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Analyzing Major Conflicts and False Justice Through Bert Hellinger's Lens: My Personal View on Israel's Current Situation

Conflicts are an integral part of human history and our daily reality. Many times, we find ourselves facing internal and external struggles that seem inevitable. This time, I chose to bring to my blog the text by Bert Hellinger, which deals with the factors and processes behind major conflicts, the human desire to destroy, and the influence of false justice on the continuation of conflict. Hellinger invites us to think about fundamental questions and examine our behaviors and reactions in situations of conflict.

In this article, I found a reflection of the harsh and complex reality we have been living in the past two years. Through Hellinger's understanding, we can see the destructive processes currently taking place in our country, the use of false justice to justify destructive political actions, and the urgent need to preserve democracy. I invite you to delve into the article and reflect on the essential questions it raises. Let's begin...

Bert Hellinger photo

Major Conflicts

Bert Hellinger

The will to annihilate

Each large conflict wants to get something out of the way. Ultimately, it seeks to annihilate it. Behind these conflicts, the will to annihilate is at work. What kind of energies or fears does the will to annihilate feed on? What feeds the will to annihilate is, above all, the will to survive. Where our life is threatened, we react by flight or fight. Flight means the flight from being annihilated by others and fight means attempting to annihilate the others or to make them take flight. Annihilation, by definition, is the complete eradication of something or someone. As a rule, the goal is not just to kill others; it is also, in any possible way, to usurp the place of those others and take what belongs to them – physically or spiritually: their goods, their homes, their land, their skills, their cultures, the totality of their lives.

Yes this is also in the service of survival, to kill and take what belongs to others. It appears we shun cannibalism; this is a thin veneer. For there are many situations in which human beings safeguard their survival at other people’s cost, even at the cost of their lives. Often absorbing what we just destroyed is necessary to our own survival. We may get our nourishment from what nature gives to us, like fruit and nuts, but for meat, fish and even vegetables we have to kill before we can take it.

Are all life and death conflicts inhumane? When we are in dire need, we cannot escape them. Large-scale conflicts only serve survival on the one hand; on the other hand they endanger survival. Therefore, human beings have always sought ways to resolve conflicts peaceably, such as by making contacts, having clear boundaries and forming alliances among smaller groups, by common laws and leadership. Deadly conflicts are kept within limits by a legal system. In particular, the ruler’s monopoly on the use of force is effective to various degrees in halting violent conflict and forcing resolution between individuals and subgroups.

This legal order is external. To some extent it relies on consent, but to a large degree, it relies on the fear of punishment, including being put to death and exclusion from the community. This legal order is established through force, originating from an external ruler. Once instituted, it is upheld by force. So, this type of enforcement may reduce conflict, but it also relies on conflict and fighting at the same time. Of course, this kind of conflict is usually of an ordered nature, thus it is still serving the survival of the whole group and its members.

The legal system generally sets limits on the destructive tendencies in individuals and it protects individuals and groups from outbreaks of destructiveness. When these boundaries break down, such as in wars, or when the legal system collapses, such as a revolution, the original destructiveness breaks out again with terrifying consequences.

Displacement of the will to destroy

Within a legal system that protects the individuals from their own destructiveness and that of others, we can still see groups living out their destructive tendencies through displacement on to other levels. We see destructiveness at work in political confrontations, but also in many scientific and ideological arguments.

We can see destructiveness at work wherever the objective level is abandoned. Instead of searching together for the best solution and observing and examining issues in an objective manner, the members of the other party or school of thought are attacked with words of abuse, slander, defamation. Aggressions breaking through like this are at times not too different from physical destructiveness. They both have the same emotional base and intention to destroy the other, at least morally, by declaring the other an enemy of their group, with all of the ensuing consequences. Can individuals protect themselves from this? They are exposed to this conflict, even without participating in it at all. But even then such individuals are themselves in danger of responding to such aggressions with their own destructiveness, which they may have great difficulty keeping at bay.


Such confrontations draw their energy from the will to survive, but also from a need common to all humans, the need for balance between giving and taking and between gain and loss. We also know this need by the name of justice. Only when balance is re-established, do we calm down. Therefore, justice is one of the greatest goods for all of us. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, the idea of ultimate justice does not exist; in the end, somebody pays.

Justice is only precious in a limited framework, when we are looking for the balance in a good way. The need for justice has completely different consequences when we try to achieve balance after damage and loss.

I’ll give you an example. When people have hurt us, we think about retaliation. That means we now want to hurt them back to compensate for our pain. In one way this comes from our need for balance – and that would be the need for justice here, but at the same time our will to survive and destroy has been activated. We want to avoid being hurt and damaged again by others. Therefore when we retaliate we are in danger of sliding into outright revenge. We might go way beyond the need for balance and justice and end up causing the others more harm and suffering than what we received from them. And now the others consider ways of achieving justice and revenge and so the cycle is perpetuated. There is no end to the conflict between us.

Here revenge happens under the pretence of delivering justice. In the name and under the protection of justice, destructiveness forges ahead.

The article "Rising in Love" by Bert Hellinger was published in issue 39, January 2022, pp. 7-9 of "The Knowing Field" magazine.


The Israeli Connection

As I delved into Hellinger's text, I couldn't help but think about the complex political and social situation in Israel over the past two years. I see the inherent conflicts within our society and how they are eerily reflected in Hellinger's descriptions.

Hellinger discusses the desire to annihilate as a central driver in major conflicts. In the Israeli context, one can see how fear and threat from the other, whether internal or external, lead to extreme reactions. The current government, in its desire to survive politically, threatens democratic institutions and tries to strip the judiciary of its power and independence. The relentless attacks on the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, and the judicial system as a whole are living examples of this.

Hellinger also speaks about false justice, under the guise of which destructive acts are committed. In our Israel today, the government uses arguments of justice to justify its actions. However, these actions (or inactions) do not stem from a genuine need for justice but from a desire to continue to rule and maintain power. The rhetoric of "equality" and "justice" serves as a facade for a legal coup, which in reality aims to weaken the judicial system and prevent any criticism of this bad government.

In a broader view, Hellinger reminds us that internal and external conflicts are an integral part of human reality. But precisely from this understanding, we must strive for a more balanced and healthy relationship with ourselves and those around us.

The conclusion is that it is our civic duty to continue fighting for the preservation of democracy, freedom of expression, and the rule of law, and with the same determination, to demand that the government do everything to immediately release and return all the hostages, alive and dead, even if it means ending the war tomorrow morning. Yes, this also includes seeing Netanyahu's government replaced by one that will promote true justice and equality for all citizens, yes, this includes real equality in burden-sharing.

In conclusion... this is a challenging period full of conflicts, but if we learn from Hellinger's insights, we can try to find ways to create a more balanced and healthy society, a society where there is room for true justice, not false justice used as a tool for destruction. I hope the public discourse will continue to evolve towards understanding and cooperation, and that together we can build a better future for all of us. We must be strong and united in the fight for our Israeli Zionist values and the preservation of Israeli democracy. For me, this is the worthy "together we will win."


Sivan Avni offers couples therapy based on Family Constellation and Differentiation, available in Kiryat Tivon and online.


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