In Israel's case, its destruction of the
Palestinian memory (memory as historical awareness, legitimation of
group-existence, including pride and sense of place, claims to
survival and growth) through mounting the disproportionate use of
force, a species of overkill, metaphorically, the Israeli
Catharsis without knowing and feeling it because having structured the situation so as to treat the victim as nonexistent, a cipher, emphatically inferior, or all of the foregoing plus, for that reason, given license to dominate (and really, exterminate) without the slightest moral blemish.
Therefore, when I speak of the dialectical interplay of memory and conscience, I have in mind relations of domination and submission, this, as a first approximation.
Yet from that point, the complication arises because it is the oppressed whose memory is being forcibly suppressed, while, as the condition for what follows, it is the oppressor whose conscience is numbed, frozen, perhaps repressed, though how repressed when the aggression toward others bespeaks a moral vacuum that even repression can't touch?
Psychopathology of the Israeli mind, the
habituation to domination driving out all self-recrimination.
I was awakened to this dimension of genocide (even as once a historian, I was never attracted to the concept of "memory," a seemingly voguish distraction from class, power, and exploitation) by Evan Jones's recent CounterPunch article, "The Pariah State," excellent in all respects, and to be read alongside Arno Mayer's, From Ploughshares to Swords, near-definitive in critical aspects of Israel's self-definition, march to statehood, and gathering militarism.
But among Jones's topics covered, drawing on writers, like the father of Yehudi and Hepzibah Menuhin (two musicians-plus-more I feel especially attracted to) whose works may be largely known only to specialists - an admission of my own weakness, there is a section, "The annihilation of identity," truly significant in pressing the analysis of Israelis' inner psychological logic of, and political-military disposition to, genocide.
I invite the reader to study the article, the totality of his evidence in mind, to see how the onslaught on identity makes perfect sense in the physical-mental liquidation, as occurring thus far and for decades in Gaza, of the Palestinians.
Hence, ethnic cleansing, forcing Palestinians out (the NAKBA), leaving them without "social and political integration."
Then, of extreme importance complementing forced population displacement,
Jones quotes Masalha on the campaign of the Israeli government, in 1948, to appropriate (i.e., steal/plunder),
Obviously the extermination of memory, a process that, with widening acts of terrorism, intellectual and physical, has continued to this day.
Jones writes in summary:
To which I would add, benefiting from his discussion, that although combining Marx and Freud may be problematic, the sexualization of domination may be seen in the thoroughness, cynicism, cult of impunity, attached to the wholesale confiscation of Palestinian accumulated learning and knowledge.
The punitiveness of the assault, as though tearing apart the fabric of Palestinian life and culture, and the self-confidence with which it has been carried out, has an element of sadomasochism almost necessarily.
Here specifically the rape of the
Palestinian mind, on condition the rapist becomes successfully
devoid of conscience, examples of which can be seen in the troops in
massive armored vehicles, thrilled by the power underfoot and
oblivious to the damage they have wrought, then too, the Israelis
cheering on hillsides as explosions light up the Gaza sky, or the
whining about sacrifices in their Tel Aviv cafes, or further
cheering in their living-rooms watching television, all of which
devoid equally of consciousness, so rote-like the manufacture of
Without his brilliant understanding of the relations of dominance and subordination, superiority and inferiority, there would be poorer psychological understanding of the correlates of domination, merely perversities standing alone, shorn of societal context.
Freud was Marx's natural ally in the crucial respect that even his psychoanalysis drew on his metapsychological theorizing, as in The Pleasure Principle or Moses and Monotheism, all-important context for fusing individual and societal repression.
For me, a useful synthesis would be
Adorno, et. al.,
The Authoritarian Personality
(1950), an uncanny anticipation of the Israeli mindset and (I toss
this in gratis) our ever more militaristic
Depersonalizing Palestinians wipes - or seems to wipe - the psychological slate clean for the dominator/oppressor, who can feel nothing when the victim has been rendered faceless, anonymous, inanimate, on the order, drilled into the military forces and integral to the Chosen-People ethos as currently interpreted, of killing a two-dimensional cardboard figure.
Yet, when the human identity of the victim breaks through, perhaps largely standing his/her ground and committing acts of resistance, then the dominator goes ballistics, and the sadistic urges/energies flow like water (or arsenic?) - the urge to ERADICATE, to silence or dissipate guilt.
I return, as in my previous articles, to the psychological legacy of the Holocaust, which I take to be reaching to the darkest layers/levels of the Unconscious, and then transmitted to later generations, as the vortex of domination internalized as the practices of the oppressor.
This takes on a perhaps Darwinian selective process because it works so well, i.e., an institutionalized form and expression by the State, here Israel and the IDF.
The dead children entombed in rubble
testify to the mightiness of the Israeli state...