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Ray Harris Ray Harris is a frequent contributor to this website. He has written articles on 9/11, boomeritis, the Iraq war and Third Way politics. Harris lives in Australia and can be contacted at: [email protected]. In my opinion, the Middle East would be a prime case study for integral theory, but not many papers have been written on the topic from that perspective. Therefore, I have asked Ray to write about his views on the Middle East problem for a long time. This is his response to that request.

From: Integral Thoughts on the Middle East Conflict

Integral notes on the
Israel/Arab conflict

Ray Harris

Disclaimer: I make these comments with some reservation. This conflict is bitter and anyone who takes a stance faces personal attack. So I want to address the reader who comes across this article from outside the integral community - this article will assume you have more than a passing understanding of the scope of integral theory and my writing on this site. I will not answer any criticism from outside the integral community simply because such exchanges often end up as endless tit for tat accusations that descend to personal abuse (although I am happy to accept verifiable factual corrections).

In 'Blood Brotherhoods' (2002) I suggested that the root of terrorism was not poverty or even access to land - rather it was mostly about the assertion of identity. The Israel/Arab conflict is complex; it is in effect several conflicts fought across all quadrants and levels. Yet in its essence it is, I believe, a conflict between competing narratives of identity in short, if you exist then I cannot exist.

All sides indulge in such exclusionary logic and to understand the conflict we need to understand the competing narratives and that the extremes of each of the polarised positions refuse to accept the narrative of its opposite. Thus Arabs refuse to acknowledge the Jewish claim on the area and Jews refuse to acknowledge Arab and Muslim claims. The Zionists had a saying, 'a land with no people for a people with no land'. This could not have been a more disastrous assertion and one guaranteed to offend any resident of Palestine, including non-Arab members of minority religious groups (who deserve mention). Similarly the counter-claim that Jews do not have any legitimate claim to the land is equally offensive and disastrous.

It is important from an integral perspective that we understand the narratives of each stakeholder. I can only give an outline here and I apologise if brevity leads to omission.

The story of the Jews

There are two main Jewish narratives, the religio-cultural and the historical. The religio-cultural is well known and is outlined in the Torah. It tells of a people kept in captivity in Egypt and who were freed by the prophet Moses who then led them to a Promised Land. Jews celebrate this event all over the world as Passover. This religio-cultural narrative emphasises a struggle to maintain an exclusive identity and includes the struggle against internal disintegration (through the worship of false gods) and the invasion of outside forces, including an important period of exile at the hands of the Babylonians. The important point here is that for a Jew this is a story of a monumental struggle to find and keep a home. To deny the importance of this narrative to the Jews is to invalidate their identity.

Recent historical research questions the religio-cultural narrative but does not negate the Jews' historical claim to the region. The research suggests that the ancient Hebrews were one of several Semitic tribes in the region whose origins can be traced back to the late Neolithic. In short, they are indigenous. Through a process of invasion and differentiation (including the defeat of competing tribes by outside invaders) the Hebrews rose to prominence. The rest as they say, is history and this is where the religio-cultural coincides with the accepted historical narrative. Whilst history might cast doubt on the existence of Abraham and Moses it does not deny that in 66 ACE the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, which led to the Diaspora. Within the Jewish narrative this was understood as yet another period of exile which always included the hope that just as they returned to the Promised Land from exile in Egypt and Babylon, they would return from exile in the Diaspora. The central celebration of the Jewish religious calendar Passover marks this hope.

There can be no doubt that the land of eretz yisrael, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are vitally important to Jewish identity.

The story of the Christians

Again I'm not going to go into detail because most know this story, but it is important to note that since the time of Jesus various Arab and non-Arab communities have made a claim on the land and have set up communities, the most famous being Armenian Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem.

From early times Christians have made pilgrimages to the Holy Land. From within the Christian narrative the Crusades were an attempt to rescue the Holy City from foreign invaders who were taxing and restricting Christian pilgrims. It must be remembered that the region had been under the control of the Roman Empire since 63 BCE. When the Empire split into a Western and Eastern sphere Jerusalem was ruled by a Byzantine Empire that had evolved from a pagan into a Christian empire based in Constantinople.

