Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Israel 2002 - 2020


Kafka wrote about America without ever having been there; travelling with the imagination to unknown countries is like continuing the journey of the blind man. Fuentes speaks about Borges as having opened the eyes of the people in Mexico and Latin America to what comes from those places like the Middle East. It will take time to get to know Israel.



When thinking out loud what constitutes this country, then strange songs intervene the thoughts. There is heard the tune "and no one promised you a rose garden", but then a neighborhood could ask if you have never been to Israel, then wait for sure you will find a shoemaker who has moved from Berlin to Israel. If you can trace him, find out how he is doing now in a place defined more and more through the state of Israel than through anything else.

What happened in 2010, for example, after the Flotilla wishing to bring aid to Gaza exemplifies the kind of fear Israeli politicians use to justify them taking measures which prompt an international outcry but often nothing else. This has created its own instability in the Middle East. A swift rebuttal of Barack Obama can be heard when a professor for international affairs is interviewed on the radio FM 104,4 and who says nothing will come about since Barack Obama has not given much push to his initiative in the Middle East.

Still, headlines published on Tuesday, 2 June 2010 attest that the United States government had attempted to counsel the Israeli government in order to go 'soft' on the Flotilla. Appropriate in that sense is the realization by writer Amos Oz who publishes the following day an article about "Israeli force, adrift on the sea" in which be begins by saying while Jews have felt the whip on their backs for over 2000 years, ever since they are able to wield force, they have become "intoxicated by it". (International Herald Tribune, June 3, 2010). He agrees that use of force is needed if a matter of defending oneself, but equally Israel must realize that certain ideas cannot be defeated by military force, but only by developing an alternative force. He considers the attitude and policy adopted by the Israeli state towards the Hamas movement as wrong for the very reason that the state of Israel exists as well because it is a powerful idea born out centuries of tragedies lived through by the Jews. He writes that "Hamas is not just a terrorist organisation. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians. No idea has ever been defeated by force - not by siege, not by bombardment, not by being flattened with tank treads and not by marine commandos. To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one." And just that he is not misunderstand, he adds following conviction: "I do not discount the imnportance of force. Woe to the coungtrz that discounts the efficancy of force. Without it Israel would not be able to survive a single day. But we cannot alow ourselves to forget for even a moment that force is effective only as a preventive - to prevent the destruction and conquest of Israel, to protect our lives and freedom."

Inherent in the term 'force' is violence to be used at the risk of blind obedience because state propaganda has taught everyone the only way to defend Israel is to be able to use arms at any time. That then is the dilemma of many Israelis who have grown up to this kind of realism telling them without a state ready at any time to use its force, Israel cannot exist. The fear of not being able to survive for even one day if the arms are let down to be unguarded, grips even a writer like Amos Oz. How then to develop a creative path of human solidarity on the premise of non violence as the best way to achieve peace?

If it is already difficult by comparison to convince Greek youth who have joined the larger anarchistic movement and who can be found in front of the Israeli embassy in Athens, that violence is non sensical, then how to change the opinions of Israelis when they are gripped by such fear that they see only the others as being ready to use violence against them? The Greek youth would claim the system and therefore society is violent thus any action undertaken in protest against such a violent state, society and system cannot a priori exclude violence. This is a dilemma for a Greek state which has gone towards upgrading police forces but not acknowledges the protest against corruption of many politicians cannot be suppressed by force.

The implications of the Israeli attack from helicopters and ships on the Flotilla can be explained by this fear gripping everyone and therefore they over react. The force is no longer defensive but aggressive, indeed lethal.

The problem for Israel is indeed how to be understood in this state of being gripped by fear when it commits so many errors and therefore fuels exactly the kind of hatred it claims to be directed against the state of Israel and therefore the need of a strong show of force. For otherwise the others would believe Israel would be weak and therefore they would become more daring, even to the point of picking battles with the soldiers as must have been the case on the ships when they descended from the helicopter and some attempted to stop the soldiers from reaching the bridge of the ship. To claim as did the Israeli side that they were armed and thus the Israeli soldiers had to shot in self defense makes this entire affair about independent report or not into a farce. Again it is diplomacy being thrown into high gear to justify an action which cannot be justified. Even knives and iron bars are nothing compared to the weapons Israeli soldiers carry with them. The true nature is that no dialogue was attempted but a simple show of force and that went badly wrong.

Everyone knew on both sides testing the will of the Israeli government is one thing, getting into a full pitched battle on ships on international waters quite another story. There is no legitimacy for the Israeli action even if its government cites international law - the siege of Gaza it considers to be legal and human - to justify its actions. It is a violation of international law.

The result is more than just disasterous because now Turkey has reached a turning point. Erdegon in Turkey said in a speech that he considers Israel to be no longer a 'friendly state', but one which is 'unfriendly'. In diplomatic language that says a lot.

Looking forward, the role of Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations seems to be growing stronger as he finds his voice in this maze of national self-interests. The United Nations and more specifically the Security Council is after all the birthplace of the state of Israel. The fact that for the first time Israel was condemned by the Security Council means even with such a strong ally as the United States the tide in world opinion is turning definitely against Israel.

Lest it be forgotten, honest self criticism on the part of Israel would help to alleviate the situation. This would mean quite another ideology supporting the state of Israel but not one embracing unbrazed use of force and therefore violence needs to be found. What realistic perspective can open up people to discussions about their future in the Middle East. It is not about turning around and not listening to the other side that will do the trick anymore to sabotage any peace talk, but the impossible has to be demanded from both sides and which is already embraced partially by the Palestinian especially those now living in the West Bank, namely that of non violence. Living in freedom has to mean respecting also the need of the others to live in freedom. It is impossible to be free oneself if the others are imprisoned and this mainly because of a historical heritage called fear not to survive. That heritage has often been wrongly interpreted and misrepresented as it has given justification of many more inhuman actions than helped to safeguard the spirit of humanity.

If looking back in time, then it may help to remind that these are not new issues but each time something happens like the incidence with the Flotilla at the beginning of June 2010, then they present themselves as the unresolved issues and indeed heritage of not the ancient, but recent past. The latter has been too often misunderstood due to all sorts of claims dating back centuries even though the memories of mankind and contributions to a dialogue between cultures have long dried out so that the main stream of humanity is a great risk of drying out.

Israel around 2002

If the military incursion was meant to make Israeli’s feel more secure in their daily lives, so that they can go swimming again or enjoy a Pizza without fear of a suicide bomber, then the heavy handed way of handling the situation and the great indifference shown as to the plight created now for all the Palestinian people, appears to be the very opposite of what would be needed to pacify people and to give Civil Society a chance to develop such structures that function only due and in support of non violent strategies as to how to maintain life while allowing for disputes become fruitful challenges, not threats to the ‘status quo’.

How Israelis like to be perceived

Certainly on Palestinian side it will be now much more difficult to accept the ‘status quo’ of the Israelis who want to be recognized not only as a state, but as superior especially in terms of democracy. They want to be seen as giving people with kindness in their hearts and who would like any charity organisation be assured from those who receive tokens of support, that these people are grateful. If anything, the Palestinians have not shown to be grateful enough as to what the Israeli’s granted them.

If that attitude prevailed before the incursion of the army, what will now be the ideological ramification of the ‘compassionate conservativism’, as it has become the school of thought behind Bush’s ascend to power. Certainly the ‘right to defend’ will figure highly in all argumentations, but it will not be accepted this notion of superiority that had infuriated the Israeli’s for not being apparently a sufficient factor to deter the Palestinians from questioning their values.

Determination of Character

Israelis themselves take pride that they no longer are the ‘good’ but ‘bad Jews’. Out of defiance to the world they start to convert themselves from victims to oppressors and occupiers. They are determined to stay. That admission of having come from somewhere else and now trying to take root in a land that is the home of other people signifies how unsettled the Jewish question and the creation of the Jewish state is and this despite all efforts to settle the issues with enforced settlements being constructed in the West Bank, that is in the occupied territory – underlying the ‘acts of terrorism’ implicit in a certain kind of development having always to do with seizing land and using it for profit reasons.

