Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joseph DillardDr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: and his YouTube channel.


Simplifying the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Joseph Dillard

Wilber is wrong when he says Hamas and Israel "need therapy." What is required is accountability before international law.

In his essay, Integral Reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Brad Reynolds asks what an integral approach to the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict might look like. I appreciate Reynolds raising this issue and putting some time and effort toward its resolution. I find his assessment a good reflection of how I would have approached the issue up until say, 2010. I suspect it remains a reasonably good reflection of the approach of many integrals toward the Israeli/Palestinian conflict today.[1] I have written what follows not so much in response to Reynolds but rather to the attention of broader integral and liberal/progressive “spiritual” worldviews that are common today.

I will present three approaches that make this conflict complex and two that make it simple and then take a look at Reynold's assessment. Thereafter I consider the place of international law and morality in any assessment of Israel's war on Gaza and the Status of Israel, adding some thoughts on why this is a seemingly difficult issue for some integralists, and then close with some thoughts regarding an integral way forward. I want to demonstrate how integral, at least regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, does not incentivize changes in power relationships, is elevationistic, feeds exceptionalism, replaces the embrace of values for behavioral consequences, assumes moral behavior due to moral intent, focuses on insipid and inane developmental “levels” analyses, and imagines that embracing multi-perspectivalism translates into changed behavior. In addition, it provides a case study in “trickle-down spirituality,” which never works.

How complicated and complex is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

While the status of Israel is probably the most contentious conflict in the world today, is it the most complicated and complex? It depends on how you look at it. If we focus on competing truth claims, then yes, it is definitely complicated. If we look at the ongoing massacre in terms of economic and geopolitical power, then yes, it is definitely complicated. However, if you look at this ongoing atrocity from the perspective of international law while using a moral lens, then no, there's nothing complicated about it. In fact, by those two last framings it is one of the clearest and simplest conflicts in the world.

However, the war on Gaza and the status of Israel does indeed constitute an impossible Gordian knot to untangle when approached from any one of the first three framings. Here's why:

The complexity of competing truth claims

Israeli justifications for its occupation, thievery of land and houses, and attacks on Palestinians are based on the belief that God gave the Holy Land to Jews. Due to a belief in divine law and also a belief that it supersedes human law, Zionists claim Palestine is their birthright. This is ironic. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has observed, “Most Zionists don't believe that God exists, but they do believe that he promised them Palestine.” By contrast, Islamic truth framings view the Holy Land as sacred to all three Abrahamic religions. They are all “Children of the Book.” Consequently, Islam has had a very long, well documented history of sharing Palestine with both Jews and Christians.[2]

There is no possibility of resolution of the conflict based on these competing truth claims, fundamentally because the Israeli truth claim is exclusionary: Palestine was promised by God to the Jews. Apartheid, based on religious claims, is written into the Israeli constitution.[3]

Another important adjunct to Israeli truth claims is the belief that “You owe us,” based on Western holocaust guilt. The West has largely accepted this formulation, resulting in widespread self-censoring and an acceptance of Zionist definitions of anti-semitism. The result has been cultural and social submission to anti-Semitic ad hominem ostracism and financial castration, both of which have proven to be extremely successful informational, policy, and legal tools in a narrative campaign waged by Israel and its supporters in the US and EU, designed to build and maintain widespread political and public support for both Israel and Zionism. Until October 7, that campaign had been immensely successful for decades in generating self-censorship and state compliance with Israeli narratives defining anti-Semitism. Palestine and its allies have had very little narrative success in counteracting the power of Israeli truth claims based on “you owe us.” So, to repeat, in terms of competing truth claims, the Israeli war on Palestine and the status of Israel is indeed complicated.[4]

The complexity of competing economic interests

Economically, very few objective observers doubt the vast financial power centered in the hands of supporters of Israel, mostly in the US and the EU, but also in Israel. Very few observers doubt that Israel and Zionists continue to use this economic power most effectively to buy the allegiance of US politicians through both the funding of their election campaigns, threats of withdrawing funding, or threatening to fund their opponents if they challenge prevailing Zionist/Israeli narratives. This economic power of world Zionism has functionally bought the compliance of Western governments. That is, they almost always support Israeli policies and narratives. Similarly, very few objective observers doubt the vast financial power of the oil states and the rising BRICS confederation. China alone has surpassed the US in PPP for well over a decade now and is soon to surpass it in GDP. Vast amounts of cash fuel and maintain the conflict on both sides. The Arabs have a vested interest in not only protecting their oil trade but keeping the blackmail protection money flowing to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLA), Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, and Turkey. These states have become addicted to these bribes by the United States, which can print money and fund enormous deficits because the dollar remains the world's default currency. Therefore, in terms of economics, the Israeli war on Palestine and the status of Israel is indeed complicated.

The complexity of competing geopolitical interests

Geopolitically, the “rules-based order” concocted by the US but never defined, has a huge investment in maintaining the status quo power relationships in the Middle East. Various westerners regard Israel as an “aircraft carrier,” that is, a forward positioning of US power that protects, maintains, and advances US/Western interests east of the Mediterranean. At the same time, Russia and China have growing strategic interests in protecting their expanding BRI (Belt/Road Initiative) trade routes. To this we can add a long history of diplomatic double dealing, starting with Britain promising a Palestinian state but reneging on that commitment, to the ideological Potemkin Village of Israeli/Western support for a two-state solution when Israel has made crystal clear that was and is a ploy. It had no intention of ever allowing a Palestinian state. The US and EU have long known this, but like the subterfuge of Minsk II, have played along due to their strong vested interest in maintaining the state of Israel.

Claiming to support a “two-state solution” that Israel has never had any intention of permitting lets liberals pretend they can support Israel without supporting murder, tyranny, apartheid and abuse, and thus never need to experience any guilt or dissonance about their position.[5]

If we limit our analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to these three lenses, the Israeli war on Palestine and the Status of Israel are indeed complex, complicated issues that are highly unlikely to be resolved. Therefore, watch out for those who steer discussions regarding the war on Gaza and Israel's status toward one or more of those three topics. What they may be intending to do is to derail any possible resolution by focusing on intractable problems, complications, and disagreements.

Problems with the argument for equivalent responsibility

Reynolds, along with many others, points to equivalent culpability on the part of Israel and Palestine. There are facts that demonstrate that this is not the case. This argument is often used to present an appearance of even-handedness when in fact the presenter favors one side over the other. Here are some of the reasons why Israel bears greater culpability for the war on Gaza than do the Palestinians or Hamas.

Context matters

Beware of those who want to argue that the war started on October 7 with the terrorist attack by Hamas. This argument is a subterfuge. The war has been ongoing since at least the 1947 Nakba, or expulsion of some 700,000 Palestinians from Palestine by Israelis. In fact, it began decades prior to that. Ignoring the long history of expulsion, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid by focusing on the terrorist attack of Hamas on October 7th is an attempt to shift responsibility and accountability away from Israel, Zionists, and their supporters.

Lack of equivalence in terms of reciprocity of rights

Reynolds writes, “Just as Visser correctly points out: “We can't turn back the clock of history, we can only take a pragmatic approach that will include the concessions both from Israel and the Palestinians in accepting the rightful existence of the other.” Precisely correct: THAT is genuine Integral thinking yet it seems to be absent from our political discussions.”

