I have seen them dance: Graceful, tall, barefoot, their rhythm not immediately evident; they were ‘people of the soil’ – the Bedouins in Israel. That was in 1969 and 1970, when my mother’s employer, Mr. Finkelstein, invited me. He was like an uncle to me, I was taken in like a member of the family. I also spent four weeks in the kibbutz. How proud they were of the new way of life, how enthusiastic they were! Many persecuted Jews had come from the West, highly educated and full of enthusiasm to build something new. Money flowed in and irrigation systems were built for the desert, for example, while shepherds passed by or sat on stones and watched. There was a sense of superiority from the industrious to the ‘starwalkers’ and daydreamers. I bought a long black Bedouin dress with flower-embroidery and came back to the theatre in Stuttgart as a flower-child, which was unusual at the time.*
Looking back, I think that’s the conflict:
The ‘pagan world’ meets civilization. The ‘pagan ritual’ meets a sophisticated modern consciousness… how can they enter into a dialogue? That’s what I thought at that time.
But isn’t that what the whole world is about? The Holy Land is our mirror. Not that all Palestinians were nomads, but many were.
And then came the ultra-orthodox, as new Israelis, who also saw themselves in close connection with ‘their’ stars.
And now those who have empowered themselves on both sides are shouting: ‘eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth’… using religious quotes.
Jews; Muslims, Christians, Hindus as identification – but that isn’t the progress that gives us peace to be ‘unconditioned human beings’! For me, all people are equal and together we are all children of the earth.
Everyone clings to their own culture of praying, eating, fasting and living in our technocratic universalized world, there are again strong representatives of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews and many others.
Why are they killing each other and also destroying Mother Earth with their explosive bombs and toxic chemicals?
And then there is public opinion in the media networks: it sees things in black and white, either you are for them or for the others, for what is considered evil or good! You hear horrible words like ‘hit’, and even say ‘wipe out’!
Bush has said ‘we’ll smoke the Taliban out of their holes in Afghanistan’, Netanyahu says ‘we’ll wipe out Hamas’, Iran says ‘we’ll wipe out Israel’. What do such thoughts achieve? The Taliban rules today after the terrible war in Afghanistan. Hamas cannot be wiped out either, only the people living in Palestine. The violent thoughts, grown out of oppression, will remain and resurrect themselves in new people. And weren’t these terrorists initially supported by those who opposed communist enemies? (Taliban by USA against Russia and Hamas by Israel against the PLO)
Then the fear on the other side! For them, who built the state of Israel with so much love and care, it grew out of the unspeakably terrible persecution, the Shoah – can it ever go away? But Netanyahu as ruler is its catastrophe, and after he is displaced his belligerent actions will have their consequences and repercussions.
I conclude: his government, which paints a picture as if the extreme Zionist ideology is what all Jewish people are about or wishing for, is dangerous for Israel. His government can perhaps win the war temporarily. This is not defense of Israel, but a reaction based on revenge, aimed at destruction. (And the Hamas can say – see , see how they kill the innocent Arabs in Gaza) It is dangerous for the whole world, but especially so for Jewish people in and outside Israel. It gives fodder for anti-Semites, gives them fuel to come out of their holes in which they have been hiding with nasty slogans. “Ugh,” I say to them.
Israeli writers like Zeruya Shalev accuse Netanyahu. Judith Butler writes against the violence of the Israeli government and that its response will not solve the issue of the threat to Israel.
Sophia is a woman. Listen to women – writers and philosophers. Scorn all this opinion-mongering in the media and on social media by obsessive journalists positioning themselves as ‘either/or’.
Rallies ‘we are for Israel’ or ‘we are for Palestine’,
‘we stand with Ukraine’ or ‘we understand Russia’ – it’s all just superfluous whispering out of arm-chair-comfort.
In our life of luxury, we suspect that violence lies in the pursuit of power and that we are powerless to do anything about it.
Non-violence in human life must remain, otherwise we will return to the Dark Ages. We can never position ourselves on this or that side. Searching for the causes of violence and destruction is the call of the hour – we need to think about the fact that the violence of war leads to new violence of war, which in turn leads to new violence of war…in endless loops.
I quote Stephan Hebel from “der Freitag” No. 42: ‘In the long term, Israel’s security also depends on it acting with means that comply with international law and not escalating conflicts excessively, as difficult as that is at this moment of threat. Pointing this out would be an imperative of solidarity – and thus, if you like, also of the German reason of state.”
Sebastian Junger writes in his book TRIBE, (4th Estate, London): ‘Regaining our tribal connection – largely lost in modern society – may be the key to our psychological survival’. He says that we stick together as a clan when we are threatened. However, with things that don’t happen to us directly, we can’t have a say in it, but look in the mirror and ask, how we can save ourselves.
We are peaceful when we are born. Why do we lose ourselves? That is our mission in life, called ahimsa in yoga, to work for non-violence and make wise plans for peace. To identify all the power-obsessed demons (always knowing who the demons are!) and not supporting them, that could be a way forward, even if it sounds fairy-tale like.
So it’s bad and upsetting our present human prospects. So I read something really light at this time: Britney Spears’ book, ‘The woman in me’ – childish, but clever: the bland world behind the glamour, resisting the make-believe …. Understanding how manipulation happens in the glitter world gives us courage to stand up against the dominance of the powerful (our own family, record companies, managers, movie bosses etc.), to expose propaganda and to arrive at ourselves. Peace is what we really are.
Maybe this is reflecting from the past, I will continue writing from the now soon.
(* Those days in the 70s my Bedouin dress found no resonance in the Staatstheater of Stuttgart, at a time when directors like Fassbinder were working there. Therefore I moved to London as soon as theatre school and my acting contract there were over, where I got adopted into the Kassman’s home in Kensington, their daughter became my best friend. They loved the way my Bedouin dress swept the London floors. We celebrated the oriental thinking. As Jews, already then they condemned the attitude of many Israelis towards the Palestine people, for they knew, that one day this will become a disaster. At that time I took to Indian dance with an Indian teacher in London.