Draft 6 (Jerusalem – Melbourne 7th August 2006)
UNCONDITIONAL HATE (Part 2)
Natan Kellermann & George Halasz
We love without reason, and without reason we hate.
Jean François Regnard (1704)
A bomb explodes in the middle of a large crowd in Israel, killing and wounding dozens of people. It’s another attempt by a Palestinian suicide terrorist to kill as many Israelis as possible and to create fear in the general population. The act is premeditated murder, committed by a person who finds his own life less important than his violent mission. His hate has reached beyond reason, and cannot be negotiated by rational means. If asked, he would say: “We must kill the Zionist Jew at all cost. Not because what they do, but because who they are!”
Can ’rational motives’ fully explain this murderous behavior?
Such a primitive and uncompromising hate of Jews have deeper roots in ancient history and it is still present in various degree all over the world. In the past, Jew-hatred was defined and confined to ‘classical’ anti-Semitism. Today it also includes everything connected to Israel, Zionism and Jews in or out of Israel. While the former hate climaxed in the Nazi Holocaust’s attempt at total annihilation of the Jewish people, the recent ‘new’ anti-Semitism (Halasz 2006) may lead to ‘wiping Israel off the map’ as declared by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Our first paper on unconditional hate (Halasz & Kellermann, 2005) suggested that much of the extreme expression of anti-Semitism from the past could be designated as ‘unconditional hate’ (UH). UH was simply defined as hate ‘in itself’ or hate without logic and rational cause. [Note 1]. In this second part, we will expand on these formulations, and exemplify the manifestations of UH with the modus operandi and offer some theories of suicide terrorists. We further would like to suggest some theories of hate which try to explain what makes suicide bombers ‘tick’. In doing this, we will explore the psychological infrastructure of emotions that lie at the basic of the ‘new’ anti-Semite’s mental make-up.
First we provide links between this mind-set and the
acts of suicide murders. Then, we extend aspects of the mentality of Nazi mass
murderers motivated by unconditional hatred to uncover a nauseating truth about
the evolution of unchallenged hate. And finally, we suggest that 60 years
later, a similar cycle of unconditional hate is spiraling out of control,
supporting the thesis that Jihadism and anti-Semitism are interconnected, and
and deadly threat.
Unditional haters find what they hate physically repulsive and disgusting. It may be likened to the homeophobes spontaneous aversion response when encountering a homesexual person, or the nausea of the vegeterian being invited to eat meat. UH is the direct contraposition of unconditional love that parents normally feel for their children, in which they would say: “I love them no matter what!” When the object of such negative sentiments are Jews, it leads to the development of an anti-Semitic disposition.
The biography of Adolf Hitler may illustrate the development of such a pervasive and perverse anti-Semitic disposition. While there are many different ways of interpreting Hitler attitudes (Rosenbaum, 1998), some historians explain that his hatred of Jews developed around 1908-1910 after he had been rejected by the Vienna Academy of Art. He was convinced that it was a Jewish professor that had rejected his artwork; he became convinced that a Jewish doctor had been responsible for his mother’s death; he experienced envy through his menial work of clearing the snow-bound paths of beautiful town houses in Vienna where rich people lived and he became convinced that only Jews lived in these homes. As a result of these experiences, his hatred of the Jews developed and became entrenched in a very personal anti-Semitic conviction.
This development was described in his book “Mein Kampf”, where he referred to the hardship and misery in Vienna as entirely the fault of the Jews, and he wrote: “I began to hate them.” A few years later, however, after having fought bravely in the First World War, he was promoted to corporal and decorated with both the Iron Cross Second Class and First Class by a Jewish captain. This positive experience with a Jewish person, however, did not alter his negative attitude to the Jews. By then, there was apparently nothing that could have changed his negative attitudes towards Jews, which seems to have developed by then into ‘unconditional hatred.’ This culminated in the Holocaust.
In the world of today, ‘new’ anti-Semitism preaches hatred, not only against Jews, but also against Israel. During 2003, there were a series of books and papers published on this ‘new’ phenomenon by Chesler, Foxman, Greenspan, Iaganski & Kosmin, Prager & Telushkin and Schoenfeld. While the most intense hatred certainly comes from the Arab World and Islam, this “new” anti-Semitism is also spreading rapidly in Europe. In recent opinion polls, the general populations of France, England, Holland and many countries of Eastern Europe have clearly expressed their negative sentiments against Israelis, and Jews in general. For example, Israel was perceived as the greatest threat to world peace by a majority of European countries in a recent EU study. In addition, the European Union in itself has clearly been biased in its treatment of the Middle East conflict, seeing Israel as the villain and Palestine as the victim of oppression.
