Stuart Jeffries’ profile of Jacqueline Rose, “Jacqueline Rose: a life in writing“, Guardian, Feb. 3, begins with a subtitle which manages to convey in less than 20 words much of what you need to know of Rose’s pseudo psychoanalysis of Zionism and the Jewish people.
‘Victimhood is something that happens but when you turn it into an identity you’re psychically and politically finished’
To understand why Rose is indeed talking about Zionist Jews being “psychically and politically finished” due to an “identity” of “victimhood”, you need to read a few of her choice musings on Israel and Jewry, but the answer is clear by the sixth passage of Jeffries’ essay.
After introducing Rose (recent author of, Proust Among the Nations: From Dreyfus to the Middle East) as a feminist, and “fearless” “psychoanalytic critic“…“ready to battle against those who hate her for daring to psychoanalyze Israel” [emphasis added], Jeffries quotes the author’s analysis of Israel:
[You] project on to the other the bits of yourself that you can’t stand, but the function is to utterly purify yourself of the feeling. So your innocence is a form of violence against others.”
Such a psychoanalysis of the Jewish state is nothing, however, compared to Rose’s previous diagnoses.
In her book, Question of Zion, Rose wrote, “We take Zionism to be a form of collective insanity” (p. 17), and suggests that those who embrace it are part of a group neurosis.
As Alvin Rosenfeld noted, in Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Antisemitism, Rose’s lexicon for Zionism and its errant ways in “Question of Zionism” include: “bloody,” “cataclysmic,” “cruel,” “deadly,” “apocalyptic,” “blind,” “crazy,” “delusional,” “defiled,” “demonic,” “fanatical,” “insane,” and “mad.”
Zionism appears, to Rose, to be nightmarish, ruthless and deranged, and specifically asks how “Israel [could] inscribe at its heart the very version of nationhood from which the Jewish people had to flee”?
To dispel any doubt that Rose is indeed evoking Nazism, she has written:
“The suffering of a woman on the edge of the pit with her child during the Nazi era…and a Palestinian woman refused access to a hospital through a checkpoint and whose unborn baby dies as a result, is the same”
Continuing with Rose’s theme of the traumatized, crazed Zionist Jew, Jeffries writes:
Rose was born in London in 1949 into a Holocaust-traumatized family. Her grandmother’s family perished in Chelmno concentration camp. Hers was, as she puts, “one type of North London Jewish survivor family who, to survive, internally entrenched itself in Jewish ritual“. [emphasis added]
Jeffries then quotes Rose describing her family’s evidently distorted, obtuse and myopic post-Holocaust traditional Judaism:
“It was observant and desperate that we continue the faith. There was no mixing of meat and milk, there were two sinks in the kitchen and if anything got mixed up it had to buried in the mud outside. [emphasis added]
Non-Jewish boyfriends were intolerable. [emphasis added]
A kosher kitchen and the desire to marry within the faith!
Respect for religious tradition, and a passion for Jewish continuity (a few years after the horrors of the Shoah): Clearly evidence of an entrenched, defensive, and traumatized people.
After the interview Rose emails me, hoping I can stress that she isn’t done with the Middle East conflict. She’s written four books dealing with that conflict and…there will be more. “As Edward Said wrote about getting involved in the Palestine-Israel conflict – once you’re in you’re there for life…You don’t say goodbye to this.”
And, as a Jewish writer who can – in an academic’s literary erudition, and a psychoanalyst’s cool, dispassionate sophistication – deride Zionism as a mental disorder, while boldly likening elements of the Jewish state’s ethos to Nazism, the Guardian will not soon be saying goodbye to Jacqueline Rose.