August 17 UpFront: Collective trauma?

As a clinical psychologist who does trauma counseling, I too saw more soldiers having difficulty with what they went through in Lebanon than were seemingly upset by the disengagement.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Collective trauma? Sir, - As a clinical psychologist who does trauma counseling, I too saw more soldiers having difficulty with what they went through in Lebanon than were seemingly upset by the disengagement ("Engaging the disengagers," Cover Story, August 10). Perhaps it does have to do with the way soldiers were psychologically prepared for the potential events of disengagement. Perhaps, too, it has to do with the inhabitants of Gush Katif themselves, who acted like civilized, caring and non-violent individuals attempting to maintain their dignity at a time of severe crisis. That said, I cannot help but question what we as a society have produced when a soldier who was actively involved in the disengagement "does not think about it" a mere two years later. I couldn't help but be reminded of the story of Kitty Genovese, who in 1964 was stabbed to death in New York as 38 people witnessed what was happening and heard her screams, yet did not become involved. The lives of those evacuated from Gush Katif will be forever changed. If we as a society fail to learn from this event and ignore what people have and are still going through, we will forever pay the price. I wonder if the soldiers, and the rest of us, are doing as well as we think we are. I sense a collective trauma, or collective apathy. If after only a few years we can forget about the lives of those who lived in Gush Katif, if we can sit idly by while the people of Sderot are being bombarded by rockets and don't care because it is not "our problem," then the psychological damage of the second intifada and these historical events has been far greater than most of us realize. It's not just about Gush Katif. It's not just about Sderot. It's about caring for people in general. I once described most of us as "lightly injured" by all we have been through in the past seven years. I wonder if our status has not changed to "moderately to severely injured." DR. BATYA L. LUDMAN Ra'anana Rights and duties Sir, - Your issue of August 10 contained an interesting juxtaposition: Amotz Asa-El's Middle Israel and Naomi Chazan's Critical Currents. Asa-El ("What the JNF debate is really about") is quite correct in his assessment of the conduct of the Arab MKs. True, it is their democratic right to express their opinions and their concept of the future, and it is not a question of having their cake and eating it. It is, however, a well-known fact that when Arab citizens of Israel, MKs included, are asked whether they would not prefer to be part of a Palestinian state in an agreed population and area transfer, most of them come down heavily on the side of remaining in Israel. This can be well understood considering recent events in Gaza, among other things. Yet not only is this preference not expressed in the actions of the Arab MKs, there is no attempt on their part to even attempt a balance between their rights and duties as Israeli citizens and Knesset Members and their aspirations to unite with their brethren in the Occupied Territories. If they really want to promote peaceful coexistence their efforts would be much better addressed, as Mr. Asa-El indicates, to demanding that the Arabs in the territories, and the rulers of the Arab states, promote an attitude which grants their Arab majorities a fraction of the benefits Arabs receive as Israeli citizens. This is not to say there is no basis to complaints of uneven and biased treatment in many walks of life, and that there is nothing to be remedied in the government's actions vis-a-vis our Israeli Arab population. In "Separation or resolution," on the other hand, Ms. Chazan is convinced that if you lead a horse to the water, it will drink, regardless. She requires, by definition, the active and committed participation of two parties. It is not enough to make statements; they must be backed up by action. Well, a start could be made with a public admission that the Palestinian Arabs and the neighboring states made a disastrous mistake in not recognizing the UN Partition Plan, problematic as it was. After that could come the elimination of hate-generating TV programs and "educational" material. It is often said that a contract has value only if the parties are committed to fulfilling its provisions. In other words, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished if there is good will. D. MEYER Haifa Sir, - Amotz Asa-El's "What the JNF debate is really about" was excellent. It should be shouted from the rooftops. Too few people in Israel and abroad understand the issue. Keep up the good work. ILANA DRORI Rehovot Sorry, but you're dead wrong Sir, - After writing an excellent critique of both The New York Times in publishing, and Noah Feldman in authoring the article "Orthodox paradox" ("Feldman's bad faith," August 10), Jonathan Rosenblum veers off to conclude his piece with an appreciation of Feldman's "valuable service" in attacking modern Orthodoxy. He first sets up a straw man by suggesting that modern Orthodoxy places "equal emphasis... on the curriculum of the dominant secular society and Torah learning," then knocks him down by claiming that, under such circumstances, Torah will necessarily lose out - witness Noah Feldman. Rosenblum is dead wrong! The modern Orthodox Jew is not a bifurcated human being composed of half-secular and half-holy parts. Indeed, that seems to be Feldman's thesis, the only difference being that he wants to adjust the borders between the two parts so as to include intermarriage within the secular part, thus making it acceptable. On the contrary, the modern Orthodox Jew is a whole, undivided, non-conflicted being. While he is prepared to integrate the best of the modern world, he does so through the prism of the Torah. He adheres to the same Shulhan Aruch as the haredi Jew; he studies the same Torah and Talmud. The same Rambam and numerous other commentaries are studied in the beit midrash of the modern Orthodox yeshiva. In short, the cacophony of debate and discussion emblematic of a traditional yeshiva remains the same in a modern Orthodox yeshiva. As to the alleged paucity of "distinguished Torah scholars" in the modern Orthodox world, I invite Rosenblum to visit Yeshiva University in New York and Israel and audit the Torah lessons given by the Torah scholars who are the yeshiva heads. Each of them is a college graduate, many with advanced academic degrees, including PhDs. JULIUS BERMAN, Chairman Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University New York and Jerusalem The joke that strayed Sir, - I am devastated that Eli Minoff was offended by my silly joke about Safed being made up of "hassidim, artists and crazies" (Letters, August 10). Of course he is right - nothing could be further from the truth. First, I was misquoted. What I said was that Safed attracts these three types. It was a wisecrack I made up 10 years ago when we bought our hurva - old, run-down house - in Safed, in an effort to explain to our incredulous family why we were ready to mortgage our home in Moshav Hemed, spend a fortune in continuous repairs and drive over two and a half hours each way to spend a Shabbat, festival or just a few days in the beautiful, mystical, magical city in the hills. The joke stayed in the family and made its way into your August 3 Arrivals column about my artist wife, Myra. We love Safed as much as Mr. Minoff does and invite him to visit us (see We hope more artists and other hard-working, tax-paying folk will be encouraged to live in Safed, not just visit during the klezmer festival. JOEL MANDEL Safed Blonds & blondes Sir, - Have all your copy editors been replaced by computer spell-checkers? Does no one at the Post know that in English a "blond" is a man, but a woman is a "blonde"? Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were not men! ("Lighten up!" Nathan Burstein, August 3). BARRY NESTER Jerusalem