For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Reflections On “MADE IN PALESTINE,”

“Dybbuk,” & “The Holocaust”


We do unto others what was done unto us.

What we do to others reveals our personal & collective history.

Primo Levi, who had been There, said,

“The Palestinians are the Jews to the Jews.”



I was reminded of Primo Levi’s statement on Sunday when I saw MADE IN PALESTINE, an exhibit of Palestinian Art, at the SomArts Cultural Center in San Francisco.[1]


The poster for the exhibit had an excerpt from “I am From There”

by Mahmoud Darwish, the great Palestinian and world poet.


I have learned the words of bloodstained courts in order to break the rules.

I have learned and dismantled all the words to construct a single one: Home.”


Reading this, I was reminded of an essay that for years has haunted and troubled me, because of the parallel universe inhabited by the Palestinians with the Israelis. It was written in 1938 by Judah L. Magnes & entitled “Letter to Ghandi, and published in Harijan, which refers to the Hindu caste of untouchables.”[2] It is a rebuttal to Ghandi, as to the why(s) the Jews of Germany could not offer Satyagraha to the “godless fury of their dehumanized oppressors,” and the why(s) the Jewish people needed and had a right of return to Palestine, their ancestral land -- “The Jewish National Home.”


The SoMa gallery is located in the garment/furniture district of San Francisco. It was somewhat hard to find. When I entered off the dirty street, it was dark inside the small and dimly lit lobby. I was disoriented. This was a good prelude to appreciating the show. After adjusting to the light, I saw what appeared to be the gallery below, a floor down.


I go down a flight of steps with a split landing, & enter the show. It is a metaphorical descent into Hell; into the feeling tone of the daily life of the Palestinians, who, as the show portrays, live & face, with great dignity, unimaginable torrents & onslaughts of depravity & bestiality directed towards them by the IDF & the settlers.


The presentation is museum quality. The works of art are first rate. They are profound, inspired, and relevant, not just to the Palestinian Community, but also to the world community. The exhibit bears witness to the heroic struggle of the Palestinians against forces of darkness that threaten not just them, but us and all life.


My hope is that the exhibit will be put on line where it can reach the large & world audience that it deserves. 


The art work is by both schooled/professional artists & also self-taught artists, some of whom began their art journey as prisoners in Israelis jails where they were tortured.


One work is a medium sized brown metal ammunition box that had been used by the IDF. It is filled with stones that can be accurately aimed and thrown. This is conceptual art at its best. The asymmetry of the war in Palestine is immediately conveyed by this one image/idea. The choice of subject matter and material is a reference to the biblical tale of David & Goliath and enkindles hope in the Palestinian people on the imaginal level of eventual victory against Goliath: Israel. Yet, to be able to endure the occupation all these years and not give up, is not defeat, but already a major victory.


A kindred photograph is a monotone in a faded desert brown ink. It is of a boy in shorts throwing a stone at an object. His target isn’t the typical tree or wall a boy may choose, but a nearby and massive tank that eclipses him. He risks being killed by an IDF sniper or someone inside the tank, but he does it anyway, and he looks so natural.


This photograph is part of a series. All are the same color, have the same 5x7 or so image size, and have been screened on clear glass 8.5 x11 inches, the standard size of photographic printing paper. The choice of glass allows a large see through border that is vital to the success of the whole series. Glass is a material that an easily broken and shattered.


Though flat pieces, they are not hung on a wall. Each is on string at a different height, close together & sometimes close enough to appear to be brushing another. The net effect is a mobile. As a group, because of the see through borders, the mobile appears like a 3-dimensional map of alleyways in an ancient city that could be blown away or shattered by the wind/blast from a bomb or hand grenade.


When I “got” this combined image, bigger than the sum of its parts, I realized how profound & conscious the artist. I was being moved by a very subtle & delicate yet bold, yet subterranean art piece to a feeling-function understanding of the struggle of the Palestinians. The ground is unstable. Everything can and does change in an instant, as easily as the wind blows. Lives can be shattered in an instant as easily as glass shatters.


