Transcript: Neil Altman on Suicide Bombers, Psychoanalytical Perspective | Jun 17, 2006

Neil stands behind the podium and reads from his notes. He's in his sixties with a thick gray mustache and gray hair. He's wearing a pinstriped suit with a purple shirt and striped purple tie. A caption pops up at the bottom of the screen with a lightbulb and a text that reads “Neil Altman. Psychoanalyst, New York University.”

He says IN THIS TALK I
AIM TO BRING A PSYCHOANALYTIC
PERSPECTIVE TO BEAR ON SUICIDE
BOMBING SPECIFICALLY AS IT
OCCURS IN ISRAEL.
I ARGUE THAT OUR RESPONSE TO
SUICIDE BOMBING ALONG WITH
HORROR AND CONDEMNATION, SHOULD
INCLUDE REGARDING THE ACT AS
AMONG OTHER THINGS A POTENTIAL
COMMUNICATION.
I'M A JEW AND A U.S. CITIZEN
WHO HAS NOT LOST ANYONE I CARE
ABOUT IN A SUICIDE BOMBING IN
ISRAEL OR IN NEW YORK WHERE I
LIVE.
SO I AIM MY DISCUSSION MOSTLY
DIRECTLY AT OTHERS LIKE ME,
THOUGH INDIRECTLY AND WITH LESS
CONFIDENCE AT GOVERNMENTS, AT
U.S. NON-JEWS AND AT ISRAELI
AND OTHER NON U.S. JEWS AND
NON-JEWS.
AND ALL WHO HAVE LOST LOVED
ONES, WHOSE PERSPECTIVE WHOSE
PERSPECTIVE I DO NOT FEEL I
SHARE AS WELL.
GIVING THIS TALK IN CANADA AND
LATER I'M GONNA GIVE IT IN
ISRAEL, I WELCOME THE INPUT OF
PEOPLE WITH A DIFFERENT
PERSPECTIVE.

The caption changes to “Suicide Bombers – A Psychoanalytical Perspective. Victoria College, U of T. May 6, 2006.”

He continues I ALSO MUST SAY
THAT I TEND TOWARD THE LEFT
POLITICALLY AND I REALIZE THAT
I DEPLOY PSYCHOANALYSIS IN WAYS
THAT ARE SUPPORTIVE OF MY
POLITICAL PREFERENCE.
I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO SAY THAT
BECAUSE THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN PSYCHOANALYSIS AND
POLITICS IS A VERY, COMPLICATED
ONE.
AND I THINK THERE'S AN IDEAL
AMONG MOST PSYCHOANALYSTS THAT
PSYCHO, THAT PSYCHOANALYSTS
SHOULD BE APOLITICAL.
AND I THINK IT'S INTERESTING TO
THINK ABOUT THE ROOTS OF THAT
ATTITUDE IN THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN FREUD AND THE NAZIS,
BECAUSE FREUD CLEARLY IT SEEMS
TO ME TRIED TO PRESERVE
PSYCHOANALYSIS AS THE NAZIS
TOOK OVER IN AUSTRIA AND IN
GERMANY BY PORTRAYING
PSYCHOANALYSIS AS APOLITICAL.
AND NOW THE, THE PROBLEM FOR
PSYCHOANALYSTS I THINK ABOUT
BEING POLITICAL IS THAT
PSYCHOANALYSTS WANT TO THINK OF
THEMSELVES AS OBJECTIVE AND TO
BE POLITICAL IS CLEARLY TO BE
SUBJECTIVE.
AND I THINK THAT, THAT IN, IN
GRAPPLING WITH THAT DILEMMA
IT'S HELPFUL TO THINK ABOUT
ANOTHER NOTION OF OBJECTIVITY
THAT HAS TO DO WITH SELF-
AWARENESS ABOUT ONE'S
SUBJECTIVITY.
AND SO THAT'S WHY I THINK IT'S
IMPORTANT AT THE BEGINNING OF
THIS TALK TO, TO COME OUT WITH
MY POLITICS AS A FACTOR IN WHAT
I'M GONNA SAY.
NOT THAT I UNDERSTAND ALL THE,
THE WAYS IN WHICH MY POLITICS
INFILTRATES WHAT I'M GONNA SAY.
I THINK ACTUALLY YOU PROBABLY
WILL BE ABLE TO SEE THAT MORE
CLEARLY THEN I CAN.
BUT LOOKING AT THAT I THINK IS
ONE WAY TO STRIVE FOR AN
OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW.
I ALSO BELIEVE THAT MY
POLITICAL LEANINGS GROW FROM A
BROADER, WORLDVIEW THAT FIND
SUPPORT IN MY OWN VERSION OF
PSYCHOANALYSIS.
SO MY PSYCHOANALYSIS AND MY
POLITICS ARE LINKED.
MOST FUNDAMENTALLY I SUPPORT
NEGOTIATION AS OPPOSED TO
VIOLENCE.
I DON'T THINK DOING SO NEED BE
INHERENTLY A LEFT WING
POSITION, THOUGH IT OFTEN IS SO
PORTRAYED.
I HAVE FOR SOME TIME BEEN
PUZZLED AND INTRIGUED AND
HORRIFIED BY THE PHENOMENON OF
SUICIDE BOMBERS.
WHY DOES THE SUICIDE BOMBER
INTENTIONALLY KILL HIM OR
INCREASINGLY HERSELF?
WE HAVE BECOME SADLY FAMILIAR
WITH THE PHENOMENA OF MURDER
AND KILLING IN ITS VARIOUS
FORMS.
AND WITH THE PHENOMENA OF
SUICIDE AS WELL.
SOME OF THESE ACTS ARE PUZZLING
IN THEMSELVES.
BUT LINKING MURDER WITH
SUICIDE, ASIDE FROM CASES
SEEMINGLY MORE UNDERSTANDABLE,
IN WHICH A SUICIDE FOLLOWS A
MURDER SEEMS EVEN MORE
PUZZLING.
ONE MIGHT THINK THAT IF THE
OBJECT IS SOLELY TO KILL AS
MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE IT
WOULD MAKE MORE SENSE TO OPEN
FIRE OR DETONATE A BOMB IN A
CROWDED PLACE, AND TO TRY TO
GET AWAY.
THE ODDS MIGHT BE HEAVILY
AGAINST SUCCEEDING IN GETTING
AWAY, BUT IF SOMEHOW ONE DID
ONE WOULD HAVE LIVED TO BE ABLE
TO KILL EVEN MORE PEOPLE
ANOTHER DAY.
THERE ARE SOME CONCEIVABLE
MILITARY REASONS WHY SUICIDE
BOMBING MAKES MORE SENSE THEN
NON-SUICIDE BOMBING.
SUICIDE BOMBING MAKES SENSE IN
TERMS OF DISABLING THE
OVERWHELMING MILITARY MIGHT OF
THE OPPOSITION, AND IS INTENDED
TO INFLUENCE PUBLIC OPINION
WHERE THAT MATTERS.
