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How Finkelstein Broke the Trauma Bond, and Beat the Holocaust: Traumatic Memory And The Struggle Against Systemic Evil

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | How Finkelstein Broke the Trauma Bond, and Beat the Holocaust: Traumatic Memory And The Struggle Against Systemic Evil.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Lawrence Swaim(Author)

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Following on from the first two books in his 'Genesis Trilogy', Lawrence Swaim tells the amazing stories of people who broke the trauma bond, and created new lives for themselves. Including, among others: Norman Finkelstein (whose parents were both Holocaust survivors) who broke free from the inter-generational trauma in his family system by exposing extensive corruption in his community--and in American society--and by working for social justice in the Middle East; Eric Lomax, a former British soldier in the far east, who broke free from his haunting traumatic memories by meeting and reconciling with the Japanese man who had tortured him fifty years before, with the help of his brave and insightful wife; Gerry Adams who, together with his IRA and Sinn Fein comrades, broke free of the trauma of Northern Ireland's civil war, finally redeeming himself by questioning some of his own assumptions and then dedicating himself to achieving peace in the Good Friday (Peace) Agreement of 1998. This is a definitive book about personal struggle against traumatic memory, but also about how trauma bonding operates in society. It is the author's belief that unresolved feelings of psychological trauma are the wheelhouse of systemic evil, whether of the dictator, the demagogue or the criminal psychopath. It is by manipulating shared traumatic memories that tyrants control people, and get them to do terrible things they would never otherwise do.

Lawrence Swaim is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation, a public-interest nonprofit advocating civil rights for religious minorities and religious liberty for all. He lives in California.

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Book details

  • PDF | 724 pages
  • Lawrence Swaim(Author)
  • Psyche Books (October 30, 2015)
  • English
  • 6
  • Health, Fitness & Dieting

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  • By Hans-Peter Muller on July 5, 2017