Here we must note that the Christian narrative came to include a resolute denial of the Jewish narrative. Jesus' message was deemed greater than the Jewish message and thus when the Jews denied the Christian narrative that Jesus was the Messiah the Christians accused the Jews of killing him. This led to considerable mutual animosity leading to violence from both sides. During the Crusades thousands of Jews were massacred in Jerusalem.

The story of the Muslims

The Koran relies heavily on the Abrahamic legacy. In the early days in Mecca Mohammed would pray pointing to Jerusalem. During the Night Journey Mohammed is commanded by the archangel Gabriel to travel to Jerusalem on a magic stead called Baraka. At the site called the 'far mosque' (al-aqsa) on the Temple Mount Mohammed ascends to heaven where he passes previous prophets at lower stages and sits beside God in the highest heaven (this is not detailed in the Koran but exists in the hadith).

The Muslim narrative includes the belief that the Jews of Medina betrayed Mohammed. There is a contradiction in the Muslim narrative between Mohammed's earlier respect for Jewish culture and his later conflict with the Jewish tribes. On the one hand there is respect for Jews as 'People of the Book' but on the other there is contempt and mistrust of Jews as traitors.

From within the Muslim narrative Mohammed is the last and most complete of the prophets. This means that the Muslim narrative trumps all previous narratives. If you accept Mohammed as a genuine prophet then you are bound by a logic of God given superiority, just as Christians and Jews are bound by their beliefs of superiority.

Muslims conquered Jerusalem very shortly after the death of Mohammed in 638 CE. To celebrate the Muslim claim on the Holy City the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik (685-705 CE) built the famous Dome of the Rock (as-Sakhra), which sits over the foundation of Solomon's Temple. Muslims regard the area of the Dome and the al-Aqsa mosque as their third holiest site (and by Jews as their holiest). Under some Muslim rulers Jews were permitted to enter the Dome on special occasions and worship at the Rock but at other times they were denied all access (they are denied access today).

Competing narratives

Standing outside all three narratives one notes that each is based on a fundamental negation of the others. These are narratives that are in competition and they are also narratives that justify the use of violence to gain dominance over the others. The Dome of the Rock was built to dominate the Jerusalem skyline. Its builders designed it to replace the much hoped for Jewish Third Temple. In other words it can be read as a statement of religious one-upmanship made by a conqueror. On its eastern and southern gates are copper plates that assert Islam over Christianity. Naturally Jews do not recognize the legitimacy of the Dome and religious Jews have plans to destroy it and the al-Aqsa mosque and rebuild the Third Temple, and Muslims have plans to violently defend any such attempt (if it were attempted the entire Muslim world would be in an uproar).

Unfortunately there is no resolution to such exclusionary narratives. In integral terms they must be transcended. But I would argue that the devout of all faiths cannot transcend their narratives because to do so would be to deny their exclusive claim on the truth and they will resist (violently) any such attempt. Indeed, what we see today is the rejection of syncretism and modernism by fundamentalists of all three monotheistic faiths.


In order to advance their religious and political claims each side of the conflict must deny the narratives of the other. Perhaps the most vicious aspect of this conflict is the intricate propaganda war in which each side (and there are many) attempts to deny the legitimacy of the competing narratives. This is done in several ways.

  1. Historical distortion
  2. Attempting to control the definition of legitimacy*
  3. Demonising the other.
  4. Claiming special victim status

*A difficulty with this conflict is that each side has a different definition of legitimacy. Thus the Jews say they have a prior historical claim to the land whereas the Arabs say that the right of occupation negates that claim. The problem is that there is no 'objective' basis on which to judge competing claims and people often choose sides based on a subjective judgement as to the merits of each claim to legitimacy. Why does occupation defeat a claim of indigenous ownership? How long should a conquering people be in a land in order to claim legitimacy? Do these rules apply to other regions in dispute, i.e. Kashmir and Tibet?

Any objective analysis of the conflict must be aware of the propaganda of each of the antagonists. Unfortunately there seem to be very few who are able to do this. The conflict has been extended to non-participant supporters all around the world who have taken sides. Thus the propaganda wars include accusations of 'Jewish lobbies' and 'Arab lobbies'. This is not subject to the normal left/right dichotomy because there are pro-Israeli and pro-Arab leftists, centrists and rightists. Unfortunately this propaganda war is vicious and both sides push the most slanderous types of propaganda. The Arab world is the last bastion of the discredited 'Elders of the Protocols of Zion' conspiracy theory, including the infamous 'blood libel' (yes, sadly some Arabs genuinely believe Jews sacrifice children).