Beginning with mutual concessions based on acceptance of the rightful existence of both parties does not start from a recognition of the stated position of Israel. What is that position? It denies the rightful existence of Palestinians in Palestine. We all know its reasons, rather justifications. Israel cannot back off that position without giving up its identity as “the Chosen people,” that is God's elite, who have been given Palestine by God. This position is so fundamentally baked into the identity of Zionists and the occupiers of Palestine that there is no room for accepting the rightful existence of Palestinians in Palestine. Consequently, this argument is a non-starter, regardless of what the Palestinian/Arab position may or may not be. While Zionists argue that Palestinians and Arabs want to wipe Israel off the map (as indeed, some do), the historical record both of past centuries and Palestinian/Arab negotiations with Israel shows considerable willingness to compromise and co-exist. For example, Saudi Arabia and the EAU were on the verge of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel prior to October 7th.

The actual starting position is the recognition that Israel is unwilling to make concessions that include the rightful existence of a Palestinian state. As we shall see, Netanyahu and multiple Israeli politicians have said as much. There is nothing integral about arguing from a premise that does not reflect reality.

Israel has not demonstrated intent to abide by international law regarding Palestine

In the aftermath of the 1993-5 Oslo Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliberately worked to undermine a two-state solution that would have seen the Palestinians given a separate state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[6] Netanyahu stated,

I'm proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state because today everybody understands what that Palestinian state could have been, now that we've seen the little Palestinian state in Gaza…everyone understands what would have happened if we had capitulated to international pressures and enabled a state like that in Judea and Samaria, surrounding Jerusalem and on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.[7]

Netanyahu also called the Oslo Accords a “mistake” he had “inherited” from then-Prime Minister Ytzhak Rabin, who signed the agreements to end the violence of the First Intifada, at the time the largest-ever Palestinian national uprising.[8] The policy that there will be no Palestinian state and that Israel believes there is no prospect of a two-state solution is not just Netanyahu's opinion, although that in itself is highly significant. Shlomo Karhi, Israel's communications minister stated, “We live here, this is our country. The historical estate of our ancestors. There will be no Palestinian state here.” He added: "We will never allow another state to be established between the Jordan & the sea."[9] Netanyahu is also on record stating that Israel's policy was to support the development of Hamas.[10]

So it should be clear that the “integral” solution of both sides making concessions based on recognizing the right of the other to exist is a non-starter, based on stated Israeli policy. In addition, we have Netanyahu's statements that the policy of Israel has been to support Hamas in order to split the PLA from Gaza and make the creation of a Palestinian state impossible. So which is it? Has Israel been fighting terrorism, as it proclaims, or has it been using that public narrative as a ruse and way to promote its victim status while in fact supporting terrorist Hamas? If Netanyahu and Israel have been supporting Hamas, what does that do to Israeli claims that Hamas is a terrorist organization? Does this sound like negotiation in good faith to you? Does this sound like equivalent responsibility for the absence of the ability to implement a two-state solution? The more powerful of the two parties, Israel, has actively pursued a policy of blocking recognition of a state of Palestine.

Lack of equivalence of force

While Israel consistently demands it be treated as a victim of anti-Semitism, the reality is that it is a nation state and inherently far stronger than non-state actors such as Palestine and Hamas. Israel likes it this way and has worked along with the US to block state status being granted to Palestine by the UN.

There are many ways that the power of Israel and Palestine are not equivalent. Israel receives massive amounts of financial aid from the US as well as its most modern weapons. Israel is a nuclear power, believed to possess over 200 nuclear warheads. Its fleet of Merkava tanks are considered among the best in the world. Palestinians are largely unarmed and Hamas is armed with homemade rifles, anti-tank projectiles, and drones. Israel has access to the best and biggest bombs in the US arsenal. According to the New York Times, during the first six weeks of the war in Gaza, Israel routinely used one of its biggest and most destructive 2000 pound bombs in areas it designated safe for civilians. The NYTimes documented 208 instances of same.[11] Think about that: You order civilians to move to places “for their safety” and then proceed to bomb them, and to repeat that procedure over and over. What is that? It's not apartheid; it's not ethnic cleansing. It's genocide. It amounts to an overwhelming application of superior force on an occupied population.

The belief that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties is based on literally nothing. It has no evidentiary basis whatsoever. People believe it because they want to. Because believing it is more emotionally comfortable than facing the obvious reality.[12]

Consider this headline: “Israeli Occupation Forces Execute Unarmed Palestinian Men in Front of Families”[13]

Last week, Israeli soldiers shot dead three Jewish hostages who had escaped from their Hamas captors under cover of an Israeli bombardment. The hostages took most of their clothes off so it could be clearly seen that they were unarmed and they were carrying a white flag with their hands in the air, but the soldiers reacted by shooting two of them immediately. The third took cover in a building while calling for help in Hebrew, but he too was pursued and killed. In another incident two Catholic women, mother and daughter, taking shelter in Gaza's only Catholic church were targeted and shot by Israeli snipers. This produced a rebuke from the Pope (in which he called Israel “terrorist.”)[14]

Max Blumenthal writes,

After the Israeli Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion was pulled out of Gaza due to heavy casualties, including the loss of its commander, Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, Lt. Omri Akshlama justified killing kids and destroying their families' homes on the grounds that they "nurse anti-Semitism and terrorism with their mother's milk.”[15]

More journalists have been killed in the first 10 weeks of the Israel-Gaza war than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, according to a new analysis released Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.[16]

Does Israel have a right to defend itself when “defense” includes targeting hospitals, schools, churches and apartment buildings full of civilians? The reality is that Israel and Palestine/Hamas are nowhere near equivalent in force. Israel enjoys the full support of the US government as well as considerable support from the governments of the EU. Palestine and Hamas do not.

Reynold's assessment

Reynolds states,

…my overall conclusion is that the extremists on both sides, the Likud party of Netanyahu (and his far-right minister of “national security” Ben-Gvir—more like “minister of chaos,” as he's been called)—and Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas (if I got that right), are the primary reasons for the current problem.

However, neither the Likud party nor Hamas are extremist, in that they enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of their respective populations. Israel's strategy is to turn the Gazan population against Hamas through destroying Gaza and blaming it on Hamas. What is happening in actuality is, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lloyd Austin has said, Israel risks “strategic defeat” due to the fact that entire generations of Gazans are becoming committed supporters of armed rebellion against Israeli occupation.[17]

The views of the Likud coalition, which Reynolds labels “extreme,” are supported by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish Israeli population. That means that by Israeli standards those views, which embrace apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, are far from extreme. A recent poll by Tel Aviv University showed that only 1.8% of Jewish Israelis think that Israel is using “too much” force in its war on Gaza.[18] What this tells us is that the vast majority of Israelis support the leveling of Gaza, the mass killing of Palestinian women and children, and the expulsion of its population in an act of ethnic cleansing. In a previous essay I included a link to a video of Israeli children singing in praise of the annihilation of the population of Gaza. The conflict is therefore not to be solved by a change in the Israeli government. Generations of Israelis have been raised and educated to be racists and view Palestinians as sub-human. They will elect politicians that support racism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing, if not outright genocide.

