A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land

I am in pain.  This diary will not be a reasoned presentation of fact.  I do not want to make a reasoned statement of fact, even if I could, which is doubtful.  

The very title of this diary is not a reasonable statement of fact.  

It is the slogan which has been used for well over a century to justify the “supposedly” reasonable Jewish takeover, invasion, acquisition, domination of Palestine.  Palestine is seen as “…a land without a people…”, an empty space which the Jewish people, the “…people without a land…”, can claim as their own and set up the state of Israel.

The FACT that this mode of thinking continues into the 21st century is a profound tragedy and a frightening indication that the human species might become extinct.  This mode of thinking, of seeing others as less than human, less important, non-existent even, is the basis of war and injustice.  

Einstein refered to this mode of thinking when he said that — with the splitting of the atom, everything has changed save man’s [sic] way of thinking and thus we drift toward unimaginable peril —   to a space where we must ask along with the Palestinian poet:  

          Where shall the birds fly after the last sky?

                                                by Mahmoud Darwish

                                                1941– 2008  

Please fly on beneath the fold…                

This mistaken thinking has been the dominant mode of thinking throughout the millenia of our history.  What is the motive?  Underlying the motive is ignorance.  Immediate motives are various.  In the case of the Jewish acquisition of Palestine, the motive is very similar to the motive operative in the Third Reich, lebensraum, living space. Lebensraum was one of the motivations for Hitler’s incursions into states to the east. This is an interesting example of how the sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation.

Examples of the tendency to consider “the other” as less than human, as insignificant and virtually non-existent, follow us like shadows across the stories and terrain of our history.  The native Americans, the indigenous people, were seen as less than the invading pure white man [sic].  Africans were seen as less than white, colonial Americans.  The Jews were seen as inferior to the Aryans by Hitler.  In any war, the “enemy”, the “other” is always seen as lesser and named as such.  So we have faught wars against barbarians, demons, gooks, geeks, slants, rag heads, naked savages, terrorists, drug dealers, and such on and on.  And the “others” have waged war on us with similar derogatives.  

And so, we drift toward unimaginable peril.  Evolution demands we move past these divisive ways of thinking.  Evolution demands we learn to respect ALL humans as humans, as brothers and sisters in the human family who are mutually engaged in a growing process, in learning to grow to the next stage, just as an individual learns and grows.  The growth process has moved from what has been primarily individual to a collective growth and learning.  And this does not mean the elimintion of the individual, but the creation of a field where the individual can reach its highest, most creative, most unique expression.

Another aspect of the evolutionary process is involved in the understanding of, and ability to break automatic programming.  We all know how patterns of abuse are passed on from one generation to another.  Thus we hear about many “criminals” who were brought up by abusive parents or in abusive situations and, therefore, grew up to continue the abuse.  We’ve usually heard about this in relation to individuals.  But here, in these Israeli actions we are seeing this phenomenon on a collective level.  For at least 60 years, from the 1948 massacres and displacement of Palestinians (who were “not supposed to be people on this land”) to the 1967 wars, to Sabra and Chatilla, to Jenin, to today’s assault on numerous unnamed civilians, we witness what the Nazis did to the Jews being visited upon the Palestinians by the very Jews whose ancestors were so brutally and abused and massacred by the Nazis.  When I think of Jenin, I think of the Warsaw Ghetto.  This is unacceptable.

So I give my praise to the Shministim, the young Israeli citizens who are refusing to be conscripted into the IDF to fight against their fellow humans, and are being jailed in their teens for their resistance.  Their resistance is in line with Einstein’s admonistion that we must change our way of thinking, we must change our way of life.

…du musst dein leben andern…”



“You must change your life.”  We must change and learn and grow.  We cannot go on continuing to kill “the other” because this will only lead to the death of us all in the likely extinction of the species

Thanks for reading.  I really needed to rant here; I must speak out against this wrong-headedness.                  



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    • dharmasyd on December 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    …and for all who stand for peace and justice!

  1. for such a powerful and beautiful essay!!!

    I am reminded of something from the book Daughters of Copper Woman where women from the Northwest Native Tribes told Anne Cameron their stories. One of them included the fact that, before the elders decided whether to go to war with the European invaders, they considered that it took 7 generations to heal from war.

    • Alma on December 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    just leaves the whole world blind.  Ghandi, I believe.

