TRANSLATE THIS ARTICLE
Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
Jews Against Israel's Killing of Innocent Palestinians
In my previous Integral World essay on the Israel/Hamas war , I conveyed the following two premises that I strongly believe in:
Dillard's Condemnation of Israel
Since I wrote my previous Israel/Hamas essay, I have been wrestling with how I can justify still considering myself to be Jewish while Israel is daily committing war crimes, and I am forced to come to terms with the harsh condemnation of Israel by controversial Integral World writer Joseph Dillard :
“Sadly, by practicing genocide in addition to ethnic cleansing and apartheid, Israel has forfeited its right to exist. It has made itself into a pariah state, right up there with the Third Reich. That the victims of mass genocide turned themselves into purveyors of mass genocide is an astounding fact that will be studied by historians and psychologists in the centuries to come.
Yes I think Dillard's denouncement of Israel is something that needs to be taken seriously, and especially by Jewish people who consider themselves to be integal-minded. I have no defense of Israel's current policy of trying to destroy Hamas by their continuous indiscriminate bombing that has at the present time resulted in killing over 21,000 innocent Palestinians, the significant majority of whom are women and children . But I don't agree with Dillard that this means Israel has “forfeited its right to exist” and that “its' destiny is to die.” Rather, I think Israel's policies need to drastically change, and in order for this to happen, the current prime minister, Benjamin Netenyahu, needs to be removed from office, way before the next Israeli election for prime minister in October, 2026 . There are a number of Israeli and American Jews who believe in the rights of Palestinians and a two-state solution, and I identify with these Jews .
The history of the Jewish establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and in the years that have followed is most definitely fraught with very disturbing aspects that lend credibility to Dillard's description of Israel's “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians . However, there are also alternative perspectives that I think are important to keep in mind , and a very brief indication of how divergent these perspectives are can be seen in the following brief description from Wikipedia :
“The Arab view is that the Palestinians were expelled by Zionist forces and that the exodus of 1948 was the fulfillment of a long-held Zionist dream to ethnically cleanse Palestine so that the land could be transformed into a Jewish-majority state. . . .
But I have no interest in debating the historical accuracy of these divergent perspectives, as this is not my area of expertise and I suspect that the true picture is somewhere in-between . As a Jew, I am certainly emotionally invested in how Hitler and Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews, and why Israel had such an extreme response to the October 7th, 2023 horrendous attack by Hamas. But as a human being, I am horrified by the virtually complete disregard for Palestinian human life that Israel has repeatedly demonstrated since the Hamas attacks , as I described in my previous Israel/Hamas essay . And once again, this is the bottom line for me and my continual question: how can my two basic premises be united?
A Potential Plan To Unite My Two Basic Premises
There are certainly no easy answers here, but in my previous Israel/Hamas essay  I described how I was in agreement with United States Senator Bernie Sanders in his statement that Israel needs to stop bombing innocent Palestinians, but that the answer was not a permanent ceasefire at this point, as this would only strengthen Hamas and make it more likely that they would repeat their October 7th attack on Israel, as they have clearly indicated is their intention . However, I also rather naively suggested that perhaps there could be a way of continuing trying to defeat Hamas without bombing innocent civilians. And as it turns out, this is somewhat similar to what a growing number of Democrats in Congress, including military veterans, are now actually saying in regard to trying to convince Israel to revamp their war strategies :
“A growing number of Democrats in Congress, including military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, have cited that experience [Hamas remaining a threat even if Israel succeeds in taking out the senior leadership of Hamas] and questioned Israel's tactics, arguing that heavy bombardment and steep civilian casualties are counterproductive methods that threaten to provide more fuel to extremists.
And it appears that this perspective is not getting lost on Biden :
“Biden administration officials, under criticism abroad and at home to persuade Israel to safeguard civilian lives in Gaza, have been pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to scale back the current operation to a more calibrated, limited effort.”
And there are also indications that there are people affiliated with the Israel government who may be sympathetic to this perspective :
“The civilian death toll and the diminishing prospects of a decisive outcome will force Israel's hand soon and lead to a more scaled-back campaign, a former senior Israeli official said. 'I think we're reaching a point where this will not be able to continue in this current form,” the former Israeli official told NBC News. 'I would assume that sometime in the beginning of January we will see a shift.'”
And I will even invoke ChatGPT, based upon Frank Visser's recent Chat essay: Perspectives on Regional Conflicts  to offer an argument for some kind of international force, such as the United Nations, that should be utilized to assist safeguarding the lives of innocent civilians, both Palestinians from bombings by Israel, and Israelis from attacks by Hamas:
“Responsibility to Protect (R2P): Consider the responsibility of the international community to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Evaluate whether the actions of the involved parties align with these principles.”
In conclusion, writing this essay has helped me come to terms with being Jewish while feeling repulsed and horrified by the actions of Israel in killing many thousands of innocent Palestinians in their quest to kill Hamas militants. I have had to take a hard and honest look at the severe criticisms that Joseph Dillard has unleashed on Israel for what he has described as being an apartheid state engaged in ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and genocide, in company with Nazi Germany. And I must conclude that a good deal of what Dillard asserts is necessary to take very seriously.
