Rav Kook jazz poetry jam inspired…

August 18, 2009

jazz blues textures what might the flood of colors look like to be

truly free in our land

to rise up to each moment’s potential textures

of feeling & love & connectedness

stained glass

browns & blues, yam ha tichon & shefela, denuded hillsides & stubborn pines, cold trickles of mayan wonder, prickly pears rare air floating down over Modiin highway- why ‘they’ and ‘us’

are we Jews one? or many? Israeli & not? separate? wet

& dry, sky & ground, sounding out the rhythms of town & city & farm & wadi —
BAM!
There! the shock of  lightning lightening up our awareness

flash of understanding Overstanding on our land-ing El Al down from the skies

on the wings of eagles dipping & surging & soaring & plunging to the kill,

fierce without remorse or pity are we conquerors or are we not? The Lakota wants to know,

No we are not not-conquerors and yet ain brira trapped where we cannot move forward or back without belief in ourselves daring to ride the waves forward into the future for real
Israel.

Abundance vs. Scarcity: Anti-Semitism

August 3, 2009

This is thought-provoking.

Implied but not explicit is the idea of scarcity as opposed to abundance.  In a zero-sum world, a world of scarcity, where for every winner there must be a loser, anti-semitism is virulent.  But when the mindset shifts into abundance, where one success begets another, where more adds up to much more and doesn’t subtract and make someone else less, anti-semitism fades or becomes irrelevant, as in much of today’s scientific and entrepreneurial sphere (where Jews, not coincidentally, excel).

Expert-ism Daf

June 17, 2009

Initiation rites hazing, certifying or establishing you as expert, into guild, profession

Brotherhood vs. priesthood, belonging vs. sacred, kavod vs. ‘the kavod’

Participants: Irene Diamond,Matthew Mausner, Meir Simcha & Dvora Pantzur, Betzalel Edwards, Rachel Leah, Sarah Weil, Avigail, Adiella Jones, Gershon Gottlieb, Shira Rachel (Ami/ Yoni music)

Metaphor signifies the understanding is beyond the means/ framework. Making, defining truth, terms

Think for Yourself!!

Should psychologists determine who’s sane or not?

According to whom? 1984 e.g.

Psychology, the new priesthood (Zerzan), decides legal boundaries of reality, sanity behavior, power

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

Black fire vs. White fire

society doesn’t value the white/ space/ less defined

Not relying on previous knowledge, constant re-evaluation. Answers always change: Sword at entrance to Garden of Eden always moving. Chochma, Bina, Daat: Creativity/ creation?

Do the ‘experts’ in each field of human endeavor know what they’re talking about? Does expertise deserve the respect, money, attention, power that societies give it? Committee corporate breeds conservatism & mediocrity. Advisors not responsible or accountable: other people’s money Are “parents”–mothers and/or fathers, qualified and deserving of authority/power over children? Is a ‘parent’ a natural expert? What’s best for kids, SW, judge decides? In divorce/ orphan
Who determines and has power over the way we define and understand human bodies and souls?

Masculine vs. feminine values. Ratzo v’Shov Acting vs. processing. Predictions vs. Blessings. Talmud many opinions- one truth. Levels

Academic specialization: people study longer to know more and more about less and less. Reputation. Narrow fields don’t talk to each other; is publishing, tenure, grants, etc. proof of merit? Test scores vs. social measures & cooperation.

Where are moral distinctions or purpose? Is there a void?

What criteria determines whether ‘experts’ have valid expertise? In which fields is expertise objective, quantifiable, meritocracy, verifiable? External vs. self-defined expertise. Black Swan Taleb: closed systems, misapplied Gaussian & other models, confirmation error, Data regression, arrogance- worship of experts. Herd mentality. Is real problem professionalization of expertise? Scale, bigness causes… Brain surgery requires the best trained neurosurgeon: nobody else can do it: Not everyone can know everything: Or is best doctor bedside manner? Acupuncture effective even if not understood.

Being needed as reason to be expert? In which fields is expertise needed?

