- Hardcover: 621 pages
- Publisher: Smith & Kraus; First edition. edition (June 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1575254174
- ISBN-13: 978-1575254173
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions Of A People Under Siege First edition. Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
While the subject of this study is specific—"the delusional thinking that underlay Israel's attempt to achieve peace with its neighbors through the so-called Oslo process"—the author's interests and conclusions are wide-ranging. Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a commentator on Israeli politics, attempts to analyze why many Israeli Jews chose to believe in the peace negotiations of the early 1990s, even when Yasser Arafat was refusing calls to publicly renounce terrorism. Levin analyzes this through both historical and psychoanalytic lenses, mapping out how people who have lived under siege are likely to internalize the hatred they encounter and become "delusional" about their own self-interest. Levin also discusses European and American anti-Semitism and its effect on Jewish identity, from the mid-19th century to 1948, with some background material on the emergence of Zionism and the British Mandate. While the word "delusional" may be too strong, Levin's psychoanalytic arguments about the "corrosive impact of... besiegement" are fascinating and generally persuasive. But once stated, their truth becomes self-evident and their explanatory application over 600 pages of Jewish and Israeli history begins to feel thin. Levin's documentation of the Arab-Israeli conflicts of the past three decades is exhaustive, but while there is mention of the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks, Levin might have spent more time exploring how his ideas affect other countries or political situations. (June)
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"....Levin is concerned with a pathology that has prompted the Jews....to embrace the false promise of peace...." -- WASHINGTON TIMES, June 1, 2005
"Israels Deadly Illusions" "....tells the appalling story of what has been called the greatest self-inflicted wound of political history...." -- NEW YORK POST, June 13, 2005
"Ken Levin explains why so many Jews and Isrealis delude themselves about the malevolent intentions of their enemies..." -- Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
"Kenneth Levin....has written a definitive, magisterial book about what went wrong during the Oslo era." -- JERUSALEM POST, June 1, 2005
"That Arafat would honor what he undertook to do in the Oslo accords is but one false belief referenced ..." -- Fred Frankel, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.
"The Oslo Syndrome is an indispensable contribution to understanding the roots of the Oslo process " -- Yossi Klein Halevi, Senior Fellow, the Shalem Center, and Israel correspondent for The New Republic.
"This book is a major endeavor of using both psychoanalytic and historical methods to explain the Oslo phenomenon." -- JERUSALEM CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS, April 15, 2005
"this hugely interesting, highly informed and very timely work is a must read ..." -- Professor Efraim Karsh, Head, Mediterranean Studies
King's College, University of London.
Levin's book analyzes why so many Israeli Jews saw promise..despite Yassar Arafat's public refusals to renouce terrorism. -- The Dartmouth, October 11, 2005
This is the title of an important new book by Dr. Kenneth Levin, a psychiatrist and historian. -- Center for Security Policy, Decision Brief, May 2005
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Top customer reviews
Kenneth Levin's answer approaches a perspective that is different from much of the current histories of the region. Levin illuminates a delusion that is the result of the stress of five decades of being under siege, and the result of centuries of demonization in Europe. He explores the history of the responses of the Jews in Europe to the hatred that spanned centuries and the futility of the Jews who vainly sought to appease their state sponsored tormentors by trying ever harder to assimilate. Ultimately the more they tried to assimilate the more the host nations persecuted them. Thus in spite of serving heroically in the German army in WWI they were ultimately rewarded with the holocaust.
The delusion that was Oslo was just a continuation of a desire of the Jewish community to either fit in or be left in peace. But it was also a delusion that the Jews could control the will of another party by giving more and more concessions, even when nothing is given in return. It is a unique form of arrogance and is ultimately self destructive.
The siege is not likely to end soon and Levin's prescription for Israel's survival is to educate its people on the history and moral purpose underlying the existence of the nation. Under Oslo many in the Israeli educational establishment pushed a curriculum that diminished the Jewish history and culture in favor of a more universalist approach. Revisionist historians embellished this approach with an anti Zionist slant to the story of Israel's history. Levin retorts the revisionists, but draws parallels to much of the self criticism from the Jews in Europe hoping to appease their state sponsors. Meanwhile the Palestinian educational structure, in clear defiance of Oslo, taught that the Jews had no right to the land or any historical connection to it and that it was their divine moral purpose to drive the Jews from their homeland.
