Thursday, December 27, 2007

A DAY AT THE MALL

I'm not going to go into all of the details of what I experienced at the Big Shopping Center in Carmi'el.

Just take a friendly word of advice: *Never* go to a shopping mall when you're in a heightened state of awareness.

Trust me. Don't do it. I love you. That is why I'm saying this to you.

OK. OK. If you insist. Just one scene from a surrealistic day:

I went into an Aroma coffee shop (all of the stores in the mall are either large national or international chain stores). Just like every other store I'd been in, the behavior of the staff was regimented, stilted, formulaic and painstakingly crafted to create the "ambiance" that the place wants to project - and get the clientele to fall in line with and act accordingly.

When the girl gave me my coffee at the coffee bar, I asked her: "Tell me, just between us girls, at the end of the day are you able to shed the persona and just be?"

In my naïveté, I fully expected that she'd wink at me with a 'we both know this is hype' wink. But nooooo.

Instead she looked at me robotically and said: "Is there something wrong, Madame?" Though what she said was phrased as a question, it meant: "I know I've done everything according to the book, as I was trained. There can't possibly be anything wrong. You are not acting in accordance with the script. You're some kind of troublemaker. I hope we're not going to have to call security." (In addition to the staff wearing their cutesy costumes, there are security people crawling all over the place in these, um, establishments.)

I looked at her and said: "Oh, no, no. Everything is just fine. Just fine. I'm OK. You're OK. This whole scene is perfectly OK."

I walked back to my table, gingerly, and as I drank the conveyer belt, every cup is absolutely perfect coffee; I watched the other customers all behaving as one should when one goes to a coffee shop - all exactly according to regulation.

I sat there and my brain screamed out: SCOTTY!!!

Luckily, a friend came along and gave me a lift to Tzfat.

Now, things weren't always this way in Israel. When I first arrived here my friends and I used to frequent a coffee shop. The third or fourth time we went there the proprietor was playing chess with a friend. We stood there and waited for him to serve us. After a few minutes he looked up and said: "Don't be strangers. You know where the espresso machine is. You've seen how it's done. Make yourselves coffee." At first we were stunned, but then we decided we liked it. We had great fun making the espresso.

Years after that, I went into a place for a quick shwarma here in Tzfat. There were two women behind the counter. I told one what I wanted with the shwarma and she prepared it for me. I said "thank you" and as I held a 20 NIS bill out to her she said: "I don't take money. I'm just a friend. She's the owner. Pay her."

Now, THAT is the way to conduct business.

There are still a few businesses like that in Israel, but they are getting rarer and rarer. Luckily, there are still many in Tzfat.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmai.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Lotan Center for Creative Ecology

http://www.kibbutzlotan.com/creativeEcology/index.htm

More than 20 years ago I lived and worked for a short while in Kibbutz Ya'hel in the Arava desert.

Kibbutz Ya'hel was then 5 years old. I worked in the vineyard and
making compost. I worked in the dining room too. It was an unusual Kibbutz kitchen and dining hall, as 1/4 of the members were vegetarians. I was still too much in a New Yawk state of mind to be very good at the lifestyle, but I did love the members and carried wonderful memories of the place away with me for life.

One day we trundled off to nearby Kibbutz Lotan. At the time, Lotan was untouched desert, save two caravans.

While looking for Green Communities in Israel the other day on the
net, I found the Center at Kibbutz Lotan.

It does my heart good to see Lotan go in that direction.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lakota Nation Declare Themselves Sovereign Nation

They have annulled all treaties, as the US did not honor them.

Indymedia article:
http://tinyurl.com/ys295

Oh, happy day! This is AMAZING!

May their courage be an inspiration to ever subjected and subjugated People on Earth.


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

WILD

I used to regard the Anarcho-Primitivist movement with good-natured amusement.

The mental picture of John Zerzan bounding across the Serengeti plains wearing nothing but a loincloth and his TV-sized glasses would be a spectacle if ever there was one.

I've sometimes toyed with the idea of sending Chellis Glendinning an e- get well card.

My basic attitude toward them was: If you wanna bungle in the jungle, well, that's all right with me - so long as you don't encroach on my hi-tech Anarcho-Communist utopia, which is the *only* setting in which I can attain my much-coveted two-hour work day; I might even go camping with you when I'm on vacation. And besides, if you do try to encroach, we won't have any trouble deflecting your boomerangs and spears. As for poison darts, we Anarchists have become immune to them after so many years of diatribe.

Then this weekend I read what they have to say in earnest. I'm still reeling from it, having been shaken, not stirred. While I am not at all sure that I agree with their conclusions as to how to solve the problems, no one has plumbed their depths more profoundly or articulated them more trenchantly.

I mentioned the Serengeti plains tongue-in-cheek above. Now, no longer in a flippant frame of mind; I recall reading many years ago that children in various cultures when asked to draw what paradise looks like draw savannas.

The closely-related schools of Anarcho-Primitivists go far, far beyond the critique of other Anarchists. They don't critique societies, or given societies or societal structures. They critique civilization itself. Before reading them, I thought my criticism of society was radical. I now realize that in assuming that society, any form of society, should be held intact, albeit reformed; I was being just that - a reformist. They make a very convincing argument for the position that the problems we experience in our various societies are endemic in civilization itself - any civilization.

