Anti-Semitism is the real war!


Shmuel Erlich

We are alarmed and deeply concerned by the flood of anti-Semitic outbursts, worldwide demonstrations, and the many statements masking as anti-Israeli, including those issued by some psychoanalytic colleagues and societies.

The pogrom of October 7 marks a watershed. Beliefs, assumptions, fantasies, and wishes were destroyed in an instant, drowned in an unprecedented flood of sheer evil, sweeping away the lives, hopes, dignity and integrity of those who were murdered, butchered, raped, burnt, and taken hostage. The radioactive cloud of evil spread over the entire Israeli society, including many non-Jewish citizens. The ensuing war was inevitable and premeditated, aimed not only at the destruction of Israel but the total unsettling of the region and perhaps the world. It clearly also aimed to lead to the destruction of Gaza which was bound to result, in order to achieve these nefarious aims. The destruction and suffering that befell Gaza’s population, innocent civilians and children, is as painful for us as it is premeditated and desired for Hamas.

Notwithstanding the destruction and suffering Hamas perpetrated on Gaza, this outburst of evil unleashed the torrential global wave of anti-Semitism we are witnessing. It is not totally surprising, since hatred and denunciation of Israel were rampant, especially in universities, even before October 7, and the writing was on the wall. Yet its sheer size, vehemence, and atrocious verbal and physical abuse are beyond expectation. As psychoanalysts, we ask ourselves how we can understand the magnitude of this hatred. As Israelis and Jews, we stand alarmed and are shaken into a rude awakening. Many friends and colleagues have expressed their sympathy, concern and wish to help. Yet many others remained silent, and some openly took up and espoused Hamas rhetoric. A “politically correct” way to do so is to search for and flag the moral equivalence and false symmetry between Hamas and Israel. Facts, knowledge of history, understanding the complexity, all vanish, giving way to simplistic, ignorant, yet vociferous cries of slogans that only demonstrate the shallowness and distortions employed. It is blatantly ignored that “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” implies the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of Jews. There is little or no room for debate and discussion, and no consideration for the feelings and well-being of the other, just because s/he are Jewish.

These attacks are nothing but the ugly face of Jew-hatred, transposed and endlessly amplified and multiplied by the distorted mirrors of social media. It is and must be recognized as present-day anti-Semitism, the wish and desire for the annihilation and disappearance of all Jews, wherever they are. Israel is the convenient target or scarecrow for the attacks. The violent desire for the destruction and eradication of Israel has refocused the inseparable bond between Jews all over the world and the existence of the state of Israel. This bond is the sole assurance that “Never Again” is not an empty phrase but a real conviction that will be proven right. While these anti-Semitic attacks are reverberating throughout the world, they are not recognized and encountered with the force and determination they deserve and require, whether on the campuses, in the UN, by large segments of the media, and yes, even certain psychoanalytic organizations. 

We are addressing this loud cry to you: You must realize, before it is too late, that this is anti-Semitism, and this is the real war that was unleashed on October 7. And the problem with anti-Semitism is not only that of the Jews, as has been demonstrated time and again throughout history. It is the battle cry of the attack on Western culture and civilization, on the values that support our democratic aspirations and ways of life. It is an attack on all that is dear and valuable to us, whoever and wherever we are. As psychoanalysts, we especially must be reminded that psychoanalysis does not thrive in places and cultures that do not uphold and protect these shared values. It is up to us, together with many others, to ensure who will be the victor in this unending war.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *