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“We need this blood”

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Some Thoughts on The Meaning of Blood in Hamas’s Psychotic Mind

War Blog Post #48


Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D.

In orchestrating and sensationalizing this mayhem, Hamas sought to provoke Israel into a major land invasion of Gaza. A core pillar of this strategy was to start a war that would cause high numbers of Palestinian casualties, as Hamas’s political leader in Doha, Ismail Haniyeh, bluntly confirmed in a video address days after October 7: “We are the ones who need this blood, so it awakens within us the revolutionary spirit, so it awakens within us resolve, so it awakens with us the spirit of challenge and [pushes us] to move forward.” Matthew Levitt,, 10 May 2024



Today is Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, in Israel. Death is at the heart of this very painful day post October 7th, the Black Sabbath and the flowing of blood.


Literally Giving Blood

I want to share with you, dear reader, how I came to understand the meaning of blood in Arab Muslim culture. I admit that even though family ties are considered blood ties and that I had grown up in a “clan,” I was the littlest female and thus had been scapegoated. Yet I had remained completely blinded by that experience and did not understand the deep somatic meaning of familial blood bonds. This had hampered my understand of blood ties and of course the meaning of death until one day many years later while I was working on my doctorate. . .


It was when my dissertation adviser, who had not really wanted to train me because I was a Jew, that I came to understand the deep meaning and importance of blood for people who grow up in shame honor societies. I had been told to visit my disseration advisor because he had taken severely ill with a type of blood cancer.

As a Jew I began to visit him about every ten days doing bikur kholim. My dissertation advisor had been undergoing blood transfusions and even an amputation. One day as I was leaving, I turned to his wife at the door and intuitively asked:

 “Do you need me to give blood?” She teared up and I replied – “Consider it done.” I went to the hospital and gave blood which was applied to his account. The next time I came to visit him, I had instantly become “family.” When he died, I was asked to eulogize him at his funeral. It’s like the whole world had changed in a split second.


Blood Shedding for Vengeance

Like a vampire Hamas wants blood. Hamas lives in a delusional world where blood is their obsession.


The jihadi lives in a completely imaginary world of deceit and lies concerning the other. This distorted narrative is enacted in real time through bloodshed for vengeance. The jihadi narrative is so distorted that terror is used in order to defend it. Because jihadis did not grow up in an environment of healthy play and learn how they could get their needs met appropriately, they remain regressed in a world of fantasy, unable to separate out their violent fantasies from reality. Instead jihadis enact them. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 91.



Blood Shedding and Social Media

In Arab Muslim culture one must willfully spill blood in order to cleanse honor. Nothing else will do it. Only a male can regain honor never a female because she has a bloody scary body giving birth to the first bon male.


Like mass hysteria, the jihadis play on group terrors coupled with sadism and cruelty. They go “viral” because the jihadi identifications are so primitive and grounded in copy-cat behavior. The Internet and social media lend themselves particularly well to contributing to mass contagion. Jihadis online find an echo chamber of validation for their violence. The crude, gruesome videos of beheadings resonate with a herd mentality among those who find an outlet for their sadism by watching these horrific videos to purge their unconscious aggression and sadism through the perversity of the bloodshed. The contagion is dependent upon primitive mental states, including fusion, since the idea of “touching” is found in the word contagion. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 146

We are up against the mass viewer-participants of social media who are anti-semitic and thrive on hatred because they themselves are totally unaware of their delusional primitive mental states. They vicariously engage in murder and annihilation. Their scream of “genocide” is really a projection of their own desire to commit genocide. They are blinded by their severe deprivation and unmet psychological needs which should not to be confused with economic needs. They are truly their own worst enemy.


Bloody Bonding

V. Volkan, the Turkish Cypriot Muslim psychoanalyst, described the male relationship to the mother as a moth drawn to a light in a kind of symbiotic tether. This orbit is an indicator of not achieving the developmental stage of individuation‒separation. The imagery of the tether as umbilicus recurs throughout jihadi violent behavior, such as the cruel immolation of the Jordanian pilot, Muath Al-Kasasbeh by the Islamic State. In addition, the jihadis engage in malignant twinships, which indicate a toddler-like parallel play that does not really engage. Engagement for the jihadis can only occur through bloody, violent bonding with their hated enemies. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 244

This is true most especially for Hamas. They are constantly seeking a bloody state. The only way to stop their blood seeking behavior as noted by Matthew Leavitt is to root them out of Gaza.


