A therapist guides us on a journey to the frightening places inside ourselves and helps us to find ways to live with our demons. While we might do well to examine our own crazinesses with our therapists, we do not expect to have to answer for them in public and we expect our therapist to be on our side. Philosopher Michel Foucault warned that the sciences of the mind are also techniques of power and they have hostile as well as healing potential.
I think critics of Israeli policies should make their arguments politically and with reasons. They should avoid ascribing to Jews collectively a pathological inability to act rationally. Israel is a state and acts according to what its leaders and its electorate calculate to be its national interest. Israel may be wrong. It may even be very wrong. But making peace with its neighbours is a matter for politics, not for therapy.
I actually am somewhat conflicted on this. I agree with Mr. Hirsch that we should not ascribe "to Jews collectively a pathological inability to act rationally." And I agree that some branches of the "psychoanalytic" critique of (Israel? Jews?) walks into this territory. Certainly, we should not confine Jews to the couch. There is more to this story than merely mind games and hallucinations.
However, I believe that psychology matters, particularly when we recognize that certain resposnse mechanisms are rational responses to abuse and oppression. Growing up Jewish, with all the opportunities and burdens that represents, makes certain outlooks of mine vis-a-vis non-Jews rational and reasonable.
It is reasonable for me, for instance, to not assume that any random person off the street is an ally of Jewish liberation. I'm under no obligation to assume that non-Jewish speakers -- even ever-so-progressive ones, even ones with Jewish friends -- know what is required to put Jews in a position of equality, or even particularly care about it. To some extent, this is "psychology" -- it is a schematic construction I use to order the world in absence of complete information, based on how I perceive my position and standing as a Jew in it. But I don't believe that is an illegitimate social behavior on my part.
Still, Hirsch is correct in referencing Foucault and noting the potentially pernicious power of this sort of analysis when it is being used to inferiorize. The discourse becomes not a tool of healing but a weapon of war -- a justificatory mechanism for viewing the target class (in this case, Jews) as morally and mentally defective, removed from the realm of rational discourse and consequently ripped from the fabric of normal societal norms and boundaries. Our beliefs on how to relate with the other are premised on the idea that she is a rational creature. When dealing with others who are not conceded to have that property, well, we can hardly be faulted for resorting to "the type of language she understands", which is to say, either force or none at all. This is fundamentally dehumanizing.