Creating people's geographies
In the interests of balancing the scales, and of remaining buoyantly hopeful, here is a short immediate postscript to the Israel Lobby Revisited. This is in keeping with an endeavour to think in the propositional and not just oppositional mode, and to be concerned ultimately with recognition, redress and restitution, and not simply resistance.
As a dear friend has noted, while the retrospective and informative links were appreciated, the previous post also caused, or may be liable to cause, some soul ache at the state of the world. My soul certainly ached recalling the last year and reading back on all that had transpired, but I remain optimistic. There’s no time for fear and despair, friends. There’s work to be done.
In the soul food kitchen, the prescription for this might be the soul equivalent of some good warming chicken or vegetarian soup for the soul, and of course its up to us what our preferred ingredients are: music, walks in the park, children, humour, poetry.
A French diplomat, Jean Monnet, once said, “If you have a problem you cannot solve, enlarge the context.” It seems to me that the antidote to disenchantment is re-enchantment (Thomas Moore has written a lovely book or two on this topic, highly recommended), and ‘enlarging the context’ and keeping perspective is paramount. Hope and imagination are always needed to keep our spirits up, and to envision successful solutions out of the quagmire.
The ‘where do we go from here’ forward thinking and movement is critical. These initiatives have been coming; they can be seen in such things as the one state proposals and the numerous joint initiatives within civil society between Israelis and Palestinians, for example, and in the raising of awareness of this topic and the airing of the Palestinian narrative. These are crucial actions in which we all have an important part to play.
The modern state of Israel occasionally recalls for me the parable of the Prodigal Son. We know all the terrible crimes and injustices that have been committed in this asymmetric conflict and we can issue all the justified denunciations in the world, at the end of the day what we have to invest more of our energy in is conflict resolution/ transformation strategies to enact a durable and inclusive peace.
Might this be a clue as to one way to bring the Prodigal State to its senses and into the international community as an accepted and valued participant rather than a pariah? Just a thought — I’ve posted this snippet before but it seemed appropriate here again:
“In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the centre of the village, alone and unfettered.
All work ceases, and everyone in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused.
Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, recalling the good things the person has done in his life. Every experience that can be recalled with detail and accuracy is recounted.
All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully.
…. At the end, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.”
— Jack Kornfield, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
I’m not suggesting a kind of touchy-feely psychotherapy for nations or assuming that goodwill, on its own, will trump geopolitics, merely that we can not discount innovative, sometimes counter-intuitive strategies and that we ought also appeal to the best in human nature and that allowing antagonism and alienation to accrue can be counter-productive. Rather, these strategies have also had an important role to play, if we look to South Africa again, in the Truth in Reconciliation commissions. Again, no instrument is perfect, no process without its bumps, no analogy exact, but there are success stories and reasons for authentic hope to which we can turn for inspiration.
Rebecca Solnit has an astute observation, again previously quoted, in her excellent book Hope in the Dark:
“Bush invited his constituency to be blind to the world’s real problems, and leftists often do the opposite, gazing so fixedly at those problems that they cannot see beyond them. Thus it is that the world often seems divided between false hope and gratuitous despair. Despair demands less of us, its more predicable, and in a sad way safer. Authentic hope requires clarity — seeing the troubles in this world — and imagination, seeing what might lie beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable.”
Last word to Eleanor Roosevelt:
Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world… Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
You may also be interested in:
** The psychology of tikkun
** Monte Asbury on Howard Zinn
** Jostein Gaarder, God’s Chosen People
Just In –
** Nicola Nasser, The Arab Peace Initiative, Counterpunch
** Jewish Analysts Investigating Peace and Conflict (JAIPAC), The New Pro Israel: Mutually Assured Survival, available at CASMII, Progessive Government and Democracy.Rising