Killings in France: CT-Interview with Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, a psychoanalyst and specialist on Islamic terrorism.
In the city of Toulouse in southern France special police forces besiege the house of the alleged murderer of seven people, including three Jewish students and their Jewish teacher. After first speculations of a right-wing background, it turned out now that the 24-year-old Mohammed probably belongs to Islamist groups. Citizen Times Editor in Chief Felix Strüning spoke with Nancy Kobrin Hartevelt, who is a psychoanalyst and Arabist with a specialization on Islamic terrorism, based in Israel (German at blu-News).
Citizen Times: Ms Hartevelt Kobrin, the four victims of Toulouse killings arrived this morning. How is the mood in Israel?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: The mood is very somber. The gathering at the funeral in Jerusalem is huge. I believe it particularly hit hard the Sephardi community coming from North Africa. Sephardic Jews have lived among the North African Muslims for centuries and many immigrated to France because of the violence several generations ago. Now French Jews, many of whom who are Sephardic are once again having to immigrate to Israel because security has deteriorated in France. Sadly, it did not surprise me that this tragedy happened. I have long feared such an attack even in America where Jewish schools, summer camps and institutions are very vulnerable.
Citizen Times: Will there be any diplomatic changes between France and Israel?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: A kind of psychological bond has been strengthened on the one hand as it is such a shock for the French to have this happen on their soil so that it might make it a bit easier for the French to relate to the Israeli situation. It is unclear to me how the diplomatic relationship will change. Remember that Sarkozy did play a big role in Gilad Shalit’s release as Noam, his father, holds dual citizenship so while there had been a tension between Netanyahu and Sarkozy, there still has to be a viable working relationship.
Citizen Times: Was there the fear of an anti-Jewish A. Breivik?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: Generally there was not a fear of a Neo-Nazi attack. I would even say that while Israelis bit their tongue when it was reported at first that the killer was a Neo-Nazi, the majority did not buy it and were waiting for the other shoe to drop, I.e. an Islamic terrorist attack. After all, Israelis had been put on alert even before the attacks in India and Thailand that they were vulnerable. I immediately thought of the Beltway snipers and the serial killings in October 2002 though Jews were not specifically targeted.
Citizen Times: Now, it seems that the killer is Muslim and is connected to al-Qaeda. Does this fact changes something in the Israeli perspective?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: Israelis are so used to Islamic terrorism, that life resumes very quickly. For example, a young woman Israeli soldier was nearly stabbed to death in cold blood by a Palestinian last week on the new lite rail train in Jerusalem. It was covered on the news and we moved on. On the other hand there are great concern among experts as to what degree Al Qaeda is operating in the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, Gaza and I assume it probably has a cell or two even within Israel though I can’t confirm that, but why not? Israel is a nation like any other nation and al-Qaeda is quick and skillful at infiltrating. So when an attack takes places anywhere outside of Israel, it heightens the focus locally as well.
Citizen Times: As a specialist on Islamic terrorism, how do you see the situation?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: I am very saddened by this senseless loss of life and at times frustrated by the amount of changes which need to take place. The legal systems need to come up with a new category to deal with murdering in the name of God and/or Allah. The media needs to figure out ways to lessen the hype when they mediate the terrorism. The hype and the drama feed the problem when it is kept at such a superficial level in its discussion. Much more thought needs to be given to the early childhood development of the Islamic terrorists. It holds the key to decoding the unconscious dimension of the violent behavior.
I worry tremendously that because Israel and Jews in the diaspora have been so saturated by its bloody violence that it is degrading Jewish culture as well. Aggression breeds aggression. Now we have the problem of both Tag Mehir, the Jewish terrorist group (Price Tag) as well as ultra Orthodox men effacing harassing women and little girls in places like Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem.
Citizen Times: But what can we do?
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin: Finally, this kind of violence is learned in the home by age three, the need to hate and the need to have an enemy. Israel like France has a significant Muslim population. While the majority of Muslims are good people and they want to put bread on the table, dress their children and educate them, more attention must be paid to how they are educating their children about Jews and the unique relationship that Muslims have to their holy texts, the Quran, and Judaism. This is a key issue which is repeatedly swept under the rug. It must be addressed openly without political correctness. Al-Qaeda takes its ideologies from this scriptural hatred. While the ideologies serve as a girdle for a very fragile personality, nothing will change until the silent majority of Muslims decide to take a stand and fight the terrorism perpetrated against Israel and the Jews, specifically.
Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin is a psychoanalyst and Arabist with a specialisation on Islamic terrorism. She is the author of The Banality of Suicide Terrorism. The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing and has been interviewd by Citizen Times alreday in 2010.