An integral response

Okay, what do we do about it? Can we do anything? In the end we all have to make a judgement, so what integral principles should guide that judgement? In much of my writing I emphasise the prime directive, that integral theory demands solutions that allow the greatest developmental potential for the greatest number. This means that we support the solution that offers the best chance of honouring the prime directive.

It is at this point that I want to step outside the illusion of objectivity. I can continue to write in a passive and pseudo-objective style that pretends to carefully sort all sides of the argument but we all know (as good postmodernists) that it's all subjective and intersubjective anyway. In fact this whole conflict is a conflict of multiple subjectivities and intersubjectivities. We can perhaps agree on certain facts, that on such and such a date such and such a thing happened, but what matters is what meaning we make of those facts.

Where I stand

I think that integral theory supports the existence of a secure and prosperous Israel. Although I think that the ideal is a single state where all antagonists live in peace and prosperity, the harsh reality is that the competing narratives will never allow this. For a single state solution to work each side must give up its exclusive claims to the truth.

The impossibility of the single state means we must look at other alternatives, including some form of two-state solution. But this is where we crash up against another harsh reality. I think; based on the current evidence, that any new Palestinian state will quickly become a failed state that will descend into an Iraq like civil and sectarian war.

In 'The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend' (2003) I argued that the Iraq war would descend into a sectarian conflict, unfortunately this is now the case. I make the same prediction for any future Palestinian state. It is almost the case now as Hamas militants fight Fatah militants in open gun fights in the streets and as Palestinian Christians flee the occupied territories in increasing numbers due to persecution by fundamentalist Muslims. The popular election of the Islamist Hamas party has seemingly destroyed any hope of a democratic, secular Palestine. And here I must ask if there is to be no secular, democratic Palestinian state then what is the point?

Unfortunately I think this outcome was entirely predictable, not because of the alleged neo-colonial influence of an alleged Zionist/US conspiracy, but for wholly internal reasons. This is because there has never been a unified Palestinian identity.

Palestine was certainly occupied; it was not as some Zionists claimed 'a land without a people', but those people were enormously diverse, divided by tribal and sectarian loyalties with little sense of national identity. Under the Ottoman Empire modern Palestine consisted of four separate provinces. What national identity there is has been forged out of a common goal of resisting Jewish immigration and the creation of a separate Jewish state.

The aims of Arab resistance have also changed. Before the creation of Israel the resistance was part of the pan-Arabist movement where the Palestinian territories were to be absorbed into a greater Arab state that would include Syria, Jordan and Egypt (and others). During the 48 Arab/Israeli war the various invading Arab armies were intent on carving up Israel/Palestine for themselves (Jordan gained control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, until 67). In other words any sense of Palestinian unity has been created for negative rather than positive reasons.

As soon as a Palestinian state is declared I believe it will break apart into a power struggle between long standing tribal and sectarian rivalries, with external players such as Syria, Jordan and Egypt seeking to exert influence. Hamas has said that its long-term aim is to see Palestine become part of a Sunni Islamist pan-Arab caliphate - the Shia and secular nationalists will naturally resist this.

Another example of this sectarian rivalry is the status of the Druze within Israel. During the Arab/Israeli war of 48 the Druze aligned themselves with the Jews and fought alongside them. As a result the Druze are the only non-Jews to be allowed to fight in the IDF where many become career soldiers (and command Jewish conscripts). Why would they do this? Because at the time the Arab resistance was dominated by Sunni Arabs and they had traditionally persecuted the Druze.

But there is another seismic shift occurring amongst Christians. Because of the historical animosity between Jews and Christians many Palestinian Christians sided with Muslim Arabs against Jews (although some say they only did so under threat of violence by Sunni Arabs). Due to Muslim suspicion of Christian loyalty and the conflicting narratives Palestinian Christians face increasing persecution at the hands of fundamentalist Sunni. At the same time as Christians are fleeing the occupied Palestinian territories the Christian population of Israel is increasing.

