The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today, Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
Oedipus, rage and the Bibi obsession
Over the past year President Trump has been challenged with a non-stop tsunami of political and media generated reports that have only one goal, it demonize and de-legitimize the Trump electoral success and the current Republican administration. The daily onslaught of accusations and smear campaign tactics have gone after not only the President, but also his family, administration officials such as the White House Spokesperson Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee Sanders, and other political allies associated with the President. Exposing this slanderous campaign has had negligible success in convincing the general public that as consumers of information, they are being fed a steady diet of conspiracy, chaos, and what has developed into a politics of rage.
For us in Israel, all this is “nothing new under the sun”. The American experience of the unprecedented demonization and de-legitimization of a democratically elected head of State has been with us for the past two decades in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been repeatedly re-elected time after time, despite the oppositions and media generated smear campaigns that are aired daily. For years we have had to endure a lynch atmosphere in which all of the media seem like an endless series of firing squads all aimed in the direction of Benjamin Netanyahu. What is it that has created this relentless politics of rage and hatred? What can explain this “kill the beast” atmosphere in our streets among demonstrators? How can one explain that regular upstanding citizens who normally exhibit normative behaviors have been transformed in a vicious mob who fan the flames of rage and hatred against a democratically elected leader, his wife, and his children? Political pundits have been unable to sufficiently explain this deep primal hatred that has permeated the public discourse trampling every accepted norm and the basic concept of fairness and the democratic idea of innocent until proven guilty.
The answer my friend is not ‘blowing in the wind’, but can be better understood by examining the psychological roots of rage and anger. First a few examples: Johnny Depp’s “joke” about it being time to assassinate a president again; Actor Corey Stoll calls his participation in a “Julius Caesar” adaptation that leaves the Trump-like leader soaked in stage blood his method of “resistance.”; Kathy Griffin thought it would be amusing to hold up a fake Trump head covered in blood, duplicating a horrific ISIS-style propaganda video; Madonna shared how she considered blowing up the White House shortly after President Trump took office; Director Rob Reiner called for an “all out war” on Twitter to “resist” the Trump administration. The common thread in these examples is the primal hatred and need to dispose of the “head” of the extended American family nation.
Oedipal rage according to Freud, represents a deep feeling of aggression and desire to dispose of a parental figure. In today’s politically charged atmosphere, rage and aggression have become acceptable forms for expressing opposition and the desire to replace the “head” of a nation. Little if any effort is made towards clarifying the destructive aspects of this and the inevitable spillover into our daily routine. Not only do I want to dispose of the “head” of the nation, but this destructive primal rage also encompasses those that support him, those that represent ideas and values different than my own, and lastly those that are unlike myself. This rage, this hatred of President Trump or Prime Minister Netanyahu permits us to keep alive the idea that everything is really much more simple, if only these leaders would go way either voluntarily or if necessary by force This rage allows us to convince ourselves that if only we yell louder, and beat up on our heads of state a little harder, if we break their political bones than everything would revert back to the falsely intoxicating effect of the Obama period when we were inundated with reports that gave us the feeling that the spread of radical Islamic ideology was nothing more than an extension of the American civil rights movement and that the regressive and largely dysfunctional economic performance of the Obama administration was good for America. This intoxicating taste had become nothing more than a drunken stupor blurring reality and the real successes of the first year of the Trump Presidency that in an objective analysis would be undeniable.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has lead Israel to become a world leader of innovation, a nation at peace with the majority of the Muslim Sunni nations, a country where the life expectancy is one of the world’s longest, and affordable healthcare and education for average citizens. In America, after the first year of a totally unexpected Trump Presidency; domestically, the passage of the tax reform bill is already resulting in increased economic activity and the repatriation of companies, reserves and jobs, just as promised during the election. The burden of regulation, vastly increased under Obama, is being steadily lightened. The Trump administration is anything but politically correct, and that is a good thing, considering the damage done by political correctness over the preceding Obama years. As far as foreign policies; rather than attacking friends and allies and supporting enemies, the reverse is now the situation. The global community understands that America is the leader of the free world, and should be recognized as such.
