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Middle East and the other

Israeli and Palestinian archaeologists have been digging for decades for evidence that their site has more right to the area than the other. Edward Said and Sigmund Freud are also archaeologists, in a transferred sense, and they show another way to look: Instead of throwing away what does not fit, it is precisely what does not fit that should be lifted up and regarded as important "findings", writes Stian Bromark in this essay.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

Rarely do books come out that offer your ingrained thought pattern a Copernican turn, books that insist that it is a center all other ideas should revolve around. Bibelen was another such book. Charles Darwin Origin of species most likely. Dan Browns Da Vinci-koden surely, in its own way. A fourth such book may be Freud and the stranger by Edward W. Said (1935-2003). It was published in Norwegian last year, received almost no attention (review only in Vårt Land, Oppland Arbeiderblad and Prose) and sold almost nothing. To say that it has the potential to resolve the Middle East conflict may be a bit harsh, but it obviously has enough explosive power to open your eyes and make you see your enemies with a new look.

Actually, it's just a paraphrasing, which this text again paraphrases: Edward Saids Freud and the stranger Based on Moses and Monotheism by the Austrian and Jew Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). The psychoanalyst's book on Judaism's founder consists of three longer essays, and began in 1934, the year before Edward Said himself was born in West Jerusalem. The first two essays were published in 1937, the third only when Freud fled to England the following year. Freud knew the drug was controversial, and refused to publish it. This is due to the claustrophobic Catholic fist across Austria in the 1930s, but probably to Hitler's stifling anti-Semitism of 1933. The rationale was thus both political and religious, but still it is perhaps first and foremost our cultural performances that are offset in the book.

The Jew's relationship with the Other, the Jew

Moses and Monotheism was Freud's last great work, written while he was cancerous. Freud and the stranger was one of the last cancer sick Said wrote. Thus, the high-voiced may regard the two books as two wills, or alternatively as the dying's last expressed will and hope, if one wishes. The publisher considered for a long time to call the Norwegian translation of Said's book Freud and the other. (in English it is called Freud and the Non-European). "The Other" is a far more politically and topically charged term, so it's understandable why the publisher chose the more neutral "the alien", but Said's Freud book acts, much like Orientalism (1978), on our view of the others. The only problem is that when it comes to Freud, it is difficult to see who we are and who they are. Are the Jews the others for the Jew Freud? Muslims / Arabs? Europeans or non-Europeans? Does Freud represent both us and them? As Said – the Palestinian and the American – does?

What seems clear is that both Said and Freud use the story of Moses as a breaking rod into the minefield that is about the Jews 'identity and the Jews' relationship to the world, cultures, religions and symbols around them. Moses, one of us, is really one of them. Freud and Said are probably ahead of their time a long time to come.

The national vs. the cosmopolitan

Many people throughout history have had their very own plans for the Jews, but no one surpasses Hitler's imagination in the 1930s and 40s. The awakened understood that there was something wrong with the power as early as March 1933, when the chancellor's total dominance was secured in the election and toothpaste tubes began to appear for sale with swastikas on. "'We', the endangered Judaism. I feel more ashamed than anxiety, ashamed of Germany. I have always felt completely like a German, "wrote the journalist, professor and Jew Victor Klemperer the same month in his diary notes from 1933 to 1945 (I'll testify until the last moment). The Jews are a threat to the German, and thus a threatened human species, even though as a Jew they are primarily regarded as Germans. I threaten myself, so I shouldn't be.

But what does Freud do? He does not help to consolidate the Jews' identity, to strengthen spiritual friends in the fight against extinction, he weakens it. It may seem like a less good deed, but the one who stands on a complex and fragmented ground is, after all, steadier than the one with a firm, solid foundation underfoot. Maybe it can be said so hard. Or maybe it's as basic as Håkon Harket puts it Jewish State (2001): "The rapidly expanding Jewish community in Vienna had its pattern-forming center of gravity in a stable and modern elite that envisioned a cosmopolitan and lavish lifestyle and proclaimed the blessing of liberal education." It was not the Jews' ethnicity that threatened it German nation, but the Jews cosmopolitanism.

The non-Jewish Jew

Freud himself was not a good Jew, as some would say. He had a "hopelessly unsolved" relationship with his own Jewish background, Said writes. In 1930, Freud refused to sign an appeal from the Jewish Agency that the British should allow increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and he condemned those who allowed symbols in Jerusalem too much content. It only helps to offend those who already live there, he said.

