June 2, 2010

Israel and The Battered Woman

This was written by Miriam Adahan, psychologist, therapist, prolific author and founder of EMETT ("Emotional Maturity Established Through Torah") — a network of self-help groups dedicated to personal growth. She lives in Jerusalem, and has recently written on the struggles of life in the terror-beset land. Visit her website at http://www.adahan-online.com/


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n years to come, historians will be shocked at how Israeli leaders happily encouraged a gang of Arab murderers to create a country within our tiny borders — a country which never existed before — and gave them arms knowing that those arms could be used to kill and maim us, and then continued to try to appease the murderers. Why are we fulfilling Hitler's dream? Why did we ignore Arafat's rhetoric calling for our destruction, ignore the fact that they were flooding their cities with arms, and ignore the warnings that they are preparing for all-out war?

Having worked with battered women for most of my life, I see a similarity in the mentality of these women who are so hungry for love, who search so desperately for any signs of it, because the truth is unbearable. Want to understand what happened here in Israel? Listen to the battered woman:

1. "It takes two to make a fight. So I must deserve this abuse — after all, I'm not perfect either. I left dishes in the sink, was talking on the phone when he came home and didn't have dinner ready on time. Sometimes, I was a little confused after he beat me up and didn't function so well. These sins of mine are so enormous that whatever he does is justified. I should have done better, should have known, should have anticipated...." (Israel: "As penance for not being perfect, we must allow them to continue murdering us.")

2. "If he's so angry, it means that I'm to blame. People don't get angry about nothing. It must be that I haven't done enough to please him. If I just try harder, I'm sure I'll eventually win his love." (Israel: "We must keep making more concessions. We're the more enlightened country, so we have to keep trying harder to get them to become more democratic, more humane, more civilized.")

3. "No matter how badly he acts at times, I truly believe that he doesn't really mean to hurt me and that he really does love me underneath it all. He just has to act like this to prove his masculinity. It doesn't really mean anything, because underneath it all, there's a good man." (Israel: "No matter how many of us he kills, Arafat is our partner. The fact that he keeps wanting to talk is proof of his love, isn't it? Otherwise, why would he take the time to talk to us?")

4. "I'm proud of myself for being loyal and determined! I stand by my man through thick and thin. You don't leave during the bad times. When you're willing to forgive after getting beaten up, that's when you prove how strong your love is." (Israel: "We take pride in the fact that we are the ones who care more about peace, and keep negotiating even when we're under attack. Hey world! Look at how much we're willing to suffer and not fight back! Now will you love the Jews?")

5. "I don't have delusions — I know what kind of person he is. I simply believe in love. Love is the most powerful thing in the world. With the strength of my love, I can turn this frog into a prince. A woman has the power to do the impossible! If I love him so much, it must be that he loves me too. It can't be that I'm creating something out of nothing. That would be foolish. I'm not a fool — I just believe in love!" (Israel: "We'll make them love us.... We'll get their approval in the end.")

6. "True, some days I just feel like committing suicide, because, after all, if I didn't exist, I wouldn't be abused! I'll give up my dreams, my identity, my desires, and shrink myself to nothing. Then the abuse will stop, because I will no longer be here to take it." (Israel: "We've gotten too big, too powerful for them. Let's shrink ourselves down a little. Then there won't be anything to attack.")

7. "All my relatives — especially my rich uncle Sam — keeps telling me that I'm the one who has to give in, that I'm the one with the power to stop the violence. I don't really know what he means, because I was sleeping the last time he bashed me in the head. But Uncle S tells me it's my fault and Uncle helps me pay the bills, so I have to do things his way..." (Israel: "The whole world puts all this pressure on us to give in. We have to accommodate them or we won't be able to pay our bills.")

8. "I'm a nice, peace-loving person. I'll destroy my self-image if I turn into one of those aggressive women who fight back, argue, call the police or make waves. It makes me feel superior to be the one who's so enlightened and civilized." (Israel: "We're so good! No Arab country is willing to take in Arab refugees. But we're made of better stuff.")

9. "I'm an optimist. That's just my nature. I guess it has to do with my being a spiritual person. Don't ask me how, but I'm confident that everything will work out in the end." (Israel: "We're optimistic. That's just our nature...")

10. "He took me to all these romantic places (Madrid, Sharm el Sheik, Taba, Camp David, Wye Plantation) and we talked and he told me that he's ready to make up, and all that love-making just makes me forget the past and want to start all over again. You can't imagine how truly charming he can be when he wants something from me. If there's a chance to work things out, I'm willing to go through anything just to get him to smile at me like that again!" (Israel: "We'll do anything for peace...")

11. "I have no choice. He's my only hope for love. I can't stand to be rejected. What he's giving me is better than no relationship at all. I can't bear to be alone." (Israel: "We have no choice. There is no other partner for peace.")

12. "I'm so weak and helpless. I need him to protect me." (Israel: "We need a Palestinian state to protect us from the terrorists.")

13. "People keep telling me that the whole problem is that I didn't show him enough respect in the past. They tell me that if I just respect him more, then he'll love me. Even if he beats me up, I have to show restraint and be more respectful. They tell me that that, truly, is the ultimate key — respect. Then I'll be loved. I can't wait!" (Israel: "If Arafat gets enough peace awards, it'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy and he'll change and become the nice guy we've always envisioned he can be.")

14. "I'm tired of fighting. I have no strength left. I just want him to love me..." (Israel: "We're tired of fighting... after 50 years of war, we just want peace.")

15. "I got used to it. Most of the time, it doesn't really even hurt all that much." (Israel: "We can take it. We're tough. We clean up the blood and go on. These are the sacrifices we have to make for Peace.")

16. "At least he's showing me attention. That's better than being ignored." (Israel: "The world doesn't care about the Kurds or the Tibetans or all the other abused minorities. The State Department didn't try to make peace between the Greeks and the Turks. Look how much attention it gives little Israel. The whole UN dwells only on Israel! This must be love...")

17. "He's really not evil, just misguided. He had such a difficult childhood. He doesn't realize what he's doing. It's really not his fault. He doesn't know any better. He needs to be rehabilitated, educated. That's my job. And if I don't succeed, It's my fault." (Israel: "Arabs aren't bad, just frustrated. By example, we'll teach them how to be more humane.")

18."I feel such pity for him. He keeps saying that he is the abused one. He looks so pitiful. When he's shooting at me with his new gun, he tells me about how much he's suffered from me and I feel so bad for him. So, if it makes him feel like more of a man to beat me up, what's the big deal? He needs this release. You know how frustrated men get!" (Israel: "The Arabs are so frustrated. The 'occupation' is depriving them of their manhood. So we have to let them let off steam....")

19. "Everyone tells me to forget the past. Start afresh. They assure me that he's turned over a new leaf. Maybe he's changed. People keep pointing out the fact that he did bring me flowers when I was in the hospital after he broke my nose. And he's often so helpful to the neighbors. He can't be all bad. With the right therapist, I'm sure he'll change." (Israel: "No one was killed today. So maybe they really did turn over a new leaf! Albright, Ross, Mitchell, Tennet, Zinni, Powell... they keep saying it's gonna work. We just have to be brave and stick it out a while longer.")

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