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The London Tube vs. Hamas's "Metro"

Updated: Jan 6

  • Screenshot Wikicommons

Comparing Apples to Oranges?

War Blog # 34



Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.


Consider this: 94% est. of thinking is unconscious & 95% est. of communication is nonverbal, thus symbols and fantasy are at the core of the problem of political violence. Form follows function; function follows fantasy. All behavior can be potentially understood.

Understanding Group Psychology

This War Blog post is in response to a comment made concerning War Blog #33 The Brothers Sinwar’s Grandiose Tunnel. A fellow from the United Kingdom compared the Tube to the Hamas's Metro. Here is what he wrote:


When they built the Tube in London, all the promoters were as they say in yiddish sdrait - they were men focussed on one goal to drive the rails through the clay. They used Irish labourers who may have died in the process but the tunnel was the ultimate goal.


They then realised it would be good to have interchanges so a blue line could link with a red line and they built more tunnels for people to cross over at stations. 


Then they continued building a whole underground world of restrooms, ticket offices, escalator shafts, escape tunnels, reversing tunnels and more.


So what did they do in Gaza exactly the same [my emphasis], they got on with the job, they weren't doing it by hand, they got in a boring machine, that most probably had been used to dig a subway system somewhere in the world and that was sold off as plant surplus to requirements because the subway had been built.



While it is easy to see why the commentor could draw such a parallel, the analogy falls short once you begin to dive deeper into the unconscious of the respective tunnel diggers – The British vs. Hamas.

The two tunnels may look similar but the group which built it and the objective of the tunnel are totally different. Moreover the respective cultures in which these tunnels were built, are radically different:

The UK is a Monarchy with a functioning democracy while Hamas is an authoritarian regime riding herd over Gazans whom they use as human shields. The cultures are 180 degrees opposite of each other.


To have a fully functioning vibrant democracy most of its citizens must have gone through a psychological individuation-separation stage from their mother to develop a super ego. Arab Muslim shame honor cultures and their regimes have rarely been able to establish a viable democracy.

Bion and Group Dynamics

A hallmark of terrorism is that terrorists like Hamas work against socially accepted norms and seek to destroy them. Wilfred Bion, MD psychiatrist psychoanalyst developed an elaborate theory for understanding group dynamics. Bion was also a decorated WWI tank commander. His daughter Penelope stated that his understanding of the group was greatly influenced by his military experience.

If you have ever been in close quarters of a tank or a Bradley personnel carrier, you come to understand group dynamics at an intimate level which gives your insight into the group’s inner life.


Bion’s Basic Trust

From his work with evacuees in the UK during WWII he developed the concept of Basic Trust where he noted that if this basic trust was not present, the child would lack the ability to establish healthy relationships with others and remain suspicious. They become preoccupied with violence, aggression, and rage. Intimacy is an outgrowth of trust rather than power, control, and submission. Hamas demonstrates this lack of basic trust. Hamas believes that the world persecutes them.


Bion’s Thoughts without a Thinker

Thoughts without a thinker is someone who appears to think but really do not. Such people have a superficial cognitive capacity; they spout words but these words are empty and not thought through. Such people often lack empathy. They can look normal but they are not. Bion, who was intensely interested in how people think, referred to this way of thinking as “idle whistling,” which signals a disconnect from one’s emotional life.

Here is an example from my prison interviews of Somalis in Minneapolis: He [a prisoner] told me that there were 14 billion Jews living in Israel. He had absolutely no idea who the Jews were, let alone anything substantial about Israel, and was far off the correct population number. According to Bion, this prisoner was in –K (meaning minus- knowledge), spouting empty thoughts with no meaning or purpose.


Bion’s Regressed Destructive Group like Hamas

The group depends on the use of primitive defenses such as splitting, projection, grandiosity, denial, magical thinking (like the tunnel as birth canal). They are filled with shame and feel persecuted. Hamas is not a rational thinking group rather its members hook into their psychotic leaders – Sinwar, Deif, Haniya. The shared violent fantasies are so powerful that they must be acted out such as the beheadings, rape, mutilaton of the body, the taking of babies and elderly as hostages, etc.

Bonding together for a destructive fusion which has the sole purpose to inflict pain and death. Hamas is an unstable group as it has the constant need to scapegoat, continually purge mounting aggression and violence within the group, killing off its own. Hamas is a non-working regressive group unlike the IDF whose military force are members of a democracy. Hamas’s armed resistance group arises out of a terrified authoritarian state.

When the Islamic masses on social media claims that Hamas is morally superior to Israel, they have resorted to the classic borderline strategy of twisting everything around. This crazy making is the essence of the group psychosis as it seeks to draw in the viewer by creating chaos. It is very scary and terrorizing to be dominated by a psychosis because one feels as if they are losing their life.


Hamas’s Misuse of the Concept of a "Tunnel"

To what end did Hamas build the Metro? Hamas’s goal is the genocide of Israel and globally Jewry. This objective is radically different from the British goal of establishing the Tube. Their tunnel was built to enhance living and to promote prosperity for its citizens. There was no destructive intention.

To conclude

To draw an analogy between the London Tube and the Hamas Metro is like comparing apples to rotten tomatoes. Hamas is a dysfunctional regressed non-working group set out to impose itself on the world and to destroy it. Hamas’s misuse of the tunnel constitutes a perversion. When a group confuses good with bad and right with wrong, and twists around the intended use of an object like a metro system thereby seeking to destroy its proper use, that group is behaving perversely. This is Hamas.


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Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.

Psychoanalyst Counter Terrorist Expert

Psychoanalyst Counter Terrorist Expert

The aim of this blog is to promote and advance an understanding of the relationship of early childhood to the jihadis’ violent behavior and externalized hatred. Many aspects of culture will be addressed in order to do a deep dive and a deep dig into the unconscious behavior behind all the political ideologies and the verbiage. 


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