Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Spiritual CBT and Flotilla Passengers Shooting at Israeli Soldiers

Two topics to discuss today. Gotta' clear the air a little.

Topic #1

I took out the spiritual cognitive therapy stuff on the last post and a reader wanted to know why.

In that post we were talking about how people cope with crises, and I suggested that when you lose your job, one of the things you might do, if you have a spiritual side, is to use that side to your advantage. I think there were three ways to do this in the long footnote that's now history.

I deleted it because I felt it took away from the post, made it all about religion, which gives the wrong impression. One thing I'm not, I hate to disappoint anyone, is all about religion. Sometimes, however, it creeps into my posts, my beliefs, maybe even, dare we say it, a little spirituality. I've even referred to the "Old Mighty," the moniker my grandfather dubbed his higher power. My grandfather was European, didn't always catch the nuances of the language, or so we think. He also said he was hard of hearing when my grandmother talked to him.

Anyway, what I left out, one of the things I deleted, was a quote from someone I admire.

This young woman attended a funeral and it changed her life. She listened to the many things said about the deceased, a guy who had suffered most of his life.  He suffered with illness and poverty, had difficulty supporting the family he loved, that loved him.  He devoted himself to doing "good" to doing things for anyone who needed him, the family, the community.  He worked selflessly, no money, no job success, no fame outside of his deeds. Mainly he helped others for very little in return-- the type of person who has nothing--  but they rob him anyway, twice. True story.

"Maybe we suffer," my friend said to me, "so that when we die, others will hear stories about us, and they'll learn what it really means to live." Or something like that.

For the life of me I can't remember what the other two spiritual cognitive strategies were. Does anyone else?

That's how spiritual I am.

Anyway, there's nothing good about death, not usually, except perhaps when there's too much suffering, and there's nothing good about war and senseless killing, which is why I'm posting #2.

Topic #2  Flotilla Passengers Shooting at Israeli Soldiers

I can count on one hand the number of times I've discussed Israel on this blog. Actually, one finger.

At the time I was in Israel and scud missiles from Gaza dropped on cities only a few miles away from me.  I thought, "People in America just don't know, they don't get it. The Palestinians are not the defenseless people they're made out to be in the media. They get weapons from other nations who have much to gain in a war against my people."

Anyway, today I hear that Israel is on the defensive once again, this time for intercepting a ship bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. As a rule these ships are intercepted to ensure that the flotilla do not carry arms to Gaza that will be used against the Israelis.The top paragraph of the Jerusalem Post:

Dozens wounded, including 10 soldiers, in pre-dawn battle at sea; Israel says its commandos were brutally attacked before opening fire.

It didn't happen peaceably, the humanitarian drop. First fire came from the flotilla, not the Israeli Defense Force. But that's not the coverage you're going to hear on television, I can guarantee.

But if you're Jewish, you get all kinds of email about Jewish things, and today the email was all about what happened, complete with links to Youtube.

First, if you're interested, read the story by Yaacov Katz.

Then go to Youtube. Experience war.

Okay, feel free to shoot the messenger.



Leora said...

Applause for posting on difficult subjects.

OK, you want disagreement, the story about life is about funeral stories bothered me. I don't want that said at my funeral. It wouldn't be true, anyway.

I can't understand how one can possibly see the flotilla as anything other than setting the Israelis up for bad publicity. Did you see the guy with the "salad" knife? That was no humanitarian worker.

abroadermark said...

I can't remember the other two spiritual strategies either. I know your explanation of one of them ended with you saying, "It works for me." Does that ring a bell?

I wonder what you mean when you say you're not all about religion? Do you mean that you don't refer to it much in therapy, or that you, in the way you live your personal life, are not all about religion? Inquiring minds want to know.

There has to be more to human suffering than an inspiring story, don't you think? Or maybe not. Maybe it's true that life's a @itch and then you die. Now isn't that a depressing thought?

Hey, where's the recent comment thingy? You didn't even try to put one in the sidebar, did you therapydoc? ;)

Jack Steiner said...


You know that I have blogged about this many times. I have received many threats and been accused of the worst many times.