Kinesthetically, I began to feel and glimpse both the fragility & heroism of the Palestinian people. These heroic humans, as portrayed in this series and the exhibit, have created some semblance of normalcy in their daily lives that are riddled with bullets, bombs, assassins, poverty, malnutrition, checkpoints, helicopter gunship, torture, & the blood of martyrs.


Most of the other works had the same intelligence, power, beauty, creativity & artistic virtuosity.


“MADE IN PALESTINE” is a magic mirror and raises a question to the magic mirror: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, in Palestine who is the most frightening & terrible

of all?”


Revealed in the mirror is the face of Yahweh, the ancient, yet living, wrathful God of the Jewish people.


Seeing His face in the mirror, I renamed the exhibit “MAIDEN PALESTINE.”

The exhibit reveals that the Shekinah, the female Presence of the godhead, rather than wandering, now resides in Gaza. From Palestine, she returns to observing Jews on Shabbat, when the candles are lit on Friday evening.


Most Jews in Israel, America, and presumably elsewhere in the world, see ourselves as the victims of the Palestinians; as the Davids & not the Goliaths, whom we are.


There is no one answer. Each has to answer this question for one’s self.


My answer: personally & collectively, particularly with regards to “The Holocaust,” we grieve only for ourselves, the Chosen People, & not, our oppressor, the person we call a “Nazi;” nor for the others, who also suffered & perished in the Camps, like the Romani.


In fact, all whose lives were touched by The Nazi Holocaust are it victims, not just the Jewish people. This is why I use parentheses to distinguish The Nazi Holocaust, an actual event, from “The Holocaust,” a cultural creation.[3]


As a result of the exclusivity of grieving, our mourning is incomplete.[4] It does not lead us to letting go (partial), nor open us to forgiving (full) our oppressor(s); the Nazi’s (on Yom HaShoah) or the Pharoah (Passover). Thus, instead of gaining consciousness and freedom from our suffering through these ceremonies, we remain victims in and to our suffering.


Consciousness is the redemptive fruit of grieving/mourning/forgiving. Without consciousness, we go about our lives unaware. What we see, think, believe, and feel, we take as given, like the air we breathe. In turn, we pass on to our children our drives, judgments, loyalties, projections, complexes etc. And they, in turn, on to their children.


Thus our victim hood, a Jewish complex, is perpetuated. It lives & rules us individually and collectively. It clouds our eyes to what we are doing in the present in Palestine. We do to the Palestinians what was done to us in “The Holocaust.”


"When I saw the Palestinians (Ed. with stamped serial numbers on their hands and blindfolded) with their hands tied behind their backs, young men ( Ed. kneeling in the desert and left there without food and clothing for 24 hours or more), I said, 'It is like what they did to us in the Holocaust,'" Yarkoni (Ed. dubbed the “singer of the wars”) said. "We are a people who have been through the Holocaust. How are we capable of doing these things?"

Her words were deemed so offensive that the union representing the nation's performing artists called off a planned tribute to Yarkoni that had been in the works for two years. The head of the union said it was forced to make the move after members of the public flooded its offices with complaints and returned tickets purchased for the event, and after sponsors canceled their financial support.

Government ministers denounced Yarkoni (Ed. who won the coveted Israel Prize in 1998). The town of Kfar Yona canceled her performance at a Memorial Day event to honor Israeli soldiers who have fallen in battle. Youth movements declared a boycott of her music. The septuagenarian (Ed. who served in the Givati Brigade in the War of Independence) received so many hate calls, her daughter said, that she is now too frightened to appear in public.

                                   Los Angeles Times. April 29, 2002


I left the exhibit to see “Dybbuk” performed by the S.F. Ballet. at the S.F. Opera House. This is in an upscale, safe, & clean part of the Civic Center area of San Francisco. In contrast to SoMa gallery, the Opera House is opulent, grand, well-lit, & well-maintained. The audience is well-clothed, fashionably and expensively.


The contrast between the two showcases, their locations, & the audience was a cross-cultural statement about money, safety, & privilege. Unlike the exhibit, the ballet was packed; a sold out house. The highest ticket price for the matinee was around $150+. Each of our seats cost $55. By contrast, the donation bowl at the exhibit was empty. A donation of $3 had been requested.