Defining “apartheid,” genocide,” and “ethnic cleansing”

Are the terms “apartheid,” genocide,” and “ethnic cleansing” “highly contentious?” Yes, they are, in the domains of cultural, social, and personal identity. We are left with the question, “Are there objective ways to define these terms or not?” If there are not, then there is no objective standard to determine right from wrong, justice from injustice, accountability from evasion of responsibility. The reality is that most of us want others to be held accountable to objective standards of legality and morality while wanting to reserve the right to make our own behavior an exception to the rule. Inevitably, our intentions justify our behavior in our own minds, regardless of their effect on others. This very understandable human tendency is a fundamental and important reason why both law and societal ethical norms exist. It also explains why humans have a love/hate relationship with law. The implementation of law is necessary to protect our rights but rarely do we feel justice is served when we personally become subject to law.

In the domains of morality and legality, these terms are much less contentious. Objective ways to define “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “ethnic cleansing” do indeed exist. Apartheid is defined under international law as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”[19] In 1992 “the UN General Assembly declared ethnic cleansing to be “a form of genocide,” “the attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups.”[20] As defined by the UN, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[21]

While any individual, group, or nation wants to make itself an exception to the above definitions, they do exist as objective criteria by which to make determinations as to what is apartheid, ethnic cleansing, or genocide, and what is not. Apart from these legal definitions, important as they are for imposing collective accountability on groups and nations, there exist moral definitions. While these are highly subjective, they are both socially/culturally consensual and personally resonant. We all know what it is like to be racially discriminated against, either by personal experience or by watching it happen to others. We all know what ethnic cleansing is when we witness mass ethnic expulsion, for example from the US history of the “Trail of Tears” or by what Nazis did to the Jews in WWII. We all know on a visceral level what genocide is, when we view pictures of women and children maimed and murdered en masse. Such definitions are anchored in personal repulsion due to blatant discrimination or horror at simple inhumane behavior. It is why we recoil at terrorism, whether it is by individuals, groups, or nation states.

International Law, the War on Gaza, and the Status of Israel

As Reynolds rightfully points out, there is a dearth of genuine diplomacy in the world today. Has Israel made real efforts to establish peace? Regarding the claim that Israel has attempted good faith negotiations with Palestinian authorities, we have seen that Israeli leaders themselves have stated that there never was a serious desire on the part of the State of Israel for a two-state solution and that the Oslo Accords were a way to stall and prevaricate on the issue on an international level. While Reynolds claims Israel has attempted good-faith negotiations with Palestine, he also states, “…for over 20 years I have watched Netanyahu destroy any chance of a genuine two-state solution.”

Generally, the US and EU prefer moral pontificating and bullying to diplomacy. Any treaty or international agreement a US administration may make is likely to be overturned by a successive administration, as has occurred multiple times in the last two decades. What country would be incentivized to negotiate under such conditions?

Israel has consistently demonstrated its disregard for international law, largely because it knows that it has the support of the US regardless of the depravity of its behavior. Like a spoiled mama's boy, it has been shielded from negative consequences for its misbehavior by the US in the UN Security Council and elsewhere. Under such conditions, why should anyone expect Israel to change its behavior? Why should it compromise? Why should it stop lying? Why should it negotiate in good faith? Why should it stop ethnic cleansing and apartheid? Therefore, the idea of “creating an environment conducive to constructive dialogue” is not realistic under prevailing conditions. As long as the US continues unconditional support of Israel, why should anyone expect any modification in Israel's behavior, other than those choices made by it out of consideration for its own best interests? The situation is polarized because one side - the Israeli side - refuses to accept international legal definitions of apartheid, genocide, or ethnic cleansing as applicable to itself or to be held accountable to international law regarding them.

Israeli Jewish scholars of the holocaust agree that Israel's war on Gaza is genocide. For example, here is what Raz Segal, an Israeli historian, associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies has to say:

…what we're seeing now in Gaza is a case of genocide. We have to understand that the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948 requires that we see special intent for genocide to happen. And to quote the convention, intent to destroy a group is defined as racial, ethnic, religious or national as such that is collectively, not just individuals. And this intent, as we just heard, is on full display by Israeli politicians and army officers since 7th of October. We heard Israel's president. It's well-known what the Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on 9th of October declaring a complete siege on Gaza, cutting off water, food, fuel, stating that “We're fighting human animals,” and we will react “accordingly.” He also said that “We will eliminate everything.” We know that Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari, for example, acknowledged wanton destruction and said explicitly, “The emphasis on damage and not on accuracy.” So we're seeing the special intent on full display. And really, I have to say, if this is not special intent to commit genocide, I really don't know what is.[22]

Israel's intention is to force the Gazans to leave whether by forced resettlement in neighboring countries, in Europe or in the United States, which is ethnic cleansing, or by killing them all, which is genocide. The deputy mayor of Jerusalem has recently labeled the Palestinians “subhumans” and has recommended rounding them up and burying them alive.[23]

Reynolds states, “I am not sure that a long-term ceasefire would work.” Of course, no one can be certain a cease fire would work. But I ask the reader: are you willing to live with the alternative to no ceasefire? The UN says that as of late December, 2023, more than 1 in 4 people in Gaza, half a million people, are starving because of Israel's blockade of aid into Gaza. Imposing mass starvation meets several of the above criteria for genocide. That's according to a report Thursday by the UN. and other international agencies, such as Human Rights Watch.[24] Starving to death an entire population is not simply a war crime; it is genocide. How is it that those who do not support a cease fire are not supporting genocide?

Occupying states do not have a right to self-defense under international law

The main point to remember here is that Israel is an occupying state and the Palestinians/Hamas are not. They are an occupied non-state ethnicity. The Wikipedia entry on “The Legality of Israeli Occupation of Palestine has this to say:

Multiple United Nations General Assembly resolutions have described the continuing occupation as illegal. The general thrust of international law scholarship addressing this question has concluded that, regardless of whether it was initially legal, the occupation has become illegal over time. Reasons cited for its illegality include use of force for impermissible purposes such as annexation, violation of the Palestinian right to self-determination, that the occupation itself is an illegal regime “of alien subjugation, domination and exploitation”, or some combination of these factors. Eyal Benvenisti suggested that refusal by an occupier to engage in good faith with efforts to reach a peaceful solution should not only be considered illegal but as outright annexation.International law scholar Ralph Wilde states that “The common way of understanding the extended duration of the occupation... is a prolonged violation of international law.”[25]

Is there any doubt that Israel is an occupying power under international law?

There are reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government's de-facto annexation policies, according to the first report to the General Assembly issued today by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.[26]

This is important because under international law, occupying nation states do not possess the right to defend themselves against those non-state groups it occupies. Christopher Hitchens has noted, “You can't have occupation and human rights.” This flies in the face of the argument that, in response to October 7, “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Tariq Ali notes,

If every single Jew born anywhere in the world has the right to become an Israeli citizen, then all the Palestinians who were chucked out of Palestine by the Zionist Government should have the same right, very simple.

State terrorism is a category of crime against humanity far greater than that of non-state actors, such as Hamas

Reynolds states, and I agree, that “Acts of terrorism are contrary to international humanitarian law and human rights principles.” He also states that “Acts of terrorism involve the deliberate targeting of civilians, and such tactics are widely condemned for their disregard for human life and fundamental human rights.” If states deliberately target civilians, how is that not state terrorism?

