TEST
The Image of the Enemy: Cracks in the Wall of Hatred
Taken together, the papers by Sabella and Erlich seem to provide the reader with a wide bifocal perspective for approaching the issue of the enemy in the Israeli-Palestinian context. As befits psychoanalysts, Erlich's emphasis is on psychic forces no less than on social reality, on the construction of the inner world no less than on the actual working of the outside world. Sabella, a social scientist, is more outer-oriented, interested in "the specific and concrete situation of conflict which is responsible for enmity." He accords psychology a secondary role, concomitant or consequential rather than causal. While these differences may simply reflect divergent paradigms associated with different disciplines, it is not impossible that they are also related to the asymmetrical political stance of the parties. Relegating the political reality and its historical antecedents to the background while focusing on universal psychic processes which are only abstrusely related to the world out there may seem easier for the Israelis who, as a whole, live more peacefully with the current state of political affairs than do the Palestinians.
It is reassuring, however, that both authors, each from his own theoretical perspective, have included in their presentations the other party's point of view. This measure of empathy is a prerequisite for changing the negative stereotypical views that Israelis and Palestinians still hold of each other.
I would like to embark on these two issues of inner versus outer reality and empathy in the context of a study on children's dreams which I, with a team of graduate students, conducted in the early 1980s.
We were able to collect more than 2,000 written dream accounts from Jewish and Palestinian fifth-to seventh-graders living in various places within and beyond the Green Line. In culling encounter dreams (reports dealing explicitly with the other side) from the general dream collection, we could delineate the image of the enemy as projected by the dream process or as constructed in the written account (both cases arguably deal with the fantasy lives of the children). The somber picture that emerged on both sides was a lucid demonstration of the hatred and terror invoked by the other side. Let me summarize in brief the core constituents of that picture.

Negative Connotations

First, Jews and Arabs appeared in each other's dreams stripped of any personal characterization that would depict them as distinctive individuals. Dream characters were never nominally identified. Rather they were accorded collective designations, often with strong depreciatory connotations: Arab terrorists, Arab criminals, Jewish oppressors, Zionist usurpers. Grim, tough, frightening facial expressions and the color black completed the stereotypical view of the enemy.
That the other is indeed an enemy became evident when we analyzed the content of the social interactions in the dreams. More than ninety percent of the dream encounters were aggressive in nature, and the dreamers in both sectors were actively involved in these acts of aggression. Moreover, the dreamers usually tended to perceive themselves as the victims of aggression launched by powerful adults. In most cases the aggression escalated to high levels of violence involving physical injury and death. These nightmarish features were quite common, though the dreams took different trajectories in the two sectors.
Among the Jewish children, the typical context of violent dream interactions were terrorist attacks and suspicious objects. In both settings, the dream reports conveyed a strong sense of vulnerability, as the attacks were launched at home or in other close surroundings normally deemed bounded and safe. It should be noted, however, that in the majority of the dreams of the Jewish children, an effective retaliation overturned the picture and sealed the report with a sense of relief. This happy end was usually absent from typical aggressive dreams of the Palestinian children. These dreams, definitely gloomier and more violent than the Jewish dreams, typically involved scenes in which the protagonists were harassed, expelled, arrested, beaten up, and killed in the context of fierce confrontations with Israeli soldiers.

Faces of Ambivalence

Thus the image of the enemy in the dreams was nurtured by the harsh reality and dire manifestations of the political conflict. But at the same time it was fashioned by the refracted prism of each dreamer's psychological make-up and subjective apprehension. It seems that both external circumstances and mental processing and articulation are crucial to the understanding of how the image of the enemy is crystallized.
But what about empathy? Could one trace in the dreams hints of the ability to take the view of the other side, despite the fact that the latter was usually deemed a dangerous foe, a potentially brutal aggressor and a natural object of attack? I would like to argue that indeed, despite the heavy sediments of hatred and enmity, a closer look at the dreams could reveal some sparsely dispersed finer hues, reflecting feelings towards the other side which were more equivocal and intricate. These subtle affective expressions could be viewed as inchoate precursors of a process of change. The main cracks in the wall of enmity were manifested in accounts tinted with ambivalence. While there is a wide gap between ambivalent and empathic attitudes, the former can be the potential ground in which empathic sentiments may eventually flourish. What were the actual faces of ambivalence manifested in the dream accounts? The following four reports, each taken from a distinctive group of children, may serve as an illustration.
Within the Jewish groups, children from left-oriented kibbutzim and from right-wing settlements in the West Bank could be cogently viewed as representing the contrasting poles of the political spectrum in Israel, yet ambivalent views of the Arabs appeared_in both groups, though in different intensity and guise. The kibbutzniks in their dreams tended to distance themselves from the conflict by blurring the identities of its participants and sublimating their violent behavior. This tendency, which I attributed to the contrasting messages encouraging active military involvement and political compromise to which the children have been exposed, was particularly noticed when attempts at denial failed, as in the following dream summary.