However, at the same time, I have learned that there are many Jews—both in America and Israel—who are adamantly opposed to Israel's policy of bombing innocent Palestinian civilians as “collateral damage” to kill Hamas militants, and who want to work toward democratically including Palestinians in Israel, and a two-state solution. Dillard acknowledges this fact in both his essay and his extensive comment to Frank Visser's essay (cf. ) and my main problem with Dillard is in the extremity of his comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany. Unlike Nazi Germany, or Hamas for that matter, Israel is not targeting innocent Palestinians to purposefully kill them. And by saying this, I am certainly not making any excuses for Israel's horrendous actions, as I believe I have made very clear in this essay.
But I choose to identify myself with the Jews in America and Israel who want to work with Arabs for peaceful cooperation and shared government. I have my difference in perspective from them in regard to the viability of a ceasefire at the present time in regard to Israel's security, but I align myself with the perspective of United States Democrats who are advocating for a significant change in Israel's military tactics, with the goal of ending the killing of innocent Palestinians. I understand that the devil is in the details, but I will continue to affirm that Israel engaging in military actions to defeat Hamas should not involve the killing of innocent Palestinians.
Another factor that sustains me is the ongoing attempt by a number of Israeli government leaders to remove Prime Minister Betanyahu from office . My hope is that this actually happens in the near future, and that a new Israeli government is formed that is open to being far more inclusive of the Palestinians in governing Israel, as well as to a two-state solution. If this happens, and I must say that I believe only if this happens, perhaps Hamas would slowly and gradually loosen up on their dedication to destroy Israel? I purposely say this with a question mark, for perhaps it is just pie in the sky me wishing for this. But another possible avenue of consideration is the formulation of some kind of international peacekeeping force to assist with the security of Israel from attacks by Hamas. This is the kind of thing that I would want to see put in place before I could go along wholeheartedly with a permanent ceasefire. But now I am entering territory that I have little knowledge about and I am just speculating, so I think it is time for me to end this essay. But the bottom line is that yes I am able to still consider myself Jewish while being horrified by Israel's killing of innocent Palestinians.
Notes and References
1) See Elliot Benjamin (December, 2023), The Israel/Hamas War: My Jewish Humanistic/Integrative Perspective. www.integralworld.net
2) See Joseph Dillard (December, 2023), Simplifying the Israel/Palestine Conflict. www.integralworld.net; see also Dillard's extensive comment on Frank Visser's (November, 2023) Integral World essay: From Taking Sides to Bothsidesism: A Catalogue of Positions on the Middle East War. www.integralworld.net
3) Dillard is referring to the Integral World essay by Brad Reynolds (December, 2023), Integral Reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Initial Thoughts. www.integralworld.net
4) In a rare admission of error, an Israeli government spokesperson attributed a bombing that killed 86 people at a Gaza refugee camp, many of whom were women and children, to a “regrettable mistake,” but he did not display what I view as any kind of sincere compassion or sorrow for the Palestinians who were killed, refusing to apologize for the loss of life. See Sky News (December, 2023), Israel Admits Airstrike that Killed 86 Peole at Gaza Refugee Campp was “regrettable mistake.”, news.sky.com
5) See Sarah Fortinsky (November, 2023), Israel's Opposition Leader Calls to Remove Netanyahu: “The Time Has Come.”, thehill.com; Zack Beauchamp (October, 2023), Could Israel Dump Netanyahu in the Middle of a War? www.vox.com; Anna Schecter and Dan De Luce (December, 2023), Is Netanyahu Putting His Own Political Future Ahead of the Good of Israel?, news.yahoo.com ; Al Jazeera (December, 2023), Netanyahu's Corruption Trial Resumes Amid Israeli War on Gaza. What to Know., www.aljazeera.com
6) See for example Alaa Elassar (October, 2023), Not In Our Name: Jewish Peace Activists Across the US Call for Immediate Ceasefire and Justice for Palestinians, www.cnn.com; Jessica LE Masurier (October, 2023), Not In Our Name: The Jewish New Yorkers Speaking Out Against ”Dehumanization of Palestinians.”, www.france24.com; Geoffrey Claussen (December, 2023), In My Words: Killing Children in the Israel-Hamas War Is Not Justified, www.elon.edu; Avi Mayer (June, 2023), Editor's Notes: There's Nothing Jewish About Attacking Innocent Palestinians, www.jpost.com; see also the Jewish peace organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace; If Not Now; Standing Together; The Parents Circle Families Forum; and the Israeli Hadash Party, which supports Jewish-Arab cooperation.
7) See Al Jazeera (May, 2017), The Nakba Did Not Start or End in 1948: Key Facts and Figures on the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, www.aljazeera.com
8) See The Jewish Virtual Library (nd), Myths & Facts: The Refugees, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
9) See Wikipedia (November, 2023), Causes of the 1948 Palestinian Expulsion and Flight.
10) I recommend for anyone interested in debating these issues to carefully read the contradictory perspectives illustrated in the respectively pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli references  and .
11) For a more extensive argument from a Jewish perspective for why a permanent ceasefire is not workable for Israel at the present time, see (AJC News and Analysis, November, 2023), 6 Reasons Why an Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Is Not the Right Path Forward, www.ajc.org
12) See Dan De Luce (December, 2023), Is Israel's Offensive Succeeding or Failing?, www.nbcnews.com
13) See Frank Visser/ChatGPT: Perspectives on Regional Conflicts. www.integralworld.net (December, 2023)