Hamas in Conflict -- Always Seeking to Separate from Their Mothers

While the image that I presented to you above is of the tragic murder of the Jordanian pilot, it graphically displays the internal psychotic fantasy that was acted out in real time.

The jihadi is always trying to sever this tie with the mother’s body. The link or cord surfaces in much of the group’s bloody imagery, just like birth and the afterbirth. However, the jihadi is stuck in a twilight zone of no separation. The image of the umbilical cord appears as a wick that was ignited by a jihadi of the Islamic State, immolating the Jordanian pilot Muath Safi Al Kassabeh, who had been placed in a cage. The jihadi terrorists lit a very long umbilicus-like cord to set the pilot on fire, roasting him to death. This mental image reflects the contents’ of the Islamic State’s psychotic, enacted fantasy. The cage symbolized the womb of the mother, but even this symbolic representation of the womb is unsafe for the jihadis. In their primitive mental state, the cage and wick are the misuse of the object, and the tragic, brutal death of Al Kassabeh is the misuse of a person. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 258.



In true borderline psychopathology fashion, jihadis, the victimizers, feel themselves to be the victims in their persecutory world. The real victims don’t exist for them. In the Palestinian Hamas narrative of victimhood, terrorists always cast themselves as the victim when in fact they are the terrorist victimizer. A. Berko has described the Palestinian suicide bomber as victim and victimizer. However, she did not treat the matter in terms of maternal bonding, although the constructs of victim‒victimizer or predator‒prey are caused by the recycling of this first bonding experience in life. Dutton, whose work on traumatic bonding is of extreme importance to understanding the jihadi cycle of victim‒victimizer‒victimization, helped to show how emotional attachments in domestic violence relationships were related to problems in early maternal attachment.

Since jihadis feel themselves to be the ultimate victim, their “hot places” include any land that was once conquered by Muslims and then lost. They are forever fixated on the humiliation. Seeking revenge for the sites that were lost replaces the ability to admit loss. Irrendentism is a doctrine for the jihad and spawns their persistent rage and the need to spill blood in order to regain lost honor. For example Al Andalus was theirs once so now they own Spain. Like other extremists, jihadis claim to be victimized by legal governments and claim state terrorism. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 262.



The Bloody Business of Hamas

A newborn infant experiences the world somatically and gradually builds thought patterns through his or her somatic experiences. During this process babies construct an entire array of experiences known in the analytic literature as the “internal world.” Out of these experiences they form internal attachments, which can be good or, in other cases, rejecting and destructive. The child’s first attachments are made to try to get his/her basic needs met.

However, in shame–honor cultures, such as that of the jihadis, babies can never get their needs met because needs are considered dirty, persecutory, and shameful. Therefore, these children end up with extreme deprivation. From the database of experiences built around the first internal attachment with the mother, the child and the adult he or she becomes repeats the traumatic bonding and attachment with the external world.

As children grow older, their internal world is often at odds with their external reality. Such conflicts are frequently met with aggression, rage, violent fantasies, and projection. As Freud states, aggression feeds on aggression; once it starts, it becomes unstoppable, and violent fantasies propelled by unmet needs turn into violent acts. To know and understand this clash between the jihadis’ internal world and why they strike out and attack external reality is to gain the most important psychological edge over the bloody business of jihadi terrorism. The Jihadi Dictionary, p. 271


To conclude

As discussion of  “The Day After in Gaza” is tossed about aimlessly and frivolously, serious consideration must be given to Hamas’s early childhood and how it has destroyed its own people in Gaza and even globally. Their delusional fixation on blood, shame and revenge is not something that Israel did to them. Their people must begin to own their own devastation. The bloodiness of October 7th will forever be engraved in the minds of their “neighbors,” we Israelis. As it has been said, even if we have to fight with our nails, we will vanquish this obscene delusional enemy. We love life and they love death.

In Memory of All the Fallen on this Memorial Day, the Injured, and the Hostages Whom We Work to Bring Home 






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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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