The results of Oslo have taught what the Jews should have learned from centuries of oppression: that while it takes two people to make peace; it only takes one to make a war.
This book is a wonderful addition to the writings and analysis of the situation in Israel and is uniquely illuminating. I highly recommend it.
My main takeaway from THE OSLO SYNDROME is the recognition of the "two different kinds of Jews" in Israel. The good Jews are the the peacemakers. They are the ones behind the backdoor diplomacy that dumped Oslo on the doorstep of the Israeli's as a "done deal." They are the ones who push for a two-state "solution," and for Israeli concessions without reciprocity. This is because they believe that only when Israel has conceded EVERYTHING will the "peace partner" concede ANYTHING. Therefore, the continuance of terrorism is the fault of Israel, until such time as she retreats behind the "1967 borders" and acquiesces to "the right of return."
The bad Jews are the Zionists who insist on a JEWISH national homeland, and who build homes in the Jewish National Homeland that was awarded to them by the League of Nations in 1922, seized by the Jordanian army during the 1948 War of Independence and retaken by the Jews in the 1967 war. (There is a lot of history skipped over here, but it does not change these basics.) The bad Jews are called "settlers" for building homes in Jerusalem, Hebron and Shiloh. Once known as Judea and Samaria, these "territories" are known by their Jordanian name, "the West Bank;" even though Jordan relinquished claims in 1988.
The peaceful Jews are regarded by the world as the modern, reasonable and realistic voice of Israel. They are the heirs of the Frankfurt school tradition transferred via Hebrew University notables such as Martin Buber to the elites and governors of Israel. On the other hand, the Zionist Jews are regarded as racists, religious extremists, and nationalist radicals. They are the heirs of two thousand years of Jewish history and hope, best expressed perhaps in the work of founding rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and his son rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook.
The peaceful Jews seek a "democratic" Israel, "like the other nations;" a multicultural nation with no particular cultural allegiance. The ethos is "universalist," seeing the Jewish mission "to lead the way to a new postnational world." (p.213) In their view, the Jews have "evolved spiritually beyond needing a state of their own. They had developed to the point of comprehending and embracing a universalist sensibility and universalist vision, and a Jewish state represented regression to a lower form of national-religious existence." (p.425)
The Zionist Jews seek a Jewish-majority nation where the rights of minorities are protected by the law of a sovereign Jewish state which will never relinquish its right to exist and defend the survival of the Jewish people. "Menahem Brinker, a professor of Hebrew literature at Hebrew University, declared in a "Jerusalem Post" article in September 1995, that Zionism is a 'totalitarian' concept that 'has outlived its usefulness and will ebb away in time.' Hebrew University anthropologist Danny Rabinovitch joined those urging that such insights be translated into policy. He advocated government confession of 'the original sin of Israel' and establishment of a day of mourning to 'mark the suffering of the Palestinians during the rise of Israel.'" (p.368)
"Ze'ev Sternhell, a professor of political science at Hebrew University, argued in "The Founding Myths of Israel" (first published 1995) that the founders of the state, while proclaiming socialist and liberal principles, lacked proper universalist sensibilties and were really driven first and foremost by nationalism. Even worse, their nationalism was imbued with religious meaning. According to Sternhell, Israel's difficulties have essentially flowed from this." (p.368)
There is so much more I wish I could share from this book, but I hope what I have shared is eye-opening and clarifying. I hope readers will further investigate the Frankfurt school as its philosophy continues to infect the world (see excellent article here: [...], and shapes the world view of Israel's elite and governing class. I'll close with the Nathan Alterman poetic lines quoted on p.370:
Then Satan did say:
'How will I conquer this beleaguered one?
He possesses courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness and tools of war.'
Then he said:
'I'll not rob his strength, nor bridle him, nor rein him in, nor enervate his hand.
But this I'll do --
blunt his mind, till he forgets his cause is just.'"