President Trump understands that to succeed you must resonate strength, and defend your turf and principles. No level of primal rage by the Democratic Party, the media, and progressive opponents will change the direction of the Trump Presidency. Those that continue to be immersed in a politics of anger, in a politics of rage will slowly find themselves representing no one but themselves. They will cease to be relevant to the American public.
Enlisting psychiatric jargon to discredit the POTUS
Let’s not forget why he won! The daily onslaught by the broadcasted and printed media in recent days questioning the competence and mental status of President Trump is going to backfire and enable President Trump to emerge stronger and more beloved by more of the American public than ever before.
This unethical and biased use of mental health and psychiatry has been used in the past and has failed. It seems that President Trump’s opponents and the Democratic Party have forgotten about the “Goldwater Rule”, named after Senator Barry Goldwater who was a five-term United States Republican Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 1964 election. The Goldwater rule is the informal name given to Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association's Principles of Medical Ethics that states it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements. It is named after presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The issue arose in 1964 when Fact published the article "The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater". The magazine polled psychiatrists about U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater and whether he was fit to be president. The editor, Ralph Ginzburg, was sued for libel in Goldwater v. Ginzburg where Goldwater won $75,000 (approximately $592,000 today) in damages.
What President Trump’s defamers seem to ignore and most likely deny, is what brought Trump to win the Presidential election against all odds and become President in the first place. Not since the heyday of the Ronald Reagan presidency has Middle America, dormant throughout the Obama presidency, come back to life, stirred to make their voices heard, awaken to go out and vote with the belief that Donald Trump can bring back what once was.
Donald Trump represents for Middle America also known in many corners of the country as the silent majority, that sense of longing for better times that once were. Donald Trump empowers Middle America with an unshakeable belief that he is “their President” and can be the answer to their life struggles. Donald Trump represents the very embodiment of not telling Middle America how to think, what to do, or which bathrooms to use. He has galvanized not only conservative voters but all voters to reject the dictates of the “establishment”, the elites, and the media. He has given the country back to the people. The public hear President Trump speak on their behalf and only for them, he is beholden to no one other than the American public.
So while every TV station, radio station, internet, and social media are talking about nothing else other than the competency and mental status of President Trump, it becomes relatively easy to identify whose side the media is on and how they have been enlisted to discredit and delegitimize President Trump. This timed and concerted effort to falsely portray President Trump as incompetent is strikingly familiar to how the media in Israel and the Israeli establishment elites have made every effort to keep Benjamin Netanyahu from being Prime Minister, and the similarities are unmistakable.
Despite Netanyahu being repeatedly re-elected over the past two decades, and despite continuing support for him among the Israeli voting public, every day brings new accusations and headlines attempting to tarnish the political viability of Netanyahu. In Israel, every day is open season on Netanyahu; despite the complex political reality, 8 years of the previous Democratic administration and President Obama’s despising Netanyahu, an asymmetrical Palestinian Arab terror wave, and regional threats such as Iran and Hezbollah in the North.
However, in the last elections, Netanyahu was credited with being the only political candidate that brought out Israel’s silent majority, giving the Likud party a commanding lead taking the election at a walk. How did he do it? By speaking the truth, by not blaming the victims, by holding the Palestinian Arabs accountable for the lack of a peace agreement, by defending Israeli interests first and foremost, by making the economy strong and providing jobs, by providing education and health at a reasonable cost to the average Israeli, and for providing a quality of life and sense of well-being that allows a majority of Israeli citizens a sense of community.
This is similar to the message that President Trump conveys to the American public. Trump has tapped into the feeling that the public’s personal life struggles are his struggles. Let’s make America strong, let’s make the economy strong, let’s create jobs and improve the American standard of living across the broad, for all. Trump has connected to the people; he is accessible in the media; he tweets and retweets at all hours, engaging his supporters and enraging his enemies; with thousands of people waiting in long lines and bad weather to attend wherever he visits.
Many know Trump to be a flawed candidate, many think he is even a flawed man, yet they feel that this is no different than their own flaws, so he is translating a weakness into political strength, they hear Trump speaking on their behalf, and only for them.