    "Finkelstein is not just a public intellectual, however: there is something too explosive about the subjects he writes about for that category to completely contain him. He acts out a role that is Grecian in its cosmopolitanism, Abrahamic in its prophetic intensity. It is a role all Christians, Jews and Muslims instinctively – if subliminally – recognize. He is the archetypical Prophet who warns the people in his tribe to stop dancing around the Golden Calf, and tells of their impending doom if they do not. He is Cassandra, who foresees the downfall of her nation; he is the Abrahamic prophets Isaiah, Daniel, and Jeremiah, as well as the heroic figure of Joseph, who astounds the Pharaoh by telling him what his dreams are really about. He is a figure Americans recognize, although they do not want to. He is the Puritan preacher, hurling bolts of rhetorical fury in modern Jeremiads; he is Daniel in the lion’s den; he is tormented and selfish and at times uncouth, but he is also unexpectedly Christ-like, refusing to Abandon his message despite scourging by critics."What Lawrence Swaim writes on page 174 of his collection of eulogies on several individuals’ “traumatic memory and the struggle against systemic evil” [1] is a culmination of a very subjective narrative about the American political scientist Norman Finkelstein who has paid a high price for challenging Israel and members of the so-called Israel Lobby in the U.S when painstakingly exposing, in his numerous books, Israel’s not-so-favorable conduct in the decades-long war with the Palestinians.Swaim’s claim that Finkelstein had broken the trauma bond with his late parents who had both died in 1995, is not certain. In the above telling documentary about him, he remarks that his late mother, Maryla Husyt Finkelstein, who talked about “the war” and her survival in the Warsaw ghetto and Maijdanek concentration camp virtually every day, was very much concerned about his transformation into Frankenstein’s Monster, here “Finkelstein’s Monster”. His outright vitriolic, albeit entirely true, most famous books, “The Holocaust Industry” about the financial and political exploitation of The Holocaust by the American Jewish establishment, and “Beyond Chutzpah” on the “misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history”, but, in particular, on the shoddy scholarship and downright propaganda of his adversary, Israel apologist Professor Alan Dershowitz in his “Case for Israel”, must be regarded as utterly self-destructive. It had to be expected that the Israel Lobby and Alan Dershowitz would destroy Finkelstein’s academic career afterwards.I am afraid, Finkelstein never broke the trauma bond. Apart from that, what is inexcusable in Swaim’s book is the virtual lack of any references in his quasi-biography, with few exceptions quoting mainly Finkelstein’s own account in his books, articles, and on his blog. Swaim’s narrative contains numerous factual errors which may easily be identified for readers who are faintly familiar with Finkelstein’s fate [2].So, in general, the chapter on Finkelstein is useless and may well prevent me from reading the other chapters on Eric Lomax, a former British soldier who met and reconciled with the Japanese who had tortured him 50 years before, and Gerry Adams of the IRA and Sinn Fein. Both are claimed, by Swaim [3], to have broken the trauma bond as well.Notes[1] Swaim L. How Finkelstein broke the Trauma bond and beat the Holocaust. Traumatic Memory and the struggle against systemic evil. Psyche Books, Winchester, UK 2015.[2] A most personal account on his difficult time as adolescent and young adult by 26-yr-old Norman Finkelstein himself is “Haunted House”, published by Monthly Review in 2006, just before tenure was denied by DePaul University on the Intervention of Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. It contains a most significant event, when Norman Finkelstein accompanied his mother who had been asked to testify at the 1975-1981 Maijdanek Trial in Düsseldorf, Germany."In 1979 the German government requested that my mother testify at the Maijdanek trial in Dusseldorf. I accompanied her. The initial shock came when she discovered that the defendants not only weren’t manacled but moved about freely, unguarded, in the courthouse. They were even released on their own recognizance every evening after court proceedings were over. 'Those animals,' my mother shrieked, 'they’re not in cages?!'Taking the witness stand to give testimony, my mother was called on by the judge to identify the defendants in the courtroom as the guards she knew in the camp. She couldn’t. It had been forbidden for inmates to make direct eye contact with the guards and, anyhow, the Germans sitting in front of her didn’t at all resemble them. My mother remembered the guards as slim, towering 'Aryan' types in crisp uniforms. Many were now obese, and wearing drab pleated skirts and cheap, wrinkled blouses. 'I can’t believe it,' my mother whispered to me the first day in court, 'they’re washwomen.' The survivor-witness right before my mother also couldn’t identify them. Ordering the defendants to stand up, the judge told the witness to inspect them from up close. Approaching the former guards, she now claimed to recognize them from their feet. I cringed from shame at this obvious falsehood. Were the spectators in the courtroom thinking 'another Jew-liar,' I wondered, and would they now infer that all the testimony was false too? In fact, the witnesses had been quietly coached ahead of time which defendant in the courtroom was the guard 'Hermine,' which 'Birgetta,' which 'Perelka,' etc. I still can’t say whether identifying the defendants was just a legal formality, the Germans being sticklers about procedure, or whether it was a subtle plot to discredit survivors. When the judge asked my mother to identify the guards from up close, she refused, saying that, if she got any nearer, she would beat them. Exasperated, the judge then asked my mother to identify them from an album collecting contemporary photographs from Maijdanek of the guards. She again refused. 'I won’t look at them alive in the camp. If you give me pictures of them dead, not only will I look at them, I’ll do a dance for the courtroom.' Although my mother might seem in retrospect a willfully uncooperative witness, I don’t fault her. Having dragged on for years, the Dusseldorf proceedings no longer carried moral weight. Scores of witnesses had already identified these beasts, and the defendants themselves seemed bored to tears. Personally, I supported the Soviet style of meting out justice after entering the camps at war’s end: Line them up, shoot them down."The most notorious of the female guards at Maijdanek was Birgetta. Whip in hand, she used to stride into the main courtyard of the camp trailed by German shepherds. One evening after my mother had just given several consecutive hours of testimony, we were exiting the courthouse into the darkness when I noticed, but my mother didn’t, Birgetta casually walking almost shoulder-to-shoulder with me, my mother on the other side. My whole being started to quiver. I waited for Birgetta to get several hundred feet ahead, and then turned to my mother: 'Do you know who that is?' 'Birgetta?' my mother gasped. 'Yes! Do you want me to get her?' 'Get her! Get her!' my mother screamed hysterically. 'They think we’re sheep! They think we’re sheep!' Although pathologically mindful of my physical safety, afterwards she never expressed regret about commanding me to exact retribution. In fact I’m certain she would have lost all respect for me if I silently abided this colossal, ineffable affront. Despising Martin Luther King’s turn-the other-cheek philosophy, my mother on the contrary admired Malcolm X for advocating that each blow be returned in kind. To teach them a lesson; to avenge the dead; to keep one’s honor."[3] Swaim claims to be Executive Director of an obscure Interfaith Freedom Foundation, a “public-interest nonprofit advocating civil rights for religious minorities and religious liberty for all.” Swaim’s account contains numerous anti-Semitic as well as anti-Christian musings.