THAT IS IN A DEMOCRACY, WHERE
PUBLIC OPINION INFLUENCES
POLICY.
SO CLEARLY FROM A STRATEGIC
POINT OF VIEW SUICIDE BOMBING
IS RATIONAL, IF NOT NECESSARILY
EFFECTIVE ON THE LEVEL OF GROUP
GOALS.
BUT MY QUESTION REMAINS WHY IS
IT BETTER FROM A MILITARY POINT
OF VIEW TO INTEND TO BE KILLED
THEN TO BE WILLING TO DIE?
THAT'S THE CENTRAL QUESTION
THAT GOT ME THINKING ABOUT
THIS.
THE ORGANIZERS AS OPPOSED TO
THE BOMBER HIMSELF OR HERSELF,
MAY PREFER THAT THE BOMBER
SURELY DIE IN ORDER NOT TO BE
CAPTURED AND USED BY THE OTHER
SIDE TO DIVULGE INFORMATION
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS OR ABOUT
FURTHER ATTACKS.
MORE FUNDAMENTALLY HOWEVER
HAVING THE INTENTION TO DIE
MAKES ONE IMMUNE FROM ALL
TRADITIONAL MEASURES MEANT TO
DISSUADE OR INTIMIDATE.
THE OVERWHELMING MILITARY MIGHT
OF THE OCCUPIER IS DISABLED.
THE INTENTION TO DIE DISABLES
ANY PREVENTIVE OR RETALIATORY
STRATEGY BASED ON THE INTERESTS
OF THE PERPETRATOR.
IN THIS WAY A SMALL GROUP OR
EVEN A SOLE, INDIVIDUAL MAY
BECOME IN A SENSE MORE POWERFUL
THEN A SUPER POWER WHOSE
STRENGTH RESTS ON MILITARY
MIGHT.
RETALIATORY ACTION ON THE PART
OF THE ADVERSARY NOT ONLY IS
INEFFECTIVE BUT ACTUALLY IS
REFRAMED AS CARRYING OUT THE
WISHES OF THE BOMBER.
SO I POSIT, THE SUICIDAL INTENT
MAKES POSSIBLE A SENSE OF
EFFECTIVE AGENCY AMONG THOSE
WHO ARE POWERLESS IN
CONVENTIONAL TERMS.
IS THE SUICIDAL INTENT FURTHER
AN IMPORTANT PART OF WHAT IS
MEANT TO BE COMMUNICATED OR
SHOWN IN AN EFFORT TO INFLUENCE
THE PUBLIC OPINION OF THE
OCCUPYING POWER?
SUICIDE
BOMBING, INDEED ANY KIND OF
WANTON KILLING IS SO ABHORRENT
THAT THE ONLY DEFENSIBLE,
DEFENSIBLE RESPONSE IS TO TRY
TO STOP IT.
NOT TO UNDERSTAND THE MOTIVES OR THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE OF THE
PERPETRATOR.
IF SOMEONE HAS A KNIFE AT YOUR
THROAT YOU DON'T STOP TO
UNDERSTAND HIS STATE OF MIND.
YOU DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO TURN
HIS KNIFE AGAINST HIM.
FURTHERMORE IT MAY SEEM THAT TO
UNDERSTAND IS TO FORGIVE OR TO
RATIONALIZE WHAT IS EVIL, PURE
AND SIMPLE.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT TO
UNDERSTAND IS NOT NECESSARILY
TO RATIONALIZE OR FORGIVE.
BUT THERE IS A PROBLEM HERE.
TO UNDERSTAND ANOTHER PERSON
ONE NEEDS TO IDENTIFY WITH HIM,
AT LEAST BRIEFLY.
CAN WE OR SHOULD WE DO SO WHEN
THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED AN
ATROCITY?
WE CAN ONLY UNDERSTAND A HUMAN
BEHAVIOUR BY IMAGINING ONE'S
WAY INTO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
STATE OF THE ACTOR, PUTTING
OURSELVES INTO A POSITION VERY
MUCH AT VARIANCE WITH OUR
IDEALS.
INTO A POSITION THAT MAY
HORRIFY US.
THE TEMPTATION'S VERY STRONG TO
DISASSOCIATE OURSELVES FROM
SOMEONE WHO COMMITS AN ATROCITY
SUCH AS THE MURDER OF INNOCENT
CIVILIANS.
IT IS ONE THING HOWEVER TO SAY
I WOULD NEVER DO SUCH A THING
AND QUITE ANOTHER TO RENDER THE
PERPETRATOR CATEGORICALLY
DIFFERENT FROM ONE SELF OR EVEN
SUBHUMAN.
DESCRIBING SOMEONE OR A GROUP
OF PEOPLE AS PRIMITIVE OR
MONSTROUS OR BARBARIC REFLECTS
THIS LATTER ATTITUDE.
HAVING SO RADICALLY
DISASSOCIATED OURSELVES FROM
THE PERPETRATOR THERE'S THEN NO
POSSIBILITY OF UNDERSTANDING
HIM AND LITTLE OR NO EMPATHIC
BARRIER TO HURTING OR KILLING
HIM.
WHEN ONE IS IMMEDIATELY
THREATENED OR WHEN A LOVED ONE
HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED BY THE
INTENTIONAL ACT OF ANOTHER,
SUCH A REACTION MAYBE EXTREMELY
DIFFICULT TO AVOID.
IN CASES WHERE THE PERPETRATOR
OF A VIOLENT ACT HAS A
GRIEVANCE AGAINST YOU OR YOUR
PEOPLE, TO EMPATHIZE WITH HIM
SO AS TO UNDERSTAND HIS STATE
OF MIND REQUIRES US TO IMAGINE
HOW IT IS TO SEE OURSELVES AS
BAD.
EVEN AS THE PERPETRATOR OF OR
COLLUSIVE WITH ATROCITIES
OURSELVES.
MOST PEOPLE WILL GO TO GREAT
LENGTHS TO AVOID THE ASSOCIATED
SHAME AND GUILT.
IT TAKES A GREAT DEAL OF
EMOTIONAL STRENGTH AND COMPLEX
MINDEDNESS TO UNDERSTAND THE
OTHER'S POINT OF VIEW IN THIS
WAY.
AND TO, AND TO ASSUME AN
APPROPRIATE DEGREE OF
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE OTHER'S
RAGE AND SUFFERING WHILE AT THE
SAME TIME UTTERLY CONDEMNING
HIS ACT, AND FEELING COMPLETELY
ENTITLED TO RECOGNITION OF
ONE'S OWN POINT OF VIEW.
YET MOST RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS
AS WELL AS POLITICAL PRAGMATISM
REQUIRE THAT WE STRIVE FOR THAT
PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPACITY.
