We’ve Been Here Before: Israel and the Cycle of Bullying
It’s Anti-Bullying Week here in school. In the assembly we had on it yesterday it struck me that what Israel is doing follows the archetypal bullying cycle almost perfectly. And it seems, as a ceasefire is thrashed out, that it will continue to do so.
Bullies are clever. They pick on those who are weaker than them in order to bolster their own poor sense of self-worth. They will regularly and systematically trample their victim, then allow them to grow just a little, before smashing them down again. This can be utterly destructive for the victim, who feels totally unable to build confidence or capacity within themselves. When challenged, bullies will point to one small act of retaliation against them as a defence that they are being bullied too. They will often simper and try to act sorry, hoping to make their crimes, and the small actions they have suffered in defence, equivalent. Thus, in the process of drawing up peace between bully and victim, the bully often feels a victory, as the victim is once again humiliated by having to apologise for their small part.
All of this applies beyond teaching into the realm of the systematic, well-planned and deliberate bullying strategy that Israel is implementing on a huge scale. It is a carefully constructed plan of ritual and rhythmic humiliation, designed to destroy capacity-building among the Palestinian people.
And watch what will happen with the ceasefire: Israel will portray itself not just as the victim, but as the big and generous one for stopping the bullying. And America will go, wow, you guys are so reasonable, being so good. When in fact, they will only implement the ceasefire once they’re satisfied that Gaza’s infrastructure has been flattened again. Give them a year or two to build back up a little, then, don’t worry, they’ll pick some minor reason to flatten them again.
We wouldn’t want it in any school or institution, and we shouldn’t stand by and let it happen on the global scale. But we’re so caught up in guilt over what the Jews suffered in World War 2 that we are now bending over to excuse their actions. It’s a clear path from abused to abuser, and we’re not only letting them tread it, but paving their way with our diplomatic silence. It’s utterly shameful. And for those who’ve ever suffered bullying, utterly familiar.
Show solidarity with those being bullied. March in London this Saturday – or wherever you are.