The election of Hamas is a further indication of the collapse of the Palestinian dream. Hamas are Sunni fundamentalists who are part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their political goal is to establish an Islamist state. They are Muslim supremacists who will eventually aim to push out secularists and sectarian rivals (Ismaeli and Shia).

At this stage the fact that Hamas was democratically elected is usually raised as a justification it was the people's will. This is true, but I would argue that democracy really means a civil society that includes notions of rights and freedoms that extend throughout the whole of society, from local associations to international agreements. The Muslim Brotherhood has made no secret of criticizing democracy as being un-Islamic and they have stated that whilst they are happy to use democratic means to get into power, once they are in power they will set about dismantling democracy in favour of an Islamist totalitarian caliphate. It seems odd to suggest that the election of a resolutely anti-democratic group is an example of democracy at work (I suppose the election of Hitler was democracy in action?).

With the likely collapse of a Palestinian state the option that best serves the prime directive is a secure Israeli state and it is here we face another inconvenient truth. Israeli society has a greater developmental span than the traditional Arab culture it replaced. Under Arab domination there is a high likelihood this developmental depth would eventually be lost.

I understand that this statement is likely to offend some. What about the oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state? Surely that is stunting their development? I agree, it is. But the prime directive demands growth for the greatest number, not just a select group.

Much as it is distasteful to suppress a people there may be no choice if that group's freedom means that an even greater number of people suffer. Whilst Palestinians continue to embrace political violence their neighbours (including Palestinian minorities) have no choice but to try and defend themselves. As long as a significant percentage of Palestinians support the destruction of the Israeli state what choice do Israelis have? The argument is therefore not really that Israelis have a right to defend themselves but how they execute that right. In which case there is no right answer to a subjective question of degree. Some will argue that the Israelis go too far and some say not far enough. Where is the balance point and who is wise enough to know (we all have the wisdom of armchair hindsight)?

This is where we come to another inconvenient truth that is relevant to the prime directive. Whilst countries such as Jordan deny Jews citizenship Israel has a significant percentage of non-Jewish citizens. These citizens have most of the same rights as Jewish Israelis (they are exempted from national service) and whilst there is discrimination (and Jews are discriminated against in Arab countries) Arab Israelis have a higher standard of living than their neighbours and have greater developmental opportunities.

In other words, Israeli society gives more opportunity to Arabs than do Arab states to their own citizens, thus better serving the prime directive. I was reminded of this by a recent documentary that told the story of an Arab-Israeli girl called Shadya who was a champion Karate student and part of the Israeli team. There was no suggestion that the fact she was a Muslim affected her position on the team (she represented Israel in international competitions). Sadly her career ended when she got married and pressure was put on her by her older brother and husband (her father was very supportive of her Karate) to conform to Muslim Arab patriarchal expectations that she stay at home and cook her husband's dinner.

Of course one of the objections to Israel is that it is based on maintaining a Jewish majority. I would be more sympathetic to this argument if those making it were morally consistent. If this argument is to be made then it must also be made against several Muslim countries that impose restrictions on non-Muslims. In fact such an argument would require campaigning against the most egregious examples. In which case the focus ought to be first on Saudi Arabia, which does not allow non-Muslims citizenship at all and which prohibits the public worship of any non-Muslim religion. In comparison to many Muslim countries in the region Israel is a paragon of religious freedom. Many Jews are in fact secular and some are even Buddhist.

But it goes even further than this. The mass immigration of Jews saw the Palestinian economy boom and this greatly benefited local Arabs (although some were disadvantaged, particularly in the agricultural sector but this happens when immigrants displace workers in certain sectors no matter what country, for example the US with Mexican immigrants and Europe with Africans and Arabs). In fact as a result of the boom there was a wave of Arab immigration into the region and an Arab population explosion. This would not have happened if it weren't for the influx of Jewish capital creating increased opportunity.

The devastating inconvenient truth is that the Palestinians are now economically dependent on Israel and a secure and prosperous Israel benefits the Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians go to work in Israel every day. Where else in the world do the citizens of one country cross the border every day to work in another? This situation of economic inter-dependence has led to some interesting contradictions. It was revealed that one of the major suppliers of concrete for the manufacture of the Separation Wall was a Palestinian company, much to the embarrassment of the Palestinian Authority.

