Probing Delusions Wrought by Oslo

Even as a young man – even before he was a teenager – Dr. Kenneth Levin recalls having an intense interest in Israel and the Middle East.

But it was just this summer – after years of writing articles about it primarily for Jewish papers and Hebrew journals – that Levin, also a psychiatrist in private practice, published his first book on Israel.

The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege, as well as how the media covers the Mideast in general, will be the topic Sept. 26 when Levin and his wife, Andrea Levin, make a stop in Philadelphia. The duo will be guest speakers at a free event sponsored by the Center for Israel and Overseas of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Middle East Forum's Robert Guzzardi Lecture Series.

Andrea Levin heads the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – better known as Camera – an organization dedicated to promoting accurate and balanced reportage about Israel and the Middle East. She will speak about how Philadelphia media sources – most specifically, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the local National Public Radio station – cover the topic.

The Levins "complement each other," said Asaf Romirowsky, Israel Affairs associate for the Center for Israel and Overseas. "Our goal is to educate the community on media inaccuracy and what's taking place in Israel. It's a two-prong issue."

Ken Levin said that at the lunchtime event to be held at Federation's Center City headquarters, he will focus on the subject of his book: Why Jews chose to believe in the Oslo negotiations even though terrorism persisted, and how they can avoid such dangerous complacency from cropping up again.

With a medical degree in psychiatry and a doctorate in 19th-century European history, Levin combines his two disciplines to analyze the psyche of what he calls "an abused nation."

'Close Their Eyes'
The 61-year-old, who has a private practice in Boston and also teaches at Harvard Medical School, said that he's been told his South Philadelphia upbringing has imparted a certain common-sense approach to him, making him more disinclined to fit in and more willing to express possibly unpopular views.

He stated that American Jews have the responsibility to help alleviate some of the demoralization experienced by Israelis, who Levin theorizes "absorb the indictments of the attackers in the hopes that they will leave [them] alone."

He said that the Jewish community should fight anti-Jewish bigotry, and also be constantly aware of the anti-Jewish notions taught in Palestinian schools and mosques, and voiced repeatedly by Muslim leaders.

He pointed out that although there was some coverage of the teaching of hatred and intolerance in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, media outlets have once again been lax in disclosing the anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments still prevalent in the region.

"It's not a matter of American Jews having to think of Jewish issues or Israel first. I'm concerned when there are threats to Israel and people want to close their eyes to it," he said.

"In some ways, it's more comfortable to ignore it. People prefer to not rock the boat, but if you care about Israel and Jewish life, then you ought to be mindful of problems that undermine [all] Jewish communities."

To learn more about the event, call 215-832-0537.



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