Although I have read and considered how language forces us into a symbolic representation of reality and tisked tisked eating packaged bread and meat treated with chemicals that keep it red sold in plastic wrappings so that I don't have to deal with the mess of hunting, I've read E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" and have often experienced myself progressively weakening and my body and faculties atrophying in response to living in an advanced technological society; I never really, I mean really, gorked just how deep it goes.

I never realized that living in a technological world has caused me to live in my head, in a virtual reality. I never realized that the occasional feelings of unreality that I experienced, especially as a teenager, are not the result of some pathology in my mind or neural circuitry, by the response to very real alienation from reality. I don't touch anything directly, most especially my truest, most natural self.

I suddenly realized that I don't know myself at all. Who would I be, what would reality look like if I retained the ability to discern one monkey face from another, an ability I possessed when I was six months old, inter alia?

Who would I be and what would my relationship to my food be if I ate with my hands?

Who would I be if I did not consult with the washing machine oracle, the water faucet oracle, the electric switch oracle to supply my needs and wants?

Who would I be if I could still connect with my feral fury? What would happen if I were to respond appropriately, i.e., tooth and claw and all adrenaline rage unmitigated to the threat of impending destruction that the governments threaten me and everyone I love with? Why does that not come naturally to me? Why can't I reach that in the event that I don't react normally and naturally? Why can't I access that? Why can't you? Why are we not even able to override the programming manually if we have to? Why have we become so abstracted from reality that we regard our very existence as something that we can be philosophical about and discuss rationally?

I'll provide a link to an article that is a very perfunctory treatment of the concerns and aims of Anarcho-Primitivism, but I do not wish to impose more than a 12-page introduction upon you. It is intended to be a primer:
http://tinyurl.com/2abxkv

I'll also provide a link to the homepage of Dr. Steve Best, philosopher, writer and activist:
http://www.drstevebest.org/index.htm. He's one of the foremost spokespersons and champions of this movement. It is interesting that he has been banned from UK. Maybe some of you in UK can better understand why he has than I can.

I am left with the wholly unsettling feeling that I've accessed the files in my consciousness that, which when I try to delete them, tell me that they cannot be deleted as they are integral to the functioning of my OS.

What would happen, who would I be if I did manage to delete them? Should I?

Everything that I took for granted now seems odd, unwanted, intervening and, most of all inescapable. I realize that everything I do is by way of a technological mediator and most of my activities are for the sake of and in order to procure more of this artifice. Tomorrow, for instance I plan to go for an outing with my husband. The outing is built around my main purpose for having to get out to another town – we, as subscribers to five megabits of internet connection are entitled to a free router from the phone company. We also need a new phone cord, as the insulation on the one we have is cracked, exposing the wires. I am suddenly exquisitely aware of how much of my activity is centered on technology – virtually all of it. I am completely in its thrall and dependent upon it. It not only determines most of my behavior, it determines most of who I am.

It suddenly feels very odd having to consult with the computer oracle in order to reach out you. Would that I could tap directly into your consciousness and emotions in order to impress upon you the moment of what I understood and engage your empathy with me so that you would experience it to. But that is precisely what we have been obviated from being able to do by all of the mediating and intermediary layers of not only societal norms which have tamed us, but also centuries of technology that shield us from one another - as well as us from our natural selves.


I wrote the following the day after I wrote the above:

What I realized hit me so profoundly that I have had difficulty speaking for the past couple of days. It filtered down into my consciousness at least down to the level of speech. It disoriented me completely as I groped to find who I am when I am not flicking a switch or turning on a faucet.

I realized that if so much of our world is contrivance and device, if those disposable commodities that are intended to be used up, become obsolete and disposed of are myriad and all-pervasive, then it is no wonder that most people are nothing more than accommodation to contrivance and device and that the cold artifice of it has pervaded their very being. There can be no expecting people in a post-industrial society to be real - because
they can't. They have been pre-empted by their machines.

My daughter called me and I had trouble speaking to her. I found it difficult to speak in general and the feeling was exacerbated by having to speak to her through the medium of technology.

Neither could I chat with friends on line. I simply wasn't able to bring myself to relate to people through the computer, although I did post. Yet, having a private conversation via technology was impossible for me.

Once, when I was, oh, sixteen I think; I took acid. I remember looking at a record player and it looked like nothing but artifice.
I remember watching the technology and thinking: "It's bullshit. It's fake."

*Everything* looks that way to me now. Everything. And this "trip" has now gone on for two days.


This is as close to a psychotic break as I've ever come and yet I know that it's probably the first time I've touched sanity since I was a baby.

My husband said that the very same thing happened to him. He mentioned feeling this way yesterday and then again today - total disruption, a complete calling our consciousness and everything we called real and every day into question - a disruption that leaves room for restructuring.
This is being a radical. Everything before was cosmetic reformism.


This is today's continuation:

Before going to bed last night I thought: "Without myriad technology, life would be uninteresting. What would my consciousness be able to busy itself with except the basics of survival?"

