Israel is continuing its attacks in the Gaza strip for the third day today, striking at a security compound, a mosque, a university, and a network of smugglers’ tunnels, Israel was apparently reacting to rocket strikes by Hamas forces, but the cycle of violence is all too familiar. Israel reacts with overwhelming force, attempting to squelch the power of the Palestinian military capabilities and restrict the freedom of the Palestinian people to move about the territory. The Palestinian military wing, Hamas in the current situation, reacts with calls for more suicide attacks on civilians in Israel. Israel says there will be no peace talks until attacks by Hamas end, and Israel continues to expand its settlements into Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, rage against Israel and the West in the surrounding Arab nations continues to grow.
Whatever side of this argument you are on, there is no denying that neither side wants peace. They are locked in a battle that has no end – a battle where the lines are blurred between victim and perpetrator.
I’m just finishing an interesting book by Liz Greene entitled Dark of the Soul: Psychopathology in the Horoscope There is a chapter on the scapegoat pattern as a psychological complex. In the story of the scapegoat, the ancient Hebrews sent a goat, designated as the carrier of the sins of the collective, into the wilderness to perish and thereby save the collective from punishment. The story of the Christ as the sacrificial lamb who perished for the sins of the collective perhaps comes from the original scapegoat tale. In any case, the scapegoat dynamic depends on the presence of both a victim and the one who represents the collective establishment and inflicts the punishment. Ms. Greene calls that individual the perpetrator.
So with the scapegoat dynamic we have both a perpetrator and a victim, and that dynamic becomes internalized within the individual. Some people suffer terrible abuse and never go on to abuse others, but for some the cycle of victim/perpetrator becomes internalized and the one who is abused becomes the perpetrator him/herself.
I see this quite plainly in the Israeli/Palestinian situation. The modern nation of Israel was established to rescue the victims of the Holocaust, but in order to establish the nation, the fledgling Israeli nation had to fight with the local Arabs in order to expand Israeli territory. Now the victim (Israel) becomes the perpetrator. The Palestinians become the victims, not only of Israeli expansion but also in the refusal of neighboring Arab nations to permit them to enter these countries as refugees. At first, Palestinian violence against Israel was mainly intended to help Palestinians return to their homes, but later as the collective rage against Israel grew, this violence became more generalized. Now the Palestinians are also the perpetrators. At the same time, Israel is portrayed as a victim against the aggression of Lebanon and Iran. So both the Israelis and Palestinians are locked in a cycle of victim/perpetrator that has no end.
Just as the scapegoat for the ancient Hebrews served the purpose of expiating the sins of the collective, the scapegoat psychological complex serves a purpose in a family or a greater collective. Many dysfunctional families contain a scapegoat such as the black sheep, or the bad child, who carries the “sins” of the family so that the rest of the members can feel that they are the ones who are ok. Psychologists who work with troubled families report that when the “bad kid” is removed from the family and put in a hospital or reform school, another child in the family “goes bad.” There must be a goat to carry the sins of the collective, otherwise the collective must face those sins directly and resolve them.
It occurs to me that the unending cycle of violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians provides a scapegoat not only for the nations in the Middle East but for he entire Western world. The astrology of Israel and Palestine, being virtually identical, ensures that the challenging astrological patterns in each chart is forever locked into the other (see my article for more information on the astrological dynamics of this conflict).
The only way to resolve any destructive psychological pattern is for the individual to recognize that the pattern exists and work with the internal dynamic in a conscious way. In this situation, both Israel and the Palestinians would have to recognize that they have stepped beyond the role of victim to the role of perpetrator, and work to resolve the cycle internally. They cannot rely on the world around them that in a subconscious way depends on the scapegoat to carry out the violence for the collective.
With Pluto in Capricorn, perhaps some of this can be brought to light. The symbol for Capricorn, after all, is the goat.