A strange mixture of people and organizations are involved in this “new” anti-Semitism. They do not only come from the pro-Palestinian camp and from Islam, but also from the radical left and extreme right. Radical leftist groups who protest against the US colonialism, globalization, and the Western capitalist civilization in general have joined up with extreme rightist groups of neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, skinhead activists, racists and xenophobes who all share the common bond of Jew hatred. These “new” anti-Semites make no differentiation between Jews in general and Israelis in particular. For them, Jews and Israelis all represent the ultimate Zionist evil, which should be destroyed at all cost.
The fanatic pro-Palestinian terrorist camp certainly does not make any distinctions between Zionists and anti-Zionists or between the right and the left in Israel. People from all such political fractions travel in buses and they are all are exposed to the same threat of being blown up. What is most surprising, however, is that such terrorists also attack Jewish institutions outside Israel who one would think would comply with their vision of a Palestine without Jews. This non-differentiation between hating Jews in Israel (either in central Israel or in the occupied territories), or Jews who live outside Israel, is a critical criteria for the blurring of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism among such people. Such hate seem to include all the criteria of anti-Semitism that was described by Sharansky, including demonisation, discrimination with double standards and the denial of the right of Israel to exist.
Thus, the difference between a leftist pro-Palestinian activist, who wants to get rid of the Jews in Israel, and a neo-Nazi, who wants to get rid of the Jews everywhere else, is purely academic. Both think that Jews should be deprived of certain rights, be kept out of certain economic, social and political positions, be expelled from their country, and, finally, be eliminated. Such views have deep roots in the “classical” hatred of Jews that has been the destiny of the Chosen People for centuries.
Hate Crimes and Terrorism
The distinguished researcher on anti-Semitism Poliakov (1965) wrote: "Those who don't denounce anti-Semitism in its primitive and elementary form just because it is so primitive and elemental will have to put up with being questioned about whether or not they are giving secret approval to anti-Semites all over the world just because of that."
What is this ‘primitive and elementary form’ of anti-Semitism that Poliakov warns against?
Matthias Küntzel (2003) offered a unique insight into the mindset of 9/11 suicide murders. He noted that Shahid Nickels, a member of the core group of perpetrators, said of ringleader Mohamed “Atta’s weltanschauung… that ‘the Jews’ are determined to achieve world domination. He considered New York City to be the center of World Jewry which was, in his opinion, Enemy Number One.” Ahmed Maglad, another witness testified: “For us, Israel didn’t have any right to exist as a state…”
Daniels (2005) brings a psychiatric perspective and provides a powerful psycho-socio-cultural analysis of the British Moslem suicide bombers. At the core of the young Muslim’s dissatisfaction in Britain, are the shared and well-known patterns under the label of ‘social injustice’ discrimination and the identity crisis faced by children of immigrants.
The essential difference between the three groups of young men was that only the Moslem group perverted their religious teaching in what may be described as ‘spiritualizing serious mental illness’. Daniels provides evidence from the French Iranian researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar whose interviews of 15 French Muslim ‘prisoners convicted of planning terrorist acts’ noted that some had been converted to ‘the terrorist outlook by a single insulting remark, for example when one of their sisters was called a ‘dirty Arab’”. A psychological profile of such would-be suicide murderer would qualify as a delusional conversion, a spiritualizing of psychopathology. Such minds are so fragile that they turn one event into a justification to transform their life values. Their brittle sense of identity, tend to melt down when confronted with shame or humiliation. Infantile rage follows, seen regularly as a well-known phenomenon in the consulting room of most mental health professionals.
Such pathological narcissistic structure, rather that being on a noble spiritually enlightened level is, in reality, highly vulnerable to seduction by magical solutions to life’s serious challenges. Classically, such minds evacuate the very mental faculties needed to engage with reality testing. This may be a tragic outcome for the individual when immersed in a culture of clerics who preach hatred of the world. In short, the solution for their inner hate is directed outwards, even if the objects are innocent people. Thus, destruction on apocalyptic scales on the world stage becomes the magical solution to deep-seated emotional problems.