The militarisation of Palestina

As a matter of fact, as the unresolved Palestinian question figures greatly in the mind of those thinking about the plight of the refugees, the same goes for the Israeli state of mind having become fixed on the notion of such a secure life, that it means excluding almost everything that would question openly or in more subtle ways their claim to be superior.

After what the army did, and how it will affect the many young soldiers, certainly the way they handled themselves is evidence of anything but being superior. Rather the ‘street fear’ has translated itself into a force wishing to wipe out any possible resistance and that means in urban terms also the militarisation of the refugee camps that should no longer allow any hiding places. Instead they should be if at all re-constructed then in such a way that tanks can race through it any time, if needed. The paths made by the army bulldozers have made way to such military urban plans. More than anything this will change the life in the region. It will drive out life and leave less resistance against all forms of brutalisation that goes with that kind of modernisation in place. What happened to Berlin after 1871 can be telling to anyone capable of understanding the linkage being military planning and way of driving life out of cities, as suggested here.

What goes on in the minds of the young Israelis?

The perversion of young Israeli’s minds after the events of April 2002 is incredible. The fall out of ruined lives will show itself. Before the incursion in April conscious objectors to the army being used as military force in occupied territories warned that going clearly against human rights should jeopardize the very moral foundation of the Israeli state. You cannot kill an innocent Palestinian woman and think the life of that sniper shall thereafter be innocent!

It is predictable that any soldier involved in atrocities will create havoc in his own society. The risk is that much higher if the official version of the incursion is based on suppressing any kind of truth in public. The aftermath of any battle is to keep exactly those soldiers from telling their own families what did take place, or what they experienced during the incursion.

They and the society of Israeli will face very much dilemmas and human dilemmas like those Viet Nam fighters went through upon returning from the front and no longer being able to integrate themselves again into the normal American society. The greatest blow will be about the image of citizens’ soldiers as no longer sensitive to the concerns of people, but ready to kill out of panic.

The psychological fall-out shall be comparable to having dropped a nuclear bomb. It will affect all age groups and will show throughout Israeli society such a change of attitudes, that apparently the Right wing ideology will have become the norm as answer to fear of being killed in the street.

For it is to be feared that those who served now as 18 year olds in the war will go beyond the fanatical zeal of the religious right in order to prove that they acted properly, that is according to the Israeli self-understanding in line with what such an army expects of its soldiers.

The corruption of the soul and of the minds will, however, require immediate compensation and if not, it will play havoc in the Jewish family life. Marriages shall become a kind of conformity ritual and place anything outside the ability of even a ‘tough love’ for Israel to challenge such a status quo from becoming now more hideous than ever before. But the real courage is not to be shown in the fight against some enemy that only propaganda, but not human reason can produce. Rather it will show itself in facing the own deeds. Frazer, in the Golden Bough, revealed the wisdom of primitive societies what they did with soldiers who returned from missions during which they had to kill others. Those who returned were not celebrated as victors, for who can claim being a victor if sitting inside a tank that rolled over a car and then shoved the walls of a house belonging to a simple family until it collapsed. Rather they were treated as having become sick and therefore in need of a special moratorium before they could be integrated into society. What Sharon has done to these young people, that is the crime, but even their parents and neighbours who prayed for them, are responsible, if they fail to realise that all this incursions have transformed the soul of the future generations and with that made the future of Israel less promising, much more bleak and dismal.

Time-zones between despair and assertion

When trying to comprehend the new mechanisms of total defiance, then some comparison has to be made first of all what was articulated in March and what became the muted response of the Israelis during the incursion of the Israeli army in April. The difference is most telling in what time zones have been crossed over to reach another kind of ‘promised land’ or ‘heaven on earth’:

Situation in Israel in March 2002

Sleeping well was taken as a measure of one’s conscience still being clear. It meant reassuring before going collectively on a mission there was nothing to be guilty about. The language of acceptance of what is going to happen was a language of facts.