Society should take care of all its members? So merit is defined by the good you give to others/ community?Deserving if chesed & for others and achieves its purpose then yes.
Identify w/ career

In a place where there’s ‘no man’- be ‘the man’ -prkA

Moshe sees no man, kills the Egyptian, takes responsibility

Financial ‘experts’ didn’t understand, predict, plan for, or protect all of us from the subprime and derivatives crashes. Nobels; quant. over qual.; platonic/ ideal forms over reality chaos Fear of risk: we depend on experts to minimize or insure against, esp. complex, higher stakes situations. Too busy to think for ourselves, adopt view of majority, ‘common sense’, convntional wisdom, we abdicate responsibility for life. Professional power relations, hierarchy of perceived, accredited expertise: scarcity. Salary, pay =? status which professions are respected/ paid/more?

job satisfaction? if->

happy at job dependent on psych. outlook? selfish / selfless motivations for work, career, achievement, attention
Each person (Tselem Elokim) has their unique gift ‘expertise’? Anarchist ideal no experts: ALL are empowered. Society Against the State. Each society only allows certain (limited) types of expertise. E/W, ‘civilized’ division of labor vs. H/G Kabbalists warn against mistaking the map for territory, forms for reality

Materialist/ rational/ quantifiable expertise or is merit more subtle/ alternative/ holistic? ‘true cost’ how to determine? ‘Objective’ vs. Verifiable Double-blind scientific method and its limits. Statistics- numbers- irony lowest mundane means proves ‘higher reality’

Being in ‘Flow’ state Csikszentmihalyi music, athletes, 10,000 hours of practice = ‘genius’ ‘talent’. Does that account for intention? ‘Calling’? ‘Obsession’? workaholic? Innovation vs. Repeatability True chidush can destroy a field, dangerous, New is always from the unknown. Einstein. Tzaddik = expert at life? God guides when you’re in unknown place if you’re ready, above your sechel. We receive laws at liminal moments, Phase changes, thresholds, of indiv. & coll. identity crisis. Thomas Kuhn- science progress. Revolution. Ideas in air, free speech, tipping points, zeitgeist. Bat .300 makes you a star who fails 70% of time. We’re here to fail & make mistakes-> Tikun fixing, taking responsibility, risk, blame (buck stops). Personally meaningful goals, go beyond your limits. Experts out of their fields- Freeman Dyson, Richard Feynman, Bertrand Russell etc. Is expertise or success defined by others’ ignorance or failure?

Bernie Siegel

Gennup,Victor Turner (Arizal) Dr. Pierre Grimes.

Birth and the Earth Daf

June 17, 2009

Zero Population Growth (ZPG) :

People becomes a population- number?: scientific reductionism: The Population Bomb:

Person=Consumer

Ben David won’t come until all the neshamot have been in bodies: Generations from the seeds/ Zera:

Amartya Sen: Famine is political: Not about food but money and distribution:

Potlatch: Abundance thinking as potential not as actual: Abundance means there can be enough for everybody:

5-5-09 ‘TANAIM’: Irene Diamond, Micha Odenheimer, Matthew Mausner, Shaul Judelman, Sarah Weil, Mia Rachel xx, Eliyahu McLean, Rachel Leah xx, Gershon Gottlieb, Amos xx. ed. MM

Ecological science and environmentalism tend to accept a model that puts human birth in conflict with the well-being of the earth.

(Gevura)

Demographic reductionism and the population/resources model a. Is there a simple relationship between the number of people and the impact on the environment?

b. Are humans even ‘separate’ from the natural world/ environment?

Why (in first Ohr Esther event) attack envir. mov. rather than corrupt capitalism?:
Adam 150 years spilling seeds: This fallen seed was reincarnated in [slavery in] Egypt:

Have more kids to speed moshiach: descriptive or prescriptive?

Environmental footprint: One american = 50 Bolivians e.g.: Developed vs. undevel. countries: Ecological time vs. human time: Last 200 years accel. impacts and change:

(Chesed)

Pru R’Vu Go forth and multiply:

Birth Control: condom, pill:

Famine-> halacha to stop sex/birth:

Infanticide (tribal): Abortion (modern): Empower women: choice: wanted vs. unwanted children: Medicine- birth defects & diseases live: “Nature’s beautiful & perfect, humans just destroy it: So why am I alive?”: Do humans ‘belong’ or see ourselves as belonging: Hopelessness, Apocalyptic eco crisis: Nihilism & Existentialism: Brave to commit suicide?:

c. Is ecological science dominated by conceptions of scarcity?
d. Are ecosystems stable in any way that can be ‘preserved’?
e. Can an approach of
abundance better serve both science and human needs?