THERE'S A FURTHER COMPLICATION
HERE IN THAT ONE MIGHT HAVE
DIFFERENT FEELINGS TOWARD THOSE
WHO ACTUALLY CARRY OUT SUICIDE
BOMBINGS AND THOSE WHO ACTUALLY
INDOCTRINATE AND MANIPULATE THE
BOMBERS.
WHO SEND THEM OUT TO ADVANCE
POLITICAL ENDS.
IT WELL MAY SEEM EVEN MORE
ABHORRENT TO DO THE LATTER THEN
THE FORMER, AS THESE PEOPLE ARE
VICTIMIZING THE BOMBERS AS WELL
AS THOSE WHO ARE TARGETED IN
THE SERVICE OF THEIR OWN
POLITICAL POWER.
ON PASSOVER RECENTLY
PREOCCUPIED WITH THE SUBJECT OF
THIS PAPER, I WAS REMINDED OF
THE TALE THAT RABBI HILLEL
ASKED TO SUMMARIZE THE TORAH
WHILE STANDING ON ONE FOOT SAID
QUOTE, DO NOT UNTO OTHERS WHAT
YOU WOULD HATE THEM TO DO UNTO
YOU.
THAT IS THE WHOLE TORAH.
THE QUESTION WAS RAISED IN MY
MIND AS TO THE LIMITS OF RABBI
HILLEL'S INJUNCTION.
CERTAINLY THERE ARE LIMITS IN
MY MIND.
IF SOMEONE IS ABOUT TO KILL ME
OR A LOVED ONE I WOULD BE
WILLING TO SET ASIDE ALL MORAL
INJUNCTIONS AND KILL THAT
PERSON TO PREVENT THE IMPENDING
DEATH OF ME OR MY LOVED ONE.
OF COURSE IN REAL LIFE THERE
ARE JUDGEMENT CALLS TO BE MADE
IN SUCH SITUATIONS AND ONE
MIGHT WELL ACT TO KILL THE
OTHER WHEN THE OTHER IS IN FACT
NOT ARMED.
OR ONE MIGHT FAIL TO ACT WHEN
THE OTHER IS INDEED MURDEROUS,
SO THERE ARE NO FAIL SAFE
GUIDELINES.
BUT ABOUT RABBI HILLEL'S
INJUNCTION WHEN THE OTHER
PERSON HAS ALREADY KILLED
SOMEONE YOU LOVE?
AND WHAT IF THE OTHER IS GUILTY
OF A BARBARIC ACT?
IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT ONE
READING OF RABBI HILLEL'S
STATEMENT IS THAT THE POINT OF
SAYING THAT HIS STATEMENT IS A
SUMMARY OF THE TORAH THAT CAN
BE MADE WHILE STANDING ON ONE
FOOT, IS THAT THERE ARE NO
EXCEPTIONS.
NO FURTHER ELABORATION IS
NEEDED.
THE BASIS OF THIS JEWISH
VERSION OF THE GOLDEN RULE IS A
LINK BETWEEN ALL HUMAN BEINGS,
SUCH THAT EMPATHY WITH AND
COMPASSION FOR ALL OTHERS IS AN
ABSOLUTE MORAL IMPERATIVE.
THIS INCLUDES THOSE WHO HAVE
COMMITTED SO-CALLED BARBARIC
ACTS.
FROM THE POINT OF VIEW I'M
DEVELOPING HERE, IT ONCE
OCCURRED TO ME THAT THE SO-
CALLED BARBARIANS, THIS IS A
LITTLE DIGRESSION ABOUT THE
WORD BARBARIC, WHO SACKED ROME
MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN A BAD RAP.
AT THE VERY
LEAST, IF THE POINT OF CALLING
THEM BARBARIANS WAS TO CONTRAST
THEM WITH THE CIVILIZED ROMANS,
WE MUST WONDER HOW CIVIL IT WAS
TO SEND CHRISTIANS TO THE
LIONS.
PERHAPS ALL PEOPLE HAVE THEIR
BARBARIC AND CIVILIZED SIDES.
THIS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF
FREUD'S POINTS, ALTHOUGH HE
EXPLICITLY REJECTED THE GOLDEN
RULE.
IN ANY CASE IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF
VIOLENCE IF ONE DOES NOT
IDENTIFY WITH A PERPETRATOR OF
VIOLENCE, ONE IS MORE LIKELY TO
BECOME VIOLENT ONE'S SELF.
THIS IS ALSO A
CENTRAL POINT THAT I WANT TO
MAKE.
BUT THIS PROCESS OF
IDENTIFICATION AND CONDEMNATION
AND RENUNCIATION IS A COMPLEX,
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESS IN
WHICH ONE FOREGOES THE
TEMPTATION TO RENDER THE
PERPETRATOR SUBHUMAN OR NON-
HUMAN.
THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENS THAT IT
THEN BECOMES EASIER TO KILL HIM
AND THUS BECOME HIM.
KILL THE PERPETRATOR AND THUS
BECOME HIM.
IN THE SENSE THAT BOTH PEOPLE
GET CAUGHT UP IN A VICIOUS
CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE, OF
RETALIATION AND COUNTER-
RETALIATION.
THE GENERAL POINT HERE PERHAPS
IS THAT THE LINKS BETWEEN ALL
THINGS HUMAN IS INESCAPABLE.
EITHER YOU ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR
PSYCHIC LINK WITH THAT, WHICH
IS HORRIFYING OR DISGUSTING OR
ABOMINABLE TO YOU, OR YOU ARE
AT RISK OF PIOUSLY OR VICIOUSLY
ACTING OUT THAT WHICH YOU ARE
TRYING TO CONDEMN AND DISAVOW.
IF THE OTHER HAS BECOME THE
CONTAINER FOR DISAVOWED ASPECTS
OF SELF THEN TO KILL HIM IN A
SENSE, IS TO KILL PART OF ONE'S
SELF.
HERE IS ONE SORT OF LINK
BETWEEN MURDER AND SUICIDE.
MARTHA NUSSBAUM, THE PHILOSOPHER
ONCE ARGUED THAT LAW SHOULD
NEVER BE BASED ON DISGUST FOR
THE ACT COMMITTED.
WHY?
BECAUSE UNLIKE SHAME AND GUILT,
THE EMOTION OF DISGUST RESTS ON
A REACTION TO ONE'S SELF,
EXTERNALIZED.
FOR EXAMPLE WE HAVE NO PROBLEM
WITH THE SALIVA IN OUR MOUTHS,
BUT SPIT IT OUT AND IT
INSTANTLY BECOMES DISGUSTING TO
THINK ABOUT TAKING IT BACK IN.
NUSSBAUM CITES CASES IN WHICH
COURTS UPHELD ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY
STATUTES BASED ON THE
DISGUSTING NATURE OF
PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL.
NUSSBAUM ARGUED THAT SHAME AND
GUILT ABOUT THE EXPLOITATION OF
PEOPLE IN PORNOGRAPHIC ACTIVITY
IS A MUCH, SOUNDER BASIS FOR
LAW.