Reality experienced was equated with a kind of obscure history ready to be re-focused by becoming intertwined in seeking reconciliation with the self due to having given up many previously held hopes, illusions, dreams, ideas about life.

In fact, people had gone by then into a sort of trance. They could no longer sleep nor be fully awake the next day.

Time zones no longer matter or time has become so confusing because normal things no longer matter.

Logic of Displacement was implemented in a most stringent, short-tempered manner.

Intellectual concerns were replaced by all kinds of precautions leaving no chance to still trust innocent situations.

That was the case in Israel increasingly so in March. Due to the increase in suicidal bombings a disparate claustrophobic society was ready to defy the rest of the world.

Situation in Israel in April 2002

The situation has changed but now the lack of trust has a different reason. During March a lot of good will had been lost and a great deal of communication with the rest of the world has broken down.

Now Israelis feel themselves not so much cut-off, as they wish to defy all odds. Clearly the way they act is to say, that if the world does not go with them, well then, they have to do things on their own. In their proclamations it becomes evident that they believe their own measures of things are more right than any international or human standard.

Unnoticed creeping mythical beliefs until seizure of power

All this is taking the ‘Right to defend the state of Israel’ to another extreme of unknown defiance of not only the world, but of human reason.

The fact that Sharon describes himself as ‘warrior’ touches upon mythical levels that appear to be beyond human constraints and limitations. He accumulates so to speak all the frustration with politics and with world affairs and gives the people a way to unload that frustration. Channeling aggression into selective channels means also in defiance of ‘them killing us’, as the settlers would say and then go to the next hill to build another settlement.

The slogan of defiance is an indication that there exists no willingness to learn out of the process and to draw some practical consequences when something goes wrong. Rather the mistaken and illegal activity is rectified and declared to be done with a holy spirit, in light with the rights of this being the birthplace of all those who support this cause. A specific cult of heroism develops out of this attitude. It is based on the willingness to defy all odds and become like the warrior unmoved in his mission to fulfill a religiously inspired vision.

Claim of Superiority


In the case that it is a sign of a kind of self-assertiveness that is even more extreme than has become known of a different order in former Yugoslavia, then many more problems lie ahead. It carries with it the likelihood of genocide of Palestinians. That is not just a risk, but a direct and calculated move inherent in such assertion by one kind of people moving in and claiming superiority over others. To do so, they must not only claim the land, but also Jewish history as being on their side.

Their claim of superiority is above all a pretext as to why they do not wish to integrate themselves in the societies already existing there. By proclaiming innocence, and why work on common forms of societal bondage to people with whom there is no interest in sharing anything any more, they legitimize why they want to create different and separate entities from the Palestinian people.

The danger of that is enhanced by the two-states theory, as if that is the solution, and again the splitting up of former multi-cultural entities like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia tend to support such a trend towards single nation states.

There is the added risk of identity being highly conformist since in Israel there come together religion and political to create a dangerous mix of sentiments. As a kind of flawless personal identification of who we are internally, it then does not matter what is done outwardly to protect that inner core.

Here a new kind of state ideology under the conditions of terrorism is being revealed but yet little understood in what such a state means in terms of international law and recognition of legitimate states. The question connected with recognition of state is then a kind of statehood by which one achieves a higher degree of assertiveness over other rights and international considerations as bounded by the belief all human beings are born equal and that justice should prevail between all people.

Leaving universal rights aside, the national brand of religious intolerance does foster a kind of anti political stand and means lawlessness is combined with a kind of irrational fixture of the law as being absolute. This underlines the need to overcome uncertainty in a way that makes belief in law into a necessity that this law becomes the absolute, for otherwise it is not worthwhile to be considered a law. Out of such attitude develops and springs the attitude of defiance.