Jewish immigration saw an influx of energy, expertise and talent. Israeli society is sophisticated and cultured with great developmental depth. This benefits all Israeli citizens, including non-Jewish citizens, as well as neighbouring countries. One example is innovation in agriculture, which has turned desert into arable land. Israeli companies are happy to sell their expertise to the region. A secure and prosperous Israel would only continue to benefit its citizens and the region.

The developmental depth of Israeli society also means that it has a vital and engaged citizenry, many of whom are free to be critical of their government's policies. Israel has a press freedom that exceeds any of its Arab neighbours. What this means is that there are many independent initiatives from Israelis to solve the region's problems, including outreach programs aimed at reconciliation with Palestinians (an example are the Jewish women who monitor Israeli checkpoints to stop Israeli soldiers abusing Palestinians). There is a very active Israeli peace movement. In other words a good percentage of the Israeli population are at conventional and postconventional moral reasoning stages.

So imagine the amount of economic, artistic and intellectual creativity that would be released if Israel did not have to spend so much time, energy and money on defending itself? The consequence of the long-standing use of political violence by Arabs against Jewish ambitions (beginning in the 1920's) and Jewish retaliation is the waste of this dynamic potential.

The violence has traumatized both communities and this has placed a devolutionary pressure on both. In Spiral Dynamic terms a descent from Green/Orange to Blue/Red and even Blue/Purple. It has been worse for the Palestinians. Under Hamas many progressive programs have been run down for mainly political reasons. It is not only non-Sunni groups that suffer but also women, who are now pressured to conform to fundamentalist expectations. It is also worth noting at this stage that Israel has an active homosexual sub-culture (despite objections from Ultra-Orthodox Jews), including an annual gay pride march that includes a contingent of gay Arabs. In contrast Hamas would impose sharia, which advocates the death penalty for homosexuals. If I were a gay Arab I know where I would rather live.

Freedom or death

When confronted with this argument some Palestinians argue that their freedom is worth more than all this. But what kind of freedom are they really talking about - the freedom 'from' or the freedom 'to'? The answer is usually freedom 'from' Israeli occupation and oppression, which would seem to be a reasonable goal. But when you scratch the surface you find that this freedom is really the freedom to continue to live a traditional Arab life, which for men means the continuation of patterns of patriarchal and religious oppression.

In other words it is the freedom to curtail the freedoms of others for men's benefit. Let's not pull any punches here. Life is not good for Arab women. I have already mentioned the frustration of Shadya's ambitions by the patriarchal demands of her culture but there are thousands of other examples. Another documentary told the story of a group of Arab-Israeli widows who started a pickling business. Their biggest obstacle was not Israeli prejudice and discrimination but traditional pressures. It seems that in Arab society it is considered unseemly for widows to work (I was also appalled to hear the women make references to someone beating his wife as if it was a common occurrence to be laughed off). I think that anyone supporting Palestinian freedom ought to consider what it is they are really defending, an abstract principle or a continuation of an oppressive tradition.

I know that many well-meaning progressives assume that a free Palestinian society will be democratic and support human rights. Unfortunately I see no evidence of this. In my view in taking an anti-Israeli stance in the name of human rights they are in fact acting against the expansion of human rights in the region by supporting the cause of oppressive patriarchal Arab traditionalists.

Terrorism or liberation struggle

Is the Palestinian cause a legitimate struggle for liberation? The advocates of traditional left-wing politics love a good liberation struggle and this explains why there is such a strong pro-Palestinian support base amongst certain members of the left.

There has in fact been a curious reversal. During the first decades of its existence the West regarded Israel as an embarrassment. Despite current theories suggesting a Jewish/US/Western neo-colonialist conspiracy the British during the mandate period oscillated between supporting Arab and Jewish ambitions (they banned Jewish immigration at one point and appointed the anti-Semitic al-Husseini as grand mufti of Jerusalem, who then used his influence to incite anti-Jewish riots and who then ended up supporting Hitler). During the Arab-Israeli war the West did nothing, believing instead that the nascent Jewish state was doomed. Instead it was Russia who armed Israel. In fact many Jewish immigrants (and Zionists) were socialists and many of the kibbutz were radical experiments in communal living based on the latest progressive thinking of the period. It can be argued that the kibbutz movement has been the most successful of the utopian socialist experiments.