On the other hand, in 1935 he claimed that the Jewish National Fund was a "blessed instrument" for establishing a new home for the Jews in "the ancient land of our ancestors." Freud called himself German and Jew about each other, at a time in history when some insisted that one could not choose both. Freud was not a Jew in the religious sense, we know that. At the age of 72, he answered an American priest who urged Freud to listen to God's inner, low-pitched voice: "For me, God has never done so much, he has never let me hear such a voice, and if he does not – for the sake of my age – hurry a lot, it will not be my fault if I do not until the very end remain what I am now – a non-believing Jew. " Neither Islam nor Christianity has this double bottom – the identity as both a religious and an ethnic category (faith and blood) – linked to one and the same origin, Judaism. This is because the Jews to a greater extent than other believers have been the subject of continuous ethnic and religious persecution, but it is also due to the idea that the Jews are a chosen one. people. It is possible for a Jew to convert to Islam, but he will, paradoxically, still be a Jew – if not in his own eyes, then at least in the eyes of others.

"You must love the immigrants"

Historically, Jews have been a minority entitled to protection. And at a time when global anti-Semitism is on the rise (500 cases registered in France in 2004, a doubling from the previous year), there is reason to warn and urge caution – not least in cases where old conspiracy theories hide behind timely criticism of Israel's irreconcilable policies. But in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the former is the strong majority, and this has been the case for almost 60 years. It does not help if Israel halves its military budget. It also does not help that the United States withdraws its support. It probably would not have helped if the world community had arranged a role change – until the symbols in Jerusalem are too many and the memory too good. The Swedish author and Palestinian champion Göran Rosenberg claims in It lost the country (1996) that the solution to the conflict does not lie in Israel, but in Judaism itself. The Exodus from Egypt and the Covenant with God at Sinai – the Exodus account – is the very Jewish people master story, as he writes. The mythological pillar. You must "love the immigrants, for you were immigrants in Egypt yourself," as it is written in the books of Moses (but of course it says much else, too, like "the non-Jew is not your neighbor").

The pact must be rewritten, says Rosenberg, nothing less. Reality must dictate the myths, not the other way around. The master story must be changed so that it no longer insists that Judaism is an ethnic community, in opposition to the others, especially Christianity: “As little as Christianity's constitutional anti-Jewishness can be abolished without its master story is being rewritten, just as little can stop Judaism from defining its choice in opposition to Christianity (…) The Jewish community's destiny today is strongly linked to Christianity's historical view of Jews and Judaism. "

Moses was an Egyptian

This is the backdrop for Freud and Said, i Moses and Monotheism og Freud and the stranger. Both set out to paraphrase the Jews master story, albeit from a different angle, but no less ambitious. And it all starts from the fact that Moses, the founder of Judaism, was not a Jew, but an Egyptian, and that Judaism started in the cooling water of a non-Jewish monotheism. When Freud conducts his "archaeological excavation of the Jewish identity," he insists that it did not begin with himself, but with other identities (Egyptian and Arabic) that he endeavored to uncover and examine. "This other non-Jewish, non-European story has been blurred today. It no longer exists, according to official Jewish identity, ”Said writes.

Thus, according to Said and Freud, Moses can be used to reconcile Judaism / Zionism with his non-Jewish precursors and followers, and this, according to Said, did Freud "to undermine any dogmatic attempt to create a secure foundation for Jewish identity, whether it was religious or secular. " The Arabs and the Jews each have their own competing stories about what Jerusalem is and should be, but there are also competing stories internally on both sides. For the sake of simplicity, we can say that one is more reconcilable than the other.

What comes for a day

Israeli and Palestinian archaeologists have been digging for decades for evidence that their site has more right to the area than the other. Said and Freud are also archaeologists, in a transferred sense, and they show another way to look: Instead of throwing away what does not fit, it is precisely what does not fit that should be lifted and considered important " discoveries. " This applies not only to Israel, but also to Palestine.

As is well known, Islam is based on Judaism and Christianity. According to Islamic tradition, Ishmael founded the Arab nation, while Isaac is the forerunner of the Jewish people. The two were half brothers, with Abraham as their common father. Moses and Jesus are descended from the Isaac family, while Mohammad comes from Ishmael. And as it stands The Quran"We said to the Israelites, 'Settle in the land.' When the promise of eternal life is fulfilled, we will gather you all together '».

It sounds beautiful. Maybe that's true too. And possibly that could change something. In any case, it corresponds with the psychoanalyst Freud's view of people and cultures in general: Dreams are the way to the subconscious, and in the subconscious the hidden truth is hidden. When the next Oslo agreement is to be negotiated, there may be fewer political scientists and social economists sitting around the table, and more ethnologists, religious scholars and psychologists.

Stian Bromark is author, publisher and translator Freud and the stranger (Cappelen 2004).

Edward W. Said

"Freud and the Stranger"

Cappelen 2004

Sigmund Freud

"Moses and Monotheism"

Random House

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