Reynolds states, “…the terrorist killing of civilians is NEVER justified from an Integral perspective, as well as violating international law.” Does that lack of justification extend to state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism or not? Does not state terrorism also violate international law? How could it be that non-state terrorism violates international law while state terrorism does not?

It is difficult to argue that government violent acts supportive of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide do not amount to state terrorism. The Encyclopædia Britannica Online defines terrorism generally as “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.” The encyclopedia adds that

[e]stablishment terrorism, often called state or state-sponsored terrorism, is employed by governments—or more often by factions within governments—against that government's citizens, against factions within the government, or against foreign governments or groups.[27]

Wikipedia states, “There is no universal agreement on the legal definition of terrorism, although there exists a consensus academic definition created by scholars.”[28]

In the United States of America, terrorism is defined in Title 22 Chapter 38, of the U.S. Code as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” State-sponsored terrorism is terrorist violence carried out with the active support of national governments provided to violent non-state actors. States can sponsor terrorist groups in several ways, including but not limited to funding terrorist organizations, providing training, supplying weapons, providing other logistical and intelligence assistance, and hosting groups within their borders. Because of the pejorative nature of the word, the identification of particular examples are often subject to political dispute and different definitions of terrorism.[29]

State terrorism refers to acts of terrorism which a state conducts against another state or against its own citizens.[30] Scholar Gus Martin describes state terrorism as terrorism “committed by governments and quasi-governmental agencies and personnel against perceived threats”, which can be directed against both domestic and foreign targets. Noam Chomsky defines state terrorism as “terrorism practiced by states (or governments) and their agents and allies”.Simon Taylor provides a definition of state terrorism as

state agents using threats or acts of violence against civilians, marked by a callous indifference to human life, to instill fear in a community beyond the initial victim for the purpose of preventing a change or challenge to the status quo.

These acts of violence can include both the types of state violence that some argue ought to be considered terrorism, such as: genocide, mass murders, ethnic cleansing, disappearances, detention without trial, and torture; and more widely accepted methods of terror including bombings and targeted killings. Reynolds writes,

…terrorism in today's world began as a communist revolutionary tactic used to attack colonial powers who had larger armies and were suppressing indigenous populations. It is in large part a response to the oppression of Western powers over colonial (and racial) subjugation; thus, these crimes cannot be overlooked…

Is Israel a terrorist state, imposing terror on the non-state peoples it occupies? Of course Israel and its defenders do not recognize this reality. But the vast majority of the world's population does. The only way to settle such a “complexity” is through an appeal to international law. The problem here is in the definition of terrorism itself. It implies it is limited to non-state groups. Is it? Can nation states do terrorism? More importantly, can a nation-state be terroristic? To both of these questions the answer must certainly be in the affirmative. State authorized torture by the US during the Iraqi war and still today, in the extra-legal imprisonment of subjects without charges or trial in Guantanamo, certainly amounts to terrorism. Similarly, multiple actions by the state of Israel fall under the legal definition of terrorism, as do actions by Hamas. However, there is an important and vital distinction: because states are more powerful than are non-state entities, the terrorism they do can be much more pervasive and damaging than that done by non-state terrorism.

William Blum writes,

Most terrorists are people deeply concerned by what they see as social, political, or religious injustice and hypocrisy, and the immediate grounds for their terrorism is often retaliation for an action of the United States.

While state terrorism is hardly limited to the United States, that practiced by the state of Israel is supported and funded largely by the United States, as we shall see.

Israeli genocide aided, enabled, and justified by the US and the EU

A UN Security Council motion calling for a ceasefire was blocked by a US veto even though the ten other council members voted for it with one abstention by the UK. A subsequent call for a ceasefire, ignored by Israel, obtained 153 “Yes” votes in the UN General Assembly against 10 “Nos” two of which were Israel and the United States plus US “freely associated” micro-states Micronesia and Palau which always align with Washington. And even in those mostly European countries nominally supporting Israel's attacks in Gaza, there have been large demonstrations supporting the Palestinians.

Scott Ritter:

…all of this could have been solved with a single phone call from US President Joe Biden to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directing Israel to accept a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid to be sent to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. Instead, the United States is destroying its moral standing in the world by openly facilitating the ongoing slaughter of Palestinian civilians at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces, while simultaneously undermining the credibility of US military deterrence by getting itself mired in a tar baby of its own making.[31]

Israel receives unconditional support from the US and EU. The EU is doing its part to support genocide by censoring and criminalizing any support for Palestine as “anti-Semitism” and a “hate crime.” The West has allowed itself to be intimidated into acquiescence to Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. This unconditional support is bad for both the US and Israel. It has allowed Israel to turn into what some are now calling a fascist theocracy. Much to their credit, many Europeans, including many Jews, are ignoring these Big Brother attempts at intimidation and are holding mass demonstrations protesting Israeli genocide.

Morality, the War on Gaza, and the Status of Israel

Christopher Hitchens has noted, “Take away the divine warrant for the Holy Land and where were you, and what were you? Just another land-thief.” This is why Israelis and their apologists resort to quoting scripture: their claim is that divine law transcends human law. Does it? What do you think? If someone claimed divine law as justification to murder your family and steal your house, would you buy that claim?

As Raz Segal has pointed out, there are innumerable public statements by Israelis, both in and out of government, that reflect a common Israeli tendency to dehumanize Palestinians.[32] As Aimé Césaire notes,

The colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal.

Lance Conrad, in The Price of Nobility, writes, “There is an undercurrent of savagery in the human psyche. Anyone who forgets this and doesn't guard against it, risks being swept away by it.” Abhijit Naska notes, “There is an animal in all of us, the sooner we recognize it, the sooner we can turn human.”

The Israeli government and its supporters also refuses to accept that actions Israel commits which are commonly experienced as “apartheid,” genocide,” and “ethnic cleansing” are immoral. The claim is that they are moral because they are God's will. This belief is reflected in Netanyahu's quoting of the Bible's instructions to slay all Amalekites, including women, children, and animals.[33]

Reynolds states, much to his credit, “Sadly, I am seeing reports and images coming out of the current war that make it look like the Israeli military—the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—are themselves acting like Nazis!” For someone like Reynolds, who has in multiple previous essays shown himself a strong supporter of Israel, to make such a statement indicates that indeed, there is a general awakening happening in public awareness that long accepted fabricated, mythological narratives that have been spoon fed into collective groupthink for generations are finally, at long last, breaking down. Norman Finkelstein, scholar and historian and son of holocaust survivors who had multiple family members murdered in the holocaust, has arrived at a similar conclusion:

The Zionists indeed learnt well from the Nazis. So well that it seems that their morally repugnant treatment of the Palestinians, and their attempts to destroy Palestinian society within Israel and the occupied territories, reveals them as basically Nazis.[34]

Here is a list of 52 “shocking” similarities between Israeli and Nazi genocide:

  • (1). Race-based discriminatory laws.
  • (2). Abusive and deadly occupation.
  • (3). Mass expulsion and exile.
  • (4). Genocide.
  • (5). Avoidable deaths from imposed deprivation.
  • (6). Holocaust and genocide ignoring.
  • (7). Egregious holocaust denial.
  • (8). Proposing and effecting genocide.
  • (9). Racial fantasies.
  • (10). Apartheid.
  • (11). Pro-Zionist IHRA is anti-Semitic and holocaust denying.
  • (12). Zionist-Nazi collaboration.
  • (13). Explicit genocidal racism.
  • (14). “Jews should be Jews - not Nazis”.
  • [15]. Zionism is genocidal racism.
  • (16). Concentration camps.
  • (17). Killing women and children.
  • (18). Inter-ethnic marriage effectively forbidden.
  • (19). Inter-religious marriage opposed.
  • (20). Egregious child abuse.
  • (21). Torture.
  • (22). Imposed bare survival to starvation.
  • (23). Existential nuclear and climate threats.
  • (24). Invasions and occupations.
  • (25). Supporting genocide in other countries.
  • (26). Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust.
  • (27). Intentional mass murder by deprivation.
  • (28). Denial of life-preserving requisites.
  • (29). Lying propaganda.
  • (30). Subversion of the US.
  • (31). Subversion of the UK.
  • (32). Subversion of Australia.
  • (33). Maltreatment of Australians.
  • (34). Home destruction.
  • (35). Western-tolerated ghettoes and concentration camps.
  • (36). Genocidal racism.
  • (37). Deadly arms.
  • (38). Disproportionate violence.
  • (39). Sanctions suffered and applied.
  • (40). Nuclear terrorism.
  • (41). Slavery.
  • (42). Lebensraum and ethnic cleansing.
  • (43). Ethnocide: language and culture removal.
  • (44). Spying and total surveillance.
  • (45). Violation of core moral messages.
  • (46). Stolen symbols.
  • (47). Takeover of religions.
  • (48). Fascoid spectrum.
  • (49). “Me too” settler colonialism and exceptionalism.
  • (50). Alliance of the mob and capital.
  • (51). Silence is complicity.
  • (52). Cruelty.[35]

This is indeed a shocking comparison and one I had not considered prior to October of this year. If you go to its footnoted source you can access examples of each of these similarities. If I were an Israeli, a Zionist, or indeed, even a Jew, I would be very concerned, not so much at such similarities being drawn, which I would simply label as more outrageous examples of anti-Semitism, but because it shows that an increasing number of people, both Jewish and non-Jews, are finding points of similarity between Israeli Zionism and Nazism. The comparison raises grave ethical questions regarding the morality of those who support the Israeli state and Zionism, such as the vast majority of US politicians who do not support a cease fire in Gaza. This is quite apart from the need under international law to apply the label of “genocide” to Israel if we are to apply it to Germany. Noam Chomsky has noted that “People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”

Reynolds writes, “they (the Israelis) are certainly committing war crimes in the process and this is not acceptable.” He then goes on to say, “….it's impossible to take either side and be right or for justice.” Why is it impossible? Do humans not possess a moral compass by which to determine right from wrong actions? Is not morality the bedrock of world's religions? Doesn't law, and in this case international law, as in the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, exist in order to determine justice? Does not justice take sides? Is Reynolds ignoring or negating law as a legitimate determiner of justice? If so, what does he intend to replace it with? If we are not to ignore or replace justice, then the issue becomes one of forcing state accountability before international law and collective social norms of moral behavior.

Claiming anti-Semitism to seize the moral high ground

There exist broad-based and widespread government-led attempts to shut down criticism of Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in both the US and EU:

Israel is the Jewish state. If you criticize the Jewish state and/or Zionism you are therefore by the definition accepted by the US government State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism an antisemite. Antisemitism is a “hate crime” since it is by the same logic based on hatred of Jews. If you advocate or argue for any Palestinian group like Hamas, which the US government has conveniently labeled “terrorist” even though it has never threatened Americans, you are providing “material assistance to terrorism” which is a crime for which you can be fined or imprisoned. The end result is that Israel, which is immune from the consequences of its own actions internationally, also increasingly cannot be criticized at all without serious consequences for the critic, which have included posting the names of protesting students on lists of alleged antisemites so they will be unable to find work after they graduate. In other words, freedom of speech in the United States and also in some European countries including France and Germany only exists, insofar as it does, if you are not disparaging Israel or even its friends due to their easily demonstrable “war criminal” behavior.[36]

However, claims of anti-Semitism serve the purpose of fending off legitimate arguments against Israeli policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide:

In a 2002 interview the former Israeli government minister Shulamit Aloni was asked by Amy Goodman: Often when there is dissent expressed in the United States against policies of the Israeli government, people here are called antisemitic. What is your response to that as an Israeli Jew?

Shulamit Aloni replied,

Well, it's a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country [the US] people are criticizing Israel, then they are antisemitic.” (…) there is an “Israel, my country right or wrong” attitude and “they're not ready to hear criticism.” Antisemitism, the Holocaust and “the suffering of the Jewish people” are exploited to “justify everything we do to the Palestinians.”[37]

The Palestinian American academic, literary critic and political activist Edward Said notes, “You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once—there has to be a limit.” But clearly, Zionists have no incentive to impose such a limit on themselves. Instead, there is every indication that in the US and EU Zionists and supporters of Israel are doubling down on labeling any and all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic hate speech. There is good reason to believe that this will backfire. The repression of free speech is likely to generate authentic anti-Semitism. However, the provocation of genuine anti-Semitism validates Israeli claims of perpetual victim status. If so, it is indeed a “trick,” as Aloni has labeled it.

Ongoing WILP blindness and denial

Bram Fischer has noted, “The glaring injustice is there for all who are not blinded by prejudice to see.” It is quite impressive, at this stage in the game, closing in on three months after Palestinians broke out of their open air prison, that so many intelligent, educated WILPS (Western, integral, liberal, progressives) refuse to call what is going on what it is: genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Why? They cannot profess stupidity or ignorance any more than Germans during the Third Reich could. In fact, Western elites are on the whole better educated, with a much greater access to a far broader assortment of source material than Germans possessed. And yet, like pre-WWII Germans, they are in denial of racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide perpetrated in their names. Is it not reasonable to suspect that they are indeed racists but refuse to admit it? As Paulo Freire has noted, “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful.”

What is an integral solution to the Israeli war on Gaza and the status of Israel? It is not to hide and avoid by simply saying “it's complicated.” To his credit, Reynolds went beyond that statement to suggest an integral solution to the conflict. There are several reasons why blindness, denial, and appealing to complexity doesn't help:

It does not incentivize changes in power relationships

Becoming more integral does not make Israelis and Zionists less supportive of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and genocide. Powerful entities can simply ignore whatever integral development you do. Zionists may in fact encourage integral and Spiral Dynamics “value” assessments as ways to change the subject, to sidetrack measures that actually threaten the status quo and their hold on power.

It's elevationism

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Integral has a terminal case of Pre/Trans elevationism. It essentially ignores the fundamental relational exchanges as the foundation for the stability and security of higher level relational exchanges. By focusing on transpersonal levels of development we are not focusing on the foundational relational exchanges of food, security, and safety where both the most human suffering and the greatest atrocities occur. The failure to promote and prioritize the securing of the fundamental relational exchanges of food and safety for everyone maintains the possibility that the have-nots will at some point rise up and overthrow those focused on the higher relational exchanges.