Daniels (2005) concluded with the clinical observation that ‘Of course, hatred is the underlying emotion. A man in prison who told me that he wanted to be a suicide bomber was more hate-filled than any man I have ever met’.
This brief background into the state of mind of ‘terrorists’ has a chilling deja vue quality. German declarations over 60 years ago were ignored then as they are now. But the similarities of the justifications and mentality of Rudolf Höss and those of today’s terrorists are striking.
Against the reality of such documented facts, we can be accused of negligence if we do not respond to the current escalation of anti-Semitism. How should we respond? As a start probing questions must be asked. Who is responsible for such crimes? Should new international laws be legislated? What measures must be taken to prevent its escalation to unconditional hate? What actions demand immediate self-protective actions? If such states of mind are observed in national leaders, what should be the responsibility of the world to stop them?
Hate: Rational or Irrational and Unconditional?
Many writers have alluded to extreme forms of hate. One of the better-known writers is Erich Fromm (1973) who suggested a theory, which makes a distinction between “rational” and "irrational" hatred (of Jews and others). Rational hatred would develop as a reaction to vital threats and ceases to exist when the threat has been removed. Such hate is expressed in reaction to a threat to one’s own freedom, life or ideas. It has a biological self-protecting function. Irrational and unconditional hate, however, is not a reaction to a specific threat, but a character trait inherent in some people. Such people are readily hostile to others and they seek a target to attack and destroy. Racist mobs and terrorist groups may enact a strong impulse to cruelty and hostility towards others.
One of the repeated issues of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians concern this basic distinction between the rational and irrational hatred. Both Palestinians and Israelis seem to accuse the other party for irrational hate while describing their own aggression as a response to the violence of the other, be it to the occupation of the Israelis, or the terrorist bombings of the Palestinians. It is therefore important to further explain the differences between the two forms of hate.
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians may be variously explained as being based on (1) the real incompatibility of goals that lead to inter-group competition, (2) as differences in social identity, and as (3) being based on mutual projection of negative images (Volkan, 1997). None of the above theories, however, can sufficiently explain the unconditional hatred as manifested in the behavior of suicide bomber. Because while there clearly is a conflict of interest between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there has always been willingness for compromise on the Israeli side while the Palestinians have continued to spread their hate propaganda uninterrupted ever since the existence of the Jewish state. Among the innumerable examples highlighted by Marcus & Crook, in their ‘Palestinian Media Watch’, Israel is consistently depicted as ‘the Zionist enemy which has no right to exist’ by its Arab neighbors. (Note 2)
Some studies have recognized patterns of distinct psychopathology and/or psychopathic traits in the person with unconditional hatred. An example is Gaylin (2003) who suggests a psychological analysis of hatred and who comes to the conclusion that ‘hate-driven people live in the distorted world of their own perception” (p. 240). Such an analysis of ‘true hate’ seems to be similar to our own definition of UH in that it portrays the person with such a state of mind as psychologically disturbed. In addition, it seems to reflect some of the early formulations of Adorno and Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School of the ‘authoritarian personality’ and in particular of ‘instinctual hate.’
Other psychoanalytical interpretations of the motives of terrorists are plentiful. For example, Akhtar quotes Volkan (1997) who posited the intense hatred of the terrorist as a way to regain his own and his people’s honor, after having been victimized and humuliated by the oppressor. It is our view that such interpretations, while being highly plausible, are insufficient to explain the scope, persistence and intensitity of UH.
Oppression, humiliation and victimization does not always lead to such acts of cruelty, as we are readily aware when studying various survivors of torture, abuse and genocide in the psychological trauma literature. After a period of suffering, many such survivors, including most survivors of the Holocaust, rather become more compassionate than full of vengeance, and channel their feelings of resentment into constructive, rather than destructive goals. In contrast, the terrorists and various anti-Semitic groups remain full of uncompromising, unforgiving and unrelentless hate, that later becomes the source for merciless malevolence.
This point reflects a major difference between the oppressor and the oppressed. The first one, (the anti-Semite) refuses to admit to any deficiencies in themselves, and blame those on others, while the second one (the Jews) readily acknowledge their own deficiencies, and ask what they could do differently in order to be more accepted.
Contrary to popular opinion, some Jews take this criticism seriously and do not a priori consider themselves as blameless targets of irrational hatred. As evidenced by the numerous Jewish leftist organizations, who criticize all elements of Jewish and Israeli society from within and from without, there is no lack of self-criticisms in our quarters.
