The Stockholm Syndrome in Tel Aviv…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf

May 21, 2014 by Rabbi Laibl Wolf
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On August 23rd 1973, a group of bank customers were taken hostage in a bank hold-up. They were held hostage for six days. During that period they began to identify with their captors and even defended them after they were freed. Criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerotas coined this phenomenon as “the Stockholm Syndrome”.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

The syndrome does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, and can develop between two persons where one person regularly beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other e.g. battered-person syndrome.

I sense that some Jewish political movements like J-Street, suffer from “the Stockholm Syndrome”. In their quest for acceptance within the political and social spectrum acceptable to western society norms, they emotionally attach to their media-‘captors’, even adopting and parroting their anti-Israel views and values.

During the Nazi conquests in Europe, Jewish ‘Kapos’, those forced by the Nazis to become Nazi functionaries in forced labor camps, often began to think and act like Nazis. (Of course there were many Kapos who carried out their terrible duties with revulsion to the point of suicide).

To be an independent and clear thinking individual in the face of hostility and threat requires a strong character and belief system. Isn’t it ironical? When we didn’t have a homeland, we dreamt of a distinctive Jewish country where Jews are free to express our unique national heritage and historical social values. Now that we have it, we can’t wait to make it look and feel like any ‘civilized’ country of the world, and we bend over backwards to demonstrate to the world that we are a people of peace. How? By a preparedness to give parts of our country away as dictated by the Indyks and Kerrys  i.e. our ‘ wise friends’ and super power ‘protectors’ – all for the ‘privilege’ sitting and speaking with those who seek our destruction.  How ridiculous! We identify with the enemy.

Either a people has the strength of conviction to survive without compromise of belief and character, or it succumbs. But to go the extra step and actually espouse the values spouted forth by those who seek its destruction, displays a complex psychological trauma well outside the realm of normalcy. Too often such abnormalcy is ‘camouflaged’ by ‘political legitimacy’ using jargon like left wing ‘peaceniks’, and movements like ‘shalom achshav, ‘Women in Black’, ‘J-street’, ‘Combatants for Peace’, ‘Gush Shalom’ The truth is otherwise and found in personal insecurity, relieved by identifying with the oppressor, lacking the inner fortitude to withstand the pressure.

The traditional Jewish greeting is Shalom Aleichem – ‘peace be with you’. Yes we are a pacific people by nature. But a true quest for peace has to be coupled to a history of self-esteem and self worth, which leads to an inordinate strength to maintain the integrity of the people and nation.

The soul seeks to connect to its infinite source like a candle flame that strives upwards. The collective soul of a nation also yearns to connect to its very earth and soil via the spiritual energy that imbues it with its sacredness.

It may have occurred in Stockholm, but the syndrome is alive and well amongst some Jews who identify with their would-be media driven captors.

Stockholm is alive and well in Tel Aviv (and Washington).

Rabbi Laibl Wolf is Dean of Spiritgrow – The Josef Kryss Center, Australia`


6 Responses to “The Stockholm Syndrome in Tel Aviv…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf”
  1. Laibl
    I am a proud citizen of Israel who chose, unlike you, to move from the comfort of Melbourne to make a contribution to the state and people of Israel.

    I care about the future of our state and about our ability to be Jewish democratic , inclusive and at peace with our neighbors. I love my work both with the Jewish and Palestinian populations of Jerusalem and the occupied territories.

    My desire to see a peaceful resolution and all that I personally do to promote that comes out of a genuine love for my people.

    In general, I support the agenda of J Street though I am not directly involved with them. I am an active supporter of other elements of the civil society movement in Israel such as the zNew Israel Fund.. and yes I am friend and admirer of Martin Indykt.

    Your comments are out of line and frankly offensive.. they only diminish you and your credibility.

    An apology and recantation would not be inappropriate

    Nathan Cherny

    Professor of Humanistic Medicine
    Shaare Zedek Medical Center

  2. This is really a very amateur and erroneous attempt, drowning in silly words in order to dismiss the concerns of a growing proportion of the Jewish world. I’ve noticed considerable embarrassment at what you’ve said on other social media from people whose views are far more moderate than mine. I suspect they are also too embarrassed to say anything on Jwire.

    Last week, you attempted to to dismiss critique of Jewish terrorism on the West Bank because of strong words against it on the grounds that it is not really the time and place to examine the motivations of what you regard as lovers of the land of Israel. This is a cop-out. Why is it now not the time and place?

    I suggest you read a couple of textbooks in political science and sociology, rather than using fables and stories and separatist covenantal theology to deal with the split that has emerged in the Jewish world.

  3. Liat nagar says:

    So true, Paul Winter. Can’t stand seeing Jewish leaders’ responses always prefaced by concessions to part of what they’re attempting to rebut. We need to stand up and say it as it is, every time. If we do, eventually this will be taken seriously. Otherwise, responses will be seen for what they are, wishy-washy, and simply ignored.

  4. Paul Winter says:

    Very true, Rabbi. Pity that your observation does not extend to Jerusalem. Pity as well that while you note the actions of J-Street (J for Judas??) and wise friends Indyk and Kerry, you fail to mention Jewish leaders who fail to speak truth to power, who concede the lies of enemies and speak the language of the enemy. When our leaders fail to tell the “Palestinians” that they are a fake folk, that they are lying terrorists, that there is no such thing as the “West Bank”, that those Arabs are losers and Israel needs to make no concession, we have a leadership all praying in the Stockholm ghetto.

    • Short but sweet music to my ears. I’m with you and thank you Rabbi Wolf for these words of wisdom. It’s such a relief of all the frustration that builds up when the truth is never told in the media.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    This is a most welcome article, Rabbi Wolf. It posits in clear, simple language the answer to the vexed and tortuous questions we ask ourselves regarding those Jews who do indeed go over board to diminish themselves, their nation and the context within which they live to identify so strongly with the enemy as victim and their own as oppressors. It would be more than useful to have this piece submitted for publication in newspapers in Australia and Israel, indeed internationally, so that just for once a fresh, new perspective is made possible for the bigger public. They don’t have to like it or agree with it, and many won’t give it the time of day, however it still needs to be out there showing what we think, where we stand.
    Esteemed Israeli scholar and writer Barry Rubin wrote the book ‘Assimilation and its Discontents: Jew’,published 1995, in which we see how Jews changed themselves in order to join – even lead – modern society and how they altered the society they entered in the Diaspora. In many cases Jewish identity is suppressed or disowned in order to do this. Indeed some Jews became self-hating insofar as their Jewishness is concerned. Perhaps this, too, is part of the psychology informing the current dilemma of Jews over-identifying with the very people who want their demise.

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