Proposing a visionary approach to the Israel / Palestinian crisis
Mandatory MDMA and shrooms for violent extremists -- I have to admit this made me laugh, but given the stakes and other options, maybe worth a try! I appreciate your efforts to think creatively about this horrid situation.
Exactly twenty years ago the great 20th century historian Tony Judt wrote a piece for the NYRB that completely envisioned todays Israeli reality with pained accuracy, and which essentially concluded, like Cypel, that Israel has become bad for the Jews. https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2003/10/23/israel-the-alternative/ It's a brilliant, beautiful, tortured piece, and for writing it Judt was virtually excommunicated from the Jewish community, like anyone over the last 30 years who ventures out to say the obvious: that Israel will not survive in it's present posture of increasing militarism and messianic orthodoxy. It's obvious and at the same time it's unspeakable. Every voice that's attempted to raise that alarm has been instantly quashed and denounced; if you're not Jewish you're an anti-semite, and if you are, you're a 'self-hating' Jew--as Judt was himself accused by the AJC--amongst others--a powerful American Jewish organization that instantly published a booklet to send to all its wealthy members. That's the way the game has been played for a couple of generations.
The moment we're in is the precise result of the complete absence of discourse and criticism around Israel's increasingly racist, reactionary, and provocative policies towards the Palestinians, and its open policy of accepting that there will never be peace and there will always be war. It's called "Security Without Peace". It's no surprise that we are at the dead end; there was literally no other place we could arrive at. The Netanyahu coalition of ultra-orthodox walk around giving the middle finger to the entire Muslim world--and they don't think a whole lot more of the Christian world either, as a recent video captured of ultra-orthodox school kids spitting on a church in Jerusalem as they walked by. It's as though they are confused and think that there are 2 billion Jews and only 16 million Muslims or Christians in the world and not the reverse. At the same time, most American Jews have been kept completely in the dark as to how violent and, yes, insane the ultra-orthodox in Israel are in both their rhetoric and actions. Yet these are the people that are sitting in the driving seat right now, the ones who the government is most responsive to.
So no, Daniel, I don't accept this nonsense there is some legitimate reason, some rationale, some strategy for the present destruction of Gaza that American Jews or Americans in general need to consider to justify what they're doing. When you force hundreds of thousands of people to move, and reduce their habitats to rubble, that's, as far as most people can see, ethnic cleansing. Are you doing it because you're trying to 'look strong', or trying to push them out of Gaza which you always wanted to anyhow, or both? It doesn't really matter. Bottom line, what you're doing is completely beyond the pale, and it's tiresome that so many smart people are sucked into these empty discussions. The same forces that imposed this dead-end reality on us are those that are defining the conversations around Israel's behavior and its time to realize that they are, and have been, completely bankrupt for 30 years. Without that, there is no way to have a clear thought in your head.
Right now Israel is smashing up any possibility of peace. The hatred and vengeance is out of control. The only way we can achieve it is by the US putting enough pressure to stop the carnage. Then maybe we can talk about a shared future. Sadly I don't really see a way out of this morass. I appreciate your attempts to try see a possible human future, but I cannot share your optimism.
I like the sci-fi solution to this very real and seemingly impossible problem, but how about israel just goes back to the peel plan borders (as to give Palestinians a contiguous state), give Palestinians state sovereignty, help them to move into the 21st century (through technological trades) and make a UN deal (including all Arab states) that if the Palestinians transgressed and started another war, that there would severe international sanctions? I really can't imagine how the whole of the international community would not stand behind this plan and Palestinians would feel they have something worth losing (right now they don't).
This really doesn't have to involve mdma and lasers, just give the occupied people some dignity. The point being that Israel has to give up some things for any progress to happen. Make the deal so unlikely as to disarm even the most extremist supporters of the violent resistance.
To me the most realistic part of your proposal is the move away from old religious traditions and into more modern ways of connecting with the source. The fact that this epic battle happens to be between two very religious community is not a coincident. We in the west need to do what we can to reduce the influence of these outdated religions and stop giving them legitimacy through none-violent actions (i.e. look at Germans moving completely away from religion)
It would be hard to build a city from top-down directives. Furthermore, building the world's most advanced city would require inhabitants up to the knowledge and challenge.
Also, it goes against general psychedelic ethics, in my understanding, to force them upon others. I've never heard anyone propose that they be administered as a sort-of punishment. This could be a disaster because "set and setting" play such important rules. It's also just conjecture that doing this in succession could covert people to "pluralistic" from "parochial."
