Ground Zero: Jerusalem, holy war, and collective insanity is a close look at the “most explosive real estate on the planet.” The area of the Temple Mount, which includes some of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, happens to sit in the most heavily weaponized area on earth. The chances of World War Three breaking out over this contested thirty-five acres is not only plausible, but probable
Ground Zero: Jerusalem, holy war, and collective insanity tries to unearth all the extreme elements which make peace in the region unobtainable: fundamentalism, messianism, evangelism, and territoriality. These represent the “dark force” which prevents a sane and reasonable peace from being achieved between Israel and the Arab world.
The first to our four horsemen of the apocalypse that is examined is radical and extreme Islamic fundamentalism which cannot rest until the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque are liberated from the “infidels.” From bin-Laden to Nasrallah and Akhmadinejhad, the fundamentalist point of view—and specifically Islamic end-times prophecy and the arrival of their redeemer, the Mahdi—plays a far larger role than most Americans think in how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is perceived.
When we journey to evangelicals, we encounter an opposite perception. Their thirst for the Rapture requires that the Dome of the Rock not be liberated but destroyed—“cleansed” in their words—so that the third temple can be built, prophecy fulfilled, and all the logo pieces put in place for the Rapture and the glorious return of Jesus.
But these are only two collective, psychic forces predisposing this region to war. Radical and fanatic “messianists” await their Messiah too—a different one from the evangelist’s Jesus or the Islamist’s “Mahdi”—and their attempts to hasten the arrival of their Godhead, Messiah ben David, similarly will resolve their prophetic yearnings.
Unfortunately all three of these eschatologies presume horrific violence and destruction. Our three different messiahs only arrive on the scene with a great war and holocaust either accompanying them or preceding them.
Finally, the psychology of “territoriality” is examined in which the Israeli/Palestinian issue raises a deep and penetrating psychological enigma: Most wars show that an “intruder” violates the territorial space of the “proprietor,” and, at least in the animal kingdom, the proprietor generally prevails. What makes this issue unique is that both Palestinians and Israelis consider themselves true and legitimate proprietors, and thus each sees the existential other as an alien intruder. It is as if two home teams are competing with each other in the same stadium. The psychological implications for this Gordian knot are deeply foreboding.
In the final chapter, “Holocaust and holy war,” all the military options, equipment, submarines, nuclear weapons, anthrax, plague, sarin, mustard gas, thermobaric bombs, cruise missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, air-burst artillery shells, tanks, aircraft, dirty bombs, troops, settlers, reservists, militants, jihadists, holy warriors and martyrs are described, tallied, sifted, and sorted.
Conclusion: this is the most densely weaponized acreage on planet earth and consummately the most volatile.
The prospect of collective insanity breaking out in this region, with all the weaponry that is in place and ready for ignition, is nothing short of nightmarish
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About the Author
Dr. Kroth’s twelve prior books were in the areas of counseling psychology, child sexual abuse, learning disorders, metapsychology, transpersonal psychology, and research methodology. In addition he has written and presented over seventy-five papers on anxiety, child development, mass psychology, synchronicity, experimental studies of the dream process, the psychology of propaganda and collective psychology. Professor Kroth lives in California with his wife and two daughters. He maintains a website: collectivepsych.com
His most recent books are listed below:
• Conspiracy in Camelot: the complete history of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
• Psyche’s Exile: an empirical odyssey in search of the soul.
• American Crazy: a voyage to the dark side of the American Dream.
• The Lindbergh kidnapping: mobs, mass psychology, and myth.
• Aliens and Man: a synopsis of facts and beliefs.
• Omens and Oracles: collective psychology in the nuclear age.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An absolutely different take on the Middle East. Its about time a psychologist looked at the lunacy of this place. Wow! Should be required reading. Five stars! Ralph
“Jerry Kroth's Ground Zero not only convincingly describes the insane unconscious forces that produce Islamic terrorism, it is one of very few books that takes seriously the real desire of leaders like Akhadinejhad to give nuclear weapons to enough terrorists around the world to produce a final globe-cleansing holocaust. . . The need for Islamists to carry out their prophecies so they will fuse with their redeemer is real and reasonably likely which makes Kroth's book crucial for Israeli and American politicians today.” —Lloyd deMause, Editor The Journal of Psychohistory “An absolutely riveting psychological analysis of the most explosive conflict on earth. I especially liked the discussion of the territorial imperative which I’ve never heard developed about the Arab/Israeli conflict previously. Incredibly readable, but scary too!” —M.S. Forrest, Ph.D., psychotherapist, Santa Barbara “. . . I like to think of myself as informed and yet the information that I took from Ground Zero was not only new but overwhelming. I had no idea that such a tinderbox of destructive potential for the world was under the aegis of completely deluded groups. It is like giving gasoline and matches to circus clowns on LSD. We tend to give a pass to religious movements thinking that faith is a good thing. But fundamental faith is so blinded by its own tautological dynamics that even mass death is acceptable on the stage of mythological fulfillment. What I was able to take from this book was a clear, well written explanation of the contemporary and frightening significance of an ancient area of dispute. Will I sleep easier? No, but if I hear disturbing sounds outside my window in the morning, I will know why.” —Steve Stelle, author of On Shaky Ground “A provocative work that looks beyond the headlines, Jerry Kroth offers a thoughtful view of the ongoing tragedy that continues in the Middle East. In so doing, he challenges the perspective that has dominated the conversation so very long.” —Jeff Kisling, Ph.D., clinical psychotherapist, Palo Alto