It’s Not Indifference. I’m Avoiding You

I get this eject button response reaction when I come across the typical Israeli hasbara propaganda, and even more so now with this war on Hamas. It triggers me. Seeing lots of the stuff posted on social media, even assuming that it’s well-meaning spontaneous assistance from the Jewish public, as often as not, makes me want to find and contribute to, a Jewish rehab for emotional blackmail addicts.

So when I come across one of those posts, associating any criticism of Israel with nazi collaboration I get exasperated as shit. I feel an urge to comment that I’ve always examined people, especially Jews, including myself, as potential Polish collaborators; wondering, in light of their character, whether, if the shoe was on the other foot and they were now Poles without the benefit of hindsight, whether they would have sided with us or against us during the nazi occupation? And on the whole, the results are not exactly complimentary.

Get the hint? We’re all hypocrites. It comes with the territory.

And it’s the truism, that everyone hates us Jews inter alia and all the world is against us, that gets under my skin more than anything else. Especially in the present atmosphere. So let me really get in your face and get all post-modernist on you. I’ll even go so far as calling the truism a discourse. And what’s more, I won’t even get aggressive about it. I’ll do it with compassion and empathy.

So dear friend, after careful consideration, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that not all Jews are necessarily the personification of the aggressive, victims’ mentality, self-pitying, control junkie, victimising victim trope. Rather, in consideration of my reflections on the biblical narrative I’ve reached an awareness that the root of our Jewish incompatibility is that we have this weird dysfunctional relationship with god. Have you ever heard of the Emotionally Absent Mother? Well, I’m proposing that we Jews collectively suffer from avoidant attachment disorder.

I don’t want to weigh us down with too many illustrations from the Old Testament but note that almost ever since our inception as a people, going back some three thousand years or so, we have not been experiencing sensitive responses from god to our needs or distresses. On the one hand we’ve had our collective ego pumped up way out of proportion, being ordained the chosen people after the exodus from Egypt; and on the other, every time we failed to progress fast enough from polytheism to monotheism, god’d get all spiteful and disciplinarian on us and smite us down or send us off into exile. And then the prophets tell us, god blamed it all on our lack of faith, greed and pride.

Did you ever notice that the prophets never said,

“Hey you guys. You’ve got this structural issue here. There is no absolute right or wrong. You’re a social animal for better and for worse. You’re all simultaneously competitive and collaborative. You all have needs and interests. It’s one thing to take on individual responsibility but forget about this suppressive monarchic system and the repressive priestly religious order and try representative democracy. It’s not perfect, and there’s no control freak, total control of your environment stuff. But hey, you’ll have some measure of agency in your lives.”

I mean, holy moly, these prophets are meant to be ordained messengers of an all knowing and loving, omnipresent and omniscient god. Can’t he afford to give us a hug here and there? Cut us some slack? Help us lean into our vulnerability?

Securely attached people have confidence that a caregiver will be available to meet their needs and give them comfort when they are distressed. Instead of all this punitive justice, guilt trip shtick, what’d be wrong with letting us know that change is a built-in factor in the natural order of the universe and not a punishment? Droughts happen. Flooding too. Nature’s not static. Like if it weren’t for mutations, we’d all still be Australopithecus afarensii walking around the African Rift Valley like Lucy, and Mary Leaky would still be a nobody.

Infant peoples generally need to form a close bond with their caregiver. But if the caregiver doesn’t show care or responsiveness, past providing essentials like food and shelter, and is consistently emotionally unavailable, the progeny will disregard their own needs, in order to maintain a sense of peace and keep their caregiver close by. Note that we wandered around in the desert for 40 years without a GPS, incessantly searching for celestial approval and comfort, and god consistently kept us at arm’s length. And we still struggle and feel anxiety, but we do it alone, unintentionally denying those feelings of neglect.

No wonder we’ve got into this physical and emotional independence obsession. It’s fairly characteristic of people with avoidant attachment disorder to tend to feel disconnected from their own needs and feelings and self soothe and think that they can only rely on themselves. Consequently, they have little trust to seek help or support from others. Even after maturity such people may experience avoidance of emotional closeness in relationships with others, withdrawing and coping with difficult situations alone, fearing rejection, having feelings of high self-esteem while having a negative view of others, having a strong sense of independence, being overly focused on their own needs and comforts, preferring to sulk, or hinting at what is wrong.

