A Pictorial Biography

Latest Additions

This page showcases the lastest 10 additions to the Pictorial Biography.

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June 2, 2024

Middle Finger

In an interesting follow up of my challenging trip to Mongolia in 2024, the Mongolian psychologist-colleague who invited me to present in the capital to Mongolian psychologists sent me the following image. Being funny and truthful, she noted, “This flower reminds me of you”, referring to me flipping my middle finger in response to so many faulty beliefs and damaging dogmas generally in our world and, more specifically, in psychological ethics.

May 16, 2024

Teaching Psychological Ethics in Mongolia

I was super excited that I was invited to present to Mongolian psychologists, educators, social workers, and legal professionals on “Applied Psychological Ethics” in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia on 5/11/24. The course announcement in Mongolian. I have learned a lot from them about their work.

March 3, 2024

Another Mountain Scaled: Motorcycling in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert & Visit DMZ in S. Korea

In May, 2024 my son, Eitan, my nephew, Tal and I went on yet another off-road challenging and exciting motorcycle adventure, this time, in the awesome remote magical Gobi Desert in Mongolia. For many years I have been intrigued with the 12th century phenomenal-legendary-controversial Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan.

Sample of the riding off-road motorcycles in the Gobi Desert. I trained intensely for this highly challenging exiting adventure. The Gobi Desert was awesome in its beauty, enormous size, challenging bumpy terrain, millions of horses, camels, cows, sheep, goats, and hundreds of yurts widely spread apart over the huge gorgeous desert. As expected, both Eitan and I took some falls… but live to tell our story.
I was super excited that I was invited to present in person and via zoom on May 11, 2024 in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia (with simultaneous translation into Mongolian), for Mongolian psychologists, educators, social workers, and legal professionals on “Applied Psychological Ethics”. (The course announcement in Mongolian.)
In a once of a life-time experience I was also invited to be a co-therapist for a highly educated Mongolian client, who spoke English well and requested me to join her therapy after a short exchange in the waiting room.
The last part of the trip I fulfilled another dream of mine and went (with Tal) to the famous, unique and “ultimate boundary” Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea.

Riding in the Gobi Desert
An adventure forged in the shadows of Genghis Khan
A contrast, then, in speed and serenity
Space, and time
The present, and the past

February 25, 2024

I Was Deeply Touched by a Hearty Feedback

After my 2/11/24, 2 hrs, 2 CE, zoom presentation for the (American) Iranian Psychological Association on Ethical-Moral Junction in Psychotherapy and Mental Health Services I got the following hearty-moving feedback from an Iranian-American psychologist participant:

Dear Ofer,

Thank you so much for the great presentation. Your approach was a breath of fresh air as it was not the typical ethics workshop of “do this” and “don’t do that”!  As I told my colleagues, your approach of considering junctions of ethical and moral considerations was thoughtful, real, and applicable to everyday clinical dilemmas that we all experience.  

But aside from the workshop, I found myself really liking, in fact admiring, your philosophical stances and ways of thinking: values, critical thinking, analysis, openness to possibilities, living life bravely, honestly, and what seemed to me to be taking the juice out of life.  It was a pleasure being with you.  

If you are ever in my area, I would love to treat you to some delicious Persian food.

With warm regards,

H.

A beautiful note,
like a present
wrapped in kindness and warmth
had been sent,
reminded me of the importance
of considering ethical junctions
To receive such feedback had opened
a river of good nature,
a spring flowed within me,
a well of nurturing

January 23, 2024

Azzia’s Monthly-Ritual-Visit to Sebastopol

Azzia (40) has been spending a one Shabbat (Saturday) monthly for years at Sebastopol, CA coming from her 1 hr. away home at Berkeley.   It is a nice, heart-warming ritual that helps us stay lovingly connected as well as informed of each other’s lives in our ‘walk & talk’ tradition and lunch with Jenji.

Azzia is ‘doing good’ (Zur’s dictatorial term) works in sales at SCS Global Services, an environmental standard holding company. She is also promoting to fifth degree black belt at Aiki Arts Center in Berkeley this spring.

Going for ‘Walks & Talks’ above our property on our Saturdays …. Updating each other of our lives and reminiscing on the single-father years when she was 4 and her and I moved to peaceful beautiful town of Sonoma for her to attend kindergarten.

