‘Oslo Syndrome’ is a phrase coined by historian and psychoanalyst Kenneth Levin, who wrote a book called The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith & Kraus, 2005). It is related to the so-called ‘Stockholm Syndrome‘ in which hostages come to identify with their captors, but is a specific response of Jews to Jew-hatred (the name ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ comes from a 1973 bank robbery/hostage situation that took place near Stockholm. ‘Oslo Syndrome’, of course, relates to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO).
I wrote about the Oslo Syndrome several years ago, but insofar as it continues to be epidemic among Jews, I decided to revisit the topic.
So what is it? It is a psychological defense mechanism adopted by Jews in response to persecution and Jew-hatred. A Jew displaying the syndrome a) comes to believe the accusations of Jewish culpability of the Jew-haters, and b) also believes that it is in his power to mitigate their hatred by becoming a better person by their standards.
Such a Jew may assimilate, reject Judaism or (especially) Zionism, or even become part of the forces persecuting Jews or attacking Israel, because he subconsciously believes that this will protect him from their wrath. This is illogical and has been proven false many times, but the subconscious need not be rational.
This is one of the explanations for the attraction of Jews to anti-Israel organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, etc. These Jews often issue embarrassing mea culpas which remind me of the ‘struggle sessions‘ of the Chinese Cultural Revolution or Soviet show trials. Because of the deep-seated emotional motivation — in a word, fear — the syndrome sufferer can’t easily be persuaded by facts and logic. He will often take refuge in the mindless repetition of buzzwords like ‘occupation’, ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’.
They also tend to viscerally object to expressions of Jewish particularism. They find nationalism, armies and borders abhorrent, and are attracted to multicultural, universalist and humanistic ideas. If we say often enough that all cultures — including the ‘Palestinian’ one that finds political expression in the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. — deserve respect, that we should take down the security barrier and end conscription to the IDF, that we understand their ‘right’ to ‘resist occupation’ (sometimes expressed with meat cleavers and firebombs), then they won’t kill us. Right?
Levin provides powerful and shocking examples of how Oslo Syndrome delusional Jews fought attempts to save Jews during the Holocaust (from my 2011 article):
For example, Levin notes that the New York Times, under direct orders from its (Jewish) publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, published only one story during the war relating to the Holocaust on page one above the fold: one which reported as true a State Department claim in the Fall of 1943 that 580,000 Jewish refugees had entered the country (the true number was about 21,000). The story had the immediate effect of short-circuiting support for a Rescue Resolution in Congress, at least until other sources revealed that the State Department numbers were false.
Perhaps even worse, the philosopher Martin Buber, whose own butt was safely in Jerusalem (he escaped from Germany in 1938), published an article in 1944 which called for a binational state and said that levels of Jewish immigration must be determined in agreement with Palestinian Arabs (who of course wanted it to be zero and whose leadership collaborated with the Nazis). So although he professed admiration for the spirituality of the Jews of Eastern Europe, Buber preferred to leave their bodies in the hands of Hitler!
Indeed, all through the 1930’s, as David Ben Gurion frantically tried to create a united front to maximize Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe — where he clearly saw that there was no future — he was fought tooth and nail by Jews like Buber, Felix Warburg and Judah Magnes, all of whom felt that a Jewish majority would be disastrous (it would lead to antisemitism, be unjust, etc.).
How many Jews could have been saved but for the obstructions placed by Jewish anti-Zionists? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We don’t know, of course.
Israeli politician Naftali Bennett has built his campaign around the rejection of the Oslo Syndrome (as well as the spirit of the disastrous Oslo Accords). “Stop apologizing,” he says in his TV commercials and Internet ads. The subtext is that we should stop accepting the false and defamatory Arab narrative in which we are guilty of stealing their land, murdering their children, maintaining an apartheid state and even committing genocide against them.
Bennett is aiming directly at the Israeli Left, some of whose members have internalized the Arab point of view so well that they are better slanderers than the Arabs themselves. A recent article and book by Ari Shavit in which he invented a massacre is one example. And here is another particularly bald-faced one, in response to Bennett, from the inimitable Gideon Levy. One wonders why he doesn’t cut his own throat to save the Arabs the trouble.
To Levy and Shavit, we are guilty, guilty, guilty. The antidote to a mild case of the syndrome is simply to study history, but when someone is as far gone as they are, they are incapable of seeing the truth no matter how clearly it is presented.
Has the time finally come, after the long detour that began in 1993, that an appeal to Jewish pride and patriotism will appeal to younger Israelis, who will replace the nihilistic Left with leaders like Bennett, Tzipi Hotovely, Ayelet Shaked, Ronen Shoval, and others?