This guest post was written by Timon Dias who is shortly to receive a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Leiden University, the Netherlands, has a special interest in Middle Eastern politics and the Islamic religion. As a Dutch columnist, he has published many articles on the psychological effects of socialism on people and society; the problematic aspects of Muslim integration in Western societies Islam, and Middle Eastern politics and Israel in De Volkskrant and De Dagelijkse Standard as well as for the Gatestone Institute.
The double standard within European politics against Israel has been widely documented. The possible causes of this phenomenon have also been widely discussed. However, certain factors and theories, including ones where the individual psyche takes center stage, are rare, but in my humble opinion, worth elaborating on.
It seems that, especially the European attitude toward Israel is, if anything, extremely racist… against Arab Muslims. Where Israel is scrutinized for even her smallest flaws, blatant oppression and tyranny by Arab Muslim nations is met with indifference and is privately seen as a predictable and acceptable status quo. Does this mean these Europeans (subconsciously) just don’t think Arab Muslims capable of civilized government and society, and therefore don’t see any reason to make a fuzz about it? They would surely never admit to any such line of thought, but the ferocity of their criticism of Israel compared to their apathetic indifference to Muslim Arab wrongdoings, suggests an element of truth.
European disdain or outright hatred of Israel has a unique character to it, that is not seen when actual enemies of Europe are being evaluated: it is highly visceral. Just compare the passions and emotions expressed by the average European politician when they talk about Iran or North Korea, and say, the so-called Israeli occupied territories or the living conditions of Palestinian ‘refugees’. Even against the Russians, who are clearly undermining Europe’s interest, European condemnations appear apathetic, but also ripe with defeatism. It is as if they are saying: “we must condemn you because that’s what we’re paid for, but we know you’ve already won”.
When it comes to Israel however, actual anger and hostile body language can clearly be observed, while when concerning Iran or other threats, there is a calmness with which Europeans so self- righteously like to pride themselves.
In this context, visceral can be described as “having to do with the response of the body as opposed to the intellect, as in the distinction between feeling and thinking.” European critics of Israel, when observed while delivering criticism, indeed seem to feel more and think less.
On a psychological level, a visceral reaction usually occurs when one sees a privileged position in relation to a significant other threatened. These deep and intense emotions are explained by evolutionary psychology: the loss of a privileged position with parents can entail a loss of food and shelter, resulting in death; whereas the loss of a privileged position with a partner may result in the failure to produce offspring – a need deeply embedded in the DNA of any species. Do these specific cases relate to unreasonable European criticism of Israel? Not really, but they are stated to show that seemingly harmless situations, can still trigger visceral reactions when these situations are indirectly and subconsciously associated with mortal or existential threat.
So, might unreasonable European critics of Israel be doing what they do, because they are actually, but subconsciously, fending off a mortal threat? Indirectly, the answer might be yes. Bare with me.
As Freud first rightly so proposed; every man and woman has ‘animalistic’ aggressive and sexual urges, which our consciences and cultures have forced us to express in ways that do not harm ourselves, our families or interests. Let’s stick to the aggressive urges here. Europeans like to see themselves as the epitome of civilized humanity, who have irreversibly transcended the human stages of aggression and lust for power. But, of course, the human genetic blueprint has not been overwritten by a mere 60 years of European ‘high culture’. A European politician, like every human being, has aggressive urges, that he will seek to ventilate.
Of course, it can occur, when someone is feeling aggressive urges at work, he or she will displace those urges to a more secure setting, usually private relations. However, in politics, the projection of power is the core business of the entire profession. It is therefore very likely that when a politician feels aggressive urges when practicing politics, the displacement of those urges will remain within the arena of his profession, but directed toward a safer political target.
In this quest for ventilation, what better target is there to give rein to these aggressive urges than the Jewish state of Israel? There is none, because it’s so damn safe. No matter how intense your aggression against Israel gets: In Europe, it is extremely unlikely it will harm your bodily self, your family or your interests. Is irrational anger at Israel actually the human psyche at work to keep itself safe?
For example: a subject European politicians should actually focus on – subversive elements of the European Muslim community – cannot possibly be ranted against without being branded racist, have a fatwa or two slung your way, and the likelihood of needing armed state protection 24/7.
European politicians, as they are human beings, will have aggressive urges that they will seek to ventilate in a way that is safe. Israel is the safest target. The visceralness of their criticism can be a result of the fact that if they would fail to ventilate against Israel, they would have to take their aggression elsewhere, for example at the subversive Islamist elements in Europe or against the Russians. Doing so would mean exposing oneself to the wrath of Muslim and left-wing anger, and the far reaching arm of Moscow; something that could potentially entail mortal or existential threat.