“Coltrane was always concerned with blazing ahead, one popular line of reasoning goes; he didn’t place much value into what he left behind him.”
Ben Ratliff

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

The Next 9/11?

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DISCLAIMER: I am no journalistic writer. The thoughts embodied in this text exist coherently within me and it seemed a good thing to share them. Their external coherency is completely up to you!

The  Bhagavad Gita, though it is a religious text, is also considered a source of inspiration in Yoga. I had the pleasure of exploring some of it during a retreat a few years ago. It is part of a larger epic tale “The Mahabharata” which tells a soap-opera-like story with many twists and turns and describes the history that leads to a war where the two combating sides are of the same ancestral family. The Gita begins (following a short summation of the situation for those who did not see the previous chapters) when Arjuna, the mightiest archer-warrior alive, asks Krishna, no less then a god incarnated acting as his chariot-driver, to take him out to the middle of the battle-field. There Arjuna rises to stand,  looks to the enemy front where he sees his uncles and cousins. He then collapses back into his seat in despondency and depression saying to Krishna that he cannot fight this war. The  greatest warrior alive gets depressed at the outset of the greatest war in history.

The Uncorroborated Facts

Yesterday Israel, the country I currently live in and have lived in most of my life, launched a violent attack on Gaza. This  news came to me as I was socializing at an exhibition in a surreal setting in which my work was displayed. I don’t really know what’s going on because I do not consume any local media (no radio, no TV and no newspapers – just a little internet) which, from what I do know, are mostly unreliable – and not very knowledgeable themselves – and  I know of no other reliable sources. The information that has reached me indicates that (1) over the past weeks rockets have been launched from Gaza to neighboring Israeli civilian areas; (2) There has been much public and political pressure to retaliate; (3) in a very low quality and unstable political environment that is weeks away from elections; (4) the politicians did not cave in to the public pressure and delayed for quite some time; (5) while the military seems to have been planning a highly focused & targeted attack; (6) in which a major surprise Air force strike (of about 60 fighter planes) took out in two strike-waves almost 100 strategic targets, many of which were hidden and nested in areas populated by civilians; (7) the reported enemy death toll as I write these words and the attack enters its second day is 225 of which 15 are reported civilians.

Internal Unrest

I recall an observation I encountered in one of the academic courses I studied in university about war/strategy/diplomacy: it suggested that countries usually go to war when they are in an internal state of unrest.

Israeli politics is in a difficult state – many of the cabinet ministers are or have been under criminal investigation, extremists on all sides are on the rise, there are no politicians who show signs of qualities of leadership – leaving people to make the least-damaging choice in upcoming elections. The Israeli economy is showing signs of weakness as it is tightly related to US an global economics.

Most importantly, and completely not reported in the news, is the torn social fabric. Signs of it are everywhere. It is in small everyday things that people get used to – such as violent driving, terrible service in the business sector, unstable housing, etc. It has appeared many times over the past years in the military – where both highly ranked persons and organized groups have refused to carry out orders and opted to make their opposition a public debate. It is expressed in the widening gap between religious and non-religious citizens.  It is expressed in a crumbling judicial system in which the public has little faith. It is expressed in the cold & violent service citizens meet when calling on government offices for services.

Personal Terrorism

A few years ago I entered a head-on conflict with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (then dominated by religious/religiously-oriented interests and officials) when I chose to continue my relationship with Andreea (a non-Jewish Romanian national) – my wife. Though I am not a great believer in the institution of marriage, Andreea & I decided to get married  – as this was the only potential option for us to continue living together in Israel. I can go on and share many moving & emotional details about the excruciating process we went through – but there is one realization which stands out in my mind.

Over the past 6 years we have been required to visit with the government offices to confirm the authenticity of our marriage and extend Andreea’s visa (this process ended recently when she finally received her citizenship). The public servants are better labeled public-dictators – as they are narrow minded, petty and are mostly interested in raising obstacles. About 18 months ago we considered taking our case to court to (1) demand severances for the suffering caused us in this process (2) prevent them from attempting to raise any further bureaucratic obstacles (which they did) and (3) influence change. We were strongly advised by lawyers to refrain from doing this before we completed the process.

Some time later, after speaking to a friend (who is also a lawyer), as I was driving home I realized how deep the violence in our society goes. It is considered unwise for me to justly pursue the government through legal channels – for fear that the government will avenge me. I realized that I was facing terrorism – a subtle and extremely violent form of terrorism.

A country that is constantly under terror attack from numerous enemy fronts  – uses terrorism as a form of internal government. I find it hard to believe it even as I write these words. But this is a truth. If you’ve tried in Israel to register your car, request a social security service, file a complaint with the polic or to build a life with a foreign national (a “Gentile” is the religious context) – then you have experienced this violence and terrorism.

Pride

A well planned attack on a relatively helpless (though violent) enemy, with no casualties on your side – is just what the doctor ordered. There are no problems and issues on the Israeli agenda now – there is massive, proud reporting on the attack. 60 fighter jets covered an area 40 km long – I can almost see them lined up in the sky – less then one kilometer apart. There is no talk of politics – except for the talk about how “in such a sensitive time” there is no talk of politics –  because politicians do not want to appear to be capitalizing on the situation.