Chesed/Gvura of abundance: CH sharing, GV taboos

Sukka fem. protecting masc.: schach klippot over kli: raising up kilppot tikun:

biodiversity = cultural diversity, +-

Relevant insights of ecofeminism:
1.Establishing that healing the earth is inseparable from social justice
2.Establishing that spirituality is intrinsic to solving the environmental predicament
3.Linking environmental sanity to the creation of sustainable peace:
Roots of environmentalism, secular & scientific values: in rationalism (Yavan) and Christianity: Christians born in sin: Jesus self-sacrifice: Crucifixion ultimate infanticide: God sacrificed his own son: Akeida: Are Jewish & indigenous values opposed to Greek/rational/Christian?: How much do we get to control our reality or others’ actions?: Categorical imperative:

Our context/ assumption: yes there’s a world crisis: ecological, spiritual, capitalism/ material:

Jews’ population: census in torah: usur to count Jews:

Shoah: Replace Holo. victims with big families: Haredi mindset 10+: Haredim moving closer to Christian right: Catholic Pope against birth control: Pope seen as against eco.: India village intro. TV-> birth rate went down: college degree predictor of lower birthrate: JUDGING traditional peoples for valuing life/ birth differently:

Rainbow colors about earth: Gold & Silver about divine: gold inward/ defining: silver outward/open: Jews linked to gold & silver matrix:
Purpose of creation is tikun?: Static vs. dynamic: D. Quinn’s “Takers” and “Leavers” relevant: DQ accept birth and earth opposed?: Eve gift of life: life without limit?: The dominant economic model- global corporate capitalism- is wrong/evil: dependence: exploitation: mistreatment of women: Empowering women = choice Inheritance (tribal or divine): justice related to land:

Mopsik “Body of Engenderment”

souls come back into bodies to do their tikun:

Land of Plenty

April 13, 2009

Visiting America- New York– for a Passover trip, I am reminded of the sheer abundance, the overwhelming profusion of goods and services and lush forests, buildings and bars, people of every color, options of entertainment and amusement and food… in the city it’s even more so, if you have the money you can order literally ANYthing to your apartment at any time of day or night…

Given that so much of human struggles for the last several thousand years have dealt with simply having enough, materially, I don’t want to be too quick to dismiss this land of plenty as empty materialism.  There IS something special about the American Dream, in spite of such excess, obesity, and greed as we see today.  America and Israel are the only two nation-states on earth specifically founded on an ideal rather than mere accidents of history, ethnicity, or empire.  Individual pursuits in almost any field are encouraged, if you have initiative and stubbornness there are genuine opportunities, there is money, even a black man can become president…

The devil’s side of the bargain is a certain disconnect, an alienation from specific identity, from place, from heritage, to join in the game that’s being enacted.  As there are so little real consequences to financial irresponsibility– one can declare bankruptcy, start over, even many times– then there really is no reason not to pursue one’s dreams, to feel ‘freedom’ is something tangible, a sense of limitless possibility is still something that shines to the world.  And the super rich can lose far more money than us little people and get bailed out by the government, thus reminding all of us that these green pieces of paper are really just part of the game, none of it is real, don’t you want to play?

Yet individual fulfillment is really the ceiling, because the values of the collective culture don’t have space, don’t even have language, for other kinds of purpose.  I saw this among native Americans, this disinterest in the game… and then I drank the Zionist kool-aid and moved to Israel.  Now I’m an outsider, seeing the American dream with the eyes of someone who has a way OUT.

And more clearly than ever before, I see the danger for Jews to be in America.  I don’t think one can be both.  Not on the level of loyalty: American Jews certainly have demonstrated that they can place America’s interests over those of Israel’s when they conflict (see Kissinger, Ross, etc.) and even American Israel advocacy organizations are conscious of the need to find common causes and arguments that Israeli and American interests coincide.   Not on the level of anti-semitism: America may be the most open and welcome Jewish diaspora home ever, even including the original Babylon.  But for a Jew to be alive to being a Jew, then he is merely an individual if he lives in America– sure, with all those possibilities of personal growth and fulfillment, but cut off from the true drama of Jews in the world today, which  no matter how you cut it, is manifest and expressed in the holy land.