OUR ACTS TOWARD OTHERS ARE MORE
LIKELY TO LACK EMPATHY AND
COMPASSION, TO BE IN FACT
MONSTROUS WHEN THEY ARE BASE,
BASED ON OUR WISH TO DISAVOW
SOMETHING IN OURSELVES BECAUSE
THEN WE ARE ANXIOUSLY MOTIVATED
TO BREAK THE LINK TO THE OTHER.
SO WORDS SUCH AS DISGUSTING AND
REVOLTING SHOULD BE A CLUE TO
US THAT PROCESSES OF DISAVOWAL
ARE AT WORK.
OF COURSE IT COULD BE SAID IF
SOMEONE HAS A KNIFE AT YOUR
THROAT IT IS NECESSARY
TEMPORARILY TO DISABLE ONE'S
EMPATHY BASED ON COMMON
HUMANITY, TO RENDER THE OTHER
AN OBJECT IN ORDER TO BE ABLE
TO BE READY LITERALLY TO RENDER
HIM AN INANIMATE OBJECT, I.E.
TO KILL HIM IN ORDER TO SAVE
ONE'S SELF.
I'M TALKING ABOUT ACUTE
SITUATIONS OF DIRE AND
IMMEDIATE THREAT.
WHEN AN ONGOING SITUATION, SUCH
AS THE ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN
SITUATION IS UNDERSTOOD THIS
WAY IT DEPENDS ON A READING OF
HISTORY, IN WHICH ONE SIDE IS
UNDERSTOOD AS THE VICTIM, THE
OTHER AS THE PERPETRATOR.
THIS READING REQUIRES THAT THE
HISTORICAL NARRATIVE BE
PUNCTUATED IN SUCH A WAY WITH
RESPECT TO ONE, WHEN ONE BEGINS
THE NARRATIVE IN TERMS OF CAUSE
AND EFFECT.
SO THAT ONE'S OWN SIDE IS SEEN
AS SOLELY A VICTIM AND THUS
ENTITLED TO RESPOND IN SELF-
DEFENSE LIKE A PERSON WITH A
KNIFE AT HIS NECK.
THIS IN TURN REQUIRES THAT THE
OTHER SIDE'S NARRATIVE, WHICH
LIKEWISE IS PUNCTUATED SO THAT
IT TOO IS SEEN AS SOLELY A
VICTIM, BE DISMISSED AS ONLY
SELF-SERVING.
WHEN BOTH SIDES ARE DOING THIS
THERE IS NOTHING TO BUT FIGHT
TO THE DEATH, WHICH ONLY
CREATES AN ESCALATING, VICIOUS
CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE.
THIS, THIS CAN END ONLY WITH A
TOTAL DEFEAT OF ONE SIDE AS IN
GENOCIDE OR THE CRUSHING OF
NATIVE, AMERICAN RESISTANCE TO
EUROPEAN DOMINATION, OR
COMPLETE EXHAUSTION ON BOTH
SIDES.
THIS MIGHT BE A COUNTER, TO DR.
STERN WAS TALKING ABOUT THE FAD
THAT VIOLENCE IS A, AS A FAD.
AND UM, ANOTHER THOUGHT ABOUT
THAT IS THAT VIOLENCE GETS INTO
VICIOUS CIRCLES, SELF-
REINFORCING, UM, VICIOUS
CIRCLES, WHICH AFTER A CERTAIN
TIME MAY BURN THEMSELVES OUT,
OR, OR END WITH THE, WITH
COMPLETE DEFEAT OF ONE SIDE.
BUT IN, IN THE ISRAELI,
PALESTINIAN SITUATION THAT
SEEMS UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN.
IN THESE DAYS OF WEAPONS OF
MASS DESTRUCTION THAT MAY WELL
BE ACCESSIBLE TO SMALL GROUPS
OF TERRORISTS, IT MAY NOT BE
POSSIBLE TO CRUSH EVEN SMALL
GROUPS OF SUICIDAL AND
HOMICIDAL PEOPLE INTENT ON
CRUSHING AND ON NOT BEING
CRUSHED.
ASIDE FROM THIS NEW FACT OF
LIFE IN OUR WORLD, IF THERE'S
TO BE ANY HOPE FOR A NEGOTIATED
SOLUTION BOTH SIDES MUST BE
READY AND WILLING TO SEE THE
OTHER SIDE'S POINT OF VIEW,
WHILE HOLDING ONTO THEIR OWN
POINT OF VIEW.
THE BALANCING ACT THAT I'M
ADVOCATING HERE.
BEYOND UNDERSTANDABILITY, I
ARGUE THAT WE MUST BE READY TO
SEE VIOLENT ACTS INCLUDING
SUICIDE BOMBING AS POTENTIALLY
COMMUNICATED, COMMUNICATIVE.
THE SORT OF COMMUNICATION
NECESSARY FOR ANY NEGOTIATION,
ALSO INCLUDES REGARDING ONE'S
OWN ACTS AS WELL AS THE ACTS OF
THE OTHER AS POTENTIALLY
COMMUNICATIVE, AS POTENTIALLY
ESTABLISHING LINKS BETWEEN THE
MINDS OF THE TWO SIDES.
JESSICA STERN WRITES, QUOTE,
SOMETIMES THE PURPOSE IS
EXPRESSIVE RATHER THEN
INSTRUMENTAL.
THE AIM IS TO CONVEY RAGE TO
EXACT REVENGE, WITH LITTLE
THOUGHT TO LONG TERM
CONSEQUENCES.
FOR WHOM IS THE MESSAGE IS
INTENDED?
SHE ASKS, UNQUOTE.
DENYING SUCH LINKS AMOUNTS TO
DEHUMANIZING THE OTHER.
REGARDING AN ACT AS POTENTIALLY
COMMUNICATIVE OR DISQUALIFYING
IT SUCH, CAN CREATE ITS OWN
REALITY.
THAT IS COMMUNICATION OR NON-
COMMUNICATION.
ONE BECOMES A SUBJECT, A PERSON
WITH A MIND OF HER OWN, IN THE
PROCESS OF BEING RECOGNIZED AS
SUCH BY OTHERS.
TREATING ANOTHER AS SIMPLY EVIL
DENIES HER SUCH RECOGNITION,
TREATS HER AS AN OBJECT.
JUST AS THE SUICIDE BOMBER
DENIES HUMANITY AND
SUBJECTIVITY TO HIS VICTIMS.
IT IS FRUITLESS FROM MY POINT
OF VIEW THEREFORE TO ARGUE
ABOUT WHETHER SUICIDE BOMBING
IS OR IS NOT COMMUNICATIVE.
RATHER WE SHOULD BE THINKING
ABOUT WHAT KIND OF REALITY WE
WANT TO CREATE.
THERE ARE SITUATIONS IN WHICH
SOMEONE KILLS MY LOVED ONE IN
RESPONSE TO THE PERCEPTION THAT
MY PEOPLE, NOT ME, MYSELF, HAVE
KILLED HIS LOVED ONE.