Jerome Robbins, the choreographer, adapted an ancient tale into a formal ballet. Leonard Bernstein composed the orchestral score. Both are celebrated Jewish American artists.


The S.F. version on April, 10th, 2005 was the same version as that of the World Premiere on May 16th, 1974, performed by the New York City Ballet.


The performance was stunning. Yuan Yuan Tan, who danced the female lead role, Leah, is one of my favorite dancers & a world-class ballerina. Leah’s lover Channon, now dead, possesses her body as a dybbuk, & forces her to refuse her bridegroom, chosen by her parents, on her wedding day.


“Dybbuk” was not only an enactment of a personal story, but an inner event because of its archetypal dimension. In addition to the excellence of the artistry of the company, the director, & the orchestra, this dimension accounts for the power of the ballet.


A dybbuk is a wandering soul of someone who has left the body, but, somehow, has not left the world. (In Judaism there is no afterlife.) The dybbuk has chosen not to leave, because it has a task or mission to complete. It clings (“dybbuk” is the Hebrew word for clinging) to a living human host through whom it will finish its work.


(This is a quasi mystical definition of Rabbi Freud’s description of the unconscious and its workings, particularly the collective unconscious later described by Jung. It could be said that personal analysis is exorcism, a rite forbidden by traditional Jewish law. Analysis removes a dybbuk, the unconscious material that lives in the body and mind of the analysand.)


A dybbuk may seek revenge for some evil done to it while it lived. For twenty-three centuries evil has been directed towards the Jewish people.[5] Many seek revenge.


While watching the ballet, I reflected on the Palestinian art exhibit. Clearly a dybbuk or dybbuk’s have & still do occupy many Zionist & Jewish bodies in Israel.


Dybbuk. How better to understand the behaviors of Ariel Sharon, the current Prime Minister of Israel, & all the previous prime ministers beginning with Ben Gurion? All have knowingly committed crimes against humanity towards the Palestinians. They willfully have ignored the Geneva Conventions, set up after the Nazi Holocaust, at the request of the Jewish people, to ensure “Never Again” from happening again.[6]


How better to understand the split in the Jewish soul: dybbuk.


Violence done to oneself in a family or a nation becomes suffering in others – children, other family members, a community, a nation, etc.


This suffering can take one of two courses.

         1. violence to others (as Jews & Zionists are doing to the Palestinians);

         2. compassion towards others (e.g., Truth & Reconciliation in South Africa).


Despite the horror of “The Holocaust,” no world-class Jewish apostle of non-violence and compassion (the likes of Bishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, or the 14th Dalai Lama) has appeared on the public stage.

Why ?


Is this because revenge, violence, & hatred are part & parcel of the the Jewish psyche? Some persuasively answer yes. The Jewish people believe that our God instructs us to hate and punish the wicked & the enemy, who persecute us, and in some cases, never forgive. [7]


On this point, Jesus differentiated from his Jewish tradition: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; ... ”


In a well-intentioned moment of religiocultural chauvinism, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi recommended to H.H. 14th Dalai Lama that the Tibetan people, have a Passover holy day & Seder ritual.[8] The rationale was that now, like the Jews once were, the Tibetans are in diaspora. To the other Rabbis there, his suggestion was the greatest thing since unleavened bread. However, lacking yeast, i.e. that which raises and distills spirit, for Buddhists, it got no rise out of His Holiness. The basis of Mahayana teachings is impartial compassion and love for all sentient beings, including one’s enemies and those who have harmed us.


Driving home, my head a buzz, I reflect on my afternoon:


1)      I had just seen art that easily could have arisen from Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto & Nazi Germany.