A monthly visit, a special bond cemented in love,
Felt deep within our hearts
A pair of souls, divinely joined together 
A deep connection between father and daughter 

January 14, 2024

Exciting Fiji Adventure with my Son in 2023/2024

Toward the end of 2023, my son, Eitan invited me to sail, hike, ATV, and explore magical caves, gorgeous water-falls and beautiful trails with him in Fiji, where he sailed his monohull sailboat across the challenging stormy Pacific from the US a year earlier.

It was hurricane season in Fiji and most boats were out of the water, few tourists were around, and there was plenty of humidity, beauty, heat, calmness and rain. Skies intermittently cleared enough, however, making way for dynamic and beautiful displays of the sun dipping below the horizon, and warm, breezy moonlit sky views.

In the heart of Fiji’s azure waters, my son, seasoned sailor and I, somewhat experienced (old) sailor, used downtime to prepare his vessel before he embarked on his next picturesque adventurous voyage west to… Navigating the vibrant volcanic reefs, we shared the calm of our cherished bond amidst the gentle lapping of reflective waves.

Fiji, on a sailboat
With my son
Feeling serene and loved,
The whole world made right by wonder

November 26, 2023

An Israeli Palestinian Solution is possible. 2023-2024

By an Israeli lieutenant & paratrooper who served in Gaza & left Israel for moral reasons

Competing historical ‘claims’ of who was first, Moses or Allah or who owns what, Muslims or Jews or who is ‘holier” should NOT be part of the current ‘cease fire’ negotiation. Israel gets its 1948 territory and the Palestinians get the entire West Bank (settlers are out) and Gaza (Hamas and all).

The biggest challenge and the real question for what is happening in the Middle East, Gaza and Israel these days, Oct. 2023 is to acknowledge the deep hatred on both sides and how to live next to each other, reluctantly accepting co-existence with each other. Anti-Semitism incidents and propaganda have soared to a record high in 2023/2024.

I am Ofer Zur, a psychologist, an enmity and war expert, and a former lieutenant and paratrooper in the Israeli army who was wounded in the 1973 war.  I was born in Israel in 1950, and during my military service, was stationed in a refugee camp in Gaza back in 1970.  This experience led me to the conviction that I had to leave Israel, which I did. (See: I Was Her, Out-Of-Body Experience, On Leaving Israel).

I am watching with horror and deep sadness what is happening in Israel and Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023. Israel bombing Gaza and killing thousands of civilians (post 10/7/2023) does NOT eradicate Hamas, it gives it much MORE strength and popularity.

Knowing the region and the complexities of its people, I am proposing a solution for the situation. The main challenge for Israelis and Palestinians is, how to live or have a ceasefire with an enemy who wants to destroy you.

Here are my views and a long-term peace proposal for the region:

  1. Israel does NOT have a vote about whether, or not the Palestinians, including Hamas want to destroy it. The biggest challenge for Israelies would be how to live next to a hostile country bent on their destruction.
  2. Israelis should and must give the Palestinians their own state. No more occupation!!!!! No more hateful settlers!!! Unarmed-peaceful-respectful settlers can stay in the West Bank ONLY if they surrender and accept the Palestinian rule and full control of the West Bank, i.e. Palestine.
  3. A Palestinian state will include the West Bank and Gaza. They will be connected via tunnel, bridge or train – by appropriate means, satisfactory to both sides. The main reason for this is simply self-preservation for Israel. “Occupation destroys the occupier.” Gaza will have its own sea-port and both, West Bank and Gaza will have their own international airports. Some optimistically, but not very realistically, suggest, that in exchange to giving the Palestinians their own state, they will de-militarized both Gaza and West Bank.
  4. Israel with its superb military capacities CAN protect itself if it chooses to, (not make it ridiculously easy, as it did on Oct. 7, 2023).
  5. The hope is that in 2-3 generations (Yes, 2-3 generations, not 2-3 weeks or 2-3 months or even years), the situation will de-escalate, Israel will be forgiven, and incentive on both sides, for cooperation will have developed.
  6. Not much different that the Protestant and Cathelic in Ireland 1968 to 1998  30 years conflict. And hopefully similarly to how one of the worst conflict in human history between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Rwanda where nearly one million, primarily Tutsi were killed was peacefully resolved. If Israel fully give the West Bank to the Palestinians it is likely to be a similar to the current situation between India and Pakistan that arose out of the 1947 partition of British India, which established a Muslim-majority Pakistan and a Hindu-majority India. They currently co-exist with tension and highly militarized border. Although both countries have maintained a fragile cease-fire since 2003, they regularly exchange fire across the contested border. Both sides accuse the other of violating the cease-fire and claim to be shooting in response to attacks. Fences make good neighbors! Israel may end up with friendly relationship with Palestine they way Israel has very friendly relationships with Jordan and Israel or may be more similar to the India and Pakistan tense but rather stable relationships. Either way is much better and more fair and more just of the current 1967-2023 situation.