IT IS QUITE UNDERSTANDABLE THAT
I WOULD REACT WITH DESPAIR AND
HATRED AND THAT I WOULD WANT TO
SEEK REVENGE.
I CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO
TRANSCEND MY OWN GRIEF AND RAGE
IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE
PERSPECTIVE OF THE PERSON WHO
KILLED MY LOVED ONE.
THOUGH SOME IN THIS SITUATION
HAVE DONE SO.
SO IN MY VIEW IT IS LEFT TO
THOSE OF US WHO HAVE NOT
SUFFERED SUCH A PERSONAL LOSS
TO PERFORM THE FUNCTION OF
ADVANCING RESOLUTION.
PAPE WRITES, THE PROFILE OF THE
SUICIDE TERRORIST RESEMBLES
THAT OF A POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS
INDIVIDUAL WHO MIGHT JOIN A
GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT, MORE THEN
IT DOES THE STEREOTYPICAL
MURDERER, RELIGIOUS CULT MEMBER
OR EVERY DAY SUICIDE.
THE ATTACKERS ARE MUCH, MORE
SECULAR THEN MANY WOULD EXPECT,
UNQUOTE. THIS CONCLUSION
IS SOMEWHAT CONTRADICTED BY
OLIVER AND STERNBERG, WHO WROTE
A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT OF
LIVING AMONG PALESTINIANS
DURING A TIME WHEN PALESTINIANS
WERE BECOMING MORE, MORE
RADICALIZED.
AND ALSO MOVING FROM A
NATIONALISTIC MOVEMENT INTO A MORE
FUNDAMENTALIST, RELIGIOUS
MOVEMENT.
THEY REPORTED A STRONG TURN
TOWARD ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM
AMONG THE PALESTINIANS THEY GOT
TO KNOW WHO WERE ATTRACTED TO
SUICIDE BOMBING.
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE
THIS, KAS, KASROKAVAR,
EMPHASIZES A RELIGIOUS LINK TO
THE KILLING.
QUOTE, KILLING IS SHOWN AS AN
EXTENSION OF THE SACRED ACT OF
CUTTING A THROAT, THE THROAT OF
A SHEEP TO THE ENEMIES OF
ISLAM.
THE ENEMY IS AS IT WERE AN
ANIMAL SACRIFICED IN A HOLY
ACTION.
THE USE OF KNIVES IS INTENDED
BOTH TO REINFORCE THAT IDEA AND
TO RECALL THE FEATS OF ISLAM'S
HEROES.
HASSAM HATARI, THE FATHER OF A
PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBER WAS
QUOTED AS FOLLOWS IN PAPE.
HE HAD SAID THAT THE POPULAR
ISRAELI VIEW THAT THE SUICIDE
BOMBERS KILL THEMSELVES BECAUSE
THEY ARE PROMISED 72 VIRGINS IN
THE AFTERLIFE IS A MEANS TO
AVOID CONSIDERING THEIR REAL
MOTIVATIONS.
HE SAID WHY DO PEOPLE KILL
THEMSELVES?
ARE THEY FOND OF DEATH?
IS IT A FASHION?
SINCE 1948, THE JEWS HAVE TAKEN
MORE AND MORE OF OUR LAND.
MY SON WASN'T A RADICAL PERSON.
HE WAS RADICALIZED BY THE
ANGER, THE HUMILIATION.
IF WE DON'T FIGHT, WE WILL
SUFFER.
IF WE DO FIGHT WE WILL, WE
WILL, WE WILL SUFFER BUT SO
WILL THEY.
OLIVER AND STERNBERG REPORTED
GRAFFITO, QUOTE, YES, TO
MARTYRDOM AND IMMOLATION, NO TO
DISGRACE, UNQUOTE.
AND ANOTHER, QUOTE, I SWEAR BY
THE ONE WHO MADE PASTURE
MOUNTAINS AND SET YOUR CLOUDS
IN MOTION, OH, PALESTINE, THAT
I WILL ERASE SHAME IN EVERY
HOUSE AND FROM MY BLOOD AND
BONES I WILL WEAVE BANNERS OF
VICTORY FOR ISLAM.
AND ANOTHER, OH, OUR PEOPLE
RISE UP FOR THE LORD OF THE
WORSHIPPERS DOES NOT WISH FOR
US TO BE HUMILIATED LIKE
SLAVES.
THEY QUOTE FROM A SONG FROM THE
AUDIOTAPE CALLED THE, THE CALL
OF JIHAD.
OH OUR NATION, WHERE IS HONOUR?
WHERE DIGNITY AND FREEDOM?
WHERE THE FERVOR FOR GLORY?
WHERE THE PROUD SOULS?
AND FROM A SONG SUNG CALLED THE
FATAH HAWKS.
WE ARE WORTH NOTHING WITHOUT A
MACHINEGUN.
OLIVER AND STERNBERG REPORT
THEIR OWN REACTION.
A QUOTE, DISCONCERTING MIXTURE
OF PITY AND RAGE, VICTIMAGE AND
TRIUMPHALISM.
ONE SITS THERE SPEECHLESS AND
RESOURCELESS BEFORE THIS
EXTENDED DISCOURSE OF THE WEAK
AND THE WOUNDED, UNQUOTE.
JESSICA STERN QUOTES FROM AN
INTERVIEW WITH HASSAN SALAMAY,
A MEMBER OF HAMAS.
I FEEL THAT MY PEOPLE AND I
HAVE BEEN MURDERED IN THE SOUL.
SO THERE'S THE CONNECTION WITH
MURDER AND SUICIDE.
SHE CONCLUDES QUOTE, IT IS THE
PERNICIOUS EFFECT OF REPEATED,
SMALL HUMILIATIONS THAT ADD UP
TO A FEELING OF NEARLY,
UNBEARABLE DESPAIR AND
FRUSTRATION, AND A WILLINGNESS
ON THE PART OF SOME TO DO
ANYTHING EVEN COMMIT
ATROCITIES, IN THE BELIEF THAT
ATTACKING THE OPPRESSOR WILL
RESTORE THEIR SENSE OF DIGNITY.
KASROKAVAR NOTES SOME
ADDITIONAL POSSIBLE SOURCES OF
PALESTINIAN HUMILIATION WHEN HE
WRITES, QUOTE, THE FIRST
INTIFADA GAVE EVERYONE THE
FEELING THAT THEY HAD RECOVERED
THEIR HONOUR.
THE MANY FORMS OF HUMILIATION
EXPERIENCED BY PALESTINIANS HAD
CREATED A DEBASED SELF-IMAGE.
ANNEXATION BY ISRAEL.
ISRAEL'S CRUSHING ECONOMIC AND
MILITARY SUPERIORITY, AND IT'S
MORE OPEN SOCIETY MADE THE
ENEMY AN INACCESSIBLE IDEAL.