2)      I realized that I haven’t seen much, if any, real art from “The Holocaust.” I don’t think that much, if any, exists;

3)      both the Palestinian ‘final solution’ (a term used in the Press in Israel) & “The Holocaust” are genocides, ethnic cleansings, exodus’ & diasporas from one’s homeland, and dehumanizing. The resultant trauma may take generations to heal, if ever; [9]

4)      I remembered that Pope John Paul II, who just died, refused to pardon the Jews, 2,000 years later, for committing the crime of deicide; his advisory panel had suggested to him that the Jews be forgiven;

5)      evidently, in the Pope’s eyes, The Holocaust (plus the Inquisition) hadn’t wipe the slate clean; that the Jewish people hadn’t sufficiently atoned for their crime & had to suffer more; or he found them useful politically as scapegoats;

6)      or, maybe, he was possessed by a dybbuk.


I also reflected on the perilous alliance of Jewish Zionists & Orthodox Jews with Christian Zionists and fundamentalist Christians, who need the Jews to take back the Temple of the Mount in order to fulfill a prophecy. When this happens, Armageddon and End Time will come, according to the faithful, who believe they will bodily be taken up, experience Rapture & be saved. The rest of us will instantly be vaporized & suffer eternal damnation.


While this may seem like Heaven’s Gate think, I find it scary. In the U.S. and Israel, these folks have their fingers on the nuclear triggers.


Earlier in the morning, I had read in the NY Times “A Culture of Death, Not Life” [10] by Frank Rich. One paragraph stood out, because it touched my paranoid Finzi-Continis’ fears: “ No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. (Ed: BF, mine). Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million. ...”


This brief essay has suggested that human hatred and destructiveness arise in response to, and are not innate in the humans, nor permanent. It was Hitler’s childhood experience that gave birth to a hatred fanned by several million adults in Germany and Europe who themselves had seeds of hatred and destructiveness in them.[11] These caused extreme suffering in millions, not just Jews nor was this confined to one-continent and one-generation.


In Palestine, Jews, many of us from Eastern European backgrounds, are keeping alive Hitler’s torch by doing what was done to us, using the same words even, to our cousins and neighbors, the Palestinians.


MADE IN PALESTINE, an art exhibit of contemporary Palestinian art, is carrying the torch of the Shekinah, the bearer of the light of wisdom. Through the art work in this exhibit, She is telling us that the Holocaust will never be over until we learn its lessons.[12]


* * * *

May peace come to the Palestinian and Israeli people. May their ancestral lands be returned to them. May their families in exile return to their homeland. May there be one state where all live in safety, free from inner and outer harm. May peace, joy, and forgiveness prevail and come into the Holy Land of our hearts.


[1] Curiel, Jonathan, “Unknown face of Palestinian art,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 3, 2005. See also: Eshelman, Rob, "'Made In Palestine Exhibit,'" The Electronic Intifada, April 12, 2005.

[2] Magnes, J.L, “Letter to Ghandi,” in PERPLEXITY OF THE TIMES, Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1946, pp. 117-128.

[3] Finklestein, Norman, THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY, Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, Verso: London & New York, 2000.

[4] Mitscherlich, Alexander and Margarete, THE INABILITY TO MOURN, Principles of Collective Behavior, New York: Grove, 1984.

[5] Flannery, Edward, THE ANGUISH OF THE JEWS, Twenty-three Centuries of Antisemetism, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1985.

[6] Finklestein, Norman, IMAGE AND REALITY OF THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT, Verso: London & New York, 2003.

[7] Soloveichik, Meir Y., “The Virtue of Hate,” First Things 129, (February 2003), 41-46. This important essay merits study & personal reflection.

[8] Kamentz, Rodger, THE JEW IN THE LOTUS, A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India, New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

[9] For an account of the harrowing and courageous process of healing Holocaust wounds through the process of psycholytic psychotherapy, see Ka-Tzetnik 135633, SHIVITTI, A Vision, Berkeley: Gateway Books & Tapes, 1998

[10] Rich, Frank, “A Culture of Life, Not Death”, The New York Times, April 10, 2005.

[11]Miller, Alice, “Hitler’s Childhood, From Hidden to Manifest Horror,” in FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1990, 142-197.

[12] Rothschild, Mary H., “Requiem for the Vanishing Human,” in Psychological Perspectives, Issue 43/2002, 36-46.



Robert Leverant is a depth psychotherapist and photographer. He has published some fifty articles on a variety of subjects, including Israel and Palestine, in online and professional journals.