Avigail Abarbanel

Survival instinct or Jewish paranoia?

I have often written about Jewish trauma and its effects on Israeli outlook on life in general and on the way it treats the Palestinians in particular. I get the impression that people are not so interested in my psychological take on the conflict. The mainstream media seem to prefer purely political or economic analyses, and that’s what I read in most newspapers and see on TV channels like the BBC or the Australian ABC or SBS. But we are not dealing simply with politics here but with psychology and more specifically, the psychology of Jewish trauma. Avigail Abarbanel comments. 

A change needs to come

Since Israel’s foundational belief is that Jewish people can only be safe in an exclusively Jewish state, Israel’s charter is simple. Israel is required to maintain itself as a safe haven for all Jewish people. Based on their past experience and national and religious narratives Jewish people deeply believe that it’s only a matter of time before the tide once again turns against them. 

The Israeli police state

On Friday, 8 June 2007, my husband Ian flew to Israel. He is in fact on his way to an IT conference in Vienna, but we thought that it would be nice for him to make a short three-day detour to Tel-Aviv to visit my brother and his family and in particular meet my seven and five year old nieces for the first time. At Ben-Gurion airport Ian’s Australian passport was confiscated with no explanation. He was taken to a small interrogation room and had to endure an intimidating questioning about non-existent Saudi and Lebanese visas in his passport. 

How many more rallies will it take?

How many more rallies are we going to have before world leaders become convinced that there is something very, very wrong with Israel? I, and others like Ilan Pappe and Uri Davis from the Israeli peace movement, have warned the world repeatedly that there is nothing to expect from Israel other than more violence, more aggression, more oppression and more bloodshed. All we can expect is for Israel to continue to go around and around in circles and in the process continue to destroy, kill, maim and traumatise. As a former Israeli, this whole situation touches me in a very personal way. It brings back memories from 1982 from when I was in the military, when Israel invaded Lebanon the first time, and from my entire 27 years in Israel. It is distressing but not surprising to see that there is nothing new. 

Israel's uglier face reared towards its Palestinain citizens

Susan Nathan’s new book The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide recalls her recent experience of making Aliya to Israel, claiming her right to immediate citizenship according to the Israeli law of return. Growing up in a Zionist home and having had more than one or two experiences of antisemitism, Nathan is at first enchanted with Zionism and in love with the idea of the State of Israel and what she believes it represents. However, it isn’t long before that bubble bursts and she begins to see the less than ideal reality of Israel. 

The Power of Belief and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Apologists for Israel are deeply relieved when they can find a flaw in anyone who criticises Israel. If you are a non-Jew you must be an antisemite, they would argue. If you are a Jew then you must be crazy or a ‘self-hater’. Being a former Israeli from Jewish background, and a supporter of a one-state solution I regularly receive hate-mail. There is always a sense in Israel that nothing short of complete military and political superiority will be sufficient for Israel’s safety and survival. The only way to save the Palestinian people is through international sanctions as was done in the South African case. We do not have much time left for any other option. 

What "Peace" Really Means to Israelis

Two months ago I returned from a two-week family visit to Israel. Although I am an activist for Palestinian rights, I decided that this visit would be entirely private. Living for two weeks with my brother, his wife and their two little girls in their tiny apartment in a North Tel-Aviv suburb, gave me an opportunity to observe and see what daily life is like for Israelis at the moment. Israelis have always talked about peace, sung about it, made art and poetry about it as if it is something almost supernatural, some kind of a paradise that they yearn for but that has nothing to do with their everyday reality, and that they have no idea how to create.