Early this morning I forced myself to shower, it was a very strange experience – the water from the shower head, the perfumed liquid soaps, shampoos, deodorant, body lotion – all of it was so strange, so unnatural.

I made myself go out. The sight of the traffic was peculiar too and I found it hard to look at people.

I went to town and found that I could not longer breathe semi-autonomically. I had to think about every breath. If I didn't breathe consciously, purposefully, I began to asphyxiate. I thought: "This has gone far enough. Is this the end of how far down the disruption will go? What if it is not? What is the step after not being able to breathe without being conscious of it?"

I was becoming exhausted and more than a bit frightened. Then I saw a garden. In it were trees. I was drawn to the trees. I was drawn to their life. I reached out and touched a young palm tree. Never had I seen a tree, really seen one. I noticed every leaf, every speckle on the leaves. I noticed the sun reflecting from some of the leaves. I looked at the trunk of the tree. I saw more detail than ever I had seen in my life. It was endless and I realized that the tree was continuously changing. I thought: There is more to this one tree than there is to all of the synthetic world put together. This tree is endless. It is infinite. I could spend a lifetime observing this tree and still not begin to know it." Then I realized I was breathing normally again.

I went over to a small evergreen tree. I could see the texture of every leaf-like growth. I noticed the differences in the acorns that were on the tree. I never noticed detail like that. Never that I can recall. Perhaps I did as a baby, but I do not remember that. The more I looked, the more there was to see and the more I saw the more I was taught how to see by the tree.

I went over to a patch of grass in a park and took off my shoes. I walked through the grass though it was only about 10 degrees outside. I felt the cold, but it was not my enemy. It was not something I had to defend myself from. I sat down in the grass and looked at it. I wondered how many blades of grass there are in the world – how many there have been and will be.

I watched yet another tree as I sat in the grass. The leaves were all sorts of colors and I watched them undulating in the wind. I remembered Richard May's comment about susurrations of tautologies and I realized there are no tautologies in susurration. There cannot be. Every undulation of every leaf is a world in and of itself. It never was before and will never be again and the leaves do not return to the same place unchanged.

I realized that in having disengaged and de-identified with technology my consciousness had returned to its natural state. I was no longer adapting my consciousness to the constriction of technology. It was accommodating itself now to nature, thus it was expanding without limit.

I had received my answer as to what my consciousness would be like, who I would be if I was divested of the stultifications of technology, if I was not accommodating myself to the synthetic, the devised, the expendable, the disposable. I could see that nature was being created continuously. I could see.

I felt very human, not at all animal, though I did connect with something like feral fury when I realized that there were those who would destroy nature. I was filled with a deep-abiding sense of protectiveness of it and that protectiveness included self-preservation, as I was part of nature. My own existence did not seem more or less important than that of the trees I had observed. What is more or less of infinity?

I experienced time differently too looking at that first tree. I realized that had I had all the time in the world, I could not fathom the depths of that continuously evolving tree or even see all its morphological detail and that it was a privilege to see something of it and see its endlessness. The amount I was able to see and the time allotted to me to see it was irrelevant. What is a fraction of infinity?

As I walked on I was able to call my husband on my cell phone, though I had remained, and probably will remain, in a natural state of consciousness. It is enough to break through the barrier once.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who's the Imbecile?

Before going to sleep last night the following scene flashed before me:

I was adjuring someone who had been made apathetic chemically to the point of imbecility.

I tried to reason with the person and explain to him rationally that he was being drugged and made helpless. Of course, he just looked at me with a blank stare, not understanding what I was saying, and not caring.

I tried to prevail upon his emotions and induce outrage in him so that he would fight for his own survival. But he was not capable of outrage and remained wholly impassive.

I tried using every method I could to convince him to act in his own best interest, I tried to reach him again and again, attempting to make him understand that his very life depended upon his reacting appropriately and pro-actively in his own self-defense - all to no avail.

Watching us was someone who responsible for drugging the man. He watched the scene smiling.

As I looked at the sick, smug and self-satisfied smile on his face, I realized I looked like a complete imbecile to him - and he was quite right in his assessment.

I understood that the time for revolution has passed.

For the first time I understood why the Anarchists who called for violent revolution and warned that soon the time would be too late did so, and I knew that they were right.

It is too late for those in the American sphere of influence.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"What miracle of the oil?

