New Book: Friedman-Peleg, A Nation on the Couch. The Politics of Trauma in Israel (in Hebrew)

פרידמן-פלג, קרן. העם על הספה. הפוליטיקה של הטראומה בישראל, ספריית אשכולות. ירושלים: מאגנס, 2014.

 

magnes

 

URL: http://www.magnespress.co.il/

 

Abstract

This book is an invitation to observe the practice of one of the most dominant communities in Israel, and yet one of its most closed ones: the therapeutic community. Through a four-year anthropological field work (2004-2008) among two of the most prominent associations in Israel – Natal (“Israel’s Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War”) and the “Israel Trauma Coalition” – the chapters of this book trace the inevitable intersection between professional questions of clinical diagnosis, treatment and prevention of PTSD in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict with political question of group identity and power relations: what differences exist between therapists on the meaning of traumatic experiences and its moral boundaries? What consensus is reached regarding practices of aid and funds allocation, and what is the connection between it and the questions of group identity; including political, ethnic, and social class aspects?

This ethnographic journey will shed light on the development of politics around the therapeutic practice of trauma in two sequential instances: (1) the institutional instance will address the establishment of a new therapeutic home, through the extraordinary juncture of therapists, donors and advertisers; (2) the professional instance will present the branching of four circles of therapeutic occupation of trauma: the “clinical core” among soldiers; the practice of the tense relationship between “primary” trauma of a man and the “secondary” trauma of a woman, his spouse; the growing distance from the “clinical mothership,” for the sake of intervention among “risk groups” from Be’er-Sheva in the South to Daliyat al-Karmel in the north; and the emphasis on the prevention of trauma, through activities such as “strength and immunity” in Sderot. These examinations will demonstrate how the therapeutic practice is far from representing a single objective reality with a clear professional truth. Instead, it will reveal the existence of a polyphonic and multi-participant network of reciprocities surrounding the therapeutic practice of trauma, between various social locations and diverse worldviews.

New Article: Interview with Erez Pery about Sderot, Last Exit, and the School of Sound and Screen Arts at Sappir College

Barlet, Olivier. “‘We need to think again from the beginning!’: Interview with Erez Pery about Sderot, Last Exit, and the School of Sound and Screen Arts at Sappir College, Israel.” Black Camera 6.1 (2014): 215-219.

 

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/black_camera/v006/6.1.barlet.htm

See also film review by Olivier Barlet and Melissa Thackway, pp. 219-220.

 

Excerpt

Olivier Barlet (OB):

What is your feeling about Osvalde Lewat’s film?

Erez Pery (EP):

Well, you ask the million-dollar question! I was surprised to see me and the school and my position within the structure from Osvalde’s point of view. It is what’s beautiful about cinema!

OB:

Does it serve or disserve the school?

EP:

It helps in the sense that more people get to know what we do here in the south of Israel. The festival is already quite known in circles in Europe. It’s funny because people in Paris know better what’s going on in the school than people here in Tel Aviv!

OB:

Would you have taken the same point of view?

EP:

The school is a part of my family. I wouldn’t do a film about it; it is too close, too intimate.

OB:

A lot of documentary films do that.

EP:

Yes, but I don’t really like that. I can only handle it when the private sphere and the public sphere connect together, when your private life some-how captures the zeitgeist of the society. I was surprised when Osvalde came to me with the idea of making a film about the school. It happened because of the festival: I saw Black Business in France and called to invite her. She was totally surprised. She has never been to Israel before. When she was at the festival, she was in a total shock. I think it was a kind of life-changing experience for her.

OB:

Does the fact that she is an African woman make a difference for you?

EP:

The festival is focused on the three continents: Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Finding good films from Africa is not easy these days. Sderot is inhabited by Jews from Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia. …

OB:

Do the students of the school tackle the issue of these identities?

EP:

Yes, because Israel is a nation of immigrants who had to curb their own identity to be Israelis, and what we are doing now is going back to our original identity, our own roots, the language that we have never talked, to know who we really are. This is the kind of film that is made here. Films of hybrid people, half Israeli, half something else. This is what Freud called “the return of the repressed.”

OB:

When you present the school outside, what are your main points?

EP:

First and foremost, we are a kind of alternative to the hegemonic center, not only in the subject matter, but also aesthetically. As we are on the periphery, very close to the border with Gaza, we have this little laboratory of our own: we can explore things. We are not afraid of difficult subjects and to open old wounds. This is basically what we do here, in contrast with what is going on in the rest of the country. People from the center think that it is a kind of weakness, giving up the prestige of the conventional aesthetic and big festivals. …