PALESTINIANS FELT ASHAMED
BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT EMULATE
IT.
ISRAELI TELEVISION AND RADIO
SHOWED A SOCIETY THAT WAS NOT
SIMPLY BASED UPON ANTI-
PALESTINIAN FEELINGS.
THIS WAS SOMETHING I HADN'T
THOUGHT ABOUT, ABOUT THE EFFECT
ON PALESTINIANS ON WATCHING
ISRAELI TELEVISION AND HOW
OFTEN THEY DO.
THEY ALSO SHOWED A SOCIETY THAT
WAS PRODUCING, CREATING AND
INVENTING NEW MODES OF BEING,
WHILE PALESTINIAN SOCIETY WHICH
HAD BEEN SHAKEN SO MANY CRISES,
HAD ADOPTED A RIGID POSTURE
DOMINATED BY BITTERNESS, WHILST
THE PAIN OF HAVING LOST
ANCESTRAL LANDS HAD BEEN A
TRAUMA FOR, WHICH THERE WAS NO
CURE, UNQUOTE.
THEN HE GOES ONTO SAY, AFTER
THE COLLAPSE OF THE OSLO
ACCORDS THERE IS NO HOPE FOR A
PALESTINIAN NATION IN THIS
LIFE.
MODERN INDIVIDUALISM MEANS THAT
SUBMISSION TO ISRAELI
SUPERIORITY IS NO LONGER
POSSIBLE, AS IT WAS WHEN A
COLONIAL MENTALITY CONVINCED
THE COLONIAL, COLONIZED THAT
THEIR RULERS WERE THEIR
SUPERIORS AND BECAME THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROP THAT
LEGITIMIZED COLONIALISM.
THIS IS A VERY, IMPORTANT POINT
ABOUT HOW IN THE COLONIAL
DAYS PEOPLE WERE INDOCTRINATED
IN A WAY TO COLLUDE WITH THEIR
OWN OPPRESSION.
NOWADAYS THAT'S NOT AVAILABLE
TO OCCUPIERS OR COLONIZERS.
HE SAYS BOTH
ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS ARE
FULLY CAUGHT UP IN MODERNITY.
THEY LIVE IN SHORT IN A WORLD
THAT IS IMBUED WITH MODERN
EGALITARIANISM.
WHEREAS SOCIAL RELATIONS
BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES ARE
GOVERNED BY A NEO-COLONIALIST
MODEL.
SOME STUDIES HAVE FOUND THAT
NATIONALISM, RATHER THEN
RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM IS
MOST OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH
SUICIDE BOMBING.
RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM MAYBE
A FURTHER EFFORT TO SEEK A
SENSE OF DIGNITY AND WORTH BY
INVOKING A CONNECTION WITH A
SUPREME AND INFALLIBLE
AUTHORITY.
DEPENDING HOW, ON HOW FAR WE
TAKE THIS IDEA OF HUMILIATION
AND THE SEARCH FOR DIGNITY AND
A SENSE OF WORTH AS AN
EXPLANATION FOR THE SUICIDE
BOMBER'S MOTIVATION, THIS MAY
LEAD US FAR BEYOND THE
INDIVIDUALISM.
THE FOCUS ON INDIVIDUAL
INTERESTS THAT UNDERLIES MUCH
WESTERN PSYCHOLOGY.
EITHER ONE WOULD HAVE TO ASSUME
THAT THE RELATIVELY SHORT TIME
SPENT FEELING ENOBLED AND
TRIUMPHANT BY THE FORTHCOMING
ACT OF SUICIDE BOMBING, MORE
THEN COUNTER BALANCES THE PAIN
OF LOSS OF LIFE AND CONNECTIONS
WITH LOVED ONES.
AND OR, ONE HAS TO ASSUME THAT
THE IDENTIFICATION WITH THE
GROUP AND THE GROUP'S DIGNITY
IS MORE IMPORTANT THEN ANY
MORE, NARROWLY, SELF-INTERESTED
FACTOR.
THE FACT IS THAT IT IS QUITE
COMMONPLACE THAT PEOPLE SEEK
OUT OPPORTUNITIES TO FEEL PART
OF AN ENTITY THAT IS LARGER
THEN THEMSELVES, AND THAT
THEY'RE WILLING TO SACRIFICE
THEMSELVES FOR THAT ENTITY.
EVEN IN A CULTURE AS
INDIVIDUALISTIC AS THE UNITED
STATES, I RECENTLY SAW A
RECRUITING ADVERTISEMENT FOR
THE NATIONAL GUARD, WHICH
SUPPLIES LARGE NUMBERS OF THE
TROOPS IN IRAQ, OFFERING THE
OPPORTUNITY TO QUOTE, TO FEEL
PART OF SOMETHING LARGER THEN
YOURSELF.
THERE ARE ALSO NUMEROUS
EXAMPLES LARGELY IN THE FORM OF
SPIRITUAL QUESTS OF PEOPLE
FEELING ENOBLED, OF PEOPLE
FEELING A SENSE OF GREAT
MEANINGFULNESS FROM
TRANSCENDING THEIR OWN SELF-
CENTERED CONCERNS.
THIS CAN TAKE FORMS THAT RANGE
FROM THE BENIGN, SUCH AS
MEDITATION TO THE MALIGNANT,
SUCH AS EXTREME ACTS OF SELF-
MARTYRFICATION AND SELF-
SUBORDINATION TO A CHARISMATIC
LEADER SUCH AS HITLER OR THE
ARYAN PEOPLE.
RUTH STEIN QUOTES WILLIAM JAMES
ABOUT THE JOY, WHICH MAY RESULT
FROM ABSOLUTE, SELF-SURRENDER.
SHE BELIEVES SUICIDE BOMBERS
MAY EXPERIENCE A TRANS-
TRANSCENDENTAL, MYSTICAL
EXPERIENCE OF A SPECIAL NATURE,
BECOMING ONE WITH ONE'S
VICTIMS.
MARRYING THEM IN DEATH AND
DESTRUCTION.
SHE QUOTES LIFTON WHO WRITES,
THE SENSE OF TRANSCENDENCE AND
INFINITY CAN BE PURSUED ALL TOO
EASILY BY MEANS OF MURDER AND
TERROR NO LESS, THEN BY LOVE
AND CREATIVE WORK.
OF COURSE THE ULTIMATE ACT IS
MULTIPLY DETERMINED.
SOME OF THE SENSE OF PUZZLEMENT
ABOUT THE ACT OF SUICIDE
BOMBING WITH, WHICH I BEGAN
THIS STUDY MAYBE DUE TO MY
DIFFICULTY TRANSCENDING A
THEORY OF MOTIVATION BASED ON
INDIVIDUAL, SELF-INTEREST,
NARROWLY DEFINED IN ORDER TO
UNDERSTAND WHAT DURKHEIM CALLED
ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE.