By STEPHEN GABRIEL ROSENBERG

As children we all knew about the miracle of the oil that was the basis of the festival of Hanukka. When the Maccabees conquered the Temple, they found only one cruse of oil with the unbroken seal of the high priest. It was enough to fuel the holy menora for one day but by miracle it lasted eight days, and thus the Festival of Lights, the festival of Hanukka, is celebrated for eight days.This is the story in the Talmud, based on earlier versions in Megillat Ta'anit (which records all the days when we are not to fast) and repeated in the Scroll of Antiochus, which was read in medieval times.
It has been pointed out by scholars, Orthodox and otherwise, that this account is full of difficulties. There is no other record that the oil for the menora was ever sealed by the high priest, nor that he even had such a seal. The oil was said to burn for eight days, but it would have been impossible to produce fresh pure olive oil in that time. As the temple had been polluted by the Seleucids, the menora would not have been usable and, although the claim is made that the Hasmoneans made a temporary one out of their weapons, Maccabees mentions nothing about the oil or the miracle.
Above all, who was the high priest whose seal was so important to the Hasmoneans? The story assumes that the high priest was a person of impeccable respectability, who would have upheld the laws of purity in a meticulous manner. He was the spiritual head of the
Jewish people and most reliable in keeping the holy laws. That is the assumption made by the writers of the Talmud and the two other sources mentioned.
TO EXAMINE the matter further we have to consult the two Books of Maccabees. They both tell the same story but in a different way and with different details. The First Book is more down-to-earth in its account, while the Second Book takes a more religious tone seeing the hand of God behind the events.
The First was written in Palestine perhaps 40 or 50 years after the events and the Second at about the same time in Alexandria, in Egypt. Today both exist only in Greek, and the Second was written in Greek in the original, as the Jews of Alexandria had forgotten their Hebrew. But the First Book was probably written in Jerusalem in Hebrew, as it is in the style of the Books of Samuel and Kings.
The First Book ascribes the Maccabean Revolt to the aged Mattiyahu, who resisted the Greek officer who came to Modi'in to persuade him to sacrifice and eat the entrails, but Mattiyahu killed the officer and the Jew that sprung forward to do the officer's bidding. That started the Revolt, and the old man and his sons fled into hiding. That is the story that we all know, but it is not mentioned at all in the Second Book.
THE SECOND Book tells a more complicated story, based on the actions of the high priests. One should remember that the high priest was the only leader permitted to the Jews since the time of the return to Zion in 538 BCE. The Persians were then in charge and provided the civil administration, while the Jewish high priest was allowed to run our affairs as best he could under the Persian governor. He was not only the
spiritual head of the Jews but also the political head, in charge of the taxes, foreign affairs and the home front.
After Alexander the Great, this situation continued under the Ptolemies and their successors the Seleucids and, at the time in question, the Second Book tells us, we at first had excellent High Priests, like Shimon Hatzaddik and his son and grandson, but the situation soon changed.Hellenization was in the air, and in 175 BCE a certain Jason, original name Joseph, bribed the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus III to the tune of 360 talents of silver to wrest the position from his brother Honia (Onias), the legitimate high priest.
Antiochus III had been good to the Jews, as they had opened the gates of Jerusalem to him when he conquered the Ptolemies. He gave them three years free of taxes and a constitution that guaranteed their rights of religion and the sanctity of the Temple.
Jason was a Hellenizer and promised the Emperor he would turn Jerusalem into a Greek-type city or polis, by building a gymnasium and theater, and he did this without changing any of the laws of his people. Making Jerusalem into a polis, and calling it Antioch-in-Jerusalem, gave it autonomy and relieved it of state taxes. It worked in favor of the urban Jews, they were free to practice their religion and also to enjoy Greek entertainment, though Second Maccabees condemned those young priests who neglected their Temple duties and ran off to exercise in the gymnasium.
It also worked for the Emperor who could settle his own people and soldiers in another "modern" Greek-type city, with good education and
entertainment facilities, and who now had another city named after him. So Jason became High Priest, but he was not to be in office long.
WHEN HE sent his trusted deputy Menelaus of Bilga (who was probably not of the priestly class) to Antioch on an errand to the emperor, this Menelaus made himself out to be a great leader who could offer larger bribes to the emperor than Jason, and he had himself appointed high priest, while Jason was forced to flee.
This was just the time when the new Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to the throne.On his return in triumph to Jerusalem, Menelaus found he could not pay the bribes he had promised so he plundered the Temple and sold off gold vessels to pay the Emperor. The people were appalled and the former legitimate high priest Honia went to Antioch to report this crime to the emperor, but Menelaus arranged for him to be murdered at the synagogue of Daphne before he could do so. The Emperor was furious and had the hired assassin killed but he was really too busy with matters in Egypt to be concerned further with Jerusalem, and Menelaus maintained his position by dint of further bribery to the emperor's minions.
ANTIOCHUS Epiphanes was busy with battles in Egypt which he was trying to conquer from the Ptolemies, but he was stopped in his tracks by the up-and-coming Romans and the rumor started that he had been killed in Egypt. The people of Jerusalem rejoiced and ousted the unpopular Menelaus, while Jason made a comeback from exile.
Very soon Antiochus Epiphanes returned, still very much alive, and determined to punish the Jews who had celebrated his death. He killed many thousands and restored Menelaus as high priest. But he had a problem. Antiochus needed peace and quiet in Jerusalem, which was on the doorstep to Egypt, but how could he control the rebellious Jews? Naturally for an answer he turned to the high priest.
Menelaus advised him to abrogate the Jewish laws, to forbid circumcision, to annul the Sabbath and to force Jews to eat the entrails of the pagan sacrifices to show their loyalty to the emperor. It was these harsh measures, which could be legally imposed as Jerusalem was now officially a Greek polis, that forced Mattiyahu and his sons to go into hiding and start the Revolt.
THERE IS no reason to doubt the First or the Second version of the Hasmonean Revolt. One is written from the point of view of the countryside, from Modi'in, and one from the capital, from Jerusalem. One mentions Mattiyahu defying the Seleucid officer, and one the machinations of the high priests Jason and Menelaus. Neither version mentions the miracle of the oil.
According to First Maccabees the eight days of Hanukka were to consecrate the new altar, such a ceremony taking eight days as in the time of Moses, of Solomon, of Hezekiah and Ezra.
According to Second Maccabees, the eight days were in commemoration of the Festival of Tabernacles, that the Hasmoneans had been unable to celebrate properly in Tishrei, while they were still fighting and living in caves like animals.
So what about the story of the miracle of the oil? We see that it assumes that the high priest was a person of impeccable integrity. Second Maccabees tells us quite clearly that this man was Menelaus, a rogue of the first water.
This information was never given us by our traditional teachers and we must assume that the Talmudists did not know the Second Book of Maccabees. It could either be that they never knew it or that they ignored it as it was written in Greek.
On the other hand the First Book, with the story of Mattiyahu they knew. This is not unexpected, for we know that Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian of the first century, was in a similar position. He knew First Maccabees, which he copies extensively for the Hasmonean battles, but it seems he did not know the different versions in the Second Book.
It is therefore quite possible that the rabbis had only First Maccabees to go on, they knew of Mattiyahu but not of Menelaus. They did not know that the High Priest at the time the Hasmoneans forced their way into the Temple was Menelaus, who was guilty of bribery, stealing the Temple gold, and murdering the former high priest Honia. If they had known that, would they have seen the seal of the high priest as a guarantee of purity, would they have seen a miracle in a cruse of oil sealed by such a high priest?
The writer is a Fellow of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem."