Voices that days ago publicly condemned, through the media, the government and military for sitting by helplessly and not attacking Gaza to stop the ongoing missile attack (knowing full well – that military attacks have never succeeded in achieving a cease-fire – you gotta love the irony of it all!), are now singing a different tune. Now that they are sitting in safe-rooms, unable to walk the streets, they are full of praise, pride and unbending support for the attack on Gaza. Even with the unpredictable autumn weather – public opinion seems to shift faster then the wind does.

Pride Aside

I rarely talk nor care to talk politics. But I applaud this attack. I do not now about it’s circumstances (which I assume are tainted), what actually happened or what it will achieve. I do know that it feels like a clear message to all – to Israeli citizens, to enemies and to the entire world. Clarity is what I feel is most lacking in Israeli society and government  (I think it is also true of much the world – but I have not experienced enough of it to carry a similar conviction). I wish for leadership that has clarity – I believe a clear hand should be offered in peace talks and a clear hand should be offered in violence.

Israel has demonstrated that it can be clearly violent – it has not yet demonstrated (and that is where the true challenge lies) that it can be clearly peaceful. I feel the two should be offered and maintained simultaneously. If we were living in peace – we would be forced to face the problems that plague us from within – and that is not a commitment that I feel that Israeli leadership can take on. It seems that both peace and violence come from within.

The Next 9/11

I spent a few minutes watching some footage this morning on CNN – curious to get a glimpse of how the world is viewing the situation. Israel is condemned all over the map.

60 jet-fighters in two strike-waves, 225 dead of which ONLY 15 are civilian – DO THE  MATH  it does not get more surgical and precise then that. Israeli military worked relentlessly and patiently (with rare political backing) to attack a military enemy that hides among civilian population. It is much easier, quicker and just as effective to drop heavier bombs and erase entire buildings. Israel also risked the element of surprise by repeatedly warning civilians to distance themselves from military personal and operations. Yet Arab diplomats are talking about an all out attack on 1.5 million civilians. These are not diplomats – they are amateur salesman – the kind that I would throw out seconds after they open their mouths – instead of providing them with global media coverage. But they are also not a real problem. Their ridicule is clear for all to see. Danger arises when their ridicule is ignored.

The next 9/11 will not not be a retaliation. The next 9/11 will happen because we are willing for it to happen – we are willing it by being unclear. Though I can understand and appreciate the need for diplomacy – I feel that it is being abused. Unclear communication and unstated positions  provide fertile ground for  terrorism. Israel has finally demonstrated, for all to see, a taste of clarity – and now the hypocrisy of global politics is revealed.

I repeatedly choose to believe that the world is a great place striving to become better and better. I believe that political  hypocrisy indicates a mix of interests which has not been resolved. It seems that some of these interests are aligned with terrorism and the consequences of such attacks. The hypocrisy of the condemnations of Israel that are now appearing all over the western world are painting the target signs where for the next attacks. Have no doubt, some of them will hit their targets. When they do the retaliation will be much more painful – and the Arab diplomats may again get a true taste of what “an attack on 1.5 million civilians” really feels like (Iraq anyone?).

A Japanese Emperor

A friend once told me a story about a Japanese emperor who’s minister of military affairs approaches him with an idea to transform his harem of women into a military force. The emperor laughed at the proposition but approved the experiment. So the minister took all the woman out into the courtyard and demanded they start marching. The women laughed, much like the emperor. The minister immediately chose two women and had their heads cut off. The remaining women began to march in unison.

The suggested moral of the story was that force needs to be used in an effective and timely manner.

Israel made a choice to act forcefully. If if turns out to be effective, things will improve, it if turns out to be mistaken – we will learn from it. I have a feeling the world would benefit from more testing action and less complacent talking. My heart goes out to the economically poor (!) citizens of Gaza who’s reality is being shattered and to the economically poor (!) citizens of Israel who cannot distance themselves from living in an area where their lives are toyed with by unsincere and unclear leaders.

Dear Israel

If memory serves me correctly is was in the 1980’s that there was wide spread immigration of Israeli’s who left the country. In recent years Israel has spent a fortune in trying to get Jewish youth from all over the world to come and visit and hopefully immigrate back to Israel.

Dear leaders of mine – wake up. Your efforts are again mistimed and misplaced. As it becomes increasingly difficult to live a simple, stable and quiet life in Israel (and for the record – no missiles are falling on my house!) my thoughts are (and have been) set on leaving. It is now just a question of time. My sister has recently left Israel. A couple of friends are leaving for two months to reassess their lives. I am no researcher and have no statistics to back me up – but it seems to be happening again.

Do better!

What About Arjuna?

Krishna takes advantage of Arjuna’s predicament to teach him spiritual teachings. Simply put – Krishna explains to Arjuna that his own misapprehensions are blinding him. His opposing cousins and uncles are already dead, because that is the nature of things and of their choices. Krishna says to Arjuna that it is his nature and fate (Dharma) to fight this war – and that he must not let his fleeting human nature blind him from his course – “You are a warrior – go and fight your war”.

I recall the first question that Paul (my teacher) set out for us to contemplate when we began studying the Bhagavad Gita – and with it I will leave you to your own contemplation. What is it that prompted Arjuna in the first place to ask Krishna to take him out into the battlefield knowing in advance what he will find there?

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