January 21, 2004

A Bad Case of Stockholm

These days it`s not so easy for Jews living in a European Union country, particularly when it happens to be the homeland of the BBC.
Everyone knows our EU taxes are used, at least in part, to fund Palestinian terror and Jihadist indoctrination in Hamas-run schools and medrassas.

Everyone knows the BBC is grossly biased against Israel but we have to pay for that, too. Just as we are powerless to dictate where our EU taxes go, we cannot escape paying a statutory license fee that keeps the BBC in business.

Here in Britain it is unlawful to watch TV -- any channel -- unless you have paid that license fee to the BBC. They even have detector vans roaming the streets, topped with parabolic dishes and antennae. The BBC`s answer to AWACS, these units are able to ferret out any poor pensioner freeloading on soap operas on the fifth floor of a council estate and impose a heavy fine.

However, it is even more difficult for our brothers and sisters living in France. Paying the same EU taxes, they see their synagogues and community centers vandalized and torched and their kids abused on the streets. The Chirac government says a lot but does very little in practice
to deter and punish those responsible.

As for Belgian Jews, in addition to their own EU taxes, they also have to fund the prosecution of Ariel Sharon as a war criminal.

Last weekend it was Sweden`s turn. Swedish Jews pay state and municipal taxes which fund local institutions and amenities such as the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. As part of an upcoming conference on genocide hosted by the Swedish government, the museum
staged an exhibit featuring an image of the notorious Haifa suicide bomber floating in the center of a large pool of blood-colored water. The visiting Israeli ambassador flew into a rage when confronted with this scene and did his best to vandalize it before being escorted from the premises. He later called the exhibit a monstrosity and an affront to the grieving families and victims of the Haifa bombing. To make things worse, the exhibit turned out to be the work of an Israeli expatriate by the name of Dror Filer and his Swedish wife.

For me, the Stockholm incident plumbed a new low for Israel and European Jewry and our hopes of ever getting a fair hearing or a fair shake of the burgeoning political correctness which seems to benefit all minorities except the Jews.

We all ask ourselves the same kind of questions. Can you imagine any country putting on such an exhibit that glorified attacks on Arabs? How is it possible that serious journalists and politicians can so successfully peddle a moral equivalence between the bombing of a restaurant filled with women and children and the targeted killing of armed terrorist leaders? Why does the enlightened world hate the Middle East`s only democracy while doling out sympathy and limitless funds to the inventors of airline hijacking and suicide bombing? This is plain madness.

Until now, I have accepted the conventional wisdom: it`s either oil or anti-Semitism. Or perhaps it is a mixture of the two. (I can imagine some Talmudists speculating whether the oil would tend to rise above the anti-Semitism.)

However, the Stockholm incident has changed my view. Either by way of word association or pure chance, I found myself thinking about the phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome.

Thirty years ago, on August 23, 1973, three women and man were taken hostage in an armed raid on one of the largest banks in Stockholm. They were held for six days by two ex-convicts who threatened their lives and occasionally put nooses around their necks. After a few days, police negotiators were astonished to find the hostages siding with their captors and actively frustrating efforts to free them. The hostages had formed a bond with their captors which persisted long after they had been freed. Amazingly, one of the women later became engaged to her former captor while he was in prison.

This strange behavioral manifestation was later dubbed “Stockholm Syndrome.” It starts out as a survival mechanism when people are under threat of violence in captivity. Psychologists have attributed it to all kinds of victims, from Holocaust survivors to battered wives. One of the
best-known case histories is that of Patty Hearst, who, after being kidnapped in the mid 70`s by the Symbionese Liberation Army, ultimately took that group’s side and willingly participated in its bank robbing exploits.

One expert describes it like this: “The strategy of trying to keep your captor happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the captor, which has the effect of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormentor.”

This makes me conclude that much of the EU must be suffering from a bad case of Stockholm.

Consider: for the last thirty years Western Europe has been gripped by Palestinian terrorism. The PFLP, PLO and Black September made sure there was hardly a European airport or airline that was not hit by one hijacking or another. Then came the seizure of the OPEC headquarters in Austria and the attack on the Munich Olympic Games. An entire continent
captive to terror for three decades.

Since 9/11 Londoners have waited nervously for the other shoe to drop. Will it be St. Paul`s Cathedral or the Houses of Parliament? Most accept that it will probably not be the Eiffel Tower because of the French government`s support of the Arabs and opposition to the war in
Iraq. The Germans have a similar insurance policy.

Isn`t this behavior exactly Stockholm Syndrome on a national scale?
Isn`t it likely that, as a means of self-preservation, these countries and their official news gathering organizations seek to appease their tormentors and those who hold them captive in this ongoing war of nerves? Do they not show “an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes
of the captor”?

Beyond keeping their cars gassed up and way above the undercurrent of anti-Semitism, isn`t it all about self-preservation? About keeping the bombers out of our own back yard?

No wonder a recent EU survey found that most Europeans considered Israel the biggest threat to peace. This is akin to the Stockholm bank hostages, with nooses around their necks, shouting that the police were the biggest threat to their lives.


This article first appeared in the Jewish Press

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