Dream Excerpts

Our counselor arrives with a funny hair-style. He looks like an Arab. We walk together and find ourselves in an unknown place, a road with a fence. Above' the fence there is a signboard - Japan. And I am amazed: since when does have a border with Israel? Suddenly a car passes by, and our counselor urges us to hide lest someone might think we are Arabs.
Note how the reality of the conflict is distanced and made obscure in this dream account. The presence of the Arab enemy is displaced onto a remote nation-state which normally does not stir much political emotion in Israel. (One may wonder what was the associative link between the two. Is it related to the stereotypical view of Japanese as harsh, cruel, hardy, exotic, and incomprehensible?) The report is marked by confusion reflected in this gross geographical displacement, but also in the identity reversal that opens and seals the dream. This identity reversal signifies most dramatically that the boundaries between the two groups can be crossed. The dream seems to convey the idea that self can become the other. Judging from the uncanny tone of the account, this idea is no less frightening than comforting.
In the dreams of the Jewish children from an urban settlement in the West Bank, ambivalence was subtly and exigiously conveyed as a covert sense of incertitude concerning the Israelis' right to stake a claim in an Arab town. The following dream excerpt concluded a lengthy nightmare in which the dreamer was endlessly chased by Arabs .
.. .suddenly someone seizes me and I see that this is my house. But my family has gone and I see Arab kids walking around the rooms. Their father, who is holding me, wears a keffiyeh, and his face is tough. And I am not amazed at all that this is the case. I take it as if this is the way things ought to be. I am not surprised to see these Arabs living in my house.
Needless to say, this astonishing acquiescence, probably betraying guilt feelings concerning the right to settle in the town, is conspicuously incongruent with the settlers' political attitudes, marked by singleness of purpose and invulnerable faith. It seems that opinions more congenial to the other side are affordable only in the refuge of dreams.
The Palestinian sample of dreamers included Israeli children and children living in the refugee camps in the West Bank. The first group, assuming as Israeli Palestinians a dual identity which is quite incongruous, demonstrated in their dreams a particularly high dose of ambivalent feelings. One indication for these feelings was alternating scenes of hostility and friendliness in encounter dreams illustrated by the following example.
I went with my father to one of the towns in the West Bank. Suddenly an Israeli soldier began to shoot at passers-by. People were arrested, but soon the situation became normal again.
(After spending some time in a magnificent amusement park, apparently a relief-restoring interlude, the dreamer and his father returned to their village in Israel.) We entered a store, and there was a soldier there carrying a machine-gun.
He went out, leaving his weapon behind. Then my friend Maher came in carrying an identical machine-gun, and tried to start a fight. I took the soldier's gun and shot near Maher's feet, whereupon he threw down his weapon at once. I handed the gun to the shopkeeper, asking him to give it back to the soldier. I felt good experiencing an odd sense of bravery.
The "odd" bravery which seals the dream may allude to the dreamer's ambivalence towards the conflict, displayed redundantly through a threefold splitting: the violent West Bank town versus the placid village, the brutal Israeli soldier in the town versus the innocuous one in the village, and the dreamer himself versus his impulsive friend. In fact the dreamer's gesture, purporting to bring back the lost gun to the soldier, may be counted as an act of friendliness, a rare bird in the dream collection. Note how vague and fluid is the situation reported here. A potential enemy, the soldier, becomes worthy of an act of friendliness; a friend, Maher, becomes an enemy.
Cracks in the stereotypical view of the Israeli soldier as a cruel, ferocious enemy could even be traced in the dreams of the refugee camp children, though they were most sparse there. The following example was taken from dream accounts collected by Dr. Shafiq Massalha in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the heyday of the Intifada.
I dreamed that the occupation soldiers caught me and put me in jail. They inflicted their blows on me. The officer saw me and said, "Why do you bring in young children like this one? Take him back to his home at once." So I returned home. My mother was crying (out of joy). Many people came to see.
Against the harsh reality of the Intifada - a natural setting for the demonization of the Israeli soldier, this exceptional dream account portrays an Israeli officer as human and considerate. According to our formal criteria of content-analysis, his response would be defined as a gesture of care and friendliness.
Needless to say, the ambivalent, incongruous views of the enemy presented here are quite negligent when evaluated against the whole collection of dreams. As I noted before, most of the dreams were redolent of aggression and enmity. Yet, in the context of the recent political moves towards reconciliation and agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I would like to view these few discordant voices, hesitant and meek as they may appear, as manifestations of the potential inherent in both sides to relate to the enemy in terms which allow him some measure of individuality and humanness.

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