No amount of Psychiatric jargon will alter the public perception that President Trump is doing the job that has to be done. Even unemployment among African Americans is at its lowest level since at least the early 1970’s, when the government began tracking such data. It’s ironic that African Americans are suddenly doing better under a Republican President. This is the power of Trump, and this is the reason that questions of competence and mental status will be inconsequential blips during the Trump era.
Trump’s “2020” vision
At midnight May 14, 1948, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. On that very same day, only eight minutes later, Harry Truman, the Democratic President of the United States, became the first world leader to formally recognize the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state.
President Truman’s immediate support of Israel was against the advice of his cabinet and senior advisors, and also ignored the fact that many Jewish American leaders at the time opposed Zionism. Yet, in one swift bold political stroke, Truman cemented a symbiotic political relationship between the Democratic Party and American Jewry that has held up for the past 70 years.
President Trump’s recent declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel to be followed up with the American Embassy moving to Jerusalem signals the beginning of a historic change between American Jewry and the Republican party. Trump will accomplish this historic change with the Jerusalem declaration and will win over the rank and file of American Jewry; his sights are set on making this transformation a game changing political reality and creating a new bond between American Jewry and the Republican Party. Trump knows that there is a huge gap between what self-declared American liberal Jewish leaders say and do in the name of American Jewry and what the more conservative/rationale/proud of Israel type Jews of America who want to express their love and support for Israel but are stymied by the politically correct movement of progressive and liberal Jews. Critical voices from the Jewish American liberal left include the usual suspects; Reform clergy Rick Jacobs, New Israel Fund’s Daniel Sokatch, JStreets’ Jeremy Ben-Ami who will all slowly find their way to political oblivion as Trump marches onward and wins the hearts and respect of Jews throughout America.
These days, all presidents are locked into a permanent election campaign, which typically begins the day after the previous election. President Trump understands that for the Republican party to hold on to the White House and to continue to have a controlling majority in both houses of Congress, another important segment of the American public other than American Jewry has to be connected with and convinced that their traditional support of the Democratic Party has been nothing more than a politics of dependency, keeping entire communities chained to poverty, street violence, and inter-generational hopelessness.
It was a Republican President by the name of Abraham Lincoln who abolished slavery in America, it was the Republican Party that passed the 15th Amendment and gave African Americans the right to vote, it was the Republican Party that passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The first African American Republican was elected to the US Senate way back in 1871, compared to the first African American Democrat who was elected in 1999. Does any even remember that the late Democratic Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan when he was a young man.
President Trump has brought economic prosperity to America. In the first year of the Republican Presidency, the economic situation of African Americans has improved more than in all of the 8 years of the previous Democratic administration. Traditional Democratic policies such as limiting job growth in the private sector, or supporting teachers’ unions while opposing charter schools condemning poor children to continuing poverty, and worst of all, defending abortion in horrifically painful ways right up to the last hour even though one of three babies aborted in America is black, have all created an understanding that African Americans have been victimized by liberal policies for the last 6 decades. It is no surprise that the most vicious attacks, criticism, and downright nastiness has been farmed out to the Afro-American politicians who belong to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has gone into panic mode due to the real fear that they will lose control of their flock and African Americans will begin to assert their political independence and vote for the Republican Party in numbers unseen before in previous elections. President Trump understands that the Democratic Party in harmony with the mainstream media will keep trying to label the President and the Republican Party as “racists”, but due to the impact of social media, and the Presidents direct communication line with the American public through his twitter account, the Democratic race baiting will backfire.
The 2020 elections will be a watershed election that will most likely set the political tone for the coming decades. President Trumps 20/20 vision and ability to pass decisions and legislation that will benefit all Americans, will create a mass migration of voting patterns among American Jewry and African Americans towards the Republican Party.
President Trump has imperfections like us all, but he is genuine, cares about America and Americans and is genuinely empathic, not beholden to anyone or any group. I am reminded of President Harry Truman’s line about how to succeed in the White House: “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog”. President Trump will overcome the challenges and political minefields awaiting, his perseverance and ability to make inroads with traditional Democratic voters will create the change that we all are hoping for.