It is not true, however, that all religious movements go the way of corruption.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the Prophets or their students were corrupt in any way, shape or form.
Neither is there any evidence whatsoever that HaYachad (aka the Dead Sea Sect, HaIsi'im or the Essenes) ever became corrupted.
Likewise a related group, the Therapeutae
*, seemed to have retained the purity of their practices. See:
http://tinyurl.com/ys364b
*Like the Therapeutae, who resided in Alexandria for the most part, HaIsi'im practiced a simple, chaste and ascetic way of life and kept all property in common. HaIsi'im were known for their profound knowledge of healing. I believe the name Isi'im ("Essenes") is derived from the Aramaic 'assouta', which likewise means 'healing' .
It is only when religion is influenced by the desire for power and wealth that it becomes corrupt. It most certainly does not necessarily become so.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotn@gmail.com

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Critique of "Building the Future Society" by Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag

The essay, translated into English, is here:
http://tinyurl.com/2pva4d

I'm afraid I was influenced by an article I had read *about* Rabbi Ashlag entitled
"דרך הקבלה אל הקומוניזם"
("Arriving at Communism by Way of the Kabbalah"), which can be found on this URL:
http://tinyurl.com/3xeqxe.

It was impetuous of me to arrive at conclusions about Ashlag's political views based on what someone had written about him. It was only awhile later that I was led to the article "Building the Future Society" , which Ashlag had himself written. One can see that the translation into English is not very good, but Ashlag's basic ideas are expressed in the translation.

Ashlag's ideas are anything but Anarcho-Communistic as I had understood from the article
"Arriving at Communism by Way of the Kabbalah"
(in Hebrew). Either Ashlag never read the works of the Anarchists, or he did study them, but was not impressed by their writings. I suspect the former case because he does not cite the writings of the Anarchists, even to critique them.

At any rate, he put forth a programme of Altruistic Communism, as he claims. His Communism, for all its altruism, is Communism in the form in which Anarchism repudiates it – that is, statist.

His program of Communism is not only statist, it is further vitiated by the fact that some of the laws that he would effect are, to be blunt, off-the-wall. The requirement that one either be religious or, barring that, agree to having one's children receive religious education from the state can be chalked up to little more than his generally being freaked out on Kabbalah. This applies equally to his suggestions that only a chosen few be allowed to engage in spiritual matters, that those be the "leaders" of society and that a court determine if someone's request to serve society by devoting himself or herself wholly to spiritual matters, should be granted. His statement: "Hence, the nobler nation, namely the nation of Israel, must take upon itself to set an example to the world. It is so because we are better qualified than all other nations, not because we are more idealists than them, but because we have suffered more than all other nations. For that reason we are more prepared than they to seek advice to end tyranny from the land." Witnessing the administration of the Jewish state, we see that protracted suffering does not make for wise structuring of society or create an aversion to tyranny. It would be an horrendous universe that we live in were it so that only after horrific suffering could one become sensitive to suffering. We learn from Kropotkin, from Bakunin and from Tolstoy that one can hail from great privilege and be exquisitely sensitive to suffering. Neither can we use suffering as an excuse for the Jews, in toto, to be considered a somehow "nobler" vanguard. There have been many individual Jews who were made of rarified moral stuff. Among the Anarchists there are people like Goldman, Berkman, Landauer and Muhsam, to be sure. Certainly these suffered, but it was not their suffering that set them on the road to Anarchism. It was the result of their having been Anarchists, not the cause of their having been Anarchists. They became Anarchists because, though hailing from comfortable, middle-class backgrounds they were extremely sensitive individuals. There are also Jews like those who are running the Jewish State who are abominably immoral. These too cannot be discounted as being part and parcel of the Jewish People. We Jews have produced the very great, the disgustingly despicable and, overwhelmingly, the very average, unremarkable and undistinguished.