An effort to adapt and change has been the traditional agenda of Jewish assimilation for centuries. Thus Jews have repeatedly asked what they could do to arouse less hatred with the hope that if they would honestly confront the ‘rational’ reasons for why they are so hated, and be able to change what they do, the result would be that they would be more liked. For example, if they would be able to fully integrate into the local societies and nations in which they live, they would be seen less as strangers and foreigners. Or, if they would create a state of their own which was based on peace, equality and justice, they would be more accepted worldwide. Well, if this was the case, and if Jews would only be able to change their ‘mischievous’ behavior, they would be less hated.
This conception of a ‘rational’ reason for the hatred of Jews doesn’t account for the full story. Because we Jews have been the worst of capitalists and the worst of socialists; extreme pacifists and fanatic militants; we have been loyal to the state and the world, and also revolutionaries and freedom fighters. Jews have been unorthodox and free-thinkers in religion; progressives and internationalists in politics; socialistically inclined in economics; liberal in regard sexual matters and in the arousal of freedom in education while there are also plenty of Jews who tend to the opposite views in all these fields. Thus we can easily observe how the various rational religious, political, economic, criminological and educational causes of anti-Semitism all fail to have explained its source adequately.
In the state of Israel, in the post withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza, there is also a distinct feeling that whatever government policy, the terrorists continue with their unconditional hate.
Even if we would give up the ‘occupation’ of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), and even if we would let all Palestinian refugees return, they would continue to hate us. The hate of Israelis and Jews has been too consistent throughout the years despite all efforts.
Suppose we were to collude and acknowledge the ‘evil nature’ of our own behavior as the reason for their hate? Whatever we do, they say, will express our very basic “Jewishness”. And this might be the point, because our Jewishness is exactly what the anti-Semite cannot stand. It is the hate-in-itself that the concept of unconditional hate tries to convey. All the other ‘rational reasons’ seem to be just pretexts, empty excuses and some forms of rationalizations.
So what does this ‘Jewishness’ mean? Freud (1930) tried to answer this question in a psychological and succinct manner: Emphasizing that he was “completely estranged from the religion of his fathers and who cannot take a share in nationalist ideals [of Israel], but who has yet never repudiated his people, who feels that he is in his essential nature a Jew and who has no desire to alter that nature. If the question were put to him: ‘Since you have abandoned all these common characteristics of your countrymen, what is there left to you that is Jewish?’ he would reply: ‘A very great deal, and probably its very essence.’” (p. xv). But he failed to define this essence.
This paper offers our original conceptual research on unconditional hate. The claim that hate in anti-Semitism is based on the perception of what Jews do might have some truth. But the point we make is precisely that no matter what Jews do, the hate persists. This condition is what we define as unconditional hate. Currently, much theory is being recycled and elaborated upon when explaining suicide bombers and new anti-Semitism. Our hope is that this new concept will brake the old theoretical cycle and open up a new path to empirical research.
We have offered a tentative model of the evolution of unconditional hate in the context of the contemporary Middle East politics. This hate evolves from simple prejudice, through increasingly violent levels of aggression to the full-blown extreme pathological state of unconditional hate. Since we see so many manifestations of this condition today, the various new threats should be taken seriously. A first and important step is the combined effort of new legislation, extending and enforcing the hate crime laws that came into effect in the US in the last decades of the 20th century. In addition, preventive measures need to be taken by teaching tolerance to combat this lethal condition.
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The general question of rationality in human behavior seems to be part of our present-day ‘Zeitgeist.’ The two recent Nobel-laureates who received the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences for having ‘integrated’ insights from psychological research and human judgment into economic science may illustrate this. The first one, Daniel Kahneman (2002) stated that rationality cannot be assumed, while the second Robert Aumann (2005) based his theories on the basic rationality of human beings. Since both utilize a psychological approach to explaining (non-rational) behavior, we believe that their points of view have a certain relevance to our discussion from a meta-psychological perspective.
A good example of how two sites (both called PMW) cover the same Middle East conflict from two opposite perspectives:
1. The Palestinian Media Watch (established in 1996) <http://www.pmw.org.il>
Aims to "monitoring of the Palestinian Arabic (anti-zionist) language media and schoolbooks"
2. The Palestine Media Watch (established in 2000) <http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/index.asp>
Aims to promote coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the US mainstream media.