Jewish Humor and the Holocaust
For the past few days I have had to re-examine many assumptions concerning what the Holocaust means to liberal Jews as a result of Larry David’s monologue on Saturday Night Live. As I viewed his monologue over and over, it seemed to resonate with a message that should be entitled; Why it’s time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust, or even; Now is the time that Jews move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history.
In his Saturday Night Live monologue he continues: “I’ve always been obsessed with women, and I’ve always wondered: If I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would,” quipped David. “Of course, the problem is there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp. ‘How’s it going? They treating you OK? You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes.’” I am surprised that he didn’t conclude his monologue with “The Shoah must go on.”
Injecting humor and comedy about the Holocaust on a nationally syndicated comedy/satirical show seems to subliminally suggest to viewers that the Holocaust is unnecessarily singled out as if it’s more special than other historical events. Although the Holocaust was on a much greater scale and horrifically well-organized, this liberal Jewish mindset seems to believe that the Holocaust was far from being the first incident of a dominant power killing those deemed “inferior” on trumped up charges.
As far as Holocaust jokesters’ are concerned, mankind has been perpetrating horrible atrocities on other human beings for centuries. They seem genuinely puzzled as to why Holocaust jokes elicit what they would consider an overreaction. Why they ask, should joking about an historical event or questioning the propriety of David Larry’s jokes about hitting on women in a concentration even be considered a lapse in judgement or an affront to the many Holocaust survivors still with us.
Historical events, as earth-shattering and history-ending as they seem at the time, eventually fade from the forefront of public consciousness and become memory. When holocaust survivors will no longer be around, and when there is no more opportunity to let children and educators hear firsthand testimony of the Holocaust, will the Holocaust be just another event studied in world history classes? With all of the effort that has gone into recording testimonies of the Holocaust be enough to preserve historical memory in terms of the magnitude and uniqueness of the Holocaust?
There are few historical events that have undergone greater scrutiny and preservation. Perhaps we can even acknowledge that we’ve done enough to ensure that the Holocaust can never be forgotten. In a moral world, in a world that differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong, this kind of preservation of historical memory would probably suffice. However, today in the age of globalization in which everything is viewed through the prism of cultural relativism, facts and evidence are not enough. The enemies of the Jews and of Israel not only claim that the Jews exaggerate and that the Holocaust was made up so as to justify the establishment of the State of Israel, but they falsely claim that Israel itself is implementing a Holocaust on the Arabs living within Judea and Samaria.
Jewish comedians that belittle or "move beyond" the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish race seventy years ago cannot possibly fathom the significance and importance of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people made a conscience effort to rebuild out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Those that regard the Holocaust as just another unfortunate event cannot be depended on to understand that for modern Israel, in order to deal with existential threats, Israel must do whatever is necessary so that "never again" will not remain an empty slogan.
Those that publically joke about the Holocaust should be the first to be reminded of what the Holocaust was really all about. In Daniel Mendelsohn's book; The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million, he describes in detail the core horror of Nazi action in collaboration with locals in Bolechow, Poland, September 1942:
“The story of Mrs. Grynberg was a horrible episode. The Ukrainians and Germans, who had broken into her house, found her giving birth. The weeping entreaties of bystanders didn't help and she was taken from her home in a nightshirt and dragged into the square in front of the town hall. There, she was dragged onto a dumpster in the yard of the town hall with a crowd of Ukrainians present, who cracked jokes and jeered and watched the pain of childbirth as she gave birth to a child. The child was immediately torn from her arms along with its umbilical cord and thrown - It was trampled by the crowd and she was stood on her feet as blood poured out of her. She stood that way for a few hours by the wall of the town hall, afterwards she went with all the others to the train station where they loaded her into a carriage in a train to Belzec.”
The enormity of the Holocaust, however, with the majority of European Jewry being systematically murdered, is a singular event that defies comparison in the last millennium.
In retrospect, the Holocaust compels Jews to confront their own Jewishness. After such unspeakable events such as the one described above, every Jew must look inside himself and consider: Hitler tried to exterminate my people and the world stood by in silence. Will I, through apathy and indifference, or by using one-liners and comic monologues on national TV become a partner to Hitler? Or will my life convey a testimony to the glory of the Jewish people and its resurrection from the ashes of the Holocaust?