It is no wonder that Ashlag's sons and students taught and teach Kabbalah and downplay his socio-political-economic teaching. It is not surprising, having considered his programme, that rather than devoting themselves to the real task of building an altruistic society they busy themselves with the esoteric and arcane. Whatever Ashlag's contributions may have been to the understanding of the Kabbalah, and I do not doubt that they were noteworthy; however mighty were his efforts to bridge Heaven and earth, a momentous undertaking; he did not succeed in proposing even the merest sketch of a workable society.

Though there were some interesting ideas in the piece, as an Anarcho-Communist I found "Building the Future Society" to be an almost thoroughgoing disappointment.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Friday, December 07, 2007

FURTHER TO THE SOCIAL WORKERS' CONVENTION IN TZFAT

There is a third local paper that is, now irregularly, published in Tzfat. It is called "Chasifa L'Tzafon", a cheeky play on words that literally means "Northern Exposure" and also intimates that they have a conscience. As the name of the paper suggests, they've got some spunk in them. "Chasifa L'Tzafon" is not another establishment-serving rag sheets, as are "Chadash B'Galil" (which used to be more radical, until honest and intrepid reporter Yoram Omer stopped working for them) and "Kol HaIr", which is owned by the HaMeiri dynasty – enough said about their purpose.

"Chasifa L'Tzafon" has been stepped on, not surprisingly, and is no longer issued weekly. They do, however, retain a web site, a link to which is provided below. The site is updated when they can.

I found the following report about the social workers convention on their site. You'll note at once that the tenor of their report is very different than that of the politically and socially obsequious "Chadashot B'Galil" and the HaMeiri sounding board "Kol HaIr", a passage from which I translated in " Alternative Suggestion for Battling Poverty with a Proven Track Record of Success".

The following is my translation of the report of the social workers' convention that appears on the web site of "Chasifa L'Tzafon":

"Social Workers Convened in Tzfat: "The Poverty Will Lead to Civil Insurrection"

A call to lead the struggle for the poor for fear of civil insurrection emerged from the convention of the welfare workers that took place in the Tzfat Academic College. An exposition of facts pointing to a worrying increase in distress among the weak strata (of society) comprised the central issue of the deliberation. Our correspondent, Shlomo Hadad, related that many social workers called for taking action for fear of a civil revolt that is liable to break out, which will be similar to that of the "Black Panthers" (a radical group inspired by the American Black Panthers hailing from the Oriental and North African Jewish communities who demanded socio-political-economic equality between their ethnic groups and those of the Jews hailing from Western countries, my parentheses) of the 1970s. "It behooves us to march at the head of the struggle despite the fact that we are fettered with regard to budgeting" declared those who those who arrived for the convention."

Source and original text:
http://www.hashifa.com/

This article describes the motivations of the social workers far more courageously and accurately than did the articles that appeared in "Chadash B'Galil" and "Kol HaIr", which attempted to present the social workers' concern as being for the poor.

Here we see that their concern is, as I stated, not to eradicate the misery of the poor, but only to keep their distress from reaching the meltdown that desperation and having nothing more to lose brings.

There has been a spate of attacks on social workers of late. It is for that reason that they realize that the poor are at the breaking point. As I also stated, they are the government's first line of defense against the disadvantaged.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An Argument for Anarcho-Communism

A friend of mine was shot a few months ago.

It was the opening day of a bazaar that he had opened. He owns a clothing store, but felt that the small town of Tzfat needed a bazaar, which is true. He borrowed 100,000 NIS to open the bazaar.

That day a young woman who had worked for him in his store came running to him. She told him that an ex-boyfriend was pursuing her and that he was nuts with jealousy. She was obviously scared.

My friend told the man that if he didn't leave the young woman alone he'd call the police.

As he turned the man shot him in the back - five times.

My friend lived. He's a big, healthy and burly man of about 40.

I walked past his store yesterday evening and saw that it was open. My first thought was that he was recovered to the point of being back in the store and I was delighted. I went in and found his sister in the store.

I inquired as to how my friend is doing. His sister told me that he is still in a wheelchair and undergoing intensive physical therapy after numerous operations. I asked what the prognosis is. She told me that the doctors won't commit to a prognosis.

She told me that my friend could have easily overcome the small, slight man who shot him, but he didn't try to use force. Instead he told the man he'd call the police, as a "good citizen" is supposed to do.

She told me that the man who shot him said in his defense in court that he was "insulted".

I told her that I thought it might be my friend when I saw the store open.

She explained that she is opening the store because the bank is making trouble for her brother. He owes them 100,000 NIS and they couldn't care less if he's in a wheelchair. They want their money.

At this point I was so enraged that my head began to swim.