Thank you for another thoughtful , mind expanding essay. How did the influential folks from the Jewish community respond to the psychedelic aspect of your plan ? Also Noosphere is a vision that started with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Have you read him? Regarding what will free humanity from Wetiko the mind virus ( see book Dispelling Wetiko) at our critical stage in history is the great work set before us. A tremendous amount of religious , philosophical and political conditioning as well as historical multigenerational trauma must be "deprogramed" . The saving grace is that whatever means are employed to do so, love, wisdom and compassion are inherent at the core of every human being. Human beings who have not been enslaved to serve particular ideological masters . How do we deprogram ourselves? Here are some other ideas. We must get out of our heads, through meditation, reflective Socratic questioning, a Goethian phenomenological approach to science and education. We need to foster in children and adults a sense of self and identity not based on thoughts, beliefs or affiliations but actions etc. In my World view there'd be compulsory education in General Semantics and every child would receive a Waldorf Education. I think there would be advantages to Steiner's threefold social order being actualized across the globe as well as his views about making money a perishable commodity. The fundamental structures of all the institutions that exploit humanity for financial , industrial , political , religious or military advantage must be repurposed, once humanities minds are freed. However it seems like none of these things will be done volunteeringly so a I suspect we will like alcoholics have to hit rock bottom first and experience the total failure of everything we were programmed to trust and rely on occurs. In the meantime we can strive to maintain our humanity through the catastrophes that lie ahead. Individually we can create Noospheric consciousness through group practice . Say for instance through collective chanting (and planting ) Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - to invoke every being's Buddha nature and to call out for help from all Bodhisattvas throughout space and time. May they come to our aide like you have Daniel.
These are sweet and fanciful ideas, Daniel, but practical?.You yourself are dismissing wholesome but more quotidian proposals for their impracticality. It makes me curious whether you have ever materially supported Palestinian rights and/or a viable two-state solution. Not that I am a great exemplar for that. I've made a few donations and speak out for these causes. Are you competing to be imaginative and enlightened or are you really trying to put a stop to the settlements and the hate it inspires? If Jewish Americans spoke up in favor of Palestinian human rights, US policy could turn a corner. I'm not sure you're taking this seriously enough. Not that I'm doing enough. But I wonder if we should pursue peace the way we did for South Africa.
What a beautiful and visionary attempt at a solution to the Israel/Palestinian crisis! I have heard no other real efforts at a solution and I hope this one gets shared far and wide.
Bold suggestions. Very bold. But none of them include Palestinians in the driver's seat, as it were. I find it almost impossible to imagine any idea that doesn't have, at its centre, creative-critical-active participation of Palestinians from conception to execution. Though it is, of course, fine to create starting points for speculative imaging.
Your first - rather utopian - suggestion of a city-of-the-future sounds like an interesting premise for a science-fiction story (akin to Kim Stanley Robinson's Ministry of the Future scenario-thinking - this could be a good way to flesh out the idea and explore the intersections of geo-politics, ethno-politics, climate change, etc.) Tactically-speaking, i wouldn't include the suggestion of something extraterritorial (in "neighbouring Arab countries." Pretty much a non-starter and also so inflammatory as to provoke instant dismissiveneness). And, while Gaza is an interesting suggested location, anything that ignores the context of occupation/siege also risks it being treated as essentially an extraterritorial solution. Your next three ideas, it seems to me, would each require top down (i.e. elite or professional, if not authoritarian) administration and implementation. Imaging these being popularly accepted would even be a stretch for sci-fi scenario thinking. But who knows? Your fifth idea is wicked clever and could be an interesting project in and of itself - though, no doubt, complications would ensue. I'd include it in some scenario-thinking. As for your sixth suggestion (also your fourth, to some extent) it seems that the key to these is getting to "generally understood and accepted." What would be the path to that?
As for a "mutation or transmutation of human consciousness", about which you've written a lot (I loved your Quetzalcoatl book) i'm not holding my breath - at least apropos of negotiating ways forward. While I can imagine something like that happening (or perhaps simply hope that it comes to pass), it doesn't seem like something that we can plan on and certainly not wait on to get started on something. My work, as i've mentioned before, is in popular education which, as Highlander Education Centre in Tennessee sometimes says, is about changing the world 30 people at a time - small group dialogue and mutual learning. I'm currently reflecting my my 40+ years of doing this work and thinking about the power of small group dialogue which seems slow and a little microscopic. But imagined at scale - something that brings people together from both sides, as it were (and there are lots of precedents in Israel/Palestine), couldn't something like that grow exponentially? What if we created some process like the Mont Fleur Scenarios that played a role in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa - discussing and crafting possible stories of a peaceful future. In such a process, all of your ideas could be workshopped, as it were. But, perhaps more significantly, i think that if we can facilitate (if not accelerate ) the imagined "mutation or transmutation of human consciousness," (if not merely create the conditions to observe if it is happening) it is through small group (i.e. 15 to 60 participants) dialogue processes. And, by dialogue, i'm drawing on the works of Buber, Freire, Boehm, Bakhtin, Starhawk, (as well as practices like NVC, restorative justice, and so on).
