Hatred of African Migrants Is Israel’s Stockholm Syndrome

Instead of developing a sense of justice based on their traditions, Israeli Jews have developed a strange sense of identity with their abusers of yesteryear.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Behind all this evil hides a warped psychological motive; behind all this nationalism and racism hides a dark and embroiled national spirit. That’s the only way to explain the dirty wave that threatens to sink the Zionist enterprise. The evil in the name of nationalism is rearing its head everywhere. The attitude toward the Palestinians is the evil of yesterday.

There’s no way to understand how, in such a short time, a society of refugees and migrants has turned into such an evil society, with the evil government at its head. How is it that a country designed to be a place of refuge, with pretensions of a just society – a light unto the nations and a chosen people – is destroying its immune system?

How has a prime minister talked about 50,000 wretched African asylum seekers in such an arrogant and belligerent way – “I’d like to make clear that protests and strikes won’t help,” he said. “We are steadfast in our commitment to evict those who entered before we closed the border.” There’s not an ounce of compassion in what he said. How have we reached a state where it’s legitimate to spread such despicable hatred?

How can the children of the refugees of yesterday, who grew up on the horror stories of their parents and the stories of rescue by a handful of righteous gentiles, seal their hearts and not see the parallels? Their forefathers knocked on the gates of the world, and now others are knocking on the sealed gates of their own country. Not only are the gates sealed, most of the hearts are closed and the brains washed.

The conclusion: Stockholm Syndrome. The Israelis have come down with it. Instead of developing a sense of justice based on their traditions, the victims have developed a strange sense of identity with their abusers. Like the four hostages in that Swedish bank branch, which led to the diagnosis of Stockholm Syndrome back in 1973, Israeli Jews are showing signs of identification with the ideology that sought to destroy them only two or three generations ago.

The African asylum seekers are of course not Holocaust survivors, and the attitude toward them could be much more cruel than it is. But the signs of evil are growing and spreading so far that it really could be that famous syndrome.

This isn’t only a loss of a sense of justice, it’s suicidal behavior. The foundation of Israel’s strength was always its moral justification. Thanks to this Israel was established – and became established. The world’s attitude toward Israel stemmed first and foremost from the guilt feelings toward the Holocaust victims. On top of that was the military might, the flourishing economy, the science and the influence of world Jewry.

But without the moral justification, this lighthouse could collapse. The kibbutz, the pioneering, the progress, the democracy and the aid to African nations were the source of Israel’s strength, no less than its military. Not much of this is left.

Amid the impressive freedom demonstrations this week, public opinion remained apathetic at best, inflamed at worst. Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square was blacker than black on Sunday; there were almost no white people there. Israelis were too busy to identify with the protesters.

The employers are already threatening to fire migrants, the authorities to toughen their attitudes even more. Against them are just a few brave aid organizations, against which the incitement and delegitimization campaign is at its height. “It’s interesting who’s funding these demonstrations and what’s their goal,” muttered the voice on Israel Radio, which expresses the voice of the country.

The game now is “preserving the Jewish character” of the state; in its name you can do almost anything, just as you can do almost anything in the worship of defense. But if the religion of security had justification, the religion of preserving Israel’s Jewish character at all costs has no justification except for nationalism and racism, which spawn this evil.

That’s how it is with Stockholm Syndrome. The values of the kidnapper, “the purity of the race,” gradually become the values of the hostage, “the Jewish state.”

Protesting African migrants held by Israeli police officers, Jerusalem, December 17, 2013.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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