It feeds exceptionalism

Exceptionalism is fundamental to Zionism and, truth be told, the fundamental ethnic/religious narrative of Judaism. The belief that Jews are “God's Chosen People” has generated distinctions based on ethnicity that have generated resentment, anger, and the expulsion of Jews from many countries. To label the reactivity of other ethnicities as “anti-Semitism” is to ignore the reality of the situation: the problem is not that Jews are Jews but rather the Jewish claim of exceptionalism. Individuals and groups have every right to believe they are exceptional, as long as that belief does not translate into behaviors that privilege one ethnicity or nation over all others. The problem is that this is what Jewish exceptionalism has tended to do, and it was a major reason for virulent anti-Semitism in Germany prior to WWII. Zionism is Jewish exceptionalism on steroids. When integralists defend Israel they are, unfortunately, also defending Zionism, due to the endemic cultural racism of the vast majority of the Israeli population. While integralists profess egalitarianism and non-discrimination, are those that defend Israel in practice defending racism? Again, that is hardly their intent, but it is how it appears to an increasing number of observers, including many Jews.

It replaces the embrace of values for behavioral consequences

Forgiveness, dignity, freedom, democracy, human rights, security, and safety are honorable values that virtue signal our moral intent while easily hiding, avoiding, or ignoring the absence of concrete action leading to accountability before the law. Declaring such values also has the added advantage of deflecting criticism. The PLO, Jordanian monarchy, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have been some of the most egregious offenders in this respect. Ongoing public statements by US and EU politicians reek of the moral hypocrisy of professing ethical intentions while passively acquiescing to or even actively supporting apartheid, ethnic cleansing, or genocide.

It assumes moral behavior due to moral intent

Integralists, in my experience, tend to take their moral purity for granted, based on the righteousness of their intent. The failure to require moral intent be reflected in moral action undermines the credibility of integral. After all, if integralists don't walk their talk, if they both vote for imperialists and Zionists (as Joe Biden and Donald Trump both are) and ignore apartheid and genocide, while talking about waking up, growing up, cleaning up, and showing up, why in the world would humanity look to them for solutions to their most intractable problems?

It focuses on insipid and inane developmental “levels” analyses

Comparing Israel and Hamas/Palestine/Arabs/Islam based on SD vmemes or integral levels, generally via the use of cult color jargon, sterereotypes groups and nations in a severe form of reductionism. Does it do anything to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? If so, how has the Israeli/Palestine conflict improved due to the analysis of relative levels of development?

It imagines that embracing multi-perspectivalism translates into changed behavior

I agree with Reynolds that Wilber's integral has offered little, if anything, of consequence toward the resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Wilber is wrong when he says Hamas and Israel “need therapy.” What is required is accountability before international law, something that Israel has been shielded from since its inception, primarily by the U.S. Why should anyone expect any change in policy or behavior of Israel as long as that remains the case?

Is the reason for a lack of resolution of the conflict a lack of relevant information, a failure to understand and embrace “2nd tier” thinking? I don't think so. The historical facts have been reviewed numerous times by people like Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein. Instead of a lack of multi-perspectivalism, there appears to be a lot of confirmation bias in the historical facts people in the groupthink echo chamber tend to cite.

Fear of ostracism by Zionists is one possible explanation for why integralists like Corey DeVoss, Mark Fischler, Steve McIntosh, Jeff Salzman, and Bruce Alderman haven't been more outspoken on this issue. Or perhaps it is because they have no integral solutions to offer. They may have concluded it is better to remain silent than to make comments that offer little in the way of clarity on the situation. If so, as Deepak Chopra has noted, “Passivity is the same as defending injustice.” Regarding issues of genocide and primal melt-down of humanity, it is better to speak up, as Reynolds has done, contribute, learn, and evolve one's worldview, than to lay back and tacitly support man's inhumanity to man.

Reynolds' recommendations

Reynolds writes,

…what would have happened if Israel had taken the murderous blow of October 7 without a violent response—a major principle and tactic of Satyagraha—and instead appealed to the Arab nations, the US and EU, and the United Nations to WORK FOR PEACE and a final settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict while people of the world had sympathy for them?

Scott Ritter has made a similar argument. He contends that Israel lost the sympathy of the world that existed immediately in the wake of October 7 by the ruthlessness of its response. That Israel did not choose to “work for peace,” but instead chose to double down on apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, has probably sealed its fate. Israel has now declared itself a pariah state, above and outside of international law. While it has long held such a position, as its chronic disregard of UN resolutions calling for its return to 1967 borders demonstrates, most nations and individuals have had multiple incentives to ignore its ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Israel has, by its own actions, destroyed not only international apathy toward its generations of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, but is in the process of destroying the outright international support which it has enjoyed for decades.

How about non-violence? Palestine has been there, done that, only to get its non-violent protesters shot, killed, and paralyzed, rendered paraplegic and quadriplegic.[38] The psychopathologically inclined, either by nature or by systemic reinforcers, see non-violent resistance as foolish weakness, to be manipulated and used to increase one's own power and control. Hence we have Israeli snipers killing Palestinian women and children. If you view non-violence as weakness you view it as a foolish invitation for you to double down on your demands, threats, and violence. Non-violent resistance works when one has an adversary that has incentives of various types to yield power and control. When those incentives are lacking in an adversary, as they are with Israel, a non-violent approach results in more oppression, violence, and abuse. If we can see that principle in our behavior toward sociopaths and narcissists who are personality disordered, when our non-violent responses maintain their abusive behaviors, why are we unable to recognize the same principle in the behavior of nations?

Reynolds recommends forgiveness and empathy, following Nelson Mandela. But forgiveness and empathy did not put an end to apartheid in South Africa; an international economic boycott did. Forgiveness and empathy were not the core of the healing process South Africa undertook. What did work was “Truth and Reconciliation,” a methodology based on indigenous South African practices. What was that process?

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa in 1996 after the end of apartheid. Authorised by Nelson Mandela and chaired by Desmond Tutu, the commission invited witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations to give statements about their experiences, and selected some for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.[39]

Forgiveness without accountability actually reinforces wrongdoing, making it more likely, by letting perpetrators avoid responsibility for their actions. This is the problem with New Age teachings like A Course in Miracles, that assume that forgiveness results in improved behavior, the reduction of conflict, and peace. Anyone who has forgiven an addict, alcoholic, or chronic abuser has experienced the dysfunctional and impotent consequences of this loosely tethered ideology. What forgiveness does, in addition to encouraging repetitive abuse, is consign the “forgiver” to the perpetual status of Victim in the Drama Triangle. They can feel self-righteous, justified, and moral in their position of chronic helpless, powerless victimization.

Instead of forgiveness, what is required is accountability before the law and before one's accusers. Once that has occurred, then the plaintiffs can decide how long a leash they can realistically put the perpetrator on. But forgiveness implies no leash whatsoever. How rational, much less integral, is that? Others expect our behavior to match our moral intent. Doesn't it make sense that we also require that of ourselves?

Using “peace to gain peace” is not how South Africa overcame apartheid. To repeat: nothing happened until there was international will to impose a broad-based economic boycott. Forgiveness, empathy, calls for equity and security did not do it. Truth and Reconciliation did not work until the apartheidists were ousted.

