, that says we’ll take what we can get through negotiations, and we’ll use that as a base for pursuing the destruction of Israel."
Regarding possible healing for the delusions suffered by so many Israelis, Levin advocated trying to make them realize how far off base their thinking has been. “I can only help patients who recognize that they have problems. There are too many people in Israel who don’t think that they have a problem,” offered Dr. Levin, adding “We have to constantly confront people with the catastrophe of Oslo and how too many Israelis are prepared to perpetuate another catastrophe and follow in the same lines simply because the siege isn’t ending and they want it to end by their own actions. That will never be; it will end at the declaration of the Arabs. What they can do is defend themselves. The saddest thing is that you see too many people willing to sacrifice Israel’s ability to defend itself.”
Dr. Levin's book may be purchased here.