It’s a trite truism that one’s consciousness changes when one becomes or builds a family– not just in it for yourself anymore, the values change, the responsibilities change.  Even or especially with dysfunctional families.  Well it’s not so different with tangibly and physically joining the project of the Jewish people attempting to live in the Land of Israel.  This is not about justifying the flawed secular modern Israeli nationalism; increasingly Jewish identity in the holy land is a hybrid of ancient and modern ideologies, of religious and tribal and ethnic resonances, which cannot be reduced to any one of those.  Many Israelis, and Jews who live in Israel, wouldn’t even know how to start describing the sources or reasons for their sense of purpose in living there.  It’s not necessarily coming from a rational or logical place.

Yet right from that alleged irrationality comes the only truly rational, sustainable basis for long-term human life anywhere on earth.  Modernity, secularity, is inescapably cosmopolitan and rootless; only by believing one’s great-grandchildren will inhabit and inherit the same land, can one take the kind of responsibility for the earth that is needed.  Consumerism will cannibalize all our land, all our resources, unless a corresponding counterweight is found in the committment of a tribe to a homeland.  Jews, as the paradigmatic exiled people, as the tribe whose stories of enslavement and dispersion and persecution have been writ large for the world to see, can show the way for all the world’s alienated people to become re-grounded, in their own identities and heritages, and even to rebuild such basic human birthright where all history has been lost.

The financial crisis: a great excuse for Jubilee

February 25, 2009

George Soros says the financial system has already disintegrated, and Paul Volcker agrees with him. It has already collapsed, in some ways more comprehensively (and certainly more globally) than in 1929. It’s just running on fumes– or maybe we’re like the cartoon character who ran off a cliff but is just starting to look down and doesn’t yet realize he’s supposed to fall.

So, America’s now in for $700 billion or more, China for $586 billion, Japan and Europe and everyone else is upping the ante, and these ‘stimulus’ packages may be only the beginning…. Hell, if even two years ago, you’d have asked me to draw up what a worldwide “Jubilee” forgiveness of debts would have looked like, i wouldn’t even have made it anywhere near as big as all these current bailouts.

Seriously, and don’t dismiss this out of hand: I think it’d be more effective if these bailouts are presented as not just a serious set of economic loans/grants and restructuring, but ALSO a religous ‘jubilee’.

As long as the basis of debts and loans and credit has collapsed, let’s take it all the way. Honoring one’s debts seems to no longer apply to banks and billionaires, so why should it apply to ordinary people? One is judged for having less or more, money is power, to not have it is to be ‘broke’. Yet forces far larger than individuals have rendered that whole logic moot.  We should admit that the way we morally as well as fiscally judged people was based on a deeply flawed logic.

Jubilee– the original concept– asks that we ‘reboot’ the system every 50 years, and forgive all debts and free all ‘slaves’. It posits that all people should be returned to their lands and ‘inheritances’, to the unconstrained opportunity for self-sufficiency: liberty and justice for all. And it’s holistic: one lets plants grow and the ecology restore itself.  This encompasses many of the ideals the stimulus bills only dream about; and it’s a more comprehensive moral solution to the human condition than any of the half-baked reforms being proposed and discussed by our leaders.

We might as well get all the religious folk involved, get a lot of the nutcases to help society instead of planning for apocalypse.  And invest it with real spiritual meaning. The bottom line is, as long as you’re going to blow several TRILLION dollars and mortgage the planetary future, you might as well pull out all the stops!

People talk about end times, ‘2012’.  Yes, the world as we know it is ending.  But that’s not such a big deal–that’s happened a couple of times already this century! WWI for Europe, WWII for everyone, 1990 again for the soviet bloc. Moving on from such seminal moments takes real courage.

So, there needs to be a real blueprint for the world to come.  Something that’s Bretton Woods, the founding of the UN, and the peace of Westphalia (which ended and transcended religious war) all rolled into one, with radical environmental and political reform built in. A set of ideas whose time hasn’t quite come yet– but just might come quite soon.  We live in a world where hundreds of millions of migrants are far from home, in debt or in effect indentured servitude to escape hardship; where national boundaries don’t reflect ethnic realities; and where the allegedly respectable and civilized western countries and societies are the deepest in the hole, the most wildly out of whack with the basic math of money and sustainability.  Jubilee would inspire not just the policy wonks but the whole world.

But it’s crazy, you say! What if you’re wrong?

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?

Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.

Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.

Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…

Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!

Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

…[the Mayor considers the implications of helping the Ghostbusters stop the Apocalyspe… and asks what if they’re wrong?]

Dr. Peter Venkman: If I’m wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail – peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it! But if I’m *right*, and we *can* stop this thing… Lenny, you… will have saved the lives of millions… of registered voters.

Chinese Communists control the capitalist world…

February 17, 2009

The debt of western countries, especially America and England, is supported in large part by the central banks of developing and eastern countries– most of all China.  China holds hundreds of billions of dollars and pounds and euros as their currency reserve.  While it has been true for a long time that the dollar is the ‘reserve currency’ of most of the world, the US debt has skyrocketed in the last decade and has mostly been picked up by Asian countries.  And now that the US economy is crashing and the stimulus bill is vastly scaling up the debt and deficit, SOMEone has to keep lending America the money.  Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and other countries have also been major purchasers of US debt, but China is the biggest.  All of their economies depend on export trade to the US; thus the theory, or assumption, is that they cannot let America fail.

But people forget that they may not have the same goals, desires, or ideology as America or the west.  China is STILL run by the Chinese Communist Party.  Since the 70’s when they began to snap out of the insanity of Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the communist leaders actually went back to their sources– and discovered what Marx had actually said: capitalism must precede communism.  It must grow, peak, and collapse- and from that place of ‘highest development’ would be ready to be succeeded by true communism, and the state would wither away. So the Chinese decided to try it: roll with world capitalism until it’s ready to collapse.

And boy have they ever.  Workshop for the world, skyscrapers, hundreds of millions of people brought into the world middle class, the most rapid industrialization the world has ever seen– as big as all previous ones combined.  But their leadership is still the same.  Quietly but certainly, it’s still the same communist leadership. They still openly believe in a communist future.  And somehow, all the western capitalist countries have become dependent on China for capital? Doesn’t this strike anyone else as odd?

Apparently Israeli voters are bigger idiots than Bush-voting Americans

February 10, 2009

I’m appalled and shocked that Kadima is leading the exit polls.  If people didn’t want to vote for Likud, if people were afraid to vote for a right-leaning party, if people had a personal dislike for Benjamin Netanyahu, I could respect their choice to vote for someone else, even if I disagreed– but have the decency to vote for a party with principles!  Have the decency to vote for Meretz, a real left-wing party that’s never had a corruption scandal! Vote for Labor, who at least has some genuine if utterly misguided socialist views!  Hell, vote Hadash, the mostly-Arab Communist Party of Israel, who at least stands for SOMEthing! Vote for right wing parties who also never are corrupt and are honest about their views about settlements and Arabs!

But Kadima, whose sole reason for existence is the comatose vegetable Sharon; whose only ‘issue’ was the withdrawal from Gaza– the most ridiculous failure of Israeli policy in the last 20 years (and that’s SAYING something!); the ‘party’ which proudly has NO ideology and stands for NOTHING at all; the party that claims as ‘victory’ the half-assed recent re-invasion of Gaza, which should never have been necessary, if not for Kadima’s withdrawal of all military and civilian presence, if not for Kadima’s tolerance of the growth of the Hamas regime there, if not for Kadima’s waiting for eight THOUSAND rockets to fall on Israel before it took action… Kadima! the party of Olmert, whose approval ratings make Bush look like Brange f’ing Lina– for six months ZERO percent of Israelis thought he was doing a good job… one and half million Israelis took to the streets demanding his resignation, which is more than voted for him in the first place!! Imagine 55 million Americans taking to the streets demanding Bush’s resignation!

How about some accountability for God’s sake!  Kadima is responsible for the utter failures of the Lebanon war, responsible for the Gaza war which killed 1400 Gazans but didn’t even defang Hamas, responsible for failing to make Israel’s case to the world… Kadima is responsible for Olmert’s corruption scandals.  Kadima is responsible for the horrible theft machine that the Israeli government has become.  Kadima deserves to be– to be charitable– retired.

I hope Kadima voters can look at themselves in the mirror.  I don’t know what’s wrong with them.  I feel like Americans felt in 2004, after Bush got re-elected in spite of his manifest idiocy.  But more is at stake here.  The definition of insanity is trying the same thing again and again after you know it doesn’t work.  Kadima is a failure.  Its policies are failures.

