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Traumatic Brain Injury And The Permanent Intifada


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The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) relentlessly grinds on. The organization and its fellow travelers just held their annual Hate Israel follies, which they dubbed “Israel Apartheid Week.” Rallies outside Israeli consulates and embassies were held in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Cleveland, Anaheim and Chicago.

Meanwhile, students at De Paul University have announced an Academic Freedom Conference for February 1 and 2. They write that people are still in a state of shock because Norman Finkelstein, the Holocaust-mocker, was denied tenure. They note that “prominent scholars” such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (of “Israel Lobby” fame) have been “silenced.”

Mearsheimer and Walt silenced? By whom? Their publisher gave them a hefty advance, and they’ve had no problem securing speaking time from media outlets, bookstores and campuses.

The De Paul students also cite the “controversial tenure decisions” of Nadia Abu El-Haj and Joseph Massad (of Columbia). El-Haj received tenure; what are these students protesting?

In the name of academic freedom, these students have extended invitations to the most savage critics of America and Israel: Professors Sara Roy, Bill Ayers, Robert Jensen, Mark Ellis, Juan Cole and Joel Kovel. They did not invite anyone who might have a positive view of America, Israel, and the West.

Only speakers obsessed with Israel’s allegedly essential evil nature are qualified to represent what now passes for courageous concern with “academic freedom.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Council on Human Rights passed a resolution demanding that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza. (Will the UN condemn Hamas for blasting its way into a sovereign nation? Why do I even bother to ask?)

Needless to say, the august council did not condemn Hamas for firing 200 Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians in Sderot that same week – civilians who, as Bradley Burston put it in Haaretz, undergo daily collective punishment from Hamas’s rockets.

There is something wrong with how these propagandists think. It is almost as if their brains have been altered by poisoned prejudice.

Which leads us to the subject of brain injuries. The current issue of Science magazine describes the work of Johns Hopkins neurologist Ibolja Cernak, who, with teams in Belgrade, China, and Sweden, has documented a neurological basis to what was once called “shell shock.” She describes both immediate and lasting neurological consequences with attendant psychiatric symptomatology to those (mainly soldiers) who have not been physically injured themselves but who have been in the vicinity of repeated blasts.

Dr. Cernak is careful not to conflate physical injuries with the measurable, neurological damage sustained by merely enduring (i.e., fearing, seeing, hearing) the repeated blasts. She calls this Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Symptoms include dizziness, speech problems, unexplained weeping, irritability, attention deficit disorders, insomnia, depression – some or all of the symptoms of what has previously been called post-traumatic stress syndrome. This time, it has a neurological basis.

So, are the civilians of Sderot suffering from TBI? To whom can they turn for redress – for compensation for their medical treatment and considerable pain and suffering?

Trust me: if we don’t answer this question for Sderot’s residents, we will eventually ask it about ourselves.

In the beginning, only Israel had metal detectors and extra security at its airports and embassies. Now everyone does. The world did not stop the 2000 intifada against Israel (Israel’s much-maligned security wall finally did that), but now that same intifada has gone global as suicide terrorist attacks against Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and European capitals are routinely launched.

Those Kassam rocket blasts that are being endured by Israelis may soon be inherited by civilians elsewhere. Everywhere.

* * *

Postscript: In my Jan. 18 op-ed column (“Ms. Magazine’s Msogyny Toward Israel”), I criticized Ms. Magazine for rejecting an American Jewish Congress ad that did nothing more than note the prominence of three particular Israeli women. The fact of the matter is that Ms., the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority (which took over Ms.) and far too many Western feminists have, for a long time now, been more concerned with the alleged occupation of a country that does not exist (Palestine) than they have with the occupation of women’s bodies worldwide, especially in Islamic countries.

I recently looked through some issues of Ms. online from 2000-2007. The editorial bias is blatantly and consistently anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. Apparently, Palestinians are sacred victims who are pure and can do no wrong. Israelis are Nazi-like aggressors and occupiers who can do no right. This is not the Ms. I once knew so long ago. This is a feminism that has been utterly Palestinianized.

It is cowardly to desert the one democracy in the region and give a free pass to barbaric, totalitarian, and fascist regimes. This kind of feminism betrays the women and men of the Third World who need feminist support the most.

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About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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