  • By Miriam Knight on January 25, 2016

    This book is difficult to read, detailing as it does some of the most horrific episodes of brutality and evil in the wars and armed conflicts of recent history. It is however ultimately encouraging, because, it tells the story of people who have bravely told the truth and found the way to maintain their humanity in the face of evil and serve the greater good. The trauma bond in the title refers to that quirk in the human psyche whereby victims of torture or brutality may identify with those who hold power over them and then go on to vent their pain through aggression toward others.The chapter that gives the book its name is about Norman Finkelstein, the son of two Holocaust survivors, who wrote his PhD thesis on exposing the untruths in a book written to morally justify the expulsion of the Palestinians from their villages during the establishment of the state of Israel. Later published as a book, Finkelstein's work earned him the enmity of the Israel lobby and indirectly resulted in his being blacklisted from academia despite being recognized as a gifted researcher and teacher.There is a chapter about Eric Lomax, whose story about ultimately forgiving his Japanese torturer was made into a movie with Colin Firth called “The Railway Man.” Another chapter talks about the work of Gerry Adams and his brave decision to seek a political solution to the Irish troubles that had cost so many lives over 30 years.Iris Chang was a Chinese American whose grandparents and parents were present in Nangking during the Japanese invasion and exceptionally brutal treatment and massacre of its citizens. Known as the Rape of Nanking, the history of these events had been suppressed, presumably due to the US desire to foster good relations with Japan and avoid embarrassing revelations. While the other stories in the book were about freeing oneself from the effects of the trauma, in this case Iris was working on behalf of an entire community to give voice to a story that had been silenced because of political pressures. Iris was driven to write several highly regarded books on the subject, at considerable cost to her delicate mental state, and interviewing survivors of the massacre for her last one may have contributed to her suicide.Another particularly moving chapter for me was the story of Noam Chayut, an Israeli author and former soldier who was moved to become one of the founders Breaking the Silence - www.breakingthesilence.org.il - an organization of Israeli soldiers dedicated to talking about their experiences serving in the occupied territories, and exposing to the Israeli public the reality of everyday life for the Palestinians who live there.What ties these and all the other chapters together is the author's thesis that two things are necessary to break the trauma bond and successfully combat systemic evil: one is to acknowledge the truth about a situation and speak of it to others, and the other is to take some kind of positive action for the greater good. This brings to mind the quotation from Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Throughout the book are examples of how even good men may be drawn into complicity with terrible acts. When brutality becomes commonplace and winning at any cost is the only criterion of right action, the moral compass loses direction. There are far too many resonances with present day events, and one can only hope that Swaim’s call is more that of a rooster at dawn than a canary in the coal mine.The book would have benefited from some drastic pruning and copy editing. Its length is rather off-putting, which is a pity because it does provide valuable perspectives and sobering food for thought.


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