A Pictorial Biography

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

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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.

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.

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.

December 27, 2022

Growing Old, Facing Death, Walking on the Ice…

Towards the end of 2022 at 72 years old, I developed several undiagnosed mystery medical complexities, such as walking pneumonia and an enlarged heart. That have slowed me down physically and emotionally, luckily, not spiritually or intellectually. It brought up, again, the question of when is the right time to walk on the ice or the time for the (polar) bears to eat me (so the young ones can hunt, eat the bear, survive & live longer).

Having the warm-loving-immense support of Jenji, my kids and my nephew, Tal, has meant the world to me. Additionally, being part of community, such as weekly ‘Walks & Talks’ with my best friends, teaching ethics, and developing my interactive, hopefully, helpful website, have also provided me with a meaningful life and reasons to live . . . for now. . .

December 27, 2022

Therapeutic Ethics in the Movies

In 2022, I rekindled my passion for presenting ethical issues with the aid of clips from popular movies and TV series.  It turned out to be very effective, popular, educational, and, yes, a truly fun way to discuss complex therapeutic ethical, standard of care and boundary considerations.  I developed a continuously growing web site that presents 17 ethical aspects Psychotherapy & Psychotherapeutic Ethics in Popular Movies & TV series where people (you) can (still) contribute their movies ideas and suggestions.

At the same time, I have also developed keynote presentations and courses on Therapeutic Ethics in the Movies that I presented in person, online, in the US and . . . in Israel. They all include dozens of short movies’ and TV series’ vignettes offering looks at a variety of ethical complexities in psychotherapy and counseling.

November 25, 2022

I was a boy – Lahakat Hanahal; להקת הנח”ל – הייתי נער

An equally powerful song that has stayed with me since my youth, and is likely to linger for the rest of my life is I was a boy also sang by Lahakat Hanahal. Lyrics: David Atid; Melody: Yair Rosenblum; Translation: DeAnna L’am

Heart-breaking and beautiful, the song captures the lifelong permanent damage suffered by millions of (the best of the best) young men who have been routinely, every generation, recruited to fight wars all over the world in the past 10,000 years. I am among those millions who were indoctrinated to fight to the bitter end, and to sacrifice our lives for the, often, senseless causes of our leaders, parents, as well as variety of economic forces, including the obvious, military industrial complex.

One of my dissertation topics was: “The Medea Complex and the Cycle of war” where I intended to explore the fact that wars, on average, take place globally in 18-22 years cycles, which is, like Medea who killed her children, the older generation sends the younger generation to war where the ‘best die first’ thereby the challenge to the older generation’s authority and power is significantly reduced.

The Rolling Stone powerfully attempted to address the same ‘post (Vietnam) war’ dynamic in their forceful song I want to paint it black.

Generally, ‘we’, young soldiers are barely 18 years old when we go to war to inflict destruction and to readily meet death: of our brothers, of the “other”, and possibly our own. This song potently describes all that we lost in the process: life, energy, power, innocence, trust, the ability to love, and perhaps most importantly the excitement and exuberance of our adolescence.

I was a Boy

The targets are cleansed and destroyed
Snow on mount Hermon melts in the sun
In a ghost town on the Golan Heights
A lonely donkey is lost like before the war
Summer returned to its old strongholds

But your face, my boy, remains changed.

Curtains and window blockers were removed
The city clerk locked the bomb shelters
Grasses climb and grow
Fresh greenery over scabs and canals
Pomegranates returned to market booths

But your face, my boy, remains changed.

I had a boy in love, I had a boy,
Clear was his voice, clear were his eyes
The battle now silent, he returns to the gate
But his gait is heavy, and his face sealed.

הייתי נער

היעדים מטוהרים והרוסים
שלגים על החרמון מול שמש נמסים
ובעיירת רפאים על הרמה
חמור בודד תועה כבטרם מלחמה
הקיץ שב למשלטיו הישנים

אבל פניך נערי נותרו שונים

הוילונות הוסרו והנייר גורד
פקיד העירייה נעל את המקלט
שלוחות הדשא מטפסות ומעלות
ירוק טרי על צלקות התעלות
הרימונים חזרו לשוק לדוכנים

אבל פניך נערי נותרו שונים

היה לי נער מאוהב היה לי נער
צלול היה קולו צלולות היו עיניו
הקרב נדם ושוב קרב הוא אל השער
אך הילוכו כבד וחתומות פניו

Life resumes
Snow melts on Mount Hermon,
cleansed by the golden sun
But the boy’s face has changed
Is covered with worry, twisted, shriveled 
a mirror reflecting the horrors of war
The battle has ended in the desert
But has just begun in the boy’s mind
A lifetime of suffering 
An innocent, lost

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