The Yom Kippur Syndrome
A message to Jews from Gilad Atzmon
When the Yom Kippur War broke out 45 years ago I was ten years old. I recall a lot of fear all around me. Israel was my home and it was about to be wiped out. This is what I believed at the time, and this is what everyone around me repeated. We were all certainly caught unprepared.
My father was called up by the Air Force in the early hours of Yom Kippur (October 6th 1973). We didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. We didn’t know whether he was alive. In fact, we had good reason to believe he wasn’t. We were very worried. For the adults around me, the first days of the war were a reminder of the Shoah. Israeli leaders, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan as well as the top Israeli military command appeared perplexed and hesitant on TV. Their message was: ‘the future isn’t clear, we may even witness the destruction of the 3rd temple.’
Years later, when I became an avid reader of history and military texts, it became clear to me that the collective Shoah dread into which we immersed ourselves was a manifestation of Jewish pre traumatic stress disorder (Pre TSD). We were tormented by a phantasmic fear. Neither the Syrians nor the Egyptian armies had plans to ‘destroy Israel,’ wipe out the Jewish state or ‘throw the Jews into the sea’. Their military objectives were, in fact, very limited. Neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians wished to expand their military ground operation beyond a few miles into the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Both Arab armies were dependent on Soviet ground to air missiles that severely limited Israeli air superiority above the battlefield. The Soviet missile umbrella provided about 10 miles of anti air cover and the Arab armies had no intent to proceed beyond that ‘safe’ zone.
It took me years to grasp that Israel’s panic during the first few days of the war led to some serious military blunders (such as the IDF’s disastrous counter offensive on the 8th of October). This panic was fuelled by projection. Believing that the Arabs were ‘about to throw the Jews into the sea’, Israeli generals and cabinet members reacted irrationally and wasted their limited reserve forces in a counter offensive that failed and cost many Israeli lives.
But why did the Israelis believe that the Arabs were about to throw them into the sea? Why did they assume the Arab armies were murderous or possibly genocidal? Why did PM Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan believe that the ‘3rd temple’ was about to be annihilated? Simple, because the Israelis were and still are driven by lethal inclinations towards their neighbours. It was the Israelis who literally pushed the Palestinians into the sea in 1948 into the sea. Israelis were panicking because they were projecting their own symptoms onto the Arabs.
In ‘The Wandering Who’ I elaborate on projection in the context of Jewish ‘pre traumatic stress.’ The principle is simple. The more murderous and sinister one is, the more fearful one becomes of others. Humans tend to attribute their own reasoning and symptoms onto others. Accordingly, the more menacing one is, the more sinister one believes the other to be.
Israelis consistently attribute their own racist and barbarian symptoms onto the Palestinians. The possibility that a Palestinian or an Arab would be as merciless as the IDF causes real and total panic for the Israeli. The thought that the Palestinians, for instance, would want to displace a quarter of Israeli citizens and massacre Israelis as the IDF has done to Gaza numerous times must evoke terror amongst Israelis and for a good reason.
But this state of collective anxiety is not unique to Israelis; it is embedded in Jewish culture. Basically, Jews are tormented by anti Semitism because they assume that their own ‘goy hatred’ is echoed by ‘Jew hatred’ from their gentile neighbours. As Martin Heidegger noted in the 1930s, the Jews opposed in the Nazis the racism which they recognized from themselves. Heidegger wrote in his Black Notebooks: the Jewish people, with their talent for calculation, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because “they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest.”
In 1973 Israel believed that that the Arabs were out to eradicate them because this is exactly what the Israelis would have liked to do to the Arabs.
Projection is just one aspect of the Yom Kippur war. I guess that, at least from a philosophical perspective, the most interesting aspect of the 73 War was that it marked a sudden switch from Judeo centric manic ‘hubris’ to melancholia, apathy and depression.
Following their outstanding 1967 military victory, the Israelis developed an arrogant disrespectful attitude toward Arabs and their military capability. Israeli intelligence predicted that it would take years for Arab armies to recover. The Israeli military didn’t believe that the Arab soldier had the ability to fight, let alone score a victory.
But on 6 October 1973, the Israelis had a devastating surprise. This time the Arab soldier was very different. The Israeli military strategy that was built on air superiority and fast ground maneuvers supported by tanks was crushed in only a few hours. The Egyptians and Syrians helped by new Soviet antitank and ground to air missiles managed to dismantle Israeli’s might. In the first days of the war Israel suffered heavy casualties and, as mentioned above, the Israeli leadership and high command were in a state of despair. This type of crisis wasn’t new to the Jews. It is consistently symptomatic of Jewish culture to be ‘surprised’ and overwhelmed by the Goyim’s fierce resilience.
The Israeli military fiasco at the first stage of the war was a repetition of a tragic syndrome that is as old as the Jews themselves. Jewish hubris that is driven by a strong sense of choseness and that repeatedly leads to horrific consequences is what I call ‘The Yom Kippur Syndrome.’ The syndrome can be defined as a repeated chain of events that drive Jewish societies towards an extreme irrational sense of pride, arrogance, self-confidence and blindness toward others and the tragedy that inevitably follows.
On October 6th, the Israelis realised that they had grossly underestimated their enemies. But it wasn’t the first time such a mistake occurred in Jewish history. Every Jewish disaster is, to a certain extent, a repetition of the Yom Kippur Syndrome. In 1920s Berlin the Jewish elite boasted of its power. Some rich Jews were convinced that Germany and its capital were Jewish occupied territories. At the time, a few German Jews dominated banking and influenced Germany’s politics and media. In addition, the Frankfurt School as well as other Jewish school of thoughts were openly dedicated to the cultural uprooting of Germans, all in the name of, ‘progress,’ ‘working class politics,’ phenomenology and cultural Marxism. Then, almost from nowhere, as far as German Jews were concerned, a tidal wave of resentment appeared. And the rest is known.
But was there really a sudden shift in German consciousness? Should German ‘anti Semitism’ have come as a surprise? Not at all. All necessary signs had been present for some time. In fact, Early Zionists such as Herzl and Nordau correctly predicted the inevitable rise of European anti Jewish sentiments. But Jewish hubris prevented Berlin’s Jewish elite from evaluating the growing opposition around them. The Yom Kippur Syndrome.
The same could be said of the Jewish Lobby, AIPAC, Friends of Israel clubs in Britain, the BOD, the three British Jewish papers that, in the name of British Jewry, declared war on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These Jewish lobbies and institutions that relentlessly seek influence over Western foreign affairs and the Labour Party in particular: do they grasp the level of resentment and the potential disaster they are bringing on their fellow Jews?
Can the Jew recover from the Yom Kippur Syndrome? Can the Jew somehow detect resentment as it grows and amend his or her ways? All it takes is drifting away from choseness. But once stripped of choseness what is left of the Jew or for the Jew?
This may be the most devastating question and the true meaning of the existential Yom Kippur Syndrome; there is no Jewish collective ideological escape for the Jew. Zionism failed to provide the goods and the so called ‘anti Zionists’ have done little other than form their own racially exclusive enclaves of chosenness within the so called ‘Left over.’
The only escape route from the Yom Kippur Syndrome is personal and individual. Try leaving the tribe late in the night, crawl under the ghetto fence, dig a tunnel under the ‘separation wall’ if necessary and then once on land of the free, proceed quietly and modestly towards the humane and the universal.