The following article is a guest post by Hank Pin from American University Students For Justice in Palestine. Stay tuned for a piece by SAIA’s own Ahmed al-Sayeed:
Recently, I had the opportunity to read Miranda Lapides insightful article “Israel Peace Week and Positive Psychology” which explained how giving a conflict a “positive spin” helps to bring out people’s most important values, thereby paving the road to peace.
For one, I am certainly glad that someone has finally taken the subjective idealist framework and applied it in a conflict situation. After all, external material reality is nothing more than perceptions of the mind, right? What are “occupation” and “apartheid” if not mere ideological concepts that exist in the mind?
In fact, let’s acknowledge exactly that. Let’s ignore the countless home demolitions that have occurred in Palestinian villages. Let’s ignore 65 years of humiliation that Palestinians have lived through. Let’s ignore the destruction of lives and households of the Palestinians. After all, these issues are merely just subjective perceptions, and I am sure that the settlers who just uprooted a Palestinian farmer’s olive tree have a just and equally valid subjective perception. Who needs to actually deal with material reality when you have “positive psychology.”
Yes, let’s not talk about the issues that actually effect people’s lives. Let’s focus on some abstract notion of “positivity” and “peace” while people are being oppressed and and having their livelihoods ruined. No, that would too divisive, not helpful for “positive psychology.” Oppression only exists in the mind, you just have to keep convincing yourself that everything is alright and that whatever hardships you experience are merely subjective.
Such is the absurd logic behind the Israel Student Association’s call for “positive psychology,” a call that does not seek to address what is wrong, a call that seeks to ignore the sufferings of others, a call that serves nothing more than to whitewash the actions of the oppressors.
As much as one can wish, the Occupation simply cannot be “thought away” with positive psychology. Daily hardships that people go through do not go away by “focusing on the positives.” No, these are real people with real lives, with real tangible hardships that they have to go through. Appealing to an infantile fantasy that somehow by having “positive psychology” would somehow remedy the situation is not only naïve, but counterproductive.