I, who am nobody, support most of this.. Where I disagree is in the global consciousness movement. I get it, I grew up in that thought pattern, I first came to Sufism through the universalist message. I've realized since the many levels of Western European assumption (and Imperialism) that underlies that project. Religious studies are very aware of pastiche nature of the new age movement where spirituality is decoupled from cultural context and sold as safe commodity as long as it doesn't threaten the status quo of free market capitalism. This is where the Muslim critique, for all the issues they have to contend with as well, have a point. One world spirituality where people are forced to live in a society where things like pornography, drug party culture, etc. are seen as harmless free market choices while spirituality is simply an inward journey, is a Western imposition., This is where China, the ME, Africa, Russia etc. have all broken away from the West's insistence of it's model of enlightenment being the One World Savior. Instead enlightenment will be within the confines of these cultures and the societies they envision. They have much work to do, but they criticize the West's insistence for moral superiority. We have more mass shootings and depression than any where else in the world. Our prozac'd, over medicated, alcohol and valium driven culture has no right to tell anyone about human happiness. However I am for the Global Consciousness movement as long as it doesn't think it is a one size fits all solution. It's a uniquely Western phenomenon.
It's like how I don't trust depressed philosophers.
But I like all your other suggestions. Good work on those.
Also check out Examplers of our times (https://www.theexemplars.com), for more works on why Muslims become Muslims. At this point I've suggested many works and people beyond just Ziauddin Sardar for you to read. Please don't start writing about why people believe in the Quran without a serious literature review and field work because.... Man, people write phd thesis on these things after years of work studying history, talking with people, and reading texts and up to date literature reviews. Ive been keeping up with academic texts on these issues in Islam for 20 years, from William Chittick to Ovamir Anjum's recent translation of "Ranks of the Divine Seekers." There is an academic standard to this subject
Wanted to share this article! https://www.vice.com/en/article/4a3b79/israeli-palestinian-ayahuasca-ceremony
thanks for sharing! Reading this vision was very inspirational in some way. Seems like starting these initiatives in this region of the world makes sense. I like that you list taking mdma. Actually, the first time I took Extasis, back in 1996, I remember from that experience thinking that Israel and Palestine leaders should take mdma, and that this was the missing link, ha! Wanted to ask you, when you say Israel as "maintaining itself as an ethno-nationalist state with an assured Jewish majority, Israel would agree to give Palestinians the right to return to their ancestral lands for one month or perhaps several months a year..." I was wondering what this means to you exactly as 'ethno-nationalist' because to me I think one of the issues with Israel now is that it's defined by its religion. Instead I think Israel maybe should shift a bit to being more neutral and more inclusive? or more low key in some way? where judaism is still a big influence in the region but just doesn't have to be the it all. I don't know, obviously I'm not an expert, just something I had thought about a while back. And I love the idea of the velvet apocalypse!
Minor point, but your lead sentence says settlers are on the border of the west bank. Actually, they are scattered all over the west bank, gobbling up more every day.
I do plan to respond to your very fascinating suggestions.
this interview was so clarifying for me, not that I agree with many aspects of it except when accepting that WHEN IF we are trapped in a particular paradigm, then well, this path is obvious and necessary. Just as for instance, we, when coming from a context of traumatic childhoods, develop intricate, weird, extreme, blind, fearful defenses that have a logic from the point of view of the child and DID help us survive, but when adults they wreck havoc our lives and of those who love us.
This reminded me of the old Yippee plan to lace the drinking water of the USA with LSD. Couldn’t hurt in this situation. I must admit, my usual optimistic self is feeling stymied with this conflict. Without justice and self determination we are lost.
"To overcome all local, tribal, and national identities and affiliations: Isn’t this what the messianic tradition of all the monotheistic religions point toward? In that case, what are we waiting for?"
No one actually wants this watered down whitewashed fake version of the truth. Differences exist. So what. It's not about overcoming our identities to attain a monolithic universal identity. Individuality and universality exist at the same time. Its way deeper than what this quote says above.
I also don't understand why you think using the Apocalypse as a way to describe what's happening now is any less valid than my ability to connect current things happening in the world to the larger time scales of Kali Yuga.
When I was explaining that to you one day, you told me that I sounded like a religious zealot and it was very rude. It's okay for you to do it though. This is why I can't always take your arguments seriously because they are conditional based on your own biases.
But I think it's cool that you're attempting to envision something in your niche.