Mandela's forgiveness and empathy crusade would not have gone anywhere without a world-wide economic embargo of the apartheid government of South Africa. Why should it? Why should the white elites of South Africa give up their prerogatives and power because they were being offered forgiveness and empathy? Why should Israeli Zionists and racists give up the land and houses they occupy or share power with those they regard as inferiors before God if they do not have to? Israelis have a great deal at stake; they have a lot to lose. Why would anyone expect them to give up that stolen wealth due to an appeal to humanitarian values? Diversity and equal rights are indeed fundamental principles of the UN Charter and Declaration of Human Rights. Advocating for such principles can be done in tandem with, and indeed in collusion with, occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Talk to Israelis that support the war on Gaza. See how many of them support diversity, equal rights, dignity and security. Most very likely will say that they do.

People embedded in pathological power systems are quite happy to have us proclaim forgiveness, empathy, raising vibratory level, or that “love is the answer.” That is because these prescriptions do nothing to reduce the balance in their bank accounts. They do nothing to affect the status of practitioners of genocide or their ability to wield power over the less powerful. How much of their stolen property will it motivate them to give back? Instead, what it does is provide a patina of morality and virtue signaling over a deep, maggot-infested, moral rot.

The principles Mandela advocated were not new. The reason they worked in South Africa is because an economic choke-chain was put on the South African power elite mut. It is amazing how well dogs and humans can behave when they are given no other choice. This will be found to be true for Zionists as well.

The problem is that at this moment, the world lacks the ability, or motivation, or both. to compel an Israeli ceasefire or a US support of one. There is no accountability; no one wants to bell the US cat. Reynolds' approach is well-meaning but functionally supportive of the status quo. He puts his faith in carrots. Where are the sticks? Where are the sure consequences to follow a failure to comply with international law? A “carrot” approach is ineffective because it is partial. It does nothing to incentivize genuine change on a demonically dysfunctional geopolitical reality that exists in Israel and its enablers in the US and EU.

Sadly, the reality is that the language that power understands is not the language of love and forgiveness but the language of power. If the transpersonally-inclined are unwilling or unable to access or utilize the language of power they need not be surprised when their message is ignored by the powerful. This is why the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement is feared by Israel. It is the language of power, dealing out real consequences that diminish the power of the powerful.

Is it true, as Reynolds states, that “…it is by accessing the higher (and highest) potentials of the human race that we move beyond the limitations of the past and our inherited history”? Isn't it rather, that by safeguarding the life, well-being, and security of the least among us that we move beyond the limitations of the past and our inherited history? China just demonstrated the truth of this statement. In only some forty years it raised over 800 million people out of dire poverty, an achievement unparalleled in human history, and a massive “spiritual” accomplishment if that word is to have any meaning at all.

That is because the evolution of consciousness means not so much if children are not fed, provided educational opportunities, and health care. If you are not fed or nurtured as a child and your growth is stunted, can you realistically be expected to “evolve in consciousness?” Improvements in relational exchanges happen independently of an evolution of consciousness, as the Chinese experience demonstrates. As another example, Bismarck, the unifier of the German state, was a conservative Prussian militarist. He did not create the first social welfare system in the world due to an “evolution in consciousness.” He did it to gain the political support of workers. It was simply a political calculation that resulted in a transformation in what it meant for a nation to be civilized. It was a groundbreaking achievement, emulated by progressive nations worldwide. Yet it was not due to any “evolution in consciousness” but to a practical political calculation.

You don't need to be God-realized or accessing the non-dual to do these things. In fact, as the example discussed below of Buddhist Tibet shows, it is probably better if you aren't. What you need instead is a clear sense of justice and morality and the courage to make a priority of supporting the most vulnerable people in the world, beginning with children.

Therefore, a basic delusion of integral is that while it is confident it takes into account lower levels of development, in practice it lacks empathy with them. If it did, it would focus on healing the prepersonal wounds of humanity rather than focusing on transcending them in a grandiose addiction to exceptionalist elevationism.

What is needed is not an integral but a moral and legal solution.

Expecting transpersonal development to solve prepersonal and personal conflicts is a spiritual application of economic trickle-down theory. Trickle-down economics refers to policies that disproportionately favor the upper tier of the economic spectrum, comprising wealthy individuals and large corporations. The policies are based on the idea that spending by this group will "trickle down" to those less fortunate in the form of stronger economic growth. Integralists believe that if they invest in their own enlightenment and self-development that somehow, sometime, magically, there will be enough “enlightened” “2nd Tier” individuals, to tip the scales, and create a major trickle down realignment of society and culture, resulting in a transformative Age of Asparagus where sheep will beat lions into plowshares or something. We don't know exactly, but it will be good. All we have to do is learn and practice integral theory and everything will be All Better.

How spiritual “trickle down” addresses issues of justice is never discussed. How spiritual “trickle down” raises up the masses of hungry, impoverished exploited millions is never explained. Why not? Because integral can't, anymore than trickle down economics can raise the standard of living of the lower classes. What both do in fact is generate wider and deeper class divisions that inevitably lead to socio-cultural imbalances and conflict. Integralists are smart; they should be smart enough to recognize this. However, in my experience they are largely too addicted to self development, “enlightenment,” “spirituality,” and the integral worldview to recognize the obvious.

Trickle down spirituality doesn't happen and isn't going to happen. It is a form of transpersonal magical and mythological woo. What happens in practice is that such doctrines work to stabilize society. That is, to keep the class structure as it is - unequal, divided between the haves and the have-nots.

Reynolds states that integral transcends pre-personal tribalism. I agree. But what is Israel if not a tribalistic state? And if so, how can it be that those integralists that “stand with Israel” are not standing with apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide? If that is the case, on what grounds can they claim to be integral anything?

There is no evidence that I know of that meditation, contemplation, or religion uplift the poor and disadvantaged in any society where they are practiced. Tibet provides a classical example. Here is an ancient state that for centuries was controlled by Buddhist monks dedicated to the attainment of non-dual states of consciousness, whose lifestyle was maintained by indentured serfs with few rights, freedoms, or pathways to advancement. There was no movement within that exalted transpersonal Buddhist community to address those injustices because the spiritual elites benefitted from the continuance of these societal and cultural grave imbalances. Appealing to more “enlightenment,” to more “spirituality,” is elevationism. It ignores and neglects the plight of the least fortunate, the least capable among us. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict exists and is fueled by motivations much lower on the developmental totem pole than the normal haunts of integralists. It needs to be addressed on those levels. Can exceptionalist integralists hold their noses and stoop to such depths?

An integral solution involves stopping such baked-in elevationism, based on a self-validating emphasis on developmental levels.[40] Drop back down and check the morality of your behavior. Do your actions fight genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid or not? Do you make financial choices that choke off the economic oxygen of genocidalists? Drop back down to the lowest relational exchanges. Do your actions demand safety, security, and food for Palestinians? As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Drop back down to law, in this case, international law. Demand the end of the “rules-based order,” which is simply an avoidance strategy to maintain non-accountability before the law. Demand that the ICC and ICJ have jurisdiction over all nations. Demand that the UN General Assembly have the right to overrule single vetoes in the UN Security Council on issues that involve genocide, apartheid, or ethnic cleansing. Refuse to vote for politicians that have a record of supporting Zionism, apartheid, and who have refused to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The reality is that if these lower levels of morality and law are not prioritized there can be no authentic claim of integral anything. That is because, as we all know, higher levels must include lower ones if they are to authentically transcend them. Otherwise, what we have is exceptionalism and grandiosity masquerading as integral.

