So many different ideas and proposals have been raised for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict that it was, one supposes, only a question of time until someone proposed ending the war through psychobabble. That is the theme of Israel on the Couch by Grosbard, an Israel-born American clinical psychologist.
Convinced that the entire conflict is a problem of psychology, he offers some notions from psychotherapy by way of a solution. The players in the war are basically misunderstood children. Analysts should stop trying to understand who is right and who is wrong in the war, just as it is unhelpful to apply such notions to sandbox tantrums. The whole conflict is a by-product of feelings of frustration and despair.
Grosbard sees warring belligerents as misunderstood children crying out for approval, not rational people having aggressive intentions or strategic agendas. The Palestinians peskily continue to insist on an unlimited "right of return" to Israel even after getting some sort of Palestinian state but only because they are undergoing a "mourning process." When Israel's anti-Oslo dissidents insist the Arabs are still seeking the destruction of Israel, Grosbard regards this as "regressive parts of their personality." Israeli perceptions of anti-Semitism are paranoid delusions, a symptom of Jewish emotional retardation.
Egypt has maintained the coldest of relations with Israel because the Israelis have hurt its feelings. Syria's, too. Terrorist atrocities are cries for attention that do not really threaten Israel, acts that show the perpetrator is in need of being treated with deeper understanding and sensitivity. "Unfortunately, we only learn by force … that we have to be considerate of others. … Arab thinking is different from ours … It is the kind of thinking that in therapy we actually encourage. It is associative, figurative, emotional, and impulsive."
In the name of good mental health, Grosbard enthusiastically endorses the Israeli Left's views, which explains why the jacket carries endorsements by Shimon Peres and other politicians. Jerusalem rightly belongs only to the Arabs, and any Israeli claim to it is based on nothing but childish narcissism. The peace process will resolve the war because it represents "emotional growth." Anyone dissenting from the ideas of the Israeli Left is suffering from adolescent-like emotional resistance. Whenever non-leftists get elected in Israel, this is a manifestation of the identification of the Israeli public with aggression in order to overcome fear.
Once we slice through the psychobabble, we are left with the assumption by Grosbard that anyone who disagrees with his take on the Arab-Israeli conflict suffers from mental illness while the Left is a cornucopia of mental health and maturity.