I don't blog about it to try and change those who hate. I don't do it to rally those who love blindly.

It is the middle group that I am interested in. The undecided, the fence sitters. I want to reach those who haven't taken a position.

I think that you are doing a good thing here. It is hard to write about such things because it brings out such bile and anger, but it is necessary.

Wondering Soul said...


No shooting of messengers from me.

I liked the stuff you took out too... and although I was once very 'religious', these days, I tend to err towards a combination of cynicism and floundering where all that is concerned.
So I'm saying that I liked it without being someone who is a fervent believer!
And... I think that anyone who reads here often (and that IS quite a lot of people) know perfectly well that you are FAR from ebing 'all about religion', though I can understand your reluctance to allow yourself to be defined in such terms.
Like you (I'm guessing) I resent attempts to 'spiritualise' situations. For me it smacks of turning 'The Ole Mighty' into a Self Help Reference Section in the library.
But, I see nothing wrong with incorporating spirituality into your own strategies and sharing them on YOUR blog.

I have possibly missed the point (if I ever had it).

Point 1 about the suffering and meaning (cos that's what it really comes down to, right?)
I really liked the comment about the funeral. Those words made me think about all those other figures who lived lives whereby they suffered but inspired others... and there are countless examples.

I doubt that the REASONS we suffer are so that others can learn... but I think the point is more that sometimes, some good can come from it... that it is not all in vain...

I'm rambling so I'll stop!

Thanks for the read.

Kerro said...

Hmmm, at risk of alienating myself and tipping you, your readers and most of the blogosphere against me ...

Why does Israel seem to think it's above the law?

I say that not because I'm pro-Palestinian necessarily (certainly most of the press where I live is pro-Israeli), but because I'm continually puzzled by Israel's behaviour.

The Jews have been persecuted since before time began... and yet that somehow translates into an inalienable right to persecute others. I just don't get it.

In this case, as one smart journo said, "gross errors of judgement on both sides."


Harriet said...

Kerro, no need to duck. I ask the same questions, and as an American Jew it is quite politically incorrect to do so. But where can I go to get unbiased news anymore? I hear very conflicting reports about the attack

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when the topic of the flotilla would come up on your blog

Glad it did

me (AJewish Gal from Israel)

Samurai Scientist said...

No one fired any guns from the flotilla side. Neither did anyone on the flotilla kill anybody else, while the Israelis killed - took the lives - of 9 activists (not terrorists).

There was a time when Abraham pleaded with God to save an entire city of wicked people on behalf of ten righteous. Non-Jews, I might add. I wonder, where has that spirit gone? Do we now execute people simply for disobeying our decrees?

In every conflict, there is also an opportunity. Israel blew it this time.

therapydoc said...

Is that right Samurai? Then how do we explain this?

They Came For War

I imagine we could find a biblical source. Definitely. You can find one for everything. Doesn't make it true.

Volcanicuz said...

About the spiritual strategies - I rather think that this is a siginificant part of spirituality's role in human behavior and development. Spirituality is a big part of what helps (most of) us deal with adversity, tragedy, and so on. Not to say that this is its only purpose, nor that religion and belief are merely self-help aids, of course.

Kerro, Samurai et al.,
It is surely easy to use such lofty sounding statements and rhetoric, even when they have little to do with what actually happened. "Persecution"? We're talking about ensuring security - like in making sure none of those ships were another Karine A. The flotilla was repeatedly invited to discharge their aid package in Israel or Egypt to be searched and then transferred to Gaza. In fact, the humanitarian packages *were* transferred to Gaza after they were impounded and searched (BTW, the Gazans refused to receive it...). The flotilla package also was equivalent to about 25% of what Israel allows *daily* into the Strip anyway.

The terrorists (not activists) on the ship (including known heads of violent extremist groups) *did* fire on the soldiers first, at the very least with the soldiers' stolen weapons. Until then, the soldiers were equipped and ordered to use only non-lethal means. The method of bringing soldiers aboard was certainly foolhardy, based on a strange assumption that there would be no violence on the part of the mob (just like there wasn't on the other 3-4 ships). The resulting situation once the mob attacked was one that couldn't end well, and didn't.