In practical terms, it is meant to drive everyone together in such a way that the need to survive acts as a coercive principle with added conspiracies in silence, i.e. one no longer speaks about things one used to be ashamed of. But now survival is not interpreted in a rudimentary way of life. Rather affluence has brought with it many modern means of creating so to speak mobile units with jeeps, computer, even guns transforming the place called home into something in need of being defended against outside threats. The world as a whole is not regarded as a safe place, but certainly as one to be exploited to the full by what the Information Society has conveyed through its multimedia products depicting dangers and the anti terrorist as prime hero.

With such assertions go the assumption of one’s own survival as having been successfully established as a fact of being a superior life not only to former existences as known to many Jews prior to the creation of the Jewish state, but also to those who by comparison either oppose such a state or else do not manage quite the same things.

This has then the making of the so-called ‘Herrenvolk’ who gets infuriated if someone would remind them not only were they come from, but that their superiority is but an illusion for gains made result not so much out of own labor but by exploiting that of others to make this extra value possible.

In a way, the entire tragedy depicts the hubris of modern power as were disposed the Ancient Greeks who sought to delineate themselves from others as being ‘barbaric’ while they sought of themselves as being ‘superior’ not only then, but in terms of history forever.

By demanding to be understood in these new and changed terms of self-references, they are literally over demanding the world in what it can and is prepared to understand, for always there is the risk of mistaking understanding with acceptance. Countless statements made in that direction about Israel feeling threatened by the suicide bombers transformed into an overall threat against the entire state of Israel, while linked in Europe to the Holocaust and therefore the need to create such a state in the first place, drive people into a guilty feeling if they do not take outright sides with Israel and on top of it dare to even criticize its ways of waging war with the Palestinian people, they are enemies equal to the Nazis. It should not be forgotten that economically speaking, the taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority were not paid out while the reduction in employment of low wage Palestinian workers robbed also the Palestinian people of an income. In fact, the Israeli policy has been an all-out effort to achieve self-sufficiency in order to no longer depend nor really care about the livelihood of their neighbors.

They do it also out of a recollection of their history of persecution.

Sharon would say, this has been known throughout the history of the Jewish people and is to be accepted as determining fate if the rest of the world does not seem to understand their plight.

His single stance fails, however, to substantiate following two problems pertaining to the military operations and what subsequent developments that will have throughout the region:


By 2010 and the start of a new peace talk, the stakes are higher while the resources are stretched. One journalist remarked the romance of getting a deal done is gone. What has gone wrong? A possible hypothesis is that many topics elude outsiders but once really concerned with what goes on inside of Israel, then debates allow to conclude that justice, including a just perception by outsiders is something many want. Indicative of that trend is some of the talks that Danielle Gurevitch has pursued in conjunction with justice under such a system as King Arthur and his round table. As a matter of fact that topic has prompted her into discussions going further than what would be a romantic version of knighthood and kingship. Underneath it are the struggles of Jewish Securalism to emancipate itself from religious tutelage and to translate it as Michel Ben-Hurion would argue into aesthetical representation. But to come back to the justice question the very fact that the concept is discussion in terms of what this means in different cultural context could be taken as a departure point for another approach to the peace talks. Such a discussion has already started. In an introductory note to "My Justice, Your Justice" the author points out rightly so under the heading 'Perceptions of Justice in Different Cultures' that

“'Justice' is a tricky term. People in different cultures and throughout history have debated it endlessly. Who is supposed to apply the principles of justice – the individual, the group, the state or all of humanity? To whom do these principles pertain – people, animals, legal entities? What is the relationship between the concept of justice and concepts such as truth, morality, kindness, compassion and law? While justice is carried out, must it be balanced against other values? Perhaps justice should be pursued for its own sake, unconditionally, as the Romans said, Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus (“Let there be justice, though the world perish”)? And on an entirely different plane, where can justice be achieved – in day-to-day worldly affairs or in the realm of the teleological-metaphysical, which lies beyond our grasp?"

For further reference see the publication of a book called

My Justice, Your Justice


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