I hope to God that Livni fails to form a gov’t and that Netanyahu winds up prime minister.  His term as finance minister created Israel’s current prosperity and his appointment of Stanley Fischer helped create Israel’s current bank solvency and fiscal stability.  He’s shown that he can capably speak in English to the world about Iran, about Israel’s need for self defense, about the difference between terror and morality.  Unlike Livni’s tortured Neanderthal Englisch, which sounds like Ah-nold circa 1984.

It’s raining heavily today, for the first time in months of drought, so I take that as a good omen– that the evil king is fallen, that better times are coming.  But if we wind up with Livni, with Kad-f^&*g ima again, I’ll seriously consider forming my own party, or starting a revolution, or leaving.  Gee, maybe they’ll offer all the west bank to Hamas too! and the Golan to Syria and Hezbollah! In exchange for NOthing!  It’s done so well in Gaza, that idea! Maybe they’ll sell off all gov’t contracts to the mafia directly!  Maybe they’ll make Olmert Prime Minister for life or until Sharon, zombie-like, returns to power!

It may be hard for outsiders to understand why electing a ‘centrist’ party could be such a travesty.  Picture Rudy Blagogevich returning to power AFTER being convicted… picture an election a week after 9-11 where a party wins proposing ceding Afghanistan to Al-Qaeda, saying “we’re tired of fighting.  we’re tired of winning”.  I don’t have terms strong enough to describe to you how evil Kadima is.  Pure opportunists who simply want to stay in power.  One of the blessings and curses of living in Israel is that things MATTER, elections MATTER, positions matter… and to take no stand amounts to taking a stand.  To take no stand on corruption, to take no action as rockets continue to be shot from Gaza (even today!)– this is a stand FOR weakness.  FOR corruption. FOR terror.  In a country smaller than Vermont, with tens of thousands of armed monsters within walking distance and a massive economic crisis looming.  Like American Bush voters, Israelis may be secretly wishing for apocalypse.  And they may get it.

Money won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on

February 2, 2009

Meridith Whitney, one of the few analysts to successfully predict the current crisis, had a simple rule of thumb to determine the value of any given bank or financial firm: take a hard look at the crappiest assets they had bought or invested in with borrowed money, and figure out how much they’d be worth in a fire sale.

Now that sub-prime markets started pulling the rug out, and Ponzi schemes like Madoff and smaller ones have started to unravel, the creaky foundations of the whole interconnected capital markets are shattering.  As much as 40% of the world’s “cash” has simply disappeared, if it ever really existed beyond mere Enron-style projections.  New financial ‘instruments’ including derivatives and other creative accounting practices allowed huge amounts of money to move around.  But the bottom line is that they have caused the fundamental trust relationships that held up the basic belief in the VALUE of all money, not to say stocks, bonds, banks, etc., to be damaged if not destroyed. We’re all in that fire sale.

Where is this going? With cascading bank failures and a catastrophic credit crunch now resulting in massive layoffs even by “healthy” companies, more than ever the crisis is revealed as a crisis in belief, in faith.  It is naive to think that this problem can be solved at the level of awareness that created it– a paradigm that essentially took people’s belief in the value of any abstract measures such as money for granted. Previous currency collapses, over the last 60 years, could always be recovered from if there was a core of solid western currencies and economies to bail them out; third world debt could be absorbed as long as first world prosperity was relatively stable.  Now there are no givens, as the dollar, pound, Euro, and yen all face severe constriction whether inflationary or deflationary, and governments including the US hover on the edge of debt behavior which in any ordinary company or country would result in bankruptcy.

Responsible thinkers need to start planning for a world in which the only certainties are ‘needs’, fundamental commodities such as food and water, and barter.  And, sadly, guns and instability.  The 30’s– the last comparable time– led to massive reinventions of public life and ideology in every major developed country.  “Faith” in markets or banks, in currencies and basic concepts of value, in law and liberal civil society itself, nearly died– and was partly reborn or reinvested in fascism or communism.  This radical change did indeed revitalize major economies– but at a terrible human cost which was only fully paid by the devastation we collectively call WWII.