    I remember seeing a piece on Nightline several years ago, where the Jewish mothers, and the Palestinian mothers were getting together.  All had lost family in the conflict, and all knew the only way to peace was to not hold vengence against each other.  I don’t think there will be peace until the leaders realize this.

  2. …but the errors in fact here demand my attention.

    What is the motive?  Underlying the motive is ignorance.  Immediate motives are various.  In the case of the Jewish acquisition of Palestine, the motive is very similar to the motive operative in the Third Reich, lebensraum, living space. Lebensraum was one of the motivations for Hitler’s incursions into states to the east. This is an interesting example of how the sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation.

    While, depending on your personal view of things, the Zionist effort can be described as many things, it was certainly not ignorant.  There was strong and vigorous debate within the early Zionist movement about this subject, and about whether the attempt to locate a modern Jewish state in the region of the ancient state of Judea was both a moral and practical enterprise.  Several members of the early World Zionist Congress predicted the current outcome, that of permanent war with the current inhabitants.

    The decision was made to focus the Zionist project on Palestine regardless, with knowledge of the possible consequences.  This was done for many reasons, most significantly because it was the only location which the various factions of the Zionist movement could agree upon.

    History is a complicated thing.  Jenin may well evoke the Warsaw ghetto; so too may Montreal, or the Dakota Black Hills, or the casinos at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.  For that matter, so too may Dublin, and of the forcible expulsion from England the Celts by the French Normans who we now call the English.

    I support strongly the message of Yesh Gvul, and the Sarvanim mission.  Belief in that mission is not opposition to Zionism; it is Zionism, as we have stated clearly.  The following is the Combatants’ Letter:

       *  We, reserve combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who were raised upon the principles of Zionism, self-sacrifice and giving to the people of Israel and to the State of Israel, who have always served in the front lines, and who were the first to carry out any mission in order to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it.

       * We, combat officers and soldiers who have served the State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty in the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people.

       * We, whose eyes have seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides,

       * We, who sensed how the commands issued to us in the Occupied Territories destroy all the values that we were raised upon,

       * We, who understand now that the price of Occupation is the loss of IDF’s human character and the corruption of the entire Israeli society,

       * We, who know that the Territories are not a part of Israel, and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated,

       * We hereby declare that we shall not continue to fight this War of the Settlements.

       * We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.

       * We hereby declare that we shall continue serving the Israel Defense Force in any mission that serves Israel’s defense.

         The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose – and we shall take no part in them.


    • jessical on December 30, 2008 at 12:29 am

    …a number of zionists who are utterly in opposition to what is happening across the green line right now, and the conduct of war in the territories.  I think…and this whole topic is fraught, but feel compelled to weigh in after Jay’s post, above…that this is an existing, legitimate democratic state with a complex history doing a series of really awful things, rather than something which can be unwound existentially to its origins.  

    There is never a “them”.  Anywhere.  There is no monolithic Jewish voice in this, nor is there a monolithic Israeli voice, any more than America  is fully and fairly represented by George Bush or our narrowest and most bellicose.

  3. For such a very complex subject, I think you did a very good job in little space.  But the real point of your essay and pain was not limited in locale.  

    Yes, this notion of aggression:  We want that oil, so we’ll go and pummel that country until we get it.  We want that land, so we’ll go and pummel that country until we get it.  Our religion is superior to your religion, so, therefore, we will pummel your people.  This thinking, this outrageous thinking, as though the idea, once conceived of, creates entitlement to aggression.

    Here are two sites:

    Who are the Shministim?

    Note:  There is a petition to free the Shministim who have been held for refusing to be a part of the military, etc.


    Jewish Voice for Peace

    • kj on December 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Archaic Torso of Apollo    

    by Rainer Maria Rilke

    Translated by Stephen Mitchell

    We cannot know his legendary head

    with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso

    is still suffused with brilliance from inside,

    like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

    gleams in all its power. Otherwise

    the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could

    a smile run through the placid hips and thighs

    to that dark center where procreation flared.

    Otherwise this stone would seem defaced

    beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders

    and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

    would not, from all the borders of itself,

    burst like a star: for here there is no place

    that does not see you. You must change your life.