By all means - continue to work on self-development. Continue to seek enlightenment for yourself and for all mankind. It is a noble pursuit. However, the feeding and nurturing of millions, particularly children and the less fortunate is, in terms of the collective evolution of humanity, a much more noble pursuit, because it recognizes that as we uplift others we uplift those aspects of ourselves that they represent. We reduce deprivation that at some point, will rise up and wound humanity, if it is ignored, as it has done time after time, throughout history. This has largely been due to an over-focus on limited personal and group interests to the exclusion of the greater good. That has to stop. Now, in the circumstances presented to us by the Israeli war on Gaza and the status of Israel, is an excellent opportunity to demand that it do so.


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.

Because Israel, as currently constructed, is a deeply racist state dedicated to apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, its destiny is to die. Zionists and theocrats can move to Brooklyn or most anywhere else. Those Jews who remain can create a democratic society with Palestinians. Together they can figure out what Truth and Reconciliation looks like. At that point equality, dignity, security, empathy, and reciprocity can become collective realities. However, to get there is going to take an economic embargo, a process the Houthis of Yemen have initiated, not spiritual, transpersonal woo.

Reynolds deserves credit for moving toward a more realistic assessment. While he still tends toward moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, it is impressive that he can identify Israeli war crimes and even note that some Israeli actions resemble those of Nazis. To be clear, I do not need or expect Reynolds or other integralists to agree with me. I am groping along toward a clearer understanding just like everyone else. However, we have to get past moral equivalence and spreading the massive untruth that the crimes of the Palestinians are anywhere equivalent to those of Israel and the US. What that argument does is give genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid a pass; it allows room for the continuation of barbarism. A genuine integral stance will call for an immediate cease fire.

Certainly, something has to break soon, hopefully even before this essay is published on Frank Visser's excellent IntegralWorld.Net. It is inconceivable that the world will continue to stand by and watch as hundreds of thousands of innocents die of starvation and disease in Gaza while the best and brightest of the West tacitly or directly support genocide. It seems increasingly likely that Israel will choose to call off its invasion and blockade of Gaza without having met its goals of defeating Hamas or ethnically cleansing Israel by pushing Gazans into the Sinai desert of Egypt.

In conclusion, I want to restate a point I have made previously, but to do so in a broader context: Are supporters of Israel ignoring or negating law as a legitimate determiner of justice? If so, what do they intend to replace it with? If we are not to ignore or replace justice, then the issue becomes one of forcing state accountability before international law and collective social norms of moral behavior.

Here are some questions for integralists:

  • Do you support BDS? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Do you demand a ceasefire in Gaza? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Do you demand the US, Israel, and all other states be held accountable to obeying binding resolutions by the United Nations? If so, why? If not, why not?


  1. However, most integralists would approach it with a levels analysis with Hamas being “red” and Israel being something else - “blue” or “green”, or as an SD vmeme assessment, based on one's own assumptions. Much to his credit, Reynolds has avoided same.
  2. According to Wikipedia, “Jews under Islamic rule were given the status of dhimmi, along with certain other pre-Islamic religious groups. These non-Muslim groups were nevertheless accorded certain rights and protections as "people of the book". During waves of persecution in Medieval Europe, many Jews found refuge in Muslim lands.”
  3. The principal vision of the Basic Law: Israel—The Nation-State of the Jewish People (the Nation-State Law) is premised on the rights and interests of the Jewish people in Israel and the world, and the disqualification of any values of inclusive citizenship guaranteeing the equal membership of Palestinian citizens of Israel.
    Israel's Nation-State Law: Hierarchized Citizenship and Jewish Supremacy.
  4. Meet the Companies Profiting From Israel's War on Gaza
  5. Johnstone, Going Mask-Off About the two-state solution lie.”
  6. “US Senator Says Netanyahu Has 'Shut the Door' on Two-State Efforts.”
  7. Ibid.
  10. ”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel's regular allowing of Qatari funds to be transferred into Gaza, saying it is part of a broader strategy to keep Hamas and the Palestinian Authority separate, a source in Monday's Likud faction meeting said.Netanyahu explained that, in the past, the PA transferred the millions of dollars to Hamas in Gaza. He argued that it was better for Israel to serve as the pipeline to ensure the funds don't go to terrorism.“Now that we are supervising, we know it's going to humanitarian causes,” the source said, paraphrasing Netanyahu.The prime minister also said that, “whoever is against a Palestinian state should be for” transferring the funds to Gaza, because maintaining a separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza helps prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
    “Netanyahu: Money to Hamas part of strategy to keep Palestinians divided.”
  12. Johnstone, C. , “At This Point We Have To Always Assume Israel Is Lying Until Proven Otherwise.”
  14. Giraldi, P., The antisemitic moment. Unz Review.
  15. From a post by Blumenthal on X.
  16. “Journalist casualties in the Israeli-Gaza war.”
  17. “Israel Risks 'Strategic Defeat' If It Doesn't Protect Civilians, Austin Says.”
  18. ”In Israel, support for the war soars.”
  21. “convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
  22. “A Textbook Case of Genocide”: Israeli Holocaust Scholar Raz Segal Decries Israel's Assault on Gaza.”
  23. ”Israeli politician calls for captured Palestinians to be buried alive.”
  25. “Legality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
  26. “Commission of Inquiry finds that the Israeli occupation is unlawful under international law.”
  27. Encyclopædia Britannica Online,
  31. Ritter, S.,
  32. “A Textbook Case of Genocide”: Israeli Holocaust Scholar Raz Segal Decries Israel's Assault on Gaza.”
  33. “Netanyahu Openly Calls for Genocide Citing the Bible: "Go, attack the Amalekites...”
  34. From a statement by Finkelstein found on “X.”
  35. Polya. G., “A Shocking List of 52 Zionist Israel-Nazi Germany Comparisons.”
  36. Giraldi, P., The antisemitic moment. Unz Review.
  37. The interview:
    Giraldi, P., The antisemitic moment. Unz Review.
  39. Wikipedia, “Truth and Reconciliation.”
  40. I accept and celebrate that humans pass through developmental levels. My professional life as a psychotherapist has been built around helping people to do so. In the mid-1980's when I read Wilber's description in his essays in Transformations of Consciousness of the different developmental levels, what could go wrong on each one, and what sort of intervention/treatment was most likely to be helpful at each level, I found it brilliant. Structures are essential for development and evolution; they provide the framework on which processes dialectically advance. I fully agree with Wilber on this score.
    The problem is that integralists generally use the developmental hierarchy to validate their own exceptional status, to emphasize hierarchy over heterarchy, agency over communing, individual development over personal and state accountability to broader collectives.
    Because humans tend to identify with their thoughts, when they grasp post-personal multi-perspectivalism, they tend to experience their identity, their self-line, as having evolved to that same post-personal level. Throw in some authentic mystical experiences and you have people convinced they are transpersonal in their level of development. I find such conclusions neither accurate nor helpful personally or for the advancement of humanity as a whole. The historical record is devoid of evidence that such conclusions actually improve the quality of life for the masses of humanity, although it does make suffering more bearable.

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