In summary in the lead up and aftermath of the creation of Israel the Arab resistance was aligned with European fascism and the Jews with European progressivism. Sadly some Arab leaders still voice an admiration for Hitler. The Ba'ath party was partly inspired by Hitler's National Socialism. So why do European leftists support a cause that has fascist roots?

The reversal seems to have come with the US's decision to support Israel. At it's crudest level the left changed sides simply because the new friend of their enemy was naturally their enemy also. This was also the time at which the Arab rebellion shifted its focus from pan-Arabism to Palestinian nationalism. It was also the time at which Arafat's PLO adopted new tactics of political violence. This violence was couched in terms of a liberation struggle and the traditional left began to support the Palestinian cause.

The question to ask at this stage is where has it got the Palestinian cause? I would argue that at almost every stage the Palestinian's easy resort to violence has only harmed their cause. Not all Jewish immigrants were Zionists and many that were, were not hardline. I would strongly suggest that it was the violence unleashed by the Arabs in the 20's and 30's that turned many Jews toward the hardline Zionists for protection.

A case that illustrates this dynamic is the town of Safed. Safed is notable because it was an important centre of Kabbalah. It is the highest town in Israel and sits close to the Lebanese border amongst Jewish, Druze and Arab communities. When the Christians reconquered Spain there was a wave of persecution of Jews. In 1492 the Kabbalah master Moses of Cordovero and his followers (including his student Isaac Luria) fled the persecution and settled in Safed. Then in 1928 a group of Arab rebels attacked the Jews of the town, killing around 12 and wounding 80. This caused many Jews to flee. The reports of the day said that the British controlled police did nothing to stop the massacre, thus leaving the Jews defenceless.

I've chosen the example of Safed because this was not a community of new immigrants but a long-standing Jewish community with close to five hundred years of prior peaceful co-existence. Whatever the reasons for the attack many Jews turned to the Zionists for support and during the 48 war the Haganah (the volunteer paramilitary group founded to protect Jews from Arab militants and here I want to note that whilst hardline Zionists did indeed want to take over Palestine and create a Jewish state the Arab rebellion did not focus on its Zionist enemy but instead attacked Jews indiscriminately simply because they were Jews, in other words for suspiciously racist reasons) attacked Safed and forced the Arabs to flee.

I have no doubt revenge was a motive; although I'm sure the Jewish rationalisation was that Safed was a centre of Arab resistance (which it probably was). But this is what happens when people use political violence. It descends into revenge killing and escalates. Violence is now used by both sides, not for sound tactical or strategic reasons, but simply out of hatred and revenge (in which case another inconvenient truth is the Arab tribal culture of blood revenge and honour killing - which now fuels the sectarian conflict in Iraq).

I have no wish to excuse Israeli atrocities (there was a recent tragic case where an Israeli soldier pumped dozens of bullets into a 13 year-old Arab girl called Iman al-Hams. At the time you could hear the anti-Semitic hatred bubbling to the surface, except for one thing, the soldier was a career Druze, not a Jew, so it was an Arab killing an Arab) but nor should anyone excuse Palestinian atrocities as legitimate tactics in a war of liberation either.

But I must ask what might have happened if the Arabs had chosen a political solution rather than violence and war? History suggests that there would probably still be a Jewish state in Palestine, but one that was much, much smaller. Many have argued that the Palestinians seem to only succeed at shooting themselves in the foot. I must admit that I lost a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas, a party they knew advocated violence and the destruction of Israel (and how did they think Israel would respond, seriously?). This was a step backwards.


It seems to me that a major motive for Palestinian violence is not the creation of a viable and progressive state that meets the requirement of the prime directive but is instead an expression of patriarchal Arab notions of pride and honour not what integral theory would suggest are positive motives.

At the start of this essay I said that this was a conflict of competing absolutist and supremacist narratives. The Jews refuse to be subject to anyone, which is the main motivation for the creation of an independent Jewish state. As any Jew will tell you as a subject religious minority they were discriminated against and persecuted (including in Muslim lands). But it is also true that a prime motivation for the Arab resistance is that it is unthinkable in the Muslim narrative that a Muslim should be subject to any non-Muslim, let alone a treacherous Jew. In the Muslim worldview Muslims are supposed to be the master and all other religions are to be dhimmi (a second-class status where Islam tolerates the existence of non-Muslims provided they accept certain constraints). There is also a strong view that once Islam has conquered a land it belongs to Islam forever (once Muslim, always Muslim). For the extremist there can be no negotiation over this (some even want Spain back).