The big-picture view and perspective:

Getting the 500,000+ religious settlers out of the West Bank is not easy but definitely doable because: They have no economic base – $ comes from outside. They have light weapons but are not highly trained in using them. They cannot really fend for themselves. They rely on the Israeli army to keep the highly guarded exclusive roads to Israel open. So it is doable to force them out from the West Bank (AKA, Palestine).

In the same way that Israel lives with its enemy relationships in the north, Lebanon and Syria, so will it learn to live with a hostile Palestine.

They bomb Israel, Israel bombs back. Then, in a couple of generations there will be peace, similar to Israel’s current peaceful relationships with Jordan, Egypt and… growing peace with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

I am hopeful…

July 22, 2023

Honoring the Transition – Come and Join Me in a Goodbye Celebration

You are invited to join me in celebrating my transition. I’d rather not have any crying or bemoaning what a perfect saint I am. Instead, we’ll sing songs, read poetry, play music, dance, speak from the heart, and much more…

I love my life, how I have lived, the choices I’ve made, even my conscious choice of words I used and phrases I refused to use—admittedly with very little regard to what many of you thought, felt or considered inappropriate, impolite, uncivil, or worse…!

For the most part I have lived my life as if every day is or may be my last day on earth. I’ve had numerous encounters with death throughout my life, most by choice and others by circumstance.  I never considered death a failure. My mother had a hand in teaching me that. A phrase she repeatedly told us was, “Trees die erect.” It summed up how she lived so perfectly that we had it etched on her gravestone.

I have a deep appreciation for your tolerance of me, even when you thought me offensive, insensitive, controlling, inconsiderate, full of myself or simply dumb. None of you slapped me when I stupidly declared, more than once, “Even when I am wrong, I am right.”

When I upset you, as I’m sure I often did, in my mind it was about ‘doing good’ or having, what Ilan repeatedly called ‘a teaching moment.’ Admittedly, even this gathering is a ‘teaching moment.’ 

So let’s celebrate, rejoice, and have fun – 

Ofer

You are invited to, privately, share your reaction/s to this ‘Invitation’ here.

May 26, 2023

Between Religion and Ethics: Presenting in Israel 2023

An interesting and unusual audience combination of Israeli psychologists, some of whom also lead a traditionally religious Jewish life, presented me with a challenge I was happy to tackle on in my visit to Israel in 2023. My presentation Therapeutic Ethics in The Movies had to be reinvented in order to be sensitive to audience members who could be offended by nudity, language, and sexual references, to name but a few. I didn’t know what to expect from the English-speaking, largely traditional Jewish psychologist audience in Ra’ananah, Israel. The challenge doubled as I was not willing to dull my presentation in order to appease an audience. The result was the best of both worlds: my points were able to come across and be absorbed poignantly, while I did manage to evoke some strong reactions from the audience, which I always considered to be a bonus!   

A second presentation during the 2023 visit was on Myths We Live By in my sister’s kibbutz Nachson.  It was exciting and surprising presentation in… Hebrew on challenging topics such as victimization and abuse to an audience that experience both. It was interesting, respectful and intense presentation as the audience include holocaust survivors and victimized women.

May 25, 2023

Riding in the Negev Desert and Visiting Petra Jordan

Family Bonds across Borders: the Negev Desert, Israel & Petra, Jordan, 2023

Dangerously steep rocky cliffs brought us together: my 2 sons, my 3 nephews, and I, rode our motorcycles off-road in the Israeli Negev Desert, to find much more than a wild, majestic landscape. It was amazing to experience the 6 of us getting along seamlessly, helping each other master the raggedy difficult terrain challenges, and share both joys and responsibilities required by riding an inhospitable, dangerous, rough surface.

This fulfilled a long lasting dream I held together with so many of my generation growing up in Israel. Finally, at age 72, I explored the vast miraculous Wadi Ram and magical Petra. The reality of these monumental sites was far more fascinating than my visions were. It was mind boggling to stand among these striking structures, formed by nature over 200,000 years ago, to meander through such magnificent temples, hand-carved in the 4th century BC, and to share it all with the next generation of men in my blood line.  Petra was a big part of ‘hero mythology’ and such a dream for us as a youth in Israel, symbolized by the (historically banned)  HaSela Ha’Adom song by Rika Zarai (another version by Arik Lavi) Lyric: EnglishHebrew.

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