I can see this whole story going down entirely differently were there not a state, so that my friend could have just jumped the guy before he got a chance to pull the gun and wouldn't have needed to warn him that he'd call the police.

My friend is in a wheelchair because he acted in accordance with the law.

He is now facing the prospect of the bank using the same state that he relied on to take care of a situation he could have handled now at the behest of the bank.

There is no reason why a man should go into debt in order to provide a public service, which is what the bazaar was intended to be. He was making enough money from his store, but he wanted to do better for this sleepy, out of the way town.

There is no reason why he should be being treated as a criminal by the state as he is trying to recover from being shot in the back five times.

I do not see how this scene would be any different under AnCap. There would still be a plutocracy. There would still be loans. There would still be police forces to back up repayment of the loans. There would be no more compassion under Anarcho-Capitalism.

The argument that Anarcho-Communists are anti-Capitalism and not anti-State is simply propaganda. It is not true. We understand that the state works at the behest of the rich and that there will always be some brute force that will be required to do that job so long as there is capital and the accumulation thereof.

Under Anarcho-Communism someone who thought the community would be benefited by a bazaar would come to a general meeting with the idea. Either he would find that the community did not agree, or they'd give him a big thanks and the go-ahead.

The community would provide the necessary materials to open the bazaar. No loans. No banks.

If some maniac were to come along, no one would have to waste time threatening him with the police. They'd just jump his ass and be done with it.

Refute my argument if you can.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Sunday, December 02, 2007

KOZMIK ANARCHY

The following passage from Peter Kropotkin's essay "Anarchism: its Philosophy and Ideal
", published in San Francisco by Free Society, 1898, is, to my mind, one of his greatest insights (note the date he wrote this):

"As to the harmony that the human mind discovers in Nature, and which harmony is, on the whole, but the verification of a certain stability of phenomena, the modern man of science no doubt recognizes it more than ever. But he no longer tries to explain it by the action of laws conceived according to a certain plan preestablished by an intelligent will.

What used to be called "natural law" is nothing but a certain relation among phenomena which we dimly see, and each "law" takes a temporary character of causality; that is to say: If such a phenomenon is produced under such conditions, such another phenomenon will follow. No law placed outside the phenomena: each phenomenon governs that which follows it-not law.

Nothing preconceived in what we call harmony in Nature. The chance of collisions and encounters has sufficed to establish it. Such a phenomenon will last for centuries because the adaption, the equilibrium it represents has taken centuries to be established; while such another will last but an instant if that form of momentary equilibrium was born in an instant. If the planets of our solar system do not collide with one another and do not destroy one another every day, if they last millions of years, it is because they represent an equilibrium that has taken millions of centuries to establish as a resultant of millions of blind forces. If continents are not continually destroyed by volcanic shocks, it is because they have taken thousands and thousands of centuries to build up, molecule by molecule, and to take their present shape. But lightning will only last an instant; because it represents a momentary rupture of the equilibrium, a sudden redistribution of force."

Anarchy, as Hakim Bey has said, is an ontological principle. Anarchy is not merely socio-economic-political. The political ramifications are only a very small subset of a cosmic truth. The Anarchist is the person who can "go with the flow" of cosmic, ontological Anarchy.

How can we reconcile what Kropotkin wrote in the passage quoted above with intelligent design? The passage seems to speak of purely random configurations.

First, we should mention that absolute randomness clearly does not reign. There is a tendency to agglomerate and configure built into the universe.

Most think of ID as meaning that *one* plan has been put into effect by a super-intelligence and that that one plan is being played out in strict observance of the master plan, detail-by-detail.

At least in the Jewish tradition, the only tradition that I feel it is my place to represent; that is not the meaning of intelligent design.

"God was angered at the trees in the Garden of Eden because He* commanded them to be fruit trees, but they took it upon themselves to grow as fruit-bearing trees.
*[I use the gender-neutral pronouns 'It' and 'That' to designate God, but I was quoting the midrash (homily).]

The Rabbis explain that it was God's intention that the whole tree be the edible fruit, not just the fruity things on the branches.

My attitude to this was: "yeah, right". That's because I didn't begin to understand what the midrash was saying.

Then came along a Rabbi and explained the meaning of the midrash, much to my edification and embarrassment at my arrogance and ignorance.

He explained: The midrash speaks of cause and effect. The early stages of creation allowed for the possibility of a world in which there was no cause and effect. Cause and effect are not necessary developments or characteristics of the world. They could have been one and the same. There need not have been any separation or delay between a cause and its effect/s, or for that matter, the inverse, any given effect/s and its/their causes. There could have been a world of maximal what we call today "entanglement". Time, forces, differentiation and discrete bodies could either not have formed at all, or formed in different configurations that would not have allowed for cause and effect. There could have been, therefore, a world in which laboriousness and enslavement were impossible. God was angered because the universe developed cause and effect and it did, thus creating the conditions wherein beings could be enslaved.

Creation, we learn from this midrash, was granted a goodly measure of independence and the ability to determine the forms it would take. It took on configurations that would allow for cause and effect, to wit: time, forces, differentiation and discrete entities as we know them.