Samurai, the very same Abraham attacked and wiped out 5 foreign armies just to get his kidnapped nephew free. Want to draw some more analogies? Remember that kid Gilad Schalit?

BTW, do you always judge rights and wrongs by who got killed and who didn't? If someone gets killed while sideswiping a truck, is the unhurt truck driver guilty of murder?

I agree that there was an opportunity blown, since I'm pretty sure that the ships would have engaged in violence at some point, as there was no way that Israel could allow the ships free passage. The troops failed to win the waiting game by boarding before the situation was clear enough, which is a shame. That's not "murder" or even "execution", even with regrettable loss of life.

Anonymous said...

"...not the coverage you're going to hear on television, I can guarantee." That's the reason I don't take in much from mainstream news. But I see stuff like this over at SnoopyTheGoon's place all the time, so it's, sadly, not surprising.

Also, I wanna ask, what exactly is "spiritual cognitive therapy"? Probably too complex for a brief answer in comments, but based solely on the terminology I'm wanting to guess, it's something like drawing on spiritual beliefs to help shore up your mental health.(?)
I'm not spiritual and looking for a new path here or something, just endlessly curious.

therapydoc said...

I made it up, Al, but it's using spirituality in an intellectual fashion.

Like thinking,

If I suffer, or if I deny myself things, sacrifice for others, if I'm a good boy in this life, there will be a reward in the next one.

I'll think of more. Have to clear my head.

Retriever said...

TD, you go, girl! Glad you posted on this.

Although on the religious question of yours at the end of the quote above this, I wonder if virtue or faith aren't both their own reward. There is a view that the best definition of Hell is a life disconnected from G_d. Therefore, to have faith is to be out of Hell at last, to be in touch with One who is the Source of All. Also, I would argue (tho I am certainly no example kid myself) that we should do good works as an expression of gratitude to G_d, for His loving gift of life to us. If we do them to earn our salvation, we are doing them for selfish reasons. Still better than being evil and vile, but we can't buy our way into G_d's heart. We are already cradled there, deserving and undeserving alike.

You know that I do not mean by this that everyone should just behave badly...

I also believe that whatever a person's religion, it can be an incredible source of strength, encouragement and guidance to any of us troubled and searching (even if the affliction is labelled medical or social). I've always liked the definition of true religion being that which afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted.

Ho hum. Excuse my blather.

Always a fan of yours...:)

tuesday@11 said...

I admire Israel for doing what is needed to protect their people and land. America needs to take lessons from Israel. I am a Christian and I enjoy the spiritual side of your blog. Please don't delete future spiritual thoughts. Share them with us and for those that are interested hopefully something will be gained. For those who are not interested simply disregard. If it could only be that simple.

Jack Steiner said...

No one fired any guns from the flotilla side. Neither did anyone on the flotilla kill anybody else, while the Israelis killed - took the lives - of 9 activists (not terrorists).

A couple of quick comments here.

1) Israel communicated with the boats prior to boarding. They were offered safe passage to Ashdod to unload the supplies and send them onto Gaza.

The captain on that one ship refused. Israel was within its legal rights to stop it.

Yes, they sent soldiers to board the ship just as Britain, France or the US would have.

Let's not forget that the French sunk one of Greenpeace's boats in 1985, but I digress.

The soldiers descended one by one onto the ship and were met with violence. The "activists" had promised "passive resistance."

If Israel had not been concerned with the welfare of those on board they could have handled this in such a way that no soldier would have been hurt.

For example they could have fired live ammunition from above without any regard for the 600 passengers on board.

They did not.

In courts throughout the world metal poles are considered deadly weapons, as are knives such as were used by the "activists."

The fact that only 9 people died is a testament to the restraint of Israel. The responsibility for their deaths is upon those who set them upon the soldiers.

Did you know that hamas has refused to accept the transfer of aid from the "flotilla."

The real truth here is that this is a very complex matter that cannot be viewed in the simple form that some people prefer.

Part of the anger that some people feel is based upon the double standards. Africa burns and no one does anything.