Full religious freedom is actually problematic in Islam and another inconvenient truth is that there is not one Muslim nation that has anywhere near the full religious freedom taken for granted in the West. Islam prohibits Muslims from converting to other religions and many states have laws that support this restriction. The freedom to convert is a fundamental religious right. Even moderate states such as Indonesia and Malaysia place restrictions on minority religions and sects. The Indonesian constitution only protects six major religions; Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism (it does not officially recognize Judaism). It also prohibits inter-faith marriage and places a number of other restrictions on religious freedom.

In contrast Israel allows considerable religious freedom, including for Muslims (which is not reciprocated).

What this means is that the foundation of the Arab rebellion was a fundamental intolerance of the idea of sharing the land on an equal footing with either Jews or Christians. Whilst there have been many secular Arabs who reject such religious arguments they have always been a minority. Despite the efforts of Arafat's PLO and Fatah party the rise of Hamas was sadly inevitable (Muslim nations have been experimenting with various forms of government that try and balance the demands of Islam against the realities of the current world order the concept of the nation-sate evolved in a European context and has had to be transplanted onto Islam, with various degrees of success. Turkey has only succeeded because Attaturk undertook a radical secular revolution, but even then Islamism is making a reappearance).

In other words the principle motivation for Arab resistance to a Jewish presence, let alone a Jewish state, was not, as many believe, because of Zionist ambitions but because it was simply unthinkable that Jews not be subject to Muslim rule. It's a matter of Muslim pride. Jews can never be equals and it is here we confront the strand of anti-Semitism found throughout the Muslim world.

The Christians developed anti-Semitic theories based on Jews as Christ killers, which eventually morphed into Nazi racist theories. But Islam has its own anti-Semitic tradition based on the idea of Jews as inherently treacherous because they (allegedly) betrayed Mohammed in Medina. During the 30's the Nazis fed their propaganda into the Middle East as they tried to find Arab allies. The leader of the Arab rebellion in Palestine, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, became a Nazi collaborator and he knew of the final solution. Had Germany won the war there were plans to exterminate the Jews in Palestine. Hitler is still praised in Muslim circles and the most recent manifestation has been the Holocaust denial of the Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.

Nor are Jews exempt from such deep supremacist tendencies. There are certainly extremist Jews who would expel all Arabs from a hoped for greater Israel and who speak of Arabs as inherently inferior.

What this suggests to integral theory is that motivations are important and that the theory can only support actions taken for integral reasons, namely the prime directive.

I said at the beginning that I would prefer a one state solution in which all parties co-existed as equals. But that is not possible as long as each of the traditions holds onto exclusivist positions. I am therefore compelled to support a separate Jewish state until such time as all parties evolve to a more inclusive and tolerant stage of development. Christians and Muslims already have several states they can call their own and it is here we arrive at another inconvenient truth.

Muslims have been particularly hypocritical and selfish in this regard. There are a good number of strict Muslim states but Muslims do not want to allow even one, small Jewish state (if they do it would be nowhere near the ME, which, given the Jews undeniable links to the region is ridiculous). Muslims have exclusive use of the first two of their most holy sites, Mecca and Medina, but they have vowed to violently resist any attempt by Jews to have exclusive control of their most holy site (and the only one they really want). Instead many Muslims want exclusive control of their third most holy site as well (the Jordanians barred Jews from praying at the Wailing Wall). How much do they want?

Had they been gracious and generous and allowed the Jews eretz yisrael and to build the Third Temple would the world have ended? Quite the opposite, I believe that such an act of generosity would have been rewarded by the Jews and a prosperous and secure Jewish state would have been a beacon of progress in the region, to the great benefit of its Muslim neighbours.

It would have also served the prime directive.

Note: my positions on issues often baffle people. I have been accused of being both a Neocon apologist and a Marxist apologist. I consider myself to be an integral progressive. This means I support whatever I consider most advances integral progress. If that means supporting US policy on some occasions and Marxism on others, then that seems perfectly logical to me. I happen to think I put a perfectly intelligible and consistent view based on clear integral principles.

Ray Harris, January 2007

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