At the time that the midrash was articulated, the terms 'cause', 'effect', 'differentiation', and 'entanglement', all of those terms I can now employ to make this matter sound rational to those who have to have matters that are super-rational translated to them into rational terms, had not yet been coined.

The Rabbis were able to understand the principles and the phenomena in and of themselves, but they did not yet have the terminology to express it in the way that is accepted nowadays as "rational".

They had presaged what physics is working on by over 2000 years, but they didn't speak like physicists.

So, they explained the matter homiletically, allegorically."

To complete the demonstration that "randomness" and ID do not contradict and strengthen the concept that nature itself is free to determine itself (within limits); I'll herein quote Tractate AVOT, or PIRKEI AVOT usually translated, inaccurately, as "Wisdom of the Fathers", Chapter III, Verse 15:

"Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is granted; the world is judged with goodness, and everything according to the preponderance of deeds."

This is a remarkable passage. It means that while God knows what will occur, that which will occur is not predetermined. Freedom is built into the system and nature itself if free to form "randomly". The possibility of goodness and otherwise too is built into nature itself and nature is free to take on configurations that will be propitious or not.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES", by United States Senator running for re-election, Nancy Schaefer of Georgia

This article absolutely stunned me when I first read it posted on the Google group talk.politics.libertarian when I went there to post "Further to the Unholy Alliance Between Social Workers and State".

I was not stunned by the content, of which I am fully aware. It's the same horror story everywhere. I was stunned by the fact that the author of the article is a US Senator.

See: http://tinyurl.com/2c5a6z

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com
Further to the Unholy Alliance Between Social Workers and State

An article in the 30/11/07 edition of the local Tzfat, Israel newspaper
קול
העיר
("Kol HaIr" , meaning "Voice of the City") that opened full of hope and humanity ends on an ominous note.

There is a branch of Bar Ilan University here in Tzfat. It is not really on the academic level of the University, more like a small college, but they do offer BA's (no no BSc's or higher degrees are granted, neither is research conducted there).

Be that as it may, the opportunity for single parents, at least 90% of whom are women, to earn a BA is a very bright ray of hope for a population that is characterized by 25% being under the poverty line. No figures are given for the remaining 75%. Knowing the population as I do, I should say that about 50% are at the poverty level. The remainder are able to get help from the parents' families or enjoy other sources of income.

A new program has been instituted by one of the deacons at the college. It is an academic program geared for single parents. They are provided with a substantial scholarship as well as a living allowance. There are support services which are not the run-of-the-mill psycho-social services that make people feel one down in an uneven power relationship at best and "sick" at worst, but rather support services that encourage a positive self and family image and empower the parents. Tutoring is likewise made available to those who need it.

How beautiful! What promise!

Enter the gummint.

Before I go on, I should explain that single parents in Israel are entitled to a good deal of aid. They are entitled to basic equipment for the baby: Crib, carriage, disposable diapers, formula when they stop nursing, a 1/3 discount on public transportation and a rent subsidy.

In order to obtain those services they must turn to the Welfare authority, i.e., the social workers. Thus, they must submit to the assessment of the social workers as to whether or not they are "fit" parents. They must show up to the social workers' offices regularly, where they are quite obviously scrutinized.

The social workers are not satisfied with reports that they receive from our equivalent of La Leche. Oh, no. It is the social workers who determine if a parent is "fit" and a child "at risk". Of course, the social workers are all assumed to be ideal parents, who are in a position to determine the parenting skills of others. Statistically, it simply cannot be that all social workers are good parents, but never once have I heard of a social worker being investigated by child welfare officers.

Even the best parent is made to feel, um, uncomfortable by that ongoing scrutiny, which, they know full well, is not always well-intended or completely objective.

With all the aid they receive, as I have said and feel should reiterate, 25% of single parents are below the poverty line. Some 50% more are at the poverty line, according to my personal observations. They rest have parents who are in a position to help or have other sources of income.

It is every single parent's dream to get out from under the thumb of the welfare services.

A program like the one being offered by the Tzfat Regional College, an accredited institution of higher learning, is a tremendous boon and holds out great promise of economic independence as well as emancipation from the social workers and the welfare system.

It transpires that the government has passed a law which stipulates that any single parent enrolling in the program loses all his or her benefits.

Even given the fact that they receive a modest living allowance and a substantial scholarship, being a student in a college or university in Israel is far more expensive than in many countries. Students here are notoriously poor - I mean poor.

The parents who are dependent upon the aid simply cannot afford to forfeit it.

This keeps them in the thrall of the social workers and in the welfare loop.

There are 150,000 single parent households in Israel today. The percentages are growing every year as women decide that they do not need to accept the bonds and strictures of Jewish marriage (which only allows the men the right to grant divorce and makes a deserted wife unable to marry again) or to remain in miserable marriages "for the kids".

Clearly, there is a nefarious programme being implemented - a meticulously planned programme of povertization and perpetuation of dependence - and all that the misery of poverty leads to (there is no need to elaborate, the insightful will understand).

I have said before and I will say again unless I am shut up and away by the authorities, which is a very real possibility when one speaks the truth in the State of Israel, the social workers are the government's front line in its war on wealth, health and happiness.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.
com

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