We need to confront the absolute necessity of providing a vision to the world, a cognitive and moral and even theological framework, within which civil society and economy and personal growth can be expressed.  The right question is not “will things really get ‘that bad’ again?” but “what can we do to give people hope and something to work for if and when things DO get that bad?” Prudent contingency planning demands it.  Currencies are not backed up by gold anymore– they’re not backed up by anything except people’s belief that they have value– belief which can change or collapse.  Our world could easily degenerate into the warlordism of China in the 20’s, the Afghanistans or Somalias of today, or the Europe of the 30’s.  Wise folk from all walks of life need to realize that we all need to take responsibility for our future and our lives, individually and collectively, as governments and institutions have failed us.  Obama is not a messiah and can’t save us.   And empty optimism that things will ‘get better’ or ‘turn around’ in defiance of concrete proof comes from the same kind of judgement that led to this collapse itself.

Gazans throwing a Tantrum

January 15, 2009

I have tried, since moving to Israel in 2001-2, to really listen to what Palestinians want, rather than presuming that I ‘know’ from what the standard media says (left or right, Israeli or western.)  Why did they wage and support the intifada and suicide bombings, rather than continuing with the Camp David process?  Did they really want a state peacefully side-by-side with Isarel, in 97% or 100% of the WB and Gaza?  After a lot of listening then, it seemed that far more important to them–what they really wanted– was recognition of the Right of Return as legitimate, and total control over Jerusalem, and/or a binational state dominated by Palestinians; and because that wasn’t being heard, they reacted in rage.

What I hear coming out of Gaza now is even more simple and extreme.  Israel did withdraw, but far more than the West Bank, Gazans cannot live a full economy or full life without access to the outside world.  This was articulated– by Hamas– as continuing struggle or ‘resistance’ to get right of return and an end to Israel as a Jewish state, and they won elections on this basis.  They expressed this not only in words but in raids and rockets.  This also was in effect stated, by Gazan Palestinians, by their overwhelming the border with Egypt and hundreds of thousands of them flooding Egyptian Rafiach to shop and visit and, well, breathe.  I do hear them; they cannot live like this.

Hamas refused to recognize Israel, even though the Quartet and Egypt and Jordan pushed them to; Hamas also kept shooting rockets into Israel, and/or refused to stop smaller groups from continuing to shoot rockets into Israel.  The consequence of that– the inevitable consequence of that– is Israel kept Gaza in a partial state of siege.  Hamas and Palestinians have refused to take responsibility for those choices and their consequences.

Hamas also is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is bitterly critical of the (semi-secular) Egyptian leadership, which fears and periodically persecutes the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.  The (inevitable) consequence of this is that Egypt keeps ITS border with Gaza closed most of the time, (legitimately) fearing Hamas will destabilize Egypt.  Hamas is openly Israel’s enemy, fine, but they could have built open trade with Egypt, as Israel does not control that border; compare to Lebanon, which fully trades with other Arab states and the world, in spite of being totally cut off from Israel.  But Egypt does not want Gazans to have freedom of movement into Egypt, and this is compounded by the enmity of Mubarak’s regime to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Again, the Palestinians refuse to accept responsibility for their role in choosing to create this dynamic.

Lastly, the Palestinians–most of all in Gaza– are utterly dependent on aid from the outside world for basic subsistence for at least half the people.  The UN umbilical cord still has not been cut.  This creates an incredibly unhealthy dependence– far worse than ‘welfare mothers’, and debilitating to self-esteem, and creating frustration and resentment on the part of Palestinians.

The Palestinian movement towards statehood is, literally, still in its infancy.  The choices they have made and are making today in Gaza are indicative of a collective emotional state comparable to a toddler’s tantrum.  An inarticulate screaming and smashing things, even self-destructive, with no hope of actually defeating the far more powerful ‘parent’.  And they are refusing to take any responsiblity for the role their own choices have played in creating their plight.

Unquestionably, the unwilling ‘parents’– Israel, Egypt, the UN whose umbilical cord still has not been cut, Europe whose aid has been siphoned off to Arafat’s Swiss bank accounts, and the US who still supplies more of the money than anyone else– have all played roles, as well, in inhibiting and limiting what Palestinians can do to build a positive, self-sufficient future.  [Keep in mind, all the US direct aid and loan guarantees to Israel don’t amount to more than 1-3% of Israel’s nearly 900 billion dollar GNP; foreign aid represents close to half of Palestinian economic activity.]

But until the Palestinians truly stand up for themselves and OWN their choices, and take responsibility for the consequences of their choices and actions, no amount of outside help or intervention will help them.  I hear their pain; but until they stop throwing a tantrum, nobody can do anything for them.