Look at our relationships with the Americans or Palestinians. Note how one can observe in us an inflated sense of personal independence and freedom which is then perceived as more important than any partnership. One can observe in us a pattern of not relying on our partners during times of stress, and not letting our partner rely on us. And above all, in typically high-emotion situations we convince ourselves that we seem calm and cool. Hello! Is anybody home there?

But then again, in the name of compassion, you know, maybe it’s not all god’s fault? There are plenty of indications that the gods suffer a lack knowledge on how to support, and a lack empathy, feel overwhelmed by nurturing responsibilities, and don’t develop a sense of commitment.  Go watch some YouTube video or other on Greek or Mesopotamian mythology. Gib a blik!


“Noo…ooooooo!” I can hear you say, “What do you suggest?”

It’s not that I can really hear you.

“For the love of god, noo…ooooooo?”

But I can hear voices in my head. It’s called ruminating.

Well, all you Jewish avoidant attachment disorder sufferers out there, we can start out by owning the problem.

But watch out. As soon as you do that, you’ll almost instantaneously be branded as Jewish antisemites. OK. Nothing new. We’re used to it. But just factor that into the equation.

We might try brainstorming with the faculty for Geriatric Psychology at Rupin College. We’re at least 3,000 years old, aren’t we? Because you’re worth it.

But they’re fairly new at the business, and they probably charge money.

On the other hand, you can self-medicate and what’s more do that relatively cheaply.

Well, pursuant to that and ignoring the hangover, we could try some DYO reconciliation of our relationship with the underachieving caregiver. We might try and change our narratives to something more inclusive. POST MODERNISM WARNING! POST MODERNISM WARNING! There’s this idea floating around the metaverse about the plasticity of the brain and the possibility of altering neuron pathways in the cerebrum, or whatever. Even at three thousand years old. Applying this theory, we could turn our lives around, habituating our brains to touchy feely processing protocols. With enough practice we might acknowledge our own vulnerabilities. We might learn to trust in our relationships more.

And if we’re getting all holistic and relationship orientated, one might hope that god would at least acknowledge his parental shortcomings too. If one can achieve a modicum of reconciliation, one hopes that god can also modify his attitudes. Besides, he/she/it might be furtively longing for more fulfilling relationships. The pantheon must seem so empty since the demise of monolatry. You never know. Maybe the good fellow can find it in himself to recant on all the stiff-necked people stuff? It’s not a good look. It sets a bad example for the goyim.

But not all parental figures are up to the task. And from what I’ve read in the self-help books, short of parental cooperation, one can imagine in one’s own mind a restorative relationship with a fantasy parental figure. After all, the name of the game is the forging of alternative cerebral pathways. But I warn you! Keep away from anything resembling the bovine! It does not go down well.

But with all that, the thing is, that even after owning the problem, and getting all proactive and everything, the crunch of the matter is that god the caregiver doesn’t exist. Therein lies the conundrum; a dysfunctional relationship with a belief in something that doesn’t exist.

Oh, I know we’re incapable of proving or disproving the existence of some godhood or entity responsible for the mysteriousness of the universe. Maybe there’s something Spinozaesque out there, though I have my reservations about a book published posthumously more than 350 years ago and basing its proofs on Euclidian logic. So, I’m not going to invest good 21st century time studying Spinoza’s philosophy. Maybe, unless you pay me. But be that as it may, as for the generic god, of the book, of the people of the book, and his/her offshoots; nope. It’s a stretch too far to bridge.

And that’s the essence of the conundrum. Not only does the slippery such ‘n such not exist, but he/she/it has nevertheless managed to plant the idea of a dysfunctional omniscient, omnipresent father figure in our collective conscience.

Talk about emotionally absent.

About the Author
Aged in oak and astringent, I was born and raised in Australia and made Aliya in 1984. Due to "divine intervention" I was gainfully employed as a lawyer within the security forces; accounting for more than 20 years of tectonic shift. Raised in the 60's of the anti-war moratoriums and maturing in post Rabin Israel I have developed an eye for detail and capacity for romantic dilettantism.
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