[NetBehaviour] Thoughts on Israel/Palestine

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Mon Nov 6 09:48:08 CET 2023

(apologies for so much posting recently, cutting back)

Thoughts on Israel/Palestine

0. Like everyone else, I've been ruminating more or less in
    despair at the situation in Israel/Palestine. Until my mother
    died, she was active in the Hadassah women's organization,
    and made many trips to the Mid-East and Europe, working on
    peace processes; I have many of her documents and some of her
    talks here. In any case, thinking about the situation,
    however naive I might be -

1. A two-state solution is absolutely necessary; nations need
    self-governance all the way around. There's no reason that
    the West Bank and Gaza cannot be united through physical and
    eletronic internetworking that would be able to respond
    quickly to crisis.

2. Israel must pull out of Gaza; what started as defense and
    retribution has turned into a massacre on the order of
    Dresden or the Warsaw ghetto. Beyond the politics there's an
    outdated issue of saving face which is increasingly deadly.

3. I believe that Israel still has nuclear weapons, and these
    should be off the table completely. A war of any sort in
    these small areas can escalate into annihilation: to the
    limit as I once wrote.

4. The hospital systems of Gaza and Israel should connect and
    the wounded of all parties should be able to receive
    immediate treatment.

5. Talks should begin on all of this, sidelining Netanyahu and
    Hamas; there should be no room for absolutism.

6. Jerusalem, in parts, should be an international city; there
    are a number of religions which are somewhat central there,
    and there should be no competition. It would be governed both
    as the capital of Israel and an important religious and
    political center for Arabs, Christians, and Jews.

7. I would keep in relation to 6, the ultra-orthodox out of all
    of this; their reasoning tends towards catastrophe, and, like
    Netanyahu, they have no interest in anything other, I think,
    than total annihilation of the Arabs. The same would hold for
    any other religion as well. I'd argue for the UN to control
    the temple mount, wailing wall, etc.

8. A great deal of all of this should center on the Jordan River
    which has been known for a long time to be in a contention
    that's damaging to everyone - instead there should be an
    international agency composed of all the countries involved,
    to find the best way to employ the water for agriculture and
    so forth. Likewise Israeli desalinization plants should be
    open to all. Articles I've read have indicated that this
    might well be sustainable.

9. Cross-cultural education should be offered to all and perhaps
    made mandatory; there are too many misrecognitions among
    peoples that are resulting in the growths of hatreds.
    Face-to-face peaceful encounters should be instituted;
    there's already much too much false information online on
    both side to result in anything other than a sense of
    absolute warfare and enemies.

10. In terms of #2, the pull-out should be an immediate priority
     and Israeli hospitals and other institutions should be open
     to receiving the wounded. In other words, there must be
     immediate steps taken, above all, to at least hint of a
     periphery of reconciliation and cooperation; the land-mass
     is too rugged, too alienating itself for anyone to prosper
     without cooperation.

11. Obviously there should be term limits on Israeli leaders;
     Netanyahu, who of course is corrupt, is going the way of all
     strong-men, caressing the state, consolidating power,
     ensuring his continuous re-election, and working with a
     vengeful and underlying militarism that affects everything.
     The fact that he listens to no one but himself in this
     catastrophe - which he is now both creating and continuing -
     indicates he has no desire for a peace process. I'm reminded
     of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us" - and this is
     absolutely true in this situation, with perhaps the worst
     collateral damage the world has seen since World War II;
     again Dresden comes to mind.

12. There should be any number of "temporary" withdrawals on the
     Israeli side, to see if Hamas could be contained or even
     become part of the peace process. In other words, in order
     to give peace a chance, you need a space for peace, a space
     that would, at least for the moment, refuse recrimination in
     the interests of the families and cultural institutions
     caught up in the middle of all of this. (Remember John and
     Yoko's bed.)

13. I wonder if lessons might not be derived from Hiroshima in
     particular, a cultural backing-away, finding other paths to
     process what is happening and what has happened. I remember
     the long tradition of the Jewish Left in America, saw it
     work out, at least for a while, in New York city, and
     whether one might draw on that as well. We're on the brink
     of inconceivable horror, even worse than the current
     carpet-bombing and violent moving of populations from one
     place to another, what I called at one point "annihilation:
     to the limit." We live in a universal shtetl.

14. Finally, I'd even think of Thomas Merton, Liberation
     Theology, the world's calling for peace over and over again,
     so many protests, so much pain distributed everywhere, and
     see if it would be possible to at least begin the peace
     process. I cannot imagine what it must be like living in
     Gaza with continuous bombing, etc. - no sleep, no clean
     clothes, no shelter, and always in a resulting state of
     inconceivable anxiety and danger, sleeplessness and lack of
     medication, nowhere to go, constant contradictory orders,
     and people dying or wounded everywhere around you - in other
     words a phenomenological environment of pain, fear,
     exhaustion, hunger, illness. That should be absolutely

15. I know of course what I'm writing is a fiction, has no
     ultimate meaning in terms of performativity; it's something
     I've been thinking about for a lot time, way before August.
     A final note, the simplest thing - everyone involved should
     be talking, however where and when, with everyone involved.
     And more than anything, this should be within a safe space
     for listening as well.

- Alan


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