Putin destroys Chechnya and no one does anything. When chechen terrorists take over a theater the Russians pump it full of gas, killing the terrorists and many of the hostages. No one says anything.

But when Israel acts as any sovereign nation would it is excoriated and accused of the worst crimes.

Look, only a fool would say that Israel shouldn't be criticized or held accountable. Every nation should, but the lack of balance is problematic.

Jack Steiner said...

Why does Israel seem to think it's above the law?

Kerro- it is hard to have a discussion without specific examples. But let me point something out in reference to this incident. If you go to the International Committee of the Red Cross website please read the
San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994

I have cited section 67:


Neutral merchant vessels

67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;
(b) engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy;
(c) act as auxiliaries to the enemy s armed forces;
(d) are incorporated into or assist the enemy s intelligence system;
(e) sail under convoy of enemy warships or military aircraft; or
(f) otherwise make an effective contribution to the enemy s military action, e.g., by carrying military materials, and it is not feasible for the attacking forces to first place passengers and crew in a place of safety. Unless circumstances do not permit, they are to be given a warning, so that they can re-route, off-load, or take other precautions.

Anonymous said...

If I were a therapist and Israel and Gaza/the Palestinians were a married couple who had come to me for counseling, I think I would despair of ever helping them to find a way to live harmoniously, to love and care about each other. I think I might advise them to divorce and if that fell on deaf ears, like some couples who seem locked in a relationship based on mutual antipathy, I might want to remove myself from them in order to keep from being chewed up.

I find it very painful to watch what both sides do to each other in this conflict/war/aggression. I feel like a child with parents who are bitterly unhappy with each other, at their mercy and affected by their bad relationship, but unable to do a thing about it.

Ally said...

Amazing comment, Anonymous (marital therapy analogy). I have no idea what will happen next, other than more conflict and misery. It's gotten very difficult to figure out when to criticize and when to sympathize. Tragic, scary.

Isle Dance said...

The ultimate domestic abuse, isn't it. One lashes out, while claiming the other did, as the other takes the most basic steps of protection. And then everyone else says, "Well, the other must have done something to cause this in the first place."

Margo said...

If only 'divorce' were that simple - the custody battle is the issue.

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Wendy said...

I haven't responded to this post, watching and waiting. Seeing the comments, I wasn't sure if I was on one side or the other, because there were good comments on everything - weither I agreed or not. But Anonymous's analogy really gave me some clarity, Thank you. I wish you hadn't been anonymous because I would like to hear more from you!
I wish there could just be peace. I have no idea how to get there. If that were one of the "sides", I would jump in immediately.

Kerro said...

Wendy - I'll join you on the "side" of peace.

Anonymous said...

Hi, therapydoc -

Nope . . . I've never thought of you as someone who oozes religion . . . not even close. So, you could include thoughts about religion and spirituality and I, for one, would be fine with it! Actually, I like to hear your thoughts . . . they often give me new perspective.

Speaking of "the purpose of life" (or the purpose of what is said at funerals) . . . your post leaves me asking, again, the question I ask myself so often . . . why are we here on this earth?

Thanks for your thoughts!

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Samurai Scientist said...

@TD, you are just quoting the Israeli army's version of the story.

A lot of this is just identity politics. You are a very religious Jew who identifies strongly with Israel. So is Volcanicuz. Jack, I don't know him personally but I think he's Jewish and he is always on Israel's side. You guys identify much less strongly with Arabs, and to be honest I don't think you mourn them much either. It's all just identity politics.

therapydoc said...

To make it all about identity is an interesting idea, especially on a therapy blog. But we try, around here, not to insult people by diminishing their point of view, especially on a complicated issue, with a soundbite.

blogbehave said...

I am far FAR from a spiritual therapist, do not advertise as such, and do not propose must in the way of spiritual solutions. But I do point out the cognitive aspect of relying on spiritual insights, IF my patient brings this belief system to my attention, the hopes, prayers, as a means of coping. I don't deride or diminish it's value. I think spirituality can be highly valuable in therapy.

Anonymous said...

enjoy the spiritual side of your blog. Please don't delete future spiritual thoughts. Share them with us and for those that are interested hopefully something will be gained.

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