    • kj on December 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    for attempting to stretch to include another’s pov, and kudos to Syd for writing this piece with that inclusion up front:

    …the whole “cell” fractal idea still works for me.  another way of organizing ala Black Elk’s “sacred hoop” vision.  hoops within hoops, cells within cells, connected at points, at opposite ends at other points in time and space.

    if we can focus on what we’ve FOR, or as my mother would have said, “lead with your strength” (and at times that is our outrage), then we’ll pull in a forward direction, stretching, hopefully, all the other hoops without destroying the integrity of the whole.

    and maybe we’ll see each hoop’s space as sacred, and honor those who are within.

    • kj on December 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    in the grand scheme of anything, but…

    a good friend of mine is the daughter of parents who were instrumental (as in devote their lives) to the creation of the state of Israel.  she (the daughter) moved to the US, married an American, had two children, is a working artist and instructor of art.

    we used to spend every sunday afternoon in her studio.  i moved 1,000 miles away, and we devised ways to maintain our connection.  one way included sending one another weekly journal/dream/sketches.  not writings to one another, our writings to our selves, the deep mess of where creation stagnants or forms or becomes compost for another stagnantion or form.

    we wrote during the year before and after 9/11/01.

    as i said, she is a working artist, and part of her work at that time was a collaboration with a artist from Palestine.

    i learned a lot.  we ‘talked’ about this issue a lot. my perceptions, her perceptions. shadow, victim, ‘other,’ blame, unconscious, darkness, generations, violence, peace. we talked past one another so as not to argue, and i just count myself lucky for that exchange.  we read the same books at the same time, again, talking past one another, two souls attempting to make sense of the world.

    she changed my life.

    • dharmasyd on December 31, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    …I asked in an earlier comment about the motivation for the Jews creating their nation in this land.

    There was considerable objection to my seeing the motivation as being a need for lebensraum, for living space.  NPK, in particular seemed very offended by my choice of this phrase from the German lexicon.  Yet I asked: If the need for a land to create their nation wasn’t the motivation, what was the motivation?

    Since I’ve not seen an answer offered here, I ask again.  What do you think was the motivation for the creation of a Jewish homeland and nation in this area?  

    I still see the motivation for a land of their own to be the motivation for “going to” the P/I area.  If you give me an answer of a different motivation, I’ll be happy to consider it.  

    But I think it is not so much the motivation itself to which you have objected (those of you who have), but rather to my choice of words, to “lebensraum” for instance, and drawing the parallel to the Germans of the 30s and 40s.  

    My motivation in this essay has been to explore possible psychological conditions as contributing to the sorry outcome to the Jewish attempt to create its own nation-state.  It is true that I am focusing primarily on the Jewish side.  I have not focused equally on the side of Palestinians or their various sects, factions, etc. (Hamas etc.).  There is no question that the Jewish people needed, deserved, still need and still deserve, a land of their own where they can be safe and secure; at least as safe and secure as any nation or person can be on this sorry planet in these sorry days.  

    In exploring this, I reached for an extension of the individual psychological dictates we use when discussing the causative factors in regular, ordinary street crime.

    Hypothetically, when we talk about a condemned prisoner on death row, we frequently talk about the fact that the condemned was abused by his/her parents in childhood.  Far from being a negative portrayal of the convicted murderer, this information conveys a sense of understanding and, frequently, some degree of compassion for the murderer.  Instead of adding to the onus of the prisoner, the effect is to lessen the burden of “being an evil person” by seeing and understanding the “earlier causes” which contributed to the predilection for the abhorrent behavior.

    I will mention one other thing, the objection to my use of the phrase “…bequeathed by God…”.  I’m sorry you took this seriously, NPK; I was being facetious.  It was obviously a flawed attempt at humor and levity.  I see now that this subject evokes such strong, wide ranging emotions, ideas and opinions that one must choose one’s words with absolute, straight clarity. No room for irony, wit, or double entendre here.  Okay.  I accept these parameters.

    Also, for Jay:  Yes, your assumption about my “belief” system is correct.  I do believe in evolution.  I do believe that the phase of evolution in which we are now engaged has moved beyond primarily physical evolution to the evolution of consciousness — with all that that entails, with all its convolutions.

    But I don’t want to cloud the subject of this comment.  The subject is my question.  Please participate by stating your ideas on the Jewish motivation for moving to this land.  


    • Alma on January 1, 2009 at 3:01 am

    IP essay and comments.

    Its been so nice to see honest thoughtful discussion that hasn’t gotten bogged down by going after each other and name calling.  I should have know DD would be the place this could happen. 🙂

    Strange as it may seem, I’ve never had a side in this.  The way I see it, it’s a vicious circle and ALL the people have been screwed.

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