Is trauma one of the defining foundations of Israeli society? [PUBLIC version]
A conversation with Daniel Gordis and Dr. Danny Brom, Founding Director of Metiv
We’re all exposed to the image of the Israeli soldier that many like to celebrate: tough, brave, victorious. But as Israeli society was forced to recognize earlier this year when a veteran set himself afire outside the Ministry of Defense in protest of his post-combat trauma not being sufficiently recognized, there’s an underbelly to military service and its trauma here, too.
Dr. Danny Brom, founder of Metiv: Herzog Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, is a world-renowned innovator in the research and treatment of the wide-ranging effects of trauma and discusses the impact of Israelis’ brains being “wired” for combat and how that shapes Israeli society.
Despite the cycles of violence in Israeli history, the common response from fellow mental health professionals when Dr. Brom began working in Israel was “but we don’t see trauma here.” Thanks in part to the work of Metiv, there is a burgeoning awareness in Israel of the communal and personal effects and costs of trauma. In this conversation, Brom explores with us both the positive and challenging dynamics of Israeli society being so deeply rooted in trauma.
About Israel from the Inside
Imagine that someone said to you, “Tell me what the United States is about and what has long made it an extraordinary experiment in government.” Now imagine that you responded, “Well, there was a War of Independence, a War of 1812, the Civil War, then World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam.” Your answer, of course, would be absurd, because no one can understand America, its great accomplishments as well as its failings, through just its conflicts. Those wars are part of America’s history, but they are not “America.”
Yet that is how too many of us think about Israel. If asked to list milestones in Israeli history, we think War of Independence, Sinai Campaign, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, the Intifada’s, etc. And when we speak about Israel, it’s almost always in some way about the conflict. Obama was good for Israel, or not. Trump was good for Israel, or not. Iran. Lebanon. Hamas. Hezbollah. Annexation. Palestinians. Occupation. And more.
Those conversations reduce Israel to conflict, just like our imaginary conversation about America. And therefore, all those conversations miss the point of Israel, its grandeur and its failures, its potential and its challenges. Israel is much more than conflict, and Israel from the Inside is meant to understand the soul of Israel and, as events unfold, the background we need to know to appreciate what is really happening, why – and what it might mean for Israel’s future.
Israel from the Inside is meant for people who see Israel not as either hopelessly flawed or beyond critique, but rather, as the stage on which the Jewish people is reimagining itself and its future. If you’re curious about understanding Israel and Israelis, without reducing it to the toxic politics and histrionics, Israel from the Inside is for you.
I’m delighted to have you as a partner in the conversation.
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