OFTEN A VICIOUS CIRCLE IS SET
UP, IN WHICH THE OCCUPYING
POWER BEGINS BY SEEKING TO
DISAVOW ITS OWN SENSE OF
HUMILIATION.
JEWS SUFFERED A COMPLETE SENSE
OF POWERLESSNESS IN THE
HOLOCAUST.
THE DETERMINATION NEVER AGAIN
TO BE IN THAT POWERLESS
POSITION CONTRIBUTES TO AN
EQUATION OF PALESTINIAN
VIOLENCE AND NAZI VIOLENCE
AGAINST JEWS.
JESSICA STERN REPORTS THAT
RABBI YITZHAK GINSBERG
ENCOURAGED JEWS QUOTE, TO TAKE
REVENGE AGAINST THOSE WHO
HARMED THEM.
TO RECOVER THEIR INNER POWER
AFTER CENTURIES OF HUMILIATION.
THE UNITED STATES AFTER BEING
HUMILIATED IN VIETNAM INVADED
GRENADA TO RESTORE A SENSE OF
POWER AND AGENCY.
AFTER 911, THE U.S. INVADED
AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ.
I BELIEVE THAT THE SELF-IMAGE
OF THE UNITED STATES AS
VIRTUOUS AND OMNIPOTENT MAKES
IT PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT TO
TOLERATE FEELING HELPLESS OR
CAPABLE OF PERPETRATING
ATROCITIES OURSELVES.
THIS IS A, A VERY IMPORTANT
POINT THAT I WANT TO EMPHASIZE.
THAT THE, THE U.S. SELF-IMAGE,
THE HIGH IDEALS OF THE UNITED
STATES IN A CERTAIN WAY CAN
BECOME DANGEROUS BECAUSE I'LL
GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
A PROFESSOR OF HISTORY ONCE
ASKED A CLASS THE QUESTION WHY
WAS RACISM IN THE UNITED STATES
MORE VIRULENT THEN IT WAS IN
OTHER PLACES IN THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE?
AND THE ANSWER THAT HE GAVE WAS
BECAUSE OF THE, THE IDEALS OF
EGALITARIANISM THAT THE UNITED
STATES HAS HOW DOES ONE THEN
LIVE WITH THE FACT THAT ONE IS
ENSLAVING A GROUP OF PEOPLE?
WELL, ONE WAY OUT OF THAT BIND
IS TO SAY THAT THEY DESERVE
THEIR FATE IN SOME WAY.
THAT THEY'RE INFERIOR OR BAD IN
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
SO IN THAT WAY MAINTAINING A, A
HIGH SELF-IMAGE IS, CAN
SOMETIMES LEAD TO VERY,
DESTRUCTIVE ACTS.
THUS ARISES THE IMPERATIVE TO
CONDEMN AND RENDER POWERLESS
OTHERS TO RESTORE OUR SENSE OF
VIRTUE AND POWER.
IF WE CAN'T TOLERATE FEELING
VULNERABLE, THEN ONE, SURE,
FIRE WAY IN THE SHORTRUN TO
RESTORE THAT IS TO RENDER
SOMEONE ELSE POWERLESS.
THE PROBLEM WITH THIS SITUATION
IS THAT A BLINDSPOT IS CREATED
IN WHICH WE CANNOT ANTICIPATE
THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR OWN
ACTIONS.
IF WE CANNOT KNOW THAT
OCCUPYING ANOTHER PEOPLE WILL HUMILIATE
THEM, THUS STIMULATING THEIR
OWN WILLINGNESS AND EVEN WISH
TO DIE, BECAUSE WE CANNOT KNOW
THAT OUR BASIC NEED IS TO AVOID
FEELING HUMILIATED
OURSELVES BY INDUCING THAT
FEELING IN OTHERS, THEN WE
CANNOT ANTICIPATE SO-CALLED
INSURGENCIES.
THE VICIOUS CIRCLES OF
HUMILIATION AND RETALIATION
THAT WE SEE AROUND THE WORLD.
I'VE HEARD IT SAID BY U.S.
CITIZENS THAT IN CERTAIN
CULTURES THE ARAB AMONG THEM,
THERE IS A STRONG SENSE,
SENSITIVITY TO HUMILIATION.
IMPLYING THAT THIS SENSITIVITY
IS STRONGER AMONG ARABS FOR
EXAMPLE THEN IT IS AMONG WHITE,
U.S. CITIZENS.
BUT I THINK THIS PERCEPTION IS
MADE POSSIBLE BY THE
OVERWHELMING MILITARY MIGHT
DEVELOPED BY THE UNITED STATES
AT A COST OF 10,000 dollars PER
FAMILY, PER YEAR ON THE AVERAGE
AT LEAST PARTLY TO SEEK
IMMUNITY FROM HUMILIATION.
WHO IS MORE NARCISSISTICALLY
VULNERABLE THEN THE ONE WHO
WILL GO TO ANY LENGTHS, TO
DEFEAT, CRUSH AND HUMILIATE
OTHERS IN ORDER TO AVOID A
SENSE OF HUMILIATION?
THIS NEED TO AVOID HUMILIATION,
TO DISAVOW ANY POTENTIAL SENSE
OF HUMILIATION IS A MAJOR
OBSTACLE TO REGISTERING THE
HUMILIATION OF OTHERS AND ONE'S
OWN ROLE IN PRODUCING IT.
WHY IS THIS SO?
FIRST, BECAUSE ON AN
UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL THE
PREOCCUPATION WITH AVOIDING
ONE'S OWN HUMILIATION, LOCKS
THE OTHER INTO THE ROLE OF THE
POTENTIAL HUMILIATOR.
WHEN ONE IS FEELING ENDANGERED,
ONE BECOMES PREOCCUPIED
SPECIFICALLY WITH THE
THREATENING ASPECTS OF THE
OTHER WHO IS IDENTIFIED AS THE
SOURCE OF DANGER.
WHILE THERE'S AN OBVIOUS
ADVANTAGE IN TERMS OF PREPARING
FOR THE ANTICIPATED ATTACK,
THERE'S ALSO A POSSIBLE
DISADVANTAGE IN TERMS OF
FLEXIBILITY AND INTERACTING
WITH THE OTHER IN A WAY THAT
MIGHT DIFFUSE THE THREAT.
A RELATED POINT IS THAT
TREATING ANOTHER AS THREATENING
TENDS TO ANTAGONIZE THAT PERSON
AND TO ACTUALIZE THE THREAT
THAT ONE WAS EXPECTING IN THE
FIRST PLACE.
THIS IS HOW WHAT ANALYSTS CALL
PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION
WORKS.
YOU CREATE THE VERY THREAT THAT
YOU WERE, THAT YOU STARTED OUT
EXPECTING TO FIND.
NOT THAT IT WOULDN'T, NOT THAT
IT WASN'T THERE IN THE FIRST
PLACE ALSO.
