Mar 2003 Journal

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Schizophrenia under dreaming spires

The other night, BB2’s Arts Review discussed Christopher Hampton’s The Talking Cure (currently showing at the National Theatre). This is a play about the formative stage in the development of psychoanalysis and focuses on the fraught relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

However, the discussion, which should have been about the merits of the play, was sidetracked early on when Tom Paulin denied Jung any standing as a thinker. Jeanette Winterson tried to defend the Swiss psychologist but was slapped down by Paulin, who rubbished Jung’s ideas about the ‘racial subconscious’ and his theory of archetypes as so much mumbo-jumbo. Then the Oxford don landed his killer blow: he quoted Jung’s deeply ambiguous attitude to Nazism.

One part of me was pleased to note that Paulin has not forgiven those European intellectuals who committed la trahison des clercs by compounding with Nazi ideology in the 1930s. Another part of me was puzzled as to how this attitude squared with Paulin’s lapse into Goebbels-style demonisation of Israeli soldiers and Nazi-style rhetoric calling for the murder of Orthodox settlers from the USA.

Someone who is as sensitive as Paulin is to the erosion of humanitarian values by the poison of prewar racism cannot be oblivious to the alarming overlap between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. This overlap has existed since the 1920s, when the Muslim Brotherhood first preached jihad, and Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, incited a pogrom in Hebron in response to Jewish immigration.

However justified the Palestinians may be in demanding national self-determination, they forfeit such a claim by denying the same right to the Jews. And how sincere can protestations to the contrary be when Arab anti-Zionists - whether secularists like Arafat and Saddam or Islamists - subscribe to the same image of the Jew as delineated in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

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