Israel Palestine and the Reconciliation of Polarization

There’s a joke: A “gaggle” of  elder Jewish women go to a restaurant, the waiter works hard to please them, hustles, keeps taking their orders, requests, and side orders, keeps listening to their complaints and gripes. Finally, he goes up to them and asks: “is anything alright?”

I feel like that when approaching saying what i truly feel regarding the middle east conflict  in israel palestine. i won’t please anyone! My pro Israel friends, my child of holocaust survivor friends, my Israeli friends, will throw curses my way for suggesting that we need to be compassionate, understanding, kind and humane to the Palestinian people, their needs and rights, as well as to the israeli and Jewish peoples needs and rights. My left wing friends will hurl epithets at me for suggesting that Israel has a legitimate right to not have bombs hurled at them, stating that the underdog palestinians are being corralled like Blacks were under apartheid, suffocated and deprived of basic freedoms so of course they would fight back!

I cannot win with telling you my opinion, and what does my opinion matter, except that i need to speak, i cannot be silent. That is the nature of polarized conflicts such as this one. To take a side one way or another invites the other side vilifying you! To not take a side, to take a compassionate middle ground, like Thich Nhat Hanh did during the Vietnam war, for which he was nominated by MLK for the Nobel Peace Prize, invites insults and worse from BOTH sides because you are not with them!

Look at the sad state of the US Congress: same BS!! Polarization, division, taking positional sides wherein crossing over is an act of treason, betrayal and disloyalty. No wonder we are at an impasse and at the edge of the fiscal cliff!

I chose to take a middle ground in re Israel Palestine. I love israel. it is my soul home. It is a Phoenix born of the ashes of 6,000,000 murdered Jews, millions of them children. We jews have a right to live, and to be able to fight to protect ourselves. period. To live freely.

Regarding the settlements, i believe jews have the right to settle where they want, and palestinians have the right to settle where they want. People have the right to exist and to live, to support and to basic human rights. But we also have a responsibility, as Jews that suffered under the Nazi Holocaust, to represent justice, mercy, kindness, compassion and the pursuit of true justice. Those are Jewish values! Not just strength and the warrior spirit: those are ancient Jewish values too, and israel embodies both sets of principles, peace loving and fierce when need be. We couldn’t fight the nazis, we had no military, no ability to defend ourselves. Now we do. But if we don’t defend our own virtues, we suffer a worse defeat, a moral defeat.

However wrong the Palestinian methods have been of waging war against Israel, however foolish and self-defeating their tactics, however inane it is to let Palestinians linger in refugee camps rather than absorbing them in host countries, just as israel absorbed millions of refugees from Europe, from Africa, from Russia, and form Arab lands they were exiled from… we must now consider their rights and needs and treat then humanely, rather than in an exclusively punitive way, to truly seek peace and justice with them, with our neighbors, to “love our neighbors as ourselves” . The reactive, overly defensive, insecure and traumatized body politic way pushes us towards more cruelty, dehumanization, cycles of violence without end!
Punish, blame, imprison, attack, defend, spend trillions on military defense to increase the illusion of  security: and that is all it is, an illusion of control, fed by billions of taxpayer money that could be moving towards education, housing, medical care. Waste Supreme. Global spending on military is insane!! No wonder we are in the mess we are in, at the “fiscal cliff” We are polarized, punitive, defensive, waging war  for the illusion of security, wasting our life energy on wars we cannot win, in polarized ways, trying to prove “the other” (and we jews have been “othered”) wrong and worthy of debasement.  From that we need to wake up!!!!

Polarization: how to reconcile the oppositions?? Happens with couples in my psychotherapy practice. Happens within our astrology charts, if you believe in that, and within our own psyches that can be divided against itself: conflicting wants and values are common. Happens within religions, within political movements, within organizations. We cannot escape the fact of polarity; we can find ways to respect, differentiate and integrate.

So,… as Jews celebrate Hannukah, the Festival of Lights,  Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, Pagans/Wiccans/Celtics and new agers celebrate the Solstice, and  Mayans honor the turning of the calendar,…Lets All wake up to the fact that we need to integrate polarities rather than trying to eliminate one pole or the other !! (And as a Pole (both my parents are Polish Jews), i can testify that Poles are here to stay!) Integrating opposites: yin/yang, Democrat/Republican, Jew/ Israeli/ Palestinian/ Muslim, us/them, light/dark, good/bad.

12/21/2012 means to me not the end of the world as- in-we -all- die- on- a- horrendous- day -of  -judgment,… but if “its the end of the world as we know it (and i do feel fine)”, then perhaps we can envision it and let it be the end of polarization as we know it, the stupid kind that defeats common sense, collective sanity, mutual respect, common decency and civility, kindness in truth and truth in kindness. Opposites, like day and night, each have their place and it is through a deep embrace and unionization, cooperation, mutual respect that we bring in a new age (i am such an optimystic one!!)

Bless us all, and the union of opposites,

 

there you are…

mg

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One Response to Israel Palestine and the Reconciliation of Polarization

  1. Maddie H. June 26, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    6/26/17

    Hello Michael,

    I’ve just come across your website and find your background and approach interesting.

    My thanks to you for this piece. I was drawn to it because I am a progressive Jew who has grieved about Israel-Palestine for many years — and done what I could to move away from the very polarization that you speak about.

    I would like to encourage you, however, to rethink the vignette with which you start your entry; where you cast a so-called gaggle of elderly Jewish women in a negative light. As a Jewish woman who has a lot to say — and, as gentle as I am, can get awfully tired of being less than direct or tamping down my concerns, in an effort to spare or take care of others — I am sensitive to the stereotype that you are drawing upon.

    If you are serious about not buying into polarities, I submit that you “free” the group of Jewish women you speak about and bring your collection of “Babes” out of the corner. Instead of painting them as kvetchy and incapable of being satisfied — and bested by a male who, in spite of probably being a third of their age and not having been tested by the same amount of life experience, is portrayed as far more functional than they are — perhaps you could lean into who the women are, consider what their stories would be if you knew them, and represent both them and the waiter in your retelling.

    Thank you,

    Maddie H.

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