BUT THERE'S THE, THERE'S THE
REALITY AND THEN THERE'S THE
INDUCED REALITY.
BUT AS I SAID FAR FROM BEING IN
A POSITION TO SEE HOW THIS
VICIOUS CIRCLE WORKS, THE
FRIGHTENED PERSON MAY ONLY FEEL
THAT HE WAS RIGHT TO FEEL
THREATENED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
SOMETIMES ONE GETS THE
IMPRESSION THAT THERE IS A
STRONG, RESISTANCE TO RESOLVING
THE ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN
CONFLICT FROM BOTH SIDES.
AN ISRAELI OFFICIAL ONCE
COMMENTED THAT THE PALESTINIANS
NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO
MISS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR
RESOLUTION.
ISRAELIS MAY APPEAR TO COLLUDE
AT LEAST WITH THIS PROCESS AS
WHEN ARIEL SHARON TOOK HIS
PROVOCATIVE WALK ON THE TEMPLE
MOUNT THAT WAS FOLLOWED BY THE
OUTBREAK OF THE SECOND
INTIFADA.
I'VE THOUGHT SPECULATIVELY THAT
THE VERY, KINSHIP OF THE
ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN
PEOPLES, HALF BROTHERS AND
SISTERS, THIS WAS SOMEONE
MENTIONED THIS, THIS MORNING,
MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH
THE PERPETUATION OF HATRED.
A SORT OF CAIN AND ABEL
SITUATION.
PERHAPS A WARDING OFF OF
POTENTIAL LOVE.
THE, THE LOCKS IN AN EMBRACE.
BUT THESE THOUGHTS WOULD TAKE
US FAR AFIELD.
SETTING THEM ASIDE, I BELIEVE
THAT AS LONG AS NEGOTIATIONS
SEEM CONCEIVABLE IT HELPFUL, IF
NOT IMPERATIVE TO BE OPEN TO
RECEIVING COMMUNICATION, WHILE
REMAINING WITHOUT ILLUSIONS
ABOUT THE POTENTIAL THREAT.
A FINAL OBSTACLE TO REGISTERING
THE HUMILIATION OF THE OTHER IS
THE SENSE OF GUILT THAT MAY
ATTEND KNOWING THAT THE OTHER
FEELS VICTIMIZED BY ONE'S SELF.
THAT IS UM, A, A MAJOR OBSTACLE
I THINK TO EMPATHIZING WITH
SOMEONE WHO FEELS DAMAGED BY
YOU BECAUSE TO EMPATHIZE WITH
THAT ONE HAS TO SEE ONE'S SELF
IN THE ROLE AS A DESTRUCTIVE
PERSON.
AND THE, THE KLEINIAN
PSYCHOANALYST MORE THEN ANYONE
ELSE HAVE ALERTED US TO HOW
PAINFUL A FEELING OF GUILT IS
AND THE LENGTHS TO WHICH PEOPLE
WILL GO TO AVOID FEELING
GUILTY, INCLUDING DEMONIZING,
RENDERING GUILTY SOMEONE ELSE.
RETURNING TO THE QUESTION OF
WHAT SUICIDE BOMBING SEEKS TO
COMMUNICATE, THOSE INVOLVED CAN
BE SEEN AS SIMULTANEOUSLY
SEEKING TO COMMUNICATE A SENSE
OF POWERLESSNESS AND POWER.
IT IS AS IF THEY ARE SAYING,
SEE HOW I HAVE ALREADY BEEN
KILLED.
THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO
ME.
BUT YOU CAN'T TOUCH ME.
I WANT NOTHING MORE THEN TO
PREEMPT YOUR WILL BY MY OWN AND
YOU CAN'T STOP ME.
EVERYTHING YOU DO TO TRY TO
STOP ME ONLY CARRIES FORWARD MY
OWN INTENTION.
MIA BLOOM WRITES, QUOTE,
SUICIDE BOMBING HAS AN
ADDITIONAL VALUE, THAT OF
MAKING YOURSELF THE VICTIM OF
YOUR OWN ACT AND THEREBY
PUTTING YOUR TORMENTORS TO
MORAL SHAME.
CLAIMING FOR THEIR CAUSE THE
HIGH, CLAIMING FOR THEIR CAUSE,
THE BOMBER'S CAUSE, THE HIGH
MORAL GROUND.
THIS RAISED THE QUESTION FOR ME
OF WHETHER
PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBERS ARE
IN SOME WAY SEEKING TO SPEAK TO
THE JEWISH SENSE OF ETHICS?
NOW THIS IS VERY SPECULATIVE,
BUT IT SEEMED TO ME THAT JUST
AS SUICIDE BOMBING IS OFTEN
TARGETED AT A DEMOCRACY WHERE PEOPLE
LISTEN AND WHERE THEIR OPINIONS
MATTER, THAT THERE MAYBE SOME,
SOME AWARENESS OF THE JEWISH
UM, RESPONSIVENESS OR
VULNERABILITY TO FEELING GUILTY
THAT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO
WITH THAT PARTICULAR SITUATION.
EACH PARTY TO A CONFLICT HAS A
RESPONSIBILITY TO GO FIRST IN
INITIATING UNDERSTANDING.
SOMETHING LIKE THIS CAN NEVER
GET STARTED UNLESS EACH SIDE IS
WILLING TO GO FIRST, WITHOUT
KNOWING WHETHER THE OTHER SIDE
WILL.
BUT UM, UNLESS BOTH PARTICIPATE
THEN A, A NEGOTIATION WON'T
HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION.
IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO WAIT FOR
THE OTHER SIDE OR NO ONE WILL
EVER MOVE.
IT IS NOT FEASIBLE TO ABANDON
OR BETRAY ONE'S OWN POINT OF
VIEW IN ACKNOWLEDGING THE POINT
OF VIEW OF THE OTHER.
IT IS NECESSARY TO TAKE A
BROADER, META, LEVEL VIEW OF
THE PROCESS AT WORK.
OF TWO PEOPLES EACH OF WHOM HAS
BEEN WOUNDED HISTORICALLY AND
IMMEDIATELY TO SEE THE CONTEXT
FOR PRESENT HATREDS.
TO SEE HOW VICIOUS CIRCLES OF
VIOLENCE GET INITIATED AND
SUSTAINED.
A SPACE FOR REFLECTION MUST BE
CARVED OUT OF THE PASSIONATE
HATRED AND FEAR AND THIS IS
PERHAPS THE MOST DIFFICULT TASK
HUMAN BEINGS ARE EVER CALLED ON
TO ATTEMPT.
BUT SUCH AN EFFORT CALLS ON THE
HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF HUMANITY.
THE FIRST STEP IS TO LISTEN AND
TO UNDERSTAND, WITHOUT EXCUSING
AND WITHOUT SUBMITTING AND THAT
IS HOW I THINK WE MUST LISTEN
TO SUICIDE BOMBING.

Watch: Neil Altman on Suicide Bombers, Psychoanalytical Perspective